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On the roster: Dems, not GOP, show biggest shift on immigration – Mueller wants answers from Trump directly – Manchin to run for re-election, even though it ‘sucks’ – That’s a tasering…

DEMS, NOT GOP, SHOW BIGGEST SHIFT ON IMMIGRATION

The gathering conflict around immigration policy in Washington reminds us that, as so often happens in politics, it is the issues of narrow concern that cause the broadest discontent.

That’s not to say that Americans don’t care about immigration policy, it’s just that it is a second- or third- order consideration for most folks. And as we have talked about before, there is actually fairly broad consensus on major issues.

Americans overwhelmingly want a secure, sensible process but also want merciful accommodations for those who came to the United States illegally but have been contributing members of our society for many years.

It’s easy to see why so many politicians have blundered into “comprehensive” legislation on the subject since voters overwhelmingly like the idea of something like trading amnesty for enforcement.

But like other social issues, the fight over immigration is dominated by the extremes, as we saw play out over the past week.

In the 2016 election, just 13 percent of voters said that immigration was their top issue compared to 52 percent for the economy. And it’s not just exit polls. Survey after survey shows that Americans rank immigration down with concerns like the environment, foreign policy and other things that they know they’re supposed to think are important.

Like many things in the modern, primary-driven world of politics, though, narrow issues make the best wedges. Certainly, President Trump demonstrated as much when he rode the issue to the Republican nomination in 2016. It may not have been the top issue with most Republicans, but it sure was for Republican activists.

The successive earthquakes that have taken place in the Republican Party since George W. Bush’s failed policy overhaul in 2007 have gotten lots of attention. But to understand why we are currently staring into the gapping maw of potential successive government shutdowns, it is necessary to see the whole picture.

Gallup has been tracking opinions on immigration since 2001. And over most of the past 17 years Republicans have generally been more dissatisfied with immigration policy then Democrats, and mostly Republicans have wanted fewer foreign-born people coming to America.

But Democrats have also been quite consistent over time… until 2012.

In the year of Barack Obama’s re-election, 62 percent of Democrats were dissatisfied with the current level of immigration into the U.S., about the same as it had been for a decade – less dissatisfaction than Republicans, but still a considerable amount with 62 percent unhappy with the status quo.

But in the past six years, those numbers collapsed with Democratic dissatisfaction dropping as low as 34 percent, a full 43 points less than Republicans.

But where things really get interesting is the reason for that dissatisfaction. In 2012, most of the Democrats unhappy with immigration policy wanted less immigration. In 2018 that just hasn’t flipped, but been turned backside over tea kettle.

Just 25 percent of Democrats unhappy with the immigration system now want fewer immigrants, a huge swing in just six years.

There are lots of ways to explain this shift, including the demography of the Democratic Party itself, the belief among many Democrats that Hispanic voters are the key to the future and, probably most of all, a reaction to Trump’s rise.

There is no doubt that the Republican hardliners, like Sen. Tom Cotton R-Ark., are going to make life miserable for anyone looking to do a deal to finally address immigration. But we should remember that it is the changing dynamics of the Democratic Party that may be the biggest obstacle of all.

Just as Trump, Cotton and others in the Republican Party discovered the utility of immigration as a way to enflame voter sentiment, Democrats are right now in the midst of a dramatic shift on the subject that will provide ample political opportunity for those willing to exploit it.

So if you want to know why in a country where 87 percent of the people favor granting protections for young adults who came to the United States illegally as minors that Congress cannot come up with a deal, just remember what we said: The best wedges are strong and narrow.

THE RULEBOOK: VOX POPULI 
“They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 46

TIME OUT: FENCES, YES. BUT BRIDGES, TOO
The Paris Review offers a captivating excerpt from the forthcoming book “Smoketown” by Mark Whittaker: “Far less chronicled but just as extraordinary is the confluence of forces that made the black population of [Pittsburgh], for a brief but glorious stretch of the twentieth century, one of the most vibrant and consequential communities of color in U.S. history. Like millions of other black people, they came north before and during the Great Migration… these migrants arrived with high degrees of literacy, musical fluency, and religious discipline—as well as a tendency toward light skin… Once they settled in Pittsburgh, they had educational opportunities that were rare for black people of the era, thanks to abolitionist-sponsored university scholarships and integrated public high schools with lavish Gilded Age funding. Whether or not they succeeded in finding jobs in Pittsburgh’s steel mills—and often they did not—they inhaled a spirit of commerce that hung, quite literally, in the dark, sulfurous air.”

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

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
38.6 percent 
Average disapproval: 57 percent 
Net Score: 
-18.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 4 points
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 38% approve – 58% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; CBS News: 37% approve – 58% disapprove; Gallup: 36% approve – 59% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 40.8 percent
Democratic average: 50.4 percent
Advantage: Democrats +9.6 points 
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 51% Dems – 39% GOP; CNN: 49% Dems – 44% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 49% Dems – 43% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 50% Dems – 39% GOP; Pew Research Center: 53% Dems – 39% GOP.]

MUELLER WANTS ANSWERS FROM TRUMP DIRECTLY 
ABC News: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicated to lawyers for President Donald Trump that his office will seek answers directly from the president on the circumstances around the firings of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI Director James Comey, sources with knowledge of the matter confirm to ABC News. For the last several weeks, the president’s lawyers have been researching and crafting arguments on how to respond to an expected formal request from Mueller to interview the president. As ABC News reported earlier this month, options the president’s legal team have discussed include providing written responses in the form of a questionnaire or some type of in-person interview, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Asked on January 10 whether he would agree to a Mueller interview, Trump declined to commit to do so, saying the need for one appeared ‘unlikely.’ ‘We’ll see what happens,’ Trump said.”

Flynn hid his FBI interview from White House team – NBC News: “A year ago today, President Donald Trump’s newly sworn–in national security adviser, Michael Flynn, met privately in his West Wing office with FBI investigators interested in his communications with Russia’s ambassador, without a lawyer or the knowledge of the president and other top White House officials, according to people familiar with the matter. Flynn’s FBI interview on Jan. 24, 2017, set in motion an extraordinary sequence of events unparalleled for the first year of a U.S. presidency. … Two people familiar with the matter said Trump was unaware that Flynn had spoken with the FBI until two days after the interview took place. An attorney for Flynn did not respond to a request for comment on this story.”

Missing texts between FBI officials part of an outage affecting thousands – Fox News: “Thousands of FBI cellphones were affected by the technical glitch that the DOJ says prevented five months’ worth of text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page from being stored or uploaded into the bureau’s archive system, federal law enforcement officials tell Fox News. The missing messages have been at the center of a storm of controversy on Capitol Hill, after the DOJ notified congressional committees that there is a gap in records between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017. Strzok and Page are under scrutiny after it was revealed that the former Robert Mueller team members exchanged a series of anti-Trump texts during the presidential campaign. The gap in records covered a crucial period, raising suspicion among GOP lawmakers as to how those messages disappeared. But Fox News is told that the glitch affected the phones of ‘nearly’ 10 percent of the FBI’s 35,000 employees.”

McCarthy: Obama, not Comey was the cause of Clinton’s escape from prosecution – National Review: “If Clinton had been charged, Obama’s culpable involvement would have been patent. In any prosecution of Clinton, the Clinton–Obama emails would have been in the spotlight. For the prosecution, they would be more proof of willful (or, if you prefer, grossly negligent) mishandling of intelligence. More significantly, for Clinton’s defense, they would show that Obama was complicit in Clinton’s conduct yet faced no criminal charges. That is why such an indictment of Hillary Clinton was never going to happen.”

Biden blames McConnell for Obama failing to act on Russia – Politico: “Joe Biden said Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stopped the Obama administration from speaking out about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign by refusing to sign on to a bipartisan statement of condemnation. That moment, the former Democratic vice president said, made him think ‘the die had been cast … this was all about the political play.’ He expressed regret, in hindsight, given the intelligence he says came in after Election Day. ‘Had we known what we knew three weeks later, we may have done something more,’ Biden, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, said.”

MANCHIN TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION, EVEN THOUGH IT ‘SUCKS’

NYT: “Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia told colleagues on Tuesday that he intended to run for re-election this year after all, ending an anxiety-making flirtation with retirement and easing Democratic fears that the most conservative Democrat in the Senate was about to effectively hand his seat to a Republican. In an interview, Mr. Manchin said he repeatedly expressed his frustration to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and other colleagues, telling them that ‘this place sucks,’ before finally signaling Tuesday morning to Mr. Schumer’s aides that he would file his re-election paperwork before West Virginia’s deadline on Saturday. ‘I was very vocal,’ Mr. Manchin said, adding, ‘they read between the lines.’ Even as Democrats won a reprieve, Mr. Manchin’s discontent illustrated the divisions in their party between those from states that President Trump easily carried and the more liberal bloc of senators, at least a half-dozen of whom are positioning themselves for possible White House runs.”

Koch-backed group targets McCaskill on tax cuts – AP: “Americans for Prosperity is launching a $1.2 million television ad buy encouraging Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill to support a tax overhaul. The group backed by billionaire brothers
Charles and David Koch on Thursday announced the ads will run for three weeks starting Friday. In the ad, a woman praises a tax overhaul as bringing more money to ‘everyday Americans.’ Then a narrator says McCaskill is standing in the way, although the tax plan is still evolving in Congress. The ad encourages viewers to call McCaskill to tell her to the support the tax overhaul. McCaskill on Thursday called the ad deceptive. She said she would support helping lower- and- middle-class Missourians but oppose a bill to help the wealthy and bankers. She says she has to see the plan.”

Poll shows Romney clout in Utah Senate race – Salt Lake Tribune: “If Mitt Romney wants a U.S. Senate seat, a new poll shows he’d be a shoo-in, grabbing 64 percent of the vote in Utah compared with 19 percent for Democrat Jenny Wilson. A poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics found that should Romney run, the Republican and former Massachusetts governor who now lives in Utah would handily win the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Orrin Hatch. Friends say he’s seriously considering a bid. Some 85 percent of Republicans back Romney for the seat, as do 55 percent of voters who say they’re unaffiliated. Even 18 percent of Democrats say they’d support Romney.” 

Kasich’s former running mate ignores Kasich’s endorsement – Cincinnati Enquirer: “In the Republican primary for Ohio governor, no one apparently wants Gov. John Kasich’s endorsement – including the candidate who has it. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor told a large group of Clermont County Republicans during her interview for their endorsement last Wednesday that Kasich had endorsed Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his running mate, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, two Republicans in the room confirmed to The Enquirer. But Kasich had endorsed Taylor, his running mate in 2010 and 2014.  … ‘I about fell off my chair, because it’s widely known that John Kasich had endorsed Mary Taylor’ [Greg Simpson told The Enquirer]. Taylor was responding to a question about how she separated herself from the governor in a conservative county where that separation could make a difference.”

Missile alert blunder roils Hawaii gubernatorial race – WSJ: “…Gov. David Ige is on an apology tour. In public appearances in the week since a false missile alert thrust Hawaii into panic… Questioned by reporters at a press conference Monday, he admitted his own response was delayed because he didn’t know his Twitter password. The fake disaster has real consequences for Mr. Ige, who is fighting to win back public confidence in time to keep his job. Mr. Ige was already facing a tough challenger in the primary election, which will be held in August, when a state employee accidentally sent the warning. … Many people here, including some of Mr. Ige’s political allies, already criticized him as too passive. Those frustrations created an opening for Colleen Hanabusa, a Democratic congresswoman, to challenge Mr. Ige in the primary.”

GOP borrowing the Clinton ‘92 strategy for 2018 – WaPo: “While the government shutdown has dominated headlines in recent days, Republican strategists are plotting an election-year survival strategy to steer the midterms away from the dangerous terrain of Trump’s tweets and Capitol Hill dysfunction — and focus attention on pocketbook issues that could tilt voters in favor of the party in power. GOP leaders and their allies plan to talk up job growth, highlight the soaring stock market and, most of all, convince voters that the tax-cut legislation that stands as their only major accomplishment is bringing back the good times.”

Complications already from Pennsylvania gerrymander case – The Philadelphia Inquirer: “House Majority Leader Dave Reed announced Tuesday that he is running for Congress, adding a new wrinkle in the already complicated process of redrawing the state’s congressional maps. Reed, 38, a Republican from Indiana County, announced via Facebook Tuesday morning that he is running in the Ninth Congressional District, which covers parts of Western and Central Pennsylvania. The seat, being vacated by U.S. Rep.Bill Shuster, has for decades been considered a safe race for Republicans, although that can lead to a crowded primary field. Reed’s announcement came one day after the state Supreme Court ordered the redrawing of the state’s congressional maps.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
Planned Parenthood President, Cecile Richards, to step down after ten years – WashEx

It’s official: Senate Confirms Jerome Powell as Fed chairman
 – WSJ

Lawyer who backed Trump’s refusal to release returns said to be pick for IRS boss – Politico

Commerce nominee signaled intent to reverse Obama decision ceding control of Internet
 – Politico

No Moore: Alabama legislature advancing bill to end special Senate elections – AL.com

AUDIBLE: WELL…
“…every time she sees a picture of the U.S. Capitol, even if it’s on a dollar bill, she says ‘Mommy’s office.’” – Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., quoting her 2-year-old daughter, Abigail, in an interview with the Chicago Sun Times. Duckworth was announcing that she is expecting her second child this spring – making her the first sitting senator to ever give birth.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Eratosthenes came up with an amazingly accurate estimate of the size of the earth despite large errors in his data and assumptions. Your point in ‘DON’T DROWN IN LEAKS ON RUSSIA PROBE’ was a rare jewel in the current mess of excited reporting. You’ve convinced us that we cannot trust conclusions made on snippets of conversation, and the coup de grâce was a contradiction between the ‘insurance policy’ and the ‘no big there there.’ Not so fast. After reflection I see no contradiction between someone seeking the damage of an investigation based on a false narrative without wanting to be on the team that performs the fruitless investigation. But whatever the data errors may be, your conclusion is spot on, and I am rightfully reminded to not think I’ve seen the answers. Thanks for your time and attention.” – Tom Parks, Rogers, Ark.

[Ed. note: Thank you for your very kind words, Mr. Parks! Now, I may not see how someone thinks that an investigation is both pointless and an effort to bring down the president, but I think we are agreed in the larger point: It would be counterproductive to try to reach conclusions on such important matters based on so little information. If wisdom is defined by knowing what you don’t know, then we have a political discourse truly lacking in wisdom these days.]

“In an update on the Mueller investigation into the Trump/Russia relationship and the president’s possible obstruction of justice, you note that as it appears to be drawing to a close and ‘hope that we will soon have some definitive answers supported by evidence about what did or did not happen.’ Mueller’s team may very well be able to say that they could not find any evidence of the president’s behaving illegally, but those convinced that he did aren’t likely to accept that as a ‘definitive answer.’ A negative can’t be proven.” –Bob Foys, Chicago

[Ed. note: I am afraid you are right, just as there would be many who would never accept any finding of wrongdoing as legitimate. But, my hope is that whatever the outcome, the evidence will be clear and convincing enough to satisfy the broad majority. We cannot organize our republic for the purpose of mollifying kooks and cranks at the political extremes.

“The Mueller investigation started with collusion between Trump campaign and Russian. It has morphed into obstruction of justice. When that clears, it will be something else.  This is all an effort to bring down Trump. You quote the Vanity Fair article as evidence that President Trump is unhappy with Gen. Kelly.  That is an entertainment magazine.  Personally, there wasn’t much day-light between what candidate Trump said on the campaign trail and what Gen. Kelly. Ivanka Trump needs to go back to New York City.  I didn’t vote for her.” – Evelyn Poole-Kober, Hillsborough, N.C.

[Ed. note: The purpose of the Mueller investigation was and is to determine what Russia did to interfere with the 2016 campaign. As part of that, they are looking for Americans who may have helped the Kremlin. It would be unsurprising that Putinists tried to meddle, but far more consequential if they had help on the inside. I have no reason to think that he won’t fulfill that mandate. I would also remind you that it’s hardly just Vanity Fair that’s reporting on the simmering tension between Trump and Kelly. It seems that it wasn’t what Kelly said, but that he said anything at all on the topic.]

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

THAT’S A TASERING…
CBS News: “A New Hampshire man has been charged with resisting arrest and biting a police dog. Police said the man unsuccessfully tried to hide under a pile of clothes to evade arrest over the weekend and then put the police dog in a chokehold and bit it on the head. … They said two men in a home were wanted on outstanding warrants and both resisted arrest before one exchanged bites with the dog, whose name is Veda. Police haven’t released the men’s names. They say the man who bit the dog faces charges including resisting arrest, interfering with a police dog and assaulting an officer. ‘Both of them resisted arrest and one very strongly resisted arrest. He bit the dog, the dog bit him, he ended up getting Tasered,’ Lt. Jason Killary of the Boscawen Police Department told Reuters news agency.”

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

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.

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