The Hill's 12:30 Report: Whitaker clashes with Dems at combative hearing

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*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: Whitaker gets grilling from House Dems | Sights and sounds from dramatic hearing | Whitaker tells chairman his time is up | Washington pays tribute to John DingellJohn DingellTrump suggests LBJ is in hell: 'He's probably looking down — or looking up' Change with minimal risk: Trump's Jimmy Carter problem 10 controversies that rocked the Trump White House in 2019 MORE | Dingell's best tweets | National Enquirer believes it 'acted lawfully' with Bezos | Trump to get yearly physical | Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE, Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball on Sanders-Warren feud: 'Don't play to the pundits, play to voters' MORE have surprise meeting on Amtrak | National Pizza Day deals



Oh snap!:

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this morning.

Why this is news: Whitaker had been sparring with committee Democrats on whether he would testify. The committee then voted to authorize a subpoena if he didn't show up.

Keep in mind: Whitaker was a controversial pick for acting attorney general. He heavily criticized special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE's investigation before President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE named him for the job. 



House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) asked Whitaker: "In your capacity as acting attorney general, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?" 

Whitaker: "Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up. I am here voluntarily. We have agreed to five-minute rounds." 

How Nadler reacted: He laughed.

How the room reacted: People audibly gasped. 

Some context: “Pretty eyebrow-raising breach of protocol. Committee rules, processes and procedures are how Congress organizes itself. Not for a witness to tell a chairman he's in violation of his own rules.” (Via The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau

Watch the back and forth:



On the special counsel investigation: "I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation," Whitaker said. Why this is newsy: Critics are concerned about Whitaker's past statements criticizing the probe before he was named acting attorney general. 

Whether Whitaker discussed the Russia investigation with Trump: "I have not talked about the special counsel investigation with senior White House officials," Whitaker told the committee.

Live blog with updates:

Livestream of the hearing:



So. Many. Cameras.: Here's a photo of Whitaker getting sworn in:

A tribute to John Dingell: During opening remarks, Whitaker mentioned former Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who passed away yesterday. "He was a statesman and a leader. And it is a sad day in this committee, I am sure."  

And so did House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.): "He loved the House of Representatives. We remember him for his humor, his charm, his unshakeable integrity, and of course his fantastic Twitter account." Watch:


Happy Friday! 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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Rest in peace to the longest-serving member of Congress -- and my absolute favorite Twitter personality:

Former Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) died yesterday at the age of 92.

How long he served in Congress: From 1955 until 2014. When he retired, his wife, Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellMaking waves to protect America's waters Trump suggests LBJ is in hell: 'He's probably looking down — or looking up' 10 controversies that rocked the Trump White House in 2019 MORE (D-Mich.), succeeded him in office. 

Read his New York Times obituary:

This morning -- flags at half-staff: House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Trump chooses high-profile but controversial legal team Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) ordered flags throughout the U.S. Capitol to be lowered to half-staff. Photo:

A moment of silence on the House floor: Photos:



He tweeted two days ago: "The Lovely Deborah is insisting I rest and stay off here, but after long negotiations we've worked out a deal where she'll keep up with Twitter for me as I dictate the messages. I want to thank you all for your incredibly kind words and prayers. You're not done with me just yet."

Dingell had a funny tweet about Howard Schultz just a week ago: "Someone told me that the man behind everyone's favorite cup of coffee might run for President and I just want to wish @TimHortons the very best. You have my support."

About his Twitter followers: "Only 2,805,215 followers away from 3 million!"

On the president's Mars goal: "I fully support @realDonaldTrump's interest in space travel to Mars, and I wish him the absolute best in his travels"

I think most of the country would agree with this: "Staff has now informed me of what a Kardashian is. I'm only left with more questions." 


IF YOU CLICK ONE THING TODAY -- I PROMISE THIS WILL MAKE YOU SMILE: Dingell's former communications director Christopher Schuler tweeted last night, "I'll have plenty of stories to tell and memories to share on the life and love that was my friend @JohnDingell, but in the meantime here's a voicemail he left me in 2017 after he read a Buzzfeed article about a guy who got stuck in an ATM. my gift to you." Listen to Dingell's voicemail -- it's incredible:



It's like running into someone from your high school at a Target years later:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a 2020 presidential candidate, ran into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a White House bid, on Amtrak.

Lol, a 360-degree view:

Here's a photo of the two chatting from the front:

And a photo from the back:



Jeff Bezos is not having it:

Amazon CEO and The Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos accused the company that publishes the National Enquirer of blackmailing him with revealing photos.

How we know: Bezos published a Medium post including an email thread about the revealing text messages and photos.

From the Medium post: "Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've decided to publish exactly what [American Media Inc.] sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten." Read Bezos's Medium post:

What American Media Inc. wants: According to the emails from Bezos, AMI representatives said they would not publish the photos if Bezos agreed to publicly state that the National Enquirer's previous reporting on him wasn't politically motivated.


Reaction from AMI: Via The Wrap’s Jon Levine, AMI said in a statement that it "believes fervently" that the company "acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos.” Read the full statement:

Another alleged blackmail attempt: Journalist Ronan Farrow said AMI tried to blackmail him, as well. Farrow tweeted: “I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Trump fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI. (I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.)”

What Team Bezos thinks happened: During an appearance on MSNBC, Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia said that an investigator hired by Bezos believes the leaked texts came from someone in government.





*Starts humming* 'It's just another day!':

Schwab then tweeted: "A quick Google search IDs these guys as Albert and Alberta Gator, the mascots for the Florida Gators"



The House is in. The Senate is out. President Trump is getting his physical exam today and Vice President Pence is visiting the Port of Baltimore. 

10:45 a.m. EST: First and last votes in the House. 

12:45 p.m. EST: President Trump receives his annual physical exam at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

1:15 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence receives a briefing and tour on Non-Intrusive Inspection Systems Program Technology.

11 a.m. EST Saturday: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders over handling of feud with Warren On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans MORE (D-Mass.) makes a 2020 announcement in Lawrence, Mass. Details:



2 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence speaks to U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees. Livestream:



Today is National Molasses Bar Day. And because this is important, tomorrow is National Pizza Day!! Here's a list of pizza deals to celebrate the occasion:


Starbucks drinks can be v. controversial these days:

For Valentine's Day, Starbucks is bringing back the cherry mocha. Photos and details:


And because you made it this far, here's why you should think twice about getting a pet rabbit: