The Hill's 12:30 Report

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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 narrowing Supreme Court short list | Mueller hiring more prosecutors | Dems one-up each other with Trump attacks | Trump likens border enforcement to keeping people off your lawn | DNA tests being used to reunite migrant children | Woman arrested after scaling Statue of Liberty | Trump rally in Montana tonight



Aaand, let the next phase in the fight over family separations begin:

Via CNN's Sonia Moghe and Nicole Chavez, the Trump administration is performing DNA tests to help reunited families who have been separated.

Why: From an official: "The safety and security is paramount and … it is not uncommon for children to be trafficked or smuggled by those claiming to be parents. To our knowledge this is a cheek swab and is being done to expedite parental verification and ensuring reunification with verified parents due to child welfare concerns." 

The questions that are still unanswered: If the DNA tests require consent, if the DNA is stored and whether this practice is new. Also keep in mind: Babies cannot give consent.

THIS A.M. -- TRUMP TWEETS ABOUT IMMIGRATION: The president tweeted, "Congress must pass smart, fast and reasonable Immigration Laws now. Law Enforcement at the Border is doing a great job, but the laws they are forced to work with are insane. When people, with or without children, enter our Country, they must be told to leave without our Country being forced to endure a long and costly trial. Tell the people 'OUT,' and they must leave, just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn. Hiring thousands of "judges" does not work and is not acceptable -- only Country in the World that does this!"

OPENING IN TEXAS: A former private prison has just been approved to reopen as an immigrant detention center.


It's a slow morning after the holiday -- it's a Thursday, right? 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, @CateMartel and on Facebook.



Who will be entering the final rose ceremony:

Via The Associated Press's Catherine Lucey, Ken Thomas and Lisa MascaroPresident TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE has narrowed down his list of Supreme Court nominees to three. 

The names: Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Kethledge

Trump's process: "He conducted interviews on Monday and Tuesday and has spoken to seven possible candidates."


GOOD READ — PROS AND CONS FOR EACH: The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake breaks down the arguments for and against each of the finalists:



Ah, so that's what that Craiglist ad was for: 

Via Bloomberg's Chris Strohm, special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is hiring additional prosecutors for his investigation into Russia interference in the U.S. presidential election. "As Mueller pursues his probe, he's making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents -- a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually, several current and former U.S. officials said."


New detail -- Trump considered invading Venezuela:

Via The Associated Press's Joshua Goodman, during a meeting in the Oval Office last year with top aides, President Trump asked about invading Venezuela. How aides reacted: "The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job Trump administration’s top European diplomat to resign in February Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration."



Does anyone else see Boris Johnson in this blimp more than they see President Trump...?:

The London mayor has approved a Trump-in-a-diaper blimp to fly over the city next week during President Trump's visit next week to the United Kingdom. Photo of the blimp -- you can't unsee this:



Everyone wants to be the ​party's ​hero:

Via The Hill's Amie Parnes, Democrats who are considering running for president in 2020 are trying to one-up each other with attacks on President TrumpWho: Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise MORE (Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise Meghan McCain: 'Don't underestimate' Bernie Sanders MORE (N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise MORE (Mass.). How:


The No. 2 House Democrat is in the hospital: 

House Democratic Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Dems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE (Md.), 79, is in a Washington, D.C., hospital with pneumonia. His spokeswoman said he is being treated with antibiotics and is looking forward to returning to work "very soon."


This seems like a fun ONE-WAY hike: 

A woman scaled the Statue of Liberty last night to protest the separation of migrant families who have been caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. "For nearly three hours, she crossed the base of the statue, at times sitting in the folds of the statue's dress and under Lady Liberty's sandal." She was then arrested. Video:


Because there isn't much news today and these daytime fireworks are mesmerizing:


Wow: These photos of the D.C. fireworks last night are incredible (and I usually think fireworks photos are lame). 





I'd call ​that a successful internship:



Congress is out. President Trump is traveling to Montana for a campaign rally and then heads to New Jersey. Vice President Pence has a series of meetings in Washington, D.C.

10:45 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence met with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisAllies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump Congress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Trump nominates ambassador to Turkey MORE.

12:55 p.m. EDT: President Trump leaves for Great Falls, Mont.

1 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence meets with the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

1:45 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence meets with the president-elect of Colombia.

3 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence has a phone call with the prime minister of Greece.

3:30 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence has a phone call with the prime minister of Macedonia.

7:35 p.m. EDT: President Trump leaves Montana for Newark, N.J.

11:40 p.m. EDT: President Trump arrives in Bedminster, N.J.



6 p.m. EDT: President Trump holds a campaign rally in Great Falls, Mont. Livestream:

Today: Here's a list of sports games on TV today:



Today is National Apple Turnover Day.


Weekend plans:

Via The Washington Post's Going Out Guide, here's a list of events happening in the Washington, D.C.. area:



Via CNN, "3.3 million-year-old fossil shows that ancient toddlers climbed trees."


And to keep the patriotic vibes going strong, here's a chicken playing "America the Beautiful" on the piano. Our founders would be so proud: