FEATURED:

The Hill's 12:30 Report

To view past editions of The Hill's 12:30 Report, click here: http://bit.ly/1M1mIfw

Sign up to receive the 12:30 Report right to your inbox: http://bit.ly/2kjMNnn

--> 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

 

NEWS OF THE MORNING

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 TrumpDems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Trump Jr. to stump in Indiana for Pence’s brother and governor hopeful Donald Trump Jr. blasts Beto O’Rourke: ‘Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic’ MORE accepted a meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed she had dirt on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Closing message for Democrats Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach GOP mocks Clinton after minor vehicle collision outside Mendendez campaign event 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 whohttp://bit.ly/2IHRwvN 

READ THE TRANSCRIPTS: Here are the transcripts of interviews with each of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting participants: http://bit.ly/2k2JxLQ

^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: http://bit.ly/2k2RMrw

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE INTERVIEWS -- WHAT WE NOW KNOW: 

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.' " http://bit.ly/2Ipx1Rb

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 TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East 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." http://bit.ly/2L4fRdD

Trump Jr. on his dad: "He's sort of a big personality, creates sort of a vacuum." http://bit.ly/2rO6ENJ

 

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 cmartel@thehill.com@CateMartel and on Facebook.

 

THIS A.M.

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 WarnerDems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism Is there difference between good and bad online election targeting? Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel MORE (Va.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump makes new overtures to Democrats Gillibrand backs Manchin, Bredesen despite their support of Kavanaugh Senate heads home to campaign after deal on Trump nominees MORE (W.Va.), sided with Republicans. Warner came out in support of Haspel on Tuesday, clearing the way for her likely confirmation. http://bit.ly/2k2jF2R

INSIGHT INTO WHEN HASPEL'S FLOOR VOTE COULD HAPPEN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' 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." http://bit.ly/2GndwXQ

 

'Funnnn' day for Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Overnight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports Suspended EPA health official: Administration’s actions mean ‘kids are disposable’ 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: https://cs.pn/2jZCe7Q

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

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. http://bit.ly/2IpOGIF

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 funhttp://bit.ly/2k04VBm

 

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. http://bit.ly/2wKkl65

 

FROM THE WEST WING

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 McCainComey donates maximum amount to Democratic challenger in Virginia House race Live coverage: McSally clashes with Sinema in Arizona Senate debate Is there difference between good and bad online election targeting? MORE's (R-Ariz.) brain cancer diagnosis. Where Sanders said this: On President Trump's fav TV show -- "Fox & Friends." http://bit.ly/2IlU4AB

 

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. http://bit.ly/2L7bcrl

 

IN OTHER NEWS

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. http://bit.ly/2GktRwl

 

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." https://cnn.it/2GosZqr

 

NOTABLE TWEETS:

Whoaaaaaa -- these photos are insane: 

Full size photos: http://bit.ly/2KujBEa

 

Lol: 

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

 

ON TAP:

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:https://cnn.it/2rKDakE

1:15 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House. The House's schedule today: http://bit.ly/2jYhqPv

3 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes on a nomination. The Senate's schedule today: http://bit.ly/2KutPVc

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

 

WHAT TO WATCH:

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

8 a.m. – 1 p.m. EDT Thursday: BakerHostetler's 29th Annual Legislative Seminar. Featured speakers: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Adelsons donated M in September to help GOP in midterms MORE (R-Wis.), Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Schiff: There is legal precedent for impeaching sitting officials over prior criminal conduct MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Congress moves to ensure the greater availability of explosives detecting dogs in the US McConnell sets key Kavanaugh vote for Friday MORE (R-Mo.) and House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDems damp down hopes for climate change agenda On The Money: Stocks slide for second day as Trump blames 'loco' Fed | Mulvaney calls for unity at consumer bureau | Pelosi says Dems will go after Trump tax returns Pelosi: Trump tax returns ‘one of the first things we’d do’ if Dems win House MORE (D-Md.). Agenda and full list of speakers: http://bit.ly/2rMgd0y

12:30 p.m. EDT Thursday: Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonFive things to watch for in deteriorating US-Saudi relations Small Business Administration re-doubles efforts in outreach to Hispanic entrepreneurs Trump donates quarterly salary to Small Business Administration MORE speaks at a National Press Club event. Details and livestream: http://bit.ly/2ImJ95C

1 p.m. EDT Thursday: The Wilson Center is holding an event on the Iran nuclear deal. Details and livestream: http://bit.ly/2ItgI5K

May 23: CNN is hosting a town hall with House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiElection Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach GOP strategist says Trump could want border wall fight to continue to excite base McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' 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. http://bit.ly/2Iq9W0T

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

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. https://cnn.it/2IL6MYY

See for yourself -- listen to the controversial clip: http://bit.ly/2L5nl07

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." http://bit.ly/2IJrs3z

 

I! Love! Space!:

Astronauts on the International Space Station had a 6.5 hour spacewalk. Yes, there's video: https://cbsn.ws/2GnX75q

 

And to brighten your gloomy Wednesday, here's a terrific compilation of puppies in socks: http://bit.ly/2jZ804K