12:30 Report

The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Walker’s latest on abortion, sheriff’s badge

Greg Nash

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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.

TALK OF THE MORNING

Walker: ‘Yes, that’s my check’:

Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker is now conceding that the check a woman allegedly received from him to undergo an abortion is his — the latest in the ongoing controversy that has plagued the Peach State’s important Senate race.

After The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that Walker paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009, the Senate candidate denied the report and said he did not know the identity of the woman making the claims.

But when news broke that the woman is the mother of one of his children, Walker said he now knew her identity, yet he maintained that he knew “nothing about an abortion.”

Now, Walker is conceding that the check the woman received is from him.

“Yes, that’s my check,” the candidate told NBC News in an interview after being shown an image of the $700 check, branded with his signature.

But he’s still maintaining his argument that the money did not go toward an abortion.

“It’s a lie,” he said. “Prove that I did that. Just to show me things like that does nothing for me.”

More on Walker’s comments regarding the abortion controversy from The Hill’s Chloe Folmar.

 ‘LEGIT’ BADGE OF HONOR:

Walker also spoke with NBC News about the buzzy debate moment on Friday, when the Republican candidate flashed a sheriff’s badge on stage.

“That’s a badge that I was given by a police officer and I do have the badge I carry with me all the time. It’s a real badge. It’s not a fake badge. It is a real badge,” Walker said.

“This is from my hometown. This is from Johnson County from the sheriff from Johnson County, which is a legit badge,” he later added.

More from The Hill’s Brad Dress.

It’s Monday! I’m Mychael Schnell, filling in for Cate today with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.

🗳 On the campaign trail

The Beehive State causes a buzz for Senate control:

The race for Senate in Utah is heating up, where incumbent Sen. Mike Lee (R) is fighting for another term against independent Evan McMullin.

Recent polls have shown the race between the conservative Republican and Independent tightening — a Desert-Hinckley poll conducted Oct. 3-6 found McMullin trailing Lee by 4 points, 41 percent to 37 percent. And that’s in a state that’s been reliably red in recent years.

But as The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, McMullin has pledged not to caucus with either Democrats or Republicans — meaning a McMullin victory could cause chaos in the battle for control of the Senate depending on how other races shake out.

If Republicans hold retiring Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R) seat in Pennsylvania and flip seats in Nevada or Georgia red, McMullin could keep the Senate in Democrats’ hands by voting to keep Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the top lawmaker in the chamber.

But he could also give Republicans a leg up by either throwing his support behind Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), or not affiliating with either party, giving the GOP a 50-49 majority.

ONE THING’S BECOMING CLEAR: DEMS DON’T WANT ANOTHER 50-50 SENATE:

And they’re already hitting the metaphor stage. When POLITICO asked Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) about the Senate potentially splitting 50-50 in the next Congress, he sighed.

“Lord … obviously we would prefer it to having less. But we’ll feel like it’s the myth of Sisyphus or something,” the Virginia Democrat said, referring to the Greek mythology story of Sisyphus, who time and time again tries to roll a boulder up a hill, just for it to keep rolling down.

Schumer is feeling a little like Sisyphus lately: “I’ve been trying to roll a boulder up the hill, and it’s rolled back on top of me,” he told POLITOCO.

📅 SCHEDULING NOTE: Lee and McMullin are slated to hit the debate stage today at Utah Valley University at 8 p.m. eastern time.

They both put out op-eds ahead of the debate: Lee wrote his in the third-person (the byline says “Campaign for Mike Lee”), and McMullin put pen to paper himself in the first-person.

From the Department of Justice

DOJ eyes jail time, fines for Steve Bannon:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is calling for former President Trump’s White House strategist Steve Bannon to serve six months of jail time and pay a $200,00 fine for refusing to comply with a subpoena for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The DOJ’s recommendation comes days before Bannon sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for Friday. The committee issued Bannon a subpoena in September 2021. The former strategist argued that executive privilege prevented him from speaking with the investigative panel.

As The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch reports, “a $200,000 fine is the maximum for the two counts of contempt of Congress — one for refusing to testify, and the other for refusing to produce any of the documents requested in the deposition.”

🎵 In Congress

God’s Plan — or not — for McCarthy:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who for years has eyed the coveted Speaker’s gavel, is confident in his chances of leading the lower chamber should Republicans take control in November — unless divine intervention comes into play.

“I think I can win [the speakership] with any seat majority. … If I’m even up for speaker, that means we won seats. I’ve been [the top House Republican for] two cycles. I’ve never lost seats, I’ve only won. … I recruited the candidates, raised the resources,” McCarthy told Punchbowl News in an interview published on Monday.

The GOP leader’s bullish comments come with less than a month to go until the midterm elections, when Republicans are favored to take the majority in the House. McCarthy, who came close to securing the Speaker’s gavel in 2015 before dropping out after making controversial comments, is a favorite to lead the chamber.

But as The Hill’s Emily Brooks notes, “Republican insiders privately muse that McCarthy could have a harder time winning a Speakership vote if Republicans gain only a slim majority.”

McCarthy last year predicted that the chamber could flip as many as 60 seats red, but those expectations have since been tempered.

McCarthy, however, isn’t too worried.

“If I’m not going to be acceptable to the body having that scenario this time, no one’s acceptable,” he told Punchbowl News. “I don’t worry about it at night. I don’t worry about the attacks. I’m sure the attacks will come, they want to demonize.”

The GOP leader said that if he doesn’t win the top spot this time around, it is “not God’s plan for me to be Speaker.

🦠 Latest with COVID

THE COVID-19 NUMBERS

Cases to date: 96.7 million

Death toll: 1,059,390

Current hospitalizations: 19,625

Shots administered: 627 million

Fully vaccinated: 68.1 percent of Americans

CDC data here.

🖼In other news

Getting traction:

Climate activists threw canned tomato soup at a Vincent van Gogh painting in London on Friday.

Was there any damage?: “The gallery said the work was unharmed aside from ‘some minor damage to the frame.’” Full story from The New York Times

Photo of the painting covered in soup

🐥Notable tweets

Nancy Pelosi opening a snack with her teeth during a phone conservation is some impressive multitasking:

CNN obtained new footage of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaking to former Vice President Mike Pence as the U.S. Capitol attack unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021.

@MikeSington tweeted a 1-minute clip of the footage, where Pelosi asks about Pence’s safety. This clip has more than 4.5 million views so far. Watch

On tap

The House and Senate are out. President Biden is heading from Delaware back to the White House. Vice President Harris is in Los Angeles.

  • 9:10 p.m.: Harris delivers remarks at a Democratic National Committee finance event at a private residence. Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff will attend.

All times Eastern.

📺What to watch

  • 1 p.m.: State Department briefing. Livestream
  • 1:30 p.m.: Briefing from White House press secretary Karine Jean-PierreLivestream
  • 6 p.m.: Harris joins Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Celinda Vázquez, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, for a conversation focused on protecting reproductive rights. Livestream

🍝 In lighter news

Today is National Pasta Day!

To celebrate, CNET a list of pasta specials at restaurants including Bertucci’s and Noodles & Company.

And because you made it this far on a Monday, here is the ultimate guard dog. 😉

Tags 12:30 Report 2022 midterms Evan McMullin Georgia debate Herschel Walker House Speaker Mike Lee Pasta Day senate elections Van Gogh

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