The Note: Trump forces tough choices on Democrats

Tensions are escalating in Trump’s Washington.

May 10, 2019, 6:03 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's either a "constitutional crisis" or it's "case closed."

President Donald Trump sees the Mueller report as "perfect," "beautiful" and "the Bible" -- but won't let Congress see all of it.

Even the Boston Red Sox are divided into red and blue over a visit to the White House to celebrate their World Series win.

Tensions are escalating in Trump's Washington, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. The dynamics are forcing tough choices on Democrats as their oversight efforts and 2020 contours come into view simultaneously.

While Trump and members of his family are under harsh and renewed scrutiny, the president may find some comfort in where he stands. He's again driving events and he is pushing his rivals into conversations they hoped to avoid at this stage of his presidency.

Impeachment is back in the conversation, the president's son has been served with a subpoena and House Democrats will decide Friday how hard to push to get the president's tax returns.

But this week showed again that for Democrats in the Trump era, governing necessities may collide with political realities.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Trump has long indicated there were two red-lines for him: his finances and his family.

This week, Trump's Treasury secretary and legal team confirmed that they did not intend to comply with, and would fight, subpoenas from House Democrats for the president's tax returns. They argued -- judging for themselves -- that the congressional requests lacked a "legitimate legislative purpose."

Then the week ended with a subpoena from the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee for Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to appear and testify.

PHOTO: Donald Trump, Jr. speaks at a Make America Great Again rally in Great Falls, Mont., July 5, 2018.
Donald Trump, Jr. speaks at a Make America Great Again rally in Great Falls, Mont., July 5, 2018.
Joshua Roberts/Reuters, FILE

Trump Jr. was the first member of the first family to be subpoenaed and the president told ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on Thursday that the move "surprised" him.

It may have surprised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, too, or at least it was out of step with the party. McConnell had declared "case closed" on the special counsel's report and investigation, though clearly some in his ranks, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., want it left open.

The TIP with Sasha Pezenik

His eyes on climate change, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke unveiled a sweeping $5 trillion plan with significant federal action aimed at achieving net-zero emissions in the United States by 2050 and to be halfway there by 2030.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke listens to a speaker during a roundtable discussion on climate change, May 6, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke listens to a speaker during a roundtable discussion on climate change, May 6, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall/AP

This week his team announced amendments to the plan, inspired by conversations he's had in Iowa, a state crucial to presidential primaries and, now, on the front line of climate change having recently been ravaged by historic flooding. O'Rourke, in gearing his actions towards the Hawkeye state's needs, is pitching expanding federal crop insurance, investing in new programs to develop agriculture technology breakthroughs and establishing a new ARPA-Grow program focused on agriculture research.

Just last year, however, O'Rourke was one of 23 Democrats who voted with the GOP on a national defense spending package that would ultimately cut ARPA-E funding, the kind that helps develop and commercialize new energy technologies.

He was one of 23 Democrats who voted with the GOP to cut the funding by $28 million, and reduce funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy by $243 million. The League of Conservation Voters even wrote a letter urging a no-vote on this bill, calling it "a dangerous attack on public health protections and our clean energy future."

Asked about the vote, O'Rourke's spokesperson pointed to his 95% lifetime rating by the league.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on the "escalation in provocation" from North Korea. Then Kate Shaw, a legal contributor for ABC News, breaks down how abortion laws recently passed in multiple states could conflict with Roe v. Wade.

FiveThirtyEight's "Politics Podcast." The Bushes, and in many ways Texas, shaped the identity of the Republican Party across three decades. In a live taping of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast in Houston, the crew discusses how and why the Republican party has changed since the end of President George W. Bush's tenure. Erica Grieder, a columnist at the Houston Chronicle, also joins the conversation. Plus, the team drafts 2020 Democratic primary candidates and debates the meaning of President Donald Trump's approval polling on the economy.

SUNDAY ON 'THIS WEEK': 2020 Presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., comes to "This Week" Sunday. Plus the Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, with former New Jersey governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman and Washington Post White House Reporter Seung Min Kim.


  • President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in the Celebration of Military Mothers at 4:15 p.m. Friday at the White House.
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, attends house parties and town halls throughout New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday.
  • Former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., continues campaigning in New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday.
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg hosts a grassroots fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. local time in San Francisco on Friday. On Saturday he participates in a Human Rights Campaign Gala at 5 p.m. in Las Vegas.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., travels to West Virginia and Ohio to host a community conversation, town halls and attend a meet-and-greet event on Friday and Saturday.
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper makes campaign stops throughout Iowa on Friday and Saturday.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., returns to New Hampshire for a two-day swing beginning on Friday.
  • Andrew Yang campaigns in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Friday.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., campaigns throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and New Hampshire this weekend.
  • On Saturday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., travels to Puerto Rico to meet with elected officials about ongoing natural disaster recovery efforts.
  • On Sunday, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., campaigns in New Hampshire.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive it every weekday.