The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems plot next steps over 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: Dems face tough decisions after Mueller report | Prosecutors drop all charges against Jussie Smollett | DOJ asks court to strike down ObamaCare | Buttigieg could be Dems' breakout star | Trump to meet with Senate GOP | Senators to vote on Green New Deal |  Turkey vulture crashes through ESPN window | Man sends fake bills for $122M to Facebook, Google

 

LATEST WITH THE MUELLER REPORT

What Pelosi is thinking: You won this round, DJT:

House Democrats are scrambling to figure out next steps after 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 Russia report cleared 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. http://bit.ly/2FzHo5R

Where Dems now stand: "The development has both deflated Democrats and put them on the defensive, forcing them to shift tactics and ratchet up pressure on Barr to release Mueller's full report, as well as the underlying evidence that shaped it." 

Why Dems need to be careful in finding a new strategy: "On one hand, they'll face pressures from a liberal base clamoring for more aggressive oversight of Trump and his inner circle. On the other, they don't want to overreach and alienate moderate voters as public fatigue over the marathon investigation sets in."

 

TIDBIT THIS MORNING -- MAMA NANCY GIVES A PEP TALK:

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE (D-Calif.) told Democrats: "We have to handle this professionally, officially, patriotically, strategically." http://bit.ly/2Yj7YHQ

 

HOW THE MEDIA TOOK A SERIOUS HIT FROM THE REPORT'S CONCLUSIONS:
http://bit.ly/2HTvSEb

 

THE BIG STORY LINE TODAY -- HOW REPUBLICANS HAVE SWITCHED TO THE OFFENSIVE:

Via The New York Times's Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos, "President Trump and his Republican allies went on the offensive on Monday, vowing to pursue and even punish those responsible for the Russia investigation now that the special counsel has wrapped up without implicating him or his campaign in a criminal conspiracy to influence the 2016 election." What to expect: https://nyti.ms/2TVY5RX

 

^ THE PAYBACK TRUMP IS PLANNING:

http://bit.ly/2HEfQih

  

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 cmartel@thehill.com -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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BREAKING

All charges against Jussie Smollet have been dropped:

Prosecutors dropped all 16 felony charges against "Empire" actor" Jussie Smollethttps://nbcnews.to/2TFHAEM

From the prosecutors: "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case." https://cnn.it/2WrlMy7

From his attorneys: "Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result." https://nbcnews.to/2TFHAEM

Back story: "In February, he was charged with felony disorderly conduct after Chicago officers said he orchestrated his own alleged hate crime on himself in January because he was unhappy with his salary on the show 'Empire.'" https://nbcnews.to/2TFHAEM

  

GETTING TRACTION

Front door was unsuccessful. Let's try the back!:

Via The Hill's Peter Sullivan, "The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday announced that it is siding with a district court ruling that found the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional." 

What changed: "The DOJ previously argued in court that the law's pre-existing condition protections should be struck down. Now, the administration argues the entire law should be invalidated."

Keep in mind: The lawsuit was brought by 20 GOP-led states. Most legal experts in both parties do not think this lawsuit will ultimately succeed.

 

REACTION FROM HOUSE MINORITY LEADER Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' MORE:

When asked about the Trump administration's position that all of ObamaCare should be struck down in court, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters, "Just call the office and we'll follow back to you." I.e.: McCarthy is stuck between a rock and a hard place. http://bit.ly/2FAEqx4

 

REACTION FROM THE FORMER NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR:

Peter Sullivan tweeted, "Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Republicans offer support for Steve King challenger The United States broken patent system is getting worse MORE, NRCC chair until recently, won't comment on DOJ calling for ACA to be struck down, says he hasn't seen it." http://bit.ly/2UZBZug

^Lol: The Hill's Ian Swanson tweeted back, "You might get a lot of this today." http://bit.ly/2TWB816

  

NEWS THIS MORNING

Pompeo expands an anti-abortion policy:

"Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoChina threatens to sanction US firms over sales of F-16s to Taiwan Trump moves forward with billion F-16 sale to Taiwan Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week MORE on Tuesday announced an expansion of the so-called Mexico City policy that bans U.S. aid from going to foreign groups that promote or provide abortions." Details: http://bit.ly/2YrMGYA

What that means: "The expansion closes a loophole, Pompeo said at a press conference, that allowed nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign aid to fund other groups that support abortion." 

  

FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Repeat after me -- boot-a-jej, boot-edge-edge:

Via The Hill's Amie Parnes, presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegTop adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' Biden, Sanders lead Trump in hypothetical match-ups: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes MORE, who is relatively unknown nationally, is showing signs his campaign could pick up steam. http://bit.ly/2U0Am2S

One piece of evidence: A new Emerson Polling survey shows Buttigieg in third, only trailing 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 and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate 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 (I-Vt.).

Other reasons he could become a breakout star: http://bit.ly/2U0Am2S

 

A VIRAL MOMENT OVER THE WEEKEND:

Buttigieg, who speaks seven languages, took a question from a Norwegian reporter and answered in their native language. Watch -- OKAAAY: http://bit.ly/2TzJUx1

 

IF YOU'RE STILL STRUGGLING TO PRONOUNCE HIS NAME:

Aaron Nemo, a writer at "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," wrote a jingle about the pronunciation of "Buttigieg." Watchhttp://bit.ly/2UWPPxz

 

Here are photos of 2020 candidates who are running:

Op-ed: http://bit.ly/2FB9EVN

  

NOTABLE TWEETS

Yes, this should help with my fear of birds. Absolutely.:

Full-size photos -- yikes: http://bit.ly/2YqypLR

 

There are pants. AND THERE ARE PANTS.:

Over the weekend, President Trump played gold with Kid Rock. http://bit.ly/2TwqPLX

 

ON TAP

The House and Senate are in.

9 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence leaves Washington, D.C., for Huntsville, Ala.

11:45 a.m. EDT: President Trump received an intelligence briefing.

1 p.m. EDT: President Trump has lunch with Senate Republicans. 

2 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House. The House's full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2TVSZFj

2:15 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes today on the Green New Deal proposal, with most Democrats expected to vote "present." Also up, a vote on Bridget S. Bade to be U.S. circuit judge for the 9th Circuit. The Senate's full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2WoBYQK

3:05 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence tours the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. 

3:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with members of Congress to discuss trade. 

5:35 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence gets back to Washington, D.C.

Today: AIPAC Policy Conference 2019 in Washington, D.C. Details: http://bit.ly/2FAPLy5

 

WHAT TO WATCH

1 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at the fifth National Space Council meeting in Huntsville, Ala. Livestream: http://bit.ly/2FtogWb

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Today is National Spinach Day.

  

I'm not laughing. This is a terrible crime:

A man admits to sending fake bills to Facebook and Google. The companies believed the documents and gave the man $122 million. How the scheme worked: http://bit.ly/2CD8JlK

  

And to break up your Tuesday afternoon, here's a dog petting another dog: http://bit.ly/2JHdIYS