THE TAKE with ABC News’ Rick Klein
Russia rockets back into the headlines today, and the timing couldn’t be more urgent. The top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are issuing a rare public update on their investigation on Russia’s meddling in the elections, with headlines likely about any Trump campaign knowledge or involvement, and specific tactics employed by the Russians. But the urgency comes as much from the present state of affairs as from the past. Facebook this week disclosed that ads bought by accounts linked to the Russian government reached some 10 million people – with more than half of those impressions coming *after* the election. That means that any alleged collusion was the beginning of the story, not the end. “Fake news” stories and false and malicious tweets with possible Russian ties came up in response to the NFL kneeling controversy as well as the Las Vegas shooting – clear signs that whatever the Russians did, they are still doing it, and daily. The story began as one about elections, and there’s another big election 13 months from now. It’s become bigger than that – about a divided society where any enemy on the outside is skilled at and eager to exploit rifts within. That should be a wake-up call for President Trump. It should be the same for every American who is exposed to and influenced by the giants that have become social media.
LASTING IMAGE OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S PUERTO RICO TRIP?
The video of President Trump tossing single rolls of paper towels into a raucous crowd at a church in Puerto Rico went viral. Critics on social media blasted the president for what seemed to be a casual, emotionally disconnected moment. It sparked the now regularly asked question: “Can you imagine Obama, or Bush, doing this?” Start with the way Trump has spoken about the U.S. territory — his use of the words “us” and “them,” and his frequent mentions of Puerto Rico’s debt. For his critics, pictures of paper-towel jump shots captured what they say has been his lack of understanding for the immense devastation and suffering on the ground. Flashback to President Bush’s first trip to the Gulf Coast after Katrina. All anybody remembers is a quote: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” But before that, Bush walked through damaged neighborhoods in Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans, hugging distraught residents who told him all they had left were the clothes on their backs. Bush’s message was somber – the federal government had not done its best job, but his administration was working to address urgent problems. None of that seemed to matter because of one tone-deaf quote, ABC News’ Karen Travers writes. Where does this video of President Trump stack up next to that?
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr and Vice Chair Mark Warner will hold a news conference at 12:15 p.m. on the committee’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation are collaborating to launch News Match 2017, a $3 million fundraising campaign to benefit nonprofit and investigative news organizations.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.” —President Trump
NEED TO READ
After Las Vegas, Democrats seething over gun control inaction in Congress. Democrats, seething over GOP inaction on gun control, are planning a demonstration outside the U.S. Capitol and pushing piecemeal gun control legislation after the deadliest shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas Sunday night. House Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and former Rep. Gabby Giffords, will hold a “call to action” this morning on the steps of the Capitol. http://abcn.ws/2hK2dlQ
Top Democrat demands answers on whether Kushner, others used private email for diplomacy. Amid recent revelations that some White House advisers have used private email accounts to conduct official government business, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is demanding to know if any White House officials communicated via private email or text with a representative of a foreign government, political party or international organization. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., has sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House counsel Don McGahn asking for that information as well as communications that senior State Department or embassy officials — including Tillerson — had through such “unofficial channels.” http://abcn.ws/2xOjOzr
Nikki Haley issued warning over political tweet violating Hatch Act. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley received a warning from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel after a complaint was filed alleging Haley violated a law that prohibits executive branch officials from participating in political activity when she retweeted a message endorsing a Republican congressional candidate in June. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alerted OSC to the potential infraction after Haley retweeted a tweet by President Donald Trump advocating for the election of Republican Ralph Norman in the South Carolina special election. http://abcn.ws/2fPwb7w
US expels 15 Cuban diplomats from embassy in Washington. ABC News
6 fresh horrors from the Equifax CEO’s congressional hearing. Wired
Senators question whether Wells Fargo CEO is the right person to lead bank’s turnaround. Los Angeles Times
Pence’s chief of staff floats “purge” of anti-Trump Republicans to wealthy donors. Politico
House approves GOP bill outlawing most late-term abortions. The Associated Press
Rep. Trent Franks Op-ed: Late abortion bill deserves a straight up or down vote in the Senate. Fox News
Rep. Tim Murphy, popular with pro-life movement, urged abortion in affair, texts suggest. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pence donates blood “to raise awareness for those in need in Las Vegas.” ABC News