Mar 19, 2018, 5:55 AM ET

The Note: Trump crossing lines puts pressure on GOP

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The TAKE with Rick Klein

Why settle for busting brackets when you can blow up norms, traditions and bedrock principles?

President Donald Trump spent his weekend crossing bright lines that once separated political involvement and matters concerning the justice system. Far from avoiding criticism of the special counsel, his lawyer outright called for Robert Mueller’s investigation to end, while the president strongly suggested that Mueller’s team is biased against him.

They’re doing what they’re doing with full knowledge that Mueller could be close to crossing a line that Trump himself once colored red, regarding his own business interests unrelated to Russia. It’s all happening while Andrew McCabe – fired, and having taken notes, just like James Comey – warns of truths he can document publicly.

This is not just about Trump-driven chaos, or the president warring with an ever-wider array of once-untouchable institutions. It’s not even about how the humiliation of public servants is now part of presidential policy.

Trump is leading his party and his allies on a journey that is making them more uncomfortable by the tweet. Pressure will build on Republicans to make sure Mueller’s probe is protected.

And the next chapter won’t be settled on Twitter.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Days after Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said they were closing the books on their investigation into Russian election-meddling, Facebook’s jaw-dropping announcement about a data analytical company with ties to the Trump campaign provided a strong argument for re-opening the case.

Of course, political operatives and campaign gurus each year try to outsmart and outmaneuver the competition in advertising and the use of social media. The Trump campaign would hardly be the first to target specific voters with specific ads based on interests and demographics.

But privacy laws exist in the United States and around the world for a reason, and if a data and digital campaign firm used by Trump campaign bought individual profile information illegally or unbeknownst to users, that’s a really big and rather disturbing deal.

What’s more, if staffers at the same analytics company did in fact reach out to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, as Assange claimed last year, well that’s rather shady, too, and probably worth someone (congressional leaders? law enforcement?) looking into it.

It may be impossible for investigators or regulators to keep pace with the latest, dirtiest tricks of the political advertising trade. In that case, moving forward, voters in the digital age are going to have to wise up in a way, and be more critical, skeptical or, at least, aware of how others might be using their information and targeting them for political gain.

The TIP with Molly Nagle

Illinois is the next state up in the 2018 primary season, and the race to watch Tuesday highlights the battle within the Democratic Party.

On the heels of moderate Democrat Conor Lamb's apparent upset victory in Pennsylvania’s special election last Tuesday, another moderate Democrat is in real danger of being voted out of office. Seven-term incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski is facing his first serious challenge for Illinois' 3rd Congressional District from progressive candidate Marie Newman.

Lipinski has come under fire for moderate views that have often put him at odds with others in his party. Lipinski is one of the last pro-life Democrats in the House, and he voted against Obamacare. He did not publicly endorse President Obama in his 2012 reelection bid, and a recent mailer by a Super PAC supporting Lipinski -- that featured a picture of President Barack Obama -- drew the ire of several former Obama officials, including former senior adviser David Axelrod, who have not forgotten.

Newman hopes to capitalize on the progressive, grassroots movement that began in the 2016 election. She recently was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won the district in the presidential Democratic primary in 2016, an indication that the area may be moving further left.

The safely blue district will almost undoubtedly go to the winner of Tuesday's Democratic primary. And who comes out on top will indicate where the future of the Democratic Party lies -- and the staying power of the progressive movement.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Trump is in New Hampshire to announce new plans for addressing the opioid crisis.
  • The senate meets on the Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act at 3 p.m.
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) joins ABC's "The View" at 11 a.m.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

    "You know, his firing may be justified. There's no way for us to know at this point, but even though it may have been justified, it can also be tainted." – Rep. Adam Schiff addressing the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on ABC News' "This Week" Sunday.

    NEED TO READ

    Trump to call for death penalty in newly announced opioid attack plan. President Donald Trump will visit New Hampshire on Monday to unveil a series of new steps aimed at combating the opioid crisis in what the administration is billing as his “initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.” (Alexander Mallin and Katherine Faulders) http://abcn.ws/2G2KjVN

    'The president is not going to fire him,' says Senate Republican of special counsel Mueller. A Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee said he does not believe President Donald Trump will move to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, despite a tweet this weekend by a Trump attorney calling for an end to the Russia investigation. (Allison Pecorin) http://abcn.ws/2plsYNs

    On danger that Trump could fire Mueller, Congress needs to speak up, 'don’t wait for crisis': Leading Democrat. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that congressional members need to “speak out” now about the importance of the special counsel’s Russia investigation, before there’s a “constitutional crisis.” (Quinn Scanlan) http://abcn.ws/2tXCQmf

    Primary showdowns highlight tensions over Democratic Party identity. The party faithful have rallied and showed up to the polls but there's been an unexpected side effect -- the progressive wing is fired up and that has brought out a crop of insurgent candidates to run against establishment favorites in key House races across the country. (Emily Goodin) http://abcn.ws/2FT3Kgo

    Kaptur is longest-serving woman in House history. Rep. Marcy Kaptur is now the longest-serving woman in the history of the House of Representatives, breaking the record today – 12,858 days after she first took office in 1983. (John Parkinson) http://abcn.ws/2DDcPbi

    Facebook blocks data group tied to 2016 Trump campaign. Cambridge Analytica, the London-based political data analytics firm tied to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has been suspended from Facebook, the social media giant announced late Friday. (Ali Dukakis) http://abcn.ws/2DBEaL1

    Trump-linked analytics firm Cambridge Analytica used stolen data, ex-employee says. A former Cambridge Analytica employee accused the data analytics firm of mishandling the personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users in an effort to help Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. (Karma Allen) http://abcn.ws/2FWa8DB

    Source: Fired former FBI deputy director McCabe kept memos on his meetings with President Trump, like Comey did. The former deputy director of the FBI who was fired Friday by President Donald Trump's attorney general has memos that document his conversations with the president, a source told ABC News. The memos are akin to documentation of meetings with the president kept by McCabe's former boss, James Comey, the FBI director fired by Trump. (Mike Levine) http://abcn.ws/2pjSTpC

    Trump administration wildlife council mostly hunting advocates. A federal government council made up mostly of hunters and hunting advocates met for the first time Friday to begin its efforts to advise the interior secretary on how to improve public awareness of the benefits of international recreational hunting. (Stephanie Ebbs) http://abcn.ws/2FRN4pv

    The New York Times reports on the state of conflict between Nancy Pelosi and her own party. http://nyti.ms/2tUFNns

    The Washington Post reports on President Trump's use of nondisclosure agreements for top staff members. http://wapo.st/2HISAvd

    COLUMN: The oversight storm that could paralyze the Trump presidency. http://bit.ly/2u2Zk5g

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead.

    News - The Note: Trump crossing lines puts pressure on GOP

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    CComments

    • Cynthia **

      Congress needs to step up and protect Mueller.

    • jboh

      Donnie's day of reckoning is getting close. He's running scared, and acting guilty.

    • Mark Elliott

      Why is fat Nixon suddenly running scared desperate to stop Mueller and his team now? Coz Mueller wants to subpoena Trump organisation documents which will show the money laundering for the Russians and coz he knows he can't take the stand and give evidence under oath to the grand jury coz he lies non-stop and he will be caught out.

    • Jen Bordon

      This is how our democracy dies - with ballless Republicans in congress refusing to stand up to a maniac.

    • Jack25

      When will the GOP Congress show some patriotism and stand up to traitor Trump?

    • jboh

      Mueller isn't donnie's only problem. He still owes Putin BIG TIME. The murders in London are a classic imtimidation move, by criminals worldwide, to silence witnesses..

    • R_Christian_AR

      If Trump fires Special Prosecutor Muller, then Dems will have to also fire any prosecutor that is trying to investigate the President. President Trump is setting a dangerous precedent in firing him Remember if the Republicans can fire the Special Prosecutor so can the Dems

    • duckkdownn

      Ma

    • ThaddeusQuackenbush

      Making the GOP uncomfortable would imply that they would do anything for the good of the nation instead of themselves. As we have seen for the past year-plus, they have no intention of putting country above party.

    • Truthfully

      At this point in time we have amendments that protect the AMERICAN People.........
      Unfortunately the Republican Enablers are not looking at helping the AMERICAN People!
      Time for a change Stop the Crime Family in the White House.

    • Pat Baxter

      "Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties." -Abraham Lincoln

    • Pat Baxter

      "The American dream comes from opportunity. The opportunity comes from our founding principles, our core values that's held together and protected by the Constitution. Those ideas are neither Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, white, or black. Those are American ideologies." -Ted Yoho

    • Pat Baxter

      "The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks." -Samuel Adam

    • SimpleTruthSeeker

      Keep up the good work, Mueller. Build it strong.
      Trump's behavior confirms your case uncovers many dark and illegal secrets.

    • Pat Baxter

      "The glory of justice and the majesty of law are created not just by the Constitution - nor by the courts - nor by the officers of the law - nor by the lawyers - but by the men and women who constitute our society - who are the protectors of the law as they are themselves protected by the law." -Robert Kennedy

    • Blue Wave

      Dow approaching -500.

    • Pat Baxter

      We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    • Pat Baxter

      I hope McCabe takes up the job offers from those (Dems) who've said they could use his help. It'd be great if Sessions evil (firing McCabe a couple days before his retirement was to kick in....) isn't allowed to stand.

    • Pat Baxter

      Trump obstructing justice should be a slam dunk for Mueller......in part because Trump's obstruction efforts are ongoing.

    • Arkansaw

      Whatever happens between now and November, we can be sure Donald will make it worse for himself. He can't help it. He can't help anything. He has no filters and no sense. Donald is his own worst enemy, and proves it with every statement, tweet and action he makes.

    • Pat Baxter

      Trump was wrong again..................it was not a committee finding that Trump and the Russians weren't in bed together, Democrats on the committee sharply dispute the Republican conclusions and will issue their own.

    • Trump Tyranny

      OK
      Who actually believes that Trump firing McCabe or Stormy Daniels is going to take Trump down before the 2020 election?

    • Pat Baxter

      The "House Intelligence Committee Republicans" ended their "investigation." They'd decided in advance that Trump is a splendid fellow.

    • Sola Scriptura V

      Let’s wait and see how Sarah Huckabee Sanders articulates this. In any case, I’m quite impressed by Huckabee’s communicative skills, articulations, and eloquence. If I could articulate/communicate my chemistry dissertation half as well as her, I’ll be a happy man.

    • Rafterman00

      Prosecutors don't start with a conclusion and work backwards. They gather the evidence and see where it lead them to. They build a story out of what they find that leads to a conclusion of guilt or innocence (or at least "not enough" to find guilt).

      So for Trump and his chumps to screech about bias and witch hunts, it is just NOT how a professional investigation works. It may work like that in Congressional investigations, but not with the cops or FBI. If Mueller is targeting Trump, its because the evidence is leading him there.

    • Bill

      Fire the SOB!! Waste of taxpayer's money.

    • Trump Tyranny

      There is no reason to fire Mueller
      In a few months the libs will be calling him a Russian Traitor