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: 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 PruittSierra Club sues EPA over claim that climate change 'is 50 to 75 years out' EPA on 'forever chemicals': Let them drink polluted water EPA moving ahead with science transparency rule by 'early next year' 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 TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? 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 ComeyComey says he has a 'fantasy' about deleting his Twitter account after end of Trump term We need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats Trump 'constantly' discusses using polygraphs to stem leaks: report 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 (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network 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 TillisTillis says impeachment is 'a waste of resources' GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising MORE (N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Trump invites congressional leaders to meeting on Turkey Graham opens door to calling Hunter Biden to testify MORE (S.C.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump's latest plan to boost ethanol miffs both corn groups and the fossil fuel industry Syria furor underscores Trump's isolation GOP braces for impeachment brawl MORE (Iowa) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment Are Senate Republicans certain that Trump can return to office? MORE (Ariz.).

Republicans who voted against the bill (7): Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom MORE (Utah), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeA decade of policymaking failures is to blame for new Syria crisis Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservative politicians, pundits GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe MORE (Utah), John CornynJohn CornynTrying to kick tobacco again This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington GOP braces for impeachment brawl MORE (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Nearing finish line, fight for cannabis banking bill shifts to the Senate On The Money: Trump strikes trade deal with Japan on farm goods | GOP senator to meet Trump amid spending stalemate | House passes cannabis banking bill | Judge issues one-day pause on subpoena for Trump's tax returns MORE (Idaho), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseHong Kong protesters trample, burn LeBron James jerseys in wake of comments This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington Trump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong MORE (Neb.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Turkey controversy This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington The Hill's Morning Report - Lawmakers return to work as Dem candidates set to debate 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 McConnellTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Trump again vetoes resolution blocking national emergency for border wall Trump invites congressional leaders to meeting on Turkey 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 PompeoOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump isolated amid Syria furor | Pompeo, Pence to visit Turkey in push for ceasefire | Turkish troops advance in Syria | Graham throws support behind Trump's sanctions Graham: Erdoğan pledged to Trump to stay away from Kurdish territory in Syria Trump honors Stanley Cup champions, talks impeachment, Turkey 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 YatesMerriam-Webster: A 200-year-old dictionary offers hot political takes on Twitter Sally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' Trump: 'Impossible for me to know' extent of Flynn investigation 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