The Note: Trump muddies waters on immigration, invites return to swamp-era tactics – ABC News


The TAKE with Rick Klein

How much heat is he ready for? And who’s going to bring it?

President Donald Trump may test those questions, coming out of an extraordinary chat session that could reset the conversation around immigration – in ways he may welcome, and other ways he may not.

The president seemed to agree to a “clean” DACA fix that only muddies the water on what he actually wants – while conceding that he’ll basically sign whatever Congress wants to pass, only to later say that he needs to get his wall.

Along the way, Trump angered his hardcore base on a signature issue, and seemed to open the floodgates to the swamp by endorsing the return of earmarks.

We’re a long way from a “bill of love.”

Trump has veered leftward before on immigration, only to return to big, beautiful walls and crackdown policies. Tuesday’s summit came just hours after former Sheriff Joe Arpaio declared his bid for the Senate race in Arizona, vowing to fight for the Trump agenda – wall very much included.

But it’s worth noting that this presidential jaunt also coincides with the downfall of Steve Bannon. The president signaled that he’s in the mood to make a deal – “country before party,” in his words.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

It is unclear — and probably unlikely – that so-called ‘DREAMers’ across the country felt better going to bed last night.

Despite an hour of unusual, bipartisan, open-door negotiations at the White House on their fate and immigration policy, it seemed nothing concrete was agreed to in the end.

The president said he supports finding a long-term solution for the nearly 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the country as children, and even went as far to suggest that’d he sign a bill that did that and only that during the meeting. By the evening, he had tweeted that any deal right now still had to include money for a wall.

The president seems to have a split personality on this issue, collegial with Democrats when they are around and then much more hardline afterwards. He has tweeted about almost every possible legislative path over the last few months.

The official line from the White House was that all sides agreed to talk more. To be fair, the fact that all sides are talking, is probably comforting to many. The president said specific deals will be left up to Capitol Hill.

Republican and Democratic Senate leaders disagreed publicly about when and in what form an immigration bill for dreamers should come up. Neither men, after all, were invited over to the White House meeting. Do they really care? The ground will likely shift again.

The TIP with Serena Marshall

After President Trump’s marathon meeting Tuesday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on immigration, it seems like the contours of a deal may be in the works.

A bipartisan group of five senators that have been working on a DACA deal, Flake, R-Ariz., Bennet, D-Colo., Durbin, D-Ill., Graham, R-S.C. and Gardner, R-Colo., are trying to pull together a meeting today to hammer out the details of a potential quid-pro-quo on some elements of immigration reform like border security and the visa system.

While there are still some sticking points on the compromise, both sides are optimistic after Tuesday’s meeting with Trump, saying they are closer to, not further from, an immigration deal.


  • In the morning, President Donald Trump will meet with his cabinet, later in the day he will meet with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway. After the meeting the president and Solberg will hold a joint press conference.
  • On ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics podcast, Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl will interview North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services and Judiciary committees.
  • Following the Golden Globes, some female House Democrats are planning to wear black for the State of the Union in solidarity with the me too and time’s up movements, after many wore white last year. President Trump will be delivering his first State of the Union address on Jan. 30th.
  • The House has a few hearings on the docket. The House Armed Service Committee will hold a hearing with the Undersecretary of Defense David Norquist on the financial improvement of the DOD. The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on home loans and veterans with Jeffrey London of the Veterans Affairs Administration and Michael Bright of the Government National Mortgage Association.
  • Also on the House side, the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force will hold a news conference this afternoon on the release of the 2018 legislative agenda for the 115th Congress.
  • On the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on worldwide water infrastructure.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue will deliver his annual ‘State of American Business’ address this morning outlining the top challenges facing the business community and the Chamber’s policy priorities for 2018.

    “Proverbs 26:11 admonishes us not to repeat past failures, warning ‘like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly’,”former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint wrote in an op-ed on warning about the return of congressional earmarks, after President Trump expressed an openness to returning to the practice.


  • As Iran deal deadline approaches, Trump mulls next move. In the coming days, President Donald Trump is up against another consequential deadline on the Iran nuclear deal, just months after vowing to tear it up if Congress didn’t move to fix it. (Justin Fishel and Conor Finnegan)
  • Steve Bannon steps down from Breitbart News. Steve Bannon has stepped down from his role as the head of Breitbart News Network, the site reported Tuesday. The former White House chief strategist has faced mounting pressure to resign from Breitbart after he was quoted disparaging President Donald Trump and his family in a new book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff. The Breitbart board started discussing his future at the company after the comments were revealed last week and continued debating it over the weekend, sources told ABC News. (Tara Palmeri, Megan Keneally)
  • Sen. Feinstein, top Judiciary committee Democrat, releases transcript of Fusion GPS interview. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat Tuesday made a unilateral decision to release a transcript of the panel’s closed-door interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, whose company helped compile the now-infamous dossier accusing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign of colluding with Russia. In his interview with lawmakers and their staffs, Simpson insisted it’s “political rhetoric to call the dossier phony”.
  • House Democrats will wear black to State of the Union in support of Me Too movement. Following the Golden Globes, some female House Democrats are planning to wear black for the State of the Union in solidarity with the “me too” and “time’s up” movements, after many wore white last year. President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address on Jan. 30th. (Mark Osborne)
  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, files lawsuits against Fusion GPS, BuzzFeed over infamous ‘dossier’. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal attorney and close confidant, filed a pair of lawsuits on Tuesday, one in state court against the popular website BuzzFeed and the other in federal court against the private investigative firm Fusion GPS. (Pete Madden)
  • Democrats press HHS nominee Azar on ties to drug industry. Democrats pressed President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, on his ties to the pharmaceutical industry during a confirmation hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill. (Meridith McGraw)
  • State Department, FBI differ on source of mysterious alleged attacks on US diplomats in Cuba. State Department officials told Congress Tuesday they would not rule out “an acoustic element” in what the U.S. says were attacks on two dozen American diplomats in Cuba, despite a new FBI report that doubts a “sonic attack” is responsible. (Elizabeth McLaughlin, Conor Finnegan)
  • Democrat introduces ‘Stable Genius Act’ to require medical exams for presidential candidates. A House Democrat has introduced a new bill requiring major party presidential nominees undergo full medical exams and release the results to the public after a controversial new book ignited debate about President Donald Trump’s mental fitness in Washington. (Benjamin Siegel)
  • FBI director says Twitter is ‘on my radar’ after Trump criticism. A month after President Donald Trump called the FBI “dishonest” and “in tatters,” director Christopher Wray said Tuesday he is “honored” to be representing the agents and employees of the bureau but he conceded he pays more attention to Twitter these days. (Aaron Katersky)
  • Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he’s running for the Senate in Arizona. Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, pardoned by President Donald Trump in August after he was convicted of contempt of court, announced Tuesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate. (John Verhovek)
  • The Daily Beast reports that A senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump administration.
  • The Associated Press reports that federal judges ruled Tuesday that North Carolina’s congressional district map drawn by legislative Republicans is illegally gerrymandered because of excessive partisanship that gave GOP a rock-solid advantage for most seats and must quickly be redone.
  • 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.