12:30 Report

The Hill’s 12:30 Report — What we know about Griner’s release terms

Biden announces release of Brittney Griner
Getty/Chip Somodevilla
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 08: Cherelle Griner (L), wife of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner, speaks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced her release from Russian custody, at the White House on December 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. Griner was released as part of a prisoner swap that involved Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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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.


Oh, thank goodness

WNBA star Brittney Griner has been freed in a prison swap, President Biden announced this morning

Why Griner was there in the first place: She was detained in Russia roughly 10 months ago for bringing vape cartridges with hashish oil into the country. She was then sentenced to serve nine years in person and was recently transferred to a penal colony.  

Behind the scenes: The Biden administration had been negotiating Griner’s release for months, and Biden was under significant public pressure to see it through.  

Photo of Biden speaking to Griner on the phone: “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home,” Biden tweeted. 

Griner’s release was part of a prisoner swap: Biden did not explain the details of Griner’s release, but her release was reportedly in exchange for the release of Russian gun dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence after being convicted of conspiring to kill Americans. What we know about Viktor Bout and the terms of the prisoner swap, via USA Today’s John Bacon 

Watch Biden’s announcement this morning 


Paul Whelan is the former Marine and businessman who has been imprisoned in Russia in 2018 over suspicions of spying. 

Whelan was *not* included in the prisoner swap. NBC News reports that the Biden administration warned Whelan’s family that he would not be included in the deal. His family’s response 

Paul Whelan spoke exclusively with CNN this morning: “I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release … I was arrested for a crime that never occurred.” Whelan also said: He “was led to believe that things were moving in the right direction, and that the governments were negotiating and that something would happen fairly soon.” More from the phone call with Whelan from a Russian penal colony, via CNN’s Jennifer Hansler 

Biden insisted it was not a choice between Whelan and Griner: The Biden administration is still working to get him released. What we know, from ABC News’s Libby Cathey 

Is Whelan the only American left detained in Russia?: No, two other Americans are also detained in Russia: Marc Fogel and Sarah Krivanek. What to know about those Americans

It’s Thursday. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here. 

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Hill’s Mychael Schnell will be writing Friday’s 12:30 Report as I will be off for a long weekend. You’ll be in great hands. See you Monday, friends!

🌴 In Mar-a-Lago 

More classified documents were found *nervous laugh*:

Former President Trump’s legal team has found more documents with classified markings at a storage unit in West Palm Beach, Fla., according to The Washington Post.  

Why the search happened: “The search was one of at least three searches for classified materials conducted by an outside team at Trump properties in recent weeks, after Trump’s legal team was pressed by a federal judge to attest that it had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings, according to people familiar with the matter.”  

What happens with the recovered documents?: They were handed over to the FBI. 

The full story from the Post’s Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, Spencer S. Hsu, Devlin Barrett and Rosalind S. Helderman

🗳 Midterm autopsies 


From The Hill’s Al Weaver 


From The Hill’s Julia Manchester 


Read Niall Stanage’s column 


Roughly 43 percent of Americans support Biden, according to a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. That number remains unchanged since the same poll in October.  


From The Hill’s Alexander Bolton

⛽️ In other news 

A little bit of good news about gas prices!:

“The average price of gasoline in the U.S. is lower than it was a year ago, after many months of elevated prices marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” 

The numbers“The country’s average price for gasoline stood at about $3.33 on Thursday, just under the $3.34 this time last year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Gas prices are now at their lowest point since January.” 

At their highest: Gas prices topped $5/gallon in June.

🦠 The COVID-19 numbers 

Cases to date: 98.7 million 

Death toll: 1,077,303 

Current hospitalizations: 29,433 

Shots administered: 655 million 

Fully vaccinated: 68.8 percent of Americans 

CDC data here.

🐥Notable tweets 

Remember hearing about the new nap pods at Twitter?:

Well, BBC obtained photos of bedrooms installed at the social media company. Photos from BBC’s James Clayton 

“The city of San Francisco is investigating as it’s a commercial building,” Clayton added. 

ICYMIHere’s the Forbes story about the pods 

A brief break from the end-of-the-year talks

CNN’s Annie Grayer tweeted, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi greets children outside her office with her husband, Paul Pelosi.” Photo 

I can’t get enough of the festivities!:

President Biden tweeted a video of some of the rooms of the White House that are decked out for the holidays. Watch

On tap 

The House and Senate are in. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C. 

  • 9 a.m.: Biden received his daily briefing. 
  • 10:15 a.m.: First House votes. Today’s House agenda 
  • 11:30 a.m.: Two Senate votes on judicial nominations. Today’s Senate agenda 
  • 11:45 a.m.: Last House votes of the day. 
  • 12:15 p.m.: Biden and Harris have lunch together. 
  • 1:45 p.m.: A Senate cloture vote on another judicial nomination. 

All times Eastern.

📺What to watch

  • 8:30 a.m.: Biden delivered remarks on the release of Brittney GrinerWatch 
  • 12:30 p.m.: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a press briefing. Livestream 
  • 1 p.m.: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds a news conference. Livestream 
  • 2:10 p.m.: Biden delivers remarks on the economy, union workers and retirees. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh attends. Livestream 

🍫 In lighter news 

Today is National Brownie Day! TBH, I am already celebrating this one today. 😘 

Make this into a Hallmark movie.

Thirteen strangers, whose flight were canceled, rented a minivan and road tripped together to Tennessee. The group documented the journey on TikTok. The full story from CNN’s Francesca Street 

And to leave you on a happy note, here’s a dog who lost its mind over the leaves.

Tags 12:30 Report 2022 midterms Biden Brittney Griner Brittney Griner gas prices georgia runoff Griner release House Mar-a-Lago Paul Whelan Prisoner swap Russia Senate Viktor Bout White House
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