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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: Make-or-break day for Pruitt | Trump calls into 'Fox & Friends' for wild interview | Trump on Cohen: 'Nothing to do with me' | Dems grill Diamond and Silk | Panel approves bill to protect Mueller | Senate poised to confirm Pompeo | VA pick withdraws | Macron's surprise DC lunch spot | National Pretzel Day

 

HAPPENING THIS A.M. 

You know what sounds like fun? Having to remember every excruciating detail of the last year in front of not one, but two congressional panels:

EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE has a make-or-break day as he testifies in back-to-back congressional hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency's 2019 budget. The hearings though are being dominated by the numerous ethical controversies swirling around Pruitt and the EPA. Livestream and live blog: http://bit.ly/2JpKcl6

HIGHLIGHTS:

Pruitt on his learning process: "I have nothing to hide as it relates to how I've run the agency for the past 16 months. I'm not afraid to admit that there's been a learning process." http://bit.ly/2r3eUKf

On the infamous 'privacy booth': Pruitt blamed the EPA's career, non-political lawyers for the controversy over his $43,000 soundproof privacy booth, saying that the attorneys believed it was legal. Keep in mind: The Government Accountability Office ruled last week that the expenditures were illegal. http://bit.ly/2HA63FW

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS:

The vibe -- Pruitt's demeanor: "Pruitt is speaking so fast that he's stumbling over his words." (From NBC's Rebecca Shabadhttp://bit.ly/2r0WRo4

The gist -- it was pretty tense: "Ooof, this [Pruitt] hearing is getting rough. Dems going for jugular as Pruitt dodges and weaves around yes/no questions. This pattern is likely to continue all day." (Comment from Mashable's Andrew Freedman) http://bit.ly/2FggCw9

Next up -- Pruitt testifies in the afternoon: Here's a livestream of Pruitt's 2 p.m. hearing. http://bit.ly/2Hzccm8

 

If you need a refresher:

Via CNN, here's a list of all the controversies Scott Pruitt is embroiled in. Think: Traveling first class, security expenses and a questionable D.C. rental from a lobbyist. Bullet-point list: https://cnn.it/2r1u7dX

THE UNEXPECTED THORN IN PRUITT'S SIDE: Via The Hill's Timothy Cama, Scott Pruitt's biggest threat to his tenure at the EPA could be a government official little known outside of Washington: Arthur Elkins, the EPA's inspector general. How so: http://bit.ly/2HQiaCp

 

Meanwhile -- In another room on Capitol Hill, Pelosi is wooing a very young audience: 

 

It's Thursday. Today is Bring Your Kids to Work Day -- hope your have your earplugs and fun-sized candy bars ready! 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.

  

NEWS OF THE MORNING -- TRUMP CALLS INTO FOX & FRIENDS

When I'm having a bad day, I also call into 'Fox & Friends,' so I get it:

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE called into "Fox & Friends" this morning for a freewheeling interview. Here are the highlights:

'MICHAEL COHEN,' YOU SAID? DOESN'T SOUND FAMILIAR. IS IT 'CONE' OR 'COE-HEN?': 

President Trump downplayed his ties to his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, saying he has no legal exposure to Cohen. "This has nothing to do with me," Trump said. "I've been told I'm not involved. ... I don't his know business … I have nothing to do with his business." Keep in mind: Cohen has worked as a lawyer, fixer and executive at the Trump Organization for more than a decade. http://bit.ly/2I5XT9L

What to know about Cohen: Michael Cohen now plans to assert his Fifth Amendment rights in the lawsuit filed against him by adult-film star Stormy DanielsDetails: http://bit.ly/2Fj82wx

ON THE MOSCOW TRIP:

President Trump said he did spend the night in Moscow the night before the Miss Universe contest in 2013. He also accused former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyDershowitz: Trump's lawyers could force Rosenstein to recuse himself from Mueller probe New York Times defends bombshell Rosenstein report Donald Trump’s Rosenstein dilemma MORE of lying in memos detailing their conversations. Why this is newsy: Comey's memos alleged that President Trump told him he hadn't stayed the night in Russia during that trip. http://bit.ly/2HSjbtr

TIDBIT ON MELANIA'S BIRTHDAY: 

"Trump tells Fox & Friends that he decided to call into their show because it's Melania's birthday. So, what did he get the First Lady? 'Maybe I didn't get her so much. I got her a beautiful card.' " http://bit.ly/2KfPpNP

IT WASN'T TRUMP THAT ENDED THE INTERVIEW, BY THE WAY: 
" 'We're running out of time' Doocey says to Trump. On what planet would a TV host end a freewheeling interview with a president?" (Comment from Mic's Emily C. Singerhttp://bit.ly/2qXcGey

FULL VIDEO -- THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW IS PRETTY COMPELLING: 
Watch: http://bit.ly/2Kivvlq

 

THIS A.M. -- RONNY JACKSON WITHRAWS HIS NOMINATION

Peace out, Ron Jack: 

This morning, White House physician to the president Ronny Jackson withdrew as President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Why: Mounting accusations of misconduct. http://bit.ly/2HucCdg

MORE ALLEGATIONS KEPT PILING UP: 
Senate Democrats released a new batch of allegations yesterday, including claims that he provided a "large supply" of opioid painkillers to a White House military staffer and wrecked a government vehicle after getting drunk at a Secret Service going-away party. Jackson denied wrecking a car, saying that he had "no idea" where that story came from. http://bit.ly/2HucCdg

 

BRING YOUR KIDS TO WORK DAY IN WASHINGTON

 

This video is adorable!:

 

IN OTHER NEWS

#SaveTheSpecialCounsel:

The Senate Judiciary Committee just approved legislation to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE from being fired. The vote: 14-7 in a bipartisan vote. Why this is newsy: This is the first formal measure to protect Mueller that has advanced. http://bit.ly/2vRIYgK

Republicans who voted for the bill (4): Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent' North Carolina governor: We saw ‘significant damage’ in eastern part of state GOP senator on allegation against Kavanaugh: 'Why on Earth' wasn't it discussed earlier? MORE (N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Kim, Moon toss ball to Trump in ‘last, best chance’ for Korean peace GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' MORE (S.C.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate panel reaches tentative deal for Kavanaugh accuser to testify Thursday Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Aide for GOP involved in Kavanaugh nomination resigns after past sexual harassment allegation surfaces MORE (Iowa) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Coulter mocks Kavanaugh accuser: She'll only testify 'from a ski lift' Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it MORE (Ariz.).

Republicans who voted against the bill (7): Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Judiciary Dems say GOP treating Kavanaugh accuser worse than Anita Hill Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh MORE (Utah), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeKavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Reexamining presidential power over national monuments Utah group complains Mia Love should face criminal penalties for improper fundraising MORE (Utah), 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 (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoHillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law Trump authorizes sanctions against foreign governments that interfere in US elections Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (Idaho), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseMcConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal Senate approves 4B spending bill Grassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt MORE (Neb.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzViral video shows O’Rourke air-drumming to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ after Cruz debate Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions MORE (Texas) opposed it.

Will this bill actually pass in Congress? Eh, probably not: The bill doesn't have the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate, and has even less of a chance to pass the more conservative House. It also would be unlikely to win the two-thirds support needed to override a veto. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDoug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week GOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal MORE has said there is no need for the legislation and that the upper chamber will not take it up.

Photo from the room:

 

Pompeo's week is getting better and better: 
The Senate is voting to confirm CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Pompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Positive Moon-Kim summit creates a diplomatic opening in North Korea MORE as the new secretary of State. Livestream: https://cs.pn/2vOKO1V

 

This hearing is nuts:

Via The Hill's Ali Breland, Democrats clashed with pro-Trump YouTube megastars Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson-- better known as "Diamond and Silk" -- over alleged social media bias against them during a Congressional hearing today. http://bit.ly/2HSEaMU Just trust me, you'll want to see this: https://cbsn.ws/2HvmYtj

 

NOTABLE TWEETS:

This is confusing: 

 

ON TAP:

The House and Senate are in.

Noon: The Senate will hold votes on nominations, including Mike Pompeo for secretary of State. 

1 p.m. EDT: Former acting Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline Yates NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation New Yorker disinvites Bannon from festival following backlash MORE speaks at a Georgetown Law event. Detailshttp://bit.ly/2HuKZRl

1:30 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence joins Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) for a jobs announcement. Pence then leaves Indianapolis for Washington, D.C.

4 p.m. EDT: First and last votes in the House.

Just announced -- July 13President Trump will visit the United Kingdom to meet with Prime Minister Theresa Mayhttp://bit.ly/2vOza7a

 

WHAT TO WATCH:

10:30 a.m. EDT: President Trump spoke at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride in the East Room of the White House. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2FjCM0r

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Pretzel Day!

 

I think about this 'Matilda' chocolate cake scene way too often: 

Prime Video got the actors from Matilda to recreate the scene where Ms. Trunchbull made Bruce Bogtrotter eat the chocolate cake. Wow, everyone in this scene has aged well! Watch: http://bit.ly/2HZmhtq

 

Just in case your day was *too* productive: 

 

And because you made it this far, here are laugh-out-loud funny photos of pets: http://bit.ly/2vUitaG