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



Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Trump taps Scalia's son as Labor secretary pick The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP MORE is under fire for Jeffrey Epstein's plea deal:

Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Trump taps Scalia's son as Labor secretary pick The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP 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.

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.



President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' 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."



Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defended the non-prosecution agreement with Jeffrey Epstein

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."



From Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump telling aides to look at potential spending cuts if he wins reelection: report Budget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony 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"

From White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayFederal guidance identifying 'go back to where you came from' as discrimination goes viral after Trump comments Kellyanne Conway says she meant 'no disrespect' with question about reporter's ethnicity Kellyanne Conway asks reporter 'what's your ethnicity' while defending Trump's 'go back' comments about minority lawmakers 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." 


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 -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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

Billionaire liberal activist Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerMoulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage Steyer defends his wealth in 2020 race: 'Should we put a limit on what Beyoncé makes?' MORE announced this morning that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

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"

Updated chart from The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty: "Yup. It's getting messy again." Photo of the white board:

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 Billinson

One in, one out: Yesterday, Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Moulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage MORE (D-Calif.) dropped out of the 2020 race for president.






Via Politico Magazine, here's a list of what 2020 Democratic candidates, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey pens blog revealing what he would ask Mueller in upcoming testimony FBI's spreadsheet puts a stake through the heart of Steele's dossier Hannity invites Ocasio-Cortez to join prime-time show for full hour MORE and other political leaders are reading this summer:



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.

Read his obituary:



But blocking is so satisfying!:

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that President Trump cannot block Twitter users from his official account.

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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDemocratic lawmaker calls asylum, refugee programs 'crown jewel' of immigration system Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony Cummings asks prosecutors about decision not to charge Trump in hush money probe 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.

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."

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:

What sparked this: In newly unearthed memos, British Ambassador Kim Darroch reportedly described President Trump as "incompetent" and "inept."



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.

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 NadlerTrump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta Nadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing 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 McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants 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.

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:



"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."



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




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:

6:30 p.m. EDT: Votes in the House. The House's full schedule today: 

July 17: Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE will testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.



2 p.m. EDT: Senate Republican leaders hold a press conference. Livestream:

2:30 p.m. EDT: Senate Democratic leaders hold a press conference. Livestream:

3 p.m. EDT: A Senate subcommittee is holding a hearing on NASA exploration. Livestream:

9 p.m. EDT: U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe will appear on MSNBC's "The Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowMegan Rapinoe reveals what she'd say to fans who are Trump supporters Could I have some news with my emotions, please? Journalism industry falters when nation most needs it MORE Show."



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:


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: