The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he 'never worked for Russia' | Shutdown enters fourth week | AG pick says public should know Mueller probe findings

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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 responds to NY Times report: 'I never worked for Russia' | Trump AG pick says public should know results of Mueller probe | Nominee faces high-stakes hearing | Shutdown hits Day 24 | Wife of furloughed worker wins lottery | Clemson football team visiting White House | Trump says he will serve them McDonald's, Burger King | Egg photo beats Kylie Jenner for most-liked Instagram post

 

TALK OF THE MORNING

Imagine waking up from a 4-year coma to this headline --

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE: 'I never worked for Russia': 

Speaking to reporters this morning before traveling to a speech in New Orleans, President Trump denied working for Russia. http://bit.ly/2RvYPMj

In Trump's words: "I never worked for Russia. Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question because it's a whole big fat hoax."

WHAT SPARKED THIS QUOTE -- TRUMP WAS RESPONDING TO A NEW YORK TIMES REPORT: The New York Times's Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos report that in the days after President Trump fired FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased Dems demand access to interpreters at Trump's meetings with Putin Kremlin official: ‘Stupid’ to think Trump is working for Russia MORE, the FBI was so concerned by his actions that the bureau started investigating whether Trump was working against American interests. https://nyti.ms/2HbmsFo

 

It's a winter wonderland in Washington! 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 cmartel@thehill.com -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

They must never discover our secret handshake:

Via The Washington Post's Greg MillerPresident Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide his face-to-face discussions he had with Russian President Vladimir PutinIncluding: Trump once told his interpreter not to discuss the meeting with any officials -- and even took the notes from that interpreter. https://wapo.st/2TIGHLY

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OH AND...: Via The Washington Post's Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, "New revelations about Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortGiuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Mnuchin meets with Senate GOP to shore up ranks on Russia sanctions vote Mueller files status report highlighting cooperation by key witness MORE's interactions with a Russian associate while he was leading President Trump's campaign provide a window into how extensively the special counsel has mapped interactions between Trump associates and Russians in his 20-month-long investigation." 

TIMING -- I SHOULD ALSO MENTION: House Democrats summoned President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to publicly testify on Capitol Hill next month to discuss working for Trump. When: Feb. 7. Keep in mind: Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his work for Trump. He reports to prison on March 6. 

  

LATEST WITH THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Today is the 24th day of the partial government shutdown.

Dear Diary, it's been 24 days and no one seems to want me back. I'm getting nervous, Diary:

The partial government shutdown broke the record this weekend for the longest shutdown in U.S. history -- and with no clear end. Via USA Today's Susan Page, here's a quick breakdown of the possible scenarios in which the shutdown ends: http://bit.ly/2SSc1HX

 

Why this border wall fight is just the tip of the iceberg in the new era of a divided government:

The New York Times's Peter Baker has an interesting analysis of how the Russia developments coupled with the longest shutdown in U.S. history may be minor compared to the real battles coming ahead. https://nyti.ms/2VQWABP

 

A nice story during the shutdown:

The wife of a furloughed federal worker just won the lottery. What she won: An SUV and $100,000. https://fxn.ws/2FxtEcf

  

THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS

And this sounds fun to you, William Barr?:

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney, President Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, is in the hot seat this week, facing two days of grilling from the Senate Judiciary Committee. http://bit.ly/2FqYF2j

Why this is so important: If confirmed, Barr would oversee the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinLive coverage: Trump AG pick grilled on Mueller probe at confirmation hearing The Hill's Morning Report — No new negotiations as shutdown hits 25 days Democrat previews Mueller questions for Trump’s AG nominee MORE, who currently oversees special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's probe, is expected to step down once Barr is confirmed. 

BARR'S PREPARED REMARKS -- WHAT TO EXPECT: Via The Hill's Morgan Chalfant, William Barr, President Trump's nominee for attorney general, will tell lawmakers this week that he will allow special counsel Robert Mueller to complete the Russia investigation. Barr also said the American people should see the report: “I believe it is in the best interest of everyone — the president, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people — that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work,” Barr is expected to say in his opening remarks. http://bit.ly/2MarBfM

Read Barr's full testimonyhttp://bit.ly/2Hd4su

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING IN CONGRESS THIS WEEK, WELL, BESIDES THE SHUTDOWN: Via The Hill's Jordain Carney and Juliegrace Brufke, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCardi B expresses solidarity with federal workers not getting paid Government shutdown impasse is a leveraging crisis Overnight Health Care: Dem chair meets Trump health chief on drug prices | Trump officials sued over new Kentucky Medicaid work rules | Democrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions MORE (D-N.Y.) is expected to force a vote on the White House's decision to ease Russia sanctions. The Senate is expected to vote on a foreign policy bill that includes Syrian government sanctions. http://bit.ly/2HcVJs5

Op-ed: http://bit.ly/2M9Q1FZ

  

HAPPENING TONIGHT

Everyone knows fast food has about a five-minute window of optimal taste. I really hope the White House has thought this through:

The national champion Clemson University Tigers are visiting the White House today to celebrate the football team's win. President Trump told reporters that the White House will serve McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and pizza to the team. http://bit.ly/2Ck8wmE

In Trump's words: "The Clemson championship team, the national championship team, will be coming tonight. It'll be exciting. Very great team. An unbelievable team. … And I think we're going to serve McDonalds, Wendy's, and Burger King with some pizza. I really mean it. It will be interesting. And I would think that's their favorite food. So we'll see what happens."

The real news here: Where's the Chick-fil-A?!

  

NOTABLE TWEETS

By the way, the full size photo shows Fufu the Air Chief Marshal:

Full size photo -- Fufu is taking his job very seriouslyhttp://bit.ly/2FrtxzW

  

ON TAP

The House and Senate are in. President Trump is giving a speech in New Orleans. Vice President Pence has no public events on his schedule.

Today: D.C. federal offices are closed for a snow day. http://bit.ly/2RNZU1n

9:20 a.m. EST: President Trump leaves for New Orleans. Whooops: Early this morning, Trump tweeted that he was excited to visit Nashville, Tenn., today. "Love our farmers, love Tennessee -- a great combination! See you in a little while." He then deleted the tweet. http://bit.ly/2stUSst

12:25 p.m. EST: President Trump arrives at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

3 p.m. EST: The Senate meets.

4:25 p.m. EST: President Trump gets back to the White House.

6:30 p.m. EST: Votes in the House.

  

WHAT TO WATCH

12:40 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 100th Annual Convention in New Orleans. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2AJ9etO

6:30 p.m. EST: President Trump welcomes the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers to the White House. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2VTNnIP

  

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Today is National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day.

 

An egg just became Instagram's most-liked photo -- this is our world now:

A photo of an egg beat Kylie Jenner over the weekend as the most-liked Instagram photo. The new record: The egg post has more than 28 million likes so far. The previous record: An official Kylie Jenner post with 18.1 million likes. http://bit.ly/2RvQ8l9

The Instagram post: The caption reads, "Let's set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this." The original Instagram photo: http://bit.ly/2HeyePc

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The Instagram account: It claims to be a chicken named Henrietta from the British countryside. http://bit.ly/2smi4sS

REACTION FROM JENNER -- I APPRECIATE THAT SHE GOT INVOLVED: Kylie Jenner posted a short video reacting to the egg post. The caption of her post: "Take that little egg." Watch: http://bit.ly/2RoA3h4

  

Alexa learned a new trick:

Try asking Amazon's Alexa to read The New York Times's daily podcast or to give you the weekly news quiz. Details: https://nyti.ms/2H9op4T

 

And to make your Monday morning a little better, here's a dog just chilling: http://bit.ly/2SUg5rc