2020

MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers
Oct 28, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado (8) reacts after striking out against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning in game five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

February 19, 2019

The San Diego Padres are willing to sign free agent infielder Manny Machado to an eight-year contract worth between $240 million and $280 million, USA Today reported on Monday.

The contract offer includes “heavily deferred” compensation, the newspaper said, citing two people familiar with the negotiations.

Machado also has received an offer from the Chicago White Sox. While the exact offer isn’t known, and various reports have been disputed, it is believed to be in the seven-year, $175 million ballpark.

Machado, 26, also has been in discussions with Philadelphia. Multiple reports over the weekend indicated that this season’s other marquee free agent, outfielder Bryce Harper, is close to signing with Philadelphia.

–Having already picked up Chris Sale’s contract option for 2019, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said the team has opened discussions on signing the left-hander to a long-term deal.

Sale was typically dominating in the first half of the 2018 season, going 10-4 with a 2.23 ERA, but he had two stints on the disabled list in the second half and pitched just five innings between July 28 and Sept. 10.

Sale made three starts and two relief appearances in the postseason as the Red Sox went on to win the World Series, posting a 4.11 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, while striking out the side and recording the final out in the deciding Game 5 of the World Series against the Dodgers.

–Werner also told reporters it is “extremely unlikely” the team will bring back closer Craig Kimbrel.

Kimbrel saved 108 games and was an All-Star in each of the past three seasons in Boston. Overall, he is a seven-time All-Star but the free-agent market hasn’t been booming for his services.

Early in the offseason, there were reports Kimbrel was seeking a deal worth more than $100 million.

–Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno said the club has had internal discussions about making a new contract offer for superstar outfielder Mike Trout.

The two-time American League MVP has two seasons remaining on a six-year, $144.5 million deal but has not given an indication whether he intends to remain with the team after 2020.

“I’m not going to talk about that,” Trout told reporters. Moreno also met with reporters, and he declined to go into detail when asked if there had been negotiations with Trout and his agent, Craig Landis.

–San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced that he will retire after the 2019 season. The announcement was made on the club’s Twitter feed.

Bochy, who turns 64 in April and has undergone multiple heart procedures, has guided the Giants to three World Series titles (2010, 2012, 2014) during his tenure. He also managed the San Diego Padres to the 1998 World Series when that club lost to the New York Yankees.

Bochy enters the 2019 season with the 11th-most wins in major league history. He is 1,926-1,944 in 24 seasons — 12 with the Padres and 12 with the Giants.

–Cleveland Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor isn’t too worried about landing a big-money contract extension, not when he is under club control for three more years and he has an injured right calf muscle to rehab.

The initial time frame two weeks ago targeted Lindor to miss seven to nine weeks, meaning possibly being sidelined at the outset of the 2019 season, although he said, “It’s funny with time frames — you never know.”

Lindor, 25, recently avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $10.55 million contract after established career highs of 38 homers and 92 RBIs last season while batting .277. The three-time All-Star said he was happy to reach a settlement.

–Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark took a mighty swing at Rob Manfred one day after the commissioner said free-agent players were still unsigned because they failed to adjust their financial demands to fit with the market.

Clark questioned the commitment of clubs when it comes to putting together a winning team and said a number of clubs don’t “justify the price of a ticket,” a day after Manfred said the sport’s reliance on analytics is changing the view on how players should be paid.

Clark countered that baseball is “operating in an environment in which an increasing number of clubs appear to be making little effort to improve their rosters, compete for a championship or justify the price of a ticket.”

–Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera faced live pitching for the first time since an arm injury in June and reiterated after his team’s first full-squad workout at spring training that he would prefer not to be a full-time designated hitter.

–Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and the New York Mets agreed on a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

The second woman who accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault wrote an op-ed Monday in the Washington Post, in which she renewed her offer to testify publicly in front of the state legislature.

Last month, Meredith Watson alleged that Fairfax raped her while they were students at Duke in 2000, but he has denied the allegations(RELATED: Second Woman Accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax Of Sexual Assault)

Watson wrote in her op-ed, “Despite the professed belief of numerous elected officials in Virginia and elsewhere that Vanessa Tyson, who says that Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2004, and I have brought forward credible allegations, the Virginia General Assembly has not taken the simple and responsible step of arranging the thorough public hearing that we have sought.”

She continued:

I am frustrated by calls for an investigation rather than a public hearing into these matters. Such “investigations” are secret proceedings, out of the public eye, leaving victims vulnerable to selective leaks and smears. And we all know how such investigations end: with “inconclusive results.” My privacy has already been violated, yet I am still willing to testify publicly under oath. Tyson has made the same offer. Our plea to the Virginia General Assembly to require the same of Fairfax has been met with inaction.

In a more detailed statement, Watson alleged that she told Fairfax and other friends about getting raped by a player on Duke’s basketball team. According to her story, Fairfax then raped her. Later on, Watson says she confronted him about the assault and asked why he did it. He allegedly answered, “I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.’”

Fairfax was also accused of sexually assaulting a woman days before Watson came forward. Dr. Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. (RELATED: Several 2020 Dems Are Calling For Lt. Gov. Fairfax To Resign)

Despite both allegations, Fairfax remains in his position.

Follow Mike on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: When every day is Presidents’ Day – Would Biden be the real frontrunner? – List of litigants against Trump emergency growing – Audible: Like freedom fries? – Tudder for an udder

WHEN EVERY DAY IS PRESIDENTS’ DAY
We are in the midst of a needful and long-overdue discussion about executive authority.

But don’t expect it to last.

In the past seven decades, Americans have substantially learned to live without the small-r republicanism that was so much a part of our founding and first century and a half of our history.

Consider the long, slouchy slide into the abomination that we call “Presidents’ Day.” The holiday is still “George Washington’s Birthday” by law, having survived an effort in 1968 to standardize the observance as a generic honor for all presidents.

Abraham Lincoln, born on Feb. 12, never had a federal observance of his own, but most states had holidays for the Great Emancipator. Washington was born on Feb. 22, so this created something of a holiday logjam in February, which was unhelpful for schools and employers.

Over time, confusion between state and federal observances and the pressure from advertisers who wanted a standard way to hawk mattresses and minivans, dumbed down the holiday.

While it’s true that it doesn’t really matter what we call the day for the sake of celebrations. Americans ought not need to be told how and when exactly to venerate our two greatest leaders. Plus, ski weekends…

What does matter, though, is that the generic holiday is an unfortunate reflection of the royalist strain that has so much taken hold of American political thinking.

There’s no doubt that in our republic, the president is afforded many of the powers of a term-limited king. The power of the commander in chief to defend against an attack or of whether to pardon a criminal are magisterial indeed.

The fear among the Federalists in support of the Constitution was, in fact, that the legislative branch would be too powerful and that the executive would be too puny to get the job done. Sapped of the capacity for decisive action, the executive branch would become a kind of ceremonial head of state – a hood ornament for the country. Meanwhile, Congress would be unable to provide decisive responses to *ahem* national emergencies.

It’s turned out to be exactly the opposite. Congress can seldom act, it’s true. But the response from what is supposed to be the preeminent branch has been to cede its own authority. For decades now and under the control of both parties, Congress has taken itself from the lion of our government into a pipsqueak.

The idea behind venerating Washington and Lincoln is that they were special men who, at crucial moments, led the country out of dangerous straits and into greater glories. And in both cases, that given the opportunity to be demagogues or to hoard power for themselves, they instead placed those authorities back in the hands of the representatives of the people.

But the reason their self-sacrifice is so remarkable is that it is so rare. And it is so rare because, as the verdict of 10,000 years of history clearly shows, the people generally don’t want the power. Autocracy and highly centralized power haven’t been the norm in human history just because of the efforts autocrats, but also the will of the people.

Being a citizen in a republic is harder duty than being the subject of a king or queen. You have to make decisions. You have to know the facts. You have to participate.

The imperial American presidency has been growing and growing to the point now where we are even having a discussion about whether the current occupant of the Oval Office can even disregard the domestic spending direction of the Congress. That we are even in debate on the subject tells us how far we have fallen.

And in this case, like every executive usurpation that has come before, the executive points to the abuses that came before and were allowed to stand by a craven Congress. We won’t here delve into the cause of congressional cravenness, except to say that the individual ambitions of careerist lawmakers has made lawmaking seem rather too icky.

Where we’ve landed, and this has been very much for the current presidency and the one before it, is where everything seems focused on the man in the White House. Day after day after day of focus on one single human. As if a president could be so powerful… 

Whatever sign they hung in the window at the mattress store today doesn’t matter, but we would submit that when we divorced the observance from the individual men, it was another step toward a monarchical America.    

The truth that most of us would probably not like to confront is that America likes it better that way.

THE RULEBOOK: FANCY THAT
“The representatives of the people, in a popular assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the people themselves, and betray strong symptoms of impatience and disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter…” Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71

TIME OUT: UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Fashion critic Vanessa Friedman shares some thoughts on the passing of the original “influencer.” NYT: “What does it mean to have your greatest legacy be one of ‘taste?’ I have been thinking about this since the news of Lee Radziwill’s death arrived, along with the flood of photographs from all corners of social media featuring Ms. Radziwill throughout her life — in white corduroys and a blue boat-neck T-shirt, in bouffant chignon and tunics; in a pink shift with her sister, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, atop an elephant during a tour of India; in a white-and-silver beaded gown dancing with Truman Capote at his Black and White Ball; in a black patent python jacket — all of them used to pay homage to her extraordinary ‘taste.’ Been thinking about it since some of the obituaries and reminiscences almost seem to use the word as a backhanded compliment; a reference to a life that had more impact in style than substance… But are the two really so unrelated?”

Flag on the play? – Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve – 52% unapproved; CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove.]

WOULD BIDEN BE THE REAL FRONTRUNNER?

Politico:Joe Biden’s big lead in early Democratic 2020 polling might be a bunch of malarkey. While most polls show the former vice president hovering around 30 percent of the Democratic primary vote, well ahead of second-place Sen. Bernie Sanders, two recent surveys paint a starkly different picture — raising the question of whether Biden is a real front-runner or just has big name-recognition. Those polls show far more Democratic voters undecided about which candidate to support, and they pegged Biden’s backing at a much less intimidating 9 to 12 percent. The results are so varied partly thanks to different methodological choices by the pollsters. But parsing the results is more than an academic exercise: While Biden weighs a third campaign for the presidency, he and his allies must consider whether polls a year before primary season really reflect Biden’s true strength — and his potential rivals have to calculate whether the former vice president could overwhelm lesser-known challengers in 2020.”

The mom lane – The Boston Globe: “As the 2020 Democratic primary shapes up, its leading women candidates – accomplished stateswomen, all – are drawing attention to another role they play: Mom. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar both talked about being mothers in the opening statements of their presidential bids. Senator Kamala Harris speaks often of her husband’s two children and the nickname they have given her: Momala. There are already indications that the women of 2020 plan to draw on their own experiences to embrace policies that affect mothers and working parents more broadly, bringing such issues as child care and family leave firmly into the political mainstream. This week, for example, Warren plans to introduce a universal child care and early learning plan, which she has said would be paid for by taxing the wealth of the richest Americans.”

Busy weekend on the trail – AP: “Five Democratic senators vying for their party’s nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020 fanned out across the country Saturday to campaign and meet voters. Kamala Harris of California spent her second straight day in the pivotal early-voting state of South Carolina, holding a town hall meeting in Columbia, the capital. Also visiting the state was Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who met with an estimated 800 voters in Greenville before heading to Georgia… Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York both focused on New Hampshire. Booker made his first visit to there since joining the race earlier this month, holding a question-and-answer session with more than 400 voters in Portsmouth. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, meanwhile, made her own uncommon choice for early campaigning by visiting Wisconsin before heading to Iowa, home to the nation’s first caucus. And a Democratic heavyweight who’s yet to address his 2020 plans, former Vice President Joe Biden, made his own high-profile appearance at the Munich Security Conference.”

Bernie’s team talked of grim standing with non-white voters –  NYT: “Shortly after Senator Bernie Sanders suffered a crushing loss in South Carolina’s Democratic primary in 2016, his campaign’s African-American outreach team sent a memo to top campaign leaders with an urgent warning. ‘The margin by which we lost the African-American vote has got to be — at the very least — cut in half or there simply is no path to victory,’ the team wrote in the memo, which was reviewed by The New York Times. Mr. Sanders had won 14 percent of the black vote there compared with 86 percent for Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls. Over seven pages, the team outlined a strategy for winning black voters that included using social media influencers and having Mr. Sanders give a major speech on discrimination in a city like St. Louis or Cincinnati. Mr. Sanders’s inner circle did not respond.”

LIST OF LITIGANTS AGAINST TRUMP EMERGENCY GROWING
NBC News: “California and a dozen other states are filing a lawsuit challenging Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday. ‘The president admitted that there’s not a basis for the declaration. He admitted there’s no crisis at the border. He’s now trying to rob funds that were allocated by Congress legally to the various states and people of our states,’ Becerra told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Monday afternoon. ‘The separation of powers is being violated, we’re going to go out there and make sure that Donald Trump cannot steal money from the states and people who need them, since we paid the taxpayer dollars to Washington, D.C., to get those services,’ he said. … New Jersey, Colorado, and Connecticut all confirmed to NBC News they are a part of the lawsuit. ‘The only national emergency is the president’s trafficking in lies and deceit,’ Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement.”

Stephen Miller on the hot seat – USA Today: “During an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ host Chris Wallace pressed [senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller] on the need for a national emergency, citing U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data showing between 80 to 90 percent of drugs seized in attempted smugglings happened at ports of entry. … Wallace pressed Miller to cite another example from the 59 times presidents used the National Emergency Act where it was invoked to obtain money that Congress had refused to appropriate. Miller did not cite such a precedent and took issue with the premise of the question. ‘They didn’t refuse to appropriate it,’ Miller said. ‘They passed a law specifically saying the president could have this authority. It’s in the plain statute. That’s the decision that Congress made, and if people don’t like that, they can address it.’”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate McCabe’s claimsWaPo

North Carolina election officials make their case against GOP ‘ballot harvesting’ in unresolved House raceRaleigh News & Observer

AUDIBLE: LIKE FREEDOM FRIES?
“I think that whatever you eat is a very personal decision and everybody should eat what they want to eat. That’s America- that’s what we believe in freedom.” – Presidential Candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) explained his vegan diet to his voters via twitter over the weekend.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, be serious, neither [Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld] nor [Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan] can be classified as ‘notable’. I’d put [Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich] in that category, but I don’t think he’ll get into a race that he knows for sure that he can’t win.” Lou Banas, Brea,Calif

[Ed. Note: I can’t be sure of your definition of notability, Mr. Banas. But the second-term governor of a state of 6 million or so souls strikes me as within any reasonable definition. The ting about primary challenges is that they don’t have to be successful to do their damage. In 1980, Ted Kennedy didn’t beat Jimmy Carter, nor did Pat Buchanan unhorse George H.W. Bush in 1992, but both campaigns were certainly consequential. That’s why the Trump campaign is rightly worried about just such a run.]

“One of the greatest walls between us, the people, and an overzealous government is the separation of powers. The Founding Fathers, in perhaps one of their greatest acts of genius, divided the power of government into three separate branches so as to insure there was no party with absolute power. Declaring an ‘emergency’, after the president has already given the congress the opportunity to act and has acted, creates a huge breach in this wall of protection. Gaining short-term funds for building a border wall in exchange for the Constitutional wall of protection created by the separation of powers is neither conservative nor is it wise. Liberals often believe the end justifies the means, I hope conservatives do not stray down this dangerous road.” Steve Bartlett, Greenville, S.C.

[Ed. Note: The Constitution is always getting strange new respect from the party out of power. We could call it hypocrisy, but that would be too narrow of a view. In fact, our charter has very much in mind keeping majorities from turning into steamrollers. So then maybe it makes a certain sense that the party out of power holds the Constitution in greater reverence.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

TUDDER FOR AN UDDER

Reuters: “A Tinder-inspired app is helping farmers match up potential partners for their cattle. Called ‘Tudder’ ― a mix of dating app Tinder and udder – it lets farmers swipe right on cattle they like the look of. They are then directed to a page on the SellMyLivestock website where they can browse more pictures and data about the animals before deciding whether to buy. Valuable information is available on matters like milk yield and protein content, or calving potential, explained Doug Bairner, CEO of Hectare Agritech which runs SellMyLivestock (SML) and Graindex, a UK-based online agritech trading platform. ‘Matching livestock online is even easier than it is to match humans because there’s a huge amount of data that sits behind these wonderful animals that predicts what their offspring will be,’ he said.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Nixon might indeed have committed crimes. But the spectacle of an ex-president on trial and perhaps even in jail was something Ford would not allow the country to go through.”  – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on July 27, 2017.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Liz Friden contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

CONCORD, N.H. – The Granite State may have been Bernie Sanders country in the 2016 Democratic primary, but Sen. Kamala Harris says she won’t follow in the independent senator from Vermont’s footsteps.

Asked by Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy if she would have to run as a democratic socialist – which is how Sanders often describes himself, the Democrat from California quickly and bluntly answered that “I am not a democratic socialist.”

Harris spoke on Monday as she took questions from reporters during her in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire for the first time since launching her presidential campaign four weeks ago.

SANDERS POISED TO ANNOUNCE 2020 DECISION BY END OF FEBRUARY, SOURCES SAY

Sanders, a progressive populist who put up a serious fight against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary, is likely to launch before the end of the month a second straight bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In recent weeks some Democrats have questioned whether Harris was a “progressive prosecutor” during her years as San Francisco district attorney and later as California attorney general.

Harris also vowed to spend “a lot of time” in New Hampshire.

“I’m here because I believe that this is a very important state and intend to spend a lot of time here, and I intend to compete for the votes here and I’m going to put a lot of effort into doing that,” Harris highlighted after being asked by Fox News if the state was a lower priority than the other early-voting states in the primary and caucus calendar.

“It’s an important state. It is a state of people who have a lot of needs and need to be seen and heard,” she spotlighted.

HARRIS GIVES AWKWARD RESPONSE WHEN ASKED ABOUT JUSSIE SMOLLETT CLAIMS

Harris is the daughter of parents from Jamaica and India and would be the first woman and second African-American to win the White House if she ultimately succeeds.

Even before her formal launch, the candidate headed to South Carolina, the first southern state to hold a primary. And she headed to Iowa – which votes first – a few days later.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Iowa and South Carolina — a state where black voters make up a majority of the Democratic primary electorate — are likely to figure heavily into Harris’ prospects. Harris campaigned in support of fellow Democrats in South Carolina in last year’s midterm elections.

Harris vowed at the beginning of an event at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord to spend lots of time campaigning in the Granite State. She repeated that pledge at a large event later Monday in Portsmouth.

Fox News’ Peter Doocy contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Matt M. Miller | Contributor

Former President Barrack Obama has been privately meeting with and counseling several Democratic 2020 hopefuls and declared candidates, according to The New York Times. One of the messages Obama relayed to candidates during these meetings, the Times noted, is that they must be willing to combat President Donald Trump’s “bleak and divisive rhetoric about economic change” with an alternative that resonates with rural voters in largely Republican areas.

The article reveals that, although the former president has been reluctant to openly endorse a specific 2020 candidate, he has been privately counseling a number of declared as well as likely candidates from his Washington, DC office:

“He has counseled more than a dozen declared or likely candidates on what he believes it will take to beat President Trump, holding private talks with leading contenders like Ms. Harris, Mr. Booker and Senator Elizabeth Warren; underdogs like Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.; and prominent figures who remain undecided on the race, like Eric H. Holder, his former attorney general, and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.”

Senior Obama adviser Eric Schultz said that Obama had been “happy to speak privately with candidates seeking his guidance on the best way to lead the country.” (RELATED: Obama’s Former Border Patrol Chief Blames Fight Over Border Wall On ‘Identity Politics’)

Obama reportedly offered a mix of supportive advice to the potential candidates, as well as warnings against a harmful primary battle that could damage the Democratic Party moving into the general election. One piece of advice Obama offered was for candidates to appeal to rural voters in generally Republican areas, bringing a centrist counter to Trump’s “right-wing populism,” as the article characterizes it.

“He has urged candidates to push back on Mr. Trump’s bleak and divisive rhetoric about economic change, and to deliver a competing message that can resonate even in Republican-leaning areas, courting rural voters and other communities that tend to distrust Democrats.”

It is widely known that a large number of two-time Obama voters voted for Trump in 2016. Of the 650 counties that voted for Obama twice, nearly a third of them voted for Trump in 2016, largely occurring in key states such as Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. (RELATED: Former Shell Oil President Says Obama Had Nothing To Do With Increased Fuel Production)

Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

It appears that fans have their potential first look at the set of “Top Gun 2.”

BroBible appeared to find some pictures of an F-14 being used to film for the sequel of the Tom Cruise film. Check them all out below.

I honestly can’t wait to see the sequel. The first “Top Gun” was so damn cool. I remember watching it for the first time when I was young kid at home sick from school.

It was so awesome, and I was immediately hooked. The sequel sounds like it’s going to be just as intense. The plot reportedly revolves around drone warfare and the decline of dogfighting. I’m here for it.

The cast is also loaded. It features Cruise, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly and Val Kilmer.

If that cast doesn’t get you excited, then you just don’t understand good cinema.

As you all know, I’ll watch just about anything with Harris in it. The man is awesome on every level.

You can catch “Top Gun 2” in theaters June 26, 2020. You know that I’ll be watching.

Source: The Daily Caller

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, campaigning in New Hampshire on Monday, said it’s a “lie” for critics to say the Green New Deal is too expensive to implement.

GREEN NEW DEAL, ‘MEDICARE-FOR-ALL’ DRAW FRESH SCRUTINY FROM OTHER 2020 DEMS

“This is the lie that’s going on right now,” Booker told Fox News in Nashua, N.H., as he campaigned in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

The New Jersey senator was asked about the costs of the Green New Deal, which is supported by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives and aims to implement a range of big-government programs while pursuing a level of "net-zero greenhouse gas emissions" — essentially, a total economic transformation toward clean energy that, among other points, includes building upgrades across the country.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported it cost nearly $2,000 per apartment for the New York City Housing Authority to switch to LED lighting, which lasts longer and consumes less energy than incandescent bulbs. Asked about that report, Booker said it’s possible to “revive your economy, and create a bold green future,” citing his experience as mayor of Newark, N.J.

“We environmentally retrofitted our buildings. Saves taxpayers money, created jobs for our community and lowered our carbon footprint,” Booker said.

He added, “This lie that’s being put out – that somehow being green and responsible with the environment means you have to hurt the economy – a lie.”

WHAT IS THE GREEN NEW DEAL? A LOOK AT THE ECONOMIC AND CLIMATE CONCEPT PUSHED BY PROGRESSIVES

The Green New Deal is a sweeping proposal designed to tackle income inequality and climate change at the same time. It’s modeled after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal package of public works programs and projects created to help the economy during the Great Depression — but in many ways goes much further.

The rollout itself was muddled by the release of Ocasio-Cortez documents that, among other things, promised economic security even for those "unwilling" to work.

The plan itself aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and agriculture and dramatically expand energy sources to meet 100 percent of power demand through renewable sources. The proposal also calls for a job-guarantee program and universal health care, among other things.

Republican critics have vehemently pushed back against the proposal, pointing in part to the price tag – estimated to be about $7 trillion. Republicans have also decried the job guarantee idea, calling it a “deeply flawed policy” that would be detrimental to small businesses.

Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Donald Trump “showed contempt for the American people” when he met with the Russian officials for a closed-door meeting in 2017, according to former Massachusetts governor William Weld.

In an interview with Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday, Weld blasted Trump’s choice to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in May, 2017, not long after the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election began, and just after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

"That showed contempt for the American people if anything I've ever seen does,” said the former Republican governor, who may challenge Trump for the GOP nomination in 2020.

“Abroad, he seeks out the company of people who are dictators and despots,” Weld said later in the interview. “People like [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, like President Kim [Jong Un] of North Korea.”

“I do think the president has shown a tendency to associate with autocrats,” he continued. “I think his domestic instincts are in the same direction. I recall him saying on television, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to have elections?’ I’m sure he will say that was a joke — I’m not so sure it was a joke. I mean, the response to my announcement of an exploratory committee has been for everybody to close ranks among the state Republican Party’s and say, ‘No, we can’t have a primary.’”

“And the truth is — if the president had his first choice — he wouldn’t have a primary, and he wouldn’t have an election,” Weld said.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Curtis Ellis | America First Policies

A high stakes investigation with profound impact on the nation’s future delivered its report to the White House Sunday. The president has 90 days to decide whether or not to act on its recommendations.

Independent prosecutor Bob Mueller is not running this probe. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is.

Last May, President Trump ordered the Commerce Department to determine whether auto “imports are weakening our internal economy and may impair the national security.” Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 the president has the authority to impose tariffs on national security grounds – tariffs on imported automobiles and/or auto parts.

The president’s critics scoffed when he ordered the investigation. They said the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force do not depend on passenger cars, and besides, they could drive imports if necessary.

But the same critics who’ve gotten it wrong so many times before were wrong again.

They don’t understand that automobiles are a keystone industry crucial to any advanced industrial society. The automotive industry has the economy of scale to support other industries such steel, plastics, chemicals, foundry, machining and advanced materials with the know-how, technology and capacity our defense industries depend on.

As President Trump said, “core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a nation.”

That’s why every country that ever wanted to achieve first world status sought to develop an automobile industry. (See: Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, China, Mexico.)

History is replete with examples of the connection between the automotive industry and national security. American automobile factories churned out machine guns, aircraft parts and other armaments during World War II. Mitsubishi manufactured the Japanese Zero fighter aircraft.

But we should look to the future rather than the past to understand the national security implications of the automobile industry.

The industry is in the midst of a fundamental changeover — from internal combustion to electric propulsion. Vehicles will incorporate artificial intelligence, advanced materials and electronics. Money from auto sales will support R & D in these crucial technologies that have military applications.

Electric cars are the future — and China wants to own the future. Analysts predict global sales of 30 million electric vehicles by 2030, with China making up half of those.

Now we have news that China is targeting Tesla with an electric car that sells for $15,000 and “may just redefine the commuter car,” Bloomberg reports.

The one-seater, three-wheeled electric vehicle is named the Solo. It can hit 80 mph, go 100 miles on a charge and be recharged at home overnight on a regular 110 volt wall socket.

Bloomberg erroneously implied the Solo is made in Canada. It’s actually made in China.

The Canadian company marketing it, Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corporation, “signed a volume production deal with China’s Zongshen Industrial Group, which will eventually produce 75,000 Solo battery-electric vehicles,” Automotive News Canada reported. “The agreement calls for Zongshen, based in Chongqing, to produce 5,000 of the three-wheeled single-seat commuter vehicles in this year, 20,000 in 2019 and 50,000 in 2020.”

Make no mistake. These vehicles are destined for the U.S., not Canada. China plans to use Canada as the bridgehead.

And this is not China’s first attempt to gain a foothold in the U.S., nor the first time it lied to break into the U.S. auto market.

Exhibit A is the “Coda” electric car that premiered at the L.A. auto show a few years back.

Billed as “All American,” this electric Trojan horse was actually made in China by the state-owned company that supplies weapons to China’s military and bloody regimes around the world.

China also has a history of using high-level political players in both parties as shills to wield its influence.

Private investors in Coda included former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty; Henry Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs CEO who served as Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush; and John Bryson, President Obama’s Commerce secretary.

But wait, there’s more: GreenTech, an electric car company founded by former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe and Hugh Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s brother. The company relied on Chinese investment and technology, raising $141.5 million from investors as part of the EB-5 visa program that offered foreign investors permanent U.S. residency in exchange for cash. GreenTech filed for bankruptcy amid numerous lawsuits without producing a single vehicle.

China understands the importance of the automotive industry. In the race for the next generation of vehicles, it will do anything it can to overtake the U.S. on the curve.

President Trump understands that too, even if his critics don’t.

Curtis Ellis is senior policy adviser with America First Policies. He was a senior policy adviser with the Donald J. Trump campaign.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

California and a coalition of left-leaning states are expected to file a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration as soon as Monday.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told ABC News Sunday that the state had prepared to pursue legal action in advance of the president’s announcement, and shared plans to file a lawsuit “imminently.”

Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon are expected to join California’s challenge.

The administration has taken steps to improve their prospects in court. White House officials have indicated that the government will focus primarily on border barrier projects in Texas, in an apparent bid to keep the ensuing legal challenges within the jurisdiction of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — a Trump friendly bench — or the Washington, D.C., federal courts, which are less forbidding for the president than the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

California may also struggle to prove it can bring legal action at this time. Funding for the border wall project is drawn from four sources: a $1.4 billion congressional appropriation, $600 million from the Treasury Department’s forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counter-narcotics activities, and $3.6 billion from military construction projects to finance construction of the wall. Of those sources, only the $3.6 billion is accessed via the emergency declaration.

White House guidance on the emergency declaration indicates that the government will spend that money sequentially: That is to say, the government will exhaust the appropriation, the forfeiture assets, and the redirected counter-narcotics funds before expending the emergency funds. As South Texas College of Law Professor Josh Blackman has noted, potential plaintiffs like California might not have standing to challenge the declaration until those emergency funds are actually allocated.

As such, the administration could conceivably complete large stretches of wall before challenges to the project can be heard in court. (RELATED: Supreme Court To Decide If Trump Administration Can Include Citizenship Question In 2020 Census)

People work on the U.S./ Mexican border wall on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

People work on the U.S./ Mexican border wall on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

But Becerra dismissed such questions Sunday, expressing confidence that California’s lawsuit will proceed.

“We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm,” Becerra told ABC. He went on to speculate as to different ways the reallocation of Defense Department funds could harm the states, like cuts to drug interdiction efforts or disaster management.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also expected to file suit against the administration in the coming days. Like the California coalition, the ACLU does not believe the situation at the southern border rises to the level of a nation emergency.

Public Citizen, a Washington-based consumer group, filed the first lawsuit challenging the national emergency declaration on Friday night.

Trump has speculated that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether his declaration is lawful.

Follow Kevin on Twitter

Send tips to [email protected]dailycallernewsfoundation.org

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said this weekend that members of the Trump administration have a “constitutional responsibility” to remove the president from office if they decide he is unable to fulfil his obligations.

In a press conference after a rally in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, Warren responded to former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who claimed that officials in the Trump Administration had discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after he fired former FBI Director James Comey.

“My point here is that if they believe that Donald Trump cannot fulfill the obligations of his office, then they have a constitutional responsibility to invoke the 25th amendment,” said Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential race, according to The Nevada Independent. “Their loyalty under law is not to him personally. It is to the Constitution of the United States and to the people of United States.”

“Washington works great for those with money and power,” Warren said during the rally. “It works great for those who can hire an army of lobbyists and lawyers. When we have a government that only works for the rich and the powerful, that is corruption plain and simple, and we got to call it out for what it is.”

“Start with the fact that the Trump administration is the most corrupt administration in living memory,” the senator continued. “But we’ve had problems in Washington for a long, long time, so how about some structural change?”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

  • Cities and states are having a hard time trying to implement climate policies laid out in the Green New Deal.
  • Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the Green New Deal to transform the U.S. economy.
  • One Texas city’s switch to solar and wind has cost millions and added to residents’ electric bills.

Democrats’ Green New Deal legislation envisions a U.S that eliminates all greenhouse gas emissions through a massive expansion of government control, which includes a green grid, electrified mass transit and high-speed rail.

However, cities and states actually trying to implement these policies are often finding it difficult to overcome political and economic realities.

In the past year, for example, Washington state voters rejected — for a second time — a proposal to tax carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon tax opponents successfully framed the proposal as an energy tax that would raise prices and do nothing for future global warming. The tax was backed by Democrats like Gov. Jay Inslee, who is also mulling a 2020 presidential run.

Inslee, who styles himself as the Democratic “climate candidate,” has also failed to push major climate policies through the legislature and using his own executive authority.

“It shows you how ineffective he’s been even in a state like Washington,” Todd Myers, environmental policy director at the Washington Policy Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a recent interview.

Trump holds a discussion about school shootings with state governors from around the country at the White House in Washington

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee (L) listens to participants as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a discussion about school shootings with state governors from around the country at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

“We’re doing it whether people want it or not,” Myers said of Inslee’s attempts to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Inslee-backed carbon tax would have cost households an extra $230 per year in 2020, according to the Washington Policy Center. Energy bills, including gasoline prices, will increase because of the tax.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, both Democrats, recently introduced highly-anticipated resolutions for a Green New Deal. Those bills called for the entire U.S. to be powered by “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” within 10 years.

The bill also calls for “dramatically expanding and upgrading existing renewable power sources” as part of Green New Deal supporters’ climate crusade. (RELATED: US Forests Are Burning Up Amid An ‘Epidemic’ Of Dead Trees. Experts Say We Need To Cut More Down)

Even at the local level, however, efforts to decarbonize the grid are easier said than done — and not just for political reasons.

Georgetown, Texas, is one of the biggest U.S. cities to claim to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with solar and wind power. The city began to switch to solar and wind in 2012, and Republican Mayor Dale Ross quickly became a poster child for environmentalism.

2019 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos

Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and Climate Reality Project Chairman, gestures as he attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann.

The city was even featured in former Vice President Al Gore’s filmAn Inconvenient Sequel,” which was released in 2017. Gore called the city a “trailblazer” in the fight against global warming.

Georgetown’s green energy ambitions, however, have cost the city roughly $30 million over the past five years. The loss is driven by the long-term wind and solar energy contracts the city entered into, betting that fossil fueled-electricity prices would rise.

The opposite happened, and Georgetown’s municipal utility announced in late January it would increase customers’ bills about $13 a month to recover its bad bets. City officials are currently trying to renegotiate their long-term green energy contracts.

What about high-speed rail? The Green New Deal calls for investments in high-speed rail and other forms of mass transit to make airplanes, and the internal combustion engine itself, obsolete.

However, California put the brakes on its high-speed rail project that voters approved in 2008 to shuttle passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The project, dubbed the “train to nowhere” by critics, was estimated to cost $77 billion to complete.

“Let’s level about the high-speed rail,” Newsom said in his State of the State address in February, announcing most of the project would be halted.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom elected governor of California

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom elected governor of California REUTERS

“Let’s be real, the current project as planned would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were,” Newsom said.

Newsom said the state would complete the small, 119-mile section of high-speed rail between Merced and Bakersfield in the Central Valley. Though, that line is not expected to be finished until 2022 at a cost of $89 million per mile.

Even electrified mass transit is proving difficult, at least in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday the city canceled its $133 million plan for an all-electric bus line through downtown.

Massive construction in downtown Albuquerque hurt local businesses, modernized bus stops were vandalized and the electric buses themselves were found to have flaws that made them unusable.

The city has sued the Chinese-owned electric vehicle manufacturer and contracted with another company for diesel buses, according to The Times.

Follow Michael on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

Democratic politicians are backtracking from their initial comments about what was originally described as a hate crime against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, after a Chicago police spokesperson said over the weekend the "trajectory of the investigation" shifted and they no longer consider Smollett a victim in the case.

JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S LAWYERS DENY HE PLANNED ATTACK AFTER CHICAGO POLICE CLAIM HE’S NO LONGER CONSIDERED A VICTIM IN CASE

When the incident was first reported last month, Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker called it "an attempted modern-day lynching." But on Sunday, Booker told reporters he is now withholding comment on the case “until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 29 tweeted that the “racist, homophobic attack” against Smollett is “an affront to our humanity.” But over the weekend, Pelosi’s tweet had been deleted.

Smollett, who is black and openly gay, has claimed he was attacked by two masked men early on Jan. 29 as he walked to his Chicago apartment from a Subway restaurant. Smollett alleged the men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at him.

Last week, Chicago police questioned two Nigerian brothers in the reported attack but released them Friday without charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the pair had given officers information that had "shifted the trajectory of the investigation.” Local reports have cited sources saying the attack was a hoax, though the Chicago Police Department has not confirmed that.

CORY BOOKER ‘WITHHOLDING’ JUDGMENT ON SMOLLETT CASE AFTER CALLING IT ‘ATTEMPTED MODERN-DAY LYNCHING’

"While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident, " Guglielmi said Sunday.

Smollett received an outpouring of support from politicians and celebs when he first went public about the alleged attack in January. Smollett has claimed at least one of the attackers said to him, "this is MAGA country," in reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan.

While some lawmakers are now backtracking, others have stayed mum as the narrative rapidly shifts. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, called out Democrats on Twitter who were outspoken initially about the case, but haven’t said anything since the new developments.

“I’m wondering if @KamalaHarris still wants #JusticeForJussie? Will she be as vocal about it now or has she moved on?” Trump Jr. tweeted.

Last month, Sen. Harris, like Booker, referred to the incident as “an attempted modern day lynching.”

“No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin,” the 2020 presidential candidate said. “We must confront this hate.”

ROBIN ROBERTS SAYS COPS FELT JUSSIE SMOLLETT WAS CREDIBLE AT TIME OF INTERVIEW

Others, like New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said last month, “There is no such thing as ‘racially charged.’ This attack was not ‘possibly’ homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack. If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes.”

John Dickerson, the co-anchor of CBS This Morning, responded to Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday and asked, “Is there an update on this?”

Meanwhile, Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, are vehemently denying that the attack was a hoax.

"As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the lawyers said in a weekend statement. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."

Fox News’ Mike Tobin and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Brad Bannon | CEO of Bannon Communications Research

I dedicate this column to the strict constructionists out there who supported Donald Trump in 2016, because they were concerned about executive overreach during the Obama administration. I offer my condolences to all of you.

Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday was such an abuse of executive power that it makes Barack Obama look like Herbert Hoover when it comes to executive action.

I have a part time gig as a political science professor, and when I teach Introduction to American Government and Politics, I spend the first few weeks discussing the Constitution. The pitch I make to my students is that you can’t play the game without knowing the rules and the Constitution is the rule book. Apparently, there wasn’t much concern about checks and balances in POS 101 at Trump University.

When I teach, I dutifully discuss the two famous axioms about checks and balances. “The power of the presidency is the power to persuade” and “the power of Congress is the power of the purse.” The new Trump doctrine is “steal the purse from Congress if you can’t persuade it to spend the money you want.”

For the record, if anyone cares, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution  states, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Trump’s emergency declaration Friday was a statement to Congress that the power of the purse belongs to “The Donald,” not Congress.

Trump’s 911 call to the public will fall on deaf ears

Donald Trump lives in a world of of political fantasies dreamed on soft feather pillows. Trump and his political advisers — at least the ones who aren’t in jail — seem to believe the president can ride his vanity wall project to a 2020 re-election win. Good luck with that! CNN asked Americans earlier this month whether they would favor or oppose an emergency declaration to secure funds to build the wall. The public opposed the idea by a two-to-one margin (66 percent to 31 percent).

The president may have undermined the urgency of the “crisis” and his prospects in the court of public opinion when he followed his emergency declaration at the White House with a trip to Florida for a weekend of sun, fun and golf.

Many Republican officials shared the public opposition to the president’s decision to bypass Congress and spend $8 billion on the Trump Mahal. Will Hurd, a Republican congressman who represents a Texas district on the Mexican border, told Meet The Press on Sunday,”I don’t think we needed a declaration.” He added, “That is not a tool, the president needs to solve this problem.”

The hostility to Trump’s executive over reach among Republicans reveals the cracks in Trump’s vaunted base.

A national survey last month by the Washington Post and ABC News indicates part of the Trump base has bailed on the president. One out of every three Republicans (32 percent) would support a challenge to the president’s renomination. Two-thirds (65 percent) of the GOP electorate still supported Trump’s renomination, so it would be tough for Mitt Romney or John Kasich to deny the incumbent the GOP nod.

The internal GOP anti-Trump sentiment does mean some Republicans might not vote in the next election. Or the dissenters might vote against Trump, and instead opt for either a Democrat or for an independent candidacy by former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. There’s a lot of talk about the danger that Howard Schultz could cause the eventual Democratic nominee, but Kasich’s independent candidacy could cause even bigger problems for the president.

The battle over Trump’s executive order now goes to federal courts.

The good news for the president is there are a lot of new Trump-appointed judges out there. The bad news is many of them came with the imprimatur of the Federalist Society or The Heritage Foundation, which aren’t fans of presidential overreach — at least not when Barack Obama was president.

Brad Bannon (@BradBannon) is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto
FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

February 18, 2019

By Carolina Mandl and Tatiana Bautzer

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc plans to double its Brazilian commercial banking unit’s assets by 2020, thanks to growth in loans to mid-sized companies, department head Antonio Rubens told journalists on Monday.

The bank’s commercial unit has roughly 5 billion reais ($1.34 billion) in assets, out of 75 billion reais for Citi’s Brazilian operation as a whole, most of it dedicated to larger corporations.

Rubens said those assets jumped by 27 percent in 2018 as an economic recovery increased demand. Deposits grew 10 percent to 3 billion reais.

Citi is targeting firms with between 200 million and 1.8 billion reais in revenues, he said.

This move underscores a shift in Citi’s strategy in Brazil toward wholesale activities after selling its retail assets there to Itaú Unibanco Holding SA for 710 million reais.

($1 = 3.7294 reais)

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Source: OANN

Former Vice President Joe Biden regularly tops the polls of potential Democratic candidates in 2020, but pollsters are unsure if this lead is due to popularity or name-recognition.

“These polls are today’s reality,” Democratic pollster John Anzalone told Politico. “And sometimes, today’s reality holds until tomorrow and all the way until next year. And other times, today’s reality changes. Primaries are like that.”

The Democratic firm Bold Blue Campaigns recently carried out a national poll of the potential Democratic candidates for president in 2020 and gave the recipients the option of saying they are undecided, which became the most common response with 48 percent. Biden came in first, but with only 12 percent, just above California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris with 11 percent and Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won 9 percent.

Most polls show that “it’s a very open field,” said Steen Kirby, who works as a campaigns and data specialist for Bold Blue. “People are weighing their options. I think the reason that so many people are getting in is because this is a 1-to-15 percent spread, not a 1-to-30 percent spread. It’s very different from 2016, when Hillary Clinton was at 40 or 50 percent.”

Democratic pollster Margie Omero added that the different polls of 20202 Democratic candidates “still all tell the same story: that it’s a wide-open race. We should not be looking at these early polls as signs of what’s going to happen a year from now.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren believes that White House officials should, if necessary, invoke the 25th Amendment to eject President Trump from office. Warren, addressing a news conference in Las Vegas Sunday, said they have a duty to the Constitution to do so, according to The Nevada Independent.

“My point here is that if they believe that Donald Trump cannot fulfill the obligations of his office, then they have a constitutional responsibility to invoke the 25th Amendment,” Warren told reporters after promoting her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination at a campaign stop in Sin City.

Supporters listen as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at a rally to launch her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., February 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Supporters listen as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at a rally to launch her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., Feb. 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Warren added the cabinet’s duty is “to the Constitution of the United States and to the people of United States.” (RELATED: Liz Warren Quietly Apologizes To Cherokees For That DNA Test)

The 25th Amendment is an obscure constitutional device that has rarely been utilized except as a temporary measure but could be used by the cabinet to remove a president from office if the chief executive is unable to perform his duties due to physical or mental incapacitation.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House February 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency to free up federal funding to build a wall along the southern border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House Feb. 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Warren’s latest heavy-handed rhetoric came after former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe confirmed last week that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had sought the approval of Vice President Mike Pence and others in the administration to remove Trump from office because he was allegedly unbalanced. Last September, then-United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the idea was never seriously discussed. (RELATED: Elizabeth Warren’s First Week On The Stump Filled With Missteps)

Warren has also recently suggested that Trump “may not even be a free person” for the 2020 presidential campaign because the plodding Mueller inquiry might eventually lead to jail time for the president.

Follow David on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren believes that White House officials should, if necessary, invoke the 25th Amendment to eject President Trump from office. Warren, addressing a news conference in Las Vegas Sunday, said they have a duty to the Constitution to do so, according to The Nevada Independent.

“My point here is that if they believe that Donald Trump cannot fulfill the obligations of his office, then they have a constitutional responsibility to invoke the 25th Amendment,” Warren told reporters after promoting her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination at a campaign stop in Sin City.

Supporters listen as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at a rally to launch her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., February 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Supporters listen as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at a rally to launch her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., Feb. 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Warren added the cabinet’s duty is “to the Constitution of the United States and to the people of United States.” (RELATED: Liz Warren Quietly Apologizes To Cherokees For That DNA Test)

The 25th Amendment is an obscure constitutional device that has rarely been utilized except as a temporary measure but could be used by the cabinet to remove a president from office if the chief executive is unable to perform his duties due to physical or mental incapacitation.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House February 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency to free up federal funding to build a wall along the southern border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House Feb. 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Warren’s latest heavy-handed rhetoric came after former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe confirmed last week that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had sought the approval of Vice President Mike Pence and others in the administration to remove Trump from office because he was allegedly unbalanced. Last September, then-United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the idea was never seriously discussed. (RELATED: Elizabeth Warren’s First Week On The Stump Filled With Missteps)

Warren has also recently suggested that Trump “may not even be a free person” for the 2020 presidential campaign because the plodding Mueller inquiry might eventually lead to jail time for the president.

Follow David on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Traders work at the floor of Brazil's BM&F Bovespa Stock Market in downtown Sao Paulo
FILE PHOTO: Traders work at the floor of Brazil’s BM&F Bovespa Stock Market in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

February 18, 2019

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian markets fell on Monday as investors feared a brewing political scandal could put strains on President Jair Bolsonaro’s coalition in Congress, hurting his ability to pass a pension reform seen as key to bolstering the country’s economic recovery.

Bolsonaro is facing pressure from some supporters to fire one of his most senior aides, Secretary General Gustavo Bebianno, over accusations of misuse of campaign funds in the October election.

Bebianno, who helps coordinate internal government affairs and was acting president of Bolsonaro’s right-wing Social Liberal Party last year, denies wrongdoing. Debate over his fate has exposed sharp differences among allies in Congress.

Brazilian markets put in one of their best performances of the year last week as investors welcomed early details of the government’s proposed social security reform.

But some of that gloss came off in early trading on Monday, likely exacerbated by thin liquidity due to the U.S. Presidents Day holiday. Brazil’s stocks and currency slipped, while implied market interest rates a year out edged higher.

“This was the main news over of the weekend, so perhaps it is weighing on sentiment a bit as New York is out today, but I would not expect a major market move,” said one fund manager in Sao Paulo.

“Critics of Bolsonaro’s administration will say this is the beginning of the end and the walls are closing in. But I don’t think this spat tells us too much about reforms or the future of the administration,” he added.

Brazil’s Bovespa stock market fell 0.6 percent, the dollar rose 0.75 percent to 3.7300 reais and January 2020 interest rates rose 2.5 basis points to 6.395 percent.

Last week, the Bovespa rose 2.3 percent, within touching distance of its record high 98,588 points. Interest rates fell 15 basis points, the biggest weekly drop for two months.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Brad Haynes and Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Traders work at the floor of Brazil's BM&F Bovespa Stock Market in downtown Sao Paulo
FILE PHOTO: Traders work at the floor of Brazil’s BM&F Bovespa Stock Market in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

February 18, 2019

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian markets fell on Monday as investors feared a brewing political scandal could put strains on President Jair Bolsonaro’s coalition in Congress, hurting his ability to pass a pension reform seen as key to bolstering the country’s economic recovery.

Bolsonaro is facing pressure from some supporters to fire one of his most senior aides, Secretary General Gustavo Bebianno, over accusations of misuse of campaign funds in the October election.

Bebianno, who helps coordinate internal government affairs and was acting president of Bolsonaro’s right-wing Social Liberal Party last year, denies wrongdoing. Debate over his fate has exposed sharp differences among allies in Congress.

Brazilian markets put in one of their best performances of the year last week as investors welcomed early details of the government’s proposed social security reform.

But some of that gloss came off in early trading on Monday, likely exacerbated by thin liquidity due to the U.S. Presidents Day holiday. Brazil’s stocks and currency slipped, while implied market interest rates a year out edged higher.

“This was the main news over of the weekend, so perhaps it is weighing on sentiment a bit as New York is out today, but I would not expect a major market move,” said one fund manager in Sao Paulo.

“Critics of Bolsonaro’s administration will say this is the beginning of the end and the walls are closing in. But I don’t think this spat tells us too much about reforms or the future of the administration,” he added.

Brazil’s Bovespa stock market fell 0.6 percent, the dollar rose 0.75 percent to 3.7300 reais and January 2020 interest rates rose 2.5 basis points to 6.395 percent.

Last week, the Bovespa rose 2.3 percent, within touching distance of its record high 98,588 points. Interest rates fell 15 basis points, the biggest weekly drop for two months.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Brad Haynes and Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Former President Barack Obama’s financial backers earlier this month secretly interviewed numerous 2020 presidential candidates to determine which one or two of them they should support monetarily, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Obama’s former chief strategist David Axelrod confirmed that he briefed the group, but not as an official Obama emissary. He said he did not think the former president would endorse anyone, even if his Vice President Joe Biden entered the race, and that Obama did not believe it was up to him to determine the 2020 nomination, preferring instead that the primaries serve as a contest of ideas.

But Obama has advised more than a dozen declared or likely candidates on what he thinks is needed to beat President Donald Trump.

According to sources briefed on these informal discussions, Obama has encouraged candidates to push back on Trump’s bleak and divisive rhetoric about economic change and stress an alternative message that also can attract rural voters and others that are likely to distrust Democrats.

He also has urged candidates to avoid attacking each other in bitterly personal terms during the primaries that could later help Trump in the general election.

Obama has, however, spoken admiringly about a few potential presidential candidates, encouraged about the rise of a newer generation of leaders in the party.

He also campaigned for the midterms, focusing many of his endorsements on promoting women and candidates of color. Obama also has taken a leading role in the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group established to battle against congressional gerrymandering.

Some Democrats hold out hope that Obama might eventually help resolve the primary, perhaps if the race narrows to just two candidates and the former president is convinced one of them cannot defeat Trump.

Source: NewsMax Politics

When Donald Trump visited Beto O'Rourke's hometown to argue that walling off the southern border makes the U.S. safer, the former Democratic congressman and possible 2020 presidential hopeful was ready.

As the president filled an El Paso arena with supporters, O'Rourke helped lead thousands of his own on a protest march past the barrier of barbed-wire topped fencing and towering metal slats that separates El Paso from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

O'Rourke clearly hopes to make his personal experience with the border a strength if he runs for president — and the battle over billions of dollars in new fortifications may well shape the 2020 campaign.

But O'Rourke's history with the barriers that have lined the Rio Grande since he was a child actually could be a bit of vulnerability, too.

As the 2020 campaign is joined, other top Democrats can oppose Trump's call for more and larger walls as a straightforward wedge issue — something they say shows anti-immigrant feeling, intolerance and even racism.

But O'Rourke's record on border walls is complicated. Last March, he supported a spending package that other leading Democratic contenders opposed and included $1.6 billion for border wall construction in Texas' Rio Grande Valley. Buried in that was $44.5 million for repairs of existing fencing elsewhere — including El Paso.

O'Rourke later explained the vote as a compromise to win approval of another proposal he backed, expanding access to mental health care for military veterans who had received other-than-honorable discharges. But his action attracted criticism from people who know the border best. Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club's Borderlands team, called it "very disappointing."

"The things that he has said have been dead on," Nicol said. "The next step becomes what do you do."

O'Rourke's nuanced position on border barriers, sometimes willing to use them as a bargaining chip, could be politically awkward in a national campaign but it's shared in El Paso. Here, many people accept dozens of miles of existing walls as a fact of life, objecting mostly to structures so intrusive they suggest a war zone.

"People in El Paso live with the border and the ambiguities and contradictions of the border," said Josiah Heyman, director of the University of Texas at El Paso's Center for Interamerican and Border Studies.

In an interview Thursday night on MSNBC, O'Rourke said he would "absolutely" tear down El Paso's existing walls and that he believed a majority of residents would back doing so. That somewhat contradicts his past statements about opposing entirely open borders, but O'Rourke has previously backed having them porous enough to promote trade and immigrant culture. In an interview in 2006, he decried President George W. Bush's proposal for bolstering the existing walls with more surveillance technology.

Bush's barrier "didn't seem like a meaningful suggestion at all, but maybe that's because we already have it and it doesn't seem to be working," he said.

City Council member Peter Svarzbein said El Paso's character isn't based on keeping people out, but rather on tens of thousands who legally cross every day for work, school, shopping or to see bi-national relatives.

"Can you imagine having to show a passport and go through immigration when you go between Brooklyn and Manhattan?" Svarzbein asked.

Democratic analyst Colin Strother noted, "There are places that physical barriers make sense, but it does not make sense everywhere and that seems to be the big disconnect."

O'Rourke's attempts to explain his record could be difficult in a hotly contested primary campaign. His 2020 rivals could run into their own complications on the issue soon, however, after Congress approved $1.4 billion in new border wall funding as part of a deal to avoid the latest government shutdown.

In the end, O'Rourke "may have some firsthand knowledge, but I don't know if it's a winning argument," said Democratic political consultant James Aldrete, who helped conduct Hispanic outreach for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

El Paso had only limited border security before 1978 when, facing an influx of immigrants looking for work in the U.S., Congress approved chain-link fencing later dubbed the "Tortilla Curtain." A 1986 federal law granting legal status to about 2 million Mexicans in the U.S. made the prospect of heading north even more attractive.

Eventually, thousands of people were pouring into El Paso every day, sometimes paying as little as a quarter for rides on makeshift rafts over the Rio Grande.

"People could cross whenever they wanted," said Silvestre Reyes, who was chief of Border Patrol's El Paso sector in 1993 and won a congressional seat in 1996. "The city was tired of it."

Reyes ordered around-the-clock patrols and authorities repaired 100-plus holes in nine miles of fences downtown.

But when O'Rourke, then an upstart ex-City Council member, ran against Reyes in the 2012 Democratic primary, he didn't make Reyes' border crackdown an issue. Instead, O'Rourke more frequently complained of long wait times for cars crossing into El Paso from Juarez.

O'Rourke now opposes pumping any funding into new walls. Instead, he'd like to see a coalition of border Democrats and Republicans in Congress hammer out a broader immigration overhaul.

"We know that there is no bargain where we can sacrifice some of our humanity to gain a little more security," O'Rourke told an emotional El Paso rally he headlined after the Trump protest march. "We know that we deserve to, and will, lose both of them if we do."

Reyes doesn't agree with O'Rourke on much but also opposes erecting concrete walls, which Trump has supported in the past.

"We have a lot of slats where you can still see through it," he said of El Paso. "That helps Border Patrol agents, but it also is supported by people living at the border."

Source: NewsMax Politics

Welcome to Fox News First. Not signed up yet? Click here.

Developing now, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019

McCABE SAYS DEPUTY AG ROSENSTEIN ‘ABSOLUTELY SERIOUS’ ABOUT SECRETLY RECORDING TRUMP: The former FBI deputy director said in an interview broadcast Sunday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "was not joking" when he suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump in the Oval Office following the May 2017 dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.

McCabe, speaking to CBS News’ "60 Minutes," recounted a conversation soon after Comey’s firing about the ongoing Russia investigation in which he said Rosenstein told him: "I never get searched when I go into the White House. I could easily wear a recording device. They wouldn’t know it was there."

"Now, he was not joking," McCabe said of Rosenstein’s comments. "He was absolutely serious. And in fact, he brought it up in the next meeting we had."

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

CORY BOOKER ‘WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT ON SMOLLETT CASE AFTER CALLING IT ‘ATTEMPTED MODERN-DAY LYNCHING’: Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker told reporters Sunday that he would withhold judgment on the alleged attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett after calling the incident "an attempted modern-day lynching" when it was first reported last month … Booker cited the deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue this past October as well as the June 2015 shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C.

FILE: Actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. 

FILE: Actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles.  (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

"I’m gonna withhold until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources," the senator from New Jersey said after meeting with voters in Rochester, N.H. "We know in America that bigoted and biased attacks are on the rise in a serious way, and we actually even know– in this country– that since 9/11, the majority of the terrorist attacks on our soil have been right-wing terrorist attacks — the majority of them white supremacist attacks."

RUSH LIMBAUGH: SPENDING BILL WAS EFFORT BY SOME REPUBLICANS TO SABOTAGE TRUMP: Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking to "Fox News Sunday," charged that the compromise spending bill recently signed by President Trump to avert another partial government shutdown was little more than a disguised effort by some Republicans to torpedo his 2020 presidential candidacy…The radio host rejected claims that Trump is unduly influenced by right-wing media figures and "wackos" — an accusation that resurfaced amid the ongoing border wall funding dispute.

"Both parties have people that are still trying to get rid of Donald Trump," Limbaugh said, asserting that Democrats are also working to guarantee a "permanent underclass of voters" who are "uneducated" and "don’t even speak" English.

  • WATCH: Rush Limbaugh on whether Trump is justified in taking executive action to secure funding for his border wall

BILL DE BLASIO CORRECTS OCASIO-CORTEZ’S CLAIMS ABOUT SPENDING AMAZON TAX BREAK MONEY: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested on Sunday that critics of the potential Amazon campus New York City — such as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — got the facts wrong over the money behind the tax breaks … The Democratic mayor said: “And that $3 billion that would go back in tax incentives was only after we were getting the jobs and getting the revenue.”

On Sunday morning, de Blasio responded in the affirmative when Chuck Todd of NBC News’ “Meet the Press” asked if the tax breaks offered to Amazon weren’t “money you had over here. And it was going over there.”

THE SOUNDBITE

SOMETHING WAS AMISS – “This is a duly elected president, someone who the entire country said we want to be our president, and here we see that yet again people cannot accept the results of an election. And by the way, the president knew that something was amiss, he’d been saying from the very beginning, something’s going on within in the FBI, something’s wrong within my justice department. He knew and everybody said, “oh, he’s crazy.” No, he wasn’t. This is exactly the thing that he was talking about happening. It’s disgraceful and I think he needs to answer a lot of questions.” – Lara Trump, on “Fox & Friends,” discussing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s admission that he ordered an obstruction of justice probe against President Donald Trump. WATCH

TODAY’S MUST-READS

New Yorkers fleeing to Florida need to leave their terrible blue state policies behind as well

How Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer went to war

Florida boy, 11, arrested after refusing to recite ‘racist’ Pledge of Allegiance: report.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS

Student-loan payment may soon come directly out of your paycheck

IRS refund frenzy: Democrats blast Trump Treasury for ‘goosing’ paychecks

Amazon vs Ocasio-Cortez: 25K NYC job promise had holes

If Joe Biden runs, his presidency goes through Wall Street

Married filing taxes jointly vs. separately: Pros and cons

STAY TUNED

On Fox Nation:

Dr. Drew reacts to Jonah Hill’s comments on "UN-PC" – Dr. Drew Pinsky urged actor Jonah Hill to "double-down" on his traditional form of comedy on Fox Nation’s "UN-PC" after Hill said in a recent interview that he wants to "challenge traditional masculinity" in his films. Watch a preview of the show now.

Not a subscriber? Click here to join Fox Nation today!

On Fox News:

Fox & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include Scott Stephenson, president of the Museum of the American Revolution; Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and CEO of National MS Society; Chef John Doherty, former executive chef at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City for 23 years, owner and chef at Black Barn Restaurant; Spencer Brown, Young America Foundation.

Outnumbered Overtime with Harris Faulker, 1 p.m. ET:  Guests include Ash Wright, GOP strategist, Sr. advisor to George P. Bush, former political director at the Republican Party of Texas.

Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4 p.m. ET: Special guest: Melissa Armo, founder of the educational firm "The Stock Swoosh."

The Story with Martha MacCallum, 7 p.m. ET: Guests include: Katie Pavlich, FNC contributor, and Juan Williams, co-host of "The Five."

Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8 p.m. ET: Elizabeth Wagmeister, Page Six TV.

Hannity, 9 p.m. ET:  Gregg Jarrett, attorney, and Fox News anchor.

On Fox News Radio:

The Fox News Rundown podcast: "Trump Will Defend National Emergency Declaration" - President Trump and his advisers defend the use of a national emergency declaration to get funding for a border wall. FOX News Contributor and CEO of 32 Advisors, Robert Wolf, discusses what happens next. Famous for his role of Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, Gary Sinise has been traveling the world and supporting the United States military through his work with his foundation. He joined the podcast to talk about his experiences, and about what he’s learned. Plus, commentary by FOX’s Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano.

Want the Fox News Rundown sent straight to your mobile device? Subscribe through Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: Guests include: Rich Lowry discusses President Trump’s national emergency and the 2020 race; Amb. Dennis Ross, former special assistant to President Barack Obama, on Iran; Jonah Goldberg on McCabe, Trump’s national emergency and the 2020 race; Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on McCabe and the national emergency; American historian Jay Winick discusses Presidents’ Day.

#TheFlashback

2009: President Barack Obama launched a $75 billion foreclosure rescue plan aimed at saving homes.

1988: Anthony M. Kennedy was sworn in as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

1997: Astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery completed their tune-up of the Hubble Space Telescope after 33 hours of spacewalking; the Hubble was then released using the shuttle’s crane.

Fox News First is compiled by Fox News’ Bryan Robinson. Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this edition. Thank you for joining us! Have a good day! We’ll see you in your inbox first thing Tuesday morning.

Source: Fox News National

Welcome to Fox News First. Not signed up yet? Click here.

Developing now, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019

McCABE SAYS DEPUTY AG ROSENSTEIN ‘ABSOLUTELY SERIOUS’ ABOUT SECRETLY RECORDING TRUMP: The former FBI deputy director said in an interview broadcast Sunday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "was not joking" when he suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump in the Oval Office following the May 2017 dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.

McCabe, speaking to CBS News’ "60 Minutes," recounted a conversation soon after Comey’s firing about the ongoing Russia investigation in which he said Rosenstein told him: "I never get searched when I go into the White House. I could easily wear a recording device. They wouldn’t know it was there."

"Now, he was not joking," McCabe said of Rosenstein’s comments. "He was absolutely serious. And in fact, he brought it up in the next meeting we had."

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

CORY BOOKER ‘WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT ON SMOLLETT CASE AFTER CALLING IT ‘ATTEMPTED MODERN-DAY LYNCHING’: Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker told reporters Sunday that he would withhold judgment on the alleged attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett after calling the incident "an attempted modern-day lynching" when it was first reported last month … Booker cited the deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue this past October as well as the June 2015 shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C.

FILE: Actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. 

FILE: Actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles.  (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

"I’m gonna withhold until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources," the senator from New Jersey said after meeting with voters in Rochester, N.H. "We know in America that bigoted and biased attacks are on the rise in a serious way, and we actually even know– in this country– that since 9/11, the majority of the terrorist attacks on our soil have been right-wing terrorist attacks — the majority of them white supremacist attacks."

RUSH LIMBAUGH: SPENDING BILL WAS EFFORT BY SOME REPUBLICANS TO SABOTAGE TRUMP: Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking to "Fox News Sunday," charged that the compromise spending bill recently signed by President Trump to avert another partial government shutdown was little more than a disguised effort by some Republicans to torpedo his 2020 presidential candidacy…The radio host rejected claims that Trump is unduly influenced by right-wing media figures and "wackos" — an accusation that resurfaced amid the ongoing border wall funding dispute.

"Both parties have people that are still trying to get rid of Donald Trump," Limbaugh said, asserting that Democrats are also working to guarantee a "permanent underclass of voters" who are "uneducated" and "don’t even speak" English.

  • WATCH: Rush Limbaugh on whether Trump is justified in taking executive action to secure funding for his border wall

BILL DE BLASIO CORRECTS OCASIO-CORTEZ’S CLAIMS ABOUT SPENDING AMAZON TAX BREAK MONEY: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested on Sunday that critics of the potential Amazon campus New York City — such as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — got the facts wrong over the money behind the tax breaks … The Democratic mayor said: “And that $3 billion that would go back in tax incentives was only after we were getting the jobs and getting the revenue.”

On Sunday morning, de Blasio responded in the affirmative when Chuck Todd of NBC News’ “Meet the Press” asked if the tax breaks offered to Amazon weren’t “money you had over here. And it was going over there.”

THE SOUNDBITE

SOMETHING WAS AMISS – “This is a duly elected president, someone who the entire country said we want to be our president, and here we see that yet again people cannot accept the results of an election. And by the way, the president knew that something was amiss, he’d been saying from the very beginning, something’s going on within in the FBI, something’s wrong within my justice department. He knew and everybody said, “oh, he’s crazy.” No, he wasn’t. This is exactly the thing that he was talking about happening. It’s disgraceful and I think he needs to answer a lot of questions.” – Lara Trump, on “Fox & Friends,” discussing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s admission that he ordered an obstruction of justice probe against President Donald Trump. WATCH

TODAY’S MUST-READS

New Yorkers fleeing to Florida need to leave their terrible blue state policies behind as well

How Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer went to war

Florida boy, 11, arrested after refusing to recite ‘racist’ Pledge of Allegiance: report.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS

Student-loan payment may soon come directly out of your paycheck

IRS refund frenzy: Democrats blast Trump Treasury for ‘goosing’ paychecks

Amazon vs Ocasio-Cortez: 25K NYC job promise had holes

If Joe Biden runs, his presidency goes through Wall Street

Married filing taxes jointly vs. separately: Pros and cons

STAY TUNED

On Fox Nation:

Dr. Drew reacts to Jonah Hill’s comments on "UN-PC" – Dr. Drew Pinsky urged actor Jonah Hill to "double-down" on his traditional form of comedy on Fox Nation’s "UN-PC" after Hill said in a recent interview that he wants to "challenge traditional masculinity" in his films. Watch a preview of the show now.

Not a subscriber? Click here to join Fox Nation today!

On Fox News:

Fox & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include Scott Stephenson, president of the Museum of the American Revolution; Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and CEO of National MS Society; Chef John Doherty, former executive chef at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City for 23 years, owner and chef at Black Barn Restaurant; Spencer Brown, Young America Foundation.

Outnumbered Overtime with Harris Faulker, 1 p.m. ET:  Guests include Ash Wright, GOP strategist, Sr. advisor to George P. Bush, former political director at the Republican Party of Texas.

Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4 p.m. ET: Special guest: Melissa Armo, founder of the educational firm "The Stock Swoosh."

The Story with Martha MacCallum, 7 p.m. ET: Guests include: Katie Pavlich, FNC contributor, and Juan Williams, co-host of "The Five."

Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8 p.m. ET: Elizabeth Wagmeister, Page Six TV.

Hannity, 9 p.m. ET:  Gregg Jarrett, attorney, and Fox News anchor.

On Fox News Radio:

The Fox News Rundown podcast: "Trump Will Defend National Emergency Declaration" - President Trump and his advisers defend the use of a national emergency declaration to get funding for a border wall. FOX News Contributor and CEO of 32 Advisors, Robert Wolf, discusses what happens next. Famous for his role of Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, Gary Sinise has been traveling the world and supporting the United States military through his work with his foundation. He joined the podcast to talk about his experiences, and about what he’s learned. Plus, commentary by FOX’s Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano.

Want the Fox News Rundown sent straight to your mobile device? Subscribe through Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: Guests include: Rich Lowry discusses President Trump’s national emergency and the 2020 race; Amb. Dennis Ross, former special assistant to President Barack Obama, on Iran; Jonah Goldberg on McCabe, Trump’s national emergency and the 2020 race; Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on McCabe and the national emergency; American historian Jay Winick discusses Presidents’ Day.

#TheFlashback

2009: President Barack Obama launched a $75 billion foreclosure rescue plan aimed at saving homes.

1988: Anthony M. Kennedy was sworn in as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

1997: Astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery completed their tune-up of the Hubble Space Telescope after 33 hours of spacewalking; the Hubble was then released using the shuttle’s crane.

Fox News First is compiled by Fox News’ Bryan Robinson. Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this edition. Thank you for joining us! Have a good day! We’ll see you in your inbox first thing Tuesday morning.

Source: Fox News National

Cho Choung-hui, a North Korean defector and economist at the Northern Studies Society, poses for photographs during an interview with Reuters in Seoul
Cho Choung-hui, a North Korean defector and economist at the Northern Studies Society, poses for photographs during an interview with Reuters in Seoul, South Korea, February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Shin Hyon-hee

February 18, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – In January, thousands of North Korean students traveled to Mount Paektu, a sacred mountain where the ruling family claims its roots and where leader Kim Jong Un is building a massive economic hub at the alpine town of Samjiyon.

It is one of the largest construction initiatives Kim has launched, part of his campaign for a “self-reliant economy” even as he seeks to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to lift economic sanctions at their second summit later this month.

State media painted an inspiring picture of patriotic students braving harsh weather, eating frozen rice, and ignoring supervisors’ worries about their health in order to work harder on the huge building site.

Kim has visited Samjiyon, near the Chinese border, at least five times for inspections over the past year.

He envisages a “socialist utopia” with new apartments, hotels, a ski resort and commercial, cultural and medical facilities by late 2020, barely four years after Kim ordered modernization of the “sacred land of the revolution”.

North Korean defectors and human rights activists say such mass mobilizations amount to “slave labor” disguised as loyalty to Kim and the ruling Workers’ Party. Young workers get no pay, poor food and are forced to work more than 12 hours a day for up to 10 years in return for better chances to enter a university or join the all powerful Workers’ Party.

But as private markets boom and more people cherish financial stability above political standing, the regime has been struggling to recruit the young laborers in recent years, they say.

“Nobody would go there if not for a party membership or education, which helps you land a better job. But these days, you can make a lot more money from the markets,” said Cho Chung-hui, a defector and former laborer.

“Loyalty is the bedrock of the brigades but what do you expect from people who know the taste of money?”

‘BOILING BLOOD OF YOUTH’

Last year, after declaring his nuclear weapons program complete, Kim shifted his focus toward the economy, saying people’s well-being was a top priority.

Samjiyon is at the center of his new economic initiative, touted as what would be a “model of modern mountainous city to be the envy of the world,” alongside an ongoing project to create a tourist hotspot in the coastal city of Wonsan. http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/NORTHKOREA-TOURISM/0100516J2NK/index.html

The labor units, called dolgyeokdae or youth brigades, were created by Kim’s late grandfather Kim Il Sung to build railways, roads, electricity networks and other infrastructure projects after the Korean peninsula was liberated from Japan’s 1910-45 occupation.

Open North Korea, a Seoul-based rights group, estimated the total brigade workforce at 400,000 as of 2016. A landmark 2014 U.N. report on North Korean human rights put it at between 20,000 and 100,000 per municipality, depending on its size.

“How did Kim rally manpower and resources for so many big construction programs despite sanctions? It’s simple – whatever you need, suck it out of the people,” said Kwon Eun-kyoung, director of the group, who has interviewed more than 40 former brigade members.

North Korean state media has run a series of articles over the past month appealing for young people to dedicate their “boiling blood of youth” to renovate Samjiyon, while Kim has expressed his gratitude to those who sent construction materials and supplies.

Articles and photos show factories, families and individuals packaging winter jackets, tools, shoes, blankets and biscuits in boxes to be delivered to Samjiyon.

The state provides a limited amount of materials including cement and iron bars, leaving brigades to bring gravel and sand from river banks themselves, Cho and Kwon said.

A 60-minute documentary on state television, broadcast 10 times since December, shows young men carrying stones in heavy snow and doing masonry work on a tall structure without any apparent safety devices.

Last month, the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said thousands of university students produced 100 meter-high (300 ft-high) piles of gravel by crushing rocks with nothing but hand tools on their first day alone. It likened the feat to the efforts of forefathers who fought against Japanese imperial forces during World War II.

“The weather was so cold the rice were like ice cubes, but we didn’t want to waste a single precious second heating it up. I thought of our anti-Japan revolutionary martyrs while chewing frozen rice,” the article quoted one student’s diary.

State media often exaggerates loyalty pledges of the citizens toward the leaders as part of efforts to craft a personality cult around them.

But Cho, the defector, said the reports were “far from reality” as most workers would not even get a safety helmet, and labor conditions were so hostile that many ran away.

MONEY OVER LOYALTY

The untrained workers, along with the military, provide most of the construction labor essential to accomplish Kim’s pet economic projects.

But mounting public resistance toward the mobilization of free labor and supplies may spell trouble for Kim’s ambition to transform Samjiyon, defectors and observers say.

Cho said authorities offered him party membership and college entrance if he gave three years service to the brigades. The commitment eventually stretched to eight years before he received the suggested rewards in 1987.

Not all promises are kept. Lee Oui-ryok, 29, said he fled a brigade he had served for three years from age 17 and came to the South in 2010 after realizing he would never be allowed to join the party due to his background.

In addition, human rights abuses of brigade members are rampant, prompting many to escape or injure themselves to be discharged, said Cho, who defected to the South in 2011 and is now an economist in Seoul.

Nowadays, those who have money exempt themselves from the service by sending supplies, paying someone else to fulfill the duty, or bribing brigade leaders to turn a blind eye, Cho and Kwon said.

Most new labor unit members are from the most underprivileged households and harbor ill feelings about the system and its growing inequality, said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“They will push out the propaganda claims about these projects and the love of Kim Jong Un motivating people to work, but the reality is punishments await those who refuse,” said Robertson.

“It’s usually the poorest denizens in the area who have few connections and cannot afford to pay bribes – so they are the ones being targeted.”

The North Korean mission to the United Nations in New York did not respond to a request for comment.

In late 2017, the U.S. State Department described the mass mobilization of forced labor as one of the human rights abuses underwriting North Korea’s weapons program. It blacklisted seven individuals and three entities, including two construction agencies.

The rise of markets and growing public resentment toward forced labor have eroded the quality of labor at most brigades nationwide, defectors say.

Kang Mi-jin, a defector who regularly speaks with North Koreans for the defector-run Daily NK website, said some construction work at Samjiyon was temporarily halted last month due to safety problems.

“It’s inconceivable for North Korea to complete such a large project without these brigades, but there’s no way they have the full labor force they need, which is why they’re trying to mobilize more through state media,” Cho said.

“But they would only continue to see more people run away and more cracks in buildings. That’s the reality.”

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A man reads a newspaper outside a branch of Punjab National Bank in Ahmedabad
FILE PHOTO: A man reads a newspaper outside a branch of Punjab National Bank (PNB) in Ahmedabad, India, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Amit Dave

February 18, 2019

By Chris Thomas and Krishna V Kurup

(Reuters) – One year after being hit by a $2 billion scam, India’s Punjab National Bank (PNB) is set to return to annual profits and strong loan growth in fiscal 2020 even as investigations continue into the country’s biggest banking fraud.

State-run PNB has already surprised markets with an earlier-than-expected profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31 as it completed setting aside funds to cover for the scam and its bad loan levels eased.

(GRAPHIC: Punjab National Bank on track for recovery – https://tmsnrt.rs/2TR2ZLW)

While the lender is still likely to post a loss of 59.84 billion rupees ($837.16 million) for this fiscal year ending March 31, analysts expect PNB to return to a full-year profit in the next fiscal, according to Refinitiv data.

The bank is expected to clock a net profit of 22.66 billion rupees for the year ending March 2020, which would be its highest annual profit in five years.

“The way the bank is shaping up, it is quite clear FY20 promises to be a much cleaner and better year for them,” said Abhinesh Vijayaraj, vice president equity research for Spark Capital Advisors (India).

PNB’s loan growth is estimated to be 8.33 percent for fiscal 2020, its highest in 4 years, as per the mean of analysts’ estimates from Refinitiv. Its total assets are projected to grow at the highest rate in three years.

(GRAPHIC: Loan growth at PNB and SBI – https://tmsnrt.rs/2UYopa5)

The lender said in February 2018 two jewelry groups used fake bank guarantees issued by rogue staff to raise credit overseas, triggering a plunge in its stock and driving it to three straight quarterly losses due to fraud-related provisions.

PNB’s loss for the quarter following the scam’s discovery was also a massive $1.90 billion – the biggest ever for an Indian lender.

INDUSTRY TREND

Market participants believe fiscal 2020 will likely be good for other lenders as well.

“It’s going to be a good period for corporate lenders on the whole in FY20 as credit growth has picked up and asset quality-related problems are largely behind us,” said Alpesh Mehta, an analyst with Mumbai-based brokerage Motilal Oswal Securities.

In FY20, State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender by assets, and smaller peer Bank of Baroda are expected to report their best annual profits since at least 1998.

(GRAPHIC: Punjab National Bank PE – https://tmsnrt.rs/2TPXptk)

PNB’s shares have fallen about 56 percent since mid-Feb last year. That plunge makes its shares undervalued compared to their valuation in previous years. It currently trades at a 12-month forward price to earnings ratio (PE) of 9.29 in comparison with the last five years’ average of 15.7 and last two years’ average of 31.9.

Analysts too feel the stock is currently undervalued after multiple infusions of capital by the Indian government. Since Jan. 2018, the government has infused close to $2 billion into PNB to help shore up capital and revive loan growth.

(GRAPHIC: PNB share price – https://tmsnrt.rs/2TP5rCz)

Some analysts, though, are cautious about PNB’s prospects.

“The major concern is how has PNB changed their systems and processes following the scam, as it was unimaginable that such a big fraud could take place at one bank,” said Asutosh Mishra, head of research of institutional equity at Ashika Stock Broking Ltd.

“Where will the bank be in three years is really the question,” Spark Capital’s Vijayaraj said.

For an interactive graphic on loan growth and profit trajectory, click – https://tmsnrt.rs/2EaoFNS

(Reporting by Chris Thomas and Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Graphics and additional reportng by Gaurav Dogra in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana
FILE PHOTO: The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes/File Photo

February 18, 2019

By David Morgan and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – California will “imminently” challenge President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to obtain funds for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Sunday.

“Definitely and imminently,” Becerra told ABC’s “This Week” program when asked whether and when California would sue the Trump administration in federal court. Other states controlled by Democrats are expected to join the effort.

“We are prepared, we knew something like this might happen. And with our sister state partners, we are ready to go,” he said.

Trump invoked the emergency powers on Friday under a 1976 law after Congress rebuffed his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall that was a signature 2016 campaign promise.

The move is intended to allow him to redirect money appropriated by Congress for other purposes to wall construction.

The White House says Trump will have access to about $8 billion. Nearly $1.4 billion was allocated for border fencing under a spending measure approved by Congress last week, and Trump’s emergency declaration is aimed at giving him another $6.7 billion for the wall.

Becerra cited Trump’s own comment on Friday that he “didn’t need to do this” as evidence that the emergency declaration is legally vulnerable.

“It’s become clear that this is not an emergency, not only because no one believes it is but because Donald Trump himself has said it’s not,” he said. 

Becerra and California Governor Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, have been expected to sue to block Trump’s move.

Becerra told ABC that California and other states are waiting to learn which federal programs will lose money to determine what kind of harm the states could face from the declaration.

He said California may be harmed by less federal funding for emergency response services, the military and stopping drug trafficking.

“We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm,” Becerra said.

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s move on Friday, saying it violates the Constitution and would infringe on their property rights.

The legal challenges could at least slow down Trump’s efforts to build the wall but would likely end up at the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.

Congress never defined a national emergency in the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which has been invoked dozens of times without a single successful legal challenge.

Democrats in Congress have vowed to challenge Trump’s declaration and several Republican lawmakers have said they are not certain whether they would support the president.

“I think many of us are concerned about this,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump could, however, veto any resolution of disapproval from Congress.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News on Sunday that Trump’s declaration would allow the administration to build “hundreds of miles” of border wall by September 2020.

“We have 120-odd miles that are already under construction or are already obligated plus the additional funds we have and then we’re going to outlay – we’re going to look at a few hundred miles.”

Trump’s proposed wall and wider immigration policies are likely to be a major campaign issue ahead of the next presidential election in November 2020, where he will seek a second four-year term.

(Reporting by David Morgan and David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

Four Democratic congresswomen suggested allegations Sen. Amy Klobuchar mistreated her staff could be misconstrued because she’s a woman, The Hill reports.

Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, last Sunday announced she was running for president in 2020, a week after the Huffington Post reported that some former staffers complained she was demeaning and prone to outbursts of cruelty.

“Women are not usually applauded for being tough. And then when you are…” Rep. Anna Eshoo D-Calif., trailing off, told The Hill. “But you know what, she's a big girl. She'll handle it. She'll do fine.”

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., told the news outlet she thinks women are judged by a different standard, “so what can seem tough in a man, the adjectives used for men, are not always so kind when they’re used for women.”

Klobuchar is facing criticism for issues that “don’t necessarily get focused on with male candidates, including things like likability,” added Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., noted President Donald Trump’s turnover rate (65 percent) was higher than Klobuchar’s (36 percent), “but somehow it’s an issue for Ms. Klobuchar.”

Klobuchar last week told reporters she was tough and said she pushed people.

“I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country,” she said. “In the end, there are so many great stories of our staff that have been with me for years.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

A man walks past in front of a stock quotation board showing the price of the SoftBank Corp. and Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo
A man walks past in front of a stock quotation board showing the price of the SoftBank Corp. and Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

February 18, 2019

By Ayai Tomisawa and Alun John

TOKYO/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Japanese share buybacks have hit a record this fiscal year and are set to maintain the booming growth as cash-rich companies bow to pressure from investors and the government to boost returns and improve governance.

In recent weeks, SoftBank Group Corp, Sony, Itochu Corp and other companies have announced plans to buy back shares worth more than 1.3 trillion yen, bringing the total value of buybacks flagged since April 1 to over 6.5 trillion yen ($58.92 billion).

That is already the most for any fiscal year since 2003 when the current buyback rules were introduced, according to financial data service firm I-N Information Systems.

(GRAPHIC: Japan Buyback – https://tmsnrt.rs/2E9ABPV)

Investors have long criticized Japanese companies for hoarding cash rather than investing it or returning it to shareholders, pushing down their returns on equity (ROE), a measure of the amount of profit a company generates from the money invested in it.

Buying back shares reduces a company’s equity base, boosting its ROE.

“This past month has seen a lot of very positive shareholder-friendly activity from a wide array of Japanese companies,” said Seth Fischer, founder and chief investment officer of Oasis Management, citing actions by SoftBank, Sony, Haseko, Tokyo Tatemono and Toppan Printing.

“To attract foreign investors, companies should continue this path of increasing shareholder returns, while continuing to improve their corporate governance.”

Activist investor Oasis, among others, has been vocal in urging Japanese companies to boost returns. In December, Oasis failed to block the sale of Alpine Electronics to its larger affiliate Alps Electric, but Alps did announce a 45 billion yen buyback in January, the third largest buyback that month.

Japan Inc is under pressure to appease foreign investors after they sold 13 trillion yen of Japanese stocks in 2018, more than four times the net sales in 2015 and 2016, and a sharp reversal of the net 1.9 trillion yen bought in 2017.

“Recently, the global economy is weak and the Japanese market has fallen as foreign fast money has been selling aggressively,” said Archibald Ciganer, co-head of Japanese equity at money manager T.Rowe Price.

“But those Japanese companies that have good governance are taking advantage of cheaper stock prices and putting a floor under their stock price through buybacks.”

Share buybacks have had political pushback elsewhere. In the United States, Senator Marco Rubio last week announced plans to tax buybacks in an effort to encourage companies to reinvest spare cash instead of returning it to shareholders.

In Japan, though, policy makers have been urging companies to pay more attention to the wishes of investors, most notably through the country’s corporate governance and stakeholders codes. Guidelines released last year urged firms to focus on their financial management policies, including the amount of cash they had on hand.

According to Ministry of Finance data, Japanese companies had internal reserves worth a record 446.5 trillion yen at the end of their latest fiscal year.

Japanese companies’ ROEs are expected to fall below 10 percent this fiscal year for their first decline in three years, according to Nomura Securities.

“Many Japanese companies simply have too much cash on their balance sheets weighing down their ROEs. Better capital structure management is definitely needed,” said Kin Chan, chief investment officer of Argyle Street Management.

(GRAPHIC: Foreign investors outflow – https://tmsnrt.rs/2BMtYl1)

A revision to Japan’s corporate governance code last year, designed to push companies to sell stakes in other companies, is also driving buybacks.

“Dissolving cross shareholdings, and increasing dividends and buybacks are two ways to make Japanese companies more attractive to foreign investors,” said Patrick Moonen, principal multi asset strategist at Netherlands-based NN Investment Partners.

Further buybacks are expected. Analysts at Goldman Sachs predict that buybacks will reach 7.8 trillion yen for the 12 months to the end of March 2020.

Currently, 56 percent of Japanese non-financial companies in the benchmark Topix index sit on net cash – meaning they have funds left over even if they paid all debts tomorrow. That compares with less than 20 percent in the United States or Europe, according to figures from brokerage CLSA.

“I tell investors that the presents are still under the Christmas tree,” said Nicholas Smith, CLSA’s Japan strategist.

(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo and Alun John in Hong Kong; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN

Biden slams Trump's treatment of European allies as speculation mounts of possible 2020 run

Amid widespread speculation that he could soon declare his candidacy for the 2020 presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden offered up this weekend his latest critique of the Trump administration and its foreign policy direction.

Speaking during a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Biden criticized President Trump’s treatment of the United States’ traditional allies in Western Europe and promised a rekindling of the close ties European powers shared with Washington.

“The America I see does not wish to turn our back on the world or our closest allies,” Biden said, as The Washington Post reported.

He added: “The America I see cherishes a free press, democracy, the rule of law. It stands up to the aggression of dictators and against strongmen.”

BIDEN, SANDERS, HARRIS, WARREN TOP 2020 DEM FIELD IN NEW POLL

Biden has been one of the harshest voices speaking out against Trump’s isolationist “America First” initiatives and his continued condemnation of the White House’s policies have added more fuel to the rumors that he could plan to challenge Trump in the 2020 race.

“This too shall pass. We will be back. We will be back," Biden said in Munich, according to the New York Times.

A source close to the Biden camp told Fox News last week that the former vice president is almost certain to enter the race soon.

The source said the timing of an announcement is still up in the air. With such a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls, Biden wants to keep big donors and potential staffers with him and has been conducting outreach to former colleagues, grassroots activists and contributors, the source said.

The 76-year-old former vice president’s decision comes as a slew of younger and more liberal Democrats have already jumped into the fray, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

BIDEN STRIKES CONTRAST WITH 2020 FIELD, JOKES ABOUT LIKING REPUBLICANS

However, some close to Biden have suggested that with his name recognition and long record of public service, he could afford to wait before moving forward.

Also speaking at the conference in Munich was the man who took Biden’s job when Trump came into office, Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence used his time at the pulpit to double down on American criticism of Europe.

Pence stuck to the U.S. line that the NATO guideline for its nations to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense is a strict commitment rather than a target, saying while more alliance members have met the criteria, "the truth is, many of our NATO allies still need to do more."

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

He also reiterated American opposition to the joint German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which Washington has claimed could make Europe overly reliant on Russian gas.

"The United States commends all our European partners who’ve taken a strong stand against Nord Stream 2," he said. "And we commend others to do that same."

He added: "We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East."

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Rush Limbaugh: Spending bill was effort by some Republicans to sabotage Trump

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking to "Fox News Sunday," charged that the compromise spending bill recently signed by President Trump to avert another partial government shutdown was little more than a disguised effort by some Republicans to torpedo his 2020 presidential candidacy.

Limbaugh also rejected claims that President Trump is unduly influenced by right-wing media figures and "wackos" — an accusation that resurfaced amid the ongoing border wall funding dispute.

Late last year, a slew of prominent conservatives, including columnist Ann Coulter, excoriated Trump for appearing to back down on his threat not to sign any spending bill without wall funding. Trump responded by unfollowing Coulter on Twitter, then reversing course and insisting on money for the barrier project on the way to a historic 35-day partial government shutdown.

"It’s just another effort to continue to try to diminish the president — diminish President Trump as someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing, can’t do it without guidance from the wacko right," Limbaugh told host Chris Wallace. "It’s not at all the way he’s governing, and there isn’t anybody doing what I do that has a thing to do with actually making policy for this president."

FILE - In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)

FILE – In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)

On Friday, Trump said he is declaring a national emergency on the southern border, tapping into executive powers in a bid to divert billions toward construction of a wall even as he signed a funding package to avert another shutdown that includes just $1.4 billion for border security — far short of the $5.7 billion he has long requested for the wall.

The compromise legislation, which overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate last week, contained enough funding for building just 55 miles of barricades, not the 200-plus miles the White House has sought.

MCCABE, ROSENSTEIN NEED TO TESTIFY ON PLOT TO REMOVE PRESIDENT VIA 25TH AMENDMENT, TOP GOP OFFICIALS SAY

The bill, which took bargainers three weeks to strike, provided additional funding for 5,000 more beds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can use to house illegal immigrants. But in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer illegal immigrants, Democrats ensured that the bill did not include funding for the 2,000 additional ICE agents requested by the Trump administration, or the 750 Border Patrol agents that were also sought.

Mexican Federal Police in riot gear guard outside of a migrant shelter for Central American immigrants in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Mexican Federal Police in riot gear guard outside of a migrant shelter for Central American immigrants in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Several Republicans, including Texas Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Chip Roy, voted against the bill, saying it didn’t properly address the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across the border. Roy called the bill a "sham," and said the funding bill "undermines the whole point of an emergency declaration."

"We have an emergency — this is an invasion."

— Rush Limbaugh

For his part, Limbaugh said not enough attention is being given to Democrats’ resistance to even minimal border security measures. In an interview last week, potential Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for existing border walls to be torn down.  Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she "could support" that position as well.

Central American immigrants line up to register with Mexican Immigration officials at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Central American immigrants line up to register with Mexican Immigration officials at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

"We have an emergency — this is an invasion," Limbaugh said, referring to the flow of thousands of illegal immigrants — including many in organized caravans — that continue to approach the U.S. border.

"The very existence and definition of American culture, American society, the rule of law — why does nobody talk about the fact that millions and millions and millions of people are breaking the law here illegally and the Democrat Party wants that to happen?" Limbaugh asked.

The compromise spending bill will undermine the White House and won’t produce results at the border, Limbaugh added — and, he asserted, that might be what some Republicans intended.

Central American immigrant families look out through the fence of a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Central American immigrant families look out through the fence of a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

"Both parties have people that are still trying to get rid of Donald Trump. I read this bill — this spending bill, this bill is outrageous," Limbaugh said. "The thing’s welcoming centers for newly arriving illegal aliens, and all kinds of medical care for – the purpose of this bill, I think, was eventually to be used by the Democrats and some Republicans to tell the American people, ‘See, electing President Trump was pointless, worthless, he can’t protect you, he can’t stop us, he can’t do what he said he was going to do, because we hate him so much we’re not going to allow him to do it — that’s what this bill is."

Recently unearthed efforts by the FBI and Justice Department to begin discussions about ousting Trump in 2017, Limbaugh continued, only serve to underscore his point further. Fox News first reported on Sunday that top FBI lawyer James Baker, in closed-door testimony to Congress, detailed alleged discussions among senior officials at the Justice Department about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, claiming he was told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said two Trump Cabinet officials were “ready to support” such an effort.

The testimony was delivered last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Fox News has confirmed portions of the transcript. It provides additional insight into discussions that have returned to the spotlight in Washington as fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe revisits the matter during interviews promoting his forthcoming book.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

"People, simply because they don’t like a guy’s hairstyle or like where he came from, decided the American people’s decision was invalid and began a systematic process to get him out of office — this is a silent coup," Limbaugh said. "These guys, if you ask me, ought to be the ones in jail."

Asked who the likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominee will be, Limbaugh sided with former Vice President Joe Biden. Although Biden has not formally announced a bid, a source with direct knowledge told Fox News on Thursday that he is virtually certain to run.

"The frontrunner would probably be right now Joe Biden, 77 years old, plagiarist, nicknamed ‘plugs’ – I think he’s the guy they are probably thinking is the leader in the polls right now," Limbaugh said. "But it’s going to be very crowded. They’re going to be knocking each other off. That’s going to be fun to watch. Incumbancy carries with it a lot of power. … They’re getting way ahead of the game, and I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as they think."

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Report: Bernie Sanders Records Campaign Announcement Video

Bernie Sanders has recorded a campaign video in which he says he’s running for president in 2020, Politico reports, citing two people familiar. It’s unclear when, or whether, the video will be released, Politico says.

Sanders, 77, an independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, said earlier this week he would introduce a Medicare for All bill “fairly soon.” In the event of a campaign announcement, he would be joining a widening group of presidential hopefuls including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Kamala Harris of California, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey

Sanders spokeswoman Sarah Ford didn’t respond to a request for comment from Politico. In January, Politico reported that the Sanders team was in talks with film-making company Means of Production, which created New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign video in the 2018 midterm election.

Source: NewsMax Politics

2020 Dems hit early voting states; Weld explores GOP bid

Several Democratic presidential candidates are spending the long holiday weekend on the campaign trail, while a Republican has announced he’s creating an exploratory committee for a possible 2020 run.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California are visiting early voting states on Friday that will be critical to securing the Democratic nomination next year.

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016, said Friday that he was considering challenging President Donald Trump in a 2020 Republican primary.

A look at midterm campaign activities ahead of Presidents Day weekend:

___

GILLIBRAND

Gillibrand, in New Hampshire, participated in a walking tour of downtown Concord before visiting businesses in Dover and meeting members of the LGBT community in Somersworth.

On Friday, she called Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border "inappropriate" and said Trump manufactured a crisis to justify the move.

The only national emergency, she said, "is the humanitarian crisis that President Trump has created at our border from separating family from children and treating people who need our help inhumanely."

Gillibrand visited a coffee shop in downtown Concord before stopping to listen to a homeless man, Kevin Clark, play a song by Cat Stevens called "Father and Son." She praised his singing and gave him a hug before heading off to a consignment shop, where she bought a vase and a small plate.

Later Friday, Gillibrand spoke at Teatotaller, a cafe in Somersworth that refers to itself as an "oasis of queer, hipster, tea, coffee and pastry goodness."

She told the crowd that she would advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community and called it "an outrage" for Trump to tell transgender people what bathrooms they can use or whether they are qualified to serve in the military. She said she would support the addition of a non-binary or third gender classification.

Gillibrand also spoke out in favor of the Green Neal Deal, a set of proposed programs that aim to address climate change.

___

HARRIS

Harris, who is campaigning in South Carolina, visited Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site of the 2015 shooting that killed nine African-American churchgoers.

Speaking to reporters after a lunchtime stop, Harris said she’d visited the church, known as Mother Emanuel, earlier Friday and called it a "very tragic symbol of failure of people, in particular in the United States Congress, to pass smart gun safety laws."

Mother Emanuel is one of the oldest black churches in the South. During her visit, Harris paid her respects and left flowers. The church has been a pillar of African-American and spiritual life in South Carolina.

At a town hall in North Charleston later Friday, the scoreboard overhead in the gymnasium was changed to reflect the date of South Carolina’s Democratic primary: Feb. 29, 2020. The crowd swelled, and some attendees climbed on top of folded bleachers for makeshift seating.

Harris talked about the bill that the Senate passed this week that would explicitly make lynching a federal crime. Harris, one of three black members of the Senate, introduced the bill with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Booker is also running for president.

Harris says lynchings are "a stain on America’s history."

While in South Carolina, she received an endorsement for president from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said on MSNBC: "I think the American people could not do better" than Harris.

___

WELD

Weld, who is little-known on the national stage but well-respected among veterans in the GOP established, announced the creation of an exploratory committee for president on Friday.

The move makes Trump the first incumbent president since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.

Weld served as Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1997 and was popular despite being a Republican in a heavily Democratic state. He held the line on spending and taxes but embraced liberal positions on abortion and gay rights.

Trump remains very popular with Republicans so he faces little risk of losing the GOP nomination.

But primary challenges often foreshadow trouble ahead for incumbent presidents. Bush and Democrat Jimmy Carter lost their bids for a second term after facing challenges from inside their own party.

Source: Fox News National

Trump declares national emergency, avoids shutdown

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Trump declares national emergency, avoids shutdown – Time Out: Teddy’s bears – Fox Poll: Majority thinks Dems can unseat Trump in 2020 – Schultz won’t run if Dems nominate a centrist – Something special turnip-ed eventually

TRUMP DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY, AVOIDS SHUTDOWN
NYT:President Trump declared a national emergency at the border on Friday to access billions of dollars to build a border wall that Congress refused to give him, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a fundamental confrontation over separation of powers. In a televised announcement in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said he would sign the declaration to protect the country from the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants coming across the border from Mexico, which he characterized as a profound threat to national security. ‘We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other,’ he said. … The declaration will enable Mr. Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall, White House officials said. Mr. Trump will also use more traditional presidential budgetary discretion to tap $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.”

Will a legal war be next? – Politico: “President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency … is set to unleash a furious legal war that could bog down the project for months or years. Immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials are all loudly signaling plans for a hail of legal writs aimed at blocking the president from what they have denounced as an unconstitutional end-run around the usual budget process. … [H]istorically it has been almost unthinkable for judges to interfere with or second-guess a president’s declaration of a military or national security emergency. However, legal experts said Trump’s history of erratic and inflammatory statements, his frequent rhetorical disconnects with senior officials in his administration and his tendency to see crises that others view as completely contrived mean that challengers stand a strong chance of finding a judge willing to throw a monkey wrench into the president’s plans.”

Fox Poll: Most voters favor immigration deal – Fox News: “A sizable majority of voters favors a broad immigration deal that includes a border barrier, non-barrier security measures, and humanitarian aid. At the same time, support for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border stands its highest since 2015. The number favoring the wall inched up for the second time in two months to 46 percent, according to the latest Fox News Poll. It was 43 percent last month during the government shutdown and 39 percent in September. The high mark was 50 percent in November 2015. Currently, 50 percent oppose the wall, down one point since January. A bipartisan 66 percent majority favors a budget deal that includes funding for some form of a border barrier, plus other security measures and humanitarian relief.”

THE RULEBOOK: STAY IN YOUR LANE
“In the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 14

TIME OUT: TEDDY’S BEARS
History: “On this day in 1903, toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution. One of Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting expeditions provided the inspiration for the Teddy bear. … Reports differ as to the exact details of the inspiration behind the teddy bear, but it is thought that while hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree. (The age, sex and state of health of the bear remain contested.) While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve – 52% unapproved; CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove.]

FOX POLL: MAJORITY THINKS DEMS CAN UNSEAT TRUMP IN 2020
Fox News: “After President Donald Trump took office, many voters doubted he would finish his term, much less stand for re-election. But, as the 2020 race heats up, voters are increasingly confident the eventual Democratic nominee will indeed face off against the current occupant of the White House. In August 2017, 58 percent thought Trump would finish his term. Now 70 percent do, according to the latest Fox News Poll released Thursday. The poll also found, paradoxically, an even higher number — 80 percent — think Trump will run for re-election. Fourteen percent do not. … So what are the odds the Democrats defeat Trump? A 55-percent majority say either excellent (19 percent) or good (36 percent) while 39 percent think they have either no chance (13 percent) or not much of one (26 percent). Most Democrats (84 percent) and a plurality of independents (48 percent) think the Democratic Party’s chances are excellent or good…”

Iowa Poll: Voters think a ‘seasoned’ politician can defeat Trump – Des Moines Register:Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders top the list of potential presidential candidates preferred by Iowa’s likely Democratic caucus-goers, reflecting their belief that it will take political experience to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. The results are part of a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll, setting the stage for the contest that will sweep across Iowa in the next 14 months. … Nearly half of poll respondents in the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state — 49 percent — say the right person to defeat Trump should be a ‘seasoned political hand’ rather than a ‘newcomer.’ … Thirty-six percent of poll respondents say a political ‘newcomer’ is best suited to defeat the president. In that role, Iowans currently favor Beto O’Rourke…”

Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Weld announces exploratory committee – ABC News: “Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, little-known on the national stage but well-respected among veterans in the GOP establishment, announced an exploratory committee for president on Friday, becoming the first Republican to move toward a serious primary challenge against President Donald Trump. There are new signs he won’t be the last. In the immediate aftermath of the 73-year-old Weld’s announcement at a breakfast event in New Hampshire, a senior aide for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich indicated Kasich is likely to launch a primary challenge as well. … Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, meanwhile, met privately last week with conservative leader Bill Kristol, who’s driving an effort to recruit a top-tier Trump primary challenger and operatives on the ground in key states. … Weld’s move makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.”

Team Trump keeping close eye on Harris, Warren and Booker – Politico: “Donald Trump’s political advisers are homing in on three declared Democratic candidates who they believe are the most viable at this early stage of the campaign. The reelection campaign has begun compiling opposition research on Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker and is eyeing opportunities to attack them. … Trump’s advisers are certain the list of announced Democratic candidates will grow exponentially before the first primary debate in June, and that their targets are certain to fluctuate over time. … Interviews with more than two dozen of the president’s closest advisers reveal that the Trump operation is watching the opening days of the Democratic primary with a mix of relief over the field’s sprint to the left, surprise over Harris’ impressive launch, and trepidation over the prospect of Joe Biden and Sherrod Brown threatening Trump’s Midwest stranglehold.”

SCHULTZ WON’T RUN IF DEMS NOMINATE A CENTRIST
WaPo: “Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Thursday that he would be willing to abandon his presidential ambitions midstream if Democrats nominate a centrist who makes it too difficult for him to win as an independent candidate. Schultz, who made the comments while visiting The Washington Post, has premised his exploration of a presidential campaign on the assumption that Democrats are likely to nominate a candidate that embraces what he calls ‘far-left’ ideas that will turn off enough moderate voters to open space for an independent candidate. He has paid for internal polling that he says suggest he would be competitive in a three-way race against President Trump and a liberal Democratic candidate such as Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). A more moderate Democratic nominee, such as former vice president Joe Biden or former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, could complicate Schultz’s perceived path to victory.”

Beto heads to the Midwest – Politico: “Beto O’Rourke is hitting the road again, this time for the Midwest. Following a massive rally in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Monday, the former Texas congressman and potential presidential candidate will visit with students at University of Wisconsin, Madison on Friday. He will then travel to Chicago, where he will address a national conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute on Saturday. Julián Castro, who has already declared for president, is also scheduled to speak at that event. O’Rourke’s meeting with students is closed to the media, a spokesman confirmed. … The events mark O’Rourke’s first public steps outside of Texas since a solo road trip that drew widespread attention throughout the Southwest. The visits come as O’Rourke edges closer to a presidential campaign. He has said he will make a decision about entering the race by the end of the month.”

Poll: New Jersey voters aren’t feeling Booker’s presidential bid – Monmouth University: “Sen. Cory Booker’s nascent presidential bid may get mixed reviews in his home state, but he starts off on much better footing than New Jersey’s last major contender, former governor Chris Christie. The Monmouth University Poll finds that Booker continues to earn a net positive job rating from Garden State residents, although his disapproval numbers have climbed. Most feel he will not be able to keep up with his senatorial duties while he is running for president but don’t think he needs to resign. However, if Booker is able to win the Democratic nomination, most New Jerseyans say he should forego a simultaneous run to retain his U.S. Senate seat in 2020. Booker earns a 48% approve to 36% disapprove rating from Garden State residents for his performance as the state’s junior U.S. senator. … [Booker’s] disapproval rating is the highest it has been since he took office in 2013.”

Dems announce first debate details – NYT: “The Democratic National Committee on Thursday unveiled the criteria for participation in the first two presidential primary debates, splitting the debates across two consecutive nights to accommodate an already sprawling field of candidates. … To qualify, a candidate must either reach 1 percent in three approved polls or raise at least $65,000 from 200 donors in 20 different states. Each candidate’s slot will be selected by a random drawing. The criteria will apply only to the first two debates, scheduled for back-to-back weeknights in June and July, allowing the committee to update its requirements as the field shifts. NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo are sponsoring the first debate, and CNN will host the second, with specific dates and locations to be announced in the coming weeks.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to work NBC News

Pergram: ‘Trump needs a transfer, may have to rob Peter to pay Paul’ Fox News

Interesting read: ‘The most important new woman in Congress is not who you think’Politico

SupCo to decide whether citizenship question can be included in 2020 census Fox News

McCabe rep downplays DOJ discussions on using 25th Amendment to oust TrumpFox News

AUDIBLE: TIME WILL TELL
“We’re nicer people. I mean look who they produced.” – Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said of Republicans and Trump to Politico. Brown added that Democrats will continue to remain nice to one another through primary season.  

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rush Limbaugh. 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.

Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

SOMETHING SPECIAL TURNIP-ED EVENTUALLY
WEHT: “Valentine’s Day is a chance to get your significant other something special. Sometimes, people will let you in on what they’re looking for, but one Ohio County man’s Valentine’s mix-up caused some big laughs on Thursday. Allan and Nina Harris, of Hartford, [Kentucky] have been married since 2006. For Valentine’s Day this year, Nina wanted something that would last so she told Allan that if he got her flowers, she’d like some tulips that she could plant outside. Tulips are an annual, which means they will come back every year. However, Nina did not know how to react when Allan showed up with turnips for Valentine’s Day on Thursday. Allan had apparently misunderstood what Nina wanted. Once the couple worked through what had happened, Allan did eventually go and get some tulips as well.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“One price of demystifying the universe is that science, unlike religion, asks only how, not why. As to the purpose of things, science is silent. But if science cannot talk about meaning, it can talk about harmony. And Halley’s [Comet] is at once a symbol and a proof of a deep harmony of the spheres.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 13, 1985. 

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

Trump declares national emergency, avoids shutdown

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Trump declares national emergency, avoids shutdown – Time Out: Teddy’s bears – Fox Poll: Majority thinks Dems can unseat Trump in 2020 – Schultz won’t run if Dems nominate a centrist – Something special turnip-ed eventually

TRUMP DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY, AVOIDS SHUTDOWN
NYT:President Trump declared a national emergency at the border on Friday to access billions of dollars to build a border wall that Congress refused to give him, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a fundamental confrontation over separation of powers. In a televised announcement in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said he would sign the declaration to protect the country from the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants coming across the border from Mexico, which he characterized as a profound threat to national security. ‘We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other,’ he said. … The declaration will enable Mr. Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall, White House officials said. Mr. Trump will also use more traditional presidential budgetary discretion to tap $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.”

Will a legal war be next? – Politico: “President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency … is set to unleash a furious legal war that could bog down the project for months or years. Immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials are all loudly signaling plans for a hail of legal writs aimed at blocking the president from what they have denounced as an unconstitutional end-run around the usual budget process. … [H]istorically it has been almost unthinkable for judges to interfere with or second-guess a president’s declaration of a military or national security emergency. However, legal experts said Trump’s history of erratic and inflammatory statements, his frequent rhetorical disconnects with senior officials in his administration and his tendency to see crises that others view as completely contrived mean that challengers stand a strong chance of finding a judge willing to throw a monkey wrench into the president’s plans.”

Fox Poll: Most voters favor immigration deal – Fox News: “A sizable majority of voters favors a broad immigration deal that includes a border barrier, non-barrier security measures, and humanitarian aid. At the same time, support for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border stands its highest since 2015. The number favoring the wall inched up for the second time in two months to 46 percent, according to the latest Fox News Poll. It was 43 percent last month during the government shutdown and 39 percent in September. The high mark was 50 percent in November 2015. Currently, 50 percent oppose the wall, down one point since January. A bipartisan 66 percent majority favors a budget deal that includes funding for some form of a border barrier, plus other security measures and humanitarian relief.”

THE RULEBOOK: STAY IN YOUR LANE
“In the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 14

TIME OUT: TEDDY’S BEARS
History: “On this day in 1903, toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution. One of Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting expeditions provided the inspiration for the Teddy bear. … Reports differ as to the exact details of the inspiration behind the teddy bear, but it is thought that while hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree. (The age, sex and state of health of the bear remain contested.) While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve – 52% unapproved; CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove.]

FOX POLL: MAJORITY THINKS DEMS CAN UNSEAT TRUMP IN 2020
Fox News: “After President Donald Trump took office, many voters doubted he would finish his term, much less stand for re-election. But, as the 2020 race heats up, voters are increasingly confident the eventual Democratic nominee will indeed face off against the current occupant of the White House. In August 2017, 58 percent thought Trump would finish his term. Now 70 percent do, according to the latest Fox News Poll released Thursday. The poll also found, paradoxically, an even higher number — 80 percent — think Trump will run for re-election. Fourteen percent do not. … So what are the odds the Democrats defeat Trump? A 55-percent majority say either excellent (19 percent) or good (36 percent) while 39 percent think they have either no chance (13 percent) or not much of one (26 percent). Most Democrats (84 percent) and a plurality of independents (48 percent) think the Democratic Party’s chances are excellent or good…”

Iowa Poll: Voters think a ‘seasoned’ politician can defeat Trump – Des Moines Register:Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders top the list of potential presidential candidates preferred by Iowa’s likely Democratic caucus-goers, reflecting their belief that it will take political experience to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. The results are part of a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll, setting the stage for the contest that will sweep across Iowa in the next 14 months. … Nearly half of poll respondents in the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state — 49 percent — say the right person to defeat Trump should be a ‘seasoned political hand’ rather than a ‘newcomer.’ … Thirty-six percent of poll respondents say a political ‘newcomer’ is best suited to defeat the president. In that role, Iowans currently favor Beto O’Rourke…”

Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Weld announces exploratory committee – ABC News: “Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, little-known on the national stage but well-respected among veterans in the GOP establishment, announced an exploratory committee for president on Friday, becoming the first Republican to move toward a serious primary challenge against President Donald Trump. There are new signs he won’t be the last. In the immediate aftermath of the 73-year-old Weld’s announcement at a breakfast event in New Hampshire, a senior aide for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich indicated Kasich is likely to launch a primary challenge as well. … Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, meanwhile, met privately last week with conservative leader Bill Kristol, who’s driving an effort to recruit a top-tier Trump primary challenger and operatives on the ground in key states. … Weld’s move makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.”

Team Trump keeping close eye on Harris, Warren and Booker – Politico: “Donald Trump’s political advisers are homing in on three declared Democratic candidates who they believe are the most viable at this early stage of the campaign. The reelection campaign has begun compiling opposition research on Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker and is eyeing opportunities to attack them. … Trump’s advisers are certain the list of announced Democratic candidates will grow exponentially before the first primary debate in June, and that their targets are certain to fluctuate over time. … Interviews with more than two dozen of the president’s closest advisers reveal that the Trump operation is watching the opening days of the Democratic primary with a mix of relief over the field’s sprint to the left, surprise over Harris’ impressive launch, and trepidation over the prospect of Joe Biden and Sherrod Brown threatening Trump’s Midwest stranglehold.”

SCHULTZ WON’T RUN IF DEMS NOMINATE A CENTRIST
WaPo: “Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Thursday that he would be willing to abandon his presidential ambitions midstream if Democrats nominate a centrist who makes it too difficult for him to win as an independent candidate. Schultz, who made the comments while visiting The Washington Post, has premised his exploration of a presidential campaign on the assumption that Democrats are likely to nominate a candidate that embraces what he calls ‘far-left’ ideas that will turn off enough moderate voters to open space for an independent candidate. He has paid for internal polling that he says suggest he would be competitive in a three-way race against President Trump and a liberal Democratic candidate such as Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). A more moderate Democratic nominee, such as former vice president Joe Biden or former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, could complicate Schultz’s perceived path to victory.”

Beto heads to the Midwest – Politico: “Beto O’Rourke is hitting the road again, this time for the Midwest. Following a massive rally in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Monday, the former Texas congressman and potential presidential candidate will visit with students at University of Wisconsin, Madison on Friday. He will then travel to Chicago, where he will address a national conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute on Saturday. Julián Castro, who has already declared for president, is also scheduled to speak at that event. O’Rourke’s meeting with students is closed to the media, a spokesman confirmed. … The events mark O’Rourke’s first public steps outside of Texas since a solo road trip that drew widespread attention throughout the Southwest. The visits come as O’Rourke edges closer to a presidential campaign. He has said he will make a decision about entering the race by the end of the month.”

Poll: New Jersey voters aren’t feeling Booker’s presidential bid – Monmouth University: “Sen. Cory Booker’s nascent presidential bid may get mixed reviews in his home state, but he starts off on much better footing than New Jersey’s last major contender, former governor Chris Christie. The Monmouth University Poll finds that Booker continues to earn a net positive job rating from Garden State residents, although his disapproval numbers have climbed. Most feel he will not be able to keep up with his senatorial duties while he is running for president but don’t think he needs to resign. However, if Booker is able to win the Democratic nomination, most New Jerseyans say he should forego a simultaneous run to retain his U.S. Senate seat in 2020. Booker earns a 48% approve to 36% disapprove rating from Garden State residents for his performance as the state’s junior U.S. senator. … [Booker’s] disapproval rating is the highest it has been since he took office in 2013.”

Dems announce first debate details – NYT: “The Democratic National Committee on Thursday unveiled the criteria for participation in the first two presidential primary debates, splitting the debates across two consecutive nights to accommodate an already sprawling field of candidates. … To qualify, a candidate must either reach 1 percent in three approved polls or raise at least $65,000 from 200 donors in 20 different states. Each candidate’s slot will be selected by a random drawing. The criteria will apply only to the first two debates, scheduled for back-to-back weeknights in June and July, allowing the committee to update its requirements as the field shifts. NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo are sponsoring the first debate, and CNN will host the second, with specific dates and locations to be announced in the coming weeks.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to work NBC News

Pergram: ‘Trump needs a transfer, may have to rob Peter to pay Paul’ Fox News

Interesting read: ‘The most important new woman in Congress is not who you think’Politico

SupCo to decide whether citizenship question can be included in 2020 census Fox News

McCabe rep downplays DOJ discussions on using 25th Amendment to oust TrumpFox News

AUDIBLE: TIME WILL TELL
“We’re nicer people. I mean look who they produced.” – Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said of Republicans and Trump to Politico. Brown added that Democrats will continue to remain nice to one another through primary season.  

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rush Limbaugh. 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.

Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

SOMETHING SPECIAL TURNIP-ED EVENTUALLY
WEHT: “Valentine’s Day is a chance to get your significant other something special. Sometimes, people will let you in on what they’re looking for, but one Ohio County man’s Valentine’s mix-up caused some big laughs on Thursday. Allan and Nina Harris, of Hartford, [Kentucky] have been married since 2006. For Valentine’s Day this year, Nina wanted something that would last so she told Allan that if he got her flowers, she’d like some tulips that she could plant outside. Tulips are an annual, which means they will come back every year. However, Nina did not know how to react when Allan showed up with turnips for Valentine’s Day on Thursday. Allan had apparently misunderstood what Nina wanted. Once the couple worked through what had happened, Allan did eventually go and get some tulips as well.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“One price of demystifying the universe is that science, unlike religion, asks only how, not why. As to the purpose of things, science is silent. But if science cannot talk about meaning, it can talk about harmony. And Halley’s [Comet] is at once a symbol and a proof of a deep harmony of the spheres.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 13, 1985. 

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump could have first 2020 GOP challenger

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 9:46 AM PT — Friday, February 15, 2019

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld on Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

President Trump may soon have a 2020 challenger on the GOP side. On Friday, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld announced he is launching an exploratory committee as he eyes a possible White House run.

Weld would be the first Republican candidate to announce a bid against the president as all major polls indicate President Trump would crush any GOP opponent in a hypothetical 2020 primary.

Weld looks to be trying to frame himself as a candidate who moderate Republicans and Independents can get behind, but still maintains the president has skills others will never have.

“He may have great energy and considerable raw talent, but he does not use them in ways that promote democracy, truth, justice and equal opportunity for all,” he stated when referencing President Trump.

Weld decided earlier this month to rejoin the Republican Party after switching to the Libertarian Party in 2016. He served as Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1997.

Source: OANN Top News

Biden, Bernie, Beto Oh My what a Generational Divide they Weave as they practice to …. The yawning age gap emerging in the Democratic 2020 field could force primary voters to choose between the party’s old and new guards. Former Vice President Joe Biden is 76. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is 37. Rep. Eric Swalwell is 38. Sen. […]

Media cherished as well as previous Texas Senate prospect Beto O’Rourke is blogging his approach via a typical American journey, with a rambling essay educating visitors he has in fact “been stuck recently” as he strikes the street to fulfill individuals as well as damage the funk (as well as probably pick a 2020 run). […]


Current track

Title

Artist