House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, accused Republicans of the "craven rationalization of presidential actions" and applauded his independent colleague, Justin Amash, I-MI, who says he is supporting impeachment against Trump despite laying no claim to a party.
Earlier in the day, Amash expressed his support for impeaching Trump saying "I come to this floor not as a Democrat, not as a Republican but as an American who cares deeply about the Constitution, the rule of law and the rights of the people."
Hoyer built on those statements saying, "The votes we are about to take concern the rule of law and democracy itself. Let us not forget the words of John Locke… 'Whenever law ends, tyranny begins.'"
The second-ranking lawmaker in the House drew applause from his Democratic colleagues when he pushed back on notions that impeachment efforts are a mere attempt to undo Trump's 2016 victory.
"There's been a lot of talk about the 63 million people who voted for Mr. Trump. Little talk about the 65 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton," Hoyer said as members of the House cheered.
"That’s not America. That’s not how democratic republics behave. Elections matter. Voters matter," McCarthy said. "They want to undo the results of the last election to influence the next one."
In his final remarks before the House voted on charges that Trump abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress, McCarthy accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, of "undoing a national election" and attempting to "disqualify our voice before the 2020 election."
"We know Democrats hate President Trump, his beliefs, the way he governs and even the people who voted for him. They say so, day after day. In 2016, they dismissed his supporters, calling us 'Deplorables.' Now, they are trying to disqualify our voice before the 2020 election," McCarthy said. The bitter partisanship ahead of the vote threatens to leak into the start of a Senate trial, especially after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, met with the White House to go over the strategy and optics of the inevitable proceedings.
Democrats have decried that the GOP-led Senate will not abide by a fair trial, and Hoyer proposed the idea of delaying transmitting the articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate in an effort to stall a dismissal of the case against Trump.
“Some think it’s a good idea. And we need to talk about it,” Hoyer said early Tuesday.
Collins has maintained she's willing to have an open mind when considering articles of impeachment against the president. The center-leaning senator famously gave a last-minute speech in support of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court last year ahead of the Senate's narrow vote to confirm the justice.
Although she hasn't publicly weighed in on whether or not she would vote for or against removing the president, Collins repeatedly has defended the whistleblower whose allegations of misconduct by Trump have been central to the investigation into the president's abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The last remaining New England Republican in Congress, Collins historically has presented herself as a moderate politician, bucking party-line stances on issues such as abortion and challenging Trump's policies, including building a wall on the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico and withdrawing troops from Syria.
In this Nov. 6, 2019, file photo, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is surrounded by reporters as she heads to vote at the Capitol in Washington. Collins officially launched her bid for a reelection Wednesday, Dec. 18, setting up an expensive and closely watched battle for the seat the moderate Republican from Maine has held for nearly 24 years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Collins detractors from the left have slammed her for supporting Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, despite a myriad of sexual misconduct allegations against him, as well as advocating for the GOP tax cut.
"The fundamental question I had to ask myself in making my decision was this: In today's polarized political environment, is there still a role for a centrist who believes in getting things done through compromise, collegiality, and bipartisanship?" Collins said in an email, according to reports by NPR. "I have concluded that the answer to this question is 'yes' and I will, therefore, seek the honor of continuing to serve as Maine's United States senator."
Four Democrats are vying for the party’s nomination to face the 67-year-old senator, include activist Betsy Sweet, attorney Bre Kidman, former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse and Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, who is backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Collins has amassed $8.6 million for her reelection bid, the largest haul of any political candidate in Maine history.
The expensive race is projected to cost anywhere between $80 million to $100 million before the 2020 elections, making it the most expensive run the state has ever seen.
Texas Republican Louie Gohmert returns to the podium to address House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler's 'Russian propaganda' claim.
Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew hasn’t officially switched parties yet, but the New Jersey congressman said he moved over to stand on the GOP side of the aisle Wednesday for the historic impeachment votes because it was “appropriate.”
The freshman Democrat opposes impeachment and is expected to jump to the Republican Party for political survival in a district President Trump carried in 2016.
“As I’ve said all along, I’m going to vote ‘no,’” Van Drew told reporters at the Capitol. “So I think they [Republicans] are all going to vote ‘no’ so it’s certainly appropriate in this case regardless of any other discussions we might be having.”
Van Drew, still officially a Democrat, sat with Republicans when impeachment debate kicked off and said he was welcomed warmly. He even got a pep talk from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who was condemned on the House floor in January for white supremacist comments.
“Jeff right now today is the loneliest man in Congress,” King told Fox News. “I’ve got sympathy and empathy for that circumstance. And I just expressed that to him. Let him know [to] follow your conscience and follow your heart in what you do today. Let it be something that fits within who you are and it’ll be OK.”
Van Drew confirmed that King had kind words for him and all the Republicans were “very, very nice.” But he denied feeling lonely: “I have a lot friends,” he told Fox News.
News of Van Drew’s planned party switch broke over the weekend, followed by an exodus of his Democratic staff, who resigned in protest.
Van Drew and Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn, were the only Democrats to vote "no" against the launch of the impeachment inquiry on Halloween. And the pair again were the lone dissenters on an earlier vote Wednesday on the rule to kick off the impeachment debate.
“I’ve always felt this impeachment is going to do a tremendous amount of harm to the country,” Van Drew said. “It’s really going to create more division, more hardship, more hate, more civil unrest. It’s going to disfranchise thousands and thousands of people who voted.”
Van Drew doesn’t believe Trump’s conduct amounts to removal from office and compared impeachment to erasing the 2016 election vote result.
“I sometimes believe that not everyone understands the severe seriousness of impeachment. It is how an oligarchy operates. It is how third-world countries operate…the vote is what counts,” he said.
Van Drew is among the 31 Democrats who won in districts Trump won in 2016. These swing-district Democrats are feeling the heat from an onslaught of attack ads from GOP-aligned groups, and some have acknowledged their vote for impeachment could cost them their seat.
Van Drew was coy when asked if he’d making is party switch official at the White House ceremony, saying “we’ll see.” He said an announcement will come “very shortly” but not on Wednesday.
Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 18 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com
A growing crowd of Trump supporters are lining up outside in Michigan's bitterly cold weather ahead of an evening rally with President Trump that coincides with House Democrats voting to formally impeach him.
Footage from the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek showed throngs of attendees waiting for Trump's "Merry Christmas" rally on Wednesday, but Trump's supporters reportedly started camping out as early as Monday.
“We got here about 5:30 in the morning. We’re cold. We’re very, very cold but it’s worth the wait," one woman told Fox News on Wednesday.
"It’s very cold, very cold, but we got warmers. We got hand warmers and stuff like that and so it’s worth it. It’s so worth it," another attendee said.
The rally is the same day that the House of Representatives debated articles of impeachment. For months, House Democrats have been pursuing an inquiry into whether Trump abused his power during a July call with Ukraine.
Trump blasted the impeachment push on Wednesday, tweeting that it as an "assault on America." Despite Washington's critical atmosphere, rally attendees told Fox News they were confident in the president and his place in the White House.
“He’s going to be stoked like the rest of us who have been here for many hours waiting for this — we got your back, president," one woman said.
"We’re here to support him, sir," another woman said. "You know, we're behind him 100 percent. We know that the House might obviously have favor because they have the numbers but it’s not going anywhere in the Senate."
Democrats are expected to approve impeachment along partisan lines but Senate Republicans have already indicated they wouldn't vote to remove Trump from office.
One female attendee defend Trump's conduct on the call, saying that he was trying to "look out" for Americans.
“He did what he’s supposed to do as president and that’s look out for us and make sure that when we send money to other countries it’s going to the people that it needs to go to," she said.
Democrats have accused the president of trying to pressure Ukraine into helping him in the 2020 presidential election. Trump denied any wrongdoing, arguing that he was acting appropriately when he requested the eastern European nation investigate corruption concerns surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden.
Not everyone in Battle Creek is happy about Trump's visit. Protesters are expected to show up near the Sojourner Truth monument at 5 p.m. local time, according to Michigan Live. Protesters could number as high as 500 at the monument, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. The state's Democratic Party also reportedly planned to speak outside of the event.
Counterprotesters will also show up to defend the president. "I'll be damned if I let them ruin my president's visitation to our great city," Devon Warren, who's organizing a counterprotest, told the Battle Creek Enquirer.
"The original protesters are radical leftists that are further dividing the country, and I started the protest to deliver a good old fashioned American beat down," Warren said.
Representatives Nadler and Collins deliver opening remarks.
The House Judiciary Committee is poised to be the scene of another major partisan clash Thursday as lawmakers press ahead with two articles of impeachment against President Trump, ahead of an initial vote expected by day's end likely to advance the measures to the floor.
The final "markup" process began Wednesday evening, immediately breaking out into fiery disagreement. Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argued that it would be unsafe to wait until the 2020 election to remove Trump from office.
"We cannot rely on an election to solve our problems when the president threatens the very integrity of that election," Nadler claimed during Wednesday's session.
Democrats from districts that supported Trump in 2016, however, have been less enthusiastic. Recent polls have shown declining support for impeachment in key swing states, with two polls released Wednesday indicating that most Americans did not want Trump 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, which would prevent the GOP from holding a potentially damaging Senate trial and give them political cover in the upcoming election.
The House is now composed of 431 current 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.
Freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich. – who flipped a GOP district in 2018 that Trump won by seven 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."
Republicans, meanwhile, have vociferously opposed the impeachment effort. The committee's ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, stated 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.
He and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., each argued that unlike previous presidents who have faced impeachment, Trump was not accused of an offense actually defined by law: neither "abuse of power" nor "obstruction of Congress" is a recognized federal or state crime. Those are the two offenses outlined in the articles of impeachment before the committee. (The separate charge of contempt of Congress, according to the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, exempts the president for separation-of-powers reasons.)
The markup is expected to go until Thursday afternoon. If the committee votes to approve the articles of impeachment, as expected, there will likely be an impeachment vote on the House floor in the middle of next week.
The articles center on Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch an investigation into his political rivals – namely, former vice president Joe Biden – while withholding aid. Democrats argue Trump wrongly used U.S. aid and the prospect of a White House meeting as leverage, but Trump denies doing so.
Fox News' Chad Pergram and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.
"I grew up in Hawaii, where Christmas was 80 degrees and a day at the beach, and so being here in the winter, it's just — the first snow of the year is always fun," she said, according to WMUR-TV in Manchester.
Gabbard said she thinks New Hampshire, which votes after Iowa, will be her best chance to break through as a presidential candidate.
On Tuesday, Gabbard tweeted a post of a yoga session at her new place just outside Manchester.
“Rain, snow or sun … it’s always a good time for #yoga,” she wrote while doing poses with a blanket of snow visible outside the window.
"We had a town hall in Rochester and then in Gilford right before the storm hit, and people said, 'You must be getting out of town,' and nope, we're here for the duration," Gabbard said, WMUR reported.
Gabbard is currently polling in fifth place at 5 percent in the state, according to the Real Clear Politics average.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Trump's actions have 'seriously violated the Constitution,' leaving her no choice but to act before he tries to 'corrupt the election once again for his own benefit.'
**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.** On the roster: House plows ahead – I’ll Tell You What: Love me tenders – Kerry backs Biden, will hit campaign trail – ‘Left money, took pies.’ HOUSE PLOWS AHEAD WaPo: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Trump’s wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked House committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, saying lawmakers have ‘no choice but to act.’ Her address, in which she invoked principles espoused by the nation’s founders, came shortly after Trump went on Twitter to urge House Democrats to impeach him quickly, if they plan to do it, and suggested he would call an expansive list of witnesses during a trial in the Republican-led Senate. At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that President Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine in the face of Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” Pergram: Could proceedings drag on into 2020? The timing’s unclear –Fox News: “Is there enough time for lawmakers to deposit articles of impeachment on the House floor this calendar year? Or, could this wait? Finally, do Democrats have the votes to impeach? If a House impeachment vote drifts into 2020, analysts likely will crow that it would be extraordinary for the House to attempt to impeach President Trump in ‘an election year.’ But, it’s tough to calibrate the political advantages or disadvantages of doing impeachment in December or when the calendar flips. It’s doubtful that in the future, the public would recall precisely when the House voted to impeach. Republicans would assert that Democrats were so brazen that they ‘impeached the president in an election year.’ Putting impeachment on the floor in, say, October, just before a November general election, may be a real no-no. However, nobody on the Hill has suggested that scenario would be in play.” Moderate Dems warn to leave Mueller out of it – Politico: “A group of House Democratic centrists is warning its caucus that any case against President Donald Trump should steer clear of Robert Mueller — resurfacing an ugly internal debate on impeachment that could complicate the coming weeks. Multiple moderates — including freshman lawmakers deemed most at risk in 2020 — have urged Democrats not to relitigate the issues in the Mueller report in their own investigation into the Ukraine scandal. But key Democrats, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, have suggested that it could be included in eventual articles of impeachment, with many in the caucus still eager to repudiate Trump for his misconduct outlined by Mueller. ‘Activities from the 2016 election, I think, should be left to voters in the 2020 election,’ said Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah), who represents one of the most GOP-leaning seats in the nation. ‘My focus is on those things that are forward looking.’” Trump threatens to have Schiff, Bidens, Pelosi testify – Fox News: “President Trump on Thursday challenged House Democrats to impeach him ‘fast’ and ship the process over to the Senate, where he threatened to seek testimony from top Democrats including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. ‘The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House. They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy,’ Trump tweeted, just before Pelosi announced that she wants the Judiciary Committee to proceed with articles of impeachment.… ‘We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is.’” White House preps for Senate trial –WaPo: “The White House signaled Wednesday that it will aggressively defend President Trump in a near-certain Senate impeachment trial in the coming weeks, as legal experts called by House Democrats testified in a contentious hearing that Trump’s Ukraine dealings constitute an impeachable offense. Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters that Trump ‘wants his case made fully in the Senate,’ previewing a strategy that would include live witnesses on the floor… Ueland was among a quartet of top White House officials, including Counsel Pat Cipollone, who met with GOP senators on Wednesday as the administration continues to strategize with Republicans on the Senate proceedings. The private session … underscored the extent to which Trump has largely blown off the House inquiry and is focusing on a likely trial in the GOP-controlled Senate, where the White House says he would get a fair defense and can easily win an acquittal.” THE RULEBOOK: STRONG GOVERNMENT NEEDS GOOD CITIZENS “The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28 TIME OUT: BUBBLING WITH ANTICIPATION Smithsonian: “When Leeann Wallett reflects on happy days from her childhood, she thinks of New Year’s Eve. … The centerpiece of these meals was a miniature Crock Pot called the Crockette, which kept food hot from dinner until the clock struck midnight. The recipes varied from year to year … but all still strike a deep chord of nostalgia for Wallett, who grew up to become an avid home cook and, in her spare time, a food writer for local and regional outlets in her home state of Delaware. … Nearly 80 years after its patent was issued, the Crock Pot continues to occupy a warm place in American kitchens and hearts. For Paula Johnson, curator for the Division of Work & Industry at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., the Crock Pot’s ubiquity lends to its charm. When Johnson returns to family potlucks in her own Minnesota hometown, she can count on seeing a long, buffet line of Crock Pots.” Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions. SCOREBOARD DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING Biden: 26 points (no change in points) Warren: 19.4 points (no change in points) Sanders: 17.2 points (no change in points) Buttigieg: 10.2 points (no change in points) [Averages include: Quinnipiac University, CNN, Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.] TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE Average approval: 43 percent Average disapproval: 52.8 percent Net Score: -9.8 percent Change from one week ago: no change in points [Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 45% approve – 52% disapprove.] WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT? You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch! I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: LOVE ME TENDERS This week DanaPerino and ChrisStirewalt discuss the thinning field of 2020 Democratic candidates after Kamala Harris dropped out of the race, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg's new campaign ad and investigated the case of the missing chicken tenders. Plus, Chris answers tough listener trivia.LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE KERRY BACKS BIDEN, WILL HIT CAMPAIGN TRAIL WaPo: “Former secretary of state John F. Kerry endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy on Thursday, saying his longtime friend and colleague has the character, experience and leadership skills to restore the nation’s standing abroad and confront urgent problems at home. ‘I’m not endorsing Joe because I’ve known him a long time. I’m endorsing him because I know him so well,’ Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said in a telephone interview ahead of the formal announcement of his endorsement. Kerry will join Biden on the campaign trail on Friday in Iowa, where the former vice president is in the midst of a week-long bus tour of the state, and in New Hampshire on Sunday, according to the Biden campaign. The former secretary of state said he would continue to campaign for Biden in the weeks and months ahead.” Fringe candidates running out of time to qualify for December debate – Politico: “Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang could get more airtime than ever to introduce themselves to America with just one more poll — or they could spend the December debate sitting at home. Right now, six candidates … are set to take the stage for the Democratic primary debate co-hosted by POLITICO and PBS NewsHour on Dec. 19: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren. Gabbard and Yang are not among them, with only one week left before qualification closes. For both Gabbard and Yang, being excluded from the debate stage could starve their long-shot campaigns of the oxygen that comes with the nationally televised platform — which has helped sustain their small-dollar fundraising and marginal poll numbers — as the rest of the field continues to winnow. But if one or both qualify, they are likely to get greater shares of the speaking time than ever before. No debate thus far has included fewer than 10 candidates…” Where will Harris’ remaining backers land? –WaPo: “The ‘Reckoning Crew,’ a famed group of Democratic black activists in South Carolina, huddled deep into the night Tuesday at their leader’s home in Hopkins, S.C., and tried to agree on who to back after Sen. Kamala D. Harris dropped out of the race. Already, two campaigns had sought them out, asking for the group’s support, and the members — who helped Hillary Clinton dominate the state in the primary four years ago, initially believed they’d be able to quickly settle on a new candidate. As the night wore on, it became clear that they weren’t quite ready. … The competition for her backers, especially African American women, is particularly fierce given the delicate racial dynamics of the remaining Democratic field, which polls show is now led by four white candidates. All are trying to either cement or make inroads among African American voters. At least initially, the campaigns of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former vice president Joe Biden appeared likely to benefit.” Warren tears into Bloomberg on Bloomberg TV –Fox News: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has been an outspoken critic of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's candidacy – but on Wednesday, she took her message to his own backyard. During an interview on Bloomberg TV, host Joe Weisenthal acknowledged that his ‘boss’ was running against Warren and asked her if it's ‘naïve’ to think that candidates such as Bloomberg, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg could champion bipartisanship in 2019 politics. … She then took aim at her billionaire rival. … ‘I don’t believe that elections ought to be for sale, and I don’t think as a Democratic Party that we should say that the only way you’re gonna get elected, the only way you’re gonna be our nominee, is either if you are a billionaire, or if you’re sucking up to billionaires.’” THE JUDGE’S RULING: SUPCO ON GUN RIGHTS This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses the Supreme Court hearing an important gun rights case: “Will the New York City gun owners suffer the same fate? Perhaps not. There is a little-known and rarely used exception to the standing requirement — a judge-made exception — that holds that if a dispute repeatedly comes to the Supreme Court or if lower federal courts are repeatedly misinterpreting a Supreme Court decision, the Supreme Court will hear an appeal to stop the repeated appeals or to correct lower court misunderstandings, even if there is no adversity between the parties. Have lower federal courts been misinterpreting the Heller and McDonald cases? Yes. By one study, they have ruled 96 percent of the time in favor of city and state gun restrictions in the home and against the pre-political nature of the right to self-defense. Are there constitutional implications in this case beyond standing? Yes.” More here. PLAY-BY-PLAY Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., announces he will not run for re-election – Roll Call White House tightens food stamp requirements – Fox News AUDIBLE: DON’T MESS “I pray for the president all the time. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.” – Speaker Nancy Pelosi when asked by a reporter whether she hates President Trump. FROM THE BLEACHERS “Chris, In reading the Halftime Report for today, Wednesday, December 4th, I noticed in the first item of the Play-by-Play section that ‘Rep. Denny Heck, R-Nev., announces retirement.’ Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the link to the story in ‘Medium,’ to find that Rep. Denny Heck is a Democrat from the state of Washington and not a Republican from the state of Nevada. Thanks and other than this, keep up the good work!” – Jerry Donohoe, Longwood, Fla. [Ed. note: Quite so, Mr. Donohoe! My brain failed me for a second as I hurried through a final edit and confused the retiring congressman with a former member of the same last name from Nevada. Thanks for your kind words and good catch!] “Chris, The good news about Cole [the Jeep] is that he will run forever. The bad news about Cole is that he will run forever.” – Jason Bell, Naples, Fla. [Ed. note: Don’t I know it, Mr. Bell! The unsinkable Cherokee!] “C'mon Chris, tell it like it is. In response to a reader's suggestion that The Times has slipped, you concede that ‘There are certainly articles and story angles in the NYT's news section that evince a point of view on the part of writers and editors … .’ Point of view, my foot. You mean bias. The Times is a house organ for the Democratic Party and has been for generations. The last time The Times endorsed a Republican candidate for President was Eisenhower, running for a second term in 1956. (In 1952, it was Stevenson over Ike). In its news coverage, The Times devotes its considerable resources to advancing the worldviews and political agendas of its lords and masters on the left.” – Stuart Barr, Durham, N.C. [Ed. note: You certainly don’t sound like a wimp, Mr. Barr. In fact, you present yourself here as a tough-minded truth teller. I wonder then why you would feel so crabby about the biases of the New York Times. I can certainly understand how in the 1950s when there was relatively little in the way of media diversity that American conservatives were unhappy about the lack of right-leaning opinions on editorial pages or the conservative worldview in story selections. But in the past 70 years, conservatives have fought back and, in many cases, won the media war. Now, Americans can pick and choose among hundreds of outlets online, on television and on radio. I work at an outlet that regularly comes in from criticism from Democrats for the kind of bias that you ascribe to the NYT. And when they do, we patiently explain that our opinion hosts are certainly not shy about sharing their point of view, but that in our news division, the stories and analyses we provide are fair, thoroughly reported and non-partisan. And I tell Democrats who complain that if they can’t handle hearing from the likes of Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, Dana Perino and me, then maybe they should think about adding a little more variety to their news diet. I offer you the same encouragement. You seem like a knowledgeable man with more than enough awareness of the political landscape to be able to navigate the NYT without being led astray. I encourage folks to read widely and courageously but always with that very American attribute: Skepticism. It’s quite a lot of fun if you let it be.] Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown. ‘LEFT MONEY, TOOK PIES.’ UPI: “Police in Missouri said someone took two pies from a store that was accidentally left unlocked while closed — but the culprit left money and a note, making it an ‘after-hours transaction’ instead of a burglary. The Ballwin Police Department said the front door of Honey Baked Ham had apparently been left unlocked accidentally on Thanksgiving Day, when the store was closed for the holiday, and a customer who came inside the empty store in the afternoon called police. Police found some cash on the counter and a note reading: ‘Happy Thanksgiving! No one was here, and we were in desperate need of pies. Left money, took pies. Thanks!’ … Police said the pie-taker would have had to go behind the counter and retrieve the pies from a refrigerator, which could potentially have led to trespassing charges, but the store declined to pursue criminal charges for the ‘after-hours transaction.’” AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES… “Two decades into the unipolar world that came about with the fall of the Soviet Union, America is in the position of deciding whether to abdicate or retain its dominance. Decline – or continued ascendancy – is in our hands.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Weekly Standard on Oct. 19, 2009. 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.
Patrons at the Flashback Diner in Boca Raton, Florida speak out on attending the president's 'homecoming' rally.
President Trump seemed to declare himself a heavyweight champion in politics on Wednesday, tweeting out a picture of his face superimposed onto one of actor Sylvester Stallone as Rocky.
The tweet, which didn't include any context, came after polling showed voters souring on impeachment and as House Democrats prepare another round of hearings in the ongoing impeachment inquiry. On Tuesday, Trump denounced Democrats' inquiry to a packed rally in Florida.
“First it was the Russia hoax,” Trump said. “And now the same maniacs are pushing the deranged … impeachment” narrative.
For the past few months, Trump has been fending off accusations that he sought to influence the 2020 election by pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
The president and Republicans have denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly portrayed Trump as the victim of a partisan attempt to overturn the 2016 election.
"It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised. What has happened to me should never happen to another President!" Trump tweeted Tuesday.
Trump also tweeted a clip of Fox News host Pete Hegseth reporting on the massive crowd size of Tuesday night's rally in Florida. During interviews with Hegseth, rally attendees expressed their support for the president.
"I come from a family of Democrats and I just can't take the swamp anymore," one attendee said. Another said that he grew up as a Democrat but became a "staunch supporter of Trump."
On Twitter, Trump faced a wave of mockery for posting a photo of his face on Rocky's body. Some knocked his physical appearance, suggesting that he was nowhere near the shape that Rocky was. It also comes as Trump is dismissing rumors he had a health scare after a recent visit to Walter Reed Medical Center.
The photo also seemed to indicate Trump's mood going into the second round of impeachment hearings, led by the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the committee's chair, sent a letter to Trump, apparently welcoming a challenge for the first hearing, which is scheduled for Dec. 4.
An 18-page staff memo has been distributed to Republican members on the three House committees ahead of the start of public impeachment hearings; chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel reports from Capitol Hill.
**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.** On the roster: GOP on defense ahead of public impeachment hearings – Buttigieg continues to rise in Iowa – Supreme Court divided over future of DACA – La. governor’s race sees record number in early voting – Marathon man GOP ON DEFENSE AHEAD OF PUBLIC IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS Fox News: “Three top Republicans serving on panels involved in the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump penned a memo to GOP members on those committees outlining ‘key points of evidence’ from the closed-door inquiry ahead of public hearings slated to begin Wednesday. Addressed to the GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee, House Oversight Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, the memo outlines arguments in defense of Trump. It makes the case that Democrats failed to present any evidence of quid pro quo in Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. They say Trump had a ‘deep-seated, genuine and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine and U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign aid’ due to the country's history of ‘pervasive corruption’ since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The memo points out that both Trump and Zelensky have said they felt no pressure during the call. Another piece of evidence cited by the memo's authors is that Ukrainian government officials interfered in the 2016 presidential election in opposition to Trump in an effort to sway the race in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a claim that Trump has made but has not been proven.” Schiff warns GOP about going after Bidens –Fox News: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff set the stage for the first public hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry by vowing to keep questions at Wednesday's lead-off session focused on the Ukraine controversy — in an implicit shot at Republican members who have signaled an interest in turning the tables on Democrats as they defend President Trump. … Notably, he cited rules for the investigation that would keep it focused on alleged attempts by the president to seek politically advantageous investigations from a foreign government, and whether he sought to cover it up. The first hearings in the public phase of the impeachment inquiry will feature testimony from State Department official George Kent and top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor on Wednesday. Later this week, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich will appear.” Mulvaney reverses course, will follow Trump’s order not to cooperate –WaPo: “On the eve of the first public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry, President Trump complained that Democrats are relying on ‘2nd and 3rd hand witnesses,’ while a memo by Republican staff previewed how they plan to defend him. … In morning tweets, Trump, meanwhile, said that both Bidens should be called as witnesses in the public hearings that begin Wednesday with testimony from two State Department officials. … Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney no longer plans to seek a judge’s ruling on whether he should testify in the impeachment inquiry and will instead follow Trump’s order not to cooperate. In a court filing Tuesday, Mulvaney’s lawyer said Mulvaney is reversing course and would not file suit seeking a court opinion on whether he must comply with a House subpoena.” THE RULEBOOK: WILL WE LEARN? “All violent policy, as it is contrary to the natural and experienced course of human affairs, defeats itself.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25 TIME OUT: REVISITING A PIVOTAL WWII BATTLE Smithsonian: “‘At the present time we have only enough water for two weeks. Please supply us immediately,’ read the message sent by American sailors stationed at Midway, a tiny atoll located roughly halfway between North America and Asia, on May 20, 1942. The plea for help, however, was a giant ruse; the base was not, in fact, low on supplies. When Tokyo Naval Intelligence intercepted the dispatch and relayed the news onward … their American counterparts finally confirmed what they had long suspected: Midway and ‘AF,’ cited by the Japanese as the target of a major upcoming military operation, were one and the same. This codebreaking operation afforded the United States a crucial advantage at what would be the Battle of Midway, a multi-day naval and aerial engagement fought between June 3 and 7, 1942. … Midway, a new movie from director Roland Emmerich … traces the trajectory of the early Pacific campaign from the December 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor to the Halsey-Doolittle Raid in April 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea in May of that same year, and, finally, Midway itself.” Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions. SCOREBOARD DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING Biden: 27.6 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.) Warren: 22.6 points (↑ 1.2 points from last wk.) Sanders: 17.6 points (↑ 1.4 point from last wk.) Buttigieg: 7.6 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.) Harris: 3.2 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.) [Averages include: Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ, ABC News/WaPo, Fox News and IBD.] TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE Average approval: 42 percent Average disapproval: 55.4 percent Net Score: -13.4 percent Change from one week ago: no change [Average includes: Monmouth University: 45% approve – 52% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve – 53% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 39% approve – 59% disapprove; Fox News: 42% approve – 57% disapprove; IBD: 39% approve – 56% disapprove.] WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT? You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch! BUTTIGIEG CONTINUES TO RISE IN IOWA Monmouth University: “South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of the leaderboard in the third Monmouth University Poll of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses. Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group. Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support. The poll also finds that Mike Bloomberg receives a chilly reception among Hawkeye State Democrats as he considers whether to make a late entry into the nomination contest. Four candidates are currently vying for the top spot in Iowa’s caucuses – Buttigieg (22%), Biden (19%), Warren (18%), and Sanders (13%). Compared to Monmouth’s August poll, Buttigieg has gained 14 points (up from 8%)…” Sanders falls to fourth in Granite State – Quinnipiac University: “With less than 100 days to go, former Vice President Joe Biden has an edge in New Hampshire's Democratic primary for president, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Biden receives support from 20 percent of New Hampshire likely Democratic primary voters, with Senator Elizabeth Warren getting 16 percent, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg getting 15 percent, and Sen. Bernie Sanders at 14 percent. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard gets 6 percent, businessman Andrew Yang gets 4 percent, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer are each at 3 percent. No other candidate tops 1 percent, and 14 percent of likely voters are undecided. Independent voters, known as ‘undeclared voters’ in New Hampshire, who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary are divided in their top choice. Biden receives 16 percent support among these voters, while Sanders and Buttigieg get 14 percent each, and Warren and Gabbard receive 10 percent each.” Mark Sanford drops out of presidential race – The [Charleston, S.C.] Post and Courier: “Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford dropped out of the race for president just moments ago, ending his protest bid 60 days after it began. In a noon press conference at the New Hampshire Statehouse, Sanford announced his long-shot run is ending after previously declaring he would spend most of November campaigning in the Granite State, site of the nation’s first primary. The move came after Sanford failed to collect much of a following, especially as President Donald Trump remains the favorite of most Republican voters nationally and while Washington is gearing up for impeachment hearings. Sanford said the impeachment inquiry surrounding the president had sucked the proverbial oxygen out of the 2020 debate. ‘You gotta be a realist, and what I did not anticipate is an impeachment,’ he said, adding he is suspending the campaign and will look for other ways to advance his stance against the deficit.” Former governor of Massachusetts considering bid –NYT: “Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts has told Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democratic officials that he is considering making a last-minute entry into the 2020 presidential race, according to three Democrats familiar with the conversations, the latest evidence of how unsettled the party’s primary is less than three months before the Iowa caucuses. Mr. Patrick, a respected two-term governor and one of the highest-profile black leaders in the party, has told some of the Democratic officials that he doesn’t think any of the candidates have established political momentum and that he thinks there is an opening for somebody who can unite both liberal and moderate voters, according to Democrats who have spoken to him. He and some of his top advisers had a meeting Sunday in Boston to discuss what a campaign would look like, according to two Democrats.” Sen. Michael Bennet expanding campaign in N.H. –WMUR: “While another Democratic presidential candidate is cutting back her effort in New Hampshire and still another is pulling out of the state entirely, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet is expanding his presence and making a bold commitment. The Bennet campaign currently has one New Hampshire office, in Manchester, and small number of staffers in the state. But that’s about to change. The Bennet campaign told WMUR on Monday that within the next several weeks, it will open three new offices, including a new office in Manchester, and is currently ‘aggressively hiring’ additional Granite State staffers. Bennet made a public commitment. ‘Spending time with New Hampshire voters has made me a better candidate,’ he said in a statement shared with WMUR.” Milwaukee DNC replaces top fundraiser –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “There's been a quiet shakeup in the leadership of the fundraising team for next year's Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. Out as the Host Committee's fundraising director is Marcus Switzer, a 32-year-old Milwaukee native who served as deputy national fundraising director for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. Switzer has returned to Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign team. Switzer held the post for about six months. Replacing him is Leah Israel, a 36-year-old Chicago native who worked as a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat. … In her new post as fundraising director, Israel is taking on the daunting task of raising up to $70 million for next July's big event.” SUPREME COURT DIVIDED OVER FUTURE OF DACA Fox News: “The future of the DACA program for young illegal immigrants remained uncertain as the Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared to lack consensus on whether the Trump administration's plans to rescind legal protections for so-called Dreamers were proper. The cases were debated during 80 minutes of tense oral arguments. No side appeared to command a clear majority of justices over what has become a major test of executive power on the contentious issue of immigration reform. At issue is the Obama-era program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It was created under executive order and gives about 700,000 people brought as children to the United States illegally –or on visas that later were overstayed — the opportunity to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit. Hundreds of Dreamers and their supporters rallied outside the court. Members of Congress were among those watching the arguments inside.” LA. GOVERNOR’S RACE SEES RECORD NUMBER IN EARLY VOTING Monroe [La.] News Star: “Louisiana loves voting early with voters coming close to setting an all-time record last week for the Nov. 16 governor's election. In all, 489,654 cast early ballots for the Nov. 16 runoff between Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone in a race generally considered a tossup. That's 100,000 plus more ballots than were cast early for the Oct. 12 primary that whittled the field to Edwards and Rispone. ‘This is a sea change between what existed previously,’ said Pearson Cross, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette political science professor. ‘I think it's a good thing that spurs turnout.’ … Early voting isn't likely to hit 40% of the total for the Nov. 16 election, but it could account for a third or more of total votes cast. Trump will headline another rally at 7 p.m. Thursday at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City.” Widow Rep. Elijah Cummings announces campaign for husband's seat –Fox News: “The widow of late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said on Monday that she will launch a campaign to win her husband’s seat as representative of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, initially told The Baltimore Sun that she would formally announce her campaign on Tuesday, nearly a month after her husband died of cancer on Oct. 17 at age 68. … In her first televised interview since her husband’s death, Rockeymoore Cummings said on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show Monday evening that she and her husband decided about six months ago that she would be the best fit to carry on his legacy and vision for the Baltimore district. PLAY-BY-PLAY Former President Jimmy Carter out of surgery to reduce pressure on brain after recent falls – AP Poll finds majority of Georgia voters support impeachment – AJC AUDIBLE: ‘THE ENEMY WITHIN’ “Our politics are paralyzing the country. We practice suspicion or contempt where trust is needed, imposing a sentence of anger and loneliness on others and ourselves. We scorch our opponents with language that precludes compromise. We brush aside the possibility that a person with whom we disagree might be right. We talk about what divides us and seldom acknowledge what unites us. … Contending viewpoints and vocal dissent are inevitable, and not the issue. … What is dangerous is not that people have serious differences. It is the tone—the snarl, the scorn, the lacerating despair.” – Former secretary of defense James Mattis in his piece “The Enemy Within,” published in the Atlantic. Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown. MARATHON MAN BBC: “A British man has become the first person to run a marathon in every country in the world. Nick Butter, 30, from Bristol, [England] has run 196 marathons in 196 countries after starting in Canada in January 2018 and finishing in Greece on Sunday. He was inspired to do it to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK after a friend was diagnosed with the disease. Mr. Butter said he was ‘overwhelmed’ to have finished, after he crossed the finishing line of the Athens marathon. He said he was ‘very tired’ after completing the challenge, which took 674 days and involved visiting an average of just over two countries a week. … He chose Athens for his final run due to it being ‘the home of the marathon.’ Mr. Butter, originally from Dorset, [England] crossed the line with his friend Kevin Webber, who has prostate cancer and who inspired him to take up the challenge.” AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES… “There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration…” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post onSept. 13, 2008. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Reaction from Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz and former Clinton impeachment manager Bob Barr.
Top Republicans serving on panels involved in the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trumppenned a memo to GOP members on those committees outlining "key points of evidence" from the closed-door inquiry ahead of public hearings slated to begin Wednesday.
The memo to the GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee, House Oversight Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee outline arguments in defense of Trump. They make the case that Democrats failed to present any evidence of quid pro quo in Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. They said Trump had genuine concern about Kiev due to its "pervasive" corruption.
They point out that both presidents have said they felt no pressure during the call.
Another piece of evidence cited by the memo's authors is that Ukrainian government officials interfered in the 2016 presidential election in opposition to Trump, a claim he has made but has not been proven.
The United States provided Ukraine with much-needed security assistance despite it not investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, according to the letter.
The Republicans also accused committee Democrats of lacking transparency and hiding information from the American people.
"Simply put, the evidence gathered to date does not support the Democrat allegation that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the President's political rivals for his benefit in the 2020 presidential campaign, the letter said. "The evidence does not establish an impeachable offense."
Congressman Jim Jordan lays out the Democrats big picture plan for impeachment
House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan has been assigned by Republican leadership to serve on the House Intelligence Committee so he can participate in questioning in the open Trump impeachment hearings starting next week.
Jordan, R-Ohio, replaces Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., who temporarily resigned from his post on the panel Friday.
“Jim Jordan has been on the front lines in the fight for fairness and truth. His addition will ensure more accountability and transparency in this sham process," House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement on Friday.
Under current terms, Jordan, as the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, has been in the room for most closed-door depositions. Because he is not a member of the Intelligence Committee, though, the Ohio Republican cannot ask questions.
"In Speaker Pelosi’s House, those responsibilities have fallen victim to partisan witch hunts," McCarthy said. "The typically venerable Intelligence Committee has now become the partisan Impeachment Committee."
McCarthy said Crawford will rejoin the committee after the inquiry is complete.
"Along with millions of Americans across the country who are frustrated with this impeachment-obsessed majority, Rick has offered to step aside for this charade," McCarthy said. "When it is finished, Rick will rejoin the committee and resume his work to keep our country safe."
A senior House Democratic aid tells Fox News that Democrats allowed the personnel shift because “it is customary that whoever the minority proposes is accepted.”
Jordan, who has been a staunch defender of the president, in his current role, would not have been on the dais during open hearings next week to counterpunch. Republican leadership all week had been weighing the Jordan move, and considering adding Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., as well. But in order to position Jordan on the panel, Republican leadership is required to remove one of the current Republicans on the panel. Removing three, to also include Meadows and Zeldin, would be somewhat of a feat.
"Politically, there's no way for us to pull this off," a Republican source told Fox News.
The assignment comes just days before the first open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry.
On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., announced that the first public hearings as part of the inquiry would be held next Wednesday and Friday, featuring current and former officials with knowledge of the Ukraine controversy.
“Next week, the House Intelligence Committee will hold its first open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry,” Schiff tweeted.
“On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, we will hear from William Taylor and George Kent,” he continued. “On Friday, November 15, 2019, we will hear from Marie Yovanovitch.”
“More to come,” he added.
The first public hearing will feature Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who already testified behind closed doors before congressional investigators that the president pushed Ukraine to investigate election interference, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and their Ukrainian dealings — and that he was told U.S. military aid and a White House meeting were used as leverage to get a public announcement from Kiev that the probes were underway.
Kent, the deputy assistant Secretary of State, also will appear with Taylor. Kent testified behind closed doors last month, and told the committees that he had concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings, in 2015, but was rebuffed by the former vice president’s staff, which said the office was preoccupied with Beau Biden’s cancer battle.
Meanwhile, next Friday, Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will appear in a public setting. She testified last month behind closed doors as well, telling lawmakers that Ukraine told her about Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s campaign to oust her from her post in the administration. Yovanovitch was pushed out of her job in May on Trump’s orders.
Yovanovitch said she learned from Ukrainian officials last November or December that Giuliani was in touch with Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, “and that they had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me.”
“Basically, it was people in the Ukrainian government who said that Mr. Lutsenko, the former prosecutor general, was in communication with Mayor Giuliani,” she testified.
In her testimony, Yovanovitch also told investigators that she was not disloyal to the president.
"I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told our embassy team to ignore the president's orders since he was going to be impeached," she said. "That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing to my embassy colleagues or anyone eIse."
"We move forward with the open phase," Schiff told reporters on the Hill on Wednesday, adding that the committee still has "remaining depositions," which they "will be conducting over the next couple of days."
The impeachment inquiry was opened after a whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump, during a July phone call, pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter as military aid to the country was being withheld.
A transcript released by the White House shows Trump making that request, but he and his allies deny that military aid was clearly linked to the request or that there was any quid pro quo. Some witnesses coming before House committees as part of the impeachment proceedings have challenged that assertion.
The White House, though, has maintained the president did nothing wrong.
The House of Representatives, last week, passed a measure largely along party lines, formalizing the process and setting “ground rules” for the impeachment inquiry, including for public witness testimony.
While Republicans opposed the resolution and complained the rules were unfair, they still gave minority Republicans the ability to subpoena witnesses, with the concurrence of Democratic committee chairs. If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee.
"We're glad to see that Chairman Schiff has decided to move his impeachment proceedings out of his top-secret bunker and into the public eye," a GOP aide told Fox News Wednesday. "We're confident that the American people will see that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on the Ukrainian government — for anything."
The GOP aide added: "Unlike Chairman Schiff, we have never had anything to hide and look forward to the opportunity to present the facts of the case."
Meanwhile, U.S. diplomat David Hale appeared before the committees leading the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday behind closed doors. Hale is expected to tell lawmakers that political considerations were behind the State Department's decision to withhold U.S. military aid from Ukraine.
Democratic committee chairmen say Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent's testimony 'strongly corroborates' testimony from other impeachment witnesses; Gillian Turner reports from Capitol Hill.
Sports are all about matchups.
The team at bat just dispatched a left-handed hitter from the dugout to the on-deck circle as a pinch hitter. The team in the field has a right-hander on the mound. The stadium PA announces the pinch hitter to the crowd. The new hitter slides a hollow weight onto the barrel of the bat and slimes his Louisville Slugger with gooey pine tar.
The PA announcement makes the lineup change official.
And, right on cue, the manager of the other club pops out of the opposing dugout. The skipper strides to the mound, glances at the home plate umpire and then slaps his left forearms with an open palm. It’s a call to the bullpen. The manager wants the best matchup. A southpaw relief pitcher to face the new left-handed batter. Statistically, it’s a better matchup for the team in the field. Supposedly left-handed batters fare better against righties and struggle against lefties.
Who faces who in a primary? Which Democrat is moderate enough, and therefore, best positioned, to run against that longtime Republican Congressman in a battleground district? Who can the administration nominate for a key cabinet post – who shares the president’s governing philosophies – but can also secure Senate confirmation?
Republicans are concerned about matchups in the impeachment inquiry, too.
Republicans are now trying to put their best lineup on the field to defend President Trump ahead of next week’s open impeachment hearings. Have a running back pick up a safety blitz. Get the big man on the other team into early foul trouble.
The problem is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., may be one step ahead of the GOP.
The House approved a resolution establishing the parameters of the impeachment probe last week. Pelosi asserted for weeks adoption of such a resolution wasn’t necessary for an impeachment investigation. But Pelosi saw the possibility of Democrats gaining their own matchup advantage in the impeachment milieu.
First, Pelosi granted significant power to one of her top lieutenants, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The Intelligence Committee is running the impeachment process thus far. Both open hearings next week are before the Intelligence panel. Part of the thinking is that Democrats believe they have a matchup advantage on the Intelligence Committee compared to the Republicans. Pelosi also has a lot of confidence in her California colleague.
The House Judiciary Committee will ultimately write articles of impeachment. But the standing of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., dropped with Pelosi in recent months. So, while the House impeachment process resolution was written to give Democrats a matchup advantage with GOPers, it was also crafted to give Pelosi the best internal matchup among her Democratic committee chairs. Pelosi also wanted to curb – for the time being – the influence of Nadler in the process, simultaneously elevating Schiff.
“The weakest people are on the Intelligence Committee for public hearings,” said one senior House GOP source. The source added that the strongest Republican voices were on the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees.
“There’s a reason (Intelligence Committee members) do much of their work in private,” said another source.
This is why Republicans are mulling a personnel shift of their own. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee. Under the current terms, Jordan’s been in the room for most closed-door depositions. But since he’s not a member of the Intelligence Committee, the Ohio Republican can’t ask questions. Jordan is one of Trump’s most ardent defenders. But, when the hearings go public next week, Jordan and Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. – other vocal advocates for Mr. Trump – won’t be on the dais to counterpunch.
This is why GOPers want to call in someone from the bullpen to improve their matchup for the hearings.
Republicans hope to transfer Jordan to the Intelligence Committee. And, in a perfect world, they’d throw Meadows and Zeldin in there, too. Fox is told the maneuver will probably take place by this weekend. But, Republicans must first navigate their own internal political waters. Positioning Jordan on the Intelligence Committee means GOPers must yank one of their own off that panel. Sliding over Meadows and Zeldin entails the Herculean feat of stripping a grand total of three current Republicans from that committee.
“Politically, there’s no way for us to pull this off,” said one Republican source, adding that Jordan would likely be the only figure heading to Intelligence.
So, who steps down from the panel?
The obvious choices are retiring Republicans Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Michael Conaway, R-Texas. One knowledgeable source tells Fox there’s already an agreement to move one Republican off the committee. But, there could be some internecine GOP infighting.
“Why would they want to come off the committee?” asked one Republican when discussing Hurd and Conaway. “This is their last swan song. It’s the most important hearing of their careers.”
If Hurd or Conaway aren’t sidelined, Fox News is told GOPers could try to divert Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, or others.
We have likened this “matchup” scenario to baseball, football and basketball. But hockey may help us understand another component.
In hockey, the home team has what’s known as “last change.” After each stoppage in play, the visitors must put their skaters on the ice first. The home team has an advantage because it gets to judge who the visitors decided to go with and conceivably dispatch an advantageous matchup.
In many respects, Pelosi has “last change” in these circumstances.
The Intelligence Committee isn’t a garden variety House panel. In fact, its formal title is “The House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence.” As a “select” committee, the Speaker gets to approve the membership of the Intelligence panel.
Republicans are itching for a fight if Pelosi were to veto the installation of Jordan on the Intelligence Committee. Such a decision would mesh with the Republican narrative that Democrats are heavy-handed with impeachment and abusing the process. That said, with public hearings coming, it’s hard to see how Republicans could get traction once the forums start and people see GOPers asking questions of witnesses.
It is unclear if Pelosi would block such a transition of Jordan to the Intelligence Committee. A senior House Democratic source indicated that this was “hypothetical” until Republican leaders informed the Speaker of their intentions. On one hand, Pelosi may not care who the Republicans place on the Intelligence Committee. Another school of thought is that Pelosi knows Republicans hope she misplays her hand. So, the Speaker might not forbid the move.
But, Pelosi served for years on the Intelligence Committee as the ranking Democrat. One source said Pelosi could potentially block the move because she has a special appreciation for the Intelligence Committee. The source told Fox News that Pelosi could make the argument that you just don’t parachute people into the Intelligence Committee for political advantage.
Then again, Republicans may accuse Pelosi of politicizing the process, making the Intelligence Committee in charge of impeachment. So, unclear what the speaker may do on this front.
As they say in sports, this is the game within the game. The chess match. And everyone’s jockeying for position for one of the rarest events in politics: the possible impeachment of an American president.
Trump calls for 'war' against Mexican drug cartel 'monsters' after Americans murdered in ambush; William La Jeunesse reports from Los Angeles.
**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.** On the roster: Trump touts his ‘angry majority’ ahead of elections – Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump, now 17 points – Key witness reverses testimony, admits quid pro quo– Audible: Like Verdun, but for politics – Beep, beep TRUMP TOUTS HIS ‘ANGRY MAJORITY’ AHEAD OF ELECTIONS Fox News: “At a rally on friendly turf in Kentucky Monday night, President Trump urged what he called an ‘angry majority’ of voters to send a powerful ‘signal’ to Democrats and the world by handing the GOP a big victory not only in Tuesday's gubernatorial race there, but also in the pivotal upcoming statewide elections in Virginia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The result of the showdown in Kentucky — as well as Tuesday's gubernatorial race in Mississippi and state legislature races in Virginia — could serve as a barometer this week on whether Trump still has the ability to rally Republicans at the voting booth amid Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry. Top Democrats have acknowledged that Trump's influence helped the GOP sweep key House special elections in North Carolina in September. Amid chants of ‘USA’ at Monday's rally, Trump repeatedly sought to leverage his accomplishments in office, including energy independence and historically low unemployment rates, to boost Gov. Matt Bevin.” Trump: Bevin ‘a pain in the ass,’ but worth a second term – Lexington Herald Leader: “President Donald Trump gave Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin a Trumpian endorsement Monday night, just hours before Kentuckians go to the polls to decide if they’ll elect the Republican governor to a second term. ‘He’s such a pain in the ass,’ Trump said of Bevin. ‘But isn’t that what you want?’ It was a backhanded compliment meant to highlight how hard Bevin works for Kentucky, but it also called attention to the governor’s biggest political weakness: his penchant for making controversial remarks that alienate friends and foes alike. … The event, though, has huge importance for Bevin, who is locked in a tight race with Democrat Andy Beshear, the attorney general. Bevin has tied himself tightly to the president as he attempts to win back support after waging a public battle with teachers over their pension system.” Unusually close race in Mississippi –AP: “Mississippi’s most competitive governor’s race in years was in the hands of voters Tuesday as Attorney General Jim Hood sought to become the second Democratic governor in the Deep South. He’s facing Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who got campaign help in Mississippi from both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Hood, Reeves and two lesser-known candidates are on Tuesday’s ballot. The winner will succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Phil Bryant. Democrats see Hood as their strongest nominee in nearly a generation in a conservative state where Republicans have been governor for 24 of the past 28 years.” Republican majorities on the line in Old Dominion – WTOP: “Virginians are going to the polls Tuesday to cast votes in local elections as well as General Assembly races that could change the composition of both chambers of the state’s legislature, while several D.C.-area towns in Maryland hold elections for mayor and council. In Virginia, the Republicans control both houses by the narrowest of margins. They hold a 21-19 advantage in the Senate and a 51-49 margin in the House of Delegates — that last only after a random drawing decided a tied election in District 94. These General Assembly elections will be the only ones conducted using the district maps chosen by a panel of federal judges in January, after ruling last year that lawmakers had racially gerrymandered 11 House districts by packing black voters into them.” THE RULEBOOK: BETTER NOT “Every view we may take of the subject, as candid inquirers after truth, will serve to convince us, that it is both unwise and dangerous to deny the federal government an unconfined authority, as to all those objects which are intrusted to its management.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 23 TIME OUT: ‘TOO MODERN FOR ITS TIME’ Atlantic: “Karolina Pavlova, born in 1807, wasn’t a woman who acted in accordance with social norms. The leader of a respected Moscow literary salon, she was also devoutly committed to her own writing. That trait was greeted with animosity from many of her male contemporaries, who disparaged her readiness to share her work as unwomanly and approached her soaringly emotive poetry with suspicion. Even so, Pavlova’s novel A Double Life shook the Russian literary world when it was published in 1848, earning widespread praise for its revolutionary form and psychological acuity. Pavlova had written a book depicting a woman’s struggle against social constraints, and—a full half century before Freud popularized the idea of the subconscious—insisting on the independence of the unconscious mind. …Barbara Heldt [translated] and released [a new edition] this year… Pavlova constructed a strikingly prescient psychological vision: a mind responding to extreme social pressure by slowly and completely separating itself into parts, but giving few external indications of change.” Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions. SCOREBOARD DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING Biden: 28.2 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.) Warren: 21.4 points (↓ 3.4 points from last wk.) Sanders: 16.2 points (↑ 1.6 points from last wk.) Buttigieg: 7.8 points (↑ 1.4 points from last wk.) Harris: 2.8 points (↓ 2 points from last wk.) Yang: 2.8 points (↑ 0.8 points from last wk.) Klobuchar: 2.8 points (↑ 0.8 points from last wk.) [Averages include: NBC News/WSJ, ABC News/WaPo, Fox News, IBD and USA Today/Suffolk University.] [Ed. note: We’re only tracking the top five Democratic candidates but, lo and behold, today we have a three-way tie for fifth place. Welcome to the leaderboard Sen. Klobuchar and Mr. Yang. (And maybe farewell Sen. Harris soon…)] TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE Average approval: 42 percent Average disapproval: 55.4 percent Net Score: -13.4 percent Change from one week ago: ↑ 1.2 points [Average includes: Monmouth University: 45% approve – 52% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve – 53% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 39% approve – 59% disapprove; Fox News: 42% approve – 57% disapprove; IBD: 39% approve – 56% disapprove.] WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT? You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch! POLL: BIDEN WIDENS LEAD OVER TRUMP, NOW 17 POINTS WaPo: “One year out from the 2020 election, President Trump trails some potential Democratic rivals in head-to-head matchups, with his national support level currently fixed at about 40 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. … Among the 39 percent of registered voters who approve of Trump’s job performance, Trump is winning at least 95 percent support against each of five possible Democratic opponents. But among the 58 percent of voters who disapprove of Trump, he receives no more than 7 percent support. Former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) run strongest against the president nationally, with Biden leading by 17 points (56 percent to 39 percent), Warren by 15 points (55 percent to 40 percent) and Sanders by 14 points (55 percent to 41 percent). South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the other two Democrats tested against Trump, also lead the president among registered voters, with Buttigieg up by 52 percent to 41 percent, and Harris ahead by 51 percent to 42 percent.” Castro gives up on New Hampshire and South Carolina – Politico: “Julián Castro’s campaign will fire its staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina, an official familiar with the campaign told POLITICO. The campaign notified the state teams on Monday and their final day will be next week. The source said the campaign will continue focusing on Iowa and Nevada with a $50,000 television ad buy in Iowa beginning Tuesday morning. The moves amount to a long-shot attempt to remain in the presidential contest in the hopes of catching fire before the first contests begin next February. Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama, has had success in framing — and, in some cases, starting — the Democratic primary’s policy debates but has struggled to raise money or raise his poll numbers above low single digits. Asked for comment, the Castro campaign pointed POLITICO to its statement last week when news of an Iowa-Nevada focus first surfaced.” Buttigieg adjusts campaign to utilize the moment –WaPo: “What is going on is Buttigieg seizing an opening in the Democratic presidential field, pushing his way into the gap between liberal Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the more moderate former vice president Joe Biden. ‘The way we think this shapes up is, if you want the most ideological, far-out candidate possible, you’ve got your answer. You want the most Washington candidate possible, you’ve got your answer,’ Buttigieg said Saturday from his campaign bus in Iowa. … That positioning represents a significant shift from Buttigieg’s posture when he entered the race. Buttigieg made early headlines by portraying himself as the vanguard of generational change, a 37-year-old seeking to become the first openly gay president and talking up big liberal ideas, like abolishing the electoral college and restructuring the Supreme Court. While his campaign says he still supports those policies, he rarely mentions them on the campaign trail these days.” Harris’ long, hard fall – Politico: “Interviews with more than 50 people inside and around [Kamala Harris’] campaign … reveal how a candidate with so much promise, range and charisma has slid so far. Many of her dilemmas are self-creations. Harris undermined her national introduction with costly flubs on health care, feeding a critique that she lacks a strong ideological core and plays to opinion polls and the desires of rich donors. She was vague or noncommittal on question after question from voters at campaign stops. She leaned on verbal crutches instead of hammering her main points in high-profile TV moments. The deliberate, evidence-intensive way she arrives at decisions—one of her potential strengths in a matchup with Trump—often made her look wobbly and unprepared. … Her prospects look grim. Once-optimistic forecasts from her aides now diverge into complaints about biased treatment from the news media, some of them valid. But Harris has also struggled to figure out how to embrace her own record.” Swingers, 2020 edition –NYT: “They are similar in holding ideologically inconsistent views, but they otherwise span all walks of life, based on an analysis of 569 respondents to recent New York Times Upshot/Siena College surveys in the six closest states carried by the president in the 2016 presidential election. These voters represent 15 percent of the electorate in the battleground states, and they say there’s a chance they’ll vote for either Mr. Trump or the Democrat. … The poll adds a new mix of characters to the quadrennial cast of swing voters, like a somewhat conservative, college-educated suburban man who does not approve of the president’s performance, but strongly opposes a single-payer health system. … For now, these persuadable voters in battleground states have a favorable view of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, but not of Elizabeth Warren, our polling shows.” Team Obama makes show of support for cash-strapped Biden –Politico: “More than 30 high-ranking Obama administration officials are hosting a Wednesday soiree for Joe Biden intended to be equal parts fundraiser and public show of support for the former vice president’s 2020 campaign. The event is taking place at the home of ex-National Economic Council director Jeff Zients and his wife, Mary, as Biden hustles to raise money before primary voting begins. Biden's fundraising flagged during the most recent quarter, but Zients and others are also trying to send a message beyond the money chase, according to people familiar with the event planning. They want to show that while some Obama allies may have drifted toward candidates newer to the national political scene, including Pete Buttigieg, Biden still has support from many of his former administration colleagues.” Steyer aide out after swiping Harris volunteer data –The [Charleston, S.C.] Post and Courier: “A South Carolina aide for Tom Steyer’s 2020 presidential campaign stole valuable volunteer data collected by Kamala Harris’ campaign using an account from when he worked with the S.C. Democratic Party, according to multiple state and national party officials. The Steyer campaign said that it does not have possession of the data and that Democratic officials were only aware of the download, which they said was inadvertent, because they proactively notified them. Both the Democratic National Committee and S.C. Democratic Party denied that. The Democratic National Committee said they quickly caught the attempt on Friday by Steyer’s deputy S.C. state director Dwane Sims to export Harris’ data, which contained thousands of volunteer contacts collected over the course of the campaign in this critical early-voting primary state.” Nathan Gonzales: A year out, here's four scenarios for 2020 elections – Roll Call: “Even though predicting anything to do with Trump might seem like a risk because of how typically damaging stories don’t seem to impact his standing, the president is a historically unpopular figure whose job approval rating has been static for months. … Trump remains incredibly popular with the Republican base, however, and the GOP has transitioned to primarily embracing a person more than a conservative ideology. That could eventually create a messy transition of power, but for now, it gives the president a high electoral floor as Republicans rally to his cause. … Following are four scenarios, in order of their likelihood: Scenario 1: Eviction at 1600 … Scenario 2: Blue Washington … Scenario 3: Status Quo … Scenario 4: Red Revival.” KEY WITNESS REVERSES TESTIMONY, ADMITS QUID PRO QUO NYT: “A critical witness in the impeachment inquiry offered Congress substantial new testimony this week, revealing that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country likely would not receive American military aid unless it publicly committed to investigations President Trump wanted. The disclosure from Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, in four new pages of sworn testimony released on Tuesday, confirmed his involvement in essentially laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that he had previously not acknowledged. The testimony offered several major new details beyond the account he gave the inquiry in a 10-hour interview last month. Mr. Sondland provided a more robust description of his own role in alerting the Ukrainians that they needed to go along with investigative requests being demanded by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.” Transcripts suggest GOP lacks impeachment strategy – WaPo: “Republicans have complained for weeks about the secret House impeachment inquiry… But inside the secure room in the Capitol basement where the proceedings are taking place, Republicans have used their time to complain that testimony has become public, going after their colleagues who were quoted in media reports commenting on witness appearances, and quizzing witnesses themselves on how their statements had been released. The efforts by GOP lawmakers to shape the Democrats’ inquiry emerged in full view for the first time Monday with the release of hundreds of pages of transcripts from two early witnesses: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. … But the newly released transcripts from Yovanovitch and McKinley — who appeared on Oct. 11 and Oct. 16, respectively — underscore how the Republicans’ strategy at that relatively early stage in the deposition process was more scattershot, covering a range of topics.” PLAY-BY-PLAY United States begins process of withdrawing from Paris climate deal– Fox News RNC paid $60,000 for Trump and entourage to watch cage-fighting – WaPo California drives out conservatives to ‘redder pastures’– LAT Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., faces ethics probe over financial disclosure – Politico AUDIBLE: LIKE VERDUN, BUT FOR POLITICS “These results suggest that the partisan tribes on both sides are digging in as the impeachment spotlight intensifies.” –Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, discussing the results of Monmouth’s latest poll released Tuesday. FROM THE BLEACHERS “I’m a huge Fox News fan. Why did Fox use 19% more Democrats in its poll than Republicans. I saw the break down at a conservative web site. Am I wrong?” – Dick Alexander, Pickerington, Ohio [Ed. note: Somebody sold you a bum steer, I’m afraid, Mr. Alexander. In our most recent poll, 49 percent of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 41 percent identified themselves as Republicans and 11 percent identified themselves as independents. Our numbers for both parties are higher than in other polls because our questionnaire gives respondents of being strong partisans, weak partisans or independents. Others, like this week’s WaPo/ABC News poll, force subjects to choose among just three options. But the result is about the same: a six-point edge for Democrats. In the WSJ/NBC News poll out this week, pollsters gave respondents seven (!) options on a partisanship scale, but the net effect is the same: Republicans trailed Democrats by 8 points. Those advantages for Democrats have been pretty consistent in recent years and over the history of public opinion polling. Certainly exit polls and our Fox News Voter Analysis consistently show that Democrats outnumber Republicans in elections. That’s why Republicans rely so much on independent and loosely affiliated voters to win elections. If the GOP starts doing better going into 2020, I would expect to see more independents expressing solidarity for the Red Team. But we’ll continue to track partisan affiliation in part because it provides valuable insight on how persuadable voters are moving. And you never need to trust the dubious analysis of others for whose being surveyed for our polls. We publish all the results for everyone to see.]
“I am hoping that someday people will stop calling the Democrat Party the ‘Democratic’ Party.” – Jim King, Chesapeake, Va. [Ed. note: I’m always a little mystified about why so many Republicans harp on this subject. I never hear Democrats say that the other side should be called the Republic Party. As far as I can tell, the values of the Democratic Party are in line with the name. The party is generally (and increasingly) opposed to many limits on democracy. The Electoral College, disproportionate Senate representation, lifetime Supreme Court appointments and other small-r republican institutions are quite unpopular among progressives. More direct democracy, including low-to-zero barrier to ballot access, seems to be a top goal for many in the party. I also see some anti-republican trends among Republicans, particularly as it relates to a disregard bordering on disdain for the power of the legislative branch and a monarchical bent toward presidential power. But I think, generally, the parties are still in the respective lanes suggested by their names. But most of all, why wouldn’t you call people by the name they prefer? That just seems like good manners. And I certainly don’t know how you would ever bring someone around to your point of view on any subject if you start out with what is essentially an insult.] “In the article about the President’s taxes, it states that the NY state prosecutors are investigating the hush money payments made to two women. What is the difference between those payments and NDA’s that many corporations use to prevent women from talking? Just wondering.” – Phillip H. Nawrocki, Mesa, Ariz. [Ed. note: It’s legal to pay people to be quiet. But if you pay people to be quiet for the purposes of winning an election, you have to disclose that as a campaign expense. The problem for prosecutors in New York is that it will be extremely hard to prove that’s why Trump paid the hush money. As his lawyers have argued in the past, he had ample reasons to cover up his relationships with a sex worker and a nude model – hush money he would have paid whether he was running for office or not. There are some additional considerations about hiding income, etc., but it still seems like a tough case to make. It shouldn’t be hard to convince a jury that a man would pay money to keep the knowledge hidden that he was having sex with a pornographic performer while his wife was convalescing from childbirth. Yowza!] Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown. BEEP, BEEP WGHP: “A Louisiana man was arrested after stealing an electric-powered shopping cart from Walmart to avoid getting a DWI, police said. Brice Kendell Williams, 32, was charged with felony unauthorized use of a moveable after driving the motorized shopping cart over half a mile away from one bar to another, according to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office. … A deputy with the sheriff’s office responded to a bar in Houma, Louisiana, around 12:30 a.m. Sunday after receiving a complaint about someone arriving to a bar in a shopping cart, according to the statement. The town is about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans. When the deputy arrived, he found the shopping cart parked between two cars in the bar’s parking lot. Williams told the responding deputy that he was at a different bar and thought that if he drove his car, he could get charged with a DWI, the sheriff’s office said. Instead, Williams opted to steal the electric shopping cart, which is meant for disabled people, and drive it to a different bar, the sheriff’s office said.” AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES… “The Republican problem today is that both ideas are dead. Peace through strength is now politically obsolete. And painless prosperity through low taxes has proven false.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Nov. 2, 1990. Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Democratic candidate Jim Hood is giving Republican Tate Reeves a run for his money, by staying away from anti Trump talks and appealing to both parties
BILOXI, Miss. — As Democrats in Washington work feverishly to impeach President Trump, at least one prominent Southern Democrat, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, is running away from that effort in a bid to become his state’s next governor.
Voters in this deep-red state will decide on Tuesday whether to elect Hood or his Republican opponent, incumbent Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, to serve as their next governor. The race is unusually tight, despite Mississippi’s status as a Republican stronghold. Observers attribute the strength of Hood’s candidacy, in part, to his willingness to eschew his party’s national brand of politics, including its anti-Trumpism.
“Jim Hood is running on the Democratic ticket, but he has always had his brand of politics,” said Nathan Shrader, a political science professor and director of American studies at Jackson’s Millsaps College. “It's like a shopper at the grocery store. It's not that they're going to buy ketchup, they're buying Heinz. They're not going to buy a car, they're going to buy a Nissan. So they're not necessarily buying a Democrat. It's Jim Hood they are buying. He is his own brand of Democrat.”
Observers attribute the strength of Hood’s candidacy, in part, to his willingness to eschew his party’s national brand of politics, including its anti-Trumpism. (Elina Shirazi)
Hood has aggressively straddled the political fence, refusing to say whether he supports efforts to impeach Trump. Asked on a local talk radio station whether he would ever consider voting for the president, Hood called it a “trick question.”
The strategy has paid dividends: October polling by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy showed Reeves holding just a slight edge, leading Hood among registered voters by 46 percent to 43 percent, with 9 percent still undecided.
October polling by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy showed Reeves holding just a slight edge, leading Hood among registered voters. (Elina Shirazi)
Despite running a campaign that many national Democrats might view as “moderate,” Hood represents a bright spot for his party in a region where its prospects are generally dim. Trump won the state by nearly 18 percentage points in 2016, while state Republicans currently hold the governor’s mansion, both legislative chambers and all but one statewide office.
Trump won the state by nearly 18 percentage points in 2016, while state Republicans presently hold the governor’s mansion, both legislative chambers and all but one statewide office. (Elina Shirazi)
Hood, who is in his fourth term as state attorney general, marks the only exception.
“Hood’s messaging is personally appealing to me because I feel that it speaks more to the average Mississippian. You know, he shows that he is not your average Washington Democrat. … The reason this race is garnering attention is because Republicans see that a governor can win on a statewide level in Mississippi,” said Evan Jones, a 21-year-old Democratic voter and student at Millsaps College.
Trump and Vice President Pence have spent time stumping in the state, encouraging voters to get out and vote. “I am here for one reason and one reason only. America needs Tate Reeves to be the next governor of Mississippi! Tate Reeves you all know, he is Mississippi … a strong conservative who lives what he believes," Pence said Monday during a rally in Biloxi.
Democratic nominee for governor, Attorney General Jim Hood, addresses business leaders at the Mississippi Economic Council's annual "Hobnob Mississippi," in Jackson, Miss., Thursday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
He added: "Tate Reeves … you have a proven Republican. You sure can't say that about his opponent. Jim Hood supported Hillary Clinton in 2016."
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves addresses business leaders in Jackson, Miss., last week. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Despite the competitive campaign, analysts say Reeves is still the most likely to emerge as the victor on Tuesday.
“I think the lieutenant governor will be elected governor. He has got more visible support. He is more in line policy-wise and values-wise with Mississippi voters,” said George Pickett, a 74-year-old Republican voter who attends the same church as Reeves in Jackson.
The one thing that could produce a surprise on Tuesday, Shrader suggested, is a change in projected voter turnout. “If this race is as close as it seems, this could be decided by the ground game and the quality of the [get out the vote] operations that they are doing,” he said. “It gets back to old-school politics, [those] are going to determine the winner here, not television and Facebook ads."
Former deputy national press secretary for the DNC Jose Aristimuno defends House Democrats' impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
The top Republicans on the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump blasted the investigation as “illegitimate” and a “sham” on Tuesday even after Democrats scheduled a vote to formalize the proceedings — signaling Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to hold that vote will not assuage the GOP's process complaints.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Texas, penned a letter to Rep. James McGovern, the chairman of the House Rules Committee who announced his panel would take up an impeachment procedure resolution on Wednesday to “ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward.”
“Under House Rules you championed at the beginning of this Congress, major legislation is required to be posted 72 hours in advance of a vote,” they wrote. “Yet, here, on the gravest and most solemn work the House can do, you are forcing the House to consider a resolution with text that is still not available two days before the vote.”
“Without text, we know nothing about the Democrats’ intended impeachment process. Your website describes the resolution as ‘directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigation,’” they continued. “Chairman Schiff does not need a resolution to continue leaking selective facts from his basement bunker.”
They added: “We can only assume, therefore, that this resolution is necessary to allow Democrats to subvert the ordinary legislative process.”
The fiery statement from them and other Republicans indicates the looming vote will not ease their concerns about the process being used to investigate Trump over allegations he improperly sought a politically related investigation from Ukraine and may have used U.S. military aid as leverage — which the president denies.
Republicans have for weeks complained about closed-door interviews being conducted as part of the probe and the lack of a formal House vote, challenging the legitimacy of the current framework for impeachment proceedings in the absence of one.
McGovern and Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Monday that the House would indeed vote on a resolution to formalize and establish the parameters of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Pelosi made clear that the vote is being conducted because of the Republican complaints.
“We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said Monday.
She accused Trump and his GOP allies of holding the position that "because the House has not taken a vote, they may simply pretend the impeachment inquiry does not exist."
The resolution is not an actual article of impeachment, but rather a measure that sets process ground rules.
But in their letter Tuesday, the ranking members went on to allege the resolution “will allow the Committees to ‘side step traditional time limits’ and allow unelected congressional staff additional time during public hearings to question witnesses.”
“The Democrats’ entire impeachment process is fundamentally unfair,” they wrote. “It is rigged. The American people see through this partisan charade.”
They added: “No matter how hard you try to legitimize this sham impeachment inquiry, it cannot hide the Democrats’ goal of relitigating the results of the 2016 presidential election.”
Pelosi announced the Trump impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24, saying at the time that "the president must be held accountable" for his "betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and the betrayal of the integrity of our elections."
The inquiry was opened after a whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump, during a July phone call, pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as military aid to the country was being withheld.
Former deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo and Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz weigh in on the impeachment fight.
President Trump took a swipe Tuesday at a White House official who plans to testify behind closed doors that he reported concerns about the July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the heart of Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who serves as a director on the National Security Council (NSC), is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees Tuesday morning. His prepared opening statement, obtained by Fox News, expresses concern over Trump's request to have Ukraine investigate political opponents, but Trump dismissed him as one of a collection of witnesses he does not even know.
"Why are people that I never even heard of testifying about the call," Trump tweeted. "Just READ THE CALL TRANSCRIPT AND THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX IS OVER!"
He went on to tweet: "Where’s the Whistleblower? Just read the Transcript, everything else is made up garbage by Shifty Schiff and the Never Trumpers!" He added: "How many more Never Trumpers will be allowed to testify about a perfectly appropriate phone call when all anyone has to do is READ THE TRANSCRIPT! I knew people were listening in on the call (why would I say something inappropriate?), which was fine with me, but why so many?"
Indeed, Vindman said in his prepared opening statement that he has "never had direct contact or communications with the President." The statement says, however, that Vindman did listen to Trump's July 25 phone call with Zelensky, which prompted to a whistleblower complaint accusing Trump of improperly trying to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democratic activities in the 2016 election, as well as Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The complaint then resulted in the impeachment inquiry being led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Vindman said that weeks before the phone call, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland also made statements at a meeting with a Ukrainian official regarding Ukraine conducting investigations, and that then-National Security Adviser John Bolton "cut the meeting short" at that time.
Vindman went on to say that during a debriefing after the meeting, Sondland discussed that it was important for Ukraine to investigate the Democrats, the Bidens and Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company for which Hunter Biden served as a board member. Vindman said he told Sondland that this was inappropriate and that he reported his concern to the NSC's lead counsel.
Trump's call with Zelensky took place 15 days later, and Vindman said he was among those who listened to it in the Situation Room when it happened. He said he "was concerned by the call" because he "did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen[.]"
Both Trump and Zelensky have stated that there was no pressure placed on Ukraine to conduct investigations.
Others have alleged that Trump also held back military aid to Ukraine as leverage in seeking those investigations, though Trump insists there was no quid pro quo.
Sondland, who testified Oct. 17, also said Trump told him there was no quid pro quo.
Also expected to testify this week are Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger and the National Security Council’s current Russia and Europe director Tim Morrison.
It's a crucial moment for Iowa’s senator next door: Democratic hopeful Amy Klobuchar as she’s one poll behind qualifying for the next debate. Her campaign is trying to build momentum through her” All For America” bus tour where she is visiting counties Trump won in 2016 and Obama won in 2012.
NEWTON, Iowa — As an Iowa native, 18-year-old Kayla Cook is no stranger to the Hawkeye State's starring political role every four years as presidential candidates make their pitch to voters.
But this year is different for her — and not just because she will be able to officially caucus for the first time. Cook, who is used to following her parents to meet-and-greets supporting the Republican Party, is switching to the other side this election cycle and planning to vote for a Democrat.
“As a Republican, I look at where our nation is right now and I see a lot of division,” she said. “I just want to see unity in our country again and I know it can happen.”
Cook is pinning her hopes on the senator from next-door Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar. That’s why the 18-year-old stopped what she was doing on a Sunday afternoon for a meet-and-greet with the senator in Newton, Iowa.
It was a crowded room, with a few chairs, and standing room only at the Lemon Tree Tea House and Restaurant.
“I just know it needs to be someone who is moderate who cares both about the Republicans and Democrats and I believe she’s someone who could do that,” said Cook.
While most Democratic presidential candidates are stepping up their ground game in the key early state of Iowa, Klobuchar is making a big push in the state, hoping to continue to reach people like Cook.
It’s a crucial moment for her campaign as she tries to build momentum, which starts in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
Klobuchar only has a few weeks left to qualify for the next Democratic debate in November. She needs a boost in the polls to reach that goal, which is part of the reason why she’s launching a digital ad campaign to target voters.
The senator is also making counties won by President Trump in 2016 and former president Barack Obama in 2012 a top priority during her “All For America Bus Tour.”
For three days straight, Klobuchar’s bright green bus traveled to Dubuque, Black Hawk, Gurthie and Jasper Counties to listen to the concerns from voters.
She spoke to veterans, restaurant owners and even companies like W2 fuel, a biodiesel company whose CEO Roy Strom told the press that his biodiesel plant was forced to close due to waivers granted from the current administration for oil refineries, which hurt the price value for biodiesel products.
“At the last debate, we’ve got a lot of attention nationally and brought in over a million dollars in small contributions in just 24 hours. We did that by reaching out to people,” said Klobuchar. “I don’t have the big state and I don’t have the big-name ID as some of these other people so, it’s going to take a little more time.”
Political analysts say it’s a do-or-die moment for Klobuchar’s campaign
“There’s still time for Sen. Klobuchar but the problem is she’s sort of had is that she’s looking for that middle lane or that moderate Democrat and Joe Biden was occupying that pretty strongly,” said Tim Hagle, professor of politics at the University of Iowa. “But now that he seems like he’s sort of fading a little bit, and if that continues, that opens up that lane.”
Complicating matters is South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who Hagle said is giving Klobuchar a run for her money as the stand-out Midwest candidate.
“With Klobuchar, at least what she has going for her is that she can say, 'I have experience in Congress, I know how to get things done,' and she can talk about all the things she has gotten done, so in that respect, she has an advantage,” Hagle said.
Lt. Bob Kroll expresses his organization's support of President Trump.
The head of the Minneapolis police union delivered impassioned remarks prior to President Trump's reelection rally Thursday night, praising him for championing the rights of law enforcement officials across the country, before being called up on stage later on in the night to be recognized by the president.
"We're seeing a lot of red cop shirts out here tonight because of the hypocrisy," Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said at the "Keep America Great rally" at the Target Center in Minnesota. "They don't want the police here when it's a Republican who stands up for the police, but if it's a Democrat we get a different story. Our cops are here as much as they could be in full force across the state."
Kroll and other officers appeared at the rally in bright red “Cops for Trump” T-shirts, which Trump pointed to during the rally.
"I love you guys," Trump said, giving Kroll a shoutout along with the rest of the police force before inviting him to join him and other union officers on the stage. "You are so great, so respected, you don't even know how much our public loves you."
"How can you thank this guy for everything he's done for law enforcement? Wonderful president," Kroll said in return.
Kroll also condemned Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who released a statement denouncing Trump's visit to the city last week.
"Our entire city will not stand behind the president, but behind the communities and people who continue to make our city — and this country — great," said Frey, a Democrat. "While there is no legal mechanism to prevent the president from visiting, his message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis."
“The mayor said the president wasn’t welcome but the Police Federation of Minneapolis begs to differ,” Kroll said as the crowd cheered.
The poll – released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University – is the latest in a slew of national and early voting state surveys in recent weeks to show Warren has surged and now is virtually tied with Biden in the Democratic primary battle.
The populist senator from Massachusetts who has produced one progressive plan after another stands at 29 percent support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents in the survey. Biden – who for months was the unrivaled front-runner – registers at 26 percent. Warren’s three-point advantage over the former vice president is within the poll’s margin of error.
“Warren maintains her strength in the Democratic primary, which has been consistently growing since the start of her campaign. This poll confirms her status as a co-frontrunner with Biden," Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders – the progressive independent from Vermont who’s making his second straight White House run – received 16 percent support.
Warren was at 27 percent, Biden 25 percent, and Sanders 16 percent in Quinnipiac's last Democratic primary poll, which was released two weeks ago.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a distant fourth, at 4 percent, in the new survey. Sen. Kamala Harris of California and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang stand at 3 percent in the survey. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota register at 2 percent, with everyone one else in the record-setting field of Democratic presidential candidates coming in at 1 percent or less.
Biden tops President Trump 51-40 percent in a hypothetical general election matchup. But that’s down from a 16 percentage point lead over the GOP president in Quinnipiac’s late August poll. Warren’s ahead of Trump by eight points in the new survey, down from a 12-point lead in August. And Sanders beat the president by 7 points, down from a 14 point lead in the previous poll.
The new poll also indicates that registered voters nationwide remain divided over impeaching and removing the president from office over the Ukrainian crisis.
Forty-five percent of registered voters say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, with 49 percent opposing such a move. Voters were evenly split at 47 percent in last week’s Quinnipiac survey. But a Quinnipiac poll released late last month – before news of the Ukrainian crisis broke – indicated support for impeachment at just 37 percent.
The new poll indicates 53-43 percent majority support for impeachment inquiry being conducted the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, a slight uptick from 52-45 percent backing for the investigation a week ago.
As expected, there’s a vast partisan divide, with 92 percent of Democrats saying the inquiry’s legitimate and 88 percent of Republicans calling it a witch hunt. By a 52-40 percent margin, independents say the investigation into Trump is legitimate.
Trump’s under fire over his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings in the eastern European country that’s been battling Russia this decade. Fueled by whistleblower complaints and a read-out of the call released by the White House, Democrats argue the president was asking a foreign country to potentially interfere in a U.S. election.
Trump has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong and has on numerous occasions described his conversation with the Ukrainian leader as “perfect.”
The president and allies have instead tried to put the spotlight in the scandal on Biden, a political rival who’s hoping to face off against the president in next year’s election.
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president. Trump and fellow Republicans have questioned how Biden pushed in 2016 for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was looking into corruption at the company. The prosecutor – who had been widely accused by both Democrats and Republicans of overlooking corruption in his own office – was later dismissed.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted October 4-7, with 1,483 self-identified registered voters questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 4.7 percent for questions to the 646 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.
Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 3 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com
House Republicans are demanding an “equal playing field” in the Democrat-led impeachment probe against President Trump after Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said ahead of Thursday’s scheduled testimony from former U.S. envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker that GOP members of the Foreign Affairs Committee will not be permitted to ask questions or have equal representation during the hearing.
Volker is scheduled to be the first key witness to testify as part of a probe into an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint to the national security community about a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s family’s dealings in the country.
Kurt Volker — until recently the U.S. special representative to Ukraine — is seen in Kiev, Ukraine, Sept. 15, 2018. (Associated Press)
The lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote Wednesday evening: “I was alarmed to learn – less than 24 hours before the first interview is scheduled to start – that it will be led by the Intelligence Committee and that questioning will be done solely by their staff.”
“We were told that only a single Republican professional staffer from the Foreign Affairs Committee will be allowed to attend while the majority will have two,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the committee’s ranking member, continued. “These constraints on committee and Republican participation are unacceptable and at odds with House Rules and general fairness. We demand equal representation and participation in this inquiry, there is too much at stake for America and Congress.”
In the letter addressed to Chairman Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., McCaul further argued that despite statements made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democrats, “there is not a “House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry” because the entire House has not voted on the matter.
Citing House Rules X and XI, McCaul said that until Congress members from both parties vote to create a special impeachment task force to carry out proceedings, “Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff lacks the jurisdiction to investigate the Department of State’s conduct of United States foreign policy toward Ukraine. That prerogative belongs to our Members.”
“Official impeachment inquiries are initiated by the adoption of a House resolution empowering or creating a committee or task force to undertake such activities,” McCaul continued. “In both the Nixon and Clinton cases, the Judiciary Committee debated and reported a resolution authorizing the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there were sufficient grounds to impeach the President, which was then debated and voted on by the full House of Representatives. There have been no such debates or votes in this Congress.”
On Thursday, Volker is expected to voluntarily give a deposition before the Schiff-led Intelligence Committee as part of its impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his authority by asking Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination.
Volker resigned last week after his name surfaced in a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump sought to pressure Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy firm that paid the former vice president’s son to serve on its board.
Acting as the U.S. envoy for Ukraine, Volker met with Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of directors of Burisma Group, in New York last year even as Trump’s private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was pressing Ukraine’s government to investigate the company and the Bidens’ involvement with it.