The Note: Comey is back and Trump is his target

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Welcome back, James Comey.

In this grand national drama, he has been a missing figure, save for some enigmatic tweets, for the 10 months since the congressional testimony that rocked Washington.

Comey bursts back on the scene Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, with the full George Stephanopoulos interview about his forthcoming book, “A Higher Loyalty.” (Look for a first clip Friday morning on “Good Morning America.”)

He is already filling screens, with harsh judgments about President Donald Trump and colorful details in his book about what Comey viewed as Trump’s attempt to secure loyalty – behavior he equates to that of mafia boss “Sammy the Bull.” There’s enough in the book for both sides to love and hate Comey all over again.

Andrew Harnik/APFormer FBI Director James Comey takes his seat to testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Trump can trace so many of his headaches – from the appointment of a special counsel, right through this week’s raids on his lawyer’s home and office – to his fateful decision to fire Comey.

Comey challenges the narrative of Trump’s time in office in fundamental ways, even calling his presidency a “forest fire.” Once again, it will be how Trump responds – and whether he is singed, or truly feels burned – that will define this stretch of the presidency.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

President Trump may succeed in orchestrating an elevated international response to the alleged actions by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. If so, it could significantly change his appearance and relationships on the world stage.

During the first year of his administration, the president’s go-to “America First” agenda and rhetoric often left U.S. allies on the defensive or at arm’s length.

Yang Chenglin/Xinhua via NewscomPresident Donald Trump delivers a speech at the White House on April 12, 2018.

But this week, Trump’s reflexive pushback to what looked to be another horrific chemical weapons attack set the scene for international cooperation once again. Both France and the United Kingdom are in active talks with the U.S. about coordinating possible next steps in Syria. What’s more, those steps could pit the international community against Russia in a whole new way, something plenty in Western Europe have been eagerly awaiting.

Locking in multi-lateral commitments, though, can take time and the clock is ticking – with political and perhaps military consequences – since Trump threatened a missile strike.

The TIP with John Parkinson

After announcing his impending retirement, House Speaker Paul Ryan adamantly defended his speakership Thursday, tightening his grip on the Speaker’s gavel by passionately touting his fundraising prowess and punctuating his case as a no-brainer for Republicans hoping to retain the House majority.

“You all know that I came into this job as a policy guy, not a political guy, not a fundraiser. I have shattered every fundraising record any speaker has ever set,” Ryan, R-Wis., said. “So there is nobody who’s come close to being able to raise the kind of funds I have, and still can raise for this majority.”

Ryan insisted he will serve as House Speaker until the end of the 115th Congress next January.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesSpeaker of the House Paul Ryan announces his retirement during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2018.

“It’s obviously in our interest to keeping our majority that every player is on the field, fighting for this majority and raising for this majority, and it makes no sense to take the biggest fundraiser off the field, and I think almost all of our members see it that way as well,” he said.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

• The President has no public events scheduled.

• Vice President Mike Pence heads to Peru for the Summit of the Americas being held in Lima over the weekend.

• Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks at the DOJ National Crime Victim’s Rights Week awards ceremony at 12:30 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.” – Former FBI director James Comey, in an excerpt from his upcoming book, “A Higher Loyalty.”

NEED TO READ

President Trump poised to pardon Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, sources say. President Donald Trump is poised to pardon Scooter J. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to sources familiar with the president’s thinking. (Jonathan Karl, Katherine Faulders and John Santucci) https://abcn.ws/2GTWFkl

Comey book claims President Trump sought loyalty like mafia boss ‘Sammy the Bull’s’ induction ceremony. Donald Trump engaged in a months-long effort to secure the loyalty of then-FBI Director James Comey in a series of meetings and phone calls that began in the presidential transition period — behavior Comey likens to that of a mafia boss, Comey writes in a book set for release next week. (Rick Klein) https://abcn.ws/2IPlzhx

In raid, investigators searched for records of Trump’s dealings with National Enquirer. The search warrant executed this week for documents and records belonging to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, included specific mentions of the media company that owns The National Enquirer, according to two sources familiar with the warrant. (John Santucci, Katherine Faulders and Kyra Phillips) https://abcn.ws/2JIpHBo

Pompeo faces testy Senate confirmation hearing. Former CIA director Mike Pompeo is facing a testy Senate confirmation hearing Thursday as he vies to become the next secretary of state. (Mariam Khan) https://abcn.ws/2IOMbzd

‘No final decision’ on Syria after Trump meets with national security team: WH. President Donald Trump met with his national security team Thursday to discuss Syria but no final decision has been made about a U.S. response to a suspected chemical attack by the Syrian regime, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. (Cheyenne Haslett and Arlette Saenz) https://abcn.ws/2JDKd60

Trump legal confidant Joe diGenova urges president to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. President Donald Trump should fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to a long-time Washington attorney and political commentator who has emerged as a new legal confidant to the president. (Justin Fishel) https://abcn.ws/2IQSH8v

Trump warns Syria response ‘could be very soon or not so soon at all.’ President Donald Trump “never said when an attack on Syria would take place,” he tweeted this morning, referring to the possible U.S. response to Syria’s suspected chemical attack. (Justin Doom and Cheyenne Haslett) https://abcn.ws/2JDKd60

Fired EPA staffer tells Democrats Pruitt directed more spending on travel. A fired Environmental Protection Agency staffer met with congressional Democrats this week to answer questions about administrator Scott Pruitt’s ethics scandals, accusing the embattled Trump appointee of flouting spending guidelines to stay at pricey hotels overseas and planning trips based on personal preference. (Stephanie Ebbs and Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2Hihpl3

RNC prepares aggressive plan to discredit Comey ahead of media blitz. As former FBI director James Comey prepares for the release of his new book coupled with a media blitz beginning Sunday, the Republican National Committee has prepared an aggressive response to discredit him. (Katherine Faulders) https://abcn.ws/2v5pXah

Syria strategy not to engage in civil war, but some things ‘inexcusable’: Mattis. Speaking at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Mattis made the comments as justification for last year’s U.S. missile strikes on Syria but did not suggest what military action the administration might take in Syria in the coming days. (Sarah Kolinovsky) https://abcn.ws/2qqUNo8

The New York Times reports on the effects of the Missouri governor scandal on the state’s Republican-leaning Senate race. https://nyti.ms/2EEyal7

FiveThirtyEight reports on the way both conservatives and liberals could find themselves disappointed should Scott Pruitt be fired. https://53eig.ht/2GTAHtD

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