The Note: Trump’s need to have last word often hurtful

Trump also heads to Capitol Hill today.

ByABC News
October 24, 2017, 5:57 AM

— -- The TAKE with Rick Klein

This story only got a first word because of a throwaway presidential comment.

What matters now, though, is who will get the final word. The question for President Donald Trump is if he can let that be anyone other than himself.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly tried to end this extraordinary public discussion of sacrifice and patriotism last week, in the press briefing room. So too did Sen. John McCain, who said on "The View" Monday, "We should not be fighting about a brave American who lost his life serving his country."

Sgt. La David Johnson's widow sought to end this episode on "Good Morning America," when she backed up the account of her conversation with the president that was offered by her member of Congress. "It made me cry even worse," she said of that call.

Then came a tweet, of course. The president declared that he had a "respectful" conversation with Myeshia Johnson, and spoke her husband's name "from beginning, without hesitation!"

Trump spent the rest of the day on message and off Twitter. But his words linger still – along with the words of those who are urging him to let this fight go.

The president is a counter-puncher, his friends and allies are fond of saying.

Yet once again, the punches are being thrown without regard to who the target is.

The RUNDOWN with Benjamin Siegel and Mariam Khan

Throughout his first ten months in office, President Donald Trump has treated the Senate as a punching bag and an obstacle holding back his legislative agenda, questioning Mitch McConnell's leadership and calling out independent-minded GOP senators on Twitter.

Today, he's traveling to Capitol Hill to build bridges, in a bid to rally Senate Republicans behind tax reform.

The fence-mending could not come at a more critical time.

Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon is waging war against incumbents.

Republicans are approaching the end of the year without any major wins on Capitol Hill.

The White House and GOP majorities in the House and Senate need to be in sync as they aim to pass major, complicated legislation by the end of the year -- all while avoiding a government shutdown in December.

It could be an unpredictable meeting. The president is easily distracted. He's sparred with several senators in the Republican Party, and he hasn't always supported the GOP's legislative agenda.

Senators have told ABC News they are eager to hear from the president. They are seeking clarity on the GOP's path forward heading into the new year. And they want to know the president has their back.

Trump will likely rally the caucus on getting tax reform done by Thanksgiving. Senators have told us they want to hear more about what Trump has planned for tax reform — some Republicans are still in the dark when it comes to details.

The TIP with Benjamin Siegel

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen will appear on Capitol Hill Tuesday for a closed-door interview with the House Intelligence Committee, sources tell ABC News.

Cohen, who has served as Trump's personal attorney for years, is of interest to investigators for his role in confidential negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2015 and 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign.

The Trump Organization seriously considered the Moscow building proposal but eventually abandoned the plan and did not pursue it, Cohen told ABC News in August.

Cohen's lawyer declined to comment on his scheduled appearance.


  • As mentioned above, President Trump will take part in the Senate Republican policy lunch today at 1 p.m.
  • Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, an outspoken critic of the president, is live for an interview this morning on "Good Morning America."
  • President Bill Clinton will speak today in Falls Church, Virginia, at a summit on machine learning and data.
  • Coming together: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford this evening will host more than 70 chiefs of defense from around the world to discuss efforts to counter violent extremism.
  • Social Media and Security: A former White House homeland security official, Lisa Monaco, speaks on cyber security and how the government can handle social media meddling at a Bloomberg Next event in Washington this morning.

    "I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband's name, and that's what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can't you remember his name?" --Myeshia Johnson, whose husband Sgt. La David Johnson was killed in Niger this month, said on "Good Morning America."


  • Exclusive: Zebulon family speaks out after receiving $25,000 check from President Trump. The grieving family of a fallen American soldier received a $25,000 check from President Donald Trump on Monday, fulfilling a promise made months ago by the Commander in Chief during a condolence call, ABC 11 in North Carolina reports.
  • Full interview: 'I was very angry' at Trump, says Myeshia Johnson, widow of fallen soldier. The pregnant widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was among four U.S. service members killed in Niger this month, expressed a mix of blame and sorrow, saying she was "very angry" about President Donald Trump's condolence phone call and upset that he struggled to "remember my husband's name." (M.L. Nestel)
  • Trump contradicts widow Myeshia Johnson's account of his condolence phone call, saying he mentioned husband's name. President Donald Trump soon contradicted the account of Johnson via his Twitter account, arguing that he said her husband's name "without hesitation" when he called to offer condolences Tuesday. (Veronica Stracqualursi)
  • 'He died fighting for his brothers,' Niger ambush survivor says of fallen US soldier. Nearly three weeks after the deadly ambush on U.S. Special Ops forces in Niger, ABC News has learned chilling new details about the mission gone wrong from a survivor of the attack and a senior U.S. intelligence official. (Adam Ciralsky, Kirit Radia, Conor Finnegan and Elizabeth McLaughlin)
  • In Asia, Trump to warn North Korea but not likely visit DMZ. For all of President Donald Trump's overheated talk about North Korea's Kim Jung Un and the country's nuclear program, Trump will likely not make the customary presidential visit to the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea known as the Demilitarized Zone during his 12-day trip to Asia next month. Associated Press' Jonathan Lemire reports:
  • Sen. John McCain weighs in on Trump, Niger and the state of political discourse in the United States on "The View." (Veronica Stracqualursi and Mariam Khan)
  • What you need to know about the secret documents on President John F. Kennedy's assassination set to be released Thursday. (Luke Barr)
  • A recent poll reveals one thing that Americans across different political affiliations, ages, races and genders all agree on: JFK conspiracy theories. FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten reports:
  • 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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