The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump defends 2016 Russia business dealings | North American leaders sign new trade pact | Clinton doesn't tamp down 2020 talk

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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 defends 2016 Russia business dealings | Manafort could face new charges, trial | US, Mexico, Canada sign new trade pact | Putin gives Saudi crown prince high-five at G-20 | Clinton doing little to damp 2020 speculation | What we know about Marriott's data breach | Dems shy away from shutdown fight over Dreamers | Southwest apologizes for mocking girl's name | Couple must prove New Mexico is a state 



So Justin, Donald and Enrique walk into a bar:

President TrumpDonald John TrumpReturn hope to the Middle East by returning to the Iran Deal Government shutdowns tend to increase government spending 'Full Frontal' gives six-bedroom house to group that works with detained immigrants MORE, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a new North American free trade agreement this morning in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The name of the new agreement: The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, which is replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Why Buenos Aires: That's where the Group of 20 summit is happening. 

Later this morning -- accepting all pats on the back: The president tweeted about the new trade deal. His tweet: "Just signed one of the most important, and largest, Trade Deals in U.S. and World History. The United States, Mexico and Canada worked so well together in crafting this great document. The terrible NAFTA will soon be gone. The USMCA will be fantastic for all!"

NEWS FROM THE CEREMONY -- NOW THAT'S A DIPLOMATIC SUBTEXT: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged President Trump to remove steel and aluminum tariffs.

OTHER NEWS FROM THE G-20: Russian officials accused President Trump of canceling his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a "US domestic political situation." The full statement: "Was the provocation organized by Kiev in this region the real reason for cancellation? Publicly, we heard just such an explanation, we took note of it. Is this a reality? I think that you still need to look for answers in the US domestic political situation."

JUST NOW — YIIIIIKES: Via Business Insider, Russian President Vladimir Putin enthusiastically high-fived Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin SalmanWatch:


Happy Friday! Today is the last day of November. 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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Another day, another major hack involving 500 million people:

Marriott International announced that it is looking into a hack of Starwood Hotels' reservation database. How many Marriott guests could be affected: About 500 million. Woof: "Compromised information for 327 million Starwood guests could include passport details, phone numbers and email addresses. For an undisclosed amount of guests, it could also include credit card information, Marriott said."

REACTION FROM THE NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: New York's attorney general is opening an investigation into the Marriott hack.


Latest with the migrant caravan -- No charges:

Via The Associated Press's Elliot Spagat, the U.S. will not file charges against the 42 people arrested during last weekend's clash on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Why: "Charges were not filed because the administration generally doesn't separate families and because Customs and Border Protection didn't collect enough evidence needed to build cases, including the names of arresting officers, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity."


Say cheese, justices:

This morning, the Supreme Court posed for a new class photo featuring recently appointed Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael Kavanaugh‘Justice’ selected as Merriam-Webster’s 2018 word of the year Chief justice of California Supreme Court leaves GOP over Kavanaugh confirmation Doug Jones: Carmakers 'scared to death' over Trump tariffs MORE. The photo:



Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortIt’s time the UK cracked down on dirty Russian money Alan Dershowitz: Did Michael Flynn lie? Or did the FBI act improperly? Five things to know about the Trump inauguration investigation MORE really is having a terrible, terrible year: 

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is considering new charges against President Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort for allegedly breaching his plea deal by lying to prosecutors. The charges: They would likely involve obstruction of justice. 

Oh and: “The government is also considering seeking a new trial for the charges that a jury failed to reach a verdict on in August in a separate criminal trial against Manafort in Northern Virginia. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors had agreed to move to dismiss the remaining counts, but [Government attorney Andrew Weissmann] said the government is no longer obligated to uphold that promise.” What that would mean from The Hill’s Lydia Wheeler:


This a.m. from Trump — nah dude, we’re cool:

President Trump defended his efforts to pursue a business deal in Russia as “very legal & very cool.” 

He tweeted: “Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail... Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!”


Ivanka's getting pulled in:

Via Yahoo's Hunter Walker, special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpIncoming House Oversight Committee chairman: First hearing will not be 'what a lot of people expect' GOP senator advises House to 'legislate, don’t investigate' Trump's legal woes worsen MORE and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpReport accuses US tech giants of impeding Senate's Russia probe Intel panel expects to refer more cases of suspected lying to Mueller Trump Jr. says his dad is a 're-gifter' MORE's role in trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. According to sources: President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen "wasn't the only person at the Trump Organization who was pursuing deals to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital. Multiple sources have confirmed to Yahoo News that the president's elder daughter, Ivanka, who is now a top White House adviser, and his eldest son, Don Jr., were also working to make Trump Tower Moscow a reality." The full report:



If there's a shutdown, it likely don't be over the 'Dreamers':

Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, "Democrats are backing away from a potential floor fight over 'Dreamers,' marking a shift in field tactics from earlier this year as they prepare to do battle with Republicans next week over a major government funding bill." Context: "January's brief government shutdown stemmed from Democrats insisting on adding language to a short-term spending package that would have protected from deportation immigrants who came to the country illegally as children, often referred to as Dreamers." Why Dems don't want to do that again: Democrats acknowledge that they didn't gain much from the standoff.

MEANWHILE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Via The Hill's Melanie Zanona and Mike Lillis, here's how House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiLiberal groups launch effort to get progressives on key House committees Dems preparing for prolonged shutdown Jim Jordan predicts there will be no government shutdown MORE (D-Calif.) could win the Speakership by opponents simply voting "present."



Today in: 'This is so embarrassing for our country':

Via WUSA9, a couple was forced to prove that New Mexico is a state in the United States when applying for a marriage license. Why: A clerk in D.C. thought it was a foreign country.

THROWBACK: Remember when I had to prove that the District of Columbia is, in fact, in the United States while ordering a drink? Good times... The 2015 story -- 'Bring your passport (and a map)':


If we have another Trump v. Clinton race again, I will cry:

Via The Hill's Amie Parnes, "Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton working on new children’s book about endangered animals GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander won't seek reelection GOP rep says there was a double standard in Flynn, Clinton probes MORE is increasingly weighing in on critical political events, keeping her name in the news and doing little to dampen speculation that she might once again run for president." What Clinton has been doing to fuel speculation:


Getting traction -- a Southwest employee mocked a 5-year-old because of her name: 

Via BuzzFeed's Julia Reinstein, a Texas mother was traveling with her 5-year-old daughter Abcde (pronounced Ab-city) when the gate agent reportedly mocked the girl. From the girl's mother: "The gate agent started laughing, pointing at me and my daughter, talking to other employees. So I turned around and said, 'Hey, if I can hear you, my daughter can hear you, so I'd appreciate if you'd just stop." Oh and: The gate agent allegedly posted a photo of the girl's boarding pass to social media. Reaction from Southwest: The company's spokesperson apologized.


Tidbit about the GM layoffs -- which 6 cars are discontinued:

Via Fortune, General Motors is discontinuing the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS and Buick LaCrosse. Details for each:




DPCC stands for: The Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineThe Year Ahead: Tech braces for new scrutiny from Washington Democrats signal growing interest in examining ties between NRA, Russia House Dems talking more about impeaching Trump MORE (D-R.I.) "will be the new DPCC chair, ranking higher than three DPCC co-chairs the Democratic Caucus also elected Thursday. He had served as one of the three co-chairs for the 2018 cycle."


It is an efficient signature tbh...:


This looked a little 'Stranger Things' to me at first glance:



The House was in this morning and the Senate is out. President Trump is in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the Group of 20 meeting. Vice President Pence is giving a speech in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and then heads to Houston.

5:15 a.m. EST: President Trump met with the president of Argentina.

11:45 a.m. EST: President Trump meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump has a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

12:35 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence and Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — What the Michael Flynn news means Pences get book deal for more Marlon Bundo stories The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump defends 2016 Russia business dealings | North American leaders sign new trade pact | Clinton doesn't tamp down 2020 talk MORE arrive in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

12:55 p.m. EST: President Trump has a "pull-aside meeting" with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

2:30 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence and Karen Pence leave Fort Lauderdale for Houston.

5:10 p.m. EDT: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump rips Dems as shutdown looms | Congress deadlocked | Flynn associates charged will illegal lobbying The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms Five things to know about the Trump inauguration investigation MORE participate in the Group of 20 family photo, then attend a cultural performance and dinner.

5:10 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence and Karen Pence arrive in Houston.

Saturday: The inauguration of Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Keep in mind: The president's elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, will attend.

Sunday: The 41st annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. Who is hosting: Gloria Estefan. 

Dec. 7: Deadline for lawmakers to pass spending bills to avoid a government shutdown.



This morning: President Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement, a replacement for the 25-year-old North America Free Trade Agreement. Livestream: Op-ed:

1:30 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence speaks at the 5th Israeli-American Council National Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Livestream:



Today is National Mousse Day.


Because correct links are superior:

Here's the correct link for yesterday's video of a service member reuniting with her dog after deployment. Watch:


And to get your weekend off to a great start, here's a dog who has never been happier to meet another dog. Seriously:


Monday. Same time. Same place.