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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: Trump slams Mueller as probe hits one year | Divisions deepen over investigation | Trump questions if Obama 'spied' on campaign | Ryan faces crisis over immigration | Why Manchin is Trump's top midterm target | Giuliani says Trump team would challenge any subpoena | The science behind 'Yanny or Laurel' | How to hear both names



Fodder for anyone who wants to pat me on the back for a job well done: 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE argued that the first 17 months of his presidency have been more successful than any other administration. He tweeted: "Despite the disgusting, illegal and unwarranted Witch Hunt, we have had the most successful first 17 month Administration in U.S. history -- by far! Sorry to the Fake News Media and 'Haters,' but that's the way it is!"

Trump thinking back to the past 17 months: 'I'm great, aren't I?'


Happy Thursday -- it's another rainy day in Washington. 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.



HaPpY aNnIvErSaRy!: 
Today marks one year since Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE was appointed special counsel to investigate Russian meddling. Via The Hill's Katie Bo William and Morgan Chalfant, here's how divisions have deepened in the investigation:

TRUMP TWEETED TO 'CELEBRATE' THE DAY: President Trump kicked off the morning calling the investigation a "witch hunt." He tweeted: "Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History...and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction. The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!" Anyone else miss the days of 140-character tweets?

IT COULD BE BIGGER THAN BRIDGEGATE, WATERGATE AND CUPCAKEGATE COMBINED: This morning, President Trump tweeted about a report that former President Obama spied on the Trump campaign in 2016. He tweeted: "Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI 'SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN IMBEDDED INFORMANT.' Andrew McCarthy says, 'There's probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.' If so, this is bigger than Watergate!" Background: Trump was referring to a National Review report last week that alleges Obama administration agencies used their surveillance powers to monitor the Trump campaign. Flashback: Trump has previously accused Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the election, a claim the White House walked back.

GOOD PRIMER -- MEET THE MUELLERS: Via CNN, here are the 17 lawyers working on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

^Anyone else feel like this deserves a '90s style sitcom open?

 --> ;)

EXCLUSIVE -- SHOW ME YOUR CONTACTS: Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley, a judge will rule on the release of the special counsel's contacts with the media. "The Hill viewed the relevant court filings, which are reported here for the first time. Klayman filed the initial FOIA request with the special counsel, the Justice Department and the FBI on Jan. 2, arguing that the correspondences needed to be revealed because the special counsel's office was leaking to the media to bolster its criminal cases."


Rudy Giuliani is a cable sound bite's dream: 

President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been making news on the special counsel Robert Mueller investigation. The highlights:

ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A SUBPOENA: Giuliani said if Robert Mueller's team subpoenas Trump, his team will challenge it. Giuliani's reasoning: "Giuliani said the president cannot be subpoenaed because his position guarantees him immunity based on the Constitution." Yeah, but...: "No federal laws or rulings from the High Court have barred a sitting president from being subpoenaed."

ON ANY TRUMP INDICTMENTS: Giuliani said the special counsel's team told Trump's legal team that they cannot indict President Trump. Giuliani also said he believes the Constitution prevents the indictment of a sitting president. How Mueller's team reacted: They declined to comment.


Taking a step back -- yesterday was insane: 

Politico's Kyle Cheney pulled together a list of the investigation news *just* from yesterday.

"- Senate Intel endorses [intelligence community] conclusion Russia supported Trump. 

- Cohen solicited $1m from Qataris 

- Cohen files went missing from Treasury 

- Trump Tower transcripts reveal effort to coordinate messages 

- NYT tour de force on origin of Russia probe

- Giuliani claims Mueller team confirmed it can't indict Trump (tells WaPo impeachment must precede indictment) 

- Jordan/Meadows write Trump, tell him to overrule DOJ and release Mueller docs."



Trump makes a voodoo doll of Sen. Manchin: 

Via The Hill's Alexander BoltonPresident Trump has made Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal Gabbard cites ‘concerns’ about ‘vagueness’ of Green New Deal MORE (D-W.Va.) a top target in the midterms. How we know: Trump told Republican senators behind closed doors that he plans to target Manchin. Why it's ironic: Manchin is pretty friendly Democrat to Republicans. Yeah, but: Republicans winning Manchin's seat will help protect the GOP majority in the Senate. Why Republicans chose West Virginia: Trump won Manchin's home state by 42 points over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Trump pushes to speed up 5G rollout | Judge hits Roger Stone with full gag order | Google ends forced arbitration | Advertisers leave YouTube after report on pedophile ring 4 ways Hillary looms over the 2020 race Hillary Clinton met with Biden, Klobuchar to talk 2020: report MORE in 2016.


*Hold my beer while I violently scream into a pillow*:

Via The Hill's Amie Parnes, "The 2016 GOP primary has never ended -- at least when it comes to cable news. Every day on CNN, MSNBC and social media, Republicans who once worked for GOP senators and governors bested by President Trump in the long primary are among his most vehement critics. Often, their critiques are even more pointed than those coming from Democrats." Full story:



Why Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFive takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race McCabe: No one in 'Gang of Eight' objected to FBI probe into Trump MORE isn't sleeping well: 

Via The Hill's Scott Wong and Melania Zanona, the GOP is split on how to handle immigration and the differences are causing a crisis for GOP leadership. How: "Momentum is building for an insurgent effort by centrist Republicans to force immigration votes on the House floor despite GOP leadership's attempt to tamp down the rebellion." ​Possible scenarios:


Chances the Donald Trump–Kim Jong Un meeting happens? Not as high as they were a week ago: 

Via The Hill's Jordan Fabian and Rebecca Kheel, President Trump acknowledged that the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may not happen. What changed: North Korea threatened to cancel the meeting if the U.S. demands "unilateral" nuclear disarmament.


Fox News has a new CEO: 

Via The Hill's Joe ConchaSuzanne Scott has been named chief executive officer of Fox News and Fox Business. Scott, who has been with the network since its inception in 1996, will report jointly to Lachlan Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox executive chairman, executive chairman of Fox News and co-chairman of the proposed New Fox.



'They see me rollin', they hatin' ... tryin' to catch me riding dirty': 

^I crack myself up.


Watch the video -- it's pretty funny:



The House and Senate are in.

Today: BakerHostetler's 29th Annual Legislative Seminar. Featured speakers: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall White House braces for Mueller report MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean Blunt‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration The border deal: What made it in, what got left out MORE (R-Mo.) and House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse to vote on background check bills next week Why Omar’s views are dangerous On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 MORE (D-Md.). Agenda and full list of speakers:

12:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump has lunch with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall Trump to leave 200 US troops in Syria as 'peacekeeping' force Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange MORE

1:30 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House. The House's schedule today:

1:45 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and holds an expanded bilateral meeting.

2:15 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes on CIA Director nominee Gina HaspelThe Senate's schedule today:

4:15 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence meets with the General Secretary to the Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council, an Islamic Indonesian group.

5:45 p.m. EDT: Last votes in the House.

9:45 a.m. EDT Friday: The Atlantic Council is holding an event on Russia President Vladimir Putin's fourth term. Details:



12:30 p.m. EDT Thursday: Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonTrump donates 0,000 from salary to alcoholism research White House announces reduced delegation to travel to Davos amid shutdown ‘We Can Do It!’: Women and bipartisanship MORE speaks at a National Press Club event. Livestream:

1 p.m. EDT: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gives a press briefing. Livestream:

1 p.m. EDT: The Wilson Center is holding an event on the Iran nuclear deal. Livestream:

1 p.m. EDT: Members of President Trump's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee meet. White House livestream:



Today is National Walnut Day.


OK, real talk -- why are some people hearing Yanny and others are hearing Laurel?: 

Dana Boebinger, a PhD student at Harvard and MIT studying the neural basis of auditory perception, explained why people are hearing different words. The gist: "It has to do with which frequencies of the sound are actually making it to your brain. This can be affected by several things: headphones / speakers, listening volume, hearing loss..." Her full 7-tweet thread is worth reading:

INCLUDING THIS VIDEO -- IT'LL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER: It plays the audio clip at different frequencies so you can hear the difference. Listen -- I promise you will hear both words:


And because you read this far, here's a dog having a crazy dream. If he does regularly, he may develop muscle mass overnight...: