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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



This is going to get UG-LY: 

Via CNN's Jim Sciutto, Carl Bernstein and Marshall Cohen, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump 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 (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE.

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

Read the full story:

All I can think about when I read this story

--> ;)


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.

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."




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


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, @CateMartel and on Facebook.



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:



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."

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."


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."


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.


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.



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


Ahh hahaha *pause for deep breath* hahahaha: 



The House and Senate are out.

2:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoAfghan president vows to take revenge after Islamic State attack on wedding The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Latest pro-democracy rally draws tens of thousands in Hong Kong 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 TrumpEx-Melania Trump adviser raised concerns of excessive inauguration spending weeks before events: CNN The Hill's Morning Report - Trump moves green cards, citizenship away from poor, low-skilled White House seeks volunteers, musicians for Christmas celebrations 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.



Sunday morning: Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Shaken Portman urges support for 'red flag' laws after Ohio shooting MORE (R-Ohio) will appear exclusively on NBC's "Meet the Press."



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: