The Note: Week of big answers will recalibrate 2020 calculations

The emerging 2020 race will get a new set of realities, possibly on both sides.

February 25, 2019, 5:13 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Some of the most pressing and consequential questions of the Trump presidency are about to get answers.

Don’t expect that to mean conclusions, as much as recalibrations. And the emerging 2020 race will get a new set of realities -- potentially on both sides of the political aisle.

President Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un this week will test the president’s biggest foreign-policy gamble. Sensing that his standing is on the line, Trump has done something unusual for him: downplay expectations.

Back home, Robert Mueller is moving toward the end stages of his investigation. No final report is expected this week, though Democrats are already making plans to force Mueller’s findings into the public realm.

Meanwhile, work in the Southern District of New York continues. Michael Cohen’s three days on Capitol Hill this week, with public testimony scheduled for Wednesday, will provide signals for the direction of the inquiries that will outlast Mueller -- and that could prove more consequential.

Trump will be the center of attention again in the coming days. He’s comfortable there, of course, though he may be less comfortable with his lack of control over the outcomes.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Feb. 15, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Feb. 15, 2019.
Carlos Barria/Reuters, FILE

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Half a dozen senators are about to have a tough case of the Mondays.

One of the hardest parts of running for office, while actively sitting in office, is transitioning between the two. The switch from crisscrossing the early voting states to sitting in stately hearing rooms can be abrupt and jarring. And priorities for campaigns may not line up with the responsibilities and obligations of day jobs.

There will be times, of course, when the national spotlight on Capitol Hill will help the candidates who are working there. Health care hearings this week, for example, will let some of the Democratic senators make their political points in Washington.

The bills these senators-cum-presidential-candidates introduce and co-sponsor will be important to watch too.

But expect Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to exacerbate the tension for Democrats as much as he can, forcing uncomfortable votes and avoiding helpful ones too.

The TIP with John Verhovek

The Democratic presidential field already features six U.S. Senators, two current or former U.S. House members, a mayor and a former cabinet secretary. It lacks a governor, but that could change this week.

PHOTO: Gov. John Hickenlooper is seen at the Capitol, Sept. 7, 2017.
Gov. John Hickenlooper is seen at the Capitol, Sept. 7, 2017.
Tom Williams/Getty Images, FILE
PHOTO: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks in Seattle, Feb. 14, 2019.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks in Seattle, Feb. 14, 2019.
Ted S. Warren/AP

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper campaigned in Iowa over the weekend, selling himself as a pragmatic problem solver. Meanwhile Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday that he could make an announcement on his presidential plans as soon as this week. He has been pitching himself as a climate change crusader who has made combating the issue a central part of his administration.

"We believe we can innovate our way and grow jobs by the bucketful by defeating climate change," Inslee told ABC News in an interview over the weekend at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington.

The Democratic nominee for president has never hailed from a state west of Texas, but Inslee joked, "Well because I’ve never run before obviously."


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Tara Palmeri, who says House Democrats are ready to sue the Justice Department if Robert Mueller’s findings are not made public. Then, she lays out the Trump administration’s expectations heading into this week’s summit with Kim Jong-Un.


  • President Trump participates in a business session with the nation's governors at 8:30 a.m., then departs for Hanoi, Vietnam for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at 12:30 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Colombia on Monday and meet with Colombia's President Ivan Duque and Venezuela's Juan Guaido. He will also deliver remarks to the Lima Group.
  • The National Governors' Association winter meeting in Washington will conclude Monday. Among the day's events is a briefing for governors at the White House.
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will participate in a CNN Town Hall at 8 p.m. in Washington.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis. The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's key political moments. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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