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On the roster: He just can’t help himself - I’ll Tell You What: It’s happening… again! - GOP looks to Senate Dems to save ObamaCare bailout - Tillerson tugs at short leash from White House - Where’s his $200?
HE JUST CAN’T HELP HIMSELF
Nearly 63 million people voted for Donald Trump, and presumably none of them did so to give him a larger platform from which make fun of cable-news morning-show hosts.
Now, we might rightly ignore the president’s insults hurled at Mika Brzezinski, as decency and a sense of proportionality would decree. And frankly, who even has time anymore to care about the boorish conduct of politicians? In 2017 America, no amount of umbrage is sufficient anyway.
But we are compelled to pay attention to the president’s social media misconduct not only because it demands decent people to declare it unacceptable, but because in a very real way, the president is robbing the people who voted for him.
Nearly 68 percent of West Virginians who voted in 2016 cast their ballots for Trump. We cannot know all of their motivations but we can, at least, assume that energy policy, environmental regulations, health insurance, foreign policy and taxes figured into the nearly 490,000 votes in the Mountain State for Trump.
None, we can optimistically say as a political note of Appalachian origin, were cast in anticipation of insulting women’s looks.
By the end of today, no invective will have been spared in the decrying of Trump’s insult. References to what he said was a joke about sexual assault as well as other caddish comments will have all resurfaced. By the time you go to bed tonight, the president’s apologists will also be out in force complaining about media bias.
But again, really, who cares?
There is a bill aimed at rescuing the collapsing individual insurance market that is hanging by a thread in the Senate. There are the makings of another 1914 in the Middle East. There are signs that the already laggardly economy is further sputtering. Russia is on the march, not in your inbox but perhaps in the Baltic States.
This note has no right to speak for the West Virginians who voted for Trump, nor any of the other 62-or-so million Americans who voted for him. That’s not our place.
But, watching a politician throw away a good opportunity to enact policies important to his supporters for the sake of belittling a television personality is stunning. Blowing up a week of forward progress bought dearly by Georgia campaign volunteers, congressional aides and donors large and small is the height of solipsism.
Maybe we are wrong and many of those tens of millions of Trump voters want exactly this: Crude insults, misdirections, distractions and a pointless, endless war with the press. We tend to think not.
A cottage industry has sprouted up in Washington around the business of explaining why foolish things the president does are either secretly genius or perfectly defensible on the grounds of being better or only as bad as things Barack Obama did. Regardless of which political tribe to which you belong, this should stop at once.
Not only is it enabling the worse impulses of a president with obvious impulse control problems but it further suggests that nothing matters other than partisan victory. The president and the country deserve better than that.
THE RULEBOOK: SWEET SPOT
“The genius of republican liberty seems to demand on one side, not only that all power should be derived from the people, but that those intrusted with it should be kept in independence on the people, by a short duration of their appointments…” – James Madison, Federalist No. 37
TIME OUT: MARMALADE FOR EVERYONE
A.V. Club: “Michael Bond, the English children’s book author who created Paddington Bear, the genial marmalade aficionado from deepest, darkest Peru, has died. Introduced in 1958 with the children’s novel A Bear Called Paddington, the duffel-coat-wearing ursine went on to appear in 21 bestselling and widely translated books written by Bond and illustrated by Peggy Fortnum and, later, R.W. Alley; star in three animated series and a very enjoyable live-action film; and become a global icon of children’s literature. According to the BBC, Bond’s death was announced in a statement from his publisher. He was 91. The son of a postmaster, Bond was raised in Reading, Berkshire and came of age amidst the bombings, evacuations, and Kindertransport refugee trains of World War II. These would later be cited by Bond as a key inspiration for Paddington Bear, an orphan who is taken in by the human Brown family after being found at London’s Paddington train station...”
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Trump net job-approval rating: -14.8 points
Change from one week ago: +3.4 points
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: IT’S HAPPENING… AGAIN!
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt explore how Republicans can get a handle on health care with their looming Friday deadline. And the art of cooking corn in the microwave but it’s not popcorn..? PLUS, “I’ll Tell You What” returns to your television airwaves Sunday night at 9 pm ET. Dana and Chris and an all-star lineup are going to skip the controversies of the moment and focus on a big question: Is America up to the task of defending the liberty won by our founders? LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
[Ed. note: In observance of Independence Day, Fox News Halftime Report will not publish on Monday and Tuesday. We wish you and yours the very best as you celebrate the astonishing success of this experiment in individual liberties and self-governance.]
GOP LOOKS TO SENATE DEMS TO SAVE OBAMACARE BAILOUT
NYT: “With his bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act in deep trouble, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, raised an alternate possibility on Tuesday: Either Republicans come together, or he would have to work with Democrats to shore up the deteriorating health law. That raised a tantalizing prospect: bipartisanship. The idea is not so far-fetched. For years, Republicans and Democrats have explored avenues for changing or improving President Barack Obama’s health care law… Last month, senators from both parties met privately to hash out health care issues. The Democrats attending the session included Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. Among the Republicans were Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and [Senator Susan Collins]. Any change to the existing law is likely to need Mr. McConnell’s participation — and Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s consent. Before that happens, an all-Republican push to repeal the health law may have to die a public death.”
Corker questions tax break for top earners in healthcare plan - The Hill: “A top GOP lawmaker is pressing leadership to rethink a tax break for high-income earners in the Senate health bill. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday bashed the bill's repeal of a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for high earners. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing that tax could cost the federal government $172 billion over ten years. Meanwhile, under the same plan, low-income people could face plans that cover less with higher deductibles and copays. ‘At the same time the 3.8 percent tax on the wealthy was being done away with. That's not an equilibrium that to me is appropriate. That's not a tradeoff that's appropriate. That's not an equation that is appropriate,’ Corker told reporters Wednesday, following a meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).”
Trump teases ‘big surprise’ on Senate Obamacare repeal effort -Politico: “President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that ‘a big surprise’ could be coming in the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, a tease that came hours after the president predicted that Senate Republicans are ‘going to get at least very close’ to passing their stalled health care bill. ‘And just to do a little official business, health care is working along very well. We could have a big surprise with a great health care package. So, now they're happy,’ Trump said, gesturing to a group of reporters during a meet-and-greet with the visiting World Series champion Chicago Cubs.”
Schumer asks Trump to meet with Democrats on healthcare - The Hill: “Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is asking President Trump to meet with Democrats to discuss a bipartisan deal on healthcare. ‘President Trump, I challenge you to invite us, all 100 of us, Republican and Democrat, to Blair House to discuss a new bipartisan way forward on healthcare in front of all the American people,’ Schumer said on Wednesday, referring to the President's Guest House. He added that both parties should focus on fixing the current law and the overall healthcare system in the wake of the decision to delay a vote on the Senate GOP bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.”
ADMINISTRATION LAYS OUT REFUGEE BAN
AP: “The Trump administration is putting new criteria in place Thursday for visa applicants from six mostly Muslim nations and all refugees, requiring a close family or business tie to the United States. The move comes after the Supreme Court partially restored President Donald Trump's executive order that was widely criticized as a ban on Muslims. Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked. The should help avoid the kind of chaos at airports around the world that surrounded the initial travel ban, as travelers with previously approved visas were kept off flights or barred entry on arrival in the United States. Also, while the initial order took effect immediately, adding to the confusion, this one was delayed more than 72 hours after the court's ruling.”
TILLERSON TUGS AT SHORT LEASH FROM WHITE HOUSE
Politico: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s frustrations with the White House have been building for months. Last Friday, they exploded. The normally laconic Texan unloaded on Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing proposed nominees to senior State Department posts and for questioning his judgment. Tillerson also complained that the White House was leaking damaging information about him to the news media, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Above all, he made clear that he did not want DeStefano’s office to ‘have any role in staffing’ and ‘expressed frustration that anybody would know better’ than he about who should work in his department — particularly after the president had promised him autonomy to make his own decisions and hires, according to a senior White House aide familiar with the conversation. The episode stunned other White House officials gathered in chief of staff Reince Priebus’ office, leaving them silent as Tillerson raised his voice. In the room with Tillerson and DeStefano were Priebus, top Trump aide Jared Kushner and Margaret Peterlin, the secretary of state’s chief of staff.”
Democrats want House guarantee on Russia sanctions - WaPo: “Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) accused Senate Democrats on Wednesday of being ‘Russia’s best friend’ for refusing to approve a measure making technical corrections to a bill on sanctions for Russia and Iran until they get assurances that the House will pass the measure. Senate Democrats do not trust that House Republican leaders will put the measure on the floor in its current form, according to a senior Senate Democratic aide, who explained that many of them suspect House leaders are using the procedural complaint as a delaying tactic or an excuse to alter the bill in deference to President Trump, whose administration opposes the measure.”
Overwhelming support for Mueller’s investigation - According to the most recent Fox News poll released on Wednesday, voters disapprove of the handling of Russian meddling by both President Trump and his predecessor. Trump’s approval rating remains steady at 47 percent but the poll finds 70 percent of registered voters approve of a special counsel investigating the Russian meddling during the 2016 election. That is a bit of a head scratcher considering half of voters say Russian cyber-attacks didn’t matter to the election outcome (50 percent) and 43 percent believe Russia helped Trump win. Members of the GOP may be patting each other on the back after special election victories over Democrats, especially in Georgia’s 6th district, but they shouldn’t get too confident yet.
Trump's legal team approached former Mueller chief of staff to join - Politico: “President Donald Trump’s lawyers approached Daniel Levin, a former chief of staff to special counsel Robert Mueller, to join the president’s personal legal team amid the growing probe into his campaign’s potential ties with Russia. Levin, a Washington lawyer who worked for Mueller at the FBI, has spoken to members of Trump’s defense team on several occasions but has not officially signed on, according to people familiar with the talks. Whether he will sign on “remains up in the air,” one person said.”
The Judge’s Ruling: A judge-made exception - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses President Trump’s recent Supreme Court victory: “These judicially created exceptions provide that immigrants from the six countries are exempt from the travel ban if they can show that they have a ‘relationship’ with a person or entity in the U.S.” More here.
Trump says his immigration actions are ‘liberating towns’ from gangs - Politico
McMaster lays out North Korea strategy - Axios
South Korean President Moon Jae In visits White House today - U.S. News
“Even porcupines make love.” – Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts on Wednesday when asked by reporters how the GOP could find common ground between the two sides.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I heard a lot during the discussion of Obamacare about the fact that federal funding for the increases in Medicaid were very temporary and all the additional costs related to the changes were likely to fall to states in a few years. Now the fact that the Republican plan doesn’t continue to fund Medicaid increases seems to be held against the Republicans. But wasn’t this inevitable either way?” – Anna Marie Davis, Douglasville, Ga.
[Ed. note: And that is exactly why Republicans resisted the original law so vociferously, Ms. Davis. Among the minority of Americans who are opposed to increased federal spending on welfare and entitlement programs there is an unambiguous knowledge that a benefit once expended is irretrievable.]
“I've been a fan since your power play days, and while your new podcasts are good you need more pieces with Charles Hurt. You two seem like good guys to have a beer with. Today you mentioned Trumps budget included $1.6 billion dollars for 74 miles of wall. According to my calculator that is $21,621,621.62 per mile. 21.6 million dollars to build a mile of wall?! What are they building it out of, solid gold with platinum chasing? Am I missing something here?” – Jesse Garrett, Lawton, Okla.
[Ed. note: Mr. Garrett, Charles is a good person to have anything with. If he knew what it was, he would even be good to have kale with. As for how much things cost when the federal government does the buying, we should also remember that the ends of projects cost more, often, than the beginnings.]
“‘...if Trump and his party bungle a long-foreseen, much discussed crisis in health insurance, no one could blame a voter for being persuaded that this is a gang that can’t shoot straight.’ Whoa. You're clearly implying the position the country is in today, health insurance-wise, is the fault of this President and GOP? As I understand it, no GOP member voted for the original legislation that created the current crisis, nor has any legislation passed by any congress since making changes, has been signed into law. How can any reasonable person reach the conclusion it's today's President and congress' blunder for where we are now?” – Mark Hoffman, Des Moines, Iowa
[Ed. note: So what should Republicans say to individuals who lose their insurance, Mr. Hoffman? That they should take their punishment? One of the hallmarks of emotional maturity is living in the world as it is, not as one wishes it would be. There are lots of excuses for not dealing with the problems with America’s health insurance. You can adopt any one you wish, and so can Republicans. But if you think that voters will oblige the GOP in failing to remedy an obvious, long-identified problem out of spite, then I have a swing-seat district I’d like to sell you.]
“I was fortunate to catch the appearance of yourself and Dana Perino on ‘The Story’ with Martha MacCallum Wednesday evening. On the brief initial camera shot you were both standing, as opposed to the usual behind-the-desk studio shot. I found it necessary to do a short re-wind to see if either Dana was standing in a hole or you were standing on a milk crate. Neither was the case. How much difference is there between your heights? Now I know the depth from which your hearty laugh emanates.” – Tom Sarsfield, Lake Forest, Ill.
[Ed. note: If virtue and decency were reflected in stature, Dana would tower above me, Mr. Sarsfield.]
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WHERE’S HIS $200?
KARE: “Case in point, is a gentleman who had an encounter with one of [Dakota County Minnesota’s] finest over the weekend. Deputy Mike Vai pulled over a car registered to someone wanted on a warrant and subsequently saw a passenger was not wearing his seat belt. When the deputy ran the man's ID he learned that he, too, was wanted on a controlled substance warrant out of Ramsey County. When the deputy searched the suspect, he found the man's secret weapon: A ‘get out of jail free’ card. Yes, we are talking one of the rectangle cardboard pieces found in the Chance pile when playing Monopoly. While the card was worth about as much as the paper stock it was printed on, Deputy Vai appreciated the humor… The card did generate plenty of laughs, but did not earn the Ramsey County man his freedom.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Steel – today we produce more steel than in 1950 with one-third the workforce. That is the story of automation. And if that happens across the board, then you have a lot of people unemployed. And you want them to have work. The issue is not income. I think the issue is work.” – 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.