Saturday, April 20, 2019
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Mueller submits long-awaited Russia probe report

Robert Mueller submits report to Attorney General William Barr

Special counsel Robert Mueller completes his report on the Russian investigation; chief White House correspondent John Roberts and chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge report from Washington.


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On the roster: Mueller submits long-awaited Russia probe report - Poll: Winning is focus for Dems, not ideology in 2020 - House Dems’ campaign arm seeks primary truce - Audible: Everybody’s gone gaga - He was just trying to get to Electric Avenue 

MUELLER SUBMITS LONG-AWAITED RUSSIA PROBE REPORT
Fox News: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted to Attorney General Bill Barr his long-awaited report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion with Trump associates -- marking the end of the politically explosive probe and the beginning of a new battle over its contents and implications. The report was delivered earlier Friday afternoon to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office and it was delivered to Barr’s office within minutes, a senior DOJ official told Fox News. The White House was notified that the DOJ had received the report around 4:45 p.m., before lawmakers on Capitol Hill were informed. Both Barr and Rosenstein have seen the report, according to a senior DOJ official. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted following the report's drop. ‘The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course,’ she said. ‘The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report.’ Several lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., received a letter about the report's drop.”

THE RULEBOOK: PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
“Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion of this system, the most decisive one might be found in its absolute prohibition of titles of nobility, both under the federal and the State governments; and in its express guaranty of the republican form to each of the latter.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 39

TIME OUT: A DIFFERENT PRESIDENTIAL RECORD  
AJC: “When JimmyCarter left office in 1981 … a friend pointed out that Carter, at the tender age of 56, could expect to live at least until 80-years-old. … March 22, 2019, marks yet another milestone. While it is not his birthday, Carter becomes the oldest living former president in United States history. At the age of 94 years and 172 days, he passes George H.W. Bush, who was 94 years, 171 days when he died last November. ‘We at the Carter Center sure are rooting for him and are grateful for his long life of service that has benefited millions of the world’s poorest people,’ the center said in a statement. … Already, Carter had set for presidential record for living the longest number of years out of office, at 38 plus. But then again, he started the job young. When he was elected in 1976, Carter was only 52-years-old, making him the 17th youngest elected president in history.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
42.4 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -10.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.8 points 
[Average includes: USA Today/Suffolk: 48% approve - 49% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Monmouth University: 44% approve - 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 55% disapprove.]

POLL: WINNING IS FOCUS FOR DEMS, NOT IDEOLOGY IN 2020
USA Today: “As the 2020 presidential field takes shape, Democratic voters by double digits say they are more interested in nominating a candidate who can defeat President Trump than one they agree with most on the issues, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds. By 55-35 percent, the Democrats surveyed endorse electability over ideological purity even though they also embrace progressive priorities such as the Green New Deal. They are even inclined to be open to a nominee who espouses socialism. The debate over balancing policy positions with electoral appeal is always part of the calculation in campaigns. Almost a year before the Iowa caucuses open the nominating contests, it has taken on particular intensity as a sprawling field jockeys to challenge a Republican president who inflames the opposition. … Among Democratic and independent voters combined, sentiment was more closely divided: 48 percent say they want the Democratic Party to nominate ‘a candidate who can win, even if different from my priorities,’ while 38 percent prefer ‘a candidate in line with my priorities, even if it is harder to win.’”

Trump is ready, revealing his ‘dream’ 2020 rival - Fox News: “President Trump, in an extensive interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, accused Democrats embracing ideas like court-packing and the Green New Deal of becoming ‘radicalized’ -- while voicing confidence as he sized up the ever-expanding field of potential 2020 opponents. The president mocked the Democratic contenders for ‘saying a lot of weird things,’ calling the Green New Deal ‘the most preposterous thing’ and blasting Beto O’Rourke’s idea of taking down sections of border wall. But asked which candidate in the massive field he'd truly like to run against in 2020, Trump threw out a few names: ‘I mean, I’d love to have [Joe] Biden. I’d love to have Bernie [Sanders], I’d love to have Beto,’ he said, adding: ‘I mean, Beto seems to be the one the press has chosen. The press seems to have chosen Beto. ... When I watch Beto, I say we could dream about that.’”

Drucker: ‘Republicans resigned to Trump losing 2020 popular vote’ - WashEx: “Senior Republicans are resigned to President Trump losing the popular vote in 2020, conceding the limits of the flamboyant incumbent’s political appeal and revealing just how central the Electoral College has become to the party’s White House prospects. Some Republicans say the problem is Trump's populist brand of partisan grievance. It's an attitude tailor-made for the Electoral College in the current era of regionally Balkanized politics, but anathema to attracting a broad, national coalition that can win the most votes, as past presidents did when seeking re-election amid a booming economy. Others argue that neither Trump, nor possibly any Republican, could win the popular vote when most big states are overwhelmingly liberal. … If Trump wins a second term without the popular vote, it would mark the first time in American history that the candidate who finished second in overall votes won consecutive presidential elections.”

What’s Beto all about? - WaPo: “In his first blitz as a candidate for president, O’Rourke has dealt with nagging questions — Is a failed Senate candidate ready for the presidency? Is he serious about policy? — with real-time prose. Other candidates talk in applause lines, while O’Rourke speaks in paragraphs, with lots of asides and emphasis and aphorisms. The result (so far) is the first Democratic campaign to really shake up this race since Kamala Harris’s enormous early crowds surprised her rivals and boosted her in public polls. It is not like any other campaign — by design. He’s still figuring this whole thing out. More than any other candidate for the presidency, O’Rourke admits that he does not have all the answers and will get things wrong. He thanks crowds for telling him what he did not know. He thanks reporters for being patient with him — after some complaints about access in Iowa, he began to hold 10- to 15-minute news conferences after nearly every event.”

Donors shy from Biden - CNBC: “Several top Democratic donors have told former Vice President Joe Biden that they won’t help him raise funds in the early stages of the party’s 2020 presidential primary, CNBC has learned. Their reason: skepticism that Biden actually can win the Democratic primary. Biden, who has yet to announce whether he will run, has reached out to leading financiers over the past week to see whether they will help him raise money for a presidential run. … However, during those calls, some high-profile donors told Biden that they will not commit to bundling for him, at least in the early stages of the primary, said the people, who declined to be named. The donors told Biden they’re not yet convinced he can overtake the younger, more diverse and progressive field, and that they are going to wait to see how he competes in the race, the people added.”

Many 2020 Dems will not attend AIPAC summit - AP: “Multiple Democratic presidential candidates said Thursday that they won’t attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference in Washington next week. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. KirstenGillibrand of New York, are among the 2020 contenders who have decided not to attend. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering an independent bid for president, will also avoid the AIPAC conference. It comes as the liberal advocacy group MoveOn has called on Democratic presidential candidates to skip this year’s policy conference, saying AIPAC had tried to thwart the Iran nuclear deal and had employed ‘anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric.’ By not attending, the Democratic candidates can demonstrate their progressive bona fides in an increasingly crowded 2020 field.”

HOUSE DEMS’ CAMPAIGN ARM SEEKS PRIMARY TRUCE 
National Journal: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is making an early move to deter primary challenges against sitting incumbents in the caucus with a new policy aimed in part at protecting the new majority. The campaign arm on Friday sent out a list of hiring standards to more than 100 political firms, including one provision that made clear it will neither contract with nor recommend to House candidates any political vendors that work to oust sitting members of Congress. That offers key protection to the caucus’s moderate members in battleground seats, where House control will be won or lost. It is intended to help stymie attempts by insurgent progressive groups who plan to primary incumbents deemed insufficiently liberal on key issues, but also to shield members of the party's ascendant liberal wing who represent safe Democratic territory and could face intraparty challenges of their own.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Marine Corps commandant: Border deployments an ‘unacceptable risk’ - LAT

Cornyn, Joaquin Castro already locking horns ahead of potential 2020 Senate race Dallas Morning News

Meet the legislative linebackers from the NFL Roll Call

Charles Lane: ‘Red America and blue America depend on each other. That’s how it should be.’ - WaPo

Dems want Trump’s business tax filings as well as his personal tax returns - Politico

AUDIBLE: EVERYBODY’S GONE GAGA 
“It’s like waiting for a baby… If the report is good, I’ll give out cigars.” – Rudy Giuliani talking about the wait for the Mueller report to the WaPo in a phone interview on Friday. 

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn. 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
“It would be very helpful, given all the talk about eliminating the Electoral College, if you could enlighten us regarding what would be required to change it. Most of the angst about this situation seems to stem from the perception of ‘the unfairness’ of it all, when I believe the original purpose was to ensure that all states got an appropriate voice. The ‘popular’ vote for Hillary came from a few very populous places and was not representative of the country as a whole. In addition, as a number of states have passed legislation to assign all their delegates to the popular vote as an ‘end run’, as it were, around the Constitution, I would guess that would be challengeable legally and ultimately end up going through the constitutional process I initially requested that you elucidate.” – Michael McEvoy, Houston

[Ed. note: The way to eliminate or alter the Electoral College is straight forward but hard: Amend the Constitution. A number of Democratic leaning states, however, have a plan to attack the Constitution and eliminate the Electoral College without putting the matter before all 50 states. Thirteen states have joined a compact in which they have agreed to award their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote, regardless of how their citizens cast their ballots. This deal would kick in once the states with the combined total of 270 electoral votes have joined the compact. Much that is lost in the discussion about the Electoral College is its actual purpose. We tend to see it as a practical, political matter: Something that is good for Republicans and bad for Democrats. The Electoral College, though, is more about the balance of power than it is about partisan control. Taking away the value of states as individual political units would further decrease their ability to counterbalance the national government. Remember Madison’s belief that ambition must be made to counteract ambition. There is very little left in the way of the federal government’s ambitions, regardless of who is in power.]

“I am a long time and very satisfied subscriber to ‘Halftime Report’ and was recently traveling in the New Zealand and Australia area and at times, WiFi was spotty or nonexistent and thus it was difficult to keep up with our news.  Consequently, I have an even greater appreciation for the daily content of your ‘note’ as I was able to stay current with our political news and thus, indirectly with other happenings… I looked forward to each opportunity to receive emails and sit back and catchup. One of our guides in Australia told us about their mandated voting laws which I found to be very interesting… the voting age is 18 and if a person neglects to vote, they are fined and possibly face a day in court.  The fine for a first offense is $20.00 which is not an exorbitant amount of money but reports have noted that it does seem to be enough of an incentive to achieve a very high percentage of voter turnout at election time. I also subscribe to the ‘Halftime Report’ on Fox Nation and never fail to pick up an ‘I didn’t know or realize that’ not to mention the comfortable and fun conversation between you while ‘Brainstorming with Stirewalt’!” – Patricia White, North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

[Ed. note: In the spirit of full disclosure, Ms. White, I think our readers should know that you are the grandmother of our own dear Brianna. But that’s a bias I can definitely allow here! Many Americans have observed approvingly of Australia’s compulsory voting regime. If you think what’s wrong with our politics is that not enough people are participating, then one can see why. I look at it a little differently. The voting franchise is an extraordinary privilege, one that history would rightly regard as unusual. In the United States, we have had universal suffrage since the 1920s by law and the 1960s in reality. It’s extraordinary compared to most of history and much of the world today. If you cannot be bothered to exercise so great a privilege, why on earth would I want you to vote? I think the problem that we have traces its roots to a lack of civics education in which too few Americans understand the value of their votes and an increasingly jumbled political calendar. I have long advocated for making Election Day a federal and national holiday while also curtailing the ever-extending early voting calendar and mail-in balloting. I would like to see a return to a communitarian ethic for American elections. Thank you for your thoughtful question, your high praise and for helping to make such a fine colleague as your granddaughter.]

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HE WAS JUST TRYING TO GET TO ELECTRIC AVENUE 
KABC: “A slow-speed chase through the San Fernando Valley ended with the suspect breakdancing as officers held him at gunpoint. The chase began in Calabasas when California Highway Patrol officers said a reckless driver failed to yield to commands to stop. The driver led officers on a chase over the 101 Freeway through the San Fernando Valley, north on the 405 Freeway and east onto the 118 Freeway. The suspect mostly drove at speeds under 60 mph, making no evasive maneuvers to escape the officers but also declining to pull over. He slowed to about 20 mph on the 118 and then exited on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Officers followed closely behind and were finally able to spin out his vehicle with a PIT maneuver in the Pacoima area. He got out of the car and complied with officers' orders, but then at one point began breakdancing.” 

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The conventional perception, incessantly repeated by Democrats and the media, is that Washington dysfunction is the work of the Party of No.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Nov. 6, 2014. 

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.

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