Mueller v. Trump is about to blow up

By Chris Stirewalt

Published September 19, 2017

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Mueller v. Trump is about to blow up  - Trump preaches sovereignty in Trumpian U.N. address - GOP rallies behind plan to send ObamaCare to states - From the bleachers, Constitution Day edition - Higgins could have told you this would happen

MUELLER V. TRUMP IS ABOUT TO BLOW UP 
We have always known that someday the cold war between President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller would break into open conflict, and that day seems to be soon upon us. 

An eye-popping report from the NYT takes us inside the prosecution of former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.

And a prosecution it most assuredly is. 

The story opens with the dramatic scene of agents picking the lock on Manafort’s front door to let themselves in for a pre-dawn raid related to his formerly undisclosed work for Kremlin-tied clients.

More important, though, the story includes the revelation that Mueller’s prosecutors explicitly told Manafort that they planned to indict him. 

We had known before that the raid was part of aggressive tactics prosecutors are using against Manafort, who was already in trouble with the Feds for his work on behalf of shady foreign clients before he ever went to work for Trump.    

But the intensity with which Mueller & Co. are cranking the meat grinder into which Manafort is now being fed tells us a great deal, and it would seem that things are about to get pretty crazy in Washington.

One of the best developments for the Trump White House has been that with the arrival of competent managers and an experienced legal team, the flow of near-daily leaks and blabber about the investigation has trailed off. 

Even as Trump was complaining about the media’s undeniable obsession with the Russia probe, he and his team were serving up near-daily doses of that powerful elixir. 

The Russia chatter also quieted down because Mueller substantially wrestled control of the subject away from the nattering popinjays of Congress. One of the problems that have plagued this debate from the beginning has been that many members of Congress have been absolutely incontinent with sensitive information, offering selective leaks to help or harm their preferred side. 

We have a great example of one of those today in a report from CNN that is sourced to, well, “sources” who say that agents got warrants to wiretap Manafort both before and after the election, with the tantalizing suggestion – but no proof at all – that there might be recordings of Trump talking to his former adviser.

The story is a contradictory jumble, packed with suggestive language including this beaut: “Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.” 

Oh, that clears it up…

Mueller hasn’t been leaky in the least. There are a couple of items over the past few months that may trace their way back to his team, but most of what we know about their actions, like what is described in the NYT story, are pretty clearly pieced together by what people outside the investigation find out. 

We get tips when Mueller has to bring in another agency for cooperation or when individuals are called to testify before a grand jury on the case or otherwise interact with prosecutors. 

So in this relative silence we may have been tempted to forget the enormously high-stakes game playing out behind closed doors between Mueller and Trump through their proxies. 

But those doors about to get kicked in. From what we now know from the NYT and what we can glean from CNN, it is obvious that Mueller is ready to start dropping the hammer on somebody. 

If Manafort has decided to cooperate with Mueller we may not see the nuclear phase of Trump v. Mueller for a little longer yet. But if Manafort is prepared to take the heat for his former boss, things are likely to get very interesting, very soon. 

The upside for the administration in this scenario is that they can get off of hypothetical questions of Russia and onto attacking individual legal gambits and narrow arguments. One of the best ways that Bill Clinton beat Republicans 20 years ago was by defeating and isolating individual arguments rather than focusing on larger questions. 

Mueller has made no secret that he wants to get where he’s going quickly, and the legal team he assembled are not there for the long haul. They gave up too much money in their private lives to hang out and drink cafeteria coffee in a government office building all day. 

That rumble that you felt today was a tectonic shift in the biggest story of the year.

SENATE INTEL MEETING WITH TRUMP LAWYER CANCELLED
Politico: “Senate investigators called off an expected closed-door interview Tuesday with Michael Cohen, saying they were upset that the longtime lawyer to President Donald Trump released a statement denying any role in Russian meddling in the 2016 election after the committee asked him not to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee now expects to schedule a public hearing with Cohen, as opposed to what was supposed to be a private interview on Tuesday, committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and top Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia said in a joint statement. ‘We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today’s interview by releasing a public statement prior to his engagement with committee staff…’ … ‘As a result, we declined to move forward with today’s interview and will reschedule Mr. Cohen’s appearance before the committee in open session at a date in the near future.’”

Donald Trump Jr. drops Secret Service protection to have more privacy - Fox News: “Donald Trump Jr., his wife Vanessa Trump, and Kellyanne Conway are dropping Secret Service protection, Fox News has confirmed. The move to get rid of round-the-clock protection came after Trump Jr. wished to have more privacy. Other family members of the president will remain under Secret Service protection. … White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway has also dropped Secret Service protection, sources told Fox News. She was given Secret Service protection following threats in the early days of the administration, but the threat level that has since changed, The New York Times reported.”

THE RULEBOOK: IT AIN’T EASY 
“History informs us, likewise, of the difficulties with which these celebrated reformers had to contend, as well as the expedients which they were obliged to employ in order to carry their reforms into effect.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 38

TIME OUT: REAL WORLD, OCTOPUS EDITION
Science: “Octopuses are reclusive animals, and the gloomy octopus (Octopus tetricus) is no exception. … But in 2012, researchers reported that the species is surprisingly social. Diving in Jervis Bay, Australia, the scientists documented as many as 16 gloomy octopuses all living in a large pile of discarded shells – dubbed Octopolis – mating and fighting, even during the daytime. Now, they have studied a second congregation a few hundred meters away—the slightly less mellifluous Octlantis. The structure, which hosts 23 dens, consists of three patches of rocks, each surrounded by mounds of shells. Video surveillance over 8 days revealed up to 15 octopuses that mated and fought there, the researchers report this month in Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology. The octopuses kicked each other out of dens, went on chases, and appeared to threaten each other by standing up and darkening their bodies. At one point, they didn’t even seem to notice a bottom-dwelling wobbegong shark sneaking up.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with
your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -16.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 2.2 points

[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]

TRUMP PREACHES SOVEREIGNTY IN TRUMPIAN U.N. ADDRESS
Fox News: “President Donald Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Tuesday, calling on strong, sovereign nations to work together side by side, but also vowing to always put ‘America first.’ ‘Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security prosperity and peace for themselves and for the world,’ Trump said. ‘As President of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first,’ he said. He said America does not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. He said we must work together to confront those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil and terror, calling out North Korea, Iran and radical Islamists.”

Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ NoKo, jabs ‘Rocket Man’ - Politico: “Trump escalated his rhetoric toward the saber-rattling Kim Jong Un regime beyond his prior ‘fire and fury’ warning, deploying his ‘Rocket Man’ nickname as he told UNGA ‘no one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.’ ‘No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,’ Trump said. ’The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.’”

HIGH STAKES FOR VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL DEBATE 
WashTimes: “Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie are locked in a tight battle to become the 73rd governor of Virginia, according to polls, as they make their final preparations ahead of their second of three scheduled debate showdowns Tuesday in Northern Virginia. … For the candidates, the hourlong forum offers them a rare opportunity to cut through all the political noise coming out of Washington, deliver their messages straight to voters on issues including taxes, health care, and transportation, and give those who tune in a chance to get a sense of what makes them tick. Analysts say many uncommitted voters will just be starting to focus on the race, which many see as an early harbinger of the midterm elections next year.”

Q poll shows Northam ahead - WWBT: “A new Quinnipiac University poll has Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam ahead of Republican Ed Gillespie 51 to 41 percent in the race for Virginia governor. … According to the poll, Northam gets a 47 - 31 percent favorability rating among Virginia likely voters. Gillespie gets 40 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable.”

[Watch Fox: A new Fox News poll on the Virginia governor’s race to be released tonight on a special two-hour edition Special Report with Bret Baier, starting at 5 p.m. ET]

Trump moves up rally for Alabama Senate underdog ‘Big Luther’ Strange - Politico: “President Donald Trump’s rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, initially scheduled for Saturday, will now be held Friday, according to Strange’s campaign. Trump had announced earlier this week that he would campaign for Strange (R-Ala.) in Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday, writing on Twitter that ‘Big Luther’ is a great guy who gets things done!’ Strange’s campaign announced Monday afternoon that the rally featuring Trump would in fact take place at 7 p.m. Friday.”

Pence to campaign for Strange on eve of Tuesday vote - 
Politico: “Vice President Mike Pence will campaign for Sen. Luther Strange next Monday in Alabama, a senior administration official and two top political operatives involved in the Alabama Senate race confirmed to POLITICO. Pence’s appearance in Alabama will come a day before the runoff between Strange and former Alabama chief Judge Roy Moore. President Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend that he planned to hold a rally in Huntsville the Saturday before Pence’s appearance in support of Strange. Pence will headline a get-out-the-vote rally for Strange. Pence’s appearance underscores the last-minute boost the White House is trying to give Strange in a race where most recent polls have shown him trailing Moore.”

GOP RALLIES BEHIND PLAN TO SEND OBAMACARE TO STATES
WashEx: “It’s now clear that Republicans are trying to make one more run at overhauling Obamacare just before a Sept. 30 deadline on the use of the reconciliation instructions, which allow them to pass healthcare legislation with a simple majority. Vice President Mike Pence flew back from President Trump’s speech at the United Nations Tuesday morning so that he could get back to Washington in time to attend the Senate policy lunch, where the bill released by Sens. Lindsey GrahamBill CassidyDean Heller and Ron Johnson will dominate the conversation. … There are many obstacles to passing a bill in 11 days, including the limited time for debate, the fact that the Congressional Budget Office has said it can only partially score the bill… But ultimately, the only question that matters in terms of passing legislation is the one that has haunted Republicans from the beginning: Do they have 50 votes?” 

Patty Murray opens door to state-based solution - Axios: “Sen. Patty Murray has agreed to a key demand of Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which could potentially move bipartisan health care talks forward. Murray has agreed to ‘significant state flexibility’ in order to reach an agreement, per a senior Democratic aide. The two GOP senators whose votes may matter the most for the latest Affordable Care Act repeal push, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain, have made it clear that they want health care legislation to be bipartisan. If Murray and Alexander can strike a deal, it would give these holdouts evidence that the two parties can come together on health care. Conversations are continuing, but it remains to be seen how Alexander wants to proceed. ‘But there’s certainly still a place for those who want a bipartisan agreement on the Republican side to go.’ From a Senate GOP aide: ‘No agreement yet on a deal that could pass.’”

Rand Paul: ‘ObamaCare Lite’ plan too generous - Fox News Opinion: “Even the bill’s authors and proponents, using what I’m sure are rosy numbers, admit that their ObamaCare Lite bill will spend 90 percent of what we currently spend on ObamaCare. Other estimates are closer to 95 percent.  Either way, did anyone go out to vote so we could repeal only 5 or 10 percent of ObamaCare?  I didn’t.”

Jonathan Chait: Democrats would avenge ObamaCare - New York Magazine: “If Republicans repealed Obamacare. It would make it easier for the left to argue that the program’s compromise structure is a failure, that its markets are inherently susceptible to sabotage by Republican administrations, and that the risk of political capital is worthwhile. And the method used to pass repeal – a hastily assembled reconciliation bill devoid of serious analysis – would make fools of the party’s Senate institutionalists. Democrats would be incentivized to pass a sweeping 50-vote Medicare expansion, with the goal of creating as many beneficiaries as possible, as quickly as possible. Heightening the contradictions of the system is a longtime tactic of radicals on the left. How strange to see this very dialectic embraced by the far right.”

SENATE REPUBLICANS CONSIDERING $1.5 TRILLION TAX CUT 
Axios: “Senate Republicans are considering a budget that would allow for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next ten years, the WSJ reports citing people familiar with the discussions.  Writing a budget is the first step in working on tax legislation and adhering to its guidelines would let a tax bill pass the Senate with a simple majority. Details on the GOP tax plan are due next week. Putting a tax cut in the budget would put off decisions on how to pay for the cuts, the paper says. WSJ reporter Richard Rubin says on Twitter the budget discussions signal ‘an unmistakable shift from revenue-neutral tax reform to revenue-losing tax reform.’”

Defense bill sails through - WaPo: “The Senate passed its version of a massive defense bill on Monday, setting up negotiations with the House but leaving the most controversial policy issues that lawmakers hoped to address unresolved. Senators voted 89 to 8 to pass the nearly $700 billion bill, which authorizes support for Pentagon programs and combat operations at home and abroad. Five Democrats and three Republicans — including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) — refused to back the measure, while defense hawks Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) did not vote. By sheer size, the bill is the most comprehensive piece of legislation Congress grapples with in any given year, apart from dealing with the budget.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
 
Trump on the Federal Reserve could become his economic legacy LAT

GOP governors push fake news site AP

AUDIBLE: OH, SNAP
“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” – President Trump addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations.

FROM THE BLEACHERS, CONSTITUION DAY EDITION 
[In honor of the observance of Constitution Day on Monday we asked you, dear readers, to offer your suggestions to improve or reform America’s charter. And boy howdy, did you ever! I was impressed not just by the sheer number of responses, but the thoughtfulness, patriotism, decency and intellect that they reflected. I know I say it all the time, but I don’t think there is any readership in America as bright, learned and fundamentally decent as you folks. I count myself lucky not just that we would have subscribers as fine as you, but that I could also call you fellow citizens. I believe that as you read through this small sampling of responses from your fellows, you will be similarly inspired to optimism about our future as a nation.]

“There are, in my opinion, two steps necessary to reclaim our rights as intended for us by the framers. First, and simplest, make members of Congress and their staffs subject to all the laws and regulations they pass; no exceptions, waivers or recompense. Second, put term limits on elected federal officials. Being a member of Congress in the framers’ day was a genuine hardship as concerned travel, managing of the family business in absentia and being in dismal D.C. The framers could not have foreseen the wealth, power and privilege that is now associated with continuous public office. Nor did they foresee a class of people with no other skill or ambition but staying in elective office. The framers probably thought that without a King, there would be no courtiers (but now the counties abutting D.C. are among the richest in the U.S.).” – John Hicks, Madison, N.J.

[Ed note: You are not alone, Mr. Hicks, by a long shot. Term limits were clearly the most popular choice among your fellow readers, and your suggestion for requiring members of Congress to be subject to every law they pass was also high on the list. I’ve been squishy on the subject of term limits for a long time, and there is still much that concerns me about the concept. But, there is also much to commend the idea. What is lacking in the relationship between the branches these days is a strong legislature and I am not sure whether term limits would help empower Congress or not. On one hand, it would thin the ranks of experienced leaders but on the other hand, it would likely goad members into faster action as they sought to make the most of their time.]

“I would propose a greatly reduced congress. Our Framers did not originally use a full time legislative branch. Distance and time wouldn’t permit. Instead they went back home to their own lands and businesses. They were among their communities. And they were heavily invested in the lives of their constituents. To that end I would say that they should meet for three months at the start of a new congress. Timed perhaps with the State of the Union. A shortened time period would force them to deal with each other to accomplish what is most pressing, but not enough time to dither about on useless politicking. If an emergency came up, the President along with the Senate Majority Leader, and Speaker of the House could call a special session. Otherwise, wait till next year. At least we could keep them from doing too much damage.” – Allen Randal, Las Vegas

[Ed. note: I love this idea, Mr. Randal! I never understand the people who are complaining about Congress not working enough. They’re not building Mustangs in a factory. And it’s not like the government doesn’t have a lot of laws already. There are, of course, things that need to be frequently addressed with changes in technology and culture, but I’m fascinated by your concept. I could see staffs working year round on preparing legislation and hammering out details and in advance of the January arrival of lawmakers for an Epiphany to Easter sprint. Thanks much!]

“Amendment text: Each State, according to the statutes established by each individual State, shall devise and submit a map of Congressional Districts to the U.S. Congress for approval. Shorthand: Limits the influence of partisan gerrymandering… Why: To me, a big reason gets done is because not enough members of Congress are worried about holding onto their seats. If you’re in a safely blue or red district where’s the incentive to make hard choices -- the ones that force you to act like an elected leader instead of a taxpayer subsidized yesman or yeswoman?” – Mike Schiano, Boston

[Ed. note: I like where your head is at, Mr. Schiano. But I’m not sure members of Congress would do much to improve gerrymandering. I imagine what would happen is majority parties would approve any crazy district that benefitted members of their team and refused even modestly fair offerings for the other guys. It sounds kind of dreadful… But addressing the composition of districts is something the Framers would have thought more about if they knew what we know now. Gerrymandering doesn’t so much tilt the balance of power in Congress but by making seats safer and safer for one party or the other, it incentivizes radical rhetoric and places a high penalty on bipartisanship. It’s harder to win general elections in better-balanced districts but primaries are much easier. Our gross, dishonest primary process might be greatly helped by a better solution on the drawing of districts.]

“Allow for national vote on hot topics with a required 2/3 vote to adopt. Fashionable topics like immigration, taxation, welfare, disability pay, removal of judges,  etc. might be topics that once they fail the congress could get a better idea on actual feelings rather than surveys.” – Tom Winter, Steele, Mo.

[Ed. note: Of all that ails American governance in 2017, Mr. Winter, I do not think that insufficient democracy is one of them. The populists push toward more direct democracy has succeeded in the past century in helping to turn representatives and senators into weather vanes, spinning on the breezes of popular opinion. The idea of a republic is that the people empower leaders to make good choices for periods of time and then may choose to either remove or return those leaders based on their performances. Some things, like going to war or paying taxes, are never popular but are still necessary. Other things, like extravagant spending, are always popular but not sustainable. I think it is time we stop expecting so little of our elected leaders and start demanding more of them than just putting a finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.]

“Some kind of check/balance on the Supreme Court. In recent years SCOTUS has become too politically sensitive and has lost its role of being ‘above’ politics. … So there should be added a ‘SCOTUS VETO’ based on a majority of state legislatures voting to negate their decision within 18-24 months of a published decision.” – Opher Banarie, Dallas

[Ed. note: No doubt the Framers foresaw the dangers of an imperial federal court, and many of our Founders were quite agitated about the idea, particularly Thomas Jefferson. What they might not have anticipated, though, is the degree to which the other two branches would so thoroughly defer to the courts. The Framers imagined constant jousting between co-equal branches. Yes, they hoped that judges would be removed from the pressures of political faction and favor by granting them lifetime appointments, but they did not appoint them to be kings. But that may be changing. The trend among conservative justices, quite explicitly expressed by Chief Justice John Roberts, has been a return to humility for court that has been grandiose at many times since the 1950s. The new fashion toward judicial restraint even as some admirers on the left side of the activism aisle. It’s pretty clear that with Neil Gorsuch on the bench for what will probably be many decades, the trend is likely to continue.]

“Congress shall make no law imposing any tax on the citizens of the United States unless that tax is imposed on each dollar of every citizen’s income at the same rate. Congress, of course, would define ‘income’ and set the tax rate, but everything else would remain constant. I hold out the hope that the common desire to ‘protect’ the poor will force the government to reign in its appetite for tax revenue...” – Alan PlumleyClarksville, Md.

[Ed. note: Mandating a federal flat tax would be a revolutionary move and, as you suggest, Mr. Plumley, it would radically alter the way we think about tax rates. We can’t know what the founders would have said about federal income tax, because they would have never allowed such a thing in the first place, but it’s safe to say that they would have been unhappy with our current arrangement for providing resources to our government.]

“Proposed Amendment: “The Congress shall not have the power to require the withholding of personal income taxes from any person employed in the United States.” Why offered:  Withholding of income tax is the enabler for unrestrained and wasteful spending by the Federal Government. It causes people to become indifferent to the enormous share of their income which the government claims.” – Russ L. Kiekhaefer, Midland, Mich.

[Ed. note: This reminds me, Mr. Kiekhaefer, of a similar proposal I have heard that would move tax day to Election Day so that folks would be voting just as they were contemplating how much they paid in taxes. I don’t think you need a constitutional amendment for your idea though, Congress can make that the part of any tax law any time they wanted.] 

“The original [language in the First Amendment barring the establishment of government religion and guaranteeing the right of free expression] was simple and straightforward. We have redefined words to make the amendment mean something other than what was originally written. This proposed amendment is to clarify words and limit the meanings of the words to the original intent. Should someone want additional limits on speech and religion, let them propose and pass their own amendments, but let them not warp the original.” – Randy Apon, Seneca, S.C.

[Ed. note: That establishment clause is a doozy, Mr. Apon. The challenge these days is to separate what are individual expressions versus what expressions of religion carry the weight of the federal government. The president can send a Christmas card or wish people a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukah or anything else because he is doing it as an individual. Where things get dicey is on the question of laws and policies that deal with religious institutions and people of faith. Courts have come to take a broader view of government support for religious programs in recent years. Government funds now freely flow to religious schools and to charities operating under the banner of an individual faith. Absolutists would say that this constitutes the government establishing religion, for what could be more establishing than the provision of tax payer funds and the imprimatur of the federal government itself. The rebuttal to this is that the government is not endorsing their faith but rather subsidizing good works on which a majority of lawmakers believe are worthwhile. But the real frontiers here have to do with religious liberty and what constitutes expression of faith by individuals. The political fights of the past decade are littered with the wreckage of clashes over conscience exceptions to laws, “hate speech” and discrimination. I’m afraid that no matter how clearly we were to reword the First Amendment lawmakers, courts and individuals would continue to struggle with these questions.]  

“My new amendment would be to update the second amendment.  I would have an amendment that requires anyone who owns a gun to take the proper in person class and also be able to provide and prove you have a safe place for storage.  … This would allow those who really want or feel the need to own a gun to still be able to do so and those who don’t will get weeded out.  If the founding fathers had known what kind of weaponry would be developed in the future and how it was to be used I believe they would have worded it differently.  They also didn’t know how much money the gun industry would be pumping into propping up their positions and getting favorable laws, but that is for another day.” – Jeff Cox, Norman, Okla.

[Ed. note: I bet bringing this one up in Norman stirs up plenty of conversation. The Framers really did a double whammy on us with that one, didn’t they? They tell us why citizens should have the right to bear arms – in order to maintain a militia to protect the country – but then they tell us that the right is absolute and “shall not be infringed.” What the heck are we supposed to do with that? I imagine that there would be a great deal of popular support for your idea that would, essentially, clarify the argument in favor of the “well-regulated militia” side of the equation. But I also think that you’d have a hell of a fight on your hands, just as I’m sure many of your neighbors would tell you.]    

“Senators elected by the state legislators.  If we are going to maintain some level of Federalism instead requiring that New York and Boise have the same laws on everything, then we need someone in the Federal Government who represents the States.” – Hyrum HibbertBoise, Idaho

[Ed. note: Then you and I, Mr. Hibbert, are brothers from another mother! I make no secret of the fact that I believe the 17th Amendment set the republic down a perilous path. The reasons given for its enactment were that wealthy and powerful elites could use their influence to corrupt state legislatures and buy Senate seats. Many states at the time of passage were thrilled to lose that responsibility that led to brawls like one at Missouri statehouse involving the a ladder that members were using to climb up and setback the clock to keep the legislative day going. But it seems to me that the needed reforms should have happened on the state level if that was the real concern. As it is, we basically have duplicate federal chambers, although senators are saved from biennial elections and gerrymandered districts. Further insulating members of the Senate from voters will likely return much of the perspective currently lacking, as well as help restore the Senate’s functionality. But another advantage would be that it would increase the value of individual citizens’ vote for their state legislators, which now amount to electoral afterthoughts, at best. As you say, the House would speak for the people while the senate would speak for the states.] 

“I would not propose new changes. I would like to see our legal/government system adhere to the original intent of the framers. The freedoms promised and the rights put forth in there are truly timeless. We have taken it and distorted what it says, when it really is simple.” – Vickie Bonino, Columbus, Mich. 

[Ed. note: I think you win, Ms. Bonino. As they would say in Delbarton, W. Va.: love your heart.] 

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

HIGGINS COULD HAVE TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN
WJBK: “Saturday night was Star Wars night at Comerica Park but it was a large group of Magnum P.I. impersonators who stole the attention of security. 45 men dressed asThomas Magnum, the Tom Selleck iconic character in the 1980s TV show Magnum P.I., were tossed out of the ballpark Saturday. The huge group was at the game for Joe Tuccini’s bachelor party. The Allen Park resident told FOX 2 that the Tigers told him they were ejected for ‘catcalling’ but he says that’s not true. … The group of 45 Magnum P.I.’s - which included a cardboard cutout of Magnum P.I. - were escorted from the park. Tuccini said that they’re asking the Tigers to reimburse them with tickets for next season and to also extend an invite to Selleck, a Tigers fan himself. Selleck wore the Tigers baseball hat along with a Hawaiian shirt in the show that aired for eight seasons…”

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.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/09/19/mueller-v-trump-is-about-to-blow-up.html