The Hill's 12:30 Report

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: Senate panel declines Flynn's immunity offer for now | Trump decries Flynn 'witch hunt' | Dems to watch in Gorsuch fight | Hillary returns to DC for speech | Cruz gets Senate challenger | Goodbye, Twitter eggs

JUST NOW: ​'BET-ON BETO' -- PSH, PEOPLE SHOULD HIRE ME FOR CAMPAIGN SLOGANS: Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) just officially jumped into the race to take on Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  Ted Cruz bashes Oprah for 'lecture' on race: 'What utter, racist BS' Senate Democrats prepare seven-figure spending spree in Texas MORE (R-Texas) in 2018. Well, first: Before he can take on Cruz, O'Rourke will need to win the Democratic primary. Fellow Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro (D), a rising star in the party, is still considering a bid. His political director said he will make a decision "in the coming weeks."

Happy Friday! Tomorrow's April Fool's Day, so have your radar out! 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.

TALKED ABOUT ON THE MORNING SHOWS -- JUST A LIL' INFO, NUDGE, Y'KNOW, BETWEEN FRIENDS: Via The Wall Street Journal's Shane HarrisCarol E. Lee and Julian E. Barnes, President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has reportedly told the FBI that he is willing to testify about the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Flynn's lawyer's statement: "General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit."

BREAKING -- SENATE SAYS HOLD YOUR HORSES: The Senate Intelligence Committee has turned down former national security advisor Michael Flynn's request for immunity in exchange for his testimony in the panel's investigation into Russian interference in the election, at least for now (this last phrase is key.)

FLASHBACK: Flynn in September on NBC's "Meet the Press": "When you are given immunity, that means that you've probably committed a crime." Video:

ANOTHER FLASHBACK: Trump (as a candidate) in September 2016: "If you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?"

TRUMP REACTS -- IT'S SALEM ALL OVER AGAIN, I TELL YA: President Trump is defending former national security adviser Michael Flynn's offer to testify in probes of Russian interference in the election in exchange for immunity, calling the investigation "a witch hunt." Tweet: "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!"

NOW WHEN YOU MEET TYWIN LANNISTER, JUST REMEMBER -- THERE SHALL BE NO EYE CONTACT: Via The Washington Post's Anne Gearan and Carol Morello, diplomats meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been instructed to avoid eye contact with him. "Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly -- or even make eye contact."

FUNNIEST THING I'VE READ ALL DAY -- THE QUEEN OF SOCIAL MEDIA STALKING: In Gizmodo, Ashley Feinberg did some serious investigating and found what she claims is FBI Director James Comey's secret Twitter account. What the account is tweeting:

WHO TO WATCH -- WHICH DEMS WILL BE SEEING A LOT OF PEARLY WHITES FROM COLLEAGUES: Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, several key Democrats are keeping their votes to themselves days before a showdown over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's confirmation. Remember: Gorsuch needs 60 to end a filibuster. Here are the key unknowns: Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinYates spars with GOP at testy hearing Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks Mini-exodus of Trump officials from Commerce to lobby on semiconductors MORE (D-Calif.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyYates spars with GOP at testy hearing Vermont has a chance to show how bipartisanship can tackle systemic racism VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage MORE (D-Vt.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns Senate Intel panel approves final Russia report, moves toward public release MORE (D-Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocratic-linked group runs ads in Kansas GOP Senate primary Trump mocked for low attendance at rally Missouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties MORE (D-Mo.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHow Congress is preventing a Medicare bankruptcy during COVID-19 Tom Cotton rips NY Times for Chinese scientist op-ed criticizing US coronavirus response Our national forests need protection — and Congress can help MORE (D-Colo.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThe Global Fragility Act provides the tools to address long-term impacts of COVID Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Thomas Isett Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Dr. Kate Broderick MORE (D-Del.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - At loggerheads, Congress, White House to let jobless payout lapse Overnight Defense: Senate poised to pass defense bill with requirement to change Confederate base names | Key senator backs Germany drawdown | Space Force chooses 'semper supra' as motto Democrats call for expedited hearing for Trump's public lands nominee MORE (D-Mont.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (D-Ind.) and Angus KingAngus KingOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court cancels shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline | US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds | Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic Congress has a shot at correcting Trump's central mistake on cybersecurity MORE (I-Maine).

LATE THIS MORNING -- AN APPEARANCE FROM DONALD'S #1 FAN: During a speech this morning at Georgetown University, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Top federal official says more details coming on foreign election interference The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  MORE (she's baaack) blasted the White House's budget in a Friday speech, warning that cuts to diplomacy and international aid could have devastating effects. "This administration's proposed cuts to international health, development, and diplomacy would be a blow to women and children and a grave mistake to our country," she said. Keep in mind: The Trump administration's top-line budget calls for cutting State's budget by more than 25 percent. 

ON THIS SEASON OF 'THE WHITE HOUSE VS. XX': Via The Hill's Amie Parnes, "April Ryan says the press is under attack from the Trump administration and she's doing all she can to defend it.  The veteran White House correspondent made headlines this week after she squabbled with White House press secretary Sean Spicer during the daily briefing." Interview with Ryan on how she's handling it



The National Law Journal's Cogan Schneier (*Head tilt* huuuuh?)
Stuff I learn from DOJ press releases: juvenile eel trafficking is a thing and it is illegal 

The Hill's Taylor Lorenz
During a meeting in Priebus' office about Walsh leaving a staffer tried to say the White House is just "in beta" 

Context: President Trump's deputy chief of staff, Katie Walsh, is leaving the White House to work with outside groups tasked with promoting his agenda.


ON TAP -- not much: 

The House and Senate are o-u-t, out. 

3 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with the director of the National Institutes of Health.

3:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump signs executive orders on trade in the Oval Office.

3:30 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence meets with U.S. Navy submarine junior officers and their spouses.

4:45 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney



1:30 p.m. EDT: White House press secretary Sean Spicer gives the daily press briefing. Livestream:



NBC's "Meet the Press": Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGroup of GOP senators back more money for airlines to pay workers GOP super PAC launching August ad blitz Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package MORE (D-N.Y.); Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline looms States begin removing Capitol's Confederate statues on their own Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal MORE (R-Ky.). The panel will include GQ's Robert Draper; The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson; MSNBC's Greta Van Susteren; and The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter. 

CNN's "State of the Union": Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. The panel will include Nina Turner; Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.); the Center for American Progress's Neera Tanden; and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.)

"Fox News Sunday": The panel will include radio host Laura IngrahamJulie Pace of The Associated Press; Jones Group International's Gillian Turner; and The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib.



Today is National Clam Day.

SORRY, DOMINOS LOVERS: The Fiscal Times ranked the 11 worst fast food restaurants in America based on Consumer Reports' grade. Hint: It involves a lot of fast food pizza.

OMG, THIS IS THE UPSIDE DOWN FROM 'STRANGER THINGS': The blackest material every created, Vantablack, is now in spray paint form. Basically, when sprayed on something, the item loses the appearance of being 3-D and absorbs 99.8 percent of light. Insane video of Vantablack in use: Ugh, it definitely sends you to an alternate universe

WHOA IF TRUE -- NO MORE TWITTER EGGS: Twitter is replacing its iconic eggs – for people who do not have Twitter photos – with a plainer graphic. (h/t The Hill's Taylor Lorenz)

And because it's Friday, here's a stag deer roaming around with a bra stuck to his head. As Mashable explained it, "this stag ... has some serious explaining to do."


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