The Note: Trump complicates own defenses on impeachment

Trump is asking his party to defend him as threats are more indefensible

The TAKE with Rick Klein

In a tone unique to Trump and his Twitter account, the president has raised the possibility of arresting the House Intelligence chairman for treason, suggested punishments could be in order for the whistleblower, and retweeted an ally who said impeachment could lead to “a Civil War like fracture.”

Trump is following the playbook he used to discredit Robert Mueller and his investigation. But the consequences are potentially more serious during an impeachment inquiry, as the scattered Republican voices less than steadfast in their support are making clear.

Former Sen. Jeff Flake is telling his ex-colleagues that this is the moment to make a clear break and at least oppose reelection if removal is too strong.

“Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul,” Flake wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Republicans would like to keep the focus on impeachment itself, by arguing that the evidence to remove a president from office simply isn’t there.

“There’s not something that you have to defend here,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told “60 Minutes,” completely dismissing Democratic accusations.

It’s the president, though, who is making that a difficult argument to stand behind. He runs the risk with every tweet of creating more that will need defending and explaining.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The final day for Democratic presidential candidates to qualify for the next debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 and hosted by CNN and the New York Times, is Tuesday.

The Democratic National Committee and its partners announced their intention to hold the debate on one night, even though 12 candidates claim to have passed both the polling and fundraising benchmarks.

The group includes businessman Tom Steyer and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, neither of whom qualified for the last debate in September and would be new faces on a single stage.

At this point, no other campaigns seem close to meeting the thresholds for this month's showdown. If those 12 are certified, it will be packed podiums for sure, but also a real reckoning for candidates who continue to come up short.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

Despite recent polling that shows his campaign losing ground to Elizabeth Warren and continuing to trail Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders set the tone for Q3 fundraising Tuesday morning, announcing a massive $25.3 million haul -- a number that eclipses Warren's combined Q1 and Q2 and leaves the Vermont senator with more than $61.5 million in receipts on the year.

Perhaps even more noteworthy is the number of individual donors that Sanders continues to attract -- his campaign announced last month that it eclipsed the 1 million unique contributor threshold faster than any presidential candidate in history.

And though Biden, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg -- who announced a Q3 take of $19.1 million of his own early Tuesday morning -- continue to attract headlines (many of them negative in this progressive era) for their participation in closed-door fundraisers, Sanders and Warren remain steadfast in their commitment to small-dollar donors. Sanders' average contribution sits at $19 and the campaign claims only 0.1% of its donors have maxed out at $2,800.

It remains to be seen whether $25.3 million is yet another Sanders number soon to be surpassed by Warren, but in the interim it's clear that he and his army of supporters have the money to fight all the way through July 2020.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Tuesday morning’s episode features ABC News Chief National correspondent Terry Moran, who explains why Attorney General William Barr has been talking to foreign governments about the Russia investigation. Then, ABC News’ Katherine Faulders tells us how Republicans are positioning themselves amid the ongoing impeachment inquiry.


  • Billionaire Tom Steyer campaigns across Iowa, with stops in Sioux City, Storm Lake and Manila starting at 9 a.m.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, holds a town hall at the Nashua Public Library theater in Nashua, New Hampshire, starting at 10 a.m. Later, she holds another town hall at the Rockingham County Democratic regional office in Londonderry at 6 p.m.
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's presidential campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, is holding a conference call with reporters at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the road ahead, after the campaign reached its needed $1.7 million goal to stay in the race.
  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., attends town meetings in Portsmouth, Raymond and Hampton, New Hampshire, starting at 6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. is the deadline for the 2020 Democratic candidates to qualify for the fourth Democratic primary debate. So far, 12 2020 candidates have qualified for the debate, according to an ABC News analysis, which CNN and The New York Times will co-host on Oct. 15 in Westerville, Ohio.
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