The Hill's 12:30 Report: Anticipation builds for Mueller report

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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: Washington awaits Mueller report | Trump calls for 'witch hunt' to end | House Dems plan Tuesday vote against Trump emergency | One Republican backs bill | Senate looks to avoid fall shutdown drama | Latest on Smollett: Character cut from season's last episodes | Patriots owner charged in prostitution ring | Nats say they have 'moved on' from Harper | Oscars preview | National Margarita Day deals



It's almost witch hunt time:

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE is reportedly preparing his final report on the Russia investigation, which could be given to the Justice Department as early as next week.

Who will receive the final report: President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE's newly confirmed attorney general, William Barr

Why the report will give the White House headaches: Lawmakers will push to make the report public. Democrats are likely to look further into any stray leads.

What to expect:

HELPFUL LIST -- IF YOU WANT TO FEEL TOTALLY CAUGHT UP ON THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Here are the answers to nine questions you may have about the special counsel investigation: 


This morning from Trump -- take a sip whenever you see a Trump tweet with 'witch hunt' this weekend:

President Trump slammed the special counsel investigation, calling it a "witch hunt."

He tweeted: "Highly respected Senator Richard Burr, head of Senate Intelligence, said, after interviewing over 200 witnesses and studying over 2 million pages of documents, 'WE HAVE FOUND NO COLLUSION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA.' The Witch Hunt, so bad for our Country, must end!"


It's Friday! And more importantly, it's National Margarita Day! 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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Breaking — Robert Kraft has been charged in a prostitution ring:

Via WPTV West Palm Beach, as part of a human trafficking investigation, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been charged with soliciting a prostitute. Full report:

How many people have been charged: Kraft is one of 25 people who are reportedly facing charges.

Keep in mind: There is video evidence of two instances that involved Kraft, according to Jupiter, Fla. police. 

The full list of who has been charged:

What we know:


Jussie Smollett's character cut from season's last episodes:

The executive producers of "Empire" announced they are cutting Jussie Smollett's character from the last two episodes of the season.

The producers said in a statement: "The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our 'Empire' family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. ... While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of 'Jamal' from the final two episodes of the season."

BACK STORY: "Empire" star Jussie Smollett was arrested for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself. Details:


Just so he knows they are NOT on his side:

House Democrats introduced a resolution to block President Trump's use of a national emergency to fund a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sponsors: Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroPelosi faces tough choices on impeachment managers Hillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Minority lawmakers call out Google for hiring former Trump DHS official MORE (D-Texas) introduced the bill with at least 225 co-sponsors. Including at least one Republican: Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Amash says he will vote in favor of articles of impeachment MORE (Mich.).

Why some Republicans are not on board with Trump's declaration: "Several GOP senators have expressed opposition to Trump's emergency declaration, warning it could set a precedent for a future president to declare an emergency to circumvent Congress on another issue, such as climate change or gun control." 

But even if Dems can pull a few Republicans on board: "Trump would likely then veto the resolution, and it is not expected that the House and Senate would have the two-thirds majorities needed to override a veto." 


WHERE HOUSE REPUBLICANS STAND: Via The Hill's Mike Lillis and Scott Wong, "Few House Republicans appear ready to defy President Trump by backing a resolution that would stop his emergency declaration to build a wall on the Mexican border."



Coast Guard officer accused of plotting hit list denied bail:

Via CBS News, "A Coast Guard officer suspected of drawing up a hit list of top Democrats and TV journalists spent hours on his work computer researching the words and deeds of infamous bombers and mass shooters while also stockpiling weapons, federal prosecutors said Thursday."

Who: 49-year-old Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, a self-described white nationalist, according to his writings that were obtained by the government.

Where: Hasson worked at the Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C., and lived in Silver Spring, Md. 

He will remain in jail: Hasson was denied bail yesterday. 

Photo of the arsenal found in his home:

Who was on his hit list: House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing White House, Democrats strike tentative deal to create Space Force in exchange for federal parental leave benefits: report Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWhite House, Congress near deal to give 12 weeks paid parental leave to all federal workers Bloomberg on 2020 rivals blasting him for using his own money: 'They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money' Harris posts video asking baby if she'll run for president one day MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE (D-N.J.), Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE (D-Calif.), MSNBC's Chris Hayes, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, CNN's Chris Cuomo and CNN's Van Jones.

The full back story:


But what even is the fall without shutdown threats?!:

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney, senators are plotting to get the government funding process back to a normal schedule to avoid another shutdown brawl in the fall. How they plan to do that:



The most entertaining thread I've read all morning:

Read the responses below: 


@Chelsea_5512: "Apparently I didn't take my first steps in front of any adults. I crawled to another room, practiced until I got the hang of it, and THEN walked out."

@SketchesbyBoze: "In middle school I used to have private awards ceremonies for the books I had read that year, like an Oscars for books, and would make up speeches for all the characters to say ... I remember Hemingway, accepting his award for The Old Man and the Sea, plugging the *next* book he had written. (I was such a dork omg)."

@AshleyMason739: "I didn't speak until I was over two years old, causing my mother to worry for a long time that I might be deaf. When I finally did speak it was when my parents had friends over for dinner; my first words, addressed to the person next to me, were 'would you like some more cake?'"



The House and Senate are out. President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C.

Today -- Monday: The National Governors Association winter meeting begins in Washington, D.C. Details:

Noon: Vice President Pence and Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceKaren Pence reveals 'Victorian Christmas!' themed decorations at vice president's residence Pence, second lady make unannounced trip to Iraq to visit US troops The Hill's Morning Report - Wild Wednesday: Sondland testimony, Dem debate take center stage MORE host National Governors Association members for lunch.

2:30 p.m. EST: President Trump meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to discuss trade. Details:

7:35 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks at the Republican Governors Association event at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday: Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinThe Secure Act makes critical reforms to our retirement system — let's pass it this year Lawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death Senate Democrats ask Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters MORE (D-Md.), Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Top Republican: Democrats' weekend document dump shows impeachment inquiry is a 'farce' Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe MORE (R-Ga.), Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Del. Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence House Democrat backtracks, will now donate Epstein's campaign contributions MORE (D-Virgin Islands) speak at an event for The Hill, "Leadership in Action: Criminal Justice Reform." Details and how to RSVP:

Next week: President Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam. Preview from Foreign Policy:

Newly announced -- July 2021: Release date for "Space Jam 2" with Lebron James



7:30 p.m. EST: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks at a New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner in Manchester, N.H. Livestream:

8 p.m. EST Sunday: The Oscars. Quick catch-up: 



Today is National Margarita Day

Nationally: Here's where to get the best margarita deals today:

In D.C.: Here are the best marg deals in the D.C. area today:


Time to get a new Nats jersey?:

Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner said he has not heard from Bryce Harper and Scott Boras in months.

Lerner told NBC Sports this morning: "Nothing's certainly changed on our end. We've moved on. As I said back then and we had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I'm sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we've filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best."


And to get your weekend off to the right start, here's a one-year-old who is living her best life: