Giuliani associate Lev Parnas tried hiding $1M Russia payment, prosecutors allege

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U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday accused Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas of receiving and trying to hide a $1 million payment from Russia just one month before he was charged with campaign finance violations.

Prosecutors are now asking a judge to jail Parnas for underreporting his assets, according to Bloomberg.

“Parnas failed to disclose, in describing his income to the government and pretrial services, the fact that in September 2019, he received $1 million from a bank account in Russia into Account-1,” the court filing stated.

The court filing reportedly gave little explanation as to where the $1 million came from or what it was intended for. Prosecutors claim the money was deposited into an account overseen by Parnas' wife, Svetlana, in an attempt to shield it from suspicion.

Parnas was arrested in October with his associate Igor Fruman as they attempted to board a one-way international flight out of Dulles Aiport near Washington, D.C. He was then charged less than 24 hours later with violating a ban on foreign donations and contributions in connection with federal and state elections.


In November, Parnas' lawyer Josephy Bondy said his client would be willing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, despite denying previous House committee requests for specific documents.

“He will answer the subpoena to the best of his ability,” Bondy said. "Parnas was deeply disturbed to learn in jail while awaiting bail that the president was disavowing and claiming not to know him."

Parnas and Fruman pleaded not guilty to the campaign finance charges connected to political donations to a pro-Trump super PAC. They are accused of using the company Global Energy Producers (GEP) to funnel money into American elections.


Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show GEP made $325,000 in donations to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action in May 2018.

Fox News' Marta Dhanis and Louis Casiano contributed to this report

Original Article

Reporter’s Notebook: Congress rings in holidays with one of its most stressful Decembers ever

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House Judiciary begins markup session on articles of impeachment

Fox News contributor Karl Rove and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams weigh in.

CAPITOL HILL – Seth MacFarlane nailed it in the Christmastime episode of “Family Guy” nine years ago.

Stevie and Brian the dog headed to the North Pole during the holiday season on a nefarious quest to knock off ol’ St. Nick himself. The duo arrived, only to discover that Santa’s workshop was a dystopic tableau, populated with an exhausted team of overworked, crackhead elves and a bone-tired, cynical Santa Claus.

Christmas was exhausting everyone at the North Pole. Santa and his elves launched into song.

“Each bell would peal with a silvery zeal…

As the holiday was filling us…

But now instead, all we’re feeling is dread…

Because Christmastime is killing us!”

But, such wretched holiday dioramas aren’t confined to “Family Guy” or the North Pole.

Anyone who’s spent any time during the month of December on Capitol Hill knows exactly what we’re driving at here. The sheer, exponential volume of work and stress often in Congress each December saps away holiday cheer as lawmakers, staff and journalists toil around the clock.

December is the worst month on the Congressional calendar. The 12 days of Christmas are more like a month of pain in Congress.

Maxine Waters called Clinton impeachment 'Republican coup,' backs impeachment against TrumpVideo

“O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree. How faithful are thy branches?”

When it comes to December, you can bet that the legislative branch of government will be “faithful,” meeting in session right up until Christmas – if not toiling all the way through the holidays.

We’ve had some hall deckers around Congress at the holidays before. A Christmas Eve pre-dawn vote in the Senate to pass the first version of ObamaCare in 2009. Congress labored through the holidays in 2012 as the nation faced the “fiscal cliff” in 2012 and 2013. Vice President Biden came to the Capitol around 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 2012 for negotiations. The Senate began voting just around 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2013, on the fiscal cliff measure, and the House voted that night. Last year, the government shut down just before Christmas and remained closed through the holidays. The sides were stymied in efforts to reach an accord to fund the government.

The House even impeached President Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998 – the Saturday before Christmas. And, perhaps appropriately, the first impeachment trial in U.S. history began in the Senate on Christmas Eve in 1797.

In other words, Congress has Christmas traditions to uphold when it comes to impeachment.

So, here we are with perhaps the most overwhelming slate of work facing Congress at the holidays in decades. The House began a “markup” session to prepare articles of impeachment at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The full House may debate the articles and vote to impeach President Trump sometime before the holiday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., even announced a deal on the new trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, known as USCMA – one hour after the House unveiled articles of impeachment.

The sheer juxtaposition of House Democrats announcing they would impeach the president – within an hour of announcing they were on the precipice of granting Trump the biggest, bipartisan policy victory of his presidency, was simply bizarre.

A somber Pelosi appeared at a 9 a.m. news conference to release the impeachment articles on Tuesday. By 10, Pelosi was all smiles as she strode to the lectern for a second news conference on USMCA.

“It’s like we’re dealing with whiplash here this morning,” said yours truly to the speaker. “Impeachment at 9. USMCA at 10.”

“The day is young!” exclaimed Pelosi, triggering a peal of laughter in the press gallery.

Finally, the sides still must work out an agreement to avoid a government shutdown by 11:59:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 20. Failure to do so could trigger yet another holiday season government shutdown.

2018 Rep. Nunes memo cast in new light after IG reportVideo

“Sleigh bells ring! Are you listening?”
Frankly, no. Everyone has spent hours sequestered in various impeachment hearings and markups starting at dawn and running until nightfall – and some even beginning after nightfall. We’ve heard testimony about alleged quid pro quos, Gordon Sondland, the whistleblower and Jonathan Turley’s angry goldendoodle. And, the only thing Christmas-like in the hearing room is the temperature. It feels like the North Pole.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose.”

The House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees conducted their hearings in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building. It’s a cavernous facility, home to the House Ways and Means Committee. The room is historically the coldest room on Capitol Hill. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, referenced the extreme chill in the hearing room last week and complained to Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.

“This is the coldest hearing room in the world,” Collins exhorted during one hearing, also grousing about the lack of comfort of the chair.

Some reporters covering impeachment resembled “folks dressed up like Eskimos,” wrapped in wool blankets for the marathon hearings.

The House used 1100 Longworth as the actual chamber in the 1940s while workers renovated the real one across the street in the Capitol. 1100 Longworth has retained its status as a backup chamber to this day. The House has kept the room at a very cold temperature in case of a chemical or biological attack. Colder temperatures would restrict the aerosolization of particles in a terrorist attack.

House Judiciary Committee to formalize impeachment charges against President TrumpVideo

So, here we are again on Capitol Hill, and Christmastime is killing us. And, the deadline to fund the government looms.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., noted there was “no progress” on funding the government as she headed to a meeting with Pelosi and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The same issue that triggered a government shutdown still hasn’t been resolved this year: funding for a border wall and the treatment of people in U.S. detention.

“We want to get as much dignity and protections for migrants as possible,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said as she headed into the conclave with Pelosi and Lowey.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., published the Senate calendar for 2020 last week. Anticipating a prospective impeachment trial, McConnell released an 11-month calendar. No, he didn’t leave January blank. He simply ripped January off the calendar as if it didn’t exist.

McConnell couldn’t predict what was ahead in the early days of 2020. So, McConnell didn’t even make a guess.


McConnell may harbor serious reservations about January. But, everyone knows that December is the real black hole. Everyone faces prodigiously lengthy days ahead. Christmastime is killing us.

Perhaps McConnell is onto something with the 11-month calendar. An easy way to cure the December ills in Congress? Just delete the entire month from the calendar.

Original Article

House approves defense bill authorizing Space Force, 12 weeks of paid family leave for feds

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The Democrat-controlled House passed a $738 billion Pentagon defense package on Wednesday that allocated 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees and authorized the creation of President Trump's sought-after "Space Force."

The measure was passed by a final vote of 377 to 48 following several weeks of negotiation between the House and Senate, The Associated Press reported.

Certain House Democrats reportedly sought a more liberal bill that would have blocked Trump from using Pentagon funds to fulfill his campaign promise of a southern border wall. Those same members also expressed concerns about the rising deficit and national debt.

Congressional Republicans compromised on parental leave and were able to gain authorization for the building of Trump's Space Force, which would consolidate existing personnel under a new branch of the Air Force. The bill also includes a 3.1 percent military pay raise and a repeal of the widow's tax on military death benefits.


House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., declared victory for Democrats and told The Associated Press that he had proudly presided over an expansion of America's welfare state.

"I was able to get them to enthusiastically support the largest expansion of the social welfare state since the Affordable Care Act — the widow's tax and paid parental leave," Smith said.

"That was an enormous accomplishment, OK? I got them to do things that they never wanted to do," he added.


Despite not receiving the $7.2 billion he sought for the construction of his southern border wall, President Trump is expected to sign the measure when it passes the Senate sometime next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Original Article

Impeachment markup heats up as Nadler says ‘we cannot rely on an election’ to oust Trump

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House meets to begin markup on impeachment articles

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday night began the "markup" process for the two articles of impeachment against President Trump that they have settled on, barreling toward a final floor vote even as moderate Democrats have floated the idea of backing down in favor of a censure resolution.

Almost immediately, the evening proceedings broke out into fiery disagreement, as the panel's top Democrat declared that it would be unsafe to wait until the 2020 election to remove Trump, while the ranking Republican slammed Democrats for attacking Ukraine's leader because he undercut their case against Trump.

"We cannot rely on an election to solve our problems, when the president threatens the very integrity of that election," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in his opening statement, claiming Trump's discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about Joe and Hunter Biden's lucrative dealings in the country, and the White House's temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine, constituted an "urgent" threat to national security.

"This committee now owes it to the American people to give these articles careful attention," Nadler said at the beginning of the markup for the impeachment articles, which included obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.

Nadler said there were three key questions for Congress to evaluate: whether the evidence clearly showed that Trump committed the acts alleged in his dealings with Ukraine, whether the acts rose to the impeachment standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors," and what the consequences for national security were if Congress failed to act.

The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, shot back that Democrats have been trying to impeach Trump since he took office. He echoed the White House's argument that the impeachment was politically motivated theater, long in the works and foreshadowed openly by Democrats for months, if not years.

Collins noted that Zelensky has denied Trump ever pressured him, and that Democrats then turned on Zelensky to call him a "liar." Collins went on to slam the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee for hosting a hearing with three anti-Trump law professors with no personal knowledge of any relevant conduct by the president; Republicans invited one professor of their own.

The late-night markup session marked something of a doubleheader for Congress, after Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz's testimony dominated most of the day. The night is expected to consist mostly of opening statements, before the markup adjourns and resumes at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday.

House Judiciary Committee to formalize impeachment charges against President TrumpVideo

In markup sessions, representatives typically fine-tune legislation or other resolutions, offering amendments, debating, and settling on final language.

Fox News expects Wednesday night's session to last until approximately 10:30 p.m. ET, or even later if the 41-member panel were to start debating the articles of impeachment or to try amending them. Each member would be entitled to 5 minutes of speaking time, and Republicans might try to delay the proceedings.

But, the committee likely will do most of the heavy lifting on Thursday, and vote the articles out of committee – sending them to the House floor for consideration. Then, it would be up to the House to schedule the articles for the House floor, likely the middle of next week.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called for impeachment, after months of hedging. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called for impeachment, after months of hedging. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The rapid pace has come as numerous polls showed declining support for impeachment in key swing states. For example, impeachment and removal was opposed by 50.8 percent of voters in Michigan, 52.2 percent of voters in Pennsylvania, and 57.9 percent of voters in Wisconsin, according to the Firehouse/Optimus December Battleground State Poll.

Two other polls released Wednesday confirmed that most Americans did not want Trump impeached and removed.


Politico reported earlier this week that the numbers were making a "small group" of moderate Democrats, who have held seats in districts where Trump won in 2016, nervous about how to vote. They instead have suggested Trump be censured instead, which would prevent the GOP from holding a potentially damaging Senate trial and give them political cover in the upcoming election.

But, hardline Democrats in safe districts haven't budged. California Rep. Karen Bass, for example, said Wednesday that she's open to impeaching Trump again even if he wins the 2020 election.

Democrat open to impeachment again if Trump wins in 2020Video

The House is now comprised of 431 members, meaning Democrats would need 217 yeas to impeach Trump. There are currently 233 Democrats, so Democrats could lose only 16 of their own and still impeach the president. Among the House Democrats, 31 represent more moderate districts that Trump carried in 2016.

"This is the other side of it being political — you’ve got about 30 House Democrats who are in districts won by Donald Trump and they realize that they are going to pay a political price if they go along with impeachment," Fox News contributor Charles Hurt, the opinion editor of The Washington Times, told "Fox & Friends" Wednesday.


Freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich. — who flipped a GOP district in 2018 that Trump won by 7 points in 2016 — told Fox News last month that she was tentatively weighing all the evidence. On Wednesday, she confirmed that she's still undecided.

"The phones are ringing off the hook," she told CNN. "We literally can't pick up the phones fast enough — and it's people on both sides of it."

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Original Article

Michael Cohen seeks reduced sentence, says AG Barr acted in bad faith

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President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is seeking to reduce his 36-month prison sentence on the basis that Attorney General Bill Barr's Justice Department acted in bad faith during his legal battle, according to court documents obtained by Fox News.

Cohen filed a motion in Manhattan Federal Court with Judge William H. Pauley on Wednesday, seeking a reduced sentence to one year and one day, or "reducing it to a term of home confinement, coupled with a 'community service' component."

Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about Trump’s past business dealings in Russia in December of last year. He began serving his sentence in May.

Before sentencing, he ripped into Trump, telling the judge he felt obligated to cover up the president's “dirty deeds.”

Cohen's attorneys blamed the Justice Department (DOJ) for failing to meet with Cohen following his cooperation, and accused them of failing to act in "good faith."


"The government failed to appropriately treat Michael Cohen in 'good faith' and so applying existing case law in this and other circuits, this case should address Defendant Cohen's sentence modification plea," according to the filing.

Cohen's attorneys also took a shot at the president and said Cohen's cooperation helped arouse the conscience of the American people, against the commander in chief.

"His cooperation should not be overlooked (or diminished), as America's consciousness is raised about precisely who occupies the 'Oval Office,' and the disruptive consequences," the report said.

The filing painted Barr as a partisan political operative who is blindly loyal to the president and is willing to protect him, at all costs.

"Attorney General Barr, since his assumption of office as President Donald J. Trump's chief law enforcement officer, has been marked by controversy, criticism and conflicts of interest," one document read. "His succession following the president's vicious hectoring departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as attorney general has been marked by partisan loyalty to the president who appointed him."


Cohen's attorneys also cited media reports of Barr "gallivanting around Europe on 'the government's dime' in a mission to corroborate Trumpian conspiracy theories."

Fox News reached out to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

Original Article

House passes farm bill that critics say grants ‘large-scale amnesty’ to illegal immigrants

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Trump administration proposes changes to visa program for foreign workers on farms

The H-2A visa program has tripled in size over the last decade, with a quarter million temporary farm workers coming in this year; Dan Springer reports from Snohomish County, Washington.

The House on Wednesday passed a contentious agricultural bill that would likely put more than a million illegal immigrants on a pathway to legal status as part of what supporters say is a vital modernization of the industry’s workforce — but that immigration hawks blasted as a “large-scale amnesty.”

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed 260-165, with support from both Democrats and Republicans. The bill provides a process for undocumented farmworkers to seek a temporary five-and-a-half-year “Certified Agricultural Worker” status if they have worked for approximately six months in the industry in the last two years.


That status can either be renewed indefinitely, or workers (along with their spouses and children) can begin a path to permanent legal status in the form of a green card. That path, according to the legislation, includes background checks and $1,000 fine.

To secure the green card, those who have worked in agriculture for 10 years or more must work for four more years, while those who've spent less than a decade in the sector would have to work eight more years. Once workers receive a green card, they are then free to pursue work in fields outside of agriculture.

The bill also streamlines the H-2A agriculture visa program, cutting processing time and costs for visa petitions. And it calls for the Department of Homeland Security to set up a pilot program that would give H-2A workers the ability to change jobs within the sector if they find work within two months.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the bill’s sponsor, said that it was a “historic” compromise and example of bipartisanship.

“This bill is a compromise, it’s not exactly what I would have written but it does stabilize the workforce,” she said on the House floor. “We have farmworkers who have been here for a very long time without their papers, living in fear and in some cases being arrested and deported.”

“We need to allow them to get an agricultural visa that is temporary and renewable so they can do the work we need them to do and their employers need them to do,” she said. “We need to stabilize the H-2A program, which this bill does. It simplifies it and also stabilizes wages.”

The bill had support from a number of farm groups, but has faced fierce opposition from immigration restrictionists, who claim that the amnesty component is similar to one in the 1980s that was rife with fraud and saw more than a million illegal immigrants win protection. They also say that the bill keeps immigrant workers tied to their jobs in a form of indentured servitude until they get their green cards.

“The only thing worse than another large-scale amnesty is one that then forces people to continue to toil for poor wages and under poor working conditions for the same unscrupulous employers who hired them illegally in the first place,” Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said in a statement.

“While Congress continues to do nothing to secure our borders, passing a bill that rewards both illegal aliens and their employers, and calling it ‘modernization,’ is a slap in the face to the plurality of Americans who consider immigration to be the nation’s most pressing domestic issue,” Stein said.


The Heritage Foundation described the bill as a “clear cut example of amnesty,” warning that it "threatens the legal immigration system’s legitimacy and incentivizes aliens and farmers to ignore the legal immigration system in the future if it best serves their needs."

The bill's Republican support, with a number co-sponsoring the measure, raises the possibility that a form of such a bill could have a shot in the Republican-controlled Senate.

But while the bill has bipartisan support, it has also faced criticism from other Republicans lawmakers. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., cited estimates from liberal groups that there are as many as 2.7 million farmworkers in the country, with more than half estimated to be in the country illegally, meaning that more than a million and a half could get a pathway to legal status.

“While the 224 pages of H.R. 5038 make many more changes to the H-2A program — some good and some bad — one need look no further than the first few pages to figure out the real point of this bill: a path to citizenship for an unknown number of illegal immigrants who do some work in agriculture, along with their families,” he said at the Judiciary Committee markup last month.

He also said the bill’s document standards are low and could allow illegal immigrants with multiple DUI convictions and a history of Social Security fraud to get legal status.


As with most bills that include a path to legalization for those in the country illegally, there are some enforcement parts of the bill as well, but they come with major caveats.

While the bill would establish mandatory E-Verify (a DHS-run verification system for employers that has been seen as the holy grail for employment enforcement) for all agricultural employment, Lofgren’s office notes that that would be “phased in" and only "after all legalization and H-2A reforms have been implemented and included necessary due process protections for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.” This fuels concerns from immigration hawks that it follows a trend of bills that go "amnesty first, enforcement later."

Original Article

Watch: Virginia Dem faces shouts over Trump impeachment at fiery town hall with constituents

closeWill Democrats go for censure rather than impeachment?Video

Will Democrats go for censure rather than impeachment?

Charlie Hurt, Washington Times, discusses a report that says a small group of Democrats will push for censure instead of impeachment

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., was confronted with shouts about the Democrat-led Trump impeachment effort during a fiery town hall meeting with constituents over the weekend.

Spanberger was one of the seven freshman Democrats who penned a September op-ed in the Washington Post calling for President Trump's impeachment. But footage from Sunday's town hall showed people yelling that the president was innocent and that the impeachment push was "crap."

"It's a lie. It's all a lie," one man shouted.

"You all have been trying to impeach this man since he got elected," a man could be heard saying. Another man also yelled that Trump "hasn't done anything wrong."

"Let our votes count," one man implored the congresswoman. "Don't take them away."



Spanberger represents Virginia's 7th congressional district, which includes areas between Richmond and Fredricksburg. Spanberger took that seat in 2018 from Republican Dave Brat, a former economics professor whom conservatives endorsed as an alternative to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won Virginia in 2016 — but with a slim margin, and much of her support coming from the northern part of the state. Spanberger's district was one of many that favored Trump.

Someone at the event said Spanberger seemed visibly frustrated in the video from the town hall. The "crap" comment came in response to Spanberger calling the allegations against Trump "incredibly, incredibly serious." Another resident said they were 'b——t."

A spokesperson for Spanberger reportedly said the incident showed the congresswoman "engaging in important conversations" with her constituents.


Spanberger's town hall seemed to preview the type of discontent Democrats could face during reelection bids in moderate or Trump-leaning districts.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., acknowledged on Friday that some Democrats wouldn't vote for impeachment and that he wasn't galvanizing members to do so given how "divisive" the issue has become.

"This is a vote of conscience," Clyburn said while appearing on CNN. "I do believe that when it comes to something as divisive as impeachment, we have to leave members up to their own consciences, their own constituents, and what they think is in the best interest of their love for country."

"And so, I think it would be a bit unseemly for us to go out whipping up a vote on something like this. This is too serious, this is too much about preserving this great Republic," he added.


His appearance came amid ongoing impeachment hearings led by House Democrats. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told members to proceed with articles of impeachment, potentially making Trump the third U.S. president to be impeached. The Republican-led Senate is expected to reject any request to remove Trump from office.

Two Democrats, Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voted against starting the impeachment inquiry in October.

Original Article

Kelly Craft at UN: North Korea missile launches ‘risk closing the door’ on diplomatic progress

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US ambassador to the UN comments on relations with North Korea

Kelly Craft speaks to reporters outside of a UN security council meeting on North Korea.

U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday that North Korea’s ballistic missile tests are “deeply counterproductive” and closing prospects for negotiating peace.

“These actions also risk closing the door on this opportunity to find a better way for the future,” Craft said at the United Nations.

North Korea has carried out 13 ballistic missile launches since May.

She said the U.S. trusts that North Korea will stop “further hostility and threats” and engage with Washington on diplomatic progress. But if not, she said the Security Council must be “prepared to act accordingly.”

She said the U.S. is “prepared to be flexible,” and remains ready to take concrete, parallel steps with North Korea toward an agreement.

How serious is North Korea's 'Christmas gift' threat?Video


Craft later told reporters that North Korea “has threatened to take a ‘new path’ in the coming weeks, and has used its public statements to hint at a resumption of serious provocations.”

“In practical terms, this would mean that [North Korea] could launch space vehicles using long-range ballistic missile technology, or that they could even test-launch intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBMs], which are designed to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons," she continued.

"Any discussion of a new roadmap or Security Council resolution must bear in mind the reality that over the past year and a half, [North Korea] has continued to advance its prohibited programs, test its prohibited programs, and repeatedly refuse to engage in sustained diplomatic engagement," Craft said. "We have not asked North Korea to do everything before we do anything."

She added: "The United States is prepared to be flexible on how we approach this matter. We recognize the need for a balanced agreement and parallel actions that address the concerns of all parties. In fact, we have taken many steps to bring about the resolution through dialogue and have conveyed this message clearly to North Korea. But we need a committed negotiating partner to take the reciprocal actions required for progress.”

The U.N. meeting came less than three weeks before Kim Jong Un’s end-of-December deadline for the U.S. to come up with new proposals to revive nuclear diplomacy.

Negotiations faltered after the U.S. rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North’s nuclear capabilities at the second summit between President Trump and Kim last February. North Korea has hinted at lifting its moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests if the Trump administration fails to make substantial concessions before the new year.

Beyond its slew of ballistic missile launches in recent months, North Korea last weekend it said it had performed a “very important test” at its long-range rocket launch site.

North Korea fires at least one 'unidentified projectile' overnightVideo


South Korea’s defense minister said Pyongyang tested a rocket engine. He did not elaborate, but there is wide speculation that the test involved a new engine for either a space launch vehicle or a long-range missile.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

ICE removes more than 267,000 individuals in fiscal year 2019

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New York authorities release illegal immigrant charged with manslaughter

ICE New York field office director Thomas Decker speaks out.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released its annual report on Wednesday, showing a slight decline in arrests and roughly 10,000 more removals from the previous fiscal year.

ICE conducted 267,258 removals — up from 256,058 in fiscal year 2018. According to the report, nearly all (91 percent) of the removed included individuals with criminal convictions or pending criminal charges at the time of arrest. Arrests, however, fell to 143,000 from 159,000.

In fiscal year 2019, individuals were charged for a variety of violent crimes that included homicide (1,900), kidnapping (1,800), sex offenses (12,000) and assault (45,000). The vast majority of arrests — 86 percent — involved pending criminal charges or criminal convictions, according to the report.


The report came as the agency fended off criticism over its handling of the ongoing migrant crisis, which President Trump has responded to by tightening restrictions on entry and calling for additional deportations.

“There is no doubt that the border crisis, coupled with the unwillingness of some local jurisdictions that choose to put politics over public safety, has made it more difficult for ICE to carry out its congressionally mandated interior enforcement mission,” ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence said.

The agency has also encountered challenges from sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to honor its requests to detain illegal immigrants suspected of committing crimes.

“No matter where you live in the U.S., your safety is impacted by criminal aliens who came to this country illegally and now live in your neighborhoods," Albence said.

"Despite our significant challenges, and as evidenced by the tremendous work of the professional men and women of ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations], ICE remains committed to removing dangerous, recidivist criminals from our communities and restoring integrity to the nation’s immigration system,” he added.


Democrats have criticized immigration enforcement, in particular, for the way it treated migrants and migrant families in federal custody. According to ICE, its non-detained docket reached a record 3.2 million cases. In total, ICE removed 5,700 — 110 percent more than in the previous fiscal year — migrants identified as family unit members.

Original Article

Trump secures 50th appellate court appointment, with another Ninth Circuit judge confirmed

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Trump administration secures another judicial victory

Confirmation of President Trump's latest judicial pick tilts balance of 11th Circuit Court; reaction from Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network.

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday afternoon confirmed Lawrence VanDyke to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, marking President Trump's 50th successful appellate court appointment in just three years in office, and his second to the historically liberal Ninth Circuit in as many days.

By contrast, President Barack Obama nominated a total of 55 circuit judges who were confirmed over eight years — and Obama's nominees were, on average, approximately ten years older. The White House has dramatically transformed the Ninth Circuit, a powerful court with jurisdiction over nine states that has long been a thorn in the president's side.

Of the 30 active seats on the Ninth Circuit, 10 have now been appointed by Trump, and 14 by Republican presidents. Only nine of the court's 19 semi-retired "senior status" judges were appointed by Democrats, with 10 by Republicans. That's a major change from early last year, when only six judges on the Ninth Circuit were chosen by Republicans.

"FIFTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGES!" tweeted Carrie Severino, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network's chief counsel and policy director. "Despite unrelenting Democratic obstruction and smear campaigns," she wrote, Trump and his Senate allies "have answered the call of the American people."

VanDyke's confirmation, by a 51-44 vote, came just 24 hours after Patrick Bumatay, an openly gay Filipino man, was also seated on the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit. Both nominees were fiercely opposed by Democrats, including the senators from their home states — Nevada Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto for VanDyke, and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris for Bumatay.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has long drawn the ire of President Trump, who has called it "disgraceful." It's now being transformed. (AP)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has long drawn the ire of President Trump, who has called it "disgraceful." It's now being transformed. (AP)

But, the White House has long ignored the so-called "blue slip" process of seeking advice from home-state senators in the judicial confirmation process, as it pressed ahead with its goal of transforming the federal appellate bench for generations.

"As the 9th Circuit shifts to become more conservative and better parallels the Supreme Court's ideological baseline, I could only imagine fewer liberal 9th Circuit decisions and fewer overturned 9th Circuit decisions generally," legal scholar and judicial data guru Adam Feldman, who blogs at Empirical SCOTUS, told Fox News.

The confirmations have not been easy for the White House — or its nominees. VanDyke, a deputy assistant attorney general in the environmental and natural resources division, broke down in tears during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in October, as he disputed suggestions that he would not be fair to members of the LGBTQ community.


The ostensibly nonpartisan American Bar Association (ABA), which rated VanDyke unqualified, sent a letter to committee leadership alleging that people they interviewed expressed this concern, and that VanDyke himself "would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community."

“There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful,” the letter added.

The ABA did note that VanDyke, a Harvard Law School graduate and former solicitor general for Montana and Nevada, is "clearly smart." VanDyke is a former Nevada solicitor general who also waged an expensive campaign for a seat on the Montana Supreme Court in 2014.

Trump judicial nominee Lawrence VanDyke brought to tears during Senate hearingVideo

"I did not say that," VanDyke told Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tears welling up in his eyes. "No, I did not say that. I do not believe that. It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God. They should all be treated with dignity and respect, senator."

VanDyke also said that he was not given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations during his ABA interview. He said when he was confronted with the concerns about his views, he began to answer but was told they were running out of time, and described himself as “much more hurt than I’ve ever been to get that” assessment from the ABA.

That interview was conducted by Marcia Davenport, the lead evaluator. Hawley noted that Davenport once contributed to the campaign of a judicial candidate who was running against VanDyke.

"I find that absolutely unbelievable," Hawley said, stating it "probably explains the totally ad hominem nature of this disgraceful letter."


Conservative groups came to VanDyke's defense: "Even for the ABA, this is beyond the pale," the Judicial Crisis Network's Carrie Severino said in a statement, accusing the ABA of "bias against conservative nominees to the judiciary."

Bumatay, the nominee confirmed to the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday, served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. He was confirmed in a 53-40 party-line vote, and received a “Qualified” rating from the ABA.

Senate confirms President Trump's nominee to be a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 53-46 in a party-line voteVideo

He was nominated last year, but the Senate never took up his confirmation, and it eventually expired.

“Patrick Bumatay lacks the knowledge and experience necessary for the 9th Circuit," Feinstein said. "He also acknowledged working on the separation of immigrant families while at the Justice Department and refused to answer questions about other controversial issues."

The conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP), however, praised Bumatay's credentials.

“In Patrick Bumatay, the President has nominated a highly qualified and experienced individual, committed to supporting and defending the Constitution – rather than seeking to legislate from the bench," Casey Mattox, AFP's vice president for legal and judicial strategy, said in a statement. "We applaud Chairman Graham and the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their support of Bumatay and Senator McConnell for his continued commitment to confirming fair and qualified nominees to the federal bench.”


Speaking to top Republican lawmakers and Justice Department officials in the East Room of the White House in November, Trump celebrated the appointment of his 150th federal judge, which he called a "profoundly historic milestone and a truly momentous achievement." As of Dec. 11, Trump has appointed a total of 120 judges to federal district courts, which sit below appellate courts — with dozens more in the pipeline.

Promise made, promise kept: Trump has confirmed more than 150 judgesVideo

The event featured a series of humorous moments as Trump's onetime rivals took the microphone. Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, fondly recalled the time Trump had given out his personal phone number on the campaign trail and compared him to a "dog" — and how the two quickly settled their score shortly after Trump took office.

"The defining moment of your president was the Kavanaugh hearing," Graham said. "This room would be empty if we had failed Brett Kavanaugh. Brett Kavanaugh lived a life we should all be proud of. He worked hard. And the way he was treated was the worst experience I've had in politics. A lot of people would have pulled the plug on him. Mr. President, thank you, for not pulling the plug."

Trump singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for a standing ovation, saying his impact in methodically confirming judges in the Senate was "truly amazing." Trump went on to joke that it was "so easy" to get Supreme Court justices confirmed, in a nod to the contentious Brett Kavanaugh hearings last year.

"Generations from now, Americans will know that Mitch McConnell helped save the constitutional rule of law in America — it's true," Trump said.

Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

Original Article

Sen. Kennedy tells Horowitz: ‘I thought I had dropped acid’ while reading FISA report

closeSen. John Kennedy says he 'thought I had dropped acid' while reading DOJ IG reportVideo

Sen. John Kennedy says he 'thought I had dropped acid' while reading DOJ IG report

Sen. John Kennedy says he 'thought I had dropped acid' while reading DOJ IG report

Senate Judiciary Committee member John Kennedy, R-La., said Wednesday that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report on FISA abuse during the 2016 Trump presidential campaign made him want to vomit.

While questioning Horowitz, Kennedy said the inspector general did a good job in compiling his report and that its findings are not a reflection on him.

"I'm about 70 percent of the way through but I'm going to finish it, and it is tedious… It's supposed to be tedious," he said.

"After about 15 percent of the way through, it made me want to heave," Kennedy added. "After about 25 percent of the way through I thought I had dropped acid — it is surreal, I just couldn't believe it."


Sen. Ted Cruz on surveillance of Trump campaign: This wasn't Jason Bourne, this was ' Beavis and Butt-head'Video

Horowitz replied that the contents of the report also continue to "surprise" him.

Kennedy later referred to the FBI's investigation into alleged connections between Trump campaign associates and Russia — dubbed "Crossfire Hurricane" — as "Misfire Hurricane" and asked whether some of the upper-level officials that have remained at the FBI since the campaign are still working on FISA surveillance applications.

Horowitz said the bureau itself may be a better source for those answers.

The Louisiana Republican also asked about Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who formerly led the Organized Crime-Drug Enforcement Task Force, and had been demoted after his connection to Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm responsible for the anti-Trump dossier, came to light.


"It's easier to divorce your spouse around here than get fired," Kennedy remarked.

The senator also got the inspector general to state on the record that the report "does not vindicate anyone at the FBI who touched this, including the leadership." However, he clarified that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page was not involved in the "FISA chain" of officials, but took part in other "discussions."

Earlier in his line of questioning, Kennedy remarked that Horowitz must have "strong kidneys" to withstand several hours straight in the witness chair.

The tone of the inspector general's testimony overall ran counter to much of the coverage surrounding the report's release that focused on the finding that investigators found no evidence of political bias and were indeed justified in launching the 2016 probe.

Horowitz reaffirmed that finding, touted by congressional Democrats eager to defend the probe, at Wednesday's hearing. But his testimony as a whole amounted to a tough assessment of the bureau's actions — and clarified that his two-year review on the Russia probe's origins and use of FISA warrants to surveil a Trump campaign aide did not close the book on the bias question either.

Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Original Article

Klobuchar goes on attack, grills Horowitz on Russian interference

closeSen. Amy Klobuchar: Let’s remember this is not about one election or one party, it’s about our democracyVideo

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Let’s remember this is not about one election or one party, it’s about our democracy

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar questions Department of Justice watchdog Michael Horowitz on his report on alleged FISA abuse.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., went on the offensive during the Senate Judiciary Committee's questioning of Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz on Wednesday, shifting the focus of the hearing from the failures of the FBI during its Russia investigation by grilling Horowitz on the ongoing threat of Russian election interference.

While Republicans used their time during the hearing to hammer the investigation over their use of inaccurate and misleading evidence to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant for Carter Page, Klobuchar used her time to illustrate how Russia was and remains a real threat heading into the 2020 election.


"I think it's important to put this discussion in context with what happened in the 2016 election, which is why we are here today," she said. "It is now undisputed by our intelligence agencies that Russia invaded our democracy. Not with bombs, or jets, or tanks, but with a sophisticated cyber-mission to undermine the underpinnings of our very democracy."

She then looked to the race she hopes to participate in, the 2020 presidential election, and recalled a warning from former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates.

"He said that, in fact, Russia has been emboldened to do this again," she said.

A former prosecutor, Klobuchar then asked a rapid-fire series of questions about Russian interference — past, present and future.

"Do you think that interference in our elections by a foreign government constitutes a national security threat?" she asked.

"Yes, I do," Horowitz said.

"Does anything in your report call into question the finding in the Special Counsel's report that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a sweeping and systematic fashion?" she asked.

"No it does not," Horowitz said, saying that he cites former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report in his own report.

"Does anything in your report call into question the assessment of FBI Director [Christopher] Wray that Russians' interference in our elections is ongoing, and that its interference in the 2018 midterms [was] a, quote, 'dress rehearsal,' end quote, for the 2020 elections?" she asked

"No, it doesn't," he answered.

"Does anything in your report call into question the finding in the Special Counsel's report that quote 'the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome?'" Klobuchar asked.

Horowitz said he "did not take issue" with any of Mueller's report.

This line of questioning came after Klobuchar took aim at President Trump, who is facing possible impeachment over his request for Ukraine to investigate Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. She echoed Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who stated earlier in the hearing that it was Russia, not Ukraine, that interfered.

Klobuchar then referred to the recent testimony from former National Security Council official Fiona Hill during the impeachment inquiry.

"She said anyone that is repeating this lie is basically peddling in Russian propaganda," Klobuchar said.


At the conclusion of her time, Klobuchar asked Horowitz if he agreed with Attorney General Bill Barr's belief that the Russia investigation was launched based on "the thinnest of suspicions."

While Horowitz said that there was "sufficient predication" for opening the Russia probe, he did make clear that this was a "low threshold."

Original Article

Cruz mocks FBI on Russia probe: ‘This wasn’t Jason Bourne. This was Beavis and Butt-Head’

closeSen. Ted Cruz on surveillance of Trump campaign: This wasn't Jason Bourne, this was ' Beavis and Butt-head'Video

Sen. Ted Cruz on surveillance of Trump campaign: This wasn't Jason Bourne, this was ' Beavis and Butt-head'

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questions Department of Justice watchdog Michael Horowitz on his report on alleged FISA abuse.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, let it be known Wednesday that he isn't impressed with the FBI’s and the Department of Justice’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation — saying those involved were hardly the type of skillful agents found in an action thriller movie.

“What was going on here — this wasn’t Jason Bourne, this was Beavis and Butt-Head,” Cruz said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Cruz’s pop culture reference was only the highlight of a lengthy tirade where he bashed the conduct of some FBI agents and Justice Department (DOJ) employees during the Trump-Russia probe.


The hearing, which featured the testimony of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, came two days after a report identified significant problems with applications to receive and renew warrants to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide in 2016 and 2017.

Cruz called the report a "stunning indictment of the FBI and the Department of Justice, of a pattern of abusive power." He also said the facts in the report "should be deeply chilling" to anyone who understands them and that the errors made "are grotesque abuses of power."


While Horowitz said on Wednesday that he is concerned that “so many basic and fundamental errors" were made by the FBI, his report found that the FBI's actions were not motivated by partisan bias and that the investigation was opened for a proper cause.

“I think the activities we found don’t vindicate anybody who touched" the warrant applications, Horowitz said.

Democrats have seized on the inspector general's conclusion that the investigation was not tainted by political motivations. But Republicans say the findings show the investigation was fatally flawed. Attorney General William Barr, a vocal defender of President Trump, said the FBI investigation was based on a “bogus narrative" and he declined to rule out that agents may have acted in bad faith.


Horowitz told senators that the FBI failed to follow its own standards for accuracy and completeness when it sought a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of ex-campaign aide Carter Page.

'Stunning' IG shows blatant FBI misconduct: Ted CruzVideo

The report detailed 17 errors and omissions during those wiretap applications, including failing to tell the court when questions were raised about the reliability of some of the information that it had presented to receive the warrants.

“We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams, on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations, after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI," Horowitz said.

Fox News' Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump administration’s new food stamp policy stirs debate over work requirements

closeHow the Trump administration's new food stamp restrictions may affect certain statesVideo

How the Trump administration's new food stamp restrictions may affect certain states

The Trump administration last week proposed a new rule implementing work requirements for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or SNAP. Conservative columnist and author Tom Basile argues policies like these are why President Trump was elected while Coalition on Human Needs Executive Director Deborah Weinstein counters that the latest announcement is just another addition to the Trump administration's unrelenting attack on low-income people in need of food assistance.

The Trump administration's proposal to tighten work requirements for food stamp recipients has ignited a debate over benefits for low-income people and cuts to government spending.

Last week, the administration proposed a new rule targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP, which feeds more than 36 million people. The plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.


Hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the program could be adversely impacted, critics of the proposal say.

In an interview with Fox News, Coalition on Human Needs Executive Director Deborah Weinstein argued that the latest announcement is just another example of the Trump administration’s attacks on low-income people in need of assistance. Weinstein said President Trump’s food stamp proposal “will take the poorest of the poor and deny assistance to nearly 700,000 of them, and that means there'll be more hunger, and less access to food."

Conservative columnist and author Tom Basile, however, argued that policies like these are why Trump was elected, saying it will not only encourage self-sufficiency, but it will save taxpayers dollars. The Agriculture Department has claimed it could save $5.5 billion over five years.

“This is what the president was elected to do. To reform the federal bureaucracy, to cut taxes, to help create an environment where people can get jobs, not just have these programs, and not just have a handout.”

— Tom Basile

“This is what the president was elected to do,” said Basile. “To reform the federal bureaucracy, to cut taxes, to help create an environment where people can get jobs, not just have these programs, and not just have a handout.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue last week argued the move would encourage self-sufficiency and employment.

"Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream. We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” Perdue said.

Weinstein argued that calling the food stamps a “handout” is a mischaracterization and that they provide a modicum of stability in the lives of America’s very poor.

“The food assistance America’s poor get, which is very modest, around $160 a month, helps them stabilize their lives just a little bit,” Weinstein said. “It makes work more possible, and by cutting that away from them, work will be even harder.”

Trump administration set to tighten work requirements for food stampsVideo

Both Weinstein and Basile offered words of advice to the Trump administration. Basile advised highlighting fiscal responsibility, the low unemployment rate, and job openings across the country.

“For the Trump administration to say that we want to try to responsibly bring down the number of people who are on food stamp programs, if they are able-bodied adults, is not only the responsible thing, but will save taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Basile. “It will contribute to the ultimate goal of greater stability and economic prosperity.”

Weinstein, however, argued that the SNAP is a basic aid that helps secure people’s lives.

“That ought to remain the underpinning for moving people to more stable employment in a strong economy,” said Weinstein. “It should be especially a time when we offer training and support to people. So if there are jobs they can take, they can connect to them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Biden rebound continues, Warren falls to third

closeJoe Biden rebounds, Pete Buttigieg knocks Elizabeth Warren to third in new pollVideo

Joe Biden rebounds, Pete Buttigieg knocks Elizabeth Warren to third in new poll

New national Quinnipiac poll finds billionaire Michael Bloomberg is starting toward the bottom with 3 percent national support; Peter Doocy reports from Des Moines, Iowa.

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Biden rebound continues, Warren falls to third – Inspector general scathes FBI – Audible: Slam what now? – Axe yourself why

Quinnipiac University: “In the Democratic primary race for president, former Vice President Joe Biden is in the best position that he has been since the end of the summer, with 29 percent of the vote among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released [Tuesday]. Biden is followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders with 17 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 15 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 9 percent. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has 5 percent, businessman Andrew Yang receives 4 percent, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar gets 3 percent. No other candidate tops 2 percent. In a November 26 poll, Biden received 24 percent, Buttigieg got 16 percent, Warren had 14 percent, and Sanders got 13 percent.”
Head-to-heads show Dems with steady, decisive advantage – Quinnipiac University: “If the general election for president were being held today, 51 percent of registered voters say they would vote for Joe Biden, while 42 percent say they would vote for President Trump. When Trump is matched against other Democratic contenders the race remains in single digits: Bernie Sanders gets 51 percent, while Trump has 43 percent; Elizabeth Warren receives 50 percent and Trump gets 43 percent; Michael Bloomberg gets 48 percent to Trump's 42 percent; Pete Buttigieg has 48 percent, while Trump receives 43 percent; Amy Klobuchar receives 47 percent, while Trump has 43 percent.”
Buttigieg leads in another New Hampshire poll – WBUR: “Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and former Vice President Joe Biden are leading the crowded Democratic presidential primary race in New Hampshire, according to a new WBUR poll. With the first-in-the-nation primary less than nine weeks away, Buttigieg is running slightly ahead of Biden, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is in fourth place. … According to the WBUR survey (topline, crosstabs) of 442 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, 18% say Buttigieg is their top choice. … His rise to the top of the field in the Granite State has come as support for Warren appears to have slipped. Both are competing for highly educated voters, so it's not surprising they are now taking shots at each other.”
Biden considers making single-term pledge – Politico: “Former Vice President Joe Biden’s top advisers and prominent Democrats outside the Biden campaign have recently revived a long-running debate whether Biden should publicly pledge to serve only one term, with Biden himself signaling to aides that he would serve only a single term. While the option of making a public pledge remains available, Biden has for now settled on an alternative strategy: quietly indicating that he will almost certainly not run for a second term while declining to make a promise that he and his advisers fear could turn him into a lame duck and sap him of his political capital. According to four people who regularly talk to Biden … it is virtually inconceivable that he will run for reelection in 2024, when he would be the first octogenarian president. ‘If Biden is elected,’ a prominent adviser to the campaign said, ‘he’s going to be 82 years old in four years and he won’t be running for reelection.’”
Biden won’t back up campaign diversity claims – Politico: “Former Vice President Joe Biden claims to have ‘the most diverse staff of anybody running’ but his campaign won't prove it. Biden made the sweeping assertion in an interview with NPR this week while campaigning in Iowa. But when presented with staff diversity figures from other campaigns, Biden's campaign declined to release its own numbers. Jamal Brown, Biden’s national press secretary, emailed a statement that did not address the question but instead emphasized Biden’s support among voters of color. The campaigns of Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns all said that about 40 percent of their full-time campaign employees are people of color. … The Biden campaign's refusal to provide evidence backing the former vice president’s claim could provide an opening for his rivals to attack his veracity, as candidates work to create contrasts and score points ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.”
Yang qualifies for December debate, stage likely set at seven – NPR: “Businessman Andrew Yang has qualified for the sixth Democratic primary debate next week. The upstart entrepreneur and nonprofit executive becomes the seventh — and likely final — candidate to make the Dec. 19 debate cut. He reached the polling threshold after a Quinnipiac University poll was released Tuesday. Yang will join former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, billionaire businessman Tom Steyer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the PBS NewsHour/Politico debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The Asian American candidate also brings some needed diversity to the debate stage amid criticism that the event could feature only white candidates after California Sen. Kamala Harris, who had already qualified, dropped out last week.”
“The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 48
Garden & Gun: “April McGreger, who for eleven years ran the beloved pickle and preserve business Farmer’s Daughter outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is in a mixed marriage. She was raised a Christian in Mississippi. Her husband, the illustrator Phil Blank, grew up in a Jewish family in Pennsylvania. Anyone who has been in one of those relationships knows that cooking for two sets of holidays can bring on what McGreger calls ‘celebratory cooking overload.’ The cultural crush can be even more difficult when a Southern cook who made her name with hyperlocal products such as Bradford watermelon rind pickles and scuppernong chutney wades into hundreds of years of Eastern European culinary tradition. All of this helps explain why McGreger will spend Hanukkah frying dozens of sweet potato latkes for her husband’s extended family. … She hopes sweet potato latkes will help her son stay close to his Southern roots.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Biden: 27.6 points (↑ 1.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 18.4 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
Sanders: 18.2 points (↑ 1 point from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 8.6 points (↓ 1.6 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, Monmouth University, CNN, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]
Average approval: 43.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53 percent
Net Score: -9.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 41% approve – 55% disapprove; Monmouth University: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove.]
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!
Fox News: “Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday decried what he called ‘failure’ by the entire ‘chain of command’ involved in the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia investigation, saying they made ‘so many basic and fundamental errors’ on ‘one of the most sensitive FBI investigations.’ Horowitz appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to testify on his report on the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation and alleged misconduct related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He also criticized FBI leadership for the ‘inaccuracies’ and ‘omissions’ in their FISA applications for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, among other things. ‘We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams; on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations; after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI; even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign’ … Horowitz said in his opening statement before the committee.”
Senate GOP may skip impeachment witnesses altogether – WashEx: “Senate Republicans do not expect to call witnesses President Trump might want to hear from most in an impeachment trial, conceding there are not the votes to summon key figures such as Hunter Biden and the unidentified government whistleblower whose complaint sparked the process. Senate impeachment rules require a majority vote to call witnesses, and with just two out of 53 votes to spare, there is no ‘appetite’ among Republicans to pursue testimony from people that Democrats blocked Republicans from subpoenaing during the House investigation. Indeed, Republicans might forgo calling witnesses altogether, saying minds are made up on Trump’s guilt or innocence and that testimony at trial on the Senate floor would draw out the proceedings unnecessarily. ‘Here’s what I want to avoid: this thing going on longer than it needs to,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the Washington Examiner. ‘I want to end this.’”
Trump to sign executive order targeting anti-Semitism on college campusesNYT
Trump paid $2 million in damages for misuse of charity fundsWaPo
“We put it in, slam it in the oven, take it out and there it is — get Brexit done.” – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson campaigning at a caterer as pies were being made on the eve of Thursday’s parliamentary elections.
“My wife wants to give a generous donation to Biden, believing Biden to be the weakest candidate. I keep waiting for Warren and Sanders to forge an alliance that would vault one of them into ‘first place’ with a combined 35% backing of Democrat voters. What are your thoughts? Can Liz and Bernie make peace with one another (probably with Warren at the top of the ticket) and win the contest to be the Democrat nominee?” – Lois and Jack Conrad, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
[Ed. note: I will say this for you guys: You’ve elevated strategic voting to the next level! As for your second question, I think any such alliance to be highly unlikely. There’s real antipathy there. Remember that people treat adversaries better than heretics. Sanders is pretty clearly banking on taking his fight to Milwaukee. As for the matter of where to make a donation to do the most harm to Democratic chances, I would only remind you of all the Republicans who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 primaries on the grounds that it would weaken Hillary Clinton or deliver an Obama nomination, making it easier for the GOP. The future is not a straight-line projection, certainly when it comes to politics.]
“During the past few ‘I'll Tell You What’ podcasts, I've had the delightful experience of taking in (and laughing roundly at) the recap of Dana's take on and your reaction to her pronunciation of the word ‘raccoon.’ I missed the original episode the first time around, but I'm heartily glad I have experienced the highlight reel the second. Dana's blueblood-ish pronunciation made me think of a pet belonging to the nouveau riche summering in Newport in an Edith Wharton novel (not that I believe the Vanderbilt’s would have ever made social calls with raccoons in tow). Yours was the pragmatic take: RAC-coon. As a native Tennesseean, I can tell you our pronunciation draws out both syllables equally and longer with a bit more liquid in the second vowel sound: rac-cooon. Regardless, I think we all know what's to be done when it's confirmed there's a raccoon out back somewhere.” – Cari Shanks, Argyle, Texas (by way of Cleveland, Tenn.)
[Ed. note: But did you know that the Coolidges kept a pet raccoon at the White House? Maybe not the cottages at Newport, but pretty darned swishy for a ringtail!]
“I want to commend you for writing a courageous and uplifting article in Monday’s Halftime Report. You are right, that the world is not addicted to the awful, but to the hopeful. It seems nowadays that the media at large seems to have taken the old adage ‘if it bleeds, it leads,’ and pushed it to our breaking point. … I think the remedy is in part one that you constantly (in a good way) proclaim, that the news needs to be more local, as does the politics. Yet in this information (overload) age, I don’t see how that will ever be a profitable venture.” – Joshua A. Biggs, Susanville, Calif.
[Ed. note: I so much wish I knew the answer to that conundrum. And I promise that if I knew it, I would be out there doing it. We are watching now as the new owners of Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the land, looks for another $300 million in cuts. One suggestion on the table is loosening anti-trust restrictions to allow news outlets to collectively bargain with social media providers on rates, etc. But given the demand, I have to believe someone is going to find a new way to make it work. I just hope they hurry! ]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
WFTS: “A middle school in Manatee County evacuated its students after someone sprayed too much Axe body spray. According to school officials, the bus carrying Buffalo Creek Middle School students had to remove students off the bus because of the strong odor. The bus stopped at the intersection of 119th Avenue East and Erie Road near Parrish. Another bus arrived at the smelly scene to pick up the students. A local EMS came to check out the students but thankfully, no one was transported to the hospital from having too much Axe body spray.”
“First, how naive we are about what constitutions are and what they mean around the world. And the second thing, the reason for the first, is how much reverence we have — in the United States and very few other countries — for this document.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) in a column from his posthumous book, “The Point of It All,” on Nov. 29, 2018.
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.

Original Article

Trump targets anti-Semitism, boycotts against Israel on college campuses

closeTrump says US-Israel relationship is stronger now than ever beforeVideo

Trump says US-Israel relationship is stronger now than ever before

President Trump speaks to crowd of over 4,000 people at the Israeli American Council National Summit. Talia Kaplan reports from Hollywood, Florida.

President Trump is threatening to cut federal funds to college campuses that don't curb anti-Semitism against Jewish students, with an executive order set to be signed later Wednesday, according to a senior administration official.

Trump's new order will hit the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement head-on and will invoke Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to fight anti-Semitic rhetoric on college campuses, labeling Judaism as a nationality as well as a religion, and calling on federally funded agencies to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism in cases of discrimination.


“My administration is committed to aggressively challenging and confronting anti-Semitic bigotry in every resource and using every single weapon at our disposal,” Trump told a crowd of over 4,000 people at the Israeli American Council National summit over the weekend.

"We began to focus on this issue in the late winter/spring of this year when we were alarmed frankly at a rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric, including unfortunately from leading political figures," a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. "We looked at the data, and we saw that there'd been a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, and we began a policy process to figure out physically what we could do on the subject."


Trump: The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakableVideo

David Krone, who was chief of staff to former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., praised Trump for the move: "I know people are going to criticize me for saying this, but I have to give credit where credit is due."

The Trump administration has received praise from both sides of the aisle but also has critics saying the new executive order violates free speech rights.


Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a left-leaning group, blasted the measure as having "a chilling effect on free speech" and a "crackdown on campus critics of Israel."

A pro-Palestinian organization accused Trump of trying to "silence Palestinian-rights activism" by equating opposition to Israeli treatment of Palestinians with anti-Semitism.

“Israeli apartheid is a very hard product to sell in America, especially in progressive spaces,” Munayyer said in a statement published by The New York Times. “And realizing this, many Israeli apartheid apologists, Trump included, are looking to silence a debate they know they can’t win.”


Jewish Coalition national chairman Norm Coleman, a former Republican senator from Minnesota, said the executive order will have a real and positive impact in protecting Jewish college students from anti-Semitism.

"Sadly, every day, Jewish students on college campuses face outrageous attacks on their Jewish identity and beliefs," he said. "The rapid increase in such incidents in recent years is of great concern."

Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel organization in the nation, thanked Trump and Jared Kushner for doing what Congress could not as they failed to pass the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.


"It is astonishing to me that Congress dithered with meaningless resolutions while violent anti-Semitic incidents were surging across the country, but it is precisely because of such Congressional paralysis that President Trump’s executive order is the right and necessary path to adopting the IHRA’s definition," CUFI Action Fund Chairwoman Sandra Parker said in a statement.

In July, Congress passed a bipartisan condemnation of BDS as a movement that "promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace."

Original Article

IG calls for ‘accountability’ over FBI failures in Russia probe

closeHorowitz: 'Significant concerns' with how FBI handled Russia investigationVideo

Horowitz: 'Significant concerns' with how FBI handled Russia investigation

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz delivers an opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining his report on alleged FISA abuses.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded in his long-awaited report on the FBI's Russia investigation that there was no evidence of political bias in the probe's launch — but he made clear during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that this does not let anyone off the hook.

To the contrary, Horowitz said during Wednesday's hearing that while he did not make a determination as to motive, he is referring officials to the FBI and Department of Justice for further review.


"[O]ur final recommendation was to refer the entire chain of command that we outline here to the FBI and the Department for consideration of how to assess and address their performance failures," Horowitz said during his opening statement.

Horowitz also called for "individual accountability" for officials. He went into some specifics when committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked about an attorney who worked on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, a key component of the IG's review.

Graham identified the attorney as Kevin Clinesmith, and brought up anti-Trump text messages he had sent in the past, including "Viva la resistance."

The attorney was found to have altered an email to say that Page had not been a CIA source, when in fact he had been working with them. This ultimately led to the FBI renewing the FISA warrant against Page while leaving exculpatory evidence out of their application.

"What motivated him to do that?" Graham asked.

"It is unknown as to precisely why he did it," Horowitz said, "but we reference in here the text messages you mention and we have not made a determination but rather, as we note in here, when we learned this we notified the Attorney General and the FBI Director and referred it to them."


Later in the hearing, when asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., about the lack of evidence of political bias in the Russia probe, Horowitz made clear that this finding pertained more to the initiation of the investigation, not everything that happened afterward.

"It gets murkier, the question gets more challenging, senator, when you get to the FISA," Horowitz said.

Original Article

Impeachment needle not moving as majority of voters oppose removing Trump: polls

closePresident Trump blasts House Democrats' articles of impeachmentVideo

President Trump blasts House Democrats' articles of impeachment

Trump calls the decision to draft articles of impeachment 'sheer political madness'; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports.

As the House of Representatives begins drafting articles of impeachment against President Trump, two new national polls indicate a slight majority of Americans still oppose impeaching and removing the Republican president from office.

“American voters signal they are slightly more inclined not to impeach than to impeach," Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy noted.


And the surveys – from Quinnipiac and Monmouth University – overall indicate little movement in the minds of Americans on impeachment and on Trump’s approval rating over the past month. This, following dramatic public hearings by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees that culminated Tuesday with Democrats unveiling impeachment articles alleging Trump abused the power of his office and obstructed the congressional investigation into his alleged wrongdoing.

According to the Monmouth poll – which was released Wednesday – 50 percent said the president should not be impeached and removed from office, with 45 percent calling for impeachment and removal from the White House. The numbers are little changed from Monmouth’s November poll, when a 51-44 percent majority opposed impeachment and removal.

“Opinion on impeachment has been rock steady since news of the Ukraine call first broke. Any small shifts we are seeing now are likely to be statistical noise,” Patrick Murray, Monmouth University Polling Institute director, emphasized.

It’s a similar story in the Quinnipiac survey, which was released on Tuesday. By a 51-45 percent margin, Americans opposed impeaching and removing the president, little changed from the school’s late November poll.

The full House of Representatives is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment in the coming days, with a Senate trial likely to be held next month, after the holiday break.


The president’s facing impeachment over his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden his son Hunter over their dealings in the eastern European country. Biden is one of the top Democratic 2020 presidential contenders hoping to challenge Trump in next year’s election. Fueled by whistleblower complaints, a transcript of the call released by the White House, and testimony by witnesses in the inquiry, Democrats say that the president was asking a foreign country to potentially interfere in a U.S. election.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that before that phone call, millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine was put on hold. Despite allegations that the president was using that money as leverage, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong. He says there was no "quid pro quo" and has on numerous occasions described his conversation with the Ukrainian leader as “perfect.”

Both polls indicate – as expected – a continued vast partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans over impeachment.

But among independent voters, the Monmouth survey indicates by a wide 55-36 percent margin, they oppose impeaching and removing Trump from the presidency. In the Quinnipiac poll, independents oppose the move by a smaller 52-44 percent margin.

The impeachment developments, which have dominated headlines in the media the past couple of months, appear to have had little impact on Trump’s approval rating – a key indicator of a president’s clout and standing.

Trump stands at 43 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval in the new Monmouth poll, which is little changed from his 43-51 percent standing last month.

The president registers at 41 percent approval and 55 percent disapproval in the Quinnipiac survey, close to his 40-54 percent standing in late November.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted Dec. 4-9, with 1,553 self-identified registered voters nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s overall margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.

The Monmouth University poll was conducted Dec. 4-8, with 903 adults nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Original Article

Graham alleges ‘massive criminal conspiracy’ in FBI’s Russia probe in blistering hearing statement

closeGraham opens IG hearing with scathing take on FISA report: 'The system failed'Video

Graham opens IG hearing with scathing take on FISA report: 'The system failed'

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham delivers his opening statement to the FISA report hearing with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham accused the FBI officials who investigated the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia of a “massive criminal conspiracy” in a fiery opening statement Wednesday for a hearing where the Justice Department's top watchdog testified.

In a freewheeling speech to kick off the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on FBI abuses, the committee chairman said federal investigators made more than a few missteps — and took the law into their own hands.


“What has been described as a few irregularities becomes a massive criminal conspiracy over time to defraud the FISA court, to illegally surveil an American citizen and keep an operation open against a sitting president of the United States — violating every norm known to the rule of law,” Graham said.

The more than 40-minute unscripted speech came before the long-anticipated testimony of Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general who investigated the origins of the Russia probe into the Trump campaign.

Horowitz’s report, released Monday, found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding the FBI’s launch of the probe, which was called “Crossfire Hurricane,” and efforts to seek a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to monitor Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

However, the report faulted the FBI for numerous errors in the FISA application process, identifying at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the application and renewals for Page’s FISA warrant.


Graham said Horowitz's team discovered "an abuse of power I never believed could actually exist in 2019."

"How bad is it? It was as if J. Edgar Hoover came back to life," Graham said.

The Judiciary Committee chairman read aloud the text messages between FBI investigators Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the former lovers who expressed disgust with Trump in their exchanges, calling Trump a "loathsome human" and "awful."

Graham blasted the few investigators as “bad people.” He said former British spy Christopher Steele, who authored the salacious and unverified dossier against Trump, had an ax to grind against the president and those biases colored the investigation.


In a passionate speech that was reminiscent of his angry defense of Brett Kavanaugh before his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Graham said he has serious concerns about whether the FISA Court can continue without reforms.

“Trump’s time will come and go," Graham said. "But I hope we understand that what happened here can never happen again. Because what happened here is not a few irregularities. What happened here is the system failed."

Graham also said the report should be a call to action for FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“Director Wray, you’ve got a problem,” Graham said.

He urged Page, the former Trump campaign adviser, to file suit.

"I hope Carter Page gets a lawyer and sues the hell out of the FBI and DOJ," Graham said.

Original Article

Warren slips as Buttigieg, Biden, Sanders battle for lead in latest New Hampshire poll

closePundits say Warren slippingVideo

Pundits say Warren slipping

Medicare plan finally draws spotlight.

MANCHESTER, N.H. – A new poll in New Hampshire — the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House — indicates an airtight contest among South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

And the MassINC Polling Group survey for WBUR released Wednesday also points to a deterioration of support for another top-tier contender for the Democratic presidential nomination – Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.


Buttigieg, a one-time longshot who’s soared in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire this autumn, stands at 18 percent among those likely to vote in the Granite State’s Feb. 11 Democratic presidential primary, with Biden at 17 percent and Sanders at 15 percent. Taking into account the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points, the three candidates are basically all tied up for the top spot.

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg shakes hands with voters after filing to place his name on New Hampshire's primary ballot, in Concord, NH on Oct. 30, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg shakes hands with voters after filing to place his name on New Hampshire's primary ballot, in Concord, NH on Oct. 30, 2019

"What's remarkable about this is how close it remains," MassINC president Steve Koczela noted. “We've got three candidates, all within three points of each other — and Elizabeth Warren not that far behind, right there in that top tier.”

Koczela emphasized that the race for the New Hampshire primary “could go in any direction."

Warren – who like Sanders hails from a neighboring state to New Hampshire – stands at 12 percent in the poll. Since this is the first time the pollsters put out a survey this cycle in the New Hampshire presidential primary, no direct comparisons can be made. But her standing in the new poll is in line with her support in other surveys the past month in the New Hampshire primary. Warren registered from the upper teens to around 30 percent in most Granite State polling conducted from September through early November.

Warren has also seen her standing in the polls in Iowa and nationally deteriorate over the past month. The drop came after increased scrutiny of Warren's plans to pay for and implement a government-run, "Medicare-for-all." The populist senator continued to swear off raising middle-class taxes to pay for the high price tag attached to the single-payer health care system (roughly $20 trillion in new spending over a decade). And she broke with fellow progressive champion and 2020 rival Sanders — who wrote the "Medicare-for-all" bill in the Senate — over implementation. Warren's transition play would delay the immediate end of privately held insurance.


Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang – who’ve both spent a lot of time meeting voters in New Hampshire – each register at 5 percent in the poll.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and billionaire environmental and progressive activist Tom Steyer each stand at 3 percent, with former New York City mayor and multi-billionaire media mogul Mike Bloomberg at 2 percent. Bloomberg – who jumped into the race late last month – is skipping Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, the first four states to hold contests in the presidential nominating calendar. Instead, he’s campaigning in the delegate-rich states that vote on Super Tuesday in early March, and beyond.

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and best-selling spiritual author Marianne Williamson are each at 1 percent in the survey, with everyone else in the still large field of Democratic White House hopefuls registering less than 1 percent. That includes former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who last month declared his candidacy.

The poll also indicates that President Trump remains the overwhelming favorite to win New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary. Trump grabs the backing of 74 percent of those saying they’re likely to vote in the state’s GOP primary. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld – who’s been campaigning in New Hampshire nearly every week since launching his long-shot primary challenge to Trump in April, stands at 9 percent. Former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois – a very vocal Trump critic – registers at 4 percent.

The MassINC Polling Group survey for WBUR was conducted Dec. 3-8, with 442 likely Democratic presidential primary voters in New Hampshire questioned by live telephone operators.

Original Article