The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems fight with Barr escalates

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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: Breaking - Trump says Moore withdrawing from Fed consideration | Pelosi accuses Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress | DOJ fires back at 'baseless attack' | House Dems blast Barr for skipping hearing | Dem brings fried chicken to mock AG | Rift opens between Mueller, Barr | Bennet jumps into 2020 race | Buttigieg gets 'First Family' Time cover | Japan's PM installs beaver door knocker | Wendy's introduces Frosty cookie sundae 



Barr. William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE

Do we have a William Barr? 

That's 'William Barr':

Attorney General William Barr refused to testify for his planned House Judiciary Committee hearing today, arguing that Democrats have put "unprecedented" conditions on his appearance. Barr's refusal sets up a major clash between Barr and House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee.

To call attention to his absence: The House Judiciary Committee left an empty chair in the committee room to highlight Barr's absence.

Funny tidbit -- this is all of us: "Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Boeing CEO gives up bonus over 737 Max crashes Democrat says he voted to recognize Armenian genocide because 'Turkey doesn't seem to respect' US MORE (D-Tenn.) just arrived to the Judiciary hearing with a bucket of KFC fried chicken. He is eating the chicken. It is not even 9am yet." (Via Politico's Andrew Desiderio



Democrats blasted Barr for skipping his testimony. "Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) tore into Barr, accusing him of failing to check President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE's 'worst instincts' and misrepresenting Mueller's findings." How other Dems reacted:



Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, Democrats are hoping the criticisms of Attorney General William Barr will sideline him from future decisions about investigating President Trump


THE RIFT MIGHT EXTEND TO BARR'S LONGTIME FRIEND, Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE:

William Barr and special counsel Robert Mueller are good friends, but the public disagreements over the handling of the Russia investigation report is causing some strain on their relationship. How that could play out:


It's Thursday. 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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Now let's talk about the hearing that ~did~ happen:

Attorney General William Barr appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday to answer questions about his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report.



  1. Democrats found new impetus -- "Democrats have new wind in their sails following the revelation that Mueller had written in protest to Barr in March, soon after the attorney general released a four-page document outlining the special counsel's principal conclusions."
  1. Barr's credibility took more hits -- "It wasn't only the contacts with Mueller that caused the attorney general problems. His own answers at times undercut his credibility."
  1. 2020 Dems delivered a mixed performance in grilling Barr -- "The committee includes three Democrats who are running for president: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisFive takeaways from the Democratic debate Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (Calif.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (Minn.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (N.J.)"
  1. The GOP is circling wagons on Barr-- "The attorney general can take solace from the fact there is no sign at all that Republicans are weakening in their support for him." 
  1. All eyes are on Mueller-- "Democrats no longer believe -- if they ever did -- that Barr's word can be trusted. That means they are ardent about hearing from Mueller himself."

Context and details for each:


Just now -- Pelosi accuses Barr of committing a crime:

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiKlobuchar shuts down idea a woman can't beat Trump: 'Pelosi does it every day' Budowsky: Trump destroying GOP in 2018, '19, '20 On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE (D-Calif.) accused Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to lawmakers.

Pelosi said during her press conference this morning: "What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That's a crime." 

Immediate reaction from the Department of Justice: "Speaker Pelosi's baseless attack on the Attorney General is reckless, irresponsible, and false."

Watch Pelosi's reasoning:


Breaking -- For the first time in nearly a decade:

House Democrats just passed the first climate bill in nearly a decade.

The vote: 231-190 -- three Republicans supported the bill. 

What the bill would do: The bill "seeks to block the Trump administration from exiting the Obama-era Paris climate agreement, among other actions. Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the measure."

What's next: The bill heads to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE (R-Ky.) says the bill "will go nowhere." 

Tidbit: "that was a very long vote series and there will be a lot of 'hold the plane!' action happening at DCA today" (Tweet from Politico's Sarah Ferris



Breaking -- Stephen MooreStephen MooreOn The Money: Trump seeks to shift spotlight from impeachment to economy | Appropriators agree to Dec. 20 funding deadline | New study says tariffs threaten 1.5M jobs Trump tax adviser floats middle-class cuts ahead of 2020 Sunday shows - Next impeachment phase dominates MORE withdraws: 

President Trump just tweeted, "Steve Moore, a great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person, has decided to withdraw from the Fed process. Steve won the battle of ideas including Tax Cuts and deregulation which have produced non-inflationary prosperity for all Americans. I've asked Steve to work with me toward future economic growth in our Country."

Just a half hour ago, Stephen Moore told The Wall Street Journal that he is not withdrawing from consideration to be on the Federal Reserve Board.

Earlier today, Moore told Bloomberg News, "I'm all in." He said: "I talked to the White House yesterday. They're all in." Photo of Moore this morning via Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs:


Started from the bottom, now we're here:

President Trump's approval rating on the economy is at an all-time high, according to a new CNN poll.

The numbers: 56 percent of respondents said they approve of Trump's handling of the economy; 41 percent disapproved. 

Trump's last record high: In March 2017, 55 percent approved of his handling of the economy. 

Read the full CNN poll:



OK, seriously guys. Not everyone can run for president:

Colorado Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand Bennet2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the November forum Fox News anchor apologizes for saying Booker dropped out of 2020 race Klobuchar unveils plan to secure elections as president MORE (D) announced he is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Bennet's reasoning: "My plan is to run for president ...  I think this country faces two enormous challenges. One is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans, and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government ... We cannot be the first generation to leave less to our kids, not more. That's why I'm running for President." 

Photo of Bennet's campaign logo: Yep, that's a standard campaign logo.


Speaking of Buttimentum: 

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico MORE and his husband Chasten Buttigieg made this week's cover of Time Magazine:

Photo of the cover: "First Family: Mayor Pete Buttigieg's Unlikely, Untested, Unprecedented Presidential Campaign."

He hasn't changed much:



You get as many calls as you want:

New York City is becoming the first major city in the United States to make phone calls from jail free.

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioDe Blasio knocks Bloomberg over stop and frisk apology Deval Patrick enters 2020 race De Blasio slams Bloomberg run for president: He 'epitomizes the status quo' MORE said in a statement: "For too long have people in custody faced barriers to basic aspects of everyday life that can help create more humane jails." 



Just what my doorway needs -- an adorable beaver door knocker!:

The prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, installed the door knocker. 

For context: "The Japanese really are the world's most polite people. Almost any other world leader would have 'forgotten' the gift in the hotel room." (Tweet from The Atlantic's David Frum)



The House and Senate are in. President Trump and Vice President Pence are both in Washington, D.C.

2:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump and Vice President Pence meet with Republican members of the Senate.

5 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's Morning Report - Wild Wednesday: Sondland testimony, Dem debate take center stage The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings MORE participate in a Young America Foundation event.

Sunday: Cinco de Mayo.

Monday: Golfer Tiger Woods will visit the White House and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, according to reports.



This morning: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report. Attorney General William Barr did not show up. Livestream:

10:45 a.m. EDT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a press briefing. Livestream:

11 a.m. EDT: President Trump, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Wild Wednesday: Sondland testimony, Dem debate take center stage Billy Ray Cyrus thanks Melania Trump after meeting with family of cyberbullying victim Trump rips speculation about his health after Walter Reed visit MORE, Vice President Pence and second lady Karen Pence participated in the National Day of Prayer Service in the Rose Garden. Livestream:

12:30 p.m. EDT: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthySaagar Enjeti expresses concern over MSNBC hosting debate after Weinstein scandal Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Saagar Enjeti blasts alleged Epstein cover-up by media MORE (R-Calif.) holds a press briefing. Livestream



Today is National Chocolate Truffle Day.


A D.C. summer lawn without the humidity:

Via DCist, the National Building Museum is creating a summer exhibit, "The Lawn."

What to expect: "The experience starts at the entrance with a two-story mural of the sky, which can be climbed for dramatic views of the interior. An indoor trail then leads visitors to a sloping lawn with lounging areas. Hammocks suspended from the ceiling of the vast Great Hall will feature hidden speakers with audio tales of summertime memories from 'prominent American storytellers.' Kids will be able to chase augmented reality fireflies. You better believe there will be yoga on the lawn (which is actually a recyclable surface made out of sugarcane), along with movie nights and other summer-y events." 


Okayyyyy, Wendy's. I'm picking up what you're putting down:

Wendy's just debuted a new Frosty cookie sundae with Ghirardelli chocolate sauce. Photo -- yuuuuup:


And because you made it this far, here's a viral seagull auditioning to be a traffic reporter: