The Hill's 12:30 Report: Boeing faces scrutiny after deadly crashes

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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: Pressure builds on Boeing after 737 crashes | Trump worries planes 'too complex to fly' | Romney, Blumenthal call for jet to be grounded | The Hill exclusive: Biden tells lawmaker he will run | Dems unite against Trump budget, but face own funding challenge | Book claims Trump wanted Ivanka, Jared out of WH | Actresses Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman charged in college admissions scam | Free pancakes at IHOP | Romney's Twinkie birthday cake



I mean, I'd love for Albert Einstein to be my pilot:

This morning, President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE argued that airplane technology is becoming too sophisticated after the Ethiopian Airlines crash over the weekend.

The gist of his argument: "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT." 

Trump's full tweets: "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are ... needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don't know about you, but I don't want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!"


So, real talk -- are Boeing 737 Max 8s safe to fly?:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says yes.

From the FAA: "The FAA continuously assesses and oversees the safety performance of U.S. commercial aircraft," the FAA said. "If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action." Read the FAA's full statement:



UK grounds all 737 Max: British regulators have banned all Boeing 737 Max aircraft as a precautionary measure. How many: Five are registered; a sixth would fly later this week.

And Norwegian Air did, too: Norwegian Air grounded its fleet of 737 Max 8s.



So far, Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney: 'Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery' A US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE (R-Utah,), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (D-Mass.) have called for Boeing 737 Max 8s to be grounded.



Boeing told The Hill: "Safety is Boeing's number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets … based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators." The full statement:



"To help worried travelers determine what plane they are scheduled to fly on, and their rights if they choose not to board, we talked to airlines, passenger advocates and insurance experts."




And in North America specifically:


New software update for Boeing 737s:

Via Reuters, "Boeing Co confirmed late on Monday it will deploy a software upgrade to the 737 MAX 8, a few hours after the Federal Aviation Administration said it would mandate "design changes" in the aircraft by April."

What Boeing added: The company offered condolences to the 157 people that died. 


It's Tuesday. 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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The Hill exclusive -- Biden told a senior Dem that he's running:

Via The Hill's Scott Wong and Amie Parnes, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' 'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices MORE told a senior Democratic lawmaker this past week that he will run for president in 2020.

In Biden's words: "I'm giving it a shot." 

Why Biden told that lawmaker: "In the brief phone call, the former vice president asked if he could bounce some campaign strategy ideas off the lawmaker and invited the lawmaker to sit down with him in person in the near future. Biden also said he hoped to have the lawmaker's support, something the lawmaker did not commit to."

Read the full report:

Op-ed on why Biden could win:


Nooo, not Aunt Becky! I hope Uncle Jesse wasn't involved:

"Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among at least 40 people charged in a large-scale college entrance exam cheating scheme, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday."

The alleged cheating scheme: "The alleged scheme focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to the indictment unsealed in Boston." 

Colleges the students wanted to attend: Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, the University of San Diego, USC, University of Texas, Wake Forest and Yale. 

Keep in mind: There is no indication that any of the schools were aware of the alleged scheme.

What we know:




*Cracks knuckles and pulls out the charming smile*:

Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, as a last-ditch effort to convince Senate Republicans to vote against Democrats' national emergency wall declaration, President Trump is trying to pressure the GOP.

From White House press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersApril Ryan's bodyguard issued summons over alleged assault of local journalist Sarah Sanders: Democrats should 'quit lying and do their jobs' Biden pledges return to daily press briefings as president MORE Sanders: "We talk to a number of members every single day, certainly at the presidential and the staff level, and we're going to continue to engage with them in this process." 


Five takeaways from Trump's budget -- most notably, it *clap* won't *clap* go *clap* anywhere:

  1. Trump sees wall fight as political winner
  2. Debt doesn't matter to Trump
  3. The budget relies on inflated economic expectations
  4. The budget is not going anywhere with Congress
  5. Trump's base is still his most important audience

Context and details for each from The Hill's Niv Elis:

HOW DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO STAY UNITED BUT HAVE BIGGER FISH TO FRY: Think: Democratic Party leaders are set to release their own budget blueprint, which will end any short-lived unity in the party.


Ouch, not Trump's ~two~ favorite children -- yes, I meant what I said:

According to New York Times excerpts of a new book, President Trump directed his former chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE to "get rid of" his daughter Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Trump Jr. dismisses conflicts of interest, touts projects in Indonesia MORE and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared PETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign MORE from the White House because his children "didn't know how to play the game."

REACTION FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: White House officials and a representative for Jared Kushner denied the claims.




OK, now on the next take I want to see some tears. Make me feel the scene:

Via The Hill's Olivia Beavers, "Lawmakers are clashing over GOP allegations that Democrats met extensively with Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenCapitol Police advised Gaetz against holding open events I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Wyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations MORE before his scheduled testimonies, an early sign of partisan divides growing deeper amid the House investigations into the Trump administration."

What Republicans are alleging: Democrats knew what Cohen would say beforehand and may have coached his testimony.

What Democrats are saying: Republicans' claims are wrong and that meeting with witnesses beforehand is standard practice. 


This morning -- Sen. Gillibrand responds to claims her office mishandled sexual misconduct allegations:

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Sanders unveils plan to double union membership in first term The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden expands lead in new national poll MORE (D-N.Y.) defended how her office handled sexual misconduct accusations from a former staffer against a male aide.

Gillibrand told reporters: "We investigated claims of sexual harassment and derogatory comments. We interviewed all current employees that had relevant information. We were able to substantiate derogatory comments and [were] not able to substantiate the sexual harassment. The sexual harassment claims did not rise to the level of sexual harassment." 

On the former staffer who made the allegations: "I told this employee at the time that she was loved and we loved her. I deeply valued her." 

BACK STORY: Via Politico's Alex Thompson and Daniel Strauss, "Former Gillibrand aide resigned in protest over handling of sex harassment claims." The full story:



Hulify! Spotilu! Spulu! Hulispot!:

Hulu and Spotify announced this morning that the two services will be offered for one $9.99 monthly membership fee.

How it worked before: "The companies previously offered a bundle in 2018 that allowed users to include Hulu membership with their Spotify account for a monthly fee of $12.99. Spotify wrote in Tuesday's press release that those users would see their monthly bill reduced under the new pay scale." 



That's a crowning achievement, Erin. Be proud:


His reaction is pretty great -- Twinkies tho?:

What is interesting here: How Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) blew out his candles. I really appreciate that he pulled each of them out before blowing on them. Much more sanitary. Watch:

Happy Birthday, senator! 



The House and Senate are in.

11:45 a.m. EDT: President Trump is given the Boy Scouts' report to the nation.

1:45 p.m. EDT: President Trump signs the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

2 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House. 

Today -- March 17: SXSW 2019. The schedule and lineup:



This morning: Vice President Pence spoke at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. Livestream:



Today is National Pancake Day!

How to celebrate: IHOP is giving away free pancakes today. Details:     


If you enjoy watching Lifetime-style royal family movies:

(Don't worry, I'll keep it between us.)

Netflix announced it is creating a third movie in the "Christmas Prince" series: "Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby." When it will be released: Next holiday season. Details:


And because you deserve to watch something a bit lighter, here's a dog who is learning to hula-hoop: