The Note: Is Trump, 'a very stable genius,' picking unwise fights?

Trump is seemingly daring Democrats to engage in a fight over his mental state.

ByABC News
January 8, 2018, 6:01 AM

— -- The TAKE with RICK KLEIN

The “very stable genius” who happens to be president is digging in for a long 2018 by waging some familiar fights.

President Donald Trump is practically daring Democrats to engage in a fight over his mental state. He legitimized discussion of his mental capacity with his weekend tweets, but in so doing is pushing his opponents to go further than the public would prefer.

Trump is also egging on the media in a new and eye-catching fashion.

The White House dispatched a policy aide to spar with a Sunday host over fake news – and the president himself tweeted about victory for his side. Next Wednesday will (presumably) bring the “Fake News Awards,” a presidential creation designed to push media buttons in ways he knows well.

The president is fond of calling himself a counter-puncher. But it’s worth remembering that he only fights, or fights back, when he’s confident he can win.


The outline of a so-called "wall" is starting to come into focus. And by most accounts, it looks more like a fence.

A memo from the Department of Homeland Security indicates that the administration is preparing to ask Congress for $18 billion for increased barriers, including nearly double the amount of fencing along the border, from 654 miles currently to around 1,000 in total, and another approximately $15 billion for other, more traditional border security.

While that dollar figure is high, and is likely being treated as an opening bid, the concept and compromise isn't hard to imagine.

Democrats, who have vowed to fight for protections for Dreamers could get to claim a win. After all, they'd say, the president didn't get an actually bona fide, 3D wall. Likewise, the White House and the GOP would say they still won too.

A win-win like that takes a level of civility that was absent from D.C. in 2017, but it would keep the government's lights on-- with a possible Jan. 19 shutdown looming.

Striking a deal and governing may be the best argument the president could hope for quieting his critics and, right now, frankly, president has little or no leverage to throw a fit or ask for more.

Yes, the wall may have been a core part of the campaign, but with a minuscule Senate majority, approval ratings where they are, and questions of competence floating, Republicans may have more to gain by looking across the aisle-- than looking to the White House-- for a partner.


First it was the fake media, now it's a fake book written by a "totally discredited author."

That's the "c'est la vie" attitude President Trump took Sunday as he prepared to head back to the White House amid the continuing fallout from Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury."

The president again makes a Reagan comparison, saying that Reagan dealt well with a similar issue during his presidency and "so will I."


  • President Donald Trump will deliver a speech to the American Farm Bureau convention in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Following his speech in Nashville, President Donald Trump will travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the College Football National Championship Game.
  • Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will address the American Farm Bureau in Nashville.
  • Senator Bob Corker will travel to Nashville with President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One.
  • Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen America and Need to Impeach, will hold a press conference regarding his political future and plans for 2018.
  • William L. Campbell faces Senators in a resumed nomination hearing for the Tennessee middle district judgeship.

    "For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up," Oprah Winfrey said while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes on Sunday.


  • Trump administration officials defend president's mental fitness. Trump administration officials came to the defense of President Donald Trump against claims in a salacious new book that people around the president question his mental fitness and intelligence. (Jordyn Phelps and Meredith McGraw)
  • Trump’s White House staff 'love their country and love their president': Nikki Haley. The Trump administration's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, disputed allegations in an explosive new book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," that people around the president question his intelligence and fitness for office. (Quinn Scanlan)
  • Americans 'do not want to spend billions of dollars on a wall': Bernie Sanders. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders took aim at President Donald Trump’s proposal to spend $18 billion over the next decade to extend a border wall with Mexico. (Quinn Scanlan and Joy Lin)
  • Trump doubles down against 'Fire and Fury' book, calling it a 'work of fiction'. President Donald Trump continued trying to further discredit a new book, “Fire and Fury,” that paints an unflattering picture of his presidency, calling its author a “fraud” and the book a “work of fiction."(Jordyn Phelps)
  • Steve Bannon apologizes for delay in responding to 'Fire and Fury. Steve Bannon emerged Sunday after five days of silence and apologized for his delay in responding to a controversial book in which he criticized, among others, Donald Trump, Jr. (Tara Palmeri and Jordyn Phelps)
  • Trump pushes back over mental fitness, calls himself 'a very stable genius'. President Donald Trump defended his mental fitness for office in a series of tweets Saturday morning, referring to himself as a "very stable genius." (Jordyn Phelps)
  • The New York Times released analysis regarding US intelligence agencies' history of underestimating and miscalculating the North Korean weapons capabilities and arsenal, including the development of its nuclear program. (David E. Sanger and William J. Broad)
  • With the President scheduled to attend the National College Football Championship Game in Atlanta between Georgia and Alabama, AP News is looking back at the president’s last visit to the city, when he described it as “falling apart” and “crime infested.” (Kate Brumback and Ross Bynum)
  • The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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