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On the roster: Comey finds ‘slack space’ for Hillary - Trump to unveil veep at convention - N.C. wagon wheel turns around for Obama - Audible: It’s a process… - Please stop helping

COMEY FINDS ‘SLACK SPACE’ FOR HILLARY
After 16 months of consistently bad news about her secret email server system, Hillary Clinton got a – barely – passing grade.

After scolding the de facto Democratic nominee for “extremely careless” handling of top-secret documents, FBI Director James Comey declared today that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring criminal charges against the former secretary of state.

One supposes that this knowledge was already held by President Obama, Clinton herself and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. After all, Obama wouldn’t be taking his former foe on Air Force One today if she were about to come under the lash of a federal criminal indictment.

One might further suppose that Lynch would not have been so cheerful about the idea of deferring to Comey and others on whether to charge Clinton if she knew this were the likely outcome.

The turkey doesn’t much care anymore what’s for supper if the farmer turns vegetarian.

Comey went to great lengths to extol the thoroughness and fairness of his agency’s investigation, saying even that forensic computer scientists had substantially reconstructed the “slack space of the server.”

That’s IT jargon for saying that investigators were able to find some, but not all, of what Clinton’s lawyers apparently did not want to turn over to Congress or to be made public.

More on that in a bit…

First, to the political consequences.

Republicans will say that the whole thing was rigged and many will, at a minimum, intimate gross corruption on the grounds that another, more typical human wouldn’t have gotten off nearly as easily.

In the absence of facts, conjecture will reign. Did Bill Clinton influence the process in his private conversation last week with Lynch? Is Comey up for reappointment in a potential Clinton presidency?

For Donald Trump and his supporters this will be the greatest outrage yet. And the strongest proof yet of Clintonian corruption.

On the blue team, Comey’s announcement will be received like an oncologists finding of complete remission. Champagne corks will be popping in Brooklyn tonight.

What about undecided or persuadable voters who have expressed growing concern to pollsters about Clinton’s conduct with classified materials?

It’s well known Americans’ confidence in public institutions is at an all-time low. But has the crisis of confidence deepened to the point that voters other than hardline partisans and ideologues are ready to believe that the FBI is in on the scam?

Such a thought, even 20 years ago, would’ve sounded like Kennedy-assassination-conspiracy claptrap. Now, however, assassination conspiracy theories are part of presidential campaigns, thanks to Trump, and politicians find new and continually more depressing ways to live down to voters’ low expectations.

After all, who would have imagined the way that the Clintons would’ve plundered the private sector for a massive fortune, especially from shady characters and those with business before Clinton’s state department or hopes of good relations with the woman deemed most likely to be the president of the United States.

But the FBI a bastion of political corruption? It was one thing to find out J. Edgar Hoover liked a little touch of lace, but the kinds of corruption alleged by Trump and his supporters would be of the kind almost demanding insurrection.

If politicians in power can use the police to protect their interests but harm others, then the rule of law would be a sick joke.

So is this the final outrage that will swing voters away from Clinton and to Trump the disrupter or are voters so inured to allegations of cronyism and corruption that they just can’t be made to care anymore?

That will depend on how willing persuadable voters are willing to believe that America’s top G-men are up to no good.

If voters either accept Comey as credible or simply shrug off the whole thing, this will be the best day of Clinton’s campaign so far. There are still snares that might trap her, especially if congressional investigators can get their hands on what was in the “slack space” or if something else comes out, but this has the ring of finality to it.

If voters believe Trump, that necessarily massive corruption is at work between Obama, Clinton, Comey, Lynch and other senior staffers, then they might be ready for his revolution.

You will know which it is by the time this month’s political conventions are through. If Republicans aren’t talking about the issue with every other breath, it will be permanently lost, dropped like a stone to the bottom of a well.

TIME OUT
Digital Spy: “Dogs are known for their next-level sense of smell, with various breeds used to sniff out explosives. New research, however, suggests their time could soon be up. But who could possibly replace the versatility of a German Shepherd? Well, apparently a plague of locusts is the answer. Engineers at Washington University in St Louis are currently working to develop a system of heat-generating ‘tattoos’ that would turn locusts into remote-controlled explosive detectors. Electrodes in their brains would then beam back information, indicating whether or not they had found dangerous substances. The group has received a three-year $750,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research to make the potential locust swarming a reality.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

SCOREBOARD
Average of national presidential polls: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +6.2 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.8

N.C. WAGON WHEEL TURNS AROUND FOR OBAMA
President Obama 
wants North Carolina back.

After stunning the political world and stealing the Tar Heel State in 2008, Obama bet big on North Carolina, holding his re-nominating convention there in 2012 but came up 2 points short.

Now Obama, at his highest level of popularity in years, is campaigning in the state with his anointed successor, Hillary Clinton, in hopes that she can seal the deal for Democrats.

If North Carolina were to become a purple-leaning swing state for good, Republicans would need a radically different electoral map. Virginia increasingly looks like a lost cause for the GOP in quadrennial cycles.

And if you take the Old Dominion and North Carolina out of the last winning Republican president’s map, George W. Bush would have never made it to the White House.

De facto Republican nominee Donald Trump is giving chase to Obama today, trying to bracket the Democrats with a big rally to be held after the president campaigns with Clinton.

It has been since the winter that a reliable public poll has been conducted in North Carolina. But we can assess the state of the race in North Carolina anyway: competitive and Trump is so far underperforming 2012 predecessor, Mitt Romney.

That’s what the polls say nationally and North Carolina is proving to be not just a swing state but a pretty good bellwether of the national political trends.

It is a reflection of Democratic optimism that Obama is starting his public participation in the 2016 election in North Carolina rather than in, say, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or some other blue state where we would take an entirely different set of cues from this, the first full swing-state campaign trail blitz.

For Trump, the sign of a successful campaign will be when Obama and Clinton are obliged to be spending their time in Democratic states up north rather than heading down south to the land of the pines.

TRUMP TO UNVEIL VEEP AT CONVENTION
The Hill: “It’s decision time for Donald Trump and for the potential vice presidential candidates considering whether to hitch their political futures to his renegade campaign. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has said he plans to announce his running mate at the GOP convention in Cleveland later this month. It would be the first time in nearly 20 years that a vice president was unveiled in the middle of a convention. That gives Trump at most about two weeks to wrap-up the vetting process, secure his candidate, and become comfortable with a running mate who is about to have his or her life upended by the most volatile presidential election in modern times. The media frenzy surrounding Trump’s VP selection will reach a fever pitch if he makes the announcement inside of the Quicken Loans Arena in a made-for-TV spectacle along the lines of one of his beauty pageants or reality television shows.”

POWER PLAY: WILL NEVER TRUMP MOVEMENT MATTER? - Political consultant and #NeverTrump activist Mindy Finn talks about the movement within the Republican Party to free the delegates heading into the national convention in Cleveland later this month. WATCH HERE.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Wikileaks publishes Clinton war emails - The Hill

Trump denies link to online white nationalist - WaPo

Rising campaign role for Trump son-in-law Kushner - NYT

Controversial QB Brady on list of potential convention speakers AP

Koch group enters House race in Colorado - WaPo

Trump bets big on Steel Country - WashEx

AUDIBLE: IT’S A PROCESS…
“It’s going to take some people longer than others [to support the Republican nominee]. I’m fine with that as long as in the end they come together and realize that another four years of Obama through Hillary Clinton is not a good future for our country.” – RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“The moment I heard about the Clinton -Lynch ‘chance’ meeting my immediate thought was it’s a ploy to push the republicans into appointing a special prosecutor.  Clinton mission would be accomplished -delay, delay, delay!” – Carol Elliott, Newport Beach, Calif.

“I realize that some Fox News analysts regard Newt as the ‘smartest man in politics’ and he certainly is a great self-promoter.  He also comes with a lot of personal and political baggage and would have zero appeal with independents and disaffected Dems. There are better choices out there.” – Leona Johnston, Fountain Hills, Ariz.

PLEASE STOP HELPING
Mirror: “A jockey kicked in the face by his horse was then saddled with a broken leg after the racecourse ambulance drove over him. Race ace Chris Meehan, whose father teaches ambulance drivers in Northern Ireland, was knocked out and suffered a broken nose and gash in his jaw requiring 27 stitches as a result of the kick. But he faces a two-month stretch on the sidelines after the emergency services’ blunder on Sunday, Belfast Live reports. The rider, from Crossgar, Co Down [in Northern Ireland] said: ‘What makes it worse is my father, brother, auntie - they’re all ambulance people! ‘My father actually teaches most people in Northern Ireland and England how to drive the ambulance! It’s bizarre, you couldn’t make it up.’”

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 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.