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On the roster: Trump, Dems meet but have two different stories - Mueller grand jury extended - Dems try to sidestep vulgar remarks - Collins: ‘My intention’ is to seek re-election - We’re not crying, you’re crying!
TRUMP, DEMS MEET BUT HAVE TWO DIFFERENT STORIES
WSJ: “Emerging from the White House after about two hours of talks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said they pressed Mr. Trump to fully reopen the government and then return to the debate over funding a border wall. But they said Mr. Trump rejected their proposal and indicated he was prepared to keep many federal agencies closed for a long time. But Mr. Trump characterized the meeting as ‘very productive’ and that talks ‘have come a long way.’ He said, ‘We’re all on the same path on getting government open,’ adding staff meetings were set for this weekend to continue the talks. He continued to call for a border wall, saying: ‘This is national security we’re talking about.’”
Threatens months or years of shutdown if demands not met - USA Today: “President Donald Trump told Democrats Friday he is prepared to allow the partial government shutdown to go on months or even years if that's what it takes to get a border wall. ‘I will do whatever I have to do,’ Trump said at a news conference after a budget meeting that he and Democratic lawmakers described as contentious. Democrats emerged from the meeting say the president had threatened a long shutdown if they continued to reject his demand for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump acknowledged saying that the shutdown could last months or years. ‘Absolutely I said that,’ he told reporters. He also said he hoped the matter would be resolved soon after more negotiations over the weekend, although it was not clear whether he had offered Democrats any new proposals.”
Claims powers to ignore Congress under ‘national emergency’ - WaPo: “President Trump on Friday threatened to use emergency powers to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that would defy a Congress that — amid Democratic opposition — has thus far refused to allocate any new money for a border wall. Asked Friday if he would declare a national emergency to get the wall built, Trump responded: ‘We can do it. I haven’t done it. I may do it. I may do it.’”
Mulvaney acting chief instigator - Politico: “President Donald Trump’s new acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, is already putting his stamp on the West Wing after just a few days on the job. While his recently departed predecessor, Gen. John Kelly, often tried to restrain President Donald Trump, Mulvaney — who has said he won’t seek to be a check on the impulsive president — has been egging on the president in his confrontation with congressional Democrats over a border wall. Mulvaney is among the top officials counseling Trump to reject any short-term funding bill to re-open the Department of Homeland Security… Mulvaney ‘views his role as reminding the president this is a bad deal,’ said the person close to Mulvaney.”
THE RULEBOOK: STILL TRUE TODAY
“A common government, with powers equal to its objects, is called for by the voice, and still more loudly by the political situation, of America.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 62
TIME OUT: REACH FOR IT
History: “[On this day in 1847] Samuel Colt rescued the future of his faltering gun company by winning a contract to provide the U.S. government with 1,000 of his .44 caliber revolvers. Before Colt began mass-producing his popular revolvers in 1847, handguns had not played a significant role in the history of either the American West or the nation as a whole. Expensive and inaccurate, short-barreled handguns were impractical for the majority of Americans, though a handful of elite still insisted on using dueling pistols to solve disputes in highly formalized combat. When choosing a practical weapon for self-defense and close-quarter fighting, most Americans preferred knives, and western pioneers especially favored the deadly and versatile Bowie knife. That began to change when Samuel Colt patented his percussion-repeating revolver in 1836. The heart of Colt’s invention was a mechanism that combined a single rifled barrel with a revolving chamber that held five or six shots.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 42 percent
Average disapproval: 53.4 percent
Net Score: -11.4 points
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: Gallup: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 52% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 52% disapprove.]
MUELLER GRAND JURY EXTENDED
CNBC: “A federal judge has extended by up to six months the authorization for the grand jury that is being used by special counsel Robert Mueller to conduct his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and other issues. Judge Beryl Howell, chief judge of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. extended the term of the grand jury that Mueller has been using for his probe since July 2017, Howell's administrative assistant told CNBC. … Under the rules of the district court, a grand jury can serve no longer than 18 months unless the chief judge extends its service by a period of six months or less ‘upon determination that such extension is in the public interest.’ The term of the grand jury, which began reviewing evidence and taking testimony in July 2017, was set to expire Sunday, according to CNN, which first reported the extension.”
DEMS TRY TO SIDESTEP VULGAR REMARKS
Fox News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday downplayed freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s profanity-laced vow to impeach President Trump, as Republicans strongly condemned the language -- and the defiant Democrat offered no apologies. Pelosi, D-Calif., who reclaimed the gavel after being elected House speaker on Thursday, commented on Tlaib's remarks during an MSNBC town hall, expressing distaste for the language but quickly suggesting Trump's foul mouth led the way in coarsening the rhetoric in Washington. ‘I probably have a generational reaction to it,’ Pelosi said. … Pelosi, who acknowledged the impeachment debate is ‘divisive,’ later told reporters in Washington ‘I’m going to talk to the president about his remarks,’ as she prepared to head into a meeting on the partial government shutdown. The newly surfaced video of Tlaib's Trump remarks quickly drew reactions from across Washington, from leadership on down.”
Ocasio-Cortez suggests taxes as high as 70 percent on the super rich - Politico: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is floating an income tax rate as high as 60 to 70 percent on the highest-earning Americans to combat carbon emissions. Speaking with Anderson Cooper in a ‘60 Minutes’ interview scheduled to air Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez said a dramatic increase in taxes could support her ‘Green New Deal’ goal of eliminating the use of fossil fuels within 12 years — a goal she acknowledges is ambitious. … Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that in a progressive tax rate system, not all income for a high earner is taxed at such a high rate. Rather, rates increase on each additional level of income, with dramatic increases on especially high earnings, such as $10 million. When Cooper pointed out such a tax plan would be a ‘radical’ move, Ocasio-Cortez embraced the label, arguing the most influential historical figures, from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin D. Roosevelt, were called radical for their agendas as well.”
New Dem majority smaller than before, but sturdier - Atlantic: “The new Democratic majority that takes command of the House on Thursday starts with 21 fewer seats than the party held the last time it elected Nancy Pelosi as speaker. But this new majority may prove easier for the party to both manage legislatively and defend electorally. Though slightly smaller, the Democratic caucus that’s assuming power is far more ideologically and geographically cohesive than the party’s previous majority 10 years ago. While the 2009 class included a large number of Democrats from blue-collar, culturally conservative, rural seats that were politically trending away from the party, the new majority revolves around white-collar and racially diverse urban and suburban districts that are trending toward it. That won’t eliminate all internal disagreements inside the caucus… But it does mean that as Pelosi returns to the speakership after the party’s eight-year exile in the minority, she is unlikely to face anything comparable to the systematic resistance she confronted before…”
COLLINS: ‘MY INTENTION’ IS TO SEEK RE-ELECTION
Time: “[Susan Collins] is up for re-election in 2020. In these circumstances, does she really want to run again? ‘That is my intention,’ she says, although she has not announced a final decision. In a re-election campaign, Collins could get hammered from both sides, with Democrats still irate over the [Brett] Kavanaugh vote and the GOP upset by her occasional willingness to go against the party, as when she voted against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017 or voted against some Trump Cabinet nominees. According to one tracking poll, Collins’ approval rating in Maine dropped 9 percentage points overall after her vote on Kavanaugh, to 45%, and her approval rating among Democrats dropped a whopping 25 percentage points. Collins says she remains optimistic about the Senate’s ability to make progress. ‘There are still more issues that unite us than divide us,’ she insists.”
Sen. Pat Roberts to retire in 2020 - Politico: “Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) announced Friday that he will retire in 2020 instead of running for reelection. Roberts, 82, has served four terms in the Senate and last won reelection in 2014 after facing a bruising Republican primary. His retirement has already sparked interest in his seat from a number of other Kansas Republicans, heralding a potentially crowded 2020 primary — though Democrats hope they can make the race competitive after winning the governorship in 2018. Roberts said he had the ‘honor and privilege’ of representing Kansas for 16 years in the House and 22 years in the Senate. ‘I will serve the remainder of this term as your senator, fighting for Kansas in these troubled times,’ Roberts said.”
Jobs report shows surge of 312,000 in December - CNBC
David Brooks: ‘The Morality of Selfism’ - NYT
House Dems offer longshot bills as term begins - Fox News
To wit: DC delegate reintroduces statehood bill - The Hill
Pelosi sends Trump official State of the Union invitation - Roll Call
Even if asked to resign, Fed Chair Powell says he wouldn't - Politico
AUDIBLE: SOUNDS LIKE A PERSONAL PROBLEM
“I like it all. I like fund-raising. I like sparring with the press. I like attacking my opponents. I like being attacked. I like the whole thing.” – Outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown said in an interview with the NYT.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Chris Wallace will sit down with White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I. 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
“Couldn’t Leader McConnell bring up the House bill with the 5 Billion in funding and make the Dems actually do a real filibuster? Does the change in Congress make that bill or any others passed by Congress but not voted on by Senate void? Tried to research but couldn’t find answer.” – Deborah Wright, Stockton, Calif.
[Ed. note: McConnell can bring up any bill passed by the current Congress. But anything passed before Wednesday died with the gavel blow that began the new, 116thCongress. The Senate can alter spending bills that originate in the House, but those bills have to go back to House as amended. No way around it, there’s got to be a bipartisan agreement.]
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WE’RE NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING!
WAFF: “In the two years that Frank Borg has been living with dementia, he hasn’t forgotten how much he loves his wife, so his one wish was to relieve their wedding day, which he calls the best day of his life. It’s been 54 years since Frank and Sue Borg first tied the knot at a small church wedding in Rochester, MN… Many community businesses pitched in to make the day possible, down to the replication of Sue’s wedding bouquet and even the cake the couple ate… ‘He has dementia, and so, a lot of times people forget. He has not forgotten one moment of love that he has felt for her,’ [one of his caregivers] said. During Frank Borg’s time at the hospice facility, not a day has gone by without a visit from his wife. ‘Just being able to see him every day. I think I have a strong faith, but Frank’s is much stronger than mine,’ Sue Borg said.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Indeed, one of the more remarkable features of this campaign is how brazenly candidates deny having said things that have been captured on tape... The only thing more amazing is how easily they get away with it.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Sept. 29, 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.