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On the roster: Trump, Mueller race to make a deal on talk - I’ll Tell You What: Save yourselves! - Dems want the Speaker’s gavel, minus Pelosi - Dems in danger of lockout in Calif. House races - Super pooper
TRUMP, MUELLER RACE TO MAKE A DEAL ON TALK
There’s one point on which all sides can agree about the investigation into the 2016 election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller: They all wish it was over.
Though President Trump, his associates, Mueller’s team, Republicans, Democrats and voters each have different preferred outcomes, there’s no question everyone is ready for this thing to wrap up.
But can that happen without the president talking to Mueller?
Trump’s new lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, stunned those watching the investigation unfold on Wednesday when he admitted that yes, his client had been aware of the payments to the sex worker who claims to have been paid $130,000 to keep secret her encounters with Trump.
This is embarrassing for the president on a lot of levels, though he claims the money was essentially extorted to suppress a false accusation. Trump has now admitted to lying about the hush money. It may be a good legal move, since Trump is tangled up in the case of one of his former lawyers, Michael Cohen, who was the bagman on the porno payola.
If Trump’s embarrassment helps lessen the leverage prosecutors have on the president and Cohen in their case, it was probably worth it.
We don’t know what all the Feds have stacked up against Cohen and we can’t be sure how Trump’s admission will affect the sex worker’s lawsuit against him, but Giuliani’s move at least lessens some of the president’s, ahem, exposure.
Reducing Mueller’s leverage is particularly important to Giuliani right now. The top task for the president’s new lawyer is cutting some sort of deal as it relates to Trump being interviewed by Mueller.
Many of the president’s defenders have urged Trump not to talk to Mueller, believing that the president will not be able to help but incriminate himself. In some narrow sense, that might be a good strategic choice. But that advice forgets the larger context.
Mueller cannot credibly say he has completed his work until he has spoken to Trump. Democrats would never accept any degree of exoneration for Trump if the president had never sat down with Mueller.
Similarly, Republicans wouldn’t be able to say grace over any findings of wrongdoing if Mueller had not done his due diligence.
(Of course there would be many House Republicans who would never accept any negative findings (unless the president’s numbers start tanking).)
Trump and Mueller both have an interest in bringing this matter to a close quickly. The investigation is “a cloud” hanging over the president’s head, and as the matter with the sex worker and Trump’s lawyer has shown a continuing investigation brings continual unhappy surprises.
Mueller, on the other hand, is dealing with pressures of his own. It’s unclear how long Speaker Paul Ryan and the law-and-order Republicans can keep Trump’s enforcers in Congress in check.
In between television appearances, Giuliani’s job is to make this interview happen. What you saw with Trump’s admission this week is just a part of that.
THE RULEBOOK: YOU’LL FEEL BETTER
“This idea [of a new Constitution] will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1
TIME OUT: DIVINITY ON THE DANCE FLOOR
New Yorker: “As both a producer and a d.j., [Robert Hood] stayed with [his] hard, pared-down sound for the next decade and a half. Then, in 2010, after his ordainment, he resurrected the alias Floorplan, under which he had released an occasional series of more relaxed house records, some based on disco loops, during the nineties. ‘God literally told me, ‘I want you to put a gospel message in the music,’’ Hood told Rolling Stone. Floorplan’s breezier musical tone seemed to open Hood up spiritually as well. ‘God has given me a ministry,’ he told the British music Web site the Quietus. ‘It’s about reaching as many souls as I can through techno, speaking God’s truth and his gospel to as many ears as I can, taking the message to the street.’ On Floorplan’s 2016 album, ‘Victorious,’ the act became a duo, with the addition of Hood’s twenty-two-year-old daughter, Lyric. Onstage, the two of them d.j. together, his once insurrectionary techno now a family heirloom.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 52.4 percent
Net Score: -10.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 4 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 45% approve - 48% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 54% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 39% approve - 54% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 40.6 percent
Democratic average: 47 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 6.4 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 0.4 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 49% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% Dems - 39% GOP; ABC News/WaPo: 47% Dems - 43% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 47% Dems - 40% GOP.]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: SAVE YOURSELVES!
This week, Chris Stirewalt joins Dana Perino from Morgantown, West Virginia a day after Fox News Channel’s coverage of the GOP Senate Primary debate. Along with post-debate analysis they hit on DNC infighting, Vice President Pence’s comments about Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the importance of pepperoni roles in our society. Plus, for the first time since the West Virginia Day debacle of 2017, Chris tries his hand at Mountaineer based trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
DEMS WANT THE SPEAKER’S GAVEL, MINUS PELOSI
WaPo: “Democrats sense a growing opportunity to unseat Republicans as part of a national wave that could put the House speaker’s gavel back in their party’s hands. There’s just one catch: Many Democratic contenders aren’t willing to say they support returning their party’s leader to power. ‘I’ve said since Day One that I wouldn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker,’ said Dan McCready, 34, who is running in a North Carolina district that stretches from Charlotte’s suburbs into more rural counties. ‘I think we need a whole new generation of people in D.C. That’s part of why I’m running; we need some new blood.’ Democrats across the country are locked in an awkward dance in which candidates sensing a chance to win GOP-held seats are increasingly distancing themselves from the party’s longtime liberal leader from San Francisco — at the same time that the 78-year-old congresswoman is boldly holding on to power.”
Conservatives warn party leadership to stay out of primaries - The Hill: “Conservative leaders are warning Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to stay out of next week’s Republican primary for an Ohio special election and other similar races across the country. While Ryan and McCarthy have personally steered clear of the Ohio race, their vast network of political allies, donors, strategists and ad-makers are aggressively working to elect Troy Balderson, the business-friendly state senator who’s backed by what many call the ‘governing’ wing of the GOP. House Freedom Caucus leaders are solidly behind Melanie Leneghan, a Liberty County trustee. … Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) both have endorsed Leneghan, and their PAC, the House Freedom Action Fund, has spent more than $225,000 in ads and mailers backing Leneghan.”
Poll: Dems hold 8 point lead over GOP in the House - Monmouth University: “Democrats hold an 8 point lead over Republicans in the generic House ballot as public opinion on the new tax reform law continues to be divided. The Monmouth University Poll also finds that views of Congress and its four top leaders remain largely negative. The poll finds that Democrats have maintained their advantage on the generic Congressional ballot test. If the election for the House of Representatives was held today, 49% of registered voters say they would support or lean toward supporting the Democratic candidate in their district compared to 41% who would vote for the Republican. This is similar to the 50% to 41% edge Democrats held in Monmouth’s polling in March.”
Pennsylvania special election set for Nov. 6 - Roll Call: “Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has set the special election to replace Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan for Nov. 6, the same day as the general election. … Meehan resigned last week after saying earlier that he would not run for re-election. He was facing allegations of sexual harassment and reportedly used taxpayer funds to settle a harassment case with a former staffer. He said he was stepping down to end the House Ethics Committee investigation into his actions, which he suggested could have become a burden on his staff and taxpayers. Meehan said he intends to repay the U.S. Treasury for the $39,000 settlement amount.”
DEMS IN DANGER OF LOCKOUT IN CALIF. HOUSE RACES
Cook Political Report: “[With] five weeks to go before California's June 5 primary, Democrats are at risk of squandering several seats that would otherwise appear to be golden pickup opportunities. Under California's unorthodox ‘top two’ primary system — first implemented in 2012 — all candidates appear on the same June primary ballot and the top two finishers, regardless of party, advance to a November runoff. … At the moment, Democrats face the greatest danger of a shutout in the 48th CD, where Rep. Dana Rohrabacher faces a credible challenge from former Orange County GOP chair Scott Baugh and three credible Democrats will be dividing their party's vote. But it's also possible Democrats could fail to make the fall ballot in the 39th and 49th CDs, where Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa are retiring, as well as tarnished Rep. Duncan Hunter’s 50th CD.”
California GOP denounces its Senate frontrunner, a racist - The Hill: “The California Republican Party has denounced a Republican Senate candidate who has denied the Holocaust happened and called for a country ‘free from Jews.’ Patrick Little, a self-described ‘pro-white’ candidate, is polling at second in the race against Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), despite his extremist views. … ‘Mr. Little has never been an active member of our party. I do not know Mr. Little and I am not familiar with his positions,’ Matt Fleming, the communications director for the California Republican Party, told Newsweek. ‘But in the strongest terms possible, we condemn anti-Semitism and any other form of religious bigotry, just as we do with racism, sexism or anything else that can be construed as a hateful point of view.’ In an interview with Newsweek on Monday, Little reportedly said he admired Adolf Hitler and said that, if he were more religious, he would view Hitler as ‘the second coming of Christ.’”
REPUBLICANS GROW TIRED OF CORKER, BLACKBURN DRAMA
Politico: “Republicans are increasingly unnerved by the rift between retiring Sen. Bob Corker and Marsha Blackburn, the GOP congresswoman vying to replace him, saying it could cost them a must-win seat in Tennessee. The duo’s chilly relationship has spilled into the open after Corker praised Blackburn’s Democratic opponent and refused to even utter her name in multiple media appearances this spring. The retiring senator’s remarks have boosted former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and agitated Blackburn’s supporters, who want Corker to help heal the state party, not inflame its divisions. Corker’s lukewarm support for Blackburn is more than an annoyance: The center-right coalition he represents is critical to Blackburn’s prospects in the race. But Chamber of Commerce-type Republicans are generally fond of Bredesen and his past stint as the state’s governor, seeing him as a pragmatic get-things-done kind of pol, as opposed to a hard-edged conservative ideologue in Blackburn.”
Hoppy Kercheval: ‘Breaking down the U.S. Senate race in WV’ - West Virginia MetroNews: “I am frequently asked who I think will win the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia. Short answer—I don’t know, and I would be crazy to predict. However, I am willing to give you possible scenarios for the three leading candidates, in order of the latest Fox News Poll. Why Evan Jenkins wins: Jenkins was ahead of Patrick Morrisey by four points in the Fox Poll (25 percent to 21 percent). The leader gets hit hardest by opponents, but it’s still better to be ahead than behind. … Why Patrick Morrisey wins: He has already won statewide races—twice. … Why Don Blankenship wins: So, you want an ‘anti-establishment, drain-the-swamp’ guy? Here’s the poster boy.”
House Dems feel benefits from small donors - NYT: “A soaring number of Democratic House candidates has also translated into a surge in fund-raising — particularly from small donors — which is similar to the energy that drove the Tea Party uprising against President Barack Obama in 2010. ‘A good share of Democratic small donor enthusiasm is a response to Trump,’ said Sheila Krumholz, executive director at the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks political donations. ‘Another aspect is the enthusiasm around this crop of candidates, especially since they’re younger, bringing in younger donors.’ Most of the small donors — those giving less than $200 to a candidate — are most likely people who are newly engaged who were not giving before, she said.”
THE JUDGE’S RULING: WHAT MUELLER MIGHT MAKE OF IT
This week, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains why he believes the president should not agree to an interview with Mueller: “In the interview environment, one small lie can result in one big headache of an indictment, even if the lie is about an extraneous matter. When federal prosecutors question a potential defendant, who appears voluntarily and is not under oath, the questioners can lie to the person being interviewed, but he cannot lie to them without risk of indictment. Just ask Martha Stewart. This is exquisitely unfair, but it has been federal law for generations. … Donald Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation. When prosecutors interview a person they are investigating, it is to help the investigation, not the subject of it.” More here.
Report: ‘Trump has all but decided to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal’ - Reuters
McConnell says judicial nominees will be confirmed through the end of 2018 - Roll Call
Source: Third top EPA official to leave amid Pruitt investigations - Bloomberg
AUDIBLE: YEAH, THAT WAS PROBABLY IT
“With my unwavering support of President Trump, the #MeToo movement, and the current cut-throat environment I was back under attack.” – The explanation from Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, who resigned after it was revealed that he had used taxpayer money for a secret settlement with a former staffer who accused him of talking to her about his nocturnal emissions of her areolae, in a letter refusing a demand from the state to cover the cost of the special election to replace him.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
[Ed. note: We received your many, many calls for correction about out Time Out from Wednesday. The article we included did incorrectly state the date when the Tuscania was sunk. We knew we had some history buffs out there but you guys really impressed us. We passed the word on to the author of the article and all is well now.]
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NJ.com: “The Kenilworth school superintendent charged Monday with defecating in public was caught in the act at the Holmdel High School football field and track after surveillance was set up due to human feces being found ‘on a daily basis,’ police said. Thomas Tramaglini, 42, lives about 3 miles from Holmdel High School in neighboring Aberdeen. He was running at the track on the athletic fields at 5:50 a.m. before he was arrested. Track coaches and staff at Holmdel High School told the district's resource officer that they found human feces on or near the football field and track daily, Holmdel police said in a statement Thursday. School employees began monitoring the area and on Monday police arrested Tramaglini at 5:50 a.m., according to Sgt. Theodore Sigismondi. Tramaglini is also charged with lewdness and littering. He is due in municipal court in Holmdel at 8:15 a.m. Monday to answer the charges.”
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.