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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



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 PruittOvernight Energy: EPA to make formal decision on regulating drinking water contaminant | Utility to close coal plant despite Trump plea | Greens say climate is high on 2020 voters’ minds EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Court tosses challenge to EPA's exclusion of certain scientists from advisory boards 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:


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."

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.


The vibe -- Pruitt's demeanor: "Pruitt is speaking so fast that he's stumbling over his words." (From NBC's Rebecca Shabad

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)

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


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:

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:


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 and on Facebook.



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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE called into "Fox & Friends" this morning for a freewheeling interview. Here are the highlights:


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.

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:


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 ComeyMcCabe's 25th Amendment comments 'taken out of context,' spokeswoman says Ex-federal prosecutor: I would have 'owned' wearing a wire to record Trump Ex-federal prosecutor: 'Thank God' Whitaker is gone, Barr will bring 'integrity' back to DOJ 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.


"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.' "

" '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. Singer




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.

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.




This video is adorable!:




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.

Republicans who voted for the bill (4): Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisBusiness, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration GOP senator dedicates heart photo to wife from Senate floor for Valentine's Day A year since Parkland: we have a solution MORE (N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war Graham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (S.C.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (Iowa) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (Ariz.).

Republicans who voted against the bill (7): Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown MORE (Utah), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 New act can help us grapple with portion of exploding national debt MORE (Utah), John CornynJohn CornynPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again 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 How the border deal came together MORE (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOn The Money: Lawmakers race to pass border deal | Trump rips 'stingy' Democrats, but says shutdown would be 'terrible' | Battle over contractor back pay | Banking panel kicks off data security talks Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers press officials on 2020 election security | T-Mobile, Sprint execs defend merger before Congress | Officials charge alleged Iranian spy | Senate panel kicks off talks on data security bill Senate Banking panel kicks off talks on data security bill MORE (Idaho), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears MORE (Neb.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again Democrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation 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 McConnellGreen New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault 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 PompeoThe 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 Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE as the new secretary of State. Livestream:


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. Just trust me, you'll want to see this:



This is confusing: 



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 YatesHillicon Valley: House Intel panel will release Russia interviews | T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push | DHS cyber office hosting webinars on China | Nest warns customers to shore up password security House Intel panel votes to release Russia interview transcripts to Mueller How the Clinton machine flooded the FBI with Trump-Russia dirt … until agents bit MORE speaks at a Georgetown Law event. Details

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 May



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



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:


Just in case your day was *too* productive: 


And because you made it this far, here are laugh-out-loud funny photos of pets: