The TAKE with Rick Klein
Staff letting Trump be Trump is one thing. But what happens when Trump really lets Trump be Trump?
That’s the stuff of tirades about rapes of migrant women and asylum-seeker caravans, of military deployments to the border and out of Syria, of voter fraud, dead DACA deals, veto threats, and trade wars that are easy to win, even if nothing has really happened at all.
President Donald Trump has returned to his political and business roots in recent days. He’s let fly a torrent of head-spinning and mind-bending ideas that his own White House can barely keep up with, much less explain or enforce.
The Trump who literally rips up scripts is the man who got elected. But it’s this side of Trump – improvising the most powerful job in the world, and not talking about the tax cuts or the economy or a Republican vision – that drives his allies crazy when it reveals itself.
“Trump unbound” is already trite, even a cliché. But it all leaves the president testing limits of both propriety and patience.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Capping his week in West Virginia, President Trump may have talked to voters who like him, but did he talk about issues they care about?
“Our economy’s strong. Our jobs are great,” President Trump said in a state where almost no one would agree.
Many voters we talked to this week in West Virginia said they like the president, but they are still worried.
Not about MS-13, a border wall, caravans, Syria, or taxes.
They are worried, they said, about bread and butter issues like health care, debt, opioids, wages, and jobs, jobs, jobs.
That central question about how to bring opportunity to the state, voters told us, will drive their decisions in the primary elections in the state in just a few weeks.
Like elsewhere in the country, a lot of voters in West Virginia feel good and hopeful that the administration’s moves to cut regulations and green-light energy projects could, perhaps, lead to some more blue collar hires and a brighter economic future.
But for now, again this week, the president’s mind seemed elsewhere.
The TIP with John Verhovek
A familiar face in GOP politics is resurfacing in Minnesota.
Former GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, who served as the state’s governor from 2003 to 2011, has announced another bid for the office, giving the party a recognizable name atop the ticket in a state that could be key to the 2018 midterm landscape.
Both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats are up this year, and a number of U.S. House races in the state are expected to be very competitive. Republicans are likely to argue Pawlenty’s presence on the ballot increases their chances to hold and pick up seats crucial to maintaining their majority.
The GOP is eyeing two open seat races in the state, Minnesota’s 1st and 8th Congressional Districts, as prime opportunities to flip blue seats red. At the same time Republicans need to hold the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts in suburban Minneapolis.
Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and State Representative Erin Murphy are all vying for the Democratic nomination for governor in a state Hillary Clinton won by less than two points in the 2016 presidential election.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“President Trump understands we have to dramatically scale back the size and scope of the administrative state—that’s what gets me so excited,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination to run against Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., singing the president’s praises during a tax reform roundtable in West Virginia Thursday.
NEED TO READ
Trump says he didn’t know about Stormy Daniels payment. President Donald Trump responded for the first time on Thursday to questions about a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. (Pete Madden) https://abcn.ws/2GBXI4f
Pentagon has few details about Guard deployment to border. A day after President Donald Trump authorized his administration to work with governors on deploying the National Guard to help secure the southern border, the Pentagon had few answers Thursday about how the call-up would take place or how many Guardsmen could be involved. (Luis Martinez) https://abcn.ws/2GYthc4
Mueller has evidence raising questions about Prince testimony on meeting with Russian: Sources. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained evidence that calls into question Congressional testimony given by Trump supporter and Blackwater founder Erik Prince last year, when he described a meeting in Seychelles with a Russian financier close to Vladimir Putin as a casual chance encounter “over a beer,” sources tell ABC News. (Pierre Thomas and James Meek)https://abcn.ws/2JphtOu
Trump puts himself in middle of West Virginia GOP Senate primary. Sitting between West Virginia Congressman Evan Jenkins and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey at a White House roundtable on tax reform in White Sulphur Springs Thursday, President Donald Trump literally wedged himself into the middle of the state’s heated GOP Senate primary race. (Meridith McGraw) https://abcn.ws/2HdPkZN
President Trump says female migrants ‘are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.’ President Donald Trump both literally and figuratively threw out his prepared remarks at a West Virginia roundtable event that was supposed to be about tax reform. (Ali Rogin and Jordyn Phelps) https://abcn.ws/2GAI8d7
Top Pruitt aide resigns amid growing scandal at EPA: Sources. A top aide to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt abruptly resigned last week, according to two sources familiar with the matter. (Katherine Faulders, John Santucci and Trish Turner) https://abcn.ws/2HcyN8B
Trump expresses confidence in Pruitt despite criticism over living arrangements. President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that he continues to have confidence in embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “I do,” the president said in response to a reporter’s shouted question about whether he has confidence in Pruitt as he boarded Air Force One early Thursday afternoon as he headed to West Virginia. (Stephanie Ebbs, Matthew Mosk, John Santucci, Jordyn Phelps) https://abcn.ws/2GzmuGc
Pruitt’s EPA should not have paid for busted condo door, congresswoman says. Rep. Betty McCollum has a strong opinion about the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reimburse the owners of Administrator Scott Pruitt’s rented Capitol Hill condo for the cost of a busted door – and not just because she sits on the subcommittee that oversees the EPA’s budget. (Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2EnJG4l
Mueller will navigate uncharted waters when wrapping Russia probe, legal experts say. Though special counsel Robert Mueller may be far from concluding his investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, legal experts are already debating the best way for him to end it. (Lauren Pearle) https://abcn.ws/2qapmiD
Tillerson spent $12 million on consultants for State Department redesign. Newly reported numbers show that while Mueller pushed to downsize his department, he was spending millions of dollars asking outside firms how to do it. (Conor Finnegan) https://abcn.ws/2qbDCre
GOP governors respond to Trump’s call to send Guard to border. The governors of states bordering Mexico began to respond Thursday to President Donald Trump’s call for them to send National Guard troops to help secure the southern border. (Allison Pecorin) https://abcn.ws/2GzZnvj
The New York Times reports at least five officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, four of them high-ranking, were reassigned or demoted after raising concerns about spending and management under the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt. https://nyti.ms/2Eoc7iC
The Washington Post reports Trump’s decision to zero in on Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com as his latest Twitter targets highlights a severe fracture in American society. Four times over the past week, the president has criticized Bezos. https://wapo.st/2IvvvfY
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back Monday for the latest.