The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump says Puerto Rico relief hampered by 'big water, ocean water' | US pulling out Cuba staff after sonic attacks | Price fights for his job | How Trump's tax plan helps Trump | Distrust of Senate grows in GOP | Dem Sinema to challenge Flake for Senate seat | SCOTUS takes major union case

US ORDERS STAFF OUT OF CUBA: Via The Hill's Max Greenwood, the State Department has ordered a 60 percent reduction in staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana after bizarre sonic attacks have left some diplomats injured. The Associated Press says the U.S. will stop issuing visas to the island. It's unclear who's behind the attacks, and McClatchy reported this week the U.S. does not suspect the Cuban government.

It's Friday. I'm Reid Wilson in for Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to or on Twitter, etc.


TRUMP DEFENDS PUERTO RICO RESPONSE: Via The Hill's Jordan Fabian... President Trump on Friday said the response to the devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico is complicated because the island is "surrounded by water." "This is an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water,” Trump said in a speech focusing on his tax plan. The administration has been under fire over its response to the crisis.

Puerto Rico updates: This morning, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, tore into the head of Homeland Security for calling the response a "good news story." And Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Fla.) wants Trump to put the military in charge of the relief effort.

WILL PRICE SURVIVE? Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceTom Price: The fiscal crisis at hand The Hill's Morning Report — Hurricane headed for Florida changes Trump's travel plans The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks MORE will repay $51,887 in costs associated with his use of chartered jets after President Trump grew angry at the attention on the lavish spending. But that's a fraction of the $1 million his flights on military and chartered aircraft have cost taxpayers. The New York Times: Price says he's working to "regain" Trump's trust.

TRUE STORY: Both former Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellNational parks pay the price for Trump's Independence Day spectacle Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone MORE and former Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizTwo years after Harvey's devastation, the wake-up call has not been heeded Biden under pressure from environmentalists on climate plan Pelosi, Clinton among attendees at memorial reception for Ellen Tauscher MORE related a funny story: While waiting to board commercial flights, their security details told airline staff they were armed, part of standard protocol. The airline staff looked at Jewell and Moniz and told the security details that their prisoners really should be in handcuffs.

TRUMP TAX PLAN HELPS ... TRUMP: The New York Times's Jesse Drucker and Nadja Popovich crunched numbers on the Republican tax plan and found President Trump would save tens of millions of dollars if the reform proposal makes it through Congress. Repealing the estate tax alone would save the Trump family $1.1 billion.

And/but: Blue state Republicans aren't on board with a proposal to cut state and local tax deductions, Naomi Jagoda and I report:

DISTRUST OF SENATE GROWS: Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton... House Republicans are expressing deep reservations that the Senate can get the job done. After the failure to pass ObamaCare repeal, the House GOP is worried ambitious plans to pass tax reform could also be scuttled if just a handful of senators object. "For a handful of senators to derail that agenda is very frustrating," said Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Lawmaker seeks to ban ex-members from lobbying until sexual harassment settlements repaid MORE (R-Texas).

This morning: The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Democrats press for action on election security Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (R-Ky.) should step down. "I think he's a huge part of the problem," Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) told NBC News. "There's a growing consensus that would be very happy if the fine senator from Kentucky called it a career."

SCOTUS TAKES UNION CASES: The Supreme Court said Thursday it would hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case over whether public employees may be forced to pay agency fees to unions to cover collective bargaining costs. The court deadlocked on a similar case out of California after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, a bad sign for unions struggling to hold members across the country. Remember the name Janus: This is the marquee political case of the next term. The Sacramento Bee's Adam Ashton:

SCOTUS PREVIEWS: Red Mass, the annual Catholic celebration of justices and judges held just before the Supreme Court begins its new term, happens Sunday at St. Matthews. The Los Angeles Times previews the new term. Don't miss coverage from The Hill's Lydia Wheeler over the weekend.

SINEMA WILL CHALLENGE FLAKE: My report last night: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said she will run against Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.), setting up a second hot race in which Democrats have a shot at snagging a Senate seat. Flake's poll numbers aren't great, and Sinema finished the last quarter with more money in the bank than the first-term Republican. Sinema's team so far: Media guru Karl Struble and polling expert Lisa Grove. Arizona Republic's coverage here:



National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg
Scotch > Irish Whiskey > Bourbon. On this, there can be no debate.

The Washington Post's Alexandra Petri
i almost feel bad making jokes about Jared Kushner who apparently has zero recollection of who he is or anything he has done at any time

The Poynter Institute
Two-thirds of the Louisville Courier-Journal worked the NCAA scandal story over the past couple days.



The House and Senate are out for the weekend.

President Trump addressed the National Association of Manufacturers at the Mandarin Oriental this morning. He'll have lunch with Vice President Pence and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). This afternoon, he heads to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Vice President Pence visits the National Reconnaissance Office after lunch.

Jimmy Carter turns 93 on Sunday. No former president has ever lived to be 94, but to be honest we expect Carter to outlive all of us.



Today is National Coffee Day! But your author is from Seattle, so that's nothing new.

TWITTER IS THE WORST: NJ Advance Media's Brent Johnson reports that New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy, the front-runner to become the state's next governor, is among the group chosen to test out this whole 280-character idea. But Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, his Republican rival, is still stuck at 140 characters. That seems ... poorly thought out.

NEVADA GOES TO POT: The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Nevada pot distributors sold $27 million worth of marijuana in the first month of legalization, nearly double what Washington and Colorado sold in their first months. And Nevada is smaller than both those states. Just imagine when pot becomes legal in California early next year.

And because you read this far, here's your next job: London's Meantime Brewing Company is hiring a part-time beer taster. Apply via LinkedIn.


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