The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown

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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: Flynn awaits sentencing in key moment for Mueller probe | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown | Trump charity dissolves amid investigation | Trump officials issue rule banning bump stocks | Russian misinformation targeted Mueller | Governor taps McSally for McCain's seat | Trump creates military space command | Judge orders deer poacher to watch Bambi



Drink every time you see a tweet or post that makes a 'Lock Him Up' reference:

(^Back story: Flynn famously joined the 'Lock Her Up' chant about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' From dive bars to steakhouses: How Iowa caucus staffers blow off steam Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE at the 2016 Republican National Convention

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty for lying to FBI agents but is now cooperating with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation, is in his sentencing hearing right now. Flynn is unlikely to get significant prison time because of his assistance to Mueller, but the judge's remarks were pretty poignant.

What signaled that Flynn may get time prison – woow: From the judge: "All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out." 

Breaking -- what's happening at this moment: "Judge calls a recess to allow Michael Flynn to consult with his lawyers. The turn of events suggests that the judge may give him prison time unless he consents to a sentencing delay and further cooperation."

How to follow the play-by-play: Here's a live blog of updates from the courtroom:




Woooow -- from the judge: "All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out." 

Flynn on his guilty plea: "Michael Flynn just deflated [President Trump's] contention that he was duped into lying to FBI. 'I was aware' that lying to FBI investigators was a crime when he did so over interactions with Russians, Flynn tells judge. 'I do not' seek to withdraw the plea, Flynn tells the judge."

From the prosecutor: "It remains a possibility that General Flynn is continuing to cooperate with the government."

The judge on Flynn's crimes: "This crime is very serious." "In the White House! In the West Wing!" "It's a very serious offense." "You can't minimize that."

Photo of Flynn supporters outside the courthouse:

What the pro-Flynn signs say:

I should be more fazed by this than I am: "The pro-Michael Flynn rally outside DC court includes this person dressed as a horse." (Via The Daily Beast's Will Sommer) Photo -- see for yourself:

^I.e.: It's just another Tuesday in D.C.

Oh and the inflatable Trump rat is here:

Trump before the sentencing -- Good Luck Chuck: The president tweeted early this morning, "Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!"



Why this is a keystone moment for Robert Mueller's probe: “It is arguably the most highly anticipated sentencing yet in Mueller's investigation, and comes on the heels of the three-year sentence handed down to Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen for a slew of federal charges that sprung from details uncovered by Mueller’s sprawling probe.” Full reasoning:

How long the special counsel investigation has been going: 19 months (!)

Here’s a list of who has been charged in the Mueller investigation so far:


It’s Tuesday — Christmas is a week from today!  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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Back, back, back it up:

The White House just signaled that it wants to avoid a partial government shutdown this weekend.

How so: Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Fox News that Trump has “other ways to get to that $5 billion” he is seeking for a border wall.

Full quote from Sanders:

Why that’s important: Just last week, Trump said he would be “proud” to shut the government down if he didn't get enough border funding. But those remarks unnerved Republicans, who worried about the political damage.

Where the White House stands: Via The Hill’s Niall Stanage

The gist of this week in one tweet: From The Hill’s Jordain Carney:

“Reporter: ‘Are you going to announce it?’ 

Senate aide: ‘Announce what?’ 

Reporter: ‘The plan.’ 

Senate aide: ‘What plan?’ ”



Trump bans bump stocks:

The Trump administration banned bump-fire stocks, “which make it easier to fire rounds from a semi-automatic weapon by harnessing the gun's recoil to ‘bump’ the trigger faster.”

What this means for bump stock owners: Owners either have to destroy their bump stocks or have 90 days to turn them in. That 90-day period likely begins Friday. 

Why bump stocks are well known: “Bump stocks gained national attention last year after a gunman in Las Vegas rigged his weapons with the devices to fire on concertgoers, killing 58 people.”   


New title, who dis:

Via The Arizona Republic, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has named outgoing Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law McSally to introduce military sexual assault reform bill MORE (R) to finish the Senate term of John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Romney: Trump 'has distanced himself from some of the best qualities of the human character' MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump MORE (R), who died in August.

Keep in mind about McSally: She narrowly lost the race for the other Arizona Senate seat to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) in November. 

Why an announcement now?: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has been temporarily serving McCain’s term.


Trump’s charity dissolves: 

President Trump’s charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, has agreed to dissolve. Why: Allegations that it operated in a “shocking pattern of illegality.” Details:



OK, Russia is just getting cocky now:

Via The Washington Post’s Craig Timberg, Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, the same Russian disinformation teams that worked to help Donald Trump win the White House in 2016 later targeted special counsel Robert Mueller

For example – wow: “The Russian operatives unloaded on Mueller through fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and beyond, falsely claiming that the former FBI director was corrupt and that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were crackpot conspiracies. One post on Instagram — which emerged as an especially potent weapon in the Russian social media arsenal — claimed that Mueller had worked in the past with ‘radical Islamic groups.’ ”


Last night — Mueller released details of Flynn’s FBI interview:

Special counsel Robert Mueller released a memo detailing Flynn’s FBI interview, in which he lied about his Russian contacts.

Read the memo:

WOW, THAT IS QUTE THE NEW YORKER COVER: Check out this week’s cover featuring special counsel Robert Mueller. Is he smoking a Trump pipe?



Zetus Lapetus!:


President Trump announced that he directed the Pentagon to create a military space command.

What to know about it: “While a Space Command currently exists under the Air Force, establishing Space Command as a unified combatant command will provide a home for each military branch’s space elements.” 

Keep in mind: This Space Command is meant to lay the groundwork for a future Space Force. 


Timing — we couldn’t book Protozoa for the launch, so here you go: 

—> ;)

Vice President Pence visited the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., this morning for the launch of a SpaceX rocket with new GPS satellites. Change of plans: The mission was first delayed because of high winds and was then “scrubbed due to an out of family reading on first stage sensors.” SpaceX says it will try again tomorrow morning.

What to know about the SpaceX launch:

Livestream of the launch: The SpaceX launch is now scheduled for Wednesday at 9:07 a.m.:



Now THIS should be included on the CIA’s list of enhanced interrogation techniques tbh:

A Kentucky radio station played “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” on repeat for two hours straight Sunday morning. Why: To show support for the song as controversies swirl around the lyrics of the 1940s classic.

Why the song is now controversial: “The song has raised the issue of consent with lyrics that have a man trying to convince a woman not to leave his home as she openly ponders whether to stay.” An Ohio radio station recently stopped playing the song.  


Overheard from a tourist on Capitol Hill:

“That was Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran On The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act MORE....he’s the Senate Democratic Leader.” (Via CQ Roll Call’s Kellie Mejdrich)


New record — you have not been imagining it, it has been an especially rainy year:

Via WAMU, 2018 is officially the wettest year on record for Washington, D.C.

When D.C. broke the record: Saturday at 6:26 a.m. 

The old record: 61.33 inches in 1889

The new record: So far, D.C. has had 61.34 inches of rain. 



Did Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeInterior's border surge puts more officers in unfamiliar role Not 'if' but 'when' is the next Deepwater Horizon spill? Former Wyoming GOP lawmaker mulling Senate bid to replace Enzi MORE take home his leftovers from the White House?





The Senate is in. The House is out. President Trump is in Washington, D.C., and Vice President Pence is in Cape Canaveral, Fla., but is traveling back to Washington, D.C.

This morning: Vice President Pence attended the SpaceX rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

12:30 p.m. EST: The Senate breaks for weekly caucus luncheons. The Senate’s full schedule today:

12:40 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence leaves Cape Canaveral, Fla., for Washington, D.C.

2:15 p.m. EST: President Trump participates in a roundtable at the White House on the Federal Commission on School Safety report.

Dec. 19: Retiring House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDebate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 Liz Cheney faces a big decision on her future 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.



This morning: Vice President Pence spoke at the Kennedy Space Center. Livestream:

Just announced — 1:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gives a press briefing. Watch it. These briefings are rare these days — and always pretty interesting. Livestream:

2 p.m. EST: Senate Republican leaders hold a press briefing after their weekly luncheon. Livestream:

2:30 p.m. EST: Senate Democratic leaders hold a press briefing after their weekly luncheon. Livestream:

2:30 p.m. EST: State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino holds a press briefing. Livestream:



Today is National Roast Suckling Pig Day

Oh and, today is also National “Answer the Telephone Like Buddy the Elf” Day. Do what you will with that intel.


Wow, savage:

A judge ordered a man who was convicted of killing hundreds of deer to watch Disney’s “Bambi” once a month during his yearlong jail sentence. From the prosecutor: "If Bambi gets the point across to him, I don't have a problem with it ... You can watch Bambi and think about your own child when you do that.” The full story:


And to brighten your afternoon, here’s a puppy whose New Year’s resolution really should be to be better at sneak attacks: