The Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | Hopes he's remembered for bringing 'the country back together' | Latest on funding fight | Trump shutdown threat leaves GOP in turmoil | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end | Bomb threat at Sandy Hook on anniversary of shooting | Weekly Standard to shut down


'I'm prison Mike. You know why they call me prison, Mike?...


Even if you don't watch The Office, I promise you'll still enjoy this clip


President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos for the first interview since he was sentenced to serve three years in prison. 



On the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal: "First of all, nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump," Cohen said. "He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters."

On Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE's investigation: "The special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them was credible," Cohen said. "There's a substantial amount of information that they possess that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth." Keep in mind: While this is just Cohen's side of the story, there are so few leaks in the special counsel investigation that any new info is interesting.

How Cohen says he hopes to be remembered: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: "And one of the hopes that I have out of the punishment that I've received, as well as the cooperation that I have given, I will be remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together."

Cohen doesn't think anyone believes Trump's defense: "He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth," Cohen said. "And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying. The man doesn't tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."

The interview transcript and full video:



Cohen has to surrender on March 6 for a 36-month sentence. Cohen has also been ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution, forfeiture of $500,000 and a fine of $50,000. 


Happy Friday! FIN*clap* AL*clap* LY *clap* I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and holiday cheer to and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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Easy come, easy go:

Via The Hill's Lisa Hagen, "Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) will resign from the Senate on Dec. 31, leaving Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to fill the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAmerica's newest comedy troupe: House GOP Michelle Malkin knocks Cokie Roberts shortly after her death: 'One of the first guilty culprits of fake news' Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema MORE's (R) seat for a second time."

Is this surprising?: Not really. Kyl accepted the appointment as a temporary replacement for McCain.

^From his resignation letter: "When I accepted your appointment, I agreed to complete the work of the 115th Congress and reevaluate continuing to serve. I have concluded that it would be best if I resign so that your new appointee can begin the new term with all other Senators in January 2019 and can serve a full two (potentially four) years."

What to know about Kyl: Kyl served in the Senate from 1995 to 2013 and then worked as a Washington lobbyist. He was appointed to fill McCain's seat in September after McCain died. 

Read Kyl's resignation letter: It was hand-delivered to the Arizona governor's office yesterday:

WHO WILL REPLACE KYL?: Via USA Today, here's a list of potential replacements: The big question is whether the governor will pick outgoing Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona Democrats push Sinema censure vote off until January Pence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema MORE (R-Ariz.) who just lost her race for Senate. 


It's just too little too late -- The Weekly Standard closes: 

Via CNN's Oliver Darcy, The Weekly Standard, the 23-year-old traditionally conservative magazine that has been very critical of President Trump, will shut down at the end of the year.

Why this is important: "The closing of the magazine represents a broader shift in conservative media. Outlets on the right that are critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone, while media organizations on the right supportive of the President have flourished."

When the final edition will publish: Dec. 17

Why the magazine won't be sold to a new owner -- this is pretty interesting: "For months, The Weekly Standard's leadership had butted heads with MediaDC, and the two parties had previously agreed to allow [editor-in-chief Stephen Hayes] to search for a new owner ... Hayes conducted a search ... but MediaDC recently informed The Weekly Standard that it was no longer interested in selling."

SPEAKING OF #NEVERTRUMP REPUBLICANS: Outoging Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.) gave his farewell speech on the Senate floor yesterday. The theme: "Threats to our democracy from within and without are real." Keep in mind: Flake has been pretty critical of President Trump. Watch:



It's Dec. 14 -- do you know where your (House) is?:

Home. The House doesn't return until Wednesday, two days before the government would shut down if the White House and Congress don't agree on a spending bill.

The chances of a partial government shutdown: Increasing by the day after President Trump offered to accept the blame if there's a shutdown. 

Trump's thinking: Trump is pushing for $5 billion in funding for a border wall. If the spending bill doesn't include that funding, Trump says he will accept blame for a shutdown to pressure lawmakers.

The problem for the GOP: Republicans have no plan right now for how to keep the government open. The ball is in President Trump's court.

What everyone is waiting for: President Trump to signal what type of funding bill he would sign. Lawmakers don't want to waste time sending a bill to Trump's desk only to see him veto it.

The next House votes scheduled: 6:30 p.m. EST Wednesday. I.e.: What fun are the holidays without a serious risk of a government shutdown?



The shooting in Newtown, Conn.:

Twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School six years ago today. 

Keep in mind: It was a Friday morning, just like today.

Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed, tweeted: "I loved him from his first breath. I'll grieve him till my last. Good night, my beautiful butterfly, Dylan. 03/08/06-12/14/12" Photos of Dylan: 

'How Sandy Hook changed the response to mass shootings': Via CNN:

Foundations set up for each of the victims: Via The Hartford Courant:

Today at Sandy Hook Elementary-- students sent home after a bomb threat:
Via The Associated Press, students at Sandy Hook Elementary evacuated this morning after a bomb threat was made around 9 a.m. According to Newtown police, the superintendent decided to cancel classes for the rest of day. What we know:

From NBC Connecticut: "The threat is not believed to be credible, Lt. Aaron Bahamonde said, but they are taking it seriously and will investigate fully. No one was hurt and no one was in danger, he said."

Keep in mind: It's unclear whether this bomb threat is connected to the threats made around the country yesterday.



When your friends are taking too long to get ready:



Lol, this is so spot-on:

If you're intrigued: Here are details of that new dive bar -- it's actually called Dive -- via Eater DC:



The House and Senate are out. President Trump is in Washington, D.C., with a light schedule, and Vice President Pence has no public events on his schedule.

Noon: President Trump receives an intelligence briefing.

5:15 p.m. EST and 8:30 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump marks reopening of Washington Monument, takes ride to top Melania Trump to ring stock exchange opening bell on Monday On The Money: Fed delivers second rate cut to fend off global risks | Trump says Fed has 'no guts' | House gets deal on continuing resolution | GM faces bipartisan backlash amid strike MORE attend Christmas receptions at the White House.

6:30 p.m. EST Wednesday: Next votes in the House.

Dec. 19: Retiring House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas MORE (R-Wis.) delivers a farewell address in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.

Dec. 21: Congress's deadline to fund the government before a partial government shutdown. 

Dec. 21–Jan. 6: President Trump will spend the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

March 6: When President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen has to surrender for his prison sentence. Op-ed:



Wednesday evening: A protest outside the apartment of White House adviser Stephen MillerLivestream from WJLA-TV: 



Today is National Bouillabaisse Day.  Sure?


Space is cool:

Via CNET, here is captured footage of last night's meteor shower. Photos and video:


And to get your weekend off to the right start, here's why we definitely don't deserve golden retrievers: