Fox News Halftime Report

Hillary living on the edge with foundation donors

Bill McGurn says the Clinton Foundation is 'rooted in conflict of interest'


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On the roster:  Hillary living on the edge with foundation donors - Time Out: Ku Klux Scammed - Trump tries a triple lindy on immigration - Power Play: Map, schmap - Not so fast, fatty

Here she is again, teetering at the brink between unseemliness and illegality.

It ought to have been instructive for Hillary Clinton and her husband at some point in their careers that their conduct so often grazed the barbed borders of the law.

But no lessons seem to have been learned from so many “teachable moments.”

A review of State Department calendars shows that of the non-government employees Clinton met with during her four-year tenure as secretary of state, over half were Clinton Foundation donors. 

An AP review of the calendars shows 85 of the 154 people Clinton met with regarding private interests were donors who contributed a combined total of $156 million dollars, with at least 40 contributing $100,000 each.

Whatever good the Clinton Foundation itself does, the sloppy, near reckless arrangement shows no lessons learned from past scandals surrounding real estate deals, issuance of pardons and more.

This adds to previous Fox News reporting of numerous phone calls between top Clinton State Dept. aides and foundation employees during Clinton’s tenure, and after the State Department announced its review of close to 15,000 additional emails not previously disclosed by Clinton’s attorneys. Experts say these new emails show donors had “access” to the State Dept., but not necessarily “favors” from what has been released publicly so far.

For Republicans, this latest batch of news adds to the narrative that Clinton used her time at the State Department to benefit donors to her family’s foundation. Speaking on “The Kelly File” Tuesday night, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that Clinton was “selling her time as secretary of state” to big-money foundation donors. 

This narrative has become a key talking point for Donald Trump’s campaign with him repeatedly accusing Clinton of “pay for play” on the campaign trail. 

The Clintons have said that they will stop accepting foreign donations if Hillary Clinton is election, but many are saying that doesn’t go far enough to avoid the perception that there’s more afoot here than simple matters of coincidence.  And by admitting that the foundation should eventually stop taking foreign contributions, they themselves acknowledge the magnitude of the errors.

About the only thing she has going for her is that as all of this news breaks, Trump is conducting major surgery on his immigration plan with all the subtlety of a ball-peen hammer.

What matters, of course, is whether it matters to persuadable voters. It’s unlikely that this will do the trick, given how much aforementioned misconduct is already priced into Clinton’s poll numbers. But there is an awful lot swirling around out in the open ocean that could take the shape of a serious storm given the right conditions.

With investigations into their buckraking reportedly already underway, we will probably finish the election as we began it, with Clinton looking over her shoulder for such a storm to make land.

Americans today think of the Ku Klux Klan as a dangerous hate group, but the real story of the heyday of America’s most famous white nationalists is really about conning bigots. Priceonomics: “In the 1920s, [Ku Klux Klan] members numbered in the millions and made up a significant percentage of the US population…in 2011, Roland G. Fryer and Steven D. Levitt, the economist co-author of Freakonomics, looked into historical statistics about KKK membership and demographic, criminal and political trends at the time. And they found something surprising: a seldom-seen side of the KKK. ‘Rather than a terrorist organization,’ they wrote, ‘the 1920s Klan is best described as a social organization with a wildly successful multi-level marketing structure.’ According to Fryer and Levitt, in its heyday, the KKK was a giant, perverse pyramid scheme. Instead of perpetrating a racist agenda, the KKK’s leaders exploited pre-existing, popular racism to make money.”

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Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +9 points
Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton + 6.6 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.8

As we discussed MondayDonald Trump is putting his core supporters to the test as he shifts his policy on illegal immigration.

But he is also testing the willingness of potential new supporters to take him at his word. 

In an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump reiterated his support for a wall across the 1,989-mile U.S.-Mexico border, but said he was interested in “softening” his previous policy and support of a “deportation force.” Trump spoke lovingly of illegal immigrants who were law-abiding contributors to American society and suggested that there should be a way for them to stay in the United States.

The irony of this new position is surely not lost on Trump’s primary-election rivals whom the future nominee excoriated for being too soft on the subject. If he is, in fact, considering what critics call “amnesty” for illegal immigrants deemed deserving, Trump is approaching the previously stated views of many, if not most, of the candidates he bested.

Recall, if you will, the brutal beatings Trump delivered to those who said children born in the United States to parents here illegally were, in fact, birthright citizens. Not only did Trump favor a deportation force, he proposed challenging the constitutional amendment that allows for automatic citizenship for those born in the U.S.

But the sore backs of Trump’s rivals don’t mean much when it comes to winning or losing the election. What matters is whether enough people believe Trump’s shift and that the right people disbelieve him.

The optimum outcome for Trump is that his core supporters believe the candidate is lying now in order to win the election, and give him more latitude to spin a pleasant version of his nationalistic ideal. Meanwhile, lots of skeptical voters would take Trump at his word and believe that he had sincerely adopted a more “humane” perspective. 

The worst case scenario would be the inverse: Trump’s core supporters believe he has succumbed to globalist pressures to allow potentially millions of mostly Hispanic illegal immigrants to remain in America. In the worst case scenario, it would be the skeptics who don’t believe Trump and conclude that he is only pandering since he is behind in the election.

We referred to Trump’s efforts on immigration as “a tricky dismount.” And boy will that be true. The candidate will have to convince his supporters that he is basically unchanged, but merely playing along until he can take power. But at the same time, not give away the game to skeptical suburban voters. 

There’s a lot of loose talk out there about red states going blue and, formerly, of red states going blue. But c’mon… Chris Stirewalt explains it all in just 60 seconds. WATCH HERE.

New N.C. poll shows near tie for Clinton, Trump and Senate race - Monmouth University

Upshot's Josh Katz says Democrats have a 60 percent chance of taking the Senate - NYT

New Koch-backed ad uses Clinton against Democratic Senate candidate - USA Today

Former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage to appear at rally today with Trump - Sky News

Defense industry shelling out donations for Clinton over Trump 2-to-1 - Politico

Ben Carson says “elderly” Trump, Clinton should release health records - WashEx

Clinton poses with celebrities at California fundraiser - Time

Josh Kraushaar explains how McCain, Rubio primaries are the first Trump tests for Senate candidates - National Journal

Time is running out for to create competition in Obamacare exchanges - WashEx

“142, uh, Canterbury Court, [Unit] C. It’s on my driver’s license.” -- Former Sen.Evan Bayh, D-Ind., when asked his address as proof of his residency and eligibility for his current Senate run. The address he gave turned out to be several blocks away from where he actually lives.

“So much talk about this foundation and access!   How can the knowledge, as reported on [Fox News], that this charity keeps 90% of the donated funds, not be a factor in the quid pro quo of HRC???” -- Rill Currie, Northville, Mich.

[Ed. note: There’s an old saying in Washington: “The scandal is what’s legal.” And in the case of politicians’ foundations that’s surely the case. Lawmakers have operated such enterprises for years and do so with very limited oversight. Even if corruption is not the aim of the officeholder, it may be the intent of the donor. As for how the foundation spends its money, the 10 percent figure ought to go with a grain of salt. There are varying estimates, but here’s a critical but seemingly well-supported dissection of the group’s spending.]

“Since I don’t believe your poll numbers, please list what polls you consider to be reliable. I read your column every day and would like to really believe what you write. Oh, Arizona, like Georgia, won’t go blue. Are your polls registered voters are likely voters? Thanks!” -- Charles Dishman, Houston, Texas

[Ed. note: I tend to agree with you, Mr. Dishman. I think Arizona and Georgia will probably hold the line for the red team as long as the election doesn’t turn into an utter blowout. I’m less certain about Missouri right now. But there is, as they say, a lot of football yet to be played. As for the polls on which we rely, here’s the short form on our criteria: “Fox News Halftime Report provides a daily average of the five most recently completed methodologically sound national presidential polls. The polls included must be from nonpartisan sources. The surveys must be conducted among a sufficiently large population over an appropriately narrow period of time. The interviews must be conducted by live telephone interviews. We exclude online polls and so-called ‘robo’ polls that overlook the growing population of cell-phone-only voters.”]

“Chris: Could it be possible that Donald Trump is the Twenty First Century ‘Andrew Jackson?’” – John Prior, Jr., Ocean Township, N.J.

[Ed. note: Well, first he would need a nickname as good as “Old Hickory,” and we are open to suggestions on that front. But there are some similarities that go even beyond the kinship between many of the supporters of the two men. Jackson and his team made the most of the new technology of cheap color lithography to cement Jackson’s heroism in the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson was a household name even before he ran. Trump’s celebrity through reality television and his use of Twitter has made him a universally known figure. Name identification never goes out of style.]

“I’m pretty sure the ‘dog days of August’ refer to a constellation and has nothing to do with the heat. Kind of like calling Chicago the ‘Windy City’ has nothing to do with wind velocity. Thank you.” – Don Ripley, Floresville, Texas

[Ed. note: It’s true! The dog days of summer refers to the late summer ascendency of the constellation Canis Major – Sirius to the Greeks. Homer called it “an evil portent” for the accompanying “heat and fevers to suffering humanity.”  And “Windy City” was popularizedby New York Sun Editor Charles Dana, who was mocking the Second City’s politicians for their hot air during the battle over the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. But in both cases, the names stuck because they worked on other levels. On a hot August day, we might feel like panting dogs. It’s evocative imagery. And anyone who has ever been at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive any time after the first of November, knows that one fits, too.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

CBC: “Danny Dill jokes people taking part in [Windsor, Ontario’s] annual pumpkin regatta this year may have to shed a few pounds before fitting into one of his giant pumpkins. Dill usually supplies several dozen pumpkins for the annual regatta’s races and is already taking bookings for the fall, but he says his giant pumpkins are only half the size they should be. A pumpkin needs to be about [400 to 500 pounds] for a person to be able to sit inside it and row, Dill says. The ones he’s seeing on his farm are more in the range of [200 pounds], with just a month left in the growing season. He blames the weather. ‘It’s been the driest I’ve seen in my lifetime,’ he said. ‘It’s getting very depressing, discouraging.’”

“The one tune I think Democrats are singing is “you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.” 

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 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.