The Hill's 12:30 Report: White House does damage control after Mulvaney remarks

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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: Mulvaney undercuts Trump's impeachment defense | Schiff says Mulvaney made things 'much worse' |  Trump says he has 'confidence' in WH chief | Rick PerryRick PerrySondland brings impeachment inquiry to White House doorstep Overnight Energy: BLM employees who buck relocation must leave by early next year | Trump officials move to weaken efficiency standards for quick dishwashers | California officials boycott LA auto show in warning to industry Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Senate eyes sending stopgap spending bill back to House | Sondland delivers bombshell impeachment testimony | Pentagon deputy says he didn't try to block official's testimony MORE says no quid pro quo | Senate Republicans prep for impeachment trial |  Trump insists Turkey wants ceasefire | Mattis responds to Trump criticism | Bei Bei the panda leaving DC | Candy corn pizza (?!)

 

IN THE WHITE HOUSE

The 'acting' in his title may be important soon: 

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyDefense official testifies Ukraine was aware of issues with aid in July Sondland brings impeachment inquiry to White House doorstep Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Senate eyes sending stopgap spending bill back to House | Sondland delivers bombshell impeachment testimony | Pentagon deputy says he didn't try to block official's testimony MORE dealt a major blow to the White House's defense in the impeachment inquiry. http://bit.ly/2OY1SdK

How so: During a press briefing yesterday, Mulvaney admitted that aid to Ukraine was, in fact, tied to 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 desire for the country to launch a political probe related to the 2016 election.

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Why it's stunning: It's the first time an administration official has contradicted President Trump's denials of any quid pro quo. 

In Mulvaney's words: "There's going to be political influence in foreign policy. That's going to happen."

Then after the uproar, Mulvaney walked back his remarks and blamed the media: "The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server," Mulvaney said in a statement. "The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption." http://bit.ly/2MVFlLR

 

REACTION FROM THE PRESIDENT: 

President Trump told reporters that he did not watch Mulvaney's press briefing but that he has "a lot of confidence" in his acting chief of staff.

Then during his campaign rally, Trump railed on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE and his son Hunter Biden. "Look at the terrible foreign corruption of the Bidens. I hate to talk about him. You know why? I don't think he's got a chance," Trump told the crowd. http://bit.ly/2OWQuPd

 

REACTION FROM HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR ADAM SCHIFF (D-CALIF.): 

"I think Mr. Mulvaney's acknowledgment means that things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse." Schiff also said: "The idea that vital military systems would be withheld for such a patently political reason, for the reason of serving the president's reelection campaign, is a phenomenal breach of the president's duty to defend our national security." http://bit.ly/31rISHl

 

RICK PERRY DENIES ANY QUID PRO QUO:

During an interview on Fox News, outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry said there was no quid pro quo in his dealings with Ukraine. http://bit.ly/2pBelcw

In Perry's words: "There was no quid pro quo in the sense of what those folks out there would like for it to be," Perry told Fox's Bill Hemmer. "That we're [not] going to give you this money unless you investigate Joe Biden and his son. I never heard that said, anywhere, anytime, in any conversation."

 

NEW POLL -- TRUMP'S APPROVAL SLIPS:

President Trump's job approval dropped by 2 points, according to a new Gallup poll. The numbers: His approval is down to 40.7 percent in his 11th quarter in office from 42.7 percent in the 10th quarter. http://bit.ly/2IXesGr

 

Happy Friday! It's actually feeling like fall. 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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BREAKING THIS A.M.

Trump talked to Erdoğan today:

"President Trump on Friday spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a temporary ceasefire in northern Syria teetered amid report of Turkish mortar fire." http://bit.ly/2o21YWM

Trump tweeted: "Just spoke to President @RTErdogan of Turkey. He told me there was minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated. He very much wants the ceasefire, or pause, to work. Likewise, the Kurds want it, and the ultimate solution, to happen." 

Keep in mind: "It's unclear what Trump was referring to by 'the ultimate solution,' but critics of the deal the U.S. brokered with Turkey have noted that Kurdish fighters are being forced to vacate land in northern Syria over the next few days or face additional bloodshed, and that the Trump administration did not appear to extract any significant concessions from Turkey." 

 

GETTING TRACTION

If you watch one thing today -- what do General Mattis and Meryl Streep have in common?:

Former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court Former Mattis staffer: Trump 'shooting himself in the foot' on foreign policy MORE responded to President Trump calling him "the world's most overrated general." http://bit.ly/2OZ6qAL

Mattis said at the Al Smith Memorial Foundation dinner: "I'm not just an overrated general. I'm the greatest, the world's most overrated ...  I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals, and frankly that sounds pretty good to me." 

Ouch: "I earned my spurs on the battlefield; Donald Trump earned his spurs from the doctor," Mattis also said.

Watch Mattis's remarks: http://bit.ly/33LhxRZ

 

IN CONGRESS

An impeachment trial is looking all but inevitable:

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney, "Republicans are bracing for a high-stakes impeachment fight as soon as next month as a trial in the Senate looks all but inevitable."  http://bit.ly/2VVjTLq

How Republicans are preparing: "Republicans are already studying up on the rules as they prepare for what will be a high-profile, politically charged showdown even as Trump is widely expected to avoid being convicted and removed from office by the Senate, an act that would require the approval of two-thirds of the closely divided chamber." 

 

IN LOCAL NEWS

Good Bei:

Via WAMU's Mary Tyler March, Bei Bei, the panda at the National Zoo, is moving to China on Nov. 19. http://bit.ly/32nApGh

Why: "[A]s part of the zoo's agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association."

How to say good bye to Bei Bei: The zoo is hosting a weeklong celebration. Here's the schedule: https://s.si.edu/2puOljc

 

NOTABLE TWEETS

All right, we are done here. See yourselves out.:

I'm nervous to ask this because it may impact our friendship, but would any of you try this?  Let me know.

 

Spotted at the Capitol:

http://bit.ly/32vy4ZO 

 

ON TAP

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

10:15–11:15 a.m. EDT: First and last votes in the House. The House's full schedule today: http://bit.ly/2nWfsDk  

Noon: President Trump received an intelligence briefing.

June 10–12 2020: President Trump is hosting the Group of 7 summit at his Doral resort in Florida. https://nyti.ms/32rYT1h

 

WHAT TO WATCH

6 p.m. EDT: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Mass.) holds a town hall event in Norfolk, Va. Livestream: https://cs.pn/2OUyuVQ

  

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day.

 

That's a lot of pink:

You can rent Barbie's Malibu Dreamhouse on Airbnb. Photos and details: https://cnn.it/31nuu2N

 

Weekend plans:

Via The Washington Post's "Going Out Guide," here's a list of 16 things to do in the Washington, D.C., area this weekend: https://wapo.st/31ryv6f

 

And to get your weekend off to a proper start, here's a festive dog with incredible patience: http://bit.ly/2BlLdsr

The Easter Bunny costume may be my favorite...