12:30 Report

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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump says Puerto Rico relief hampered by 'big water, ocean water' | US pulling out Cuba staff after sonic attacks | Price fights for his job | How Trump's tax plan helps Trump | Distrust of Senate grows in GOP | Dem Sinema to challenge Flake for Senate seat | SCOTUS takes major union case

US ORDERS STAFF OUT OF CUBA: Via The Hill's Max Greenwood, the State Department has ordered a 60 percent reduction in staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana after bizarre sonic attacks have left some diplomats injured. The Associated Press says the U.S. will stop issuing visas to the island. It's unclear who's behind the attacks, and McClatchy reported this week the U.S. does not suspect the Cuban government. http://bit.ly/2xLBafB

It's Friday. I'm Reid Wilson in for Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to RWilson@thehill.com or on Twitter, etc.

TRUMP DEFENDS PUERTO RICO RESPONSE: Via The Hill's Jordan Fabian... President Trump on Friday said the response to the devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico is complicated because the island is "surrounded by water." "This is an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water," Trump said in a speech focusing on his tax plan. The administration has been under fire over its response to the crisis. http://bit.ly/2xQvl0B

Puerto Rico updates: This morning, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, tore into the head of Homeland Security for calling the response a "good news story." http://bit.ly/2yxvX8o And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wants Trump to put the military in charge of the relief effort. http://bit.ly/2xD7Rwd

WILL PRICE SURVIVE? Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will repay $51,887 in costs associated with his use of chartered jets after President Trump grew angry at the attention on the lavish spending. But that's a fraction of the $1 million his flights on military and chartered aircraft have cost taxpayers. The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/2yczcpQ Price says he's working to "regain" Trump's trust. http://bit.ly/2xOYRns

TRUE STORY: Both former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz related a funny story: While waiting to board commercial flights, their security details told airline staff they were armed, part of standard protocol. The airline staff looked at Jewell and Moniz and told the security details that their prisoners really should be in handcuffs.

TRUMP TAX PLAN HELPS ... TRUMP: The New York Times's Jesse Drucker and Nadja Popovich crunched numbers on the Republican tax plan and found President Trump would save tens of millions of dollars if the reform proposal makes it through Congress. Repealing the estate tax alone would save the Trump family $1.1 billion. http://nyti.ms/2xPY3yT

And/but: Blue state Republicans aren't on board with a proposal to cut state and local tax deductions, Naomi Jagoda and I report: http://bit.ly/2ydo7Vt

DISTRUST OF SENATE GROWS: Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton... House Republicans are expressing deep reservations that the Senate can get the job done. After the failure to pass ObamaCare repeal, the House GOP is worried ambitious plans to pass tax reform could also be scuttled if just a handful of senators object. "For a handful of senators to derail that agenda is very frustrating," said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas). http://bit.ly/2xPRAUj

This morning: The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should step down. "I think he's a huge part of the problem," Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) told NBC News. "There's a growing consensus that would be very happy if the fine senator from Kentucky called it a career." http://bit.ly/2fxJ2qY

SCOTUS TAKES UNION CASES: The Supreme Court said Thursday it would hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case over whether public employees may be forced to pay agency fees to unions to cover collective bargaining costs. The court deadlocked on a similar case out of California after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, a bad sign for unions struggling to hold members across the country. Remember the name Janus: This is the marquee political case of the next term. The Sacramento Bee's Adam Ashton: http://bit.ly/2xFqZHw

SCOTUS PREVIEWS: Red Mass, the annual Catholic celebration of justices and judges held just before the Supreme Court begins its new term, happens Sunday at St. Matthews. The Los Angeles Times previews the new term. Don't miss coverage from The Hill's Lydia Wheeler over the weekend.

SINEMA WILL CHALLENGE FLAKE: My report last night: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said she will run against Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), setting up a second hot race in which Democrats have a shot at snagging a Senate seat. Flake's poll numbers aren't great, and Sinema finished the last quarter with more money in the bank than the first-term Republican. Sinema's team so far: Media guru Karl Struble and polling expert Lisa Grove. http://bit.ly/2x243R7 Arizona Republic's coverage here: http://bit.ly/2wnpPim



National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg

Scotch > Irish Whiskey > Bourbon. On this, there can be no debate.


The Washington Post's Alexandra Petri

i almost feel bad making jokes about Jared Kushner who apparently has zero recollection of who he is or anything he has done at any time


The Poynter Institute

Two-thirds of the Louisville Courier-Journal worked the NCAA scandal story over the past couple days.




The House and Senate are out for the weekend.

President Trump addressed the National Association of Manufacturers at the Mandarin Oriental this morning. He'll have lunch with Vice President Pence and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). This afternoon, he heads to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Vice President Pence visits the National Reconnaissance Office after lunch.

Jimmy Carter turns 93 on Sunday. No former president has ever lived to be 94, but to be honest we expect Carter to outlive all of us.



Today is National Coffee Day! But your author is from Seattle, so that's nothing new.

TWITTER IS THE WORST: NJ Advance Media's Brent Johnson reports that New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy, the front-runner to become the state's next governor, is among the group chosen to test out this whole 280-character idea. But Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, his Republican rival, is still stuck at 140 characters. That seems ... poorly thought out. http://bit.ly/2fWMAn8

NEVADA GOES TO POT: The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Nevada pot distributors sold $27 million worth of marijuana in the first month of legalization, nearly double what Washington and Colorado sold in their first months. And Nevada is smaller than both those states. Just imagine when pot becomes legal in California early next year. http://bit.ly/2yLg9Qn

And because you read this far, here's your next job: London's Meantime Brewing Company is hiring a part-time beer taster. Apply via LinkedIn.


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