The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

If you'd like to subscribe to The Hill's midday political newsletter, please click here:


The Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on next step for ObamaCare repeal | Trump team downplays adviser's call with Russian envoy | Senators on the fence over State pick | Inside the first family's residence | Pence on Sunday shows

TALK OF THE MORNING -- NEW GAME, EVERY TIME A TV CHYRON SAYS "RUSSIA," WE ALL DRINK: Via AP's Julie Pace, "A senior U.S. official says the Obama administration is aware of frequent contacts between President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious' White House considers sweeping travel ban on members, families of the Chinese Communist Party: report MORE's top national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia's ambassador to the United States." When: "The official says the contacts happened on the day President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious' Twitter accounts of Obama, Biden, Musk and others compromised Trump-backed House candidate leads by only 7 votes in key Texas runoff MORE expelled dozens of Russian officials from the U.S. and imposed sanctions as punishment for election-related hacking." But not just that one time: "The official says the administration is also aware of contacts between Trump adviser Michael Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at other times as well."  

SPICER REACTS: Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer downplayed the matter on Friday's transition call: "Flynn call with Russian ambassador centered around setting up call with Trump and Putin after the 20th."

Happy Friday the 13th. Welcome to the last weekend of President Obama's presidency. 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.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The 12:30 Report will be off Monday for the holiday. Enjoy the long weekend! Tuesday. Same time, same place. 


TO SUPPORT OR NOT TO SUPPORT -- THAT IS THE (AWKARD) QUESTION (DU JOUR): Rex Tillerson's rocky performance at his confirmation hearing has left many senators on the fence about whether to support his nomination for secretary of State. No Democrats have come out to publicly support Tillerson, and key Republicans aren't saying how they'll vote.

UPDATE -- A YES AND A NO FROM KAINE: Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineFinger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (D-Va.) announced this morning that he will support President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon, retired Gen. James Mattis, but not his secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson.

BETTER READ THE FINE PRINT: Remember Trump's L.L. Bean tweet yesterday, encouraging Americans to buy their brand? Well, such a tweet would violate a White House policy prohibiting the endorsement of organizations, products or people. But he's not president yet: This tweet wasn't illegal, but it would be once he's in the White House unless he changes the law.

NEW POLL -- STARTING FROM THE BOTTOM, NOW WE'RE HERE!: President-elect Donald Trump has the lowest recorded approval rating heading into Inauguration Day, a new Gallup poll has found. Approval: 44 percent of Americans; Disapproval: 51 percent.

ANOTHER MEMBER WITH 'OTHER PLANS': Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) announced from the House floor on Friday that he plans to boycott President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration next week. Context: The co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is the fifth House Democrat to publicly vow not to attend the inauguration on Jan. 20.

INAUGURATION DAY SURVIVAL GUIDE: WTOP Radio has a helpful guide with the weather, travel information, road closures and what to know for inauguration balls. Check it out: 

FUN WATCH -- OH THE THINGS I'D DO TO JUMP ON THAT CRISPLY MADE BED: Here's a short video inside the first family's residence at the White House.

ALL THE MARY-JUE-ANNA: Via The Hill's Reid Wilson, marijuana reforms are flooding state legislatures as lawmakers look to loosen laws restricting access to or criminalizing marijuana. Why this matters: The different ways states treat marijuana could come to a head at the federal Justice Department, where President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Campaign Report: New polls show Biden leading by landslide margins The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Fauci touts COVID-19 vaccine news Trump-backed House candidate leads by only 7 votes in key Texas runoff MORE (R-Ala.), is a staunch opponent of legal pot. Steps marijuana advocates are taking:

WSJ EDITORIAL -- HOW TO KNOW YOU'RE HAVING A BAD DAY: The Wall Street Journal editorial board says President-elect Donald Trump's incoming administration should fire James Comey if the FBI director does not resign. "The best service Mr. Comey can render his country now is to resign. Failing that, Jeff Sessions should invite him for a meeting after he is confirmed as Attorney General and ask him to resign." Dayuuum. Full editorial:

AND DEMS ARE FURIOUS TOO: A number of House Democrats left Friday's confidential briefing on Russian hacking fuming over the actions of FBI Director James Comey and convinced he's unfit to lead the agency. "I was non-judgmental until the last 15 minutes. I no longer have that confidence in him," Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said as he left the meeting in the Capitol. "Some of the things that were revealed in this classified briefing — my confidence has been shook." 

INTERESTING READ -- THE DIETARY WAR ON SUGAR: Via Vox's Julia Belluz and Javier Zarracina, in health policy circles, sugar is the hot item discussed as the cause of obesity and diabetes. But that's actually pretty controversial -- and not much science backs that up. Here are 11 things to know about sugar -- including that as of 2018, nutrition labels will be required to show "added sugar" as a separate line.

SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS NEXT WEEK: Per the transition call: Betsy DeVos for Education secretary; Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) for secretary of the Interior; S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley for U.N. ambassador; Wilbur Ross for Commerce secretary; Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for HHS secretary; Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator; Rick Perry for Energy secretary; Steven Mnuchin for T​reasury secretary.



CQ Roll Call's Alan K. Ota
GOP lawmaker: "Never been here on a Fri before MLK's bday. ... Gimme a break." 

The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold
Just saw Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceFauci says relationship with Trump is good, but would step down from task force if asked Pence says GOP considering moving convention outdoors Pence: Fauci a 'valued' member of coronavirus task force MORE buy 2 cartons of Turkey Hill ice cream at neighborhood Safeway. I am telling you this so I can expense all my groceries.

Pence just tweeted: I can confirm that when Mrs. Pence asks me to pick up ice cream, I pick up ice cream. ;) 

Dan Barker
I still love this memo from Joe BidenJoe BidenProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters National Association of Police Organizations endorses Trump Hillicon Valley: Twitter accounts of Obama, Biden, Musk, others compromised | U.S. announces sanctions on Huawei, citing human rights abuses | Pompeo 'confident' foreign adversaries will interfere in elections MORE 



The House is in and the Senate is out. President Obama is in Washington, D.C. President-elect Donald Trump is at Trump Tower in New York City.

12:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Josh Earnest gives the daily press briefing. 

2:45 p.m. EST: Last votes of the day in the House. They are scheduled to vote on a budget resolution that would pave the way for ObamaCare's repeal. But some Republicans are unhappy about moving forward without a replacement plan on deck. More on that here:

Number to know: Only 18 percent of Americans want a full ObamaCare repeal, according to a new poll.

9 a.m. Wednesday: Outgoing White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, two days before President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.



10 p.m. EST: Lester Holt sits down with President Obama for a one-hour NBC News/"Dateline NBC" special, "Barack Obama: The Reality of Hope."

CBS's "Face the Nation": Guests include Vice President-elect Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). The panel discussion will include Ben Domenech, Ruth Marcus, John Heilemann and Ed O'Keefe

"Fox News Sunday": Guests include Vice President-elect Mike Pence, CIA Director John Brennan and Tom Barrack, chairman of the Presidential Inauguration Committee. The panel will include The Wall Street Journal's Gerald F. Seib, The Washington Examiner's Lisa Boothe, former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.

NBC's "Meet the Press": Guests include Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGraham says he will call Mueller to testify before Senate panel about Russia probe Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Bottom line MORE (D-Calif.), incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

CNN's "State of the Union": Guests include outgoing White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughSusan Rice calls for Flynn-Kislyak transcripts to be released GOP seeks to go on offense using Flynn against Biden Tucker Carlson: Flynn case was domestic spying operation 'hidden under the pretext of national security' MORE, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, National Urban League's Marc Morial and Sarah Isgur Flores, spokeswoman for Sen. Jeff Sessions and a former deputy campaign manager for Carly Fiorina's presidential bid.

ABC's "This Week": Guests include Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher, Republican strategist Sara Fagen, ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation.

7 p.m. EST Sunday: President Obama will sit down with Steve Kroft for an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes."



Today is National Peach Melba Day.

THE NEW 'OMG, WHOSE CAR BROKE DOWN? I'LL LEAVE AND COME NOW': Via The Huffington Post's Lee Moran, restaurants have begun to offer a special "angel shot" for woman on bad dates. Basically, there's a sign in the women's bathroom explaining to woman certain options. Angel shot neat: Your bartender will escort you to your car; Angel shot with ice: Your bartender will call an Uber or Lyft for you; Angel shot with lime: Your bartender will call the police.

And because you read this far, here's a Russian man with a pet lynx. Bold move, my man.


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

To receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox, please sign up here: