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 PruittSenior Trump administration official to leave post next week For Big Pharma, the revolving door keeps spinning Acosta defends Epstein deal, bucking calls for resignation 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 TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates 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 ComeyHannity invites Ocasio-Cortez to join prime-time show for full hour The Hill's 12:30 Report: Acosta under fire over Epstein plea deal White House repeatedly blocks ex-aide from answering Judiciary panel questions 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 MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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 TillisOvernight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic infighting threatens 2020 unity MORE (N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump shares Graham quote calling Ocasio-Cortez 'anti-America' Graham: Trump should focus on policy, not personal attacks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE (S.C.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyAdvocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform Trump drug pricing setbacks put pressure on Congress Hillicon Valley: Trump rails against 'terrible bias' at White House social media summit | Twitter hit by hour-long outage | Google admits workers listen to smart device recordings MORE (Iowa) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (Ariz.).

Republicans who voted against the bill (7): Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (Utah), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeFairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act exposes Silicon Valley's hollow diversity slogans Overnight Defense: Senate rejects effort to restrict Trump on Iran | Democrats at debate vow to shore up NATO | Senate confirms chief of Space Command Senate sets new voting record with Iran war measure MORE (Utah), John CornynJohn CornynGOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand On The Money: Mnuchin warns US could hit debt limit in early September | Acosta out as Labor chief | Trump pitches trade deal in Wisconsin | FTC reportedly settles with Facebook for B fine MORE (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt Senate Finance leaders in talks on deal to limit drug price increases MORE (Idaho), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseAcosta on shaky ground as GOP support wavers Some good advice for Democrats to ignore in 2020 Swing-state Democrats see trouble in proposed pay hike MORE (Neb.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP senators ask for federal investigation into social media companies' decision-making The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Ted Cruz blasts Tennessee GOP governor for declaration honoring early KKK leader 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 McConnellWhat Democrats should say about guns This week: House Dems voting to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller 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 PompeoTrump's Iran policy proves the primacy of US power — but to what end? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke State Department raises concerns about Sweden's treatment of detained American rapper 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 YatesTrump: 'Impossible for me to know' extent of Flynn investigation Mueller didn't want Comey memos released out of fear Trump, others would change stories Sally Yates: Trump would be indicted on obstruction of justice if he were not president 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