The Note: Trump Claims Unsubstantiated Voter Fraud (Again)
— -- Trump’s First 100 DAYS with ABC’s RICK KLEIN and RYAN STRUYK
Day No. 5
THE BIG STORY: He can’t help himself, and he isn’t helping himself. It may have only been a few throwaway lines in his private meeting with lawmakers, but President Trump has managed to again hijack his own early narrative. Repeating a flatly false claim about undocumented immigrants costing him the popular vote serves to undercut his credibility at time that he’s trying to build Washington relationships. And by again revealing his personal paranoia at being considered illegitimate, he’s delegitimizing the more than half the country that didn’t want him to be president.
THE SLEEPER STORY: The Trump agenda is already scrambling politics and upending alliances. The president’s quick move to undo the Trans-Pacific Partnership drew praise from liberals such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Sherrod Brown, and condemnation from conservative stalwarts who run the generational gamut from Sen. John McCain to Sen. Ben Sasse. Even the congressional reception at the White House Monday night showed little differentiation based on party lines. From the little that reporters witnessed, Trump seemed to spend more time chatting with Nancy Pelosi than with Paul Ryan; Senate Majority Leader later remarked that he “enjoyed the president and Sen. Schumer talking about all the people they knew in New York.”
THE SHINY STORY: No Trump aide has been on the kind of early roller coaster that Press Secretary Sean Spicer has traveled in the first four full days of the Trump presidency. After the roughest debut weekend, his first full-scale briefing was largely a success. (He’s even ended his feud with Dippin’ Dots and won the approval of the fashion police -- including, reportedly, the top cop in the president himself -- with a sharper suit.) Spicer handled Monday admirably. But his assertion that “sometimes we can disagree with the facts” remains troubling. Ditto his assertion that there are “several versions” of the unemployment rate produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – raising the possibility that some federal government numbers will get a White House stamp of approval, while others could be attacked.
TLDR: He said it again: Despite the lack of evidence, President Trump told Congressional leadership yesterday he believed he lost the popular vote due to millions of illegal votes for Hillary Clinton, creating a splash just hours before his HHS nominee faces grilling from a U.S. Senate panel.
PHOTO OF THE DAY: Get used to this view: Brand new White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer took questions from the briefing room podium for the first time yesterday and he's slated to do so again today (and the day after...). Spicer had faced criticism for an impromptu statement bashing the press over the weekend, which fact-checkers found to include several questionable statements.
TODAY'S TRUMP TWEETS:
6:11 AM: Will be meeting at 9:00 with top automobile executives concerning jobs in America. I want new plants to be built here for cars sold here!
--TRUMP REPEATS UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIM ABOUT VOTER FRAUD DURING ELECTION. Donald Trump has repeated the unsubstantiated claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, a claim that he used after the election to justify his loss of the popular vote, Democratic and Republican sources told ABC News. "Serious" voter fraud and a "rigged" system were themes of Trump's campaign, both in the primaries and general election, assertions that carried past Election Day. Trump, who has made a series of unsubstantiated or false claims, won the Electoral College with 306 votes (2 eventually defected), but lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots, ABC's TOM LIDDY reports. During the meeting with Congressional leadership, Trump said "3 to 5 million illegals" voted, according to two Democratic aides. http://abcn.ws/2kdcQdz
--TRUMP'S HHS NOMINEE RETURNS TO CAPITOL HILL. Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and spearhead the administration's healthcare reform, will return to Capitol Hill Tuesday for his official confirmation hearing, reports ABC's BENJAMIN SIEGEL. Democrats sharply questioned the Georgia Republican in a courtesy hearing last week about his plans for Obamacare, entitlement reform and a number of health-related stock trades he executed while working on legislation -- accusing him of being too close to industry interests. Price has defended his actions against questions of impropriety. Price was also asked to clarify Trump's comments about his plans for healthcare reform, after the president told the Washington Post he aims to provide "insurance for everybody." Instead, Price outlined reforms that would provide all Americans access to health insurance, rather than universal coverage -- a staple of Hill GOP plans to replace Obamacare. http://abcn.ws/2jTQFLU
--ALSO TODAY ON CAPITOL HILL: Four Trump nominees are currently slated to come up for a vote in their respective committees this morning: Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Elaine Chao for Secretary of Transportation and Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce.
--JUST IN: NEIL GORSUCH EMERGES AS LEADING CONTENDER FOR SUPREME COURT. ABC News has learned that Judge Neil Gorsuch has emerged as the leading contender to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and his nomination is expected as early as next week, according to sources familiar with the selection process, ABC's JONATHAN KARL and KATHERINE FAULDERS report this morning. Gorsuch, 49, is currently a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, to which he was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2006 and confirmed by voice vote. He would be the youngest Supreme Court nominee in about 25 years. Gorsuch clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He attended Harvard Law, and has a Ph.D. from Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar. In legal circles, he’s considered a gifted writer. Like Scalia, he's also both a textualist and an originalist. http://abcn.ws/2kdkWmz
--TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Trump is slated to meet with automobile industry leaders this morning for breakfast. He'll sign another executive order later this morning after a meeting with his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. This afternoon, President Trump will talk with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and U.S. Senate leadership. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will give his daily briefing at 1:30 PM.
SPEED READ with ABC's RYAN STRUYK
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY SAYS 'OUR INTENTION IS NEVER TO LIE.' White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that he believes that his job is to be honest with the public but said "sometimes we can disagree with the facts but our intention is never to lie." On Monday, Spicer defended Saturday's statement when he said "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe," citing audiences who watched the inauguration online and through streaming services, even though those audience numbers have not been confirmed, reports ABC's MEGHAN KENEALLY. When asked by ABC News' Jonathan Karl about whether Trump's inauguration had a larger audience than those of President Ronald Reagan's, Spicer said, "I'm pretty sure that Reagan didn't have YouTube, Facebook or the internet." http://abcn.ws/2kkUSoN
LAWSUIT CLAIMS TRUMP FOREIGN PROFITS IN VIOLATION OF CONSTITUTION. Two days after staff at Donald Trump’s Washington hotel dropped balloons and popped champagne corks to salute his inauguration, America’s first billionaire President was put on notice – he is being sued because of profits that the hotel and other businesses earn from foreign governments. “The founders of our country were so worried about foreign governments paying cash and giving other benefits to an American president, and the distortion that can have on a President's decision making, that they put a prohibition on it in the Constitution,” said Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics counselor to President Obama. ABC's BRIAN ROSS, MATTHEW MOSK, RHONDA SCHWARTZ and RANDY KREIDER have more. http://abcn.ws/2kltg2V
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE HW BUSH MOVED OUT OF ICU. Doctors who are treating former President George H.W. Bush and his wife at a Houston hospital said Monday that the former president is out of the ICU and the former first lady has been discharged. The couple released a photo and thanked supporters via the Twitter account of their post–White House spokesman, Jim McGraw, according to ABC's MICHAEL EDISON HAYDEN. George Bush, 92, was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital Jan. 14 after exhibiting shortness of breath and has been treated for pneumonia in the intensive care unit during his stay. Barbara Bush, 91, entered the same hospital Wednesday with bronchitis. http://abcn.ws/2kkes4l
TRUMP SIGNS THREE PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUMS, PULLS U.S. FROM TPP TRADE PACT. President Donald Trump signed three presidential memorandums Monday morning, taking immediate action on at least one main campaign promise. One presidential memorandum called for the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fulfilling a promise made on the campaign trail in a move he says will help American businesses. "Great thing for the American worker, what we just did," Trump said as he signed that presidential memorandum at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. The next presidential memorandum he signed was a hiring freeze on all federal workers "except for military," he said. ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN, KATHERINE FAULDERS, JORDYN PHELPS, and MEGHAN KENEALLY have more. http://abcn.ws/2kjfe5Y
RUBIO SAYS HE'LL SUPPORT REX TILLERSON AFTER CONFIRMATION HEARING. Sen. Marco Rubio will support former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, he announced in a statement posted on Facebook Monday, deferring to President Donald Trump’s selection over his concerns about Tillerson’s positions on Russia, reports ABC's BENJAMIN SIEGEL. "Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy. Therefore, despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate," Rubio wrote in the statement. The Florida Republican’s support all but guarantees Tillerson’s nomination will clear the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in its vote Monday afternoon. http://abcn.ws/2iWCJBx
MINNESOTA GOVERNOR COLLAPSES WHILE GIVING STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS. The governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, collapsed while giving the State of the State speech there Monday night, but state officials said he "quickly recovered." Dayton had been speaking for about 45 minutes at the state capital when the incident occurred, reports ABC's TOM LIDDY. Further details were not immediately available, but his son, Eric, tweeted a short time later that his father was "doing great." In a statement, the governor's chief of staff said that Dayton "quickly recovered" after fainting. http://abcn.ws/2jm4H8o
BEHIND TRUMP'S PLAN TO MOVE THE US EMBASSY FROM TEL AVIV TO JERUSALEM. Israeli officials are awaiting what could be one of the first announcements from the new Trump administration: a decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such a move, which Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail, may please many Israelis but anger Palestinians as well as officials in Arab nations, who could see it as directly provocative and a hindrance to future peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, reports ABC's ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN. Palestinians claim Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and Trump, like the Israeli government, views Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal capital.” Since Israel’s creation, the United States has maintained that the status of the holy city of Jerusalem should be settled only in negotiations between the two parties, and Trump appears prepared to dramatically break with tradition.
WHITE HOUSE OPEN TO COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA IN SYRIA, PRESS SECRETARY SAYS. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested Monday that President Donald Trump would be willing to collaborate with Russia on military operations against ISIS in Syria. The comment in a press conference at the White House on Monday afternoon came after the Pentagon earlier in the day denied a Russian government claim that it had collaborated with the United States on a combat mission in northwestern Syria, reports ABC's BENJAMIN SIEGEL. "I think the president says he is going to work with any country that shares our interest in defeating ISIS," Spicer said at his first daily press briefing. "If there is a way we can combat ISIS with any country, Russia or anyone else, and we have a shared national interest sure we will he take it." http://abcn.ws/2jRvhXs
TRUMP FILES TECHNICAL PAPERWORK FOR 2020 ELECTION. President Donald Trump quietly filed paperwork with federal campaign finance officials on Friday for a 2020 bid for the White House. In a note to the Federal Election Commission, Trump wrote that the paperwork "does not constitute a formal announcement" for a 2020 campaign. This move allows Trump's campaign to take in donations over the next four years -- which could add up, considering Trump's success getting small-dollar donors to give over and over during the 2016 race, ABC's RYAN STRUYK reports. "Many times in the past, what sitting presidents have done in the first two years is really suspend any fundraising activities for their campaign committees," former FEC chair Michael Toner told ABC News. President Obama didn't file his re-election paperwork until April 2011 and President George W. Bush didn't file it until May 2003.
WHO’S TWEETING with ABC's MERIDITH MCGRAW
@jonkarl: I expect @realDonaldTrump to make his Supreme Court nomination early next week; sources tell me Neil Gorsuch is the leading candidate.
@AaronBlake: Kellyanne Conway: "White House & media are going to share joint custody of this nation for 8 years. We ought to figure out how to co-parent"
@IsaacDovere: Trump likes to live text the hosts and panelists on Morning Joe, which he watches religiously http://bit.ly/2knjTDO
@ananavarro: Trump says 3-5 MM illegals cost him the popular vote. DOJ works for him. Why doesn't he order investigation? Oh, I know. B/c It. Is. A. Lie.
@joshledermanAP: JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel approves 2,500 West Bank settlement homes, signaling new approach under Trump
@nytimes: Breaking News: Trump plans to keep Comey as director of the FBI. The agency is investigating Trump's associates. http://nyti.ms/2kdDkvJ