The Hill's 12:30 Report: Barr says there was 'spying' on Trump campaign

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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 rejects Dems' tax return deadline | Barr thinks there was 'spying' on Trump campaign | Trump says he hasn't seen Mueller report | GOP senators raise concerns about Miller | Trump defends aide | Dems worry ideological purity tests will divide party | Scientists capture first image of black hole | Stanley Cup playoffs begin



Whoaaaaaaa -- here is the first image of a black hole:

Astronomers just unveiled the first ever image of a black hole.

Zoomed-out photo from NASA: Seeing the image zoomed out helps give the black hole some context:

Dimensions -- nbd: "The enormous black hole is some 55 million light-years from Earth in the Virgo galaxy cluster, with a mass some 6.5 billion times that of our sun."

Wow, this black hole description: "A cosmic monster so voracious that light itself cannot escape its clutches."

Livestream of the announcement: This. Is. So. Cool.:

^ How astronomers shared the announcement: At six simultaneous press conferences around the world.

Here's how they got the photo: It involved combining the power of eight telescopes around the world to create an Earth-sized telescope. Again, no big deal.  Watch:


It's Wednesday -- four days until the last season of "Game of Thrones" begins! 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 Barr has been set high:

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGiuliani considers launching impeachment podcast The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment drama will dominate this week Impeachment tests Barr-Trump relationship MORE is giving his second day of testimony on Capitol Hill as lawmakers wait to see the contents of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE's Russia report. 


Live blog of updates:


Testimony that's getting traction -- I'm sorry, did you say 'spying…?': 

Barr told senators that he is looking into efforts by the FBI to investigate members of the Trump campaign before the 2016 election, saying he believes "spying" took place and he needs to be sure it was justified.

In Barr's words :"I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated, but I need to explore that." Watch:



On providing the grand jury information to Congress: Barr said the sensitive information could leak. "People have to be assured when they go into the grand jury that these are going to be confidential sessions," Barr told the subcommittee. 

On the obstruction of justice decision: Barr said Robert Mueller never told him who he wanted to make the decision on whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE obstructed justice. 


The deadline comes ... and the deadline goes:

The Trump administration is expected to miss today's deadline to hand over President Trump's tax returns. Who set the deadline: Democrats.

Reasoning from Trump: Trump said he cannot make his tax returns public because of an audit. "I would love to give them, but I'm not going to do it while I'm under audit," Trump told reporters this morning.

Reasoning from Trump's acting chief of staff: Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney to file separate suit to fight impeachment subpoena Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition White House struggles to get in sync on impeachment MORE said the administration will never hand them over to Democrats.

Reasoning from the Treasury secretary: Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinNew book questions Harris's record on big banks On The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed Democrats ramp up oversight efforts over 'opportunity zone' incentive MORE was much more reserved. He said he will "comply with the law" but has "not made a comment one way or another whether we would supply the tax returns." 

What to expect:



Haven't seen it. Don't care. I won. Goodbye.:

This morning before departing for Texas, President Trump spoke to reporters.

On the Mueller report: Trump said he has not seen or read special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation. 

In Trump's words: "I have not seen the Mueller report. I have not read the Mueller report. I won. No collusion, no obstruction. I won. ...  As far as I'm concerned I don't care about the Mueller report. I've been totally exonerated."


Stephen Miller isn't winning the 'most popular' award anytime soon: 

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney, "Senate Republicans are raising red flags over the purge at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the apparent rise of White House adviser Stephen Miller."

Why: "Known for his conservative views and work as a staffer for then-Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsFive things to watch at Supreme Court's DACA hearings Trump attends football game with Jeff Sessions' Alabama Senate race opponent Bradley Byrne Impeachment tests Barr-Trump relationship MORE (R-Ala.), the 33-year-old White House aide is to the right of several Republican senators on immigration."



"Stephen is an excellent guy, He's a wonderful person. People don't know him. He's been with me from the beginning ...  Frankly, there's only one person that's running it," Trump said about his administration's agenda. "You know who that is? It's me."



'I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy'

*shouts from the back* She doesn't even go here!:

Via The Hill's Max Greenwood, "Rank-and-file Democrats are increasingly concerned that the 2020 nominating contest is turning into a race toward ideological purity that could fracture the party before any candidate has the chance to take on President Trump."

Former President Obama has this fear: "One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States ... is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, 'Ah, I'm sorry, this is how it's gonna be,' " Obama said at a town hall in Europe. "Then we start sometimes creating what's called a circular firing squad, where you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues." 



Hahah oh.:



The House and Senate are in. President Trump is in Texas today and Vice President Pence is in New York City.

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

11:05 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence spoke about Venezuela at a special session of the United Nations Security Council.

12:40 p.m. EDT: President Trump arrives in San Antonio.

12:50 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence joins a New York City Trump victory lunch.

1:35 p.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a roundtable with supporters and speaks at a joint fundraising committee lunch in San Antonio.

3 p.m. EDT: President Trump leaves San Antonio for Houston.

4:05 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence gets back to the White House.

4:40 p.m. EDT: President Trump speaks and signs an executive order to speed up the construction of energy infrastructure in Crosby, Texas.

6:40 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with supporters and speaks at a joint fundraising committee dinner in Houston.

11:05 p.m. EDT: President Trump gets back to the White House.

8:30 a.m. EDT Thursday: Larry Kudlow, assistant to the president and director of the National Economic Council, sits down with The Hill's Bob Cusack for "The Hill's Newsmaker Series: Tax Cuts and Small Business." Details and how to RSVP:



This morning: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Cheney calls for Turkish leader's bodyguards to be banned from re-entering US Pompeo: Trump to discuss political solution for Syria in meeting with Erdoğan MORE testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the 2020 budget. Livestream

This morning: Attorney General William Barr testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the 2020 budget. Livestream

7 p.m. EDT: The puck drops on the Stanley Cup playoffs. Preview of tonight's games:

10 p.m. EDT: CNN is holding a town hall with presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeO'Rourke ends presidential bid Sunrise Movement organizer: Sanders, Warren boast strongest climate change plans Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate MORE (D).

10 p.m. EDT Thursday: CNN is holding a town hall with presidential candidate and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. 



Today is National Cinnamon Crescent Day.


No soggy bottoms here!:

A bunch of contestants from the Great British Baking Show's fifth season attended for Martha Collison's wedding and all baked wedding cakes for her!

Photos of the cakes -- get at me:


Don't worry, I can't either: 

The Los Angeles Times asked cast members of HBO's "Game of Thrones" to spell the name of character Daenerys TargaryenSee how the cast members did -- it's not pretty:


And because you made it this far, here's a kitten who thinks standing on two legs is the right way to live: