The Note: Republicans face year-end messes of their own making

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The TAKE with Rick Klein

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They didn’t repeal. They never replaced. They built up defenses around the president, but they didn’t build his wall.

Now, the GOP faces a year-end crush of headlines and deadlines that are direct consequences of their actions –- or the lack thereof.

A partial shutdown of the government looms at the end of the week. If it happens, it will be because President Donald Trump continues to insist on a border wall that Republicans don’t care enough about to pay for while they still control all of Congress.

That issue is now enmeshed in a revived debate over migrant separations at the border, following the death of a 7-year-old in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody.

Meanwhile, a federal judge’s ruling has thrown Obamacare — all of it — into doubt just weeks before Republicans surrender control of the House. They’ll face pressure before the holidays to respond in ways that protect those who they’ve promised to protect.

Republican leaders almost certainly will punt to the new Congress when it comes to both spending and health care. It figures to be a relatively quiet legislative end to single-party governance –- with plenty of noise to come.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Trump’s personal lawyer on Sunday argued that an act deemed illegal by a federal court was not actually a crime.

“He pleads guilty to an individual crime, that isn’t even a crime,” Rudy Giuliani told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos about the plea deal and sentence that Trump’s former fixer and personal lawyer Michael Cohen accepted.

In the audacious statement, Giuliani went beyond arguing that prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence of a crime, that Cohen was not a trustworthy witness or that the whole thing would not have held up before a jury. He went straight to questioning the law itself, though that part is simply not up to him.

It’s up to the court, which, again, already decided.

What’s more, in typical Trumpian, “always-keep-punching” fashion, Giuliani also never expressed any regret, remorse or frustration on behalf of the president about the fact that these hush-money payments were made in the first place — and done in a way to skirt regulators.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

The 2020 polling floodgates are beginning to open and if there’s any conclusion to be drawn, perhaps it’s that the invisible primary’s earlier-than-ever start has done little to boost its eager participants.

In a CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa Caucus goers released Saturday, the top three finishers were former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, which syncs with a national CNN poll released Friday that featured the same top three.

Though it’s still extremely early, the news isn’t great for the crowded field of hopefuls who seem unlikely to match Biden’s and Sanders’ name recognition and O’Rourke’s star power. In the national CNN poll, 36 percent of respondents hadn’t heard of Sen. Cory Booker and 41 percent hadn’t heard of Sen. Kamala Harris, the fourth and fifth place finishers, respectively — numbers that bode even worse for the 15-plus candidates who trail the two senators.

And while it’s true that Trump wasn’t even being mentioned at this same point in 2014, none of those Democrats has a weekly reality show that is popular in the homes of millions of Americans, so the comparison falls flat.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Devin Dwyer, who explains Friday’s court ruling on the Affordable Care Act and how it affects anyone currently on a plan. And, ABC News’ Luis Martinez explains why the president is paying close attention to the case of a former Green Beret accused of murder. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Former FBI Director James Comey will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill.
  • The president meets with outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke at 1:45 p.m.
  • Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in a Christmas reception at 5:15 p.m.
  • U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will hold a conference call briefing at 11 a.m. to announce the results of the latest national estimate of the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
  • The Note has a new look! Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.





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