**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Giuliani associates nabbed for alleged campaign crimes – I’ll Tell You What: We should see other states – Team trump going all out for Minnesota, you betcha – Louisiana governor race heats up in closing days – What I learned in Chick-fil-A training is…
GIULIANI ASSOCIATES NABBED FOR ALLEGED CAMPAIGN CRIMES
WSJ: “Two Soviet-born donors to a pro-Trump fundraising committee who helped Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Democrat Joe Biden were arrested late Wednesday on criminal charges of violating campaign finance rules, including funneling Russian money into President Trump’s campaign. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Florida businessmen, have been under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, and are expected to appear in federal court in Virginia later on Thursday, the people said. Both men were born in former Soviet republics. Mr. Giuliani, President Trump’s private lawyer, identified the two men in May as his clients. Both men have donated to Republican campaigns including Mr. Trump’s, and in May 2018 gave $325,000 to the primary pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action… A Justice Department official said [Attorney General William Barr] was supportive of their work on the case, on which he was first briefed shortly after being confirmed as attorney general in February.”
Fox poll: Record support for Trump’s ouster – Fox News: “Just over half of voters want President Trump impeached and removed from office, according to a Fox News Poll released Wednesday. A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but don’t remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment.Since July, support for impeachment increased among voters of all stripes: up 11 points among Democrats, 5 points among Republicans and 3 among independents. Support also went up among some of Trump’s key constituencies, including white evangelical Christians (+5 points), white men without a college degree (+8), and rural whites (+10). Among voters in swing counties (where Hillary Clinton and Trump were within 10 points in 2016), support for impeachment increased to 52 percent, up from 42 percent in July.”
Pence to release transcripts of his Ukraine calls – AP: “Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he is working with the White House counsel’s office to release transcripts of his own calls with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Pence said records of his two phone conversations would help exonerate President Donald Trump of any wrongdoing. Pence was asked about releasing his transcripts and told reporters, ‘I’d have no objection to that.’ He spoke after an event in Waukee, Iowa, where he addressed supporters about the president’s trade policy. Pence said he ‘never discussed the issue of the Bidens’ with Zelenskiy. And he again defended the president, insisting that a ‘plain reading’ of the rough transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukranian leader shows ‘there was no quid pro quo.’”
Pergram: Trump team’s stonewalling speeds up Democrats’ timetable – Fox News: “Next Tuesday is the deadline for most of the House’s requests. That coincides with the day the House returns to session. [Nancy] Pelosi will take the temperature of her caucus when lawmakers return. But in some respects, Pelosi already knows the temperature. Democrats are seething over the administration failing to meet congressional demands. They think they have a robust case against the president when it comes to obstruction of Congress. Pelosi could grant the administration more time to comply. That would let the issue marinate in public for a bit – and demonstrate that Democrats aren’t hasty to impeach. But after that, the House Judiciary Committee could begin drafting articles of impeachment. Pelosi doesn’t travel roads like this unless she already knows the outcome. She doesn’t lose votes on the floor – especially something of this magnitude.”
Trump’s Syria decision affects GOP backing on impeachment – WaPo: “President Trump’s decision to suddenly withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria has angered evangelical Christian leaders and Republican hawks, cleaving his political coalition at the very moment he is trying to fortify his standing to survive the intensifying impeachment inquiry in Congress. Instead of enjoying uncontested GOP support as he plunges into a constitutional showdown with House Democrats and prepares for a bruising reelection campaign, Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his party. … The past few days have tested the bounds of Trump’s Republican support at an unusually frenzied political crossroads that has brought uncertainty for elected officials. While GOP lawmakers have been skittish about directly engaging the subject at the heart of the impeachment debate — the president’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart — many have felt free to loudly condemn Trump’s Syria decision, underscoring the fluidity within GOP ranks.”
The Judge’s Ruling: With Syria, Trump lives up to his campaign promise – This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains that President Trump removing U.S. troops from Syria complies with his duty to uphold the Constitution: “Trump ran for office promising to bring the troops home. He may have made the latest decision to do so without adequate warning to his military commanders, but his decision is utterly consistent with his promises, and it is utterly in compliance with the Constitution. Now is the time for Congress — which is largely angry at the presidential use or nonuse of the military — to repeal both AUMFs and the War Powers Resolution and reclaim its constitutional power as the sole entity in the federal government able to declare war. Until it does, these profoundly outdated, morally ambivalent and overtly unconstitutional statutes lie in the presidential desk drawer like a loaded gun.” More here.
THE RULEBOOK: CUE ‘I’M JUST A BILL’
“The President of the United States is to have power to return a bill, which shall have passed the two branches of the legislature, for reconsideration; and the bill so returned is to become a law, if, upon that reconsideration, it be approved by two thirds of both houses.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 69
TIME OUT: ‘WHY YOU SHOULD BE EATING MORE CHEDDAR’
WSJ: “For over 150 years cheddar was the most popular cheese in the U.S. It sustained colonists and Civil War soldiers, and was the foundation for the industrial innovation of processed ‘American’ cheese. Only recently was cheddar demoted to second place in overall consumption, usurped by that ubiquitous pizza-topper, mozzarella. Though English in origin, cheddar has been part of the American experience from the very start, and today some of this country’s best cheese makers are turning out better cheddar than ever before. Cheddaring, the stacking of blocks of drained curds to extract more whey, creates a sturdy curd suited to aging. … Commodity cheddar is a publicly traded product whose destiny is frozen food, pre-shredded packs and economy supermarket wedges; specialty cheddar, made on a small scale and sold primarily at cheese counters and gourmet stores, is often preserved in wax or clothbound (wrapped in cotton cloth and rubbed with oil or lard).”
Flag on the play? – Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.4 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 25 points (↑ 2.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 14.6 points (↓ 1.4 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 5.6 points (↓ 0.4 points from last wk.)
Harris: 4.6 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, IBD, Monmouth University, Fox News and NBC News/WSJ.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 42.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53.8 percent
Net Score: -11.4 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 0.4 points
[Average includes: Fox News: 43% approve – 55% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve – 53% disapprove.]
WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: WE SHOULD SEE OTHER STATES
This week, Dana and Chris discuss the continued rise of Elizabeth Warren, the continued fall of Kamala Harris and the importance of corned beef hash. Plus, Dana has mailbag questions and Chris answers Vice-Presidential trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
BIDEN TRIES COUNTERPUNCHING
Politico: “After calling for Donald Trump’s impeachment for the first time, Joe Biden experienced something here he rarely sees on the campaign trail: a sustained standing ovation. …[T]he former vice president’s roll-out of a swaggering, fire-breathing approach and full embrace of impeachment signaled a dramatic departure from course — a change in direction necessitated by weeks of Trump’s siege warfare. … It was his most aggressive posture to date, presenting a case that Trump could not be trusted, while positioning himself as the fighter that America needs at this moment to face off against a ‘bully’ and a ‘coward.’ … He also took a veiled shot at Elizabeth Warren, who has overtaken Biden in recent national polls and whose campaign mantra is centered on her dozens of policy plans. … Biden’s shift toward a harsher tone and his evolution on impeachment was born out of circumstance, necessity and personal animus. It came after days of privately huddling with advisers.”
Sanders retracts statement about slowing down campaign – NBC News: “Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday tamped down speculation that he would slow his presidential campaign after he suffered a heart attack last week, saying he plans to compete as vigorously as ever for the 2020 Democratic nomination. The Vermont independent told NBC in an exclusive interview airing Wednesday night on ‘Nightly News’ and Thursday on the ‘Today’ show that his health scare has only strengthened his resolve, despite telling reporters a day earlier he planned to curtail his normally packed schedule. ‘I misspoke the other day. I said a word I should not have said and media drives me a little bit nuts to make a big deal about it,’ Sanders said during the interview alongside his wife, Jane Sanders. … He added, ‘I want to start off slower and build up and build up and build up.’”
Warren refreshes vow against high-dollar fundraisers – Politico: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she will continue to swear off high-dollar campaign fundraisers in the general election if she becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, extending her self-imposed ban on the events beyond the primary and reversing an earlier statement. ‘When Elizabeth is the Democratic nominee for president, she’s not going to change a thing in how she runs her campaign,’ campaign spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said in a statement Tuesday, which Warren later amplified in a Twitter thread. … That broad statement worried some Democrats, as the party’s presidential nominee traditionally has been a big fundraiser for other candidates and Democratic committees. But in a Wednesday statement, Orthman clarified that Warren’s pledge would apply only to her presidential campaign, not to raising money for the Democratic Party or other candidates.”
TEAM TRUMP GOING ALL OUT FOR MINNESOTA, YOU BETCHA
NYT: “A Republican presidential candidate has not won the state of Minnesota since Richard M. Nixon’s victory there in 1972. But President Trump has long viewed it as the one that got away. Mr. Trump barely set foot in the state during his 2016 campaign, and his field organization on the ground was nonexistent… This time, the Trump campaign is determined not to let Minnesota go without trying. So on Thursday night, Mr. Trump will arrive in Minneapolis, one of the most Democratic congressional districts in the country, for his first political rally since House Democrats began an impeachment investigation that threatens to engulf his presidency. It is a rare rally for Mr. Trump in a state he did not win in 2016, and takes him to the heart of opposition territory… Meanwhile, Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager, is planning to pour tens of millions of dollars into the campaign’s Minnesota operation, compared with the $30,000 the Trump campaign spent on the state last cycle. The campaign already has 20 paid staff members in the state, and expects to expand to 100.”
LOUISIANA GOVERNOR RACE HEATS UP IN CLOSING DAYS
Politico: “The last televised primary debate in Louisiana saw Republicans Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone go after [Democratic Gov. John Bel] Edwards — but also each other, as they seek a second-place finish in an uncertain runoff. Rispone took the opportunity to post a question to Abraham, asking why he promised to donate his congressional salary but later stopped doing so, while Abraham criticized Rispone for his past support of Common Core. The two also argued back and forth about each other’s records, with Abraham accusing Rispone of running ‘distasteful’ attack ads, and Rispone calling Abraham’s line of attack on Common Core ‘an outright lie.’ The pair of Republicans did train their fire on Edwards, too. They hit him over the state’s economy and needled him on why he backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 — an attempt to nationalize the race, with President Donald Trump, who’s been tweeting proflicially about the race, planning an election-eve visit to Lake Charles on Friday night.”
McGrath raises $10.7 million in campaign to oust McConnell – WashTimes: “Democrat Amy McGrath raised a record $10.7 million in the last three months for her bit to topple Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate race in Kentucky. Ms. McGrath, a Marine fighter pilot, is the leading Democratic candidate in the race to take on Mr. McConnell, a six-term senator who is immensely unpopular in his home state. The $10.7 million that Ms. McGrath raised in the third quarter came from 299,000 donors with an average individual contribution of $36. ‘Mitch McConnell has never faced an opponent like Amy McGrath. Not only does a new independent poll show the race tied, but more than a quarter-million grassroots donations — from all 120 Kentucky counties — have provided us a record-shattering first quarter of nearly $11 million to take down McConnell and his self-serving special interest allies. Change is coming,’ said McGrath campaign manager Mark Nickolas.”
Watch this: Neil Cavuto: We are not as opposite from one another as we think – Fox News
Megan McArdle: What’s behind the rise of radicalism? – WaPo
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., to retire – Roll Call
Trump to meet with China’s vice premier Friday, floats potential trade agreement – WaPo
AUDIBLE: OR MAYBE DON’T GET SHELLED FOR 10 IN THE FIRST
“Maybe don’t ban the tomahawk chop next time?” – Nick Ayers’, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, reaction to the Atlanta Braves’ first-inning struggles on Wednesday night during Game 5 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris! Woah, woah, woah! Can we please get an emergency podcast to discuss the new Fox News poll that has 51% of Americans supporting impeachment and removal? This seems crazy, yet not entirely surprising!” – Katie Hacker, Evington, Va.
[Ed. note: I don’t know if we can manage that one, Ms. Hacker, but how about a little Bleacher banter? It may be best here to look at our excellent pollsters’ work in context. If you check out FiveThirtyEight’s very helpful averages on the subject, you’ll see that support for impeachment has been on a sharp increase. On the day when the news broke that the President Trump had sought help from the Ukrainian president in getting dirt on the Bidens, opposition to impeachment ran 11 points ahead, 51 percent to 40 percent. That was in mid-September. Today, the average stands at 49 percent in favor of impeachment and 43 percent opposed. Support among Democrats and independents has jumped 10 points or more while Republicans increased a more modest, but still significant, 4 points on average. The takeaway from our poll and every other credible pollster is that the tide has turned decisively against the president. There is still a long way to go here and public opinion on this subject is obviously malleable. But if more than 80 percent of Democrats are already on board, it’s hard to see that number declining much any time soon. That means Team Trump’s urgent work is to convince increasingly skeptical independent voters that the president deserves to remain in office. It won’t be enough to count on the anger of core Republican supporters.]
“I’ve been following your continued response to readers who stubbornly insist on asking for a crime worthy of impeachment. Your response is that it’s not a legal issue but a political issue. As a devotee of the U.S. Constitution, I really think that your reading of the ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard should actually read ‘high crimes, misdemeanors, and anything else the U.S. House of Representatives feels adequate to the occasion’ would be more of a support for your position. But, alas, such language seems to be missing. Or am I reading the wrong U.S. Constitution? Please advise.” – Bill Panagakos, Littleton, Colo.
[Ed. note: It may be helpful here to look at the intent of the Framers in devising the vehicle. Here’s what Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 65 about the purpose of impeachment: “Those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” was a term of art long before the Constitution was drafted. As Hamilton alludes to in the passage above, the “high” in the term refers to the office more so than the offenses. The purpose of impeachment isn’t to prosecute federal officials for crimes, but rather to remove them from office for abusing their powers and breaching the public trust. The Framers were following in the footsteps of British politician and political philosopher, Edmund Burke. In his famous speech in 1786 seeking the impeachment of the governor general of India, Warren Hastings, for self-seeking, tyrannical treatment of the crown’s Indian subjects Burke declared “the principles of honor, the spirit of cavaliers to govern here; not the low principles of jurisprudence only.” Hastings’ scandal and trial were very much on the minds of Americans during the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and Burke’s view – that “principles of honor” were essential to consider – was the mainstream opinion on this side of the Atlantic. This is why the Senate, not the Supreme Court or some bicameral commission, was chosen to sit in judgment. Here’s Hamilton again: “The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” Sound familiar? The Senate, then indirectly elected by state legislatures, with its members serving six year terms, was seen as the best home for dispassionate, fair-minded evaluations of the facts at hand without the unpleasant thought of unelected judges removing an elected president. The House, more easily incited to partisan passion and more responsive to the immediate will of the electorate, can prosecute, but the upper chamber runs the show. Whether or not you agree with their assessment, if a majority of the members of the House believe that the president has abused his office for personal gain and should be removed, they would be entirely within the American understanding of an impeachable offense. Just as it would be within that tradition for the Senate to reject their claim if its members so choose. This is how the system is supposed to work. I imagine that Democrats will end up correlating their articles with existing criminal offenses, like the solicitation of campaign help from foreign countries and obstruction, but that’s just window dressing. Appeals to honor and ethics are enough.]
“Re: your report on Trey Gowdy joining Team Trump. Is he betting all his chips on a series of events that would get him a Supreme Court nomination?” – John Lee, Walnut Creek, Calif.
[Ed. note: I wouldn’t get too far ahead of myself on this one. Gowdy’s friend and longtime fellow South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney is the White House chief of staff. Gowdy is arguably the best suited man in America to go up against House Democrats in this matter. He has a strong reputation among Republicans but still enjoys some credibility among his former Democratic colleagues for his successful navigation of efforts by Trump loyalists to torch the FBI. And if anything, running point on a matter this explosively controversial and rankly partisan would diminish, rather than improve, his chances of being picked for the Supreme Court.]
“Chris and Brianna, Please tell me you took editorial liberty in quoting Federalist No. 30 and that Alexander Hamilton did not write in all caps. My image of the esteemed first Secretary of the Treasury will be forever marred if he was a precedent Twitter troll.” – Dan Burch, Turlock, Calif.
[Ed. note: Capitalization is a funny thing. We’ve only really had standard practices for the past century or so. Certainly back in 1787, it was highly irregular across the English-speaking world. If you look at our founding documents you’ll see that in those days, for example, it was conventional to capitalize nouns in the way modern German speakers do. Consider the American creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As you can see, the capitalization of nouns isn’t even standard. Why “Rights” but not “men?” “Liberty” but not “truths?” What comes through is that capitalization was a form of emphasis, not grammatical rules. The capitalized words after the start of the sentence – “Creator,” “Rights,” “Life,” “Liberty” and “Happiness” – actually make for a kind of semaphore for the actual meaning of the sentence. The essence is there in those five key words. So yes, I’m sorry to break it to you that ALL CAPS was a thing before Twitter. And you can just imagine Hamilton, eyes and pen aflame responding to the opponents of the Constitution: “IN THE USUAL PROGRESS OF THINGS, THE NECESSITIES OF A NATION, IN EVERY STAGE OF ITS EXISTENCE, WILL BE FOUND AT LEAST EQUAL TO ITS RESOURCES.” There’s no record of whether Patrick Henry wrote back “u mad bro?”]
Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
WHAT I LEARNED IN CHICK-FIL-A TRAINING IS…
WBNS: “A Chick-fil-A employee went above and beyond to help a customer having a bad day. Shauna Hall was getting out of her van when she dropped her phone in the parking lot of a Chick-fil-A in Stafford, Virginia. The phone fell into a storm drain. … That’s when Seth, a digital marketing director with Chick-fil-A, said he would help. After cleaning his finger after slicing it trying to remove the manhole cover to the drain, Seth went into the storm drain and retrieved Hall’s phone. It didn’t break in the fall and wasn’t wet. ‘As he was about to climb out of the hole he asked me to snap a picture so he could show his girlfriend what he did at work today,’ Hall said. Seth’s shift had just ended, yet he didn’t hesitate to stay and help a customer in need.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Behind the [Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial], guarding him, is an arc of short quotations chiseled in granite. This is in keeping with that glorious feature of Washington’s monumental core — the homage to words (rather than images of conquest and glory, as in so many other capitals), as befits a nation founded on an idea.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) Aug. 26, 2011.
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.