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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 -- Sponsored by Delta Air Lines --  Frenzy over Justice Kennedy retirement rumors | DOJ watchdog to probe Trump surveillance claims | Giuliani claims Mueller obstruction probe could end by September | GOP looks to regroup after farm bill failure | Blankenship plans third-party run for Senate | CIA chief Haspel sworn in | Obamas ink deal with Netflix

 

TALK OF THE MORNING

A possible Supreme Court retirement (?!):

Via The Hill's Lydia Wheeler, Washington is in a frenzy over rumors that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, could retire. Why Republicans are eager for his departure: If Kennedy retires now, it would give Senate Republicans enough time to confirm a replacement before the midterms (when Democrats could potentially take the Senate). http://bit.ly/2wYz7pT

A sign he could leave: Kennedy's wife appeared at the final oral arguments of the term. Yeah, but: The wives of Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch also attended. 

A sign he's staying: Kennedy has already hired law clerks for his next term.

When it could happen: "Occasionally, the justices will announce or at least signal their plans to retire at their reunions with their former law clerks. Kennedy holds one of those reunions every five years. ... Chief Justice John Roberts could also announce Kennedy's plans on the last day of the term; in fact, many expect him to deliver the news if the rumors are true." 

 

It's Monday -- welcome back! 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.



 

 



GETTING TRACTION

A new and, well, fake deadline -- yippie:

Via The New York Times's Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE's lawyer Rudy Giuliani says the special counsel hopes to wrap up the Trump obstruction of justice investigation by Sept. 1. Why this date: Giuliani said the special counsel's office shared the potential end date with him as the two sides negotiated a possible interview for President Trump. Keep in mind: The obstruction case is just a small part of the special counsel investigation. https://nyti.ms/2wUGRJw

GIULIANI'S STRATEGY IN OFFERING THE SEPT. 1 DATE: "By putting an end date on the obstruction inquiry, he is apparently seeking to publicly pressure Mr. Mueller to stick to that timeline and trying to assuage the president by predicting the inquiry will end soon, a strategy that some of his other lawyers tried, with mixed results." https://nyti.ms/2wUGRJw

THIS IS IMPORTANT -- WHERE DID GIULIANI GET THAT DATE?: 

Sources told Reuters that Giuliani made up the Sept. 1 deadline he said special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE placed on the obstruction of justice portion of the Russia investigation. http://bit.ly/2IBmFlx



Try reciting this tweet in Michael Scott's 'Caleb Crawdad' voice -- do it: --> http://bit.ly/2KEfoxN

President Trump called for the Department of Justice to look into whether there was any infiltration of the Trump campaign by law enforcement. He tweeted: "I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes -- and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!" http://bit.ly/2rYvBqK

DOJ RESPONDS: The Justice Department is asking its inspector general to look into whether the FBI surveilled President Trump's campaign for "inappropriate purposes," Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRosenstein to appear for House interview next week Former FBI lawyer speaks with House lawmakers on Rosenstein, 2016 Meadows calls on Rosenstein to resign 'immediately' MORE announced Sunday in response to Trump's tweet.

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW: Some legal experts say Trump's demands could set up a clash with the Justice Department. It's unclear if having the DOJ watchdog look into the matter will be enough for Trump.

 

ALSO THIS A.M. 

I'm shocked Trump didn't use #ThanksObama in this tweet:

President Trump knocked Democrats over trade with China. He tweeted: "I ask Senator Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE, why didn't President Obama & the Democrats do something about Trade with China, including Theft of Intellectual Property etc.? They did NOTHING! With that being said, Chuck & I have long agreed on this issue! Fair Trade, plus, with China will happen!" http://bit.ly/2ISqthD

 

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THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS

Spotted: Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE angrily ordering a new leash on Amazon for House Republicans: --> http://bit.ly/2IVkKYh 

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney and Juliegrace Brufke, House Republicans are regrouping this week after conservatives revolted and tanked the Republican-backed farm bill last week. Why conservatives voted against the bill: Over immigration. They want a floor vote on a conservative immigration reform bill. Keep in mind: The farm bill was a symbolic loss for Republicans. The bill was considered dead on arrival in the Senate. Yeah, but: The bill's failure shows Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may hardly have any influence left after announcing he will retire soon. http://bit.ly/2rW6K6U

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING IN CONGRESS THIS WEEK:

Veterans Affairs: The Senate is expected to vote on a Veterans Affairs reform bill that passed in the House last week. When: A Tuesday morning vote is possible.

Defense funds: A House committee is meeting meet today to debate the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019. When: Debate on amendments to the bill will happen Tuesday.

Prison reform: The House is expected to vote on a prison reform bill this week. What the bill would do: Provide funding to prevent prison inmates from committing new crimes after being released. 

Dodd-Frank: The House is expected to take up a Senate-passed measure exempting dozens of banks from the Dodd–Frank Wall Street reform law this week.

Nominations: The Senate will work on approving several Trump nominations this week. 

Context and details for each: http://bit.ly/2rW6K6U

 

IN OTHER NEWS

Reported this a.m. -- the ex-convict gift that keeps on giving:

Via Politico's Alex IsenstadtDon Blankenship, the former coal executive and ex-convict who lost in West Virginia's Senate GOP primary earlier this month, announced he will be running as a third-party candidate. One hiccup: A West Virginia law prevents candidates who lose in one party to re-file in another party for that same election. Blankenship is reportedly prepared to challenge that rule. https://politi.co/2rZ1pek

WHY THIS MATTERS: Blankenship's bid could draw away votes from Republican nominee Patrick Morrisey in his bid against Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinElection Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B Poll: Dems lead in Indiana, West Virginia Senate races, tied in Nevada McConnell defends Trump-backed lawsuit against ObamaCare MORE (D). 

 

Feeling more of a Bern?:

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBooker holds 'Get Out the Vote' event in South Carolina as presidential speculation builds The Democratic Donald Trump is coming Biden: Trump administration 'coddles autocrats and dictators' MORE (I-Vt.) announced that he's running for reelection this year. Tough race?: Nah, he's expected to easily win his seat. http://bit.ly/2kfBOu6

 

NOTABLE TWEETS:


Relatable:



ON TAP:

The House is in. The Senate is meeting this afternoon.

This morning: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US State Dept. denies report Pompeo heard recording of Khashoggi's murder The Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump MORE outlined his post-Iran deal strategy at the Heritage Foundation. http://bit.ly/2KI0gzp

1:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a signing ceremony for legislation rolling back the consumer bureau's auto-loan guidance.

3 p.m. EDT: The Senate meets.

5:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes on a nomination. 

6:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump has dinner with governors to discuss border security and safe communities. 

6:35 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at a Senate Leadership Fund event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

5 p.m. EDT Tuesday: The 6th annual Congressional Soccer Match.

 

WHAT TO WATCH:

10:35 a.m. EDT: President Trump swore in Gina Haspel as CIA director. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2KEgw4v

2:10 p.m. EDT: President Trump hosts NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. and his team. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2Izvw36

Tuesday: Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosO'Rourke targets Cruz with several attack ads a day after debate Charter schools’ ‘Uberization’ of teaching profession hurts kids too Court rules Obama-era student loan regulations must take effect MORE testifies on Capitol Hill. Five things to watch: http://bit.ly/2kebvoc

Just announced: Former president Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFive takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Live coverage: Heitkamp faces Cramer in high-stakes North Dakota debate Khashoggi prompts Trump to reconsider human rights in foreign policy MORE and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaEric Trump calls out Holder on kicking comments: 'Who says this?' Michael Avenatti, please go away Minnesota GOP Senate candidate compared Michelle Obama to a chimp in Facebook post MORE signed a multi-year deal with Netflix. What we know: http://bit.ly/2LiBOWx



NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Strawberries and Cream Day.

 

This slideshow is the best thing I've seen in a while:

Vanity Fair published a hilarious slideshow tribute, "A Fond Farewell to Prince Harry, Third Wheel." Photos -- he's come so far: http://bit.ly/2KHBCz7

JUST RELEASED — WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS: The official wedding portraits of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been released. Photos: https://bzfd.it/2kcohn5

WEDDING HIGHLIGHTS: https://cnn.it/2IQCAvF 

AND WHILE I HAVE YOU HERE...: Here's a toddler who keeps stealing popcorn from Prince Harry: http://bit.ly/2IDjUvS 

 

And because you made it this far, here's a baby who really doesn't want to be woken up. Those facial expressions! http://bit.ly/2IUExaq