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 PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China 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 Robert WarnerSchumer: GOP efforts to identify FBI informant 'close to crossing a legal line' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting Top Intel Dem warns Republicans: Don't try to out FBI source MORE (Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Senate confirms Haspel to head CIA MORE (N.D.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google struggle to block terrorist content | Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in US | Company exposed phone location data | Apple starts paying back taxes to Ireland Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Senate Dems call for probe into why Trump has not issued Russia sanctions MORE (Ohio), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Defense: Over 500 amendments proposed for defense bill | Measures address transgender troops, Yemen war | Trump taps acting VA chief as permanent secretary Not only do we need to support veterans, but their caregivers, too Trump Jr. prepares to hit the campaign trail ahead of midterms MORE (Mont.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyVoters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (Ind.). Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dem senators ask drug companies to list prices in ads Overnight Health Care: Trump unveils plan to lower drug prices | Dem questions drug company's payment to Trump attorney | House panel unveils opioid proposals 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 SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsChris Christie compares Mueller investigation to 'Bridgegate' probe Oakland mayor fires back at Trump: ‘It’s my duty to protect my residents’ McCabe lawyer fires back at Trump: 'You need to stop lying’ 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 (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer: GOP efforts to identify FBI informant 'close to crossing a legal line' Patients deserve the 'right to try' How the embassy move widens the partisan divide over Israel 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 ChaffetzChaplain controversy shifts spotlight to rising GOP star Ingraham’s ratings spike a wake-up for advertisers Boehner to campaign for House GOP candidates MORE (R-Utah). The latest to join that list: Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  Lobbying world Trump-backed congressman wins Ohio Senate primary 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 Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting Kim Jong Un surprises with savvy power plays Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China 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 WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google struggle to block terrorist content | Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in US | Company exposed phone location data | Apple starts paying back taxes to Ireland Firm exposes cell phone location data on US customers Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China MORE (D-Ore.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Dem presidential hopefuls flock to Trump country MORE (D-Mich.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart Franken100 days after House passage, Gillibrand calls on Senate to act on sexual harassment reform Eric Schneiderman and #MeToo pose challenges for both parties Senate confirms Trump judicial pick over objections of home-state senator MORE (D-Minn.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate confirms Haspel to head CIA Democrats urge colleagues to oppose prison reform bill Trump-backed prison reforms face major obstacles in Senate MORE (R-Ark.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenElizabeth Warren urges grads to fight for 'what is decent' in current political climate Tomi Lahren responds to genealogist's investigation of her family: 'She failed miserably' GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary 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 BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosPath to Dem majority lies in well-educated districts We need more women in STEM — Aviation may be the key Rural Democrats deserve a better farm bill 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 ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottFed nominees vow to rebuff pressure from Trump on interest rates The Hill's 12:30 Report Juan Williams: Trump's useful idiots 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 Patrick BradyPush for NAFTA deal continues as uncertainty increases Tax reform postmortem reveals lethal dose of crony capitalism Trump makes Manchin top target for midterms 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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