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On the roster: Trump casts Louisiana vote as impeachment referendum - Trump operative Stone convicted of lying, obstruction - Time Out: And now you know the rest of the story - Biden breaches Warren’s Nevada firebreak - See, cows
TRUMP CASTS LOUISIANA VOTE AS IMPEACHMENT REFERENDUM
USA Today: “President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Thursday to stump in Louisiana for the second time in as many weeks, using a raucous rally to mock two U.S. diplomats who raised questions about his dealings with Ukraine at the center of an impeachment inquiry. … ‘The people of this country aren't buying it – you see it because we're going up and they're going down,’ Trump said. ‘Let's keep it going for a while.’ … Stung by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's loss last week to Democrat Andy Beshear, Trump is putting considerable emphasis on Louisiana. Republican businessman Eddie Rispone is challenging Democratic incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards in a Nov. 16 runoff election. … ‘You gotta give me a big win please,’ Trump told the crowd. ‘Please.’”
Will black voters rally for Edwards? - FiveThirtyEight: “While election forecasters like Sabato’s Crystal Ball estimate that Edwards needs about 30 percent or so of the white vote to win reelection, that’s not the only thing that matters for Edwards’ candidacy. He also needs black voters to turn out. … And so far, black voter turnout is slightly down for Edwards. In the initial vote, 27.6 percent of all voters were black, according to data from the Louisiana secretary of state, compared to 28.1 percent in the first round of the 2015 gubernatorial election. [When] you consider that Democrats win more than 90 percent of African American voters in the state, slightly lower black turnout matters a lot in a race this close.”
Bevin cries uncle - Louisville [Ky.] Courier Journal: “An upbeat Andy Beshear claimed victory — again — in the Kentucky governor's race Thursday, shortly after incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said he would not contest the results of the close election. ‘The race is now officially over,’ Beshear, a Democrat and Kentucky's attorney general, said at a news conference where he appeared with Lt. Gov.-Elect Jacqueline Coleman, an educator. Beshear spoke at the Kentucky Education Association in Frankfort, apparently to underscore his support by teachers angry with Bevin over his public criticisms of them during a dispute over pension changes. Beshear has designated Kentucky teachers as grand marshals of his inaugural parade down Capitol Avenue. But Beshear stressed Thursday that the tone will change in his administration following his Dec. 10 inauguration.”
New map could cost Republicans two House seats in North Carolina - The [Raleigh] News & Observer: “Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly are advancing a new map for the 2020 U.S. House races that could cost their party seats in Congress. The map passed the N.C. House Thursday afternoon and was sent to the Senate, which could pass the map into law or come up with a new proposal. ‘I do believe this is a fair and honest attempt to address the issues that have been brought up,’ said Republican Rep. David Lewis, one of the legislature’s top redistricting leaders. He was referring to a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the current maps. As it stands now, the state has a 10-3 Republican advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives, even though Democratic and Republican candidates typically get around the same number of votes statewide.”
TRUMP OPERATIVE STONE CONVICTED OF LYING, OBSTRUCTION
Fox News: “Roger Stone was found guilty on all counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress by a jury in Washington, D.C. federal court, after deliberations had been going on since Thursday morning. The former Trump associate and longtime political operative faced charges that stemmed from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Sentencing has been set for Thursday Feb. 6. Stone was accused of providing false statements to the House Intelligence Committee about communications having to do with WikiLeaks, obstructing a congressional investigation of Russian election interference by falsely denying that he had evidence to turn over, and witness tampering. The prosecution argued that Stone intentionally lied about his use of intermediaries to get information about WikiLeaks’ possession and release of hacked Democratic emails. They said he hid the truth to protect Trump’s campaign.”
Tensions boil over at impeachment hearing - Fox News: “Tensions between lawmakers boiled over Friday on the second day of the public impeachment hearings, when House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., repeatedly shut down GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., citing House procedure -- as an astonished Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., accused him of ‘gagging’ the lawmaker. … The explosive moment came during the questioning of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine… Yovanovitch pointed her finger at Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani while detailing her sudden removal from her diplomatic post, as the president fired back in real-time and said every place she worked ‘turned bad.’ Trump’s comments ignited an outcry from Democrats: Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff read Trump's anti-Yovanovitch tweet during the hearing, and called it ‘witness intimidation.’ Yovanovitch told lawmakers, regarding the tweet: ‘It's very intimidating.’”
Legal woes mount for Giuliani - Bloomberg: “Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is being investigated by federal prosecutors for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent as part of an active investigation into his financial dealings, according to three U.S. officials. The probe of Giuliani, which one official said could also include possible charges on violating laws against bribing foreign officials or conspiracy, presents a serious threat to Trump’s presidency from a man that former national security adviser John Bolton has called a ‘hand grenade.’ A second official said Giuliani’s activities raise counterintelligence concerns as well, although there probably wouldn’t be a criminal charge related to that. The officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, provided the first indication of the potential charges under investigation.”
Career White House budget official to testify - WaPo: “A longtime career employee at the White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to break ranks and testify Saturday in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, potentially filling in important details on the holdup of military aid to Ukraine. Mark Sandy would be the first OMB employee to testify in the inquiry, after OMB acting director Russell T. Vought and two other political appointees at the agency defied congressional subpoenas to appear. The White House has called the impeachment inquiry unconstitutional and ordered administration officials not to participate. Unlike these other OMB officials, Sandy is a career employee, not one appointed by the president. He has worked at the agency off and on for over a decade, under presidents of both parties, climbing the ranks to his current role as deputy associate director for national security programs.”
THE RULEBOOK: THE LABORATORIES OF DEMOCRACY, INDEED
“If those who are inclined to consult their jealousy only, would exercise it in a careful inspection of the several State constitutions, they would find little less room for disquietude and alarm, from the latitude which most of them allow in respect to elections, than from the latitude which is proposed to be allowed to the national government in the same respect.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 61
TIME OUT: AND NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY
Smithsonian: “Founded in 1912 in Cincinnati, [Kutol’s] primary product—a soft, pliable compound used for wiping soot from wallpaper—was no longer in demand and the firm’s future looked bleak. Fortunately, the sister-in-law of one of its principals had an idea: let kids play with it. Kutol Products had become the largest wallpaper cleaner manufacturer in the world in the early 20th century. Fortunes began to change in the 1950s, though. With the transition from heating with dirtier coal to cleaner oil, gas and electricity, sooty buildup on wallpaper was no longer an issue in many households. Joseph McVicker was trying to turn around the struggling company when his sister-in-law read an article about how wallpaper cleaner could be used for modeling projects. Sister-in-law Kay Zufall, a nursery school teacher, tested the nontoxic material with children, who loved molding it into all kinds of shapes. She told McVicker of her discovery and even suggested a new name: Play-Doh.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Warren: 22.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.6 points no change from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 7.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Harris: 3.2 points (no change from last wk.)
[Averages include: Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ, ABC News/WaPo, Fox News and IBD.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 42 percent
Average disapproval: 55.4 percent
Net Score: -13.4 percent
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 39% approve - 59% disapprove; Fox News: 42% approve - 57% disapprove; IBD: 39% approve - 56% disapprove.]
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BIDEN BREACHES WARREN’S NEVADA FIREBREAK
Fox News: “Democrats’ strong desire for a candidate who can defeat President Trump gives Joe Biden the edge in the nomination race, while Hispanic voters help both Biden and Bernie Sanders top Trump in hypothetical 2020 matchups. That’s according to a Fox News Poll of Nevada voters. In the nomination contest, Biden receives the backing of 24 percent of Democratic caucusgoers, followed by Sanders and Elizabeth Warren each at 18 percent. Next is Pete Buttigieg at 8 percent, Tom Steyer at 5 percent, Kamala Harris at 4 percent, Andrew Yang 3 percent, and Tulsi Gabbard and Amy Klobuchar at 2 percent apiece. Cory Booker and Julian Castro each get 1 percent. Biden (23 percent) and Warren (21 percent) receive nearly equal backing among white caucusgoers, followed by Sanders (13 percent) and Buttigieg (12 percent).”
Poll shows tight race in North Carolina for Trump - Fox News: “North Carolina voters give President Trump mixed reviews on his job performance and about half oppose his impeachment. That leads to tight races in 2020 ballot tests, according to a Fox News Poll of North Carolina voters. In hypothetical matchups, Joe Biden edges Trump by two points and Bernie Sanders is up by one. The president tops Elizabeth Warren by one point and Pete Buttigieg by four. Each race is within the poll’s margin of error. There is added uncertainty considering no candidate hits 50 percent and 11-18 percent are undecided. Trump topped Hillary Clinton by nearly 4 points in the Tar Heel State. Ninety-four percent of Republicans voted for him in 2016. Today, 91 percent of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing and 89 percent back him in the matchup against Biden.”
North Korean news agency calls Biden a ‘rabid dog’ - ABC News: “After a campaign ad for Former Vice President Joe Biden implied Kim Jong Un was a ‘tyrant,’ North Korean state media responded on Thursday by blasting the 2020 Democratic candidate. The commentary called Biden a ‘rabid dog’ and advocated that rabid dogs ‘can hurt lots of people’ and ‘must be beaten to death with a stick.’ … The ad for Biden said, in part: ‘We live in the most dangerous moment in a generation. Our world, set on edge by an erratic, unstable president. Dictators and tyrants are praised -- our allies, pushed aside.’ Kim's photo appears at the mention of the word ‘tyrants.’ The Biden campaign hit back, calling Kim a ‘repugnant dictator,’ arguing that sharp words from North Korea highlight the strength of their candidate.”
President Trump asks Supreme Court to block subpoena for his taxes - AP
Drucker: Sessions lashes Republicans for failing Trump on immigration - WashEx
Messages show Rep. Rashida Tlaib asked campaign for personal money, as ethics probes announced - Fox News
Justice Department investigating Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., for campaign-finance violations - Politico
AUDIBLE: TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE
“Delusion runs deep in the veins of Massachusetts politicians thinking of running for president.” – Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, making fun of his own failed presidential candidacies when asked about his successor Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick’s announcement of a presidential run.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Reps. Steve Scalise, R-La., and Jim Himes, D-Conn. 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
“Mr. Stirewalt: Why doesn't the President simply claim whistleblower status for himself? U.S. law prohibits adverse actions against anyone reporting suspicion of wrongdoing. I looked -- it doesn't say the report must be made to a US authority. … Clearly, the President disclosed information that he believed evidenced violation of ANY law (including the law of Ukraine), a gross waste of funds, and an abuse of authority. He should therefore be protected against any adverse action as a result. (I'm not a lawyer, but it seems like a gift-wrapped solution . . . am I missing something?)” – Michael Whalen, Weirton, W. Va.
[Ed. note: I’m not sure how facetious you’re being, Mr. Whalen, but this note will always make allowances for readers from West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle! I guess I’d have to ask in reply: Protection from what? If it’s protection from Congress that you seek, I’m afraid not. Congress’ power to impeach is absolute. The president does have many protections in dealing with Congress – shielding intimate advisers from testifying about private conversations, etc. – but when it comes to impeachment, Congress is at the apex of its powers. Go Red Riders!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
AFP: “Three cows swept into the ocean when Hurricane Dorian struck the US east coast in September were found living on a string of sandy islands miles away from their home… The bovine trio is believed to have swum four to five miles before placing hoof on land – in this case an island of sand dunes and scattered vegetation that is part of North Carolina's Outer Banks… The animals were recently discovered by park rangers at the Cape Lookout National Seashore... Three months had gone by since the animals, belonging to a free-range herd living on private land on Cedar Island, went missing during the storm. Category One Hurricane Dorian created a ‘mini-tsunami’ that swept cattle and some 30 wild horses from Cedar Island into the ocean when it struck on September 6. The cows were identified by their keeper, Woody Hancock. They will likely be sedated and sent home on a boat…”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“France does not expect to rival America but to tame it, restrain it, thwart it — and to accept the world's laurels for having led the way.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on March 17, 2003.
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.