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: Breaking - Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court | What we know about Syria strike | Trump reportedly considers ousting Priebus, Bannon | Romney for Senate? | Trump caught on camera next to Darth Vader | National Beer Day (!)

BREAKING -- THE HATERS GONNA HATE, HATE, HATE ... BUT I'M JUST GONNA SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE IT OFF: The Senate just officially confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, capping a year-long bitter political battle that began with Justice Scalia's death -- and ended with the Senate triggering the "nuclear option." Senate vote: 54-45. Of the Dems facing re-election next year in strongly pro-Trump states, Sens. 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.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (Ind.) voted yes; 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.) and 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 (Mont.) voted no. Time to pop some Martinellis: Gorsuch's confirmation gives President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE the biggest victory of his first 100 days in office. Was it surprising? Ehh, nope. We knew this was coming. But it's official!

A day for the history books: Senators are voting from their Senate seats on the floor. Photo:

Happy Friday. SpRiNg BrEaK 2017 starts today for Congress! 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.

BREAKING -- POSSIBLE TERRORIST ATTACK IN SWEDEN: A truck crashed through a department store in Stockholm, Sweden, on Friday, killing three people in what Sweden's prime minister says appears to be a "terror attack." Reports: Gunshots were fired, people were fleeing the incident, one person was arrested and there are injuries -- but no confirmed deaths so far. Video of people fleeing:

WELP, LAST NIGHT WAS A WHIRLWIND: The U.S. launched a missile strike in Syria last night in response to a chemical attack earlier this week that officials said was carried out by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad Breakdown of what we know:

Purpose: This was largely a symbolic move by the U.S. government to deter Assad from using chemical weapons.

Why now: It appears that Assad used nerve gas in a Syrian town. Nerve gas causes victims to suffer horrific pain and potentially death. "When you kill innocent children, innocent babies -- babies, little babies -- with a chemical gas that is so lethal ... that crosses many, many lines," President Trump said in response, adding that the attack had changed his view of Assad.

Yiiikes!: Here's video of the missiles launching:

What did the strike target?: Aircraft, shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radars at the Shayrat airfield, where the gas attack was believed to have originated. Keep in mind: Tomahawk missiles are extremely precise. Not much was left to chance.

Did it kill anyone: Yes -- reportedly at least seven.

Why it is so newsy: The U.S. has conducted air strikes on ISIS in Syria before, but this is the first direct assault on Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. 

It was in Syria. What's all the talk about Russia?: Russia has a strong military presence in Syria and backs the Assad regime. Russians were on the ground near the strikes (!), but according to the Pentagon, Russia was notified before the strikes so it could protect its forces. Russia condemned the U.S. attack as an "act of aggression," saying it could endanger anti-terrorist military cooperation with the U.S. in Syria. Russia also suspended a military communication line with the U.S. established after several midair incidents between American and Russian pilots.


Trump's reasoning: "It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," President Trump said at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida roughly an hour after the missiles hit their targets. 

How Assad took it: Via USA Today, Assad called the attacks on Shayrat Air Base near the city of Homs "irresponsible," "reckless" and "shortsighted." The Syrian army said this action made the U.S. a "partner" of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other terrorist organizations.

Most lawmakers gave it a thumbs up: The general reaction from Republicans -- and Democratic leadership -- is support for Trump's move. For example: "Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Trump backs plan to give airlines another billion in aid MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. Schumer's statement was in line with the reaction from most lawmakers. Like others, though, Schumer also warned that further military action by Trump would need Congressional approval.

*An animated hand emerges from the Capitol dome and waves at the White House*: While many lawmakers supported it, a number of Democrats (and some Republicans!) called on Trump to seek congressional authority to use military action in Syria.

McConnell weighs in: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), though, argued this morning that the Trump administration didn't need to seek congressional approval for military strikes targeting the Syrian government. His reasoning: "We passed [an authorization for the use of military force post-9/11], and the previous president thought that it authorized what we were doing in that part of the world, and I expect this president thinks the same."

How this played internationally: The move was widely praised abroad, with governments in Britain, France, Israel, Italy, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all issuing statements of support.

We're in a new era: Via The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, "The Obama Doctrine, R.I.P.: Under pressure to respond to Assad's use of chemical weapons, Trump reached for the same playbook that his predecessor resisted opening."

Looming question: What if Assad uses chemical weapons again?

WELP, I HOPE THEY DIDN'T PRE-PLAN THEIR OUTFITS FOR THE WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS PARTY...: Via Axios's Mike Allen, President Trump is considering ousting both White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen BannonWhy: A "war between the nationalists and the moderates," with an open rift with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, a senior adviser. If their departures happen, it would be part of a big shakeup:

RELEASED THIS A.M. -- IT'S JOBS DAY: The March jobs' report was released this morning. The bad news: The economy added only 98,000 jobs in March, well below expectations. The good news: The unemployment rate dropped from 4.7 percent to 4.5 percent, its lowest rate since May 2007, before the recession started.

ROMNEY 4 PREZ 2020! -- JK, BUT ROMNEY 2018 COULD BE A THING: Via The Atlantic's McKay Coppins, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is considering a 2018 Senate run in Utah. How: That would only happen if 83-year-old incumbent Republican Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Five takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs Trump awards medal of freedom to former congressman, Olympian Jim Ryun MORE decided not to run for reelection. Romney made it clear that he would not run without Hatch's blessing, but Hatch also said last month he would consider retirement if Romney ran to replace him.

NEW DEVELOPMENT --MCCONNELL TALKS TO ROMNEY: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters this morning, "I've had some conversations with Mitt Romney. Obviously I'm an Orrin Hatch supporter. Orrin has to decide what he wants to do. If he wants to run again, I'm for him."

BASED ON MY EXPERT INTERPRETATION, THIS DOESN'T *APPEAR* TO BE A BIG MAC: Via USA Today's Gregory Korte, in mid 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump promised Fox News's Bill O'Reilly that if the Chinese president ever visited Trump as president, it would not be extravagant. "I would not be throwing him a dinner. I would get him a McDonald's hamburger and say we've got to get down to work because you can't continue to devalue (the Chinese currency)," said Trump. "I would give them probably a double-sized Big Mac." Campaign promise: GONE. Check out the menu for the dinner last night:

Photo of the table and guests:

OK, OK, SO... DONALD TRUMP AND DARTH VADER WALK INTO A BAR: President Trump walked in on the press watching "Rogue One" on Air Force One yesterday. The part the internet is enjoying: It was right when Darth Vader showed up in the movie.

Video of Trump with the movie on: The optics are pretty funny.

What a photobomb: 

Lol: "Nothing to see here, folks. Just President Trump speaking to reporters next to the Darth Vader scene from Rogue One." (From writer Jared Moskowitz)



Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur
Overheard at a panel discussion in DC: "One of the things about the House is that a lot of them aren't very bright." 

The Hill's Taylor Lorenz (Hahahah)
I said noo-que-ler instead of nu-clear in a [Snapchat] yesterday and have gotten over 250 snap messages, 6 emails, and 3 FB comments correcting me 



The Senate is in. The House is out. Recess begins today!

Noon: President Trump has a working luncheon with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. Great analysis of how the visit is going:

Tonight: The Newseum is hosting an event to celebrate the cherry blossoms and Japanese culture called "Newseum Nights: In Bloom." Details: 



ABC's "This Week": 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 (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

NBC's "Meet the Press": Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing MORE (R-S.C.). The panel will include The New York Times's David Brooks and Helene Cooper; American Enterprise Institute's Danielle Pleka; and National Review's Rich Lowry.

"Fox News Sunday": Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal Republicans uncomfortably playing defense Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts MORE (R-Texas); Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. The panel will include The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol; Georgetown University's Mo Elleithee; High Noon Strategies' Lisa Boothe; and Fox News's Juan Williams.

CBS's "Face the Nation": Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Mark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Prominent conservatives question Jerry Falwell Jr. vacation photo MORE (R-Ariz.); former national security adviser Tom Donilon; and Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA. The panel will include The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus; National Review's Ramesh Ponurru; The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe; and Time magazine's Michael Duffy.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS": Retired Gen. David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of U.S. Central Command.



Today is National Beer Day! It's also National Coffee Cake Day. 

NEXT WEEK WE CAN SOUND HIP AND TRENDY BECAUSE WE 'SIPPED LOCAL CRAFT BEERS': Next week is D.C. Beer Week. More than 10,000 brewers and industry workers are coming to the convention center from Monday through Thursday. Expect a lot of happy hours and events throughout the week. List of events:

A HEADLINE THAT MADE ME WANT TO SIMULTANEOUSLY WEEP FOR OUR SOCIETY AND SMASH MY HEAD THROUGH MY COMPUTER: From Refinery 29, "Honey Boo Boo Thinks Mama June Is Jealous Of Her Boyfriend." Oh and in case you aren't familiar (lol), Honey Boo Boo is 11 years old...

And because, well, Friday (!), here's a parrot with some insanely good impressions -- and I don't say that lightly.


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