The TAKE with Rick Klein
President Donald Trump is hardly a subtle person. And he's spent a whole lot of time sending messages – loud and clear ones – in recent days.
There's the message sent by pardons, both issued and suggested, that loyalties can be rewarded and scores can be settled.
There's the message sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that he's still not happy with his performance, and to special counsel Robert Mueller, whose timeline remains under close White House scrutiny.
There are the many messages to the media, including one wrapped up in a semi-response to the cancelling of "Roseanne."
And there are messages about the truth, and Trump's attitude toward it. The president is keeping "Spygate" alive, maintaining a story about the firing of James Comey that he himself has refuted, and blaming political enemies for immigration policy decisions his own administration is making.
The biggest message? Trump considers this his world - a world where he does not have to invite others in.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
This week, Democrats played offense as well as defense.
Around the country, Democrats pushed back on the Trump administration's new zero tolerance policy and surprising, drastic escalation in the number of children separated from their parents who are accused of crossing the border illegally. They demanded Cabinet officials give legal or national security rationales.
In Washington, congressional Democrats with access to classified briefings related to the special counsel investigation called hogwash on the president's claims about possible wrongdoing and did so loudly enough that some of their Republican counterparts eventually agreed they had seen nothing to back Trump's claims.
Then in the states like Virginia and New Jersey, where recent voting has shifted the balance of power blue, Democrats reminded the country that elections have consequences. Virginia this week became the latest state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, while New Jersey created its own individual health insurance mandate to shore up part of the federal law that was subject to a partial repeal.
The TIP with Benjamin Siegel
House Speaker Paul Ryan may not be running for re-election, but he’s still working to make sure Republicans keep control of the House in November, spending the recess week on a $1.5 million fundraising tour.
This week he traveled to three states for fundraisers and events with House Republicans in New York, Ohio and Indiana, including Reps. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, and Jim Banks, R-Ind.
Ryan’s four-state swing - ending with events in North Carolina next week for House Republicans and the state delegation - will pull in a total of $1.5 million for House Republicans.
"House Republicans continue to gain momentum thanks to this booming economy, which is spurred by our party’s pro-growth agenda and the new tax law that’s saving money for middle-class families," said Jeremy Adler, Ryan’s political spokesman. "Speaker Ryan will continue to ‘run through the tape,’ crisscrossing the country through November to sell this positive message and defend the GOP majority."
Ryan has raised $54 million in the 2018 election cycle through the first quarter of the year, with more than $40 million going to the National Republican Congressional Committee, continuing his prolific and record-breaking fundraising for the GOP even though he won’t be on the ballot in Wisconsin in November.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"There is no Republican Party. There's a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere." — Former House Speaker John Boehner during a panel discussion Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Detroit.
NEED TO READ
Top North Korean to hand-deliver letter to Trump from Kim Jong Un: Pompeo. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that Kim Jong Un's top adviser, Kim Yong Chol, will hand-deliver a letter from the North Korean leader to President Donald Trump in Washington. Trump said he thinks "it'll be very positive." (Mariam Khan) https://abcn.ws/2ssGMr2
US, North Korea have made 'real progress' toward 'proposed' Trump-Kim summit: Pompeo. The Secretary of State couldn't say for sure if the summit might be announced after Trump receives Kim's letter Friday, but he did say that this week's series of meetings with a top North Korean official in New York has led to "real progress," with North Korea considering a "strategic shift" toward a future without nuclear weapons. (Conor Finnegan) https://abcn.ws/2xymYIw
Mueller has spent $17 million over course of investigation: DOJ. The special counsel has racked up nearly $10 million in expenditures during the latest accounting period between October 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, bringing the total cost of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential campaign to nearly $17 million. The costs include compensation for prosecutors, rent, travel and transportation. (Jack Date and Lucien Bruggeman) https://abcn.ws/2LbApQR
As Mueller's focus tightens, Roger Stone declares he will 'never betray' Trump. President Trump's longtime confidant Roger Stone has told the world he believes special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe is "clearly out to get" him. Now he is sending another message: He won't flip. (Katherine Faulders and Ali Dukakis) https://abcn.ws/2JklC8R
White House blasts Virginia Dem congressional candidate's ad comparing Trump to Osama Bin Laden. Dan Helmer, an Iraq War veteran running in Virginia's 10th Congressional District, is not backing down after rolling out a digital and television ad that states "After 9/11, the greatest threat to our democracy lived in a cave," as an image of Osama Bin Laden appears. "Today, he lives in the White House. No one, even the President, is above the law," the ad continues, flashing an image of President Trump. (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2Jk47pi
Democrats ask EPA watchdog to investigate Pruitt aide's real estate search. The request asks the EPA inspector general to look into whether Pruitt violated federal regulations by not paying one of his top aides for helping him find a new place to live. Pruitt could violate rules for accepting gifts if the aide helped for free, and could violate other rules if the search was conducted using government resources. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2LLc0CA
The man who investigates the investigators, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. When President Donald Trump recently tweeted his demand that the Justice Department determine whether his campaign was improperly “infiltrated or surveilled,” the task of conducting that inquiry fell to the agency’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz. (Jack Date) https://abcn.ws/2J5rPGv
A year after Trump backed out of climate agreement, countries and others work to 'fill the void.' In the year since president Donald Trump announced that he intends to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement – a move which was panned by some American allies – some experts say the move has actually spurred more action on climate change. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2J7Xa7x
Secret Service overpaid campaigns $4 million for travel during 2016 election: Report. The overpaid expenses were a result of a misinterpretation of a Federal Election Commission regulation that enables the Secret Service to "pay the lower of two applicable fares for special agents on chartered aircraft flights." (Karolina Rivas) https://abcn.ws/2J1mIHp
Trump tweets he 'never fired' James Comey over Russia, contradicting reports about alleged memo. The tweet follows reports first published by the New York Times on Wednesday detailing a memo of a conversation between the FBI's then-Acting Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in which Rosenstein allegedly told McCabe that Trump asked him to mention Russia in a letter that could be used to justify FBI Director James Comey's firing. (Cheyenne Haslett) https://abcn.ws/2IZSTam
Texas governor suggests voluntary school safety changes in wake of Santa Fe shooting. The report includes proposals that promote safe gun storage practices, increasing law enforcement presence at schools, hardening school campuses, providing mental health evaluations and preparing students and teachers to respond to active shooter emergencies, among the other proposals. (Meghan Keneally) https://abcn.ws/2LP1LNB
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is still struggling to rally support to succeed House Speaker Paul Ryan despite being the heir apparent, the Los Angeles Times reports, but "His ace in the hole might be how he's actively worked to ingratiate himself with President Trump and has built a relationship with the president that no other congressional leader has been able to replicate." https://lat.ms/2LHuuns
NPR breaks down 4 questions that could determine which party controls the House after the 2018 midterms, as Republicans are beginning to see small signs of optimism amidst a Democratic push for a blue wave. https://n.pr/2sw0F0i
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.