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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: Latest on leaked Cohen tape | Trump asks 'what kind of lawyer would tape a client' | Pompeo faces grilling on Capitol Hill | What to watch for | Dems struggle in Kavanaugh fight | Trump's Hollywood star attacked with pickax | New ice cream shop has presidents' favorites

 

TALK OF THE MORNING

I'm thinking Michael Cohen may now want to add a 'this call may be recorded for quality assurance' message to his phone line:

CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Kara Scannell and Eli Watkins obtained the audio of a 2016 conversation between candidate Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, where they discussed payments for the rights to the story of a Playboy model who alleged an affair with Trump. https://cnn.it/2Ac9V0Q

Listen to the full audio: http://bit.ly/2LEAq3m

How CNN obtained the audio: From Michael Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis

What the audio confirms: It confirms that President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE did discuss buying the rights to the story to keep the alleged affair secret. 

What Cohen told Trump: “Cohen told Trump about his plans to set up a company and finance the purchase of the rights from American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer. “

The part both sides are disputing: When Cohen discusses financing for the rights to the story, Trump interrupts and mentions paying with “cash.” The audio is muddled at that point, but each side is disputing whether Trump said to pay or not. 

What this means for Trump: Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani had previously confirmed the existence of these tapes, but also said no payment was ever made.

Putting this tape into context in the investigation: “It's the latest breakdown in the decade-long relationship between Trump and Cohen, who once said he would take a bullet for the President. Cohen in recent weeks has made clear he is open to cooperating with US prosecutors.” 

Read the full CNN story: https://cnn.it/2Ac9V0Q

 

Then this morning — everyone was obviously eager for the president’s first reaction:

Twelve hours after the audio was released, President Trump weighed in, questioning, “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client?” http://bit.ly/2NJO8PV

Trump’s full tweet: “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things? I hear there are other clients and many reporters that are taped — can this be so? Too bad!” http://bit.ly/2NH0Cry

WIKILEAKS TWEETED SOON AFTER: “CNN publishes Trump-Cohen tape fragment. Though the recording reveals little new, its circumstances are extraordinary: Cohen recording his client with a covert pocket recorder; president's lawyer raided by police, recording seized. Police or Cohen then shipping tape to CNN.” CNN’s Jake Tapper responded, adding: “Um.” http://bit.ly/2JZEmHm

 

It’s Wednesday. When. Will. We. See. The. Sun. Again? 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.

  

HAPPENING AT 3 P.M. EDT

Pompeo in the hot seat:

When Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhy the US needs to clear the way for international justice Tim Scott to participate in GOP event in Iowa Progressive lawmaker to introduce bill seeking more oversight of Israel assistance MORE testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon, he is expected to be grilled by both Republicans and Democrats over President Trump’s controversial foreign and trade policies. Are we expecting a lot of insight?: Not really. There are doubts about how much Pompeo can actually answer. http://bit.ly/2A6d0j6 

WHAT TO WATCH:

  1. What happened in Helsinki?
  2. Round two meeting with Putin?
  3. Status of talks with North Korea?
  4. Trump’s NATO strategy?
  5. Is there an endgame strategy for trade?

Context and details for each: http://bit.ly/2A6d0j6

Keep in mind (!): Pompeo is having lunch with Trump a few hours before Pompeo testifies. And it’s not just any hearing: Pompeo will likely be asked about Trump’s controversial press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Livestream of the 3 p.m. hearing: http://bit.ly/2LF9gK1 

  

IN OTHER NEWS

Breaking -- 'It's a no from me': 

Via The Washington Post's Ann E. Marimow, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, "A federal judge on Wednesday rejected President Trump's latest effort to stop a lawsuit that alleges Trump is violating the Constitution by continuing to do business with foreign governments." Now what?: "The plaintiffs now want to interview Trump Organization employees and search company records to determine which foreign countries have spent money at Trump's hotel in downtown Washington." https://wapo.st/2uOFZ5S

 

It’s like scrambling to find dirt on your freshman-year RA in college:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Democrats are struggling to find an opening in their fight to sink Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.” Issues Democrats are focusing on in their efforts: Abortion, ObamaCare and Kavanaugh’s past comments that could translate to the special counsel investigation. Have Democrats gained traction on those issues?: Not yet. How that effort is going: http://bit.ly/2LDMBO6

 

Entertaining read — I mean, I have questioned whether my Uber drivers are spies, so I get it:

Via GQ’s Julie Ioffe, “Last week, as America’s top national security experts convened in Aspen, a strangely inquisitive Uber driver showed up, too. And caused a minor freak-out. Was the mystery woman some kind of covert agent—or simply a figment of these hyper-paranoid times?” It’s worth reading — I read this hanging on to every word: http://bit.ly/2LLt8rn

 

Yikes, the star is pretty much gone:

Last night, a man took a pickax and destroyed President Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He then turned himself in to the police. Photos of the destroyed star — yikes: http://bit.ly/2Lk7rmd

 

David Gregory or Roger Federer?:

Via The Hill’s Caroline Gardner and Jasper Goodman, “Lawmakers, media and Washington celebs teamed up on Tuesday night for a charity tennis event hosted by the Washington Kastles.” The winning team: CNN political analyst David Gregory and Reps. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder Dent22 retired GOP members of Congress call for Trump's impeachment Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 The magnificent moderation of Susan Collins MORE (R-Pa.), Tom RooneyThomas (Tom) Joseph RooneyRepublican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC House Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Hill-HarrisX poll: 76 percent oppose Trump pardoning former campaign aides MORE (R-Fla.), Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanRace debate grips Congress Democrats ask Biden to reverse employee policy on past marijuana use Give postal EVs a quick stamp of approval MORE (D-Calif.) and Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), as well as D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen, Washington Kastles coach Murphy Jensen, Bloomberg’s William Connor and Washington Kastles players Robert Lindstedt and Madison BrengleWho played on the other team and more: http://bit.ly/2LKHFDP

 

Ahhhh, Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Leaving Afghanistan: Is it victory or defeat? MORE was (sort of) right!:

Via Bloomberg's Vernon Silver, remember when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave President Trump a soccer ball during last week's infamous press conference and it started a series of jokes and comments -- including from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) -- that the ball could be a spy device? Well: "It turns out they weren't entirely wrong. Markings on the ball indicate that it contained a chip with a tiny antenna that transmits to nearby phones." The reason -- before we freak out: "But rather than a spy device, the chip is an advertised feature of the Adidas AG ball ... The chip allows fans to access player videos, competitions and other content by bringing their mobile devices close to the ball." https://bloom.bg/2LOK00w

 

Feminist group founder found dead:

Via The Guardian, “Oksana Shachko, one of the founders of the Femen feminist protest movement, has been found dead in her Paris apartment, the group has said. The 31-year-old Ukrainian was found on Monday with a suicide note next to her body, according to Femen activists.” What we know: http://bit.ly/2A7ETae

 

NOTABLE TWEETS

Fun fact:

  

What to watch in October:

Back story to the photo: CBS announced that former Secretaries of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Republican legislators target private sector election grants MORE, Madeline Albright and Colin Powell will all appear on the next season of "Madame Secretary." It’s unclear what their roles will be. https://fxn.ws/2Og1tR9

  

ON TAP

The House and Senate are in. President Trump has meetings at the White House, and Vice President Pence is spending the day in Montana and North Dakota.

11:30 a.m. EDT: President Trump meets with House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Democrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study MORE (R-Ky.) in the Oval Office.

12:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing MORE.

1:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and then holds an expanded bilateral meeting.

1:30 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House. The House’s full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2jYhqPv

1:50 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence leaves Billings, Mont., for Grand Forks, N.D.

2:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes on amendments. The amendments and the Senate’s full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2A99pRg

4 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with members of Congress.

4 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence campaigns for Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum MORE (R-N.D.) in Grand Forks, N.D.

5:30 p.m. EDT: Last votes in the House.

9:25 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence and Karen PenceKaren Sue PencePences announce birth of first grandchild Can a common bond of service unite our nation? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - House boots Greene from committees; Senate plows ahead on budget MORE get back to Washington, D.C.

  

WHAT TO WATCH

12:15 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks about tax cuts at an event in Billings, Mont. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2LKkZDH

3 p.m. EDT: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Details and livestream: http://bit.ly/2LF9gK1 

5:45 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks to airmen at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2A9ER1z

  

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Today is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day. It’s also National Wine and Cheese Day

 

*Some* of these are making me hungry:

BuzzFeed posted a list of the weird fast food items you can only get in certain states. McDonald's lobster rolls? Hm. I’ll report back the next time I visit New Hampshire. The list: https://bzfd.it/2uPV7jl 

 

Opening Friday — I mean, this is very touristy, but I’m not above it:

Via Eater D.C., a new ice cream shop is opening near the White House and will feature U.S. presidents’ favorite ice cream flavors. For example: “Lincoln’s Salted Caramel Pretzel, Obama’s Strawberry Jubilee, and Nixon’s Cookie and Cream Crumble. President Donald Trump’s preferred variety? Chocolate chip cookie dough.” Duh, everyone knows Lincoln preferred salted caramel pretzel ice cream! ;) Details and address: http://bit.ly/2LNaeAm

 

And because you read this far, here’s a singing dog. I always knew it existed! http://bit.ly/2LPyToe