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The TAKE with Rick Klein
President Donald Trump’s anticipated birthday present comes with a reminder: not all gifts are welcome ones.
The long-awaited Justice Department inspector general’s report on the handling of the Hillary Clinton emails investigation is due to come out Thursday, which happens to be the president’s 72nd birthday.
It figures to provide endless fodder for Trump and his backers to talk about James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Loretta Lynch, and less-familiar names like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
But news that Michael Cohen may cooperate with investigators in the Southern District of New York – as first reported Wednesday by ABC News – demonstrates anew that Trump only has partial control of the complicated storylines swirling around him.
Trump may be inspiring a “cultish thing” inside his own party, to quote Sen. Bob Corker. Efforts to undermine Robert Mueller’s inquiry are well-established by now, and are likely to get a boost on Thursday.
But there enough independent operators in tenuous positions to make control of any narratives rather fleeting, even for a president who is gaining ever-deeper loyalty inside the GOP.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
The immigration debate has come roaring back to Capitol Hill, spurred, in part, by a growing concern in communities across the country about the administration’s enforcement policy that leads to children being separated from their parents who cross the border illegally.
The House is set to vote on two reform immigration proposals next week, and now Republicans face an interesting political question: What will party members, who often use phrases like “family values,” do on this issue? And will they listen to evangelical Christian leaders, who so often have their back, but more and more are calling this policy a humanitarian crisis in the making?
Yesterday, the Reverend Franklin Graham, who has been a staunch supporter of President Trump, told the Christian Broadcasting Network, the new enforcement policy was “disgraceful.”
Earlier this month, Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, signed on to a letter with others conservative Christian leaders in the country, that read, “As evangelical Christians guided by the Bible, one of our core convictions is that God has established the family as the fundamental building block of society.”
The letter sent to the president said that any blanket policy or practice by the administration that led to separated families could be “devastating,” “long-lasting,” and is “of utmost concern.”
The TIP with Molly Nagle
As speculation continues about a possible Joe Biden presidential run in 2020, the former vice president seems to have his sights set on being a player in the midterm elections—and he’s making the endorsements to prove it.
With just under five months until Election Day, Biden so far has thrown his support behind 27 Democrats in House and Senate midterm races.
The endorsements and fundraising efforts span 18 different states, and range from old colleagues like Sens. John Tester of Montana and Diane Feinstein of California, to first-time congressional candidates like Rep. Conor Lamb, who won his special election earlier this year in Pennsylvania’s 17th district. Another endorsement went to Abby Finkenauer, who worked on Biden’s Iowa Caucus campaign in 2008 and is now running in Iowa’s 1st district.
Biden has also endorsed Democrats in three gubernatorial race: Gov. Kate Brown, the current governor of Oregon, James Smith in South Carolina and Rich Cordray in Ohio.
And that’s not all. Biden has issued endorsements in seven special elections at both the state and congressional level in 2018.
His track record? Six of the seven candidates Biden endorsed – won.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The president needed to disrupt the status quo and the president has disrupted the status quo. He should be applauded for doing that.” – Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday, when asked whether he viewed Kim Jong Un “as a great guy” who “no longer poses a threat to the United States.”
NEED TO READ
Pompeo insists North Korea agreement ‘encompasses’ verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is defending the agreement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong Un at the Singapore summit, insisting it “encompasses” ‘verifiable’ and ‘irreversible’ denuclearization, even though the document does not explicitly use those terms. (Sarah Koninovsky) https://abcn.ws/2l9gKWI
Trump proclaims ‘there is no longer a nuclear threat’ from N. Korea after return from Singapore summit. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to encourage Americans to “sleep well tonight” upon landing in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning following the landmark United States-North Korea summit in Singapore Tuesday. (Kendall Karson) https://abcn.ws/2MmCz1c
Mueller names ‘Hapsburg group,’ reveals Manafort messages. A new filing from the special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed on Wednesday identifies two former journalists and the content of messages former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Russian associate sent them in February, just two days after a superseding indictment against Manafort. (Lucien Bruggeman, Allison Pecorin and Soo Rin Kim) https://abcn.ws/2LQDKVD
Former Senate staffer pleads not guilty as lawyer seeks gag on officials, including Trump. James Wolfe, a former 30-year Senate staffer, entered a plea of not guilty in federal court Wednesday to making false statements. The government has accused Wolfe – a longtime Director of Security for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who had access to classified information – of lying about passing non-public information to two reporters. (Trish Turner and Mike Levine) https://abcn.ws/2JQsHyy
Nevada brothel owner wins GOP state assembly primary. Dennis Hof, a 71-year-old brothel owner and reality series star, bested a five-year incumbent in a Republican primary for Nevada State Assembly Tuesday. (Matt Seyler) https://abcn.ws/2ybv8XC
Sanford loss magnifies ‘Trump effect’ on GOP primaries. The surprise defeat of South Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Sanford last night to a primary challenger, State Rep. Katie Arrington, who made his criticism of President Donald Trump a focal point of her campaign, brought into focus the looming presence the commander-in-chief has over an already chaotic midterm cycle for the Republican Party. (John Verhovek and Kendall Karson) https://abcn.ws/2l5W0yZ
White House, Trump signal support for GOP immigration bills, Republicans say. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that Republican leaders have been working “hand-in-glove” with the Trump White House on immigration ahead of a vote next week on two immigration bills, as moderates and conservatives continue to negotiate the details of a possible compromise measure on border security and the plight of young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers.” (Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2ygw6lI
Interior Dept. wasted more than $400,000 on canceled study: Watchdog. The Interior Department’s internal watchdog says the agency wasted the money after it decided to cancel an ongoing study into potential health risks for people living near mountaintop coal mines in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2HM6Set
With no White House invite from Trump, Democrats invite Golden State Warriors to Capitol. President Donald Trump said that he doesn’t plan on inviting the Golden State Warriors to the White House this year, but the NBA champs have received another high profile invitation to the nation’s capital. (Deena Zaru) https://abcn.ws/2JJgVCE
House to vote on 2 key immigration bills next week, including DACA solution. In the face of a fast-approaching deadline that would force bipartisan immigration legislation to be debated on the House floor, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan announced late Tuesday night that the House would consider two bills next week. (Cheyenne Haslett) https://abcn.ws/2LLhgoU
The New York Times reports on Archie Parnell, the Democratic House candidate who won a primary in South Carolina Tuesday after admitting to abusing his ex-wife in the 1970s. https://nyti.ms/2MoAd1Z
The Washington Post reports inside Casa Padre, the converted Walmart where U.S. is holding nearly 1,500 immigrant children. https://wapo.st/2LOkzvP
“Interested in a job at the White House?” Politico reports the White House – which has been having trouble filling positions as it bleeds staffers – is now trying to find recruits at a conservative job fair on the Hill. https://politi.co/2JyvY6d
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.