The Note: Democrats can’t blame Trump for mess in their own house

The Note: Democrats can’t blame Trump for mess in their own house

The TAKE with Rick Klein

President Donald Trump started things down this slope. He famously bragged on the “Access Hollywood” tape (yes, it was him) that “when you’re a star they let you do it,” and even now is standing by Roy Moore on the grounds that “he totally denies it.”

But that doesn’t leave Nancy Pelosi on firm ground. The House Democratic leader’s defense of Rep. John Conyers – calling him “an icon in our country” who “has done a great deal to protect women,” and declining to say she believes Conyers’ accusers – makes the partisan nature of reactions to the sexual harassment scandals bipartisan.

The Michigan congressman is now stepping away from his post as the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Pelosi issued a statement declaring that “zero tolerance means consequences.”

The cleanup, though, is unlikely to suffice to Pelosi’s many critics, both inside and outside the Democratic Party. Democrats are still hoping to occupy high ground in the national disgrace surrounding revelations of powerful men who abuse power.

Pelosi has been under pressure for years from a new generation of lawmakers to step aside from leadership; look for those rumblings to grow now.

And as Congress comes back to town, the stock answer – to let the ethics committees handle matters, whether it’s Conyers or Sen. Al Franken or whoever will be next on the list – seems increasingly hollow. “That’s not real, and that’s not accountability,” Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., said Friday.

The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek

For Roy Moore, it’s now an audience of one.

After President Donald Trump’s comments last week in which he defended Moore against allegations of sexual misconduct, the embattled U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama has continued to use the president’s comments to boost his campaign in the crucial final weeks before the Dec. 12 special election.

Blasting out the president’s comments in a fundraising appeal, taking to Twitter to attack his Democrat opponent, Moore isn’t just taking a page from Trumpist politics. He’s taking the whole book.

Like Trump in the wake of the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape on which he was recorded making a vulgar comment about women, Moore, with the election just a little more than two weeks away, looks like he’s going to stick with a position of defiance.

For now, the president seems content to try and direct all the attention toward Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, but it remains to be seen whether his anti-Jones tweets will have their intended effect. It wasn’t long ago that Trump made a last-ditch attempt to help sitting Sen. Luther Strange take down Moore in the GOP primary, but ended up sparking a national firestorm over NFL players protesting the national anthem.

The TIP with Katherine Faulders

President Trump is back at the White House after a six-day Thanksgiving holiday at his Florida estate in Palm Beach.

Upon arriving at the White House, Trump ignored shouted questions from the media about whether he would campaign for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (and about passing tax cuts) — but the president didn’t engage.

A senior White House official told ABC News on Sunday there are no plans for Trump to campaign for Moore. Of course, the president himself has not directly confirmed that, only teasing a possible decision to come this week.

For now, the president will kick off the week focused on taxes. The White House said the president made some phone calls on tax overhaul while he was in Florida. On Tuesday, he plans to head to Capitol Hill to meet with the Senate GOP on the matter.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:

  • First lady Melania Trump welcomes a group of children to the White House this morning to debut the 2017 holiday decorations. But Christmas has been a focus of the Trump White House for months.
  • Minnesota Sen. Al Franken returns to work today. The Democrat was accused of sexual misconduct by four women. He spoke to media for the first time Sunday.
  • Rep. John Conyers Sunday announced he would step aside as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee while an ethics investigation into sexual harassment claims against him is pending. Read his statement.
  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin will visit an apartment building for veterans and low-income residents this morning. They’ll hold a news conference to discuss veteran homelessness and tour the building.
  • President Trump meets with the members of the Senate Finance Committee ahead of this week’s vote on tax reform. He will later participate in an event honoring Native American code talkers.

    QUOTE OF THE DAY

    “If you had asked me two weeks ago, ‘Would any woman say I had treated her with disrespect?’ I would have said no. So this has just caught me by surprise …” — Sen. Al Franken on whether he expects any other allegations about him to come to light.

    NEED TO READ

  • Sen. Franken is ‘ashamed’ of Tweeden photo, says ‘she didn’t have any ability to consent.’ In Sen. Al Franken’s first interviews since allegations surfaced of his forcibly kissing one woman before he was a senator and groping different women, the Minnesota Democrat said he is “embarrassed and ashamed.” (Emily Shapiro and Meridith McGraw) http://abcn.ws/2AaY4Ps
  • Conyers steps aside as ranking member of Judiciary Committee amid sexual harassment allegations. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who faces allegations of sexual harassment, said he is stepping aside as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee while an ethics investigation is pending. (Mary Bruce and Emily Shapiro) http://abcn.ws/2A8K1t2
  • Sexual harassment policy in Congress designed to ‘protect the harasser,’ congresswoman says. “I think it was a system set up in 1995 to protect the harasser,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told ABC News co-anchor Martha Raddatz on “This Week” Sunday. “This is not a victim-friendly process. And one victim who I spoke with said, ‘You know, the process was almost worse than the harassment.'” (Joy Lin) http://abcn.ws/2k2FQJx
  • ‘Sad moment’ when Kelly showed he’ll support Trump ‘no matter what’: Mullen. A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ret. Adm. Michael Mullen, said he is concerned about retired or active generals’ serving in high-level roles in the White House at a time of sharp partisan divisions. He pointed to the time John Kelly stepped in to defend Trump after he called the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. (Molly Nagle and Mitchell Alva) http://abcn.ws/2i6iWQG
  • Republican Sen. Tim Scott says Roy Moore should ‘move on.’ Republican Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., said it’s time for embattled GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama to “move on.” (Nicki Zink) http://abcn.ws/2BoGWn8
  • Trump has privately questioned authenticity of ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, sources say. President Trump has privately questioned the authenticity of the now infamous “Access Hollywood” recording in which he was caught in a vulgar exchange in 2005 with Billy Bush, bragging about his ability to grope women because he’s “a star,” sources confirm to ABC News. (Katherine Faulders and John Santucci) http://abcn.ws/2iT5RHQ
  • Terror threat to U.S. rail puts law enforcement on alert. With terrorist groups renewing calls for would-be attackers to target American rail lines, at least one local law enforcement agency in the United States is using drones to help guard against such a threat. (David Kerley and Erin Dooley) http://abcn.ws/2AfjPv8
  • Associated Press: FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers’ U.S. targets http://bit.ly/2iTkCds
  • Vanity Fair: ‘She didn’t want this come hell or high water’: Inside Melania Trump’s secretive East Wing. http://bit.ly/2k3Qr6I
  • The Star Tribune: ‘Ashamed’ Franken says he’ll return to work today http://strib.mn/2jZAqil
  • 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.

    Source: abcnews.go.com

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