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On the roster: Is ‘Dump Trump’ a real thing? - What Sanders did for Hillary’s campaign - Lynch deflects at House hearing on Hillary emails - Audible: a la Sherman - Not so little mermaid

IS ‘DUMP TRUMP’ A REAL THING?
The proponents of the movement to throw overboard de facto GOP nominee Donald Trump at the party’s Cleveland convention next week are feeling good for the first time in a long time.

A federal judge in Virginia ruled that the commonwealth could not punish a delegate who didn’t support Trump, reinforcing the legal argument that holds that states can’t impose penalties on partisan nominating processes.

And at about the same time, a top Trump dumper, Erick Ericksonsaid that the movement had enough votes on the RNC Rules Committee to push a measure to the convention floor to unbind all delegates.

A so-called “minority report” would mean that even if the rules committee advanced a standard set of rules that left most delegates bound on the first ballot, delegates would have the chance to amend those rules to “free the delegates.”

With the judge’s ruling to allow delegates to vote their consciences and the possibility of a minority report, you might see an open convention or at least a massive protest that would delay and annoy Trump as he tried to demonstrate his strength and control of the party.

Now there are some pretty big “ifs” here. That’s if the committee members really vote that way when they are sitting eye-to-eye with angry Trump supporters and that’s if a majority of the whole convention votes to go along with the plan.

Remember, even those who might very much like a nominee other than Trump might not support a plan that dumps the presumptive nominee unless there is a better replacement waiting in the wings.

But there is no question that the energy that fuels the movement is real and seems to have actually intensified despite the vanishingly small chances that anyone other than Trump would be the GOP nominee. 

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who has emerged as the intellectual leader of the group, laid out his argument against the “lesser-of-two-evils” argument in a letter he drafted while on an Independence Day visit to a military base in Afghanistan. And certainly, Trump’s visit to Washington last week showed the depth of the divide between Trump and his party.

But before the insurgents start feeling too cheerful, remember that while Trump’s own campaign allows that he would be short of an outright majority if the delegates were to be unbound, Trump has firm commitments from more than two-thirds of those he needs.

Yes, it would be hard for Trump to win if he doesn’t do so on the first ballot, especially given that he hasn’t led his Democratic counterpart, Hillary Clinton, in any properly conducted poll since mid-May. But, he’s starting from a hugely advantaged position.

Our finding: The “Dump Trump” movement is showing some signs of life just as we were about to pronounce it DOA in Cleveland. But it may just be rigor mortis… 

TIME OUT
Metro: “Ever wondered what happens to old passenger planes when they’re not used anymore? One company is doing something pretty swanky with them – turning them into luxury garden pods. They are basically clubhouses that can be converted into garden rooms, luxury sheds, or poolside relaxation areas. As you can imagine, they’re not cheap. Each one costs [between $28,545 and $32,438]. David Palmer, 52, and his 23-year-old daughter Emily came up with the idea together after thinking about how planes could be used after they’d been grounded. Their company, DappR Aviation, builds the high-end aeropods from old Airbus A320 airliners.”

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SCOREBOARD
Average of national presidential polls: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +5.4 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.8

WHAT SANDERS DID FOR HILLARY’S CAMPAIGN
FiveThirtyEight's Henry Enten lays out what Bernie Sanders did for Hillary Clinton's campaign in the primary process: “Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, acknowledging that Clinton won the Democratic nomination and effectively ending his presidential campaign…Sanders’s greatest effect on Clinton’s positioning may have been on trade. Clinton entered the race having once called the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement the ‘gold standard.’ She ended up against it, even though President Obama, whom she hugged closely throughout the campaign, was pushing the agreement. Sanders was resolutely against TPP, and Clinton ultimately flipped to Sanders’s side of the issue. Sanders also got Clinton to back free college tuition at state colleges and universities for all but the top of the income distribution.”

LYNCH DEFLECTS AT HOUSE HEARING ON HILLARY EMAILS
Fox News: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch repeatedly dodged specific questions Tuesday about the FBI investigation that yielded no charges against Hillary Clinton over her email use, frustrating lawmakers who planned to question her on the outcome of the politically charged case. The nation’s top law enforcement official was peppered with questions by the House Judiciary Committee, her first congressional appearance in the wake of the Clinton decision. But she repeatedly deferred to FBI Director James Comey’s comments on the case, declining to elaborate herself. ‘I would refer you to those statements,’ Lynch said. ‘I, as attorney general, am not able to provide any further comment on the facts or the substance of the investigation.’”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump offers consolation prize for Gingrich - Bloomberg

Caitlyn Jenner advised Trump on gender issues for GOP platform - Heat Street

GOP swing state ground game looking ragged - AP

Final dates, locations announced for general election debates - CBS News

Will GOP platform include Trump’s call for a border wall? - 
CNN

Bubba’s speaking engagement: $1,400 hotel phone bill and $700 dinner - LAT

FEC puts Sanders on notice about contributions over the legal limit - 
Atlantic

Indicted House Dem: Maybe Orlando victims would be alive if FBI hadn’t been pursuing her case -
 The Hill

AUDIBLE: A LA SHERMAN
“I have not been contacted by the Trump campaign. If contacted, I would decline consideration for any role.” – Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal speaking to CNN about talk of him as Donald Trump’s running mate

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Not that the courts pay attention to it these days, but the US constitution says: The President and Vice President cannot come from the same state. Thus, if Trump is a NY resident, he cannot have Giuliani as his running mate.” – Tim Call, Richmond, Va.

[Ed note: This is a favorite piece of constitutional arcana! The 12th Amendment does in fact say that electors shall “vote by ballot for President and Vice President one of whom at least shall not be in the same state within themselves.” What “themselves” refers to here are the electors. An elector cannot vote for both a presidential and vice presidential from the state where the elector lives. In this case, New York’s electors would be free to vote for either Trump or Giuliani but not both. While a New York victory seems farfetched at this point, doubling down on the Empire State and adding a former mayor of New York City might improve his chances. And if Trump was to carry New York, it might mean Giuliani would lack the majority necessary to win outright and throw the selection of the vice president to the House. But one imagines that Trump would trade New York’s presidential electoral votes for the uncertainty of letting House Republicans pick his number two. ]

“I guess we will have to switch to the Poor Man’s lobster, which oddly enough is called Monk Fish.”  Pam Pierson, Hope, Idaho

[Ed. note: Hey-o!]

NOT SO LITTLE MERMAID 
AP: “A busty mermaid sculpted from sand and placed outside a popular Cape Cod restaurant is raising eyebrows and triggering complaints. The town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and the local Chamber of Commerce say they fielded complaints from locals about the exaggerated proportions of the mermaid's chest. Yarmouth’s police department took down photos of the sculpture from its Facebook page after residents said they found the work of art offensive. The mermaid clad in a clamshell bikini is one of 41 sand sculptures placed around town as part of the annual Yarmouth Summer Celebration. Salty’s restaurant owner Raymond Roy tells the Cape Cod Times he’s surprised at the fuss. Roy says the mermaid isn’t nude and shouldn’t be censored.”

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.