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On the roster: ‘Nice’ - Angry rhetoric about angry rhetoric - I’ll Tell You What: Not good enough - Mueller to talk with intelligence officials - Woman vs. Wild
Can President Trump resist those around him who are now seemingly almost goading him into firing special counsel Robert Mueller?
One starts to think not.
As with a sports team, there is always a danger that they will read their own press clippings and think that the spin crafted for reporters is the real deal. This is always a mistake, but particularly so when the spin is in complete defiance of reality.
Newt Gingrich took a turn as a top campaign adviser to Trump, and now the former House speaker’s wife is awaiting confirmation as Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican. Gingrich also is selling a book that promises to help Americans understand Trump as well as Gingrich himself does. He is a certified Trumpologist.
Today, Gingrich is essentially daring Trump not to fire Mueller, calling the former FBI director the “[tip] of the deep state spear aimed at destroying or at least undermining and crippling the Trump presidency.”
Assuming that Gingrich is still one whom Trump trusts and whose advice the president still values, this is an astonishingly dangerous direction to give a president who is already obviously struggling with a siege mentality.
Trump is barely keeping it together on Twitter, and telling him about the “tip of the spear” isn’t likely to calm the agitated commander in chief, who blew up again today – this time over the news that Mueller’s probe will look to see if Trump himself has attempted to obstruct justice.
This is hardly as big of a bombshell as Trump and almost everyone else is making it out to be.
Of course Mueller would consider whether Trump acted improperly in firing former FBI director James Comey over the Russia probe. If Trump was up to no good and then fired Comey, it would of course be obstruction. If there was no wrongdoing, at least that Trump knew about, then there wouldn’t. It’s really not that complicated.
The WaPo got the scoop, and good for it. But it is about as surprising as ice cream selling better on hot days. Trump World is absolutely freaking out and pushing Trump into what would essentially turn his presidency into a zombie administration.
Let’s just recap what would happen if Trump ousted Mueller.
First, Trump would have to demand that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein fire Mueller. As Mueller testified, he sees no reason to do so. That likely means Rosenstein quits rather than follow what he considers a wrongful command.
Then Trump would have to ask the acting deputy attorney general to fire Mueller, unless that next guys quits rather than obey. And, potentially, it could go on from there. But at some point, presumably, Trump would move far enough down the Justice Department org chart to find someone to fire Mueller.
Now, stop for a second and imagine what would be happening in the wider world.
Trump, who is currently deeply unpopular and viewed with great suspicion about Russia, would be engaged in the highly public, very messy firing of the second law enforcement official investigating his campaign. There’s acting guilty and then there’s basically begging the jury to convict you.
Assuming Trump finds a deputy to the deputy who will can Mueller, how do you suppose Republicans in Congress are behaving?
Forget the Democrats. They’re already long gone. Just focus on the GOP, since it’s only a president’s own party that can really do him in. And if Trump took an ax to the DOJ and fired Mueller, one of the most esteemed public servants in the nation, Trump would find himself on an ever-shrinking island.
Certainly Republican lawmakers have found a number of new and interesting ways to debase themselves vis-à-vis Trump.
Watching a people who previously called Trump a “con man” and a “cancer” carry his water is a pretty good indicator of how far politicians will go to have access to power. But even such people would have to take steps back from a president engaging in such a spectacular meltdown.
Impeachment, maybe not just yet, but the chime in the clock would be ringing pretty loudly. Firing the person investigating you is usually a bad look. Doing it twice, with the second time being the marble model of bipartisan esteem would be straight bonkers. Trump supporters can howl all they want about Mueller’s deputies’ political contribution, but it all just looks guilty, guilty, guilty.
If you thought joking about sexual assault with a TV host was indefensible, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
And what happens to Mueller? And the investigation?
Congress might try to revive the independent counsel law, but whether they did or not, U.S. attorneys and maybe even state attorneys general would dive on the ball. The probe would not only keep going, but would get worse and expand again.
This investigation, which may be only a few months away from completion, will not be stopped. Trump can fire everyone he sees, but this horse is coming into the barn one way or another.
Those people who are adding to Trump’s sense of panic and suggesting he must act boldly to save himself and his associates are not only providing bad advice to the president, they are creating a scenario in which the siege will never lift.
THE RULEBOOK: COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
“Ingratitude is a common topic of declamation against human nature; and it must be confessed that instances of it are but too frequent and flagrant, both in public and in private life.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 57
TIME OUT: NEXT GEN ASTRONAUTS
Atlantic: “But [Jessica Watkins], one of NASA’s newest astronauts, doesn’t really remember watching the launches on television. Her first enduring memory of American space exploration came in 2004, when a pair of robotic rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on the surface of Mars. … Watkins and 11 others were introduced last week as NASA’s newest astronaut class, selected from a pool of more than 18,300 applicants. … Two other new recruits, Kayla Barron and Zena Cardman, are the same age. This makes them the first astronauts to emerge from that much-maligned cohort, the millennials. Unlike earlier generations of astronauts, they came of age during a time in American spaceflight when space-shuttle launches were, for the most part, routine… Watkins laughed when asked whether she considers herself a millennial. … ‘But I think an ideal of the millennial generation that I do kind of ascribe to is the idea of exploration and being passionate about that.’ … Watkins is ready to go—but not to stay. ‘As long as there’s a ride back, sign me up,’ she said.”
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Trump net job-approval rating: -18.6 points
Change from one week ago: 0 points
ANGRY RHETORIC ABOUT ANGRY RHETORIC
Fox News: “The left-wing gunman whose rampage on a Virginia baseball diamond Wednesday left a congressman in critical condition and three others shot appears to have been driven by political rage critics fear is only increasing. James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., who was gunned down by police to end the shooting at Simpson Field in Alexandria, Va., appears to have maintained two Facebook pages, each replete with profane anti-Trump posts. Critics say the pages offer a snapshot into the frightening hate that has pervaded politics since Trump's contentious election win last November. ‘When liberal leftists support the assassination of President Trump on stage what do you expect to happen,’ Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said. … House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition after being shot in the hip… Hodgkinson also shot Zack Barth, an aide to Texas Rep. Roger Williams, Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika and Capitol Police Officer Crystal Griner, who were all expected to recover.”
Their finest hour - WSJ: “We’re referring to the two Capitol Hill police officers, Crystal Griner and David Bailey, who prevented what would have been a massacre on Wednesday when they engaged and shot a man with a rifle bent on killing Republican Members of Congress. The officers were the security accompanying Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, and other Members who were practicing at 7 a.m. for the annual Congressional baseball game scheduled for Thursday.”
Pelosi blames Fox News for violent threats against her - Fox News: “A day after calling for political unity in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting, top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi returned to the partisan scuffle Thursday by suggesting Fox News is responsible for inflaming tensions – and ripping Republicans for ‘outrageous’ comments blaming rhetoric on the left. Speaking with reporters, Pelosi invoked Fox News as she recalled a man who was jailed years ago for threats against her. ‘His mother said, ‘He just watches too much Fox TV.’ That’s what she said,’ Pelosi said. She added that the ‘crude and disgusting’ things she hears come ‘from the outside.’ The House minority leader concluded, ‘It may be inflamed, I don’t know. This mom said it was Fox News.’”
America’s nonpartisan pastime - LAT: “In the sixth inning of the Congressional Baseball Game in 2014, Republican Rep. Vance McAllister stepped up to the plate, snagging one of Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond’s pitches and sending the grounder between second and third base. … That's just one story illustrating the deep ties forged on the baseball field, which has been a safe space for politicians in Washington dating back to 1909. [Christina Bellantoni] was editor of the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call in 2014 when McCallister landed his grounder, and [she] used the anecdote in a column about how congressional sports has helped ease partisanship at a time when rhetoric has never seemed more heated. There is more to making politics work than making friends, but it’s a start, [she] wrote.”
History of the game - House History, Art & Archives: “Representative John Tener of Pennsylvania, a former professional baseball player, organized the inaugural baseball game in 1909. … Due to its growing popularity, the Congressional Baseball Game was first covered via radio in 1928. The radio broadcast continued in succeeding years. … Despite its appeal, the annual game occurred intermittently because of interruptions due to the Great Depression, the Second World War, and intervention by the House leadership. For a while the game was held biennially, until the Washington Evening Star newspaper sponsored it annually from 1946 to 1958.”
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: NOT GOOD ENOUGH
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt take a step back and examine Wednesday’s horrific shooting at a congressional baseball practice in relation to history and where the country’s political climate is today. Plus, a look at this week’s revealing vote in Virginia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
MUELLER TO TALK WITH INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS
NYT: “Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel examining Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, has requested interviews with three high-ranking current or former intelligence officials, the latest indication that he will investigate whether President Trump obstructed justice, a person briefed on the investigation said on Wednesday. Mr. Mueller wants to question Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence; Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency; and Richard Ledgett, the former N.S.A. deputy director. None of the men were involved with Mr. Trump’s campaign. But recent news reports have raised questions about whether Mr. Trump requested their help in trying to get James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to end an investigation into the president’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Last week, Mr. Coats and Admiral Rogers declined to answer questions before Congress about the matter.”
The Judge’s Ruling: With the people, for the people
After former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses the importance of consent of the governed: “But it must be fair and transparent. And it must always enjoy the consent of the governed. For without that consent, it is illegitimate.” More here.
Trump nominates Jessica Rosenworcel to serve again as FCC commissioner -Reuters
Trump signs executive order on apprenticeships - The Hill
White House administration amends travel ban date to keep legal battle alive - Reuters
Senate overwhelmingly passes Russia sanctions deal - Politico
Erdogan guards will face charges for beating D.C. protesters - NY Mag
ICE chief: All illegals ‘should be worried, no population off the table’ - Wash Ex
Will the Georgia special election get hacked? - Politico
AUDIBLE: HEART OF STONE
“North Korea doesn't do anything out of the kindness of their hearts.” – Fred Warmbier during a press conference Thursday morning regarding if he will ever find out the real reason his son Otto was finally released.
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WOMAN VS. WILD
Bangor Daily News: “In the midst of appreciating the weather and scenery, [Rachel Borch] looked ahead and noticed a raccoon obstructing the narrow foot path, baring its tiny teeth. Suddenly, it began ‘bounding’ toward her, Borch recalled… Figuring she would have the greatest ability to defend herself if she used her hands to hold it down, she decided that probably would be the best place for the aggressive animal to latch on. The raccoon sank its teeth into Borch’s thumb and ‘wouldn’t let go.’ Its paws were scratching her arms and legs wildly as Borch screamed and cried. … Connecting the dots quickly, Borch, then on her knees, dragged the still biting raccoon, which was scratching frantically at her hand and arms, into the puddle. … Borch said she held it there for what felt like an eternity until finally it stopped struggling… ‘It really was just dumb luck. I’ve never killed an animal with my bare hands. I’m a vegetarian. It was self-defense.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I think this will help to pull people back and to realize that the kind of language, to celebrate, for example, the ‘Julius Caesar’ in Central Park in which the Julius Caesar is clearly Donald Trump as some kind of great cultural achievement I think is really appalling. And this is part of all that. I'm not accusing anybody of doing anything, but if you're going to have a standard on this, let's not have a double standard on this.” – Charles
Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland 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.