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On the roster: Bidens acknowledge ethics woes – Time Out: Boom – Ambassador lays Ukraine claims off on Trump – Audible: Blammo – Didn’t mean to horn in on you
BIDENS ACKNOWLEDGE ETHICS WOES
NYT: “Hunter Biden, whose overseas business dealings have drawn relentless attacks from President Trump and posed a threat to the candidacy of his father, Joseph R. Biden Jr., intends to step down from the board of a Chinese company, BHR, by the end of the month, his lawyer said on Sunday, a move his father later lauded in a forceful defense of his son’s integrity. The lawyer also said in a statement that if Mr. Biden were to be elected president, his son would ‘agree not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign-owned companies.’ The decision is the first action the pro-Biden camp has taken that appears to acknowledge the extent to which Hunter Biden’s business practices have created an untenable problem for his father’s 2020 campaign. With the fourth Democratic primary debate only two days away … Mr. Biden’s lower-polling Democratic rivals have suggested his son’s work overseas raises questions about conflict of interest.”
Rolls out ethics, campaign finance plan in reply – Reuters: “Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden would look to ban private money from federal elections, his campaign said on Monday in a plan for government ethics that doubled as an attack on President Donald Trump. … The former U.S. vice president is promising to match individual donations for elections with government funding, and to block cash from private sources. Biden would also establish a new commission to enforce anti-corruption laws, bar lobbying by foreign governments and require candidates to disclose their tax returns.”
Dems still hedging on Warren – NYT: “Senator Elizabeth Warren has built her following in part by taking pictures with thousands of voters deep into evening after campaign events, but her dinner audience [in Washington] one night last month was far smaller. And Ms. Warren’s guests were more interested in hearing, and politely challenging, her campaign pitch… Addressing a few dozen members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus at a Chinese restaurant a few blocks from the Capitol, she laid out her case… But just under a month since the family-style meal, the Massachusetts senator has the same small number of endorsements from congressional colleagues beyond her home state as she did beforehand: three. … [H]er growing crowd sizes, soaring fund-raising and surge to the top of a number of national and early-state polls only shine a brighter light on one of the most revealing elements of this primary: the widening gap between the preferences of many Democratic voters and the lawmakers who represent them.”
Trump said to still want Warren – Axios: “President Trump’s allies still fear a general election matchup against a banged-up Joe Biden more than a run against an invigorated Elizabeth Warren, people close to the president tell Axios. Warren has surpassed Biden in some primary polls, seemingly helped by the early coverage of Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories involving Biden and his son Hunter. And a Fox News poll now shows Biden and Warren each would lead Trump, 50% to 40%. … Several advisers in Trumpworld told [Axios] that Warren is arguably a better candidate in terms of being quick on her feet and prepared on a debate stage. But those advisers say her liberal stances on some issues and her ‘likeability’ problem with segments of general election voters make her weaker against Trump than even a Biden hindered by gaffes, generational dissonances and a son with personal drama and a lobbying record.”
Sanders slams Warren as ‘capitalist’ – Fox News: “Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders … is seeking to cut into the support of his rival by dismissing her as a ‘capitalist.’ ‘There are differences between Elizabeth and myself,’ Sanders said during an interview Sunday on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ ‘Elizabeth I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not.’ The comments come amid a rise in socialism in the Democratic Party, as candidates become more willing to openly embrace socialism over capitalism. It also follows polling showing that Democrats now view socialism more positively than they do capitalism. Last year, when asked if she was a capitalist, Warren reportedly said, ‘I am a capitalist to my bones.’ Sanders explained he is not a capitalist because he ‘will not tolerate for one second the kind of greed and corruption and income and wealth inequality and so much suffering that is going on in this country today, which is unnecessary.’”
THE RULEBOOK: CAREFUL, NOW
“The hope of impunity is a strong incitement to sedition; the dread of punishment, a proportionably strong discouragement to it.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 27
TIME OUT: BOOM
History: “[On this day 72 years ago] U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound. Yeager, born in Myra, West Virginia, in 1923, was a combat fighter during World War II and flew 64 missions over Europe. He shot down 13 German planes and was himself shot down over France, but he escaped capture with the assistance of the French Underground. After the war, he was among several volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight. … Yeager flew the X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California. The X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a B-29 aircraft and then released through the bomb bay, rocketing to 40,000 feet and exceeding 662 miles per hour (the sound barrier at that altitude). The rocket plane, nicknamed ‘Glamorous Glennis,’ was designed with thin, unswept wings and a streamlined fuselage modeled after a .50-caliber bullet.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 28 points (↑ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Warren: 26.2 points (↑ 1.6 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 14.4 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 5.4 points (↓ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Harris: 4.2 points (↓ 0.4 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Fox News, Quinnipiac University, IBD, Monmouth University and NBC News/WSJ.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 53.4 percent
Net Score: -10.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 2.4 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve – 55% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve – 54% disapprove.]
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AMBASSADOR LAYS UKRAINE CLAIMS OFF ON TRUMP
AP: “A U.S. ambassador is expected to tell Congress that his text message reassuring another envoy that there was no quid pro quo in their interactions with Ukraine was based solely on what President Donald Trump told him, according to a person familiar with his coming testimony in the impeachment probe. Gordon Sondland, Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the European Union, is among administration officials being subpoenaed to appear on Capitol Hill this week against the wishes of the White House.”
Former top Russia aide talks, too – Politico: “President Donald Trump’s former top Russia aide arrived on Capitol Hill Monday to testify before House impeachment investigators, as Democrats accelerate efforts to unearth the facts of Rudy Giuliani’s shadow diplomacy with top Ukrainian officials. Democrats view Fiona Hill’s closed-door testimony as critical to their understanding of the extent to which Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, bypassed official U.S. government channels by pressuring Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s possible opponent in the 2020 presidential election.”
Hairy situation: Inside the botched effort to hire Trey Gowdy – NYT: “For 24 hours last week, Trey Gowdy, the former South Carolina congressman best known for leading congressional investigations of Hillary Clinton, was the new face of President Trump’s outside legal defense and a symbol of a streamlined effort to respond to a fast-moving impeachment inquiry. A day later, the arrangement fell apart, with lobbying rules prohibiting Mr. Gowdy from starting until January, possibly after the inquiry is over. Now, according to two people familiar with events, Mr. Gowdy is never expected to join the team. And Trump advisers are back to square one, searching for a different lawyer.”
House impeachment roadmap shaping up – Axios: “Ahead of this week’s subpoenas and depositions, new documents obtained by Axios show how Democrats are taking the impeachment inquiry in two tightly focused directions: Ukraine and obstruction of justice. Why it matters: There are new temptations for Democrats to broaden the scope of their inquiry after developments last week including President Trump’s gift to Turkey, new questions about coordination with the Chinese over Hunter Biden, and the dramatic airport arrests of two of Rudy Giuliani’s associates with Eastern European backgrounds and their indictments on campaign finance violations. But for now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be sticking with her instincts to keep the probe tight and as simple as possible for Americans to understand.”
RNC spends to tweak vulnerable House Dems on impeachment – McClatchy: “Republicans are planning to target Democrats in swing districts with a new round of ads on impeachment this week as lawmakers return from their fall recess. The Republican National Committee will spend $350,000 on a multi-media buy as part of a strategy that includes digital ads, text messages and phone calls starting Tuesday calling on Democratic House members to ‘stop the madness.’ The effort is primarily targeted at the 31 Democrats in districts President Donald Trump carried in 2016. ‘We’ll emphasize it’s time to move on,’ RNC spokesman Rick Gorka told McClatchy. ‘There are real issues they could be working on, anything but this.’ Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Georgia, who supports an impeachment inquiry, is one of the GOP targets.”
Trump administration scrambles as U.S. troops are withdrawn from Syria – WaPo
Trump, Pence plan trips to stump for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin – Politico
Will Supremes tackle ‘faithless electors’ ahead of 2020? – NYT
“I get it. He needs to pick a fight in order to stay relevant.” – Mayor Pete Buttigieg said about his gun fight with Beto O’Rourke in the latest episode of the Snapchat show Good Luck America.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Was Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch an Obama appointee or a Trump appointee? If she was a holdover from the Obama years doesn’t make a little bit of sense for Trump to do some housecleaning? From what I understand some Ambassador appointments are given to friends and people who do something (in the campaign) to help the president get into office.” – Mary Blanton, Alpharetta, Ga.
[Ed. note: There are all different kinds of ambassadors, Ms. Blanton. There are two main categories: political appointees and career diplomats. Among the “political” there are two broad groups: Positions of such import that presidents want trusted confidantes and loyalists. Then there are postings to places so safe and stable that they can be doled out to donors and key supporters as patronage plums. The divide on the “career” side is similar. Some are to places of little strategic importance but are so poor and/or remote that fat cats wouldn’t want to perch there. But many are to places where the work is just too sensitive to risk amateurism. Our ambassadors face terrible risks on a regular basis in places around the world where, but do so in service of crucial American goals. We want top people with deep knowledge of the language, culture and history of places like Iraq, Turkey and, yes, Ukraine, to serve in such posts. Yovanovitch is one of these folks. She was appointed to her former post by then-President Obama. But before that, George W. Bush appointed her to the strategically important former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. She started in the Foreign Service in 1986. She’s a lifer. So while it’s true that she was an Obama appointee, it’s probably better to think of her as a product of our Foreign Service system more than anything else.]
“I would love to hear your reaction to the following idea: There should be a law that the federal government cannot tax any citizen at a rate in excess of 33 1/3%. This is to prevent any candidate from getting votes by simply suggesting that they will tax ‘the rich’ at 50%, 60% or 70%. Low income people are apt to vote for those candidates for the wrong reason. What say you?” – Ted Boers, Grand Rapids, Mich.
[Ed. note: I hear you, Mr. Boers, but you’d have to quickly come up with a LOT of additional dough. Rich people – the 40 percent of highest earners – pay something like 70 percent of all the taxes. If you knock down the two top tax rates – 37 percent and 35 percent – that would be a lot of money off the table. Leaving aside that practical consideration, there’s this one: You’d really need a constitutional amendment to do what you’re describing. It’s very hard to imagine getting supermajority support for something that would immediately be unpopular with the bottom 60 percent of earners. In the coming fiscal disasters awaiting America, we’re going to have some tough fights over taxes and spending – the very fights lawmakers have been pushing off for decades. It’s going to be ugly and weird and a number of proposals once considered unthinkable will suddenly sound mainstream. Fiscal conservatives would probably do better to get ready for that moment.]
“In quite deservedly praising Cardinal shortstop Paul DeJong you parenthetically asked ‘(whoever heard of a slugger shortstop?).’ Does the name Ernie (Let’s play two) Banks ring a bell? In the four years from 1957 through 1960 when he was the Cubs regular shortstop he hit 176 home runs (yearly average 44), leading the league twice. Over that same period, he drove in 491 runs (yearly average 123), again twice leading the league. He wasn’t just an offensive force, winning a Gold Glove for his defensive play in 1960. Additionally, he was the National League Most Valuable Player in both 1958 and 1959 despite playing for a sorry team that in both years finished fifth in an eight team league. So, to answer your question — I have, as have the many others who undoubtedly have written to point out your egregious error. (I still love you).” – Bob Foys, Chicago
[Ed. note: There’s always a Cubs fan out there! Always! You are quite right, Mr. Foys. Other than to a lesser degree Robin Yount and Derek Jeter, Banks is the cream of the power hitting shortstop crop. I’m including your note for two reasons: 1) Goodness knows Cubs fans need something to be cheerful about in October 2) Maybe this expression of goodwill will help snap the Cardinals out of their slough of despair against the Nats!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
DIDN’T MEAN TO HORN IN ON YOU
Metro: “A rhino was filmed going for a walkabout in a crowded market. The animal casually strolled past liquor shops and clothes showrooms in Nepal as shocked members of the public looked on. What was probably more surprising is no-one seemed to be scared of the rhino, which had strayed from the popular Chitwan National Park. Some tourists were so comfortable they even took selfies with the large beast on Thursday. Shankar Kandu Ravi, 31, from Uttar Pradesh in India, followed the elusive animal for about ten minutes and then took a picture with it. … Mr. Ravi said the rhino even came face-to-face with a couple but didn’t attack anyone. He added: ‘It was just acting to scare the couple. It warned people to not come close.’ ‘Next morning, I had inquired about it and learnt that it returned to the jungle early in the morning.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“If we are not prepared to wage total war in response to total war, we risk disaster on a scale we have never seen and can barely imagine.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Oct. 28, 2001.
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.