**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: What if Trump actually did it? - Biden to tap Yellen for Treasury - Last-ditch effort to delay Michigan results - Georgia debates rules for Senate runoffs - Tastes like a Plymouth with notes of hatchback
WHAT IF TRUMP ACTUALLY DID IT?
Let’s imagine for a moment what might happen if President Trump actually succeeded in his efforts to get Republican elected officials in at least three swing states to overturn the results of this year’s election.
Yes, we know that this is almost impossibly far-fetched, but bear with us for a moment. Let’s say that the Republican-controlled legislatures in, say, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were to disregard the election results and pick a slate of electors to cast their ballots for Trump.
Yes, we know that Democratic governors in those states would veto any such thing, but we are just following the thread laid out by Trump’s legal team.
Maybe mass protests and pro-Trump demonstrations change the calculus. Whatever it is, just grant us that somehow this would happen. By delaying certification, Trump & Co. somehow find a way to exert enough political pressure to actually overturn the results.
Can you imagine anything worse for the Republican Party?
After losing the national popular vote by more than 6 million ballots cast and being defeated in swing states by a more decisive margin than his own victory four years ago, Trump would somehow then get the House of Representatives to accept these irregular electors and declare him the winner.
We have heard a lot lately about the hard feelings among 74 million Americans who voted for Trump. How do you think the 80 million people who voted for Biden would be feeling at that point? How about the millions more who supported Trump despite their objections to his conduct?
To say that it would plunge the nation into chaos, disorder and danger is no exaggeration. The sight of a defeated president rigging the system to retain power would be a catastrophe for domestic governance and our national security. For Republicans, it would be a Chernobyl-scale meltdown.
As we have said before, we tend to think that what Trump is doing is more about delegitimizing President-elect Joe Biden and somehow maintaining the fiction among Trump’s core supporters that he didn’t really lose. In fact, the remoteness of success is what makes Trump’s conduct possible.
More and more Republicans are coming forward to tell the president to stop what he is doing, but many hold their tongues preferring to let the drama play out without having to alienate any of their own primary voters.
Outside of the reddest of red districts, however, things are turning ugly. Already some 70 percent of voters disapprove of Trump’s post-election conduct compared to less than a third who backed the president’s play.
Just imagine what that would like if even one of those states threw out the results and people started to take seriously the possibility that the Trump might retain power for another four years.
The best thing Republicans have going for them right now is that Trump’s effort is hard to take seriously. Heaven help them if that ever changes.
THE RULEBOOK: OCEANS RISE, EMPIRES FALL
“Though a wide ocean separates the United States from Europe, yet there are various considerations that warn us against an excess of confidence or security.” – Alexander Hamilton, discussing the necessity of a common defense, Federalist No. 24
TIME OUT: THE SPANISH PRISONER
History Channel: “[On this day in 1876] William Magear ‘Boss’ Tweed, leader of New York City’s corrupt Tammany Hall political organization [was] delivered to authorities in New York City after his capture in Spain. … The Tweed Ring reached its peak of fraudulence in 1871 with the remodeling of the City Court House, a blatant embezzlement of city funds that was exposed by The New York Times. Tweed and his flunkies hoped the criticism would blow over, but thanks to the efforts of opponents such as Harper’s Weekly political cartoonist Thomas Nast … virtually every Tammany Hall member was swept from power… All the Tweed Ring were subsequently tried and sentenced to prison. Boss Tweed … in 1875 escaped from prison and traveled to Cuba and Spain. In 1876, he was arrested by Spanish police, who reportedly recognized him from a famous Nast cartoon depiction. After Tweed’s extradition to the United States, he was returned to prison, where he died in 1878.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.
BIDEN TO TAP YELLEN FOR TREASURY
WSJ: “President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, an economist at the forefront of policy-making for three decades, to become the next Treasury secretary, according to people familiar with the decision. If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Yellen would become the first woman to hold the job. Mr. Biden’s selection positions the 74-year-old labor economist to lead his administration’s efforts to drive the recovery from the destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Ms. Yellen, who was the first woman to lead the Fed, would become the first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Ms. Yellen declined to comment by phone on Monday.”
Biden builds out national security team - Fox News: “President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced a number of key Cabinet appointments, including Antony Blinken as secretary of state, Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security, and Avril Haines to serve as the first woman to lead the intelligence community, among other positions. Biden on Monday also announced former Secretary of State John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate, and will sit on the National Security Council — the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change. Kerry's position is not a Cabinet post. Biden also announced that Jake Sullivan will serve as White House national security adviser, making him one of the youngest people to serve in the role in decades; and Linda Thomas-Greenfield who will be nominated as United Nations ambassador, which will be a Cabinet position in the Biden administration. … Vice President–elect Kamala Harris also praised the appointments, calling them ‘crisis-tested national security and foreign policy leaders…’”
Homeland pick will face pushback - WaPo: “Republicans could take issue with Mayorkas’s role in the creation of the DACA program and are likely to bring up a 2015 report by the DHS inspector general that found he inappropriately helped several companies obtain employment visas. Mayorkas disputed the inspector general’s findings.”
Infrastructure Week forever - Roll Call: “[President-elect Joe Biden], like his predecessors, has listed infrastructure as a top priority in his administration. He enters the process facing the same hurdles that Trump and Obama found ultimately insurmountable. He has an easy enough vehicle to start with: Congress in October punted on a new highway bill, opting instead to extend the 2015 surface transportation law by a year, to Oct. 1, 2021. If Biden wants to go big on infrastructure investment, he has a key ally in House in Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., who, like Biden, sees infrastructure as inherently linked to climate change. That’s the good news. The bad news is that … Biden appears likely to face a Republican-majority Senate loath to give him a policy win – even on an issue on which they’d both like to see progress. And then there’s the problem that has stymied administration after administration: How to pay for a massive investment.”
LAST-DITCH EFFORT TO DELAY MICHIGAN RESULTS
Detroit News: “A key Republican member of the Board of State Canvassers acknowledged Monday afternoon that the board has a ‘duty’ to certify Michigan election results based on county returns as the panel opened a pivotal meeting. Twenty days after the Nov. 3 election, the board convened just after [2 p.m. ET] to decide whether to cement President-elect Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state or boost President Donald Trump's push to question it. … Staff from the state Bureau of Elections has recommended that they certify the results and make them official. All eyes are on the two Republican members of the board, Norm Shinkle and Aaron Van Langevelde, as the Democratic members are expected to vote to certify the results. … ‘I think that the board's duty today is very important. We have a duty to certify this election based on the returns,’ Van Langevelde said. ‘That is very clear. And we are limited to these returns…’”
Wayne County had twice the irregularities in 2016 as in 2020 - WaPo: “Republican Party leaders who are urging Michigan's state canvassing board to hold off certifying the Nov. 3 election results when it meets Monday have cited what they described as ‘significant problems and irregularities’ in Wayne County, home of Detroit. The GOP officials have pointed to the number of ‘unbalanced’ precincts, where there were small discrepancies between the number of ballots cast and the number of voters logged by election workers in the poll books. … But state and county election data show that four years ago — when Donald Trump carried the state by a much narrower margin — twice as many Detroit precincts were out of balance. … In the fall of 2016, 392 Detroit precincts, or 59 percent of the total, had discrepancies of at least one ballot, accounting for at least 916 votes, the data show. This fall, 179 Detroit precincts, or 28 percent of the total, had discrepancies of at least one ballot, accounting for at least 433 votes.”
Pennsylvania counties certify results - AP: “County election boards across Pennsylvania faced a deadline Monday to certify election results to the Department of State, an important milestone in the tabulation of votes for the presidential contest and other races. … The boards in two populous counties split along party lines in votes taken Monday, with majority Democrats in both places voting to certify the results. Allegheny County, which gave a majority to Democrat Joe Biden, voted 2-1, and Luzerne County, which Republican Donald Trump won, approved its results, 3-2. … After the counties send certified results to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, she must then tabulate, compute and canvass votes for all races. The law requires her to perform that task quickly but does not set a specific deadline. Boockvar then will inform Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of the results, and he will list the electors on a ‘certificate of ascertainment’ sent to the national archivist. Four years ago, Wolf made that notification Dec. 12.”
Trump demands third count in Georgia, officials need police protection - AJC: “Georgia is preparing to tally about 5 million votes in the presidential election for a third time as the FBI and GBI investigate threats against some state election officials. On Saturday, President Donald Trump’s campaign filed a petition for the recount, which he is entitled to do under Georgia law because Joe Biden’s margin of victory is less than half a percent. ‘Today, the Trump campaign filed a petition for recount in Georgia,’ the campaign said in the statement announcing the petition. ‘We are focused on ensuring that every aspect of Georgia state law and the U.S. Constitution are followed so that every legal vote is counted.’ Meanwhile, the hotly contested election apparently has inspired threats against some Georgia officials.”
Trump dumps conspiracy theory pitchwoman - WSJ: “President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said … Sidney Powell, an attorney who made unsupported claims of voter fraud at a press conference … isn’t part of the president’s legal team. … At the RNC headquarters press conference last week, Ms. Powell appeared alongside Mr. Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser to the campaign and an attorney to the president, as they laid out sprawling and unsupported allegations of a conspiracy to rig the election. She told reporters that the president lost the election because of widespread fraud. No evidence of such fraud has emerged. Ms. Powell at the RNC event aired accusations of foreign interference in the election, which she claimed had been rigged by ‘communist money’ from Cuba and China and through a plot concocted by Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan leader who died in 2013, and the financier George Soros.”
Portman: Time to get on with it - Cincinnati Enquirer: “I voted for President Trump, was a co-chair of his campaign in Ohio, and I believe his policies would be better for Ohio and the country. But I also believe that there is no more sacred constitutional process in our great democracy than the orderly transfer of power after a presidential election. It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward. … In the meantime, the General Services Administration (GSA) should go ahead and release the funds and provide the infrastructure for an official transition, and the Biden team should receive the requested intelligence briefings and briefings on the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.”
Top Trump backer Schwarzman calls quits on election challenge - Axios: “It's over. That's what Blackstone chairman, CEO and co-founder Steve Schwarzman — one of President Trump's most loyal allies — and other top Republicans are signaling to the defeated president, 16 days after Joe Biden clinched the win. It’s all theatrics now. Even if Trump doesn't move on fast, you can. It is safe to ignore the fearful Republicans who insist the process is legit and plausible, because they tell us privately it is not. Schwarzman said in a statement to Axios that Biden won and it's time to move on. ‘I'm a fan of good process,’ Schwarzman said. ‘In my comments three days after the election, I was trying to be a voice of reason and express why it's in the national interest to have all Americans believe the election is being resolved correctly. But the outcome is very certain today, and the country should move on.’”
GEORGIA DEBATES RULES FOR SENATE RUNOFFS
AJC: “The [Georgia] State Election Board on Monday will consider three emergency rules governing the processing of ballots and voter registrations that would affect the January runoff election. The first would extend an authorization for counties across the state to provide drop boxes for absentee ballots — an authorization made last spring and renewed in July. Counties must use video recording to monitor the boxes and adopt other security measures. The second proposal would modify another rule approved earlier this year. It would require counties to begin processing absentee ballots — but not counting them — a week and a day before Election Day. The existing rule merely allows counties to begin processing ballots early, but it does not require it. The third proposed rule directs counties to ‘review all available evidence’ to determine whether someone registering to vote is a Georgia resident.”
With rough 2022 map, Senate GOP looks to stave off retirements - Politico: “Ahead of another brutal fight for Senate control and a 2022 map tilted against the GOP, Republicans are racing to persuade their incumbents to run again. Leadership is already getting some positive results, with a number of GOP senators signaling they will run for reelection in battleground states. The tough map for Senate Republicans is likely to have a huge impact on what, if any, deals [Mitch] McConnell makes with President-elect Joe Biden and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). And as in this last cycle, McConnell will be looking to protect vulnerable incumbents — both by moving legislation they support and saving them from having to cast tough votes. ‘McConnell is a results-oriented leader,’ said Senate GOP Conference Chair John Barrasso (Wyo.). ‘We’re gonna want to stay in the majority in 2022, and we’re gonna need to show the country we’re a party of governing, not grandstanding.’”
Newsom under pressure to pick non-white woman to fill Harris’ seat - Axios: “A group of about 150 of California's largest political donors will urge Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday to choose a woman of color to fill the Senate seat vacancy left behind by Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, according a report by Vox. ‘We urge you to continue this Californian tradition by appointing a woman of color to Vice President-elect Harris’s US Senate seat,’ the donors reportedly write in the letter, which will appear as a full-page ad in the state’s two largest newspapers, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. … According to FOX 11, potential replacements for Harris that have been floated include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, California Democratic Reps. Karen Bass, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, and Adam Schiff, and Mayors London Breed and Eric Garcetti of San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.”
What worries the country’s best coronavirus hospital - The Atlantic
Pergram: Congress a microcosm of America's coronavirus struggle - Fox News
AUDIBLE: THE SQUAD VS. THE FORCE
“I want to create a force within my freshman class that will have to be reckoned with. A force of reason, a force for freedom, a force for democracy.” – Congresswoman-elect Maria Elvira Salazar discussing freshman Republicans’ conservative “squad” goals.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“In your recent newsletter you discussed potential 2024 GOP candidates including Lara Trump and Mike Pence. Yet you didn't mention Donald J. Trump himself. In my opinion the nomination is his for the taking if desires it. Who would want to run against a President in a primary? Certainly not his own daughter, nor his own VP. A Mitt Romney or three would relish it but I don't see them getting very far against the Big Man. Maybe I'm missing something, but what's to stop him? Why wouldn't he run? Perhaps in an upcoming podcast or newsletter you can enlighten us a bit on this point.” – Mark DeWitt, Los Angeles
[Ed. note: It wouldn’t be without precedent, and there are certainly some commonalities between President Trump and his fellow New York elite turned populist, Teddy Roosevelt, who tried to return to power after leaving office. I have my doubts, though. Would Trump really want to do it? Outside of the press coverage and the pageantry, he doesn’t seem to particularly like the job. To start the primaries over at age 77, but this time with the weight of a record, sounds like very little fun. He’d also have to deal with the fact that unlike four years ago, he would not be an asymmetrical insurgent but rather, as you say, “the big man.” Mainstream Republicans are going to spend the next four years trying to harden their defenses against the nationalist populists, so one supposes that they will not repeat their mistakes of 2016. As Democrats learned to do with Joe Biden, I would imagine mainstream GOPers will consolidate their support behind one candidate before Trump could push a plurality into the nomination. But most of all, parties tend to have little interest in losing candidates. And given the way Trump is choosing to go out, it will be all the harder to get folks to forget the downsides of the Trump era. I think a very likely scenario if Trump does run is something like Roosevelt produced in 1912: A split party and Democratic victory. But who knows? All of that will depend on 10,000 different events between now and then. By 2024, Trump may be a folk hero or a laughingstock. Better probably to hatch our eggs as they come.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
TASTES LIKE A PLYMOUTH WITH NOTES OF HATCHBACK
NY Post: “Your vehicle might look like a salty snack to local Canadian wildlife, but speed up if you see them coming over for a lick. So warn road signs in the alpine town of Jasper, Canada, where salt-obsessed moose pose a danger to themselves — and drivers — when salt-spattered cars appear in their vicinity. ‘Oh hi, moose. We have strict instructions about your snack habits,’ one Twitter user wrote on the platform alongside images of the extremely direct and specific road sign and a photo of a moose. The viral tweet has racked up over 46,000 likes since being posted this month. … Moose normally get their salt fix from the park’s lakes but have discovered that motor vehicles can offer a similar sodium-rich fix after driving through roads sprinkled with the snow-melting substance.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Clinton no doubt wishes he'd been president on Sept. 11. It is nearly impossible for a president to rise to greatness in the absence of a great crisis, preferably war. Theodore Roosevelt is the only clear counterexample, and Bill is no Teddy.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing about presidential legacies in the Washington Post on Feb. 1, 2008.
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.