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On the roster: Russia ambassador pick breaks with Trump on Ukraine – Under fire, Biden tells super PAC to not attack Dems – Sessions’ potential rival warns of Trump punishment – Shel Silverstein, call your office
RUSSIA AMBASSADOR PICK BREAKS WITH TRUMP ON UKRAINE
Politico: “Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan implicitly broke with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, telling lawmakers that it would not be ‘in accord with our values’ for a president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival. Sullivan was speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is vetting his nomination as the next U.S. ambassador to Russia. His appearance has offered Senate Democrats a rare chance to quiz a top Trump administration official on issues related to the House-led impeachment inquiry into Trump — and they took full advantage. Sullivan was grilled in particular by New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the committee’s ranking Democrat, on impeachment-related topics, including the propriety of what Trump is accused of doing: pressuring Ukraine’s government to investigate a political rival, former vice president Joe Biden. On that aspect, Sullivan was fairly direct. ‘Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent — I don’t think that would be in accord with our values,’ he said.”
Trump attacks on Army colonel puts GOP in bind – WaPo: “Trump and his allies on TV lashed out at Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who said his concerns about what he heard in Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky drove him to notify his superiors. Trump dismissed Vindman as a ‘Never Trumper,’ while some of his allies questioned the patriotism of the Army combat veteran because his family emigrated from the Soviet Union when he was 3. Trump’s attack on the Purple Heart recipient unnerved Republicans in Congress, with several pushing back, albeit without naming the president. … The response from Trump’s party created an unusual dynamic in which Republicans were defending a man who was simultaneously accusing the president of undermining national security for his own political purposes. Privately, several Republicans found Vindman’s testimony to be damaging and lamented that once again they were forced to defend the president.”
Officer said White House left out key parts of Trump call transcript – NYT: “Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that the White House transcript of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president omitted crucial words and phrases, and that his attempts to include them failed, according to three people familiar with the testimony. The omissions, Colonel Vindman said, included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.”
Pelosi tries to shoot the gap on impeachment rules – Fox News: “House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a resolution to formalize their impeachment inquiry and adopt rules to govern the proceedings, following sustained complaints by congressional Republicans and the White House that the inquiry hasn’t followed past precedent and violates the president’s due process rights. But … Democrats have adamantly denied that the document is an ‘impeachment resolution,’ perhaps out of concern for how that label would play in more moderate swing districts. The resolution directs the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, Judiciary, and Ways and Means Committees to ‘continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry…’ Republicans, however, have countered that there is no ‘existing’ impeachment inquiry because the House has not voted to open one as it did during the Clinton and Nixon impeachments — and Tuesday’s resolution does not explicitly open the probe, either.”
THE RULEBOOK: AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH
“The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 8
TIME OUT: AND HE WAS JUST 23 YEARS OLD
History: “‘War of the Worlds’ was not planned as a radio hoax, and [Orson] Welles had little idea of the havoc it would cause. The show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. … Sunday evening in 1938 was prime-time in the golden age of radio, and millions of Americans had their radios turned on. … Welles introduced his radio play with a spoken introduction, followed by an announcer reading a weather report. Then, seemingly abandoning the storyline, the announcer took listeners to ‘the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon Raquello and his orchestra.’ Putrid dance music played for some time, and then the scare began. An announcer broke in to report that ‘Professor Farrell of the Mount Jenning Observatory’ had detected explosions on the planet Mars. Then the dance music came back on, followed by another interruption in which listeners were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer’s field in Grovers Mills, New Jersey.”
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DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.6 points (↓ 1.2 from last wk.)
Warren: 24.8 points (↓ 0.4 from last wk.)
Sanders: 14.6 points (↑ 0.8 from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 6.4 points (↑ 0.4 from last wk.)
Harris: 4.8 points (↑ 0.2 from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, CNN, Fox News, IBD and Monmouth University.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 41 percent
Average disapproval: 55.6 percent
Net Score: -14.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 0.4 points
[Average includes: Grinnell/Selzer: 43% approve – 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 58% disapprove; CNN: 42% approve – 57% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve – 55% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve – 57% disapprove.]
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UNDER FIRE, BIDEN TELLS SUPER PAC TO NOT ATTACK DEMS
CBS News: “Following days of criticism over an apparent softening of his stance toward super PACs, former Vice President Joe Biden‘s campaign warned a newly formed independent entity not to attack Biden’s Democratic competitors. ‘Our campaign would be extremely frustrated if the super PAC was used to attack other Democrats,’ Biden’s campaign manager Greg Schultz told reporters Tuesday. The new pro-Biden super PAC, named Unite The Country, was registered with the Federal Election Commission on Monday. Biden has denied changing his opinion over whether he would welcome the assistance of super PACs, which allow for backers to spend unlimited sums to boost a candidate. Federal law prohibits super PACs from coordinating directly with campaigns. ‘The super PAC was not encouraged. It was not discouraged. And the reality is Trump does not want to run against Joe Biden. He’s spending $10 million to date against him,’ said Schultz.”
Bernie goes all in for Latino vote – Politico: “…Latino activists say they hear all the time from voters in their community who are high on [Bernie] Sanders, and that’s backed by polling showing him leading or tied among Latinos. Sanders won the highly coveted endorsement of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. His campaign co-chair is San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. Afro-Latina rapper Cardi B is a fan. … The fact that Joe Biden is counting on strong support from African Americans to win the Democratic nomination is widely known. Less understood is the similar bet that Sanders is making on Latino voters: His campaign believes that by driving up turnout among Latinos, as well as young and working-class voters of all ethnicities, he can build out the electorate, bring new voters into the fold, and expand the 15 to 20 percent of Democratic voters who zealously support the democratic socialist.”
Buttigieg downplays corporate resume – Politico: “Pete Buttigieg still lists ‘businessman’ in his Twitter bio. He just doesn’t talk much about the business anymore. For years, Buttigieg’s stint at McKinsey & Company, the international management consulting firm, formed a key part of his political biography… But the resume line has faded from Buttigieg’s stump speech amid revelations about McKinsey’s work with authoritarian governments and growing skepticism of large corporations. It’s unclear exactly what Buttigieg did in those formative years in business before he launched his political career. The South Bend, Ind., mayor has previously said he worked on projects involving renewable energy, ‘war zone economic development’ and grocery prices, but a shroud of confidentiality covers most of McKinsey’s activities. What Buttigieg does say now is that the company has changed from the one he knew.”
SESSIONS’ POTENTIAL RIVAL WARNS OF TRUMP PUNISHMENT
WaPo: “Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), a top candidate in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama, said Tuesday that he would not back out if Jeff Sessions tries to reclaim his old seat and warned that the former attorney general’s antagonistic relationship with President Trump would damage him politically should he run again. In recent weeks, Sessions has actively weighed a comeback bid for the seat he held for two decades, speaking with allies and calling major donors and fundraisers in the state to gauge his level of support ahead of the Nov. 8 filing deadline. Both Byrne and Sessions draw their main base of political support from the Mobile area, triggering some speculation among insiders in the state that Byrne would bow out of the Senate race and run again for his old House seat if Sessions wages a bid. But Byrne said in an interview Tuesday that Sessions’s entry would not make ‘any difference to me’ and vowed to stay in the race regardless.”
Shimkus reconsidering retirement – Politico: “GOP Rep. John Shimkus is reconsidering his decision to retire now that the top Republican spot on the Energy and Commerce Committee will soon be up for grabs — a welcome reversal for a party that’s faced a string of high-profile retirements this year. ‘It’s true, I am at least reconsidering,’ Shimkus told reporters on Tuesday, saying lawmakers on the Hill and in his southeastern Illinois district have asked him to stick around. Shimkus, a close ally of leadership and roommate of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), said a key factor in his reconsideration is Rep. Greg Walden’s decision to retire at the end of this Congress, which opens the chance for the veteran Illinois Republican to seek the top GOP slot on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden beat Shimkus in 2016 for that position.”
North Carolina may have delay primary – McClatchy: “Some members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation want the state’s legislature to redraw its congressional map — and do it fast. North Carolina is scheduled to hold its 2020 primaries on March 3, and a delay in redrawing districts as ordered by a three-judge panel of state judges on Monday night could postpone the congressional primaries. State Republican lawmakers could appeal the order, potentially pushing a final decision off for months. ‘I don’t understand how their rationale could be any different from the legislative districts, and they redrew those,’ Rep. George Holding, a Raleigh Republican, said of the state legislature, which recently — and quickly — redrew House and Senate maps after a court order. ‘The worst scenario is having standalone primaries. If the General Assembly doesn’t redraw them and it does get drawn out, we’ll have standalone primaries.’”
Georgia voter purge kicks up controversy – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “About 330,000 voter registrations in Georgia could soon be canceled because registrants haven’t participated in elections for several years. The purge comes after Georgia canceled 534,119 registrations in July 2017, the largest single removal of voters in U.S. history. Under a new state law, election officials will notify voters before canceling their registrations, a step that didn’t exist two years ago. The voter list cleanup, announced Monday by the secretary of state’s office, reinforces Georgia’s role as a voting rights and political battleground ahead of next year’s elections for president and two U.S. Senate seats. Last year, voting rights helped define the race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who won by 1.4 percentage points.”
Trump to headline the Republican Party of Florida’s annual fundraiser – Politico
Minor Mueller probe figure to seek seat vacated by sex-scandal congresswoman – Fox News
AUDIBLE: CANCEL CANCEL CULTURE
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke, and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.” – Former President Barack Obama during a discussion at the Obama Foundation Summit held at the Illinois Institute of Technology on Tuesday.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Really? If Michelle Obama leads [the Halftime Report] as someone who could enter the race and instantly be the front-runner, perhaps there are other reasons besides gender and race that are preventing the Harris campaign from getting any traction. Am I the 30,398th person to point this out today?” – Tracy Smith, Little Rock, Ark.
[Ed. note: You are the first, Ms. Smith but you are certainly quite right. I think Harris’ complaints are a great example of why her once-promising candidacy has failed. Her inability to take ownership of her own campaign has proven to be a fatal flaw.]
“I got behind on podcasts while on my anniversary vacation and just heard the installment from last week (A Grumbling Appendix). It is good that your man children are not Nat fans. It is unfortunate they cannot be Astro fans. However, I would suggest that if you are teaching them that American League baseball is not actually baseball, you can also teach them that the Astros are not actually an American League team. And let’s face it – the Nationals are still just the Expos and therefore not really deserving of a title.” – Scott Duncan, Wimberley, Texas
[Ed. note: Mr. Duncan, I like where your head’s at!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
SHEL SILVERSTEIN, CALL YOUR OFFICE
WRIC: “A homeowner in Richmond is searching for answers after the sidewalk near her home was ripped away without her permission or knowledge. ‘I’m not sure who did it, why they did it, I didn’t authorize it and it’s not in the budget,’ said homeowner Gina Coutlakis. Coutlakis told 8News sometime between Sept 24-26, someone came onto her private property while she was at work, ripped away the sidewalk and left with it. … Coutlakis has lived in the area for 20 years and has never experienced someone taking her walkway. … Neighbors have given different accounts on who may have been responsible for the strange act. No one remembered seeing any kind of company name that could help. Richmond Police told 8News a police report has been filed and a detective has been assigned to the case.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Of course there will be medical errors. And there will be medical malefactors. The bad doctors need to be found, punished, defrocked. But why should their sins be paid for by the good doctors among them?” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Jan. 31, 2003.
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.