The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr

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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 adds Dershowitz, Starr to impeachment defense team | Trial poses challenging test for John Roberts | Republicans threaten to call controversial witnesses if Bolton testifies | Pompeo says he never heard about efforts to surveil Yovanovitch | Trump accuses Dems of 'rigging' election against Sanders | How Biden could benefit from Warren, Sanders feud | Trump meets champion LSU football team | Women's March on Saturday



Calling O.J.'s 'Dream Team':

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE's defense team is adding Ken Starr and Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzA disgraced Senate and president have no business confirming judges Dershowitz files defamation suit against Boies, alleging extortion Sunday shows - 2020 Democrats make closing arguments in New Hampshire MORE for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.

Who else will be involved in the trial: "[T]he team will also consist of former attorneys Jane Raskin and Robert Ray, as well as former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi." Ray followed Starr as independent counsel and wrote the final report on former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonFree Roger Stone Davis: Taking another look at Bernie Sanders Juan Williams: Don't count Biden out MORE after his impeachment trial. The team was first reported by The New York Times Maggie HabermanMaggie Lindsy HabermanThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden leaving New Hampshire early as voting underway The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senators brace for floor fight as trial nears end Mike Bloomberg really gets under Trump's skin — and that's good for Bloomberg MORE.

What to know about Alan Dershowitz: He is a Harvard law professor who has defended clients such as Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson.

What to know about Ken Starr: He led the investigation into Bill Clinton.



"this is definitely an 'are you f**** kidding me?' kinda day."


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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PROGRAMMING NOTE: The 12:30 Report will be off on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Enjoy the long weekend!



Walking across the street to the loud playground:

Via The Hill's John Kruzel, "Chief Justice John Roberts will soon discover firsthand that while the Supreme Court and the Senate sit on adjacent Washington city blocks, the two institutions occupy separate worlds."

How so: "Roberts on Thursday appeared in the Senate in his black robes to preside over President Trump's impeachment trial, leaving the collegiality of the court for a chamber marked in recent years by partisan fighting ... There he raised his right hand and swore to do "impartial justice" -- the kind of oath he is more accustomed to hearing from advocates before the Supreme Court." 

How this will be the toughest test yet for Roberts:


Republicans are threatening that two can play this game:

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney, Republicans are warning that if Democrats fight to have former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Defense: Dem senator met with Iranian foreign minister | Meeting draws criticism from right | Lawmakers push back at Pentagon funding for wall We should listen to John Bolton The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms MORE testify in the impeachment trial, they will force a slew of controversial witnesses in retaliation.

Why: "The pressure tactics are the latest shift in strategy as Republican leaders try to navigate the factions in their caucus, where moderates want to leave the potential for witnesses on the table and conservatives are anxious to quickly acquit President Trump." 

How this could play out:



Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSusan Collins in statistical tie with Democratic challenger: poll Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Maine) said she will "likely" support calling witnesses in the impeachment trial.

Collins said in a statement: "While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999." 


Nevah heard of it:

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo condemns China's expulsion of WSJ journalists Wall Street Journal 'deeply disappointed' by China's expulsion of journalists China expels three Wall Street Journal reporters MORE said he had not heard of any efforts to surveil former ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchThe Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment MORE

In Pompeo's words: "Until the story broke ahead, to the best of my recollection I had never heard of this at all," Pompeo said. Pompeo also said he plans to look into the allegations. 

Keep in mind: This is the first comment from Pompeo about allegations that Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe The Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine Trump flexes pardon power with high-profile clemencies MORE's associates surveilled Yovanovitch as they pushed for the diplomat's removal. Pompeo had faced pressure to address anything he knew about potential threats to her safety.



Donald J. Trump, campaign pundit:

President Trump accused Democrats of trying to keep Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Biden will go after Bloomberg, Sanders at Las Vegas debate, aides say MORE (I-Vt.) off the campaign trail by forcing him to serve as a juror.

Trump tweeted: "They are rigging the election again against Bernie Sanders, just like last time, only even more obviously. They are bringing him out of so important Iowa in order that, as a Senator, he sit through the Impeachment Hoax Trial. Crazy Nancy thereby gives the strong edge to Sleepy ... Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Biden will go after Bloomberg, Sanders at Las Vegas debate, aides say MORE, and Bernie is shut out again. Very unfair, but that's the way the Democrats play the game. Anyway, it's a lot of fun to watch!" 


Meet the beneficiary of the Warren-Sanders fight -- Joey B!: 

Via The Hill's Amie Parnes, Former Vice President Joe Biden may benefit from  the dispute between Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll 2020 Democratic candidates support Las Vegas casino workers on debate day Sanders takes lead in new Hill/HarrisX poll MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

What could happen in Iowa: "Biden, who after downplaying expectations in Iowa is now signaling he believes the state's caucuses are in play for his campaign, could end up benefiting if voters in the state are turned off by the fight between his two progressive rivals." 

What the fight could mean for Sanders: "Allies of Biden say that while Sanders has been ascending in the polls, the fight could bring down his popularity -- particularly with women who see his fight with Warren as petty and sexist. They also think it could provide a nice contrast for Biden." 






What we know about the flashcards:



The House and Senate are out. President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C. Trump is heading to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., later today.

2:30 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump receives university's 'Woman of Distinction' award amid pushback from students Buttigieg defends his marriage, slams Trump NASCAR postpones Daytona 500 due to rain after Trump visit MORE leave for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

6:30 p.m. EST: President Trump holds a roundtable with supporters in Palm Beach.

7 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks at a closed press joint fundraising committee dinner. 

Saturday: The Women's March. Details and logistics:



11 a.m. EST: President Trump and Vice President Pence met with the 2019 College Football National Champions, the Louisiana State University Tigers. Livestream:



Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day.


The deal with the new DCA:

Via Washingtonian's Andrew Pressman, "How Excited Should We Be About Reagan National Airport's Upcoming New Terminal? Nobody will miss the current setup. Our take on what's replacing it."


And to get your holiday weekend off to the right start, here's a dog who wants to make sure his owners are getting enough rest: