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: Sessions warns media could be targeted in crackdown on leaks | Mueller's grand jury -- what it means | Trump turns on GOP Congress | Strong July jobs report | Senate blocks Trump from recess appointments | Michelle's birthday wish for Barack | National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

JUST NOW -- K, TEAM. WE'RE GONNA WORK ON THIS 'KEEPING A SECRET' THING: Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE on Friday announced a government-wide crackdown on leakers, which will include a review of the Justice Department’s policies on subpoenas for media outlets that publish sensitive information. At a press conference with Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Cybersecurity: DHS bans agencies from using Kaspersky software | Panel calls Equifax CEO to testify | Facebook pulling ads from fake news Mueller investigation focusing on social media's role in 2016 election: report Intelligence director criticizes former officials for speaking out against Trump MORE, Sessions announced that the Justice Department, FBI and government intelligence agencies will direct more resources into the investigations of government leaks and would prioritize prosecuting those that pass sensitive information along to the press or foreign officials.

Happy summer Friday! Washington is finally clearing out for the month -- this feels like a day for an early happy hour. 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.

RELEASED AT 8:30 A.M. -- WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MONTH TO WORK: The U.S. economy added an impressive 209,000 jobs in July, more than expected as the labor market shows few signs of slowing down. The unemployment rate: Fell to 4.3 percent from 4.4.

Some important context: "The unemployment rate for July was 4.3497% which rounds down to 4.3%. The monthly decline in the unemployment rate was 0.007%." From Eddy Elfenbein

Trump tweets at 8:45 a.m.: "Excellent Jobs Numbers just released -- and I have only just begun. Many job stifling regulations continue to fall. Movement back to USA!"

Why the time matters: Trump broke a rule that prevents executive branch officials from publicly commenting within the hour. Why the??: Dating back to the Nixon administration, the rule is meant to "preserve the neutrality and objectivity of the statistics."

Why this is top of mind: In March of this year, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer (#tbt) touted a strong jobs report 22 minutes after it was released. Later in the day, Spicer admitted to breaking the rule.


A GRAND, BEAUTIFUL, BIGLY, GIANT JURY: Via The Wall Street Journal's Del Quentin Wilber and Byron Tau, special counselor Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in the Russia investigation of interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE's presidential campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Aiiiight, so what does this mean?: The Hill's Jonathan Easley broke down what the grand jury means for the investigation and why the announcement shook Washington -->

What is this grand jury?: A dedicated pool of 23 grand jurors charged with examining subpoenaed documents, listening to witness testimony and ultimately deciding whether criminal charges are warranted.

Is this surprising?: According to legal experts, this development is not really surprising. Yeah, but: Mueller reportedly already had a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., for an investigation into Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. This is a separate, Washington, D.C.-based grand jury for the Russia probe.

Criminal charges?: The existence of a grand jury also indicates Mueller will be pursuing criminal charges, but the details and target are unclear.

CONSIDER THAT HONEYMOON DONE, HONEY: Via The Hill's Jordain Carney and Cristina MarcosPresident Trump is firing pointed criticism at the GOP Congress, ripping lawmakers for sending him a Russian sanctions bill he opposes while failing to negotiate an ObamaCare repeal bill. While tensions between the president and GOP lawmakers have been simmering for months, the latest exchanges suggest a turn in the relationship. Why this could be bad news bears:

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR THE SUMMER. SCHOOL'S OUT FOR-EVAH: The Senate left last night for the August recess, a week earlier than scheduled. But with a trick up their sleeve: The Senate blocked President Trump from being able to make recess appointments while they're gone. How: The Senate will technically be in session once every three days for roughly a minute -- that's called "pro forma." Unusual?: Not really. Congress used this procedural roadblock during President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal MORE's tenure. How it works:

Photo of today's pro forma session:

END OF THE WEEK HEADLINES: Via Bloomberg's Jennifer Caplan, a cannabis grower has bought an entire California town to build a marijuana tourist destination.



HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery 
On the one hand, repercussions from party + bullying by the president + pissed off leadership. On the other hand, constituents. 
Photo Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort How Senate relationships could decide ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Alaska), who voted down ObamaCare repeal, being greeted by a constituent:

KUT's Mose Buchele
Someone has lost a chicken in East Austin. The sign:



Both chambers of Congress are out for recess! Happy August!

How fitting: Right as recess started, Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski tweeted, "Walked out of the Capitol to find a literal rainbow." Photo:

And at the White House!:

Today: Former President Barack Obama turns 56 years old today.

Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama to host global summit in Chicago Kelly Clarkson says new song 'Go High' inspired by Michelle Obama Michelle Obama outshines all Democratic prospects for 2020 MORE's birthday wish:

12:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence.

1:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron by phone.

3:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump leaves Washington, D.C., for the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Trumpcation time!



7 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at the Young America's Foundation 39th Annual National Conservative Student Conference at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill. Livestream:

Sunday: Former Vice President Al GoreAl GoreStop the loose talk about hurricanes and global warming Parties struggle with shifting coalitions OPINION | Midterms may provide Dems control — and chance to impeach MORE appears on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

Sunday: Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (R-Ark.), Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will appear on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Sunday: Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCorker pressed as reelection challenges mount -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations MORE (R-Ariz.) will appear exclusively on NBC's "Meet the Press."



Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Where to get free cookies today:

GUYS, I PROMISE THIS IS REAL: Via The Hill's Robin Eberhardt, Amazon is selling toilet paper with President Trump's tweets printed on it. A single roll of the two-ply paper goes for $11.99 on Amazon, slightly less than the $12.95 that it costs for a role of toilet paper with pictures of Trump's face. Photos:

And because you read this far, here's a sad kangaroo who hates when his friends leave: 


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