The Hill's 12:30 Report — Cohen to cooperate with Mueller | Trump blasts ex-lawyer as 'weak' | Trump scraps plans to meet Putin at G-20

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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: Cohen agrees to cooperate with Mueller | Pleads guilty to lying to Congress | Trump blasts ex-lawyer as 'weak' for taking plea | Mueller reportedly interested in late-night Trump, Roger StoneRoger Jason Stone3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Judge rejects Stone's request to dismiss charges Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia over election interference MORE calls | Fight over protecting Mueller ties up Trump court picks | Trump leaves for G-20 summit | Cancels plans to meet with Putin | Ryan questions California election results | How a gender-reveal party sparked a wildfire



*Record Scratch* *Freeze Frame* -- You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation:

Via ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Eliana Larramendia and James Hill, President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE's former lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to a new charge in the special counsel investigation and has agreed to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE

The charge: According to unsealed court documents, Cohen lied to Congress about his contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign. Details: "Cohen admitted to lying about Trump's Moscow property plans, including his travel and contacts with Russia in connection with the project and how long the property plans were discussed within the Trump Organization." More from The Hill's Morgan Chalfant:

Read Cohen's plea deal:

The other big news from the ABC report: Cohen has spent 70+ hours interviewing with special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

Keep in mind -- this is not Cohen's first rodeo: Cohen already pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws in August, but today's development is the first charge by special counsel Robert Mueller

Throwback: Remember when Cohen changed his tune from undying loyalty for President Trump to his famous quote last July: "I put family and country first."



--   On Monday, Mueller accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrial of ex-Obama White House counsel suddenly postponed Top Mueller probe prosecutor to join Georgetown Law as lecturer DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr's Russia probe interviews MORE of lying to investigators and violating his plea deal.

--   President Trump recently sent Mueller his written responses to the special counsel's questions.

REACTION FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP -- OUCH: The president blasted Cohen as a "weak person." In Trump's words: "He's trying to get a much lesser sentence by making up the story," he said, adding "everybody knows about this deal."


It's Thursday. 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 -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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No good ever comes from a late-night phone call:

Via The Washington Post's Manuel Roig-FranziaCarol D. LeonnigRosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into late-night phone calls between then-candidate Donald Trump and campaign adviser Roger Stone during the 2016 presidential race.

What this means for Trump's legal team: "The inclusion of the president by name in the draft filing rattled his legal team and indicated how closely the special counsel is scrutinizing what Trump may have learned from Stone about WikiLeaks' release of emails that prosecutors say were hacked by Russian intelligence operatives."



Why the Mueller investigation is complicating Trump's judicial nominations:

Outgoing Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAnti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid Arpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument MORE (R-Ariz.) has threatened to vote against any of President Trump's court picks until there is a vote to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired. Now Republicans are looking for a way to diffuse the situation. What Republican leadership is doing behind the scenes: "Leadership is privately measuring support for the Mueller bill and a possible vote on the legislation to satisfy Flake and get him to drop his opposition to judicial nominees."

MEANWHILE FROM THE PRESIDENT: Trump has been ramping up his attacks on the special counsel investigation. For example -- he tweeted: "Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime? At the same time Mueller and the Angry Democrats aren't even looking at the atrocious, and perhaps subversive, crimes that were committed by Crooked Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Polls flash warning signs for Trump Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE and the Democrats. A total disgrace!"


Tidbit from the new member orientation:

"Told that a lot of the incoming freshmen class skipped an orientation event this am on constituent services." (Via journalist Matt Laslo


This a.m. -- Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan moving family to Washington Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway MORE is skeptical about California's election results:

Via The Hill's Scott Wong, outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan(R-Wis.) cast doubt on California's election results as "bizarre." Why: It appears that seven Republican seats will flip to Democratic control. In Ryan's words: "We were only down 26 seats the night of the election and three weeks later, we lost basically every California race. This election system they have -- I can't begin to understand what 'ballot harvesting' is." Why it's making waves: It's a remarkable comment from the retiring Speaker and comes as Trump and other Republicans are claiming election irregularities in some states.

Livestream of the event:



Trump leaves for the Group of 20 summit:

Before leaving for the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, President Trump told reporters he will "probably" meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite growing tensions over Ukraine. In Trump's words: "I probably will be meeting with President Putin. I think it's a very good time to have the meeting."

^NEW UPDATE -- EHHHH, JUST KIDDING: A few minutes after telling reporters he would meet with Putin, President Trump changed his mind. He tweeted: "Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting...."

JUST NOW — REACTION FROM THE KREMLIN: The Kremlin said they weren’t notified of the cancellation of the meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. How they found out: Trump’s tweet.


Bad day for the media industry:

Via Recode's Peter Kafka, Mic is laying off the majority of its staff. "Mic CEO Chris Altchek announced the layoffs at a staff meeting this morning. Until today the company had employed more than 100 people. I've asked Mic to provide details on the layoffs, including the total number of people who will lose their jobs."




Watch the tree lighting:


True that:

Keep in mind: This is the famous Mandarin duck that has been spotted around New York and New Jersey. Back story if you're not familiar:



10:20 a.m. EST: 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 left for Buenos Aires, Argentina.

11:30 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence spoke at the White House World AIDS Day Event.

8:05 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina.



This morning: Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) spoke at a Washington Post event. He has quite the beard these days. Livestream:

12:45 p.m. EST: Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Rosenstein10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Why the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing MORE speaks at Georgetown Law's cybercrime symposium. Livestream:



Today is National Chocolates Day.


This video has 1.7 million views so far:

A service member returned from deployment and was greeted by her dog. Watch -- the dog's reaction is incredible:


This is so embarrassing for our country:

For a ~clever~ baby gender reveal party, an expectant dad shot a target that was supposed to reveal the gender of the new baby with either blue or pink smoke, but he accidentally ignited a 47,000-acre wildfire. Video of the colorful explosion -- omg:


And because you made it this far, here's a viral video of a dog attempting to overcome its fear of jumping: