The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Obama's SCOTUS strategy | Clinton, Sanders in Nevada dead heat | CNN town hall with Cruz, Rubio, Carson at 8 p.m. EST | Trump at rival 'Morning Joe' town hall | Jeb chest bumps Dubya

DEVELOPING THIS A.M. -- APPLE REFUSES TO UNLOCK TERRORIST'S IPHONE: Via The Washington Post's J. Freedom du Lac and Ellen Nakashima, hours after a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the Silicon Valley giant responded with a heck no. 

"Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone."

TRUMP'S TAKE: Via The Hill's Katie Bo Williams, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump Jr. adds to legal team ahead of Senate meeting Conway: Trump doesn't think he's lying on voter fraud, wiretap claims 'The Simpsons' turned down Trump guest appearance on show: producer MORE slammed Apple for not unlocking the iPhone. "To think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cellphone," Trump said on "Fox and Friends" Wednesday morning. "Who do they think they are? No, we have to open it up."

JUST RELEASED – TRUMP INCREASES S.C. LEAD: Via The Hill's Bradford Richardson, Donald Trump leads the GOP field with 35 percent support according to a new Monmouth University poll, nearly doubling that of his nearest competitor, Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzGOP wrestles with soaring deductibles in healthcare bill Cruz: Tax reform chances ‘drop significantly’ if healthcare fails Ex-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis MORE (R-Texas) at 19 percent. Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioMexican politicians have a new piñata: Donald Trump Bush ethics lawyer: Congress must tell Trump not to fire Mueller The private alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program  MORE (R-Fla.) places third with 17 percent support, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) with 9 percent, Jeb Bush with 8 percent and Ben Carson with 7 percent.

SHIFT IN MOMENTUM -- S.C. MAY BE BAD NEWS BEARS FOR CRUZ: Via The Hill's Niall Stanage, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has been banking on a strong win in South Carolina, but his support appears to have plateaued. Why: Observers say attacks on Cruz's campaign tactics from his rivals is fueling this.

It's Wednesday and the Duke-UNC rivalry heats up again tonight! Be prepared for your Twitter feeds to be consumed by this game. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of what you missed this morning -- and what's on tap for the rest of the day. Send comments, story ideas and happy thoughts to and on Facebook

NEW POLL -- SANDERS, CLINTON NECK-IN-NECK IN NEVADA: Via The Hill's Bradford Richardson, just days before this weekend's Nevada Democratic caucuses, Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders keeping door open on 2020 Parliamentarian deals setback to GOP repeal bill OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? MORE is in a dead heat with Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump Jr. adds to legal team ahead of Senate meeting Trump: Democrats, Russians laughing at 'phony Russian Witch Hunt' Scaramucci makes Sunday shows debut with vow to stop WH leaks MORE. Clinton leads with 48 percent, with Sanders at 47.

LET THE SCOTUS FIGHT COMMENCE: Via The Hill's Jordan FabianPresident Obama has one major goal in picking Justice Scalia's successor: making it as hard as possible for Republicans to block. How to accomplish that: While the administration won't release a short list of potential nominees, Democrats will likely break a gender or racial barrier -- or find someone Republicans won't have a legitimate reason for blocking.

ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, YA BROKE ME DOWN: Via The Hill's Scott Wong, Paul RyanPaul RyanGingrich, small biz to launch major tax cut campaign GOP divided over care for transgender troops Want bipartisan health reform? Make the debate honest again MORE had one personal demand before accepting the Speaker's gavel: He wanted his weekends home with his kids, not fundraising. But he's now coming to terms with that responsibility, and sources told The Hill he is planning to team up with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in March for a fundraising swing through California.

LOOK, I CAN BE COOL! LOVE ME. LOVE ME! Via The Hill's Amie Parnes, Hillary Clinton is looking for likeability by taking more selfies and having more star-studded appearances with celebrities. Think Katy Perry, Lena Dunham and all the selfie sticks.

THE NIGHT OWL SIDE TO TED CRUZ: Via The Washington Post's Katie Zezima, here's a fun look at Ted Cruz's tendency to stay up late having dinners at 10 p.m. and meetings that run until 2 a.m. As Chip Roy, his former Senate chief of staff put it: "You didn't often try to set 7 a.m. radio interviews or television shows because it didn't really fit his rhythm."

TWEET STORM OF THE DAY: Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCalifornia Dem sworn in as House member after delay Party leaders spar over swearing in of Becerra replacement State politics hold up California's new congressman MORE (D-Calif.), a surrogate for Hillary Clinton, went on a Twitter tear this morning about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Here's one: "If Sanders is campaigning on immigration reform & supporting Latinos, fine. But he should explain his spotty record & how he'll get it done."

BROTHERLY LOVE: Jeb Bush chest-bumps former President George W. Bush, saying, "I love ya."



Politico's Ken Vogel (the photos are adorable)
I was talking w/ my then-GF (now wife) on phone, which Hillary borrowed to apologize for me being on trail on [Valentine's Day]

The Boston Globe's Matt Viser
Curious why Jeb Bush recently ditched his glasses? Here's his response, via [NBC News's] Peter Alexander

Politico's John Bresnahan
Obama clearly not used to getting applauded at the end of press conferences. CUZ REPORTERS DON'T APPLAUD!!! 

Fox and Friends (so this happened...)
Does Hillary Clinton's barking sound like a real dog? We put the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show champ to the test!



Congress is on recess this week.

3 p.m. EST: The U.S. Justice Action Network will release a poll on criminal justice reform in six states.

6 p.m. EST: Hillary Clinton holds a fundraiser in Chicago, Ill.

7 p.m. EST: Donald Trump holds a rally in Sumter, S.C.

9 a.m. EST tomorrow: Sen. Tim ScottTim ScottTrump squeezes 'no' vote Heller at healthcare lunch The Hill's 12:30 Report Guess who’s stumping for states' rights? MORE (R-S.C.) campaigns with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Greenville, S.C.

11:45 a.m. EST: Jeb Bush holds a town hall in Columbia, S.C.

1 p.m. EST tomorrow: Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig, who briefly ran for president as Democrat before dropping out last November, and others hold a sit-in at the U.S. Capitol to protest big money in politics. 

2 p.m. EST tomorrow: Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) holds a town hall in Clemson, S.C.



7 p.m. EST: Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) will join Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball" from Hilton Head, S.C.

8 p.m. EST: CNN is holding a town hall for Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Rubio, announced Saturday.

Tweet from The Boston Globe's Matt Viser: Difference between a "town hall" in NH and SC? In SC, there are no questions from actual voters. Just a 45-minute stump speech.

ALSO AT 8 p.m. EST: MSNBC's "Morning Joe" is holding a rivaling town hall event featuring Donald Trump, announced yesterday. This should cause a stir.

9 p.m. EST: The Duke-UNC men's basketball game.



Today is National Café au Lait day!

MUST HAVE BEEN QUITE THE EXCLUSIVE PARTY: Paul McCartney was denied from a club where Tyga was playing after the Grammys. At least he had a good sense of humor about it. "How VIP do we gotta get?" McCartney joked. "We need another hit, guys. We need another hit. Work on it!"

IN CASE YOU AREN'T HUNGRY FOR LUNCH YET: Here is a new live stream feed inside Georgetown Cupcake. It's amazing.

THE SADDEST THING I'VE READ TODAY: A few brands of grated Parmesan cheese contain high levels of wood pulp.

WHAT'S BUZZING ON FACEBOOK: No one can agree on the answer to this brainteaser – and it's driving everyone crazy.

And with that, here's a penguin couple that spent the weekend celebrating their 22nd Valentine's Day together (!) -- complete with champagne and fish.


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