Clinton pounces on Trump's tax returns, amid threat of 'legal action'

Oct 3, 2016 119

 

Hillary Clinton pounced Monday on weekend revelations about Donald Trump’s tax returns, suggesting he used loopholes to avoid paying federal taxes “while leaving the rest of us with the bill” — as the Trump camp mulls its response to the publication of documents it claims were “illegally obtained.” 

The Democratic presidential nominee attacked Trump after The New York Times published a story late Saturday that showed Trump reported a roughly $900 million “operating loss” on his 1995 federal returns and that stated he could have avoided paying taxes for 18 years, as a result.

“It doesn’t look like he paid a dime for nearly two decades,” Clinton said at a rally in Toledo. “Trump represents the same rigged system he claims he’s going to change.”

The Trump campaign has issued a statement arguing the returns were “illegally obtained” but has not publicly said it will file a lawsuit against the paper.

The Times reported that a Trump lawyer, though, earlier had threatened to take “legal action” if the newspaper published the records. 

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Monday morning urged the Republican nominee and real estate mogul to sue the newspaper “into oblivion.”

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Lewandowski, now a CNN political analyst, questioned The Times’ legal standing on the story, based on anonymously sent copies of the returns, arguing it being published was not a matter of national security.

“That’s a fact,” he said. “And The New York Times should be held accountable. If it comes out that these aren’t accurate, where’s the recourse?” 

Trump’s campaign has not denied that the returns are his. Trump did not address the controversy Monday morning at a campaign stop in northern Virginia, instead mostly talking about cyber security to a group of ex-military members. 

On Sunday, Trump surrogates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended Trump’s 1995 returns as legal and said they showed his business “genius.”

Trump argued over the weekend that he knows the country’s “complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president” — and can fix them. 

Trump is not alone in having potentially used the tax system to reduce his tax burden. Though Trump’s “operating loss” was on a substantially larger scale, Clinton reported a roughly $700,000 long-term capital loss in 2015, according to copies of her IRS returns released in August. 

The tax return controversy follows last week’s opening debate, after which Clinton has opened up a small polling lead, according to the latest Fox News survey. 

Trump’s reported loss of nearly $1 billion was described as the result of Trump’s Atlantic City hotels suffering amid the resort’s declining casino-gambling industry, a failed airline venture and the purchase of the Plaza Hotel in upper Manhattan.  

“What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?” Clinton asked the crowd in Toledo on Monday.

While Trump’s reported loss is legal, the revelation that he might have used the U.S. tax code to not pay taxes for nearly two decades has renewed calls for him to releases his returns, as Clinton has done.

Clinton, who until Monday had not publicly commented on the Times story, also called for a law that would require future nominees to releases their taxes as a requirement for a White House run.

“The story tells us everything we need to know,” Clinton said Monday. “Trump was taking from America with both hands and leaving the rest of us with the bill.”

Not enough free money? Alaskans unhappy with sum of yearly check

Oct 3, 2016 101

Yes, you could call it free money.

But that doesn’t mean all Alaskans are happy about the $1,022 dividend checks nearly every resident will receive starting Thursday from the state’s oil wealth fund.

Folks were looking at getting more than twice that amount.

“It’s really putting the hurt on my community,” said Joel James, mayor of the tiny Yup’ik Eskimo village of Gambell, which, like many remote communities around the vast state, is plagued by chronic unemployment and astronomical living expenses. “I’m definitely disappointed.”

Each year, residents get the checks from the Alaska Permanent Fund, a reward of sorts for living here at least a full calendar year.

It’s fun money for some, with businesses offering highly advertised dividend deals. For others, it’s a way to make ends meet. The amount of the annual checks is based on a five-year average of the multibillion-dollar fund, and they took a hit when recession years were part of the formula, with $900 checks issued in 2013 before payouts rebounded again.

Last year, the amount for every person was a record $2,072. And this year, the check was estimated to be even higher at about $2,100. That is, until Gov. Bill Walker stepped in and shrunk the amount because of the state’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit, a situation exacerbated by low oil prices.

Walker’s action is being challenged in court by state Sen. Bill Wielechowski and two former lawmakers who allege the governor illegally vetoed fund earnings appropriated for dividends.

“It was not done legally, it was not done appropriately, and it did not belong in the budget,” said Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat. “And because it didn’t belong in the budget, the governor couldn’t veto it.”

Walker said in a statement he did not take his decision lightly, and he acknowledged it may have upset some Alaskans. He said setting the amount of this year’s dividend “more in line with the historical average” will ensure there’s money for future distributions.

“Alaska lost over 80 percent of its income in just two years, and we are burning through $12 million of savings each day,” Walker wrote. “This is simply not sustainable.”

James, the Gambell mayor, is among those also questioning Walker’s veto, saying it leaves a financial vacuum for rural residents who depend on the money for life necessities. Another is Shirley Adams, a clerk in the tribal government office in the Inupiat Eskimo village of Kivalina, on Alaska’s northwest coast.

“I’m wondering, does he have the right to do that,” said Adams, who often uses the money to catch up on bills.

Some people are asking the same thing in the Yup’ik village of Manokotak, said Nellie Alakayak, the community’s temporary tribal administrator. The money often goes to survival expenses, such as clothing and other basics, for many people in her village.

“I think they kind of feel cheated,” she said of this year’s check.

The fund was established in 1976 after the discovery of oil on Alaska’s North Slope, with the first dividends distributed to residents in 1982. Excluding the upcoming payout, more than $21.1 billion has been distributed to Alaskans over the decades since.

This year’s distribution has prompted mixed feelings for longtime Anchorage resident Jerry Wolf, 85, who moved to Alaska’s biggest city as a teenager in 1947.

On the one hand, he understands the governor’s action and believes the lawsuit is a distraction from the real problem — that the state has been too dependent on its shrinking oil resources. On the other hand, many rural residents really need the money.

“I can see in our villages across the state that they have been very dependent on this little boost, and in many cases maybe even to put some more food on the table,” Wolf said.

The amount is fine with Quamaundya Elliott. Until this year, the 21-year-old Anchorage nanny has pooled her money with her mother’s checks because she was living at home rent-free. This is the first check she’ll get for herself.

“I wish it were bigger, but you know, it’s OK,” she said. “Money’s money.”

FBI agreed to destroy immunized Clinton aides’ laptops, sources say

Oct 3, 2016 147

 

Immunity deals for two top Hillary Clinton aides included a side arrangement obliging the FBI to destroy their laptops after reviewing the devices, House Judiciary Committee sources told Fox News on Monday. 

Sources said the arrangement with former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson also limited the search to no later than Jan. 31, 2015. This meant investigators could not review documents for the period after the email server became public — in turn preventing the bureau from discovering if there was any evidence of obstruction of justice, sources said.  

The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee fired off a letter Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking why the DOJ and FBI agreed to the restrictive terms, including that the FBI would destroy the laptops after finishing the search.

“Like many things about this case, these new materials raise more questions than answers,” Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., wrote, in the letter obtained by Fox News.

“Doesn’t the willingness of Ms. Mills and Ms. Samuelson to have their laptops destroyed by the FBI contradict their claim that the laptops could have been withheld because they contained non-relevant, privileged information? If so, doesn’t that undermine the claim that the side agreements were necessary?” Goodlatte asks.

The immunity deals for Mills and Samuelson, made as part of the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server when she served as secretary of state, apparently included a series of “side agreements” that were negotiated by Samuelson and Mills’ attorney Beth Wilkinson.

The side agreements were agreed to on June 10, less than a month before FBI Director James Comey announced that the agency would not recommend charges against Clinton or her staff.

Judiciary Committee aides told FoxNews.com that the destruction of the laptops is particularly troubling as it means that the computers could not be used as evidence in future legal proceedings, should new information or circumstances arise.

Committee aides also asked why the FBI and DOJ would enter into a voluntary negotiation to begin with, when the laptops could be obtained condition-free via a subpoena.

The letter also asked why the DOJ agreed to limit their search of the laptops to files before Jan. 31, 2015, which would “give up any opportunity to find evidence related to the destruction of evidence or obstruction of justice related to Secretary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.”

Aides expressed shock at the parameter, saying it is especially troubling as Mills and Samuelson already had immunity from the consequences of whatever might be on the laptop.

“You’re essentially extending immunity to everyone,” one aide said.

The letter to Lynch sought to determine how many documents were blocked from FBI investigators because they fell outside of the date range agreed to by the DOJ.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and FoxNews.com’s Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

NY attorney general orders Trump Foundation to 'cease' fundraising

Oct 3, 2016 90

 

New York’s Democratic attorney general has directed the Trump Foundation to “cease and desist” from soliciting charity contributions, claiming the organization does not have the proper certification.

The notice comes after New York AG Eric Schneiderman’s office told a newspaper last week that the Republican presidential nominee’s foundation did not have the registration needed to ask for donations. The same office announced Monday that it had sent a “Notice of Violation” to the foundation on Friday.

The notice directed the group to “immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in other fundraising activities in New York” and provide financial documents to the state Charities Bureau within 15 days.

Schneiderman is a Hillary Clinton supporter.

New York law states that any charity that asks for more than $25,000 per year needs to obtain a special registration before soliciting offers. The Trump Foundation, a fairly large charity, must also undergo an audit. The Washington Post, which first reported on Schneiderman’s concerns last week, reported that Trump was the sole donor to his foundation for many years – contributing $5.4 million between 1987 and 2006. Under state law, the foundation was only required to have a looser certification and only had to file annual reports with the IRS and state and didn’t need an independent audit.

But starting in the early 2000s, it reportedly started to take in smaller donations from others. By not obtaining the special certification from New York, the Trump Foundation avoided an audit.

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Trump has been facing mounting questions surrounding his foundation, though Clinton has faced more regarding Clinton Foundation dealings. A Washington Post report last week claimed Trump spent $258,000 from his foundation to settle lawsuits that involved his businesses – a move that the Post says may have violated laws against “self-dealing” that bar heads of nonprofits from using charity money to benefit themselves.

Trump’s campaign shot back at the report, calling it “peppered with inaccuracies and omissions from a biased reporter” and attempted to turn the spotlight back onto the Clinton Foundation.

“In typical Washington Post fashion, they’ve gotten their facts wrong. It is the Clinton Foundation that is set up to make sure the Clintons personally enrich themselves by selling access and trading political favors,” the statement said. “The Trump Foundation has no paid board, no management fees, no rent or overhead, and no family members on its payroll.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

How politicians killed consensus

Oct 3, 2016 107

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On the roster: How politicians killed consensus – Team Trump tries to get back on message – Trump allegedly rented space to Iranian bank with terror ties – Data Dive: Must-win North Carolina – Must’ve been a seriously funky flip flop

HOW POLITICIANS KILLED CONSENSUS
The death of American political consensus did not come all at once, but the body is sure cold now.

How cold? Cold enough that some in the campaign of a major party nominee for president are rooting today for Russian hackers and an America-hating fugitive from a Swedish rape charge.

Welcome to 2016, the end of the consensus.

We should remember, of course, that the broad consensus that dominated the Pax Americana of the post-World War II era was something of an anomaly, anyway.

The basic idea was that Americans fundamentally agreed on what the point of our collective endeavor was and what the parameters for normal discourse were.

You have no doubt heard the pendulum analogy in which a swing to the right creates the energy for a swing to the left, and so on. The consensus was the clock in which the pendulum hung.

Born of the solidarity of the Second World War, nurtured by the decades-long shared purpose of the Cold War and facilitated by astonishing economic success, the consensus spanned the far left to the far right bridging along some points of basic agreement.

First was the idea of America as the indispensable, exceptional nation. One could argue that this part of the consensus started to die with the Vietnam War, but American exceptionalism was a central tenet of both parties’ views until relatively recently.

The final death of that part of the consensus probably came in 2003 with the struggle over the invasion of Iraq. That debate will stand for generations as the acid test on the question of America’s role in the world.

The second part of the consensus was the idea that opportunity and growth were good things.

This piece of the consensus is still somewhat intact, but only so far as that all people, from Tunisia to Tucumcari, want more opportunities to create better lives for themselves and their descendants.

How much of a role government should play in creating those opportunities has been a matter of intense, pitched battle for not just the period of postwar consensus but stretching back to the beginning of the 20th century.

But there was always agreement that growth and opportunity was the point.

That part of the consensus begins to break down as an increasing number of Americans began to question whether more was better. An affluent nation – the most affluent in the history of humankind – channeled Peggy Lee and asked “is that all there is.”

Stripped of the ordering concept of a common Abrahamic faith and suffering from the cultural equivalent of type 2 diabetes, many Americans began to ask whether getting ahead was really winning.

Whether you mark it to the publication of “Silent Spring,” or some other hallmarks of American Fabianism, the movement against the economic definition of “the American Dream” swung in hard over the last 20 years.

Americans still love money and still worship success like ancient Israelites at the hooves of Apis, but as an organizing principle of a culture, it ain’t what it used to be.

In what will certainly be the last presidential contest featuring two Baby Boomer candidates, we see the end of the order that created and sustained their generation.

In 2004, Republicans implicitly questioned the patriotism of Democrats who criticized the Iraq war. Democrats’ counterclaim was that the president had lied to start a war for the benefit of himself and his cronies.

Five years later, Democrats explicitly questioned the patriotism of Republicans who opposed the president’s domestic agenda. The argument was that the GOP hatedPresident Obama so much that they would rather harm the country than help him.

Republicans, of course, returned the favor by accusing the president of trying to intentionally hobble the United States. Some, like the party’s current nominee, even claimed that Obama might have been born in Kenya and may have been a secret Muslim.

And now, we have Republicans rooting for Kremlin-backed hackers to pry out humiliating details about Democrat Hillary Clinton. These Kremlin rooters excuse their position on the grounds that the criminal justice system is corrupt and that the FBI is little more than a political tool of the president.

Goodwill is as dead as Latin.

The degree of credulity which Julian Assange is being afforded would be baffling to a visitor from even the very recent past.

Assange became famous for convincing an emotionally unwell Army private to commit treason by stealing and releasing classified information.

His work almost certainly led to the deaths of Afghans who aided U.S. forces there and unknown and unknowable damage to U.S. operations elsewhere.

Transparency in diplomacy and foreign policy has never been a thing. It has never been seen as desirable given the fact that countries lie to each other constantly. It’s how the world works. Imagine if all of America’s duplicitousness in the Cold War or any conflicts of the past were revealed.

There is no such thing as an honest war or honest diplomacy.

Assange has lived for five years under the protection of a Central American strongman, whose embassy in London has provided sanctuary for Assange against a Swedish rape case. And his platform, and presumably funding, is provided by Vladimir Putin’s government.

A fugitive with a hard anti-American bent and funded by America’s number one geo-political foe seems an unlikely figure to have a substantial rooting section in America.

How he or his organization could be seen as trustworthy purveyors of information, especially national security information that cannot be verified is perhaps the greatest testament yet to the end of the American consensus.

The easy way out here is to try to explain this all by excessive partisanship or ideological rigidity. But that’s not what’s going on here.

Instead, we are witnessing the consequences of an unraveling culture.

Our current president questioning the patriotism of his adversaries has produced a bitter harvest. One of the candidates to replace him centered his campaign on an implicit allegation of treason. All of this requires the absence of common purpose and shared belief.

How dear a price we pay for the death of a consensus that stretches back to Pearl Harbor is unclear. It depends on what can be erected in its place – whether a new housing for the political pendulum can be constructed.

The work of this election seems to be the final destruction of the order in which Clinton and Trump were born, raised and in which they thrived.

The desperately needful work of the country beginning the day after the election will be figuring out what will take its place.

THE RULEBOOK: BUCK STOPS HERE
“But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy responsibility.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Federalist No. 70

TIME OUT: WHAT MAKES A GOOD CHILDREN’S BOOK
New Yorker: “The conundrum of the ‘good’ children’s book is best embodied by the apparently immortal—or maybe just undead—series ‘Goosebumps,’ by R. L. Stine. ‘Goosebumps’ is a series of horror novellas, the kid’s-lit equivalent of B-horror movies. It’s also one of the most successful franchises in the business, selling over three hundred and fifty million copies worldwide—which is a ludicrous, almost obscene, number. And here’s a secret from the depths of the publishing industry: neither marketing nor publicity nor movie tie-ins can move three hundred and fifty million copies. The only way to sell that many copies is if millions of kids actually and truly want to read the books. The conclusion is obvious: ‘Goosebumps’ books are good, right?”

[Ed. note: Friday’s “Time Out” provided a link for readers interested in supporting hyperbaric chamber therapy for veterans with PTSD and brain injuries. The correct link to donate is here.]

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

SCOREBOARD
Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +2.2 points
[Polls included: Fox NewsMonmouth UniversityQuinnipiac UniversityBloomberg and WaPo/ABC.]

Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +1.6 points
[Polls included: Fox NewsMonmouth UniversityQuinnipiac UniversityBloomberg and WaPo/ABC.]

TEAM TRUMP TRIES TO GET BACK ON MESSAGE
After a taxing week, the Trump campaign is trying to get off defense today with a fresh round of counterclaims against Hillary Clinton for personal corruption. The gambit comes in the wake of the revelation of Trump’s peculiar income tax arrangement.

“We’re going to start paying a lot more attention to how they made their money and how, if Hillary Clinton were to win the White House, it would be doing nothing more than hanging a big ‘for sale’ sign in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” said Trump senior communications advisor Jason Miller.

On Sunday, the Trump campaign was focused more on defending Trump’s tax and business history, which the NYT reported Saturday night could have allowed him to pay no federal income taxes for close to two decades because of a nearly billion dollar business loss in 1995.

Trump surrogates like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried to spin Trump’s tax record as a positive. Giuliani called Trump a “genius” and compared him to Winston Churchill.

This came after a wild and rambling speech from Trump on Saturday where he took 25 minutes to read a nine sentence statement because he kept breaking from the script to go off on tangents, including questioning Clinton’s “loyalty” to her husband.

“Hillary Clinton’s only loyalty is to her financial contributors and to herself,” said Trump adding, “I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill, if you want to know the truth.”

The effort to turn the tax discussion into a positive for Trump was also complicated by Trump’s past attacks on others who he said were not paying their fair share by exploiting tax laws, including Mitt Romney.

Things were looking wobbly enough that Republicans began to wonder whether Trump would be able to recover from his post-debate week, which included a bitter, public feud with a former beauty pageant winner.

But with two days without an eruption from Trump and the campaign back on a more disciplined message, the consequence of the tax story looks less dire for the Republican nominee.

Trump allegedly rented space to Iranian bank with terror ties – NY Post: “Donald Trump’s real estate empire rented New York office space to an Iranian bank with links to terror and the theocracy’s nuclear program, according to a published report Monday. The Trump Organization purchased the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue in 1998 and inherited Bank Melli as a tenant, according to documents reviewed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Center for Public Integrity. Bank Melli remained a Trump tenant until 2003 — four years after the US Treasury Department labeled it an organ of Tehran. The US has accused Bank Melli of helping gain sensitive material for nukes in the country and sneaking money to Iran’s terror-linked Revolutionary Guard.…Trump’s campaign declined comment on the Bank Melli issue.”

DATA DIVE: MUST-WIN NORTH CAROLINA
Once a Republican stronghold, North Carolina has emerged as the key swing state for 2016. In this week’s episode of “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What,” the data dive segment was devoted to how a changing Tar Heel State could alter the outcome in 2016. In 2008, the state shocked the GOP by going for Barack Obama, but then flipped back to a win for Mitt Romney by a slim margin in 2012. So who will sway these voters in 2016? WATCH HERE.

PEAK VEEPNESS: FAITH FIGURES GREATLY FOR KAINE, PENCE
Kaine’s connection to ‘good Marxist’ priest draws scrutiny – 
Daily Beast: “[Rev. James Carney] described himself as ‘a good Marxist,’ dedicated to helping fight ‘the guerilla war for the liberation of Honduras.’ In 1973, he renounced his American citizenship and became a Honduran citizen. The Honduran government expelled him from the country in 1979, so he moved across the border to Nicaragua, and Kaine met with him shortly after that.”

Pence walks tightrope on Trump, faith – Indianapolis Star: “To some people who know and appreciate Pence’s deeply spiritual side, his selection as the running mate for Republican presidential nominee Trump was seen as something of a mixed blessing. In style, if not substance, the faith-on-his-sleeve Pence seemed a stark contrast to the brash real estate mogul and twice-divorced reality TV star…It’s been a performance that’s drawn approval from people who have watched Pence from his days as a Catholic altar boy to his career as an evangelical culture warrior.”

[Kaine brings in more money than Pence – The Hill: “Pence is credited with helping to rake in about $10 million for the Trump Victory Fund, a joint account with the Republican National Committee… Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, has brought in at least $27 million for the Democratic nominee, according to Politico.”]

SUPREME COURT BEGINS ITS TERM WITH DEADLOCK IN MIND
USA Today: “Justice Antonin Scalia will be missing when the Supreme Court opens its 2016 term Monday, but his influence lives on in the cases the court has granted, denied and delayed. Before Scalia’s death in February, the justices agreed to hear some of the most controversial cases on its calendar affecting insider trading, class action lawsuits and government ‘takings’ of private property. Those are issues the conservative jurist cared deeply about — but without his vote, the odds of his side winning are longer.”

AUDIBLE: NOT FAKED BAKED
“One hug [from me] and he was toast.” – President Obama in an interivew with New York Magazine talking about hugging Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Clinton gets bump in new Va. poll – Christopher Newport University

Johnson makes a play for second place in N.M. poll – Albuquerque Journal

Courtroom claim: Christie administration officials considered trading 9/11 artifacts for endorsements in presidential race – NYT

Obama trashes GOP in exit interview – NY Magazine

Trump’s D.C. hotel defaced with Black Lives Matter graffiti – NYDN

LeBron James endorses Clinton ­- Akron Beacon Journal

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I’d like to see Evan McMullin mentioned in one of your Halftime Reports. I want to think his candidacy is not completely inconsequential, especially in light of some polls showing him pulling a higher percentage than Stein. (Then again, my wishful thinking hasn’t gotten me very far in this election cycle). Thank you for your insightful reports, nonetheless. I always look forward to reading them.” – Elizabeth Beach Kol, Dallas, Texas but residing in Ilsan, South Korea

[Ed. note: Ms. Kol, you are so kind to write and we hope your travels bring you back to your Texas home soon. McMullin could be consequential in the election in that he may end up denying Hillary Clinton needed votes in swing states. Donald Trump should be rooting for both McMullin and libertarian Gary Johnson who seem to be mostly soaking up support from traditionally Republican voters who otherwise this year would be reluctantly backing Clinton. Given his limited ballot access and low vote share, McMullin seems like less of a force than Johnson, who is on the ballot in all 50 states. But we will take heed! Our eyes will be peeled for his role in shaping 2016.]

“Chris, I support Donald Trump because of his intuitiveness and common sense. Having said that, I believe we are at the point where it really doesn’t matter who wins the election. America is at its ‘Roman Empire’ moment because now, what is ‘wrong’ is ‘right’, and vice versa. No morals/ethics, forced by PC leftists and MSM, equals no country.” – Wayne Gadow, Amory, Miss.

[Ed. note: You sound almost as gloomy as I do today, Mr. Gadow! But really, I’m not pessimistic about the future of the country regardless of what happens in November. I still believe that America is Americans not its politicians and government. But I do believe you are on to something when you talk about culture vs. politics. Politics descends from culture not the other way around. A broken political system, as I wrote about this morning, is the consequence of a broken culture and lack of shared purpose. I, for one, believe that this period of disruption and dislocation will give way to something new and greater still. The seeds of our next triumph are being sown this very day.]

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

MUST’VE BEEN A SERIOUSLY FUNKY FLIP FLOP
BBC: “A woman has scared away a salt water crocodile, which was swimming towards her and her dog, by slapping her flip-flop at it. Crocodile enthusiast Lundon Anlezark, who filmed the incident, said: ‘I don’t think she realised how dangerous this kind of behaviour is.’ It is thought that are at least 120 crocodiles in this stretch of the East Alligator River, in Kakadu National Park. The last fatal attack there was in 1987.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons 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 digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily “Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including “The Kelly File,” “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.

Obama: Republican voters think I'm 'the Antichrist'

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President Obama mocked Republican critics who see him as “Saul Alinsky” or “the Antichrist,” during a wide-ranging interview with New York Magazine published Monday.

Obama in the interview, which took place Aug. 25, repeatedly voiced frustration with what he described as a recalcitrant Republican opposition, lamenting Congress’ unwillingness to work with him on key legislation such as the Affordable Care Act and the stimulus bill.

“They’re imagining the potential problems that arise, so it’s pretty hard for them to publicly say, ‘Obama’s a perfectly reasonable guy, but we just can’t work with him because our base thinks he’s the Antichrist,’” Obama said.

He also ridiculed the concept that he’s a far leftwing ideologue.

“The notion that somehow I show up here and I become Saul Alinsky or Lenin in meetings with Republicans probably doesn’t ring true,” Obama said.

Obama even joked at one point that his administration may have been able to achieve more if it were legal to offer patronage, noting a this-for-that strategy was essential in passing some of America’s most historic legislation.

See the Fox News 2016 battleground prediction map and make your own election projections. See Predictions Map →

“Yeah, because then it was transactional, then it was ‘I’d like this, I need that,’” he said. “And one of the things that’s changed from the [Lyndon] Johnson era obviously is I don’t have a postmaster job. Shoot, not just Johnson’s age — [Abraham] Lincoln’s age. Good-government reforms have hamstrung an administration, which I think is for the most part for the best. “

Obama did not spend much time speaking about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign. But he traced the billionaire’s political rise back to Sarah Palin’s selection as Sen. John McCain’s presidential running mate in 2008.

“I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party,” Obama said. “Whether that changes, I think, will depend in part on the outcome of this election, but it’s also going to depend on the degree of self-reflection inside the Republican Party. There have been at least a couple of other times that I’ve said confidently that the fever is going to have to break, but it just seems to get worse.”

Supreme Court rejects appeal to reopen Gov. Walker investigation

Oct 3, 2016 83

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to reopen an investigation into whether Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign to fend off his ouster from office illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups.

The justices on Monday left in place a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that shut down the probe of the Republican governor. Walker won his recall election in 2012.

A group of prosecutors began an investigation the same year into whether Walker’s campaign coordinated with Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative groups on advertising during the recall without reporting the groups’ contributions.

Conservative-leaning justices who control the Wisconsin Supreme Court halted the investigation last year. They ruled that the coordination amounts to free speech and isn’t subject to disclosure requirements.

Supreme Court will not re-hear immigration case despite Obama request

Oct 3, 2016 64

The Supreme Court has declined an Obama administration request to break its recent tie over plans to protect millions of immigrants, when a ninth justice is on the bench.

The justices on Monday rejected the appeal with no comment. The high court split 4-4 in late June, effectively killing the White House’s plans to shield from deportation immigrants who are in the country illegally and provide them work permits.

The court has been short-handed since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February.

The case still could return to the court, but probably not until a later term.

Clinton-backed branch of foundation donor GM now caught in major scandal

Oct 3, 2016 130

October 23, 2011: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets out of a GM “Spark” while touring the GM Powertrain plant in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  (Reuters)

Hillary Clinton had glowing words for the General Motors plant in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, when she traveled there in 2011 as secretary of state to announce the joint venture — of GM and an Uzbekistan state-owned firm — as a finalist for a State Department award.

“It is a collaboration between Uzbek and American companies, and it will serve as a symbol of our friendship and cooperation,” Clinton said, touting the plant’s “newest, most advanced technology.”

The visit came a year after the General Motors Foundation had contributed $684,455 in vehicles to the Clinton Foundation.

Fast-forward several years, and GM-Uzbekistan is now embroiled in massive scandal, reportedly facing charges of fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement, a legal case that has reached high-ranking government officials in the country.

Clinton isn’t tied to any of the allegations. But it’s another example of how Clinton Foundation donations and subsequent State Department actions have put the Democratic presidential nominee in an awkward position. The 2011 praise wasn’t a one-off, either. Clinton’s State Department again made GM Uzbekistan a finalist for the Award for Corporate Excellence in 2012.

Peter Flaherty, president of the watchdog National Legal and Policy Center, said the GM branch’s recent turmoil casts doubt on Clinton’s judgment. 

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“This episode is another example for the Clintons of how, if you do business with them, they will do something for you,” Flaherty told FoxNews.com. “Any enterprise in Uzbekistan is going to be suspect. It is notoriously corrupt, and the government dominates everything. A company there seems like an unlikely nominee for a corporate excellence award.”

Earlier this year, authorities detained GM Uzbekistan General Director Tohirjon Jalilov. Uzbek prosecutors also have reportedly been investigating the GM venture’s business partners and officials with Uzbekistan’s National Security Service. Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Ulughbek Rozikulov was reportedly questioned in the matter.

Asked for comment, Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin noted the U.S. government had honored GM well before Clinton served as secretary of state — referencing that in 2006, GM’s joint venture in Colombia actually won the award. It was merely a finalist under Clinton.

“While GM did receive the Secretary of State’s 2006 Award for Corporate Excellence from the Bush administration, it did not receive the award while Secretary Clinton was in office,” Schwerin told FoxNews.com. “Further, it appears that the legal issues you refer to began several years after Clinton left office. The fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as secretary of state because of donations to the Clinton Foundation.”

GM owns 25 percent of the company established in 2008, while UzAvtosanoat, an Uzbek firm, controls 75 percent.

“We are aware that one of the suspects arrested was an Uzbek national who worked at the joint venture company and also UzAvto, and he has been dismissed by the joint venture,” GM spokesman Patrick Morrissey told FoxNews.com. “We can’t comment on any other law enforcement actions.”

Morrissey also said that U.S. auto bailout money GM received “was not directed toward its international operation.” He said no U.S. government financial support of any kind was provided to GM Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov — whose 27-reign earned him the reputation of a ruthless tyrant — reportedly uncovered the alleged misconduct this spring regarding an elaborate export-import scheme for vehicles that were supposed to be sold in Russia but were instead allegedly shipped back to Uzbekistan and sold at higher prices to maximize profits for executives. Karimov, who died in September, is most remembered for having his troops kill 700 unarmed protestors in 2005, and running a centralized economy.

The global watchdog group Transparency International ranked Uzbekistan 153 on its corruption index, with a transparency score of just 19.

So, there are reasons to doubt the legitimacy of the prosecution, said Flaherty.

“Everything in Uzbekistan is political, so I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in the criminal justice system,” Flaherty said. “But it seems like the Clintons still are not very discerning about who they associate with.”

General Motors Corporation has contributed between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Also, in February 2010, the General Motors Foundation announced a donation of 30 pickup trucks to the Clinton Foundation, which GM’s Morrissey said were valued at $684,455, to be used in relief efforts in Haiti. Hillary Clinton delivered the remarks at the GM Uzbekistan plant the following year, and the company was a finalist for the State Department honor in back-to-back years.

In a statement to FoxNews.com, the Clinton Foundation noted most of the other GM donations to the foundation went for the Clinton Global Initiative.

“GM was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative for several years, and their financial contributions to the Foundation are totally comprised of CGI membership fees,” the statement said. “In this time, they partnered on a wide range of commitments, from initiatives to expand clean energy in their automobile lines, to a training program for NGO leaders, to an effort to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in China.”

Missouri House candidate accuses fellow Legislature candidate of rape

Oct 3, 2016 93

A Ferguson lawyer who is running for a seat in the Missouri House has accused another Democratic candidate of raping her during an August meeting to discuss how they could work together in the upcoming legislative session.

Cora Faith Walker, 31, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which broke the story Saturday, that she was sexually assaulted by Steven Roberts Jr., a former assistant prosecutor, after going to meet him at a St. Louis apartment on the night of Aug. 26. Both candidates are black Democrats who are running unopposed for seats in a Legislature that is predominantly white and Republican.

Walker said she had two glasses of wine and doesn’t remember anything else that happened that night, and that she woke up the next morning in a bed in the home. She said she told her husband what had happened the next day, but that they waited several weeks before going to the police.

The Post-Dispatch reported that two “highly placed law enforcement sources” confirmed that there is an active investigation into Walker’s allegations against Roberts. It didn’t name the sources.

The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify the alleged victims of sexual assault, but Walker asked the Post-Dispatch to name her, saying she hoped that doing so might give courage to women who are victims ofrape and encourage a change in culture at the state capital, Jefferson City, which she said “perpetuates gender violence and rape culture.”

Neither Walker nor a police spokeswoman responded to several messages seeking further information Saturday, and Roberts didn’t reply to emails or voicemails seeking comment.

Roberts’ lawyer, Scott Rosenblum, confirmed that the allegations are being investigated and said he has been in contact with the police. Roberts has not been arrested or charged.

Rosenblum said Walker’s allegations are “unfounded.”

“I think that we will be able to basically undermine those allegations pretty quickly,” Rosenblum said. “Whatever happened between these individuals was absolutely consensual and I think we have what I would call objective evidence to support that.” He declined to elaborate.

In addition to contacting police, Walker has also reached out to the Missouri House leadership. In a letter to House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican, she asked that Roberts be prohibited from taking his seat in the Legislature until the criminal investigation is complete.

Richardson, in a statement, called the allegations “extremely serious and disturbing.”

“The kind of conduct alleged cannot be tolerated in our state and will not be tolerated in the House of Representatives,” Richardson said. He noted that while the House has no jurisdiction because Roberts is not yet a legislator, “we will monitor the criminal investigation closely and continue to have a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault, misconduct and harassment.”

The Missouri House’s minority leader, Jake Hummel of St. Louis, and assistant minority leader, Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City, issued a joint statement expressing support for Walker.

“Cora Faith Walker has shown great courage in publicly seeking justice for the assault against her,” they wrote. “It is vitally important for the legal system to diligently pursue this matter to an appropriate resolution.”

The Legislature has dealt with several sexually-themed scandals over the past year and a half.

Richardson became speaker after the former speaker, John Diehl, a Republican from suburban St. Louis, resigned in May 2015 after acknowledging that he exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a college intern. State Sen. Paul LeVota, a Democrat from Independence, stepped down in 2015 after interns accused him of sexual harassment, which he denied. And earlier this year, state Rep. Don Gosen, a Republican from suburban St. Louis, resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair.

Walker won the Democratic nomination to represent Missouri’s 74th state House District. Among the St. Louis suburbs that seat represents is Ferguson, which became a focal point of the Black Lives Matter movement after the 2014 fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer. Roberts won the Democratic nomination for the 77th state House District, which represents part of St. Louis.