The Note: Trump’s ‘covfefe’ heard around the world

PHOTO: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer waits for the start of a news conference with President Donald Trump and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Washington, May 18, 2017.PlaySusan Walsh/AP Photo
WATCH Trump's Twitter typo goes viral

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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  • Press secretary Sean Spicer returned to the podium Tuesday and would not answer questions about Jared Kushner's attempt to set up back channel with Russia, saying "that is not a confirmed action."
  • Trump is poised to drop out of the Paris climate agreement, according to senior WH official, who also stresses no decision is final until Trump announces it
  • Trump coined a word overnight - "covfefe" - and set off an internet bonanza that managed to unite his allies and critics
  • More Trump associates are caught in the web of the Russia investigation - Former WH press officer Boris Epshteyn and Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen have been asked by the congressional committees investigating Russia to provide information and testimony
  • THE TAKE with ABC News' Rick Klein

    What is it about the covfefe that so displeases President Trump? That may not seem to matter when the president finally manages to unite Twitter behind something he put into its all-too-toxic mix. The president, rather uncharacteristically, even had some fun with it by morning. But typos left to linger and inspire Twitter riffs are silly symptoms, not serious causes. This is Trump being Trump – and the rumblings out of the White House about a staff shake-up suggest we're likely to get more such…creativity. Trump's White House has reacted to the recent barrage of negative coverage by turning inward, and/or responding not at all. Notably, when he made his return to the podium Tuesday, press secretary Sean Spicer didn't even attempt to defend Jared Kushner's alleged behavior with the Russians. ("You're asking if he approves of an action that is not a confirmed action.") The White House also has anonymous spokespeople put out to condemn anonymously sourced stories as "fake news." The president himself RT'd a non-bylined story quoting an anonymous White House source saying other anonymously sourced stories are wrong. And, of course, Trump is very much back on Twitter. The president appears to be gravitating toward people who tell him he needs to return to his campaign style. That's of questionable value for governing, to say nothing of spelling.

    WHAT TO WATCH TODAY

    Trump will welcome Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the White House today.

    Sean Spicer will have the cameras off at his press gaggle, while the White House puts VA Secretary David Shulkin in some TV spotlight instead.

    WILL HE STAY OR WILL HE GO?

    After hearing out Pope Francis on climate change, President Trump promised he would decide this week whether or not the US would stay committed to the historic Paris Climate Accord agreement that the Obama administration helped broker last year. It is a major policy decision for this White House with huge foreign and domestic implications, and the president's hesitancy and waffling on the matter has world leaders, business execs, and enviros scrambling. The CEOs of Exxon Mobil and Shell Oil both wrote this month that the US should stay in the agreement. Tech companies took out a full page ads in the NYTimes and WSJ agreeing that the deal, which requires countries limit their carbon and greenhouse gas emissions could spur needed innovation. The debate has once again put a spotlight on the internal divisions and power dynamics within the White House. Ivanka Trump, a proponent of the deal, has been actively trying to expose her father to input from all sides of the matter, whereas his chief strategist Steve Bannon and other key conservatives have urged the president to withdraw. For them, this deal that could strap the country to benchmarks and plans set by an international committee is the antithesis of the ‘America first' platform that Trump ran on.

    RNC HITS DEMS ON GRIFFIN'S TRUMP PHOTO

    Republicans are trying to make Kathy Griffin's grisly anti-Trump photo – and the blowback – stick to Democrats. Before Griffin issued her apology, the RNC called on Sens. Al Franken and Catherine Cortez Masto to return donations from Griffin, while the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party pushed Franken to cancel a July event with Griffin. Franken quickly distanced himself from Griffin's photo: a spokesman told ABC News Franken respects Griffin's right to free speech but finds the photo "inappropriate," ABC's Benjamin Siegel reports.

    AHCA STRUGGLING TO GET STEAM

    If you can pull your eyes from the foreign policy spats and the daily developments in the Russia investigation, public opinion of the GOP health care plan (remember that?) isn't getting any better. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll hot off the presses this morning shows that more than half of Americans -- 55 percent -- say they see the AHCA unfavorably. That's more unfavorable than we ever saw Obamacare reach in 78 Kaiser surveys since 2010. Only three in 10 say they have a favorable view of the GOP plan. And this is all not to mention that jarring Quinnipiac number from last week for the GOP: only 42 percent of Republicans said they approved of the plan. One in three said they didn't know. And that's just one more reason it's going to be an uphill climb for Senate leaders to thread the needle and hit 51 votes, ABC's Ryan Struyk notes.

    NEED TO READ with ABC News' Adam Kelsey

    What we know -- and don't know -- about Jared Kushner's Russia contacts. The revelation that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, is a focus of the FBI for his contacts with Russia has prompted questions and concerns. Kushner is being scrutinized in the agency's investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election over his meetings with at least two Russian officials, Moscow's ambassador to the U.S. and a banking executive, sources have told ABC News. http://abcn.ws/2scMJHU

    Key US-Europe relations called into question after Trump trip. Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- who was a close collaborator with Trump's predecessor Barack Obama -- are two of those allies on whom President Trump's European visit seems to have left an impression. Each has spoken in the aftermath about their meetings with the president and the directions their countries may take should diplomatic relationships change. http://abcn.ws/2qy3XlD

    Trump's communications director will be latest to leave WH. The resignation of Mike Dubke is the latest staff change in the first four months of the Trump administration. http://abcn.ws/2qDY5m9

    Kathy Griffin apologizes for beheaded Trump photo: 'I crossed the line.' Comedian Kathy Griffin has apologized for a photo of herself holding what appears to be a bloody, decapitated fake head of President Trump. The photo, taken by celebrity photographer Tyler Shields, was posted by Griffin and Shields Tuesday to their social media accounts. http://abcn.ws/2rTamaT

    After deleting prior tweet, Trump asks world to find out 'covfefe' meaning. "Despite the constant negative press covfefe," the president inexplicably wrote just after midnight. And that was it for nearly six hours, before the unfinished tweet was removed from the president's account. http://abcn.ws/2qEXocm

    WHO'S TWEETING?

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