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 – White House says Trump is not a liar | The scene at Comey's hearing | Comey accuses admin of lies | Says he hopes 'there are tapes' | Leaked memos to spur special counsel | Ryan defends Trump | DC's 10 am bar scene | 'Comey yoga' in L.A. (?)

SHORT COMEY: 'YOU SIT ON A THRONE OF LIES!': Fired FBI Director James Comey just accused the Trump administration of defaming him and telling "lies" during his testimony. What confused Comey: The White House's shifting rationale for his ouster. His words: "The administration chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly run. ... Those were lies, plain and simple."

OTHER BREAKING REVELATIONS -- COMEY GIVES INSIGHT ON THE LEAKS TO THE PRESS: Shortly after his dismissal as head of the FBI, James Comey authorized "a close friend" to leak the contents of his memos to the press. Why:  To prompt a special counsel investigation.  His words: "I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. I didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel."

JUST NOW — THE WHITE HOUSE RESPONDS: White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back, saying President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey: Trump's 'Spygate' claims are made up Trump taps vocal anti-illegal immigration advocate for State Dept's top refugee job Seattle Seahawks player: Trump is 'an idiot' for saying protesting NFL players 'shouldn’t be in the country' MORE is “not a liar.” Her words: “I can definitively say the president is not a liar,” Sanders told reporters during an off-camera briefing at the White House. “I think it is frankly insulting that question would be asked.”

*PULLS OUT LISA FRANK SPARKLY NOTEBOOK*: Comey testified that he kept personal memos about his interactions with President TrumpWhen asked why by Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGiuliani: Trump asked White House lawyer to go to Russia briefings Top Intel Dems denounce presence of Trump lawyer at classified briefings White House lawyer’s presence at FBI meetings sets off alarm bells for Dems MORE (D-Va.): "The nature of the person," Comey said. "I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document." To note: Comey didn't do the same thing with former Presidents Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump taps vocal anti-illegal immigration advocate for State Dept's top refugee job The federal judiciary needs more Latino judges Obama plans to use Netflix deal to stop political divisiveness MORE or George W. Bush.

JUST NOW — Ryan: blame on-the-job training: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree House Dems say they'll oppose immigration floor vote over possible wall funding Dems after briefing: 'No evidence' spy placed in Trump campaign Senate approves new sexual harassment policy for Congress MORE (R-Wis.) suggested that President Trump’s alleged pressuring of Comey to stop investigating Flynn may stem from a lack of government experience. Ryan’s words: “The president’s new at this. He’s new to government. So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, the FBI and White Houses. He’s just new to this.”

HAPPENING SOON — THE PRESIDENT HOPES YOU TUNE IN FOR ALTERNATE PROGRAMMING: President Trump is about to speak at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C. Livestream:

Yikes, it's only 12:30? Filing from the Hart Senate Office Building where Comey is currently testifying, 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, @CateMartel and on Facebook.

"COMEY-ING HOT": Comey is making his first public appearance since being fired by Trump. 

Live stream: 

Live blog of updates:



Before you read this next section, please first click this link for background music -->  ;)

Will someone please come claim their soon-to-be drunk employee?: "The staffer, who did not give a name because he was playing hooky, took a swig of D.C. Brau: 'There's no better place to witness history.' "

Burr's wheels: "7:52am: Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrConservatives leery of FBI deal on informant Senate confirms Haspel to head CIA The Hill's Morning Report: Mueller probe hits one-year mark MORE (R-N.C.), who drives a Volkswagen Thing, arrives at Capitol ahead of the Comey Hearing." Lol, that's his car?! Photo:

The interns who are ready for their 15 minutes of Snapchat fame: "Asked the interns at the front of the line waiting for Comey Hearing what time they got here: 4:15am: 'Totally worth it,' one said." (From Politico's Kyle Cheney) Photo of the early risers:

The line to get in: "The line to get into the Comey hearing is insane. You would think Zeppelin is reuniting. Goes around and around."

The line between #news and #creepy is far too murky: Here's the stakeout camera outside of Comey's house. Live stream:

Morning, neighbor!: "Neighbor just pulled up in Mercedes in front of cameras set up outside Comey home. Took our picture. 'I actually feel bad for him,' he said." (From CNN's Betsy Kline)

Nice weather we're having, huh?: "Another neighbor, jogging by: 'I'm sure he's going to talk to you instead of the Senate Committee.' "

Video of Comey leaving his home for the hearing:

Watch parties:

If you're curious what the bar scene looks like: Here's the view at Shaw's Tavern. And Union Pub:

OK, L.A.: "COMEY YOGA at the Comey watch party in L.A." Video:

It's a camera parade!: The cameras in the hearing room have kept me pretty entertained. 

Today summed up in one photo: Brilliant.

SPOTTED -- Oh, hello, old friend: Former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJim Jordan as Speaker is change America needs to move forward Paul Ryan’s political purgatory Republicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt MORE (R-Ohio) in the Speaker's press office.

View from Comey's seat:

Curious what the constituent questions look like?: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Finance: House sends Dodd-Frank rollbacks to Trump | What's in the bill | Trump says there is 'no deal' to help ZTE | Panel approves bill to toughen foreign investment reviews House votes to ease regulation of banks, sending bill to Trump Senators demand answers on Trump’s ZTE deal MORE (D-W.Va.) received over 600 questions from his constituents. His staff pulled a few for him to use. His notebook:

Hopefully (but not definitely) the weirdest thing you'll see all day: Special assistant to Obama Ned Price tweeted: "My dog was just interviewed about Comey outside the corner bar. We may have jumped the shark. (He declined to comment on the record.)" Photo:

Timeline of Trump/Comey relationship: It's pretty interesting to see in one place.



Lordy, lordy: Comey said he was too "stunned" to respond to Trump when asked to bury the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He also expressed his hope that his conversations with the president were recorded, saying: "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."

Not date night! :( Comey said he had to cancel a date with his wife when President Trump asked him to have dinner earlier this year. “That's one of the all-time great excuses," responded Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingFor .2 billion, taxpayers should get more than Congress’s trial balloons Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dem senators ask drug companies to list prices in ads MORE (I-Maine). Watch:

You scratch my back, I scratch yours: "Comey says he believed Trump was "looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job." (Via AP)

Hmmm – on Russian banks: "Wow. Senator King: What can you tell us about Russian bank VEB: Comey: "Nothing that I can talk about in an open setting."

Yep, this happened: "History made: Former FBI director calls a sitting president a liar." (From NYT's Glenn Thrush

Did Trump ask about anything else?: Warner: "Did the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation?" ... Comey: "No."

On obstruction: When Trump said "I hope" you drop the investigation: "Those words are not an order," but "I took it as a direction."

Dayuuum, that poker face!: "[For what it's worth], Comey has not emoted in 15 minutes. Stone faced. No movement. Like a wax figurine of a killer poker player." (From The Washington Post's Philip Rucker) Photo of his facial expression:

What the Republican Party is saying: "RNC messaging just sent out email with subject line: James 'I don't know' Comey."

Comey's opening statement: The gist: "Parts of Comey statement are good for POTUS, corroborating his claims. Parts are quite bad. Vintage Comey - makes no one happy." (From NBC's Savannah Guthrie) Read his statement:

JUST REPORTED ABOUT LAST NIGHT -- Celebratory cigars feel a bit excessive in this case: A CNN reporter said Trump's outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz, was seen celebrating last night at the Trump International Hotel in Washington after Comey's prepared testimony was published. "I'm told Kasowitz seen at Trump hotel last night celebrating, buying cigars, saying: 'We won... it's clear Trump didn't do anything wrong,'" CNN correspondent Jim Acosta tweeted this morning.



*Radio silence*

Why we're especially surprised: The Washington Post's Robert Costa tweeted yesterday: "I'm told by two WH sources that Pres. Trump does not plan to put down Twitter ​[today.​]​ May live tweet if he feels the need to respond."

The winner of Trump's strategy so far -- Union Pub:​ A D.C. bar has been offering a free round of drinks every time President Trump tweets about the Comey hearing. That could have been risky.



MEANWHILE IN THE CAPITOL -- OF COURSE THEY HAVE CHARTS!: "Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McCarthy giving an agenda briefing since 'nothing else is going on...'" Lol. Photo: 

EXCLUSIVE -- CHECK OUT MY STOCK: Via The Hill's Scott Wong, "Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) has boasted about how much money he's made for other members of Congress by tipping them off to an Australia-based pharmaceutical company in which he is the largest stockholder, two GOP lawmakers told The Hill." What stock: Innate Immunotherapeutics. Context to Collins: Collins has been described as Trump's chief defender and unofficial spokesman on Capitol Hill.

Implications for Collins: "House ethics investigators last month began probing Collins for his role in recruiting investors to buy stock in the Australian firm after several complaints were filed alleging insider trading. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, passed by Congress in 2012, explicitly bars members of Congress from trading stocks using insider information." 

'I'M SORRY I RUINED YOUR LIVES AND CRAMMED 11 COOKIES INTO THE VCR': "Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican elected last month to the state's open House seat following a physical brawl with journalist Ben Jacobs, has apologized over the incident and pledged to give $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ... 'My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful,' he wrote."



Twitchy's Greg Pollowitz (Lol.)
Donald Trump should fire Jared Kushner at 9:50 am just to mess with everyone and then hire him back at 10:15 am.

TIME’s Zeke Miller (Covers eyes.)
Q: Is there a White House taping system?
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: "I have no idea"



The House and Senate are in. 

12:20 p.m.: Vice President Pence meets with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney for an Infrastructure Summit working luncheon.

12:35 p.m.: Trumpspeaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

1 p.m.: The Senate Intelligence Committee continues Comey's hearing in a closed session.

1 p.m.: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee.

3:30 p.m.: Trump holds an Infrastructure Summit with governors and mayors in the State Dining Room of the White House.

4 p.m.: First and last votes in the House. Its schedule today:

4:30 p.m.: Senate vote on the Iran sanctions bill.



12 p.m.: White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is holding an off-camera (!) briefing in the White House briefing room.



Today is National "Name Your Poison" Day. And via Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), today is National Seersucker Day!

CEL-EH-BRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!: Air Force Two was decorated yesterday for Pence's birthday. Photos of the décor and Pence's reaction:

Because you've been too focused on this hearing and need a brief break, here's a beagle puppy that could be a professional soccer player:

And on that note, if you're one of the MVPs who are staked out at a bar drinking Stolichnaya vodka and stuffing your face with pierogis, I salute you. If not, the day is still young. Send me your photos, my friends!


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