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Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ presidential campaign is once again taking aim at Joe Biden for the former vice president’s numerous top-dollar fundraising events from coast to coast.

In a fundraising email to supporters titled “We risk falling behind,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir wrote Friday that Biden’s “raising huge sums of money at large fundraising events all across the country. And these are not grassroots fundraising events.”

BIDEN CAMPAIGN TOUTS DIGITAL FUNDRAISING

He said “these are high-dollar functions hosted and attended by corporate lobbyists, health care executives, a Republican casino-CEO, and a union-busting lawyer among others.”

Faiz stressed the independent senator from Vermont’s small-dollar and grassroots approach to fundraising, highlighting that “the truth of the matter is that the American people are pretty sick and tired of the billionaire class of this country buying up our candidates and our elections. We can win elections without begging those people for money.”

Biden has been raising big bucks through small-dollar online donations – his campaign this week touted their online contributions and said those kinds of contributions made up the lion’s share of the whopping $6.3 million it raised in the 24 hours after the former vice president announced his candidacy last month.

But Biden’s also been holding some high-profile, high-end fundraisers. On his first night as a White House contender, he raised $700,000 at the Philadelphia home of a Comcast executive. He also hauled in big bucks at a Hollywood finance event earlier this month and at two Florida fundraisers this week.

The former vice president’s expected to hold two major fundraisers in Boston on June 5, and two more in New York City on June 17, sources close to Biden’s inner circle told Fox News.

Fundraising was far from then-Sen. Biden’s wheelhouse in his unsuccessful White House runs in the 1988 and 2008 presidential cycles. But so far, the third time appears to be the charm, as Biden’s raking in big bucks both at traditional fundraisers with deep-pocketed donors — which he’s opened up to media coverage in a move for transparency — as well as through online contributions.

Biden adviser Brandon English touted in an email earlier this week that the campaign’s “fundraising has been driven by rapid, massive growth over the last month.”

The courting of wealthy donors used to be commonplace, but this time around, the two progressive leaders in the Democratic nomination race — Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — have criticized Biden and sworn off those types of donations.

LATEST POLL NUMBERS IN 2020 DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION RACE

But Sanders reportedly has decided to now hold in-person fundraising events and has hired an official to oversee such finance events.

Source: Fox News Politics

The American people have every right to know if there was “political misrepresentation” occurring in the Department of Justice in the days leading to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Rep. Greg Steube said Friday in response to President Donald Trump’s order to declassify information about the probe.

“I hope we find out soon,” the Florida Republican told Fox News’ “Outnumbered Overtime.” “If there’s documents that evidence that there were political motivations going on at the DOJ, and they were legitimately spying on the Trump campaign for political purposes and not for legitimate legal purposes, that’s going to completely change what the Democrats are talking about right now.”

Steube also said that he would think Americans would have “grave concerns” of an entity like the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court working in secret, as was the case when the DOJ obtained a warrant to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.

“Given all the information and facts, if the information that was represented to the FISA court, if they knew this was campaign fodder or promulgated and still decided to issue a warrant, that would bring a lot of things to question,” said Steube, a member of both the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. “Those are questions that I would have.”

Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has said Mueller would like to testify privately before the committee, and Steube said that’s because Democrats have changed their tone.

Further, Steube said he’d like to see Mueller testify publicly because he encourages the public to watch all such hearings.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Among the throng of abortion-rights demonstrators in front of the Supreme Court this week were six Democratic presidential candidates.

They were there to protest new abortion restrictions passed by Republican-dominated legislatures in such states as Georgia, Missouri and especially Alabama, which approved an outright ban on abortions.

SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR PLEDGES TO SIGN ‘HEARTBEAT’ ABORTION BILL

“We are not going to allow them to move our country backward,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota vowed as she spoke to the crowd.

Another White House hopeful, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, called the measures “the beginning of President Trump’s war on women.”

And Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey urged those protesting to “wake up more men to join this fight.”

The demonstration on the steps of the nation’s highest court was the latest sign that the divisive issue of abortion has rocketed to the center of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination — and with a lawsuit filed Friday against the Alabama law, legal proceedings could easily keep the debate hot going into the 2020 general election.

But the question going forward — will the debate mobilize Democrats to the same degree Republicans have used the issue to energize social conservatives in the decades since the landmark Roe v. Wade high court ruling codified abortion protections? Part of President Trump’s 2016 coalition included social conservatives who, despite reservations about the candidate, wanted to ensure federal court vacancies were filled by like-minded jurists.

LA COUNTY OFFICIALS VOTE TO BAN TRAVEL TO ALABAMA OVER ABORTION LAW

And with numerous state abortion laws tempting legal challenges, an epic battle over abortion restrictions could be shaping up in the future before a Supreme Court that Trump has made more conservative since taking office.

On Friday, Missouri’s governor signed a bill banning abortions after eight weeks. Last week, Alabama passed an outright abortion ban, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger. Days earlier, Georgia banned abortions absent a medical emergency after six weeks of pregnancy. The measure also made abortions illegal after a fetus’s heartbeat can be detected, which can happen before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

“More than anything, I think what you’re seeing from both the presidential candidates and the broader Democratic elected and progressive activist universe is a visceral response to blatant attacks on women’s reproductive rights,” highlighted veteran Democratic consultant and communications strategist Lynda Tran. “For so many women — and men — across the country, this isn’t politics as much as it is personal.”

In his 2012 re-election, then-President Barack Obama hammered GOP nominee Mitt Romney and Republicans for waging what he and other Democrats described as a “war on women.”

Four years later, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reiterated the theme as she spotlighted her support for Roe v. Wade — and Trump vowed to put “pro-life justices on the court.”

While the 2020 Democrats largely support abortion rights and criticize the recent state laws, they do differ when it comes to how much emphasis they put on the issue.

Gillibrand traveled to Atlanta last week, to protest Georgia’s new measure at the state capital and once again vowed to nominate judges who vow to uphold Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts produced a new policy proposal to protect access to reproductive health care.

And Sen. Kamala Harris of California has spotlighted the fight for abortion rights on the campaign trail the past couple of weeks.

But it’s not just the female candidates.

Booker earlier this week rolled out a plan that would include creating a White House Office of Reproductive Freedom.

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio, Eric Swalwell of California, and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts also attended the rally outside the Supreme Court.

Social conservatives are banking on the legal challenges against the new state laws eventually ending up before the high court, which they hope will overturn Roe v. Wade.

FOX NEWS POLL: MAJORITY WANT ROE V. WADE TO ENDURE

But public perceptions about the 1973 ruling appear to be shifting.

A Fox News Poll in January indicated that six in 10 registered voters wanted the precedent to remain in place, while just 21 percent wanted Roe v. Wade overturned.

And 28 percent of those questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released this week said abortion should be legal in all cases, an all-time high in that organization’s polling. Eight percent said abortion should be illegal in all cases, the lowest level since Quinnipiac first asked the question 15 years ago.

Female voters helped drive the Democrats’ success at the ballot box in 2018, as they recaptured the majority in the House. Democratic strategists say the issues will help rally the troops again in 2020.

Tran noted that “Republicans seem to be banking on these laws and this fight helping to turn out their base in 2020.”

But she spotlighted “what it will also likely do is enable Democrats who won huge victories in 2018 thanks to women voters in key districts nationally to drive up what is already heightened voter enthusiasm among progressives even higher.”

The Republican National Committee says the issue of abortion is distracting Democrats from getting the work of the people accomplished.

“While Democrats continue to espouse extreme positions on abortion,” argued RNC press secretary Blair Ellis, “they neglect the real and substantive work they promised the American people.”

A veteran GOP consultant thinks the significance of abortion’s impact on the 2020 election is overstated.

“The issue of abortion rights is a hot button issue for a small portion of either party,” said Lauren Caren, a veteran of numerous Republican presidential and Senate campaigns.

“What the middle of the road person expects is common sense. So I don’t see this issue as being the pinnacle of all issues for this election cycle,” added Carney, who served as a top adviser to Carly Fiorina’s 2016 White House bid.

Source: Fox News Politics

The vast majority of American voters say that prescription drug prices are too high, and Congress must do something to lower costs for patients, a new poll shows.

Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research conducted the poll on drug pricing, and found that “more voters identify the cost of health care as a top issue Congress and the president should address… than any other issue,” and more than 8 in 10 voters “think prices charged for prescription drugs are unreasonable.”

  • 84 percent think drug prices are unreasonable.
  • 45 percent think prices are very unreasonable.
  • 75 percent “think drug manufacturers had a lot of responsibility for the high cost.”

The poll also found that the vast majority of American voters support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices or similar policies.

  • 95 percent support “Medicare drug negotiation for drugs with no competition in the marketplace.”
  • 43 percent think that “allowing Medicare to negotiate with manufacturers to lower prices for expensive, single source drugs is a good approach.
  • 49 percent think such an approach “does not go far enough to control drug prices.”

“In our experience, the voter intensity and anger about prescription drug pricing is at a record level,” Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, and Whit Ayers, president of North Star Opinion Research, wrote in The Hill. “We believe it reflects the trends for higher deductibles and cost-sharing over time, high launch prices, price increases, reported profits of the pharmaceutical industry and years of unrealized policymaker pledges.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Sen. Richard Blumenthal D-Conn., is calling for a congressional investigation into the use of solitary confinement on immigrant detainees in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, NBC News is reporting.

His comments came after an NBC News investigation in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Intercept. NBC News said that investigation revealed the extensive use of solitary for immigrant detainees.

It found thousands of immigrants suffer in solitary confinement in U.S. detention centers. Only half the cases involved punishment for rules violations. The other half involved the mentally ill, the disabled or safety reasons.

The story also detailed the attempts of a Homeland Security employee to call attention to the rampant use of solitary confinement.

“This report should shock the conscience of every member of Congress,” Blumenthal said on Friday. “Putting immigrants fleeing for their lives in solitary confinement, alone and away from any human contact for days, weeks, months is inhumane. It is un-American.

“We must open an investigation, seek testimony from DHS whistleblowers and hold individuals responsible for these abhorrent conditions and policies.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday signed a bill that bans abortions on or beyond the eighth week of pregnancy without exceptions for cases of rape or incest, making it among the most restrictive abortion policies in the nation.

Under the law that comes into force Aug. 28, doctors who violate the eight-week cutoff could face five to 15 years in prison. Women who terminate their pregnancies cannot be prosecuted. A legal challenge is expected, although it’s unclear when that might occur.

The measure includes exceptions for medical emergencies, such as when there is a risk of death or permanent physical injuries to “a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” But the lack of exceptions women who find themselves pregnant after being raped or subject to incest has drawn sharp criticism, including from wealthy GOP donor David Humphreys, a Missouri businessman, who had urged the Republican governor to veto the bill and called it “bad public policy.”

Parson defended the lack of exceptions as he spoke to a group of abortion opponents gathered Friday for the bill signing in his Capitol office.

ALABAMA ABORTION LAW CHALLENGED IN PLANNED PARENTHOOD LAWSUIT

“Is it a terrible thing that happens in those situations? Yes it is. … But the reality of it is bad things do happen sometimes. But you have two months to decide what you’re going to do with that issue, and I believe in two months you can make a decision,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri said it was exploring “all options, including litigation, to block the law from going into effect.” The organization’s state legislative and policy director, Sara Baker, in a statement said the bill is “unconstitutional, and it must be stopped.”

Alabama’s governor signed a bill on May 15 making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases. Supporters have said they hope to provoke a legal challenge that will eventually force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationally.

Unlike Alabama’s near-total abortion ban, lawmakers who helped draft the Missouri bill say it’s meant to withstand court challenges instead of spark them. If the eight-week ban is struck down, the bill includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits at 14, 18 or 20 weeks.

Missouri’s bill also includes an outright ban on abortions except in cases of medical emergencies, but that would kick in only if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Missouri Right to Life called it “the strongest pro-life bill in Missouri history.”

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR CALLS FOR BOYCOTT OF STATES OVER ANTI-ABORTION LAWS

Missouri state House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade said in a written statement the new law treats women “as little more than fetal incubators with no rights or role in the decision, even in cases of rape and incest.”

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia also have approved bans on abortions once fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Some of those laws already have been challenged in court, and similar restrictions in North Dakota and Iowa have been struck down by judges.

Missouri already has some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion regulations, including a requirement that doctors performing abortions have partnerships with nearby hospitals. Missouri is down to one clinic performing abortions, which is in St. Louis.

A total of 3,903 abortions occurred in Missouri in 2017, the last full year for which the state Department of Health and Senior Services has statistics online. Of those, 1,673 occurred at under nine weeks and 119 occurred at 20 weeks or later in a pregnancy.

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A total of 2,910 abortions occurred in 2018 in Missouri, according to the agency.

The bill also bans abortions based solely on race, sex or a diagnosis indicating the potential for Down syndrome.

It also requires a parent or guardian giving written consent for a minor to get an abortion to first notify the other parent, except if the other parent has been convicted of a violent or sexual crime, is subject to a protection order, is “habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition,” or lacks legal or physical custody.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump vowed Friday to uncover the origins of the Russia investigation for all to see after he approved the declassification of documents related to the surveillance of his campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Before departing the White House for a trip to Japan, the president defended his decision in the face of Democratic accusations that he had overridden “longstanding rules” on classified material.

“We want to be very transparent, so as you know, I declassified everything,” Trump told reporters. “We are exposing everything.”

TRUMP GIVES AG BARR AUTHORITY TO DECLASSIFY DOCUMENTS RELATED TO 2016 CAMPAIGN SURVEILLANCE

The president said his decision will ensure that investigators looking into the origins of the probe have everything they need, “so they’ll be able to see how and why this whole hoax started.” He reiterated his charge that the probe was an “attempted takedown of the president of the United States.”

He added: “You’re gonna learn a lot. I hope it’s going to be nice, but perhaps it won’t be.”

The president, meanwhile, denied that he has “payback” in mind as Attorney General Bill Barr launches the review of the Russia probe, now being led by a top federal prosecutor.

In his Thursday directive, Trump ordered members of the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr’s probe.

“The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information. Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The president and the attorney general have both claimed that the Trump campaign in 2016 was a target of “spying,” though intelligence community and law enforcement officials maintain they acted lawfully. Barr came under criticism for testifying last month that “spying did occur” — but his defenders note that the use of surveillance warrants and informants during that period already has been widely reported.

DOJ AGREES TO SHARE SOME MUELLER DOCUMENTS WITH DEMOCRATS

With the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the DOJ review opens up another front in the seemingly never-ending battle over the Russia allegations. Democrats, not satisfied with the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation which found no evidence of collusion and left the obstruction question open, have escalated their own probes and continue to debate internally over whether to pursue impeachment proceedings. But Trump has long maintained that the true scandal lies in the opening of the FBI probe itself.

At the helm of the DOJ review is U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham. According to sources familiar with the latest investigation, Durham has been working on his review of the Russia probe “for weeks.” He is expected to focus on the period before Nov. 7, 2016—including the use of FBI informants as well as alleged improper issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.

A source also told Fox News that Barr is working “collaboratively” on Durham’s investigation with FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Durham is also working with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is currently reviewing allegations of FISA abuses and the role of FBI informants during the early stages of the Russia investigation.

Meanwhile, Trump on Friday accused congressional Democrats of being “very unhappy” with the results of Mueller’s nearly two-year-long Russia investigation.

“They want to do a re-do of the Mueller report,” Trump said. “They lost. There’s no re-do.”

But Democrats, like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., are blasting the president for allowing the release of classified materials, calling it a “corrupt escalation of the president’s intention” to politicize the intelligence community.

“The clear intent of this abuse of power is to override longstanding rules governing classified information to serve the President’s political interests, advance his ‘deep state’ narrative, and target his political rivals,” Schiff said in a statement Friday.

Source: Fox News Politics

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On the roster: ‘The torch; be yours to hold it high’ – The GOP’s long game to diminish Biden – How Socialist Bernie became Bernie the millionaire – Phony Pelosi video blows up on right wingers – *ahem* A clean getaway

‘THE TORCH; BE YOURS TO HOLD IT HIGH’
We feel self-conscious to even talk about Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old” because so few people have discussed it. 

If social media engagement is a reflection of interest in the masterful film that heartbreakingly tells the story of the war that made the modern world compared to those from any television show about sexy dragon masters or sexy serial killers or sexy pirates, or… God help us.

But this is our note, and we think what Jackson has accomplished needs far more attention. In fact, our culture is in terrible need of the movie right now. You can find discussions of libertarianism and intersectionality in “Game of Thrones” elsewhere, if that’s your bag.

Jackson took 100 hours of mostly unseen films and 600 hours of taped interviews with veterans of the Great War that had been moldering at the Imperial War Museum and turned them into an arresting, evocative work that we will not soon forget.

The movie was made to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the end of the war last November, and made it to some American theaters this year, but is now widely available to stream at home.   

Its title comes from the 1914 poem “For the Fallen” by Lawrence Binyon.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old://Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.//At the going down of the sun and in the morning//We will remember them.” 

It is a movie told entirely in the voices of the survivors – there is no narrator – but it is most certainly about the dead. Binyon, too old for service but who would later make it to the front in 1916 as a medic, was writing with the pang of guilt that many of his countrymen felt when the terrible cost of the war was first becoming clear.

Fighting a war with 20th century technology and 19th century techniques produced immediate, catastrophic losses. In one battle alone – Verdun, where Binyon tended to the wounded – more than 300,000 men were killed. 

British losses were staggering. Nearly a million subjects of the empire were killed. More than 2 percent of the United Kingdom’s entire population was dead by the time the guns were finally silenced. Nearly an entire generation of men lost.  

Our losses were a pittance by comparison. More than 116,000 Americans died “over there,” something like 20 times fewer fatalities as a percentage of our population compared to Britain. 

You may notice that British people wear paper poppies on their lapels in the month of November to commemorate Armistice Day when, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the senseless, industrialized slaughter finally was allowed to end. 

We celebrate our Veterans Day at the same time, but it has a very different meaning for us than it does to our British cousins. We use that day to thank our neighbors who served. They are called to stand up at church or the football game to hear our grateful applause. We celebrate the living. They mourn the dead of a million soldiers who fought with ancient methods against modern means. 

The poppies are from another war poem, “In Flanders Fields,” by Royal Army surgeon John McRae after the battle of Ypres in Belgium.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow//Between the crosses, row on row,// That mark our place; and in the sky//The larks, still bravely singing, fly//Scarce heard amid the guns below.//We are the Dead. Short days ago//We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,//Loved and were loved, and now we lie,//In Flanders fields.”

For Americans under 35, there is an answer to Veterans Day. Are you a U.S. citizen or permanent resident? Do you have a high school diploma or the equivalent? Do you meet medical, moral and physical requirements? Your local recruiter would be happy to talk.

But there isn’t such an answer for Britons to Armistice Day. 

There will, Lord hear our prayer, never be another war like those that devastated the Western world in the first half of the last century. Modern technology and techniques have changed the way we fight, and the existence of nuclear weapons has for more than 70 years ensured that great powers avoid direct confrontations.

Nov. 11 is a day for Americans to celebrate those who served. It is a day for the British to mourn the dead.

We have our own day for that.

Memorial Day is many things in our culture: The unofficial start of summer, a much-needed long weekend and a good time to buy a mattress. But its purpose is clear in its name: To lift high the memory of our own war dead. 

Memorial Day grew out of Decoration Day, when the survivors and widows of the Civil War would festoon the graves of those killed in our own great, tragic war.

The war to end slavery and preserve the union claimed nearly 700,000 lives, a proportion of our population that time roughly equivalent to the losses Britain suffered in World War I. 

And like the Great War, the slaughter was industrial in scale. There were more than 12,000 casualties before noon at the Battle of Antietam alone. 

This weekend is the time for Americans to pause over a hard truth: The freedom and prosperity we enjoy was bought with blood. More than 1.3 million Americans have died in conflicts back to the revolution that made us a nation. That’s about the population of Dallas. And they too shall not grow old.

Because we are free, we can observe Memorial Day any way we choose. And life is indeed for the living, so we should enjoy these first ardent rays of the summer sun. 

But we would suggest that you make some room in your playlist amid the dragon-fired bodice rippers for Jackson’s masterful work. You will find it engrossing for sure, but it may also stir in you a fresh desire to be the kind of citizen who would be worthy of their sacrifices.

[Ed. note: In observance of Memorial Day, the Halftime Report will not be published on Monday.
   
THE RULEBOOK: EQUAL REPRESENTATION 
“Taking each State by itself, its laws are the same, and its interests but little diversified. A few men, therefore, will possess all the knowledge requisite for a proper representation of them.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 56

TIME OUT: BRIGHT STARS
Atlantic: “The first stars ignited billions of years ago… The stars blazed until they exploded in bursts powerful enough to forge heavy chemical elements. … The new elements found their way into other stars, and then planets, and, eventually, life. It’s a remarkable cosmic tale, with a recent twist. Some of the stardust has managed to become sentient, work out its own history, and use that knowledge to better understand the stars. Astronomers know stars so well, in fact, that they can tell when one doesn’t belong—when it’s migrated to our galaxy from a completely different one. Today astronomers study the chemical compositions of stars near and far… Astronomers take starlight, absorbed and collected by telescopes, and break it down into its constituent lines, same as a prism of glass stretches light into the colors of the rainbow. These lines correspond to different elements, from the light kind … to the heavy stuff…”

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

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 41.6 percent
Average disapproval: 53.2 percent
Net Score: -11.6 points
Change from one week ago: down 4.2 points 
[Average includes: CBS News: 41% approve – 52% disapprove; Monmouth University: 41% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve – 53% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve – 52% disapprove.]

THE GOP’S LONG GAME TO DIMINISH BIDEN
Vanity Fair: “Welcome to the plot to take down Joe Biden, the 2020 candidate most feared by President Donald Trump and the Republican insiders working to re-elect him. For years, decades really, Biden was largely written off as a buffoon. … After a couple years lashed to the Trump merry-go-round, Uncle Joe looks like the steady, centrist status quo. … With laser-like precision, the G.O.P. machine plans to expose it all… Republicans want to rewind the clock and re-write the script, recasting Biden as the rhetorically cringe-worthy second coming of Crooked Hillary, responsible for nearly everything that’s gone wrong in Washington during Biden’s 50 years walking the corridors of power. To pull it off, the R.N.C., working hand in hand with the Trump campaign, has assembled perhaps its largest-ever war room, with approximately six to seven operatives working in opposition research and four to five conducting near ‘round-the-clock rapid media response. The effort—featuring public document requests and other standards of the dirt-digging trade—has been well underway since last year.”

Bill Weld gets Trumpian with Trump – ABC News: “President Donald Trump’s lone Republican primary challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, ratcheted up his attacks on the president Tuesday night. Speaking at the first in a series of Kennedy Institute events focused on the 2020 election cycle, Weld levied a number of his harshest verbal jabs yet, saying earlier this week that the president preferred an ‘Aryan nation.’ ‘I celebrate that America has always been a melting pot,’ Weld said at the speaking event on Tuesday. ‘It seems he would prefer an Aryan nation.’ … When asked to explain what specifically he meant by ‘Aryan nation,’ Weld told ABC News that he believes the president ‘would prefer a nation with no immigrants.’ The comment, which appeared to be a step further than Weld had gone with past attacks aimed at the president, even elicited a justification from the long-shot candidate himself.”

HOW SOCIALIST BERNIE BECAME BERNIE THE MILLIONAIRE
Politico: “Based, though, on a deeper examination of [Bernie Sanders’] financial disclosures, his tax returns, property records in Washington and Vermont and scarcely leafed-through scraps of his financial papers housed here at UVM, Sanders’ current financial portrait is not only some stroke-of-luck windfall. It’s also the product (with the help of his wife) of decades of planning. The upward trajectory from that jalopy of his to his relative riches now—as off-brand as it is for a man who once said he had ‘no great desire to be rich’—is the product of years of middle-class striving, replete with credit card debt, real estate upgrades and an array of investment funds and retirement accounts. As an immigrant’s son who started close to the bottom and has ended up nearer to the top, Sanders has a narrative arc that would form the backbone of the campaign story of almost any other candidate. But it’s more complicated for him. There’s never been anybody like Sanders in the modern political history of this country—somebody who made a career out of haranguing millionaires … and who is now a millionaire himself.”

Castro speaks out against Trump’s merit immigration plan – NPR: “Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro has a plan to change immigration policy in the U.S. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary wants to address immigrant detention, family reunification and the immigration court system. In stark contrast to current policy, he also wants to decriminalize crossing the border illegally, a plan he outlined in a Medium post in April. ‘For a long time in this country we actually did not treat crossing the border as a criminal act. We treated it as a civil violation,’ Castro told NPR. ‘A lot of the problems that we see in the system today flared up after we started treating it as a criminal offense.’

PHONY PELOSI VIDEO BLOWS UP ON RIGHT WINGERS 
WaPo: “Distorted videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), altered to make her sound as if she’s drunkenly slurring her words, are spreading rapidly across social media, highlighting how political disinformation that clouds public understanding can now grow at the speed of the Web. The video of Pelosi’s onstage speech Wednesday at a Center for American Progress event, in which she said President Trump’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations was tantamount to a ‘coverup,’ was subtly edited to make her voice sound garbled and warped. It was then circulated widely across Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. One version, posted by the conservative Facebook page Politics WatchDog, had been viewed more than 2 million times by Thursday night, been shared more than 45,000 times, and garnered 23,000 comments with users calling her ‘drunk’ and ‘a babbling mess.’ The origin of the altered video remains unclear…”

Giuliani tweets unclear apology for sharing the video – WashTimes: “Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s attorney, gave a confusing statement Friday after sharing and deleting a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday that was doctored to display her as inarticulate. ‘Ivesssapology for a video which is allegedly is a caricature of an otherwise halting speech pattern, she should first stop, and apologize for, saying the President needs an ‘intervention.’ Are,’ Mr. Giuliani tweeted along with a gif of a basketball game celebration, which was screenshotted by Mediaite. Mr. Giuliani followed it up with another tweet that makes his point better. ‘Nancy Pelosi wants an apology for a caricature exaggerating her already halting speech pattern. First she should withdraw her charge which hurts our entire nation when she says the President needs an ‘intervention. ‘People who live in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones,’’ he tweeted.”

TRUMP GIVES BARR AUTHORITY OVER CLASSIFIED RUSSIA DOCS
AP: “President Donald Trump has granted Attorney General William Barr new powers to review and potentially release classified information related to the origins of the Russia investigation, a move aimed at accelerating Barr’s inquiry into whether U.S. officials improperly surveilled Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump on Thursday directed the U.S. intelligence community to ‘quickly and fully cooperate’ with Barr’s investigation of the origins of the multiyear probe of whether his campaign colluded with Russia. Former intelligence officials and Democratic lawmakers criticized Trump’s move, which marked an escalation in his efforts to ‘investigate the investigators’ as he works to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Trump’s announcement came amid mounting Democratic calls to bring impeachment proceedings against him.”

Rep. Nadler says Mueller willing to do private testimony – NBC News: “Special counsel Robert Mueller has expressed interest in giving private testimony to Congress about his two-year investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. Mueller has told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler that he is willing to make a public opening statement, but leave his testimony behind closed doors, Nadler said on ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ Thursday night. Nadler, D-N.Y., has made repeated efforts for Mueller to speak in front of Congress. If Mueller did proceed with private testimony on his report, the public would get a transcript, Nadler said.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Pelosi makes it to recess, doesn’t cave to impeachment pressures – Politico

UK PM Theresa May announces resignation amid fury over Brexit – Fox News

Trump unveils a second, $16 billion bailout for farmers hit by his trade war – WSJ

AUDIBLE: LET THE GAMES BEGIN 
“When he engages in the general, it will be like tagging Hulk Hogan into the ring.” –Rep. Eric Swalwell talking about what he expects when President Obama gets involved in the general election. 

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with presidential candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET. 

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris and Brianna, Thank you for sharing the story of ‘Crechale’s Cafe’s Highway Legacy’ by John Edge. This has to be more than serendipitous as my wife and I have a July trip planned to Jackson MS. We will be visiting to see our son umpire the MiLB series between Jackson Generals v Pensacola Blue Wahoos. I promise to email a review of both Crechale’s and the ballpark’s fare.” – Dan Burch, Turlock, Calif.

[Ed. note: Oh good! Ours is a world filled with delights for those willing to see them. But little could ever surpass a truly great onion ring.]

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

*AHEM* A CLEAN GETAWAY 
Boston Globe: “When Nate Roman came home from work on May 15, he could tell that a stranger had been in his house. Roman, 44, lives in a single-family home on a typical suburban tree-lined street in Marlborough. He said it’s possible that he forgot to lock his back door, because whoever entered his house didn’t break anything to gain entry. But here’s the strange part: whoever ventured into his home didn’t take anything. They just thoroughly cleaned his house. Roman looked around and saw that they neatly made the beds, vacuumed the rugs, and scrubbed the toilets. … Marlborough Police Sergeant Daniel Campbell said the department hasn’t heard of any other situations like this one. … Roman said he still doesn’t know who did it. The best theory he could come up with is that a housekeeping service mistakenly went to the wrong address and showed up at his house.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The premise of a free market is that people can withhold their labor if they find the conditions under which they work intolerable.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for 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.

Source: Fox News Politics

The Trump administration proposed revoking Obama-era discrimination protections for transgender people in health care on Friday, a move LGBT groups fear will result in some Americans being denied needed medical treatment.

The Health and Human Services Department released a proposed regulation that in effect says “gender identity” is not protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care.

HUD SECRETARY CARSON WANTS TO ROLL BACK OBAMA MANDATE ON GENDER IDENTITY AT HOMELESS SHELTERS

It fits into a backdrop of administration actions to limit or move back some of the new recognition for LGBT people in areas ranging from military service to housing.

“The actions today are part and parcel of this administration’s efforts to erase LGBTQ people from federal regulations and to undermine nondiscrimination protections across the board,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney on health care at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization representing LGBT people.

But the HHS official overseeing the writing of the new regulation said transgender patients would continue to be protected by other federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Roger Severino, who heads the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “We intend to fully enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination.”

Asked about the charge that the administration has opened the door to discrimination against transgender people seeking needed medical care of any type, Severino responded, “I don’t want to see that happen.”

The Trump administration’s proposed rule reverses the Obama administration, which concluded that the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination section does indeed protect transgender people seeking health care services.

Friday’s action had been expected by activists on both sides of the nation’s social issues divide. Trump’s religious conservative base has argued that the Obama administration stretched the meaning of “sex discrimination” when it included gender identity as a protected class. Civil rights and LGBT groups say that view is logically and legally flawed.

The proposed rule change is unlikely to have immediate consequences beyond the realm of political and legal debate. It faces a 60-comment period and another layer of review before it can be finalized. Court challenges are expected.

“Despite the goals of this White House … courts have been clear for decades that prohibitions on sex discrimination encompass discrimination against transgender individuals,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director with the American Civil Liberties Union. Her organization, she added, will challenge the proposal in court.

Melling said the potential impact of the proposed rule goes beyond transgender people and could also subject women to discrimination for seeking or having had an abortion. The proposal would remove “termination of pregnancy” as grounds for making a legal claim of sex discrimination in health care.

Abortion opponents had argued that the Obama regulation could be construed to make a legal argument for federal funding of abortions.

In a twist, the rule would also affect the notices that millions of patients get in multiple languages about their rights to translation services. Such notices often come with insurer “explanation of benefits” forms. The Trump administration says the notice requirement has become a needless burden on health care providers, requiring billions of paper notices to be mailed annually at an estimated five-year cost of $3.2 billion.

HHS official Severino said that the Trump administration is going back to the literal text of the ACA’s anti-discrimination law to correct what it sees as an overly broad interpretation.

The Obama rule dates to a time when LGBT people gained political and social recognition. But a federal judge in Texas said the rule went too far by concluding that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination, which is forbidden by civil rights laws.

Under the original rule, a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions. The rule was meant to carry out the anti-discrimination section of the ACA, which bars sex discrimination in health care but does not use the term “gender identity.”

In the Texas case, a Catholic hospital system, several states and a Christian medical association argued that the rule went beyond the law as written and would coerce providers to act against their medical judgment and religious beliefs.

Severino also said that the proposed rule does not come with a new definition of a person’s sex. Earlier, a leaked internal document suggested the administration was debating whether to issue an immutable definition of sex, as based on a person’s genital organs at birth.

Source: Fox News Politics

Democrats should embrace identity politics rather than running away from the issue, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said on Wednesday.

“I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are, and it’s exactly how we won,” she told an audience at event held by the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.

She pointed to efforts in Florida and Georgia where, she indicated, Democrats attracted new voters.

Her comments came as the party wrestled with how moderate it should appear before the general election in 2020. Conservatives have criticized identity politics as a way of fragmenting the electorate according to their skin color and other attributes.

But according to Abrams, identity politics helped her party connect with voters.

“When we refuse to engage in the conversation of identity politics, when we refuse to acknowledge that we see you and we understand you and we understand the barriers that you face, then what we are met with is a lack of trust,” she said.

HEMINGWAY ON GILLIBRAND’S ‘IDENTITY POLITICS’ PUSH: ‘COME UP WITH A BETTER GIMMICK THAN BEING YOUNG AND A WOMAN’

She also pushed back on criticism of the tactic, arguing that detractors used the term “identity politics” as a “dog whistle.”

“The notion of identity politics has been peddled for the last 10 years, and it’s been used as a dog whistle to say that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the new voices coming into progress,” she said.

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“We have to recognize that the internal threat we face is a fear of who we are,” she said.

Abrams caught scrutiny after she refused to concede her loss in the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, citing allegations of voter suppression.

She has been outspoken about voter suppression and indicated she might throw her hat in the ring for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Source: Fox News Politics


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