The Hill's 12:30 Report

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: Mueller charges lawyer with lying in Russia probe | Trump denies claim he forcibly kissed woman in 2006 | Trump blames Obama for Russian interference | DACA deadline approaches | 2020 Dem contenders traveling to primary states | Trump urges Pennsylvania GOP to fight voting map



Another Mueller investigation indictment: Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is charging a man who communicated with former Trump campaign adviser Richard Gates with making false statements to federal officials. Who: Alex Van Der Zwaan. What he's charged with: Van Der Zwaan allegedly lied about his last communications with Gates and deleted emails requested by the special counsel's office, according to the indictment. http://bit.ly/2GtQQ8K

Timing: The new charges come as Gates is reportedly nearing a plea deal with Mueller that could lead to his testimony against former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortVirginia judge calls Manafort’s plea deal ‘highly unusual,’ but is it? Three reasons Mueller may not charge Trump with obstruction Judge calls Manafort plea deal 'highly unusual' MORE. Manafort faces a series of charges, including money laundering and making false statements to the FBI. http://bit.ly/2ES9hql

Happening today: Van Der Zwaan has a plea hearing at 2:30 p.m. EST today.

Lucy, I'm hoooome! It's an eerily warm Tuesday in Washington. 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.



Trump denies accusations of forcibly kissing a woman in 2006: President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE this morning issued a denial of claims printed in The Washington Post by a woman who says he forcibly kissed her in the lobby of Trump Tower a decade ago. He tweeted: "A woman I don't know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security. " http://bit.ly/2HxLjiI

Back story: Rachel Crooks, a then-22-year-old secretary in a neighboring office building, says Trump grabbed her and began forcibly kissing her upon meeting him in 2006 in Trump Tower in New York City. Keep in mind: Crooks, now 35, is running for state office in Ohio in part to tell her story about what she says happened just over 10 years ago when she met the future president. http://wapo.st/2EELP0u


Can you think of a better way to start the week than with a tweetstorm??: This morning, President Trump accused former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaChance the Rapper works as Lyft driver to raise money for Chicago schools Americans are safer from terrorism, but new threats are arising Donald Trump Jr. emerges as GOP fundraising force MORE of declining to take action against Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election because he wanted to preserve Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarter Page files defamation lawsuit against DNC Dems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight MORE's chances of winning the race. He tweeted: Trump highlighted a quote from Obama made before the election. " 'There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America's elections, there's no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time, and so I'd invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes,' " Trump tweeted, quoting Obama. http://bit.ly/2GtQhMd

Full series of tweets -- there were a lot: http://bit.ly/2EGrvfn

OP-ED: Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden on why the CIA may need to call White House to clarify Russia meddling. http://bit.ly/2CxbG4E

'If there's a place you got to get, I can get you there I bet, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map!' http://bit.ly/2sKOjoKPresident Trump encouraged Pennsylvania Republicans to challenge the state's new congressional map in court, saying that the original map -- deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court -- "was correct." Timing: Trump's tweet came a day after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unveiled a new congressional map that increases Democrats' electoral chances in several districts currently held by Republicans. http://bit.ly/2EGWBPF

What the map looks like -- before and after: http://nyti.ms/2FiOSsw



New poll -- call for action: According to a Washington Post–ABC News poll released today, most Americans say Congress and President Trump are not doing enough to prevent mass shootings in the U.S. Trump: 62 percent of respondents said that Trump is not taking adequate action to crack down on the rash of mass shootings that has roiled in the country. Congress: 77 percent place blame on Congress. Mental illness: Most Americans fault a failure to identify and treat mental illness as the primary driver for such shootings. Fifty-seven percent said so, compared to just 28 percent who blame inadequate gun control laws. http://bit.ly/2oiMc5K

POSSIBLE GUN OUTCOMES: Via Vox's Ella Nilsen, there are currently two gun bills in Congress. Here are details on each and what to expect: http://bit.ly/2GwDMPX

GETTING TRACTION -- YIKES, THIS COVER: Today's cover of the New York Daily News is pretty startling. Photo: http://bit.ly/2BEv9U4 ALSO GETTING TRACTION -- A CARTOON ABOUT THE SHOOTING: In a viral political cartoon, a Vancouver artist depicts Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach who was killed in the shooting, while trying to protect students. Photo: http://wapo.st/2FhBTXN



The DACA deadline is coming up: Via The Hill's Rafael Bernal, the Trump administration's March 5 deadline for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is approaching. 

Does there appear to be a deal?: Not yet. The Senate failed to pass a legislative replacement to the DACA program Thursday, leaving Congress with few legislative options and only four legislative days before the deadline. 

Will recipients lose benefits on March 5?: No, recipients won't automatically lose their benefits at once after March 5. In fact, because of two court injunctions, existing beneficiaries are allowed to apply to renew their two-year DACA permit, which grants them immunity from deportation and a work permit.

About the March 5 deadline: House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight Paul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters MORE (R-Wis.) said this week he still wants to pass legislation on DACA in March, but minimized the importance of the deadline Trump set when he canceled the program in September.

Full explanation of what happens to DACA recipients: http://bit.ly/2CyZCjo



It's beginning to look a lot like 2020, everywhere you go: Via The Hill's Ben Kamisar, Democrats who are considering running against President Trump in 2020 are already visiting early primary states. Here's a rundown of which potential 2020 contenders have already traveled to Iowa or New Hampshire, sorted by those who has traveled to these states the most: http://bit.ly/2Fhs2Bh



This is why we don't even try:


The full report is worth reading: http://bit.ly/2BFLKaj



Congress is out.

Today: Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Trump Jr. to stump in Indiana for Pence’s brother and governor hopeful Donald Trump Jr. blasts Beto O’Rourke: ‘Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic’ MORE is in India. "His schedule includes dinners in at least two cities with buyers of Trump-branded apartments, which could fuel ethical concerns about the links between the president and his family business." http://cnnmon.ie/2BDNGQp

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisMattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Americans are safer from terrorism, but new threats are arising MORE.

2:45 p.m. EST: President Trump meets with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDC think tank declines Saudi money amid Khashoggi controversy US lobbying firms cut ties with Saudi Arabia On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race MORE.

Wednesday–Saturday: The Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. Schedule: http://bit.ly/2ocTmJK



2 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gives a press briefing. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2EUyIHW

3:30 p.m. EST: President Trump hosts a Public Safety Medal of Valor awards ceremony. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2EUzhS4

8 a.m. EST Wednesday: The Center for Strategic and International Studies is hosting an event on the economic impact of cybercrime. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2HxvOr9



Today is National Cherry Pie Day.

This is pretty cool: Check out Time magazine's Feb. 26 cover -- it has an actual maze. Interactive cover you can solve online: http://ti.me/2ok7v7i

The most relatable article you'll read all day: The Washington Post's Carrie Dennett breaks down what it means to have a food craving and what a craving actually entails: http://wapo.st/2Fg45KL

And because you made it to the end, here's a mind-boggling video -- this is how an octopus is born. I had no idea! http://bit.ly/2smL3Q9