The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report
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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Breaking -- Flynn pleads guilty | Flynn reportedly to testify Trump 'directed him to make contact' with Russians | White House distances itself from Flynn | Flake on board with tax bill, giving GOP leaders 50 votes | House eyes two-week spending bill, but conservatives not sold | Real igloo in CityCenter this weekend | Meet the lawmaker with 300 pairs of socks



Well today escalated quickly -- Michael Flynn just pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI: President Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to "willfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI about his conversations with Russia's ambassador. Why this is huge: Flynn is the first official to hold a formal office in the Trump administration to be brought down by the Mueller probe investigation potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

REACTION —  from Flynn: In a statement released by his lawyers, Flynn acknowledged his actions were “wrong.” He did refuse the accusations of “treason” that have been made against him, but apologized for lying to investigators. Read Flynn’s full statement:

REACTION — from the White House: The White House distanced itself from Flynn, saying it will not implicate President Trump or anyone else in the White House. In a statement, the White House emphasized that Flynn was fired for making false statements to Trump officials, that he worked for Trump's administration for a short time and that he was a former Obama administration official. More:

It involves a senior official in the Trump transition team: Former national security advisor Michael Flynn spoke with a "senior official" in President's Trump's transition team at the Mar-a-Lago resort to discuss what he should communicate to the Russian ambassador in a highly-scrutinized series of phone calls in December of 2016, according to federal prosecutors.

Context: From conservative analyst and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol: "If you like Watergate analogies, this is comparable to when John Dean flipped."

VIDEO -- Watch Flynn enter the U.S. District Court:

Immediately after: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped. Context: It didn't drop significantly, but it is a barometer of the reaction.

Tidbit about coverage: "Yes, Fox News dot com is really leading with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: GOP women have a more difficult time winning primary races than Dems Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections MORE news right now." Screenshot:

BREAKING: What Flynn will reportedly testify -- yikes, it involves President Trump: Via ABC News's Brian RossMichael Flynn is expected to testify that President Trump instructed him to contact Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

Wait, he pleaded guilty this morning? Did I miss that he was charged?: Nope, it all happened very quickly. At around 9:15 a.m. this morning, Special counsel Robert Mueller announced that Flynn is being charged with lying to the FBI. Then Flynn appeared at a court hearing at 10:30 a.m.

WHAT FLYNN LIED ABOUT: He told investigators that he did not ask Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to "refrain from escalating the situation" in response to sanctions that then-President Obama had applied against the Russian Federation -- and that he did not ask the ambassador to either delay or defeat a related U.N. Security Council vote.

Getting traction -- yeah, I guess this clip is a little bit ironic now: Democratic lawmakers have resurfaced a video of Flynn saying, 'Lock her up' at the Republican National Convention in 2016: Throwback video:

Read the official charges:

Tidbit about the investigation: Via ABC News, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has cost more than $5 million so far.

It's been a long year -- it's fine if you need a primer on Flynn: Via Time, here's a brief catch-up of who Michael Flynn is and how he got in this mess:

Op-ed: In The Hill, former congressional aide Brent Budowsky argues how Trump's Russian winter grows colder with Flynn plea deal.

Yikes it's a busy Friday, but Happy  December! I wanted to say, "Let the holiday festivities commence!" but let's face it, I've been in Christmas-mode for weeks now ;) 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.



BREAKING — Did you hear the fat lady sing yet? Nope, neither did I: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) just said Senate Republicans have the votes to pass their tax plan.  When they will vote: McConnell said, “later today.”

JUST NOW — The 50th 'yes' vote: Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Flake to Trump: 'Fake news' didn't side with Putin, you did MORE (R-Ariz.) just released a statement saying he will support the Republican tax plan handing leadership the 50th vote needed to pass the bill.

Why Republicans didn't sleep well last night: Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was left trying to salvage the GOP tax bill after three GOP rebels threatened to effectively kill it last night. The clock was ticking: McConnell has until tonight to pass it with changes or otherwise postpone the effort altogether until next week.


Problem No. 1: Appeasing Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump seeks to quell Russia furor MORE (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who were worried about the deficit. McConnell floated reducing the total size of the $1.4 trillion tax package by roughly $350 billion. But that approach didn't sit well with many Republican senators. Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsFreedom Caucus lawmakers call on DOJ to probe Rosenstein allegations House GOP questions FBI lawyer for second day Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said the proposal wouldn't fly in the lower chamber. GOP leaders eventually backed away from the plan.

NEW DEVELOPMENT — Sorry Sen. Corker: Senate Republican leaders are backing off their pledge to deficit hawks to shrink the size of the tax package by $350-$400 billion.

BUT THEY STILL GOT FLAKE: Flake said that leaders agreed to drop a $85 billion "budget gimmick," and promised to work on a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Problem No. 2: Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas GOP senator: Trump’s policies doing 'permanent damage' MORE (R-Wis.) wanted to eliminate the deduction big companies known as C corporations receive for state and local taxes. Johnson wants to use the money to increase the proposed deduction for pass-through businesses.

NEW DEVELOPMENT -- How GOP leaders solved problem No. 2: Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE GOP senators visited Moscow on July 4, warned Russia against meddling in 2018 election: report The Forest Service is going broke fighting fires MORE (R-Mont.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are voting for the Senate tax bill after getting a deal for more tax relief for small businesses and other "pass-through" entities.

Whip list: Here's the latest from each GOP senator on the bill. Three Republican senators are unclear/uncertain right now. Republicans can afford two Republican no votes and let Vice President Pence break a 50-50 tie.

Livestream of the Senate debating the plan:



Republicans may have a plan -- a short plan, but a plan nonetheless: Via The Hill's Melanie Zanona and Scott Wong, congressional Republicans are pursuing a short-term bill that would avert a Dec. 8 shutdown and fund the government through Dec. 22. Yes, that's still before the holidays...: That plan would mean lawmakers will likely need to pass a second stopgap spending measure right before the holidays that would keep the government's lights on into January.



Oh come on, it's probably just a lovable mouse with a passion for cooking. Have you NOT seen "Ratatouille"!?: Via NBC4, White House maintenance work orders reveal that the historic building's grounds have infestations of cockroaches, ants and mice. This includes: Mice in the Situation Room and the White House Navy mess food service area. Oh annnnnd: The work orders revealed cockroach infestations in at least four parts of the White House and a colony of ants living in chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE's office. Not all of the work orders were serious though: One request was for a new toilet seat for the Oval Office bathroom, which was directed to be completed "after hours please."

It's OK. You can click this. I know you want to and no one will know: Prince Harry and his new fiancé, American actress Meghan Markle, had their first meet-and-greet since the announcement of their engagement. Photos and video:



Omg, you guys. This is real:



The House was in this morning. The Senate is still in session.

11:45 a.m. EST: President Trump meets with the Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of Libya.

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonUS steps up its game in Africa, a continent open for business Matt Drudge shares mock ‘Survivor’ cover suggesting more White House officials will leave this summer 'Daily Show' trolls Trump over Pruitt's resignation MORE and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Mattis open to meeting with Russian defense chief: report Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet MORE.

3:15 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks at the White House Christmas reception in the Grand Foyer.

5 p.m. EST: The inaugural tree lighting at the new D.C. Wharf. Details:



NBC's "Meet the Press": Former Trump presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former deputy campaign manager ​David Bossie.

"Fox News Sunday": White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster.



Today is National Fried Pie Day!

What if I told you ​that ​you could order a 30-foot long piece of pasta...?: Via Refinery29, here's a New York restaurant where you can order a bowl of pasta that is made of a single, hand-rolled noodle. It even comes with a pair of scissors. Video: 

This makes logical sense: Via ABC7 News, a real igloo is in CityCenter D.C. this weekend. It's made of 36,000 lbs. of ice. Livestream of the igloo -- I'll be surprised if it doesn't melt by Sunday:

Omg, this headline: Via Roll Call's Alex Gangitano, "Utah's New Congressman Comes With Baggage: 300 Pairs of Socks. Rep. John Curtis organizes his socks by color and holiday motif."

And because it's Friday, here's a two-year-old girl's best reaction when Santa asks her what she wants for Christmas:


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