The TAKE with Rick Klein
President Donald Trump urged Republicans to “DO SOMETHING” over the weekend in the wake of the “Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more” during the tenure of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s Twitterstorm came on the eve of possible action out of Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
The independent counsel confronts the toxic and polarized climate he was appointed to cut through. The build-up has included an orchestrated attempt to discredit Mueller, plus a breakdown in congressional cooperation on investigations and even fresh Republican inquiries of Obama/Clinton-era conduct.
But movement out of Mueller marks a new phase of the Russia investigation – with actions, not words or tweets, at the center. The pace and the outcomes will be less predictable than any machinations to date.
Mueller moving piecemeal gives him the advantage of all but daring Trump to interfere in his inquiries; the president could still wind up making an obstruction case against himself. Trump will be tempted, by both friends and foes, to meet action with action.
For now, despite even last week’s extraordinary rejections of Trump and Trumpism by two leading Republican senators, the president has a mostly loyal party behind him.
That can vanish in the instant it would take Trump to move to fire Mueller, or start pardoning any of his targets.
The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek
The bruising Virginia gubernatorial race is entering the home stretch.
What started out as a relatively tame contest between two mild-mannered, moderate politicians has become an all out, bare-knuckle brawl.
In the Virginia gubernatorial race, one campaign has tried to link the opponent to white nationalists and the other has accused their opposition of allowing violent gang members to infiltrate the Commonwealth and making it easier for convicted sex offenders to get guns.
The race between Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie is often talked about as the best barometer of the political climate under the Trump presidency, but perhaps it shows how campaigns run in the Trump era.
Race relations, Confederate monuments, illegal immigration, gun rights — all hot button issues two centrist candidates wouldn’t traditionally battle over — have all dominated the race at one time or another.
But despite the vitriol, both campaigns know that Virginia remains a state where geography is destiny, and political appeal must extend beyond the traditional party bases.
Gillespie will campaign today with one of President Trump’s former presidential rivals, Senator Marco Rubio, in Northern Virginia, a sign that he knows he can’t win if he gets blown out in the Washington D.C. suburbs.
Gillespie has faced pressure to more deeply embrace Trump and the hard-right elements of the GOP. How far Gillespie decides to go in the final week remains to be seen.
The man across the Potomac remains a major question mark, and still with just eight days left in the race, there are no plans for President Trump to campaign with Gillespie.
The TIP with Arlette Saenz
President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, a senior White House official confirmed. The trip was not announced ahead of time.
On his third trip to Saudi Arabia this year, Kushner, whose White House portfolio includes the Middle East, left the U.S. on Wednesday and returned Saturday. Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, the administration’s Middle East envoy, accompanied him in Saudi Arabia. Greenblatt also traveled to Cairo, Amman, Jerusalem and Ramallah.
“The Senior Adviser to the President, the Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy, and the Special Representative for International Negotiations recently returned from Saudi Arabia,” a senior White House official said. “The Senior Adviser has also been in frequent contact with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.”
The White House official would not say whom Kushner met with while in Saudi Arabia, but reaffirmed the president’s desire to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I can’t comment on that at all.” –Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” when asked whether Robert Mueller is investigating the president.
NEED TO READ
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