Senate Republicans push for permanent AG nomination

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On the roster: Senate Republicans push for permanent AG nomination - Time Out: ‘A brunch in the forest’ - Fudge factor could sway Black Caucus - Big drama, little change in Florida results - Somebody light a match 

Politico: “Senate Republicans are urging President Donald Trump to quickly nominate a permanent attorney general, hoping a new top law enforcement officer will blunt bipartisan concern over the future of special counsel Robert Mueller and boost the GOP ahead of tough government funding talks. Even after Trump’s latest attack on Mueller in a flurry of tweets Thursday, most Republicans argue the president will not fire Mueller or derail his investigation because the political consequences would be too great. But they said that naming an attorney general nominee as soon as possible — specifically one who would vow to preserve the Russia probe — would go a long way in halting legislative momentum to protect Mueller and Democratic messaging that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will undermine the investigation. ‘If we had some confidence that there is somebody nominated that would be confirmed in a reasonable period of time, to me it seems like it would relieve a lot of the controversy,’ said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, who predicted that Whitaker, who was openly critical of the Mueller probe before Trump tapped him for the job, is ‘not going to be there long.’”

This comes after sources share Whitaker said Mueller probe would continue - CBS News: “Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker told Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in a meeting Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation will proceed, according to a person familiar with the meeting. The meeting with Graham and Whitaker comes as a bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation to protect Mueller's job. The senators are concerned about Whitaker's past criticism of the Mueller probe, which is looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election and ties to President Donald Trump's campaign. Trump appointed Whitaker as acting attorney general last week. Whitaker told Graham the investigation would be allowed to proceed, the person said. The person wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the meeting and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats have called for Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation. A Justice Department spokeswoman said earlier this week that Whitaker will follow Justice Department protocols and consult with senior ethics officials ‘on his oversight responsibilities and matters that may warrant recusal.’”

Grassley heads to Senate Finance Panel - WSJ: “Sen. Chuck Grassley is expected to lead the Finance Committee next year, giving the veteran Iowa Republican more sway over tax, trade and health policy. Mr. Grassley said on Friday he wants to relinquish the Judiciary Committee chairmanship to fill the finance panel opening left by the retirement of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah). That decision likely installs Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) as the top Republican at the Judiciary Committee processing President Trump’s judicial nominations and means the Senate Banking Committee will continue to be led by Sen. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), a conservative who cut a deal with Democrats this on legislation paring back financial rules. A spokeswoman for Mr. Crapo declined to comment. … Mr. Grassley’s seniority gives him an edge to claim either chairmanship, though Senate Republicans will still have to approve his bid.”

Graham will take Grassley’s place on Judiciary Committee - McClatchy: “Sen. Lindsey Graham is poised to become the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, giving him both influence and exposure — and a new, politically risky stature as a Democratic target. Aside from running for president in 2015, the South Carolina Republican has never held a position with such a high level of visibility and unique set of challenges in his decades-long career. … Graham’s primary responsibility will be moving Trump’s judicial nominees through the Senate, helping the president cement his legacy by confirming conservative judges to lifetime tenures on the federal bench. The senator could also wind up overseeing the confirmation of new Supreme Court justices. … But the farther to the right Graham goes, the easier it will be for Democrats to energize their base to vilify him. Already, Jaime Harrison, a Democratic National Committee official and former state party chairman, is weighing running against him. Graham for years had been seen by Democrats as one of the go-to Republicans they could work with, but the senator in recent weeks has signaled he may no longer be that figure.”

Chris Wallace’s interview with Trump airs on Sunday - The Hill: “Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on Sunday will interview President Trump for the first time since he took office, according to the network. Wallace served as moderator for the third presidential debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but has not interviewed Trump since he was inaugurated in January 2017. ‘The wide-ranging interview will take place amid last week’s midterm election results, President Trump’s appointment of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, reports that the President may issue written answers to the special counsel, along with questions about Saudi Arabia’s role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and CNN’s lawsuit against the White House,’ the network said in a release Thursday. … The ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview with Wallace marks the second time the President has sat down for a Sunday show interview, with the last coming with CBS's John Dickerson on ‘Face the Nation’ in May 2017.”

[Ed. note: You may remember newspapers. As my son explained to his little brother, “It’s like they printed out the Internet so you can read it.” I got my start writing nighttime sports for my hometown paper when I was 17. I was a goner from the first. Part of what I loved about newspapering was the continuity – the musty old files of clips that reached back generations, making a record of who we were and how we became what we are. “Older than the state itself,” read the banner at the top of Page One. My favorite Thanksgiving newspaper tradition has for decades been that paper’s annual republishing of the same perfect column about the holiday by the late Adam Kelly, known to his readers as “the country editor.” I was privileged to have his son, Bob, a great newsman himself, as my mentor when I later learned my way around politics in Charleston, W.Va. They talk about Washington being a swamp. But trust me, if you can wrestle the political gators on the Kanawha River, you can cover politics anywhere in the world. Bob, who was taken from us far too young, taught a generation of newspapermen and newspaperwomen how to take our jobs seriously without taking ourselves seriously – to be skeptics without becoming cynics. It’s no mean feat when the world entices you always to see the story in first person rather than keeping the proper sense of first doing your duty to your country and your readers. The key to that, I’ve learned with hard-bought wisdom, is to begin with gratitude. If I count the blessings in my life, I can start to see how much more I have than I deserve. Understanding that makes us kinder, more gracious and, most importantly, less selfish. Bob’s father’s column, offered here by another newspaper in the same chain, is properly called a litany, which is a kind of prayer where congregants respond to the preacher in the pulpit. The word “litany” descends from Greek, where its root “litaneia” means “entreaty.” My entreaty to you is that you read Adam Kelly’s good, old words and meditate on your blessings. I know I don’t enjoy today’s every blessing its author did; nor do you, probably. But we can all claim many of them as Americans. And if we could really all count our blessings, one suspects that we would be a people more inclined to mercy, more given to self-sacrifice and more committed to building up than tearing down. Fox News Halftime Report is pausing for the holiday and will resume publication on Nov. 26. In the meantime, Brianna and I wish you and your families bounty and blessings, but most of all, the gift of gratitude, especially in the face of adversity.]

“We must expose our property and liberty to the mercy of foreign invaders, and invite them by our weakness to seize the naked and defenseless prey, because we are afraid that rulers, created by our choice, dependent on our will, might endanger that liberty, by an abuse of the means necessary to its preservation.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25

Smithsonian: “The school play version of Thanksgiving tells the story of a landmark moment of coexistence, multiculturalism and even neighborliness when Native Americans taught Pilgrims to farm, and shared a meal with them after a successful harvest in 1621. But it wasn’t a landmark moment – [The Smithsonian's Paul Chaat Smith] describes it as a nonevent that was recorded in the writings of early English settlers, but likened it to more of a historic footnote. … After the American Revolution, George WashingtonAbraham Lincoln and 19th century women’s magazines would all make calls for a national day of prayer and giving thanks. The idea of such a national holiday began to pick up steam after the Civil War, just as popular culture would create a public that was fascinated by early Pilgrims and Native Americans. In 1855, the lost manuscript of William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth colony was recovered, and in 1858, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published The Courtship of Miles Standish

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

Trump job performance 

Average approval: 42.6 percent
Average disapproval: 53.2 percent
Net Score: -10.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 0.4 points 
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 44% approve - 49% disapprove; Gallup: 38% approve - 56% disapprove; NBC News: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; CNN: 41% approve - 57% disapprove; ABC News: 44% approve - 52% disapprove.]

Roll Call: “The possibility that Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge might challenge Nancy Pelosi for speaker seems to have some of her colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus torn, despite many saying Thursday they still plan to support Pelosi. But one notable member of the CBC would not make such a pledge, Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond. ‘I’m not anti-Pelosi, but whatever Marcia does, I’m very pro-Marcia,’ the Louisiana Democrat said. ‘But I have not seen that Marcia is running for speaker. I think this is something that others are pushing.’ Those others, the anti-Pelosi contingent that Fudge has long been part of, claim to have enough members in their ranks willing to vote against Pelosi in the floor vote for speaker. The group has been at a disadvantage, however, because they did not have a candidate to challenge Pelosi — that is, until Fudge said Thursday evening she was considering it. Richmond predicted that if Fudge runs for speaker, many other CBC members would support her — even ones who’ve said they’ll back Pelosi.”

Pelosi tries to placate - Politico: “Nancy Pelosi sat face to face with her potential challenger, Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, on Friday as the California Democrat continued her fight to reclaim the speaker’s gavel. The two women huddled at the behest of incoming House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a key Pelosi ally and senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus who is also close with Fudge, the CBC’s former chairwoman. Pelosi also spent Friday afternoon meeting with incoming Democratic lawmakers who during their campaigns vowed to oppose her as speaker, including Reps.-elect Max Rose (N.Y.), Jeff Van Drew (N.J.), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.) and Haley Stevens (Mich.). Fudge, a six-term lawmaker, said Pelosi raised the issue of possibly serving as a ‘transitional leader’ or agreeing to serve as speaker for only one or two terms, although there was no commitment by Pelosi to that idea.”

Meadows, Kihuen sanctioned by House Ethics Committee - Politico: “The House Ethics Committee has formally sanctioned two members — GOP Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.) and Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen (Nev.) — over sexual harassment-related allegations. Meadows was found to have violated House rules ‘by failing to take appropriate steps to ensure that his House office was free from discrimination and any perception of discrimination.’ This case grew out of an investigation into Meadows' former chief of staff, Kenny West. Meadows kept West on his payroll even after learning of credible harassment allegations against the former aide. Meadows will have to pay more than $40,000 to cover the cost of West's salary. Kihuen, who announced his retirement as the #MeToo movement swept Capitol Hill last year, was found to have ‘made persistent and unwanted advances towards women who were required to interact with him as part of their professional responsibilities.’ Both lawmakers were reproved by the Ethics Committee.”

Orlando Sentinel: “Amid a dizzying whir of legal action, questions over uncounted ballots and the failure of two South Florida counties to meet the deadline, a machine recount produced little change in the overall results to three statewide races Thursday. Even so, the U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner races are headed to manual recounts, results of which are due to the state by noon on Sunday. Certification of the official election results is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday. In the governor’s race, the recount showed that Democrat Andrew Gillum trailed Republican Ron DeSantis by 33,683 votes, a net gain of 1 vote for Gillum from the unofficial results reported last week. The margin was 0.41 percent out of more than 8 million votes cast, outside the 0.25 percent threshold needed for a manual recount. Although the lead appears insurmountable, Gillum would not concede and called for counting to continue. … The machine recount in the Senate contest between [Bill Nelson] and GOP Gov. Rick Scott saw Scott’s lead grow by 41 votes, to 12,603 overall. That’s a margin of 0.15 percent, enough for a manual recount.”

Mimi Walters loses re-election in California - LAT: “In another blow to California Republicans reeling from defeats in the Nov. 6 election, Democrat Katie Porter has ousted GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in an upscale Orange County congressional district that was a longtime conservative bastion. At the same time, the updated vote count Thursday by the Orange County registrar of voters had Democratic House candidate Gil Cisneros pulling 941 votes ahead of Republican Young Kim in an adjacent congressional district. The Associated Press projected Porter’s unseating of Walters in the 45th Congressional District contest after Orange County’s tally found that the two-term incumbent had dropped 6,203 votes behind her challenger. It is the fifth House seat in California that Republicans lost in last week’s election. Democrats will control at least 44 of the state’s 53 seats in the House. It’s a new low point for a state GOP sorely damaged over the last two decades by the kind of hard-line immigration politics championed by President Trump.”

Trump weighs rescue mission for Hyde-Smith - Mississippi Clarion Ledger: “President Donald Trump is considering another trip to Mississippi to support Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is dealing with fallout from a recent ‘public hanging’ comment. Sources close to the Hyde-Smith campaign on Wednesday confirmed Trump — who held a Mississippi rally on Oct. 3 endorsing Hyde-Smith — is considering another rally before the Nov. 27 runoff between Hyde-Smith and Democratic former U.S. Rep. Mike Espy. But they stressed no plans for a Trump rally had been finalized. … White House officials would not comment on the prospect of a Mississippi visit, saying the schedule isn't set yet.”

Senate Republicans think trump wants to avoid shutdown… probably - WaPo: “Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and other GOP leaders met with Trump on Thursday about ways to fund the government. Shelby said Trump did not commit to signing a bill that does not give him all the money he wants to fund construction of a wall along the Mexico border. Shelby said Trump was noncommittal about how he planned to proceed. ‘He didn’t say, ‘I’m going to keep the government open.’ We didn’t ask him that question,’ Shelby told reporters after returning from the White House. ‘We talked about avoiding a shutdown. . . . He seemed to agree with that.’ Trump’s staff has warned him he may not get the full $5 billion he has demanded for new wall construction for 2019, according to a person briefed on the discussions who was not authorized to reveal deliberations.”

Judge rules in favor of CNN reporter, returns his White House press pass WaPo

Report: WikiLeaks' Assange ‘has been charged,’ inadvertent court filing shows - Fox News 

Trump to visit California amid deadly wildfires - Fox News 

“[College students] remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.” – Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., in a video posted Thursday discussing laws that make voting for college students more difficult is a good idea, which she now says was a joke.

This weekend Chris Wallace sits down for an exclusive interview with President Trump. Tune in for Mr. Sunday’s first interview with the president since he took office in January 2017. 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.

“Could you please explain the logical reason why it seems re-counts and additional vote returns after Election Day always seem to favor Democrat party candidates? Conspiracy theories aside and understanding each race is unique, is it because most of these activities tend to happen in large, urban counties where Democrats traditionally tend to do well anyway and there are so many more votes to count?  To a casual observer, it would seem very odd for things happening after election night to be so one-sided but there has to be a reasonable explanation!  Are there a bunch of races with late returns and recounts where the Republican candidates benefit and we just don't hear about them in news coverage?” – John Anderson, Charlotte, N.C.

[Ed. note: As a West Virginian, I can assure you that vote fraud and election rigging are very real things. We saw in Florida this week Democrats circulating doctored paperwork to try to get more votes counted. But crookedness is not the major cause of what you’re talking about. You’ve keyed in on a major part of the phenomenon when you point out issues of population density. Smaller rural and suburban precincts that tend to be friendlier to Republicans make for easier, quicker counting. And there’s also this: Poor voters tend to have more difficulty with the process. Address changes, precinct changes and the general complexities of casting votes tend to be more daunting for people on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, who also tend to vote Democratic. When you start the canvass, it stands to reason that such voters would be overrepresented in challenged ballots.]

“Kudos on your use of ‘condign.’ We are assaulted by bad writing every day and I cheer when a good guy cares enough about his readers to use a good word correctly. Now could you spread the word about the correct use of comprise?” – Jeff Olbrys, Raleigh, N.C.

[Ed. note: Good luck on that one, Mr. Olbrys! There’s one trick that I will share, though: WC TP. My eternally 12-year-old sense of humor has no problem remembering that because it could stand for Water Closet Toilet Paper. Or, it could stand for Whole Comprises The Parts.

“Is it not true the United States Congress is made up of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives? Why is it you and seemingly all others reporters, journalists and other talking heads refer to the House of Representatives as the Congress?” – Edd Hopkins, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.

[Ed. note: I can’t remember a recent slip, Mr. Hopkins, but I generally try to refer to the House when I mean the lower chamber and the Senate when I mean the upper chamber and Congress when referring either to the bicameral legislative branch of government or the two-year meetings of that body, the 116th of which will begin on Jan. 3. But we will remain ever vigilant!]

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The Times-Picayune: “A man accused of threatening to blow up Willie’s Chicken Shack Tuesday night claimed to police when confronted about the allegation that his words were merely a reference to a bowel movement, the man’s warrant states. Arthur Posey, 30, was booked on charges in connection to a bomb threat after his story was not corroborated with the restaurant’s employees, New Orleans police wrote in the warrant. Shortly after police were made aware of the bomb threat at the Canal Street restaurant, an officer confronted Posey inside a business in the next block, where the officer saw Posey enter. Posey claimed to the officer he told a male employee he was going to ‘‘blow the bathroom up,’ in reference to a bowel movement,’ the warrant states. However, police say a Willie’s Chicken Shack employee told officers ‘Mr. Posey never told him anything about a bathroom.’ Posey faces two counts of communicating of false information of planned arson.”

“Look, every civilization is founded on sins, every single one. Dispossession, violence, appropriation. What distinguishes civilizations are the ones who rise above it.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on July 3, 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.