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: Sessions warns media could be targeted in crackdown on leaks | Mueller's grand jury -- what it means | Trump turns on GOP Congress | Strong July jobs report | Senate blocks Trump from recess appointments | Michelle's birthday wish for Barack | National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

JUST NOW -- K, TEAM. WE'RE GONNA WORK ON THIS 'KEEPING A SECRET' THING: Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE on Friday announced a government-wide crackdown on leakers, which will include a review of the Justice Department’s policies on subpoenas for media outlets that publish sensitive information. At a press conference with Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move Hillicon Valley: Deepfakes pose 2020 test for media | States beg Congress for more election security funds | Experts worry campaigns falling short on cybersecurity | Trump officials urge reauthorization of NSA surveillance program MORE, Sessions announced that the Justice Department, FBI and government intelligence agencies will direct more resources into the investigations of government leaks and would prioritize prosecuting those that pass sensitive information along to the press or foreign officials.

Happy summer Friday! Washington is finally clearing out for the month -- this feels like a day for an early happy hour. 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, @CateMartel and on Facebook.

RELEASED AT 8:30 A.M. -- WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MONTH TO WORK: The U.S. economy added an impressive 209,000 jobs in July, more than expected as the labor market shows few signs of slowing down. The unemployment rate: Fell to 4.3 percent from 4.4.

Some important context: "The unemployment rate for July was 4.3497% which rounds down to 4.3%. The monthly decline in the unemployment rate was 0.007%." From Eddy Elfenbein

Trump tweets at 8:45 a.m.: "Excellent Jobs Numbers just released -- and I have only just begun. Many job stifling regulations continue to fall. Movement back to USA!"

Why the time matters: Trump broke a rule that prevents executive branch officials from publicly commenting within the hour. Why the??: Dating back to the Nixon administration, the rule is meant to "preserve the neutrality and objectivity of the statistics."

Why this is top of mind: In March of this year, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer (#tbt) touted a strong jobs report 22 minutes after it was released. Later in the day, Spicer admitted to breaking the rule.


A GRAND, BEAUTIFUL, BIGLY, GIANT JURY: Via The Wall Street Journal's Del Quentin Wilber and Byron Tau, special counselor Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in the Russia investigation of interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Donald Trump's presidential campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Aiiiight, so what does this mean?: The Hill's Jonathan Easley broke down what the grand jury means for the investigation and why the announcement shook Washington -->

What is this grand jury?: A dedicated pool of 23 grand jurors charged with examining subpoenaed documents, listening to witness testimony and ultimately deciding whether criminal charges are warranted.

Is this surprising?: According to legal experts, this development is not really surprising. Yeah, but: Mueller reportedly already had a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., for an investigation into Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. This is a separate, Washington, D.C.-based grand jury for the Russia probe.

Criminal charges?: The existence of a grand jury also indicates Mueller will be pursuing criminal charges, but the details and target are unclear.

CONSIDER THAT HONEYMOON DONE, HONEY: Via The Hill's Jordain Carney and Cristina MarcosPresident TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE is firing pointed criticism at the GOP Congress, ripping lawmakers for sending him a Russian sanctions bill he opposes while failing to negotiate an ObamaCare repeal bill. While tensions between the president and GOP lawmakers have been simmering for months, the latest exchanges suggest a turn in the relationship. Why this could be bad news bears:

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR THE SUMMER. SCHOOL'S OUT FOR-EVAH: The Senate left last night for the August recess, a week earlier than scheduled. But with a trick up their sleeve: The Senate blocked President Trump from being able to make recess appointments while they're gone. How: The Senate will technically be in session once every three days for roughly a minute -- that's called "pro forma." Unusual?: Not really. Congress used this procedural roadblock during President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Forget conventional wisdom — Bernie Sanders is electable 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE's tenure. How it works:

Photo of today's pro forma session:

END OF THE WEEK HEADLINES: Via Bloomberg's Jennifer Caplan, a cannabis grower has bought an entire California town to build a marijuana tourist destination.



HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery 
On the one hand, repercussions from party + bullying by the president + pissed off leadership. On the other hand, constituents. 
Photo Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief Congress kicks bipartisan energy innovation into higher gear MORE (R-Alaska), who voted down ObamaCare repeal, being greeted by a constituent:

KUT's Mose Buchele
Someone has lost a chicken in East Austin. The sign:



Both chambers of Congress are out for recess! Happy August!

How fitting: Right as recess started, Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski tweeted, "Walked out of the Capitol to find a literal rainbow." Photo:

And at the White House!:

Today: Former President Barack Obama turns 56 years old today.

Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama to present Lin-Manuel Miranda with the Portrait of a Nation Prize Michelle Obama thanks her high school for naming new athletic complex after her US ambassador to Germany calls out journalists who blocked him on Twitter MORE's birthday wish:

12:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence.

1:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron by phone.

3:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump leaves Washington, D.C., for the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Trumpcation time!



7 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at the Young America's Foundation 39th Annual National Conservative Student Conference at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill. Livestream:

Sunday: Former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold Gore2020 Democrats release joint statement ahead of Trump's New Hampshire rally Deregulated energy markets made Texas a clean energy giant Gun safety is actually a consensus issue MORE appears on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

Sunday: Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonCongress must address gender gap in nominations to military service academies GOP senators press Google on reports it developed a smart speaker with Huawei Sunday shows - Mass shootings grab the spotlight MORE (R-Ark.), Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will appear on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Sunday: Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) will appear exclusively on NBC's "Meet the Press."



Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Where to get free cookies today:

GUYS, I PROMISE THIS IS REAL: Via The Hill's Robin Eberhardt, Amazon is selling toilet paper with President Trump's tweets printed on it. A single roll of the two-ply paper goes for $11.99 on Amazon, slightly less than the $12.95 that it costs for a role of toilet paper with pictures of Trump's face. Photos:

And because you read this far, here's a sad kangaroo who hates when his friends leave: 


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