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On the roster: Dems announce two impeachment charges - House Dems, Trump admin reach trade deal - Warren continues to drop - GOP does Election Day ‘dry run’ - Calendar grille


AP: “House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — pushing toward historic votes over charges he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security in his dealings with Ukraine. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of the impeachment inquiry committees, stood at the Capitol for what she called a ‘solemn act.’ Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House. Trump insisted he did nothing wrong and his reelection campaign called it ‘rank partisanship.’ … The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares for voting, as it has only three times in history against a U.S. president. Approval of the charges would send them to the Senate in January, where the Republican majority would be unlikely to convict Trump.”

Senate looks to push impeachment trial to January - Politico: “Senators are unlikely to let a little thing like impeachment ruin their holiday plans. As soon as the House impeaches President Donald Trump, the Senate is, in theory, required to immediately begin a trial. But for a multitude of reasons, both strategic and mundane, senators say they are aiming to reach an agreement to take a breather and come back for the trial in January. Despite bipartisan hopes of not letting impeachment drag on, no one in the Senate seems to want to sacrifice their Christmas or New Year’s. And though nothing has been finalized, senators expect party leaders who have sway on the matter to agree in the coming days. ‘That’s the last thing we want to do is be here over Christmas,’ Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. … ‘Impeachment is a huge issue. And I don’t think we should rush into it,’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. ‘We ought to find a way to wait till January, get through the holidays and then tackle it.’”

Trump lashes out at FBI director - WaPo: “President Trump lashed out Tuesday morning at FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, saying that ‘he will never be able to fix the FBI’ based on his reaction to a Justice Department inspector general’s report examining the bureau’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign. ‘I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,’ Trump tweeted. ‘With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!’ The 434-page report rebutted conservatives’ accusations that top FBI officials were driven by political bias to illegally spy on Trump advisers as part of the investigation of election interference by Russia, but it also found broad and ‘serious performance failures’ requiring major changes. In a statement Monday, Wray, a Trump appointee, said he had ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations, adding that he would not hesitate to take ‘appropriate disciplinary action if warranted.’”

Poll: Trump approval remains steady - Monmouth University: “Just over 4-in-10 (43%) registered voters feel that Trump should be reelected, while a majority (54%) say it is time to have someone new in the Oval Office. These numbers have not really budged in the past month (42% reelect and 55% someone new in November). The current results are statistically similar to late September when news broke about the Ukraine call (39% reelect and 57% someone new) and August when the House impeachment inquiry was just getting started (39% reelect and 57% someone new). … Trump currently has a personal rating of 46% favorable and 52% unfavorable among registered voters. The president’s personal rating has grown slightly more positive since news of the Ukraine call first broke, but the shifts so far are not statistically significant.”

Fox Business: “The United States, Mexico and Canada have reached a historic trade deal. ‘There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a press conference announcing her caucus's support of the agreement. Major U.S. stock indexes turned positive after the announcement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland are expected to be in Mexico City on Tuesday for a signing ceremony. The deal must now be ratified by all three countries. A House vote, delayed as Democrats fought to improve enforcement mechanisms after winning a majority in the chamber in November 2018, is slated for next week. The modifications had delayed Congressional approval, raising the possibility that the deal might not be ratified this year since Congress adjourns Dec. 20, and prompted criticism from President Trump and his allies.”

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 51

Smithsonian: “Near the beginning of the new film The Aeronauts, a giant gas-filled balloon called the ‘Mammoth’ departs from London’s Vauxhall Gardens and ascends into the clouds, revealing a bird’s eye view of London. To some moviegoers, these breathtaking views might seem like nothing special: Modern air travel has made many of us take for granted what we can see from the sky. But during the 19th century, the vast ‘ocean of air’ above our heads was a mystery. These first balloon trips changed all that. Directed by Tom Harper, the movie is inspired by the true story of Victorian scientist James Glaisher and the aeronaut Henry Coxwell. (In the film, Coxwell is replaced by a fictional aeronaut named Amelia Wren.) In 1862, Glaisher and Coxwell ascended to 37,000 feet in a balloon – 8,000 feet higher than the summit of Mount Everest, and, at the time, the highest point in the atmosphere humans had ever reached.”

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Biden: 26.6 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 18.2 points (↓ 1.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.4 points (↑ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 10 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, CNN, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]

Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -9.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points 
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 54% disapprove.]

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Monmouth University: “Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to be divided over who they want to put up against Trump in 2020. The top contenders continue to be [Joe] Biden (26%), [Bernie] Sanders (21%), and [Elizabeth] Warren (17%). However, these three are in a slightly different order than where they stood last month (23% Biden, 23% Warren, and 20% Sanders) or in late September (28% Warren, 25% Biden, and 15% Sanders). [Pete] Buttigieg is the preferred choice of 8% of Democratic-identifying voters (similar to 9% in November and 5% in September). [Mike] Bloomberg enters the race at 5% support nationally. … Other candidates registering support in the current poll are Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (4%), [Andrew] Yang (3%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%) and seven other candidates who earn 1% or less. The poll also finds that more Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to prefer a candidate who would be stronger against Trump even if they disagree with that candidate on most issues (56%) than say they want a nominee who aligns with them on the issues but would have a hard time beating Trump (30%).”

Move over Green New Deal, Warren wants it blue - Axios: “Elizabeth Warren is out with new plans to speed up offshore wind projects, expand marine sanctuaries, and bolster use of oceans to soak up carbon emissions. Those are three pillars of the far wider ‘Blue New Deal’ — a riff on the ‘Green New Deal’ concept — on ocean policy that the Democratic White House hopeful unveiled Tuesday. Politically, the plan's arrival follows Warren's recent slide in the polls after challenging Joe Biden for frontrunner status in the fall. There's plenty of competition for the green mantle as Bernie Sanders, Warren's rival for progressive voters, touts his plans. Billionaire climate advocates like Mike Bloomberg — who is at UN climate talks in Spain today — and Tom Steyer are spending heavily.”

Warren shakes up campaign strategy - Fox News: “From Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina, presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is shaking up her routine, changing her format on the campaign trail to include more interaction with voters and getting more aggressive with a top-tier rival for the Democratic nomination. And the progressive senator from Massachusetts appears to continue to back away from a once-orthodox approach toward a government-run, ‘Medicare-for-all’ health care system. The changes come as the one-time co-front-runner in the Democratic nomination race has seen her poll numbers deteriorate the past month in national surveys… Out was the long stump speech and in was an abbreviated version, which allowed for a big increase in the number of questions she takes from the audience.”

Consulting group gives Buttigieg okay to disclose clients - NYT: “Mayor Pete Buttigieg will disclose his management consulting clients, open his fund-raisers to reporters and reveal the names of people raising money for his presidential campaign, his campaign announced Monday, a series of significant concessions toward transparency for a candidate under increasing pressure to release more details about his personal employment history and campaign finances. The announcements follow several days of intense questioning surrounding Mr. Buttigieg’s work for McKinsey & Company, the management consulting firm that was his first post-college employer. The company said on Monday that it would allow Mr. Buttigieg to disclose the clients he worked for at the firm from 2007 to 2010, acceding to a request the Buttigieg campaign made last month and the candidate himself amplified in public last week.”

Gabbard opts out of next Dem debate without qualifying - Fox News: “Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, announced late Monday that she won't be attending the Democrats' next debate ‘regardless’ of whether she qualifies. Gabbard, who previously flirted with the idea of skipping an earlier debate, appeared more assertive about bowing out of the upcoming debate being hosted by PBS and Politico on Dec. 19. ‘For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th ‘debate’ — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls,’ Gabbard tweeted. ‘I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.’ Gabbard had met the donor requirement to qualify for the December debate but had yet to meet a requirement that she earn 4-percent support in at least four national or early-state polls…”

AP: “A full year before Election Day 2020, Republicans quietly executed a ‘dry run’ of President Donald Trump’s massive reelection machine. They activated tens of thousands of volunteers and tested phone bank capabilities and get-out-the-vote operations in every state in the nation. Before and after the sprawling exercise, GOP officials coordinated thousands of so-called ‘MAGA Meet ups’ to organize and expand their network of Trump loyalists, paying close attention to battlegrounds like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And on Tuesday, Trump himself will face thousands more cheering supporters in Pennsylvania, his fourth appearance in the swing state this year. … Defiant Democrats insist that Trump is not getting a free pass in the nation’s top general election battlegrounds. They note that the ‘dry run’ played out on the same week that Republicans suffered embarrassing losses across several states. But others are willing to acknowledge the reality: Much of the Democratic Party’s energy and star power will ignore critical swing states like Pennsylvania for much of the next six months.”

Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., to retire from Congress, honor term-limit pledge - Fox News

Former Trump physician Ronny Jackson running for congress as a Republican Texas Tribune

US deficit soars to $342 billion in two months Fox Business

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to be deposed in election fraud suit AJC

The Editorial Board: How Purdue is changing how we do higher education WSJ

“He’s a politician with a thin skin and a fondness for the limelight and the music of his own voice — sound familiar? — and his political success drives his political adversaries to political apoplexy. That, too, sounds familiar.” – Journalist Philip Terzian in his NYT opinion piece, “Whom Does President Trump Remind You Of?”

“[In Monday’s note], you called for the real Main Street citizens to ‘stage a rebellion of informed, optimistic liberty.’ May I suggest a fresh outbreak of the traditional Merry Christmas greeting?” – James Kinney, Houschton, Ga.

[Ed. note: For those who celebrate, they should most certainly say “merry Christmas” with hale heart and good cheer. I sometimes even drop in a “feliz Navidad,” “Fröhliche Weihnachten” or “joyeux Noël” for good measure. And certainly no one who does not celebrate should take offense at being wished a joyous Christmas unknowingly. Now, when I know someone does not celebrate or have context cues that suggest they may not, I refrain. I wouldn’t seem to match the joyous occasion of mankind’s manumission to use the greeting to poke at someone else. I also understand why corporations avoid the term. Three in ten Americans aren’t Christian and it would be bad business to antagonize them.] 

“What’s up with the criticism of Apple's new show - The Morning Show? My expectations were low, yet I have enjoyed it. The writing is good, characters are interesting, plots have some twists and a few turns and even some surprises. It focuses on how corrupt a News Organization can be and how they don't care about ‘goings on’ until their dirty laundry becomes public. In no way does the show demean viewers of news programs - your critique. What am I missing? Sure it's not Aaron Sorkin level craft but that does not come along very often. Well done Apple, I'll take another bite.” – Rick McGee, Longmont, Colo.

[Ed. note: As what we would have once called a “Primetime soap opera” in the tradition of “Dallas,” I’m sure it’s plenty good. People love that stuff. I personally love “House.”   

“I thought this and then a local pundit said it. Kamala Harris won’t be a VP choice.  She’s from California which is already a lock for the Dems. Not to mention she didn’t even poll well in her home state.” – Ruth Anne, Folsom, Calif.

[Ed. note: You could argue that Joe Biden helped Barack Obama with Pennsylvania, but Democrats weren’t particularly worried about the Keystone State in 2008. You have to go back quite a ways to find a vice presidential candidate chosen as a running mate for their home-state clout. Lyndon JohnsonRichard Nixon? Running mates are more about the vibe the candidate wants to emit. The Democratic nominee may need to shore up things with black voters or women and Harris, regardless of her home state, could still answer those questions.]

“Your commentary today put me in mind of the fact that it is the end of the year. I would love to see and expanded end of year review on Fox Nation. Will you do it?” – Martin Jarvis, Wright City, Mo.

[Ed. note: You better believe it, Mr. Jarvis. And don’t forget to send you submissions for the best in journalism 2019 to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM]

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

NJ.com: “Capt. Andy Grossman knows a good idea when he sees it. A few years back, Grossman, the owner of RipTide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine, [N.J.] created a beach tow membership service for 4x4s that run into trouble on the sometimes all-too-soft sand on the beach. And that is what led to his next great idea: the Beached Cars of Brigantine calendar, featuring photos of some of the ‘mishaps’ when people try to drive their non-4x4 vehicles out to the water's edge. ‘Cars are not allowed on the beach,’ said Grossman. ‘That's why I kinda think they're fair game and I've been posting them (on Facebook).’ Before helping them get off the beach, Grossman or a member of his Brigantine Beach 4x4 Assist crew takes a photo, and locals usually get a good laugh out of it. ...He sold out the first run in just a few hours, and is now taking orders for more. … The proceeds are being donated to True Spirit Coalition, a local organization which helps provide meals to local families.”

“The women’s movement, to which the idea owes its currency, is right to insist that the father do more. … But we both know, we all three know, the truth: Nature has seen to it that anything I can do, she can do better. Mine is literally a holding action.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 28, 1985.

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.