The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

Sign up to receive the 12:30 Report right to your inbox: http://bit.ly/2kjMNnn 

--> 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 CruzWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Ted Cruz says critical race theory is as racist as 'Klansmen in white sheets' Pentagon pulling 'certain forces and capabilities,' including air defenses, from Middle East 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." http://bit.ly/2nrox1o

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 cmartel@thehill.com@CateMartel 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." http://on.wsj.com/2ogH30b

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.) http://bit.ly/2nDWw7K

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: http://bit.ly/2nD8kHf

ANOTHER FLASHBACK: Trump (as a candidate) in September 2016: "If you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?" http://bit.ly/2nn8BN4

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!" http://bit.ly/2ooYI3a

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." http://wapo.st/2nDoQqU

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: http://bit.ly/2ogYVIk

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 FeinsteinYouth climate activists march outside California homes of Pelosi and Feinstein Cosmetic chemicals need a makeover Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema MORE (D-Calif.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyShelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua Biden budget expands government's role in economy MORE (D-Vt.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting On The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination MORE (D-Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Jan. 6 commission vote delayed; infrastructure debate lingers into June Missouri Republicans move to block Greitens in key Senate race Democratic Kansas City, Mo., mayor eyes Senate run MORE (D-Mo.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSchumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' Past criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Hillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack MORE (D-Colo.), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (D-Del.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle On The Money: Sanders: Democrats considering trillion spending package | Weekly jobless claims rise for first time since April MORE (D-Mont.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (D-Ind.) and Angus KingAngus KingCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Biden struggles to detail post-withdrawal Afghanistan plans Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (I-Maine). http://bit.ly/2mVAvUY

LATE THIS MORNING -- AN APPEARANCE FROM DONALD'S #1 FAN: During a speech this morning at Georgetown University, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: The center strikes back Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine 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.  http://bit.ly/2nn63OT 

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 ithttp://bit.ly/2oH95P9



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 http://bit.ly/2nmoxPx 

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" http://bit.ly/2nmtoQL 

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. http://bit.ly/2nSElNQ


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: http://bit.ly/2mVgC09



NBC's "Meet the Press": Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar MORE (D-N.Y.); Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Graham calls voting rights bill 'biggest power grab' in history The wild card that might save Democrats in the midterms 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 SchiffSunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight Schiff calls Iranian presidential election 'predetermined' Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting 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. http://bit.ly/2nSvGLe

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: http://bit.ly/2mVGxoI 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) http://bit.ly/2ojiIHw

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." http://on.mash.to/2ooW1P2


To view past editions of The Hill's 12:30 Report, click here: http://bit.ly/1M1mIfw

To receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox, please sign up here: http://bit.ly/1Tt4hqN


Sign up for The Hill Extra: Healthcare, our new premium service that breaks healthcare policy news. Try it now and be the first to get our exclusive take on: legislative tracking, hearings coverage, policy decisions, key players and breaking news. We deliver a vital dose of in-depth analysis as it happens. Sign up for our COMPLIMENTARY 30-day trial: http://bit.ly/2cQuWO6