The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pressure builds on Sessions | WH dismisses calls for Sessions recusal | Carson confirmed as housing chief | Interior secretary rides horse to work | Rand PaulRand PaulTrump tells Democrats they need ‘courage’ to fix ObamaCare Fifth GOP senator announces opposition to ObamaCare repeal bill The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE says House keeping ObamaCare plan 'under lock and key'

BREAKING -- CARSON'S CONFIMED: The Senate on Thursday confirmed Ben Carson to be President Trump's secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Final vote: 58-41; he needed a simple majority. Democrats who voted for Carson: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerPolicymakers forget duty to protect taxpayers from financial failures Donna Brazile: Congress has duty to halt Trump on Russia sanctions Lawmakers told of growing cyber threat to election systems MORE (Va.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampSenate Dem undecided on 2018 reelection run Trump ‘regulatory czar’: Two-for-one rule can work Congress should just say no to more green energy handouts MORE (N.D.), Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate Banking panel huddles with regulators on bank relief Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief MORE (Ohio), Jon TesterJon TesterOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Trump's 'regulatory czar' advances in Senate Gianforte causes stir after becoming newest House member MORE (Mont.) and Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyLawmakers sport LSU gear at baseball game in honor of Scalise Senate votes to continue arming Saudis As Yemenis suffer the consequences Overnight Defense: Mattis defends Trump budget | Senate rejects effort to block Saudi deal | Boeing to cut 50 executive jobs MORE (Ind.). Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingZinke hits Dems for delaying Interior nominees Angus King: I’m sure Flynn will 'appear before the committee one way or another' GOP senators pleased with Ivanka Trump meeting on family leave, child tax credits MORE (Maine) also voted for Carson. http://bit.ly/2mPv2KJ

It's Thursday. MLB's opening day is one month from today! Spring is coming. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com@CateMartel and on Facebook.

TALK OF THE MORNING -- 'I DID NOT COMMUNICATE WITH RUSSIA' IS THE NEW 'I DID NOT HAVE RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN': Via The Washington Post's Adam EntousEllen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsPreet Bharara emailed DOJ about phone call from Trump: report Sessions backs LGBT Pride Month event Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel MORE spoke twice with Russia's ambassador to the United States last year, raising new questions about contact between Trump campaign officials and the Kremlin. Why this is so newsy now: Sessions did not disclose this information during his confirmation hearings, testifying under oath that he "did not have communications with the Russians." Keep in mind: Sessions was still a senator when he communicated with the ambassador, but Sessions was also an early supporter of Trump, stumping for him and introducing him at campaign rallies. Sessions formally joined Trump's campaign in February 2016. Full story: http://wapo.st/2md662M

MUST WATCH -- Actual footage of how Jeff Sessions feels about this news cycle --> http://bit.ly/2m0iEID ;)

HOW DEMOCRATS REACTED -- OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!: Late last night, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called on Sessions to immediately resign. "Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign." Full statement: http://bit.ly/2lXOKXe

BREAKING -- SCHUMER CHIMES IN: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerFCC advances proposal to unmask blocked caller ID in threat cases Trump: Pelosi's leadership good for the GOP Live coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and be investigated by the Department of Justice's inspector general to determine whether he compromised an investigation into Russian influence in the presidential election. http://bit.ly/2miLUNu

RESPONSE FROM SESSIONS -- LET ME JUST STAY OUT OF THE WAY HERE: Sessions offered to recuse himself from any investigation of Russian involvement in the Trump campaign. Sessions also said he has never discussed "any political campaigns" with Russian officials. "Well, I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaigns," Sessions said. "Those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false. I don't have anything else to say about that." http://bit.ly/2lXV3tF Pelosi then tweeted, "We are far past recusal ... anything less than resignation or removal from office is unacceptable." http://bit.ly/2lZQ9e4

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HOW REPUBLICANS REACTED -- FEELING ON CAPITOL HILL: "Senate Republicans not rushing to Sessions' defense. Sense is clearly more info may drop, they've already been surprised by this revelation." (From Politico's John Bresnahan) http://bit.ly/2lwopvX

BUT REACTIONS ARE TRICKLING IN: A number of Republicans say Sessions should recuse himself from any Russia probe, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzGowdy won't use Oversight gavel to probe Russia The Hill's 12:30 Report Chaffetz: Trump administration 'almost worse' than Obama's on transparency MORE (R-Utah). The latest to join that list: Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanA tale of two drug bills — one proposed bill will worsen the drug prices crisis Sanders to headline 'Don't Take Our Health Care' bus tour Rocky rollout for Senate healthcare bill MORE (R-Ohio) also said this morning that Sessions should recuse himself. But Republicans are not calling for his resignation. http://bit.ly/2lYngAU

AND GRAHAM: Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenate panel questions Lynch on alleged FBI interference The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill Judiciary Committee to continue Russia probe after Mueller meeting MORE (R-S.C.) tweeted: "As to Democrat calls for Jeff Sessions resignation – that's crazy ... Sessions needs to explain his contacts with the Russian ambassador during his service as a Senator - that's appropriate." http://bit.ly/2mxo5SG

BUSH'S ETHICS LAWYER EVEN WEIGHED IN: Richard Painter, the former White House ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, tweeted, "Misleading the Senate in sworn testimony about one own contacts with the Russians is a good way to go to jail." http://bit.ly/2lXSGY6

JUST NOW ‑ HOW THE WHITE HOUSE REACTED: The White House is rejecting calls to for Sessions to recuse himself. "There's nothing to recuse himself," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in an interview with Fox News that aired late Thursday morning. "He was 100 percent straight with the committee and I think that people [who] are choosing to play partisan politics with this should be ashamed of themselves," he added. http://bit.ly/2lDApNb

Latest updates: The Hill has a blog tracking the latest updates to the Jeff Sessions controversy. http://bit.ly/2lxyw3r 

 

AND IN OTHER NEWS...:

THIS. IS. WHY. I. LOVE. MY. JOB. SO. MUCH.: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rode a horse to his first day at his new job on Thursday, one day after he was confirmed. Yes, yes, I wouldn't dangle the fruit if there weren't photos --> http://bit.ly/2mx7puq

END THE MADDNESS. END IT!: Via BuzzFeed's Dominic Holden, 25 senators are asking the Trump administration to respond to an "alarming increase" in hate violence across the country. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the 25 senators said there has been an "alarming increase in bias-motivated violence." "Many members of racial, ethnic and religious minority communities, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, live in very real fear for their safety," the letter said. http://bzfd.it/2lx1OiH

SPOTTED -- A LIL WINE, A LITTLE HUMOR: Via The Hill's Judy Kurtz, President Trump is dominating the headlines, but his name was uttered just a handful of times at the Washington Press Club Foundation's Congressional Dinner, as Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike steered clear of the controversial commander in chief. 

Spotted at the dinner: Sens. Ron WydenRon WydenCommerce secretary spoiled Treasury secretary’s secret wedding: report Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate bill would repeal most ObamaCare taxes, delay Cadillac tax MORE (D-Ore.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalOnly Congress can enable drone technology to reach its full potential Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (D-Conn.), Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowNo certainty on cost-sharing payments to insurers Dems express concerns about Trump's proposed rural development cuts Trump, Clinton campaign aides launch their own bids MORE (D-Mich.), Al FrankenAl FrankenDrug pricing order would cut regulations Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Congress poised to prohibit airlines from forcibly removing customers MORE (D-Minn.), Tom CottonTom CottonOnly Congress can enable drone technology to reach its full potential Senate Dem offers patent reform bill Sasse: Someone subscribed me to Nickleback emails as a prank MORE (R-Ark.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWhat does the working class want? Better schedules. Live coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief MORE (D-Mass.); Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), John Delaney (D-Md.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Cheri BustosCheri BustosLawmakers send well-wishes to Scalise on Twitter Dem lawmaker: Time for new generation of leadership Members jam with Wynonna Judd, Keith Urban at Grammys on the Hill MORE (D-Ill.); Omarosa Manigault, the assistant to the president, who attended as a guest of the "PBS NewsHour."

Biggest laugh of the night: Saying it was "awesome" to have MSNBC host Greta Van Susteren as the evening's emcee, Sen. Tim ScottTim ScottThe Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill Lawmakers celebrate National Selfie Day on Twitter GOP senators pleased with Ivanka Trump meeting on family leave, child tax credits MORE (R-S.C.) joked, "Greta, now that you're with MSNBC, maybe you can clear something up for me. Anytime anyone in the media reports fake news, does Brian Williams get a royalty?" Scott was referring to the former "NBC Nightly News" anchor who in 2015 was found to have embellished stories about his reporting multiple times. http://bit.ly/2lDt3sT

 

NOTABLE TWEETS:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (Ooooh, secrets!)
I have been told that the House ObamaCare bill is under lock & key, in a secure location, & not available for me or the public to view. http://bit.ly/2mxicoi

Vox's Sarah Kliff: Sen Paul trying to enter room with ACA bill. Being denied entry. Photo: http://bit.ly/2mPDeKW  

The Hill's Peter Sullivan: Paul speaks to press outside "secret room" with Obamacare bill. Photo: http://bit.ly/2mKdxMF 

Update from Kliff: Rep. Kevin BradyKevin BradyOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel Senate expected to pass Russia sanctions bill for a second time White House pressuring House GOP to weaken Russia sanctions bill: report MORE (R) just came out of H-157 too. He also says no bill inside. The great hunt for a GOP replace bill continues. http://bit.ly/2mxpNTU

 

ON TAP:

The House and Senate were in this morning.

This morning: Vice President Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price talked with local businesses and the CEO of Frame USA in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Noon: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and MoveOn will host a rally outside the Justice Department calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign.

12:30 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence delivers remarks at Frame USA. He then heads back to Washington, D.C.

2:30 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks at the soon-to-be-commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford, an aircraft carrier.

7 p.m. EST: The 2017 Congressional Hockey Challenge at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Details: http://bit.ly/2mJYanx

Week of March 20: "House aiming to vote on ObamaCare repeal/replace the week of March 20 per Rep Coffman, to give Senate two weeks to deal w it before recess." (From AP's Erica Werner) http://bit.ly/2mJRPs9

Just announced: Vice President Pence will be the commencement speaker at the University of Notre Dame on May 21.

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Banana Cream Pie Day.

I BET IT'S BEEN A WHILE SINCE YOU'VE HAD THE 'GAME OF THRONES' THEME SONG STUCK IN YOUR HEAD: Via Deadline, Major League Baseball is cross-promoting with HBO's "Game of Thrones." Specific promotions will vary by team, but it will generally include "co-branded merchandise, ticket packages, giveaways, theme nights, and social media events." Funniest line: "MLB still has 'no idea' when the new GoT season will begin," says the league's Executive Vice President of Business Noah Garden. You know GoT fans are desperate when they're asking the MLB when the new season is coming out. Lol. http://bit.ly/2mimZcQ 

LIFE ADVICE FROM EMMA WATSON: During an episode of "Derek Does Stuff With a Friend," Derek Blasberg walked around Grand Central Station with Emma Watson on his iPad and a big sign that read "Advice from Emma Watson for $2." It's pretty great: http://bit.ly/2lhK5k7

And because this made me laugh out loud, here's a dog actually singing along to "We Are The Champions" during a road trip with her owner. Don't ever change, Lola: http://bit.ly/2mizLbv

 

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