**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: White House sanctions Russians for 2016 interference - McDaniel switches races in Mississippi - Watchdog report looms as Sessions debates firing McCabe - Dodd-Frank rollback wins Senate approval - You had one job!
WHITE HOUSE SANCTIONS RUSSIANS FOR 2016 INTERFERENCE
Fox News: “The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned 19 Russian individuals and five Russian entities for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election and engaging in cyber-attacks. The announcement was made by the Department of the Treasury and includes the 13 Russians who were recently indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. ‘These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia,’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. The sanctions mean all property of these individuals and entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked. United States people are also prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. The Treasury Department said the sanctions are meant to counter Russia’s destabilizing activities, including its interference in the 2016 election and its destructive cyber-attacks. The department cited the NotPetya attack, a cyber-attack the White House and the British government have attributed to the Russian military.”
Report: Mueller subpoenas Trump Organization - NYT: “The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, according to two people briefed on the matter. The order is the first known time that the special counsel demanded documents directly related to President Trump’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president. The breadth of the subpoena was not clear, nor was it clear why Mr. Mueller issued it instead of simply asking for the documents from the company, an umbrella organization that oversees Mr. Trump’s business ventures. In the subpoena, delivered in recent weeks, Mr. Mueller ordered the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating, the people said.”
THE RULEBOOK: PROOFREAD
“Caution and investigation are a necessary armor against error and imposition.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31
TIME OUT: THE IDES OF MARCH
History: “Julius Caesar, the ‘dictator for life’ of the Roman Empire, is murdered by his own senators at a meeting in a hall next to Pompey’s Theatre. … Cassius Longinus started the plot against the dictator, quickly getting his brother-in-law Marcus Brutus to join. Caesar should have been well aware that many of the senators hated him, but he dismissed his security force not long before his assassination. Reportedly, Caesar was handed a warning note as he entered the senate meeting that day but did not read it. After he entered the hall, Caesar was surrounded by senators holding daggers. Servilius Casca struck the first blow, hitting Caesar in the neck and drawing blood. The other senators all joined in, stabbing him repeatedly about the head. Marcus Brutus wounded Caesar in the groin and Caesar is said to have remarked in Greek, ‘You, too, my child?’ In the aftermath of the assassination, Antony attempted to carry out Caesar’s legacy. However, Caesar’s will left Octavian in charge as his adopted son.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 40.2 percent
Average disapproval: 54.6 percent
Net Score: -14.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.8 points
[Average includes: George Washington University: 42% approve - 55% disapprove; CBS News: 38% approve - 57% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 56% disapprove; Marist College: 44% approve - 49% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 56% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 37.8 percent
Democratic average: 49.6 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 11.8 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 0.4 points
[Average includes: George Washington University: 49% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 38% GOP; Monmouth University: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk: 47% Dems - 32% GOP; CNN: 54% Dems - 38% GOP.]
MCDANIEL SWITCHES RACES IN MISSISSIPPI
Fox News: “Mississippi Republican Senate candidate Chris McDaniel announced Wednesday he will run for the seat vacated by Sen. Thad Cochran, instead of challenging incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker, in an effort to ‘unite the party’ in the double-barreled Senate race. McDaniel, who is a Mississippi state senator, has shifted resources to campaign for the Cochran seat, which will become open April 1. ‘By announcing early, we are asking Mississippi Republicans to unite around my candidacy and avoid another contentious contest among GOP members that would only improve the Democrats’ chances of winning the open seat,’ McDaniel said in a statement Wednesday. ‘If we unite the party and consolidate our resources, we can guarantee Donald Trump will have a fighter who will stand with him.’ The seat McDaniel is now running for is the same seat he unsuccessfully competed for in the 2014 Republican primary against Cochran.”
GOP won’t give up Pa. 18 without a fight - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Democrat Conor Lamb has 627 more votes than Republican Rick Saccone, but GOP officials are alleging voting irregularities in the District 18 special election and have asked election officials in all four of the district’s counties to impound their voting machines, pending a potential recount. Mr. Lamb told supporters ‘We did it’ early Wednesday morning, and several news outlets, including the New York Times, have declared him the winner of the contest, which attracted national attention as an indication of the electorate’s mood as midterm elections approach. Late Wednesday afternoon, the National Republican Congressional Committee said election officials had agreed to impound the machines and ballots from the March 13 contest, whose outcome bolstered Democrats and raised anxieties within the GOP. Mr. Lamb of Mt. Lebanon bested Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone of Elizabeth Township in an extremely tight contest.”
If you ask Trump, Lamb and him are more similar than not - Atlantic: “If Donald Trump is worried about Democrats using an upset victory in Pennsylvania as a blueprint for winning big in the midterms, he didn’t let on. Trump broke his silence on the election at a private fundraiser for Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley Wednesday night, telling a crowd of donors that Lamb had run ‘a pretty smart race, actually,’ according to an audio recording of the remarks obtained by The Atlantic. … ‘The young man last night that ran, he said, ‘Oh, I’m like Trump. Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything.’ He ran on that basis,’ Trump said. ‘He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, ‘Is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.’’ Later on, he stressed Lamb’s appeal to many blue-collar conservatives, saying, ‘But I guess when you’re running in a certain area, that’s probably a good tactic.’”
Other Dems look to copy Lamb’s playbook with Pelosi - Politico: “Now other Democratic hopefuls are looking to adopt Lamb’s strategy — he repeatedly and bluntly disavowed the Democratic leader [Nancy Pelosi] — in their own competitive races. It raises the prospect of a slate of Democratic hopefuls running against the party’s House leader as they try to neutralize one of the GOP’s go-to attacks — a pillar of Republicans’ plan to keep the House majority in November. A half-dozen Democratic House members and candidates told POLITICO in interviews that they had been closely monitoring how Lamb handled the Pelosi attack. … ‘If we’re going to take the majority, it’s going to be because we win districts like that,’ said Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), a vocal critic of current leadership. ‘Running against Nancy Pelosi is going to help you a lot more than running with her.’”
Scalise hits the campaign trail - Politico: “The Louisiana Republican in a closed-door Republican Conference meeting Wednesday announced that he would be transferring $1 million to the House GOP’s campaign arm. That’s after wrapping up a seven-day swing through Florida, his home state of Louisiana, Texas all the way up to the Midwest for colleagues trying to hold their seats. It’s a change of pace for [Steve Scalise], who’s spent much of the past eight months either in the hospital recovering from being shot in the hip or zooming around the Capitol in his electric scooter.”
WATCHDOG REPORT LOOMS AS SESSIONS DEBATES FIRING MCCABE
Fox News: “The Department of Justice’s inspector general could soon release his expected explosive report detailing a more than yearlong review of the FBI and DOJ’s Hillary Clinton investigation – an effort that has already put top FBI official Andrew McCabe and his pension in jeopardy. Over the last year, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been reviewing the FBI and DOJ’s actions related to its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Horowitz has told lawmakers he is aiming to release the report in the ‘March, April time period.’ On Wednesday, fresh evidence emerged that Horowitz may be winding down his efforts. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering firing McCabe over the findings in Horowitz’s review, sources said. According to the New York Times, Horowitz concludes in his report that McCabe was not forthcoming during the review, which included an examination of McCabe allowing FBI officials to speak with reporters about the investigation into the Clintons.”
McMaster, Shulkin and Kelly could be the next to go - Fox News: “President Trump could be making more changes to his Cabinet this week in the wake of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's firing, multiple sources told Fox News on Wednesday evening. The potential changes include the departure of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his replacement by John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Other departures from the administration would include Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Chief of Staff John Kelly. The sources have cautioned that Trump will make the ultimate decision about all staff changes. However, the departure of McMaster has been described by multiple sources as ‘imminent.’ Kelly would be replaced as chief of staff by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, the sources said, with Energy Secretary Rick Perry replacing Shulkin at the VA. Ray Washburne, the chairman of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, would replace Perry as energy secretary.
DODD-FRANK ROLLBACK WINS SENATE APPROVAL
Fox Business: “The Senate passed a bill to overhaul Dodd-Frank on Wednesday, as a bipartisan group of lawmakers forge ahead with plans to roll back some of the 2010 law’s banking provisions. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) has spearheaded the effort to loosen restrictions for certain financial institutions, particularly smaller banks. The bill will exempt banks with less than $250 billion in assets from tougher oversight by the Federal Reserve, including the central bank’s annual stress tests. Lawmakers are also seeking to ease the ratio of capital to debt that a bank must hold, among other measures. The bill won approval with a 67-31 vote, sending it to the House. ‘The bill provides much-needed relief from the Dodd-Frank Act for thousands of community banks and credit unions and will spur lending and economic growth without creating risks to the financial system,’ the White House said in a statement.”
House passes school safety bill - Reuters: “The U.S. House of Representatives approved spending more money on metal detectors, locks and other school security measures on Wednesday …lawmakers voted 407-10 for legislation to spend $50 million to $75 million per year from 2019 through 2028 on school security and safety training. No parallel measure was pending in the Senate, where a somewhat more ambitious bill was being debated, but prospects for meaningful gun control reforms in Congress remained remote in the face of stiff resistance from gun industry lobbyists. ‘This bill, on its own, is not the kind of meaningful congressional action needed to address this crisis of gun violence,’ Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said in a statement.”
THE JUDGE’S RULING: THE EXTENT OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses how far the freedom of speech can go for the president: “CBS News wants to air an interview with an adult-film actress who alleges a sexual relationship with Donald Trump -- a relationship he denies -- and President Trump wants to prevent the airing. … Because whatever [Stormy Daniels] said to CBS arguably speaks to Trump’s fitness for office, individuals have the right to learn of it, to hear Trump’s denials and to form their own opinions. In Trump’s case, he has a bigger megaphone than CBS does -- via his adroit use of social media -- and the volume and ferocity of his denials might carry the day. But the point here is that individuals can make up their own minds about the president’s character; they don't have to endure the prior restraint of a court's silencing a voice in the debate, even a tawdry voice.” More here.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte is ‘where ‘bills go to die.’’ - Politico
Give this a read: Matt Labash: ‘It's OK to Say ‘I Don't Know’’ - Weekly Standard
Manafort asks judge to dismiss criminal charges - Chicago Tribune
AUDIBLE: IS THAT THE TECHNICAL TERM?
“We got our a** kicked. It’s what the political prognosticators called a good ol’ fashioned a**-kicking.” – Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., talking to CNN’s Manu Raju, about the Pennsylvania special election.
[Ed. note: Chris Stirewalt is away – by which we mean he is holed up in his garret, hiding from his publisher and trying to finish the book he loves but that may be trying to kill him. He will return, Lord and the Louisiana Historical Society willing, on March 21. In lieu of flowers, please send coffee and bacon.]
YOU HAD ONE JOB!
KNXV: “A misspelled street sign is turning heads in central Phoenix. The sign in question can be found near 17th Street and Indian School Road. On the sign, Indian is incorrectly spelled ‘Indain.’ ABC15 reached out to the City of Phoenix Street Transportation on how this could have happened. The city told us that they make their street signs in their own shop. The error apparently came from a misspelled work order before it made its way to the technician. City officials tell ABC15 that the sign will be replaced on Thursday morning. If you see any issues with street signs, you're asked to reach out to the City of Phoenix.”
Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.