History would harshly judge GOP failure on immigration

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On the roster: History would harshly judge GOP failure on immigration - Trump to tout economy, bipartisanship in big speech - Pompeo: ‘Every expectation’ Russia will target 2018 races - Super troopers 

President Trump says he knows what kind of speech he wants to deliver tonight.

“I want to see our country united. It was divided, not just under President [Barack Obama] or President [George W. Bush] – I remember the impeachment of Bill Clinton – tremendous divisiveness, not just over the past year,” Trump told television anchors at the White House today, according to one of the attendees, Fox News colleague Bret Baier. “If I could unite this country, I would consider it a tremendous success.”

Democrats might joke that Trump has often unified the country during his first year, just that it was unified against him. And they would not be entirely wrong.

But how literally or seriously should we be taking Trump’s overtures to the middle? It was just three weeks ago, after all, that we were right in the middle of the “s--thole” storm. So is this really the long-promised but scarcely seen Trump pivot? A great deal depends on the answer to that question, both for Trump and for the country he leads.

Aside from the investigation into the 2016 election and counter investigation launched by Republicans, there is nothing that divides America so much these days as the subject of immigration. Trump understands that well, since that topic was the jet fuel that gassed up his campaign at the start.

We have for many weeks been exploring the possibility that Trump might be willing and able to forge a compromise on this subject that has bedeviled both parties for a decade or more.

And while it is true that it would mean big, good things for Trump and his party to score a win on immigration. We should also consider what happens if they do not.

There are, first and foremost, short-term consequences if the GOP gags on even the narrower question of what to do about young adults who are brought to the United States as minors. While Democrats got singed by the brief government shutdown over the so-called DREAMers, voters and markets would eventually tire of fiscal incompetence in Washington and probably punish the party in power at some point.

If a credible compromise is in the works, however, that dramatically increases GOP leverage and the chances for a more tranquil and successful election year.

There are short-term risks, however. If Trump pushes too hard for a deal it could alienate the same voters who brought him to the dance to begin with. It’s no sure thing that Trump’s evolution on immigration would produce enough enthusiasm among more moderate voters to offset the loss.

But let’s fly up a little higher and get beyond the immediate concerns of this Congress, these midterms and the current president.

Some of Democrats’ dismay in 2016 related to the fact that they have been promised for years that demographic change in the electorate was sealing the fate of the too-old, too-white GOP. Trump’s victory was unthinkable to them, not just because of his persona and pedigree, but also because Republicans were already supposed to be dead meat.

But just because Democrats were wrong in 2016 does not mean that those trends are not at work. Democrats may have expected too much from the rising tide of non-white voters, but that does not mean the tide is not rising.

America is made up of about 61 percent non-Hispanic white people. That sounds like a lot but, the number of available white votes is shrinking pretty quickly. The current target for America becoming a “minority majority” country is 24 years from now. The majority of young children in the United States, for example, are already members of minority groups.

If you have been paying any attention to politics at all in the past five years, you know about the demographic doomsday predictions for the GOP. In fact, Democratic overreliance on that particular article of faith had not a small amount to do with the party’s 2016 loss.

But that wave is coming and if Republicans want the Trump presidency to be something other than a last hurrah, they’re going to have to get serious about actually fixing the immigration system – and fixing the politics of immigration in the process.

Democrats didn’t take advantage of their opportunity to do so eight years ago in part because the politics work too much in their favor. By keeping the subject as a cudgel with which Republicans and simultaneously offering protection to Hispanic voters, Democrats are betting on future.

If Republicans fail to use their unexpected opportunity to deal with the subject now, history will judge harshly. If Republicans shut their eyes to these facts that are unpleasant for them to consider, we can already tell how this story ends.

We’ve often discussed the striking similarities between the beginning of Clinton’s presidency and that of Trump’s. Things only really got good for Clinton when he figured out a way to steal issues from Republicans, most notably on free trade and welfare spending.

It might be harder for Trump to force immigration hardliners into a deal than it was for Clinton with his party, but the need for Trump is greater.

[Watch Fox: Tune in to the Fox News Channel for special coverage of the State of the Union address, hosted by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, beginning at 9 pm ET.]

“The only remaining powers of the Executive are comprehended in giving information to Congress of the state of the Union; in recommending to their consideration such measures as he shall judge expedient; in convening them, or either branch, upon extraordinary occasions; in adjourning them when they cannot themselves agree upon the time of adjournment; in receiving ambassadors and other public ministers; in faithfully executing the laws; and in commissioning all the officers of the United States.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 77

USA Today: “A new species of dinosaur has been uncovered in the Egyptian desert, a rare discovery in a part of the world not known for dino fossils. The huge animal, which was roughly the size of a school bus, is an ‘incredible discovery,’ scientists said in a new study that was published Monday. ‘This was the Holy Grail — a well-preserved dinosaur from the end of the age of dinosaurs in Africa — that we paleontologists had been searching for a long, long time,’ said Matt Lamanna of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, one of the authors of the study. The species, dubbed Mansourasaurus shahinae, was a plant-eater that lived 80 million years ago in what's now the Sahara Desert. The fossils were dug up in 2013 during an expedition by paleontologists from Egypt’s Mansoura University. It’s the most complete dinosaur skeleton discovered in Africa from the end of the Cretaceous.”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
40 percent 
Average disapproval: 56 percent 
Net Score: 
-16 points
Change from one week ago: up 2.4 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 38% approve - 58% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 36% approve - 58% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 38% approve - 58% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve - 53% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
40.8 percent
Democratic average: 50.4 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 9.6 points 
Change from one week ago:
 down 1.2 points
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 51% Dems - 39% GOP; CNN: 49% Dems - 44% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 49% Dems - 43% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 50% Dems - 39% GOP; Pew Research Center: 53% Dems - 39% GOP.]

AP: “President Donald Trump will herald a robust economy and push for bipartisan congressional action on immigration in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, as he seeks to rally a deeply divided nation and boost his own sagging standing with Americans. The speech marks the ceremonial kickoff of Trump’s second year in office and is traditionally a president’s biggest platform to speak to the nation. However, Trump has redefined presidential communications with his high-octane, filter-free Twitter account and there’s no guarantee that the carefully crafted speech will resonate beyond his next tweet. Still, White House officials are hopeful the president can use the prime-time address to Congress and millions of Americans watching at home to take credit for a soaring economy.”

Details on infrastructure spending plan not ready yet -
 Reuters: “U.S. President Donald Trump will outline his much-anticipated infrastructure plan in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, but details will not be unveiled until mid-February, an administration official briefed on the plan said on Monday. The Trump administration’s $200 billion infrastructure plan will leverage new federal money to try and boost overall investment over the next 10 years. The Republican president disclosed last week the proposal ‘will actually probably end up being about $1.7 trillion.’ That is up from the initial Trump promise that a mix of federal and local investment would result in at least $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. A White House spokeswoman declined to comment Monday on the timing of the infrastructure proposal.”

Dems line up to rebut - WashEx: “On Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said that he is planning a response of his own on various social media platforms soon after the speech. … While Sanders delivers his response, Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., is slated to give the official Democratic Party response to Trump. Kennedy was chosen last week for the official response by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The two Democratic leaders also announced that Delegate Elizabeth Guzman of Virginia will give the official Spanish-language response to Trump. Additionally, two progressive figures within the party plan to give responses to the president. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a chief proponent of impeaching the president, is set to deliver a response on BET. Former Rep. Donna Edwards is also slated to respond to the speech on behalf of Working Families Party, a progressive group.”

Some boycotting - Time: “At least 11 Democratic lawmakers will not be in the Capitol to hear President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday. That’s fewer than the 60 lawmakers who boycotted President Trump’s inauguration, but it’s not an insignificant number as the president makes a major address on his policy goals. Many cited president’s recent rhetoric about people of color and the perceived racism of his Administration as their reason for sitting out the address.”

Damon Linker: ‘Liberals have lost their minds over immigration’ - The Week: “Something very odd and potentially self-defeating is happening to liberalism in the Trump era. Confronted by the rise of a harder right, the center-left has responded by declaring the intellectual and political equivalent of a public health emergency. Policy positions adopted by their opponents, which liberals of the past would have considered wrong but perfectly legitimate, are now deemed morally unacceptable threats to our form of government — a hazard to the soul of American democracy akin to the danger that an outbreak of a deadly plague would pose to individual American bodies.”

Time: “CIA director Mike Pompeo warned that Russia will likely target the U.S. midterm elections later this year in an interview with the BBC. Speaking with the BBC’s Gordon Corera at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Pompeo said he has ‘every expectation’ that Russia will attempt to disrupt the U.S. midterms in November. He said that Russian intelligence agencies have continued in their attempts at subversion in Europe and the U.S., according to the BBC. ‘The Russians have been at this a long time, and I fully expect they’ll continue to be at it,’ said Pompeo, referring to Russian disinformation campaigns. But Pompeo added that he was ‘confident’ that the midterm would not be compromised by Russian interference, and would be ‘free and fair.’”

Poll: Trump’s high ratings in keys states could help in midterms - Gallup: “Trump averaged the lowest first-year approval rating of any president in Gallup history, and lagged Barack Obama's 57% first-year rating by nearly 20 points. Naturally, this is reflected in Trump's state-level ratings, with only 12 states giving him 50% or higher approval, compared with 41 for Obama in 2009. The 50% mark is an important threshold in presidential election years for presidents seeking a second term, as it correlates strongly with reelection. … Still, Trump's relatively high ratings in West Virginia, Montana and North Dakota, all states with Democrats defending Senate seats in 2017, could make the political calculus different in those races.”

The Koch Network’s 2018 Playbook - National Review: “…Tim Phillips and Emily Seidel of Americans for Prosperity gave the assembled donors an overview of their plan for the coming midterm elections. … To that end, the group expects to spend ‘on the high end’ of a $300 million to $400 million sum. AFP has paid staff in just about all of the states that could have competitive Senate races in 2018: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The group already spent $3 million advocating for the tax cuts in Wisconsin, hoping to persuade the state’s first-term Democratic senator up for reelection this year, Tammy Baldwin, to support the tax cuts. It did not succeed – no Democrat in Congress voted for the tax cuts – but they felt the six weeks of ads helped lay the groundwork for the campaign to come.”

DNC boss out after less than a year - NBC News: “The CEO of the Democratic National Committee is leaving after less than a year on the job, NBC News has learned. Veteran Democrat operative Jess O’Connell took the helm of the DNC last May with a mandate to help newly installed Chairman Tom Perez turn around a troubled party organization that was struggling after years of neglect and a brutal 2016 that included accusations of favoritism in the primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the hacking of internal emails, and the loss to President Donald Trump. O’Connell will leave the party stabilized, if not yet fully recovered, after wins last year in Virginia and Alabama, and her decision to leave is a personal one, a DNC official told NBC News, timed to cause minimal disruption ahead of November's midterm elections.”

Republican Governors Association sends back Wynn cash - WashEx: “The Republican Governors Association will return donations it received from Steve Wynn last year in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against the casino mogul that span decades. RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said the group is giving back $100,000 it received from Wynn Resorts last year. The group is also canceling its plans to hold its 2020 conference at the Wynn Las Vegas. The RGA called the allegations against Wynn ‘extremely serious.’ The group has received $2.5 million from Wynn Resorts over the last 18 years, but the RGA said the money cannot be returned as it has already been spent. The campaign contributions from Wynn Resorts were made as part of the RGA’s corporate membership program, of which Wynn Resorts is no longer a member.”

But RNC still keeping cash in hopes casino mogul will be cleared - Politico: “Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said Tuesday the group has not decided whether to return donations from ex-finance Chair Steve Wynn, saying she would ‘let due process take place’ regarding the accusations of sexual misconduct against the casino mogul. McDaniel called the allegations detailed in a Wall Street Journal report ‘deeply troubling’ and said his political contributions to the RNC should be sent back if misconduct is proved.  ‘There is an investigation that’s going to take place,’ McDaniel said on Fox News. ‘He should be allowed due process, and if he is found [guilty] of any wrongdoing, we will absolutely return 100 percent of that money. But we're going to let due process take place.’”

Meet McCabe’s replacement - WaPo

EPA boss pressed on old comments about the president during Senate hearing - WashTimes

Bannon back to testify Wednesday Reuters

Trump administration declines to impose new sanctions on Russia - Chicago Tribune

Trump to lift ban of refugees from ‘high-risk’ countries - Reuters

Freedom Caucus warns Ryan on next week’s fiscal cliff - Roll Call

Lights, camera, Christie! Former Gov. hired by ABC News - WaPo

Over the past decade, 20.8M pain pills have shipped to W. Va. town of 2,900 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

“... a book report by a high school kid at 1 a.m. on two Red Bulls who hasn't read the book.” – Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., describing a memo prepared by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee targeting the FBI.

“I continue to read you weekday Halftime Report with a great deal of interest. During the build up to the election and for a significant time thereafter I truly felt you maintained a good “balance” in your opinions. Over the past weeks and months I believe that a deep down bias against President Trump, his devotees and the GOP in general is beginning to quite regretfully show through. I am quite sure you will be in complete and utter denial but I would suggest that you do some close introspection of your diatribes of late. It is ever so subtle in many ways, but you are beginning to follow into the footsteps of most media in what you have to say about this and that with regards to the political landscape. It is perhaps only natural, since that seems to be what is constantly “in the news” but I had truly hoped you would continue to rise above the fray but alas, I fear you have succumbed to the negativity purveyed by your counterparts. We have much to celebrate in our country for the achievements of the past year but the media, now to include yourself, seems to continue to be absorbed by the negative world of politics today.” – Jim Burrow, Colleyville, Texas

[Ed. note: I am sorry to hear of your unhappiness, Mr. Burrow. We try hard every day to make sure we’re focusing on what really matters, and Brianna and I will take your message as a reminder to be even more vigilant in that way. But I would also remind you that our job is not to talk about the relative glories of 2017, but what is shaping politics and government now. The sense of relief among Republicans these days is driving new optimism for the party. But that’s just one factor of many that will shape this year’s midterm elections and the 2020 presidential race. It’s hard to always find the right proportions, but it’s perhaps the most important thing that we do. There are lots of places for partisans to get the sweet treats they crave, but, I would argue, not enough places where you can get fair and balanced reporting and analysis. I know you say that you are “quite sure [I] will be in complete and utter denial,” but I assure you we really are listening and very interested in being fair, proportional and, always, skeptical in our coverage.] 

“Why not have all the parties to whom these sex offenders have contributed, rather than return the money, send the money to the several organizations that serve abused women and children throughout the U.S. Better use of the money than for politicians running for office.” – Tom Winter, Steele, Mo.

[Ed. note: Well, the law is a little tricky there, Mr. Winter. A campaign contribution is governed by rules that relate to not just its source, amount and timing, but also what happens to that money once it goes into a campaign or organization. There are different rules for different entities, but one constant tends to be that campaigns and committees can’t do anything with unspent money other than roll it over into a new campaign account or return it to the original donor. This is designed to prevent fraud, which is hardly an alien concept when it comes to campaign funds. Given the degree to which campaigns game the rules as they are, one can only imagine what they might do with the chance to slosh cash into nonprofit accounts. Your heart is certainly in the right place, but I’m afraid there’s not a way to make it happen now.]  

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CBC: “Two Toronto police officers who allegedly ingested marijuana edibles, hallucinated and called for help while on duty Sunday have been suspended, CBC News has learned. Both officers are under investigation by the force's professional standards unit following an incident that happened Sunday, according to Mark Pugash, a spokesperson for Toronto Police Service. … Police sources tell CBC News the officers began to complain of ‘hallucinations’ and one made a call for an officer needing assistance. Both officers were found in a police vehicle and later treated in hospital. During the call, another officer responding to the scene slipped on ice and required medical attention. That officer suffered a head injury. Over the weekend, Toronto police carried out a raid at Community Cannabis Clinic, a marijuana dispensary at St. Clair Avenue West Near Dufferin Street. Sources tell CBC News the marijuana edibles the officers ingested are believed to have come from this dispensary.”

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.