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: Dems eye smaller magic number for House | Pence calls for Space Force by 2020 | Tribune backs out of Sinclair merger | Giuliani says Mueller probe will 'blow up on them' | Collins insists he'll run for reelection despite insider trading charges | Hurricane Maria death toll 20 times higher than official figure | Magenta seagull makes waves



Just now -- 'Everybody get up it's time to slam now, we got a real jam goin' down, welcome to the Space [Force!]': 

An incredible 1996 throwback--> ;)

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 just tweeted, "Space Force all the way!"

If you're wondering why this came up: Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTop Senate Democrat: Space Force is 'not the way to go' Why you should take Trump’s Space Force seriously Pence condemns 'racism and violence' ahead of Charlottesville anniversary MORE just laid out plans for the U.S.'s military strategy in space and announced the creation of the "Space Force" by 2020. Trump has pushed the plan despite resistance from some lawmakers and officials at the Pentagon.


Livestream of Pence's announcement:


It's Thursday. 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.



The death toll of Hurricane Maria is actually 20 times the official figure: 

Via The New York Times's Frances Robles, the Puerto Rican government has quietly admitted that the death toll of Hurricane Maria was actually more than 1,400 people. The official death toll: 64. So the actual number is more than 20 times the official number.

Keep in mind: "The government was widely criticized for undercounting the number of people who died on the island as the power outage stretched for months, causing deaths from diabetes and sepsis to soar. Many people died from lack of access to hospitals, or because there was no power to run the machines they used to breathe."

Read the report posted by the Puerto Rican government


Back, back, back it up:

Tribune Media announced it has backed out of its proposed $3.9 billion merger with Sinclair Broadcasting Group. Oh and: Tribune is filing a lawsuit against Sinclair, blaming the company for regulatory roadblocks. Keep in mind: Last month, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai (R) said he had "serious concerns" about the merger and punted the decision to an administrative judge, a move that made it highly unlikely it would ever be approved.


The Trump administration lays off 40 at financial watchdog:

Via Reuters' Pete Schroeder, about 40 staff members at the Office of Financial Research have been laid off. Why: "The overhaul forms part of a broader push by the Trump administration to reduce government bureaucracy by slashing government jobs and cutting regulations." Details:



Most read -- Democrats have a smaller magic number to win the House: 

Via The Hill's Scott Wong and Mike Lillis, Democrats need to a net gain of 23 seats to win the House for the first time since 2010, but the actual magic number could be much lower. Why: "Several GOP-held seats are almost certainly already in the bag, meaning Democrats likely need to take a smaller number of competitive seats -- perhaps as few as 15 -- to return to the majority for the first time since 2010."

WHY TUESDAY'S SPECIAL ELECTION IN OHIO IS TALKED ABOUT SO MUCH: Via The Hill's Lisa Hagen, "Democrats believe their performance in Tuesday's too-close-to-call special election for an Ohio congressional district is a strong sign that they can win back the House majority in November." What Dems think will happen: Based on Ohio's results, "dozens of districts where Democrats should have a better chance of taking back seats this fall than in the Ohio district, which President Trump won by 11 points in 2016 and that has been in GOP hands for more than 30 years."

THE ECONOMY IS ON THE GOP'S SIDE THOUGH: Via The Hill's Niv Elis, "Democrats are flipping the script on Republicans, blaming the Trump administration's policies for lackluster wage growth as they seek to blunt any political benefits from the growing economy for the GOP."  How that could play out:

TIDBIT FROM Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTop aide in Kenneth Starr investigation will vote for Dems for first time Vulnerable Republicans include several up-and-coming GOP leaders Dems seek GOP wipeout in California MORE AT A PRIVATE FUNDRAISER: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) suggested at a fundraiser that Republicans need a House majority to be able to protect President TrumpProtecting Trump from...?: The special counsel investigation.



Rudy Giuliani should open a fortune-telling station on the beach: 

President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani predicts that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation "is going to blow up on them." Giuliani also predicted: The probe will be over by September. Where he made his predictions: On Fox News with Sean Hannity 

From one of the prosecutors in the Watergate trial: Why President Trump doesn't need to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller to complete the investigation:

FUN FACT: There is a street in New Britain, Conn., named Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortRoger Stone: 'No circumstance' where I would testify against Trump Hillicon 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 Prosecutors rest their case against Manafort MORE Drive, but it's named after Manafort's father. Will it get renamed?:" No, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said: "Mr. Manafort served the city for a long time, he was a war veteran. You can't control what your kids do and what they don't -- that doesn't take away from the service that the father gave to the city." 



SoOoOoO, what is Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsOn The Money: Turkey in crisis as lira hits new low | Watchdog calls for Wilbur Ross stock probe | CBO downgrades growth projection for 2018 The Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to New York to shore-up GOP districts Collins opponent calls for resignation amid insider trading charges MORE's plan?: 

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) said he will fight the charges of insider trading and that he will not step aside. Collins said: "The charges that have been levied against me are meritless. And I will mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name. I look forward to being fully vindicated and exonerated."

INTERESTING TAKE: "Chris Collins is the latest example of politicians feeling invincible in the era of Trump." Analysis from The Washington Post's Amber Phillips



He should make this his Twitter picture tbh:

By the way: Brian Stelter is CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources."



The House and Senate are out. President Trump is at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. Vice President Pence is in Washington, D.C.

10:30 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence participates in an Honor Guard Ceremony at the Pentagon.

10:35 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence has a briefing with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump signs 7B defense policy bill into law | Rips McCain hours after signing bill named after him | Green Beret killed in Afghanistan blast US soldier killed by IED in Afghanistan Trump signs 7B annual defense policy bill into law MORE.

4 p.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a roundtable with state leaders on prison reform.

Just announced -- Sept. 3: 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.) speaks at the annual New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast in Manchester, N.H. (h/t Paul Steinhauser



11:35 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence delivers remarks on the future of the U.S. military in space. Livestream:

Throwback to Pence touching critical space hardware despite a "Do Not Touch" sign:

Noon: Former clerks of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, talk about their time working with him during a Heritage Foundation event. Details and livestream:

Sunday: Former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanTrump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report Melania Trump's office pushes back on Omarosa claims MORE appears on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Keep in mind: Via The Daily Beast, Omarosa claims she secretly recorded conversations with President Trump



Today is National Rice Pudding Day.


Everyone wants to be unique and seen:

Via BBC, a bright pink seagull has been spotted in the United Kingdom. Photos and video -- that really is magenta:


And because you read this far, here's a cat who needs to wind up a bit before he can run. Watch it happen a few times: