**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: The verdict on Trump’s SupCo win: Trust the experts - Crucial moment for ObamaCare cuts plan - Refugee ban gets a reprieve - What if Kennedy retires? - And the dogs are loving it
THE VERDICT ON TRUMP’S SUPCO WIN: TRUST THE EXPERTS
Is President Trump adjusting to Washington or is Washington adjusting to Trump? It looks today like it’s a little bit of both.
Trump won a major victory at the Supreme Court as justices ruled that, essentially, the president is the president, even when he does not act like one.
Trump had hoped to shock the nation and the world upon taking office with a ban on refugees and visitors from seven Muslim nations – and did so with language that sounded like Trump was trying to make good on his campaign promise to ban Muslims from traveling to the United States.
Trump got the shock alright, but not in the way he wanted. Faced with long legal odds on his sweeping order, the president was forced to issue something more temperate.
But after two appellate courts made much of Trump’s penchant for overheated, demagogic language, the Supreme Court ruled that the president has the power to restrict immigration. Even unpopular presidents or ones who say mean things.
Clearly, the justices hope that the case will be moot by the time they consider it fully on its merits this fall. Since the refugee ban was explicitly for the purpose of giving the government time to institute what Trump calls “extreme vetting,” an October hearing date should give the administration time enough to finish its work.
Despite Trump’s complaints about his Justice Department and its “watered down” second executive order, the results reveal that he was right to work within the boundaries of executive power as they are broadly understood.
As it turned out, expertise and experience were helpful in achieving the president’s goal. It sounds odd to have to point this out, but it’s needful given the nature of the debate about this still-young administration.
The blame for problems with applied Trumpism is often laid on the political establishment, mot ominously rendered as the “deep state.” The argument here is that Trump would be succeeding if it were not for the semi-official resistance to his sweeping changes.
And there is surely truth in this claim, but it tends to let the president off too easily.
But as Pablo Picasso said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Picasso first had to learn how to paint like the masters to know what he was rebelling against and do so effectively. If Trump’s cubist approach to governance is going to prosper, he first needs to know how to hold the palette.
This lesson has also been revealed with Trump and the probe into Russian meddling in the election. Trump, reportedly at the urging of his son-in-law, who also zero experience in public service or government, launched a surprise nuclear strike on the FBI director leading the investigation.
Trump did it in such a way that guaranteed there would be, as there is now, a special prosecutor nosing around. Trump could have fired his former top cop and not ended up in the same pickle if the president had relied on trusted, experienced experts for advice, instead of going with his gut.
And now as Congress is worrying over a proposed plan to first prop up and then later cut ObamaCare payments, Trump faces another moment where success will depend on acumen, not ardency.
As has usually been the case, Trump loyalists are urging the president and his team to take extreme stances to achieve their goals. That sentiment is backed up with hard dollars in the form of attack ads by the pro-Trump super PAC against the most vulnerable Republican senator.
It seems odd to be so zealous about what has ended up being rather small beer, but this fervor will do no good in achieving the larger aim of a timely resolution to the health insurance debate so lawmakers can deal with taxes and spending ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline.
The most valuable gift for any leader of a large organization, especially a president, is discernment. He or she can’t ever know all the facts and so needs to rely on trustworthy experts. Success or failure often rests in picking the right ones.
Today’s Supreme Court win ought to give the president a clearer understanding of that truth.
THE RULEBOOK: HARD TO SAY
“To say that deficiencies may be provided for by requisitions upon the States, is on the one hand to acknowledge that this system cannot be depended upon, and on the other hand to depend upon it for every thing beyond a certain limit.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 30
TIME OUT: À VOMIR, DUDE
Claremont Review of Books: “Carolyn Purnell’s The Sensational Past: How the Enlightenment Changed the Way We Use Our Senses, is an intelligent, off-beat examination of the 18th century’s interest in sensory functions … This awakening of our senses led to some astonishing results, from sensible to senseless. … Take the brief rise of ‘prince poo.’ During the time of Marie-Antoinette in France, wealthy individuals ‘spent the equivalent of thousands of dollars to wear the clothing the color of baby poop.’ This grotesque fashion choice was done ‘as a way to show their support for the monarchy and to demonstrate how fashionable they could be.’ There was also the cat piano. As the story goes, King Philip II of Spain brought his father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, a ridiculous contraption in 1549 ‘with twenty rather narrow boxes, each of which contained a cat’ that would produce a ‘lamentable meowing’ when a key was pressed.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump net job-approval rating: -18.6 points
Change from one week ago: -1.2 points
CRUCIAL MOMENT FOR OBAMACARE CUTS PLAN
NYT: “Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill as opposition continued to build inside and outside Congress, and as several Republican senators questioned whether it would be approved this week. President Trump expressed confidence that the bill to repeal the guts of the Affordable Care Act would pass. ‘Health care is a very, very tough thing to get,’ Mr. Trump said in an interview shown Sunday on Fox News. ‘But I think we’re going to get it. We don’t have too much of a choice because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare.’ With Democrats solidly opposed to the legislation, Senate Republicans must find the votes from within. They can afford to lose only two votes, but five Republican senators have announced that they cannot support the health care bill as drafted, and others have expressed concerns.”
Cornyn closes the door to delays - WashEx: “Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Monday that a healthcare vote could not wait until after the week-long July 4th recess and argued it needs to take place by Friday. Cornyn was responding to a reporter who said that he left the door open to delaying a vote until at least August 1st, having called that the ‘drop-dead line’ for a vote while in Colorado Springs for a conference hosted by Charles and David Koch. ‘I am closing the door. We need to do it this week before double-digit premium increases are announced for next year,’ Cornyn said.”
Koch-backed groups to spend against Senate bill - Roll Call: “The leaders of Charles and David Koch’s network said they will challenge Republicans because of the proposed Republican replacement to the 2010 health care law. … ‘Our network voraciously opposed Medicaid expansion in state after state,’ Tim Phillips, head of Americans for Prosperity, said during a session with invited reporters. ‘These Republicans who expanded Medicaid were flatly wrong,’ Phillips said of Govs. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and John Kasich of Ohio among others. ‘So we’re going to continue holding these Republicans accountable.’ The organization said it plans to spend $300 to $400 million in the 2018 midterm elections.”
American Medical Association: ObamaCare repeal violates ‘do no harm’ rule - The Hill: “One of the nation’s largest healthcare lobbying groups Monday announced its opposition to the Senate's ObamaCare repeal plan, warning that it could hurt the ‘most vulnerable citizens.’ The American Medical Association (AMA) wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warning against cuts to Medicaid and changes to ObamaCare's subsidies and regulations.”
Sen. Ron Johnson pens op-ed explaining his opposition - NYT: “Like Obamacare, it relies too heavily on government spending, and ignores the role that the private sector can and should play.”
REFUGEE BAN GETS A REPRIEVE
NYT: “The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would decide whether President Trump’s revised travel ban was lawful, setting the stage for a major decision on the scope of presidential power. Mr. Trump’s revised executive order, issued in March, limited travel from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days. The time was needed, the order said, to address gaps in the government’s screening and vetting procedures. Two federal appeals courts have blocked critical parts of the order. The administration had asked that the lower court ruling be stayed while the case moved forward. The court granted part of that request in its unsigned opinion. The court, in effect, said that foreigners with ties or relationships in the United States would not be prohibited from entering the country. But, those applying for visas who had never been here, or had no family, business or other ties could be prohibited.”
Supreme Court takes on religious liberty exemptions for wedding services - AP: “The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado. The justices said Monday they will consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The case asks the high court to balance the religious rights of the baker against the couple's right to equal treatment under the law. Similar disputes have popped up across the United States. The decision to take on the case reflects renewed energy among the court's conservative justices, whose ranks have recently been bolstered by the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the high court.”
SupCo sides with religious institutions in a major church-state decision - WaPo: “The Supreme Court concluded its work for this session on Monday siding with religious institutions in a major church-state decision and with no indication that pivotal Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is retiring. … In the church-state case, the court ruled 7-2 that religious institutions may not be excluded from state programs with a secular intent — in this case, making playgrounds safer. Missouri’s state constitution, like those in about three dozen states, forbade government from spending any public money on ‘any church, sect, or denomination of religion.’ Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., wanted to participate in a state program that reimburses the cost of rubberizing the surface of playgrounds. But the state said that was not allowed.”
What if Kennedy retires? - Fox News: “Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is rumored to be poised to announce his retirement and, if it happens, it will trigger a confirmation battle that could make the fight over Neil Gorsuch look like a playground skirmish. That’s because Gorsuch replaced Antonin Scalia, who was a reliable conservative vote. Kennedy, on the other hand, while considered a conservative, has often found himself in the middle, and become the court’s ‘swing vote.’ Thus, whoever replaces him could very much determine in what direction the court will go.”
Trump and Indian Prime Minister Modi hold first face-to-face meeting today -Reuters
Trump eager for big meeting with Putin next month while some advisers wary - AP
Meet David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher who turned his hard-edged tabloid into a celebration of Trump - The New Yorker
House Appropriations releases Defense funding draft - The Hill
The dog that didn’t bark: Uncontested races result from gerrymandering - AP
AUDIBLE: WAIT. WHAT?
“The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling.” – President Trump in a statement blaming his predecessor for not preventing Russian interference that helped Trump win the 2016 election.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I hear nothing but scorn for the Healthcare proposals. Leaving aside the fact that Obamacare was totally secret (even using secret experts who advised going ahead because the people were too stupid to notice), how should the bill be drafted? The whole 100 proposing, writing, and debating?” – Anna Kingry, Salem, Ore.
[Ed. note: There is nothing wrong with senators working amongst themselves to come up with proposed legislation before presenting it to the body as a whole. That went for Democrats in 2009 just as it goes for Republicans in 2017. Secrecy complaints are mostly bunk. More legitimate, though, are concerns about process once legislation is revealed. All 100 senators need not work together in crafting legislation but, they should have the same opportunities when it comes to amending, debating and reviewing a proposed bill. Senate rules are capacious enough to allow majorities broad latitude on moving legislation, but the speed to which those rules allow can create a strong sense that legislation is being railroaded. As the architects of ObamaCare saw when they used procedural maneuvering and abstruse legislative rules to jam their legislation through, the American people are not generally well disposed toward large-scale legislation that seems to have been shot out of a cannon at them.]
“Just saw a report this week quantitatively supporting President Trump's assertion that he also won the popular vote because of voter fraud and that the number of illegal aliens voting was potentially in the multi-millions who almost exclusively vote Democrat. If this is the case, then the obvious conclusion is that the last legitimately elected Dem POTUS is potentially no later than Jimmy Carter! This also begs the question of what the GOP, and the rest of those in the know, have been doing all this time, impugns the integrity of the entire elected system (Congress, state, local), and delegitimizes the sovereignty of the US Federal Government. Or maybe I just didn't get the memo.” – Bill Ash, Largo, Fla.
[Ed. note: I think I know the report to which you’re referring. It was from a conservative think tank that extrapolated from Census data and surveys to conclude that more than 5 million illegal immigrants may have voted in 2016. We should first remember that these studies are fraught exercises. Getting people to answer honestly about illicit behavior – whether it is illegal voting, recreational drug use, tax cheating, etc. – is always hard. That leaves researchers engaging in guesswork based on their suppositions. Experts looking to disprove Trump’s claim have come to completely opposite findings as the ones you referenced. What we do know is that illegal voting does take place and probably at a volume large enough to have affected the outcomes of elections on the state and certainly local levels. But we still don’t have evidence to support the claim that there were many millions of illegal immigrants voting and that they all voted for Hillary Clinton. This is a circumstance in which politicians would be better off at addressing real, measurable concerns rather than trying to prove or disprove what is essentially an unprovable claim about the past election.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
AND THE DOGS ARE LOVING IT
BBC: “In an era of high-security air travel, many a passenger has fallen foul of the rules banning liquids on planes. But now an Italian airport has decided to waive the [3.4 ounce] maximum limit - as long as the liquid is pesto. More than 500 jars have made it through since Genoa's Cristoforo Colombo airport launched the ‘Il pesto è buono’ (Pesto is good) scheme on 1 June. The cost? A donation to Flying Angels, which flies sick children abroad for treatment. Pesto - a popular pasta sauce made with basil, cheese, and pine nuts - is a local specialty in Genoa. The airport said the brainwave arose after staff were faced with ‘hundreds of jars that were seized in airport security checks’. Tourists with pesto jars of up to [1.1 pounds] can ask for a special sticker in exchange for a [55 cent] charity donation - although the airport says many are donating more. The pesto is then scanned in a special x-ray machine before proceeding onto the plane as hand luggage.”
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.