The Note: The limits of Trump’s powers made evident


The Note: The limits of Trump’s powers made evident

The first lady’s jacket may suggest otherwise, but this week the American people answered the question emphatically: They care.

Just as important, their voices mattered. It suggests that the issues highlighted in recent days won’t fade with the news cycle, as new power dynamics settle in for Washington and beyond.

The consensus view among the president’s allies is that Donald Trump’s instincts failed him. It happened somehow slowly and quickly at the same time. The administration contradicted itself in spectacular fashion, as sights and sounds brought the real world into the light, providing a counter to spin and misinformation.

The Note: The limits of Trump’s powers made evident

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/APPresident Donald Trump signs an executive order to keep families together at the border during an event in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2018.

It’s not over yet, and won’t be over even after the House votes on a broader immigration measure pushed to next week in hopes of avoiding failure. The president miscalculated at this moment but remains confident that the approach that helped win him the White House — up to and including “zero tolerance,” whether or not families are separated — can resonate again.

But the president’s own party, even his own family, pushed him into retreat. Trump may be confident as ever in his own powers, but their limits were made evident in dramatic fashion.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Arguably, this week was the latest example of a country pushed to its limits under the Trump administration.

This presidency saw protests spring up at airports around the country in the days after the so-called “Muslim travel ban.” Democrats and critics took to the streets when a confusing executive order meant turning people away from their families unannounced.

Fast-forward to last summer and the outcry over the president’s “very fine people on both sides” comments following a white nationalist march in Charlottesville.

The Note: The limits of Trump’s powers made evident

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILEWhite nationalists, neo-Nazis, the KKK and members of the “alt-right” attack each other as a counter protester (R) intervenes during the melee outside Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally, Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va.

In December, the country saw the limits of the Republican Party in a state as red as Alabama. The cynical view of that special Senate election: accusations of child molestation were a red line.

The immigration crisis that has played out over the last few weeks feels, too, like a test of the country in a way – a portion of the public pushed to the limit. The reality (and audio) of crying children kept away from their parents in government facilities was simply too much.

President Trump remains incredibly popular among Republicans, and polls showed a majority of GOP voters approved of the family separation policy, at least early on, before the images and sounds emerged.

So, maybe this era shows the limits for some — and the determination and party entrenchment of others. And while limits can be telling, what about everything up to the line?

The TIP with Benjamin Siegel

What appeared to be a turning point in the immigration crisis has now been put off — as has happened so often before with this politically vexing issue.

After failure seemed certain, House Republicans on Thursday night again delayed a vote on a compromise immigration bill, until next week, but emerged from a two-hour, closed-door meeting with confidence — members saying the group was having productive conversations.

The Note: The limits of Trump’s powers made evident

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSpeaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan, speaks as other G.O.P. leadership listen during a news conference on June 20, 2018 in Washington.

Republicans are considering adding provisions expanding the use of E-Verify — the system that allows employers to check if new hires are legally allowed to work in the U.S. — and adding visas for agricultural guest workers, a concern of Republicans in farm districts.

Said Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole: “People are trying to work towards getting to 218.”


  • President Donald Trump gives remarks on immigration with Angel Families at 2:30 p.m.
  • The president then attends the United States Marine Corp Evening Parade at 8:30 p.m.
  • The Supreme Court is expected to issue decisions at 10 a.m.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Summit at 11:40 a.m., followed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
  • Pompeo hosts a working lunch with Jordan’s King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein at the State Department at 12:30 p.m.
  • This Week on ‘This Week’: The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega, ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, and Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile.

    “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message.” — Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s communications director, referring to the jacket the first lady wore on her way to a migrant child holding center in Texas that read, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?”

    18 FOR ’18 CHANGES

    ABC News’s powerhouse political team is adding four races to its “18 for ’18” coverage of the 2018 midterm elections. New to the list is the year’s final special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, and the November House races in California’s 48th district and New Jersey’s 11th district. The final addition is the Nevada Senate race where incumbent GOP Sen. Dean Heller faces a challenge from Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen. Learn more about all 18 races here: Senate, House, Gubernatorial.


    Melania Trump makes surprise visit to Texas to visit migrant children separated by president’s policy. First lady Melania Trump traveled to Texas Thursday in an unannounced visit to a social services center amid a crisis over migrant children being forcibly separated from their parents as a result of the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. (Jordyn Phelps)

    Hundreds of separated migrant families reunited. Hundreds of families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border after crossing illegally have been reunited, a source has told ABC News. And in the wake of Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order to halt families being torn apart, the Department of Homeland Security has ceased referring members of families to the Department of Justice to be prosecuted. (James Hill and Mike Levine)

    In Senate race showdowns, tough odds for Democrats fuel Republican hopes. Republicans’ best chance of keeping control of one chamber in Congress most likely lies in the Senate. Despite only holding a two-seat majority, their opposition is arguably in a tougher spot. (ABC News Politics Team)

    House races offer Democrats best shot at claiming a chamber in Congress. Democrats want to take back at least one chamber of Congress this year, and the House of Representatives may be their best shot. The party needs to win 24 seats to make that happen. Here are the House races to watch. (ABC News Politics Team)

    2018 gubernatorial races could provide 2020 snapshots. There are 36 states and U.S. territories holding gubernatorial elections this year and these races could be the biggest referendum of all on President Donald Trump’s presidency. (ABC News Politics Team)

    John Bolton heads to Moscow to plan potential Putin-Trump summit. President Donald Trump may finally get his wish – a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin – as his National Security Adviser John Bolton heads to Moscow to discuss a potential meeting between the two leaders, a National Security Council spokesperson confirmed Thursday. (Conor Finnegan)

    Supreme Court says states can collect online sales tax, consumers likely to pay more. The court overturned a longstanding rule that states can collect sales taxes only on transactions if the retailer has a “bricks and mortar” presence in that state. The decision could allow more states to impose sales taxes on companies that operate entirely online. (Stephanie Ebbs and Audrey Taylor)

    DHS Secretary Nielsen casts immigration crisis as ‘a national security issue.’ Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, under fire for her vigorous defense of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that has led to family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, tried to recast the issue Thursday as one about the large number of unaccompanied minors currently in government custody. (Kendall Karson)

    Trump administration may house up to 20K migrant children at US military bases. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made the request to the Department of Defense (DOD), and Congress has been notified, a U.S. official told ABC News.
    The story was first reported by The Washington Post. (Elizabeth McLaughlin)

    House Republicans threaten DOJ, FBI officials with contempt in documents fight. A long-running battle has now escalated to the point where House Republicans are threatening top federal law enforcement officials with contempt of Congress if the Justice Department and FBI do not comply by the end of the week with document requests related to the Hillary Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations. (Benjamin Siegel)

    White House wants to merge Education, Labor Departments: ‘When everybody is in charge, nobody is in charge’ In a move that hearkens back to 1995, the Trump White House Thursday proposed merging the federal Departments of Education and Labor. According to the proposal, a newly-created “Department of Education and the Workforce (DEW)” would “meet the needs of all American students and workers, from early childhood education to retirement,” planning documents said. (Erin Dooley)

    Why the upcoming presidential election in Mexico matters to Americans: COLUMN. As the political and human struggle on immigration continues to unfold, many Americans are focused on how this national crisis will affect the November elections. But there is an election south of the border that is likely to have huge implications for President Trump and our relations with a key country in our hemisphere. (Matthew Dowd)

    The Heritage Foundation “has succeeded in furthering its right-wing agenda” by finding its people jobs in the Trump administration, the New York Times Magazine reports in a new feature story.


    The Note: The limits of Trump’s powers made evident

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