McConnell poised for win in showdown with Pelosi

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On the roster: McConnell poised for win in showdown with Pelosi – House set to vote on limiting Trump’s war powers – I’ll Tell You What: On primaries and polls – Four-way race in New Hampshire – Attn: Munchkins

MCCONNELL POISED FOR WIN IN SHOWDOWN WITH PELOSI
Fox News: “More Democrats are urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to send the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate so a trial can get underway. Those joining the list include Sen. Dianne Feinstein from Pelosi’s home state of California, as well as Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and independent Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with the Democrats. ‘The longer it goes on the less urgent it becomes,’ Feinstein told Politico about Pelosi’s withholding of the articles approved last month, charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. ‘So if it’s serious and urgent, send them over. If it isn’t, don’t send it over.’ Manchin agreed with Feinstein that the House ‘should move on’ and deliver the articles to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. ‘It is time,’ King said Tuesday, according to NBC News. Pelosi has been holding on to the articles since December in an effort to get McConnell, R-Ky., to agree to certain conditions for a trial, such as allowing witnesses to testify.”

Trump presses Senate Republicans for more spectacle in trial – WaPo: “A turf war over who should defend President Trump in a Senate impeachment trial is raging behind the scenes in Congress, as House Republicans push to join Trump’s legal team — an idea that piques the president’s interest — over the objections of Senate Republicans. House GOP leaders in recent weeks have advocated for Trump’s most aggressive defenders — Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), John Ratcliffe (Tex.) and Douglas A. Collins (Ga.) — to cross the Rotunda and help White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone rebut the two charges that the president abused his power and obstructed Congress. Trump, partial to bare-knuckles tactics and top-rated TV performances, loves the idea, according to four administration and congressional officials familiar with his thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly.”

HOUSE SET TO VOTE ON LIMITING TRUMP’S WAR POWERS
AP: “The House will vote Thursday on a measure limiting President Donald Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran as Democratic criticism of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general intensified. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the planned vote in a one-page statement that said last week’s drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani was ‘provocative and disproportionate.’ The Democratic war powers resolution seems certain to pass over solid Republican opposition. A similar proposal by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., faces an uphill fight in the GOP-run Senate. The administration briefed lawmakers on Wednesday on its actions in Iran. Democrats and at least two Republicans expressed dissatisfaction with the briefings. Democrats said the administration didn’t provide enough evidence that Soleimani posed an imminent threat warranting the U.S. strike.”

Senate GOP in an uproar – WashTimes: “Republican Senator Mike Lee on Thursday stepped up his criticism of a closed-door intelligence briefing on the fatal airstrike last week that killed the commander of a key Iranian military force, calling the meeting with top Trump administration security officials ‘an unmitigated disaster.’ The Utah lawmaker slammed fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who emerged from the meeting confident in the intelligence … and said President Trump ‘appropriately responded’ to impending threats from Iran. ‘I think [Mr. Rubio] must have been in a different briefing than I attended,’ Mr. Lee said in an interview with NPR. … Immediately after the briefing, Mr. Lee dubbed the briefing ‘probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.’ The criticism quickly drew the attention of Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, who accused Mr. Lee and libertarian Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, of ‘empowering the enemy.’”

The Judge’s Ruling: The killing of Soleimani – This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the legal argument of Trump’s order to kill Gen. Qassem Soleimani: “The killing of the general and his companions was carried out by the use of an unmanned drone. The general was not engaged in an act of violence at the time he was killed, nor were any of his companions. They were driving on a public highway in a van. The president’s supporters have argued that the general’s death was revenge for Americans and others killed by the general’s troops and surrogates. Trump has argued, more importantly, that he ordered the general’s death because of what evil the general might order his own troops and surrogates to do in the future. Can the president legally kill a person not engaged in an act of violence because of what the person might do in the future? In a word: No.” More here.

THE RULEBOOK: JUST CAUSES
“But the safety of the people of America against dangers from FOREIGN force depends not only on their forbearing to give JUST causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to INVITE hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are PRETENDED as well as just causes of war.” – John JayFederalist No. 4

TIME OUT: A BOOK LOVER’S PARADISE
Smithsonian: “Like many places in the United Kingdom, Hay-on-Wye, a village of nearly 2,000 nestled in the rolling countryside of Wales, offers many of the amenities one would expect. … But what sets Hay-on-Wye apart from neighboring towns is the sheer abundance of bookstores punctuating its meandering streets. Upon last count, it’s home to some 20 bookshops—a number that eclipses many cities 50 times its size—and is what helped solidify its classification as an official Book Town. … Today there are more than a dozen towns around the world with the designation… By the International Organisation of Book Towns’ definition, a Book Town is ‘a small, preferably rural, town or village in which secondhand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated.’ … To become eligible for the book town designation, a town must submit an application with the International Organisation of Book Towns. From there, representatives from membering towns take a vote on whether or not to give the town an official designation.”

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

SCOREBOARD
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 26.2 points (no change from last wk.)
Sanders: 18.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Warren: 16.2 points (no change from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 9.4 points (no change from last wk.)
Bloomberg: 5.2 points (no change from last wk.)
[Averages include: NBC News/WSJ, CNN, Quinnipiac University, USA Today/Suffolk University and NPR/PBS/Marist.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE 
Average approval: 43.8 percent
Average disapproval: 51.4 percent
Net Score: -7.6 percent
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; CNBC: 40% approve – 49% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 48% approve – 50% disapprove.]

WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT? 
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!

I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: ON PRIMARIES AND POLLS
This week, while Dana Perino is away, Chris Stirewalt is joined by special guest Arnon Mishkin, Director of the FOX News Decision Desk. Chris and Arnon take a dive deep into where we stand less than a month before Iowa, the stark differences between Biden & Bernie, and give listeners a glimpse at the inner workings of The FOX News Decision Desk. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

FOUR-WAY RACE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
Monmouth University: “Support for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has grown while backing for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden has declined in New Hampshire. This makes the latest Monmouth University Poll of the Granite State primary effectively a four-way race right now. The poll also finds that primary voters are divided on whether the current nomination calendar gives all types of Democrats an equal voice in the process. In fact, a plurality would be willing to share their ‘first-in-the-nation’ status. Among registered New Hampshire Democrats and unaffiliated voters who are likely to participate in the February 2020 Democratic primary, 20% currently support Buttigieg, 19% back Biden, 18% back Sanders, and 15% back Warren. Others registering support include Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (6%), Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (4%), former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer (4%), entrepreneur Andrew Yang (3%), Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (2%), and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (1%).”

Biden campaign taking Bernie potential seriously – Politico: “Both in tactics and rhetoric, there are growing signs [Biden] takes his rival very seriously — and that he increasingly views Sanders as his most formidable opponent in Iowa and beyond. The Biden campaign has specifically courted the endorsement of community leaders in Iowa who backed Sanders in 2016. They’ve sought to combat Sanders’ recent habit of rolling out star surrogates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with their own A-list surrogates. And last week, Biden’s five-day Iowa bus tour heavily concentrated on the eastern part of the state — the biggest regional battleground between the two candidates because of its concentration of working-class voters. … Biden aides say they respect the level of excitement and loyalty from Sanders backers and recognize the threat that the Vermont senator’s fundraising juggernaut presents. ‘What is the lesson from 2016? It’s to not underestimate Bernie Sanders and his supporters,’ said Biden senior adviser Anita Dunn.”

Buttigieg gets backing from Congressional Black Caucus member – WaPo: “Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg received his first endorsement from a member of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday when former Maryland lieutenant governor Anthony G. Brown announced his support for the outgoing mayor of South Bend, Ind. ‘I firmly believe that Pete Buttigieg is the guy to lead our nation after we defeat Donald Trump and have to pick up the pieces and repair the damage of the last four years,’ Brown said in an interview. ‘He’s well-versed and studied and really diligent about the issues from a policy standpoint.’ As Buttigieg has vaulted to the top tier of the Democratic field, he has struggled to attract support from African American voters and leaders. Brown will serve as a national campaign co-chairman, the first endorser the campaign has named to that position. Brown, 58, is a relatively junior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, having been elected to Congress in 2016.”

Warren in a pickle – NYT: “But after a series of attacks, beginning on health care policy, she has lost ground as some voters have retreated to their ideological corners: the left-wing base that has rallied around Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and the moderate group of Democrats who have largely backed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. or former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. … But in private conversations, her advisers acknowledge that this ideological squeeze is similar to one that doomed earlier candidates like former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Senator Kamala Harris of California. But unlike those candidates, who often made grand pivots in order to appease both sides, Ms. Warren is placing her bet on authenticity and hoping voters will reward her for being consistent.”

Facebook leaves the sluiceway open for political ads – WaPo: “Facebook on Thursday defied public calls to adopt significant limits on political advertising ahead of the 2020 presidential election, opting instead to introduce changes that allow users to control more of the ads they see. The company’s new rules will continue to allow politicians to make false claims in their paid political posts and preserve the powerful yet controversial targeting tools that long have helped Democrats and Republicans deliver messaging to narrowly segmented audiences on the social networking site. Pressure to rethink its approach to political ads came from a wide array of digital experts and privacy advocates, as well as some of Facebook’s own employees. They argued that the company’s policies coarsened the American electorate and exposed users to serious risks, including viral disinformation, which malicious actors could pay to promote on the site.”

MCCONNELL LOOKS TO SAVE KANSAS SEAT WITHOUT POMPEO
Bloomberg: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be moving swiftly to help bolster GOP chances of keeping an open Senate seat in Kansas in November, after U.S. Secretary of State and former Kansas Representative Michael Pompeo said this week that he won’t be running. McConnell spoke in his Capitol Hill office Tuesday with Representative Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican who entered the Senate race in September. ‘The meeting was very positive and productive,’ Eric Pahls, Marshall’s Senate campaign manager, said. … While Kansas is heavily Republican, the retirement of fourth-term GOP Senator Pat Roberts, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, is creating an opening for the minority party. … McConnell hasn’t settled on a preferred candidate, a person familiar with the situation said. … McConnell was seen on the Senate floor on Wednesday talking with both Roberts and the state’s other Republican senator, Jerry Moran.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump set to rally in Ohio tonight – Toledo Blade

No special election for San Diego seat in wake of disgraced congressman’s resignation – LAT

House of Commons approves Brexit bill, UK on time for Jan. 31 departureAP

AUDIBLE: THAT’S 8 EXTRA (K)S!
“STOCK MARKET AT ALL-TIME HIGH! HOW ARE YOUR 409K’S DOING? 70%, 80%, 90% up? Only 50% up! What are you doing wrong?” – President Trump in a since-deleted tweet referring to the 401(k) tax-deferred retirement savings funds used by about a third of working Americans.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I deeply appreciate and relish the appearance in my inbox of the Halftime Report. I have discovered that reading your daily take on the news restores a sense of calm and instills faith that sanity can prevail in these polarized times. It is a great antidote to the outrage and click bait that seems to have become the dominant business model of many of the sources of news I consumed in years past. In addition to Halftime Report and the PBS NewsHour, is there any ‘go to’ news sources you can recommend for daily consumption? I feel a civic responsibility to stay informed but can’t handle the stress induced in me, by the outrage and sensationalist approach to so much of the news. P.S. If Browns fans get medical marijuana what should Washington Redskins fans merit? Marijuana, free moonshine… a time machine?” – Dennis Cline, Purcellville, Va.

[Ed. note: I like to read, listen and watch as widely as possible, so it’s more a matter of me of ruling things out instead of limiting my purview. I try hard to not rule outlets out until they have proven themselves unreliable or truly disingenuous. But I do have a very small list of places that I just won’t use anymore, no matter how big the purported scoop or how hot the take. I’d rather be late to a story than me led astray or have my time wasted with self-serving claptrap. I’m not going to share my quarantine list because it’s so small and inherently subjective. Everybody should make up their own minds. Now, I’m an odd duck because I consume so much news every day. I read for hours every morning and consume sporadically throughout the day. If I were a normal person, I would be certain to start my morning with my preferred local outlet the WSJ and the NYT and then add from there as time allowed. As far as ‘Skins fans go, it seems like therapy is the only answer. The relationship between that franchise and its fans is like something out of a Lifetime movie!]

“Who is Jerry Ford? Do you mean Gerry? Or perhaps Leslie?” – W. R. Williams, Gig Harbor, Wash.

[Ed. note: Your nit to pick is with Walter Shapiro, the author of the piece in question. But I’m sorry to tell you that he is quite right. It might seem logical that former president Gerald Ford would be “Gerry,’ but his preferred spelling was with a “J,” though in his youth he was mostly called “Junior.” I guess it’s understandable. “Gerry” could invite mispronunciation, while “Jerry” is as clear as his own Midwestern dialect. If you want to learn more about Ford’s young life growing up in Michigan, I highly recommend this exhibit at his presidential library in Grand Rapids. This photo collection is great as well.]

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

ATTN: MUNCHKINS
Fox News: “A northern suburb of Minneapolis resembled a scene out of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ this week after a freight train spilled enough corn to fill a stretch of railroad tracks. The photo of this impromptu yellow brick road – or in this case, several thousand feet of railroad tracks – in Crystal went viral after Mike Parker posted a photo on Twitter. The image showed bushels and bushels of corn appearing to perfectly fill the area between the tracks, creating a striking contrast to the snow-covered ground on either side. … Another user, Jimmy Peyton, described it as a ‘substantial amount’ of corn. … ‘Someone is going to have to answer for all of that.’ By Tuesday, local media at the scene confirmed the photo was, in fact, real. The spill stretched for about 2,000 feet along the Canadian Pacific Railway line, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
Thomas Jefferson will ever haunt us. The right eyes him suspiciously as a limousine Jacobin so enamored of revolution that he once suggested we should have one every 20 years. The left disdains him as your basic race hypocrite.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on May 22, 2000.

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.

Source: Fox News

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