Democratic wave still growing

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On the roster: Democratic wave still growing - House GOP presents stopgap bill to avoid shutdown - Trump to headline House GOP fundraising dinner - Bannon ready to tell all to Mueller - Is that you, Steve Bannon? 

DEMOCRATIC WAVE STILL GROWING

We are told that President Trump was quite pleased with the response to his outhouse description of poor countries sending immigrants to the United States.

The president reportedly told guests at his Mar-a-Lago country club over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend that he was tickled with the response because it would fire up his political base.

This has been a ready excuse for the president’s supporters when he stumbles. And, in short order, the stumbles are deemed not to be stumbles at all, but rather clever means to keep his core supporters engaged. 

What this conveniently self-absolving idea forgets, however, is that everything that stokes the GOP base has a corresponding – if not even more intense – response on the other end of the political spectrum. 

Consider Tuesday’s state Senate contest in Wisconsin where Republicans managed to lose a seat that had been safely red for almost 20 years in a district Trump had carried last year by 17 points. Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., who is running for a third term this fall, said the loss should be a “wake-up call” for the state GOP.

And while certainly the shift in this district should be alarming for Walker and his diminishing chances, it is just the latest alarming sign for national Republicans that Democrats are building a midterm wave.

Democratic victories in Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama and improved performances in special House elections across the country all add up to that unavoidable conclusion. What Republicans seem to be struggling with, though, is why that is so.

We are consistently told by members of the GOP that the improving economy will eventually redound to their benefit. A close cousin to this one is the claim that the news media are unfairly hiding good economic news in order to harm Republican chances for retaining the House and Senate.

Here’s the thing: Poll after poll show that Americans are well aware of the improving economy, and increasingly say that their personal finances and the economic future of the country looks brighter than before. That’s been the case for months.

But Trump is still ending his first year as president tied with his all-time high job approval rating in the Quinnipiac University poll: 38 percent. Voters know the economy is better, but still do not like Trump or approve of one-party rule in Washington.

Trump gets low marks on a host of subjects, but particularly for personal attributes and leadership qualities. Voters view him as divisive, bigoted and temperamentally unfit for office.

As the political press and politicians look at the 2018 conundrum for Republicans, we continue to apply outmoded thinking. Democrats and Republicans alike both briefly expected 2018 to be contested over the tax-cut legislation, but that was only a month ago, and it has already been buried under multiple layers of news.

In the old days, parties in power would pass legislation or enact policies and then fight like the dickens for months or even a year over them. Under this model, Republicans would be plumping for contributions and base support for their tax cut while Democrats did the same in reverse.

But with Trump, no one gets the chance to allow an idea to marinate or for public opinion to settle into consistent bands. Democrats don’t need to build an argument against the tax cuts because Trump simply hands them a new club with which to beat Republicans every few days.

Again, this does inspire the president’s core supporters but, boy howdy, is it doing wonders for Democratic intensity.

This trend was already in place long before Trump got back into politics. Republicans under Barack Obama and Democrats under George W. Bush made plenty of hay out of being the party of “no.” After all, who wants to fight over direction and ideology when you can just rally your team around the idea of a common enemy?

What is working differently this time is that rather than trying to mitigate that effect, this president chooses to aggravate it. Those who delight when Trump makes liberals’ heads explode or reduces the White House press corps to stammers are deluding themselves if they think there will not be consequences.

Anti-anti-Trump may have been good enough to keep most Republicans together for the first year of his presidency, but celebrating the excesses of Trump’s opponents and the coverage of his administration is not a strategy for surviving what promises to be a very painful midterm for Republicans.

THE RULEBOOK: HATERS GONNA HATE 
“When will the time arrive that the federal government can raise and maintain an army capable of erecting a despotism over the great body of the people of an immense empire… The apprehension may be considered as a disease, for which there can be found no cure in the resources of argument and reasoning.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 28

TIME OUT: HI, HAROLD!
BBC: “The Bayeux Tapestry is set to be displayed in the UK after France agreed it could leave its shores for the first time in 950 years, the BBC understands. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce the loan during his visit to the UK on Thursday. He has said the tapestry - which depicts the Norman Conquest of England - would not be transferred before 2020. The Times said the loan was subject to the outcome of tests to make sure the 11th Century artwork was safe to move. The tapestry tells the story of the future William I’s conquest of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings and the defeat of Harold in 1066. It is on permanent display at a museum in the town of Bayeux, in Normandy, and has very rarely been moved. However, President Macron is expected to announce the proposed loan at a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May in the UK this week.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -22.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.4 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.]

HOUSE GOP PRESENTS STOPGAP BILL TO AVOID SHUTDOWN 
Politico: “House GOP leaders on Tuesday unveiled a spending plan to fund the government through President’s Day to once again buy time for a broader spending deal. The plan was pitched in a closed-door meeting with just three days until government funding runs out. If approved, it would be Congress’ fourth spending patch in four months. Lawmakers would then have until Feb. 16 to draft a trillion-dollar omnibus bill that lasts through September. The stopgap spending bill, which was expected to be formally released later Tuesday night, would also fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years. It would delay some Obamacare taxes to help win over some Republicans who are otherwise reluctant to back another stopgap bill. The House plan will include a two-year delay of the medical device tax and the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health insurance plans. Speaker Paul Ryan and his team are hoping to once again clear the bill without courting Democratic votes.”

Conservatives threaten blockade - The Hill: “Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said late Tuesday night that House GOP leadership did not have the votes to pass a government funding bill. ‘There is currently not enough support for the latest leadership initiative,’ Meadows told The Hill. ‘We continue to work with them to find a way to reach consensus on a path forward.’ …the Freedom Caucus, a band of roughly 30 conservative hard-liners, have remained divided over the proposed spending strategy. The group did not take a formal position on the CR, which would require consensus from 80 percent of the caucus. But Meadows emerged from Tuesday night’s Freedom Caucus meeting saying they likely had enough votes to defeat the CR. The group represents a key voting bloc in the House.”

Pressure off negotiators with court blocking Trump from deporting DREAMers - The Hill: “House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that a recent court decision in favor of ‘Dreamers’ has greatly reduced the pressure on GOP leaders to pass legislation related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. ‘There is no deadline on DACA,’ McCarthy said as he left a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol basement on Tuesday night. Some lawmakers — including at least one Republican, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.) — are threatening to oppose a short-term spending bill this week over the exclusion of a legislative fix to DACA, an Obama-era program which President Trump announced last year that he would rescind. McCarthy, the second-ranking House Republican, accused those lawmakers of jeopardizing the military personnel reliant on an extension of Pentagon funding, which expires with the rest of the budget on Saturday.”

Justice to ask SUPCO to allow Trump to dismantle DREAMer program - WaPo: “The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would take the ‘rare step’ of asking the Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s ruling and allow the Trump administration to dismantle a program that provides work permits to undocumented immigrants raised in the United States. The Trump administration said it has appealed the judge’s injunction — which said the Obama-era program must continue for now — to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. But the Justice Department will also petition the Supreme Court later this week to intervene in the case, an unusual action that would allow the government to bypass the 9th Circuit altogether in its bid to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program starting in March.”

Senate set to pass mass surveillance reauthorization - Bloomberg: “The Senate advanced legislation Tuesday to extend the government’s authority to spy on suspected foreign terrorists’ communications, setting up a vote for final passage before the program is set to expire Friday night. The bill, which moved forward on a 60-38 vote, would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through 2023, allowing the National Security Agency to continue intercepting calls and emails from possible foreign terrorists without a court warrant. The provision ‘is the single most effective tool that we have to assure the American people that we’re doing everything we can to provide their safety,’ Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said on the Senate floor before the vote.”

Free trade bill sails through House - The Hill: “The House on Tuesday easily passed a measure that would eliminate duties on imported raw materials used for production that aren’t readily available in the United States. On a 402-0 vote, the House sent the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which represents a sliver of this year’s trade agenda, to the Senate for action. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the bill’s sponsor, said the measure will help manufacturers ‘better compete globally, create more jobs here at home, and make high-quality ‘Made in America’ products more affordable for families.’”

[Watch Fox - White House Chief of Staff John Kelly sits down with Bret Baier on Wednesday. Watch “Special Report with Bret Baier” at 6 p.m. ET.]

TRUMP TO HEADLINE HOUSE GOP FUNDRAISING DINNER
Politico: “President Donald Trump has agreed to headline the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual March dinner, according to a GOP official briefed on the plans. The Washington event, to be held March 20, is typically the House GOP campaign committee's biggest fundraiser of the year. … Trump's plans were announced to the House GOP conference during a Wednesday morning meeting to discuss the challenging 2018 political landscape confronting the party. During the meeting, Georgia Rep. Karen Handel gave a presentation in which she outlined how she drove turnout in last year's special election for a vacant House seat. During the meeting, a number of House Republican lawmakers pledged to boost the party's fundraising coffers. Among those making pledges were Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer, and Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs.”

Kraushaar: ‘The Five Biggest House Bellwethers’ - National Journal: “As Trump’s standing worsened throughout the year, Democrats later grew cautiously optimistic. Now, with a flurry of GOP lawmakers announcing early retirements and Democrats holding historic advantages in congressional polling… House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently raised the specter of a ‘bloodbath’ election to the president, noting parallels that indicate this year’s midterms could be a 2010-in-reverse for Republicans. There’s no doubt the environment is dismal for the GOP, but a lot can happen in 10 months. It’s important to pay attention to the ups and downs of the individual campaigns along with the big-picture indicators. If Democrats hope to win the 24 seats they’ll need to retake the majority, these are the members of Congress they’ll need to oust… Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois… Rep. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania… Rep. John Culberson of Texas… Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York… Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska.”

Pennsylvania, elections and the case of gerrymandering - NYT: “This week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will consider whether the state’s harshly gerrymandered congressional map violates the state’s constitution. The case is happening early enough in the year that the court could order a redrawn map ahead of the midterm elections. If that happens, Democrats will probably win at least one additional House seat this cycle, and they will be better positioned in several other seats. The case is about state, not federal, law, so the result will stand regardless of how the United States Supreme Court rules on the biggest question of all: whether partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution. A Supreme Court ruling against partisan gerrymandering could usher in a half-dozen or more new congressional maps before the 2020 election, but probably not before this November’s midterm elections.” 

Von Drehle: ‘Keep an eye on one of the most interesting political battlegrounds of 2018’ - WaPo: “What I am about to say might surprise you: Kansas is shaping up to be one of the most interesting political battlegrounds of the coming year. Yes, Kansas. In the late 1850s, this was the white-hot center of American politics. … But by the 20th century, things settled down to a mostly predictable routine. No Kansas Democrat has been elected to the U.S. Senate since the Great Depression, and Kansas has voted Republican in 19 of the past 20 presidential elections. However, the churn and tempest of contemporary politics is being felt even here — especially in the race to become the next governor of the Sunflower State. I count at least three political mega-trends likely to surface in the contest, which has attracted a huge field of candidates and appears genuinely up for grabs.”

Pawlenty will not seek Senate seat in Minnesota - Roll Call: “Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday he will not run in November’s special election for Senate. ‘I am very interested in public service and service for the common good — there are a lot of different ways to do that — but I’ll tell you today running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans,’ Pawlenty told Fox Business. Many Republicans had considered Pawlenty, currently the CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, their best shot to take on newly appointed Sen. Tina Smith in the special election to fill former Sen. Al Franken’s seat.”

Blackburn leads polls for Tennessee Senate primary - The Tennessee Star: “Free market conservative Club for Growth PAC released a poll Tuesday of Republican primary voters that found Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) is utterly dominating her Republican opponents in the race to replace retiring Senator Bob Corker. The poll found that Blackburn leads former Rep. Steve Fincher (R-TN-07) with Republican Primary voters by 53 points, 66 percent to 13 percent in a head-to-head match up. The findings of the Club for Growth PAC Poll, conducted between January 14 and January 15, mirror the findings of The Tennessee Star Poll conducted in December, which showed that Blackburn leads Fincher among likely Tennessee Republican primary voters by a whopping 47 points, 58 percent to 11 percent.”

BANNON READY TO TELL ALL TO MUELLER 
Daily Beast: “Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon broke some bad news to House investigators Tuesday, announcing that the White House had invoked executive privilege to keep him from answering many of their questions. But executive privilege—the president’s right to keep certain information from the public so he can have frank conversations with aides—will not keep Steve Bannon from sharing information with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to a person familiar with the situation. ‘Mueller will hear everything Bannon has to say,’ said the source, who is familiar with Bannon’s thinking. During a closed-door hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Bannon reportedly told lawmakers that President Donald Trump has invoked broad executive privilege for the purposes of congressional inquiries. Because of that, Bannon refused to answer committee members’ questions about what happened during the presidential transition and in the White House.”

FBI agents visited Bannon to talk about the subpoena - NBC News: “FBI agents showed up at Steve Bannon’s Washington home last week intent on serving him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury investigating possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, according to a source familiar with the proceedings. The agents were unaware at the time that Bannon had retained Washington lawyer William Burck just hours earlier, according to two people familiar with the events that took place on Jan. 9. Once redirected, the agents sent the order to Burck, who is also representing two other witnesses in the probe being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI. Bannon, who served as Trump’s chief strategist until he departed the White House in August, could end up being interviewed by Mueller’s team before the end of the month, according to one source who agreed to discuss the matter on the condition of anonymity.”

Lewandowski, Dearborn to on Hill - Fox News: “Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi and another key Trump aide will testify behind closed doors Wednesday as part of a congressional probe into Russian collusion with Trump campaign associates. Lewandowski and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rick Dearbon’s interviews with the House Intelligence Committee come after ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met with congressional investigators for almost 12 hours on Tuesday. … Lewandowski said on Fox Business Network's ‘Mornings with Maria’ Wednesday that he was not instructed by the White House to withhold any information. ‘I'll tell you anything,’ Lewandowski said.” 

Schiff describes White House order as ‘gag order’ - 
The Hill: “The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday night slammed what he described as a ‘gag order by the White House’ following testimony from President Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, before the panel amid its Russia probe. Bannon refused to answer questions related to his time in the White House and on the transition team during 10 hours of testimony before the panel, according to lawmakers, cabining his responses to his stint on the campaign. That limitation was at the request of the White House, ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters when the interview broke on Tuesday evening. Bannon’s counsel conferred with the White House after the committee issued a subpoena, Schiff said, ‘and was instructed by the White House to refuse again to answer any questions concerning the time during the transition and his time in the administration.’”

Ignatius: ‘The truth about the FBI’s Russia probe’ - WaPo: “Far from a yarn concocted by Steele, the FBI probe was driven by its own independent reporting about Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last October to lying about his Russia contacts. The bottom line: There may be something in tatters at the center of this investigation, but it isn’t the FBI. A question for Republicans in Congress who have been so quick to trash FBI officials and defend Trump: Does this concern you at all?”

Twitter may notify millions of users who saw Kremlin propaganda in 2016 - Recode: “Twitter is exploring ways to notify perhaps millions of users who viewed Russian propaganda during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the company revealed Wednesday. Appearing at an unrelated hearing in the Senate, the company’s director of public policy, Carlos Monje, said Twitter is ‘working to identify and inform individually the users who have been exposed to IRA accounts during the election’ — referring to the Internet Research Agency, an online troll army with Kremlin ties.”

UNCERTAINTY OVER WHITE HOUSE FAKE NEWS AWARDS 
WaPo: “Trump will name ‘the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media’ on Wednesday, according to a Jan. 7 tweet, but he appears to have done little preparation for the event — if there even is an event. ‘We'll keep you posted on any details around that potential event and what that would look like,’ White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday when asked about the awards. ‘Potential’ event? What happened to the president's tweeted claim, nine days earlier, that ‘the interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated’? Heightened interest was Trump's stated reason for pushing back the awards, which he initially said he would give out Jan. 8. ‘Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media,’ he tweeted early this month.”

Flake takes the floor to hammer Trump again - Fox News: “Outgoing Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake launched a fiery attack on President Trump Wednesday over Trump’s criticisms of the media -- alleging that the president pushes ‘pernicious fantasies,’ uses Stalinist language and causes global instability by undermining the free press. ‘An American president who cannot take criticism, who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger,’ Flake said. He also criticized Trump for describing the press as ‘the enemy of the people,’ a phrase he said was used by mass-murdering Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. ‘It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies,’ he said.”

McCain: ‘Mr. President, stop attacking the press’ - WaPo: “After leaving office, President Ronald Reagan created the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to recognize individuals who have fought to spread liberty worldwide. Nancy Reagan continued the tradition after her husband's death, and in 2008 she bestowed the honor on human rights icon Natan Sharansky… Reagan recognized that as leader of the free world, his words carried enormous weight, and he used them to inspire the unprecedented spread of democracy around the world. President Trump does not seem to understand that his rhetoric and actions reverberate in the same way. He has threatened to continue his attempt to discredit the free press by bestowing ‘fake news awards’ upon reporters and news outlets whose coverage he disagrees with. Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy.”

XXX ACTRESS DISHED ON TRUMP AFFAIR TO GOSSIP MAG
Daily Beast: “[Today], InTouch magazine ran excerpts from an interview with adult-film star Stormy Daniels (née Stephanie Clifford) wherein she detailed having a 2006 affair with then-future-president Donald Trump. The piece was the first confirmation from Daniels about the affair, which had been much rumored prior to the 2016 election and drew renewed attention this past week after The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s personal lawyer paid her $130,000 to keep quiet. But Wednesday’s story is just the beginning of the saga, not the conclusion of it.  According to a source familiar with the matter, later this week, InTouch is planning to run the entire unedited interview it conducted with Daniels. All 5,500 words of it. The interview with Daniels was conducted in 2011, which means it occurred before the performer signed the reported NDA. The magazine also verified Daniels’ account with two sources at the time and had the actress take a polygraph.”

Journalist details his own effort to get the Stormy story - Slate: “In our conversations, Daniels said she was holding back on the juiciest details, such as her ability to describe things about Trump that only someone who had seen him naked would know. She intimated that her view of his sexual skill was at odds with the remark attributed to Marla Maples. She didn’t allege any kind of abuse, insisting she was not a victim. The worst Trump had done, she said, was break promises she’d never believed he would fulfill. … Daniels said she had some corroborating evidence, including the phone numbers of Trump’s longtime personal assistant Rhona Graff and his bodyguard Keith Schiller, with whom she said she would arrange rendezvous.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
How Wolff tricked Trump - Bloomberg

National Park Service advisory board members quit en masse - NPR

Trump ending first year with lowest-ever average approval rating - AP

On earmarks, Rep. Rooney says ‘you can’t do jack s—t’ without them - Business Insider

Rep. Mia Love didn’t demand apology from Trump over Haiti insult in their meeting The Salt Lake Tribune

Fed foresee raising interest rates to keep economy in check - WSJ

Republican lawmakers join call for Missouri’s GOP to resign over sex scandal - St. Louis Post Dispatch

AUDIBLE: HUT, HUT, IKE!
“As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.” –President Dwight Eisenhower on this day in 1961 delivering his farewell address most famous for a warning about the “military-industrial complex.” 

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Happy New Year to you Mr. Stirewalt (since I haven’t written since 2017). I finally have something to contribute again, and I’m afraid it’s a criticism. Why ‘Trump shutdown.’ So much click bait. Even in a ‘single party’ government, I’d hardly call it unified. Senate rules require 60 votes unless there’s a rules (e.g. reconciliation) exemption. The last ‘unified’ Congress was 2009-10. In this case, it’s clearly the Democrats who are withholding votes and forcing a potential shutdown. Yes, Trump has contributed to the stand-off with extremely ill-advised words. But shouldn’t the adults in the room just ignore him and pass a budget? That includes Ryan, McConnell, Schumer, Durbin, Pelosi, et al. That would earn a ton of respect, even if it’s just a CR. As for DACA, there’s broad consensus on a fix. If either party wants to use the issue to force a broader immigration bill in the context of a budget (not a CR), great. Ignore the mouth that roared’s intemperate comments (as you stated on several shows, we don’t know what’s in his heart) and GET. IT. DONE.” – Jeff Smith, Statesboro, Ga.

[Ed. note: You are quite right, Mr. Smith. Unified government does not mean unanimous government. Even when parties have super majorities in both houses and control the White House, there are still disagreements. Just look at the Democrats scramble to pass what many felt at the time was an unsatisfactory version of ObamaCare. Even so, this would still mark the first time that the government has partially shut down with members of the same party in the Oval Office, the House speakership and as majority leader in the Senate.]

“You say: ‘There is no question that setting immigration policy is the duty of the Congress, Mr. Tardif. But there is also no question that former president Obama put in place a program that circumvents congressional primacy on the subject. President Trump is choosing to end that circumvention. You may think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but like his predecessor, Trump is acting unilaterally to change the rules.’ I say: Only congress, representing the people and the states, has the right to make laws or rules except rules explicitly empowered by congress or by the constitution. Not the President who is sworn to faithfully execute the laws passed by congress and certainly not the Supreme Court whose members are appointed for life specifically so they might perform a technical function devoid of popular opinion or their own ideas of what is best but only the plain direct application of the Constitution and the laws. When congress is judged not to do its job, it is up to the people, not the President to correct that problem. The current law says those who enter the country illegally shall be deported. Presidents have no right to decide when to ignore that law. The only right is prioritizing available resources to the most important legal violations first but not to declare that the executive branch refuses to enforce the law. Obama’s circumvention of the laws by creating his own rules are in plain understanding illegal and Trump’s corrections are legally necessary. They are not parallel actions, the political considerations notwithstanding.” – Barry Weinstein, Cary, N.C.

[Ed. note: It is good, then, Mr. Weinstein, that there are three co-equal branches of the government to sort these matters out. I do not doubt that you believe Obama’s actions to have been illegal, but the courts disagree and, presumably, will now hold that Trump holds similar powers to undo them.]

“You comment that the Democratic Party has an overarching aim of thwarting every initiative of the president. I’m confused, if they disagree with those goals isn’t that the job? Please don’t forget that from [Mitch McConnell’s] stated intent to make Obama a one term president to the obtuse and obstinate refusal to consider Merrick Garland the GOP is getting what it gave.” – Eric Kindberg, Cincinnati 

[Ed. note: Quite so, Mr. Kindberg! I don’t remember the exact context, but every minority party seeks to impede the majority, and there’s nothing wrong with that. One note of caution, though: Parties that fail to develop agendas and priorities while in the minority tend to struggle with governance when they take control.]

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IS THAT YOU, STEVE BANNON? 
Iceland Monitor: “A tourist travelling from Iceland to England was arrested for wearing eight trousers and ten shirts. The reason he put on all his clothes was to evade a fee for excess luggage. Mbl.is got hold of the tourist, Ryan Carney Williams who calls himself Ryan Hawaii the day that finally got back to England after having been refused entry to his plane twice. Media reported this weekend that Hawaii had been barred entry to his plane for having put on all his clothes and for rowdiness. Hawaii was denied a boarding pass at the British Airways desk when he had put on all his clothes and was about to register for the flight. The reason given was that he was rude and he was asked to leave the flight desk and a security guard was called when he refused.” 

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.