The TAKE with Rick Klein
Jeff Sessions’ long, strange trip is just getting started.
The president and his family are not making the journey any easier – and Sessions may not be making it easier for himself.
As he prepares to face a day of Capitol Hill grilling, the attorney general is everywhere.
Sessions is wrapped up in multiple angles of the Russia investigation.
He’s plastered across presidential tweets.
He’s looming over the race for his old Senate seat in Alabama.
He’s now even opening the possibility of a new investigation of the Clinton Foundation.
The topic that’s likely to get the most scrutiny today, of course, is Russia. Sessions’ answers have had to shift with every passing appearance before a congressional committee.
Previous replies about not being “aware” of any Trump campaign officials’ contacts with Russian entities look worse with a guilty plea and public statements suggesting he was told directly about some such communications.
Now there’s a new revelation to answer for with Donald Trump Jr.’s freshly revealed message exchanges with WikiLeaks.
What is Sessions thinking amid all this?
Less than two weeks ago, as he prepared to leave for the Asia trip that’s now winding down, the president pointedly refused to say whether he would fire his attorney general.
Sessions is coming in to today’s hearing not by acknowledging incomplete statements on Russia, but by appearing to give in to the president’s demand for more scrutiny of the Clintons.
It would appear that, first and foremost, this is a man who wants to keep his job.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Equivocate no more.
A growing chorus of Republicans is now saying, without qualifiers, that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore should drop out of the race as the allegations of sexual misconduct against him increase.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, who is tasked with helping Republican candidates get elected, went a step further. As chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee, Gardner said Monday that if Moore would not step aside, the party should take an extreme step and actively expel him from Congress.
It was a statement, on the one hand, targeting an audience of one: a threat designed to show Moore that Capitol Hill is serious.
But Moore has built his career on rejecting what Washington thinks.
On the other hand, Gardner’s threats could be seen as having had nothing to do with Alabama, but instead evidence of pressure around the remaining races and national electorates.
Already in Indiana, Nevada and Ohio, Republican candidates have taken a beating as tough questions around the party's support for Moore spread.
In any case, Moore running? More problems.
The TIP with John Parkinson
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says Alabama’s Democratic nominee in next month’s special election for the Senate seat is “raising all the money they need” – emphasizing that Washington Democrats are keeping a safe distance from the increasingly competitive race.
Schumer told reporters Monday that Doug Jones, the Democratic underdog in deep-red Alabama’s Dec. 12 special election, has enough money to beat embattled GOP nominee Judge Roy Moore.
“They’re involved. If they ask us for things, we’re going to try to help them but it’s an Alabama race and the Jones campaign is running it on its own,” Schumer stressed.
Schumer said the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will stay out of the race unless the Jones campaign makes a request for financial help.
“When they ask us for help, we'll do it,” Schumer said, adding Jones is “raising tremendous money without any help from the Democratic organizations.”
Asked whether he agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Moore should step down, Schumer punted but admitted "I thought Moore didn't belong in the Senate even before these allegations."
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:President Trump is on his way back to Washington from the Philippines after his five-country tour of Asia and teased what he called a “major statement from the White House upon my return to D.C.” On his last day in Asia, Trump participated in the 12th Annual East Asia Summit Head of State and Government luncheon, followed by an official photograph.Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in an oversight hearing of the Justice Department. House Democrats on the committee plan to press Sessions about his knowledge of Trump campaign contacts with Russia.Sen. John McCain will be honored at ‘Salute from the Chief’ for his 63 years of service to the nation and the U.S. Navy. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Just to be clear. If the choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, I would run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat," - Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., on Twitter.
NEED TO READDonald Trump Jr. communicated with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign, sources say. Sources with direct knowledge confirm to ABC News that President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., communicated with representatives from WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign via private message on Twitter. (John Santucci and Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2iUF7pv President Trump abruptly concludes Asia tour: ‘We’ve accomplished a lot.’ President Trump abruptly concluded his nearly two-week-long maiden Asian tour, declaring progress on security issues and trade while skipping a final summit meeting with regional leaders. "We’ve accomplished a lot. I enjoyed it very much," Trump said, appearing unannounced before cameras in the lobby of a conference center hosting the East Asia Summit. (Devin Dwyer) http://abcn.ws/2AJbgITTrump personally asked President Xi to resolve case of UCLA basketball players accused of theft. President Donald Trump said he has personally appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case of three UCLA men's basketball players who were arrested for alleged shoplifting in China last week and now potentially face lengthy jail time. (Devin Dwyer) http://abcn.ws/2yDmhcX Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on allegations against Roy Moore: 'I believe the women, yes.' He said he thinks Moore should drop out of the race to fill the Alabama Senate seat. (Meghan Keneally and MaryAlice Parks) http://abcn.ws/2zBVgdrTrump announces ex-Big Pharma exec Alex Azar as Tom Price's replacement at Health and Human Services. Azar is a former executive for pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and worked as a deputy secretary at HHS under President George W. Bush. (Meridith McGraw) http://abcn.ws/2zxqqTv New woman accuses Roy Moore of sexual assault. Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore faces new allegations of sexual assault, after a woman came forward to accuse Moore, the Republican nominee in the state’s special Senate election next month, of sexually assaulting her in his car when she was a minor. (John Parkinson) http://abcn.ws/2AGlAkL Officials: Jeff Sessions could technically get old Senate seat back. He might not want it. Though Senate rules make it possible for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be appointed to his old Senate seat by the Alabama governor if a victorious Roy Moore is voted out by his colleagues — an idea several officials close to President Donald Trump have floated — Sessions isn't in favor, three separate officials tell ABC News. (Jonathan Karl, Pierre Thomas, Tara Palmeri, MaryAlice Parks, John Santucci and Alexander Mallin) http://abcn.ws/2ACJehf Former Vice President Joe Biden 'not closing the door' on 2020 presidential run. "I'm not closing the door. I've been around too long," he said on NBC News' "Today" show. "I'm a great respecter of fate." (Veronica Stracqualursi) http://abcn.ws/2yYyUDSRand Paul returning to DC after attack. Paul, who sustained multiple rib fractures and lung injuries during an altercation with his neighbor, returned to Washington D.C. Monday for the first votes of the week. (Ali Rogin) http://abcn.ws/2jnTlDl American man arrested attempting to cross into North Korea. A 58-year-old Louisiana man was arrested while trying to cross the border from South Korea into North Korea, according to the Korean Ministry of Defense in South Korea. (Sarah Kolinovsky) http://abcn.ws/2hvqe0h The Atlantic reports on the secret correspondence between Donald Trump Jr. and Wikileaks. http://theatln.tc/2ADwo23 No one knows what Omarosa is doing in the White House—even Omarosa. A Daily Beast exclusive profile of the Trump administration’s reality-star director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. http://thebea.st/2iRognu
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