**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Biden blows away the field despite bad week - I’ll Tell You What: The Goat - Senate GOP digs in against Trump’s homeland purge - Indictment expected for Obama’s White House counsel - From Walmart to Waffle House
BIDEN BLOWS AWAY THE FIELD DESPITE BAD WEEK
St. Anselm College: “Joe Biden, who has not yet entered the race, leads the ballot test with 23%. Bernie Sanders comes in second at 16%, followed by Pete Buttigieg at 11%, Elizabeth Warren at 9%, Kamala Harris at 7%, and Beto O’Rourke at 6%. Buttigieg has shown more growth than any other candidate since the February poll. In just two months, his name recognition has skyrocketed 33% among New Hampshire voters, with 31 of those points adding to his favorable image. … Biden’s lead is driven by universal name recognition, and he continues to carry a strong favorability rating of 70%. … Sanders is at 67% favorable and 25% unfavorable, which is almost exactly where his numbers stood in February. This static trend is also true for the third universally known candidate, Warren, who is at 58% favorable and 30% favorable. Harris, Booker, and O’Rourke were slightly less favorable than they were in the February poll. On the other hand, [John] Delaney and [Tulsi] Gabbard’s name recognition and favorable impressions increased.”
Harris running third in her home state - Quinnipiac University: “Former Vice President Joe Biden is the leader of the pack with 26 percent of California Democrats and voters leaning Democratic, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont takes 18 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners, with 17 percent for native daughter, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have 7 percent each, with no other Democratic contender topping 4 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. … Being a great leader is more important in a presidential candidate than having great policy ideas, all voters say 50 - 39 percent. Democrats and Democratic leaners agree 52 - 38 percent. The issue of Biden touching women is not serious, 66 percent of all California voters say, including 67 percent of women and 71 percent of Democrats.”
Buttigieg, loud and proud gay Christian, roils values voters - NYT: “As a religious gay man who believes his party has ceded discussion of religion and spirituality to Republicans, Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic candidate for president, is talking about God and sexuality in an unconventional way: He is using the language of faith to confront the Christian right on territory they have long claimed as their own. Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., has provoked a backlash from conservatives in the last few days after questioning the moral authority of evangelicals like Vice President Mike Pence who remain silent about President Trump’s personal conduct yet disapprove of same-sex marriages and oppose gay rights. Though many conservatives were initially reluctant to engage Mr. Buttigieg because they feared it would only add to his growing stature as a 2020 contender, they jumped on his latest comments. Some suggested he was attacking the vice president to further raise his profile.”
Warren releases new corporate tax plan - Axios: “2020 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) released a new corporate tax proposal on Thursday that would create a new 7% tax on corporations' profits over $100 million. Details: Warren's proposal estimates that her ‘Real Corporate Profits Tax,’ which targets the profits reported by companies on their financial statements and would come in addition to existing tax liabilities, could bring in $1 trillion over 10 years. She used Amazon as a prominent example, arguing her proposal would have caused the tech giant to pay $698 million in taxes in 2018 instead of $0, despite its record profits.”
DNC prepares hyper-local effort to bracket Trump - NBC News: “Voters in hundreds of small and medium-sized towns across America are about to be targeted with digital ads, press conferences and billboards featuring neighbors and friends who say they’ve been ‘betrayed’ by President Donald Trump. The effort is the main feature of the Democratic National Committee’s ‘war room’ that launches on Thursday and is focused on defeating Trump in 2020, according to officials who briefed NBC News. Responding to criticism that Democrats were too focused on Trump’s temperament and personal attributes during Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, the party’s main organizing arm says it’s making a major expansion of its opposition research team that will be ‘hyper-focused’ on the impact of Trump’s policies on local communities.”
THE RULEBOOK: PREACH
“The important truth … is that a sovereignty over sovereigns, a government over governments, a legislation for communities, as contradistinguished from individuals, as it is a solecism in theory, so in practice it is subversive of the order and ends of civil polity, by substituting VIOLENCE in place of LAW, or the destructive COERCION of the SWORD in place of the mild and salutary COERCION of the MAGISTRACY.” – Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Federalist No. 20
TIME OUT: PLAY (STICK)BALL
Smithsonian: “On April 30, 1828, a Cherokee stickball team stepped into the underworld to ask for help. Carrying river-cane torches, the men walked into the mouth of Manitou Cave in Willstown, Alabama, and continued nearly a mile into the cave's dark zone, past impressive flowstone formations in the wide limestone passageway. They stopped inside a damp, remote chamber where a spring emerged from the ground. … Here, in private, the stickball team could perform important rituals—meditating, cleansing and appealing to supernatural forces that might give their team the right magic to win a game of stickball, a contest nicknamed ‘the little brother of war.’ This spiritual event, perhaps ordinary for the time but revelatory now, only recently became known because of a set of inscriptions found on the walls of the cave. A group of scholars have now translated the messages, left by the spiritual leader of the stickball team, and describe them in an article published today in the journal Antiquity.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 42 percent
Average disapproval: 52.4 percent
Net Score: -10.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.2 points
[Average includes: GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 52% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 50% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 55% disapprove.]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: THE GOAT
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss Attorney General Barr's testimony regarding the Mueller report thus far, the ingredients for a comprehensive immigration solution and why black holes matter. Plus, Dana has some mailbag questions and fires off trivia for Chris. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
SENATE GOP DIGS IN AGAINST TRUMP’S HOMELAND PURGE
WaPo: “Senate Republicans are pressuring President Trump not to fire any more Homeland Security officials, warning that the department can’t function properly if the White House continues to oust key members of its leadership team. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is leaving the agency on Wednesday after submitting her resignation following a private meeting with Trump on Sunday. She is being replaced on an acting basis by Kevin McAleenan, the former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The White House announced Monday that Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles, the director of Secret Service, would be leaving his position ‘shortly.’ And both U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna and DHS’s general counsel, John Mitnick, could be the next to go, according to department officials.”
Another departure due Friday - Politico: “Top immigration official Ronald Vitiello will leave his post Friday amid President Donald Trump’s homeland staff shakeup, an agency spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO. Vitiello is a former long-term Border Patrol official who's been acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since June. Whether Vitiello will remain in government remains unclear, and ICE declined to comment further. The agency has not announced a replacement, although Matthew Albence, acting deputy director, would be next in line. Trump on Friday clawed back Vitiello’s nomination to become ICE director on a permanent basis, saying he preferred to move in a ‘tougher direction.’”
INDICTMENT EXPECTED FOR OBAMA’S WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL
NYT: “Lawyers for Gregory B. Craig, a White House counsel in the Obama administration, expect him to be indicted in the coming days on charges related to his work for the Russia-aligned government of Ukraine. The case against Mr. Craig, 74, stemmed from an investigation initiated by the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. An Ivy League-educated lawyer who held prominent positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations, Mr. Craig would become the first person who made his name in Democratic Party politics to be charged in a case linked to the special counsel’s investigation. … The case against Mr. Craig is related to the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which the Justice Department is prioritizing in part because of scrutiny related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation. The law requires Americans to disclose detailed information about lobbying and public relations work for foreign governments and politicians, and it has been the basis for charges brought against several people investigated by the special counsel.”
Pelosi rips Barr - AP: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday questioned Attorney General William Barr’s independence from President Donald Trump, arguing Barr’s pursuit of Trump’s claims about ‘spying’ during the 2016 campaign undermines his position as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, the California Democrat said she was ‘very concerned’ about Barr’s handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the campaign and accused Barr of doing Trump’s political bidding in his testimony at a Senate hearing. ‘He is not the attorney general of Donald Trump. He is the attorney general of the United States,’ Pelosi told AP. ‘I don’t trust Barr, I trust Mueller.’ … Pelosi said it’s only a ‘matter of time’ before the full report is made public. ‘We will see it,’ she said.”
The Judge’s Ruling: Who sees the full Mueller report? - This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains his disappointment towards those who assumed no collusion or obstruction from Mueller report: “In his letter, Barr did not write that Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy. … As well, Barr did not write that Mueller found no evidence of obstruction of justice. Obstruction is not a crime that requires completion, only a serious attempt. … The reason for my criticism of the no collusion and no obstruction bandwagon riders is because we know that Mueller must have found some evidence of conspiracy and some evidence of obstruction -- just not enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Barr tipped his hand to this when he wrote in his letter that the DOJ could not ‘establish’ these crimes. That's lawyer-speak for ‘could not prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.’ … Where does all this leave us? In the hands of Bill Barr.” More here.
JULIAN ASSANGE ARRESTED IN LONDON
AP: “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was forcibly bundled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and into a waiting British police van on Thursday, setting up a potential court battle over attempts to extradite him to the U.S. to face charges related to the publication of tens of thousands of secret government documents. British police arrested Assange after the South American nation decided to revoke the political asylum that had given Assange sanctuary for almost seven years. Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno said he took the action due to ‘repeated violations to international conventions and daily life.’ … Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 after he was released on bail in Britain while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations that have since been dropped.… Assange had not come out of the embassy for almost seven years because he feared arrest and extradition to the United States for publishing classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.”
How Ecuador decided to dump Assange - Daily Beast: “His dramatic expulsion from the embassy follows a year of ratcheting tension between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts, culminating in Wikileaks publicizing a leak of hundreds of thousands of hacked emails mysteriously stolen from the inboxes of Ecuador’s president and first lady. … The escalating clash between Assange and the government protecting him likely sent U.S. officials scurrying in preparation, said attorney Christopher Ott, a former Justice Department prosecutor who worked on Russia’s election-hacking investigation prior to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. ‘They’re five hours ahead of us,’ Ott said. ‘You don’t want to wake up in the morning and all of a sudden have two hours to get the whole packet done.’”
TEAM TRUMP RESCUE MISSION FOR BELEAGUERED W. VA. GOV
Politico: “With the president by his side, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice made a dramatic announcement… He was bolting a Democratic Party that had ‘walked away’ from him to join Donald Trump’s GOP. Two years later, Trump is now repaying the favor. A pair of the president’s top lieutenants, Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, are joining Justice’s campaign as advisers as the governor tries to navigate a treacherous 2020 reelection bid. The move illustrates how Republicans up and down the ballot are hitching themselves to Trump’s ever-expanding and newly professionalized 2020 political machine. With the president lining up a team of experienced political strategists, deploying an ambitious national field program, and exercising nearly universal control over the party apparatus, Republicans are eager to exploit his organization for their own benefit.”
Poll: Wisconsin voters’ view of president is little changed after Mueller probe - Marquette University Law School
Treasury will miss deadline for turning over Trump tax returns - WaPo
Trump boosts fossil fuel production with executive orders - WaPo
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito announces 2020 reelection campaign - W. Va. Metro News
AUDIBLE: SHAPING THE DISCOURSE
“We have a round table, which is actually a square table.” – President Trump said during roundtable event in Texas.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“This is a plea from a loyal follower of both the Halftime Report and I'll Tell You What. We regular folk who could only pre-order Accidental Presidents and wait expectantly for Amazon to drop it in our outstretched hands YESTERDAY must beg for more time. Next week being Holy week leading into Easter will only allow us the two days following to finish this rather weighty tome. Would you please so kindly approach Ms. Perino for an extension for the rest of us? My family and priest thank you!” – Cathrine McLaren, Danbury, Conn.
[Ed. note: I will take your case to the head prefect. Rule follower though she may be, her heart is certainly inclined toward mercy for those forced to choose between spiritual and intellectual preparations.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
FROM WALMART TO WAFFLE HOUSE
WKRN: “A woman pulled over by Crossville [Tenn.] officers while riding an electric shopping cart stolen from Walmart claimed she was just on her way to get a cup of coffee, investigators say. Police responded around 5 a.m. Friday to a report of a woman driving an electric scooter in the slow lane on Highway 127. When officers were able to get her to stop, they said the driver, identified as Sally Selby, claimed she took the cart from Walmart and was driving it to Waffle House to get a cup of coffee. Police watched surveillance footage from Walmart and said Selby was observed entering the store at 4:15 a.m. and driving the electric scooter as she shopped. Around 4:40 a.m., officers advised she exited the business, drove around the Walmart parking lot and then rode the shopping cart onto Highway 127.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“As the romance of manned space exploration has waned, the drive today is to find our living, thinking counterparts in the universe.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 29, 2011.
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.