The TAKE with Rick Klein
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“We’re going to get it done,” President Donald Trump declared, in kicking off an extraordinary listening session on guns and school violence at the White House on Wednesday.
But who is “we”? What is “it”? And when will things be done?
When you get past the raw and powerful emotions on display in the room with the president, you necessarily move beyond the vague promises of action.
You also lose some of the urgency – “Fix it!” one parent who lost a daughter at Parkland demanded – that right now is so palpable and visible, the urgency the very many student and parent activists spawned in the past week.
The solutions outlined by the president so far include some with consensus and long histories of study, including expanded background checks and revised age limits on purchasing some weapons. Others are more controversial: Trump listed arming teachers and expanding mental health institutions as two ideas he’d like to pursue.
As wrenching as recent days have been, listening remains the easy part. Learning and leading will be what sets this moment apart. Those are far more complicated prospects, during a complicated presidency.
The RUNDOWN with Emily Goodin
If you’re looking for signs that President Trump is now dominating the notion of what it means to be a conservative, CPAC points the way.
Trump and his administration are heavily featured on the list of speakers at the conservative confab, with Trump himself speaking Friday and Vice President Mike Pence addressing the crowd today.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not attend, a spokesperson for the Conservative Political Action Conference confirmed to ABC News.
The schedule – which features panels with titles such as “An Affair to Remember: How the far left and the mainstream media got in bed together” – reflects the president’s agenda and indicates the conservative wing of the Republican Party is becoming the Trump wing of the GOP.
And the 2018 candidates in attendance reflect those Republicans who are tying their political fortunes to the president. For example, Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward, who has embraced the president and actively sought his endorsement, will be there. Sen. Ted Cruz, who embraced the president after the blistering 2016 GOP presidential primary, will address the crowd today. Meanwhile, Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney, who’s been critical of Trump in the past (although he accepted his endorsement last week), will not attend, according to his spokesperson.
The conference could also feature some controversy. NRA executive president Wayne LaPierre will address the gathering, both CPAC and the NRA confirmed, but neither would say when or which day. Gun control laws have dominated the news cycle since the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, last week and have sparked protests by students across the country.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump stands with National Rifle Association (NRA) President Wayne LaPierre (R) and NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox (L) during the NRA Leadership Forum in Atlanta, April 28, 2017.
Additionally, on Saturday, two panels on Second Amendment rights are on the agenda: Dick Heller, whose landmark Supreme Court case affirmed an individual’s right to own a gun for self-defense, will be there, and his talk will be followed by a panel discussion on “The Second Amendment: 10 years after Heller.”
Also making a rare public appearance at CPAC will be White House counsel Don McGahn, who will be interviewed by Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
The TIP with David Rind
He’s trading the concert stage for the political stage.
Kyle Frenette has spent the last decade managing the Grammy Award-winning indie rock band Bon Iver. Now, the 30-year-old is shifting careers, as he prepares to announce a run for Congress in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District. He’s expected to formally announce his candidacy today.
The Wisconsin native found early success in the music industry in 2007, after connecting with Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, and managing the band as its debut album –“For Emma, Forever Ago” – went platinum. In 2010, he co-founded Middle West Management, which describes itself as “an artist-management firm founded on the acute quiet of Midwestern work ethic.” In 2011, Frenette was named to “30 Under 30” lists for both Billboard and Forbes.
Frenette’s opening act in politics could face some tough crowds as he looks to unseat Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, a former district attorney and reality TV contestant who’s held the seat since 2011. President Trump won the district by 20 points in the 2016 election, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
Polk County attorney Margaret Engebretson announced her campaign for the Democratic nomination earlier this week. The state’s primary is Aug. 14.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
• The president meets with state and local officials on school safety this morning.
• Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at 10:35 a.m.
• The Federal Communications Commission is expected to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules today.
• Former Trump campaign staffer Sam Nunberg is expected to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it. And I’m pissed, because my daughter – I’m not going to see again. She’s not here, she’s not here. She’s at … King David Cemetery. That’s where I go to see my kid now.” – Andrew Pollack, father of Meadow Pollack, who was shot and killed last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Pollack spoke at a “listening session” held by President Trump.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty ImagesAndrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the Parkland school shooting, speaks during listening session on gun violence with President Donald Trump, teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 21, 2018.
NEED TO READ
Trump holds listening session with students on mass shootings. Students — including those who were impacted by the deadly mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school — shared emotional stories of their experiences and thought on preventing future shootings with President Donald Trump on Wednesday. (ABC News) http://abcn.ws/2FhzNqR
Pressure mounts for Manafort, Gates to strike deal as special counsel pace quickens. Special counsel investigators have spurred a flurry of court activity this past week as pressure mounts on two key targets who sources close to the case say are weighing whether to keep fighting the charges or cut deals to cooperate with the probe. (Trish Turner and Mike Levine) http://abcn.ws/2HD4Yhm
Former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg expected to meet with special counsel team. Nunberg is expected to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Thursday in Washington, according to a source with knowledge. (Tara Palmeri) http://abcn.ws/2HAe1zr
Trump’s former bodyguard paid $75,000 by RNC for security consulting. A firm run by Keith Schiller, the loyal bodyguard who followed Donald Trump from the boardroom to the Oval Office and then abruptly departed in September, has been added to the payroll of the Republican National Committee, federal campaign filings show. (Matthew Mosk, John Santucci and Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2Cdyw5K
Pentagon expected to make recommendation on transgender troops this week. Defense Secretary James Mattis will make his private recommendation to President Donald Trump this week on how to address military service by transgender individuals. (Elizabeth McLaughlin and Luis Martinez) http://abcn.ws/2EXIRne
Social media companies block abuse of Parkland shooting survivors online. Social media companies said on Wednesday they are moving to address reports of online harassment of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students in the wake of a deadly mass shooting and subsequent teen activism on gun policy reform. (Stephanie Ebbs) http://abcn.ws/2BGSCUM
Evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99. Graham, who brought evangelical Christianity into the mainstream, died Wednesday morning. As a spiritual adviser to U.S. presidents, he had great access to the White House. (ABC News) http://abcn.ws/2Hwv3yq
Democrats flip deep-red Kentucky House seat but Republicans still control that chamber. Democrats celebrated another state legislative victory Tuesday night, reclaiming a Kentucky State House seat where President Donald Trump received 72 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential election. (John Verhovek) http://abcn.ws/2onRcWZ
The New York Times reports on four Supreme Court decisions made Wednesday having to do with whistle-blowers, civil rights suits filed by prisoners, international terrorism and more. http://nyti.ms/2sLsViT