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: Trump threatens Comey on Twitter | Firing sets off new round of leaks | Trump floats canceling WH briefings | Melissa McCarthy spotted in 'Spicey' costume | Trump lawyers' claim becomes viral joke | North Korea warns Congress

THREAT NO. 1 THIS MORNING -- A LITTLE LESS TALKIN' AND A LITTLE MORE TWEETIN': President Trump defended the slew of contradictions in the White House's account of FBI Director James Comey's firing, suggesting he might cancel "all future 'press briefings'" in the name of accuracy. Tweets: "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy! ... Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"

Context from NBC's Hallie Jackson: "Not to nitpick, but there *was* a 'written response.' Tuesday. When Sean Spicer said firing was based on DOJ's recommendation."

What spurred this: Inconsistencies in the White House's explanation of Comey's firing. Tuesday's story: Trump and his team said Comey was fired after the recommendation of the attorney general and his deputy. Thursday's story: Trump said, "I was going to fire regardless of the recommendation."

JUST RELEASED — Reaction from the WHCA: White House Correspondents Association President Jeff Mason tweeted a statement on behalf of the association. Excerpt: "Doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the U.S. system, no political figure is above being questioned." Full statement:

It's Friday -- Fi-Na-Lly! 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 and on Facebook.

THREAT NO. 2 THIS MORNING -- TO THE TAPES!: President Trump issued a cryptic threat to ousted FBI Director James Comey amid a storm of media leaks contradicting the White House's account of the firing. Tweet: "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

What spurred this: Yesterday, Trump said Comey had requested a dinner with him during which he asked to stay on as the FBI head. Trump also said Comey told him three times that he was not the subject of any FBI investigations. Current and former FBI officials are contradicting Trump's statement.

Yikes -- flashback: Tweet from deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Nov. 3: "When you're attacking FBI agents because you're under criminal investigation, you're losing."

SPOTTED -- GET EXCITED FOR "SNL"!: Actress Melissa McCarthy was spotted in New York City this morning on 58th Street in her Sean "Spicey" Spicer costume. Pssst: There appears to be a moving podium. Photos:

TRENDING ON TWITTER -- 'I'M 14 YEARS SOBER, WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS': President Trump's lawyers on Friday said that Trump's last ten years of tax returns do not reveal "any income of any type from Russian sources" with some exceptions, but refused to release copies of his tax returns to verify.

Reaction: Twitter had fun with the phrase "with a few exceptions," which has become the top trending item. Examples:

The New York Post's John Podhoretz: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky...with a few exceptions."

Mic's Emily Singer: "I never destroyed a coffee table book, with few exceptions" Lol this photo:

The Washington Post's Elizabeth Bruenig: "I've no kids, with few exceptions"

@SadServer: "Your critical data is backed up, with few exceptions."

Share Blue's Oliver Willis: "I didn't have any chocolate muffins this week, with few exceptions"

The Atlantic's David A. Graham: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall, with a few exceptions" 

DRAMA IN THE WHITE HOUSE -- THIS MAKES "MEAN GIRLS" LOOK LIKE A WALK IN THE CAFETERIA: President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey has set off a new round of internal leaks. Media reports about the run-up to Trump's decision paint him as isolated and consumed by anger and paranoia. The behind-the-scenes stories have often undermined the White House's public reasoning for firing Comey. And Trump's abrupt firing of Comey appears to have stirred opposition from the former FBI director's loyalists, who are pushing back on the administration's claims in the press.

What we can take away from this: Trump's instincts misfired. Column from The Hill's Niall Stanage:

HEY, NORTH KOREA. *UNENTHUSIASTIC WAVE*: North Korea sent a rare letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives warning that tougher sanctions would bolster Pyongyang's efforts to develop nuclear weapons. "As the U.S. House of Representatives enacts more and more of these reckless hostile laws, the DPRK's efforts to strengthen nuclear deterrents will gather greater pace, beyond anyone's imagination," the letter says.



NYT's Alan Blinder (Lol.)
Rare to see a news story with a sentence quite like this one. Screenshot:



The House and Senate are out, but back next week.

3 p.m. EDT: Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly meets with President Trump.



Noon: Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appears on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." 

Noon: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele speak at an Aspen Institute event. Livestream:

1:30 p.m. EDT: White House press secretary Sean Spicer is back (!) giving the daily press briefing.

9 p.m. EDT Saturday: Judge Jeanine Pirro is interviewing President Trump on Fox News. 

Saturday night: Melissa McCarthy is hosting "Saturday Night Live."

Sunday morning: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appears on NBC's "Sunday Today with Willie Geist."

9 p.m. EDT Monday: CNN is holding a town hall with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

9 p.m. EDT Tuesday: CNN is hosting a debate between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R).



"Fox News Sunday": Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections Grassley ‘incensed’ by Sessions criticism of proposed sentencing reform legislation MORE (R-Utah). The panel will include former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove; The Associated Press's Julie Pace; Calvary's Josh Holmes; and The Washington Post's Bob Woodward.

NBC's "Meet the Press": Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.). The panel will include Washington Free Beacon's Matthew Continetti; NBC's Hallie Jackson; BBC's Katty Kay; and The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson.

CNN's "State of the Union": Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.



Today is National Nutty Fudge Day.

STOLEN -- HARRY POTTER PREQUEL: Via CNN, an untitled prequel to the Harry Potter books has been stolen. "Just 800 words long, the handwritten manuscript -- written on two sides of an A5 postcard by author J.K. Rowling -- was taken from a property in Kings Heath, Birmingham." Photo:

THIS. IS. BRILLIANT.: A real estate agency in Australia is offering a new promotion to attract buyers: free avocado toast for a year.

And to get your weekend off to the right start, here's a bear spraying a dog with a hose. 


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