The Hill's 12:30 Report — Takeaways from Trump address | White House says emergency declaration 'on the table' | Dem response becomes a meme

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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: Takeaways from Trump's prime-time address | Sights and sounds | Dem response becomes a meme | WH says emergency declaration 'on the table' | Rosenstein reportedly leaving after new AG confirmed | Trump tells FEMA not to send money for California wildfires | Ginsburg misses third day | Pompeo makes surprise Iraq visit | Mickey ice cream bars now sold outside Disney parks  



I cannot WAIT for Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon MORE's tell-all:

How is it on the other side?

Via ABC's Pierre Thomas, Jonathan Karl, John Santucci and Mike Levine, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is planning to leave his job at the Justice Department once President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE's attorney general nominee, William Barr, is confirmed.

Keep in mind: Rosenstein has overseen special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE's probe for more than a year -- since former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake Nikki Haley blasts Roy Moore's Senate bid: 'He does not represent our Republican Party' Time magazine: Trump threatened reporter with prison time MORE recused himself. 

Context to the announcement from journalist Garrett M. Graff: "This is actually one of the most normal things we've seen happen in the Justice Department--and a sign that Rod Rosenstein is confident about the progress of the Mueller probe."


It's Wednesday -- halfway there! 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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It me:

During President Trump's first Oval Office address last night, he made his pitch for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border amid a partial government shutdown.


The takeaways:

  1. Trump did not shift the debate.
  2. Trump did not declare a national emergency. 
  3. Both Trump and Democrats accomplished what they needed to accomplish.
  4. Trump's speech was for his base.
  5. Trump succeeded in getting the TV networks to air his address. The pro: Trump kept to his time limit. The con: He did not deliver any major news. 

Context and details for each:



If you noticed the photos placed behind Trump's desk: "As President Trump speaks from the Oval Office, photos of his mother (who immigrated from Scotland) and father (whose family immigrated from Germany) are in the background." (Via The Washington Post's Matt Viser

Takeaway from The New York Times's Maggie Haberman: "I see the president's face but I hear Stephen Miller's voice."

Can someone explain this quote to me?: "This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart, a crisis of the soul."

The New York Times speech fact-check:

Meanwhile from Stormy Daniels -- I can't...: "So Stormy Daniels is in fact folding laundry live on Instagram in her underwear -- as Taylor Swift's 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' plays. What a country." Screenshot if you're wondering:


FROM THE DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE: Following President Trump's remarks, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Lawmakers 'failed us' says ICE chief Pelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell-backed Super PAC says nominating Roy Moore would be 'gift wrapping' seat to Dems McConnell vows to 'vigorously' oppose Moore's Senate bid Pelosi: Trump delay on Harriet Tubman is 'an insult to the hopes of millions' MORE (D-N.Y.) delivered a rebuttal. Read their full remarks:

The gist of the news from the Democratic response --> ;)

From Pelosi: "The fact is we all agree we need to secure our borders, while honoring our values."

From Schumer -- ouch: "We don't govern by temper tantrum," Schumer said.



Dem response or hostage video?


Social media caption contest for this setup: 

Lol, 'The Daily Show' is a strong contender for the caption of the night: "We're not mad, we're just disappointed."

Another solid contender: "You heard right. $250,000 of term life coverage, with no exam, for just $14.99 a month."

This one, too: "When you think you can sneak into the house after staying out too late, but Mom & Dad are up waiting for you in the living room."

Their inspiration for this shot: I laughed at this photo.

How one journalist spent her time: The Huffington Post's Ashley Feinberg tweeted, "Tonight was a waste of time for everyone but especially me since i just spent ten minutes doing this." Her image:

This photo comparison is also pretty funny:



Response to the response: After the Democratic response, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced MORE (I-Vt.) offered his own response on Facebook Live. Watch:

There was no way AOC would sit this one out: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezLawmakers 'failed us' says ICE chief Pelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill Bronx restaurants thank Ocasio-Cortez for her endorsements MORE (D-N.Y.) appeared on MSNBC after the addresses. Quote from AOC: "Those women and children trying to come here with nothing but the shirts on their back to create an opportunity and provide for this nation are acting more in an American tradition than this president is right now."

Oh hello there, John Kasich: Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) released a statement. Excerpt: "The President and the Democrats need to learn how to compromise and put the American people first." His full statement:



The White House is keeping a trick in its back pocket:

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News this morning that President Trump declaring a national emergency to bypass Congress and build a border wall is "certainly still an option" and "something that's on the table."

JUST NOW — Trump on a national emergency: Via The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Ballhaus: "'I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t we might go that route.' Says he has the 'absolute right' to declare an emergency. The 'threshold' for declaring one is if he can’t make a deal."

Fascinating graphic: Here's a Washington Post graphic flyover of the U.S.-Mexico border. See for yourself:

Tidbit -- CNN's Chris Cuomo attended Trump's lunch with journalists today: "The content was off the record, but I will tell you [that President Trump is] much more compelling making his case in person than he was on tel-e-prompter." He then added: "I've never seen [Trump] more confident. I've never seen him more secure in his arguments."

HAPPENING LATER TODAY: The House will vote on Democratic bill to reopen the Treasury Department. Keep in mind: This is one of several upcoming Dem votes to put pressure on Republicans to break with President Trump and reopen the government. 


This morning -- no mo $$:

President Trump announced that he has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to withhold funding for California until the state improves its forest management to prevent wildfires.

Trump tweeted: "Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!"




Justice Ginsburg misses another day on the bench:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed a third day on the court while recovering from a Dec. 21 surgery. What this means for the cases?: Ginsburg will still participate in today's case using briefs and transcripts.


Pompeo's surprise visit:

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need Congress to approve Iran strikes in interview with The Hill | New sanctions hit Iran's supreme leader | Schumer seeks to delay defense bill amid Iran tensions | Esper's first day as acting Pentagon chief Pompeo meets with Saudi crown prince amid tensions with Iran Poll: 24 percent of voters want military action against Iran MORE met with Iraqi leaders today during an unannounced visit. What they discussed: The United States' Syria strategy and securing the region.


Divorce announcement via Twitter:

Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie announced their divorce this morning. Excerpt: "As our family and close friends know, after a long period loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends. We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other." Details and full statement on Twitter:



I'm not taking any sides here, but it's beard SZN: 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage 2020 Democrat Bennet releases comprehensive government reform plan GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (R-Texas) is on the left; on the right is his 2018 opponent, former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' Overnight Energy: Inslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution | Poll finds Biden top choice for climate-minded voters | Trump USDA reportedly buried climate warnings Inslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution, ban fracking MORE (D-Texas).

Beard breakdown from Esquire (lol, yes this is a thing):

This is so well said:



The House and Senate are in. President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C. 

11:30 a.m. EST: President Trump signs anti-human trafficking legislation in the Oval Office.

Noon: President Trump receives an intelligence briefing.

1 p.m. EST: President Trump and Vice President Pence attend the Senate Republican policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol.

1:30–2:30 p.m. EST: First votes on the House.

3 p.m. EST: President Trump meets with congressional leadership. Vice President Pence also attends.

5–6 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House.



This morning: Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) discussed the shutdown with furloughed workers. Livestream:

2 p.m. EST: Senate Republicans hold a news conference following their weekly caucus luncheon. Livestream:

2:30 p.m. EST: Senate Democrats hold a news conference following their weekly caucus luncheon. Livestream:



Today is National Apricot Day.


Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Mickey Ice Cream Bars will be sold at grocery stores for a limited time. 


Now is the time to try that new restaurant:

Jan. 14–Jan. 20 is Washington, D.C.'s restaurant week. The list of participating restaurants:


And to break up your Wednesday afternoon, try to spot the puppy in the corn field. It's not easy, let me tell you ;)