The Note: Trump spins conspiracies into impeachment defense

As President Trump's friends stay close, he sees more enemies than ever.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

As his friends stay close, he sees more enemies than ever.

As he stands on the verge of being impeached, he would have his supporters believe that the fix was in against him -- and his voters -- from the start. He wants them to view impeachment not as potential punishment against him but as a plot to exact retribution against the people who support him.

"The radical left Democrats and the failed Washington establishment are trying to erase your votes, nullify the election and overthrow our democracy," Trump told a full arena of supporters in rainy Hershey, Pennsylvania, Tuesday night. "They are trying to take your power away."

Trump used a speech on the night articles of impeachment were introduced to layer conspiracies on top of each other -- a "frame-up, a set-up," he said. He falsely claimed that the Obama White House was "spying" on his campaign and said "partisan lunatics" in Congress are cooking up false charges -- which, in turn, are being ignored by the "fake news" media.

Trump has Attorney General William Barr as well as Republicans in Congress largely backing him up, and he can expect more loyalty in the House Judiciary Committee as impeachment articles are marked up starting on Wednesday.

Democrats in Washington have succeeded in grabbing a narrative with impeachment. The campaign, meanwhile, is helping complicate the president's plots, without changing his playbook.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Andrew Yang picked up the last qualifying poll he needed for the December Democratic primary debate on Wednesday, meaning he will most likely be on the stage while some sitting senators probably will not. His team says he has collected the needed donations to cross the new, higher threshold as well.

Yang's continued rise underscores a desire among some voters for an outsider in this race and a candidate who can talk about the issues from a personal perspective without sounding too canned or rehearsed.

The political outsider scored a 42% favorable rating among Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents, compared to 17% unfavorable, but still a combined 41% said they either have no opinion of him or have not heard of him at all -- leaving him with room to grow or fall short in the spotlight.

As the field winnows, expect Yang to face much of the same scrutiny other top-tier candidates have, in terms of his donors, resume and finances.

It will be interesting at the debate in Los Angeles next week to see if any of the others on the stage directly challenge his policy proposals. As with any opponent, candidates are careful to weigh the pros and cons between drawing tough comparisons and risking alienating someone else's supporters who could be up for grabs down the road.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

For the moderate freshman House Democrats who have emerged in the halls of Congress as an alternative to the party's progressive wing, impeachment is seen as a potentially costly political risk ahead of 2020. Throughout the inquiry's dramatic turns, the more centrist-minded Democrats from districts formerly in the Republican Party's grip pushed for a Ukraine-specific focus, and on Tuesday, House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment within that narrow matrix.

Only minutes later, the party announced they struck a deal with Trump on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It gave those vulnerable moderate members in Trump-won districts -- who have found themselves at the center of anti-impeachment attacks, including a $2.2 million anti-impeachment ad buy from a pro-Trump super PAC -- an even more-needed victory to bring home. It shows they can simultaneously pursue impeachment and take bipartisan action for working Americans.

Democrats, particularly those in swing districts, will likely now bring the fight on the campaign trail back to the issues, with one Democratic aide already making the case.

"Republicans are shoveling money onto TV to prop up a flimsy narrative that impeachment is going to be a driving political issue in 2020," the aide said. "Here's the story they don't want to confront: while Democrats are taking on big drug companies and working to bring down the cost of health care, Republicans are still scrambling to explain the tax handout they wrote to appease their biggest donors."


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed on Tuesday that a potential impeachment trial in the Senate will take place right after the New Year, once senators return from a holiday recess, even though the White House is urging the Senate to take up the matter immediately. Senate Republicans also suggested that they may not call up live witnesses to testify as part of a likely impeachment trial slated to begin in January -- a move that pits the Republican-led Senate against the desires of President Donald Trump.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior National correspondent Terry Moran, who describes what is in the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and what happens next.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump reelection campaign, talks with ABC News Political Director Rick Klein in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held a campaign rally on Tuesday night.


  • President Donald Trump participates in the ceremonial swearing in of Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette at 3:30 p.m. at the White House. Later, the president and first lady Melania Trump participate in Hanukkah receptions at 4 p.m. and 8:05 p.m. at the White House.
  • The House Judiciary Committee will begin to discuss articles of impeachment on Capitol Hill at 7 p.m.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., participates in a "Getting to the Point" discussion in Boston at 9:15 a.m.
  • Marianne Williamson addresses Nationwide employees in Des Moines, Iowa, at 9:30 a.m.
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro meets with the Iowa Farmers Union and the Center for Rural Affairs in Nevada, Iowa, at 9:30 a.m. He then leads a town hall in Grinnell, Iowa, at noon. Later, he participates in a meet-and-greet event in Iowa City at 7 p.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden participates in UNITE HERE's Culinary Union Town Hall in Las Vegas at 11:15 a.m.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., delivers remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington at 12:30 p.m.
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in three consecutive fundraising events in New York City beginning at 4:30 p.m.
  • Andrew Yang continues his "A New Way Forward" bus tour with stops in Davenport and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
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