The Note: Republicans reach breaking point on tariffs
WATCH: The president was expected to formally impose tariffs on steel and aluminum today, but uncertainty remains after the announced plan sparked backlash.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It didn’t happen over Charlottesville, or any of the scandals, the insults, the attacks, the mistruths, or even over the payment to the porn star.

It’s the issue of tariffs that has driven Republican policy minds and elected officials to say in virtual unison to President Donald Trump: This isn’t right.

Trump, who is set to sign his tariff proclamation today, prompted a resignation from a high-profile economic adviser, stern statements from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, public pleading from the president’s friends and allies; it’s all part of a last-ditch effort to lure Trump away from his instincts.

Trump’s economic nationalism is colliding with the realities of the national economy. It’s also a collision of style and substance for a president who said this week: “I like conflict.”

“Markets don’t like conflict, investors don’t like conflict,” said Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

It sets up a test for the president, who is talking tough, yet also offering potential off-ramps for allies — with actual policies set to be released in the coming days. The bigger test, though, will be for Republican elected officials, if Trump stays committed to a policy course they think will be disastrous.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The East Coast may be getting pummeled with snow, but political storms are brewing out West. As the Los Angeles Times put it yesterday: “Trump's immigration war with California has reached a fever pitch."

On the one hand, many California cities seem eager to protect their residents — documented or not — who are living peacefully in their communities. At the same time, the federal government continues to increase immigration raids and sweeps and is now suing the Golden State over the right to deport anyone the federal government chooses — and perhaps anyone without proper paperwork — without the state getting in the way.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other young immigrants march with supporters as they arrive at the Capitol in Washington D.C., on March 5, 2018.

Both sides seem suited up for this war, already donning their battle boots and armed with litigation. It is hard to think of any issue in recent American history that has pitted a state government and local law enforcement against federal agencies like this — at least not one that so directly and materially affected human lives. Both sides are battling for the final say in who can live where.

The TIP with Meridith McGraw, Devin Dwyer and Jordyn Phelps

After a week teasing his big announcement on trade, President Trump is expected to sign a proclamation today formalizing his controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. "We'll do it in a — in a very loving way," Trump said Tuesday of his tariffs decision.

The signing will take place at 3:30 p.m., according to the White House, and will include workers from the American steel and aluminum industry.

Wednesday, in her press briefing with reporters, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said there will be potential exemptions for Canada and Mexico - and possibly other countries - based on national security.

But the decision to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has been met by criticism from leaders within Trump's own party. By one independent analysis, the move could result in an estimated net loss of 146,000 American jobs, even if more than 30,000 new steel and aluminum industry jobs are created in the first year under the tariffs.

More than a hundred Republican members of Congress on Wednesday signed a letter to Trump "expressing concern" over tariffs.

"We're urging the President to tailor these tariffs so American businesses can continue to trade fairly with our partners, sell American-made products to customers all over the world, and hire more workers here at home," wrote House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady.

Trump's decision has also sparked deep divides inside the White House. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn resigned amid internal administration debates over tariffs.

Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional members in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2018 in Washington.

United Steelworkers union representatives told ABC News they have been invited to the White House for the signing ceremony. This weekend, Trump is expected to head to the heart of steel country in Pittsburgh, Pa.


• President Trump signs his new tariff proclamation at 3:30 p.m.

• The Democratic National Committee holds its winter meeting at 10 a.m., focusing on a new “IWillVote” campaign aimed at reaching 50 million Americans across the country about voting for Democrats in every 2018 election.

• U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. to propose legislation that would prevent individuals in crisis from accessing weapons.

• Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is scheduled to appear for a hearing at U.S. District Court at 1 p.m.


“So here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf: How dare you? How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote a radical open borders agenda?” - Attorney General Jeff Sessions responding to Oakland’s mayor warning city residents U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were preparing to raid the Bay area.


Trump asked special counsel witnesses about discussions: Source After a meeting with the special counsel's team, Trump asked his then-chief of staff Reince Priebus how the meeting went, a source familiar with the conversation confirmed to ABC News. The encounter is just one example of the president ignoring the advice of his attorneys. (Rick Klein, Katherine Faulders and John Santucci)

Trump turns spotlight on violent video games in wake of Parkland shootings. President Donald Trump is set to meet with representatives from the video game industry at the White House Thursday after the president has pointed to violent games as a contributing factor to school violence in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. high school shooting. (Jordyn Phelps)

President Trump to Latino conference: Democrats ‘nowhere to be found’ on DACA. In remarks to the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit on Wednesday, President Donald Trump slammed Democrats for the current uncertainty over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Alexander Mallin)

Mick Mulvaney? Larry Kudlow? Here are the possible contenders to replace Gary Cohn. On Tuesday afternoon, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn abruptly announced his resignation, leaving yet another major job vacant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (Meridith McGraw)

Top official: would have a ‘hard time’ on Jared Kushner security clearance approval. The U.S. official in charge of the federal agency which processes most of the U.S. government’s security clearances indicated Wednesday that he would find it hard to approve a security clearance for President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. (Trish Turner)

Several White House staffers terminated or reassigned for security clearance issues. Several White House staffers have been terminated or reassigned for issues related to their security clearances - with at least one individual employed in the Office of the First Lady relieved of duty, sources with direct knowledge tell ABC News. (John Santucci, Tara Palmeri, Katherine Faulders and Pierre Thomas)

Stormy Daniels’ lawyer: Trump must have known about hush money. The lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels told ABC News on Wednesday that Donald Trump must have known about the deal negotiated just days before the 2016 election to pay the actress $130,000 to keep quiet about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump. (Tom Llamas, Cho Park and Matthew Mosk)

Primary candidates ‘lean in’ on Trump’s popularity with conservatives. A number of Republican candidates in tough and crowded primaries are hoping that an open embrace of all things Trump will help them stand out to conservative voters. (Emily Goodin and Meghan Keneally)

Citing frustration, former Clinton officials running in 2018. It’s not every day that those who've left politics decide to jump back into the ring, but campaign announcements this week by two former Clinton cabinet members reveal a desire to return to what once was — and a Bush White House lawyer might join them. (Cheyenne Haslett)

HUD could remove anti-discrimination language from mission statement. The Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed Wednesday that it is revising its mission statement, which could no longer include language about anti-discrimination programs. (Stephanie Ebbs)

National Democrats stick with aggressive primary strategy despite Texas results. National Democrats are vowing to stick with their strategy of aggressive involvement in primary elections, even after their interference in a Texas House race seemed to boost the candidate they came out against – setting up more potential battles in advance of the May run-off. (Emily Goodin and Rachel Scott)

Russia may have committed war crime in Syria: UN investigators. It was a devastating airstrike that killed at least 84 people, including five children, shopping at a crowded local market, at a police station, and at family homes nearby. But now, a United Nations panel has determined it was more than a bloody day in a suburb of Syria's once-largest city Aleppo: it may have been a war crime. (Conor Finnegan)

Arming teachers ‘an oversimplification,’ Education Secretary says. After a private meeting with students from Stoneman Douglas High School, the location of a mass shooting that left 17 people dead and 14 people injured, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the Trump administration is "committed to not only listening, but action" on school safety. (Erin Dooley)

‘Chaos and ineptitude’ in Trump White House: Author on ‘Powerhouse Politics.’ In the wake of all the high-profile turnover, Chris Whipple, the best-selling New York Times author on White House chiefs of staff, describes the Trump administration as “chaos,” and President Donald Trump as “a human wrecking ball.”

Interior Sec. says new elephant trophy policy ‘100% aligned’ with Trump. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the administration's reversal of the elephant trophy ban during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning. (Stephanie Ebbs)

Forest Service chief steps down amid sexual misconduct investigation. A PBS News investigation first reported allegations against Chief Tony Tooke related to relationships with subordinates prior to when he assumed his current role. The U.S. Forest Service confirmed last week that an independent investigator was looking into concerns about Tooke's behavior.(Stephanie Ebbs)

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.