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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: Senate panel releases interviews on Trump Tower meeting | What we learned | GOP leaders warn against immigration vote | CIA nominee advances from committee | Huckabee Sanders says 'leakers' should be fired | Senate voting to preserve net neutrality | Pennsylvania primaries recap | Yanny or Laurel debate goes viral



To the tapes!: 

Don, Jr.: 'Oh, hey guys.'


Via The Hill's Katie Bo Williams, the Senate Judiciary Committee just released the transcripts from interviews with participants of the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. 

Wait, which infamous meeting?: When Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr., Meadows wear matching Trump jackets on 'Fox & Friends' Group auctioning off hunting trip with Donald Trump Jr. Trump allies to barnstorm Iowa for caucuses MORE accepted a meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed she had dirt on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 race Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: High stakes at last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday MORE

Why this meeting is so big: It's a major flashpoint in the speculation over potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

List of the main players in the meeting: A good explainer of who's who 

READ THE TRANSCRIPTS: Here are the transcripts of interviews with each of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting participants:

^WHAT WE REALLY CARE ABOUT -- READ DON JR.'S INTERVIEW: If you're nosey and want to see how well this will translate into a TV series script:


On the desire for dirt about then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton: "Question: 'What was the "it" that you loved in that e-mail?' 
Trump Jr: 'Potential information about an opponent.' "

On whether Trump Jr. knew if his dad drafted an initial, misleading statement: Donald Trump Jr. told lawmakers he does not know whether his father, President Trump, had a role in drafting his initial statement about the 2016 meeting. Back story: The Washington Post reported last summer that President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE was personally involved with drafting a misleading statement saying that participants at that Trump Tower meeting had "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children."

Trump Jr. on his dad: "He's sort of a big personality, creates sort of a vacuum."


Ahh haha: 


It's a rainy Wednesday in Washington, D.C. 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.



Haspel advances from Lion's Den No. 1 to Lion's Den No. 2: 

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to advance President Trump's nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, to the Senate floor for a vote. The vote: 10-5; Two Democrats, Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms Trump's intel moves spark Democratic fury MORE (Va.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way MORE (W.Va.), sided with Republicans. Warner came out in support of Haspel on Tuesday, clearing the way for her likely confirmation.

INSIGHT INTO WHEN HASPEL'S FLOOR VOTE COULD HAPPEN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans give Barr vote of confidence Democrats block two Senate abortion bills VA could lead way for nation on lower drug pricing MORE (R-Ky.): "There is no reason why her confirmation should be delayed & I look forward to advancing it expeditiously following the [Intelligence Committee's] action."


'Funnnn' day for Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Architect of controversial EPA policies to return as chief of staff: report EPA asked to justify proposal to limit power of its science advisers MORE -- I.e.: just another Wednesday: 

This morning, EPA head Scott Pruitt testified on his agency's 2019 budget request. Much of the time though has been focused on his many ethical controversies. Livestream:



On his spending scandals: Pruitt sounded conciliatory. "There have been decisions over the last or so 16 months that, as I look back on those decisions, I would not make the same decisions again," he said.

On asking his security detail to use sirens: Pruitt told senators he doesn't "recall" asking his security details to use lights and sirens when driving him around. I get it. That sounds fun


GOP leaders -- don't do itttt:

Via The Hill's Melanie Zanona, "Republican leaders warned rank-and-file members Wednesday not to move ahead with a discharge petition to force an immigration vote, saying the effort would effectively hand over power to the Democrats, according to lawmakers who attended the closed-door meeting." Why: Leaders argue that sticking together as a team is more effective.



You're done here: 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said "leakers" in the White House should be fired. Sanders called it "disgusting" and "disloyal" to reveal internal discussions to the news media and said the White House is "focused intensely" on putting a stop to the practice. What Sanders is referring to: White House special assistant Kelly Sadler joking about Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain says Steyer should drop out: 'I hate that guy' Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman MORE's (R-Ariz.) brain cancer diagnosis. Where Sanders said this: On President Trump's fav TV show -- "Fox & Friends."


Conservatives vs. Planned Parenthood, round 4,716 -- ding, ding:
Via The Hill's Jessie Hellman, the Trump administration may cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood through regulations. Why: Pressure from conservatives and anti-abortion lobbyists. How it would work: The regulations would ban organizations that receive family planning dollars from promoting abortion or referring patients for abortions.



How long until this story appears on GOP campaign commercials?:

Four socialist-backed Democratic candidates won primaries in Pennsylvania yesterday. Who: In the Pittsburgh area, Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato. In Philadelphia, Democrats Elizabeth Fiedler and Kristin SealeKeep in mind: All four women unseated male state representatives.


Oh so we should have been worried about the Olympics, huh:

Via CNN's Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak, "just weeks before the Winter Olympics in South Korea that served as a critical diplomatic opening with Pyongyang, the President ordered his top national security officials to prepare to evacuate the families of all US military personnel living in South Korea, four current and former administration officials said. The order was a provocative step that, had it been fully implemented, would have heightened tensions with North Korea and could have sent the region spiraling closer to war."



Whoaaaaaa -- these photos are insane: 

Full size photos:



(This is Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE [R-La.] by the way.)



11:45 a.m. EDT: President Trump greets the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the White House and has a working lunch.

Noon: The Senate has a vote to reverse the FCC's repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules. What to expect: The measure will likely pass the Senate, but doesn't have much of a chance in the House. Democrats though hope to put Republicans on the record over the issue. Details:

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

3 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes on a nomination. The Senate's schedule today:

3:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump hosts the California Sanctuary State Roundtable.

4 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence participates in a swearing-in ceremony.

4:15 p.m. EDT: Last votes in the House.

May 22: The 6th annual Congressional Soccer Match



2:30 p.m. EDT: FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies on his agency's 2019 budget. Livestream:

8 a.m. – 1 p.m. EDT Thursday: BakerHostetler's 29th Annual Legislative Seminar. Featured speakers: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says he disagrees with Romney's impeachment vote Trump doubles down on Neil Cavuto attacks: 'Will he get the same treatment as' Shep Smith? Trump lashes out at Fox News coverage: 'I won every one of my debates' MORE (R-Wis.), Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOcasio-Cortez: Trump would 'never' say to her face some of the shots he takes at her on Twitter John Ratcliffe back under consideration by Trump for top intel job Trump says he wants 'no help from any country' in 2020 election MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Booker, Merkley propose federal facial recognition moratorium GOP senators defend Sondland, Vindman ousters: They weren't 'loyal' MORE (R-Mo.) and House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerImmigrants who seek opportunity should comply with longstanding American values The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (D-Md.). Agenda and full list of speakers:

12:30 p.m. EDT Thursday: Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonSenate confirms Trump pick for small business chief On The Money: Senate chairman opposes cannabis banking bill | Panel advances Trump pick for Small Business Administration | Judge tosses NY state fraud charges against Manafort Senate panel advances Trump's nominee to lead Small Business Administration MORE speaks at a National Press Club event. Details and livestream:

1 p.m. EDT Thursday: The Wilson Center is holding an event on the Iran nuclear deal. Details and livestream:

May 23: CNN is hosting a town hall with House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOcasio-Cortez: Trump would 'never' say to her face some of the shots he takes at her on Twitter Oversight Committee room to be dedicated to late Rep. Elijah Cummings Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response MORE (D-Calif.).

May 23: Former late-night talk show host David Letterman will guest host "Late Night" on NBC for the first time since he left the program in 1993.



Today is National Barbecue Day.


There is no debate here! The clip says, 'yanny.' We can all go home now:

Americans are divided over what is said in a 4-second audio clip. Some people hear "Laurel" and others hear "Yanny." Think: The audio version of "The Dress" dilemma from 2015.

See for yourself -- listen to the controversial clip:

Disagree that the clip says, 'Yanny?': Well, that means you're wrong, but let me know anyway. ;)

THIS A.M. -- PAUL RYAN (INCORRECTLY) WEIGHS IN: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says he hears "Laurel."


I! Love! Space!:

Astronauts on the International Space Station had a 6.5 hour spacewalk. Yes, there's video:


And to brighten your gloomy Wednesday, here's a terrific compilation of puppies in socks: