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On the roster: Dems go on offense in House contests - Warren, Bernie try to move on after bruising feud - GOP holding the line as Senate trial gets underway - Pony ride, indeed
DEMS GO ON OFFENSE IN HOUSE CONTESTS
Roll Call: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is adding six new targets to its 2020 battlefield, hoping to flip more Republican-held seats while protecting its House majority. Having made historic gains in the 2018 midterms, Democrats started the year on defense. Republicans need a net gain of 18 seats to retake the House, and their first targets will be the 30 districts President Donald Trump won in 2016 that are currently represented by Democrats. The DCCC unveiled its initial 33 targets in January 2019 and added six more in August. The target list now includes 45 seats, another sign House Democrats think they’ll have the resources and the political momentum to go on offense. (Putting a district on the target list does not necessarily mean the committee will spend there later this year.) … Here are the new targets: [Alaska at-large, California’s 25th District, Kansas’ 2nd District, North Carolina’s 8th District, New Jersey’s 2nd District and Texas 2nd District].”
NRCC boss sounds alarm over fundraising - The Hill: “The head of House Republicans' campaign arm said … GOP candidates need to rely less on the party's national fundraising apparatus and more on their own fundraising, acknowledging the challenges facing Republican members. ‘Our members need to get their act together and raise more money,’ National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said at a breakfast event hosted by the Republican-aligned Ripon Society. ‘The individual campaigns need to raise more money. They cannot expect somebody else is going to do it for them, and they're going to hear that from me when we come back after the break and we see all the final numbers,’ he said. … Emmer’s remarks came roughly a week after the NRCC’s Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), announced that it had raked in $14.4 million in December alone, giving it its best fundraising month of 2019.”
FBI will alert election officials of cyber strikes - NBC News: “The FBI will now notify state election officials about cyber breaches to election systems in their jurisdictions, even those that only affect a single county, FBI and Justice Department officials said Thursday. The change stems from a belief that the ‘traditional policy did not work in the election context,’ an FBI official told reporters in a background call. Typically, the FBI notifies only the victim of a cyber-intrusion. When it comes to election systems, the victim is often a county. But if the FBI only notifies local officials, ‘it may leave the state officials with incomplete knowledge of the threats,’ the official said. The policy shift comes after a 2018 episode in Florida in which Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said he had been told that Russian hackers gained access to some voting systems in his state, only to be accused of making that up by then-Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican running to unseat Nelson in that year's election.”
WARREN, BERNIE TRY TO MOVE ON AFTER BRUISING FEUD
Politico: “Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren don’t want to talk about it. ‘I have no further comment on this,’ Warren told reporters Thursday. Sanders didn’t want any part of it either, staying quiet as reporters pelted him with questions, while his campaign circulated a set of new talking points, obtained by POLITICO, that read: ‘Please refrain from commenting on the CNN story on the meeting between Bernie and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.’ ‘Goal: Take the high road,’ it added. Warren and Sanders' presidential campaigns are publicly taking steps to move on from the feuding of the past week… But it’s proving more difficult than either would like, thanks to months of quietly escalating tensions that suddenly boiled over this week. Even as Sanders and Warren mostly laid off each other earlier this year, many in Warren's orbit privately seethed over escalating, thinly veiled criticism from Sanders' top aides and surrogates, while some Sanders supporters have viewed Warren with disdain since she declined to join their cause in 2016.”
Bloomy hits the Hill - Politico: “Michael Bloomberg on Thursday took his pitch to Capitol Hill as he looks to squeeze his way into a crowded Democratic primary. The New York billionaire met with dozens of Democrats as he sought to convince them of his highly unconventional — yet extraordinarily well-funded — road to the White House. Bloomberg’s message to members: His campaign isn’t wasting time on Iowa but is focused on defeating President Donald Trump with an unprecedented ground game in battleground states. And for some, at least, it’s working. ‘I came away thinking, you know, this guy could win,’ said Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), who attended back-to-back meetings with Bloomberg on Thursday.”
Iowa wide open: Dem voters undecided in final caucus stretch - Fox News: “With just two-and-a-half weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential nominating calendar, Logan Cardani says she's ‘kind of undecided.’ … Cardani’s far from alone. The two latest polls in Iowa indicate plenty of voters likely to take part in the Democratic presidential caucuses on Feb. 3 are undecided or could possibly change their minds on whom they’re backing. … Longtime Iowa-based Democratic consultant Jeff Link, a veteran of numerous presidential and Senate campaigns, told Fox News that ‘this is the first time I can remember that it’s plausible that any one of four candidates could win and any one of four candidates could get fourth place.’ And Iowa Radio news director O’Kay Henderson – who’s been covering the caucuses for over 30 years – said that ‘you really have a sort of a four-way tie here and if Sen. Amy Klobuchar can get some momentum, you’ll have a five-way tie.’”
THE RULEBOOK: BROAD BRUSHES
“IT IS a just and not a new observation, that enemies to particular persons, and opponents to particular measures, seldom confine their censures to such things only in either as are worthy of blame.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 64
TIME OUT: STRONG ROOTS
New Yorker: “About forty-five hundred years ago, not long after the completion of the Great Pyramid at Giza, a seed of Pinus longaeva, the Great Basin bristlecone pine, landed on a steep slope in what are now known as the White Mountains, in eastern California. … Most seedlings die within a year; the mortality rate is more than ninety-nine per cent. The survivors are sometimes seen growing in the shadow of a fallen tree. The landscape of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, as this area of the White Mountains is called, is littered with fragments of dead trees—trunks, limbs, roots, and smaller chunks. Pinus longaeva grows exclusively in subalpine regions of the Great Basin, which stretches from the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada to the Wasatch Range, in Utah. Conditions are generally too arid for the dead wood to rot; instead, it erodes, sanded down like rock. The remnants may harbor nutrients and fungi that help new trees grow. Bristlecones rise from the bones of their ancestors—a city within a cemetery.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 25.6 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.8 points (↓ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Warren: 16.6 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 8.4 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
Bloomberg: 5.6 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, IBD, NBC News/WSJ, CNN and USA Today/Suffolk University.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.4 percent
Net Score: -9.2 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.6 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 54% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve - 52% disapprove.]
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GOP HOLDING THE LINE AS SENATE TRIAL GETS UNDERWAY
WaPo: “The third impeachment trial in U.S. history officially began Thursday amid a swirl of new allegations about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, which several Republicans rushed to downplay as they dismissed Democrats’ calls for further investigation. Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, has alleged that Trump knew of his role in the effort to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit the president politically … and this week provided Congress with documents to buttress his claims. Trump, who has appeared in several pictures with Parnas, denied knowing him on Thursday. Republican lawmakers appeared unswayed by the new information, focusing on attacking the Democratic-led investigation in the House for not uncovering the evidence before sending the impeachment articles to the Senate. … The chorus of Republicans unwilling to consider additional evidence served as an indication that Democrats will face an uphill climb in their attempts to further build a case against Trump as the Senate trial plays out.”
Goldberg: High stakes for Republican senators - The Dispatch: “The clearest sign that the Senate is taking this at least somewhat seriously: Senators are handing over their cellphones before they enter the chamber. That’s not good news for the president. Oh, it’s still unlikely there will be enough votes to remove Trump from office. But having talked with many GOP senators since the Ukraine story broke, I can tell you that few have paid close attention to the facts of the case. Some weren’t engaged because they wanted—or said they wanted—to avoid reaching conclusions since they would have to be impartial jurors. Others seemed to think, understandably, that the Ukraine drama was simply the latest chapter in the long-running story of the media and Democrats rushing to ‘get’ Trump no matter what. Others appeared eager to stay in their lanes… Whatever the reasons, I’ve been shocked at how so many senators didn’t know—or claimed not to know—many of the central facts from the House hearings and news reports.”
Sen. Susan Collins hits back at ‘mischaracterization’ of trial stance - Fox News: “Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, released a statement on Thursday to clarify her stance on President Trump's upcoming impeachment trial and claimed her past comments have been taken out of context and misunderstood. ‘There has been a lot of mischaracterization and misunderstanding about my position on the process the Senate should follow for the impeachment trial,’ the statement began. ‘Rather than have my position relayed through the interpretation of others, I wanted to state it directly.’ Collins, who is considered a moderate, shared her views on how the process should play out and recommended that it mirror former President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial from 1999, to allow for bipartisan input. ‘That process [from 1999] provided for the opportunity for both sides to state their case and for Senators to ask questions through the Chief Justice,’ she wrote.”
Trump legal team looks a lot like Clinton era - NYT: “President Trump plans on adding former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and the defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to his legal team for his trial by the Senate, a person briefed on the plan said Friday. Mr. Starr, whose investigation into President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationships led to his impeachment, will be joined by Robert Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr as independent counsel and wrote the final report on Mr. Clinton, the person said. Rounding out the team will be Mr. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor who became famous as a defense counsel for high-profile defendants like O.J. Simpson. The White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, will lead the legal team.”
Evelyn Yang, wife of Andrew Yang, joins lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by doctor during pregnancy - BBC
Former Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., faces more than three years in corruption case - Reuters
Boisterous, profane Trump celebrates himself at White House ceremony for college athletes - Fox News
“One thing you have to remember when you work for President Trump is that you don’t make the waves. He makes the waves. Your job is to surf the wave as best as you can every day.” – Jared Kushner in an interview with Time magazine.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. 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.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“With respect to the current Warren-Sanders gender kerfuffle, FOX News has variously reported that Sanders told Warren privately that a woman cannot be elected President, or conversely, he told her that a woman cannot beat President Trump to be elected President. Which is the real story?” – William R. Lennard, Bella Vista, Ark.
[Ed. note: I don’t know what’s been said in every report, but it certainly would be correct to say that the distance between those two tellings constitutes the crux of the dispute between the two candidates. It would not be sexist for Bernie Sanders to debate in private whether a man or a woman would run best against machismo enthusiast Trump. That seems to be Sanders’ version of events. Elizabeth Warren, however, is making a broader indictment, claiming that Sanders said a woman cannot win the presidency. One is a strategic discussion about a specific contest, the other is an absolute opposition to a female candidate. That’s presumably why Warren brought the charge forward the way she did. It’s impossible to defend because it is unfalsifiable. Whatever Sanders meant or thought he said, that’s what she says she heard.]
“Should President Trump be convicted in the Senate, (which is unlikely given the numbers), should this prevent him from running for a 2nd term as President and/or any other public office?” – Graeme Cameron, Melbourne, Australia
[Ed. note: That would be a subject for the Senate to decide. The Constitution says, “Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.” It’s two separate things. Congress can remove officials – judges, members of the president’s administration and, yes, presidents –and choose to either add the added sanction of barring future office. But whatever happens, please know that we fervently hope you and your fellow Melburnians will soon be breathing easier.]
“I’m a political trivia nerd myself so I always enjoy the trivia questions [producer and oatesian tie enthusiast Jason Bonewald] comes up with at the end of each episode. I always find myself impressed with how deep your wellspring of useless trivia is. Though I have to say, I was surprised you didn't know who Maria Halpin was! Grover Cleveland is such a fascinating figure - a deeply conservative Democrat, survives a sex scandal in his first election and probably the biggest presidential health crisis since Taylor's death in his second term - not to mention the Panic of 1894! We're long overdue I think for a re-examination of Cleveland like the revival Grant seems to be going through right now. Considering the only people to definitely win the popular vote in three elections are him and FDR (Jackson and Nixon are arguable) you'd think he'd be more prominent.” – Dominic Moore, Pittsburgh
[Ed. note: Now hold on, Mr. Moore! It’s one thing to know something and another thing to be able to recall it mostly out of context under the searing questioning of Dana Perino. I have long been a Cleveland admirer and have often said that he is the most underrated president of the 19th century. In fact, in my book, “Every Man a King” I get into the conflict between Cleveland and populistic and theocratic William Jennings Bryan. I think one of the reasons Cleveland gets such short shrift is that his natural defenders are mostly on the opposite side of the aisle. Like Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon on the other side, partisanship, even 126 years later, interferes with conservatives and liberals defending their own champions.]
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PONY RIDE, INDEED
BBC: “There was no foaling around for a horse on the loose on a busy city road after rescuers managed to get it to safety on a bus. The animal was wandering on [a main thoroughfare] in Cardiff on Thursday evening, causing some motorists to pull over to help. Harley Stephens, who helped rescue the horse, said it happily ‘trotted’ onto the Cardiff Bus. … ‘The police arrived and we were all a bit flummoxed of what to do because we couldn't get a horse box there in time,’ she said. She said the Cardiff Bus driver suggested putting it on a bus, so they put the disabled ramp down and ‘it went on quite happily.’ Accompanied by Ms. Stephens the horse was then taken to the hospital Park and Ride stop, with one other passenger sitting close by. ‘He was quite chill about it,’ she said.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Whenever I look at that picture, I know what we were thinking at the moment it was taken: It will forever be thus. Ever brothers. Ever young. Ever summer. My brother Marcel died on Tuesday, Jan. 17. It was winter. He was 59.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Jan. 27, 2006.
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.