The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report
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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Amtrak train derails in Washington state | GOP nears tax bill victory | McCain to miss vote | Congress faces crunch time on spending | Trump says he is not thinking about firing Mueller amid rumors | Fight over Trump transition emails | Trump to unveil 'America First' national security policy | Last-minute gift ideas



So close I can feel Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNew Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders House Dem: Party's aging leaders is 'a problem' Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE avoiding stepping on any cracks and intensely inspecting any pennies he finds on the ground -- oh and he definitely has a daily alarm set for 11:11: Republicans are on the brink of a massive legislative achievement, the first with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBrennan fires new shot at Trump: ‘He’s drunk on power’ Trump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report Trump tried to dissuade Melania from 'Be Best' anti-bullying campaign: report MORE in office -- tax cuts! When the House is expected to vote: Tuesday. Then the bill will head to the Senate.

THE VOTE COUNT IN THE SENATE: In the Senate, any drama over the outcome appeared to be extinguished with the news that previous "no" votes, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances White House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP looks to injure Nelson over Russia comments Rubio’s pro-family, conservative family leave policy promotes stability Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries MORE (R-Fla), will vote "yes." Still uncertain: Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Rand Paul’s Russia visit displays advancement of peace through diplomacy MORE (R-Ariz.) could miss the vote for medical treatment and Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranGOP Senate candidate polls followers on whether Robert E. Lee was hero or villain Mississippi courthouse named for Thad Cochran Todd Young in talks about chairing Senate GOP campaign arm MORE (Miss.) is also dealing with health issues. If McCain/Cochran miss the vote: Republicans are likely to have 50 "yes" votes plus Vice President Pence breaking the tie. I.e.: Republicans are in good shape unless there are surprises.

REPUBLICAN SENATE VOTES WE STILL DON'T KNOW: Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeVoters will punish Congress for ignoring duty on war and peace GOP Senate candidate truncates Trump tweet in campaign mailer GOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M MORE (Maine) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up GOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work MORE (Utah) have yet to say if they will support the tax deal, but they each voted for the Senate version of the bill.


It's Monday. Be forewarned: Today is National Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day. ;) 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.



An Amtrak passenger train ​has ​derailed:​ Via CNN, in Washington state, an Amtrak passenger train derailed and is now dangling over a highway. The train reportedly hit cars on the highway as it derailed. Are people hurt?: “Amtrak released a statement saying ‘some injuries’ have been reported in the crash. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said to expect casualties.” Latest information — it’s changing quickly, so keep checking this page:




The big update -- that's a lot of holiday reading: Via Axios, special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators is in possession of tens of thousands of emails from the Trump transition team. Those include: Messages belonging to President Trump's son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Justice Dept sues Ivanka’s former business partner in fraud case Connect Beltway to America to get federal criminal justice reform done MORE and other members of the transition team's political leadership and the foreign policy team. What Mueller's team is using the emails for: To question witnesses. They are also looking to the messages to confirm information and follow new leads.

TRUMP COMMENTS ON THE TRANSITION EMAILS: When asked about the slew of emails Mueller obtained, Trump said, "Not looking good, it's not looking good. It's quite sad to see that. My people were very upset about it," Trump said. "I can't imagine there's anything on them frankly because as we've said there's no collusion, no collusion," he continued. 

AND A TRUMP LAWYER WENT A STEP FURTHER: A lawyer for Trump's transition team said that the emails were obtained illegally.

MUELLER'S TEAM RESPONDS: Special counsel Robert Mueller's office defended its work. In a statement to The Hill: "When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process," said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office.

HOW OTHERS ARE REACTING: Democratic and Republican lawmakers defended special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation amid attempts by conservatives to discredit the probe.

Nah, I wouldn't fire him. I love the guy. Well, he's fine. That annoying pain in my side...: President Trump yesterday said he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller amid concerns that the administration was trying to halt the investigation into Russian election meddling. Keep in mind: There were mounting rumors that Trump was considering firing Mueller as the president's allies stepped up their attacks on the special counsel.



This week in Congress -- What does everyone want? Vacation! When do they want it? On time! (please): Via The Hill's Cristina Marcos and Jordain Carney, lawmakers have until Friday to keep the government open. Yet they still haven't agreed on how to avoid a costly shutdown but still accomplish tax reform. The plan now: House Republicans are forging ahead with plans to pass a stopgap measure that would fund defense programs through next September, but other agencies only through Jan. 19. Timing: The House Rules Committee is slated to meet Tuesday afternoon to prepare the legislation for a floor vote, which could occur as soon as Wednesday. What else would be in the bill:

TIDBIT ON THE BUDGET -- THE NEW F-WORDS: Via The Washington Post's Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, the Trump administration is now prohibiting officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from saying certain words in documents for the agency's budget. The prohibited words: "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based." Explanation:



Good point. I'm going to start watermarking my Instagram photos with "Cate Martel's Copyright":




The House is in. The Senate will be in later today. President Trump and Vice President Pence are both in Washington, D.C.

3 pm. EST: The Senate meets.

3:15 p.m. EST: President Trump meets with Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonDems want GOP chairman to subpoena State Department over cyber docs Overnight Energy: Trump elephant trophy tweets blindsided staff | Execs of chemical plant that exploded during hurricane indicted | Interior to reverse pesticide ban at wildlife refuges Administration should use its leverage to get Egypt to improve its human rights record MORE.

5:30 p.m. EST: The Senate votes on two nominations. Their schedule today:

6:30 p.m. EST: Votes in the House. Their schedule today:

Tuesday: The House is expected to vote on tax reform.

Op-ed: Here's an op-ed in The Hill from an economics professor arguing the tax bill has four fatal flaws:



2 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks about his administration's national security strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. Livestream:



Today is National Roast Suckling Pig Day.

Still behind on your Christmas shopping? SAME.​: Via BuzzFeed, here are lists of the perfect gifts by category:

Happy Holidays from your favorite royal family: Prince William and Kate Middleton released their family's annual Christmas card. It's pretty cute:

And because you read this far, here's a dog trying his hardest to get a reaction from his friend:


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