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The TAKE with Rick Klein

© Pete Marovich/Pool/Getty Images

The grand debate in Washington now is about the power of words — what they mean when coming from former President Donald Trump and those aligned with him, as well as those in his party aligned against him.

The words submitted by Trump’s impeachment defense team themselves matter even before the Senate trial begins next week. The former president’s team is asserting that there was nothing improper about his plea for a state election official to “find” votes for him, and won’t even concede the falsity of him telling rally-goers Jan. 6 that “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.”

“The extent (the impeachment document) alleges his opinion is factually in error, the 45th President denies this allegation,” Trump’s legal team wrote in their official filing.

© Pete Marovich/Pool/Getty Images President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for his last time as President, Jan. 20, 2021, in Joint Base Andrews, Md.

Wednesday is a potentially momentous day for the Republican Party. The day after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s long-awaited conversation with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rep. Liz Cheney could face a reckoning inside her conference over her impeachment vote.

The impending trial guarantees refreshed memories of the horrors that took place at the Capitol less than a month ago. Any thought the trial would turn on narrow constitutional questions is effectively out, given Trump’s strategy of defiance.

It’s telling that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has had more to say about the House GOP drama than McCarthy, his House counterpart. McConnell recognizes the stakes not just of Trump and the likes of Greene, but of the words that have the ability to both empower and endanger.

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

Tuesday’s confirmation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, paired with Biden signing three executive orders focused on immigration, solidified the new administration’s inheritance of several, layered repercussions stemming from Trump-era immigration policies.

According to Biden’s executive actions, as head of the DHS, Mayorkas will now steer a task force focused on migrant family reunification, overseeing the development of a strategy to address irregular migration across the southern border and reviewing the scope of Trump’s immigration policies.

© Jacquelyn Martin/AP Vice President Kamala Harris swears in Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, accompanied by his wife Tanya Mayorkas, Feb. 2, 2021, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

“There’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed. I’m not making new law, I’m eliminating bad policy,” Biden said on Tuesday.

While the first part of that statement seemed to offer a defense of his near-daily use of executive orders to roll back Trump policies, the rest of Biden’s comment could be interpreted as a precursor to possible questions about whether Tuesday’s executive orders currently do enough to begin clearing up the nation’s clouded immigration system.

In a potential preview of the kind of feedback the White House could face in the coming days, Human Rights Watch associate director of the U.S. program, Clara Long, told ABC News on Tuesday that while she was supportive of “the way the Biden administration has framed up its intention to restore asylum at the border,” she was also “a bit disappointed that it hasn’t gone further” by having left in place problematic policies including summary expulsions under public health authority.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

It’s been a month since the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and one of the leaders of the Republicans’ last-ditch effort to help Trump subvert the election is cashing in on his loyalty to the former president.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley — the first senator to publicly announce plans to challenge Biden’s victory in Congress — raked in nearly $1 million in January, his best monthly haul since his first election to the Senate in 2018, according to a new memo from his campaign.

© Drew Angerer/Getty Images Sen. Josh Hawley walks through the Senate subway on his way to a vote at the Capitol, Feb. 2, 2021.

“It is crystal clear that a strong majority of Missouri voters and donors stand firmly with Senator Hawley, in spite of the continued false attacks coming from the radical left,” the memo from Hawley’s pollster, Wes Anderson, concluded. His early fundraising success is a sharp counterpoint to the backlash he received from three high-profile donors in Missouri who disavowed him and the more than two dozen prominent companies who pulled back their corporate PAC giving to political campaigns, some specifically targeting the GOP lawmakers who, like Hawley, objected to the election results in Congress.

On the eve of impeachment week, the surge in grassroots support offers a glimpse into why the Republican refuses to show contrition for his actions leading up to Jan. 6, continues to resist calls for his resignation, and will likely reinforce his penchant to stay closely aligned to Trump. It’s also an early sign, but a strong one, that the gap within the GOP between the ever-loyal Trump faction and the establishment wing looking to move on from the former president could be widening.


ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features an investigative report on concussions and the NFL with ABC’s Ryan Smith. Then, ABC News Legal Analyst Kate Shaw breaks down what we know about the arguments in former President Donald Trump‘s second impeachment trial. And, ABC News Senior Investigative Reporter Aaron Katersky reports on a shooting in Florida that left two FBI agents dead.


  • Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci appears on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger R-Ill., appears on ABC’s “The View.”
  • A congressional tribute will be held for the late-Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick at 10:30 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda where he is laying in honor. Members of Congress were invited to a visitation period from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. A ceremonial departure will take place at noon ahead of his interment at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris ceremonially swears in Pete Buttigieg as secretary of transportation in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at 9:30 a.m.
  • The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee considers the nomination of Gina Raimondo to be secretary of commerce at 9:30 a.m.
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations at 9:45 a.m.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of Miguel Cardona to be secretary of education at 10 a.m.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considers the nomination of Jennifer Granholm to be secretary of energy at 10 a.m.
  • The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of Isabella Guzman to be administrator of the Small Business Administration at 10:30 a.m.
  • The White House COVID-19 Response Team and federal public health officials hold a press briefing at 11 a.m.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a briefing at 1:30 p.m.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of Michael Regan to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency at 2:30 p.m.
  • First lady Jill Biden hosts a virtual event with spouses of senior Department of Defense and military leaders to discuss supporting military families at 3:30 p.m. Later, she will virtually thank the National Cancer Institute for their research at 4:45 p.m., ahead of World Cancer Day on Feb. 4.
  • President Joe Biden and the vice president receive the President’s Daily Brief at 5:30 p.m.

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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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