The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government

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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 AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Barr says Mueller wouldn't run a 'witch hunt' | Won't let Trump team 'correct' Mueller report | Sights and sounds from hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | Day 25 of shutdown | Dems reject White House invite for talks | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government | House to vote on rebuking Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingMother of child in viral meme sends Steve King cease-and-desist for using image in fundraising Nebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response MORE | Trump sends letter to Kim | Netflix raising prices



What do you get when you morph John Goodman with Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken blasts Susan Collins: She'll let Trump 'get away with anything' Bill Press: Don't forget about Amy Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE? William Barr.:

See for yourself: Here's a photo of Franken and a photo of Goodman


Reupping this, William Barr. You can STILL get out of this:

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, is testifying on Capitol Hill today and tomorrow for his confirmation hearing.



On whether the special counsel investigation is a 'witch hunt': Barr said, "I don't believe that Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt."

On Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE: "I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service. 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."

On whether the White House will be allowed to "correct" the Mueller report: "That will not happen," Barr said. Back story: President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Hill in an exclusive interview last week, "As a matter of fairness, they should show it to you -- so we can correct it if they're wrong. They're not God, after all. They could be wrong."  

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (R-Iowa) preface: Grassley told Barr, "Don't take it personal if I raise my voice to you. I'm not mad at you."



This is a fascinating photo: Via C-SPAN's Howard Mortman, here are photos from Barr's confirmation in 1991 vs. now. Check out his family in 1991 compared to now:

^Video of Barr introducing his family:

Tidbit: Today is the first hearing with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocrats duke it out in most negative debate so far Republicans give Barr vote of confidence Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills MORE (R-S.C.) as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Trump's involvement: Trump has only tweeted about William Barr once, on Dec. 7 when Barr's nomination was announced. (Via Politico's Darren Samuelsohn)

Five things to watch in the hearing today and tomorrow:

Livestream of the hearing:

Live blog with updates from the hearing:


It's Tuesday. 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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To quote the wise Stevie Wonder -- 'Signed, sealed, delivered!': 

--> ;) 

Via CNN's Will Ripley, a letter from President Trump was hand delivered to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Timing: The U.S. and North Korea are currently ironing out the details of a second summit between Trump and Kim. 

Logistics for the delivery: The letter was flown to Pyongyang and then delivered by hand.

What next: "According to [a] source, North Korea's former spy chief Kim Yong Chol -- one of Pyongyang's top negotiators -- could visit Washington as soon as this week to finalize details of the upcoming summit."


It's a no from me:

A federal judge ruled this morning that it is unlawful for the Trump administration add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The judge: Judge Jesse Furman, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Furman is an Obama appointee.

The case against the census addition: "Several states and activists said immigrants, fearful of volunteering their immigration status to the Trump administration, would refuse to respond. The plaintiffs in the suit ― 18 states, the District of Columbia, several cities and a handful of immigrant rights groups ― argued the Trump administration intended to drive down the response rate among those groups when it added the question."

Read the judge's full ruling:



So much for 'new year, new you':

Via The Hill's Niall Stanage, "President Trump's troubles are piling up higher than ever -- and there is no easy way out from beneath them."

How so: "The White House was rocked by two dramatic Russia-related stories over the weekend, one of which noted that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump in 2017, amid concerns that the president could be working to advance the Kremlin's interests. There is no end in sight to a partial government shutdown that most are pinning on the president." 

Making Trump's troubles a little harder to solve: Democrats are now in control of the House and plan to ramp up pressure with an array of hearings that could hurt the president politically. 

How this could play out:

Column from radio host and author Bill Press:


Tell us how you really feel:

This morning, President Trump shared an op-ed from a writer who claims to be an anonymous senior administration official who criticizes federal workers for disloyalty.

How Trump shared the article: He shared a tweet from his son Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr., Meadows wear matching Trump jackets on 'Fox & Friends' Group auctioning off hunting trip with Donald Trump Jr. Trump allies to barnstorm Iowa for caucuses MORE, who captioned the article, "Worth the read."

The Daily Caller op-ed: "I'm a Senior Trump Official, and I Hope a Long Shutdown Smokes Out the Resistance."

Excerpt: "On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don't feel like doing what they are told, they don't." 

On nonessential employees: "Ideally, continue a resolution to pay the essential employees only, if they are truly working on national security. Furloughed employees should find other work, never return and not be paid." 

Read the full op-ed in The Daily Caller:


Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans give Barr vote of confidence Democrats block two Senate abortion bills VA could lead way for nation on lower drug pricing MORE isn't giving an inch:

Via Politico's Burgess Everett, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is far from facing a rebellion over the GOP's handling of the shutdown. McConnell has said he would not move any spending bill that doesn't have President Trump's support.

Do any Republican senators think Congress should pass a spending bill without border wall funding?: Yes, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick MORE (R-Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Overnight Energy: Critics pile on Trump plan to roll back major environmental law | Pick for Interior No. 2 official confirmed | JPMorgan Chase to stop loans for fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic MacGregor confirmed as Interior deputy chief MORE (R-Alaska) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Can Sanders be stopped? GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way MORE (R-Colo.).

Why McConnell is standing firm: "McConnell has much more to think about politically than just opening up the government and continuing on with business as usual. Funding the government without a border security increase would amount to all-out war on Trump by undercutting one of his chief political goals, risking ire from the GOP base for McConnell, Gardner and other Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2020."

LATE THIS MORNING -- TOLD YA: "Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed package to reopen the federal government for a second time in as many weeks on Tuesday." How: "Under Senate rules, any one senator can ask for consent to vote on or pass a bill, but any one senator can object. McConnell blocked the two bills saying the Senate wouldn't 'participate in something that doesn't lead to an outcome.' "

JUST NOW ON THE HOUSE SIDE — DEMS DON’T SHOW: “No Democrats will attend a lunch on Tuesday with President Trump designed to reach an agreement to end the government shutdown and fund a border wall, the White House said.”  The White House’s plan: “Trump had invited several moderate House Democrats to the White House in an effort to undermine Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOcasio-Cortez: Trump would 'never' say to her face some of the shots he takes at her on Twitter Oversight Committee room to be dedicated to late Rep. Elijah Cummings Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response MORE (D-Calif.), who has refused to grant Trump his demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding. But the group turned down the invitation.”



Steve King's no good, very bad day:

House GOP leaders stripped Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) of all of his committee assignments yesterday over remarks that are considered racist. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyFive takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders comes under fire over cost of 'Medicare for All' Trump's intel moves spark Democratic fury MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters that King would not receive any committee assignments for the new Congress. What were King's committees: House Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business committees.

FROM THE THIRD-RANKING HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Overnight Defense: GOP lawmaker takes unannounced trip to Syria | Taliban leader pens New York Times op-ed on peace talks | Cheney blasts paper for publishing op-ed Liz Cheney blasts NYT for publishing op-ed by Taliban leader MORE (R-Wyo.) said King should "find another line of work" after his comments. Other Republicans who called on King to resign: Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyLawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response Romney: Trump administration unprepared for coronavirus outbreak Ex-Romney adviser praises economic populism MORE (R-Utah) and Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartJohn Ratcliffe back under consideration by Trump for top intel job Trump's intel moves spark Democratic fury House Republicans boycott public Intelligence panel hearing MORE (R-Utah).

HAPPENING TODAY: The House is voting to condemn King's remarks.

WHAT STARTED THIS FIRESTORM: In an interview with The New York Times last week, King said, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization -- how did that language become offensive?" Mr. King said. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?" He then issued a statement clarifying his remarks and said he is not an advocate for "white nationalism and white supremacy."



First day of school vibes:

Former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is now working as a political analyst for NBC News.

Then NBC's Garrett Haake wisely pointed out: "Don't forget, you're contractually obligated to take a picture of your feet and the peacock carpeting in the elevator. Just letting you know. I don't make the rules."

Oh and: Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) just signed with CNN as a senior political commentator.


This is a proud moment in any man's life: 


This is making me really hungry. 

Back story: President Trump invited the Clemson Tigers football team to the White House and served them fast food because of the government shutdown. Oh and: He paid for the food himself. Details: 



The House and Senate are in. President Trump has meetings at the White House today, all of which are closed to press. Vice President Pence is also in Washington, D.C.

Noon: President Trump received an intelligence briefing.

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump and Vice President Pence have lunch with members of Congress.

2:30 p.m. EST: President Trump meets with state and local leaders to discuss the U.S.-Mexico border.

2:30–3:30 p.m. EST: First and last votes in the House. 



1 p.m. EST: BBC's coverage of the Brexit vote in the British House of Commons. Prime Minister Theresa May will speak after. Livestream:

2 p.m. EST: Senate Republicans hold a news conference. Livestream:

2:30 p.m. EST: Senate Democrats hold a news conference. Livestream:



Today is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day.


If you like your Netflix monthly rate, you can keep it:

Via The Associated Press's Michael Liedtke, Netflix is raising its monthly rates to pay for its original programming and its debt. The new price: Netflix's most-popular $11 a month plan will increase to $13 a month in the next three months. Price changes for the other plans:


And to liven your Tuesday afternoon, here's a baby sloth in a onesie: