The Note: Trump’s collision course with Putin

The TAKE with Rick Klein

A “big price” looks like the new “red line.”

Days after musing openly about removing U.S. troops from Syria, President Donald Trump is now watching – and tweeting – as the Syrian regime and its Russian backers stand in open defiance of international norms.

Another humanitarian disaster in Syria was quickly met with tough talk from the American president. Trump is promising a “big price” for the Assad regime and its backers, including Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The next move – perhaps even the kind of move President Barack Obama famously didn’t take – looks like it belongs to Trump. It puts him on a collision course, yet again, with Putin.

“This is a defining moment, Mr. President,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, on “This Week.” “You need to follow through with that tweet.”

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The U.S. House and Senate are both back in session today after a two-week recess, and members of Congress will face questions on the dizzying list of stories in the national headlines while they were away.

What, if anything, should the country do to respond to the apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria? Do they agree with Sen. John McCain who said Sunday that President Trump’s comment about possibly withdrawing from the country left Syrian President Bashar Assad feeling “emboldened?”

What about the president’s proposed tariffs on Chinese goods? If members don’t agree, can they (will they) do anything to try to stop them?

Are they really pursuing the idea of overturning parts of the omnibus spending bill – as rumored?

Do they like the idea of National Guard being deployed to the southern border? Is a deal on DACA really dead?

Dozens of mayors and police chiefs are also in the nation’s capital today. Do members agree with the White House that the police shooting of an unarmed black man in California was a local issue?

Is there more that should be done on gun safety?

Should EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resign? What do they plan to ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he comes for hearings Tuesday and Wednesday? And what did they think of the interview with Stormy Daniels alleging an affair with the president?

The TIP with Emily Goodin

Florida’s GOP Gov. Rick Scott will make an announcement on his Facebook page at 10 a.m. today that’s widely expected to be the kickoff of his Senate campaign against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

It will be a clash of the titans.

Nelson had $8 million cash on hand as of the end of 2017 (his 2018 first quarter report is due April 15) while Scott is personally wealthy and invested $83 million of his own money into his two gubernatorial campaigns, according to local newspapers.

Mark Wallheiser/AP
Florida Governor Rick Scott lays out his school safety proposal during a press conference at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Feb 23, 2018.

Given that control of the Senate is at stake, plus the myriad of national issues that will come up in this contest – gun control, immigration, and President Trump to name a few — expect both parties and outside groups to pour cash into the Sunshine State.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already launched a website and a digital ad campaign against the governor.

Other issues that could be at play: The 100,000 displaced Puerto Ricans who came to Florida after Hurricane Maria; and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, who has sponsored gun control legislation in the Senate with Nelson and has said he won’t campaign against him.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • The president hosts a Cabinet meeting at 11:30 this morning and then receives a briefing from senior military leadership at 6 p.m. Pool sprays are on the schedule for both events.
  • Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis hosts Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar at the Pentagon at 9 a.m.
  • The House Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing on lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey and how Texas is preparing for the 2018 hurricane season at 11:30 a.m.
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum holds its 25th anniversary National Tribute Dinner during which the 2018 Elie Wiesel Award will be presented to all Holocaust survivors at 7 p.m.
  • First lady Melania Trump hosts a listening session for local middle-schoolers to discuss issues facing students at 3 p.m.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

    “President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria. Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children.” – GOP Sen. John McCain in a statement on the chemical attack allegedly perpetrated by the Syrian government against its citizens.

    NEED TO READ

    Pentagon denies Syrian media claims of US airstrikes in Syria. The Pentagon’s denial followed speculation that the U.S. was considering military action after reports of an apparent chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday that killed dozens of civilians. (Luis Martinez) https://abcn.ws/2HixRiQ

    McCain blames Syrian chemical attack on ‘American inaction’; implores Trump to take decisive action against Assad. The senator said the Assad regime was “emboldened” by a lack of U.S. action, citing President Donald Trump’s stated desire to pull American troops from the country. (Matt Seyler) https://abcn.ws/2GGRhkl

    Trump adviser cites ‘alarming’ 200 percent increase in attempted US-Mexico border crossings. A White House adviser said an “alarming” increase of more than 200 percent in March of apprehensions people trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico helped to prompt President Donald Trump’s decision to deploy National Guard troops at the border. (Cheyenne Haslett) https://abcn.ws/2qjMXNg

    Inside Jared Kushner’s personal crusade to reform America’s prisons. Amid the daily turmoil and intrigue of President Donald Trump’s West Wing, senior adviser Jared Kushner has been quietly pursuing a personal passion: seeking to improve the lives of roughly 6.7 million people in jail, prison, on parole or probation in the United States and sharply reducing the chances ex-convicts return behind bars. (Jordyn Phelps) https://abcn.ws/2Jsz7AI

    Trump on Syria’s alleged chemical attack blasts ‘Putin, Russia, Iran’ for backing ‘Animal Assad.’ President Donald Trump weighed in on the Syrian government’s allegedly conducting a new chemical attack against its own citizens. An adviser to Trump who appeared on ABC’s “This Week” said he would take nothing “off the table” in predicting the U.S. response to the alleged attack. (Cheyenne Haslett) https://abcn.ws/2EuzF5w

    Some US business may suffer in ‘short term’ in China trade dispute but ‘we’ve got to stick with it’: GOP senator. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said President Donald Trump is doing the right thing in placing tariffs on Chinese imports, although he said some U.S. businesses may suffer “in the short term.” (Andres del Aguila) https://abcn.ws/2HiETUS

    Frustrated teachers turn activism into candidacies for local office. Amid statewide teacher walkouts forcing Oklahoma and Kentucky schools to shut down, some public school teachers are taking their protests to the ballot box — running to unseat state lawmakers they believe are failing to deliver adequate funding for schools. (Kendall Karson) https://abcn.ws/2JqE9O5

    From the frontlines in Iowa, family farmers keep watchful eye on tariff skirmish between US, China. Far from the noise in Washington and on Wall Street, some farmers in Iowa stand on the front lines of the U.S.- China tariff skirmish, awaiting a deal on trade between the world’s two biggest economies. (Cheyenne Haslett and Molly Nagle) https://abcn.ws/2IBiYI2

    The Washington Post reports on North Korea confirming to the White House that it is willing to discuss denuclearization. https://wapo.st/2Jvh4dl

    The New York Times reports on Republicans using the prospect of a Democratic move to impeach Trump to energize conservatives for the upcoming midterm elections. https://nyti.ms/2IFEnjs

    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.