The Hill's 12:30 Report: Stone pleads not guilty | How lawmakers want to end shutdowns for good | Some Dems float Ocasio-Cortez primary challenge

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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: Stone pleads not guilty to Mueller charges | How lawmakers want to end shutdowns for good | Some Dems floating AOC primary challenge | Ocasio-Cortez fires back | Trump as White House tour guide | Flake rules out 2020 run | Polar vortex slams Midwest | DC braces for snow storm, frigid temps | McDonald's giving out free bacon for one hour



All I can think of when I see Roger StoneRoger Jason Stone3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Judge rejects Stone's request to dismiss charges Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia over election interference MORE's entrance is Trump's 2016 announcement


President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE's longtime informal adviser Roger Stone just pleaded not guilty in D.C. federal court today after being indicted on seven charges in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE's investigation.

The charges: Lying to Congress about his WikiLeaks interactions, obstructing an official proceeding and witness tampering.

Yikes -- it was a madhouse outside the courthouse: "Protesters and reporters swarmed the street around the black SUV picking him up (he didn't talk), a couple guys waved Russian flags, and there was music. It was a *scene*" Video -- this is pretty crazy:

Photos of Stone leaving the courthouse: "Stone was mobbed outside the courthouses but slid into a black SUV without making any statements." (Via The Hill's Lydia WheelerPhotos — wow:



It's been an eerie Tuesday morning in D.C. right before a frigid cold and winter storm hits.❄️ 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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This is not what I signed up for. This is not what I signed up for.:

Snow and arctic temperatures are expected in the Washington, D.C., area starting this afternoon. The federal government and some schools are closing early today because of an expected messy evening commute. 

Live updates of the storm for the D.C. area:

When federal employees in D.C. can leave work today: The Office of Personnel Management announced that D.C. area employees can leave two hours early today.

Updated list of school closings: Via Fox 5 DC:

Photo of snow forming in Maryland:

Potentially record-breaking cold: "Nearly 90 million people will experience temperatures at or below zero degrees this week from the Midwest to New England, according to the National Weather Service, and 25 million of those will face temperatures below minus-20."

Omg: Wind chills in the Dakotas and northern Minnesota hit minus 50 this morning!

Fun fact: Here's a map of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in each state:

I'm on a beach. A warm, sunny beach.



What would a holiday season even look like without a shutdown threat...?

You mean we could book our Christmas flights ... early?:

Via The Hill's Cristina Marcos, after the longest shutdown in U.S. history with an estimated $3 billion in permanent losses, lawmakers in both parties have introduced bills to automatically fund the government if Congress can't make the deadline. I.e.: No more shutdowns, ever.


Getting traction -- the AOC welcoming committee:

Via The Hill's Scott Wong, "Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTlaib says Trump 'scared' of 'Squad' The Memo: Dangers loom for Trump on immigration Students retreating from politics as campuses become progressive playgrounds MORE (D-N.Y.) has infuriated colleagues by aligning with a progressive outside group that's threatening to primary entrenched Democrats. Now some of those lawmakers are turning the tables on her and are discussing recruiting a primary challenger to run against the social media sensation."

Reaction from a Democratic lawmaker, who told The Hill: "What I have recommended to the New York delegation is that you find her a primary opponent and make her a one-term congressperson. You've got numerous council people and state legislators who've been waiting 20 years for that seat. I'm sure they can find numerous people who want that seat in that district."

Reaction from AOC -- she referred to the quote above ^: "That broken mentality, that public office is something you wait in line for, instead of earning through hard organizing, is exactly what voters want to change. Shows you how disconnected some folks here are."

Good point — context from Luke Russert: "If this were to actually happen, AOC would set a fundraising record for a primary. She could go on the air for 6 months in the massively expensive NYC media market and still have money left over to canvass. She should fundraise off it today."


The Odd Couple:

Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, "Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? Pelosi says Dems 'have to be ready to throw a punch — for the children' in 2020 MORE (D-Calif.) has emerged as the senior partner in her relationship with Senate Democratic 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 (N.Y.), and he appears happy to defer to her in the interest of maximizing their shared power." How this power dynamic will be testing for Trump:



Where do I sign up for that tour?:

The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey obtained excerpts of a new book from former White House aide Cliff Sims


Donald Trump, tour guide: President Trump loves giving tours in the White House. "Trump relishes giving tours to acquaintances and strangers by the hundreds, bragging all the while about improving it while he lives there. ... With new chandeliers and imported artwork added during his tenure, showing guests around the White House is among his favorite activities." 

On former President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky: "I'm told this is where Bill and Monica..." Trump reportedly told a TV anchor on a tour in 2017. Others say Trump made similar comments: "Laughing and making facial expressions. The subject often leads to lengthy, sometimes crass conversations, aides said." 

On the Lincoln bedroom: "When the president finishes dinners with members of Congress, he often raises the same question. 'You want to see the Lincoln Bedroom?' he asks, before beckoning lawmakers up the stairs. He often remarks how tall President Lincoln was and how short the bed is during these visits, before noting the nearby Lincoln desk and the Bill of Rights, guests said." 

Read the preview and excerpts:



2020 NEWS

Jeff Flaked out (rimshot):

Former Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAnti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid Arpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument MORE (R-Ariz.) announced this morning that he will not run for president in 2020.

Flake said on "CBS This Morning": "I have always said that I do hope that there is a Republican who challenges the president in the primary. I still hope that somebody does, but that somebody won't be me. I will not be a candidate."

Instead: Flake said he's joining CBS News as a contributor.

Watch the announcement:


She's running:

Rapper Cardi B is making her Des Moines, Iowa, debut in May. Details -- ahem journalists and staffers who may be in Iowa:

Lol: "Before you ask, Cardi B will not be eligible to run for president until 2028." (Via The Washington Post's Dave Weigel



Yikes for everyone, but yiiiikes for Chicago and Minneapolis:

Give those poor people a color!


Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Gun reform groups to pressure GOP senators with rallies in all 50 states To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (R-N.C.), you have a very cute assistant:



The House and Senate are in.

President Trump has no public events on his calendar.

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

3:45 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence meets with Carlos Alfredo Vecchio, the Chargé d'Affaires of Venezuela. 

Today -- tomorrow: Top officials from the U.S. and China will discuss trade during meetings in Washington, D.C. Details: Op-ed:

Feb. 5: President Trump will give his State of the Union address in the House Chamber. Keep in mind: The address was scheduled for today but was pushed because of the government shutdown. Details:

Just announced -- Feb. 8: President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen has agreed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors. Details:



This morning: A Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on threats to the United States. Testifying: CIA Director Gina Haspel, National Intelligence Director Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall 11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE and FBI Director Christopher WrayLivestream:

Wednesday morning: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering running as an independent presidential candidate in 2020, will appear on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."



Today is National Corn Chip Day.


ALERT -- Free bacon at McDonald's today -- ALERT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL:

McDonald's is offering free bacon from 4 to 5 p.m. today to celebrate bacon's arrival to its nationwide menu.

Bacon entrees that will be available at McDonald's starting tomorrow: Cheesy Bacon Fries, the Big Mac Bacon burger and the Quarter Pounder Bacon burger. Photos:


And because you made it to the end, here are two bunnies posing for their next album cover: