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 'open' to visiting Moscow | Trump claims Cohen 'trying to make up stories' | Denies knowing about meeting with Russians | Trump takes victory lap on economic numbers | North Korea returns remains of US troops | Dems face dilemma on playing up Russia in midterms | NYC eyes crackdown on Uber, Lyft | National Scotch Day

  

TALK OF THE MORNING

This is going to get UG-LY: 

Via CNN's Jim Sciutto, Carl Bernstein and Marshall Cohen, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen claims that Trump knew about the infamous June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer prior to the meeting. 

How seriously should we take this?: Well, Cohen doesn't have proof but is reportedly willing to work with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

Why this is so newsy: It contradicts what President TrumpDonald Trump Jr. and their lawyers have all repeatedly said.

Read the full story: https://cnn.it/2LHoWft

All I can think about when I read this story

--> http://r29.co/2pmBcoP ;)

 

This a.m. -- The reaction we were eagerly awaiting:

President Trump fired back at his former lawyer Michael Cohen's claim that Trump knew about the infamous June 2016 Russia meeting in advance. http://bit.ly/2vc3Knw

He tweeted: "I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary's lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!" 

Why did Trump mention taxi cabs?: That remark "refers to Cohen's ownership of taxi medallions required to operate yellow taxis in New York City, which federal investigators are reportedly examining."

HOW RUDY GIULIANI REACTED: President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani lashed out at Cohen, calling him a "pathological liar." Giuliani said, "He's been lying all week, he's been lying for years."

 

Throwback:

Watch: http://bit.ly/2vb9BK5

AN INTERESTING ANGLE: The Hill's Amie Parnes explores whether Democrats should play up President Trump's relationship with Russia in the midterms. http://bit.ly/2vcxQrh

 

It's the last Friday in July -- yikes! 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.

  

THE OTHER BIG STORY THIS MORNING

Today in presidential victory laps:
The U.S. economy expanded at a 4.1 percent rate from April to June, the Commerce Department announced. Why this is big: This is the highest level in almost four years. "The gross domestic product (GDP) report was the strongest since the third quarter of 2014, when growth hit 5.2 percent." 

LIVESTREAM OF TRUMP'S REMARKS: President Trump delivered remarks after the GDP news to tout his economic policies. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2LXr4Nn

  

IN OTHER NEWS

Welcome. You must try a pirozhki:
The White House said President Trump is "open" to visiting Russia. But: Only if Trump receives an official invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also added: "Trump looks forward to having President Putin to Washington after the first of the year." http://bit.ly/2OnQDc3

BACK STORY: The statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed he had invited President Trump to Moscow for another meeting. Via Sky News, Putin said Trump already has the invite. As for the invitation to the White House?: Yes, Putin also said he is "ready to go to Washington." http://bit.ly/2Af6XJ7

 

Trump thanks Kim Jong Un for returning soldiers' remains:

President Trump thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for returning the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War. In Trump's words: "I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word. We have many others coming, but I want to thank Chairman Kim in front of the media for fulfilling a promise he made to me. And I'm sure he will continue to fulfill that promise as they search and search and search." http://bit.ly/2LCSUl3

 

Attention, Uber and Lyft passengers:

Via The New York Times's Emma G. Fitzsimmons, the New York City Council is considering a limit on the number of ride-sharing vehicles in the city. Why this would be big: It would make New York the first major American city to put limits on ride-sharing services. https://nyti.ms/2mO6cx5

 

Game, set, match:

Spotted at last night's Washington Kastles tennis match: Former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser and Steve Clemons of The Atlantic.

 

NOTABLE TWEETS

Without a doubt, the top left logo is the winner:

 

Ahh hahaha *pause for deep breath* hahahaha: 

 

ON TAP

The House and Senate are out.

2:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGrassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Graham knocks South Korea over summit with North Shrapnel in Yemen strikes links US-made bombs to 63 civilian deaths: report MORE in the Oval Office.

3 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with the National Security Council to discuss election security.

4:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Kavanaugh controversy consumes Washington | Kavanaugh slated to testify Monday | Allegations shake up midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly The Hill's 12:30 Report — East coast braces for Florence | Trump, Pence mark 9/11 anniversary MORE leave the White House for his golf club in New Jersey.

5:20 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence takes a photo with the American Legion Boys Nation and the American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation.

 

WHAT TO WATCH

Sunday morning: Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGraham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment MORE (R-Ohio) will appear exclusively on NBC's "Meet the Press."

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Today is National Scotch Day.

 

And to get your weekend off to the right start, here's a dog who doubles as a burrito. What a great skill: http://bit.ly/2AccHTW