The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Day 27 of the shutdown | Cohen reportedly paid company to rig online polls, boost his own image | Atlantic publishes ‘Impeach Donald Trump’ cover story

The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Day 27 of the shutdown | Cohen reportedly paid company to rig online polls, boost his own image | Atlantic publishes ‘Impeach Donald Trump’ cover story
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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: Day 27 of the shutdown | Cohen reportedly paid company to rig online polls, boost his own image | Atlantic publishes ‘Impeach Donald Trump’ cover story | ‘The Good Place’ cast teaches Ted Danson the floss dance move



Wait… so the Michael Cohen fan page wasn’t organic?:



Via The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Rothfeld, Rob Barry and Joe Palazzolo, President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid a small technology company thousands of dollars to rig online polls in Trump’s favor. https://on.wsj.com/2Fz20MN 

The polls Cohen allegedly tried to rig: A 2014 CNBC online poll of top business leaders and a 2015 Drudge Report poll of potential Republican candidates. Keep in mind: Both attempts to rig the polls were unsuccessful.

But when the man from the tech company showed up to collect the $50,000 for the service: “In his Trump Organization office, Mr. Cohen surprised the man, John Gauger, by giving him a blue Walmart bag containing between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash and, randomly, a boxing glove that Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter, Mr. Gauger said.” And even though Cohen only paid the company $12,000-$13,000: Cohen reportedly still asked for and received a $50,000 reimbursement from Trump.

Reaction from Michael Cohen: Cohen disputed that he handed over a Walmart bag of cash. “All monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check,” Cohen said.

Why you keep hearing about @WomenForCohen: “During the presidential race, Mr. Cohen also asked Mr. Gauger to create a Twitter account called @WomenForCohen. The account, created in May 2016 and run by a female friend of Mr. Gauger, described Mr. Cohen as a ‘sex symbol,’ praised his looks and character, and promoted his appearances and statements boosting Mr. Trump’s candidacy.”

Read the full Wall Street Journal report — it’s fascinating: https://on.wsj.com/2Fz20MN

By the way: The Twitter account @WomenForCohen still exists. Check it out: http://bit.ly/2RRwz6

Happy Thursday! 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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PROGRAMMING NOTE: The 12:30 Report will be off tomorrow and Monday for the long weekend. We will be back on Tuesday. Enjoy the time off!



Talk of the morning — this feels like a special edition of ‘WWE SmackDown!’:

The Atlantic published the cover story of its March issue titled, “Impeach Donald Trump.” Read the cover story: http://bit.ly/2sAnGzz 

Who wrote the feature: Atlantic senior editor Yoni Appelbaum.

Screenshot of the issue’s cover — wow: http://bit.ly/2Fx7urE

This morning from the big guy — ‘HA, haha!’:

President Trump criticized Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Justice watchdog to probe whether officials sought to interfere with election Capitol insurrection fallout: A PATRIOT Act 2.0? MORE (D-N.Y.) by tweeting, “So funny to watch Schumer groveling. He called for the firing of bad cop James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHawaii GOP official resigns over now-deleted tweet defending QAnon supporters Biden to keep Wray as FBI director Comey: 'Republican Party has to be burned to the ground' MORE many times — UNTIL I FIRED HIM!” It’s unclear what Trump is referring to, but he has clashed with Schumer in the past several weeks over negotiations to reopen the government. http://bit.ly/2Cqc7jb


‘This is the [shutdown] that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on my friends…’

—> http://bit.ly/2MeKFcB  (wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this intro — a little creepier than I remember, tbh)

Via The New York Times’s Glenn Thrush, Julie Bosman and Kirk Johnson, “Businesses in areas with a substantial federal work force have responded with … generosity. They have offered freebies or steep discounts on nearly everything rented or sold — meals, groceries, laser tag, bowling, flight school, go-kart rentals, zoos, museums, mini-golf, massages, movie and theater performances and gym memberships.” At the Tampa International Airport: “We had one lady offer an agent money. The agent said no, so she just dropped a $5 bill on the ground. The money was deposited in the lost-and-found bin.” How people have stepped up to help furloughed workers: https://nyti.ms/2RQZwiJ


Via The Hill’s Reid Wilson: http://bit.ly/2sxZm1l


This reminds me of Buddy the Elf’s cotton ball magic trick

—> http://bit.ly/2Cn9heA ;)

During an interview on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” last night, President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said that he "never said there was no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia, claiming only that Trump himself was not involved in collusion. http://bit.ly/2TUvY0T 

In Giuliani’s words: “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign. Or between people in the campaign.”

But…:  If “the collusion happened, it happened a long time ago.”

Watch the back and forth: http://bit.ly/2TUvY0T


“Live footage of Rudy Giuliani on CNN” Lol — the image to match Fabian’s caption: http://bit.ly/2swx7QA


The deputy HUD secretary is outta there:

Via The Washington Post’s Tracy Jan, Arelis R. Hernández, Josh Dawsey and Damian Paletta, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Pam Patenaude “is leaving the agency Thursday following disagreements with other members of the Trump administration over housing policy and the White House’s attempt to block disaster-recovery money for Puerto Rico, according to five people with direct knowledge of the situation.” When she submitted her resignation: Dec. 17. https://wapo.st/2T4upOc

We’re not ~normal~ presidential candidates. We’re ~cool~ presidential candidates: 

Via The Hill’s Max Greenwood and Amie Parnes, with dozens of Democratic presidential hopefuls potentially entering the 2020 race, candidates are looking for new ways to get attention. http://bit.ly/2AS2OZe

For example: “Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Biden lifts Trump's transgender military ban | Democrats, advocates celebrate end of ban | 5,000 guardsmen staying in DC through mid-March Democrats torn on impeachment trial timing OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: 12 removed from National Guard inauguration security | Austin backs lifting transgender ban MORE (N.Y.), the newest candidate to announce a 2020 run, appeared on Stephen Colbert’s late-night show to announce her decision. Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownPortman planned exit sets off Ohio free-for-all Portman won't run for reelection Hawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators MORE (Ohio) went on Chris Hayes’s MSNBC show to announce a ‘tour’ through the key early states Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. And Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial Skepticism reigns as Biden, McConnell begin new era MORE (Mass.) sought to get a jump on the competition with a New Year’s Eve announcement.” 

From Democratic strategist Eddie Vale: “This isn’t your grandfather’s presidential campaign announcement season that was focused on just getting some traditional earned media.”

I’m sure I would have thoughts if a film depicted me: 

Via The Hill’s Judy Kurtz, Frank Luntz describes his depiction in “Vice,” the new biopic of former Vice President Dick Cheney. http://bit.ly/2MidfK2

From Luntz, who was featured in the film: “Yes, I’m fat today, but I wasn’t fat 18 years ago …  I never, ever speak behind podiums. I don’t wear plain, off-the-rack tennis shoes. I don’t make stupid gestures during focus groups …  And if Dick Cheney was in the room, I would have thanked him for his service to America … But other than that, spot on.” 


Pleeease take her up on this offer:




The House is in. The Senate meets later today. President Trump and Vice President Pence are both in Washington, D.C.

Today: Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaAmanda Gorman captures national interest after inauguration performance A Day in Photos: The Biden Inauguration Scorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media MORE’s 55th birthday. Check out former President Obama’s birthday message on Instagram: http://bit.ly/2SURWkw 

10:15 a.m. EST: First votes in the House.

1–2 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House. The House’s full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2TBiAPc

1:45 p.m. EST: President Trump receives an intelligence briefing.  

4 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence meets with anti-abortion advocates.

4 p.m. EST: The Senate meets. The Senate’s full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2APQl8l

4:30 p.m. EST: The Senate has a procedural vote.

Friday: The annual March for Life — the country’s largest anti-abortion rally — in Washington, D.C. Details: http://bit.ly/2SVi7qZ

Friday evening: Vice President Pence is speaking at an anti-abortion fundraising dinner. http://bit.ly/2B0K0Y7

Saturday: The 2019 Women’s March on Washington. Details: http://bit.ly/2Mhcf9k

Monday: Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Feb. 7: President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Op-ed: http://bit.ly/2ATixqW


11 a.m. EST: President Trump spoke at the missile defense review announcement at the Pentagon. Livestream: https://cs.pn/2HfcToD


Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day.

Don’t feel bad, Ted Danson. I’m not much better:

On the set of NBC’s “The Good Place,” the cast tries to teach actor Ted Danson how to do the floss dance move. The video is pretty great — watch: http://bit.ly/2QTG3JF 

Danson appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to explain and even showed his new dance move. Watch: http://bit.ly/2AQSzEG


And to get your weekend off to the right start, here is live footage of you asking your friend if they want the rest of your entrée: http://bit.ly/2Fy2dzZ