The TAKE with Rick Klein
Why settle for busting brackets when you can blow up norms, traditions and bedrock principles?
President Donald Trump spent his weekend crossing bright lines that once separated political involvement and matters concerning the justice system. Far from avoiding criticism of the special counsel, his lawyer outright called for Robert Mueller’s investigation to end, while the president strongly suggested that Mueller’s team is biased against him.
They’re doing what they’re doing with full knowledge that Mueller could be close to crossing a line that Trump himself once colored red, regarding his own business interests unrelated to Russia. It’s all happening while Andrew McCabe – fired, and having taken notes, just like James Comey – warns of truths he can document publicly.
This is not just about Trump-driven chaos, or the president warring with an ever-wider array of once-untouchable institutions. It’s not even about how the humiliation of public servants is now part of presidential policy.
Trump is leading his party and his allies on a journey that is making them more uncomfortable by the tweet. Pressure will build on Republicans to make sure Mueller’s probe is protected.
And the next chapter won’t be settled on Twitter.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Days after Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said they were closing the books on their investigation into Russian election-meddling, Facebook’s jaw-dropping announcement about a data analytical company with ties to the Trump campaign provided a strong argument for re-opening the case.
Of course, political operatives and campaign gurus each year try to outsmart and outmaneuver the competition in advertising and the use of social media. The Trump campaign would hardly be the first to target specific voters with specific ads based on interests and demographics.
But privacy laws exist in the United States and around the world for a reason, and if a data and digital campaign firm used by Trump campaign bought individual profile information illegally or unbeknownst to users, that’s a really big and rather disturbing deal.
What’s more, if staffers at the same analytics company did in fact reach out to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, as Assange claimed last year, well that’s rather shady, too, and probably worth someone (congressional leaders? law enforcement?) looking into it.
It may be impossible for investigators or regulators to keep pace with the latest, dirtiest tricks of the political advertising trade. In that case, moving forward, voters in the digital age are going to have to wise up in a way, and be more critical, skeptical or, at least, aware of how others might be using their information and targeting them for political gain.
The TIP with Molly Nagle
On the heels of moderate Democrat Conor Lamb's apparent upset victory in Pennsylvania’s special election last Tuesday, another moderate Democrat is in real danger of being voted out of office. Seven-term incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski is facing his first serious challenge for Illinois' 3rd Congressional District from progressive candidate Marie Newman.
Lipinski has come under fire for moderate views that have often put him at odds with others in his party. Lipinski is one of the last pro-life Democrats in the House, and he voted against Obamacare. He did not publicly endorse President Obama in his 2012 reelection bid, and a recent mailer by a Super PAC supporting Lipinski -- that featured a picture of President Barack Obama -- drew the ire of several former Obama officials, including former senior adviser David Axelrod, who have not forgotten.
Newman hopes to capitalize on the progressive, grassroots movement that began in the 2016 election. She recently was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won the district in the presidential Democratic primary in 2016, an indication that the area may be moving further left.
The safely blue district will almost undoubtedly go to the winner of Tuesday's Democratic primary. And who comes out on top will indicate where the future of the Democratic Party lies -- and the staying power of the progressive movement.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"You know, his firing may be justified. There's no way for us to know at this point, but even though it may have been justified, it can also be tainted." – Rep. Adam Schiff addressing the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on ABC News' "This Week" Sunday.
NEED TO READ
Trump to call for death penalty in newly announced opioid attack plan. President Donald Trump will visit New Hampshire on Monday to unveil a series of new steps aimed at combating the opioid crisis in what the administration is billing as his “initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.” (Alexander Mallin and Katherine Faulders) http://abcn.ws/2G2KjVN
'The president is not going to fire him,' says Senate Republican of special counsel Mueller. A Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee said he does not believe President Donald Trump will move to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, despite a tweet this weekend by a Trump attorney calling for an end to the Russia investigation. (Allison Pecorin) http://abcn.ws/2plsYNs
On danger that Trump could fire Mueller, Congress needs to speak up, 'don’t wait for crisis': Leading Democrat. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that congressional members need to “speak out” now about the importance of the special counsel’s Russia investigation, before there’s a “constitutional crisis.” (Quinn Scanlan) http://abcn.ws/2tXCQmf
Primary showdowns highlight tensions over Democratic Party identity. The party faithful have rallied and showed up to the polls but there's been an unexpected side effect -- the progressive wing is fired up and that has brought out a crop of insurgent candidates to run against establishment favorites in key House races across the country. (Emily Goodin) http://abcn.ws/2FT3Kgo
Kaptur is longest-serving woman in House history. Rep. Marcy Kaptur is now the longest-serving woman in the history of the House of Representatives, breaking the record today – 12,858 days after she first took office in 1983. (John Parkinson) http://abcn.ws/2DDcPbi
Facebook blocks data group tied to 2016 Trump campaign. Cambridge Analytica, the London-based political data analytics firm tied to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has been suspended from Facebook, the social media giant announced late Friday. (Ali Dukakis) http://abcn.ws/2DBEaL1
Trump-linked analytics firm Cambridge Analytica used stolen data, ex-employee says. A former Cambridge Analytica employee accused the data analytics firm of mishandling the personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users in an effort to help Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. (Karma Allen) http://abcn.ws/2FWa8DB
Source: Fired former FBI deputy director McCabe kept memos on his meetings with President Trump, like Comey did. The former deputy director of the FBI who was fired Friday by President Donald Trump's attorney general has memos that document his conversations with the president, a source told ABC News. The memos are akin to documentation of meetings with the president kept by McCabe's former boss, James Comey, the FBI director fired by Trump. (Mike Levine) http://abcn.ws/2pjSTpC
Trump administration wildlife council mostly hunting advocates. A federal government council made up mostly of hunters and hunting advocates met for the first time Friday to begin its efforts to advise the interior secretary on how to improve public awareness of the benefits of international recreational hunting. (Stephanie Ebbs) http://abcn.ws/2FRN4pv
The New York Times reports on the state of conflict between Nancy Pelosi and her own party. http://nyti.ms/2tUFNns
The Washington Post reports on President Trump's use of nondisclosure agreements for top staff members. http://wapo.st/2HISAvd
COLUMN: The oversight storm that could paralyze the Trump presidency. http://bit.ly/2u2Zk5g
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead.