Trump exposes costs of loyalty as high-stakes week begins: The Note

His closing set of political acts could be disastrous for himself and the GOP.

January 4, 2021, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's going to take at least the first full week of 2021 to settle some of 2020's highest-profile political business.

And what might have been a decent closing series of political acts for President Donald Trump could wind up being disastrous -- for himself and for a Republican Party that sees anew what loyalty to the president might cost them.

First up: Control of the Senate. Both President-elect Joe Biden and Trump will be in Georgia Monday in advance of the Tuesday runoffs that could make or break the Biden agenda, and also render judgment on Trump's value and utility to Republicans.

Republican victories would ratify the power of Trumpism and mean Senate Republicans would keep control at least in part thanks to the outgoing president. But losses would cement Trump as a liability in battleground states, with his reckless accusations about election integrity proving a drag on Republican turnout.

To the latter point, the recording of Trump's weekend conversation with Georgia's Republican secretary of state shows the president more interested in bullying election officials than establishing facts. It casts a new light on efforts by more than 100 House Republicans and a dozen GOP senators to refuse to sign off on finalized Electoral College results on Wednesday.

Trump loses his formal power on Jan. 20, and that won't change as the result of anything that happens this week.

But how this week is remembered could go a long way toward determining how Biden can hope to govern – and how Republicans can pick up the pieces of what Trump will have left them.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Ironically, Georgia voters can feel more confident than ever in the results from the general election, despite what the president has said or may say during his rally Monday.

For weeks and weeks, Trump and his team moved the goal-posts in Georgia. In the name of security and a fight against potential fraud, they demanded more and more checks on the votes casts last fall, and though Georgia officials were noticeably frustrated at times, they obliged.

It is worth remembering that not only did the state conduct two recounts of the results - by hand and by machine - but last week, state officials also announced that yet another audit specifically focused on matching the signatures on absentee ballot envelopes (as demanded by the president) found “no fraudulent ballots” either.

But in the end, no check or audit satisfied the president because the final results did not change. So, Saturday, he stooped to asking the secretary of state to “find” votes and got caught.

President-elect Biden’s senior adviser Bob Bauer wrote Sunday that the president’s shocking act of intimidation "captures the whole, disgraceful story about Donald Trump's assault on American democracy.

The second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said the bombshell call and tape recording merits nothing less than a criminal investigation.

All of it raises questions again about whether the president will try to issue himself a pardon before leaving office.

The TIP with Quinn Scanlan

Tuesday marks Georgians last chance to have their voices heard in the Senate runoffs, and despite The Peach State's runoff electoral history favoring Republicans, Democrats are feeling good about delivering another win for the party after Biden's narrow victory in November.

PHOTO: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Voters line up for the first day of early voting outside of the High Museum polling station, Dec. 14, 2020, in Atlanta.
Jessica Mcgowan/Getty Images, FILE

According to Georgia Votes, which is analyzing data published by the secretary of state's office, more than 3 million people have voted in Tuesday's election -- already a record for a runoff. The top five districts doing the best in terms of turnout compared to the general election are all represented by Democrats in Congress.

But Democrats aren't getting complacent.

"We did very well in vote by mail. We did very well in early vote. But we know Election Day is going to be the likely high turnout day for Republicans, so we need Democrats who haven't cast their ballots to turn out," Stacey Abrams, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and founder of the voting rights group Fair Fight, said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

The two worst-performing districts for voter turnout are Republican-led, covering the northwest corner of Georgia. The 14th Congressional District, which is perhaps the most conservative in the state and where Trump's Monday evening rally will, is one of them. Its newly sworn-in congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, has not just defended, but perpetuated the president's false narrative of a "rigged" election -- rhetoric that some Republicans worry is convincing their own voters not to bother showing up to vote.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's episode features ABC News' Trish Turner and Political Director Rick Klein -- the two break down President Donald Trump's call to Georgia's secretary of state ahead of the Electoral College certification this week. ABC News' Anne Flaherty breaks down why vaccine rollout is running behind schedule. And ABC News Senior Investigative reporter Aaron Katersky examines what we know about the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville.


  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger joins ABC's GMA for a live interview about President Trump’s audio tape
  • Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jon Ossoff holds multiple events across Georgia starting with a canvass launch in Augusta at 9 a.m., followed by a launch in Conyers at 1:30 p.m. and a campaign event in Atlanta with the president-elect.
  • Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, holds the final events of his "It's Time to Vote" Tour with a Drive-In rally in Augusta, Georgia, at 10 a.m., followed by a campaign event in Atlanta with the president-elect.
  • The Republican National Committee hosts a rally featuring President Donald J. Trump, Sens. David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and other Republicans in Dalton, Georgia, at 3 p.m.
  • President-elect Joe Biden campaigns in Atlanta on behalf of Democratic candidates for the Senate, Ossoff and Warnock.
  • Vice President Mike Pence attends a Georgia Faith Community Call to Action at noon in Milner, Georgia.
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