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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: Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign Blue wave poses governing risks for Dems Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests MORE to retire in January | Reaction from Trump, colleagues | What it means for GOP in midterms | Speculation on next Speaker | Trump at crisis point with Mueller | Mueller wants subpoenas for 35 witnesses in Manafort trial | Trump taunts Russia on Syria, says missiles coming | Round two for Zuckerberg


How I imagine Paul Ryan secretly celebrating this afternoon.






Paul Ryan triggers his inner Elmer Fudd -- 'Ah, rest and relaxation at last!' -->

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) just announced that he is retiring from Congress and will not run for reelection in November. Why: The standard "spend more time with your family" reasonIs this out of the blue?: Eh, not really. There has been speculation for months that Ryan was on his way out. What this means for the GOP: This isn't good news. It gives the appearance that he is conceding Republican control of the House. Likely successors: Either Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE (R-Calif.) or Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel On The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' MORE (R-La.).

Watch Ryan's announcement at the Capitol:

Spotted in the Capitol this morning: "Lots of Speaker Ryan staff that do not work in the Capitol are here at his office this morning..." (h/t NBC's Alex Moe

Prediction: "Early reaction: Ryan will get pressure to hold leadership elections very very soon." (From Politico's Jake Sherman

Context for November -- not great for the GOP: "Speaker Ryan's retirement will be interpreted as practically conceding that the GOP will lose the House. Probably will stimulate more R retirements." (From Crystal Ball's Larry Sabato

No 2012 overlap: Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyPoll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms Kavanaugh and the 'boys will be boys' sentiment is a poor excuse for bad behavior MORE is running for Senate, while Paul Ryan, his 2012 running mate, is leaving. 

Reaction from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE: "Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!" he tweeted.

Just as Ryan made his announcement -- another GOP retirement: Rep. Dennis RossDennis Alan RossGOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Reshaping US aid to the Palestinians Trump allies want Congress to find anonymous op-ed author MORE (R-Fla.) announced his retirement. "He said he was informing staff about his decision and looked up at Fox News to see Speaker Paul Ryan had decided to step down." More from the Tampa Bay Times:


It's Wednesday -- hockey playoffs start tonight! 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 and on Facebook.



Just now — update on the Manafort trial:

Via Bloomberg’s Joe Schneider, special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE has asked a judge for 35 subpoenas in the trial of President Trump’s former campaign chair Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortCohen questioned for hours in Mueller probe about Trump's dealings with Russia: report Vote Democrat in midterms to rein in Trump, preserve justice Hillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe MORE. Names?: Nope, so far the subpoenas are blank but the names will be added later.


I wouldn't want to be the one delivering the president his breakfast this morning, that's all I'm saying:

This morning, President Trump blamed tensions between the U.S. and Russia on special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election interference in 2016. He tweeted:

WHY WE MAY BE AT A CRISIS POINT WITH TRUMP AND MUELLER: President Trump's showdown with Robert Mueller headed toward a crisis point yesterday, with the White House saying Trump has legal authority to fire the special counsel. Why Republicans are anxious: Republicans unnerved by the president's anger in public and private sought to talk him down, fearing a "Saturday night massacre"–style series of firings harking back to the Nixon era was growing more likely. What brought this on: Trump is furious over the FBI raid on Monday on his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Reactions on Capitol Hill:


Last night -- I'm sure this story didn't help things: 

Last night, The New York Times's Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt reported that President Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in December. Details: "The president's anger was fueled by reports that the subpoenas [Mueller had] were for obtaining information about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank ... [then] his lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn about the subpoenas, and ultimately were told by Mr. Mueller's office that the reports were not accurate, leading the president to back down." Why this matters: "Trump's quick conclusion that the erroneous news reports warranted firing Mueller is also an insight into [his] state of mind about the special counsel."


This morning -- the 'protect Mueller' campaign:

A group of bipartisan senators is introducing new legislation to limit President Trump's ability to fire special counsel Robert MuellerHow so: The legislation would let Mueller, or any other special counsel, receive an "expedited judicial review" within 10 days of being fired to determine if it was for a "good cause." If it was determined it wasn't, he would be reinstated.

MEANWHILE: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesRussia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe MORE (R-Calif.) said he will seek to "impeach" FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinVote Democrat in midterms to rein in Trump, preserve justice Trump lawyer: NBC interview with Comey firing comments was edited Trump attack on Sessions may point to his departure MORE if they decline to hand over the document used to launch the FBI's probe into possible collusion.



Round two -- ding, ding: 

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFight looms over national privacy law Facebook teaming with nonprofits to fight fake election news China may be copying Facebook to build an intelligence weapon MORE is in his second day of testimony on Capitol Hill where he is being grilled about his company’s handling of data privacy.

Livestream and live blog of updates: 

HOW DAY ONE WENT FOR ZUCK: He handled himself pretty well. Mark Zuckerberg, the 33-year-old founder and CEO of Facebook, emerged largely unscathed despite sometimes-aggressive questioning from lawmakers that went well beyond the Cambridge Analytica controversy. Full breakdown of Day 1:

That's a cushy chair: Photo of Zuckerberg's chair with extra cushioning:

Omg, that line to get in: Video:

The sad part about the long line: "Guys there are like 40 seats not reserved for press or staff." (Tweet from Business Insider's Joe Perticone

Lol, that's a pretty funny protester sign: Photo:



This a.m. -- Trump taunts Russia: 

President Trump warned Russia that "nice and new and 'smart'" missiles would be headed to Syria, saying, "Get ready Russia." Full tweet: "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart' You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"


What to expect from Trump on Syria: 

Via The New York Times's Peter Baker, Helene Cooper and Thomas Gibbons-NeffPresident Trump is considering a stronger response to the latest reported Syrian chemical attack than the missile attack he authorized last year. Good explainer:

Throwback to Donald Trump in 2013: He tweeted, "Why do we keep broadcasting when we are going to attack Syria. Why can't we just be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise?"

^Context from The New York Times's Michael Barbaro: "This morning he broadcasted coming attack on...Syria, contradicting himself [from 2013.]"

Op-ed on the high stakes in Syria:



Working on that topspin: 

Last night, the Metro D.C. Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation hosted its annual celebrity tennis gala at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va. Spotted: Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (D-N.M.), Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), former Rep. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.), Alan HolmerJosh Bolten, The Hill editor-in-chief Bob Cusack and former tennis professionals Richey Reneberg, Virginia Wade, Brian Gottfried and Sherwood Stewart.



Womp, womp:





The House and Senate are in. President Trump and Vice President Pence are both in Washington, D.C., today at the White House.

11 a.m. EDT: President Trump signs the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017.

12:20 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes.

12:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence.

1:30 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House.

4:30 p.m. EDT: Last votes in the House.

6:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump has dinner with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (R-Texas).



3:30 p.m. EDT: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gives a press briefing.

7 p.m. EDT: The 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs begin. ESPN's "must-see" games:

Tuesday April 17: Ex-porn star Stormy Daniels will appear on "The View."



Today is National Cheese Fondue Day. Two thumbs up.


I dare you to make it through these photos without smiling. I. DARE. YOU.:

Four service dogs went to Disneyland and met all the characters. Important to note: Each of them is wearing a version of Mickey Mouse ears. The photos are incredible -->



And because you read this far, here's a dog balancing treats in the shape of a Jenga game on his nose. I'm rooting for you!