**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Second accuser claims rape by Virginia Lt. Gov. - Gardner’s re-election shapes up as hottest Senate race - Liberal lion John Dingell dead at 92 - Acting AG Whitaker testifies before congress - Oops
SECOND ACCUSER CLAIMS RAPE BY VIRGINIA LT. GOV.
WaPo: “A woman said Friday she was raped by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) in a ‘premeditated and aggressive’ assault in 2000, while they both were undergraduate students at Duke University. Through her attorney, Meredith Watson said she shared her account of sexual assault immediately after it happened with several classmates, who have provided statements. Her lawyer also said she shared her account with friends in a string of emails and Facebook messages. Watson was friends with Fairfax at Duke but they never dated or had any romantic relationship, her lawyer said. …Her claim comes two days after at the end of a turbulent week which began when a different woman, Vanessa Tyson, accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004 when both were in Boston to attend the Democratic National Convention. Fairfax vehemently denied that he assaulted Tyson, said he was the victim of a ‘smear’ and has said repeatedly that they had a consensual encounter.”
THE RULEBOOK: PEOPLE POWER
“The express authority of the people alone could give due validity to the Constitution.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 43
TIME OUT: BEFORE IT WAS THE GRAND CANYON
Smithsonian: “Every visitor today knows the Grand Canyon as a unique testimony to Earth’s history and an icon of American experience. … As Grand Canyon National Park celebrates its centennial on February 26, 2019, it’s worth recalling the peculiar way the canyon became grand and what this has meant. The Grand Canyon was one of the first North American natural wonders to be discovered by Europeans [in 1541]. … [In 1869] Major John Wesley Powell descended the Colorado River through its gorges, renamed the Big Cañon as the Grand Canyon, and wrote a classic account of the view from the river. In 1882 Captain Clarence Dutton, in the first monograph published by the new U.S. Geological Survey, wrote an equally classic account, this time from the rim. Something had changed. … The Grand Canyon might be valueless as a corridor of transport, but it was a ‘wonderland’ for the new science. … Before Powell and Dutton, the Grand Canyon was a place to avoid. Now it was a marvel to admire.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 39.8 percent
Average disapproval: 56 percent
Net Score: -16.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 42% approve - 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 57% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 37% approve - 59% disapprove.]
GARDNER’S RE-ELECTION SHAPES UP AS HOTTEST SENATE RACE
Denver Post: “Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is the latest Democrat to enter the 2020 competition to challenge U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. ‘My campaign, like my career, is grounded in the people of Colorado,’ Romanoff said in a statement announcing his candidacy. ‘I know firsthand what women and men of goodwill can achieve when united by a common purpose.’ The Ohio native, who once planned on a career in journalism, joins a growing list of Democrats vying to take on Gardner, pegged as one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston announced at the end of January, and Lorena Garcia, Trish Zornio and Keith Pottratz have all launched campaigns. Romanoff took a progressive stance on a variety of issues in his announcement, including Medicare for all, immigration reform and renewable energy.”
Kansas Republicans try to get out of Pompeo’s ‘shadow’ - McClatchy: “Two Kansas Republicans, taking steps to escape the shadow cast by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s possible U.S. Senate candidacy, are attempting to build support from national party leaders for what promises to be a crowded 2020 race. Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner had official business in Washington this week: an appeal hearing in a lawsuit his office is waging against the federal government to recover an estimated $157 million in unclaimed U.S. Savings Bonds for Kansans. He also made time to meet with officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the state’s two current GOP senators, Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, to discuss both the case and his race. LaTurner’s Wednesday meeting with the NRSC came just a day after the NRSC’s chairman met with Rep. Roger Marshall, a Republican from western Kansas who is contemplating his own Senate run.”
Dems put millions toward voting rights effort - AP: “With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, one of the largest outside Democratic groups announced on Thursday a $30 million effort to register voters, push ballot measures that expand voter rights and fight Republican-backed laws in court that restrict ballot access. ‘At every stage of the game, Republican and conservative state legislatures around the country, when they are given the opportunity, make it more difficult for people to vote,’ Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, told The Associated Press. ‘Essentially what you have are the descendants of Jim Crow who are trying to make it difficult for people to reach the ballot box.’ Democrats have historically supported expanded voting rights, which helps turn out their base, while Republicans have enacted ballot restrictions, citing concern about widespread voter fraud without offering proof.”
Romney creates fundraising team with NRSC - WashEx: “Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah is putting his political muscle to work for Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, launching a new vehicle for high-dollar fundraising and planning to headline events around the country in the months ahead. Romney, the GOP presidential nominee in 2012 and among the party’s most prolific fundraisers, has formed ‘Team Mitt,’ a joint fundraising committee with the National Republican Senatorial Committee. This weekend, the senator is traveling to Florida to mingle with Republican donors attending an annual NRSC finance retreat, the first of several trips planned to help protect the party’s Senate majority in 2020. ‘Sen. Romney has an expansive national fundraising network, and Team Mitt will leverage that to help his colleagues who are up for reelection in 2020 and to help elect new Republicans to the Senate,’ a Romney adviser told the Washington Examiner on Thursday.”
Georgia House Republican won't seek reelection in 2020 - AJC: “Congressman Rob Woodall will not seek re-election next year, all but ensuring his rapidly-diversifying suburban Atlanta district will become one of the country’s fiercest political battlegrounds in 2020. The Lawrenceville Republican said Thursday he plans to step aside at the end of the current Congress because of recent political and personal developments. In addition to surviving the narrowest race of his political career last year, Woodall also lost his father. … A low-key and relentlessly sunny policy wonk who has represented Georgia’s 7th Congressional District for five terms, Woodall beat back a challenge from Democratic newbie Carolyn Bourdeaux last fall.”
LIBERAL LION JOHN DINGELL DEAD AT 92
Detroit Free Press: “Former U.S. Rep. John David Dingell Jr., who was one of the U.S. House’s most powerful chairmen and helped write and pass some of the most consequential legislation in the nation's history, died Thursday. He was 92. Dingell, of Dearborn, served nearly 60 years in the House, making him the longest-serving member in Congress' history. He stepped down in early 2015. His wife, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, confirmed his death for the Free Press at about 9:30 p.m. ‘He was my love,’ she said, beginning to cry. She said he passed peacefully. ‘He was talking to us and we were all laughing (just before he died),’ she said, before becoming emotional and asking to get off the phone. Her office, shortly thereafter, put out a statement saying he died in their Dearborn home and will be remembered for ‘his decades of public service to the people of southeast Michigan, his razor-sharp wit, and a lifetime of dedication to improving the lives of all who walk this Earth.’”
David Graham: ‘John Dingell Is Gone, but His Politics Are Back’ - Atlantic: “Before John Dingell was a piece of history, he was a witness to it. Dingell, a teenage congressional page, was on the floor of the U.S. House when President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for a declaration of war on Japan, saying the attack on Pearl Harbor a day earlier made December 7, 1941, ‘a date which will live in infamy.’ Almost exactly 14 years later, Dingell would be back in the House, this time as a lawmaker representing the Detroit area. He stayed for more than 59 years—the longest tenure in congressional history. Dingell would see the Red Scare of the 1950s, the golden age of civil-rights legislation, and the end of the Cold War. He would vote for the passage of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, pushing toward his father’s goal of universal health care. And Dingell would serve with—but never, he would insist, under—11 presidents.”
A goodbye from John himself: ‘My last words for America’ - WaPo: “My personal and political character was formed in a different era that was kinder, if not necessarily gentler. We observed modicums of respect even as we fought, often bitterly and savagely, over issues that were literally life and death to a degree that — fortunately – we see much less of today. … In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better). I never forgot the people who gave me the privilege of representing them. It was a lesson learned at home from my father and mother, and one I have tried to impart to the people I’ve served with and employed over the years. As I prepare to leave this all behind, I now leave you in control of the greatest nation of mankind and pray God gives you the wisdom to understand the responsibility you hold in your hands.”
ACTING AG WHITAKER TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS
USA Today: “A defiant acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker declared to Congress on Friday that he had not interfered with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and that his handling of the case had been ‘independent of any outside interference.’ … In more than four hours of sworn testimony on Friday, Whitaker sought to answer criticisms that have shadowed his time leading a Justice Department conducting tandem criminal investigations surrounding the president. … [I]n his first and likely only appearance before Congress as the attorney general, Whitaker told lawmakers that he would not give them any more detail about his conversations with Trump, sparring with House Democrats eager to know whether the White House had sought to interfere in the investigations centered on the president. He also repeatedly declined to give them more specific information about Mueller's investigation because it is ongoing. ‘Your failure to respond fully to our questions here today in no way limits the ability of this committee to get answers in the long run, even if you are a private citizen when we finally learn the truth,’ [Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.] said.”
Kraushaar: ‘Democrats Are Boosting Trump’s Reelection Prospects’ - National Journal
Pentagon plans to withdraw troops from Syria by end of April - WSJ
House Ways and Means subcommittee take first formal steps to get Trump’s tax returns - WSJ
The story behind Trump’s Costa Rican connection to illegal immigrants - WaPo
AUDIBLE: AND HE DID, TOO
“I’ll let you write the substance… you let me write the procedure, and I’ll screw you every time.” – Former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., quoted by Bloomberg.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Wallace will sit down with acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. 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
“Many voters, including me, want a President and candidate who speaks to them honestly and understandably and does what he says he will do – not as you claim, ‘voters like cooperative, agreeable candidates.’ President Trump’s straight talk is not demagoguery to those of us not part of the Washington/media establishment. Disappointing, no doubt, to you and your colleagues used to influencing and controlling public perception and opinion.” – Phil Reberger, Boise, Idaho
[Ed. note: Many people like pistachio ice cream. It has a nutty, salty and sweet flavor that challenges the palate and excites the senses. But more people like vanilla and chocolate. It is demonstrably, unassailably true that millions of Americans love it when Trump is disagreeable and uncooperative. His very nomination was prima facie evidence. But that doesn’t mean that agreeability and cooperation are unpopular. It is very often hard for people in politics, especially those at the high end of the ideological and partisanship spectrums, to find sufficient empathy for those with whom they disagree. Such empathy is not just desirable for the purposes of having useful discussions and a civil society, but also for the narrower pursuit of particular policies. Even for those who relish Trump’s bombast and bluntness, it’s necessary to understand that many more people find it off-putting. I understand that their offense and squeamishness may even be delightful to some of the president’s supporters. But without that understanding, populist nationalism will never succeed in the movement’s largest ambitions. The work of a lifetime is real humility understood as honest self-appraisal. I know I must force myself daily to see myself and my place in God’s universe as they are, not as I wish they would be. That goes for political movements, too. And for the record, I adore pistachio ice cream.]
“The reference to Blazing Saddles is important to me. My daughter, who’s 21, had to study this movie in one of her college courses and we had many a conversation over what the movie meant to 1974’s audience and the traumatic implications it appears to have on today’s younger citizens. Richard Pryor was one of the significant writers for the dialogue in the movie and was unashamed at using racially offensive words and terms in spoofing politicians, the criminal justice system, gender, racism, drugs, gangs, Nazi’s, and white supremacy. It made us take an introspective look at ourselves and our prejudice towards people who were not from our defined social status. The only thing it didn’t spoof was socialism but I could have missed that. It can never be remade but should never be forgotten as what it was – a comedic western using the societal underpinnings of America 100 years prior as a marker during a time of change in America that made us reexamine our beliefs and actions.” – Bill Sadlowski, Boardman, Ohio
[Ed. note: Hear, hear, Mr. Sadlowski! I have said before and will say again that we are becoming a culture of moral imbeciles. Americans are increasingly outsourcing their judgement and reason to the social media mob. Times and morals do change, often for the good. But we ought to be able to understand context and intent to a sufficient degree to allow artists, thinkers and others in the creative class to push boundaries and explore challenging subjects. I am talking about a certain degree of moral relativism here, yes, but the number of rules we are developing about what can be seen or heard is, frankly, terrifying. Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder made us laugh so many times – “Young Frankenstein” remains, to me, probably the funniest single movie ever made – but they also made us think and, what is so sorely needed in our culture today, contemplate each other’s humanity. Comedy, though, is inherently rebellious and I have to believe that the current efforts to suppress and circumscribe what we can laugh at will give us the next great golden age in the genre.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
Boston Herald: “A Boston cop who had his city-issued gun allegedly stolen by two strippers after a night out bar-hopping last week in Rhode Island is not being identified because he is ‘a victim,’ police told the Herald today. He is listed as the #1 victim in a Pawtucket police report showing he frantically called cops there early Saturday to report his black, 40-caliber Glock 22 semi-automatic was gone. The unnamed officer’s service weapon — owned by Boston Police Department — was taken while he was with the women when they stopped at a hotel bar and later a strip club before ending the night at a hotel in Pawtucket, R.I., a police report states. … The officer told police he had locked his service weapon in his BMW 328i and asked one of the suspects to grab his charger out of his car while all three were at a Pawtucket hotel after the night out, according to the report.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Ronald Reagan was so self-contained and impenetrable that his official biographer was practically driven mad trying to figure him out. Donald Trump is penetrable, hourly.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on July 27, 2017.
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.