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 blames Congress for poor US-Russia ties | Transcripts of Trump calls to world leaders leaked | NH leaders hit back after Trump calls state 'drug-infested den' | Immigration battle looms for GOP 

I GUESS 'FOX & FRIENDS' WASN'T TURNED ON SOON ENOUGH IN THE RESIDENCE THIS MORNING: President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE this morning blamed Congress for the current "very dangerous" relationship with Russia. Tweet: "Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us [healthcare]!" Back story: Trump signed legislation that imposes new sanctions on Russia. He didn't support it, but Congress overwhelmingly passed it.

Late this morning -- John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRand Paul ‘concerned’ about Kavanaugh Senate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE fires back: "You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tweeted back.

Happy Thursday. 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.


LEAKED THIS MORNING -- YOU'RE KILLING MY STREET CRED: The Washington Post's Greg Miller obtained a transcript of the Jan. 27 call between President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña NietoThe newsy part: Trump pleaded with Nieto to stop saying his country wouldn't pay for the border wall. Excerpt: "You cannot say that to the press. ... If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that." Oooooph, this line: In a line likely to surprise some Trump supporters, the president described the wall as "the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important."

Lol: "Imagine how disappointed this guy is today." Photo:


-- You said WHAT about my state?!: "We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy," Trump said. "I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den." But just so we're clear, he's saying he won with people who are on drugs...

N.H.'s governor responds: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) released a statement: "The President is wrong. It's disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer."

Context from The Washington Post's Aaron Blake: "States Trump team has derided: 
-Iowa ("How stupid are the people of Iowa?") 
-N.H. ("Drug-infested den") 
-Hawaii ("Island in the Pacific")"

-- And Trump said to the Australian prime minister: "I have had it," while arguing about refugees. "I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day." He then said, "Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous."

Throwback to Trump on Feb. 3: "Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!"

-- Lol, his line: From Wired's Ashley Feinberg. "honestly I think this is my favorite part." Screenshot:

-- Poor Canada: From The Guardian's Ben Jacobs: "This may be my favorite Trump line from the transcripts: "we do not have to worry about Canada, we do not even think about them"

IT'S LIKE GOING OUT TO DINNER WITH A COUPLE THAT STARTS FIGHTING IN FRONT OF YOU: Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller battled with reporters yesterday over a Trump-backed plan to dramatically slash legal immigration to the U.S. Including: Miller accused CNN's Jim Acosta of showing "cosmopolitan bias" and sparred with The New York Times's Glenn Thrush over whether there is statistical evidence to back up the administration's claim that cutting the number of green cards would help American workers.

Boom: "I can honestly say: I am shocked at your statement that you think only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English," Miller said, speaking over Acosta. "It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree -- this is an amazing moment."

Video of the showdown with CNN's Jim Acosta:

Video of the showdown with NYT's Glenn Thrush:

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders after: "That was exciting," she quipped after Miller left the podium.

A not so surprising reaction: Conservatives are now calling for an end to on-camera White House briefings.

AND YOU THOUGHT THE HEALTHCARE BATTLE WAS UGLY... (NOPE, YOU WERE RIGHT. THAT WAS PRETTY BAD): Via The Hill's Jordain Carney, Republicans are barreling toward a battle over immigration policy that could expose deep divisions in the party. Chances the immigration plan will pass: Fairly low. It faces a difficult path to 60 votes in the Senate. The problem: Many in the GOP are opposed to reshaping the party's immigration policies in Trump's image.

WAKE US UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS: Via The Hill's Niv Elis, for Republicans, September is shaping up to be a month of bitter pills. It appears increasingly likely to GOP lawmakers that they will be asked to vote for two things they hate at the end of the month: The first is a continuing resolution that would keep the government open and funded at current spending levels. The second is a bill to raise the debt ceiling.

ON THIS NEXT EPISODE OF ‘REAL WORLD: WEST WING,’ TRUMP FLOATS FIRING ANOTHER KEY CHARACTER. KEEP WATCHING TO FIND OUT WHO: Via NBC’s Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube, “President Donald Trump has become increasingly frustrated with his advisers tasked with crafting a new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and recently suggested firing the war's top military commander during a tense meeting at the White House, according to senior administration officials.” Who Trump thinks should be replaced: Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

McCain — We have your back: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Armed Services Committee responded: “Our commanders-in-chief, not our commanders in the field, are responsible for the failure in Afghanistan.”



The Council on Foreign Relations' Ely Ratner 
DPRK policy this week 
Haley: All options on table
Tillerson: No regime change; we seek talks 
Pompeo: Regime change on table 
Pence: No talks



The Senate is in.

11:30 a.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a Department of Veterans Affairs tele-health event. Livestream:

Potentially by the end of today: The Senate delayed their August recess to catch up on a backlog of legislation. But senators yesterday signaled they may wrap everything up by the end of today.

Friday: President Trump begins his 17-day August vacation at his private golf course in New Jersey.



7 p.m. EDT Thursday: President Trump holds a campaign rally in Huntington, W.Va. Livestream:



Today is National Watermelon Day!

YOU HAVE ONE MONTH TO TRY ALL OF THESE. GO!: Via Washingtonian, here are the 7 best ice cream flavors in the D.C. area to try. I'm lookin' at you, No. 2 on the list. 

And because you read this far, here's an amazing viral video captioned "the most normal thing in 2017 so far." I laughed out loud.


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