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

  

NEWS OF THE MORNING

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

Astronomers just unveiled the first ever image of a black hole. https://nyti.ms/2URChqs

Zoomed-out photo from NASA: Seeing the image zoomed out helps give the black hole some context: https://go.nasa.gov/2D1tVCn

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." https://n.pr/2WZ5WeA

Wow, this black hole description: "A cosmic monster so voracious that light itself cannot escape its clutches." http://bit.ly/2Kmykpu

Livestream of the announcement: This. Is. So. Cool.:  https://nyti.ms/2Z4dxKz

^ How astronomers shared the announcement: At six simultaneous press conferences around the world. http://bit.ly/2Kmykpu

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: https://cnn.it/2Vwrpv0

  

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

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IN CONGRESS

The Barr has been set high:

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Democrats to seek ways to compel release of Trump whistleblower complaint Democrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt 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 MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE's Russia report. 

Livestream: https://cs.pn/2UbH55i

Live blog of updates: http://bit.ly/2G3cQsw

 

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. http://bit.ly/2OYLkjI

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: http://bit.ly/2P4acGJ

 

HERE ARE OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

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 TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest 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. http://bit.ly/2VBW5uK

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. http://bit.ly/2IoDVcn

Reasoning from Trump's acting chief of staff: Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition Trump administration asks Supreme Court to take up challenge to consumer bureau NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet MORE said the administration will never hand them over to Democrats.

Reasoning from the Treasury secretary: Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Trump says he's sanctioning Iran's national bank Lawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills 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: http://bit.ly/2VBW5uK

  

IN THE WHITE HOUSE

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." http://bit.ly/2P0Y1dU

  

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 SessionsTrump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Democrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' MORE (R-Ala.), the 33-year-old White House aide is to the right of several Republican senators on immigration." http://bit.ly/2U8TUNT

 

THIS MORNING -- REACTION FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP:

"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." http://bit.ly/2VGDoXb

  

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

'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." http://bit.ly/2Z4c5b5

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." 

 

NOTABLE TWEETS

Hahah oh.:

  

ON TAP

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: http://bit.ly/2HWxKwu

  

WHAT TO WATCH

This morning: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Senate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions State Department's top arms control official leaving MORE testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the 2020 budget. Livestreamhttps://cs.pn/2UuN2zg

This morning: Attorney General William Barr testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the 2020 budget. Livestreamhttps://cs.pn/2UbH55i

7 p.m. EDT: The puck drops on the Stanley Cup playoffs. Preview of tonight's games: https://atnhl.com/2GcfInW

10 p.m. EDT: CNN is holding a town hall with presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert Inslee2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum Overnight Energy: Trump officials formally revoke California emissions waiver | EPA's Wheeler dodges questions about targeting San Francisco over homelessness | 2020 Dems duke it out at second climate forum Yang floats nominating Inslee as 'climate czar' 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. 

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

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! https://bzfd.it/2Ib50Aw

Photos of the cakes -- get at me: https://bzfd.it/2Ib50Aw

  

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: http://bit.ly/2UI0MpV

 

And because you made it this far, here's a kitten who thinks standing on two legs is the right way to live: http://bit.ly/2Geu1IR