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On the roster: A way out for Trump on refugee ban - Flynn walks back claim he didn’t talk sanctions with Russian ambassador - Power Play: A ban, a plan, Iran… oh, man - Bipartisan call for ethics office to chide Conway - Does this airbag make me look fat?
A WAY OUT FOR TRUMP ON REFUGEE BAN
Henry Clay’s famous line was “I’d rather be right than be president.”
But what do you do when it’s the other way around?
President Trump wasted no time in issuing an ALL CAPS declaration that he would fight the ruling by judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocking implementation of his ban on all refugees and new visitors from seven troubled countries.
We are already two weeks into this struggle and we haven’t even gotten to the merits of the case yet. The brand new administration seems poised for a long, grueling legal fight over an order that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said was poorly implemented a position that Trump himself reportedly shares.
The problem with the rollout was language in the original order that seemed to apply the ban to those already granted permanent legal residency in the U.S. as well as those already vetted and cleared for visas.
In the face of the ensuing uproar, the administration shifted saying that the policy would not apply to green card holders, regardless of the actual language.
This leaves the president with a choice, and not a happy one for a politician who prides himself on winning, winning, winning: Trump can either make sure that his overall policy priorities are pursued and admit temporary defeat, or he can make good on his pledge to “SEE YOU IN COURT.”
Trump supporters no less staunch than Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas are encouraging the president to take a different path. As Gohmert counseled this morning on “FOX & Friends,” Trump should dump the original order and reissue a new one that doesn’t “apply to people that already had their green cards.”
Certainly there would be new lawsuits for a new order, but legal experts from across the political spectrum agree that eliminating the green card language would make the measure hard to beat. By focusing instead on the president’s enormous powers to restrict the entry of foreigners for national security reasons, Trump would help his political case as well.
But, as Trump’s team has pointed out in relation to other matters, settling a lawsuit can carry the appearance of an admission of guilt. And in this case, pulling the existing order and writing a new one would be tantamount to a settlement.
Over the course of the next four years, this administration like all those that came before it, will be party to a mountain of legal actions. It will not win them all.
Trump and his supporters claim that the decisions against the ban have been political. Maybe. But Trump’s predecessor, a darling of the press and a self-styled constitutional expert, got his hand slapped plenty of times in court.
If Barack Obama got turned back even by Supreme Court justices he appointed on major issues of executive authority, including on immigration, we can expect the same or worse for Trump.
Trump has already done what Henry Clay could not and become president. But like every president, there will be many times that he is not right, often through little fault of his own.
Successful presidencies are defined by the chief executive’s ability to remedy their errors and move on.
THE RULEBOOK: SO TRUE
“One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22
TIME OUT: MIRACLES OF THE HEART
LAT: “The children were going to die. Mohamed Bzeek knew that. But in his more than two decades as a foster father, he took them in anyway — the sickest of the sick in Los Angeles County’s sprawling foster care system. He has buried about 10 children. Some died in his arms. Now, Bzeek spends long days and sleepless nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. She’s blind and deaf. She has daily seizures. Her arms and legs are paralyzed. Bzeek, a quiet, devout Libyan-born Muslim who lives in Azusa, just wants her to know she’s not alone in this life. ‘I know she can’t hear, can’t see, but I always talk to her,’ he said. ‘I’m always holding her, playing with her, touching her. …She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.’ …Of the 35,000 children monitored by the county’s Department of Children and Family Services, there are about 600 children at any given time who fall under the care of the department’s Medical Case Management Services…There is a dire need for foster parents to care for such children. And there is only one person like Bzeek.”
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FLYNN WALKS BACK CLAIM HE DIDN’T TALK SANCTIONS WITH RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR
NYT: “Weeks before President Trump’s inauguration, his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, discussed American sanctions against Russia, as well as areas of possible cooperation, with that country’s ambassador to the United States, according to current and former American officials. Throughout the discussions, the message Mr. Flynn conveyed to the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak — that the Obama administration was Moscow’s adversary and that relations with Russia would change under Mr. Trump — was unambiguous and highly inappropriate, the officials said … Days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Vice President-elect Mike Pence also denied that Mr. Flynn had discussed sanctions with Mr. Kislyak. He said he had personally spoken to Mr. Flynn, who assured him that the conversation was an informal chat that began with Mr. Flynn extending Christmas wishes. … Despite Mr. Flynn’s earlier denials, his spokesman told the Post that ‘while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.’”
TRUMP DUMPED ON NUKE TREATY IN CALL TO PUTIN
Reuters: “In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call. When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said. Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said.”
POWER PLAY: A BAN, A PLAN, IRAN… OH, MAN
Jeff Sessions passed confirmation to be attorney general this week, ending one bitter battle for the Trump administration, but another rages on as Democrats dig in on Trump’s travel ban. Republican Brad Blakeman and Democrat Chuck Rocha break down the week with Chris Stirewalt. WATCH HERE.
PRICE WIELDS HEAVY AXE ON OBAMACARE
With the late night confirmation of former Georgia Rep. Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services, the debate on repealing and replacing ObamaCare changes dramatically. WashEx’s David Drucker explains that Republican Senators are counting on Price’s confirmation to get clarification of Trump’s intended plan for the repeal: “With Price as President Trump’s point man on health policy, Republicans expect to pick up the pace with a negotiating partner in the administration whom they trust and who is intimately familiar with the Affordable Care Act. Republicans are counting on Price to clarify Trump’s bottom line position, freeing them to pursue ObamaCare replacement legislation that doesn’t risk rejection by the White House.”
Senate expected to confirm Mnuchin for Treasury Monday - WashEx: “The Senate advanced the nomination of Steve Mnuchin to lead the Treasury Department, voting 53 to 46 early Friday morning to clear a procedural hurdle. The procedural vote to invoke cloture on early Friday morning clears the path for confirmation of Mnuchin in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that a vote on the nomination is scheduled for Monday along with a vote on David Shulkin to lead Veterns Affairs.”
Dems smell blood on Trump’s troubled Labor pick - Fox News: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his Democratic lieutenants refocused their energy Thursday on battling labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, after their public campaign against two controversial Cabinet picks failed to block their confirmation. Though President Trump and his Republican allies have blasted Senate Democrats for slow-walking his nominees, Schumer, D-N.Y., made it clear at a press conference Thursday they’re not finished yet -- and called on the president to withdraw Puzder’s name.”
BIPARTISAN CALL FOR ETHICS OFFICE TO CHIDE CONWAY
The Hill: “The two top lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee on Thursday called on the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to recommend disciplinary action against White House counselor Kellyanne Conway for publicly promoting Ivanka Trump's clothing line. In a letter to OGE Director Walter Shaub Jr., Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and ranking democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) said Conway's comments appeared to be an example of the White House counselor using her government office to endorse the personal business of President Trump's daughter. Conway provoked controversy earlier Thursday when, in a Fox News appearance, she urged viewers to ‘go buy Ivanka's stuff’ in response to retailer Nordstrom dropping the clothing after citing poor sales…Cummings wrote a letter to Chaffetz shortly afterward, calling on the Oversight Committee to refer Conway’s comments to the OGE for disciplinary action. Chaffetz said soon after that the counselor’s remarks were ‘clearly over the line.’”
[Chaffetz faced a heated town hall over calls to investigate Trump’s business conflicts.]
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Did you miss your fix of this week’s I’ll Tell You What? Well, you can always listen and subscribe here OR tune in to Fox News Channel on Sirius XM channel 450 or on Fox News Talk Sundays at 8 a.m. ET starting this weekend.
Appointment television - And, of course, Mr. Sunday takes on the political power plays in Washington with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-M.D., talking about Trump’s immigration restrictions. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
AUDIBLE: MAKE CHIA SEEDS GREAT AGAIN!
“Alcohol, pets and meat products are not allowed in the house. Neither are Trump supporters.” – Washington resident Sahar Kian in an online ad for a roommate at her Georgetown apartment, as quoted by the NYT.
After flirting with recognizing Taiwan, Trump affirms ‘one China’ policy in call with Beijing - NYT
Chairman of Council of Economic Advisers will no longer be part of the cabinet - WSJ
Report: Price of Trump border security project stretches to $21.6 billion - Reuters
Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr eyed for State Dept. post on religious freedom - Dallas News
“It’s still government housing”: Trump friends say the president is lonely, restless at the White House - AP
Aides say Trump’s frustrations growing at leaks, process of governing - Politico
GOP anxious about high expectations on the year’s agenda - The Hill
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I have had a copy of the Princeton University copy of [“On Bull***t” by Harry Frankfurt] for many years and carry it with me to all business meetings. Does seem to keep discussions on point.” – Frank Siegler, Farmington, Minn.
[Ed. note: If that volume ever circulated too widely in Washington, this whole town would be put out of business!]
“It seems to me that; notwithstanding the legal issues surrounding the Presidential Order, the President is still in control of the issuances of all visas. Can’t he simply instruct the Secretary of State to change the criteria for issuance of visas and or green cards to a new & more stringent administrative standard immediately?” – Bob Manuel, Indian Land, S.C.
[Ed. note: As discussed above, the issue isn’t about the issuance of new visas as much as it is about individuals already granted permanent legal residence. Not even Trump’s staunchest critics would say that the State Department lacks the authority to establish new vetting protocols. But it is a matter of great dispute whether the president can, even temporarily, block the travel of a class of individuals who have already completed the process and been granted green cards.]
“A major milestone in Mississippi: My husband, who never listens to podcasts lighter than Dan Carlin’s 4-hour recap of the Peloponnesian War, has consented to listen to each week’s ITYW episode as we drive to our weekend cabin. Today, after enjoying Dana’s Nashville book selections and a visual of Chris’ Saturday-morning-brown-wool-bathrobe skillet skills, he asked me why y’all don’t do this three times a week. Good question, and no lame excuses about your day jobs, please. America needs more ITYW.” – Mary Carol Miller, Greenwood, Miss.
[Ed. note: Though we are diminishing your husband’s erudition, we hope he is at least amused by our profound weirdness. Thank you for carrying the message! As for more “I’ll Tell You What,” I don’t think the world is ready for three installments. Of course, I didn’t think anyone wanted the one to begin with…]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
DOES THIS AIRBAG MAKE ME LOOK FAT?
Sacramento Bee: “It’s come to this: America’s crash-test dummies are getting older and fatter. In an effort to more accurately reflect the U.S. car-driving population, at least one manufacturer is making crash-test dummies – the pretend people used to test automobile safety features – bigger and older. ‘The typical patient today is overweight or obese – they’re the rule rather than the exception,’ said Dr. Stewart Wang, director of the University of Michigan International Center for Automotive Medicine, in a statement…The new crash-test models include a 273-pound dummy, more than 100 pounds heavier than normal, as well as a prototype based on an overweight 70-year-old woman. ‘The condition, size and shape of an individual is hugely important in how severe their injuries are in any given crash,’ said Wang, who has studied crash injuries and works with automotive engineers on safety research.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I think it’s a matter of personal pride. The guy is a winner. He doesn’t like losing.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” reacting to Trump’s tweet that he will continue to pursue the legal case on his refugee ban after the 9th Circuit Court refused to uphold it.
Chris Stirewalt is the 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.