The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings

To view past editions of The Hill's 12:30 Report, click here:

To receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox, please sign up here:

--> 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: Washington mourns loss of Eljiah Cummings | Pelosi calls Cummings 'North Star' for House | Trump says Cummings 'very hard, if not impossible, to replace' | Obama 'heartbroken' | Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyHouse Oversight committee asks DHS for information on family separation Overnight Energy: Appeals court tosses kids' climate suit | California sues Trump over fracking | Oversight finds EPA appointees slow-walked ethics obligations Oversight finds EPA political appointees slow-walked ethics obligations MORE to take over as interim Oversight chair | US Ambassador Sondland to say Trump pushed him to work with Giuliani | McConnell wants stronger Syria rebuke than House | Buttigieg emerges as threat to Biden | National Pasta Day deals  



Tapping in this morning:

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, is testifying on Capitol Hill today in the impeachment inquiry of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE's dealings with Ukraine. 

What to know about Sondland: "Gordon Sondland [is] a wealthy hotel magnate, GOP mega-donor and late Trump convert." 

What Sondland is expected to tell lawmakers: That President Trump directed administration officials to work with his personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiParnas says he has turned over tape of Trump calling for diplomat's firing Pompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map ABC: Recording apparently captures Trump discussing Yovanovitch ouster with Parnas, Fruman MORE on matters related to Ukraine. Sondland is also expected to distance himself from Trump and Giuliani.

Read his opening statement:

Photo of Sondland arriving at his closed-door testimony:

Watch the scuffle as an NBC reporter tried asking Sondland a question this morning:


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.

Did someone forward this to you? Want your own copy? Sign up here to receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox daily:



Rest in peace, congressman:

Longtime Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.), the son of a sharecropper who rose to become chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, has died at the age of 68.

What happened: Cummings passed away at 2:30 a.m. EDT at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, "due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges."

In the past year: "Cummings relied on the use of a walker and motorized scooter to get around even as he continued at a frenetic pace in the Capitol, leading televised committee hearings and giving interviews to reporters."

Read his obituary in the Baltimore Sun:

This is a pretty cool photo of Cummings from 1997:

This morning outside Cummings’s office:



From his wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: "Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility. He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation's diversity was our promise, not our problem. It's been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly." Read her full statement:

From Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.): "In the House, Elijah was our North Star. He was a leader of towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose. ... His principled leadership as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform was the perfect testament to his commitment to restoring honesty and honor to government, and leaves a powerful legacy for years to come."

From President Trump: "My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!"

From former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer NYT correspondent rips Democrats' 'selective use' of constitutional violations Obama portraits leaving National Portrait Gallery to tour museums across the country Tulsi Gabbard explains decision to sue Hillary Clinton: 'They can do it to anybody' MORE: "Michelle and I are heartbroken over the passing of our friend, Elijah Cummings ... he showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it." Read Obama's full statement:

From Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Liberal super PAC to run digital ads slamming Trump over Medicare comments MORE (D-N.Y.): "Well, I read the paper this morning. First thing I saw was Elijah's passing and it was a like a gut-punch. He was an amazing man. He was not just a great congressman but he was a great man." Watch Schumer's full comments on MSNBC's "Morning Joe":

From Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris on 2020 endorsement: 'I am not thinking about it right now' Panel: Is Kamala Harris a hypocrite for mulling a Joe Biden endorsement? The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE (D-Calif.): "We lost a giant today. Congressman Elijah Cummings was a fearless leader, a protector of democracy, and a fighter for the people of Maryland. Our world is dimmer without him in it."

Here are more lawmaker reactions:

From Politico reporter Andrew Desiderio: "What I'll always remember about Elijah Cummings is that he took no BS from anyone. He would routinely spend several minutes fielding questions from us in the speaker's lobby or elsewhere, sometimes combatively, but he would always end with some version of: 'I appreciate you all.'"

At the White House: The flag over the White House has been lowered to half-staff. Watch:



Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) will fill in as acting chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. 

Why: "Maloney is the next in seniority on the Oversight and Reform Committee, which under House rules means that she becomes acting chairwoman in the event of a sudden vacancy, a leadership aide said."



'More is better than less because if stuff is not *deep breath* less there's more less stuff, then *deep breath* you might want to have some more.': 

--> ;) 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.) said he wants "something stronger" than a House resolution to formally oppose President Trump's drawback of troops in Syria.

McConnell said on the Senate floor: "I believe it's important that we make a strong forward-looking strategic statement. For that reason my preference would be for something even stronger than the resolution that the House passed yesterday, which has some serious weaknesses." 

Keep in mind: "The House passed its resolution formally opposing Trump's troop drawback in northern Syria and urging Turkey to end its military incursion in a 354-60 vote." 




Don't do it, Lindsey:

Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, "Senate Republicans are cautioning Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) against the prospect of bringing former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about Ukrainian corruption, saying such a move could backfire." Reasoning:



Nipping on Biden's tail:

Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes, "Joe Biden faces a new threat from South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Poll shows tight general election battle between Trump and top Democrats MORE, who is fresh off an eye-opening debate performance and positioning himself to be a top contender for the support of centrist Democrats if the former vice president falters." 

Right after the debate: Buttigieg's campaign says they raised $1 million from tens of thousands of donors.

Buttigieg's polling: "Recent polls of Iowa show Buttigieg on the rise. The mayor has picked up 4.5 points in the past month in the RealClearPolitics average, and a Firehouse-Optimus survey released this week found him in third place at 17 percent in the Hawkeye State, within striking distance of both Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected MORE (D-Mass.), at 25 percent, and [Joe Biden], at 22 percent."

What to expect in the final stretch before the early voting states:



A powerful voting bloc:

Via The Hill's Rafael Bernal, Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats worry Trump team will cherry-pick withheld documents during defense Commerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill MORE and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineIran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner House war powers sponsor expects to take up Senate version of resolution Sens. Kaine, Lee: 'We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress authorizes it' MORE hosted Hispanic leaders from the commonwealth for breakfast at the Capitol Thursday.

On the agenda: The two senators discussed the growth of the Virginia Hispanic community and how Latino voters could make the difference in next month's state election and in 2020.

Kaine told The Hill: "When I was mayor of Richmond in 1998 I first started to really notice the growth of our Latino community." He also added: "The Latino vote can be the swing in virtually any statewide race in Virginia, just because we're a state that tends to have close races." 

Warner said of Virginia Hispanics: "I don't know if the community realizes how much potential power they have." 



An observation on this widely shared photo

Back story: President Trump tweeted this photo yesterday with the caption, "Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown!" Pelosi then made the photo her Twitter cover photo. This photo is everywhere today.



The House and Senate are in. President Trump is in Texas and Vice President Pence is traveling back to the United States from Turkey. 

8:15 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence met with the president of Turkey.

10:30 a.m. EDT: President Trump leaves for Fort Worth, Texas.

Noon: The Senate holds a roll call vote. The Senate's full schedule today:

12:20 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence leaves Turkey and heads back to Washington, D.C.

1:45 p.m. EDT: The Senate holds another roll call vote.

2–3 p.m. EDT: First and last votes in the House. The House's full schedule today:

2:45 p.m. EDT: President Trump holds a roundtable with supporters.

3:20 p.m. EDT: President Trump speaks at a joint fundraising committee luncheon in Fort Worth, Texas.

5:20 p.m. EDT: President Trump tours Louis Vuitton Rochambeau, delivers remarks and participates in the ribbon cutting.

12:35 a.m. EDT: President Trump gets back to the White House. 



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

11 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence held a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara, Turkey. Livestream:

12:30 p.m. EDT: Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySenate Republicans must stand up for the rule of law and ensure a fair, open proceeding Democrats cap impeachment arguments with focus on Trump stonewalling Lindsey Graham will oppose subpoena of Hunter Biden MORE holds a press briefing. Livestream

8:05 p.m. EDT: President Trump holds a campaign rally in Dallas. Livestream:



Today is National Pasta Day. Here's a list of pasta deals to celebrate:


One of the funniest nature photos I've seen:

Here's a list of winning photos from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. I can't stop laughing at the first photo. The photos:


And because you made it this far, here's a pitbull with a pretty convincing Halloween costume: