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: Trump removes Tillerson at State | Taps Pompeo as replacement | Trump didn't speak to Tillerson before firing | Special election in Pennsylvania | Dems look to pull off upset | Trump assistant 'escorted out of the White House' | Greatest photo of 2018 | DC's Russian 'SpyHouse' may be demolished | Nutella-filled Krispy Kremes (!) 



First -- Rexit!:

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE has ousted Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US Trump administration rigging the game, and your retirement fund could be the loser Haley’s exit sends shockwaves through Washington MORE and replaced him with CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSaudis say journalist killed in ‘fight’ at consulate; 18 detained Pompeo asks Mexico to help tackle migration ‘crisis’ Trump: 'FAKE NEWS' that Pompeo heard tape of Saudi journalist's death MORE in a move that stunned Washington with its timing. Trump told reporters Tuesday morning that he made the decision "by myself," signaling he did not speak with Tillerson before firing him. http://bit.ly/2GopDpb

Context -- when you put it this way, yikes: "In the last two weeks, Trump's top economic and diplomatic advisers have left/been sent packing. At the same time, he's imposing tariffs and threatened a trade war while agreeing to meet with North Korea's dictator." (Via The New York Times's Shane Goldmacherhttp://bit.ly/2p7CSTN


White House version: A White House official claimed Tillerson found out Friday. "POTUS asked Tillerson to step aside on Friday, per an admin official. On Saturday, Tillerson cancelled his day's events in Kenya over illness" (Via CNN's Betsy Kleinhttp://bit.ly/2FBchZe

Last night: From an AP State Department report. "As we flew back home from Nigeria tonight, Tillerson came to the back of a plane for a brief chat -- and unloaded on Russia." http://bit.ly/2GmrNW6

^^What Tillerson said about Russia: He "called the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent in the U.K. 'a really egregious act' that appears to have 'clearly' come from Russia. Trump, however, said he would speak with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday about the poisoning. "As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be," he said. http://nbcnews.to/2p6JCRw

Did Tillerson see this coming?: No. In a statement, Steve Goldstein, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs said, "The secretary did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason ... The secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security..." Goldstein had suggested Tillerson did not know he was fired until Trump's tweet. http://abcn.ws/2FDe24k

^^JUST NOW -- well that was fast: The White House has reportedly fired Steve Goldstein who contradicted the official account of Tillerson's dismissal. http://bit.ly/2p6Zi7k

Why now? -- North Korea and trade: A senior administration official said, "The president wanted to make sure the transition happens before the conversation takes place with North Korea, and with the trade issues taking effect." (Via The Wall Street Journal's Michael Benderhttp://bit.ly/2FNgCbb

Trump's explanation: Before leaving for San Diego, Trump spoke about Tillerson's ouster. "When you look at the Iran deal, I think it's terrible. I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently. So we were really not thinking the same." Livestream: http://cs.pn/2ImSvyL

Throwback to December: President Trump tweeted, "The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon -- FAKE NEWS! He's not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!" http://bit.ly/2paBbov

Tidbit about Tillerson's month: Rex Tillerson's father died two weeks ago. His obituary: http://bit.ly/2GnDiMV

Second -- Pompeo in:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has served in President Trump's administration since last year, has been chosen to replace Tillerson. http://bit.ly/2GopDpb

Keep in mind policywise: "Pompeo is fiercely opposed to Iran deal, which Tillerson was fighting to preserve." http://bit.ly/2ImqGGH

Wow -- 'started from the bottom now we're here': "A very quick political ascent for Pompeo. From House --> CIA Director --> Secretary of State in just 15 months." http://bit.ly/2HtswUO

Read Pompeo's statement: http://bit.ly/2Iq4R9i

Let's play -- who's missing from this statement?: From U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyIn midst of political violence, America greatly needs unity Trump prefers woman for UN post, interviewing 5 candidates Mary Kissel expected to join State Department MORE"Congratulations to my friend and soon to be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo! Great decision by the President." http://bit.ly/2IjmCqx 

Third -- Gina Haspel moves up at CIA:

President Trump also announced that he has nominated Gina Haspel, Pompeo's current deputy, to lead the CIA. http://bit.ly/2GopDpb

What to know about Haspel: "Gina Haspel is the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Haspel is a career intelligence officer, having joined the CIA in 1985." http://bit.ly/2tJLFzJ

Cough, not Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonFlake: Congress should not continue Kavanaugh investigations GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter Susan Collins becomes top 2020 target for Dems MORE, cough: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was said to be President Trump's top pick to replace Pompeo in the CIA. Guess nothttp://nyti.ms/2InWif9

This is historic: If confirmed, Gina Haspel will be the first woman to lead the CIA. http://bit.ly/2FEjPX8

It's Tuesday. 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.



Shake, shake, shake it up:

Via The Wall Street Journal's Michael C. Bender, "President Donald Trump's personal assistant, John McEnteeJohn (Johnny) David McEnteeMore than 20 percent of Trump campaign spending this year has gone to legal fees The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE, was escorted out of the White House on Monday, two senior administration officials said. The cause of the firing was an unspecified security issue, said a third White House official with knowledge of the situation." Context: McEntee has been Trump's aide since the early days of the presidential campaign. Full story: http://on.wsj.com/2Fxy7gq

OH ANDDD: The Trump campaign announced this morning that McEntee is rejoining the campaign as a senior adviser. 

NEW DEVELOPMENT: Via CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond and Jeff Zeleny, "John McEntee was fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes." http://cnn.it/2GoNhSt 



Caption contest: 'Tell me where the White House hides the Easter eggs and no one gets hurt.'

Have a better caption? Email me.

Back story: During Rick Saccone's final day of campaigning before the Pennsylvania special election, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Election Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B MORE joined him at a famous ice cream and candy shop in the state. Keep reading for more about that election. http://wapo.st/2FES14Y

Don Jr. even made a joke about the photo, calling the interview "hard hitting." http://cnn.it/2tHWBxX



Happy (Special) Election Day!:

Via The Hill's Ben Kamisar in Canonsburg, Pa., Republicans are rushing to avoid a crushing defeat today in Pennsylvania, where a Democrat looks poised to win an upset special election victory deep in Trump country six months before the midterm elections. The odds that will happen: http://bit.ly/2DnkcDG

THIS IS A FASCINATING THING TO KEEP IN MIND: Because of a state Supreme Court ruling that requires electoral districts to be redrawn, this district won't even exist after November. SoOoOo, what are we doing here?: This race is more about the national parties showing confidence and picking up momentum before the midterms. http://bit.ly/2tNCZZw

WHEN THE POLLS CLOSE: 8 p.m. EDT. Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb are both scheduled to speak to supporters when the polls close. Livestream of Saccone: http://cs.pn/2FxRjuj Livestream of Lamb: http://cs.pn/2Hvv5Wm

WHY DEMOCRATS ARE CHOMPING AT THE BIT: Via The Hill's Scott Wong and Mike Lillis, Pennsylvania could see a dramatic change in its congressional delegation beginning Tuesday, with at least six of its 18 House districts changing hands. http://bit.ly/2FBrTfi

OP-ED: Lloyd Green on why the stakes in Pennsylvania today are "sky high." http://bit.ly/2Dp9EnE



They're only $595!:


Happening today at the Capitol:

Here's a livestream outside of the Capitol -- watch: http://bit.ly/2FEIYkw



The House and Senate are in.

12:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate breaks for weekly caucus luncheons. Vice President Pence attends the Republican lunch.

2:15 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence meets with lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol.

3:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump reviews border wall prototypes in San Diego.

6:30 p.m. EDT: Votes in the House.

8 p.m. EDT: All polls close in Pennsylvania. Here's a quick catch-up on the special election: http://ti.me/2FHcIx6

9:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a roundtable with Republican National Committee supporters near Santa Monica, Calif.



2 p.m. EDT: Senate Republicans hold a press briefing. Livestream: http://cs.pn/2tIeMU6

2:30 p.m. EDT: Senate Democrats hold a press briefing. Livestream: http://cs.pn/2FECIJM

2:30 p.m. EDT: Former British Prime Minister David Cameron testifies on Capitol Hill. Livestream: http://cs.pn/2p7lspo

5 p.m. EDT: President Trump speaks to members of the military at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. He then leaves for Los Angeles. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2FEyLEI

5:35 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at a Women's History Month reception at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2FS1p93

Just announced — April 18: 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 will appear on "The View." http://bit.ly/2tMruS1



Today is National Chicken Noodle Soup Day.

Omg, omg, omg:

Krispy Kreme is now selling Nutella-filled doughnuts. The problem: For now, they're only being sold in the Dominican Republic. *All together now* -- 'Bring. Them. To. America.': http://bit.ly/2FGMHyk

I feel so in the loop for knowing this:

Via PoPville, Washington, D.C.'s historic "SpyHouse ... which until recently was used for decades to spy on the Russian Embassy, is at risk of being demolished." Back story to the house: "At the height of the cold war, the home served as the primary observation point for intelligence gathering, including the launching point for a $160 million project to train a cat to spy on the Russians." WowPhoto of the house: http://bit.ly/2pbef7U

And because you made it to the end, here's an adorable puppy breaking it down to an Eminem song. I can't... http://bit.ly/2pahKex

Make sure your sound is on for that!