New pressures for special prosecutor on IRS scandal

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Buzz Cut:
• New pressures for special prosecutor on IRS scandal
• Unions tell Obama to go big, go alone on immigration
• Chelsea joins Hill and Bubba in buck raking biz
• Coulter to McDaniel: You’re not helping
• ‘Still #1 tho!!’

The fundamental question about the IRS targeting the president’s political enemies is whether it was corruption or incompetency. A newly obtained email from the central figure in the scandal, former IRS executive Lois Lerner, isn’t helping the administration’s claim that the abuses were unintentional: “I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails -- so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Lerner wrote to a colleague before the scandal went public. Lerner goes on inquire about whether members of Congress could get access to an instant messaging system used by the agency. Not only does this suggest bad motives but casts further shadows on the agency’s claims that emails from Lerner and other figures in the targeting scandal were accidentally lost in a computer crash and are unrecoverable. Given Lerner’s apparent effort to obstruct investigators, the administration’s long-silent internal investigation looks less and less credible.

[Watch Fox: Correspondent Peter Doocy will monitor the hearing and give updates on the IRS scandal.]

Open up - The other point of pressure for an outside investigator is coming from the judicial branch today. A donor to President Obama has been working on the Justice Department’s internal investigation since it began last year. Republicans say Barbara Bosserman cannot fairly investigate allegations that the president’s administration targeted and harassed his political opponents. But the administration says she doesn’t have a conflict. This scandal has been public knowledge since May 10, 2013, but other than Lerner’s eventual termination, administration promises to get to the bottom of the targeting has yielded nothing. That doesn’t help Bosserman’s claims. But today, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan will hear arguments on a public records request from conservative group Judicial Watch on how Bosserman has spent her time since the investigation purportedly began. If the judge opens the books over the administration’s protests, the scrutiny could mark the end of the drawn-out internal investigation phase of the case.

Thirty-eight journalism groups are asking President Obama to stop using “pervasive” controls throughout federal agencies that prohibit getting important information to the public. According to the Society of Professional Journalism, the group sent a letter to President Obama this week outlining specific examples of excessive control, considered by some to be a form of censorship. “The practices have become more and more pervasive throughout America, preventing information from getting to the public in an accurate and timely matter,” said David Cuillier, president of the Society of Professional Journalists. “The president pledged to be the most transparent in history. He can start by ending these practices now.”

Labor unions are urging on President Obama’s predilection to act alone, urging him to do so in a big way on immigration. Washington Examiner: “Calling them ‘aspiring American workers,’ AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka launched a petition Wednesday calling on President Obama to bypass Congress on the current immigration surge and to instead use his executive authority to aid the people flooding the southwestern U.S. border…Obama has said in the past that he is obliged to follow the law and order the deportation of illegal immigrants, even if he isn’t personally fond of the law. The AFL-CIO’s petition makes a point of noting that Obama has used often executive power to circumvent congressional rulemaking in the past, most recently to prevent the deportation of immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16.”

Border blame game – Perhaps looking to peg sweeping executive action to congressional inaction, President Obama on Wednesday blamed Republicans for not swiftly passing his nearly $4 billion supplemental budget request to staunch the flood of illegal immigrants. “This is something you say is important – as I do. This is something that you have prioritized – as I have, Obama told reporters. “Don’t wait for me to take executive actions.” His remarks followed a Wednesday meeting that included Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry in Dallas.

[Homeland Security Secretary Jay Johnson and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell face questions from a Senate panel today about President Obama’s proposed $3.7 billion emergency request to deal with the border crisis.]

Cuellar tried to cut a deal on border - While President Obama is looking to inculpate Republicans on the border crisis, at least one outspoken Texas Democrat is joining GOP lawmakers in coming up with a solution. Roll Call: “Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, a fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrat who made headlines on Wednesday for blasting President Barack Obama’s failure to visit the border during a fundraising trip to the area, said he would soon introduce legislation to allow all children apprehended at the southwest border to qualify for “voluntary return” to their home countries.”

“This is the face of amnesty. This is what it looks like. Tens of thousands of children being victimized. This is why amnesty doesn’t work. And the president won’t take responsibility for it.” --Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, with Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File” Watch the full interview here.

“I think as soon as we actually take a plane load of children and go back to Guatemala and El Salvador and Honduras. That’s what will stop it – when a parent or a relative in those countries who just paid… a smuggler to take that child into the country, when they see those plane loads of the kids coming back, it will stop.” --Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch the full interview here.

So close…but so far National Journal’s James Oliphant explains why the president doesn’t seem close to the Mexican border: “President Obama was 500 miles from the Mexican border when he spoke about the child migrant crisis Wednesday evening, but he seemed to be even farther away than that. Standing before an oddly non-descript background in Dallas (really, the president could have been anywhere), Obama kept his distance—from the border, from the thousands of refugee children in bureaucratic limbo there, and from a Congress, he told the public, that bears the brunt of the responsibility for solving the problem. It was a president who, while bitterly complaining about the partisan divide in Washington, seemed more boxed in by it than ever, taking a decidedly binary approach to what his own White House has labeled a humanitarian crisis of epic dimension. In fact, for a president sometimes derided by conservative critics for placing too much importance on empathy, Obama spent little time dwelling on the huddled masses at the border, most of whom, he assured, would soon be sent packing.”

Could Our Power Grid Ever Fail?”: “Many experts say that’s an unlikely event. The nation’s power grid is a complex, yet technologically advanced, system with plenty of backup. But scenarios do exist that could lead to such a massive failure: a solar flare, a cyberattack, or even just a series of unfortunate events -- also known as a cascading failure. ‘It is conceivable,’ said Ian Dobson, professor of engineering at Iowa State University who focuses his research in preparing for just that possibility. ‘If there is a series of failures, then the grid doesn't have sufficient redundancy to transmit electricity and the load is shed, that is a blackout and the lights go out.’ If it’s a just a matter of rebooting the system, that can be done in a couple of hours, explained Dobson. But if there’s physical damage to high-voltage transmission lines, substations or other infrastructure, it could take weeks or months to replace and repair transformers or other equipment.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41.1 percent//Disapprove – 54.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26 percent//Wrong Track – 63.5 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.8 percent// Republicans 40.2 percent

Chelsea Clinton
has joined the family business of big-buck speechmaking. The youngest Clinton, who said she “tried really hard to care” about money, but cared more about causes, will now rake in as much as $75,000 a pop for talking about her passions. Although her parents’ speeches are often for large groups or colleges, Chelsea’s speeches “are on behalf of the Clinton Foundation, and 100 percent of the fees are remitted directly to the foundation,” her spokesman, Kamyl Bazbaz told the NYT. The family’s non-profit’s funds have been under scrutiny in the past, reportedly supporting the Clinton family’s lavish lifestyle. This week, the conservative group America Rising called on the foundation to show how it spends its money.

The Republican Governors Association, led by Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., will announce today it’s largest-ever second-quarter fundraising haul, raising $26.6 million in from April to June.

Washington Free Beacon: “Democratic Senate candidates in coal-reliant states are turning to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), a progressive favorite and potential 2016 presidential candidate, to give them a boost in closely contested races this fall despite her support for a regulation on coal-fired power plants that is deeply unpopular in those states. Warren called the proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation a ‘powerful step’ for addressing climate change after it was announced in June. She will stump for West Virginia Democrat Natalie Tennant in coal country on Monday after appearing with Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes at the end of last month. A PAC affiliated with Warren—PAC for a Level Playing Field—has contributed $10,000 to Tennant, Grimes, and several other Democratic Senate candidates in coal-dependent states, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

[Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., raised more than $1.3 million from April to June. This is her best fundraising quarter so far. Her opponent, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant raised about $777,000 in the second quarter.]

McConnell answers attack ad - Lexington Herald-Leader: “About 24 hours after Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes unveiled her first attack ad against U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the senator fired back with his own spot that rips Grimes’ ad as ‘shaky’ and ‘laughable.’ McConnell’s latest television ad relies in part on an analysis of Grimes’ ad by the Associated Press, which said the spot made ‘shaky claims’ about Medicare.  McConnell sought to use the misstep to further his strategic goal of tying Grimes to President Barack Obama, who made similar claims about Medicare in his 2012 re-election bid.”

National Journal: “A new ad airing this week from Americans for Prosperity criticizes Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu for failing to fix the scandal in the Veterans Affairs Department before implementing Obamacare, a novel tactic from the conservative third-party group as it seeks different ways to attack Democrats over the health care law. The ad is part of AFP’s new three-week, $940,000 TV and digital campaign in Louisiana, an effort that also includes another 30-second spot mocking Landrieu’s inability to block new energy regulations. The group is also launching a three-week, $920,000 ad campaign in Arkansas against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, targeting his support of President Obama.”

[GOP poll shows Cotton on top - Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is slightly ahead of incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., according to a new poll. Impact Management, an Arkansas consulting firm lead by former state GOP party officials, found that Cotton lead Pryor 47 percent to 43 percent. The poll also found that 63 percent of Arkansas voters have an unfavorable opinion of ObamaCare.]

WMUR: “A new poll shows that U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is maintaining a lead over her potential Republican challengers. The WMUR Granite State Poll shows that in a race against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, Shaheen leads 50-38 percent. Pollster Andy Smith of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center said it’s early in the race, so there is potential for the numbers to change. Smith said the poll shows that only 17 percent of likely voters have made up their minds. Fourteen percent are leaning toward someone, and 69 percent are still trying to decide.”

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter criticizes Chris McDaniel for continuing the battle for the Mississippi GOP nomination. Coulter claims the fight over Sen. Thad Cochran’s, R-Miss., primary runoff win is “risking a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate” in an opinion piece in The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion Ledger. “…[S]ome McDaniel supporters can’t think about anything but winning this one primary. They don’t care that they’re gambling with a Republican majority in the Senate — or destroying McDaniel’s future prospects. (Which could come soon — Cochran isn’t getting any younger.) As the nation goes up in smoke, they act as if the future of the country is nothing compared to their color war at summer camp.”

Country break down - NYT: “The precinct level returns in Hinds County bolster the theory that a surge in black, Democratic turnout allowed Senator Thad Cochran to defeat Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party-backed state senator, in last month’s Republican primary runoff in Mississippi. Mr. Cochran won by 7,667 votes. Nearly half — a net 3,532 votes — came from the most Democratic precincts in Jackson’s Hinds County, where President Obama won a combined 97.8 percent of the vote in 2012… Over all, black turnout was not huge. Turnout in these heavily Democratic precincts was lower in the hotly contested Republican runoff than in the noncompetitive Democratic primary earlier in June. Turnout was about 9 percent of 2012 general election levels in these precincts, compared with as much as 70 or 80 percent in the most Republican precincts.”

WSJ: “A contentious primary season has taken a toll on pro-Republican super PACs, which spent heavily on election battles among GOP candidates and are looking to November with less cash on hand than their Democratic counterparts. The largest pro-Republican super PACs have not only raised less money than Democratic groups but spent a far larger share of it on primary fights, a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign-finance filings shows. For the current campaign cycle through July 3, pro-Republican super PACs in the study directed more than 70% of their spending toward battles among GOP candidates, while the largest Democratic super PACs put just 9% of their spending into primaries. The bottom line: The largest Democratic super PACs are heading into the general-election season with a combined $36 million in the bank as of their latest filings—nearly three times as much as the largest Republican political-action committees.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “With millions of dollars in outside spending already shaping Georgia’s Senate race, Democrat Michelle Nunn is calling for a “Peach State pledge” with her two potential GOP rivals to refuse third-party ads. The nonprofit executive sent a letter Wednesday to Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue, who square off in the July 22 GOP runoff, urging them to vow to reject third-party ads in the general campaign.”

[Yes, but - Nunn has raised most of her own money from out of state and already has her own outside group raising money.]

Republican Senate hopeful Terri Lynn Land outraised Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., in second quarter fundraising. Land brought in $3.35 million which includes $1.2 million personal donation. Peters raised almost $2 million this quarter. The two hope to succeed retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., in November.

Republicans are hoping to pick up an additional six seats to gain control of the Senate this November. Which Democrat-held seats will prove to be the most likely flips for the red team? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota and North Carolina. Fox News First reader Lou McNeal from Pineville, La. agrees with other Pick Sixers who say Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., will hold on to win another term, not that Lou is happy about it: “It’s a crying shame, but I don’t believe [she] will be defeated. ”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

Recent reports suggest that the NSA collected information from e-mails, text messages, and phone calls from 900,000 ordinary Americans. Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains what it means for liberties: “When the government sees or hears all, it knows all. And when the people tolerate a government that knows all, they will be afraid to be themselves. And the joy of being and expressing oneself is the very reason we have a Constitution designed to restrain government.”

House members got a surprise early in the morning, their stomping ground in the Capitol could be “contaminated” with what appears to be asbestos, sources tell Fox News. The Capitol Police Hazardous Materials Response team and the Architect of the Capitol are on the scene. While a few portions of the Capitol building remain closed, the House will start a scheduled 10 a.m. session at noon. The Senate is unscathed.

‘STILL #1 THO!!’
Michael Kelly Boyer
became a bit of a local celebrity in Spokane, Wash. after he waited in line for 19 hours – complete with a sleeping bag and food – to buy be the first in the city to buy legal pot on Tuesday. But in his enthusiasm to tell local reporters about his ganja devotion, Boyer’s neglected to consider his employer’s strict no-drug policy. Boyer took time off for the pot quest from his post as a security guard for Labor Ready, a staffing firm with a strict no-drug policy. After the multiple media outlets showed Boyer in his tie-dyed shirt holding his proud purchase over his head like a trophy, Boyer says his bosses told him to take a drug test. The result might have severely harshed his mellow. But Boyer remains chill, posting a Craigslist ad with his resume saying he lost his job but is “still #1 tho!!”  In the ad, Boyer confirms that he may be jobless because of the sweet cheeba, but he “regrets nothing.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.