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: Breaking – McMaster says Trump didn't know intel's source | Trump defends sharing info with Russians | Frustration in White House | CIA chief to brief House Intel | Sally Yates's first TV interview after firing | Hackers steal Disney film | National Barbecue Day!

BREAKING -- MCMASTER PLAYS RUSSIAN ROULETTE: National security adviser H.R. McMaster just held another press conference, saying President Trump did not jeopardize intelligence assets by revealing highly sensitive information to Russian officials. Takeaway: McMaster thinks the big takeaway is the leak to the media about the meeting. $$ line: "I stand by my statement that I made yesterday," McMaster said.

Actual footage of how White House staff is doing today --> ;)

This phrase could be a drinking game: McMaster repeatedly referred to Trump's decision as "wholly appropriate."

The gist: "McMaster keeps dancing around specific questions, then pivoting to broader defense of 'appropriate" conversation'" (From MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin)

On Trump's decision: "McMaster confirms Trump was winging it: 'He made the decision in the context of the conversation, which was wholly appropriate.'" (From The Washington Post's Josh Rogin)

On Israel: "McMaster refuses to say Western Wall is part of Israel, several times." (From The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein)

Analysis from NYT's Maggie Haberman: "Administration whose candidate stripped context from almost all allegations against rivals in 2016 asks journos to consider context."

Tidbit about press questions: "Worth noting that Spicer, not McMaster, is deciding who gets questions at this briefing." (From The Daily Beast's Lachlan Markay)

It's only Tuesday. Lol. 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.

NEWS OF THE DAY -- HOOOO BOY...: Last night, The Washington Post's Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe broke a major story -- that President Trump revealed highly classified intelligence to the Russia's foreign minister and ambassador last week at the White House. Original story:

What we know about the intel: Trump allegedly revealed "code-word information" -- one of the highest levels of classification -- related to threats from ISIS that had been provided by a U.S. ally in the region. The Post held the ISIS plot details for national security reasons.

How classified is this?: One U.S. official said the information was so sensitive it had not been provided to U.S. allies.

Is what Trump did illegal?: No. It would be for anyone else in government. But "as president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law."


Awkward behind-the-scenes at the White House: "Per OANN's Trey Yingst, [Stephen] Bannon, Mike Dubke, Sarah Sanders and [Sean] Spicer walked into cabinet room just now. They did not look happy ... Can now hear yelling coming from room where officials are." Update: "WH comms staffers just put the TVs on super loud after we could hear yelling coming from [the] room..."

National security adviser H.R. McMaster right after the news broke: "McMaster just walked by gaggle of press outside Sean's [Spicer] office: 'This is the last place in the world I want to be...I'm leaving.'"

White House's initial response: National security adviser H.R. McMaster said: "The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false." Other officials denied that Trump had shared sources or methods behind the intelligence, statements that didn't directly address the Washington Post's reporting.

Reporters at the White House: "Reporters in lower press don't know which side of hallway to lean near because so much going on during tense evening."  

Interesting point made last night: From The Wall Street Journal's Eli Stokols last night on MSNBC: "WH squandered credibility on things big (wiretapping) & small (crowd size). Today a rainy day came...nothing saved up." Watch:

Yikes -- today's New York Daily News cover:

STORYLINE SCREECHING TO A STOP THIS MORNING: WHAT TRUMP DID TO HIS STAFF --> President Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning that he has an "absolute right" to share facts with Russia after his national security adviser H.R. McMaster denied the story. Tweets: "As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts terrorism and airline flight safety ... Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."

The gist: "Last night a stream of White House officials were sent out to blast WaPo story as false. This morning, Trump says it's true."

How R's have reacted: Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ MORE (Ariz.) called the allegations "deeply disturbing." Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said it's "not helpful." Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) referred to the White House as in a "downward spiral." And a spokesperson for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHillicon Valley: Mnuchin urges antitrust review of tech | Progressives want to break up Facebook | Classified election security briefing set for Tuesday | Tech CEOs face pressure to appear before Congress Feehery: An opening to repair our broken immigration system GOP chairman in talks with 'big pharma' on moving drug pricing bill MORE (Wis.) said he's awaiting a full explanation.

TBT: A 2016 tweet from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) resurfaced. "Individuals who are 'extremely careless' with classified information should be denied further access to such info," Ryan tweeted in July, referring to former FBI Director James Comey's statement on former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Press: Why Trump should thank FBI MORE's handling of sensitive information.

Now what, R's?: "So now that Trump confirmed he did share Intel and story is true, what are all the senators who said "troubling if true" going to do?" (From USA Today's Eliza Collins)

Dems' reaction: 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.) is calling on President Trump to provide Congress with a transcript of the meeting.

Happening tonight: The CIA Director will brief the House Intelligence Committee.



TRUMP WORLD HAS A BLUNT MESSAGE FOR THE PRESIDENT: Empower your staff or hire a new one. Former aides, GOP strategists and sources close to the White House tell The Hill they're concerned about how Trump's handling of FBI Director James Comey's firing has undermined the people who work for him. Timing: Changes seemed imminent late last week as the president seethed with anger over the rollout of Comey's firing. But that has been postponed: With Trump set to begin his first foreign trip as president on Friday, many think the threat of staff changes has lifted, at least for now. More from The Hill's Jordan Fabian and Jonathan Easley:

NEW JOB ALERT: Valerie Jarrett announced today that she is joining a Los Angeles-based media startup firm called ATTN: as a senior adviser. Her announcement:



ABC News
'Hangry' Amtrak passenger has pizza delivered to stalled train en route to Washington, DC. "Problem solved." Video:

Reuters's Ginger Gibson
The new Amazon commercial on NBC just made me Echo freak out. Sometimes technology is creepy.



The Senate is in. The House returned at noon.

12:30 p.m. EDT: Senate's weekly party lunches.

From Mic's Emily C. Singer: "There's gunna be a lot of fake cell phone conversations this afternoon [while walking past the press] on Capitol Hill." Lol.

12:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

2:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney

6:30 p.m. EDT: Votes postponed in the House. Their schedule today:

Possibly tonight: "Coming back to a House floor near you: Democrats forcing votes on releasing Trump's tax returns. Tues night, per Pelosi letter to Ds." (From The Hill's Cristina Marcos)



1 p.m. EDT: President Trump gives a join statement with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Livestream:

1:30 p.m. EDT: White House press secretary Sean Spicer's daily press briefing has been moved to off-camera. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, who was scheduled to appear with Spicer at the briefing, instead gave a press briefing late this morning.

Tonight: CNN's Anderson Cooper interviews former acting Attorney General Sally Yates for her first television interview since she was fired.

What to read beforehand: In The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza published a preview of his interview with Yates.

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



Today is National Barbecue Day!

I'M GENERALLY SUPPORTIVE OF CURLY FRIES, BUT I DON'T LIKE CHANGE: McDonalds has begun serving curly fries. Keep in mind: Right now, they are only being sold at locations in Singapore or the Philippines.

THIS IS TERRIBLE: Via The Hollywood Reporter's Pamela McClintock, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger told employees that hackers have stolen a new Disney film and are demanding a ransom. What's the situation?: "Disney is refusing to pay. The studio is working with federal investigators."

ANGERING MILLENNIALS ON SOCIAL MEDIA: ...because we're a sensitive, participation trophy-loving generation. This CNN headline: "Millionaire to millennials: Lay off the avocado toast if you want a house."

And because you made it to the end, here's the perfect reaction from a swan to a sign that reads "Caution, swan is aggressive."


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