The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

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The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Hillary’s elephant-in-the-room problem | Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaEx-W.Va. official who made racist Michelle Obama remark defrauded ,000 from FEMA: report GOP senator dedicates heart photo to wife from Senate floor for Valentine's Day Barack Obama sends Valentine's message to Michelle: 'She does get down to Motown' MORE unveils holiday decorations | Congressional staffers know how to party

BEN WHO?? Ben Carson’s moment might have passed — and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE may have reached his limit. In a new Quinnipiac University Poll, Trump once again has a commanding lead at 27 percent. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio in Colombia to push for delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuela On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Fla.) follows at 17 percent, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzEl Chapo's lawyer fires back at Cruz: 'Ludicrous' to suggest drug lord will pay for wall Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again MORE (R-Texas) at 16 percent, Carson at 16 percent (down 6 from the last poll) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 5 percent. Analysis from The Hill’s Jonathan Easley

– What we should really take away from the poll: Trump may be leading, but he has the highest percentage of people that say they would “never” support him. Fifty-nine percent of voters also said he is not honest or trustworthy. This means Trump is likely at his ceiling.  Rubio, on the other hand, has the highest net favorability rating.

CLINTON ADVISER PASSES AWAY: Sandy Berger, President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonHarris off to best start among Dems in race, say strategists, donors For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love A year since Parkland: we have a solution MORE’s second-term national security adviser, died overnight, his firm says. Here's reaction via Twitter:

Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass: V sad start to day; just learned Sandy Berger passed away during the night. Good man & friend who served nation well as bill clinton's NSA.

Deputy Secretary at the State Department, Antony Blinken: Mourn the passing of Sandy Berger --- father, husband, mentor, friend, leader and great patriot. RIP SRB.

WTOP radio’s Max Smith: National security adviser to Pres. Clinton who smuggled docs out of National Archives in his pants dies

TIDBIT: Yesterday, the World Food Program USA honored Sandy Berger with its inaugural Global Humanitarian Award. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tweeted yesterday: Congratulations to Sandy Berger, a true friend and committed humanitarian.

Happy Wednesday! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of what you missed this morning — and what’s on tap for the rest of the day. Send story ideas, comments, complaints and fritter recipes (because I’m confused as to what a fritter is) to and @CateMartel. Keep reading and you’ll see why.

NEW THIS AM­ — RE-JECTION: Via The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong, House Democrats have already rejected a sweeping year-end spending proposal that GOP leaders delivered last night.
Why: Dems said there were more than 30 “poison-pill” riders added to the budget.
What this means: Congress is still scrambling to meet the looming Dec. 11 D-Day deadline. Democrats are now crafting their counter-offer. 

WELL THIS IS PAINFULLY AWKWARD: At a Politico event this morning, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spits fire at Politico’s Mike Allen for making his private family vacation public. When Allen apologizes, Emanuel shoots back, “I don’t know if you know this, but that isn’t going to work.”  It’s cringe-worthy.

‘THE BENGHAZI EFFECT’ — BUT REALLY, BENGHAZI: The 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya have had a chilling, lasting effect on U.S. diplomats, who are still wary of treading into areas with questionable security. The Hill’s Julian Hattem spoke with diplomats on how this affects American leadership abroad.

HILLARY’S ELEPHANT-IN-THE-ROOM PROBLEM: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up McCabe's shocking claims prove the bloodless coup rolls on MORE’s allies aren’t concerned about her likeliness of winning the presidential nomination, but say they are concerned with the general election. Head-to-head match-ups with Republican candidates show a big vulnerability for Clinton: her likeability problem. The Hill’s Amie Parnes has a fascinating look at how this will play out. 

CONGRESSIONAL PARTY ANIMALS: Via Roll Call’s Rebecca Gale, According to a survey of congressional staffers, 47 percent attend social events for work either once or twice a week that predominantly serve alcohol. Of those people, 44 percent said they only have one drink; 33 percent imbibe 2-3 drinks. Only two respondents admitted having more than four drinks at work events — I know it’s anonymous, but who are these people? They sound fun.

OPIOID USE IN O-CARE REPEAL BILL: Via Morning Consult’s Will Dobbs-Allsopp, the Senate’s attempt to repeal ObamaCare is including a two-year block grant for states to combat mental health issues, which specifically targets opioid abuse.

BLOOMBERG’S CLIMATE 'RED LINE': Bloomberg has created The Carbon Clock, measuring constant levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Its analysis: In the 800,000 years before industrialization, the level hovered around 280 ppm. Current CO2 level: 400 ppm. Danger zone according to Bloomberg: 450 ppm (which they say we’ll hit by 2040). 

OOOPSIE — NOTE: DON’T BRING A GUN IN THE CAPITOL: A man was arrested after bringing a gun to a Senate office building yesterday, according to Capitol police.
FLASHBACK: Donald Trump’s campaign manager was arrested in 1999 for bringing an unloaded gun and ammunition into a House office building. 

THOSE CHRISTIE TOWN HALLS EVERYONE KEEPS TALKING ABOUT: The Washington Post’s Dan Balz writes, “In New Hampshire, no one does town halls quite like Chris Christie.” Balz has an incredibly detailed depiction in the room at a Christie town hall.

WHAT’S BUZZING ON SOCIAL: A guest worker program, which brought in 150,000 legal foreign workers last year, isn’t meant to deprive Americans of jobs. But many businesses go to extraordinary lengths to deny jobs to U.S. workers so they can hire foreigners instead. BuzzFeed has a fascinating investigation, titled “All you Americans are fired.” 

TRUMP’S N.H. SITDOWN: When NH1’s Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Landrigan asked Donald Trump if he would have attended the climate conference in Paris, Trump said he “probably wouldn’t have gone.” 



CNN’s Chris Moody
I think @TedCruz’s mom might be my spirit animal. 

Politico’s Danny Vinik (on the newly revealed disturbing background of the CEO paying all his employees $70K/year)
Also, funny that @DanPriceSeattle complains of seeing himself on mag covers in the story when his twitter picture is of him on a mag cover
Vinik later tweeted: A few hours after I tweet this, Price's Twitter pic suddenly changes... 

National Review’s Reihan Salam
Would people who associate all pro-lifers with the actions of a violent minority do the same with people of Muslim origin? 



1 p.m. EST: First Lady Michelle Obama invites military families to the White House for the first viewing of the 2015 holiday decorations.

1 p.m. EST (or thereafter): The House votes. The Senate is expecting to start voting on the GOP's ObamaCare repeal package later today.

5:30 p.m. EST: Newt and Callista Gingrich speak at the University Club in Washington, D.C. Details: 

7:30 p.m. EST: Donald Trump holds a rally in Manassas, Va. Details:

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST tomorrow: The Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum. In Washington, D.C. Confirmed speakers: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Dr. Ben Carson (R), Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Carly Fiorina (R), former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R), Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: More urgent for kids in Kentucky to have secure border than new school 
 White House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Limbaugh calls 25th Amendment discussions 'silent coup' MORE (R-S.C.), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration MORE (R-Ky.), former New York Gov. George Pataki (R), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), former Pennsylvania Gov. Rick Santorum (R) and Donald Trump.

9:30 a.m. EST tomorrow: President Obama’s Export Council convenes to make recommendations to the President about expanding exports. Live stream: 

12:30 p.m. EST tomorrow: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Wis.) will deliver his first major address at the Library of Congress. Live stream: 



7 p.m. EST: Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCongress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Dems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants Bipartisan Senators reintroduce legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia MORE (D-N.H.) joins Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” to discuss the heroin epidemic in New Hampshire. 

8 p.m. EST: Donald Trump joins Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.

10 p.m. EST: Carly Fiorina will join Sean Hannity on Fox News.

8:40 a.m. EST tomorrow: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) joins MSNBC's Morning Joe from Capitol Hill ahead of his address.


Now for the fun stuff...

AN UNEXPECTED MUSICAL DUO: Coldplay and Beyoncé released a song together — and it actually works. 

Today is National Fritters Day — again, any insight on this would be much appreciated. 

A TUNNEL TO AN AZTEC TOMB: A Mexican archaeologist says his team has found a tunnel-like passageway that may lead to an Aztec ruler's tomb. 

WHAT THAAA: There are rumors that the next Apple iPhone may remove the headphone jack to make it slimmer. I have so many questions. 

Back tomorrow, everyone!


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This newsletter was updated at 1:21 p.m.