The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Matt Lauer fired from NBC after sexual misconduct allegations | Trump weighs in | White House defends Trump's Muslim tweets | Senate to vote on beginning tax debate | Trump announces new North Korea sanctions after missile test | Hillcast AM View on how Trump is putting the 'Art of the Deal' into practice | ESPN cuts 150 employees | White House holiday decorations



Yikes -- Matt Lauer is out: Long-time "Today" co-host Matt Lauer has been fired from NBC News. How we know: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack released a memo that was read on "Today." In the memo: Lack said the network received a "detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment." Is it one complaint?: Yes, just one, but the network has "reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident." http://bit.ly/2j43XEq

NBC NEWS HASN'T CONFIRMED DETAILS OF THIS INCIDENT, BUT THIS WAS REPORTED THIS MORNING: A report from The New York Post's Page Six alleges that Lauer sexually assaulted a female NBC staffer during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. http://pge.sx/2i1DWoi

HOW UNEXPECTED WAS THIS?: According to CNN's Brian Stelter, The New York Times had been investigating Lauer for weeks. "His sudden ouster came as a shock to viewers -- but not as a complete surprise to his 'Today' show colleagues. They knew that multiple news outlets were investigating Lauer's off-camera conduct." http://cnnmon.ie/2AHOpjW

TIDBIT ABOUT THE NEWS BEING BROKEN: "The 'Today' staff learned the news shortly before going live. Giving the weather report, a visibly shaken Al Roker said, 'I'm still trying to process the news.' Soon after announcing the dismissal, Ms. Guthrie gripped the hand of Hoda Kotb, who was rushed in as an emergency substitute host." http://nyti.ms/2Bzgo2y


On Wednesdays​, we wear pink. (I'm seeing the new "Mean Girls" musical in D.C. tonight, so expect lots of references over the next few days.) 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 cmartel@thehill.com@CateMartel and on Facebook.

President Trump weighs in on Lauer, because of course he did: The president tweeted, "Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for 'inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.' But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack's past!" Keep in mind about Trump: He hosted the popular reality show "The Apprentice" on NBC for 14 seasons. He did not specify any allegations against Lack though. http://bit.ly/2ndB3WC

TRUMP ALSO CALLED FOR AN INVESTIGATION INTO HIS MEDIA ARCH-NEMESIS: President Trump appeared to call for an investigation into the 2001 death of an intern to GOP congressman-turned-MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. Trump tweeted: "So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin? And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the 'unsolved mystery' that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!" Back story: Trump was referencing Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old office staffer who worked for Scarborough when he was a representative. Klausutis was found dead in the congressman's district office in July 2001. A local medical examiner ruled the death an accident and said Klausutis had collapsed and hit her head. She had an undiagnosed heart condition. http://bit.ly/2zQohmR



Late this morning -- Trump announces new North Korea sanctions: President Trump just announced new "major sanctions" will be imposed on North Korea. Trump tweeted: "Just spoke to President XI JINPING of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!" Details on the sanctions?: That's still unclear. http://bit.ly/2AkbDJX

What sparked this -- Someone reassure me that I shouldn't go move to the middle of nowhere in Canada...?:Via The New York Times's Mark Landler, Choe Sang-Hung and Helene Cooper, yesterday, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, the first such launch in more than two months and in defiance of President Trump who put the country back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. From Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Joint Chiefs chairman to meet with Saudi counterpart Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' despite 'Democrat' remark MORE -- gulp: "It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they've taken." From scientist David Wright -- gulp again: "The missile performed better than the two fired in July, and exhibited a potential range of more than 8,000 miles, able to reach Washington or any other part of the continental United States." http://nyti.ms/2zysS93



Via The Hollywood Reporter's Jeremy Barr, ESPN is cutting 150 employees. Which departments: "Mostly from the studio production, digital content and technology departments." Was this a surprise?: "The cuts were widely expected, with most outlets reporting that 100-plus staffers would get the boot. Earlier, it was expected that on-camera talent would be targeted, but that narrative shifted, and the majority of employees impacted largely worked behind the scenes." Keep in mind: ESPN cut around 100 employees last April, including high-profile on-air talent. http://bit.ly/2zBpuKQ



If I had a nickel for every time a member of the Trump family started a firestorm over a retweet... President Trump retweeted a series of videos this morning purporting to show violent acts by Muslims, which were first sent out by the leader of an ultranationalist party in Great Britain once convicted in that country for harassing a Muslim. One of the videos: One showed a man beating another young man holding crutches and another showing a group of people kicking a man after he was thrown from a building. The reaction: A firestorm. http://bit.ly/2Al0Lhw

LATE THIS MORNING -- THE WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS THE RETWEETS: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that whether the inflammatory videos are real or not, "the threat is real." "I'm not talking about the nature of the video," she told reporters at the White House. "I think you're focusing on the wrong thing. The threat is real and that is what the president is talking about." Sanders said the videos underscore the need for Trump's push to bolster national security and secure the nation's borders. "Those are very real things. There is nothing fake about that," she said. http://bit.ly/2AjZ0P6



Chances of a government shutdown -- similar to the chances that a Christmas movie is on the Hallmark Channel tonight: The odds of a government shutdown grew dramatically yesterday as President Trump tweeted that he saw no path to a year-end deal with Democrats "Chuck and Nancy," who then promptly backed out of a meeting at the White House. Later, at the White House, flanked by empty chairs with name cards for Schumer and Pelosi, Trump said he was "not surprised" by the move and accused the Democrats of being "all talk" and "no action." "Now it's even worse. Now it's not even talk. Now they're not even showing up to the meeting," Trump said. http://bit.ly/2kdbbtb



Day 2 of the new HillCast!: The Hill has launched a new series of brief podcasts that explain the political and policy issues to know each day. Alexis Simendinger hosts the morning episode, Niv Elis hosts the end-of-the-day wrap-up and Reid Wilson helps as the editorial director. Plus, you'll hear from other Hill reporters each day.

This morning's episode: A brief primer on what President Trump has learned about the "Art of the Deal" as he debates Congress over tax reform and the budget. Listen: http://bit.ly/2zBF6ht

Here's how to sign up --> http://apple.co/2k5cdah



Ouuuuuch -- in the words of the Black Eyed Peas from 2003, 'Where is the love?':



The House and Senate are in.

10:30 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence met with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) in the West Wing Office.

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump leaves for St. Louis, where he will rally for tax reform.

1:30 p.m. EST: First votes in the House. The House's schedule today: http://bit.ly/2jYhqPv

4:15 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House.

6:45 p.m. EST: After giving remarks in St. Louis, President Trump gets back to the White House.



Today: The Senate is expected to vote on a motion to proceed to the tax reform bill, kicking off 20 hours (!) of debate. Livestream of the coverage: http://cs.pn/2AjWpab

2 p.m. EST: Two House subcommittees hold a hearing on the cybersecurity of voting machines. Livestream: http://cs.pn/2kaG5SA

3:30 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks about tax reform at an event in St. Louis. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2AiNrrb



Today is National Chocolates Day!

Ah, this is seriously the best time of the year: Via Washingtonian's Dan Swartz, here are photos of the White House's 2017 Christmas decorations. It's all stunning, but the hallway of the East Colonnade is incredible. It's the holiday season, the holiday season! http://bit.ly/2Agug3C

And because you read this far, here's the most incredible Christmas card photo I've seen this year. I get why it has gone viral: http://r29.co/2AI34M1


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