The TAKE with Rick Klein
It’s not just that the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump own Roy Moore – though the president’s purported “Go get ‘em, Roy” comment makes that slice of the story official.
It’s that the president will now have to own his own past actions. Just as critically, Trump may find himself responsible for his words as well.
Billy Bush is back, saying “that’s your voice on the tape,” appearing to directly address Trump and the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” tape Tuesday night on Stephen Colbert’s show.
Also back in the news is a high-profile Trump accuser. Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos gets a big day in court today in New York, where the president’s lawyers are expected to try to have a defamation case dismissed – with the possibility that Trump himself would have to testify in a case stemming from alleged sexual misconduct.
It’s an awkward reminder that many of the allegations that surfaced last year in the campaign haven’t been resolved, notwithstanding the official White House contention that every woman who accused Trump of wrongdoing was lying.
Notably, with White House lawyers arguing that the president can’t be guilty of obstruction of justice, other Trump lawyers are arguing that the president shouldn’t face a lawsuit in state court.
The president and his legal teams don’t get the final word, of course, in either case.
The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek
Donald Trump and Mitt Romney may have never faced each other in a political contest, but right now the two men that have both been the GOP‘s presidential standard-bearer are fighting a not-so-private proxy war.
During his visit to Utah yesterday, Trump urged longtime Utah Senator Orrin Hatch to run for re-election in 2018, a seat that Romney has been speculated to be eyeing. “We hope you continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a very long time,” Trump told Hatch.
Thus far, Hatch has not made an official decision on whether or not to seek an eighth term in the U.S. Senate, but Trump undoubtedly seems to prefer Hatch over Romney, who offered a blistering critique of Trump during the 2016 campaign, calling him a “phony, a fraud.”
The two are also at odds over embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who Trump officially endorsed yesterday and offered “enthusiastic support” to in a personal phone call.
Romney took to Twitter, seemingly to scold Trump and his party, saying: “Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”
Moore is getting another boost of support from former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
Bannon is appearing tonight at a rally with Moore in Fairhope, Alabama.
There is now quite a bit of distance between two men who once sat together to discuss Romney becoming the next secretary of state — although we may finally be seeing just how real of a possibility that actually was.
THE TIP with Jordyn Phelps
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters that President Trump had no choice but to endorse Roy Moore because he needs the Republican vote, during an off-camera gaggle on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews upon the president’s return from Utah.
“I don’t think he had any choice but to do that. You know, he needs every Republican he can get so he can put his agenda through. So that’s, you know, the only Republican you can possibly get down there at this time,” Hatch said.
Asked about whether Moore had become “untouchable” because of the accusations leveled against him, Hatch said “we’ll have to see” what will happens if Moore wins but said it’s a matter for the people of Alabama to decide.
“Well, we’ll have to see. We’ll just have to see. Assuming he wins, we’ll have to see. Many of the things that he allegedly did were decades ago. So you know, it’s hard. That’s a decision that has to be made by the people in that state. If they make that decision, who are we to question ‘em?”
Monday night, Sen. Hatch’s communications director, Matt Whitlock, said the senator’s comments were being “misconstrued” in a series of tweets.
“For the record, Hatch has not endorsed Moore, has spoken out harshly against him and urged him to drop out of the race, But again, it is in the hands of the people of Alabama, and he doesn’t get to vote there,” Whitlock wrote.
Hatch declined to say whether he would run again, though he said the president directly asked him to do so.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who’s been accused of sexual harassment, plans to retire and won’t seek re-election, his grand-nephew Ian Conyers, a Michigan state senator, confirmed to ABC News. Conyers will make the announcement at 10:15 a.m. on the Mildred Gaddis Show, a local Detroit radio show, according to his attorney Arnold Reed.
President Trump will welcome Republican members of the Senate to the White House for lunch and in the evening he and first lady Melania will host the Congressional Ball.
A Senate Appropriations subcommittee will hold a hearing on the opioid crisis at 10 a.m. EST.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will attend meetings at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon will campaign for Roy Moore tonight in Fairhope, Alabama, just a mere seven days before the special election.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!” President Trump tweeted Monday morning.
NEED TO READ
Republicans move closer to clearing tax reform. The House voted Monday evening to go to conference with the Senate on the Republican tax bill, the latest step to advance the measure and get it to President Donald Trump’s desk to sign into law by the end of the year. (Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2jN6rq8
FBI agent removed from Russia probe played key role in controversial remarks on Hillary Clinton. The veteran FBI agent removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after the discovery of potentially anti-Trump messages also played a key part in former FBI director James Comey’s controversial announcement last year laying out the FBI’s findings in its probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the matter. (Mike Levine) http://abcn.ws/2Ap5huK
In Europe, Tillerson faces questions about presidential support. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with European allies this week to push an aggressive agenda on Ukraine, Iran, North Korea and Syria, while questions swirl around his status in the Trump administration (Tara Palmeri) http://abcn.ws/2AQJ0qw
Paul Manafort worked with Russian intel-connected individual, special prosecutors allege. Paul Manafort was working with a Russian intelligence-connected individual as recently as last week, special prosecutors allege. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is rejecting Paul Manafort’s request to modify his terms of his confinement, because, in an explosive allegation, it says “as late as November 30, 2017, Manafort and a colleague were ghostwriting an editorial in English regarding his political work for Ukraine.” (Trish Turner and Jack Date) http://abcn.ws/2jdLOUA
Supreme Court allows for travel ban while appeals are heard. President Donald Trump’s nearly yearlong effort to implement a ban on travel to the United States from countries deemed to pose a national security threat earned a victory at the Supreme Court Monday, where it was ruled the order could go into full effect as it continues to face legal challenges. (Adam Kelsey) http://abcn.ws/2klWl3q
Trump urging longest-serving Republican senator to run for re-election. The president is going all-in to encourage 83-year-old Orrin Hatch of Utah to run for an eighth term. (Mariam Khan, Jordyn Phelps and John Parkinson) http://abcn.ws/2jd5ojI
It’s impossible for Trump to ‘obstruct justice,’ his lawyer says. A sitting president cannot obstruct justice, Trump lawyer John Dowd told ABC News in a statement Monday, citing Article II of the Constitution. (Jordyn Phelps and Karma Allen) http://abcn.ws/2BxSVxJ
President Trump says he feels ‘badly’ for Michael Flynn after his guilty plea. “Well, I feel badly for Gen. Flynn. I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life. I feel very badly,” Trump said when reporters asked about Flynn on the White House South Lawn. (Meghan Keneally and Katherine Faulders) http://abcn.ws/2kkJvCE
Trump officially endorses Roy Moore, called to offer support. “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” the president tweeted. (John Verhovek) http://abcn.ws/2A1uX1H
The Washington Post reports that a woman has shares new evidence of relationship with Roy Moore when she was 17. http://wapo.st/2jgqFZL
An email exchange obtained by The New York Times purports to show that K.T. McFarland knew about a Dec. 29 phone call between Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador, but told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee she wasn’t aware. http://nyti.ms/2AryqW9
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.