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July 12, 2018

There's never been more sass in one room than when FBI agent Peter Strzok faced the House on Thursday.

The House Oversight and Judiciary committees' joint hearing with Strzok, who led the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, was expected to get a little divisive. In texts with FBI lawyer Lisa Page revealed in June, Strzok pledged to "stop" President Trump's election, leading many to think the investigation was rigged against Trump.

After some opening statements, lawmakers got into questioning ... each other on how to question Strzok.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) then went on sarcasm-laden monologue when he got the chance to grill Strzok. This is just a small chunk:

Strzok responded with a heated defense of the FBI's integrity and rebuke of Trump, which prompted Democratic applause:

And then, why not, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) subpoenaed former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon:

All of that only took about an hour — and there are still 72 more congressmembers with questions to go. Kathryn Krawczyk

6:37 a.m.

President Trump has been very active on Twitter this week, and on Tuesday he complained twice that he's not getting enough credit for the strong economy:

Trump also lobbed several attacks at the news media, including calling Joe Scarborough "Morning Psycho (Joe)" and mocking CNN's Chris Cuomo for his allegedly "unsuccessful prime time slot." On CNN Tuesday night, Cuomo accepted Trump's critique but argued that "the president should consider his own criticism," because "he is mired in the mud of minority approval."

Trump "has a tailwind economy from the past president, [Barack] Obama, a market-juicing tax cut, record unemployment, thank God no one has succeeded in hurting us horribly, he has a media that is totally attentive, he had both houses of Congress to start with, and he still isn't at 50 percent," Cuomo said. "I don't think any other modern president could boast more good fortune," and "almost all had spikes over 50 percent. Not this president."

Cuomo offered an explanation for Trump's perpetually middling polls: "His mouth and his moral judgments — days like today, attacking everyone, flouting law, not leading, not making anything great, let alone 'again.'"

Trump's "big challenge ... is whether he can get past his mouth, see his flaws, and find ways to do better," Cuomo said. "Most administrations obsess on this; his seems completely blind, deaf, and dumb to it." Peter Weber

5:28 a.m.

If you ignore President Trump's Twitter rants, his public reaction to last week's release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report has looked like a "no collusion, no obstruction" victory lap. But "backstage, Trump realizes the damage the report has done, and has taken a much darker view of the post-Mueller landscape," Gabriel Sherman reports at Vanity Fair.

Specifically, Sherman says, "Trump is lashing out at former West Wing officials whom he blames for providing the lion's share of damaging information in Mueller's 448-page report," a group "known as 'the notetakers' that includes former White House counsel Don McGahn, McGahn's deputy Annie Donaldson, and staff secretary Rob Porter." McGahn, who is cited 157 times in Mueller's report, "is receiving the brunt of Trump's post-Mueller rage," Sherman notes — a fact Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has acknowledged publicly to The New York Times.

"The thing that pisses him off is the note-taking," a former West Wing official who spoke with Mueller told Sherman. "Trump thinks they could have cooperated with Mueller without all the note-taking." Other officials who spoke to Mueller "are angry that Trump is blaming them for the contents of the report when Trump's legal team told them to cooperate," Sherman reports.

Giuliani, meanwhile, insisted that Trump's "mood is good" and his angry tweetstorms are "all very deliberate," designed "to undermine the blind adherence to what's said in the report. The report is only the prosecutors' version of what happened." Giuliani and Trump's other lawyers released their own rebuttal to Mueller's report, but people don't seem to have found it quite as compelling a read. Peter Weber

3:42 a.m.

"Let's start at the end of this story," George Mason University law professor J.W. Verret wrote in The Atlantic on Tuesday. "This weekend, I read Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report twice, and realized that enough was enough." Verret explains that he has "worked on every Republican presidential transition team for the past 10 years," including President Trump's, briefly. He was never a big Trump fan and turned down opportunities to work in his administration, he said, but he was never a Never Trump Republican.

Still, "if you think calling for the impeachment of a sitting Republican president would constitute career suicide for someone like me, you may end up being right," Verret writes. "But I did exactly that this weekend." And he explained why:

I wanted to share my experience transitioning from Trump team member to pragmatist about Trump to advocate for his impeachment, because I think many other Republicans are starting a similar transition. Politics is a team sport, and if you actively work within a political party, there is some expectation that you will follow orders and rally behind the leader, even when you disagree. There is a point, though, at which that expectation turns from a mix of loyalty and pragmatism into something more sinister, a blind devotion that serves to enable criminal conduct. The Mueller report was that tipping point for me, and it should be for Republican and independent voters, and for Republicans in Congress. [Verret, The Atlantic]

On MSNBC Tuesday evening, Verret told a skeptical Chris Matthews that "as the hearings proceed forward, as the American people read the Mueller report from Amazon — it's very popular right now — I think the tide's going to turn ... in favor of impeachment."

"We have seen the top lines debated, we have not seen the nitty-gritty," Verret said. "This is nitty-gritty, soap opera–style details. Give the people time to process. I trust they'll do the right thing." Peter Weber

2:38 a.m.

The Portland Trail Blazers won their Western Conference playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, but it's the way they won that has everyone talking. With the scored tied and the clock almost out, Damian Lillard sank a 37-foot 3-pointer to give the Blazers a 118-115 win, a lopsided 4-1 series victory, and a franchise playoff-record 50 points for Lillard himself.

After nailing the game-winning half-court stunner, Lillard waved a cool goodbye to the Thunder.

Portland, swept in the first round of last year's playoffs, will advance to play either the San Antonio Spurs or Denver Nuggets in this year's Western Conference semifinals. Peter Weber

2:02 a.m.

A 70-year-old woman died Tuesday afternoon at the Grand Canyon after falling over the edge of the South Rim.

Park authorities said they were notified at around 1 p.m. that an incident had occurred near the Pipe Creek Vista, The Arizona Republic reports. Using a helicopter, rescuers spotted the woman's body about 200 feet below the rim. Later in the afternoon, more than a dozen rescuers recovered the body. The woman's name has not been released.

Over the last two months, several people have fallen to their deaths at the Grand Canyon. In early April, a man tumbled over the edge of the canyon, and last month, a tourist from Hong Kong lost his balance while taking photos. Catherine Garcia

1:52 a.m.

On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) traveled to New Hampshire to talk politics at St. Anselm College, but unlike many politicians who visit the Granite State, he wasn't declaring his candidacy for president. In fact, Hogan announced that he won't challenge President Trump in the 2020 GOP primary unless he sees "a path to victory."

"I'm not going to launch some sort of suicide mission," Hogan said. Unlike former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R), the only other Republican in the race, "I have a real day job that's important to me, the people of Maryland." It's true that "a lot of people have been approaching me" and asking "me to give this serious consideration," he said. "I'm listening, coming to New Hampshire and listening to people is a part of that process. I've been to 10 states in the past few months and have 16 more on my schedule . . . but I'm not at the point where we're ready."

Hogan is one of the country's most popular governors, but Trump has high approval ratings among Republicans nationally and the Republican National Committee has also put up structural barriers to any candidate who wants to primary Trump in 2020, voting to give its "undivided support" to Trump. Hogan said he "was pretty critical" of the RNC's machinations. "To change the rules and to insist 100 percent loyalty to the dear leader," he said, "it didn’t seem much like the Republican Party that I grew up in." Peter Weber

1:32 a.m.

Writing in cursive comes naturally to Sara Hinesley, and she has the award to prove it.

Hinesley, 10, was born without hands, and to write, she puts a pencil between the ends of her arms. She tried prosthetic hands, but quickly decided that they weren't necessary. "She can do just about anything — oftentimes better than me or my husband," her mom, Cathryn Hinesley, told CNN.

A third-grader at St. John's Regional Catholic School in Frederick, Maryland, Hinesley says that when her teacher taught her how to write in cursive, she thought it was "easy, and I would practice at school." She entered the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, and thanks to her neat cursive, won the Nicholas Maxim Award, which is given to an entrant with a physical, developmental, or intellectual disability. Hinesley said she hopes that other kids "who have challenges learn from me," and see that "if you try your hardest you can do it." Catherine Garcia

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