The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report
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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Amtrak train derails in Washington state | GOP nears tax bill victory | McCain to miss vote | Congress faces crunch time on spending | Trump says he is not thinking about firing Mueller amid rumors | Fight over Trump transition emails | Trump to unveil 'America First' national security policy | Last-minute gift ideas

 

TAX REFORM IS ALMOST ACROSS THE FINISH LINE

So close I can feel Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEx-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Ocasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud MORE avoiding stepping on any cracks and intensely inspecting any pennies he finds on the ground -- oh and he definitely has a daily alarm set for 11:11: Republicans are on the brink of a massive legislative achievement, the first with President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE in office -- tax cuts! When the House is expected to vote: Tuesday. Then the bill will head to the Senate. http://bit.ly/2AUpE0i

THE VOTE COUNT IN THE SENATE: In the Senate, any drama over the outcome appeared to be extinguished with the news that previous "no" votes, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAna Navarro lashes out at Rubio for calling outrage over Trump's 'go back' tweet 'self righteous' US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (R-Fla), will vote "yes." Still uncertain: Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMichelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Meghan McCain shares story of miscarriage Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (R-Ariz.) could miss the vote for medical treatment and Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBiden has a lot at stake in first debate The Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' MORE (Miss.) is also dealing with health issues. If McCain/Cochran miss the vote: Republicans are likely to have 50 "yes" votes plus Vice President Pence breaking the tie. I.e.: Republicans are in good shape unless there are surprises. http://bit.ly/2BtgSro

REPUBLICAN SENATE VOTES WE STILL DON'T KNOW: Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report MORE (Maine) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Senate to vote on 9/11 victims bill on Tuesday Meghan McCain slams Rand Paul over blocking 9/11 compensation funding: 'This is a disgrace' MORE (Utah) have yet to say if they will support the tax deal, but they each voted for the Senate version of the bill. http://bit.ly/2AUrCxQ

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It's Monday. Be forewarned: Today is National Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day. ;) 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.

 

JUST NOW

An Amtrak passenger train ​has ​derailed:​ Via CNN, in Washington state, an Amtrak passenger train derailed and is now dangling over a highway. The train reportedly hit cars on the highway as it derailed. Are people hurt?: “Amtrak released a statement saying ‘some injuries’ have been reported in the crash. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said to expect casualties.” Latest information — it’s changing quickly, so keep checking this page: http://cnn.it/2kg7HD4

Photos:

 

LATEST WITH THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

The big update -- that's a lot of holiday reading: Via Axios, special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators is in possession of tens of thousands of emails from the Trump transition team. Those include: Messages belonging to President Trump's son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Trump: 'We already started' talks to get A$AP Rocky home from Sweden Kim Kardashian West thanks Trump, Kushner for helping efforts to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish jail MORE and other members of the transition team's political leadership and the foreign policy team. What Mueller's team is using the emails for: To question witnesses. They are also looking to the messages to confirm information and follow new leads. http://bit.ly/2keavkg

TRUMP COMMENTS ON THE TRANSITION EMAILS: When asked about the slew of emails Mueller obtained, Trump said, "Not looking good, it's not looking good. It's quite sad to see that. My people were very upset about it," Trump said. "I can't imagine there's anything on them frankly because as we've said there's no collusion, no collusion," he continued. 

AND A TRUMP LAWYER WENT A STEP FURTHER: A lawyer for Trump's transition team said that the emails were obtained illegally. http://bit.ly/2yRPFeW

MUELLER'S TEAM RESPONDS: Special counsel Robert Mueller's office defended its work. In a statement to The Hill: "When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process," said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office.

HOW OTHERS ARE REACTING: Democratic and Republican lawmakers defended special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation amid attempts by conservatives to discredit the probe. http://bit.ly/2CXoUJw

Nah, I wouldn't fire him. I love the guy. Well, he's fine. That annoying pain in my side...: President Trump yesterday said he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller amid concerns that the administration was trying to halt the investigation into Russian election meddling. Keep in mind: There were mounting rumors that Trump was considering firing Mueller as the president's allies stepped up their attacks on the special counsel. http://bit.ly/2yRPFeW

 

T-MINUS FIVE DAYS

This week in Congress -- What does everyone want? Vacation! When do they want it? On time! (please): Via The Hill's Cristina Marcos and Jordain Carney, lawmakers have until Friday to keep the government open. Yet they still haven't agreed on how to avoid a costly shutdown but still accomplish tax reform. The plan now: House Republicans are forging ahead with plans to pass a stopgap measure that would fund defense programs through next September, but other agencies only through Jan. 19. Timing: The House Rules Committee is slated to meet Tuesday afternoon to prepare the legislation for a floor vote, which could occur as soon as Wednesday. What else would be in the bill: http://bit.ly/2AUrCxQ

TIDBIT ON THE BUDGET -- THE NEW F-WORDS: Via The Washington Post's Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, the Trump administration is now prohibiting officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from saying certain words in documents for the agency's budget. The prohibited words: "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based." Explanation: http://wapo.st/2CAUhbt

 

NOTABLE TWEETS

Good point. I'm going to start watermarking my Instagram photos with "Cate Martel's Copyright":

HAHA:

 

ON TAP

The House is in. The Senate will be in later today. President Trump and Vice President Pence are both in Washington, D.C.

3 pm. EST: The Senate meets.

3:15 p.m. EST: President Trump meets with Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonPress: Acosta, latest to walk the plank A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats What is Trump's Iran end game? MORE.

5:30 p.m. EST: The Senate votes on two nominations. Their schedule today: http://bit.ly/2CWhXZ6

6:30 p.m. EST: Votes in the House. Their schedule today: http://bit.ly/2jYhqPv

Tuesday: The House is expected to vote on tax reform.

Op-ed: Here's an op-ed in The Hill from an economics professor arguing the tax bill has four fatal flaws: http://bit.ly/2Bs4FTD

 

WHAT TO WATCH

2 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks about his administration's national security strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2zl0CZY

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Roast Suckling Pig Day.

Still behind on your Christmas shopping? SAME.​: Via BuzzFeed, here are lists of the perfect gifts by category: http://bzfd.it/2CXCyMw

Happy Holidays from your favorite royal family: Prince William and Kate Middleton released their family's annual Christmas card. It's pretty cute: http://bit.ly/2CWAowA

And because you read this far, here's a dog trying his hardest to get a reaction from his friend: http://bit.ly/2kdmaje

 

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