The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump looks for boost from Korea summit

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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: Trump leaves for North Korea summit | Busy week for Congress with vote on emergency declaration | Memorable political moments at the Oscars | Trump knocks Spike Lee for 'racist hit on your President' | Trump delays China trade deadline | Treasury hits Venezuela with new sanctions | Pence in Colombia for talks | New fight over Trump judicial picks | Painting pig goes viral



It's show time!:

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE just left for Hanoi, Vietnam, for his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Trump's mood: Optimistic. Trump buttered up Kim Jong Un a little in a tweet yesterday. He tweeted: "Chairman Kim realizes, perhaps better than anyone else, that without nuclear weapons, his country could fast become one of the great economic powers anywhere in the World. Because of its location and people (and him), it has more potential for rapid growth than any other nation!"

Security in Vietnam: Officials in Vietnam are promising "maximum level" security this week.

Keep in mind: Vietnam only had 10 days (!) to prepare.

Op-ed: Nicholas Eberstadt writes, "Trump Meets Kim Jong-un This Week. There'll Be One Winner. One wants to make North Korea safe for the world, while the other wants to make the world safe for North Korea." The full op-ed in The New York Times:


It's Monday. 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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New Washington Post investigation

A former campaign staffer alleges Trump kissed her without consent:

Via The Washington Post's Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, "A staffer on Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign says he kissed her without her consent at a small gathering of supporters before a Florida rally, an interaction that she alleges in a new lawsuit still causes her anguish."

The staffer: Alva Johnson, an event planner and former Trump campaign staffer who lives in Madison County, Ala.

Johnson's full account:

REACTION FROM WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Sanders called the allegations "absurd on its face." Sanders said in a statement: "This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts." The two Trump supporters Johnson said were witnesses have also denied seeing the kiss.


Just now -- Treasury announces new Venezuela sanctions:

Via The Hill's Rafael Bernal, "The Treasury Department announced Monday it was imposing new sanctions on Venezuelans connected to embattled President Nicolas Maduro's government." Details: "The sanctions target the governors of four Venezuelan states that Treasury alleges are involved in 'endemic corruption' and the blocking of critical humanitarian aid to the country."


Getting closer to a China deal:

This morning, President Trump said the U.S. and China are "very, very close" to a trade deal with China.

In Trump's words: "I told you how well we did with our trade talks in China, and it looks like they'll be coming back quickly again," Trump said. "And we're going to have another summit. We're going to have a signing summit, which is even better."



It's going to be A WEEK:

Trump's national emergency: The House is expected to vote (and pass) a resolution to block President Trump's national emergency declaration to build a border wall. It's unclear whether it would be brought to a Senate vote, where Democrats would need at least four Republican votes. Yeah, but: Even if it passes both chambers, Trump would almost certainly veto it. Supporters appear to be far from having the support needed to override a veto.

Likely voting to block the emergency declaration: GOP Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE (Alaska). In her words: "I want to make sure that the resolution of disapproval is exactly what I think it is, because if it is as I understand it to be, I will likely be supporting the resolution to disapprove of the action."

THIS MORNING -- 24 FORMER GOP LAWMAKERS URGED REPUBLICANS TO OPPOSE TRUMP'S EMERGENCY DECLARATION: Via Politico, five former Republican senators and 19 former Republican members of Congress signed a letter urging Republicans to block Trump's declaration to build a wall. Why: They say it hurts constituents by allowing presidents to ignore and bypass Congress's authority.


Michael Cohen is here: President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is testifying before three congressional committees. What he will be grilled on: Trump's conflicts of interest, his business practices and his campaign finance violations.

Background checks for firearm purchases: "The lower chamber is scheduled to bring two bills to the floor aimed at strengthening background checks on those looking to purchase firearms."

The EPA: The Senate will take up the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

Nominations: The Senate will also vote on nominations including for the IRS.

Abortion: "The Senate is set to take an initial vote on legislation from Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseSeveral GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Democrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP MORE (R-Neb.) after comments from Democrats about 'late-term abortion' legislation in Virginia sparked a political firestorm. Sasse's bill would penalize doctors who fail to 'exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion.'

Context and details for each via The Hill's Jordain Carney and Juliegrace Brufke:

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THIS ADMINISTRATION: Republicans are expected to vote on a Trump judicial pick without the support of either of the nominee's home-state senators.



Everything is political these days:

Here are the six most memorable political moments from the Oscars:  

  1. Several performers used the platform for a pro-immigrant push.
  2. Rep. John LewisJohn LewisBill Maher delivers mock eulogy for Trump Hillary Clinton touts student suspended over crowded hallway photo: 'John Lewis would be proud' Maxine Waters expresses confidence Biden will pick Black woman as VP MORE (D-Ga.) got a standing ovation. Watch:
  3. Spike Lee picked up his first Oscar and looked forward to 2020.
  4. Stars knocked President Trump's proposed border wall.
  5. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg got a shout-out. 
  6. Celebrity chef José Andrés honored immigrants and women.

Context and details for each

THIS MORNING -- REACTION FROM THE PRESIDENT: President Trump slammed director Spike Lee for using his acceptance speech to mention the 2020 presidential election. 

He tweeted: "Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts, etc.) than almost any other Pres!"

THE TALK OF THE OSCARS -- YEP, THAT WAS NOTICEABLE: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga sang "Shallow" from "A Star is Born," and viewers couldn't help but notice their natural chemistry. Watch:



55 years ago this month: 


Pigs may not be able to fly, but this is pretty impressive:



8 a.m. EST Tuesday: Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinPPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  Congress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help Senate passes extension of application deadline for PPP small-business loans MORE (D-Md.), Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsMatt Lieberman faces calls to drop out of Georgia Senate race over 'racist and discriminatory' tropes in 2018 book Sabato's Crystal Ball shifts Iowa Senate race to 'toss-up,' Georgia toward GOP Loeffler knocks WNBA players for wearing shirts backing Democratic challenger MORE (R-Ga.), Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Del. Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettDOJ rejects statehood for Puerto Rico — so do Puerto Ricans Bottom line Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins MORE (D-Virgin Islands) speak at an event for The Hill, "Leadership in Action: Criminal Justice Reform." Details and how to RSVP:

9 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence arrived in Bogota, Colombia.

9:55 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence met with the president of Colombia, followed by a larger meeting with Venezuelan officials.

11:25 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence met with Venezuelan migrant families.

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump leaves for Hanoi, Vietnam, for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 

6:40 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence gets back to Washington, D.C.

No longer March 1: President Trump delayed the March 1 deadline for a trade deal with China. Why: Trump cited "substantial progress" in ongoing negotiations.

March 8: President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrump says he would consider pardons for those implicated in Mueller investigation Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - Mask mandates, restrictions issued as COVID-19 spreads MORE has his first of two sentencing hearings. The second hearing is five days later.

Just announced -- April 22: The 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll at the White House. Details and how to apply to attend: 

July 4: President Trump announced yesterday, "HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called 'A Salute To America' and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!" Psssst: This happens every year.



10:35 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence spoke to the Lima Group in Bogota, Colombia. Livestream:



Today is National Chocolate Covered Nut Day. It's also National Clam Chowder Day.


And to brighten your Monday, here are animals who should come with soundtracks. Some of these are incredible: