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 John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid a small technology company thousands of dollars to rig online polls in Trump’s favor. 

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:

By the way: The Twitter account @WomenForCohen still exists. Check it out:

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 — 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: 

Who wrote the feature: Atlantic senior editor Yoni Appelbaum.

Screenshot of the issue’s cover — wow:

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

President Trump criticized Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJewish Democratic congresswoman and veteran blasts Trump's 'disloyalty' comments Schumer says Trump encouraging anti-Semites Saagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? MORE (D-N.Y.) by tweeting, “So funny to watch Schumer groveling. He called for the firing of bad cop James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 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.


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

—>  (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:


Via The Hill’s Reid Wilson:


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

—> ;)

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. 

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:


“Live footage of Rudy Giuliani on CNN” Lol — the image to match Fabian’s caption:


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.

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.

For example: “Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate Gillibrand unveils mental health plan 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 BrownBank watchdogs approve rule to loosen ban on risky Wall Street trades Dayton mayor assigned extra security following verbal spat with Trump The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape 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 Ann WarrenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court 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.

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 ObamaObamas reportedly buying Martha's Vineyard mansion The Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Obama explains decision to get into movie business: 'We all have a sacred story' MORE’s 55th birthday. Check out former President Obama’s birthday message on Instagram: 

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:

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:

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:

Friday evening: Vice President Pence is speaking at an anti-abortion fundraising dinner.

Saturday: The 2019 Women’s March on Washington. Details:

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:


11 a.m. EST: President Trump spoke at the missile defense review announcement at the Pentagon. Livestream:


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: 

Danson appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to explain and even showed his new dance move. Watch:


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: