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On the roster: Trump seeks another $2 trillion - Widespread abuses in secret federal warrants - Hungary’s strongman uses virus to suspend rights - Voters’ virus fears rise, election officials scramble - ‘At this point I ran out of magnets’
TRUMP SEEKS ANOTHER $2 TRILLION
Fox News: “President Trump on Tuesday called for a $2 trillion infrastructure bill to serve as ‘Phase 4’ of the federal government’s coronavirus response efforts, just days after Congress approved a massive stimulus package worth even more than that. ‘With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill,’ Trump tweeted Tuesday. ‘It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4.’ Trump has sought a major infrastructure bill ever since taking office and would appear to be pitching that plan anew as a form of economic stimulus. The president’s tweet comes as lawmakers in both the House and the Senate already are eyeing a fourth coronavirus response bill, though some have voiced caution about continuing to appropriate such massive sums of money. … House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also expressed the need for further legislation, telling CNN that Democrats ‘had bigger direct payments in our bill, and we think we’ll get more direct payments in another bill.’”
Pelosi is ready, too - Politico: “House Democrats are moving rapidly on ambitious plans for a fourth coronavirus relief package, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi eager to put her imprint on legislation that she says could be ready for a vote in the coming weeks. Pelosi told reporters Monday that Democrats are in the early stages of drafting another major bill that will not only shore up health systems and protect frontline health care workers but could include substantial investments in infrastructure. ‘Our first bills were about addressing the emergency. The third bill was about mitigation. The fourth bill would be about recovery. Emergency, mitigation, recovery,’ Pelosi said on a conference call. ‘I think our country is united in not only wanting to address our immediate needs…’”
Public support for clampdown helped turn Trump to extend restrictions - NYT: “The numbers the health officials showed President Trump were overwhelming. With the peak of the coronavirus pandemic still weeks away, he was told, hundreds of thousands of Americans could face death if the country reopened too soon. But there was another set of numbers that also helped persuade Mr. Trump to shift gears on Sunday and abandon his goal of restoring normal life by Easter. Political advisers described for him polling that showed that voters overwhelmingly preferred to keep containment measures in place over sending people back to work prematurely. Those two realities — the dire threat to the country and the caution of the American public — proved decisive at a critical juncture in the response to the pandemic, his advisers said. The first of those two realities, the deadly arc of the virus, has been known for weeks even if disregarded by the president when he set his Easter target. But the second of the two upended Mr. Trump’s assumptions about the politics of the situation and restrained, for a moment at least, his eagerness to get back to business as usual.”
WIDESPREAD ABUSES IN SECRET FEDERAL WARRANTS
WaPo: “The Justice Department inspector general revealed Tuesday that he found errors in every FBI application to a secret surveillance court his office examined as part of an ongoing review — suggesting the problems exposed in the bureau’s probe of President Trump’s 2016 campaign extend far beyond that case alone. The memorandum issued by Inspector General Michael Horowitz stems from an audit launched last year after his office found 17 serious problems with the FBI’s surveillance applications targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The interim results of that audit suggest that the problems that plagued the Page investigation may exist in other counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases. The memorandum may buttress some of the criticism that Trump and his supporters have leveled at the FBI, but the findings also suggest that, rather than political motives, the issues at the agency may be broader institutional weaknesses.”
THE RULEBOOK: COLLEGE KNOWLEDGE
“The electors are to be the great body of the people of the United States. They are to be the same who exercise the right in every State of electing the corresponding branch of the legislature of the State.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 57
TIME OUT: GRAZIE PER I SORRISI, TOMIE DEPAOLA
NPR: “The beloved children's author and illustrator Tomie dePaola, whose imaginative and warm-hearted work crossed generations and continents, died Monday at age 85. … DePaola's work stretched over many realms of his imagination, from a magical faux-folk tale centered on a kindly and crafty Calabrian grandmother — Strega Nona, which won the Caldecott Honor Award in 1976 — to retelling the inspiring Comanche story of The Legend of the Bluebonnet. In 2000, he won a Newbery Honor for his book 26 Fairmount Avenue, which was one of his more autobiographical projects that recounted his early childhood [growing up in Connecticut during the Great Depression.]. By dePaola's own count, he worked on some 270 books, as the author, illustrator or both — the first in 1965, and the most recent published last year. In 2011, he won a lifetime prize, the Children's Literature Legacy Award (which, until 2018, was called the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award), which hailed his ‘substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.’ In all, nearly 25 million copies of his books have been sold around the world.”
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ESTIMATED DELEGATES FOR DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION
[Ed. note: 1,991 delegates needed to win]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 47.4 percent
Average disapproval: 48.2 percent
Net Score: -0.8 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 5.8 points
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 49% approve - 47% disapprove; Fox News: 48% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve - 45% disapprove; Monmouth University: 48% approve - 48% disapprove; NPR/PBS News/Marist: 43% approve - 50% disapprove.]
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HUNGARY’S STRONGMAN USES VIRUS TO SUSPEND RIGHTS
WaPo: “The Hungarian parliament on Monday handed the country's populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, the power to govern unchallenged for as long as he sees fit, a move rights groups said effectively suspends democracy in the European Union member state in the name of fighting the novel coronavirus. The ‘coronavirus bill,’ which allows Orban to rule by decree and bypass the national assembly, passed by 137 to 53 votes despite opposition efforts to attach an expiration date on the state of emergency. The law also punishes those who ‘distort’ or publish ‘false’ information on the outbreak with five years in jail. The government has said that the emergency powers are necessary to fight the outbreak, but political analysts say they have questions about whether Orban will relinquish them when the health crisis subsides. Hungary has 447 coronavirus cases and 15 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.”
Asian rulers tighten controls - NYT: “Across Asia, countries and cities that seemed to have brought the coronavirus epidemic under control are suddenly tightening their borders and imposing stricter containment measures, fearful about a wave of new infections imported from elsewhere. The moves portend a worrisome sign for the United States, Europe and the rest of the world still battling a surging outbreak: Any country’s success with containment could be tenuous, and the world could remain on a kind of indefinite lockdown.”
David Marion: Preserving the American system in times of crisis - WashTimes: “Extraordinary events like the current COVID-19 crisis contain a centralizing or nationalizing bias that, when added to the centralizing impulse associated with national security threats as well as the egalitarian impulse to nationalize every conceivable right, could eventually erode the vitality of the American federative republic. The result would be not merely a fundamentally national republic, but also a fundamentally different ‘way of life’ for the American people. Public officials should not overlook the cultural or ‘way of life’ benefits of Madison’s fragmented constitutional republic as they formulate policies to address the challenges associated with COVID-19. If there is a silver lining to this crisis, it is the fact that this health and financial crisis has given public officials an opportunity to accentuate the relevance of state and local governments, the private sphere and community organizations.”
VOTERS’ VIRUS FEARS RISE, ELECTION OFFICIALS SCRAMBLE
Politico: “Time is running out to allow millions of Americans to vote this fall without fear of contracting the novel coronavirus. Mail voting — the voting method that best preserves social distancing — is infrequently used in many states, and those that don’t have extensive mail voting might be unable to implement systems before November. And while 33 states, including most 2020 presidential battlegrounds, already allow any voter to cast a ballot by mail who wants to, a number of those states aren’t prepared to handle the crush of mailed-in ballots that could be coming their way in November. In interviews... eight election administrators and voting rights advocates said it is still too difficult for many voters to cast absentee ballots, even as two-thirds of American adults say they would be uncomfortable going to a polling place to vote, according to a new Pew Research Center survey — and as local, state and federal governments encourage or require Americans to stay home.”
A field guide to Biden’s veep choices - FiveThirtyEight: “There will likely be months of debate over who presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden should pick as his running mate — and what criteria he should use in making that decision. We already know one such criterion: Biden has pledged to choose a woman. But what else is he looking for in a vice presidential nominee? One view of the vice presidential selection process, often expressed by people who themselves work for campaigns, is that the presidential nominee is making a personal choice, opting for someone whom he or she connects with and feels would be a strong partner in governing. Another view, according to research we (William Adler and Julia Azari) have done, is that the vice presidential choice often reflects broader dynamics in the party. In this view the nominee often chooses a running mate who connects with some broader goal of the party or who helps appeal to some faction or ideological bloc in the party that is not well represented by the candidate at the top of the ticket.”
Making sense of the ‘Cuomo 2020’ fantasy - NYT: “His is a new coalition, couch-bound and spooked, finding small comforts where few had sought sustenance before: in the tender embrace of a disaster briefing by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. …[The] Cuomo flirtation, such as it is, seems most instructive for what it says about those drawn to it, reviving a persistent trope among Trump-era Democrats: the romanticizing of prospective party saviors, even at this point in the nominating calendar, a vice that has yielded all manner of campaign fantasies in recent history. Maybe Oprah Winfrey would be the one. (She was not interested.) Or Beto O’Rourke. (The electorate was not interested.) Or Michael R. Bloomberg. (Only American Samoa was interested.) Mr. Cuomo effectively endorsed Mr. Biden, with whom he is close, before the former vice president entered the race… No one in a position of relevant authority has said publicly that Mr. Cuomo, a noncandidate with a generational governing challenge on his hands, should be introduced to the mix or elevated in any far-fetched brokered convention scenario.”
Judge blocks Texas from enforcing coronavirus abortion ban - Bloomberg
Rep. Mark Meadows officially resigns to begin process of becoming WH chief of staff - Roll Call
Pergram: How the House approved the coronavirus bill - Fox News
AUDIBLE: THE GOODS ARE ODD, THE ODDS AREN’T GOOD
“There is a path. It is admittedly a narrow path.” – Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in an interview with liberal talk show host Seth Meyers explaining why he is remaining in the race. Sanders is forecast by FiveThirtyEight to have a 1/10th of a percentage chance to win a majority of Democratic delegates.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, regarding the ‘LOOK OUT BELOW’ item in [Monday’s] Halftime Report – the phenomenon is not limited to work-at-homers. Many a time I’ve seen on-air personalities, especially in sports programming, looking dapper on top with a sport coat, white shirt, and tie, only to be observed wearing denim (long or short) and sandals or tennis shoes. They do only what is necessary to look good on camera. We used to have a snarky saying in college: If the minimum wasn’t good enough, it wouldn’t be the minimum…. Cheers!” – Dave Wittnebert, Seneca, S.C.
[Ed. note: Let it be said that I have yet to succumb to the temptation to go business on the top, sweatpants on the bottom. But check back with me after another month of quarantine…]
“Having read the summary of the Politico article on [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] I responded with a shoulder shrug. If one is elected on the extremes of a party, one best continue to adhere, lest one be labeled a traitor. We've known that for heaven knows how long. If AOC is following the establishment playbook, good for her. Remember Speaker Pelosi's response to ‘The Squad?’ ‘They're four votes.’ Four votes indeed. Working from outside of the establishment worked well for the President, but at what cost to the future of the GOP? Alienation of suburban college educated women, a likely thrashing among most Latino and Asian nationalities, and younger generations seeing even less desire to join the GOP than I did, and my formative years were the late 80s. 2018 was won in the burbs. I believe this will be the case for 2020 as well. AOC finding ways to work with her Democratic colleagues and (gasp!) even Republicans puts her in good stead for the future and will prove she is not a one-hit wonder tossing red meat to acolytes. Compromise is a not a four-letter word, people.” – Michael Fondacaro, Albany, N.Y.
[Ed. note: But compromise does leave you open to the next set of political opportunists. We talked recently about how the financial bailout and stimulus packages spurred by the Panic of 2008 helped spark the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements and how the current coronavirus bailout package will have a similar effect. The people who voted for those measures in 2008 and 2009 were not trying to plunder the system for their friends. They were trying to act in harmony to address a crisis. But when the primaries of 2010 and 2012 came, those good intentions were forgotten. One of the reasons it is so important for America to end its 40-year experiment with primary elections is that they create such incentive for this kind of cynical exploitation.]
“I'm way behind in my podcast routine, and just listened to your September 25, 2019 ITYW. I chuckled at your comment that you were ‘skeptical’ that the impeachment inquiry would go anywhere. Sensible heads agreed with you at the time, but the House Democrats didn't. One of your best podcasts, I think ... until we got into how wonderful the MLB season was going for your team (the name I can't bring myself to state). My daughter and I have great tickets for the June series in London ... which likely will never be. Thankfully, we only bought game tickets and didn't buy plane tickets - yet. Thanks for providing ITYW so I don't have to review C-19 stats for the 100th time today. Stay safe -- and wash your hands.” – Stephen J. Tock, Dwight, Ill.
[Ed. note: That’s the thing about straight-line projections, Mr. Tock. Based on all the evidence available then, it seemed unlikely that House Democrats would impeach the president. In the aftermath of the Mueller report and testimony, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was able to shut down the impeachment chorus within her party. By Sept. 25th, we had reports of improprieties regarding Ukrainian aid, etc., but we didn’t know was that the president and his lawyer were up to their eyeballs in Ukrainian shenanigans. The transcript had only come out that day and we hadn’t heard the extent to which Trump and Rudy Giuliani had gone. If we had known that, his impeachment would have looked inevitable. Of course, his acquittal would have looked inevitable, too. I am so sorry about you missing the London series! What a matchup. Next year, I hope. There’d be nothing more American to see than the Cardinals sweeping the Cubs!]
“In this age of ‘face-off’ news bits, it is refreshing to read your piece on Senator Coburn. Thank you. I enjoy your reporting/commenting and the breadth of clips from all quarters that you include. Always like clear English that utilizes the variations available to us. [Full disclosure - my undergrad was English (18th century minor) so I'm definitely biased.]” – Joe Badamy, Mansfield, Ohio
[Ed. note: “Clear English” is the highest praise I can think of for my writing! Thanks much for reading and taking the time to write, Mr. Badamy.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
‘AT THIS POINT I RAN OUT OF MAGNETS’
The Guardian: “An Australian astrophysicist has been admitted to hospital after getting four magnets stuck up his nose in an attempt to invent a device that stops people touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak. … ‘After scrapping that idea, I was still a bit bored, playing with the magnets. …I clipped them to my earlobes and then clipped them to my nostril and things went downhill pretty quickly when I clipped the magnets to my other nostril.’ [Daniel Reardon] said he placed two magnets inside his nostrils, and two on the outside. When he removed the magnets from the outside of his nose, the two inside stuck together. Unfortunately, the researcher then attempted to use his remaining magnets to remove them. … ‘As I was pulling downwards to try and remove the magnets, they clipped on to each other and I lost my grip. And those two magnets ended up in my left nostril while the other one was in my right. At this point I ran out of magnets.’ …Reardon attempted to use pliers to pull them out, but they became magnetised by the magnets inside his nose.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“When Editorial Page Editor Meg Greenfield approached me to do a column for The Post, I was somewhat daunted. The norm in those days was to write two or three a week, hence the old joke that being a columnist is like being married to a nymphomaniac — as soon as you’re done, you’ve got to do it again.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 18, 2009.
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.