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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 claims he didn't fire Comey over Russia probe | Tributes pour in for Barbara Bush | White House budget office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | Biden to decide on run at year's end | House consumed by leadership races | Pompeo secretly met Kim Jong Un | Goodbye, '50 Most Beautiful'



Weekend at Donny's!:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hoping his meetings with President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE this week at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort could make the two countries closer on issues like trade and North Korea. "But after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's first day visiting President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., the Japanese public is wondering whether their leader, embattled at home by influence-peddling scandals, might return to Japan with the diplomatic equivalent of an 'All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt.'"


While you were dying Easter eggs...:

The Washington Post's Shane HarrisCarol D. LeonnigGreg Jaffe and David Nakamura report that CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents MORE secretly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend. Why: As a precursor to President Trump's meeting with the North Korean leader. Keep in mind: This meeting happened shortly after Pompeo was nominated to be secretary of State.

^WHY THIS MATTERS: "It was yet another sign that the United States was acting independently of Japan, its strongest ally in Asia."

NEXT UP -- APRIL 24: President Trump will host French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House for the first state dinner of the Trump presidency. Why: "This visit will advance American and French cooperation on economic and global issues and deepen the friendship between the two countries," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

ANNOUNCED THIS MORNING -- APRIL 27: President Trump will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House next week for her second trip of the Trump administration. The White House called the relationship between Germany and the U.S. a "bedrock of the transatlantic relationship and the NATO Alliance."

Happy Hump Day! 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.


OK, so we have 'untruthful slime ball,' 'Lyin' Comey' and now 'Slippery James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE' FWIW, 'untruthful slime ball' is still my fav:

This morning, President Trump claimed he didn't fire former FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation, even though he had previously cited that reason for his decision to fire Comey.


Remembering the former first lady:

This is a fascinating timeline: Here are photos of Barbara Bush over the years:

Her New York Times obituary: The video attached to the obituary is worth watching:

That is quite the elite club: Abigail Adams is the only other woman who was the wife and the mother of U.S. presidents.

A tribute from her son: Former President George W. Bush posted a heartwarming message on Facebook. "Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end." Full post:

A beautiful tribute from Jenna Bush Hager: The former first daughter posted an emotional tribute to her grandmother on Instagram. "I already miss this FORCE of a woman-- the 'enforcer' because she was the glue that held our family together." Full post -- the throwback photo is adorable:

Her legacy in Kennebunkport, Maine:

How is former President George H.W. Bush doing?: From the former president's longtime chief of staff: "So many of you are asking, 'How is 41?' He, of course, is broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years. He held her hand all day today and was at her side when [she] left this good earth. Obviously, this is a very challenging time. But it will not surprise all of you who know and love him, that he also is being stoic and strong." Full statement:

Where she will be buried -- next to her daughter: Barbara Bush will be buried on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University. She will be buried next to her 3-year-old daughter Robin, who died in 1953.

Funeral details: Mrs. Bush will lie in repose Friday for members of the public. Her funeral will be Saturday.

The lighter side of Mrs. Bush: On CNN last night, "Barbara Bush followed her family's FitBits and would harass them when she felt like they weren't waking enough."

Inside their 'epic love story': Here's how former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Pierce met:

NEW DETAIL: Via CNN, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration Trump dismisses Ann Coulter after criticism: 'I hardly know her' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight MORE will attend Barbara Bush's funeral on Saturday. "The White House West Wing communications office did not immediately respond when asked whether President Donald Trump would join his wife in attending."



Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenKlobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Biden: 'The America I see does not wish to turn our back on the world' DNC chair defends debate schedule after Biden says election process starts 'too early' MORE sitting in coach:

Via The Hill's Bob Cusack, former Vice President Joe Biden was spotted this morning sitting in coach on the D.C. shuttle to LaGuardia.

What he looked like: Biden was "sporting his trademark sunglasses and a sharp blue tie."

On his 2020 plans: "Asked when he will decide on whether to launch a 2020 presidential bid, Biden smiled and told The Hill, 'Oh, not until the end of the year.' " 

Keep in mind: Biden isn’t a fan of LaGuardia. He once referred to the airport as "third-world."



Agenda, shmagenda:

Via The Hill's Scott Wong and Mike Lillis, House leadership races on both sides of the aisle are consuming the Capitol as major legislating grinds to a halt and attention shifts toward November's midterms -- and who will lead the parties through the high-stakes 2020 presidential season. The situation: The House GOP leadership team is projecting an image of calm a week after Ryan's sudden announcement that he won't seek reelection. But behind the scenes, there is a storm brewing as party leaders try to figure out who should -- or even can -- succeed the Wisconsin Republican, and how soon that transition might take place.

TIDBIT -- COMMUN *CLAP* ICATION: Allies of Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Texas man with politician hit list, illegally 3D printed rifle sentenced to eight years The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? MORE (R-La.) say House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Wis.) did not give a heads-up before publicly endorsing Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCongress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Bret Stephens: Would love to see Hannity react when Dem declares climate change emergency MORE (R-Calif.) to be his successor. "That's not the way to run things, especially with a member of your leadership team," one GOP lawmaker who is an ally of Scalise, told The Hill.



New tidbit in the Michael Cohen saga:

Via The Chicago Tribune's Tim Novak, the father-in-law of President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has reportedly loaned $20 million to the wife of a Chicago cab mogul who was identified in the warrant the FBI used to raid Cohen's office, hotel room and home.

A soundproof booth seems practical, tbh: 

Via The Hill's Timothy Cama, The White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will investigate the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitts's $43,000 soundproof booth. What sparked this: OMB Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney told Trump officials their 'highest priority' will be deregulation: Axios High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Trump declares national emergency at border MORE "said that since the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled Monday that the spending on the booth was a violation of the Antideficiency Act, OMB will investigate."

Farewell, beautiful people: 

After nearly 15 years, The Hill ending its annual 50 Most Beautiful list. "It's been a great run, but all things must come to an end," The Hill editor-in-chief Bob Cusack said. "Rest in peace." One of its coolest moments: The annual 50 Most Beautiful issue even made its way onto the airwaves as part of a key plot line in HBO's "Veep." The production crew even reached out to The Hill to ensure a prop copy appeared authentic. Full story:

Fascinating read -- 'If the election were held today, would you vote for Donald Trump?': 

The Washington Post's Ben Terris asked retiring Republican Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (Tenn.) whether he would vote for President Trump again. It took Corker four days to answer the question. Why it took him so long:

At a hospital in D.C.: 

"[Health and Human Services] Secretary Alex Azar has been readmitted to a hospital, in DC, to deal with an unspecified infection, per his office. He was released from a hospital in Indy last week." (h/t The New York Times's Glenn Thrush


We've all been there:


The House and Senate are in. President Trump is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida with the Japanese prime minister. Vice President Pence flies down for the day to join them.

1:15 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House. The House's schedule today:

2 p.m. EDT: President Trump and Vice President Pence have lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago.

2 p.m. EDT: Votes in the Senate. The Senate's schedule today:

5:30 p.m. EDT: Last votes in the House for the week. 

7:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie AbeVice President Pence also attends.



2:30 p.m. EDT: A Senate subcommittee is holding a hearing on the immigration court system. Livestream:

2:30 p.m. EDT: Florida Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio in Colombia to push for delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuela On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms MORE (D) hold a forum at the Capitol on school safety. Details:

3 p.m. EST: The President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa meets. Livestream:

5:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump has a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo AbeLivestream:



Today is National Animal Crackers Day.


Via Washingtonian, the RareSweets bakery in CityCenterDC is closing next Monday.

And because you read this far, here's a ticklish husky puppy: