12:30 Report

The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Biden’s controversial fist bump

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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.


You don’t just fist bump anyone:

President Biden is back from the first Middle East trip of his term — and the defining image of the trip has become a fist bump. 

Why: Leading up to Biden’shighly anticipated meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, one of the main questions was whether Biden would shake hands with the controversial leader. White House officials even signaled that President Biden would limit handshakes during his Middle East trip to avoid COVID-19 exposure, which may have been to avoid awkwardness during this stop.

Well, Biden may not have shaken hands with MBS, but he fist bumped the Saudi crown prince upon his arrival — and right in front of the cameras. Watch the controversial fist bump 

Why it’s controversial: Biden has criticized MBS for his alleged role in the murder of U.S.-based Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. 

More on why this fist bump received so much attention 


It received a lot of backlashVia Politico’s Quint Forgey and Kelly Hooper 

^ Biden laughed off the criticism, FWIW. 

A Biden adviser defended the fist bump: In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash. Watch

From CNN’s Kate Sullivan 

IT’S MONDAY. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.

🔥 Jan. 6 

Ah ha! The text messages have been recovered

Remember how the Secret Service deleted its text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 of 2021 as part of a planned system migration? 

Well, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said those deleted texts will be given to the panel on Tuesday. 

How relevant is this info?: “The exact relevance of the Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 texts are unknown, Lofgren said. Initially, officials assured the panel that the erasure included no messages related to the Jan. 6 attack, but another spokesperson said that some messages were pertinent.” 

What we know 

A hesitant witness with A LOT of information:

Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel who fiercely defended Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial, is gearing up to be the star witness against the former president as the House Jan. 6 committee winds down its public hearings with a detailed look at Trump’s three hours of inaction as the Capitol riot unfolded.” 

Keep in mind about Cipollone’s deposition: “Cipollone has been a reluctant participant in the investigation, rebuffing initial requests for an under-oath interview with the House select committee, which was able to secure his eleventh-hour cooperation only via subpoena.”  

What is so important about Cipollone’s testimony: “Not only did Cipollone tell investigators that Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud were fallacious, but also that the president’s legal team told him repeatedly that the election was lost and he should concede defeat.”  

What Cipollone specifically told investigators, via The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Rebecca Beitsch 

For refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. 

Keep in mind: “The trial will mark the first time a member of Trump’s inner circle has had to face a jury as a result of the Jan. 6 investigations. Trump’s former trade adviser, Peter Navarro, will go to trial in November in a similar case.” 

In Congress 

Capitol Hill Democrats this week:

Jan. 6: The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is holding what could be its final hearing of the summer this week. Thursday’s prime-time hearing will focus on a minute-by-minute play of former President Trump’s actions when the siege began.  

Access to contraceptives: The House is expected to vote on a bill this week to protect access to contraceptives. This bill is sparked by Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, where he referenced contraceptives. 

Build those semiconductors in the U.S.: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is hoping to tee up a vote on a bill to boost semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S., to compete with China. It’s unclear whether this bill has the 60+ votes needed to advance. 

Lowering prescription drug prices: After months of negotiations with centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Senate Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill has been slimmed down drastically. It now includes a provision to lower drug prices and extends insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  

More on what’s happening this week, via The Hill’s Mychael Schnell

🗳 On the campaign trail 

It will be shocking if Biden ~doesn’t~ have a primary challenger

President Biden’s loyalists have defended him, arguing he inherited a mess from former President Trump.  

But now: “[T]hat willingness to prop up the sinking president has been wearing thin. Day by day, Democrats are considering a possible new scenario: challenging the sitting president for the 2024 nomination.” 

Historically, a challenge is rare, but it happens: “Pat Buchanan challenged George H.W. Bush in 1992, and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) mounted a competitive campaign in 1980 against former President Carter. Both ultimately fell short, but Bush and Carter both lost in the general election.”  

A few Democrats have been making subtle campaign moves. Here are a few examples, from The Hill’s Hanna Trudo 

From The Hill’s Alexander Bolton 


The former vice president will speak at the famous “Politics and Eggs” forum hosted by Saint Anselm College and The New England Council.

When?: Aug. 17

🦠 Latest with COVID 


Cases to date: 89 million 

Death toll: 1,018,578 

Current hospitalizations: 33,530 

Shots administered: 599 million 

Fully vaccinated: 67.1 percent of Americans 

CDC data here.

🐥Notable tweets 

Oh, yikes:

A huge wave crashed a wedding reception in Hawaii. Luckily, no one was hurt. Video from ABC News

On tap 

The House and Senate are in. President Biden is in Washington, D.C. Vice President Harris is in New Jersey. 

  • 9:30 a.m.: Biden received the President’s Daily Brief. 
  • 9:45 a.m.: Harris left for Atlantic City, N.J. 
  • 1:05 p.m.: Harris holds a roundtable with New Jersey state legislators to discuss the fight for reproductive rights. 
  • 2:50 p.m.: Harris returns to Washington, D.C. 
  • 3 p.m.: The Senate meets. Today’s Senate agenda 
  • 5:30 p.m.: A Senate cloture vote on a judicial nomination. 
  • 6:30 p.m.: First and last House votes. Today’s House agenda
  • July 19: The Hill is hosting and event on the future of health care.” Featured speakers: Dr. Anthony Fauci, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, USAID’s Atul Gawande and White House COVID czar Ashish JhaRSVP 
  • July 20: The Hill is hosting a virtual Latina Leaders Summit. Featured speakers: Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), “Encanto” voice actor Adassa, activist Maria Teresa Kumar and Pepsico’s Esperanza TeasdaleRSVP 

 All times Eastern.

📺What to watch

  • 11:30 a.m.: Harris spoke at the 113th NAACP National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J. Video 
  • 3 p.m.: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a press briefing. Livestream 
  • 3 p.m.: Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Livestream

🍬 In lighter news 

Today is National Sour Candy Day and National Caviar Day. 

And if you’re feeling hot in the middle of July, here’s a dog who really knows how to enjoy winter sports.

Tags 12:30 Report Biden Saudi Arabia trip Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Donald Trump Fist bump Jan. 6 hearings Pat Cipollone Pat Cipollone Secret Service text messages

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