The Note: Fake news or real, the Trump-McConnell bromance was on display

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The TAKE with Rick Klein

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When President Trump declared that he’s “closer than he’s ever been” to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the two men were practically touching each other.

Real or fake, temporary or lasting, the fact that Trump chose to highlight this particular alliance just days after Steve Bannon’s declaration of war on the establishment was an unmistakable signal that the president wants to get serious about governing. Whether or not he succeeds in talking Bannon out of supporting primary challengers, Trump has chosen sides — at least for now.

But his side is crowded — not with allies, but with agenda items that the president tossed over to his “friend” to handle.

Taxes are the biggest immediate challenge. Now add drug prices, health care, the Iran deal, and welfare reform (where did that come from?), and Senate GOP leaders are facing a complicated slate of issues.

Each has its own challenge and each is linked. Success could beget success — and failure could give birth to some ugly results. Alliances and rivalries impact the ability to move forward.

Headline grabbing distractions — such as the inexplicable claim that Trump respects the families of fallen soldiers more than his predecessors and the predictable sparring with Hillary Clinton — further complicate efforts to remain clearly focused on broader goals.

When McConnell and his colleagues are back on Capitol Hill – alone – they get to answer for Trump’s wanderings.

Come what may, Trump made something clear before his all-over-the-map news conference: For the lack of legislative accomplishments, he said, “I’m not going to blame myself.”

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

FIRST ON ABC — Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense will announce later today that their grassroots activists plan is to call Congress one million times this year in opposition to any NRA-backed bills on silencers and concealed carry reciprocity.

Plus, the national groups, which grew out of the Sandy Hook mass casualty shooting, say they will engage in the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial race as well. Their members plan to make 100,000 calls to get-out-the-vote in the battleground state in the next three weeks.

“The calls are part of a broader effort to #RejectTheNRA in the wake of Vegas — volunteers across the country are hosting 700+ events this month…. We’ll prove that while the NRA represents the gun manufacturers, we have the people — which we will demonstrate by lighting up people’s phones,” organizers wrote to ABC News.

The TIP with Ali Rogin

President Donald Trump called Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chairman Lamar Alexander over the weekend to encourage “a bipartisan agreement with Senator (Patty) Murray that would help stabilize premiums so people wouldn’t be hurt by these skyrocketing premiums,” Sen. Alexander told reporters Monday.

He added that Trump also called him the previous Saturday.

Alexander suggested that Trump and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer are encouraging him to achieve a bipartisan deal with Murray – but he notably didn’t mention his own leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Alexander and Murray have been negotiating an agreement, but have hit roadblocks as Republicans want more concessions from Democrats.

The big question: What influence did the Trump call have on those talks?

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:

  • On the opioid crisis: ABC News has an exclusive interview today with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
  • A new ABC News/Washington Post poll out today examines attitudes about the Harvey Weinstein scandal and inappropriate sexual conduct.
  • President Donald Trump meets with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece and will then hold a joint press conference around noon.
  • President Donald Trump will talk tax reform at The Heritage Foundation’s annual President’s Club Meeting at 7:30 p.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden and Governor John Kasich, R-Ohio, sit down today to discuss partisan fractures in Washington, D.C. https://sites.udel.edu/udlive
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

    “No, not at all.” President Donald Trump on whether he is considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

    NEED TO READ

  • Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of desertion and misbehavior following his 2009 disappearance and capture by the Taliban. http://abcn.ws/2ytk1bl

  • Key moments from President Trump’s wide-ranging press conference with Mitch McConnell. The relationship between President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is “outstanding,” the president said Monday, refuting reports of the growing frustrations between the two powerful Republicans. http://abcn.ws/2ystbUN
  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took an impassioned swipe at “half-baked, spurious nationalism” Monday night while accepting the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia. http://abcn.ws/2zfi0fF
  • Trump says he ended insurers’ ‘gravy train’ by cutting subsidy payments. President Donald Trump said Monday that his move to end government subsidies to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act ended the “gravy train.” http://abcn.ws/2gKsD3k
  • In an interview with The Nation, San Antonio Spurs’ future Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich rips President Donald Trump, calling him a “soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others”.
  • Sourse: abcnews.go.com

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