White House corona outbreak rattles staff

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On the roster: White House corona outbreak rattles staff - With bailout talks stalled, Dems go it alone Dems fret over California special election - Georgia needs feds on racially charged homicide - Never send a cow on a beer run 

NYT: “The Trump administration is racing to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus inside the White House, as some senior officials believe that the disease is already spreading rapidly through the warren of cramped offices that make up the three floors of the West Wing. Three top officials leading the government’s coronavirus response have begun two weeks of self-quarantine after two members of the White House staff — one of President Trump’s personal valets and Katie Miller, the spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence — tested positive. But others who came into contact with Ms. Miller and the valet are continuing to report to work at the White House. ‘It is scary to go to work,’ Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to the president, said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ program on Sunday. … The discovery of the two infected employees has prompted the White House to ramp up its procedures to combat the virus, asking more staff members to work from home, increasing usage of masks and more rigorously screening people who enter the complex.”

Fauci, top docs to testify remotely amid exposure concerns - CBS News: “Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, will testify before a Senate committee Tuesday, his first appearance before Congress since March. Fauci will appear alongside Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other officials to discuss reopening the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced Sunday that the committee hearing would take place over video conference. ‘After consulting with Dr. Fauci, and in an abundance of caution for our witnesses, senators, and the staff, all four Administration witnesses will appear by videoconference due to these unusual circumstances,’ Alexander said in a statement. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir will also appear at the virtual hearing.”

Andrew Ferguson: Transitioning to ‘transition’ - The Atlantic: “In a meeting with congressional Republicans, [President Trump] used the phrase ‘transition to greatness’ a couple of times, rolling it on the tongue like a fine swig of Diet Coke. Then he pretended he had just thought it up on the spot, right there and then. ‘It’s a great term,’ he said. ‘It just came out, at this meeting. That’s right, it came out by accident. It was a statement, and it came out, and you can’t get a better one. We could go to Madison Avenue and get the best, the greatest geniuses in the world to come up with a slogan, but that’s the slogan we’re going to use: transition to greatness.’ The wellsprings of creativity are mystifying, and the Republicans must have been pleased to be witnesses to history. But not as pleased as the president himself, topping even the greatest geniuses in the world with his inspiration—if he did say so himself. And he did.”

WSJ: “House Democrats are pushing to complete their next coronavirus-aid proposal this week in the face of deepening economic gloom, but talks with the White House and the Republican-controlled Senate are on ice over disagreements over the pace and content of the next package. Democrats argue for urgent new spending, on top of the roughly $3 trillion allocated so far for businesses, households, states and cities, among others. But some Republicans and President Trump counter that lawmakers should take a wait-and-see stance...”

Alexander says testing, not bailouts, are the key to recovery - NBC News: “Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Sunday that Congress can’t allocate enough aid to offset the toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the U.S. economy, a reality that underscores the need for the country to rapidly scale up testing to give workers the peace of mind they need to return to work and jumpstart the economy. ‘The only solution is test, trace, isolate, treatments and vaccines,’ Alexander said during an interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘We have to reopen the economy, we have to do it carefully, we have to let people go back to work and earn a living. And I don’t see us being able to appropriate much more money to help provide a counter to that.’”

Williamson: Consensus killers - National Review: “Without consensus, there is no consent — that’s almost a redundancy: The two words come from the same Latin root meaning ‘agree,’ but each has its own special role in the political lexicon. We speak of ‘consensus’ as a generally agreed-upon fact or set of facts, often with the qualifier ‘expert’ or the mock-qualifier ‘elite,’ but we consent to a course of action, a regime, or a state, which can deploy force legitimately only with ‘the consent of the governed.’ That’s Liberal Democracy 101. When you lose the ability to forge consensus, you begin to forfeit consent, and effective governance becomes difficult if not impossible — as we are seeing right now in the coronavirus response. Consensus, with its suggestions of compromise and trans-partisanship, is an idea not at the apex of its career. … Our inability to forge a policy consensus is the result of our inability to forge a necessary prior consensus about certain facts and realities. ‘Elite consensus’ has done much to earn its low reputation.”

“The natural strength of the people in a large community, in proportion to the artificial strength of the government, is greater than in a small, and of course more competent to a struggle with the attempts of the government to establish a tyranny.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 28

Smithsonian: “Popularity contests might seem catty, but we humans will do just about anything to promote our pooches. For the 29th year in a row, the Labrador retriever has emerged victorious as America’s number one breed, according to a list released by the American Kennel Club (AKC) on May 1. Other sought-after canines include German shepherds, golden retrievers, French bulldogs and bulldogs, which nabbed spots two through five, respectively—a ranking identical to last year’s. But as the AKC notes in a statement, some preferences have shifted: 2019 marks the first year in which the Pembroke Welsh corgi broke the top ten, scooting just ahead of the dachshund. (The move also unseated the former tenth place honoree, the Yorkshire terrier, which now finds itself lurking at number 12.) In last place was the English foxhound, a stout, medium-sized dog bred for hunting.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes) 
Lean D/Likely D (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

Average approval: 45.2 percent
Average disapproval: 50 percent
Net Score: -4.8 points
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: CNBC: 46% approve - 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; PRRI: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve - 44% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve - 47% disapprove.]  

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NPR: “Ahead of a May 12 special election for a U.S. House seat in the northern suburbs of Los Angeles, Democrats are suddenly concerned they could lose hold of a seat that their party had just gained in the 2018 midterms. The election in California's 25th Congressional District is taking place in not only the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic but also the scandal that led to Democrat Katie Hill's resignation. Hill had unseated Republican incumbent Steve Knight in 2018, only to announce her resignation less than a year later after intimate photos of her were published online without her consent. The House also launched an ethics probe to look into accusations of an improper relationship with a congressional staffer. The hangover from Hill's resignation has weighed on Democrats. ‘It's tough to get people to keep up their energy and keep up their enthusiasm and stay in this and keep going,’ said Hilary Schardein, chair of CA25 United for Progress, a liberal group backing the Democratic candidate, Christy Smith. Tuesday's election will fill out the remainder of Hill's term until January 2021.”

Parties trade accusations on election theft - Fox News: “President Trump called on Republicans to head to the polls for Tuesday’s special congressional election in California after the leader of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) told House Republicans in a memo that Democrats were trying to ‘steal’ the race. The congressional seat was left vacant by Democrat Katie Hill, who resigned in October 2019 amid an ethics scandal involving a relationship with a staffer. The race is being contested between Republican Mike Garcia and Democrat Christy Smith. … Democrats have accused Trump and the GOP of trying to restrict voting access. They argue the additional early voting center was needed so voters in the diverse city of Lancaster wouldn't be disenfranchised. There's currently a total of 10 voting centers open for the special election.”

Can Dems replicate Wisconsin success elsewhere? - NYT: “It was a shocking margin of victory in what was expected to be a close race: an 11-point blowout by a liberal judge over a conservative incumbent for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Now Wisconsin Democrats are working to export their template for success — intense digital outreach and a well-coordinated vote-by-mail operation — to other states in the hope that it will improve the party’s chances in local and statewide elections and in the quest to unseat President Trump in November. Their top officials have gone on a virtual nationwide tour, extolling the virtues of their digital campaign efforts in hopes Democrats and liberal activists elsewhere can replicate their victory, when Jill Karofsky, a liberal judge, ousted State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. The first chance comes Tuesday in a special election for a Republican-heavy House district that covers the northern third of the state. It is the nation’s first partisan contest since Wisconsin’s April 7 election, and it will provide more evidence as to whether Democratic vote-by-mail success in that race is repeatable.”

Michigan Republican Senate hopeful walks fine line on Trump - Politico: “Few Republicans are willing to say a negative word about President Donald Trump. John James — a rising star in the GOP who last year was floated to be Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, and is now waging an uphill campaign for Senate in Michigan — is taking a different approach. During a video conference with black community leaders last week, James was asked whether he disagreed with Trump on anything given the president’s support of his candidacy. ‘Plenty, plenty of issues,’ James responded. … James, a 38-year-old Iraq War veteran, also pushed back against what he described as a Democratic talking point that he was bankrolled by the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who hails from one of the state’s wealthiest political families. … James faces the hurdle of running in Michigan, a swing state where the president’s popularity has ebbed. A recent Fox News poll showed Trump trailing Joe Biden by 8 percentage points and James lagging behind Democratic Sen. Gary Peters by 10 percentage points.”

Arnon Mishkin: Trump needs the RINOs back - Fox News: “But the president – and the entire Republican party – run a clear risk in trying to run without the support of many who are not entirely supportive of Trump, especially if Biden is trying to organize them. Indeed, it was the RINOs who arguably put Trump over the top and into the White House in 2016. And while many Trump supporters may not like them, they’re going to need them again in 2020. Much has been written about the fact that Trump won a preponderant share of the votes of people who had unfavorable views of both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Indeed, according to the Fox News 2016 exit poll, Trump won the vote of about 5 out of every 10 people nationally who had unfavorable views of both Clinton and Trump. … And who had unfavorable views of both Clinton and Trump? In large part, they were Republicans or Republican-leaning Independents. In other words, they were RINOs.”

Kamala Harris playing it cool on veepstakes - NYT: “Today, Ms. Harris — now a senator from California who ran for president last year — finds herself at another political crossroads, and is approaching it with similar caution. Though she is among the favorites to become Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s vice-presidential nominee, joining him on the Democratic ticket to try to defeat President Trump, she has kept a noticeably lower profile than other possible contenders. In several interviews, Ms. Harris has said she would be ‘honored’ to serve with Mr. Biden, but there is no public campaign similar… This does not mean she isn’t privately maneuvering, according to more than a dozen people familiar with her activities or with Mr. Biden’s search for a vice president. Ms. Harris, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has dedicated the five months since she ended her campaign to housecleaning steps meant to position her better for what comes next: whether it’s a vice-presidential bid, a longer career in the Senate, a run for governor or a position like attorney general in a Biden administration.”

Trump campaign rolls out state-specific attacks - Axios: “After weeks of holding back, President Trump's re-election campaign will unleash a series of tailored, swing-state attacks against Joe Biden, targeting him in Florida, Pennsylvania and the industrial Midwest, campaign officials tell Axios. … Advisers warned against too much overt negative campaigning at a time when thousands of Americans are dying and voters want the president focused on running the country. … But a few factors have informed the campaign's attack plans: Some states are reopening, Biden's poll numbers are strong, the economy is awful, and the U.S. has the world's worst reported coronavirus death toll. So the campaign is looking to change the subject. The campaign plans to launch state-specific attacks targeting Biden's record on three areas: Cuba, fracking and trade.”

NPR: “Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr asked the Department of Justice on Sunday to conduct an investigation into the handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case. Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot and killed in February while jogging through a neighborhood in the city of Brunswick, Ga. His death sparked a national outcry and demands for justice after a cellphone video of the shooting began circulating online last week. On Thursday, two men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, who is 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault. The arrests came two days after state authorities took over the case from local law enforcement — and 10 weeks after Arbery's death. McMichael, a retired police detective, told authorities that he and his son pursued Arbery because they believed he had been involved in local burglaries. Prior to the state's takeover of the investigation, the case had landed on the desk of three separate district attorneys. The first recused herself because the father had previously worked in her office as an investigator.”

In leaked audio, Obama bashes Justice Department over Flynn case - AP: “Former President Barack Obama harshly criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as an ‘absolute chaotic disaster’ during a conversation with ex-members of his administration, according to a recording obtained by Yahoo News. Obama also reacted to the Justice Department dropping its criminal case against Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, saying he worried that the ‘basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.’ More than 78,400 people with COVID-19 have died in the United States and more than 1.3 million people have tested positive, according to the latest estimates from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.”

Pence cheered by possibility of Flynn returning to White House - Axios: “Vice President Mike Pence told ‘Axios on HBO’ that he welcomes the idea of bringing Michael Flynn back into government, after the Justice Department moved last week to drop its criminal case against President Trump's former national security adviser. Trump said April 30 that he would ‘certainly consider’ bringing Flynn back into the administration. Since Flynn had been accused of lying to the vice president, Pence's blessing clears an obstacle to him returning to Trump’s inner circle. ‘I think Gen. Michael Flynn is an American patriot,’ Pence said during the interview in Iowa on Friday. ‘And for my part, I'd be happy to see Michael Flynn again.’ Trump lavished praise on the decision by his Justice Department to go to court to drop charges against Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.”

Libertarians to choose nominee in virtual vote later this month Reason

Sanders says ‘very, very unlikely’ he’ll run for president in 2024 WaPo

SupCo enters week of high-profile cases featuring Trump tax returns - Fox News

Congressional subpoena power could be reshaped by SupCo this week - Roll Call

Food execs asked to remove masks before campaign-style event with Pence WHBF

Republican attorneys general say Congress should investigate China Fox News
“I think it’s very clear it may not be possible to host a convention as planned.” – Edmund H. Driggs, a Republican member of the Charlotte City Council, expressing doubts about the likelihood of a traditional Republican convention in late August.

“With all due respect how does your speculative analysis of the election 6 months away preempt the news about Flynn, the FBI and other revelations about the Mueller probe. Disappointed.” – Dr. Donald Brizzolara, Wilmington, Del.

[Ed. note: I don’t mean to sound flip about a subject that you obviously care very deeply about, Dr. Brizzolara, but we didn’t cover ANYTHING other than our own race ratings on Friday. There were lots and lots of stories that we would have included Friday, certainly including the nolle prosequi of the former national security adviser. But speculative analysis is sort of our bag here. We’re a political note, and while you may not have found Friday’s race ratings worthwhile, they are right at the heart of what we do. Between now and the final race call on election night (or maybe the days after if we have a close race and lots of mail ballots) we will keep primping and pruning our race ratings. Twenty-five glorious weeks of horse race politics! For now, there’s very little polling data to work with, so we have to rely more on old-fashioned analysis, things like registration numbers, performance in recent elections, contributions, job approval numbers, etc. In a way, it makes this the most interesting part of the cycle for forecasting. We’ll be doing the same thing with Senate races later this week, so I’m busy now calling and writing the local political shamans in various states and picking the brains of smart politicos in both parties. In other words, it’s a hoot! I’m sorry we disappointed you, but we’ve got to tend to our own garden here. And that means placing a heavy emphasis on politics and looking to policies mostly as they relate to shaping the electoral map. It’s a narrow space, but it's a service we're very proud to provide.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

KMEG: “A semi hauling cattle flipped Thursday night, sending cows flying out of the roof, straight towards a liquor store. The semi and the cows avoided crashing into the store by just a few inches. That accident happened on Hwy 275, just before 12:00 a.m., near Lucky Joe's Liquor store on 108 E 2nd street in Neligh, Nebraska. Store owner, Joe Lichty, released security camera footage of the accident. The video shows the semi turning over on the curve, hitting a pole and cows crashing through the roof of the semi. Lichty says that the driver of the semi was not injured, but some of the cows had to be put down. Lichty also said the store didn't suffered any damage, except for the ice machine outside.”

“America's appetite for baseball books and movies is insatiable.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on May 12, 1989.

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.