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: ObamaCare repeal, take two? | Susan Rice hits back over 'unmasking' controversy | Kushner becomes Trump's go-to guy | Latest on Supreme Court showdown | Why Equal Pay Day is in April | Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's

BREAKING FROM SUSAN RICE -- IT'S FAKE NEWS. FAKE NEWS, I TELL YA!: Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice just appeared on MSNBC where she categorically denied that the Obama administration inappropriately spied on members of the Trump transition team. "The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes," Rice told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "That's absolutely false."

It's Tuesday. Well, we're all exhausted from last night's basketball game, but not for good reason -- it was objectively terrible. 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 'UNMASKING' STORY STARTED A FIRESTORM IN THE MEDIA: CNN's Don Lemon described reports that former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice unmasked members of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE's transition team as a "diversion." And CNN anchor Chris Cuomo told viewers this morning that the controversy is "another fake scandal being peddled by right-wing media."

REPUBLICAN REACTION: Republicans, though, are seizing on the Bloomberg report about Rice. Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, went on a Twitter rant this morning about revelations. Excerpt: "[I]n this instance, I am stunned by the lack of curiosity most media have shown about the facts and circumstances present here. ... This is a good example of media giving soft coverage to President Obama while they're hard on the GOP in general & Trump in particular." Those are two of nine tweets.

Back story on the unmasking: If you missed this issue yesterday:

GUYS, I FEEL LIKE I'M READING A HEADLINE FROM TWO WEEKS AGO. THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING AGAIN: Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Students at school system Pence called 'forefront' of reopening now in quarantine Presidential debates demonstrate who has what it takes MORE presented an offer to the conservative House Freedom Caucus last night as they seek to revive the ObamaCare replacement bill. The big difference: It would allow states to choose to apply for waivers to repeal two ObamaCare regulations that conservatives argue are driving up premiums.

THIS POTENTIAL TIMING MAKES ME DIZZY: Multiple lawmakers said the White House is hoping to have a vote as soon as this week, though Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, cautioned against setting "artificial" deadlines. I can't believe we're even discussing the possibility of a vote by the end of THIS week

LATE THIS MORNING FROM RYAN: DON'T GET TOOOO EXCITED: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey Democratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' MORE (R-Wis.) this morning tried to tamp down expectations for an ObamaCare deal and declined to say whether the House would hold a vote by the end of the week. Ryan told reporters after a closed-door meeting with Republicans that "...Right now, we're just at that conceptual stage about how to move forward in a way we can get everybody to 216 [votes]. ... It's premature to say where we are or what we're on because we're at that conceptual stage."

*CUE IMMEDIATE PANIC THINKING ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU"VE EVER GOOGLED-- DID I MENTION EVER?!: Via The Hill's Harper Neidig, President Trump signed a bill last night repealing internet privacy rules passed last year by the Federal Communications Commission. Why it's controversial: It will allow internet providers to more easily sell user data and browsing history to third parties without users' consent. What proponents' say: The regulations were too costly and confusing -- and would have subjected internet service providers to restrictions that do not apply to websites like Facebook and Google.

Practical question: Will private browsing protect you from this data sharing? No. "They can even track you when you're surfing in a private browsing mode," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week.

THIS IS AMAZING -- GUESSING THIS GUY WILL NEED SOME NEW REFERENCES: Arab News published this headline about one of their own writers: "Arab News discontinues Andrew Bowen's column." Ok, that sounds boring. But here's why it's hilarious: Arab News writes, "The reason behind this decision is the columnist insisting that this newspaper deletes previous articles ... where he was in favor of ... Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBlumenthal calls for declassification of materials detailing Russian threat to US elections Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column Hillary Clinton touts student suspended over crowded hallway photo: 'John Lewis would be proud' MORE ... stating that this is needed for him 'to be cleared' for what he claims to be a possible job with the new Donald Trump administration's State Department." 

-- Such a D.C. threat: "Mr. Bowen also insinuated -- verbally and in writing -- that he will seek the support of influential friends and contacts to help remove the articles," according to Arab News. OuuuuuchIt's worth reading (and it's short):

UPDATE THIS A.M. -- BOWEN RESPONDS: Andrew Bowen said in an interview with The Washington Post that he was surprised, "deeply concerned and saddened" by the news outlet's comments. "This was not the most professional way to handle it," he said regarding the announcement on Arab News. He also declined to comment on what Arab News referred to as a "possible job" with the State Department.

LATEST IN THE GORSUCH FIGHT -- THIS MAY BE THE END OF THE 'BELOVED' FILIBUSTER: The Senate is on the brink of a historic meltdown over Judge Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination that may move the Senate closer to completely doing away with the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to break, for nominees to the high court. How so: Where Dems stand: Democrats showed they have more than the 41 votes they need to sustain a filibuster against Gorsuch. What the GOP has in their back pocket: Republicans say they will follow through on their promise to go "nuclear," changing Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and thus allow Gorsuch to be confirmed with a simple majority vote.

Vote count -- where each Dem stands:

Where things get awkward: Democrats from states President Trump won in November are divided over Gorsuch's confirmation. Against Gorsuch: Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and 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 (Mo.). For Gorsuch: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinHillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns OVERNIGHT 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 MORE (W.Va.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (Ind.).

Timing: The final showdown will take place Thursday, when the Senate holds a vote to end debate on Gorsuch's nomination. Gulp.

IT'S EQUAL PAY DAY!: I'm sure you've seen posts about Equal Pay Day for women's wages. Fun fact: There's a reason it's on a Tuesday in April. From NBC News: "Equal Pay Day is held every April to symbolize how far into the year women need to work to make what men did in the previous year, according to the [National Committee on Pay Equity]. It is always on Tuesday to 'represent how far into the next work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.'" Here's a quick list of everything you need to know about Equal Pay Day:

FROM REAL ESTATE TO RILL IN CHARGE: Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley, "Jared Kushner has become the Trump administration's jack-of-all-trades. Allies of President Trump say he has nearly unmatched confidence in his 36-year-old son-in-law, whose expanding portfolio includes Middle East peace, Iraq, China, overhauling the government's technology infrastructure, opioid abuse, veterans' affairs and criminal justice reform." 

HELLO, 1984 WANTS IT'S HEADLINES BACK -- IT'S 2017 AND WE'RE LITERALLY TALKING ABOUT RUSSIAN SPIES: Via BuzzFeed's Ali WatkinsCarter Page, a former campaign adviser for President Trump, met with a Russian spy in 2013 and passed along documents. Keep in mind: That Russian operative, Victor Podobnyy, was later charged by the U.S. government along with others "for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government." Why this matters: "The revelation of Page's connection to Russian intelligence -- which occurred more than three years before his association with Trump -- is the most clearly documented contact to date between Russian intelligence and someone in Trump's orbit." Response: Page has previously denied that he acted improperly Full story:



Politico's Sarah Ferris
I just watched a couple of Senate interns pinky promise (over giant cups of froyo) that they'll stay friends *forever* 

The Cook Report's Dave Wasserman (Too real.)
If this national championship game were any sloppier, it would be the House GOP's first repeal and replace foray.



The House and Senate are in.

Noon: The Senate is voting to confirm Elaine Duke for Homeland Security deputy secretary.

12:45 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence participates in the Senate Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill. 

2:15 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House. Their schedule today:

3 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

4 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

4:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

4:45 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).

5 p.m. EDT: Last votes in the House.

5:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Gov. Ralph Torres (R)of the Northern Mariana Islands.



12:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump speaks at the North America's Building Trades Unions National Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton. Livestream:

7 a.m. EDT Wednesday: CBS host Gayle King sits down with first daughter Ivanka Trump on "CBS This Morning" for her first television interview since she became assistant to the president. Note: A preview of the interview will air on CBS "Evening News" at 6:30 p.m. EDT. 



Today is National Cordon Bleu Day!

IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR GRAMMAR NERDS: has added 300 words to its database. Notables: man bun, sext, hangry, lightsaber and struggle bus.

THE WINE YOU SHOULD ORDER THIS SPRING: Via Vogue's Todd Plummer, "No matter which white wine you select--whether ordering for your table at a restaurant or serving it while entertaining--there always appears to be someone who has something to say. Enter a rising star in the white wine world, a near-foolproof crowdpleaser that is neither too oaky nor too grassy: Chenin Blanc."

HAPPY FRONE DAY!!: Today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. At 12:31 p.m. today, expect to see a Cate-shaped hole in the door headed for the closest location. 

And because you read this far, here's an elephant "rescuing" a human it believes it in trouble:


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