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On the roster: The shutdown showdown continues - Dems call for investigation into Cohen report - Sen. Bob Casey rules out presidential run - McConnell eyes Pompeo for open Kansas Senate seat - A different kind of civic engagement
THE SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN CONTINUES
Roll Call: “There are no shutdown talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Donald Trump’s Friday schedule and no invitations for any have been extended, even as White House aides claim the president put the kibosh on her Afghanistan trip in part to keep her on U.S. soil to cut a deal. What’s more, an explosive report that Trump directed his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie during testimony to Congress likely will only drive the White House and Democrats further apart, making a border security deal needed to reopen the government even harder as Washington becomes increasingly toxic. House Democrats are already saying that the Judiciary and Intelligence committees will investigate the allegations in that report. ‘If [Pelosi] leaves, she guarantees that the second round of paychecks to 800,000 federal workers won’t go out. The deadline to make that deal is midnight on Tuesday,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, referring to a deal to get those workers paid.”
Jonah Goldberg: ‘Trump’s Response to Nancy Pelosi Could Fuel a Historic Battle’ - National Review: “If you can get beyond the partisan angles, the White House’s response to Nancy Pelosi’s quasi disinvitation to give the State of the Union address could be the beginning of a historic battle between the two branches of government. President Trump informed Nancy Pelosi that her trip to Europe and the Middle East will have to be ‘postponed’ because of the shutdown. And it might not end there: I’m not taking Pelosi’s side in this as a political or policy matter, but I would love to see it dawn on Congress that the executive branch is not in fact the boss of the legislative branch and that, over the long term, Congress actually has a lot more power over the executive than the other way around. Given the politics of the moment, I think things would have to get a lot worse before GOP congressmen see themselves more as defenders of their institution than their party. But it seems this is the way such a long-overdue awakening could start.”
Pelosi says Trump derailed trip by leaking plans - Fox News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office accused the Trump administration on Friday of leaking plans for a congressional delegation to fly commercial to Afghanistan after they were denied military aircraft, saying the related security risks have forced them to postpone the trip … The White House adamantly denied the leak allegation, calling it a ‘flat out lie.’ And President Trump seemed to stand by his original decision a day earlier to revoke the military aircraft citing the need to negotiate a shutdown resolution. … [Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill] said the delegation had planned, after being denied military transport, to fly commercially. However, Pelosi's office said that the State Department then told them Trump's announcement ‘significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip.’”
Trump cancels trip to Davos World Economic Forum - CNBC: “President Donald Trump has canceled his delegation's trip to the World Economic Forum, citing the partial government shutdown. ‘Out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed, President Trump has canceled his Delegation's trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,’ press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement late Thursday. Earlier this week, the White House said it had planned to send Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chris Liddell, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy coordination.”
THE RULEBOOK: ALL FOR ONE
“As the safety of the whole is the interest of the whole, and cannot be provided for without government, either one or more or many, let us inquire whether one good government is not, relative to the object in question, more competent than any other given number whatever.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 4
TIME OUT: HOW MANY RINGS TO THE CENTER OF SATURN?
The Atlantic: “Saturn has confounded scientists since Galileo, who found that the planet was ‘not alone,’ as he put it. … He didn’t realize it then, but he had seen the planet’s rings, a cosmic garland of icy material. From Earth, the rings look solid, but up close, they are translucent bands made of countless particles, mostly ice, some rock. Some are no larger than a grain of sugar, others as enormous as mountains. … Scientists got their best look at the planet nearly 400 years after Galileo’s discovery, using a NASA spacecraft called Cassini. Cassini spent 13 years looping around Saturn until, in September 2017, it ran out of fuel and engineers deliberately plunged it into the planet, destroying it. More than a year later, scientists are still sorting through the data from its final moments, hoping to extract answers to the many questions that remain about Saturn.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 39.8 percent
Average disapproval: 55.6 percent
Net Score: -15.8 points
Change from one week ago: down 4.4 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; Pew: 39% approve - 58% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; CNN: 37% approve - 57% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]
DEMS CALL FOR INVESTIGATION INTO COHEN REPORT
AP: “Democrats are vowing to investigate whether President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate project, calling that possibility a ‘concern of the greatest magnitude.’ Trump’s current lawyer said the allegations sparking the inquiry are ‘categorically false.’ Any evidence that Trump directed a witness to lie to investigators would place him in the greatest political and legal jeopardy yet and confront him with allegations of the sort that led to the departure of one president and the impeachment of another. At issue is a report by BuzzFeed News that Trump told Cohen to lie about negotiations over the Moscow project during the 2016 campaign. The Associated Press has not independently confirmed the report. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement Friday that ‘any suggestion — from any source — that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false.’”
Kraushaar: ‘Impeachment Is Now a Real Risk for Trump’ - National Journal: “Last January, I wrote a column outlining three critical preconditions for anyone to take the prospect of President Trump’s impeachment seriously. … But several recent developments have shifted the political dynamic to the point where the prospect of Trump’s removal from office isn’t so far-fetched anymore. Democrats now control the House, allowing them to launch impeachment proceedings. The latest wave of revelations … threaten to soften Trump’s support from within the party. Thursday’s explosive BuzzFeed report … is a development that suggests Trump’s strange unwillingness to criticize Russia was born out of malice, not reckless incompetence. … That means two of the three political preconditions for impeachment have already been met or largely met (Democrats retaking the House and a bombshell from the Mueller investigation). The third precondition that’s left: whether enough Republican voters defect from the president as legal pressure mounts.”
SEN. BOB CASEY RULES OUT PRESIDENTIAL RUN
WashEx: “Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., announced Friday that he will not run for president in 2020 and will remain in the Senate. In a statement, the Pennsylvania Democrat said that he considered a bid over the last two months after winning a third term in November. He called on the party to nominate someone who can win in his home state, which supported President Trump in 2016. ‘With all of these challenges confronting us and with our Commonwealth playing a potentially decisive role in the 2020 vote, I believed it was important for me to at least consider the monumental undertaking of running for President,’ Casey said in a statement. ‘After two months of considering it, I have concluded that the best way for me to fight for the America that so many of us believe in is to stay in the U.S. Senate and not run for the presidency in 2020.’”
Gillibrand rejects support from super PAC - Politico: “Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand rejected support from an individualized super PAC in her first public comments since joining the 2020 presidential race, staking out a position on campaign finance that’s defining the early stage of the Democratic primary. The New York Democrat joins a handful of other likely presidential candidates who have made the same commitment, as Democratic activists place increasing importance on how candidates finance their campaigns. … Gillibrand, who has addressed questions about financial support from Wall Street throughout her Senate career and said Wednesday that her ‘values are never for sale,’ has already said she would no longer accept corporate PAC or federal lobbying contributions. She has for years had a leadership PAC, Off The Sidelines, that she has used to support female candidates.”
Tulsi Gabbard addresses anti-gay past - NYT: “Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who last week announced she was running for president, apologized Thursday for her record of anti-gay rhetoric and her past work for an anti-gay advocacy group — issues that have emerged as an early obstacle as she pursues a long-shot bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination. … ‘In my past I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, they were very hurtful to people in the L.G.B.T.Q. community and to their loved ones,’ Ms. Gabbard said in a video posted to YouTube and shared on Twitter. ‘My views have changed significantly since then,’ she added, ‘and my record in Congress over the last six years reflects what is in my heart: a strong and ongoing commitment to fighting for L.G.B.T.Q. rights.’”
Warren routes campaign travels to Puerto Rico - The Hill: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is planning a trip to Puerto Rico next week amid reports that President Trump is considering diverting hurricane relief funding to help build his planned border wall. The Warren campaign said the senator would hold a ‘Community Conversation about Puerto Rico and its Recovery with Elizabeth Warren’ on Tuesday, according to an announcement. The trip would be the Massachusetts Democrat’s first to Puerto Rico since declaring in December that she was forming an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run. It also comes after the largest-ever delegation of lawmakers visited the U.S. territory this week…”
MCCONNELL EYES POMPEO FOR OPEN KANSAS SENATE SEAT
WaPo: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has personally courted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to consider running for an open Senate seat in Kansas, according to people familiar with the effort… Senate GOP leaders have been so dedicated to recruiting Pompeo that McConnell directly urged him to consider it in a recent telephone call, according to two people familiar with the conversation, which has not been previously reported. By the time Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) announced this month that he was retiring, GOP leaders were eyeing Pompeo. In the hours ahead of Roberts’s announcement, their allies were talking up Pompeo. But Trump does not want to lose Pompeo and sees him as his favorite Cabinet member, according to two people familiar with his thinking. It was unclear whether he was aware of the conversation between McConnell and Pompeo.”
Meanwhile Kansas AG debates run - McCaltchy: “Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has rarely sought the spotlight, but for a few short hours Kansas’ top law enforcement official was a star to room of senators. … The praise from veteran lawmakers could be an important as Schmidt inches toward a potential bid to succeed Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, who is not running for re-election next year. Schmidt, a 50-year-old Republican who began his third term as attorney general this week, has won each of his statewide elections by double digits. Many in the party are hoping he pursues a run for the seat. He recently hired former campaign spokesmen for former Rep. Kevin Yoder and former Gov. Sam Brownback to work in his office, moves that suggest he’s building a campaign apparatus in a state where official staffers frequently double as candidates’ campaign teams.”
New primary date forces early start for N.C. candidates - Charlotte Observer: “The new year is barely two weeks old. So why are so many candidates kicking off their campaigns for next year? Candidates already are off and running in elections that won’t take place for more than a year. They’re raising money, looking for staff and drumming up support. The biggest reason for the early start: the calendar. A law passed in June moves all the 2020 primaries from May to March. Next year that means a March 3 primary — the state’s earliest ever. Candidate filing begins Dec. 2; absentee voting starts in January. (The law makes permanent a change that first occurred in 2016, although that primary did not include congressional races.) Add to that a full slate of races from president to U.S. Senate, governor and virtually every other statewide and local office.”
Maine Dems aren’t rushing to challenge Susan Collins… yet - Bangor (Maine) Daily News: “The field of potential opponents to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins hasn’t expanded much since her 2018 vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that looks to have rearranged the Republican’s base of support along party lines. The 2020 election will bring another difficult Senate map for Democrats. It means that the swing state of Maine — even though Collins won a fourth term with 68 percent of votes in 2014 — is virtually guaranteed to see an unprecedented amount of national attention and money regardless of whether the incumbent runs again. Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, could be Collins’ likeliest opponent at the moment, though other high-profile Democrats aren’t ruling out the race and a private-sector candidate could emerge from Gideon’s hometown.”
White House: Second nuclear summit between Trump, NoKo to be held in February - Fox News
Conservatives grow anxious over lack of action on Trump judicial nominees - Politico
Pro-Life advocates want Trump to do more - Roll Call
DNC reports phishing attack after 2018 midterms - ABC News
AUDIBLE: SO NOT GOOD…?
“I feel like I’m going to strangle you.” – An unnamed senator reportedly said when a reporter asked them about their current state of mind during the shutdown.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. 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.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
Fox News: “A Pennsylvania police department seeking volunteers to get extremely drunk said they've received an ‘overwhelming response’ from those looking to participate. Kutztown Borough Police posted the ad on Facebook Wednesday, in which they asked for three volunteers to help the department's officers train for field sobriety tests during traffic stops. … But what likely caught each applicant's eye was the requirement: ‘Be willing to drink hard liquor to the point of inebriation.’ ‘Alcohol will be provided however you will not receive any compensation for your time,’ officials said. In an update to the post, police wrote they've been swamped with responses to the volunteer posting, and aren't taking in any more applications. The department said that those who are selected to get drunk with them will be contacted by the chief of police.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Under our constitutional system, the executive executes the laws that Congress has passed. It should not be executing laws that Congress has rejected.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) said on Fox News on Aug. 30, 2011.
Brianna McClelland and Liz Friden contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.