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 SessionsTrump attack on Sessions may point to his departure Hillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe Sessions in Chicago: If you want more shootings, listen to ACLU, Antifa, Black Lives Matter 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 CoatsDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal 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 TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency 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 ObamaMcCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination Presidential approval: It's the economy; except when it's not Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation 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 Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Budowsky: Kavanaugh and the rights of women Key GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand 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’s book tour to include stadium events Michelle Obama teams up with BET to urge women of color to vote Healthy food has gone high end, but is the lifestyle trend worth the cost? 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 GoreAl Gore: 'This experiment with Trumpism is not going well' Protecting democracy requires action from all of us Poll: Democrat Bredesen leads GOP's Blackburn by 5 points in Tennessee Senate race MORE appears on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

Sunday: Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senators condemn 'vulgar' messages directed at Collins over Kavanaugh GOP turns its fire on Google Overnight Defense: Trump denies report he's looking at Mattis replacements | Inhofe officially gets Armed Services gavel | Trump revives shutdown threat 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 FlakeThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Key GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Gillibrand: Kavanaugh accuser shouldn't participate in 'sham' hearing 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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