The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ

To view past editions of The Hill's 12:30 Report, click here:

Sign up to receive the 12:30 Report right to your inbox:

--> 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 -- Sponsored by Delta Air Lines --  Frenzy over Justice Kennedy retirement rumors | DOJ watchdog to probe Trump surveillance claims | Giuliani claims Mueller obstruction probe could end by September | GOP looks to regroup after farm bill failure | Blankenship plans third-party run for Senate | CIA chief Haspel sworn in | Obamas ink deal with Netflix



A possible Supreme Court retirement (?!):

Via The Hill's Lydia Wheeler, Washington is in a frenzy over rumors that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, could retire. Why Republicans are eager for his departure: If Kennedy retires now, it would give Senate Republicans enough time to confirm a replacement before the midterms (when Democrats could potentially take the Senate).

A sign he could leave: Kennedy's wife appeared at the final oral arguments of the term. Yeah, but: The wives of Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch also attended. 

A sign he's staying: Kennedy has already hired law clerks for his next term.

When it could happen: "Occasionally, the justices will announce or at least signal their plans to retire at their reunions with their former law clerks. Kennedy holds one of those reunions every five years. ... Chief Justice John Roberts could also announce Kennedy's plans on the last day of the term; in fact, many expect him to deliver the news if the rumors are true." 


It's Monday -- welcome back! 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.




A new and, well, fake deadline -- yippie:

Via The New York Times's Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased 'tapes' of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea MORE's lawyer Rudy Giuliani says the special counsel hopes to wrap up the Trump obstruction of justice investigation by Sept. 1. Why this date: Giuliani said the special counsel's office shared the potential end date with him as the two sides negotiated a possible interview for President Trump. Keep in mind: The obstruction case is just a small part of the special counsel investigation.

GIULIANI'S STRATEGY IN OFFERING THE SEPT. 1 DATE: "By putting an end date on the obstruction inquiry, he is apparently seeking to publicly pressure Mr. Mueller to stick to that timeline and trying to assuage the president by predicting the inquiry will end soon, a strategy that some of his other lawyers tried, with mixed results."


Sources told Reuters that Giuliani made up the Sept. 1 deadline he said special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE placed on the obstruction of justice portion of the Russia investigation.

Try reciting this tweet in Michael Scott's 'Caleb Crawdad' voice -- do it: -->

President Trump called for the Department of Justice to look into whether there was any infiltration of the Trump campaign by law enforcement. He tweeted: "I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes -- and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!"

DOJ RESPONDS: The Justice Department is asking its inspector general to look into whether the FBI surveilled President Trump's campaign for "inappropriate purposes," Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinScrutiny ramps up over Commerce secretary's stock moves Grassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report Top House Dem claims Judiciary chairman's DOJ, FBI subpoena is invalid MORE announced Sunday in response to Trump's tweet.

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW: Some legal experts say Trump's demands could set up a clash with the Justice Department. It's unclear if having the DOJ watchdog look into the matter will be enough for Trump.



I'm shocked Trump didn't use #ThanksObama in this tweet:

President Trump knocked Democrats over trade with China. He tweeted: "I ask Senator Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDonald Trump Jr. headlines Montana Republican convention Montana's environmental lobby teams with governor to kill 600 jobs Dems allow separation of parents, children to continue, just to score political points MORE, why didn't President Obama & the Democrats do something about Trade with China, including Theft of Intellectual Property etc.? They did NOTHING! With that being said, Chuck & I have long agreed on this issue! Fair Trade, plus, with China will happen!"





At Delta, we're committed to donating 1% of our net profits to charitable organizations around the world. For more information about Delta, visit



Spotted: Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGeorge Will: Vote against GOP in midterms Trump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump floats tariffs on European cars | Nikki Haley slams UN report on US poverty | Will tax law help GOP? It's a mystery MORE angrily ordering a new leash on Amazon for House Republicans: --> 

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney and Juliegrace Brufke, House Republicans are regrouping this week after conservatives revolted and tanked the Republican-backed farm bill last week. Why conservatives voted against the bill: Over immigration. They want a floor vote on a conservative immigration reform bill. Keep in mind: The farm bill was a symbolic loss for Republicans. The bill was considered dead on arrival in the Senate. Yeah, but: The bill's failure shows Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may hardly have any influence left after announcing he will retire soon.


Veterans Affairs: The Senate is expected to vote on a Veterans Affairs reform bill that passed in the House last week. When: A Tuesday morning vote is possible.

Defense funds: A House committee is meeting meet today to debate the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019. When: Debate on amendments to the bill will happen Tuesday.

Prison reform: The House is expected to vote on a prison reform bill this week. What the bill would do: Provide funding to prevent prison inmates from committing new crimes after being released. 

Dodd-Frank: The House is expected to take up a Senate-passed measure exempting dozens of banks from the Dodd–Frank Wall Street reform law this week.

Nominations: The Senate will work on approving several Trump nominations this week. 

Context and details for each:



Reported this a.m. -- the ex-convict gift that keeps on giving:

Via Politico's Alex IsenstadtDon Blankenship, the former coal executive and ex-convict who lost in West Virginia's Senate GOP primary earlier this month, announced he will be running as a third-party candidate. One hiccup: A West Virginia law prevents candidates who lose in one party to re-file in another party for that same election. Blankenship is reportedly prepared to challenge that rule.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Blankenship's bid could draw away votes from Republican nominee Patrick Morrisey in his bid against Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Trump caves under immense pressure — what now? Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral Manchin up 9 points over GOP challenger in W.Va. Senate race MORE (D). 


Feeling more of a Bern?:

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSen. Sanders: 'Hypocrite' Trump rants against undocumented immigrants, but hires them at his properties On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump floats tariffs on European cars | Nikki Haley slams UN report on US poverty | Will tax law help GOP? It's a mystery Nikki Haley: 'Ridiculous' for UN to analyze poverty in America MORE (I-Vt.) announced that he's running for reelection this year. Tough race?: Nah, he's expected to easily win his seat.





The House is in. The Senate is meeting this afternoon.

This morning: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIsrael scales back work with UN Human Rights Council after US exit The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Immigration drama grips Washington The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines – First lady makes surprise visit to migrant children at border MORE outlined his post-Iran deal strategy at the Heritage Foundation.

1:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a signing ceremony for legislation rolling back the consumer bureau's auto-loan guidance.

3 p.m. EDT: The Senate meets.

5:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes on a nomination. 

6:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump has dinner with governors to discuss border security and safe communities. 

6:35 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at a Senate Leadership Fund event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

5 p.m. EDT Tuesday: The 6th annual Congressional Soccer Match.



10:35 a.m. EDT: President Trump swore in Gina Haspel as CIA director. Livestream:

2:10 p.m. EDT: President Trump hosts NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. and his team. Livestream:

Tuesday: Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosEducation Department closes 1,200 Obama-era civil rights probes The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Trump caves under immense pressure — what now? Education Department ordered to stop collecting debts from defrauded Corinthian College students MORE testifies on Capitol Hill. Five things to watch:

Just announced: Former president Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama to visit Kenya, South Africa for Obama Foundation in July Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos Clarifying the power of federal agencies could offer Trump a lasting legacy MORE and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama says upcoming memoir shares the 'ordinariness of a very extraordinary story' Colbert: Melania Trump’s jacket was ‘one message she did not steal from Michelle Obama’ Melania Trump puzzles with 'I really don't care' jacket MORE signed a multi-year deal with Netflix. What we know:


Today is National Strawberries and Cream Day.


This slideshow is the best thing I've seen in a while:

Vanity Fair published a hilarious slideshow tribute, "A Fond Farewell to Prince Harry, Third Wheel." Photos -- he's come so far:

JUST RELEASED — WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS: The official wedding portraits of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been released. Photos:


AND WHILE I HAVE YOU HERE...: Here's a toddler who keeps stealing popcorn from Prince Harry: 


And because you made it this far, here's a baby who really doesn't want to be woken up. Those facial expressions!