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On the roster: Dems look to streamline impeachment probe – Team Trump leans on Mueller moves – Joe = Jeb? Biden benefactors ready to mobilize mega PAC – A little on the nose, don’t you think?
DEMS LOOK TO STREAMLINE IMPEACHMENT PROBE
WaPo: “House Democratic leaders are eyeing a fast-paced investigation into the possible impeachment of President Trump, instructing the committees handling the probe to wrap up their findings within weeks in hopes of concluding before the holiday season. Multiple Democratic lawmakers and congressional aides said there is no formal timeline for the inquiry, but the ‘need for speed,’ as one aide put it, comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is under pressure from vulnerable freshmen to keep the investigation narrowly focused and disciplined. The emerging strategy of a rapid investigation focused mainly on the accusation that Trump urged Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt about a political rival comes as lawmakers prepare to leave Washington for a two-week recess. … Pelosi and other leaders huddled in a basement conference room Thursday evening with more than a dozen ‘front-liner’ members representing the toughest districts for incumbent Democrats to discuss the fledgling probe and, in the words of multiple attendees, ‘get on the same page.’”
Tim Alberta: Will impeachment shatter a badly broken Congress? – Politico: “On Monday, [Rep. Abigail Spanberger] joined with six like-minded freshman colleagues in penning a Washington Post op-ed calling for an impeachment inquiry—stunning the Democratic caucus and effectively forcing Pelosi’s hand. It would be the unlikeliest bunch of members, legislative pacifists who had labored not to be defined by opposition to Trump, leading Congress into an era-defining clash. How the impeachment proceedings affect an increasingly polarized nation is anyone’s guess. But it’s hard to imagine the coming showdown doing any more damage to an institution that, lawmakers in both parties will agree, was broken long before Donald Trump came to town.”
Snap poll shows impeachment supporters outnumber opponents – PBS: “Americans are split over whether they support an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, according to the latest poll from the PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist. Forty-nine percent of U.S. adults said they supported the House of Representatives launching an impeachment inquiry into the president, while 46 percent of Americans said they disapproved, and 5 percent remained unsure, according to the poll. … Eighty-eight percent of Democrats agreed with the inquiry, along with 44 percent of independent voters, but among Republicans, support was drastically lower, at 6 percent. … This latest poll was conducted the day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the House of Representatives to begin an impeachment inquiry…”
Kraushaar: Politics of impeachment now favor Democrats – National Journal: “The politics of impeachment is changing, rapidly. No one knows how this will end, but all signs are pointing to growing trouble for Republicans. The whistleblower’s well-documented allegation that Trump extorted Ukraine, an ally, for political gain is damning and direct. House Democrats are narrowly focused on digging deeper into the explosive evidence as the basis for impeachment. Administration officials connected to the alleged cover-up will be subpoenaed under oath before Congress as part of the impeachment hearings. If the White House thinks things will get better for them, they’re fooling themselves. … The larger reality is that public opinion is more fluid than anyone expected last week. Many anti-Trump pundits, expecting a repeat of our predictable tribal political realities, assumed that nothing has changed. But our politics has become so partisan that even rapid short-term movement suggests something is happening.”
Andrew Cuomo mocks ‘leftist,’ ‘unproductive’ impeachment effort – New York Daily News: “Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized ‘leftist’ Democrats for pushing Congress into launching an impeachment inquiry of President Trump and predicted the probe would lead to government gridlock. The governor derided the ‘quote unquote inquiry’ as the work of angry radicals who forced the hand of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to mount what he suggested would ultimately be an exercise in futility. ‘There is a heightened leftist component of the Democratic Party that she was feeling pressure from,’ Cuomo said. The governor ticked off a list of legislative priorities that would likely languish until after the 2020 elections now that he said Democrats will be focused on removing Trump from power. ‘It’s a long and unproductive road,’ Cuomo said. ‘Where does it go ultimately? Nowhere.’”
TEAM TRUMP LEANS ON MUELLER MOVES
AP: “The White House is dusting off its playbook from the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Caught off guard by the speed at which a whistleblower’s claims have morphed into an impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump and his team are scrambling to respond. They’re turning, at least for now, to some of the same strategies they used to counter special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The basic tactics deployed by the short-staffed White House: Attempt to discredit government officials at the heart of the story. Dispatch Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other allies to muddy the picture. Lean on Republicans in Congress to provide cover.”
Amy Walter: Impeachment won’t change the game – Cook Political Report: “We are a deeply divided, deeply polarized country. Almost everything we do — from choosing where to eat lunch (Chick-fil-A vs. Whole Foods), to picking where to live (urban/suburban vs. rural/small town) is filtered through the lens of how we identify politically. As such, we shouldn’t expect views of impeachment to be any different. Opinions won’t swing wildly from day to day or week to week. We also shouldn’t expect to see Americans overwhelming support or overwhelmingly oppose impeachment. Like everything in this era, the final verdict on impeachment is likely to be decided on the margins by voters who are holding conflicting views on the president and the process of impeachment. It will be decided by those who may dislike Trump, but are also frustrated by the paralysis in Washington, or those who may like the agenda of the president, but are troubled by his behavior.”
Romney’s narrow road – NYT: “Mr. [Mitt] Romney’s public statements reflect what many in his party believe privately but are almost uniformly unwilling to say: that they are faced with damning revelations about the president that are difficult to explain away, and are unsure of whether there is more damaging material to come. What’s more, they are contending with a leader whose appetite for political payback for real or imagined slights is insatiable, and who is responding to the crisis with angry new threats and accusations that will only increase the pressure on them to choose a side. It amounts to an unenviable dilemma for Republicans at a consequential moment for the party. Any internal fractures over the next year could undermine both Mr. Trump’s re-election and Republican hopes for retaining their Senate majority and retaking the House.”
First GOP governors come out in support of impeachment inquiry – WaPo: “For the first time, two Republican governors have publicly supported the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, a new development in an intensifying political fracas that has so far been largely partisan. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, both outspoken critics of Trump from the Northeast, said Thursday they favored the investigation, but Scott added that he would wait for more information before calling for further action against the president.”
THE RULEBOOK: *STANDING OVATION*
“Ingratitude is a common topic of declamation against human nature; and it must be confessed that instances of it are but too frequent and flagrant, both in public and in private life.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 57
TIME OUT: MAN, HOLES
USA Today: “NASA has given us another historic glimpse into the wonders of space after releasing a video that shows a star-shredding black hole in a galaxy millions of light-years away. The amazing footage of the ‘cataclysmic phenomenon’ was taken by NASA’s planet-hunting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS. Astronomers think the supermassive black hole weighs around 6 million times the sun’s mass and is located about 375 million light-years away in a galaxy of similar size to the Milky Way, NASA said. The incredible event, called a tidal disruption, is very rare and occurs once every 10,000 to 100,000 years in galaxies like the Milky Way. When a star gets too close, the intense tides of a black hole break apart the star into a stream of gas, according to NASA. As shown in the video, the tail of that stream breaks away from the black hole while other parts of it swing back around and create a halo of debris.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.6 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 20.8 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 16 points (↑ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Harris: 6.6 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 5.4 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, Fox News, NBC News/WSJ, CNN and ABC News/WaPo.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43 percent
Average disapproval: 54 percent
Net Score: -11 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.4 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 55% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve – 54% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve – 53% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapprove.]
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JOE = JEB? BIDEN BENEFACTORS READY TO MOBILIZE MEGA PAC
NYT: “Allies of Joseph R. Biden Jr., concerned about his slipping poll numbers in the Democratic presidential primary and an onslaught of attacks from President Trump, are weighing whether to mobilize a super PAC supporting Mr. Biden and have held conversations with wealthy donors to gauge their interest in contributing money. Mr. Biden and his campaign aides have said since the start of the race that they would not welcome an outside spending effort on his behalf, and every other major Democratic candidate has sworn off super PACs for the duration of the primary. A spokesman for Mr. Biden on Thursday reiterated that he opposed super PACs and would reject any such group that attempted to support him. Yet several former staffers of Mr. Biden and political donors backing his candidacy have held conversations in recent weeks about moving ahead with a super PAC, and said Mr. Trump’s furious, and often unsubstantiated, allegations about the former vice president had convinced them it was imperative they act.”
Under fire, Biden looks to scamper left – WaPo: “Advisers to presidential candidate Joe Biden are weighing the introduction of a new tax on Wall Street, according to people familiar with the discussions, as the former vice president now stands alone among the Democratic presidential front-runners in not backing a multitrillion-dollar ‘wealth tax’ on the richest Americans. The plan under consideration from Biden’s advisers could tax financial transactions such as the sale of stocks and bonds, one of the people said. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Biden, under pressure throughout the presidential campaign to move left on a range of policy issues, has embraced several ideas to increase taxes on the rich and on corporations but so far has not gone as far as his two main rivals. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have each unveiled their own plans to impose a ‘wealth tax’ on multimillionaires and billionaires, with both also calling for significant new taxes on corporations and wealthy estates. Sanders unveiled his wealth tax earlier this week.”
Wall Street Democratic donors lay down the law on Warren – CNBC: “Democratic donors on Wall Street and in big business are preparing to sit out the presidential campaign fundraising cycle — or even back President Donald Trump — if Sen. Elizabeth Warren wins the party’s nomination. In recent weeks, CNBC spoke to several high-dollar Democratic donors and fundraisers in the business community and found that this opinion was becoming widely shared as Warren, an outspoken critic of big banks and corporations, gains momentum against Joe Biden in the 2020 race. ‘You’re in a box because you’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, ‘I want to help the party, but she’s going to hurt me, so I’m going to help President Trump,’’ said a senior private equity executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of retribution by party leaders.”
A dozen candidates, one night for next Dem debate – Politico: “The Democratic National Committee intends to hold its fourth presidential primary debate on one night in October, packing the stage with as many as 12 qualified candidates. ‘To address several inquiries we have received we are writing to let you know that, pending a final decision after the certification deadline, it is the intention of the DNC and our media partners to hold the October debate over one night on Tuesday October 15th,’ the DNC wrote in an email to campaigns on Friday.”
N.Y. prosecutors, Trump lawyers reach deal on requests for Trump tax returns – WSJ
Trump nominates Peter Gaynor to permanently head FEMA – AP
Senate confirms Eugene Scalia as new secretary of Labor – Roll Call
Disgraced former Health Secretary Tom Price seeks Senate appointment – Politico
AUDIBLE: CLAWS OUT
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“This is a strain of cat that I don’t have the medical credentials to analyze nor the religious credentials to judge.” – Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking about President Trump with the New Yorker.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. Also, tune in for highlights from Chris’s sit-down interview with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
A LITTLE ON THE NOSE, DON’T YOU THINK?
WABC: “Officials in New Jersey are looking into multiple complaints of a mystery odor that smells like rotten fish. The Hudson Regional Health Commission said they received two complaints in Jersey City and several complaints in Bayonne on Tuesday night. The HRHC confirmed a presence of an odor, but said the source could not be traced. Inspectors went into Newark – specifically to Raymound Boulevard and Doremus Avenue, because winds were coming from that direction. They were not successful in locating the origin. ‘It’s not anything were used to around here. Being a peninsula, we have water on three sides and sometimes at low tide that you can smell the bay. It was really nothing like that. It was a very nasty, almost like a foul meat type of smell,’ OEM Coordinator Edoardo Ferrante said. The New Jersey DEP has been investigating the same odor since the beginning of summer.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“But there is one area in which as a father I do feel a great weight of responsibility, a need to measure every word. It is not in the realm of character building, but in the realm of truth imparting.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Feb. 23, 1990.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.