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 - Rosenstein says he stands by Comey memo | Foreign officials told to praise Trump election win | Trump WH feels under siege | Weiner to plead guilty to sexting minor | Comey's awkward relationship with Trump | Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenDemocrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration Trump thinks he could easily beat Sanders in 2020 match-up: report Biden marks MLK Day: Americans are 'living through a battle for the soul of this nation' MORE knocks Hillary | National Bike to Work Day

JUST NOW — ROSENSTEIN STANDS BY HIS MEMO: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told lawmakers during a pair of closed-door meetings this morning that he stands by his memo that was initially used as the reason for former FBI Director James Comey's firing. "It is a candid memorandum about the FBI Director's public statements concerning a high-profile criminal investigation," Rosenstein told lawmakers, according to a released copy of his opening statement. "I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it."

Happy Friday! 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 MORNING -- WHY ROD ROSENSTEIN NEEDS A WEEKEND MORE THAN ANY OF US: Via The Hill's Mike Lillis and Katie Bo Williams, House Democrats are increasingly frustrated with Rod Rosenstein after the deputy attorney general briefed lawmakers this morning on the investigation into Russia's actions in the presidential election and possible ties to the Trump administration. Why they're angry: Dems say Rosenstein refused to answer "simple yes-and-no questions."

JUST OBTAINED: NBC's Pete Williams has the remarks that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave House members behind closed doors.

TWO BOMBSHELLS FROM THE SENATE MEETING: Rosenstein dropped two bombshells during a hotly-anticipated appearance before the Senate yesterday. 1) According to lawmakers, Rosenstein confirmed that the bureau's investigation into Russian interference in the election is no longer strictly a counterintelligence investigation -- a kind of probe that does not normally result in charges -- but also a criminal one. 2) He also said he was aware President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE intended to fire Comey prior to penning a memo that the White House later used as its justification for the dismissal.

AND TALK ABOUT TRUMP'S PROPERTIES. HE LOVES WHEN YOU DO THAT!: Via The New York Times, foreign officials meeting President Trump during his first overseas trip are being told to praise him for winning the Electoral College last year.

What they're told when meeting Trump: 
-- Compliment Trump on his election win and compare him favorably to former President Obama.
-- Don't expect him to know your country's history or hot-button issues.
-- Make a short presentation tailored to his attention span and don't try to bring up a long list of issues.

EVERY TIME A NEW REVELATION COMES OUT, I HEAR THE 'LAW AND ORDER' SOUND EFFECT PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND -->  In the latest shoe to drop, The New York Times's Michael S. Schmidt is reporting that former FBI Director James Comey tried to keep his distance from the president in the Russia investigation. Part that got attention: Trump held a ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House for law enforcement after the inauguration. Comey reportedly felt uncomfortable going, but went to represent the bureau. Funny part of the story: "Mr. Comey -- who is 6 feet 8 inches tall and was wearing a dark blue suit that day -- told Mr. Wittes that he tried to blend in with the blue curtains in the back of the room, in the hopes that Mr. Trump would not spot him and call him out." So naturally, Twitter had fun with this anecdote:

I laughed out loud at this one: @darth had fun photoshopping this photo: "isnt comey supposed to be here tonight has any body seen james comey"

Yikes -- this photo is ... something: Former FBI Director Comey's close friend Benjamin Wittes was quoted in the NYT piece. He tweeted this morning: "I struggled in both interviews and my own writing to describe the Trump-Comey relationship. Then I saw this." Photo:

JUST POSTED -- WHAT'S A LEGAL FORM WITHOUT A SIGNATURE, ANYWAY?!: Via AP's Julie Bykowicz, "Donald Trump's attorneys originally wanted him to submit an updated financial disclosure without certifying the information as true, according to correspondence with the Office of Government Ethics." But hold on: "OGE director Walter Shaub said his office would only work with Dillon if she agreed to follow the typical process of having Trump make the certification."

Why we know that now: AP submitted a Freedom of Information Act request.

NEW THIS MORNING -- WEINER PLEADING GUILTY: "Anthony D. Weiner, the former Democratic congressman whose 'sexting' scandals ended his political career and embroiled him in a tumultuous F.B.I. investigation of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE before the election, is to appear in a federal courtroom in Manhattan on Friday to enter a guilty plea."

Just now -- Weiner's statement  

HEADLINE WINNER OF THE DAY: "[House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE on 2018 worries: 'Blah, blah, blah.'"

OK, IF WE'RE BEING HONEST HERE, I JUST FEEL LIKE YOU MAY BE ATTACKING US, ALRIGHT? AND IT'S NOT NICE: Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley, the White House is feeling under siege as President Trump prepares for a nine-day trip abroad that will present a host of new challenges for his reeling administration. How staffers are reacting: Staffers are on edge, weary from endless speculation about their jobs and struggling to keep their bearings amid the ever-shifting political terrain.

TRENDING -- ONE SCENARIO FOR TRUMP: On The Hill's contributor page, Brent Budowsky writes why he thinks "Trump will likely resign as Mueller pursues 'Putingate.'" His reasoning: Throwback: In February, Budowsky wrote an op-ed in The Hill titled "Putingate is our Watergate."

SO THE TRUTH COMES OUT: Former Vice President Joe Biden admitted that Hillary Clinton was not a great candidate. "I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate," Biden remarked. But that doesn't mean he thinks she was worse than Trump. "Hillary would have been a really good president," he added.

WHERE TO SPOT VIP DINERS: Via The Washington Post's Emily Hell, Café Milano in Georgetown has added frosted glass doors to part of its dining room to give VIP guests more privacy.



The Hill's Devin Henry
Pages on the Senate subway see Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Democrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration MORE. Page 1: "Oh I love her so much." Page 2: "She should be a queen."

Ryan Sheales (Oh. My. God.)
Stop what you're doing. Please show respect to this cover from Spanish magazine 'Tapas'. 



The House is in, with last votes around noon. The Senate is out until Monday. 

12:15 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at the Business Council's annual meeting.

1:20 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at the Council for National Policy's 2017 meeting.

1:50 p.m. EDT: President Trump leaves the White House for his first foreign trip as president. His full schedule:

Wednesday: The Congressional Budget Office is releasing its estimate for the House-passed version of the ObamaCare repeal. 



"Fox News Sunday": Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE (R-Ariz.).

CNN's "State of the Union": Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). 



Today is National Devil's Food Cake Day and National Pizza Party Day! Let all of your bosses, teachers and colleagues know. ;) 

It's also National Bike to Work Day, so in the words of Time's Ryan Teague Beckwith, "forgive your sweatier colleagues."

RUN, DON'T WALK, TO CHICAGO WHEN IT OPENS: The world's first Nutella café is opening in Chicago on May 31. Think: "Warm, grilled baguettes with Nutella, fresh-roasted hazelnut and blueberry granola with yogurt and Nutella, or liege waffles topped with warm fruit compote, toasted hazelnuts and a Nutella drizzle." The menu is insane:

BECAUSE EVERYONE LOVES 'GAME OF THRONES' REFERENCES: Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel re-imagined President Trump's off-the-record media lunch yesterday as the Red Wedding scene from the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones." Watch: 

And to get your weekend off to a great start, here's the most confusing, though mesmerizing, puppy video I've seen in awhile. 


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