The Note: Somehow it's always about Trump
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
THE TAKE with ABC News' Rick Klein
Who are the very bad people President Trump is referring to? We know he's not referring to the White House aides who are lawyering up, a group that now includes Vice President Mike Pence. He can't be talking about the subjects of widening investigations, subjects that now include, according to various news reports, the president himself and his son-in-law. The deputy attorney general, the author of a bizarre nothing-to-see-here-but-leaks-are-bad public statement Thursday night, doesn't appear high on the Trump "bad" list either. Even courts of law have sought to impress on the president something his own staff and lawyers can't make him remember: Words matter, in terms of tone and substance. That's why, on both fronts, Trump's call for "unity" in the wake of a horrific attack on members of Congress was immediately flattened by Trump himself. By impugning the motives of the special counsel and those working for him – they are "very bad and conflicted people" conducting a "WITCH HUNT," according to the president's tweets – he is taking the classic Trump distraction strategy a step further. Or, with his renewed attacks of the Clintons, perhaps it's a step back. Regardless, if the president wants the scrutiny to disappear or wants a new tone in Washington, he's striking out, with or without the congressional baseball game.
DISSECTING THAT ODD DEPUTY AG STATEMENT
The deputy attorney general left folks scratching their heads Thursday night, after he issued a cryptic statement, seemingly out of the blue, urging Americans to "exercise caution" before trusting stories attributed to anonymous officials. The note from the top official overseeing all Russia-related probes did not mention a certain headline, though there have been plenty of explosive ones over the past few days. The statement seemed in-step with the messaging from the White House. The president and his team continue to express deep fury and frustration with leaks and unnamed sources. Earlier in the day, President Trump had been on a Twitter tirade about "fake news" and stories that the newly appointed special counsel was investigating him outright for possible obstruction of justice. But perhaps Rod Rosenstein was getting out ahead of a coming bombshell -- who knows? Former U.S. attorney from New York Preet Bharara tweeted this rebuttal: "Americans should also exercise caution before accepting as true lies about firing of FBI Director & defamation of a war hero special counsel," ABC News' MaryAlice Parks notes.
NEED TO READ with ABC News' Adam Kelsey
Vice President Mike Pence hires outside counsel for Russia probe. Vice President Mike Pence has retained the services of attorney Richard Cullen to represent him in legal matters related to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. http://abcn.ws/2rBu9HN
Democrats win annual baseball game one day after shooting. The day after a gunman opened fire at a baseball practice for members of the Republican congressional delegation, the team carried on with the Congressional Baseball Game, falling to a squad of rival Democrats 11-2 in a friendly matchup amid concerns over the intensity of the partisan fervor in the United States. Congressional Sports for Charity said it raised over $1 million for the game "due to the outpouring of support and generosity" from sponsors. http://abcn.ws/2trNyMq
Talk of gun control notably absent following Scalise shooting. For years, after a mass shooting, there would inevitably be a debate of some sort on gun control on Capitol Hill. But Thursday, only a few Democrats fell back on familiar gun control talking points and frustration about the abundance of weapons in the U.S. Instead, by and large, the tone was different than after past tragedies. http://abcn.ws/2sgjELM
ANALYSIS from Cokie Roberts: Politics can kill. When I was 10 years old, whispers spread around my school in suburban Washington, D.C. -- there had been a shooting in the Capitol. Even then news spread, and we were terrified. http://abcn.ws/2szJHAT
US official says almost 4K more US troops to be sent to Afghanistan; most will train, advise Afghan forces. https://t.co/x5pbdRuhUE— The Associated Press (@AP) June 16, 2017
On June 1, Spicer said White House is "focused on the president's agenda" & would not talk about Russia any further but tweets continue. https://t.co/mOm8CtmjX1— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) June 15, 2017
Record ticket sales for Congressional Baseball Game: 24,959 tickets sold.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) June 16, 2017
Now there's a sight you don't see every day pic.twitter.com/U55jID81Qz— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) June 15, 2017