Trump bugging out in Syria

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On the roster: Trump bugging out in Syria - I’ll Tell You What: It’s all about delivery - Q Poll: Dems like Biden, Bernie and Beto best - Fed lifts rates despite pressure from Trump - You’d better Sasquatch yourself


WSJ: “The U.S. military is preparing a rapid withdrawal of its forces from Syria, administration officials said Wednesday, a move that marks an abrupt reversal of America’s strategy in the Middle East. As America’s four-year-old military campaign against Islamic State draws to a close, President Trump has ordered a speedy exit for about 2,000 American forces in Syria that one U.S. official said could unfold over the next 30 days. American officials began informing partners in northeastern Syria on Wednesday of their plans, according to people briefed on the planning. ‘The Pentagon has an order to move troops out of Syria as quickly as possible,’ the U.S. official said. The withdrawal plan drew concerns from the White House and Capitol Hill to the State Department and throughout the U.S. military, three U.S. officials said. The decision will have widespread consequences for American policy in the Middle East, where the Trump administration has been working to defeat Islamic State, contain Iran and expansionist ambitions and counter Russia’s influence in Syria, where Moscow has a vital Navy base.”

Josh Rogin: Move leaves military brass, Hill allies sputtering - WaPo: “Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told me Wednesday morning that the timing of the move could not be more counterproductive. There’s no sound reason for the United States to announce it’s giving up all leverage just as the next round of negotiations begins. ‘History will look at that as one of the stupidest strategic moves before a negotiation,’ he said. ‘In order to have a successful diplomatic outcome, you have to have a military option and a military presence.’ What’s worse, he said, is that Trump is repeating the same mistake President Barack Obama made in Iraq — withdrawing and leaving a vacuum that the Islamic State and other extremists are sure to fill.”

Graham slams Trump too - Fox News: “Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday blasted President Trump’s decision to pull all troops out of Syria, calling it an ‘Obama-like decision’ that would signal Middle East allies can’t rely on America. U.S. officials told Fox News that the U.S. was considering pulling all 2,000 American troops on the ground in Syria. … He said it would also put America's Kurdish allies at risk.”

Senate will vote on stopgap to avoid shutdown - Politico:Mitch McConnell moved to bail out Congress and President Donald Trump from an intractable shutdown impasse, preparing on Wednesday to fund the government into early February and avoid a funding lapse right before the holidays. The Senate majority leader introduced a bill Wednesday that funds the government through Feb. 8, one day after a longer-term offer was rejected by congressional Democrats on Tuesday amid a continuing battle between Trump and congressional Democrats over his border wall. With Trump softening his demands for $5 billion for the wall in the waning days of the GOP Congress, McConnell is working to avoid a political blunder four days before Christmas. The House is expected to vote on the package Thursday — a full day ahead of the deadline — where it will likely have broad support from both parties, per multiple aides.”

Trump still saying the military will build the wall - US News and World: “President Donald Trump reasserted a directive Wednesday – that the Pentagon quietly dismissed last week – that the military will assume responsibility for building a wall along the southern U.S. border. Trump's announcement follows reports that the president withdrew his demand for $5 billion in funding for a border wall amid a lack of support in Congress as lawmakers seek a funding compromise that will keep the government open. Trump also repeated claims that a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico will generate revenue that will fulfill his campaign promise of forcing America's southern neighbor to pay for the wall. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated Tuesday that the administration was looking for other elements of the government that could fulfill one of the president's signature campaign promises.”

“Civil power, properly organized and exerted, is capable of diffusing its force to a very great extent; and can, in a manner, reproduce itself in every part of a great empire by a judicious arrangement of subordinate institutions.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 13

Paris Review: “Gently but insistently, [Charles Dickens] educates his readers into the need to make connections in a world that might otherwise shiver into isolated fragments. [H]is listing of objects and urgent cross-referencing of ideas would again reflect his pleasure in the sprawling multitudinousness of the world… [Dickens seems] less worried about his ability to find a style to match the dense weave of affection and obligation that should bind together the rich with the poor, the living with the dead. And the writer with his readers? Who better to remind us that other people are ‘fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys,’ as [Ebenezer Scrooge’s] nephew puts it, than a writer whose story has asked generations of readers to make the same journey, as each pair of eyes travels across the page to meet that clinching final sentence, at once conclusive and all-embracing, ‘God bless Us, Every One’?”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 41.2 percent
Average disapproval: 53.6 percent
Net Score: -12.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 1.6 points 
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 38% approve - 57% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; CNN: 40% approve - 53% disapprove.]

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**we now return you to our regularly scheduled political palaver**


This week, for a special holiday edition Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt welcome Dana's husband, Peter McMahon, back on the podcast! The trio discuss their favorite holiday traditions, answer some mailbag questions and compete in some citizenship trivia. Plus, Dana has her 2019 sports predictions. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Quinnipiac University: “American voters give former Vice President Joseph Biden a 53 - 33 percent favorability rating, topping President Donald Trump's negative 40 - 56 percent favorability rating and besting a list of possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has the highest unfavorable score on the list, a negative 32 - 61 percent favorability, the independent Quinnipiac University National Poll finds. … Results for others on the Democratic Guess List are: A divided 44 - 42 percent favorability for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders… 24 - 20 percent for Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke… Negative 30 - 37 percent for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; 22 - 26 percent for New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker… Negative 22 - 32 percent for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; A divided 20 - 22 percent for California Sen. Kamala Harris… 14 - 17 percent for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand… 12 - 9 percent for Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, with 77 percent who haven't heard enough. … American voters give President Trump a negative 39 - 52 percent approval rating, compared to a negative 41 - 54 percent approval rating November 20. … But voters say 60 - 35 percent that Congress should not begin the process to impeach President Trump. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a fair investigation into possible links between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government, voters say 48 - 38 percent. Voters approve 45 - 38 percent of the way Mueller is handling his job.”

A Beto PAC exists, no word if Beto wants the cash - BuzzFeed News: “The new organizers trying to raise money to convince Beto O’Rourke to run for president aren’t sure just yet if Beto O’Rourke wants anything to do with them. O’Rourke, who lost his Texas Senate race in November, is already publicly considering a 2020 campaign. Organizers with the Draft Beto PAC, which launched this week, haven’t actually talked with O’Rourke, or people close to him. They don’t even know if O’Rourke, who has already proven himself to be a uniquely skilled fundraiser who pledged not to take PAC money during his Senate campaign, would accept whatever money they raise in their draft effort, should he decide to run. Draft Beto PAC — a patchwork group of social media influencers, activists, and campaign aides — is raising money set-aside for O’Rourke if he runs, and holding that money in an escrow account. The group’s goal is to build a grassroots network and raise $1 million to prove to O’Rourke — who raised nearly 80 times that amount for his Senate campaign — that he has national support.”

South Carolina GOP may nix primary to help Trump - Fox News: “The South Carolina Republican Party potentially could decide to forgo a 2020 primary election if President Trump runs for re-election -- but a concrete decision has not yet been made, state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick told Fox News Wednesday. The Washington Examiner first reported the state party may abandon a primary this year to ‘protect’ Trump – setting off a flurry of speculation about the South Carolina GOP’s plans for the upcoming election. But McKissick stressed a decision would not be made until the party’s executive committee meets in the summer of 2019. Then, McKissick, along with one voting member from each county in the state, will determine their plan for a primary to submit to the Republican National Committee. ‘The purpose of political parties is to unify around a platform and elect candidates who would advance that platform,’ McKissick said, adding that the entire state party supports Trump in that regard.”

WSJ: “Defying pressure from President Trump to stop raising short-term interest rates, the Federal Reserve nudged then up for the fourth time this year but suggested it could slow the pace of increases next year in the face of new economic headwinds. Fed officials voted unanimously Wednesday on the increase, which will bring the benchmark federal-funds rate to a range between 2.25% and 2.5%, the ninth such rise since December 2015. They also indicated they think they won’t need to raise rates as much next year as they had anticipated three months ago. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said central-bank officials still expect healthy growth and a ‘robust economic backdrop’ in the coming year. But he added, ‘We have seen developments that may signal some softening, relative to what we were expecting a few months ago.’ He pointed to slowing economies abroad and increased financial-market volatility that is less supportive of growth.”

The Hill: “Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), under pressure from groups on the left, will not agree to a customary year-end package of judicial nominees, according to a Senate Democratic aide. Schumer and his Democratic colleagues are in no mood to agree to a year-end deal after a federal judge in Texas struck down the entire Affordable Care Act last week, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The judge, Reed O’Conner, was a George W. Bush appointee confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote in 2007 — when Democrats held the majority. Schumer brushed off questions about if letting O'Connor clear by a voice vote in 2007 was a ‘bad deal,’ telling NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday that senators couldn't predict how a district judge would rule more than a decade after his nomination was before the Senate.”

Ryan gives his farewell address - AP

Loretta Lynch questioned behind closed doors on Capitol Hill - Fox News

Judge orders deported asylum seekers to return to U.S. - Fox News

Members of Gov. Phil Murphy’s staff knew about sexual assault against aid - NYT

“I think he’s agnostic: However he can get into the middle of things, he’s going to be in the mix.” – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., talking about her fellow West Virginian, Sen. Joe Manchin, with Politico.

It’s time again for our annual year-end edition saluting the year’s best journalism, and we need your input. What stories stood out? Which journalists helped you understand the world in a better way? Who did it with integrity and an unflinching commitment to the truth? What about the ones who made you think or laugh? You can read last year’s winners here to get an idea of what we’re looking for. Share your suggestions with us by email at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM 

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

Idaho Statesman: “A Montana man was out target shooting when he became a target himself — and it was because a man ‘mistook him for Bigfoot,’ he told authorities. The 27-year-old from Helena told dispatchers on Monday that a day earlier he had been putting up targets on public lands outside the city when bullets started flying toward him, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said in a phone interview with McClatchy. The man said one bullet hit three feet to his left on Sunday and another whizzed past him on the right. He explained that he ran into the trees for cover as more gunfire came his way. Eventually he came out to confront the man in a black Ford F-150 who shot at him, he said. ‘I thought you were Bigfoot,’ the shooter told the victim in the victim’s telling of the story, according to Dutton. … However, Dutton said he doesn’t think the public is in danger. … A study in 2017 found that — despite sightings reported across the country each year — only 16 percent of Americans believe Bigfoot is real, McClatchy reported. Compare that with 50 percent of people who believe in ghosts and 35 percent who believe ancient aliens visited the planet.”

“Most politicians seek approval. But Trump lives for the adoration.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Aug. 4, 2016.

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.