Trump doubles down on 'no collusion, no obstruction' refrain ahead of looming battle over Mueller report's contents; Kevin Corke reports from the White House.
**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Trump sees approval dip ahead of Mueller report – Time Out: *Hits snooze button* – Obama alumni put support behind Buttigieg – Barr issues order to deny asylum seekers bail – Youuu might be a redneck
TRUMP SEES APPROVAL DIP AHEAD OF MUELLER REPORT
Monmouth University: “President Donald Trump’s job rating has taken a slight dip as the country awaits the release of the Mueller report according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. Most Americans want Congress to see an unredacted copy of the report, but not pursue the investigation any further. The poll also finds that public opinion remains negative on the 2017 tax reform plan – a key part of Trump’s legislative legacy. The president’s unconventional style also continues to get more negative than positive reviews. Trump’s overall job rating stands at 40% approve and 54% disapprove. This result stands at the lower end of his typical job rating in Monmouth’s polling. … ‘The president’s job rating doesn’t see huge swings, so we tend to focus on small movements. The current reading comes at the end of tax return season and while official Washington eagerly awaits the Mueller report. Neither subject is particularly good for Trump,’ said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.”
His legal team is already preparing a counter-report – Fox News: “President Trump’s legal team is preparing to issue a rebuttal to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday, to refute any allegations of obstruction against the president, Fox News has learned. A source close to Trump’s legal team told Fox News on Wednesday that the president’s lawyers have been working on a counter-report in anticipation of any obstruction of justice claims in the report, which is slated to be released to the public on Thursday. … Trump’s top lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said Tuesday that a counter-report is in the works, and that the team is putting the finishing touches on it. Giuliani said it would be dozens of pages long, but did not detail what the counter-report would focus on. Giuliani said that the report would be released hours after Mueller’s report is made available to the public.”
Dems could subpoena for full report as early as Friday – WaPo: “The House Judiciary Committee is expected to subpoena the Justice Department for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s complete report as soon as Friday, according to a spokesman, as Democrats prepare to fight the Trump administration for access to the attorney general’s anticipated redactions. Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has refrained from issuing subpoenas for the report and the testimony of individuals questioned during Mueller’s investigation — including former White House counsel Donald McGahn and former White House communications director Hope Hicks — until Attorney General William P. Barr releases the report Thursday. But the committee’s Democrats have already made clear that the redacted document Barr intends to release will lack the transparency that lawmakers have demanded and the details that they are prepared to go to court to obtain.”
THE RULEBOOK: WHO’S GOT THE POWER?
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 47
TIME OUT: *HITS SNOOZE BUTTON*
Atlantic: “For more than a century, discussions of dreams have tended to revolve around the interpretation of our dreams’ contents. … Various sleep studies have found that approximately 30 percent of the time, participants wake up with the sensation that they have been dreaming about something, yet when they are asked to describe the experience, they draw a complete blank. This is a distinct experience from waking up and have no sense of having been dreaming at all… Sleep researchers refer to that first vague sensation as a ‘white dream’—and its true nature is a scientific mystery. … Sometimes, they are explained as a case of simply forgetting what was being dreamed. But some researchers now believe that something much stranger is going on. Rather than reflecting a memory deficit, white dreams might represent a boundary between sleep states, consisting of a basic form of consciousness without detailed sensual content.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 42.6 percent
Average disapproval: 51.8 percent
Net Score: -9.2 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.2 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve – 52% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 50% disapprove.]
OBAMA ALUMNI PUT SUPPORT BEHIND BUTTIGIEG
U.S. News and World: “Pete Buttigieg's blossoming presidential campaign is earning early financial assistance from key members of former President Barack Obama's administration. Former national security adviser Susan Rice, deputy senior adviser Stephanie Cutter, press secretary Jay Carney, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy all donated to Buttigieg's 2020 presidential campaign during the first quarter of the year, according to new documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, raised more than $7 million since forming an exploratory committee in January, placing him in the top tier of candidates for fundraising prowess. He reported having $6.4 million on hand to spend. But the donations from the Obama alumni are notable given that Buttigieg is drawing some comparisons to the last Democratic president who ran an underdog campaign with a unique last name.”
Beto defends charity donations by sacrifices through public service – Dallas Morning News: “Beto O'Rourke defended his meager rate of charitable giving on Tuesday night, saying that he doesn't report all of his donations to the IRS and in any case, he contributes in other ways through his work in politics. ‘I've served in public office since 2005. … There are ways that I do this that are measurable. And there are ways that I do this that are immeasurable,’ he said. … [Beto and his wife Amy in 2017] paid $81,019 in federal income tax that year and donated $1,166 to charity — a giving rate of just 0.3%, which is well below the national average. … Stumping at the University of Virginia on Tuesday night, O'Rourke was asked about his charitable giving by Maura Nakahata… ‘There are charities that we've donated to that we've recorded and itemized, others that we've donated to that we have not,’ O'Rourke said. ‘I'll tell you, I'm doing everything I can right now, spending this time with you, not with our kiddos, not back home in El Paso, because I want to sacrifice everything to make sure that we meet this moment of truth with everything we've got.’”
Booker pitches new tax credit plan – AP: “Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker on Monday proposed a significant expansion of the earned income tax credit that he said would lower the annual tax bill for almost half of American taxpayers. The senator from New Jersey, who recently launched a national tour aimed at boosting his 2020 presidential bid, touted the plan during a campaign event in Iowa as creating a tax code ‘that reflects our values.’ His announcement came on the date that most Americans’ taxes are due to the IRS. ‘Why should somebody who works for a hedge fund in New York City, who makes a million dollars a year, pay less in taxes than that schoolteacher?’ he asked the audience at his Sioux City event. Booker would pay for his expanded tax credit by taxing capital gains income at the same rate as other income. His campaign, citing the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, projects the policy would benefit 154 million Americans. Booker also suggested his tax policy would boost the economy.”
Biden to speak at workers strike rally Thursday – CBS News: “Former Vice President Joe Biden will speak at a rally Thursday to support striking employees of Stop & Shop near Boston, Massachusetts, the union announced Tuesday. Thousands of Stop & Shop employees at 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island went on strike last week over what they say is an unfair contract proposal. Biden tweeted the day after the strike began that the supermarket's plan to cut employee wages and benefits ‘is wrong.’ Thursday's rally will be held at the location in Dorchester, a working-class neighborhood in Boston. 2020 Democratic hopeful and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, visited the Somerville, Massachusetts, store Friday to drop off donuts and cheer on the workers, CBS Boston reports.”
Seth Moulton spotted taping 2020 announcement video – Axios: “Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) was spotted in his hometown of Marblehead, Mass., taping for a presidential announcement that's expected within a week, according to a source close to Moulton. The big picture: Moulton's key issues will be foreign policy, national security and defense. Moulton was also spotted taping recently in Vegas, where he held three meetings with veterans. Moulton, 40, ran on ‘bringing a new generation of leadership to Washington.’ The congressman joined the Marines after graduating from Harvard, and led an infantry platoon in Iraq. His bio says: ‘He served four tours in a war that he didn’t agree with.’ Matt Corridoni, a Moulton aide, tells [Axios’ Mike Allen]: ‘Seth has said he's seriously thinking about running and will announce his decision by the end of the month.’”
BARR ISSUES ORDER TO DENY ASYLUM SEEKERS BAIL
NYT: “The Trump administration on Tuesday took another significant step to discourage migrants from seeking asylum, issuing an order that could keep thousands of them in jail indefinitely while they wait for a resolution of their asylum requests. The order issued by Attorney General William P. Barr was an effort to deliver on President Trump’s promise to end the ‘catch and release’ of migrants crossing the border in hopes of escaping persecution in their home countries. The order — which directs immigration judges to deny some migrants a chance to post bail — will not go into effect for 90 days. It is all but certain to be challenged in federal court, but immigrant rights lawyers said it could undermine the basic rights of people seeking safety in the United States. … Mr. Barr’s order is the latest effort by the Trump administration to reduce the number of immigrants who are able to seek protection from violence, poverty and gangs by asking for legal status in the United States.”
Jonah Goldberg: Trump and ‘owning the libs’ – National Review: “President Trump is looking into giving a free trip to San Francisco, New Orleans, or other great American cities to tens of thousands of refugees from Central America. All so he can own the libs. ‘Owning the libs’ is one of those phrases to have emerged over the past few years that vacillates between earnestness and irony. For people who use it earnestly, it means to do something, usually symbolic and petty… The ironic form of the phrase is to engage in unwitting self-sabotage while making a political point. … But no lib-owning tweet can hold a candle to Trump’s announcement over the weekend that he is considering busing thousands of refugees to ‘sanctuary cities.’ … Stemming illegal (and sometimes legal) immigration is the president’s signature issue. Moving the thousands of refugees currently in detention to sanctuary cities is literally achieving the opposite of his goal.”
Trump campaign announces Wisconsin rally on night of WH correspondents’ dinner – Fox News
Pergram: ‘From the flames, Notre Dame will rebuild’ – Fox News
Sen. Cory Gardner gains another 2020 challenger – Denver Post
Vulnerable House Dems feel early 2020 momentum with big money haul – Politico
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke starts new job at a Nevada mining company – HuffPo
AUDIBLE: PRAISE FOR THE TURTLE
“Whatever your politics or ideological inclinations may be, you and your family have been the beneficiaries of his experienced leadership in a challenging moment in our country’s history.” – Former Speaker of the House John Boehner writing about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Time magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People of 2019.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
YOUUU MIGHT BE A REDNECK
UPI: “The World Grits Festival in South Carolina featured an eating contest for the traditional breakfast food in addition to a ‘Rolling in the Grits’ contest. The festival, held in St. George, featured Tom McCoskey capturing his seventh consecutive title in the grits eating contest, besting competitors including his own sister. ‘She’s got a few second place trophies,’ McCoskey told the Post & Courier newspaper after the contest. ‘I don't know what those are like.’ Organizers said the biggest draw at the festival is the Rolling in the Grits contest, which features competitors taking turns rolling in an inflatable pool filled with instant grits in an attempt to saturate their clothes. The record for the contest is gathering 66 pounds of grits, committee member Cassandra Francis said. ‘They want to see people rolling in the grits,’ she said of the festival's visitors. ‘It's something you don't see anywhere else.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Had the [Confederate] flag not existed or not been on the grounds of the [S.C] Capitol, this massacre would have happened in any case. But it’s the standard liberal impulse: ‘Something happened really bad, so there’s gotta be a problem, and there has to be a solution. We must do something,’ even if the ‘something’ is entirely irrelevant.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) speaking on “Special Report with Bret Baier” on June 21, 2015.
Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.