What’s due first, though, is scrutiny of the White House process that allowed Rob Porter’s alleged background to go either excused or unnoticed for as long as it was. If this process counts as “reasonable and normal” – to quote OMB Director Mick Mulvaney – that raises even more questions about the events of the last week, not to mention the last year.
Chief of Staff John Kelly is at the center of much of the questioning. He finds himself on the receiving end of the backbiting and palace intrigue he was brought in to clean up; outside advisers who’d like to be back in are particularly fierce in their judgments now.
Add to that a continued reckoning of the president’s handling of a cultural moment regarding sexual harassment and violence against women, and it’s another reminder for Republicans what should be, or what could have been, if the Trump White House operated like they’d like it to.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Watch out: The Senate is expected to write and debate legislation this week. Yes, that may sound fundamental, but the work seems rare these days.
Rarer still, senators are planning to put on a show and work on their immigration bill to protect the so-called Dreamers in the open, in the public eye, on the Senate floor.
Shining some light on the system could prove fruitful. Like a greenhouse in February, a little heat and pressure could be just what is needed.
Of course, there is no promise the House will take up whatever grows out of the Senate (assuming a bill does get finished). Nor is there a guarantee that the White House will like whatever the Senate writes either.
But if an overwhelming majority of senators back a deal, as they did last week with the budget, Speaker Paul Ryan will face a new level of intensity and scrutiny if he tries to then pigeonhole it. And as for the president, threatening a veto is a whole lot easier than actually vetoing a bill.
The TIP with Chris Donato
The Tennessee Senate race might get a little more crowded; Sen. Bob Corker is reportedly reconsidering his retirement.
In September, the Republican senator released a statement saying, in part, “I have decided that I will leave the United States Senate when my term expires at the end of 2018.” Since then, multiple candidates from both sides of the aisle have declared they’re running to replace him.
Currently, there are six Republicans and one Democrat running to replace Corker. Rep. Marsha Blackburn , R-Tenn., a Trump loyalist, quickly received backing from the GOP establishment.
According to CNN, Corker has had conversations with a few colleagues in recent days about whether he should reconsider his decision to leave Congress. If Corker enters the race, it could be a big blow to Blackburn, who announced her candidacy Oct. 5, has been building her campaign, raising money, and traveling around Tennessee meeting and talking with citizens as she prepares for the Aug. 2 primary.
A Corker adviser didn’t deny the report. “It is true that Senator Corker has been encouraged by people across Tennessee and in the Senate to reconsider his decision, but at this point nothing has changed,” the senior aide wrote to ABC News.
Corker would need to quickly put together a campaign and start traveling the state. He does, however, have a big advantage: According to Federal Election Commission data, Corker filed a Statement of Candidacy on July 12, 2017, and, as of the end of 2017, had more than $6.2 million in cash on hand for a re-election campaign. With plenty of money in the bank, he could focus on building a campaign rather than fundraising.
The Blackburn campaign downplayed the potential for Corker to reverse course and jump back in the race; spokeswoman Andrea Bozek told ABC News: “Senator Corker hasn’t conveyed that to Rep. Blackburn. Our campaign is running full speed ahead, we are running to win and Marsha is the only true conservative in the race that can beat Phil Bredesen.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The truth exists whether the President accepts it or not.” — Jennie Willoughby, ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, in a piece on Time.com in response to the president’s tweet saying lives were being “shattered” and “destroyed” by a “mere allegation.”
NEED TO READ
White House plan calls for $1.5 trillion in investments to fix nation’s infrastructure. The White House Monday will unveil the main objectives it wants Congress to include in a legislative plan to try to tackle the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. (Alexander Mallin) http://abcn.ws/2Ek4tXi
Pence not standing during Olympics opening ceremony draws social media debate. Vice President Mike Pence is taking heat on social media for not standing for the North and South Korean teams marching together under a united flag during Friday’s Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Kelsey Walsh) http://abcn.ws/2Blw63D
Trump aide who resigned amid abuse claims ‘never should have had’ the job: Former Bill Clinton staff member. A Democratic congressman who was a staff secretary in the Clinton White House said President Donald Trump’s staff secretary, Rob Porter, “never should have been” in that job. (Quinn Scanlan) http://abcn.ws/2H3NrP3
Former White House aide’s ex-wife lashes back at Trump. Jennie Willoughby, the ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, lashed out at President Donald Trump Sunday, saying Trump has implied she’s “a liar” after going public about the alleged domestic abuse she says she endured while married to Porter. (Erica King) http://abcn.ws/2ExPQ5Z
Trump is still ‘inclined’ to release Democratic memo on Russia probe: Conway. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway said President Donald Trump is still “inclined” to release a memo by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee rebutting a Republican document that accused the FBI and Department of Justice of bias and improperly seeking surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser. (Andres Del Aguila) http://abcn.ws/2EmcDCv
Politico reports on Michael Roman, an operative who oversaw a research unit for the Koch network, and his unusual and undefined role in the Trump administration. http://politi.co/2CdG187
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