The Hill's 12:30 Report: Acosta under fire over Epstein plea deal

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Acosta under fire over Epstein plea deal

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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: Acosta under fire over Epstein plea deal | Acosta defends deal, calls Epstein's crimes 'horrific' | Democrats call for him to step down | White House defends labor chief | Appeals court rules Trump can't block people on Twitter | House Judiciary to subpoena Trump officials | Steyer jumps into 2020 race | Trump slams UK ambassador as 'very stupid' | Dems target McConnell to rally base | Ross Perot dies | Kohl's taking Amazon returns | Officials' summer reading lists

 

TALK OF THE MORNING

Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaAppeals court finds prosecutors' secret plea agreement with Epstein didn't break law Florida sheriff ends work release program criticized over Jeffery Epstein The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by National Association of Manufacturers — Whistleblower complaint roils Washington MORE is under fire for Jeffrey Epstein's plea deal:

Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaAppeals court finds prosecutors' secret plea agreement with Epstein didn't break law Florida sheriff ends work release program criticized over Jeffery Epstein The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by National Association of Manufacturers — Whistleblower complaint roils Washington MORE is under fire for a secret 2008 plea deal for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein that allowed Epstein to avoid a possible life sentence. Epstein was charged Monday with sex trafficking involving minors. He has pleaded not guilty. Critics say that prosecutors should have been tougher on Epstein in 2008. http://bit.ly/2YII0gX

How Acosta fits into this: Acosta was serving as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and was involved in the plea deal. https://cbsn.ws/2YGTPUE

 

BREAKING REACTION FROM TRUMP: 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE just defended Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta
 
Trump just told reporters — about Acosta: Trump said Acosta has been a "very good" Labor secretary and said he probably wished he handled the Epstein case differently. Trump also said he would be looking at the case "very carefully." http://bit.ly/2XCEaEC

  

JUST NOW -- ACOSTA DEFENDS THE PLEA DEAL:

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defended the non-prosecution agreement with Jeffrey Epsteinhttp://bit.ly/2YHJ18J

Acosta tweeted: "The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence. With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator." http://bit.ly/2YHJ18J

 

REACTIONS:

From Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE (D-Calif.): Pelosi called for Acosta to resign. She tweeted: ".@SecretaryAcosta must step down. As US Attorney, he engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice. This was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet. #AcostaResign" http://bit.ly/2YIMpQV

From White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Watchdog group accuses Stephen Miller of violating Hatch Act with Biden comments Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom MORE: Conway defended Acosta. She told reporters: [Trump] met Alex Acosta when Alex applied and got the job, where he's doing a great job. You look at the economy." http://bit.ly/2YKRat4 

  

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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ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

'You know what the 2020 presidential race needs a little more of? Me.':

Billionaire liberal activist Tom SteyerTom SteyerSteyer endorses reparations bill, commits to working with Jackson Lee Progressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Jacksonville mandates face coverings as GOP convention approaches MORE announced this morning that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for president. http://bit.ly/2xFc7de

What Steyer has been up to: Steyer is one of President Trump's fiercest critics and has launched a group to rally support for Trump's impeachment. He considered running for president last winter but instead decided to focus on Trump's impeachment efforts. 

Why Steyer has an advantage: He is independently wealthy and already has a team of staffers from his existing political groups.

Why Steyer could have a hard time -- the obvious: Steyer is entering the race late and is trying to break into an already-crowded field of Democrats. He will likely face criticism from liberal groups because of his ability to self-fund his campaign.

Starting tomorrow: "Tom Steyer is placing new TV ad spending in IA, NV, NH and SC. Start date is tomorrow, 7/10" http://bit.ly/2YJjdJl

Updated chart from The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty: "Yup. It's getting messy again." Photo of the white board: http://bit.ly/2YS2lA8

This made me laugh, so thought I would share: "If I had a billion dollars I would buy the Batmobile from Batman Returns, teach a dog how to ride a tricycle, fund National Treasure 3, and then probably go live in a secluded mansion on some tropical island and never even consider running for president." (Tweet from IJR's Josh Billinsonhttp://bit.ly/2G3Xcxw

One in, one out: Yesterday, Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellSwalwell: Barr has taken Michael Cohen's job as Trump's fixer The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Chris Christie says Trump team wasn't aggressive enough early in COVID-19 crisis; Tensions between White House, Fauci boil over Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO MORE (D-Calif.) dropped out of the 2020 race for president. https://politi.co/2YRq57T

Op-ed: http://bit.ly/2YKN5Fg

  

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT TOM STEYER: 

http://bit.ly/2YHPIYA

 

TIDBIT -- WHAT 2020 CANDIDATES ARE READING:

Via Politico Magazine, here's a list of what 2020 Democratic candidates, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump: Yates either lying or grossly incompetent Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Trump knocks Sally Yates ahead of congressional testimony MORE and other political leaders are reading this summer: https://politi.co/2G3PWlD

 

NEWS THIS MORNING

Rest in peace, Ross Perot:

Via Dallas News's Cheryl Hall, billionaire businessman and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot died at 89 after a five-month battle with leukemia. http://bit.ly/2YOnj3e

Read his obituary: http://bit.ly/2YOnj3e

  

IN THE WHITE HOUSE

But blocking is so satisfying!:

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that President Trump cannot block Twitter users from his official account. http://bit.ly/2YILhNb

Keep in mind about Trump's Twitter account: "The president uses his Twitter account to make announcements, from personnel changes within his administration to the implementation of new policies." 

Reasoning from the judges: "The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees." 

  

No fat lady singing yet: 

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump: Yates either lying or grossly incompetent Trump administration awarding M in housing grants to human trafficking survivors Trump stokes conspiracy about Epstein death, stands by wishes for Ghislaine Maxwell MORE told The Associated Press that he believes, like President Trump, that the citizenship question can still be added to the 2020 census despite the Supreme Court's ruling against it. http://bit.ly/2YM13a0

In Barr's words: "I agree with him that the Supreme Court decision was wrong." Barr also said that he thinks there is "an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that." 

Barr's rationale: That is unclear. Barr didn't explain how the administration might go about including the question.

  

When was the last time you described someone as wacky:

This morning, President Trump ramped up his criticism against the British ambassador to the United States, calling him "wacky," "a very stupid guy" and a "pompous fool." http://bit.ly/2YIBNl5

For example -- one of Trump's tweets: "The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled." Read Trump's full tweets: http://bit.ly/2YEVaLS

What sparked this: In newly unearthed memos, British Ambassador Kim Darroch reportedly described President Trump as "incompetent" and "inept." http://bit.ly/2YS7JmQ

  

IN CONGRESS

Happening on Thursday -- more subpoenas!:

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Thursday to authorize subpoenas of current and former Trump administration officials. http://bit.ly/2YENjxI

Why: They are related to the committee's investigation of alleged obstruction of justice and the administration's immigration policies. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement: "For months, we have held hearings and sent letters to the agencies of jurisdiction involved with implementing a catastrophic and inhumane family separation policy at the Southern border. Many questions remain and it is past time for a full accounting of this policy and practice. ... The Committee will also move forward with our efforts to request information from critical witnesses as part of our ongoing investigation into obstruction, corruption and abuse of power by the President and his associates." 

  

Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE is getting Photoshop-ready: 

Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, Democrats are planning to demonize Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by using him as the poster boy for the 2020 congressional elections. http://bit.ly/2YESe1O

Why: "McConnell has often flown below the public's radar with his low-key demeanor, but after two bruising Supreme Court fights over the past three years and the recent accumulation of House-passed bills going nowhere in the Senate, Democrats say using McConnell as a rallying banner can be part of a winning strategy." 

What to expect: http://bit.ly/2YESe1O

 

ALSO THIS MORNING -- MCCONNELL GETS A CHALLENGER: 

"Retired Marine and previous Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath on Tuesday announced that she is launching a 2020 challenge against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) in Kentucky." http://bit.ly/2YGAx1T

  

NOTABLE TWEETS

One positive from yesterday's flash flooding in D.C.

 

 

ON TAP

The Senate is in. The House meets this afternoon. President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C. 

11 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence met with the Latvian prime minister.

Noon -- 1:35 p.m. EDT: President Trump meets with the emir of Qatar. Vice President Pence also attends.

12:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate breaks for weekly caucus luncheons.

2 p.m. EDT: The House meets.

4:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate votes on a nomination. The Senate's full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2YJz9eG

6:30 p.m. EDT: Votes in the House. The House's full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2YHotxp 

July 17: Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE will testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. http://bit.ly/2Llw8gS

  

WHAT TO WATCH

2 p.m. EDT: Senate Republican leaders hold a press conference. Livestream: https://cs.pn/2YOtjJi

2:30 p.m. EDT: Senate Democratic leaders hold a press conference. Livestream: https://cs.pn/2YOtynG

3 p.m. EDT: A Senate subcommittee is holding a hearing on NASA exploration. Livestream: https://cs.pn/2YKakiI

9 p.m. EDT: U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe will appear on MSNBC's "The Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowHere are top contenders to be Biden's VP Juan Williams: We must not become numb to Trump's abnormality Mary Trump claims she's heard Trump use racist, anti-Semitic slurs: He's 'virulently racist' MORE Show." http://bit.ly/2G0UeKw

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Today is National Sugar Cookie Day.

  

You can now return Amazon products to Kohl's:

Via The New York Times's Sapna Maheshwari, "Kohl's said on Monday that it was now accepting Amazon returns at its more than 1,100 stores after running a pilot program in 100 locations. The retailer, which will pack, label and ship the returns for free, expects the program to benefit millions of shoppers along with bringing more people into their stores." Details: https://nyti.ms/2G3Dl1x

 

And to brighten your Tuesday afternoon, here's a deer in Michigan that decided to enjoy a day at the beach just like the humans: http://bit.ly/2YJvQUW