Dems souring on Mueller

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On the roster: Dems souring on Mueller - Time Out: Wheeeee! - Feinstein fights to deny rival official party nod - Audible: As they would say in Farmington - Canadian crime wave

DEMS SOURING ON MUELLER
You know the old line about finding a turtle on top of a fencepost. You know it didn’t get there by itself.

In politics it is never enough to know that something has changed. The “why” always matters more than the “what” when it comes to observable shifts in voter attitudes. Knowing where the turtle is matters less then knowing who put it there.

So it goes for the noticeable drop since last month in public approval for the investigation led be Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. In June, our Fox News poll found that 55 percent of voters generally approved of the way Mueller was conducting the probe.

In our new poll, that number dropped 7 points to 48 percent. So what gives?

The announcement today of multiple indictments against Russian intelligence operatives gives us a little insight on that subject. What Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced was stunning in its scope and alarming in its detail of how ferociously committed Vladimir Putin’s government was to subverting our electoral process. What it wasn’t, however, was about Donald Trump.

Yes, some Trump associates may be uncomfortably close to Russians peddling hacked data. Roger Stone and some other folks probably ought to keep their calendars clear for a while. But as Rosenstein went to some pains to emphasize, no American was charged, no evidence of knowing coordination between the Trump campaign and its Russian benefactors was presented and no votes were changed by Putin’s cyber skunks.

This may satisfy the president’s defenders and Trump himself who by this point must get prompts from Siri for “witch hunt” every time he opens Twitter. The same investigation that the president denigrates daily continues to report no findings of Trump intentionally teaming up with Russian agents.

Democrats, however, are growing frustrated with Mueller failing to wrap up an investigation that many of them believe is an open-and-shut case.

That’s what our poll shows, too. The entirety of the 7-point decline comes from shifting Democratic sentiment. In June 84 percent of self-identified Democrats were on Team Mueller. Now it’s only 72 percent.

Republicans have been down on Mueller for a while now. In June just 23 percent of Republicans thought Mueller was doing a good job. That number actually ticked up to 25 percent this month. The president and his administration’s long-running effort to discredit Mueller and the Justice Department did its work with the president’s supporters long ago.

It’s reasonable to assume that declining Democratic approval for Mueller is for quite a different reason than the already-low Republican support. The Blue Team wants more charges against more figures from Trump’s world and, ultimately, grounds for removal of the president himself. Mueller is not obliging them and Democrats are getting crabby.

“Saturday Night Live” poked fun at this sentiment back in March when a cast member portraying Mueller appeared on a parody of “The Bachelor.”

Kate McKinnon, spoofing Mueller, tells a heartbroken contestant on the reality dating show that he just can’t commit to finding collusion. “I don’t think that I can give you everything that you want right now, and I think you sense that,” faux Mueller declares.

We still have no idea what all Mueller has found in this murky frog pond, and again repeat our advice that regardless of political opinion Americans should do their best to withhold judgment on this subject until the special counsel’s work is done. We would also point out that at just over a year, Mueller’s investigation has gone on for far less time than other similar probes into things like the Iran-Contra Affair.

All that having been said, it is useful to think about how we might deal with various possible outcomes of the investigation. One that Democrats have spent insufficient time exploring is the possibility that Mueller will conclude that Trump did not collude.

It may be time for them to do so since the alternative would leave their party without a message and in deep despair.

They’ve got the turtle up on the fence post, but they had better figure out a way to get it back down if need be.

THE RULEBOOK: MORE THAN WORDS
“What is the liberty of the press? Who can give it any definition which would not leave the utmost latitude for evasion? I hold it to be impracticable; and from this I infer, that its security, whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 84

TIME OUT: WHEEEEE!
Smithsonian: “Roller coasters may seem like a very modern type of entertainment… But they actually date back to the mid-1800s. Gravity-propelled railways built to transport coal from up in the mountains down to the town in Pennsylvania, were hired out at weekends by fare-paying passengers riding purely for the fun of it. Today theme parks are big business. … What is it about roller coasters that some love so much, and is it an experience we tend to like less as we get older? Enjoying roller coasters is linked to sensation seeking… But what sensation do roller coasters provide that is so alluring? At first glance, it may seem to come down to the experience of speed. But the evidence for linking sensation seeking to speed is not compelling. … Perhaps the draw of roller coasters is the enjoyment of the visceral sensation of fear itself, much like watching a horror movie. … But roller coasters are not everybody’s cup of tea. … This line of research sets out the intriguing possibility that enjoyment of intense physical experiences such as riding on roller coasters may reflect individual differences in brain chemistry.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.8 percent 
Average disapproval: 
52.6 percent 
Net Score:
 -10.8 points
Change from one week ago: 
down 0.2 points
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 41% approve - 56% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; CNBC: 41% approve - 47% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
40.4 percent
Democratic average: 48.2 percent
Advantage: 
Democrats plus 7.8 points
Change from one week ago: 
Democratic advantage up 0.6 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; IBD: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk University: 45% Dems - 39% GOP; CNN: 50% Dems - 42% GOP.]

FEINSTEIN FIGHTS TO DENY RIVAL OFFICIAL PARTY NOD
AP: “U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is tapping into her political Rolodex to convince California Democratic Party leaders to not formally endorse a candidate in her November race against fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon. She says it’s to avoid an intraparty fight, but her effort if successful will thwart her longshot rival’s very real chance at capturing the party nod when the committee votes Saturday. A 26-year incumbent like Feinstein wouldn’t ordinarily find herself in this position but does for a couple of reasons: The party has moved farther left in the Trump era, and Feinstein hasn’t spent time courting the activists who make up the executive board, many of whom have long been skeptical of her. De Leon, meanwhile, has engaged with them for years as a state senator from Los Angeles and former leader of the chamber. A party endorsement would be a desperately needed boost to his campaign and an embarrassment to Feinstein.”

Fox News Poll: Dems fired up for fall -
Fox News: “Democrats are more interested in the upcoming midterm elections and more enthused to vote than usual, and that helps them to an 8-point edge in the generic congressional ballot test.  This amid widespread concern that the country’s political debate is overheated and even dangerous -- to the point that many voters steer clear of talking politics with family and friends. Fifty-four percent of Democrats are ‘extremely’ interested in the November elections, and 51 percent are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, according to the latest Fox News national poll. Republicans trail on both measures: 47 percent are extremely interested and 42 percent are more enthused. Here’s the take-away: by a 48-40 percent margin, voters prefer the Democratic candidate in their congressional district over the Republican.  Democrats were up 48-39 percent last month. The rule of thumb is the Democrats need to carry the generic ballot test by about 10 percentage points to take over the U.S. House this fall.”

Roby faces tough runoff in Alabama - Fox News: “In her bid for a fifth term in Congress, Alabama Republican Martha Roby faces a tough battle within her own party — a GOP primary runoff against Bobby Bright, the former Democratic representative she defeated back in 2010, now running as a Republican. ‘Our voters are motivated, much more so than our opponent’s, mainly because our people want a change and they want it now,’ Bright told Fox News during a campaign stop in Rutledge, Ala. ‘Her supporters are soft because they feel like she has been compromised.’ Roby’s troubles stem from her decision to withdraw support from Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign after the release of an old Access Hollywood tape in which Trump talks about groping women. Whoever wins the July 17 runoff will face Democrat Tabitha Isner in the November general election.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Dems who drafted bill to abolish ICE now will vote against it - Fox News

House passes intel bill to fund programs targeting Russia, China and NoKo - AP

Senators propose going over budget to fund program for veterans health care - Politico

After Ethics Office warning, Ross will sell all of his stocks Bloomberg

Aide who helped sell tax cut to replace departing White House liaison to Congress Politico

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck… Unless it’s Paul Ryan’s car NPR

AUDIBLE: AS THEY WOULD SAY IN FARMINGTON 
“I’ll be 71 years old in August, you’re going to whip me? Kiss my you know what.” – Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., response to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asking if he could influence Manchin’s vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

Live from Helsinki, Chris Wallace looks ahead to the summit between President Trump and Russian ruler Vladimir Putin and Mr. Sunday’s own interview with Putin set for Monday. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area. The episode will be re-broadcast on the Fox News Channel at 2 pm and 7 pm ET.

Then stay tuned for special coverage from Finland throughout the day.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I heard on the recent ITYW podcast that you were planning to offer a Chris-signed [edition of “Every Man a King”] to everyone who subsequently pre-orders his book, but I had no idea how to email ITYW.  So... I pre-ordered the book some time ago, after it was mentioned on ITYW that the book was available for pre-order. I may have pre-ordered too early for this promotion, and if so, I understand. Plus, I'm a Cubs fan, and I know how Chris feels about that… Still a supporter, I remain.” – Stephen J. Tock, Dwight, Ill.

[Ed. note: We’re working on it! Thank you so much for the pre-order. That’s a big vote of confidence. I’ll let everyone know how we work it out after I talk to my publisher about promotion, but I promise that we’ll make sure you get a signed copy somehow.]

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CANADIAN CRIME WAVE

UPI: “A Quebec family who set up a camera to catch a suspected squirrel stealing their tomatoes made a shocking discovery -- the culprit was the mailman. Rob Morin and Paula Habib said they noticed in June that produce was going missing from their tomato and strawberry plants outside their home in Mount Royal, a Montreal suburb, and they suspected a squirrel was behind the vanishing fruits. … Morin said they started to think something else was happening when the suspected squirrels didn't leave a mess. … The family checked their home security cameras and made a startling discovery -- their Canada Post-delivery worker was pilfering the produce. … The couple said they don't want the postman fired, but they would like an apology for the rude behavior. ‘It would have been OK if he took a couple as a quick snack, or let us know as a joke he took a couple and they tasted great,’ Morin said. … Habib said all would be forgiven if the mailman offers to replace the plants or brings them some tomato sauce or strawberry pie.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Madison’s genius was to understand that the best bulwark against tyranny was not virtue — virtue helps, but should never be relied upon — but ambition counteracting ambition, faction counteracting faction.” – Charles Krauthammer writing in the Washington Post, March 23, 2017.  

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.