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Buzz Cut:
• Hillary’s best case scenario gets worse
• Protection is their middle name
• Does it come on a stick? Iowa State Fair kicks off
• Carson gets real on race in Harlem
• Weight a second

HILLARY’S BEST CASE SCENARIO GETS WORSE
It looks increasingly like the best-case scenario for Hillary Clinton might be that someone from her inner circle will face serious consequences for their handling of classified information on her secret, home email server.

This is “best case” because, as has been pointed out, the charges from an inspector general will be extremely hard to duck. So a good outcome at this point for Clinton on the allegations of mishandling sensitive documents as America’s chief diplomat might really be the ability to blame “staff error” for the breach.

Yes, it will always be Clinton who took the risk of having a home brew server in her basement, but the blame for specific lapses could be pinned to others. Thanks to a sacrificial staffer, Clinton would still be able to say that she had not been prosecuted. But with the FBI snatching servers from contractors and Democrats getting jittery, running out the clock with a strategic retreat and staff scapegoat is not the recipe for restoring optimism in her campaign.

There are practical considerations to having senior staffers’ necks on the block, as well. With news that Clinton’s right hand, Huma Abedin, is under scrutiny, things might not be so hip in Brooklyn these days. A campaign that struggles always with insularity and aloofness can’t improve with G-men running around and the “do not delete” orders hanging thick in the air.

The Clinton campaign has a good way to deal with the steady barrage from House Republican investigators: call it a partisan witch hunt and dismiss any findings. But that won’t wash with the Obama Justice Department. Admitting staff incompetence would hardly be the end of the world for a presidential candidate, but Clinton is a different case.

The recklessness of Clinton’s choice to use her secret email is an issue and so is her overall judgment. If Clinton wants to argue that she’s the experienced, steady hand for the job, this badly undercuts her claim.

It’s no wonder that Democratic top dogs are reportedly becoming more receptive to the idea of a Joe Biden candidacy. It may be a needful thing.

[But so Glamorous - Glamour magazine gushed over Abedin and other Clinton staffers in a lengthy photo essay. In a nod to bipartisanship, though, the famously liberal fashion mag found room for AshLee Strong and Kirsten Kukowski from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s inner circle.]

Told you so - Speaker John Boehner and Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., released a web video highlighting their months-long appeal for Hillary Clinton to turn over her emails and server. Video ends with the simply phrase “It’s about time.”

PROTECTION IS THEIR MIDDLE NAME
Times had been good for President Obama’s EPA.  Just last week, the regulatory agency the president has leaned on to lock-in his global warming legacy pushed out a major new rule to drastically cut carbon emissions from power plants, a move heartily endorsed by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. But 48 hours after that rule was announced, an EPA contractor botched the clean-up of a Colorado mine dumping 3 million gallons of mustard-colored contaminated waste into the Animas River. EPA’s lackluster initial response, often poorly communicated and incomplete, has drawn heavy criticism from state, local and downstream states’ officials.  And the incident has lawmakers questioning whether the agency that has steamrolled over the coal industry with its regulatory edicts is too focused on fulfilling the president’s future agenda at cost of its primary purpose.

“This disaster emphasizes the need for the EPA to focus on fulfilling its existing responsibilities, instead of focusing its resources on imposing expensive new regulations that kill jobs and hurt family budgets.” – Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

[For the people - Looks like the donors to Obama’s presidential library may have some Romneysian tax tendencies…]

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Fans of scary movies will be surprised to know that the king of their genre was actually a classic comedian. Alfred Hitchcock, born on this day in 1899 and set the gold standard of scary movies, was actually known for a dry, sharp, sense of humor. Hitchcock’s reputation as a “solemn-faced” Englishman, was matched with “making outrageous puns and ghoulish observations about the tales he told,” according to TIME reporter Richard Schickel in a 1980 piece. For example, Hitchcock responded to criticism of a comment he made about actors, “It has been said that I called actors cattle. I would never say such a rude, insulting thing. What I probably said was that all actors should be treated like cattle.”

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

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve – 45.4 percent//Disapprove – 49.3 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 29.0 percent//Wrong Track – 62.2 percent

DOES IT COME ON A STICK? IOWA STATE FAIR KICKS OFF
The Iowa State Fair begins today, and candidates are flocking to the heartland’s biggest event. Hanging by the hay bales today: former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and former Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-M.D., take center stage. But the talk is about someone not there yet: Iowa native, Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., who dropped in the most recent Iowa poll. Walker not only trails Donald Trump, who is topping most of the recent polls, but is also behind Ben Carson. Walker’s once steady lead is no more, but how did he lose it?

[Chris Stirewalt broke it all down a wild Iowa ride with Megyn Kelly Wednesday on “The Kelly File” Watch here.]

For Jeb, more endorsements in the Hawkeye state - Sioux City [Iowa] Journal: “[Former Gov. Jeb Bush’s, R-Fla.] campaign announced the new round of supporters Wednesday night. Among them: GOP elected officials, party leaders and activists from Woodbury County on the state’s western border to Scott County on its eastern edge, and from its most populous counties in central Iowa.”

[Bush is in Iowa today for a National Security forum in Davenport, and the Polk County Summer Sizzle.]

Carson gets real on race in Harlem - NYDN: “Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson had some tough words for the Democrats — and for his fellow African-Americans — during a campaign swing through New York Wednesday. ‘Of course black lives matter,’ said Carson…‘What I feel, instead of people pointing fingers at each other, and just creating strife, what we need to be talking about is, how do we solve the problem in the black community of murder,’ Carson said.”

Rand, Trump drama continues - Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., released a web video highlighting Donald Trump’s liberal past, and making the case that Trump is just like the Clintons with President Bill Clinton’s famous question asking the meaning of the word “is.” Trump wasted no time in responding to the video releasing a lengthy response to WaPo saying in part, “Rand Paul is doing so poorly in the polls he has to revert to old footage of me discussing positions I no longer hold.”

Catching on to Carly - The NYT catches on to candidate Carly Fiorina’s longstanding pitch: that she would neuter Democratic attacks about a Republican war on women. “In a crowded Republican field, [Carly Fiorina] has delivered the most forceful and succinct denunciation of Mr. Trump’s comments, which sent a shudder through a party concerned that it would reinforce perceptions that it was increasingly out of touch with female voters. Now, many Republicans…are looking anew at Mrs. Fiorina…as the party’s weapon to counter the perception that it is waging a ‘war on women.’”

[Fiorina participates in a Town Hall hosted by Iowa agribusiness mogul, Bruce Rastetter.]

Cruz will attend Koch network event in Vegas - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, hits Las Vegas Friday for the “Road to Reform” policy series hosted by Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity. The forum’s topics will be health care an energy sectors. The event will be at the Red Rock Casino in downtown Las Vegas.

The Judge’s Ruling: Hooks, not nets - Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano assesses the debate dust-up between Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and Rand Paul, over NSA spying and Fourth Amendment protections. “The whole purpose of the probable cause standard is to force the government to focus on people it suspects of wrongdoing and leave the rest of us alone,” the judge rules, “Christie wants the feds to use a fish net. Paul argues that the Constitution requires the feds to use a fish hook.” Read it here.

TAKE FIVE: ILLINOIS MOVES TO TOP SPOT
Which five Senate seats represent the shortest path back to majority for the Democrats? Votes are in and we heard what you had to say on the 2016 Senate races. A little change up this week with Illinois taking the top spot voters think will flip from red to blue. Followed by a three-way tie for second with Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Also making the ranks this week? Nevada and Florida.

“He was already a social moderate, but now has voted to fund Planned Parenthood.  He will likely get a primary challenge, maybe from Joe Walsh. Kirk needed to mobilize Catholic ethnics, the same Reagan Democrats that will vote for Cruz.” – Eduardo Vidal

Keep them coming! Tell us what you think. We’ll track your votes and comment and share them here each and every Thursday.

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

Power Play: He said whaaat?- GOP media guru and Florida power player Rick Wilson gives his list of the five most vulnerable GOP seats. He’s got Florida on there but, true to form, one jaw-dropping pick. What is it? Wilson tells all to Chris Stirewalt WATCH HERE.

WEIGHT A SECOND
ITV News: “An airline is weighing passengers at check-in before allowing them to board to ensure ‘flight safety.’ Uzbekistan Airways announced on its website that passengers will be weighed with their hand luggage on special machines at the departure gate. The company promised customers confidentiality but the move could mean that heavier passengers are excluded from smaller planes or busy flights. In a message to passengers, the airline said: ‘…After passing check-in on flight and prior to boarding into the aircraft, we will suggest you to pass the procedure of weighing with the special weighing machine placed in the departure gate zone…’ The airline is seemingly following the example set by Samoan Air, which became the world's first airline to charge passengers according to their weight in 2013.

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Her jeopardy is this, she has now lost control. The point of this entire exercise was not convenience.  It was to have control of the emails, to keep them secret and thus to avoid the Freedom of Information Act and congressional oversight…Well that, doesn’t exist anymore as of last night when she said she’d be turning it over. Once it’s in the hands of the FBI, she has no control.” – Charles Krauthammeron “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

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 digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.