Fox News First

Pressure builds on Walsh to resign over plagiarism

In this Friday, Jan. 26, 2014, file photo, U.S. Sen. John Walsh speaks to reporters in Helena, Mont.

In this Friday, Jan. 26, 2014, file photo, U.S. Sen. John Walsh speaks to reporters in Helena, Mont.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Pressure builds on Walsh to resign over plagiarism
• Obama-backed candidates trail in Hawaii poll
• CIA’s Senate spying overshadows ‘tortured folks’ claim
• On primary eve, Wolf still dogged by X-ray hijinks
• Clobbered by a mashie niblick

Pressure is growing on Montana’s junior senator to step down as he and his campaign team try to find their footing in the wake of a plagiarism scandal that could cost him his master’s degree and military rank. One of the largest newspapers in Montana is calling for embattled incumbent Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., to drop out of the Senate race. Walsh has been reeling since the NYT reported that he plagiarized large swaths of a research paper he submitted to the Army War College in 2007. The Missoulian has now called for Walsh to step down or at least withdraw from the race before the Aug. 11 deadline for Democrats to find a new candidate. The Montana Standard in Butte reached a different, but still damning, conclusion after its editorial board talked with Walsh: “Walsh has offered no suggestions for resolving his error, other than to throw himself on the mercy of the War College board now investigating the plagiarism. So allow us: The senator should immediately forfeit the degree and offer to redo the paper properly.”

[A local TV reporter hit the streets to ask residents what they thought Walsh should do. The responses were tart for the sitting senator.]

Walsh is blitzing his state in an apology tour after stumbling badly in his initial response – denying guilt but also blaming post-traumatic stress disorder for unintentional errors. Walsh’s campaign memo also misstated his service record. Walsh has since corrected the error and withdrawn his PTSD claim. The Obama administration has taken the unusual step of having the Pentagon jump in on the investigation rather than letting the school proceed on its own, so it is unclear how long the process will take. Walsh was considered Democrats’ best hope to hold the seat in the wake of the retirement of former Sen. Max Baucus. President Obama got involved when he appointed Baucus to be the ambassador to China, allowing Walsh, then the lieutenant governor, to be appointed and run as an incumbent. But given the growing demands for action in Montana, Walsh may be obliged to at least withdraw from the race before the scandal further harms the man who appointed him: Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

-- 92 days until Nov. 4. --

[Poll: GOP has edge in Senate majority preference - A new poll conducted by Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion for WSJ and NBC News, a narrow plurality of registered voters said they preferred Republicans to take control the Senate. Registered voters preferred Republicans maintain control of the House by the same margin.]

Democratic challenger Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is building momentum and leads Obama-backed Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in a bitter primary race in the Aloha State, according to a new Hawaii News Now/Star Advertiser Hawaii poll. The Hawaii Poll has Hanabusa up with 50 percent to Schatz’s 42 percent. The same poll has state Sen. David Ige ahead of incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie by 18 points in the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. President Obama cut a radio ad for Abercrombie late last month. Hawaii’s primary is this Saturday.

The Hill: “Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) will file a challenge to the results of his primary battle with Sen. Thad Cochran (R) with the Mississippi Republican Executive Committee on Monday. His campaign confirmed to The Hill McDaniel will unveil the challenge during a Monday afternoon press conference… Until now, however, McDaniel hasn't offered proof for his claims. His campaign says they’ll unveil hard evidence on Monday, and the number of irregular votes have gone up.”

Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate. Which six Democrat-held seats are the most vulnerable?  Fox News First readers feel the states most likely to flip are: Arkansas (13.6%), Louisiana (11.9%), Montana (11.9%), West Virginia (11.2%), South Dakota (10.5%) and North Carolina (10.0%).

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

The Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee will unseal a report in the coming days that found that CIA agents, as President Obama said Friday, “tortured some folks” in the aftermath of 9/11 and that the torture didn’t produce useful intelligence. The Republicans on the committee have a counter-report that says not only that the techniques were not torture, per se, but that the “folks” in question were key Islamist militant leaders who provided valuable intelligence. The contradictory findings are unlikely to sway public opinion on the topic of “harsh interrogation techniques.” What is consequential, though, is the fact that the CIA spied on the committee while it was doing its work, a hugely serious charge. The agency has apologized for snooping in the committee’s computers, but given the atmosphere of unrest surrounding President Obama’s disdain for congressional clout, that issue will likely far outlast the underlying topic of the original investigation.

[Watch Fox: Correspondent Doug McKelway considers if the CIA violated its on charter and crossed legal lines in reading e-mails of Senate Intelligence Committee members]

Separation of powers anxiety - Reuters: “Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, a survivor of torture, said on the Fox News program ‘Sunday Morning Futures’ he was in some ways more concerned about the CIA spying on Senate staffers than the torture issue, and he called for an independent investigation..”

[“If spying on, and lying to, Congress is dangerous, and the results of being caught unpleasant, then there will be less of it. If, on the other hand, the worst risk is a slap on the wrist and a seven-figure career in the private sector, then I suspect we'll see more of this kind of bad behavior… The sad truth is that when you elect irresponsible people into positions of power, you get irresponsible government. President Obama oozes contempt for Congress, and for longstanding unwritten political accommodations among the branches, at every opportunity. It's unsurprising that his underlings feel — and act — consistently with that view.” -- University of Tennessee law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds in a USA Today OpEd.]

Ruh-roh - The Hill: “White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer defended CIA Director John Brennan, calling him a man of “great integrity” amid calls for the intelligence chief to step down after the agency admitted to spying on Senate staffers.  “John Brennan is a man of great integrity and ability. He’s someone the president knows very well and has confidence in,” said Pfeiffer on ABC’s ‘This Week.’”

[New in Fox News Opinion:  Concerned Veterans of America CEO Pete Hegseth prescribes pragmatism for Obama’s final two years. “In short, we should fight to ensure America keeps “mowing the lawn.” As this administration willfully sits on the porch of history and sips a beer, the seeds of international radicalism are exploding. We don’t have time to wait for ideological pesticides or economic weed-control—we need to cut the grass now, before it engulfs the entire lawn. You get the analogy: radical Islamists are the grass, America is the lawn-mower, and we need to cut them down—to the shortest length possible.”]

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it, goes the cliché. Could the same smartphone you use to check e-mail, tweet, and read Fox News First also act as a GPS for your mental health? Slate’s Aimee Swartz examines a new smartphone app that could aid in predicting manic swings for those with bipolar disorder. “Almost 30 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness marked by flights of euphoric mania and deep dives into depression. Though drugs that regulate mood allow people with bipolar disorder to live normal lives, relapses are common. That’s where a new smartphone app comes in. PRIORI monitors the subtleties of voice quality and other acoustics to detect the dramatic mood swings that characterize bipolar disorder. The hope is to anticipate swings before they happen so that it may be possible to intervene before the situation deteriorates.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve –  41.6 percent//Disapprove – 55.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26 percent//Wrong Track – 64.3 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 43.7 percent// Republicans 41.2 percent

AP: “Milton Wolf's chances of becoming the next tea party insurgent to knock off a GOP party titan got a huge boost when it was revealed that incumbent Pat Roberts' official residence in Kansas was rented space in a friend's Dodge City house. The three-term senator seemed perfect for casting as a Washington insider who was out of touch with his home state. But as Tuesday's Senate primary approaches, the challenge by the suburban Kansas City radiologist is bedeviled by renewed attention to an old episode from his professional life — his posting in 2010 of graphic X-images of patients' injuries on his Facebook page… Roberts has the backing of the state's most prominent conservatives, including Gov. Sam Brownback [R-Kan.] He's raised more than $3.4 million since the start of last year, compared to Wolf's $1 million.”

[Watch Fox: Campaign Carl Cameron previews Tuesday’s primaries in Kansas, Washington, Missouri, and Michigan live from Kansas]

Freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., is expected to lose his primary Tuesday. Bentivolio, an enthusiast for presidential impeachment and avowed foe of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, faces a well-funded challenger with lots of outside support, David Trott. But the GOP establishment seems less likely to pick off its prime target in Michigan on Tuesday. National Journal: “Rep. Justin Amash has made few friends among the Republican establishment during his two terms in office. But Amash comes into Tuesday as the strong favorite over challenger Brian Ellis. The U.S., Michigan, and Grand Rapids chambers of commerce lined up behind Ellis (a rare instance of the national chamber backing a primary challenger), but the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity came to Amash's defense. The primary has been one of the nastiest of the cycle, as evidenced by an ad Ellis's campaign aired in June, which quoted Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., calling Amash ‘al-Qaida's best friend in Congress.’”

[AP: “For what is thought to be the first time in Michigan history, Republican and Democratic primaries for both governor and U.S. Senate in the same year are uncontested.”]

NYT: “Missourians already have the constitutional right to religion, speech and guns. On Tuesday, they could make a novel addition to the State Constitution: the right to farm. A proposal known as Amendment 1 will be taken up in a statewide vote on Tuesday, leaving Missouri poised to change its Constitution to guarantee the rights of its people to ‘engage in farming and ranching practices’… Opponents have protested that the amendment would be a boon for large industrial farms that would like to avoid potential laws controlling their treatment of animals or the environment, allowing them to pollute the land, extend the use of genetically modified crops and freely experiment with the use of antibiotics in livestock, a trend that has concerned scientists…If passed, the amendment could be a model for other states trying to ward off new laws regulating farming.”

AP: “Ten congressional races and dozens of legislative contests across Washington will be decided by voters this week, though many of the races don’t offer much competition …  The top two vote-getters in each race advance to the general election, regardless of party…the match that is getting the most attention is the 4th Congressional District race to replace U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings [R-Wash.], who is retiring after two decades in the seat. A dozen candidates — eight Republicans, two independents and two Democrats — crowd that race. Four Republicans appear to be the front-runners: Dan Newhouse, a former state legislator and director of the state Department of Agriculture; Clint Didier, a former NFL star and now a farmer and Tea Party candidate; state Sen. Janea Holmquist; and attorney George Cicotte.”

With Congress on vacation and the state fair set to begin on Thursday, the potential entrants in Iowa’s 2016 Republican presidential caucuses are swarming the Hawkeye State this week. On the trail in Iowa already or in the coming days: Sens.Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Govs. Rick Perry, R-Texas, and Bobby Jindal, R-La.; as well as the two previous caucus winners, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark. The Des Moines Register has a handy-dandy guide.

[Some of the stars of “Duck Dynasty” will be doing a show at the Iowa State Fair this weekend. Don’t be surprised if fellow Louisianan Jindal shows up. Jindal, a conservative Catholic, is reaching out to Iowa’s many evangelical Protestants this week. Highlighting his association with the famous evangelical family would go a long way in helping Jindal make his case.]

Rubio says ‘20th century’ line on Hillary wasn’t an age swipe - WSJ:“Sen. Marco Rubio said on Sunday that his recent criticisms of Hillary Clinton as a ‘20th-century candidate’ weren’t a veiled reference to the 23 year age difference between the two potential White House contenders. ‘You can be 40 years old and be a 20th-century candidate,’ said the 43-year-old Florida Republican, a possible member of the 2016 GOP presidential field, on [“Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace”] Sen. Rubio said Ms. Clinton, 66, was incapable of addressing the modern and rapidly changing challenges facing America. ‘We are going through the equivalent of an industrial revolution every five years and I don’t think she or her party, and quite frankly, even some people in my party, have answers to that,’  he said.”

[Hillary does a freebie - NYT: “The former secretary of state, who regularly commands $200,000 for speeches, returned to her adopted hometown, Chappaqua, N.Y., on Sunday to address seven high school seniors at their graduation from a summer scholarship program. In this instance, she spoke for free…”]

Because it is Bret Baier’s birthday, here’s a good lesson from Western Pennsylvania on why you should keep the USGA “Rules of Golf” in your bag – AP: “State police said they're continuing to investigate a fight between two golfers who wound up in the emergency room after an argument over the rules on a Uniontown golf course. Troopers aren't identifying the suspects, beyond saying that one is 42 years old and the other 63. According to a news release, the suspects were playing together at the Springdale Golf Course in South Union Township Sunday afternoon when ‘they became embroiled in a heated debate over the rules of golf, specifically regarding water, on the 5th hole.’ The golfers managed to finish that hole and another before the argument "reignited" on the 7th hole ‘similarly involving rules, or lack of understanding of said rules.’ Both golfers were treated at Uniontown Hospital. Police were considering aggravated assault charges in the incident.”

For a Seattle family, the last day of a two-week vacation in the surf and sand of Sullivan’s Island, S.C. proved memorable. Charleston Post and Courier: “[Erin Schwartz,] her husband Eric Ozretich and their kids, Ruby, 8, and Luca, 5, were searching for sand dollars when they spied something about 15 yards from the shore…. At first, they thought maybe a dog was in the waves. But the snout and tail told a different story. ‘I think it’s a pig,’ Eric said. He helped the pig to shore. ‘It seemed very exhausted and disoriented. He was pretty nice unless someone approached closely,’ [Schwartz said.]’…The pig was about two-feet-tall and weighed 25 pounds, said Sullivan's Town Manager Andy Benke. … The pig was likely caught in the current in the upper reaches of the Wando and/or Cooper rivers and came ashore at the first available location, he said.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.