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

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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 TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report 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 RosensteinHillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down US judge rejects Russian company’s bid to dismiss Mueller charges Falwell Jr.: Sessions and Rosenstein ‘deceived’ Trump into appointing them and should ‘rot’ in jail 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 SchumerSenate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh Montana GOP Senate hopeful touts Trump's support in new ad Strong job growth drives home choice for voters this election 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!"





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Spotted: Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanVulnerable Republicans include several up-and-coming GOP leaders Trump ally suspends reelection campaign Congress should prohibit members from serving on company boards 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) ManchinTrump’s big wall isn’t going anywhere — and the polls show why Senate Judiciary announces Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing Anti-abortion group launches ads against Manchin over Planned Parenthood MORE (D). 


Feeling more of a Bern?:

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Health Care: States fight Trump on non-ObamaCare plans | Analysis looks into surprise medical bills | Left hits industry group working against single payer Overnight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate Sen. Sanders blasts Zinke: Wildfires 'have everything to do with climate change' 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 PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to New York to shore-up GOP districts Turkish president: US set deadline to release detained pastor Pompeo discusses new sanctions in call with Russian counterpart 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 DeVosDeVos ends Obama-era protections for students of for-profit colleges Petition calls for Education Secretary LeBron James Collins and Murkowski face recess pressure cooker on Supreme Court MORE testifies on Capitol Hill. Five things to watch:

Just announced: Former president Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFalwell Jr.: Sessions and Rosenstein ‘deceived’ Trump into appointing them and should ‘rot’ in jail The Trump economy is destroying the Obama coalition Charlottesville and the failure of moral leadership MORE and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObamas greeted by screaming fans at Martha's Vineyard Kamala Harris tied with Bernie Sanders as betting favorite for 2020 Dems The Hill's Morning Report — Election Day drama for Trump 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!