The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — Republicans grill DOJ inspector general on FBI handling of Russia probe

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 — Presented by UANI — DOJ inspector general testifies on handling of Trump probe | Graham rips FBI investigation | Senate GOP weighs fast impeachment trial without witnesses | Divided Washington gets trade deal despite impeachment | Trade likely to divide Dem 2020 field | Greta Thunberg is Time's Person of the Year | YouTube updates harassment policy | Wrong Andrew Yangs get hit up for money on Venmo



Anyway, how’s your morning?:

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is testifying on Capitol Hill today on his findings of the FBI’s alleged political bias in investigating the Trump campaign in 2016. 

Livestream for the morning:

Livestream for the afternoon:

Live blog with hearing highlights:



Graham tore into FBI officials over the Russia probe — it’s a one-off: "Folks, if these are a few irregularities, the rule of law in this country is dead,” Graham said. “These are not a few irregularities, these are a few bad people.”

Hmmm, this is an interesting way to (I think) defend Trump... “‘This national security team was literally picked up off the street,’ Graham says of Trump's former national security team in what I think was intended to be a defense of Trump.” (Via CBS’s Kathryn Watson)

Graham says the committee will get a ‘defensive briefing’: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP confident of win on witnesses GOP Foreign Affairs leaders join pushback against potential troop drawdown in Africa Republicans signal renewed confidence they'll avoid witness fight MORE (R-S.C.) said the panel will receive a “defensive briefing” from the FBI on Thursday. Republicans have questioned why the Trump campaign didn't get a defensive briefing about any individuals being targeted by Russia.

Horowitz on the FBI probe: Horowitz said that his review of the FBI's investigation found "basic and fundamental errors.” “We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams, on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations, after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI.” 

On whether there was bias:

Ranking member Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.): “Your report states you didn’t find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation played a role.” 

Horowitz: “That’s correct.” 

Feinstein: “And you didn’t find a 'deep state' conspiracy against candidate or President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE.” 

Horowitz: “We found no bias.”

Feinstein: “And no rationale for a deep state?”

Horowitz: “We did not find any evidence of having engaged in any bias or having any bias.”

Read Horowitz’s opening statement:


It’s Wednesday. Christmas is two weeks from today! 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:




We don’t need ‘em:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, Senate Republicans are considering trying to speed up the Trump impeachment trial by including no witnesses.

What the White House wants: “The White House has indicated publicly that it has a wish list of potential witnesses, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry.” 

But Republican senators have another plan: “Republican senators, including Trump allies and members of leadership, appear reluctant to drag themselves through a drawn-out trial with messy procedural votes when the outcome appears pre-baked.” 

What to expect: How to handle witnesses may be a key debate in the coming weeks. 



The ‘glass half full’ in the news cycle:

Despite the House moving forward with two articles of impeachment yesterday, the White House and House Democrats also agreed to a trade deal with Canada and Mexico on Tuesday. 

Via The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg, here’s why it is important:

It didn’t just end with trade (!): “Democrats are also on the brink of approving a bipartisan defense bill, the largest in the nation’s history, after weeks of negotiations with Republicans, and intend to pass legislation this week on another issue that Mr. Trump has made a top priority: lowering the cost of prescription drugs.” 

Why the bipartisan cooperation isn’t a coincidence: “The sudden outbreak of bipartisan cooperation, almost certain to be fleeting, was hardly an accident. To Ms. Pelosi, it was proof that Democrats could deliver on their legislative agenda, while effectively stripping Mr. Trump of the argument that Democrats were ignoring the important business of their country in their zeal to get rid of him.” 



Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton:




Tidbit — lol:



Greta Thunberg is Time’s 2019 Person of the Year:

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, a teenager from Sweden, has been chosen as Time’s 2019 Person of the Year. 

See the Time Magazine cover:

How Thunberg made her mark: “Thunberg began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: ‘School Strike for Climate.’”

And since then: “She has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.”

Read Time’s full profile on Thunberg:

Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal on the decision: "Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet—and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington. Read Felsenthal’s full explanation:

Video clip of a speech Thunberg gave this morning:


“Listen, I get that Time’s red border is iconic and all, but the fact it doesn’t meet Instagram’s size restrictions so everyone’s just kinda doing their own thing is stressing me tf out.” (Via Hunter Schwarz)


YouTube’s new harassment policy:

Via Newsweek, “YouTube has just announced an update to its harassment policy, potentially punishing content creators who harass others on the platform. The blog post released Wednesday morning lists a new approach to those who engage in threats or personal attacks.”

From YouTube: “We remain committed to our openness as a platform and to ensuring that spirited debate and a vigorous exchange of ideas continue to thrive here. However, we will not tolerate harassment and we believe the steps outlined below will contribute to our mission by making YouTube a better place for anyone to share their story or opinion.” Read YouTube’s full blog post:



Thousands of civilians flooded the streets of Tehran to protest conditions under the regime’s leadership – and they were met with a massacre. The U.S. and Europe must condemn this human rights crisis. Learn more.



Well this is a great gift.:



Ah ha!: 



The House and Senate are in. President Trump and Vice President Pence are at the White House today. 

Noon: The Senate votes on the Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act. The Senate’s full schedule today:

1:30 p.m. EST: First votes in the House. The House’s full schedule today:

3:30 p.m. EST: President Trump swears in Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

4 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpPro-Trump singer wears 'Impeached and Re-elected' dress to the Grammys The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' MORE participate in a Hanukkah reception at the White House.

5 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House. 

8:05 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in another Hanukkah reception at the White House. 



2:30 p.m. EST: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell holds a news conference. Livestream:

6:30 p.m. EST: The House Judiciary Committee begins debating the articles of impeachment against President Trump. Livestream:



Today is National “Have a Bagel” Day.



Via Washingtonian’s Nathan Diller, “people keep asking the wrong Andrew Yangs for $1,000: There are mix-ups happening everywhere from Facebook to Venmo.” The full story:


And to break up your afternoon, here’s a really cool looking jellyfish: