Longtime top aide says Trump risked security for personal gain

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On the roster: Longtime top aide says Trump risked security for personal gain - I’ll Tell You What: Americans talking to Americans - Senate Dems in a pickle on Scott policing proposal - Trump Q poll deficit shrinks to 8 thanks to economy - Im-moo-nity 

LONGTIME TOP AIDE SAYS TRUMP RISKED SECURITY FOR PERSONAL GAIN
USA Today: “President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, writes in a forthcoming memoir that his former boss made policy decisions in order to help his own political prospects. ‘The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir,’ is set to be publicly released on June 23, but news outlets obtained copies ahead of its release and an excerpt was published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, revealing that Bolton portrays Trump's foreign policy strategy as ‘chaotic,’ and suggests Trump was consumed with re-election. ‘The whole thing made my head hurt,’ Bolton says of Trump's approach to trade. … As was alleged by Democrats during impeachment, Bolton writes that Trump used his position as president to boost his 2020 re-election chances. But Bolton says, in the published excerpt, that those efforts went beyond just Ukraine. The book is expected to detail other pressure campaigns on governments, according to a book preview released last week by Simon & Schuster.”

In an interview, Bolton describes Trump as not ‘fit for office’ - ABC News: “President Donald Trump is not ‘fit for office’ and doesn't have ‘the competence to carry out the job,’ his former national security adviser John Bolton told ABC News in an exclusive interview. In an explosive new book about his 17 months at the White House, Bolton characterizes Trump as ‘stunningly uninformed,’ ignorant of basic facts and easily manipulated by foreign adversaries. But his assessment that Trump is not ‘fit’ to be president is among the most stunning indictments of a sitting president by one of their own top advisers in American history. ‘There really isn't any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what's good for Donald Trump's reelection,’ Bolton told ABC News... ‘He was so focused on the reelection that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside,’ he added.”

Trump fuming mad - Minneapolis Star Tribune: “The White House worked furiously to block the book, asking a federal court for an emergency temporary restraining order Wednesday against its release. Bolton's allegations that Trump solicited Chinese help for his re-election effort carried echoes of Trump’s attempt to get political help from Ukraine, which led to his impeachment. … Trump was asked about the book Wednesday on Fox News Channel's ‘Hannity.’ He turned to personal insults, calling Bolton a ‘washed-up guy. I gave him a chance.’ He also took issue with copies of the book being released. ‘He broke the law. Very simple. I mean, as much as it’s going to be broken.’ Trump said. ‘It’s highly classified information and he did not have approval.’ … The White House’s contention that so much of the book was classified appeared to be a tacit admission that many of Bolton’s allegations were accurate — as inaccurate information could not be classified.”

Justice Dept. works to block publication - NPR: “Seven days before the scheduled June 23 release of a tell-all account of John Bolton's tenure as President Trump's national security adviser, the Justice Department late Tuesday mounted a last-ditch effort to block its publication. A 27-page civil lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against Bolton with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleges that publication of his 592-page book, The Room Where It Happened, would be a violation of nondisclosure agreements he signed and compromise national security. ‘[The National Security Council] has determined that the manuscript in its present form contains certain passages — some up to several paragraphs in length — that contain classified national security information,’ the filing states. ‘In fact, the NSC has determined that information in the manuscript is classified at the Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret levels.’”

Top House Dems consider pushing for Bolton testimony - Politico: “Democrats spent months pretending John Bolton didn't exist after he snubbed their efforts to testify during the impeachment investigation and trial of President Donald Trump. But not anymore. Top House Democrats say they're seriously considering whether Bolton should appear before them — either voluntarily or under subpoena — to testify about explosive allegations contained in his new book, including that Trump encouraged China to construct internment camps for Uighurs, urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to purchase American agricultural products in order to help his reelection bid and promised autocrats like Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would do legal favors for an ally facing a U.S. indictment. ‘We’ll make a judgment,’ SpeakerNancy Pelosi said during a Capitol press conference Thursday. ‘I’ll be meeting with the chairs to make a judgment.’”

[Watch Fox: Former national security advisor John Bolton will face questions Tuesday at 6 pm ET on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

THE RULEBOOK: FOCUS ON THE END GOAL
“[One rule of construction] is, that every part of the expression ought, if possible, to be allowed some meaning, and be made to conspire to some common end.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 40

TIME OUT: ‘THE THING’ 
NPR: “In 2018, paleontologist Julia Clarke was visiting a colleague named David Rubilar-Rogers at Chile's National Museum of Natural History. He showed her a mysterious fossil that he'd collected years earlier in Antarctica. He and his co-workers called it ‘The Thing.’ … The object was more than 11 by 7 inches in size and looked like a deflated football. … Jasmina Wiemann, a molecular paleobiologist at Yale University, says that when she and her colleagues … just made their own ancient soft-shell egg discoveries. … In the same issue of Nature, Wiemann and her co-workers describe eggs from two very different non-avian dinosaurs: Protoceratops, a small plant-eater, and Mussaurus, a long-necked herbivore. Their geochemical analysis of the fossils' makeups revealed that the young dinosaurs had been surrounded by shells that were leathery and soft, like a turtle's eggs. This is the first convincing evidence that dinosaurs had soft eggshells, says Wiemann.”

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

SCOREBOARD  
NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE 
Trump: 41.8 percent
Biden: 50.4 percent 
Size of lead: Biden by 8.6 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: Trump 41% - Biden 49%; CNN: Trump 41% - Biden 55%; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 42% - Biden 49%; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 43% - Biden 50%; IBD: Trump 42% - Biden 49%.]

BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes) 
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 41 percent
Average disapproval: 55.2 percent
Net Score: -14.2 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 42% approve - 55% disapprove; CNN: 40% approve - 57% disapprove; NPR/PBS: 42% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 57% disapprove.]

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I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: AMERICANS TALKING TO AMERICANS
This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss decisions from the Trump campaign as the President prepares for a rally in Tulsa on Saturday. They also unpack the reputation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as COVID-19 continues, Senator Tim Scott's response to Democratic criticism, Confederate memorials across the United States, and more. Plus, Chris tries his hand at literary trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

SENATE DEMS IN A PICKLE ON SCOTT POLICING PROPOSAL
Politico: “Senate Democrats are agonizing over what to do about Senate Republicans’ police reform proposal. They can either vote down the legislation next week and face charges of obstruction amid a national reckoning on race — or advance a bill they say needs massive changes in order to meet the moment. The dilemma was hoisted on them Wednesday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly rejiggered the Senate schedule to bring legislation from Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to the floor. Democrats have little intention of allowing the bill to pass as is, but the caucus is divided over the best path forward. ‘And that’s for good reason,’ Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said. … Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his members will debate strategy this week, according to multiple Democratic senators. And the vote isn’t likely to occur until Wednesday of next week so they have a little bit of time. But Democrats have to tread carefully, particularly in an election year in which the party’s base is eager for action. Schumer called the GOP proposal on Wednesday a ‘bad bill’ and said Democrats are ‘figuring out what to do with it.’”

Here’s a side by side look at the dueling policing proposals - AP: “As Americans protest racial inequality and the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police, their pleas are being heard in the chambers of the U.S. Capitol. Both Democrats and Republicans have introduced legislation to reform policing in America, but they diverge on some issues. The far-reaching legislative proposal from Democrats, the Justice in Policing Act, would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force encounters and ban police chokeholds, among other changes. Republicans say their bill, known as the Justice Act -- one of the most ambitious GOP policing proposals in years – ‘will maintain the constitutionally-limited role the federal government plays in local law enforcement decisions while still effecting significant change.’ It calls for an enhanced use-of-force database, restrictions on chokeholds and new commissions to study law enforcement and race. Here’s a side-by-side look at some proposals…”

Durbin apologizes Scott for ‘token’ remark - CBS News: “Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois apologized Wednesday to Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina after referring to the GOP police reform legislation spearheaded by Scott as a ‘token’ approach. Emily Hampsten, a spokeswoman for Durbin, said the Illinois senator did not have a problem with Scott's legislation, but that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ‘would short circuit this critical debate and fail to make the changes needed to prevent the killing of Black Americans by police officers.’ ‘The minute Sen. Durbin heard that he had offended Sen. Scott, he sought him out on the floor and apologized,’ Hampsten said in a statement. Hampsten said Durbin opposes a ‘half-hearted approach’ by the Senate and wants ‘the full and bipartisan attention’ of the upper chamber.”

They will always love her: Tennesseans petition to replace Confederate statues with Dolly Parton - N.Y. Post: “They’re begging her to please to take their men. A petition to replace every Confederate statue in Tennessee with sculptures of Dolly Parton has racked up over 14,000 signatures on Change.org. ‘Tennessee is littered with statues memorializing Confederate officers. History should not be forgotten, but we need not glamorize those who do not deserve our praise,’ reads the appeal, written by Alex Parsons. ‘Instead, let us honor a true Tennessee hero, Dolly Parton.’ It’s not just the 74-year-old country legend’s music career which makes her an eligible replacement, the petition continues: She is a philanthropist, and has dedicated her life to uniting Americans.”

TRUMP Q POLL DEFICIT SHRINKS TO 8 THANKS TO ECONOMY
Quinnipiac University: “If the election for president were being held today, former Vice President Joe Biden would receive 49 percent of the vote and President Donald Trump would receive 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll of registered voters released today. This compares to a May 20th national poll when Biden led Trump 50 - 39 percent. … When asked who would do a better job handling various issues, Biden leads in 4 of them, while Trump leads Biden only on handling the economy: On the economy, Trump has a slight lead 51 - 46 percent; On handling a crisis, Biden leads 54 - 43 percent; On the coronavirus response, Biden leads 54 - 41 percent; On health care, Biden leads 55 - 41 percent; On race relations, Biden leads 58 - 36 percent. … 42 percent of voters approve of the job President Trump is doing while 55 percent disapprove, essentially unchanged from May's 42 - 53 percent negative approval rating.”

[Watch Fox: New national survey on the 2020 election, coronavirus response and race relations will be unveiled tonight on “Special Report with Bret Baier” @ 6 pm ET.]

Biden starts air war on offense - NYT: “Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is making his first television ad buy of the general election, a $15 million television, digital, radio and print advertising blitz starting Friday for five weeks across six fall battlegrounds — all states that President Trump carried in 2016. The ads, which will air in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina, as well as on national cable, are evidence of Mr. Biden’s improved financial position after he raised $80.8 million in May, as well as a forceful early effort to lock in and expand the consistent lead he has established in national polls over Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump began advertising earlier this spring, spending nearly $22.7 million through Monday… Despite the Trump campaign’s early hopes that it could expand the Electoral College map from 2016, the president has so far advertised in the same six states where Mr. Biden is going up with ads, along with Iowa and Ohio…”

Trumpstock: Campaign to make Tulsa rally a mass festival - Axios: “President Trump's campaign plans to turn this weekend's Tulsa rally into a massive pro-Trump festival complete with musical acts, and it's flying in high-profile backers and camera crews to show the world the fervency of his supporters. Organizers are leasing a jet to fly in surrogates the night before and multiple film crews are being brought in to record the event, people familiar with the plans tell Axios. Watch for these scenes to be quickly converted into TV ads. The June 20 ‘Great American Comeback’ event is partly a kickoff for a comeback tour amid the coronavirus pandemic. It's also a giant commercial for Trump's re-election campaign, an answer to protests outside the White House and a trial run for Republican National Convention events in Jacksonville this August.”

Poll: One-third of primary voters changed their minds - Monmouth University: “Follow-up interviews with Democratic primary voters by the Monmouth University Poll illustrates contrasting stability and volatility in the presidential nomination contest. Overall, one-third of these voters switched horses before the campaign ended. Bernie Sanders had the most loyal base but attracted very few converts. On the other hand, Joe Biden was able to broaden his appeal as the campaign progressed. Still, about 1 in 10 primary voters are not particularly pleased with who won the contest. Some of these voters will bite their lips and vote for Biden in the end, while a small handful will support Donald Trump or a third-party candidate. … Most Democratic voters stuck to their guns between the first time Monmouth interviewed them and their actual nomination vote, but follow-up interviews found a significant amount of fluidity.”

HICKENLOOPER UNDER FIRE
AP: “Former Gov. John Hickenlooper was supposed to be Democrats’ worry-free solution to the Colorado Senate race, but he’s stumbled badly in the weeks leading up to the party’s June 30 primary. … Meanwhile, as protests raged over police violence against black people, Hickenlooper garbled his explanation of the key activist phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ and had to apologize for a 6-year-old quip in which he compared politicians to slaves ‘on an ancient slave ship’ being whipped to row faster. The 68-year-old brewpub magnate-turned-politician has never been a smooth campaigner. … But if Hickenlooper emerges from the primary victorious but battered, his stumbles could give a lifeline to the man he’d face in November: Cory Gardner, widely considered the nation’s most vulnerable Republican senator. Hickenlooper’s troubles this year reflect how the state has moved to the left since his last election in 2014.”

Collins opposes McConnell protégé for D.C. Circuit - Politico: “Sen. Susan Collins is opposing President Donald Trump’s nominee to the second-most powerful court in the country. In a statement, the Maine Republican cited comments Justin Walker made at his investiture as a district judge, in which he addressed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s critics. In his remarks, Walker vowed to ‘not surrender while you wage war on our work.’ Walker clerked for Kavanaugh when the justice was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit. ‘While Judge Walker is entitled to hold whatever personal views he chooses, his ideological comments on the very day he was formally installed as a federal judge … prevent me from supporting his elevation to the second highest court in the land,’ Collins said.”

Sanders puts his efforts toward House primaries - Roll Call: “Sen. Bernie Sanders is moving on from his presidential campaign, turning his attention to races further down the ballot. And he’s not just taking on Republicans or sitting Democrats who aren’t sufficiently liberal. The Vermont independent is also weighing in on crowded, open-seat primaries in Democratic territory in an effort to bring more progressives to the House. Primaries for two open seats next week around New York City could test whether his endorsement provides a last-minute boost in fundraising and energy that his favored candidates need to win. In New York’s 17th District, where Democrat Nita M. Lowey is retiring, Sanders has endorsed lawyer Mondaire Jones. And in the race for retiring Democratic Rep. José E. Serrano’s 15th District seat, Sanders split with other liberal groups to back activist Samelys López. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates both races Solid Democratic.”

Georgia fight over elections fixes rages on - AJC: “Calls for monumental changes to Georgia’s elections arrived Wednesday, with elected officials from both parties demanding more voting locations, shorter lines and a management overhaul in Fulton County, where voters experienced the longest waits. … These efforts are meant to avoid a repeat of those issues in November’s presidential election, when three times as many in-person voters are expected. Turnout could exceed 5 million voters. In separate events, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Democratic legislators from Fulton heaped blame Wednesday on the county’s elections office. … Raffensperger said he’ll push legislation to give the State Election Board, where he’s the chairman, the power to intervene in county elections management. Raffensperger’s office didn’t provide details about how his office would manage local elections.”

Wisconsin approves mail-in ballot blitz - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “State election officials signed off Wednesday on a plan to send absentee ballot request forms to most registered voters despite a last-minute push by a Republican lawmaker to halt the effort. The Wisconsin Elections Commission, which consists of three Republicans and three Democrats, unanimously agreed to send 2.7 million registered voters forms they can use to have absentee ballots sent to them for the Nov. 3 presidential election. No one will be sent an actual absentee ballot unless they specifically ask for one. Ahead of the vote, GOP Rep. Rick Gundrum of Slinger called the $2.25 million plan too costly and said it could lead to voter confusion. In a letter, he asked the commission to let each community decide for itself how it wants to handle absentee ballots.”

Progressive group launches $59 million vote-by-mail campaign - AP: “A network of deep-pocketed progressive donors is launching a $59 million effort to encourage people of color to vote by mail in November, a step many Democrats view as crucial to turning out the party’s base during the coronavirus pandemic. A nonprofit arm of the donor network Way to Win is working with philanthropic organizations including the Ford Foundation and George Soros’ Open Society to raise the money. The network has already donated $50 million this cycle, which has largely gone to groups in battleground states including Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Arizona. But the group says more is needed because the coronavirus — which has led to a shortage of poll workers, contributed to long lines and forced the closure of some polling sites — could alter the outcome of November’s presidential election.”

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS STILL SKY HIGH 
Politico: “New unemployment claims continued to roll in last week at historically elevated levels, with 1.5 million new applications filed, the Labor Department reported. On top of that, more than 760,000 people applied for benefits under the new temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program created for those ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits. While economists caution that there is likely overlap, added together, the number of new claims filed last week could be higher than 2.1 million. The number of American workers still seeking unemployment more than three months into the pandemic has sparked doubt among many economists that the U.S. is on the road to a speedy recovery as President Donald Trump has proclaimed. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday warned that the economy can’t fully recover until the public is sure the coronavirus has been contained.”

Buuuuutttttt…. Housing market still steady - Market Watch: “Construction of new houses rose 4.3% in May as a reopening U.S. economy and ultra-low mortgage rates drew more buyers and encouraged builders to start to speed up work. Housing starts climbed to an annual rate of 974,000 last month from a five-year low of 934,000 in April, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the first increase since January. Economists polled by MarketWatch has forecast starts to rise to a 1.13 million rate. That’s how many new homes would be built in a year if the level of construction was the same each month. Although the increase was less than expected, a sharp rise in builder permits indicates construction is on track to expand more rapidly soon. Permits to build new houses jumped 14.4 % to a 1.22 million annual pace.”

Trump toys with accusing China of intentional corona spread - WSJ: “He said that the country was nearing the end of the pandemic and that he believed China may have encouraged the international spread of coronavirus as a way to destabilize competing economies. ‘There’s a chance it was intentional,' Mr. Trump said. …Mr. Trump said China may have had economic motives for letting coronavirus spread beyond its own border. Asked if that was to extend economic consequences, Mr. Trump said: 'Correct. They’re saying, man, we’re in a mess. The United States is killing us. Don’t forget, my economy during the last year and a half was blowing them away. And the reason is the tariffs.' The president said he had no intelligence to support that claim, only an internal sense. He said there was a better chance it was incompetence or a mistake.”

Poll finds Americans down on Coronavirus response AP: “Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic is ‘a cause for celebration,’ but a new poll finds more than half of Americans calling it fair or poor. The Gallup and West Health survey out Thursday found that 57% of U.S. adults rated the national response to COVID-19 as fair or poor, particularly in light of the fact that America has the world’s most expensive health care system. The numbers amount to a flashing warning for President Donald Trump and his White House team, eager to change the narrative from projections that show a growing number of U.S. pandemic deaths to a story of American resilience and economic revitalization that reinforces his reelection bid. In a Wall Street Journal opinion article published Wednesday, Pence castigated the news media for focusing on rising COVID-19 cases in states like Texas and Arizona. … The poll found that only 23% of adults rated the national response as excellent or very good, while an additional 20% rated it as good.”

SUPCO BLOCKS TRUMP BID TO DEPORT ‘DREAMERS’
Fox News: “The Supreme Court ruled Thursday against the Trump administration’s effort to end the Obama-era program that offers legal protections to young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. The court ruled that the administration's decision to rescind the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which sets out rulemaking procedures for federal agencies. In a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal members to author the opinion, the court said the Department of Homeland Security's move to eliminate the program was done in an ‘arbitrary and capricious’ manner although they did not rule on the merits of the program itself. ‘We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions 'is none of our concern,’’ Roberts wrote in his opinion. ‘We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.’”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
2021 Virginia gubernatorial field shaping up - The Hill

The Judge’s Ruling: On freedom of religion and the coronavirus - Fox News

AUDIBLE: MAYBE CHECK OUT INCOGNITO MODE 
“Fast shipping, thanks very much!” – Etsy review for a unique t-shirt that helped quickly lead federal prosecutors to a Philadelphia woman they say firebombed two police cars during a riot there.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I think it is a false dichotomy to simply brand far left and far right politicians as trying to control the media horses they rode to power. First it would put Trump on the far right, and while his rhetoric and policies are populist rather than Republican centrist, his sole candidacy and 40%-ish unwavering support, makes him well... mainstream in the GOP. Understood that Senator Hawley may herald far left or populist, but his proposal is following through on the president’s ire and policy when his content is fact flagged and censored arguably on policy concerning unproven accusations and content that suggest violence, that is across the board. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez used the digital age to campaign and champion her ideals, but concerning control of her horse to power, is she suggesting that her statements should be unbridled or unchallenged and thus controlled? Or, uncomfortably, and to the point, is she saying that unsubstantiated accusations, race-baiting, and violent innuendos is content that should be regulated, across the board, which would include anything that she or her party may say? In other words are you using too broad a brush to fitly paint both attempts as fringe and as equal in culpability concerning power and motive? Is it about control or is it about content... or more bluntly, is one more about control and the other more about content?” – George Payne, Harrisburg, Pa.

[Ed. note: I am guessing, Mr. Payne -- and please forgive me if I am misreading you -- that you believe the progressive populists have more culpability than the nationalist populists here. Your argument seems to be that the nationalists want regulations to protect themselves from hostile corporations that provide essential services while the progressives want regulations to restrict their counterparts’ use of those same services. And I think there is considerable truth to that. But I don’t see this as a matter for blame assignment or right/wrong consideration, just an observation of an intensifying trend. We should also be precise about the terms we are using here. “Republican” and “Democrat” are not ideological terms and can’t be used interchangeably with “left” or “right.” There are a lot of factions at play here. The most intense political energy of the past decade has been in twin populist movements -- one primarily focused on economic issues from the left and one primarily focused on cultural issues from the right. Both sides have benefitted massively from social media’s rise and now both seek for more government control of those companies in pursuit of their own political agendas. It’s sort of immaterial to our discussion whether one side or the other is more justified in their efforts -- both would say they were on the side of the angels. What’s more interesting to us is how the desire to control private-sector entities essential to their public-sector power has arisen the way it has in both sides of the larger populist movement. It says a great deal about the maturation of the movement and the technologies. We will have to come back to the discussion often, since it’s an important one. I think one trend worth exploring is how the left-wing populists are increasingly focused on cultural issues themselves, good evidence that those are the more powerful wedge issues in a political ecosystem that runs on sustaining outrage.]

“As an individual who mentors Asian-American college students at the University at Albany (SUNY), I have constantly reminded them that the far ends of the political spectrum are closer to one another in some ways than they think. I began to learn of Bernie Sanders in the early 90s, when he was making his run for Congress. He was a fascinating figure at the time, but his populist appeals always castigate the supervillains. Is there really a difference between big bad corporate structures and the Deep State? Not really. They are just a way for people on the extreme ends of the spectrum to score cheap, simplistic points while blaming the easy targets. There is little difference then between the devotees of Q and the people who vote for the Green Party in general elections. They are all extremists who will cut off their noses to spite their faces. Compromise, heaven forbid!” – Michael Fondacaro, Albany, N.Y.

[Ed. note: Good points, Mr. Fondacaro, but we should remember that the targets are easy for a reason. The economic and cultural institutions on which populists have preyed made themselves soft targets for demagoguery by failing to fulfil their core functions. Take for example mainline Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, which for decades functioned as kind of an American religious duopoly. They dropped the ball in different but equally damaging ways in the past several decades, helping clear the path for not just the explosion in non-denominational churches, but also the massive growth in the number of those without any faith at all. We know well what the cycle looks like. Success leads to a dominant position, dominance leads to decadence and decadence emboldens challengers and insurgents. There, the lucky institutions face a choice. Can they reform themselves fast enough and to the degree necessary or will they sit among the ashes? Restoring core competencies necessary for rebuilding trust and broad admiration is the hardest work an institution can do -- far harder than managing growth or decline. Let us hope that we are living in a generation of builders who, like you, devote themselves to causes beyond their own narrow self-interest. Otherwise, the vandals will have their way.]

“You asserted today your view that the courts have taken a less activist role in recent years. I suppose Bostock v. Clayton County escaped your purview.” – Brian Robertson, Aiken, S.C.

[Ed. note: Oh, come on, Mr. Robertson… The conversation you're referring to was in reference to something I wrote about the decision. But you know that, just as well as you know that is fallacious to argue that a single event is evidence of a trend. There might have been an interesting conversation to be had if you had found a compelling argument that against the conventional wisdom that judicial activism has waned under the Roberts and Rehnquist courts compared to the Berger and Warren courts before them. Too bad.]

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

IM-MOO-NITY 
UPI: “A British hotel and restaurant temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic shared video of the beer garden being overrun by some unusual premature customers -- a herd of cows. The Motat House in Acton Trussell, near Stafford, England, said workers preparing for the business' planned reopening looked outside Tuesday and spotted a dozen cows wandering through the outside seating area. ‘We had spaced out the tables and chairs to try our meter or two-meter social distancing, but they showed no respect for that. We wondered if they thought they had herd immunity,’ Chris Lewis, managing partner of Moat House owner Lewis Partnership, told the Express & Star newspaper. Lewis said the herd wandered over from a nearby farm. ‘They had a look at all our outside wedding facilities and at one stage they looked like guests at a wedding,’ he said. Staff contacted the cows owner, who led them away from the business.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Using guile and seduction, [cats] managed to get humans to feed them, thus preserving their superciliousness without going hungry. A neat trick.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 10, 2003.

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.