The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden denies treating Anita Hill 'badly'

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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: Biden says he didn't treat Anita Hill 'badly' | Declines to apologize to women accusers | Trump takes a shot at Biden's age | Gloves start to come off in Dem 2020 race | Trump defends Charlottesville remarks | Calls Robert E. Lee a 'great general' | Trump says he didn't tell McGahn to fire Mueller | Preview of WHCD weekend | National Pretzel Day



A Don v. Don fight:

While speaking to reporters outside the White House this morning before leaving for Indianapolis, Ind., President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE said he did not order former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire 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, despite McGahn’s testimony to the contrary.

In Trump’s words: "I’m a student of history. I see what you get when you fire people, and it’s not good ... I never told Don McGahn to fire Mueller. If I wanted to fire Mueller I would’ve done it myself. It’s very simple. I had the right to. And frankly, whether I did or [McGahn] did, we had the absolute right to fire Mueller." 


What now?

The president also defended his 2017 comments when he argued there were "very fine people on both sides" in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., when a counterprotester died.

In Trump’s words: "If you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general. Whether you like it or not, he was a great general. ... People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that."

For context: “He said this while standing about 500 feet away from the exact spot where Robert E. Lee declined command of the Union Army and decided to take up arms against his country in defense of slavery.” (Via The IJR’s Josh Billinson)

Lol ouch: “I thought he didn't like people who got captured.” (From The New York Times’s Astead W. Herndon


TRUMP ALSO TOOK A SHOT A Joe BidenJoe BidenButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California MORE, BECAUSE WHY NOT?:

When asked if there was an age factor in the 2020 race, Trump said, “I just feel like a young man. I am a young, vibrant man. ... I look at Joe, I don’t know about him” while nodding and smiling at the press corps. “I would never say anyone’s too old, but I know they’re all making me look very young, both in terms of age and I think in terms of energy.”


Happy Friday! 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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You go, Glen Coco!:

Via The Hill’s Sylvan Lane, the U.S. economy grew 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019, blowing past expectations.

For context: Economists expected the economy to grow roughly 2.5 percent.

When will we have the full numbers: A fuller data set of that estimate will be released on May 30.

What this means for the U.S. economy: “The surprisingly high first quarter growth rate is the latest sign of strength for the U.S. economy well into its 10th year of expansion since the Great Recession. The economy grew at a solid 2.9-percent rate in 2018, but slowing growth and severe financial market turmoil to end the year raised concerns of an impending slowdown. Despite a sluggish start to 2019, the U.S. economy has added an average 180,000 jobs per month this year while the stock market has reached record highs.”


American Airlines is taking a pretty big hit because of Boeing: 

Via Reuters’ Sanjana Shivdas and Tracy Rucinski, American Airlines said it is expecting to take a $350 million hit from the groundings of the Boeing 737 Max plane.

How many aircraft American had to ground: 24



That is a bold move, North Korea. Bold move.:

The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield reported that North Korea sent the United States a $2 million bill for the hospital care that American student Otto Warmbier received.

Why: North Korea insists that the U.S. pledged to pay for his medical care before Warmbier was allowed to return home. 

What happened with the bill: “The bill went to the Treasury Department, where it remained — unpaid — throughout 2017, the people said. However, it is unclear whether the Trump administration later paid the bill, or whether it came up during preparations for [President Trump’s] two summits with Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnHuman rights: Help or hindrance to toppling dictators? North Korea says US offered to resume nuclear talks in December North Korea issues warning over US-South Korea drills MORE.” 

Keep in mind: As recently as September, Trump said the U.S. did not pay to get American “hostages” back. 


Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in March 2016 on charges of pulling down a North Korean propaganda sign at a hotel in Pyongyang. The U.S. found out 15 months later that Warmbier had been in a coma since his sentencing and negotiated his return. Warmbier died when he returned home.


^ This morning — Trump responds: 

President Trump did not deny that North Korea sent a $2 million bill for Warmbier’s care but said the United States never paid North Korea’s request.

Trump tweeted: “No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else.” 

He then criticized Obama: “This is not the Obama Administration that paid 1.8 Billion Dollars for four hostages, or gave five terrorist hostages plus, who soon went back to battle, for traitor Sgt. Bergdahl!”

It’s a cool nickname, but you can’t give yourself nicknames. That’s the rule: “Chief Hostage Negotiator, USA!” Trump tweeted.



Just now — Biden’s first TV interview since his 2020 announcement:

Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared on ABC’s “The View” this morning for his first televised interview since he announced he is running for president in 2020.

Biden declined to apologize to women accusers: “I’m really sorry if what I did in talking to them in trying to console, if in fact they took it in a different way. It’s my responsibility to make sure that I bend over backwards to understand how not to do that ...  So I invaded your space and I’m sorry this happened. But I’m not sorry in the sense I think I did anything that was intentionally wrong or did anything inappropriate.”

On Anita Hill: “I’m sorry for the way she got treated. Look at what I said and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly ...  I believed Dr. Hill, I believed what she was saying. There were a lot of mistakes made across the board and for those I apologize. We could have conducted it better but I believed Dr. Hill from the beginning and I said it.”

Other tidbits from the interview:


Drop your gloves:

Via The Hill’s Jonathan Easley, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination are showing signs it could get nasty.

Why that’s especially noteworthy: The race “so far has resembled more of a tea party than a barroom brawl.”  

An example: “South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule Ocasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field MORE (D) said this week he didn’t think Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings MORE (I-Vt.) could rebuild the coalition that pushed his 2016 candidacy forward, a line many saw as a shot undercutting a rival campaign. Those remarks came after Sanders's campaign co-chairman Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDemocratic lawmaker: It 'defies logic' for Trump to push Ukraine to investigate Biden Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All' Justice Democrats official denies that progressives struggle with electability MORE (D-Calif.) lashed out at Buttigieg for comparing Sanders's supporters to President' Trump's, even though Buttigieg had been praising Sanders for reaching out to the anti-establishment voters that Democrats have been accused of ignoring.” 

Other examples of the race turning ugly:



Nerd prom weekend!:

Tonight kicks off the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner weekend. 

Is Trump attending?: No, he is holding a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wis., on Saturday.





The Hill’s “In The Know” blog is tracking the weekend’s news and festivities:



This looks like the cover of a romantic thriller:


This is incredible: 



The House and Senate are out until next week.

8 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings The Hill's Morning Report - Witness transcripts plow ground for public impeachment testimony MORE left Washington, D.C., for Indianapolis.

9 a.m. EDT: President Trump left Washington, D.C., for Indianapolis.

1 p.m. EDT: President Trump leaves Indianapolis and heads back to Washington, D.C.

4:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the White House and holds bilateral meetings.

5:40 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence attends a Trump Victory event in Indianapolis.

7:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings MORE host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, for dinner at the White House residence. 

Saturday evening: The annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Details:

April 29: The Hill editor-in-chief Bob Cusack interviews Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoJudge rules American-born woman who joined ISIS not a US citizen Human rights: Help or hindrance to toppling dictators? The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing MORE for The Hill's Newsmaker series. Details and how to RSVP:



This morning: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to State Department employees. Livestream:

11:10 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis. Livestream:

11:35 a.m. EDT: President Trump spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis. Livestream:



Today is National Pretzel Day!


If you want a quick break from work, I highly suggest watching this:


And to get your weekend off to an entertaining start, here’s a dog who has mastered the art of breaking and entering: