The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump pushes back over whistleblower controversy

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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 pushes back on whistleblower controversy | Complaint reportedly involves Ukraine | Trump says focus should be on Biden's Ukraine ties | Trump hits Iran's national bank with sanctions | De Blasio drops out | How Sanders is retooling his campaign | Trumps to host Australian PM for state dinner | What's on the dinner menu | O'Rourke's minivan gets stuck | National Punch Day



Mmm, this makes sense:


New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioHow far will New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio go to protect undocumented aliens? The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment trial a week away; debate night Trump mocks Booker over suspended presidential campaign MORE has dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

De Blasio said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe": "I feel like I have contributed all I can to this primary election. It's clearly not my time, so I'm going to end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City, and I'm going to keep speaking up for working people." 


Watch de Blasio's appearance on "Morning Joe":

And following his announcement, de Blasio released an NBC News op-ed: He explains why he is ending his campaign and what he plans to do next:

Keep in mind: De Blasio did not make the debate stage in September and hinted at ending his presidential bid if he did not qualify for October's debate. 



President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE tweeted, "Oh no, really big political news, perhaps the biggest story in years! Part time Mayor of New York City, @BilldeBlasio, who was polling at a solid ZERO but had tremendous room for growth, has shocking dropped out of the Presidential race. NYC is devastated, he's coming home!" Ouch.


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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Happening now — Trump is speaking: 

President Trump is holding a joint press conference right now with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.




FLOTUS got a shout out: “Really great job, honey,” Trump said about first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE’s planning of the state dinner.

On China and tariffs: “China is China and they know what they’re doing as well as anybody,” Trump said. “My relationship with President Xi is a very amazing one ... but we have right now a little spat.”

Haha!: Australian Prime Minister Morrison selected a reporter named Andrew for the next question. “I assume Andrew is a nice person?” Trump joked to Morrison. Morrison got a good laugh out of that comment. Photo of the interaction:

On Iran: “We are by far the strongest military in the world. Going into Iran would be a very easy decision ... most people thought I would go in within two seconds but [we have] plenty of time.”  


Trump discusses Iran sanctions:

This morning, President Trump announced that he has sanctioned Iran's national bank and called them the "highest sanctions ever imposed on a country."


We have a new detail about the whistleblower complaint:

Via The Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol D. Leonnig, the whistleblower complaint about a troubling "promise" President Trump made during discussions with a foreign leader involves Ukraine.

Keep in mind: "Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May."


This a.m. -- nothing to see here:

President Trump defended his conduct this morning while dismissing the whistleblower complaint.

He tweeted: "The Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners, headed up again by Little Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats' impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters MORE, and batting Zero for 21 against me, are at it again! They think I may have had a 'dicey' conversation with a certain foreign leader based on a 'highly partisan' whistleblowers statement. Strange that with so many other people hearing or knowing of the perfectly fine and respectful conversation, that they would not have also come forward. Do you know the reason why they did not? Because there was nothing said wrong, it was pitch perfect!" Read his full tweets:


TRUMP LATER MADE A COMMENT ABOUT Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden MORE:

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office this morning, President Trump said the focus should instead be on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's ties to Ukraine.


Interesting read -- it's not all hate and disgust:

Via The Hill's Brett Samuels, "[President Trump] was in a sunny mood following two days in the Golden State, and it showed. Trump eyed the chocolate cake sitting on journalists' meal trays in a light-hearted moment on Air Force One during the trip. 'They didn't give me cake like that,' he quipped to a Washington Post reporter."

Another tidbit: "Trump marveled at how a photographer on the plane captured a $20 bill sticking out of his back pocket a day earlier and pulled out a wad of cash to explain to reporters how he likes to leave tips for hotel workers." 

Why moments like this are especially interesting: "Trump has an often acrimonious relationship with the media. He had criticized two of the reporters traveling with him by name on Twitter in recent weeks and decried The New York Times as a 'sad joke' while flying to New Mexico at the start of the week. But he can't resist interacting with the press, and he did so regularly during what had been billed as a series of private fundraisers closed to the media." 



But I'm the OG!:

Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden MORE (I-Vt.) is retooling his campaign as his allies worry he will be overshadowed on the left by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Biden, Sanders tax plans would raise less revenue than claimed: studies MORE (D-Mass.).

A problem for Sanders: "Many of the once-fringe policies Sanders championed in 2016 have become mainstream and are being promoted by his rivals, such as Warren, who has caught and in some cases surpassed Sanders in recent polling."

Sanders's supporters seem a bit worried: "It does look like she's starting to take over," said one Sanders ally with close ties to the campaign. "Nobody is attacking us, and that's probably because their internal polling says there's no reason to attack us, for the same reason you don't see people out there attacking Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBiden calls for revoking key online legal protection Trump mocks Booker over suspended presidential campaign Julián Castro endorses Warren in 2020 race MORE. Biden's not out there attacking our electability. His allies are out there attacking Warren's electability. Why do you think that is?"

But the campaign says it's not sweating it: "There are a lot of new candidates and voters are appropriately kicking the tires on them," said Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver. "But at the end of the day, Bernie's consistent advocacy and his willingness to fight for working people are what will set him apart."

How this could play out:



Your daughter is wise beyond her years


Oh no:




The House was in this morning. The Senate is out.

President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C., hosting the prime minister of Australia.

9 a.m. EDT: President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence and Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions MORE welcomed the prime minister of Australia and his wife.

10 a.m. EDT: President Trump held meetings with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

10:15–11:15 a.m. EDT: Votes in the House. The House's full schedule today:

1:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump receives an intelligence briefing.

8:20 p.m. EDT: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump host Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife, Jenny Morrison, for a state dinner. Vice President Pence and Karen Pence also attend. The dinner menu:

Sept. 26: The Hill is hosting "The Future of Mobility Summit" in Washington, D.C. Details and how to RSVP:



11:45 a.m. EDT: President Trump held a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott MorrisonLivestream:



Today is National Punch Day.


Because it'll be a beautiful weekend:

Via Washingtonian's Madeline Rundlett, here's a list of fun food events in the Washington, D.C. area this weekend:


And to get your weekend off to a proper start, here's a corgi dog playing catch from his owner's backpack. I'm impressed, little man: