DOJ denies rumors Attorney General Barr is considering resigning over President’s tweets

Attorney General William Barr speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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UPDATED 11:12 AM PT — Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A recent report alleged Attorney General William Barr has considered resigning due to the president’s tweets about Justice Department investigations. According to the Washington Post, Barr discussed the possibility of leaving his position with members of the Trump administration.

This possibility floated after Barr expressed frustration with President Trump’s consistent tweets involving Department of Justice investigations in an interview with ABC.

“To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about people in the department, or our men and women hear about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases make it impossible for me to do my job,” he stated.

Democrats and former Justice Department officials are calling for Barr to step down, following his recent sentence recommendation change of Republican strategist Roger Stone. However, Barr said he wouldn’t be swayed or bullied by Congress, the media or the president, but also said he can’t do his job with the constant background commentary that undercuts the work he is trying to do.

President Trump did voice his support for the attorney general amid calls for him to step down.

“I do make his job harder, I do agree with that, I think that’s true,” he stated. “He’s a very straight shooter…the attorney general is a man with incredible integrity.”

Despite the report, a spokeswoman for the department has come out against the claims and said they are just rumors. According to the official, Barr has no intentions of resigning.

RELATED: White House responds to Barr’s interview as Democrats demand resignation

Original Article

Neb. denies pardon request of ex-girlfriend of serial killer Charles Starkweather

Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts, center, resides over the Board of Pardons in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, with Neb. Sect. of State Robert Evnen, right, and Neb. Attorney General Doug Peterson, left, to consider a request for clemency from Caril Ann Clair, the 76-year-old former girlfriend of Charles Starkweather. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

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UPDATED 7:42 AM PT — Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The state of Nebraska has no plans to pardon a convicted murderer for her role in a series of killings in which she has claimed to have no part in. The Board of Pardons rejected Caril Ann Fugate’s application Tuesday, regarding 11 spree killings between 1957 and 1958.

At the time of the slayings, Fugate was dating infamous 19-year-old killer Charles Starkweather who was put to death in 1959. She was only 14-years-old. Her mother, father and baby sister were among Starkweather’s victims.

Board members have said their job is to restore a felon’s rights and Fugate’s request was more broad than they could offer.

Liza Ward, of Duxbury, Massachusetts, granddaughter of S. Lauer and Clara Ward, who were killed by Charles Starweather, sits in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, at a hearing of he Nebraska Board of Pardons to consider a request for clemency from Caril Ann Clair, the 76-year-old former girlfriend of Charles Starkweather. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

“If people don’t think that Caril Fugate had remorse for things that she witnessed and didn’t try to stop because she was a young child with a gun pointed at her who was a hostage of this man, you can bet she’s got a ton of remorse and she’s got a ton of demons,” said Liza Ward, granddaughter of the victims. “And I just would have liked her to have those words, ‘you are pardoned.'”

Fugate was released from prison in 1976 after serving 17 years and now lives in Michigan.

RELATED: President Trump pardons former 49ers owner Eddie Debartolo Jr.

Original Article

White House denies President Trump spoke to Attorney General Barr about Stone sentencing

Deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley speaks with members of the press at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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UPDATED 1:34 PM PT — Wednesday, February 12, 2020

White House officials are speaking out on the president’s comments and praising Attorney General Barr for intervening in Roger Stone’s sentencing. On Wednesday, Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley spoke to reporters about the case. This came after all four prosecutors resigned in protest on Tuesday following the DOJ’s decision to change their sentencing recommendations.

Gidley denied that the president spoke to Barr about the case, but added he has the right to do so if he wanted to. The secretary also said he did not know if the president asked the attorney general to investigate anyone at any time. He then dismissed questions regarding the resignation of Stone’s prosecutors.

“Whatever grievance they have, whatever they’re upset about, that’s something you’d have to ask them – I obviously can’t speak for them,” said Gidley. “I can just tell you over here, the president made his thoughts very well known about not just the Mueller investigation, but the sentencing of Roger Stone.”

When asked about a potential pardon for Stone, Gidley said he has not spoken to the president about it.

FILE – In this Jan. 29, 2019 file photo, former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone arrives at Federal Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) agreed with the DOJ’s decision to reduce its recommended prison sentence for Roger Stone. While speaking to reporters, Graham said a seven to nine year sentence proposal for Stone was not appropriate.

He cited a letter from the victim in the case, in which the person explained they didn’t feel threatened by the former political consultant. Graham suggested the existence of the letter should be enough to reduce Stone’s sentence to three or four years.

The senator added he does not think his committee will investigate the DOJ’s decision. He also said he would not call Attorney General William Barr to testify on this matter.

RELATED: President Trump Congratulates Attorney General Barr For ‘Taking Charge’ Of Stone Case

Original Article

Saudi Arabia denies claims crown prince hacked into Bezos’ phone

This combination of photos shows Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on June 24, 2019 and Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in Washington, on Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo)

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UPDATED 2:13 PM PT — Thursday, January 23, 2020

Saudi Arabia is denying allegations Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ phone. On Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud called the allegations absurd and based on false information.

“All I can say is that the allegations are completely untrue. They’re really based on conjecture and information that’s not complete. There’s no real evidence that we can see, and therefore, you know, we think it’s not a serious accusation at all.” – Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia

The United Nations is calling for a U.S. investigation into bin Salman’s alleged involvement in the hacking back in May of 2018. Sources said the prince sent Bezos a corrupted video file on WhatsApp that allowed hackers into his phone after he opened it.

FILE – In this Oct. 14, 2019 file photo, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the talks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

UN officials reviewed forensic analysis, commissioned by Bezos, that alleged surveillance on the Amazon CEO was being used to influence the Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia.

Five months after the hack, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents. Four months later, The National Enquirer allegedly threatened to expose private photos and messages Bezos shared with another woman while he was still married.

UN officials said the hack may lead to information regarding what Saudi officials were doing in the months prior to threats against Bezos and Khashoggi’s death.

“I think the hacking, and the demonstrated hacking of Mr. Bezos’ phone, should lead to a thorough investigation into the practices of hacking more generally by Saudi Arabia, and possibly other states,” stated UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard.

FILE – In this Sept. 19, 2019, file photo, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks during his news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

However, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said the investigation lacks merit.

“The idea that the crown prince would hack Jeff Bezos’ phone is absolutely silly,” said Al-Saud. “It’s a statement based on a report by a private company that has not been vetted…(and has) no hard evidence to substantiate the claims it’s making.”

Amazon has not responded to requests for comment since the allegations came to light. However, Bezos shared a photo of himself honoring the slain Saudi journalist on Twitter.

Original Article

Biden denies one-term promise

closeOne-term plan? Biden denies talking to aides about re-electionVideo

One-term plan? Biden denies talking to aides about re-election

Former Vice President Joe Biden denies planning for one-term presidency; Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy reports.

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On the roster: Biden denies one-term promise – I’ll Tell You What: Do you G what I.G. – House Judiciary fracas as impeachment vote looms – Brits vote – ‘These f—ing birds have hats on, bro!’

NBC News: “Joe Biden denied Wednesday that he’s discussed making a pledge to serve only one term if elected president, rejecting a published report that it remained a consideration. ‘I don't have plans on one term,’ Biden told reporters between campaign stops in Nevada. ‘I'm not even there yet.’ Politico, citing ‘four people who regularly talk to Biden,’ reported that the campaign had revived discussions about whether the 77-year-old should publicly make such a pledge, and that Biden himself had signaled to aides he would not seek re-election. The Biden campaign had earlier pushed back on the speculation. ‘Lots of chatter out there on this so just want to be crystal clear: this is not a conversation our campaign is having and not something VP Biden is thinking about,’ deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield tweeted.”
Bloomy butters up House Dems with fat checks – WaPo: “Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg will donate $10 million Thursday to defend vulnerable Democratic House members against paid Republican attacks on their support for impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The money, which is meant to even an arms race on the 2020 congressional battlefield, was cheered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has been fielding concerns from some of her members over a costly Republican advertising offensive as the House moves toward an impeachment vote next week. ‘In 2018, Mayor Bloomberg was a critical ally in helping House Democrats regain the majority,’ Pelosi said in a statement. ‘Now, the stakes are even higher as we work to make health care more affordable by reducing the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, increase wages and root out corruption. We welcome and thank Mayor Bloomberg for his support.’”
Burn rate approaches $4 million per day – Fox Business: “Michael Bloomberg has outspent almost every other Democratic presidential candidate on TV and digital ads since he entered the 2020 race less than one month ago. In the weeks since the former New York City mayor announced his presidential campaign launch on Nov. 24, he’s poured more than $100 million into advertising, according to new figures published by Advertising Analytics. That's an average of $3.72 million per day. Fellow 2020 billionaire Tom Steyer, the Silicon Valley hedge fund manager, had spent an estimated $60 million on ads as of Dec. 2, according to separate data published by the ad-tracking firm. Although Bloomberg is not participating in the Iowa caucuses and won't be on the ballots of other early-voting states, including New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, data shows he's pouring millions into local ads focused on New York and Los Angeles, as well as Texas.”
Four debates for January and February announced – ABC News: “Democrats will kick off 2020 with four Democratic primary debates in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the Democratic National Committee announced Thursday. The debates will take place in January and February. ABC News, in partnership with ABC's New Hampshire affiliate WMUR-TV and Apple News, will hold the first debate after voting begins on Friday, Feb. 7, at St. Anselm College in Manchester. … CNN and The Des Moines Register will host a debate on Jan. 14 at Drake University ahead of Iowa’s caucuses. NBC News and MSNBC, in partnership with The Nevada Independent, hosts a Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas prior to Nevada's caucuses. CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute co-host the debate before South Carolina's primary on Feb. 25 at The Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina and Twitter will be a debate partner.”
California knotty – CNN: “Likely Democratic primary voters in California are about evenly split among the top three candidates — Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — in the race for the Democratic nomination, while Texas Democrats tend to favor Biden, the nationwide frontrunner, according to new CNN polls conducted by SSRS in two of the largest early states to cast ballots next year. California and Texas are the most delegate-rich states out of the 15 to hold primaries or caucuses on March 3, meaning they will play an outsize role in determining who will win the Democratic nomination. In California, former vice president Biden (21%), Vermont Sen. Sanders (20%), and Massachusetts Sen. Warren (17%) are closely bunched at the top of the field with no other candidate reaching double digits. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds 9%, followed by businessman Andrew Yang at 6% and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 5%. In Texas, Biden tops Sanders by 20 points, 35% to 15%, with Warren almost even with Sanders at 13%. Buttigieg follows at 9% and Bloomberg at 5%.”
The unbearable whiteness of being… in the Nevada caucus – Politico: “Nevada has for months functioned as something of a hedge in the primary calendar, the first nominating contest where the Democratic presidential field’s diversity would be measured by a state with a sizable non-white voting population. Now it’s looking like a reminder of the monochromatic nature of the party’s leading candidates. With Sen. Kamala Harris exiting the contest last week and Sen. Cory Booker and Julián Castro failing to qualify for next week’s presidential debate, the landscape has shifted in Nevada. The chances of a breakthrough here by a candidate of color are fading. And the front-runners are mounting an increasingly urgent effort to piece together pockets of the electorate in the first test of their appeal before a diverse electorate. Appearing at the influential Culinary Workers Union on Wednesday — after Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders visited on Monday and Tuesday — former Vice President Joe Biden touted the immigration plan he released that day promising to reverse many of President Donald Trump’s policies.”
Judge rules S.C. GOP can rig primary for Trump – AP: “A judge on Wednesday upheld the South Carolina Republican Party’s decision not to hold a 2020 presidential primary, a move taken by several states in erecting hurdles for the long-shot candidates challenging President Donald Trump. In her order, Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman wrote the law ‘does not give Plaintiffs a legal right to a presidential preference primary, and the Court will not substitute its own judgment for that of the General Assembly or the SCGOP.’ Earlier this year, former South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis sued state Republicans, saying the party’s decision to skip a primary deprives him and others ‘of the ability to vote for the candidate of their choice in South Carolina’s famous (and particularly influential) ‘First in the South’ primary.’”
“No axiom is more clearly established in law, or in reason, than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorized; wherever a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power necessary for doing it is included.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 44
Writer Julia Cho looks at what else we lost when America cut the cord. The Atlantic: “My tween will never know the sound of me calling her name from another room after the phone rings. She'll never sit on our kitchen floor, refrigerator humming in the background, twisting a cord around her finger while talking to her best friend. I'll get it, He's not here right now, and It's for you are all phrases that are on their way out of the modern domestic vernacular. According to the federal government, the majority of American homes now use cellphones exclusively. ‘We don't even have a landline anymore,’ people began to say proudly as the new millennium progressed. But this came with a quieter, secondary loss—the loss of the shared social space of the family landline. … With smartphones [Professor Luke Fernandez] says, ‘we have gained mobility and privacy. But the value of the home has been diminished, as has its capacity to guide and monitor family behavior and perhaps bind families more closely together.’”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Biden: 27.6 points (↑ 1.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 18.4 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
Sanders: 18.2 points (↑ 1 point from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 8.6 points (↓ 1.6 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, Monmouth University, CNN, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]
Average approval: 43.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53 percent
Net Score: -9.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 41% approve – 55% disapprove; Monmouth University: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove.]
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This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss Inspector General Horowitz's report, analyze recent changes in the 2020 Democratic front-runners and the differences between New Joe Biden and Old Joe Biden. Plus, see how Chris does this week in trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
AP: “The House Judiciary Committee launched a lively, marathon session Thursday ahead of voting on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. A historic step as the deeply partisan panel prepares to send the charges to the full House. Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., immediately asked for a full reading of the nine-page resolution, airing the two articles against the president introduced by Democrats for the live TV cameras. They charge Trump with abuse of power for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden while withholding aid as leverage and with obstruction of Congress for stonewalling the House’s investigation. … Thursday’s hearing picked up where Wednesday’s late-night session left off. Into the night, Democrats and Republicans delivered sharp, poignant and, at times, personal arguments for and against impeachment. Both sides appealed to Americans’ sense of history — Democrats describing a strong sense of duty to stop what one called the president’s ‘constitutional crime spree’ and Republicans decrying the ‘hot garbage’ impeachment and what it means for the future of the country.”
Suit against Pompeo over Russia records may continue, judge rules – McClatchy: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is being sued over allegedly failing to preserve official notes about President Donald Trump’s meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a court ruled on Wednesday that the case could move forward. That means Pompeo must either provide evidence he complied with the Federal Records Act, which requires the State Department to collect and preserve interpreter notes, or else argue that he is not obligated to do so. Democracy Forward and American Oversight, two progressive watchdog organizations, filed the lawsuit in June after public reporting emerged claiming that Trump had collected notes from interpreters and directed them not to discuss the contents of the meetings. The court filing called it ‘unusual, and in some cases extreme, measures to conceal the details of these meetings.’”
The Judge’s Ruling: FISA is unconstitutional – This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains why he believes the problem with FISA is it’s secrecy and standards that conflict with the Constitution: “FISA established probable cause of foreign agency as the standard that government lawyers must meet. That morphed into probable cause of foreign personhood. That morphed into probable cause of speaking to a foreign person. And that morphed into probable cause of speaking to any person who has ever spoken to a foreign person. All of this happened in secret. This slow but persistent destruction of the right to be left alone, which is ostensibly guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, came about not only by secrecy and the absence of adversaries but also by judicial gullibility and constitutional infidelity.”More here.
WaPo: “The United Kingdom goes to the polls Thursday to decide the fate of vexatious, divisive, gridlocked Brexit. … This snap election was called because Britain is broken over Brexit. If Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Conservatives achieve a solid majority in Parliament, they will assuredly plow forward with Brexit. Dreams of a second referendum — of remaining in the E.U. — will be dashed. And by January, one of the dominant partners in the long, lucrative, peaceful, postwar order, manifested by Europe’s political and trade bloc, will go off on its own. A Conservative majority has been widely anticipated, as opinion polls through much of the six-week campaign have showed the party with a lead of 10 points or more. But that advantage may be diminishing.”
House passes big spending plan, goodies for federal workers AP
Lawsuits linger for Trump NPR
Former N.C. Gov McCrory may try for comebackThe Charlotte Observer
A look back at 2019 in photosWaPo
“Today’s outrage culture insists that everyone who holds a view that’s different from our own is not just mistaken. They must be evil and shunned. That’s wrong. … The tragedy of all of this is that it makes compromise far less possible.” – Nikki Haley, in an op-ed published in the Washington Post, discussing the removal of the Confederate flag in South Carolina in today’s political climate.
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The Guardian: “Two pigeons have been spotted in Las Vegas wearing tiny cowboy hats. While many have been amused by the sight of the birds, with social media users excitedly reporting sightings since a video was first posted to Facebook in early December, there are concerns for the welfare of the animals. The birds have been seen between McCarran international airport and the University of Nevada. Mariah Hillman, who works with the local animal rescue charity Lofty Hopes, said the hats were glued on to the pigeons. ‘When we saw them today, you could see some loose feathers in the glue around the hat. It’s definitely a concern,’ she said. Opening with the exclamation: ‘These f—ing birds have hats on, bro!,’ a repost of Bobby Lee’s Facebook video of the pair has already garnered 2m views on Twitter. Observers have named the two birds Cluck Norris and Coo-lamity Jane.”
“The oddest thing about the current national crusade against tobacco is not its frenzy – our culture lives from one frenzy to the next –but its selectivity. Of course tobacco is a great national killer. It deserves all the pummeling it gets. But alcohol is a great national killer too, and it has enjoyed an amazingly free ride amid the fury of the New Prohibitionism.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Oct. 6, 1997.
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.

Original Article