Biden finally confirms campaign launch plans


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

On the roster: Biden finally confirms campaign launch plans - Trump 2020 heads to Pennsylvania - House requests block to Trump border wall funding - Trump’s actions could cause trouble post Mueller - What a waste of pasta

BIDEN FINALLY CONFIRMS CAMPAIGN LAUNCH PLANS
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “After days of uncertainty about the former vice president's plans, Joe Biden plans to announce his candidacy for president on Thursday [via video], then visit Pittsburgh for an event on Monday. … Then, at the beginning of next week, he will appear at an event at the Teamsters Local 249 hall in Lawrenceville at 4 p.m., another source with direct knowledge of the booking told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. Mr. Biden was rumored to have scheduled an event in Pittsburgh this week on the same day as an announcement, but his plans reportedly shifted late Monday. The former vice president's campaign appears to be capitalizing on the intrigue, sending an email to supporters Tuesday urging them to sign up to be the ‘first to know’ his plans. People with direct knowledge of Mr. Biden's campaign strategy told Politico this week that Mr. Biden is working to lock down the support of national labor unions.”

Obama staying on the sidelines as Biden gets ready to launch - Fox News: “[When he announces] don’t expect his running mate for two election cycles – former President Barack Obama – to speak out in support of Biden’s 2020 bid. The 44th president plans to remain on the sidelines right now in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Two sources familiar with Obama’s thinking say the former president has made clear he doesn’t plan on endorsing early in the primary process – if at all. They add that Obama prefers to let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters and that former first lady Michelle Obama feels the same way. ‘He’s not likely to endorse in the primary,’ a source who talks with the former president told Fox News. … While he’s remaining neutral, Obama has met over the past several months with a number of candidates in the large field of Democratic 2020 contenders – offering guidance from someone who’s gone through what they’re going through now.”

Silver: ‘Sanders-related panic is premature’ - FiveThirtyEight: “If there’s one thing the Democratic establishment is good at, it’s panicking. And the latest reason for panic among Democratic insiders is Bernie Sanders. … Should Democratic insiders really be worried that Sanders will be nominated and cost them an election against President Trump that they’d otherwise win? … Sanders-related panic is premature for at least three reasons: 1. While Sanders is one of perhaps a dozen candidates with a plausible shot at the nomination, the field is fairly wide open, and it’s too early to say how formidable he is. 2. It’s also too early to conclude very much about Sanders’s ‘electability’ against Trump, especially in comparison to other Democrats. 3. Finally, even if they wanted to stop Sanders, it’s too early for the party establishment to know how to go about doing that — without more input from rank-and-file voters, any move meant to hinder Sanders could backfire.”

Thomas Edsall: ‘Bernie Sanders Scares a Lot of People, and Quite a Few of Them Are Democrats’ - NYT: “In the most important election in the lifetime of many Democrats — with Trump poised for a second term — the electability of the Democratic nominee is the top concern. Sanders has never been tested in a general election. His only experience running against Republicans has been in Vermont, a state ranked third most liberal in the nation and second most Democratic, according to Gallup.”

Beto begins California campaign Saturday - LAT: “Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas will launch his 2020 California primary campaign Saturday with a four-day driving tour of the state. The former El Paso congressman will stop at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College downtown for an outdoor rally at 4 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, O’Rourke is planning a town hall at the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco, followed by multiple stops in the Central Valley on Monday. He wraps up his visit Tuesday morning with a town hall in San Diego. Notably absent from O’Rourke’s itinerary are the private Hollywood and Silicon Valley fundraisers that presidential candidates typically hold during visits to California. Spokesman Chris Evans said O’Rourke has held no fundraising events and has not scheduled any.”

Inslee’s Super PAC uses Facebook for critical voter data - Daily Beast: “A super PAC supporting Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) has developed a way to share information and strategy with his presidential campaign in a manner that experts say is both novel and right at the end of the legal boundaries for permissible coordination. The super PAC, Act Now On Climate, is currently running advertisements with subtle, embedded signals that the campaign can mine for critical voter information and use to hone its own social media and advertising strategies. The tactic has drawn the attention of Democratic digital strategists and raised eyebrows among ethics watchdogs. But the campaign hasn’t asked for the help and says it isn’t mining the data. … The apparent key to the scheme is Act Now On Climate’s Facebook page, which it’s used to run hundreds of pro-Inslee ads since March. The vast majority of those ads … link directly to the Inslee campaign’s official website…”

Phish? - LAT: “…[A]lthough [PeteButtigieg, 37, hasn’t told voters much thus far about how he’d govern a profoundly divided nation, we already know a fair amount about something almost as important: Mayor Pete’s eclectic taste in pop music. Buttigieg is an avowed Dave Matthews Band fan whose repertoire as a garage-band keyboardist includes ‘The Way We Get By,’ by Austin indie-rock lifers Spoon; last week he cited Everlast’s 1998 folk-rap lament ‘What It’s Like’ as an example of ‘the way we should come to politics.’ His official campaign-trail playlist — as tweeted out by Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten Buttigieg — features crowd-pumpers like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Up Around the Bend,’ Florence and the Machine’s ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and Curtis Mayfield’s Obama-approved ‘Move On Up,’ but also ‘Tweezer Reprise,’ the propulsive studio version of a live staple by the Vermont jam band Phish.”

THE RULEBOOK: IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER TOO!
“The improvements in the art of navigation have, as to the facility of communication, rendered distant nations, in a great measure, neighbors.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 24

TIME OUT: ‘IN BOOKS LIES THE SOUL OF THE WHOLE PAST TIME’
History: “[On this day] President John Adams approves legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase ‘such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress,’ thus establishing the Library of Congress. The first books, ordered from London, arrived in 1801 and were stored in the U.S. Capitol, the library’s first home. The first library catalog, dated April 1802, listed 964 volumes and nine maps. Twelve years later, the British army invaded the city of Washington and burned the Capitol, including the then 3,000-volume Library of Congress. Former president Thomas Jefferson, who advocated the expansion of the library during his two terms in office, responded to the loss by selling his personal library, the largest and finest in the country, to Congress to ‘recommence’ the library. … Today, the collection, housed in three enormous buildings in Washington, contains more than 17 million books, as well as millions of maps, manuscripts, photographs, films, audio and video recordings, prints, and drawings.”

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

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 52 percent
Net Score: -9.2 points
Change from one week ago: no change 
[Average includes: Fox News: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; Monmouth University: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 52% disapprove.]

TRUMP 2020 HEADS TO PENNSYLVANIA
Politico: “Senior Trump 2020 advisers are headed to Harrisburg on Wednesday to meet with Pennsylvania GOP officials amid mounting concerns about the president’s prospects in the critical battleground state. Trump's campaign is moving to shore up the state after 2018 midterm elections that saw Republicans get blown out in races up and down the ballot. Compounding the situation is a state party organization riven by turmoil and infighting. The private meeting, confirmed by a half-dozen party officials, underscores the high stakes for the president in the state. Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, and reelection aides view the state’s 20 electoral votes as crucial to his 2020 hopes. … The Trump contingent is expected to include political director Chris Carr, who is orchestrating the campaign’s national field deployment, as well as Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, who are overseeing outreach to delegates and state party organizations. Republican National Committee officials are also expected to attend.”

Former Sen. Bob Corker says GOP needs a ‘real primary’ - Time: “Former Sen. Bob Corker said it would be good for the country if President Donald Trump faced a strong Republican challenger in the 2020 presidential primaries. ‘Philosophically, you could look at it and say that it would be a good thing for our country should that occur,’ he said in an interview during the TIME 100 Summit in New York City on Tuesday afternoon. ‘If you had a real primary, where you had someone that was really being listened to, and of substance, things that we were talking about — and I could go through a list of them — they would actually be debated in a real way.’ … Corker, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he always intended to leave the Senate after two terms, which he did. But he made no promises that he wouldn’t run for office again, including against Trump for the Republican nomination.”

HOUSE REQUESTS BLOCK TO TRUMP BORDER WALL FUNDING
Politico: “The House of Representatives has asked a federal judge to block President Donald Trump’s plan to build a border wall using Defense Department funds. On Tuesday, House lawyers requested that U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden issue a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s plan to spend about $6 billion from military construction and counter-drug accounts to build additional barriers along the U.S-Mexico border. … The House’s 56-page motion accuses Trump of trying to make an end-run around the Constitution by ignoring Congress’s power of the purse. House lawyers also seek to use Trump’s own words against him… However, the House motion seems to avoid a direct challenge to Trump’s emergency declaration. Instead, House lawyers argue that the planned spending doesn’t satisfy other legal requirements, like a need for use of the armed forces and a need to support those forces.”

Acting DHS chief states family separations isn’t an option - NBC News: “Acting Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan said separating migrant families at the U.S. southern border is ‘not on the table,’ and the policy was ‘not worth it’ from an enforcement perspective. In his first network interview as acting DHS secretary to broadcast, McAleenan told NBC News' Lester Holt on Tuesday, ‘We're not pursuing that approach.’ McAleenan's predecessor, Kirstjen Nielsen, was forced out of the job earlier this month, in part because she'd refused to reinstate the policy of separating children from their families at the border, U.S. officials have told NBC News. Nielsen had implemented the policy last year, but it was blocked by the courts. … Of the children separated from their families at the border, McAleenan claimed ‘they were always intended to be reunited,’ which is a ‘part of this story that I think had been lost.’ … McAleenan insisted the family separation policy wasn't coming back.”

Scoop on Kushner’s immigration plan - Axios: “In his private briefings on his yet-to-be-released immigration plan, Jared Kushner has told people his plan will be ‘neutral’ on immigration numbers, multiple administration and Hill sources familiar with the proposal tell Axios. Why it matters: By neutral, Kushner says he means it will neither raise nor lower the overall number of legal immigrants coming into the U.S. Kushner has told Axios' sources, which includes a handful of Republican lawmakers, that he wants the plan to increase the numbers of high-skilled immigrants entering the U.S. and to decrease the number of immigrants coming based on their family ties. Kushner plans to turn his proposal into legislation and he told TIME’s Brian Bennett on Tuesday that he would present the plan to President Trump in the coming days.”

TRUMP’S ACTIONS COULD CAUSE TROUBLE POST MUELLER
Politico: “Special counsel Robert Mueller may be done, but President Donald Trump and his team are still adding to an already hefty record of evidence that could fuel impeachment proceedings or future criminal indictments. Team Trump’s bellicose tweets and public statements in the last few days are potentially exposing Trump to fresh charges of witness intimidation, obstruction of justice and impeding a congressional investigation — not to mention giving lawmakers more fodder for their presidential probes — according to Democrats and legal experts. Already, a fusillade of verbal assaults aimed at former White House counsel Don McGahn, a star witness in the Mueller report, have sparked questions about obstruction and witness intimidation as Democrats fight the Trump White House to get McGahn’s documents and testimony. ‘This is risky,’ said William Jeffress, a prominent Washington defense attorney who represented President Richard Nixon after he left the White House. … It’s a lesson some thought Trump would have learned during the Mueller investigation.”

Team Trump openly opposes Congress requests for WH aides to testify - WaPo: “President Trump on Tuesday said he is opposed to current and former White House aides providing testimony to congressional panels in the wake of the special counsel report, intensifying a power struggle between his administration and House Democrats. In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said that complying with congressional requests was unnecessary after the White House cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference and the president’s own conduct in office. ‘There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan,’ Trump said. Trump’s comments came as the White House made it clear that it plans to broadly defy requests for information from Capitol Hill, moving the two branches of government closer to a constitutional collision.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Mnuchin shows no signs of handing over Trump tax returns - Politico

President Trump, first lady to speak on opioids at summit in Atlanta - Fox News

Pelosi, Schumer will meet with Trump next week to discuss infrastructure - Politico

Trump held private meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Tuesday - WaPo

Pew survey finds women to be the most ‘prolific people’ on Twitter - CNBC

AUDIBLE: OH…?
“When I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives, and look up at those 400-and-some accusers — you know we just passed through Easter and Christ's passion — and I have better insight into what He went through for us, partly because of that experience.” – Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said during a town hall at Western Iowa Tech Community College Tuesday.

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

WHAT A WASTE OF PASTA
KNON2: “What started off as a joke, turned into a cool invention. Youtuber Laplanet Arts, also known as Micah LaPlante, built a computer entirely out of pasta. He did it after joking with his wife about the idea. LaPlante used the inside parts of an old computer, and created a case using lasagna, rigatoni, hot glue, electric tape and paint. Lasagna PC version one, has direct computer functions in the front. He said he had issues getting Windows going, but eventually got the system fired up and working. But it struggled to stay up, especially when he tried to play video games. In the end, the old computer adage applied. It was then boiled, mock-eaten, then pitched in the trash.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I have a horror of the blank page. I simply cannot write on a blank page or screen. Because once I do, I start to fix it, and I never get past the first sentence.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) said in an interview with Timothy Carney, published on Oct. 24, 2013.

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.