The Note: Trump picks bad timing for fight with GOP allies

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PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks to Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the opening ceremony of the NATO summit at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.PlayGeoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
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Republican lawmakers believe President Donald Trump has made a "catastrophic mistake" with a "shortsighted and irresponsible" decision that "poses a significant threat to our national security" and has "implications far beyond" the matter at hand.

They're referring, of course, to the president's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria -- not anything connected to the impeachment inquiry that threatens to paralyze his presidency.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks to Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the opening ceremony of the NATO summit at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
President Donald Trump speaks to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the opening ceremony of the NATO summit at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

But the issues could be connected anyway.

His surprise move raises fresh questions about how the president conducts foreign policy by impulse and edict, while adding Turkey to the list of countries where the president's personal connections and private communications will draw scrutiny.

It also puts more strain on the emerging Republican defense that Trump may have been joking when he told China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Many top Republicans have counseled themselves -- and others who would listen -- to focus on what Trump does, rather than what he says. Now, though, Trump is both saying and doing things that fly in the face of Republican orthodoxy -- and in ways that have serious national-security implications.

This might not prove to be the best moment for Trump to go to war with his Republican Party, over an issue of war and peace, no less.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Defenders of the president have tried to dismiss the commander in chief's statements of the last few days, by arguing that he was joking and not actually imploring China last week to investigate Biden and his son.

PHOTO: Jim Jordan appears on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Oct. 6, 2019. ABC News
Jim Jordan appears on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Oct. 6, 2019.

Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, dodged the fundamental question about whether asking China for that type of assistance is right or appropriate. Again and again, Jordan claimed that the president was not being serious.

"You really think he was serious about thinking that China is going to investigate the Biden family?" Jordan asked in response to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos' question.

The lingering problem, of course, is that the White House has yet to agree with that. Asked specifically if the president was in fact joking or kidding or being glib, the White House has been silent.

So, by extension, either the president was not kidding and Republicans have it wrong, or he was but the White House is hesitating to confirm to the American people -- and Congress -- that it is hard to know when exactly they can take their president seriously.

The TIP with Rachel Scott and Will Steakin

As Trump battles Democrats over an intensifying impeachment inquiry, his campaign has been working quietly for months to tighten rules around choosing delegates to next year's Republican National Convention.

PHOTO: Donald Trump accepts the Republican nomination for President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images, FILE
Donald Trump accepts the Republican nomination for President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016.

The effort has resulted in rule changes in 37 states and territories, Trump campaign officials said Monday.

While the campaign argues their push for these changes wasn't made to fend off primary challengers or to avoid dissenting RNC floor speeches, the result will essentially be just that: the possibility of rival speeches will be dramatically minimized along with the presence of Republican challengers at next year's convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The rule changes couldn't come at a better time for Trump. He could be the first president to run for re-election after being impeached, putting even more pressure on the RNC and the campaign to put on what they're calling a "four day television commercial" for the president and not an "internal debate."


Energy Secretary Rick Perry is pushing back against allegations that the Trump administration used its dealing in Ukraine to investigate political rivals or possibly steer business toward campaign donors, saying he's "extremely comfortable" that there was no "quid pro quo."


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast.Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on the bipartisan backlash over President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from a key part of Syria. Then, ABC News' Aaron Katersky breaks down the latest court ruling on the president's tax returns.

ABC News' "The Investigation" podcast. Coming on the heels of ABC News' exclusive reporting that a second whistleblower has stepped forward to express concerns about President Donald Trump's July 25th phone call with the president of Ukraine, the team from "The Investigation" talks with the reporter who broke the story. Brad Moss, a lawyer who specializes in whistleblower law, also weighs in on his concerns about protecting the whistleblower's identity in light of Trump's claims that he deserves the right to confront his accuser.


  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at 1 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., the president presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Edwin Meese.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., attends a high school town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, at 9:30 a.m. He attends another town hall at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire, at 1 p.m. He also participates in a health policy town hall with medical professionals in Lebanon, New Hampshire, at 3:30 p.m. He later hosts a meet and greet with Dartmouth College Young Democrats in Hanover, New Hampshire, at 6 p.m.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has a conversation with Boone County residents at the McHose Park Shelter in Boone, Iowa, at 3 p.m. He later has a conversation with West Des Moines residents in Des Moines, Iowa, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, hosts Coffee and Toffee with Tulsi in three different cities throughout Iowa, starting at 11 a.m. She later hosts a house party in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at 6 p.m.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., attends a Women for Kamala Precinct Captains Meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, at 9:45 a.m. She later visits small businesses in Des Moines, Iowa, at 11 a.m.
  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., attends town meetings in Concord, Loudon and Lyndeborough in New Hampshire starting at 6:30 p.m.
  • Marianne Williamson attends Pints and Politics with Marianne Williamson in Charleston, South Carolina, at 5 p.m.
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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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