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On the roster: What was Bubba up to? - Power Play: Trump’s timetable - Trump veep shortlist doubles down on brand with Newt, Christie - Audible: to whom much is given… - Road trip!
WHAT WAS BUBBA UP TO?
It’s no wonder the Clintons had so many special counsels and investigators trolling through their administration.
If Bill Clinton doesn’t have better sense than to be spotted going into a private conversation with the woman in charge of the department investigating his wife for mishandling state secrets, it’s surprising he didn’t end up with more Ken Starrs.
The lesson of the Clinton administration, well learned by the 42nd president’s successors, has been to avoid outside investigators at almost all cost. An independent probe poking around, say, a shady land deal in Arkansas can end up with a blue dress in an evidence bag.
But by the decision of the former president and the current Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to meet in private aboard her government jet as the two crossed paths at the Phoenix airport Monday they may have made a special prosecutor inevitable.
Not only is de facto Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the subject of a criminal probe by Lynch’s department, the former president himself is a figure in the case.
It was, after all, his server on which the then-secretary of state housed her off-the-books email operation. He and his technology team are presumably material to any potential case. One would imagine that in the process of all of his legal woes as well as his time as Arkansas’ attorney general, he certainly learned better.
Surely Lynch, herself, knew a 30-minute private meeting with the spouse of the subject of a criminal investigation, no matter how famous or politically connected, is a no-go. So what the heck is going on?
Two theories present themselves.
First, and as Occam’s razor suggests, it was pure nincompoopery. Bill Clinton has a gift for screwing up his wife’s presidential campaigns. It’s been bad enough in the past that some have even suggested an unconscious desire to sabotage his wife and preserve his own legacy.
His motives, witting or unwitting for such a blunder aside, the Lynch debacle puts us in mind of moments like the former president’s angry reaction to his wife’s 2008 South Carolina primary defeat or any number of gaffes. Bubba may be Hillary Clinton’s greatest asset, but he has consistently proven himself to be one of her greatest liabilities.
There is a second possibility, though.
We ought always to be careful about conspiracy theories, but smart, calculating people doing something so bogglingly foolish does invite the consideration of other possibilities.
The much anticipated recommendation from the FBI to Lynch about a potential prosecution is expected in the next several weeks. Why would Bill Clinton, or Lynch for that matter, do anything to call attention to the case?
Indulge us if you will, in wondering whether the former president might be engaging in that old lawyer’s trick of spoiling a case to get a continuance.
Lynch said today that she would absolutely hold the line and allow the “career professionals” and the FBI and Department of Justice to render their own decision on whether Hillary Clinton or her familiars would be prosecuted.
Republicans already are calling for a special prosecutor and given the glaring impropriety of the Bubba-Lynch meeting one supposes there will be other, less partisan, suggestions that Lynch might want to recuse herself from the proceedings.
But while special prosecutors are no doubt troublesome for presidents and politicians, they do have the advantage of being slowwww…
Bear with us here, but, if the Clintons’ believed that charges were imminent, forcing law enforcement to start over with a new outside counsel would push any findings not just past the November election, but potentially as much as two years down the road.
That would buy time not only for politics but to formulate new strategies for either ruining the next investigator or blowing up the charges themselves.
Given the former president’s penchant for making advantageous errors, let’s not rule out this less likely of the two scenarios.
State Dept. seeks 27-month delay on releasing Clinton Foundation emails - Fox News: “The State Department has sought to delay the court-ordered release of emails between four of Hillary Clinton’s top aides and officials at the Clinton Foundation and a closely associated public relations firm. The motion, filed in federal court by the Justice Department late Wednesday, seeks to put off the release of the emails by 27 months…the State Department said that due to errors in the initial document search, the number of ‘potentially responsive documents’ was in fact more than 34,000. The department estimated that it had more than 13,000 pages still left to review.”
TIME OUT, LIBERTY EDITION
If the Constitution is the great charter of the greatest republic the world has ever known, then the Declaration of Independence is, in the corporate jargon parlance of our times, our mission statement. But included in Thomas Jefferson’s lofty vision is also something of a contract between the 56 signatories and the 13 colonies they represented: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Or, as Ben Franklin is said to have more bluntly put it: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Among those who chose liberty knowing they might end up at the end of a rope was Joseph Hewes.
Hewes, a member of the North Carolina delegation who was not initially in favor of separation from England, put both his fortune – he was a successful merchant – and his religious beliefs – he was a pacifist Quaker – on the line for the cause of independence. Immediately after the signing, Hewes sent all of his merchant ships to the Continental Army to be used as warships. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed Secretary of Naval Affairs. The man who John Adams said “laid the foundation, the cornerstone of the American Navy” had an almost impossible task in taking on the British navy. But in outfitting his ships, Hewes chose the most capable of men to captain them. One of those captains Hewes was instrumental in providing a command was John Paul Jones. Hewes did not live to see the success of the endeavor, though, dying in his sickbed after a protracted illness in October of 1779.
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions
Average of national presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +6 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.8
POWER PLAY: TRUMP’S TIMETABLE
Donald Trump’s campaign promises to kick in to high gear after the Republican National Convention, but with lackluster fundraising and no clear infrastructure to build support are they making a mistake? National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar and WashEx’s Gabby Morrongiello give their take to Chris Stirewalt. WATCH HERE.
GOP and Dems trading places on trade? - On the issue of unions and TPP, Trump is thwarting the conservative message in a way that may appeal to blue collar, union Democrats. Will this be a problem for Hillary Clinton who once supported the agreement made by her former boss President Obama? National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar and WashEx’s Gabby Morrongiello explain. WATCH HERE.
TRUMP VEEP SHORTLIST DOUBLES DOWN ON BRAND WITH NEWT, CHRISTIE
WaPo: “Donald Trump’s campaign has begun formally vetting possible running mates, with former House speaker Newt Gingrich emerging as the leading candidate, followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But there are more than a half dozen others being discussed as possibilities, according to several people with knowledge of the process. … But with little more than two weeks before the start of the Republican National Convention, Gingrich and Christie have been asked to submit documents and are being cast as favorites for the post inside the campaign. Gingrich in particular is the beneficiary of a drumbeat of support from Trump confidants such as Ben Carson. A number of senators — including Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) — are also being reviewed as viable picks, although the extent to which they are being vetted is unclear. A longer shot on Trump’s radar is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a heavyweight on the right who could bolster Trump’s tepid support among some conservative activists.”
Speaking of New Jersey… - Donald Trump’s billionaire benefactor, Carl Icahn, whom the de facto Republican nominee identified as a potential senior figure in his administration, has some Trump-related headaches today. Icahn bought Trump’s Atlantic City Taj Mahal casino at the brink of bankruptcy in 2009, but is now facing a strike from the 1,000 members of the service workers union at the struggling gambling house.
David Drucker reports on Sen. Mike Lee’s heated exchange with a reporter on Lee’s decision not to endorse Trump - WashEx
Trump digital strategist hired, fired in same week - The Hill
Why Hillary is starting to air ads in Nebraska: Electoral votes - WaPo
Biden to join Clinton on the trail next week - Yahoo News
AUDIBLE: TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN…
“At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be intirely their own.” – Gen. George Washington in a 1783 letter to his fellow Americans describing the cause for which his underdog army and the new nation were fighting.
WORTHWHILE WEEKEND WATCHING
Fox News Sunday: Terror and 2016 - Team Bream! Shannon Bream anchors this week’s show with guests Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz breaks down the week’s media mayhem. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. and a re-airing at 5 p.m. ET
[Watch Fox: On a “Kelly File” special, military families, victims of terrorism, and Muslim activists discuss the pressing issues of national security and safety in the world today. Tune in at 9 p.m. ET]
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Boris Johnson just disappointed millions by not putting his name in the hat for the election to be leader of the Tories and Prime Minister. The millions he disappointed were all those who were lining up 3 months worth of ad hominem memes against him, who now have to find substantial arguments instead of making bad hair jokes. We can live in hope that Donald J Trump might follow Boris’ lead.” – Owen Derrick, Greenock, Scotland
“Would be interesting to get your take on the Republican convention, Or more properly, the Donald Trump and family show. Sports Personalities, Celebrities, musicians. Perhaps a beauty queen contest. Perhaps a public flogging, or waterboarding of all non-endorsement Republicans. Just some random thoughts.” – Mike Wilmore, Driftwood TX
“True, in polls Republicans would rather have someone else as their nominee. I would answer that way today as well. But come November -- I am going to vote for him.” – Ron Gaviati, Pasadena, Calif.
History: “On December 23, 1941, just over two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the signed Declaration, together with the Constitution, was removed from public display and prepared for evacuation out of Washington, D.C. Under the supervision of armed guards, the founding document was packed in a specially designed container, latched with padlocks, sealed with lead and placed in a larger box. All told, 150 pounds of protective gear surrounded the parchment. On December 26 and 27, accompanied by Secret Service agents, it traveled by train to Louisville, Kentucky, where a cavalry troop of the 13th Armored Division escorted it to Fort Knox. The Declaration was returned to Washington, D.C., in 1944.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report 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 FoxNews.com. 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.