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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: Trump denies 's---hole countries' remark | Comments spark bipartisan backlash | Durbin on Trump: 'He said those hateful things' | Trump honors MLK amid firestorm | Trump faces peril in potential Mueller interview | Trump to undergo physical

 

TALK OF THE MORNING

Trump: 'So, who are you going to believe? ME ... or that guy?: President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE on Friday addressed the reports that he referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries." He tweeted: "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made -- a big setback for DACA!" http://bit.ly/2qWjFHL

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And on Haiti specifically: He tweeted: "Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings -- unfortunately, no trust!" http://bit.ly/2qWjFHL

REACTION FROM THE REPORTER WHO BROKE THE STORY: The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey told CNN the fact that the White House did not deny the story overnight until Trump's tweet this morning was proof enough that the quote was real. "In the course of our reporting yesterday we took the comments we were going to report directly to the White House, told them exactly what we were going to say. We did not get a denial," Dawsey told CNN. http://bit.ly/2ATB3wM

Late this morning -- from a senator in the room: Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Trump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight GOP senators: Mnuchin should not go to Saudi Arabia MORE (D-Ill.) fired back at President Trump for denying the remarks. In his words: "You've seen the comments in the press," Durbin said. "I've not seen one of them that's inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly."

TGIF. 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.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Hill's 12:30 Report will be off Monday for the holiday and will be back on Tuesday. Same time. Same place. Be there.

 

JUST NOW

This timing is cringe worthy: President Trump just signed a proclamation honoring civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. as the White House sought to contain blowback from Trump's incendiary remarks about African nations. "He stirred the hearts of our people to recognize the dignity written in every human soul," Trump said. "Today we celebrate Dr. King for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God." Meanwhile, Trump was dealing with blowback from lawmakers in both parties who have condemned the president for disparaging immigrants from poor, predominantly black nations as coming from "shithole countries."  http://bit.ly/2CW6TL8

OH AND...: Trump ignored a question from White House reporter April Ryan who asked if the president is a racist. Watch: http://bit.ly/2qYD7Uu

 

RECAP -- WHAT THREW THE NEWS CYCLE FOR A LOOP

Why you keep hearing the word 'shithole': Via The Washington Post's Josh DawseyPresident Trump referred to some immigrants coming from "shithole countries" during a heated exchange about immigration. "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump said, according to people briefed on the meeting. The countries Trump was referring to: Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. How this came up: in a discussion about a bipartisan immigration deal. Countries Trump would prefer to have immigrants from: Norway; he also suggested Asian countries that would help the United States economically. Ooph: "Why do we need more Haitians?" Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. "Take them out." Full story -- it's gone viral: http://wapo.st/2CVaN70

NO INITIAL DENIAL FROM THE WHITE HOUSE -- YEAH, WE MIGHT HAVE SAID THAT. WE SAY A LOTTA THINGS: On Thursday, the White House on did not deny that President Trump referred to "shithole countries." Statement from the White House: "Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people," White House spokesperson Raj Shah said. http://bit.ly/2qXuxVZ

THE GIST OF THE REACTION --> http://bit.ly/2AUDX4dThere has been backlash from both parties: http://bit.ly/2FuephZ

FROM THE COUNTRIES HE MENTIONED: Here's how Haiti and African countries reacted to Trump's remark. http://wapo.st/2ECbcM1

A tweet from Haiti. This sums up the reaction:

REACTION FROM A GOP LAWMAKER: Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenDemocrats have a long history of supporting Israel GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Dems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms MORE (R-Fla.) called Trump's remarks "reprehensible" and "racist." http://bit.ly/2qUPLDT

TIDBIT: "No question -- Trump is helping the Democratic Party do that which the Democratic Party cannot do for itself: unify, mobilize, raise $" (Via Politico's Tim Albertahttp://bit.ly/2mxp6s6

OP-ED: Author Raoul Lowery Contreras writes about President Trump and race. http://bit.ly/2muJ2Mi

 

IN OTHER NEWS

I wonder if Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE shows up in President Trump's stress dreams: Via The Hill's Jordan Fabian and Morgan ChalfantPresident Trump could face the greatest political and legal peril of his life if he agrees to an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller on Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. What Trump would likely be asked about: Whether he obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFormer FBI lawyer speaks with House lawmakers on Rosenstein, 2016 Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure McGahn departs as White House counsel MORE and his knowledge of the Russia probe. He would almost certainly be required to: Speak under oath with the FBI or members of Mueller's team, meaning he could open himself up to a perjury charge by making false statements. http://bit.ly/2moxOYV

Keep in mind: The so-called perjury trap is what ensnared former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe Democratic Donald Trump is coming Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure Dershowitz: Obama, Ellison have 'special obligation' to condemn Farrakhan MORE, who testified before a federal grand jury convened by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in the Whitewater investigation. That could help explain why Trump on Wednesday refused to commit to speaking under oath with Mueller.

 

NOTABLE TWEETS:

This tweet has gone viral: 

 

ON TAP:

The House and Senate are out until next week.

10:30 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence had a phone call with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland.

11:30 a.m. EST: President Trump signed a proclamation to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

12:45 p.m. EST: President Trump has his annual physical exam at Walter Reed National Military Medial Center.

4:30 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump officials ratchet up fight over drug pricing | McConnell says Republicans could try again on ObamaCare repeal | Dems go on offense against GOP lawsuit Melania Trump meets with families affected by opioid withdrawal in newborns MORE leave Washington, D.C., for Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.

Next Friday: The government shuts down unless Congress passes a spending bill.

 

WHAT TO WATCH:

On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday: Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE (R-Ky.). The roundtable will include CBN's David Brody; The New York Times's Helene Cooper; Time magazine's Elise Jordan; and MSNBC's Chris Matthews

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Marzipan Day. It's also National Curried Chicken Day.

Guys, this is real: The New York Times has a "how to" guide to exercising your face. It involves face "push-ups." The photos are ... interestinghttp://nyti.ms/2EA0OUY

Mark your calendars!: Via Popville, six large-scale works from Burning Man are coming to Washington, D.C. Details: http://bit.ly/2Dp3Agu

 

And to kick off your holiday weekend, here's arguably the happiest dog I've ever seen balancing a flower and butterfly on his nose. I can't with his facial expression: http://bit.ly/2EAGuTu

To view past editions of The Hill's 12:30 Report, click here: http://bit.ly/1M1mIfw

To receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox, please sign up here: http://bit.ly/1Tt4hqN