The Note: Trump moves to weaponize Mueller report

Trump may try some new lines at a rally that might echo for a long while.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Things are about to move from vindication to weaponization.

Just like that, Robert Mueller's investigation has gone from an existential danger to Donald Trump's presidency to a potentially valuable tool for his re-election.

His campaign and the Republican National Committee are fundraising off of the end of the so-called "witch hunt." And Trump advisers are ratcheting up their attacks on the media.

The president and his allies on Capitol Hill are already laying the groundwork for more investigations -- only this time, "to unpack the other side of the story," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham.

For now, Democrats can and will unite over the importance of seeing the full report. But assuming Attorney General William Barr is being honest about what Mueller found, and that the public sees some version of the report Mueller produced, the party that gets the most out of Mueller is unlikely to be theirs.

Thursday's campaign rally in Michigan will be a chance for Trump to try some new lines that might echo into 2020.

The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek

Aiming to address what she calls a "national failure," Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced Tuesday that she is proposing a $13,500 raise for the average American teacher, a policy her campaign is calling the "largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history."

Harris was touting the policy on the campaign trail in Texas over the weekend, hoping to gain ground in the early stages of the Democratic primary by harking back to the legacy of one of Texas' favorite sons: former President Lyndon Johnson.

"[Johnson] was the last president that made a meaningful investment in public education," Harris said during a Sunday rally in Houston.

According to a campaign aide Harris plans to pay for the plan by "strengthening the estate tax and cracking down on loopholes that let the very wealthiest, with estates worth multiple millions or billions of dollars, avoid paying their fair share."

The pitch also comes just months after Harris' home state of California saw its largest city, Los Angeles, grapple with a massive teacher strike that showed just how potent and personal the education issue is to a core constituency of Democratic voters.

At the time, Harris expressed solidarity with the striking teachers, saying "they deserve dignified wages for all the time and energy they invest both inside and outside the classroom."

The TIP with or Adam Kelsey

As a number of Democratic 2020 candidates tour the country pledging action on major progressive proposals like Medicare for all and free college tuition, at least one of the party's strongholds is demonstrating that it can be difficult to transform such ambition into concrete action.

A New Jersey state senate vote on recreational marijuana legalization was canceled Monday as Democratic leaders in the chamber acknowledged the difficulty of passing the bill. This, despite the party's control of both state legislative chambers, Gov. Phil Murphy -- who swept into office in 2017 vowing action on the issue -- and the endorsement of the state's biggest political figure, presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

It's one example, but the Garden State's marijuana struggle could be a preview of the battles that lie ahead should Democrats' momentum win them back the White House and Senate in 2020. For all of the promises made on the campaign trail, legislating is a different matter. And while U.S. politics are so often analyzed in a binary fashion, the Democrats' overall shift to the left has its members splintering into sects of capitalists, socialists, pragmatists and idealists -- all of whom will seek appeasement for their hangups.

So while voters will continue to be sold, and are likely be tempted to cast their ballots on these major initiatives, New Jersey is a helpful reminder that Nov. 3, 2020, victories won't be a guarantee of their success.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, who tells us how President Donald Trump is reacting to Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report, which indicated there was no evidence of collusion between the president's campaign and Russia. Then, ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams explains why Democrats continue to voice concerns about Barr's past positions on obstruction of justice.

"The Investigation" Podcast. President Donald Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow goes on the record with "The Investigation," addressing potential pardons, tax returns and the road that lies ahead after the conclusion of the Mueller report. Sekulow assures though that his job isn't over -- "just changing." This episode is part of ABC News' special coverage of the Mueller Report. "The Investigation" will post new episodes with newsmaker interviews all week.


  • President Donald Trump attends the weekly Senate Republican Policy Lunch on Capitol Hill at 1 p.m. Then, he meets with members of Congress at the White House to discuss trade at 3:15 p.m.
  • The 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference enters its third day. Expected to speak: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
  • Gun violence awareness group March for Our Lives holds an 11 a.m. press conference at the Capitol, advocating for the passage of the Background Checks Expansion Act. Expected attendees: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor and activist David Hogg, Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and other student leaders.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Biden Courage Awards in New York City, honoring student heroes who have intervened to stop sexual assault.
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