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: Mueller charges lawyer with lying in Russia probe | Trump denies claim he forcibly kissed woman in 2006 | Trump blames Obama for Russian interference | DACA deadline approaches | 2020 Dem contenders traveling to primary states | Trump urges Pennsylvania GOP to fight voting map



Another Mueller investigation indictment: Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is charging a man who communicated with former Trump campaign adviser Richard Gates with making false statements to federal officials. Who: Alex Van Der Zwaan. What he's charged with: Van Der Zwaan allegedly lied about his last communications with Gates and deleted emails requested by the special counsel's office, according to the indictment.

Timing: The new charges come as Gates is reportedly nearing a plea deal with Mueller that could lead to his testimony against former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortJudge rejects Manafort motion to suppress evidence seized from residence Mueller probing Roger Stone following Russian hacker indictment: report Judge rejects Manafort's bid to move trial further from DC MORE. Manafort faces a series of charges, including money laundering and making false statements to the FBI.

Happening today: Van Der Zwaan has a plea hearing at 2:30 p.m. EST today.

Lucy, I'm hoooome! It's an eerily warm Tuesday in Washington. 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.



Trump denies accusations of forcibly kissing a woman in 2006: President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE this morning issued a denial of claims printed in The Washington Post by a woman who says he forcibly kissed her in the lobby of Trump Tower a decade ago. He tweeted: "A woman I don't know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security. "

Back story: Rachel Crooks, a then-22-year-old secretary in a neighboring office building, says Trump grabbed her and began forcibly kissing her upon meeting him in 2006 in Trump Tower in New York City. Keep in mind: Crooks, now 35, is running for state office in Ohio in part to tell her story about what she says happened just over 10 years ago when she met the future president.


Can you think of a better way to start the week than with a tweetstorm??: This morning, President Trump accused former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaEx-White House stenographer: Trump is ‘lying to the American people’ Trump has the right foreign policy strategy — he just needs to stop talking The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump faces bipartisan criticism over Putin presser, blames media for coverage MORE of declining to take action against Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election because he wanted to preserve Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonState Dept: Russia’s allegations about American citizens ‘absolutely absurd’ Trump on possible sit-down with Mueller: 'I've always wanted to do an interview' Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE's chances of winning the race. He tweeted: Trump highlighted a quote from Obama made before the election. " 'There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America's elections, there's no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time, and so I'd invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes,' " Trump tweeted, quoting Obama.

Full series of tweets -- there were a lot:

OP-ED: Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden on why the CIA may need to call White House to clarify Russia meddling.

'If there's a place you got to get, I can get you there I bet, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map!' Trump encouraged Pennsylvania Republicans to challenge the state's new congressional map in court, saying that the original map -- deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court -- "was correct." Timing: Trump's tweet came a day after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unveiled a new congressional map that increases Democrats' electoral chances in several districts currently held by Republicans.

What the map looks like -- before and after:



New poll -- call for action: According to a Washington Post–ABC News poll released today, most Americans say Congress and President Trump are not doing enough to prevent mass shootings in the U.S. Trump: 62 percent of respondents said that Trump is not taking adequate action to crack down on the rash of mass shootings that has roiled in the country. Congress: 77 percent place blame on Congress. Mental illness: Most Americans fault a failure to identify and treat mental illness as the primary driver for such shootings. Fifty-seven percent said so, compared to just 28 percent who blame inadequate gun control laws.

POSSIBLE GUN OUTCOMES: Via Vox's Ella Nilsen, there are currently two gun bills in Congress. Here are details on each and what to expect:

GETTING TRACTION -- YIKES, THIS COVER: Today's cover of the New York Daily News is pretty startling. Photo: ALSO GETTING TRACTION -- A CARTOON ABOUT THE SHOOTING: In a viral political cartoon, a Vancouver artist depicts Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach who was killed in the shooting, while trying to protect students. Photo:



The DACA deadline is coming up: Via The Hill's Rafael Bernal, the Trump administration's March 5 deadline for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is approaching. 

Does there appear to be a deal?: Not yet. The Senate failed to pass a legislative replacement to the DACA program Thursday, leaving Congress with few legislative options and only four legislative days before the deadline. 

Will recipients lose benefits on March 5?: No, recipients won't automatically lose their benefits at once after March 5. In fact, because of two court injunctions, existing beneficiaries are allowed to apply to renew their two-year DACA permit, which grants them immunity from deportation and a work permit.

About the March 5 deadline: House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWhy the rush to condemn a carbon tax? House votes to go to conference on farm bill House backs resolution expressing support for ICE MORE (R-Wis.) said this week he still wants to pass legislation on DACA in March, but minimized the importance of the deadline Trump set when he canceled the program in September.

Full explanation of what happens to DACA recipients:



It's beginning to look a lot like 2020, everywhere you go: Via The Hill's Ben Kamisar, Democrats who are considering running against President Trump in 2020 are already visiting early primary states. Here's a rundown of which potential 2020 contenders have already traveled to Iowa or New Hampshire, sorted by those who has traveled to these states the most:



This is why we don't even try:


The full report is worth reading:



Congress is out.

Today: Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDNC claims Secret Service blocked attempt to deliver lawsuit against Kushner Secret Service spent nearly 0,000 on protection for Trump's sons during overseas trips Government paid K to Trump company for Scotland stay MORE is in India. "His schedule includes dinners in at least two cities with buyers of Trump-branded apartments, which could fuel ethical concerns about the links between the president and his family business."

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisCourt rules against Trump administration on transgender military ban George Will calls Trump ‘sad, embarrassing wreck of a man’ Trump meeting with Putin is the right thing for America MORE.

2:45 p.m. EST: President Trump meets with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDem lawmaker calls for cryptocurrency probe after Mueller indictments Meet the woman who is Trump's new emissary to Capitol Hill On The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment MORE.

Wednesday–Saturday: The Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. Schedule:



2 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gives a press briefing. Livestream:

3:30 p.m. EST: President Trump hosts a Public Safety Medal of Valor awards ceremony. Livestream:

8 a.m. EST Wednesday: The Center for Strategic and International Studies is hosting an event on the economic impact of cybercrime. Livestream:



Today is National Cherry Pie Day.

This is pretty cool: Check out Time magazine's Feb. 26 cover -- it has an actual maze. Interactive cover you can solve online:

The most relatable article you'll read all day: The Washington Post's Carrie Dennett breaks down what it means to have a food craving and what a craving actually entails:

And because you made it to the end, here's a mind-boggling video -- this is how an octopus is born. I had no idea!