Swamp waters rising for Trump

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The waters of President Donald Trump‘s swamp continue to rise.

The first member of Congress to endorse Trump’s candidacy now stands indicted for insider trading – for financial moves he’s alleged to have directed while on the phone at a White House picnic.

The federal criminal trial of Trump’s former campaign manager continues across DC’s murky waters in Virginia, where the star witness is another former top Trump campaign official.

And the latest volley from the Trump legal team only moves Robert Mueller’s timeline back – yes, again – with no guarantees that everything is wrapped up before the midterms.

None of this may reflect directly on Trump or his approval rating, given his base’s scandal-tested loyalty.

But Trump has already spend a good portion of his political career bashing the same Congress he is now campaigning for to remain in Republican hands.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s description of his role in relation to Trump, in an interview with The New York Times’ Mark Leibovich, stands out against this – or really any – backdrop.

“I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy,” Ryan said.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The main purpose of a primary is to select party candidates, but they have the added potential benefit of inspiring conversation and engaging voters, too.

In two of the four states with primary voting this week, there is early evidence voter turnout was up considerably compared to previous years.

According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, “unofficial totals” show about 33.5 percent of the state’s registered voters cast ballots this week, whereas turnout in the previous two primary elections was about 25 percent.

Michigan’s Secretary of State tweeted unofficial turnout statistics as well, writing that this year 29.74 percent of registered voters came out, up a whopping 12.34 percentage points from 2014.

In some districts, the new level of turnout and engagement might offer clues for November when party candidates go head-to-head. Like Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, where the incumbent Republican Rep. Ann Wagner secured over 72,000 votes, compared to the leading Democrat who secured just above 45,000. At closer look though, all the Democrats combined brought out a total of over 108,000 votes, compared to the Republicans’ 80,000.

The question now for parties and organizers: what to do to keep the new level of voter engagement through November?

The TIP with Benjamin Siegel

Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, was defiant Wednesday after being indicted on insider trading charges, vowing to clear his name in court and continue to serve in Congress and run for re-election.

While it’s hard to imagine Democrats toppling the Trump ally in his red district if he remains on the ballot, House Democrats’ campaign arm indicated that they’ll try to use the scandal against the GOP in the larger effort to flip the House.

“While everyday families are struggling to get by, their representatives are focused solely on enriching themselves,” DCCC communications director Meredith Kelly said in a statement.

That attack – levied as accusations of corruption dominate proceedings in the trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort – could be growing more potent less than 100 days from the midterms.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“This should be over by Sept. 1.” – Trump lead attorney Rudy Giuliani, when asked by ABC News about a deadline to respond to the special counsel’s request to interview the president.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Thursday morning’s episode features ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl discussing the Trump camp’s response to Robert Mueller’s request for an interview – he says “it’s a counteroffer that is almost certainly to be seen as insufficient by the special counsel.” And, ABC News’ Aaron Katersky breaks down the insider trading allegations brought against New York congressman Chris Collins.

ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” Podcast. Political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz joins ABC News’ chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and political director Rick Klein as they discuss what a too-close race in Ohio means for the GOP this midterm season.

NEED TO READ

In response to Mueller, Trump legal team narrows scope of interview, not inclined to take questions on obstruction of justice: Sources. President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani tells ABC News that he believes his team will have negotiations wrapped with the special counsel regarding an interview with the president by September 1. (John Santucci, Shannon K. Crawford and Soo Rin Kim) https://abcn.ws/2OOHd9s

Trump has privately expressed openness to broad criminal justice reform. Ahead of a meeting with state leaders on state reform Thursday, President Donald Trump has privately expressed openness to supporting broader sentencing reforms beyond the narrower reforms to the nation’s prison system that he’s previously backed, sources tell ABC News. (Jordyn Phelps and Mariam Khan) https://abcn.ws/2Mewzud

Rep. Chris Collins arrested on insider trading charges. Chris Collins, the conservative congressman from upstate New York, was at the White House in June 2017 for the annual congressional picnic when he received an email. (Benjamin Siegel and Aaron Katersky) https://abcn.ws/2KCQbU8

Rick Gates concludes his testimony against his former boss Paul Manafort. Rick Gates, the former campaign aide to President Donald Trump, wrapped up his eight-hour long testimony today against his former boss Paul Manafort, who is on trial in federal court in Virginia on bank and tax fraud charges. (Trish Turner, Katherine Faulders and Lauren Pearle) https://abcn.ws/2KC1Hz7

US to hit Russia with new sanctions after poisoning of former Russian double agent and daughter. The Trump administration has determined Russia violated a law prohibiting the use of chemical or biological weapons and is imposing mandatory sanctions in response to the assassination attempt by nerve agent on UK citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal. (Sarah Kolinovsky) https://abcn.ws/2OTzNBS

Rand Paul says he delivered a letter from Trump to Putin. Sen. Rand Paul announced on Wednesday that he “was honored to deliver a letter from President Trump to Vladimir Putin’s administration” that he said addressed topics ranging from counterterrorism to “resuming cultural exchanges.” (Alexander Mallin) https://abcn.ws/2ATyEHp

Frank Luntz on Powerhouse Politics: GOP unlikely to maintain majority in Congress. Political strategist and pollster Frank Luntz says that the “only way” that Republicans maintain their congressional majority in the midterms is if they cater to two types of voters: the pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps of the party. (Elizabeth Brown-Kaiser) https://abcn.ws/2MxPCfU

Ferguson councilman defeats prosecutor in Michael Brown case in St. Louis County race. In what is seen as a major upset, Wesley Bell, a member of the Ferguson, Missouri, city council defeated 27-year incumbent Robert McCulloch for St. Louis County Prosecutor on Tuesday night. (Karolina Rivas) https://abcn.ws/2vTnEEy

Rashida Tlaib set to become first Muslim woman elected to Congress. Former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat and is poised to make history in November by becoming the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. (Kelsey Walsh and Kendall Karson) https://abcn.ws/2McKnp3

FiveThirtyEight reviews the highlight’s of Tuesday’s elections. https://53eig.ht/2MqHZYD

The New York Times reports on how the Trump administration’s plan to punish legal immigrants for accepting food stamps, public housing and other benefits could help galvanize the GOP going into midterm season. https://nyti.ms/2AW4N1k

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.

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