12:30 Report — VP auditions at Trump hush money trial

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

12:30 Report — VP auditions at Trump hush money trial

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12:30 REPORT

Happy Tuesday. And it’s an interesting one today, let me tell you! Here’s what’s happening:

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and a flock of Republicans showed up at the Manhattan courthouse in support of former President Trump.

Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen is back on the stand. It’s expected to get much more volatile once Trump’s lawyers begin their cross-examination.

One new poll examining President Biden and Trump’s support in swing states is setting off a lot of alarm bells.

Comcast is offering a Netflix-Peacock-Apple TV bundle … so, basically cable?

 

I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send tips, commentary, feedback and cookie recipes to cmartel@thehill.com.Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.  

🗽In Manhattan

You know when you watch a show, and everyone ends up at an event together?:

Like every character from “The Office” being at Phyllis’s wedding. Or when all the “Game of Thrones” characters meet up at the Dragonpit Summit. Well, it feels like that’s happening in New York today.

 

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Cory Mills (R-Fla.), former GOP presidential primary rivals Vivek Ramaswamy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, as well as Laura Trump and Eric Trump, are all at the courthouse today for former President Trump’s hush money trial.

 

Did Johnson speak?: Yes, he briefly spoke with reporters. He called it a “sham of a trial” and argued that Trump is “innocent of these charges.” (The Hill)

 

CBS News’s Robert Costa described Johnson’s appearance: “Speaker Johnson just made statements to reporters here in NY and then rushed away taking no questions. I asked him if he would still back Trump if the former president is convicted and he said nothing. Odd scene. Came to park. Read from notes. Rushed off.” (Costa’s full X post)

 

Welcome to the VP audition: Sens. JD Vance (R-Ohio) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) showed up in New York City on Monday to support Trump. And so did Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) last Thursday.

 

Interesting read from The New York Times: ‘How Has Trump Changed the G.O.P.? His Criminal-Trial Guest List Tells the Tale.’

 

What’s happening in court today?: Trump’s fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen is back on the stand today.

 

🗨Today’s live blog from the courtroom

➤  HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS MORNING’S TESTIMONY:

Cohen says he pressured Stormy Daniels to deny the affair: Cohen testified that he knew the denials were “false” but wanted to have it “taken care of.” (From The Hill’s Ella Lee)

 

Bringing Melania Trump into this: “Michael Cohen testifies that Donald Trump told him it was Melania’s idea to spin the Access Hollywood comments as ‘locker room talk.’” (Not sure we’ve heard that before.) (From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins)

 

The prosecutor showed the jury the invoices Cohen submitted to be repaid: “Was this invoice a false record?” the prosecutor asked. “Yes ma’am,” said Cohen.

 

📝 Five takeaways from Michael Cohen’s Monday testimony

📊The Campaign Trail

The poll heard ’round the world:

A new poll from The New York Times, Siena College and the Philadelphia Inquirer has set off alarm bells among Democrats.

 

The top line: Former President Trump is leading President Biden in five of six key swing states. Biden won *all six* of these states in 2020. (Trump is leading in Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Biden is leading in Wisconsin.)

 

Why this is eyebrow-raising: The New York Times noted that the findings have not changed much since the last poll in November. Yes, but: “Since then, the stock market has gained 25 percent, Mr. Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan has started, and the Biden campaign has unleashed tens of millions of dollars in advertisements across the battleground states.” So, it’s very telling that Trump is still polling well in these swing states.

 

Another worrisome element: The Hill’s Brett Samuels and Julia Manchester noticed that Biden is losing support among young voters and Black and Hispanic votes. Those are critical demographics for him. That doesn’t necessarily mean all of those voting blocs will vote for Trump, but if young voters stay home, for example, it could hurt Democrats up and down the ballot. (The Hill)

 

📊 The full poll

 

📝 The New York Times’s takeaways from its polling

➤  TIDBIT:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is planning to fundraise for former President Trump’s 2024 campaign, reports The Associated Press.

Another worrisome sign for Democrats:

“Democrats have downplayed the political threat they face this year due to the huge surge of migrants across the southern border, but their recent actions show they are increasingly nervous about the political liability of the issue, which polls at the top of voters’ concerns,” reports The Hill’s Alexander Bolton.

 

How we know Dems are increasingly concerned: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told colleagues that he plans to bring a bipartisan Senate border security deal to the floor for a vote next week.

 

And to make sure everyone gets a little brownie point: Schumer has discussed breaking up the bill into several components so that vulnerable colleagues can each introduce a portion of it.

 

You get a border bill to introduce! And you get a border bill to introduce!

 

Read more on the plans: ‘Anxiety grows among Democrats over Biden border issues’

Happening today — there are still primaries left:

Maryland, West Virginia and Nebraska are holding their primaries today.

 

Here are five things to watch:

“Who wins the Maryland Democratic Senate primary?”“What do the protest votes look like for Biden and Trump?”“Who emerges ahead in crowded Maryland House races?”“Who comes out ahead in the West Virginia gubernatorial race?”“Does Don Bacon survive his primary challenge?”

Full explainer from The Hill’s Caroline Vakil

🐝 Internet Buzz

🍞 Celebrate: Today is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day!

 

🤖 The next generation of ChatGPT: OpenAI released a newer, faster chat system that is free for all users. This model will have real-time conversational speech, and it can pick up on your emotions. Oh, and you can interrupt it, though I’m not sure I would want to make it mad. 😅 (CNET)

 

📺 C-SPAN’s getting a new CEO: CNN’s longtime Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist will become C-SPAN’s CEO starting this summer. (The Hill)

 

💻 First, we bundled. Then we did a la carte. Now, we’re bundling again: Variety’s Todd Spangler reports that Comcast will offer a bundle called “StreamSaver” that will include access to Peacock, Netflix and Apple TV. The obvious next question is — how much will this cost? Comcast didn’t give details on pricing but said it would be a “vastly reduced price.”

 

🌉 Lol, this would have terrified me: WAMU’s Tom Sherwood posted a clip of the controlled explosion of a Baltimore bridge. NBC4’s Adam Tuss seemed to be caught off guard. “Haha – they said there would be a warning! If there was – it wasn’t loud,” Tuss replied. 📹 Watch the clip

🗓️ On The Agenda

The House and Senate are in. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington. (all times Eastern)

This morning: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell spoke at the Foreign Bankers’ Association annual meeting in Amsterdam. 💻 Watch

12:15 p.m.: Biden delivers remarks on promoting American investments and jobs. 💻 Livestream

12:45 p.m.: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefs reporters. 💻 Livestream

3 p.m.: The Senate returns.

5:30 p.m.: Harris participates in a campaign reception in New York City. She then returns to Washington.

5:30 p.m.: The Senate holds a cloture vote on a nomination. 📆Today’s agenda

6:30 p.m.: First and last House votes. 📆Today’s agenda

7:35 p.m.: Biden speaks at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies’ 30th Annual Gala in Washington. 💻Livestream

👋 And Finally…

Because you made it this far, watch these horses try sweets. Kalia eating a peppermint has me in tears.

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View past issues of 12:30 Report here and check out other newsletters from The Hill here. See you next time!