**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Dems draw lopsided debate nights - Castro admits Hatch Act ‘mistake’ in Fox town hall - Trump clarifies comments on foreign ‘dirt’ - Project Comeback: House GOP edition - Ridin’ dirty
DEMS DRAW LOPSIDED DEBATE NIGHTS
Politico: “The Democratic National Committee announced the lineups for the first party-sanctioned presidential debates, after a random drawing Friday in New York. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the top-polling candidate, will appear on June 27, the second of back-to-back nights of debates in Miami. He will be joined on the stage by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg — but not Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another top contender, who will debate nine other hopefuls on June 26. June 26 lineup: Cory Booker, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Bill de Blasio, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Elizabeth Warren. June 27 lineup: Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson, b. The debates will air on NBC and Telemundo affiliates across the country, along with MSNBC on cable.”
Who didn’t make the cut? - AP: “Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts were the only major candidates out of the two dozen Democratic hopefuls who failed to meet the polling or grassroots fundraising measures required to get a debate spot. Two lesser-known candidates, former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam, also missed the cutoff, announced Thursday. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who recently had been on the bubble, both made the debate based on polling measures.”
Debate for a climate change debate is far from over - WaPo: “Environmental activists and 2020 candidates are still pressing the party to dedicate one of the dozen presidential debates it is staging to what they see as an urgent, generational crisis. Yet party leaders have not given in to the calls for a climate-specific event, saying they do not want to highlight one issue over others. The back-and-forth between Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and advocates for a climate-themed debate has at times turned acrimonious. …[A]ctivists are not taking no for an answer. In Washington on Wednesday, a coalition of groups delivered a petition with more than 200,000 signatures to DNC headquarters calling for a climate change debate. … Perez promised that portions of the scheduled debates will be on climate change. … Perez also said he did not want to craft a debate around a single candidate's signature issue.”
THE RULEBOOK: JUDGES GONNA JUDGE
“It may truly be said [the Judiciary has] neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78
TIME OUT: A TALE OF HUMAN CONTRADICTIONS
NYT: “Emilie Landecker was 19 when she went to work for Benckiser, a German company that made industrial cleaning products and also took pride in cleansing its staff of non-Aryan elements. It was 1941. Ms. Landecker was half Jewish and terrified of deportation. Her new boss, Albert Reimann Jr., was an early disciple of Adolf Hitler and described himself as an ‘unconditional follower’ of Nazi race theory. Somehow, inexplicably, they fell in love. [Their story] … is a tale of death and devotion and human contradictions. It is also a tale of modern-day corporate atonement. Decades after World War II, Benckiser evolved into one of the largest consumer goods conglomerates on the planet. Known today as JAB Holding Company… Mr. Reimann and Ms. Landecker, who died in 1984 and 2017, respectively, never spoke about those years. … Only now, 74 years after World War II, are the family and the company grappling with their dark and complicated history.”
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: 51.4 percent
Net Score: -9.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 43% approve - 49% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve - 52% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; CNBC: 40% approve - 50% disapprove.]
WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!
CASTRO ADMITS HATCH ACT ‘MISTAKE’ IN FOX TOWN HALL
Fox News: “Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro told Fox News on Thursday night White House adviser Kellyanne Conway should be fired for violating the Hatch Act -- the same federal law that Castro himself was found to have violated in 2016. The 2020 White House contender's remarks came in a Fox News Town Hall in Tempe, Ariz.… In 2016, ‘OSC concluded that Secretary Castro violated the Hatch Act by advocating for and against Presidential candidates,’ the watchdog wrote in a letter to Obama. … The Obama White House took no action, and OSC did not recommend Castro's termination. Castro, pressed by [Bret] Baier, argued that his case was different from Conway's, primarily because his violation was an isolated episode and he tried to learn from it. … Toward the end of the town hall, even as he expressed his opposition to the Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding for abortion, Castro pointedly refused to condemn Biden's recent flip-flop on the issue. … Immigration also featured prominently early in the town hall…”
Members of the Blue Team make red state detours - Politico: “When Elizabeth Warren wanted to talk about the nation’s opioid epidemic last month, she went to West Virginia — a state hard-hit by drug deaths but of little consequence to the presidential nominating contest. Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, has held events in far-flung Idaho and Utah. Amy Klobuchar visited Nebraska. And when floods hit northeast Oklahoma recently, Beto O’Rourke rearranged his schedule and flew from California to tour the damage there. Though the sprawling field of Democratic presidential candidates continues to train the majority of its travel schedule on early nominating states and coastal fundraising centers, the candidates are also beginning to expand their primary maps, sometimes to the reddest of red states. It is an effort not only to connect with voters in less influential primary states — but more significantly, to prove to early presidential state voters that they can.”
Lower tier Dems attack Sanders on socialism - Politico: “Michael Bennet stood and applauded when President Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address ‘that America will never be a socialist country.’ Seth Moulton has said a democratic socialist won’t win the White House in 2020. On Thursday, John Hickenlooper went further: Democrats aren't socialists, the former Colorado governor said at a speech in Washington, and Democratic candidates for president should stop embracing Bernie Sanders and his liberal policies if they want to oust President Donald Trump in 2020. For weeks, bottom-dwelling centrists in the Democratic primary have decried socialism while largely avoiding directly attacking Sanders, the only self-described democratic socialist in the 24-person primary. Hickenlooper and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney wielded the argument recently to grab attention they’ve desperately sought.”
TRUMP CLARIFIES COMMENTS ON FOREIGN ‘DIRT’
Fox News: “President Trump on Friday sought to clarify his controversial comments indicating he would take information on political rivals from foreign countries, saying on ‘Fox & Friends’ that he could report such conversations to the FBI -- while arguing the heat should really be on Democrats for the alleged spying on his 2016 campaign. … Trump had said in an interview with ABC News earlier this week that he would listen to information from foreign governments, saying that ‘there isn't anything wrong with listening.’ He also gave conflicting answers on whether he'd contact the FBI, saying at one point that he would not. On Friday, he seemed to say he'd report it to the FBI, at least if he sensed something was wrong. ‘If I thought anything was incorrect or badly stated, I'd report it to the attorney general, the FBI, I'd report it to law enforcement absolutely.’”
Team Trump says they will handle the ‘dirt’ - CBS News: “President Trump's 2020 reelection campaign will handle damaging information on political opponents provided by foreign governments and entities on a ‘case by case basis,’ according to the campaign's top spokesperson. Asked about Mr. Trump's assertion that he would be receptive to dirt on rivals offered by foreigners, Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for the president's reelection bid, told CBSN's ‘Red & Blue’ that campaign staff should take the president's comments as a ‘directive’ to handle foreign dirt through a two-pronged approach. ‘The president's directive, as he said, [it's] a case by case basis. He said he would likely do both: Listen to what they have to say, but also report it to the FBI,’ McEnany said. She denied that the president's comments were an ‘open invitation’ for foreign actors to interfere in the 2020 campaign.”
This comes after Trump received backlash from GOP senators - Politico: “Soon after Donald Trump sparked his latest all-consuming controversy, Lindsey Graham spoke to the president and urged him to rethink his willingness to use foreign opposition research against his political opponents. ‘The law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government,’ Graham said he told Trump. … Many Senate Republicans are now moving swiftly to distance themselves from Trump’s willingness to use foreign opposition research against his political opponents, even as Trump dug in further on Thursday on Twitter. Though senators said that being offered campaign fodder on opponents is simply a way of life in politics, they pointedly refused to endorse Trump’s remarks.”
FEC chairwoman issues warning about help from foreign governments - WaPo: “Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub released a statement Thursday making clear that candidates for public office may not receive help from a foreign government, in what appeared to be a warning to President Trump, who said he would consider taking information about an opponent from another country. Tweeting her statement, Weintraub wrote, ‘I would not have thought that I needed to say this.’ The head of the agency responsible for campaign finance laws clarified that any campaign that accepts help from a foreign government ‘risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation.’”
PROJECT COMEBACK: HOUSE GOP EDITION
National Journal: “…at least nine former [GOP House] members caught up in the Democratic 40-seat wave are actively thinking about another run, according to those familiar with the party’s recruitment. Two—Karen Handel of Georgia and David Young of Iowa—have already launched comeback bids, an indication that they believe this cycle offers a more favorable political environment with President Trump on the ballot. The list of potential contenders includes David Valadao of California, Bruce Poliquin of Maine, Jason Lewis of Minnesota, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Claudia Tenney of New York, Scott Taylor of Virginia, Pete Sessions of Texas, and Mia Love of Utah. Another is Lou Barletta, who after a failed Senate run in Pennsylvania is looking at a return to the House… As the second quarter of the off-year comes to a close, the National Republican Congressional Committee will likely nudge some of the slower-moving formers toward a decision.”
Sarah Sanders announces White House departure at the end of the month - CBS News
Perry Bacon Jr.: Takeaways from early polls - FiveThirtyEight
Take him home, country roads: Sen. Manchin looking at governor’s race - W. Va. Metro News
Pergram: ‘Trump appears to have inadvertently infused Democratic investigations after ABC interview’ - Fox News
Jonah Goldberg: ‘As with Superheroes, Trump’s Superpowers Have Their Limitations’ - National Review
AUDIBLE: SPOT ON ANALYSIS
“She’s got it absolutely right. For the first time in my memory, I agree with Nancy Pelosi.” – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in reference to Speaker Pelosi’s “McConnell's Graveyard” poster on Thursday that listed several legislative items written on tombstones. The Speaker said that McConnell is happy to stall certain measures in Congress.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former host of the “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart. Plus, don’t miss the debut of the Fox News 2020 polls! Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
UPI: “A Russian motor enthusiast unveiled his latest creation: a Bentley Continental GT sedan customized with tank treads instead of wheels. Konstantin Zarutskiy said it took him about seven months to overcome the numerous technical challenges he faced in the creation of the vehicle, which he dubbed ‘Ultratank.’ Zarutskiy said he has conducted several off-road tests with Ultratank and found it to handle similarly to a car with regular wheels. He said he is in discussions with authorities in Saint Petersburg to have the vehicle dubbed street legal so he can drive it around his hometown. Zarutskiy said the tank treads are rubber instead of metal so it wouldn't cause damage to paved roads.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“What do I do? It seems my job is to father, a verb which must count as one of the age’s more inventive creations. How exactly to father? I don’t really know.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 28, 1985.
Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.