The Kraken gap

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

On the roster: The Kraken gap – I’ll Tell You What: I’m sorry, I’m eating a taco – With time running out stimulus talks stall – Biden slates Agriculture, HUD positions – They were calling to report being frozen off

THE KRAKEN GAP
“This is the big one.” – President Trump in a tweet this morning on a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election and/or Fred Sanford on “Sanford and Son” (1972-1977).

After 36 days of comedic incompetence that included everything from allegations of a global communist conspiracy to shutting down the Arizona legislature for mass coronavirus exposure, the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election ran aground Tuesday.

In a one-sentence response to a suit filed by Pennsylvania Republicans on Trump’s behalf, the conservative-majority Supreme Court flicked away the demand that justices disenfranchise 2.5 million Keystone State voters who submitted ballots by mail.

It was, to use a Latin legal term, complete horse pucky.

You don’t have to be an Order of the Coif to know that a suit over the constitutionality of voting laws has to happen before the election, not after. It was, at best, an end-around effort to delay certification of the results so that Pennsylvania’s Republican legislature could somehow steal the commonwealth’s electoral votes for Trump.

That’s pretty gritty, even for the home state of the actual Gritty.

But it was not to be. The court rejected the effort and let Pennsylvania sail into the “safe harbor” – the legal concept that basically locks out further challenges to state election results ahead of the certification of the Electoral College results, which takes place Monday.

It hasn’t been all bad for the president, though. Many Americans have answered his call for assistance with cash contributions to what is styled as some kind of “election defense fund.’ But the most of the money – more than $200 million since Election Day – just goes into a new super PAC Trump set up for himself.

Certainly he can also say that he has demonstrated the abject commitment of his core supporters. Whether he or they are sincere or cynical isn’t important. Just getting people to follow you through a wormhole as cramped as this one not only shows a leader’s power, but also further attaches the supporters. They’re all out in deep space with Trump now, making it harder for mainstream politicians to wrest them away.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reminded us of his flexibility at getting through tight political corners with his vow to argue the Pennsylvania case… should the Supreme Court accept it for arguments. This would be like us promising to filet and skin the Loch Ness Monster… should it be captured.

In a move reminiscent of the pig-in-a-poke ObamaCare defunding he pushed as a freshman senator, Cruz found a way to turn up the temperature without getting his own cookies burnt.

Now, Cruz’s fellow Texan, state Attorney General Ken Paxton, is taking a whack at the piñata of patronization. He says Texas is going to sue Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia for making changes to their election procedures because of Coronavirus.

Which, of course, Texas did too. And, of course, how other states conduct their election is none of Texas’ business.

But why let that get in the way of some more press releases and some fundraising. Now attorneys general from Louisiana and Alabama say that they too would like to get a piece of this high-profile flummery. The president is excited, as well. “The case that everyone has been waiting for is the State’s case with Texas and numerous others joining. It is very strong, ALL CRITERIA MET.”

Emphasis in the original.

So what will Trump, Paxton and the rest do when it is revealed that this is not ”the case that everyone has been waiting for”? Or when the Electoral College records its votes? Will they keep suing and fundraising and CAPITALIZING?

We assume so.

What we don’t know is how many people will really want to go through that wormhole as the corners get tighter and tighter.

While it is reasonable for Republicans to fear what havoc Trump may visit on them in 2022 primaries and in 2024, it’s also becoming obvious that the buffoonery of the Giuliani-led legal effort and the Kraken gap that continues to afflict the new, more grandiose constitutional claims is making Trump look silly and like a sore loser.

While he may have proven the obedience of his core supporters, this journey has also certainly cemented the misgivings that mainstream Republicans have had from the start.

THE RULEBOOK: SKEPTICS AMONG US
“The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils.” – James Madison, writing about the restrictions on the authority of individual states, Federalist No. 44

TIME OUT: ‘MOVE ON UP A LITTLE HIGHER’
Soul Phoodie: “When you hear the name Mahalia Jackson, it’s likely that fried chicken is not the first thing that comes to mind. Born on October 26, 1911 in New Orleans, Jackson is well-known for her powerful voice that amplified the gospel scene and her involvement in the civil rights movement. … As a huge supporter of Black businesses and an avid chef with her own recipe for fried chicken, Jackson agreed to being affiliated [with a fast-food chicken chain launched by Memphis businessmen]. Opening for the first time in 1968, these restaurants were owned and worked solely by blacks. … The menu included traditional fried chicken and catfish along with snacks and sides. In addition, they sold a soul bowl consisting of rice, chicken giblets, and gravy. By the early ’70s, there were around 5 locations in her adopted hometown of Chicago. In an attempt to create more economically independent black businesses and build better opportunities, workers were offered healthcare, life insurance, and paid vacations.”

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

GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.

I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: I’M SORRY, I’M EATING A TACO
This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt kick off the podcast by reviewing some of their favorite work-day snacks and beverages. Then Chris answers mailbag questions, Dana makes a special announcement, and they discuss the runoff in Georgia and recent COVID-19 developments. Plus, Dana and Chris hear a listener review, and Chris answers Legislative Branch trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

WITH TIME RUNNING OUT STIMULUS TALKS STALL
Politico: “After a flurry of momentum over the last week, the stimulus talks are back to where they’ve been for months: nowhere. Congressional leaders have retreated to their corners, blaming each other for inaction as the economy stumbles and the U.S. nears 300,000 dead from the virus. Time is running short in the lame duck, with as few as nine days for Congress to deliver much-needed relief. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is loath to divide Republicans as he confronts two years with, at best, a slim majority. And the bipartisan $908 billion framework includes $160 billion in aid to states and localities that is attracting pronounced GOP opposition — just as a liability shield is being shunned by Democrats. On Tuesday in their private party conference call, Senate Republicans wrestled over whether cutting a deal that trades the two is even doable. Afterward, McConnell urged negotiators to drop liability reform and state and local aid from the discussion, deeming them too contentious to be workable in the breakneck lame duck session.”

White House offers $916 billion virus package – AP: “The Trump administration dove back into Capitol Hill’s confusing COVID-19 negotiations on Tuesday, offering a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans — but eliminate a $300 per week employment benefit favored by a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the offer to Pelosi late Tuesday afternoon, he said in a statement. He offered few details, though House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it proposes the $600 direct payment for individuals and $1,200 for couples, which is half the payment delivered by the March pandemic relief bill. … Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded to Mnuchin’s entreaty with a statement that said they would prefer to let a bipartisan group take the lead.”

Biden vows at least 100 million vaccine shots in first 100 days – NYT: “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., setting ambitious goals to change the course of the coronavirus pandemic, vowed on Tuesday to get ‘at least 100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people’ during his first 100 days in office, and said he would make it a ‘national priority’ to get children back to school during that time. The pledge, which Mr. Biden made while introducing the members of his health team in Wilmington, Del., tracks with the goals set by President Trump. But in creating clear benchmarks for himself, Mr. Biden is taking a certain risk. He will undoubtedly be held to the 100 million promise at the 100-day mark on April 30, and fulfilling it will require no hiccups in manufacturing or distributing the vaccine and a willingness by Americans to be vaccinated.”

House passes defense bill despite Trump veto threat NYT: “The House overwhelmingly passed a $741 billion defense policy bill on Tuesday that would require that Confederate names be stripped from American military bases, defying President Trump’s veto threat and moving lawmakers one step closer to a potential showdown in his final weeks in office. The 335-78 bipartisan vote to approve the legislation that authorizes pay raises for American troops reflected optimism among lawmakers in both parties that Congress would be able to force the enactment of the bill over Mr. Trump’s objections, in what would be the first veto override of his presidency. The margin surpassed the two-thirds majority both the House and Senate would need to muster to do so. It also amounted to a remarkable break from the president by Republicans, who refused to defer to Mr. Trump’s desire to derail the critical bill as his time in the White House comes to a close.”

BIDEN SLATES AGRICULTURE, HUD POSITIONS
Axios: “President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as his Agriculture secretary and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge as his Housing and Urban Development secretary, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. The selection of Vilsack is another example of Biden turning to a trusted friend to serve in a key role. The choice of Fudge may appease some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who lobbied Biden to choose her for the agricultural post. Fudge’s planned nomination was first reported by Politico. An announcement could come as soon as this week. Members of the CBC made it a priority to help install Fudge at agriculture to signal that the department was more focused on serving agricultural consumers and not just producers. Biden’s choice of Vilsack indicates he wants the USDA to stay more focused on its traditional roles of supporting farmers ensuring food safety.”

Report: Doug Jones leads list for attorney general – The Hill: “Outgoing Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) has emerged as the No. 1 contender for President-elect Joe Biden’s attorney general, according to NBC News, citing three sources familiar with the discussions. Other contenders reportedly include former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Judge Merrick Garland, whom former President Obama nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to hold hearings on Garland’s nomination. Jones, first elected in 2017, was defeated in his 2020 bid for a full term by Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville, former head football coach at Auburn University. His nomination would come almost exactly four years after President Trump named then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, also from Alabama, to the position.”

Buttigieg being considered for China post – Axios: “President-elect Joe Biden is considering a high-profile ambassadorship for Pete Buttigieg, possibly sending him to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. The 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, whom Biden has compared to his late son, Beau, played a key role in Biden’s nomination. Letting him deepen his foreign policy chops could boost Buttigieg’s future, since many inside the Democratic Party believe his return as a presidential candidate is a matter of when, not if.”

MCCONNELL SUPER PAC LAUNCHES NEW $43M PUSH IN GEORGIA
Fox Business: “The top super PAC that supports Republican senators and candidates is firing up a new multimillion-dollar effort in Georgia’s twin Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections, which will determine whether the GOP retains its majority in the chamber or if the Democrats take control of both houses of Congress as well as the White House. The Senate Leadership Fund, which is aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is putting $43 million into the Peachtree PAC, a newly formed political action committee in Georgia, officials tell Fox News. The new PAC’s first ad supports GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and takes aim at Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock by tying them to the top two Democratic leaders in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. … The new spending by the Senate Leadership Fund is in addition to more than $80 million it and the allied super PAC American Crossroads have already spent to run or reserve ad time in Georgia.”

Noem visits Georgia, Texas – Sioux Falls Argus Leader: “The presidential election might be over, but Kristi Noem is still carrying water for the GOP in December. The 49-year-old first term governor of South Dakota made stops in Georgia and Texas this weekend where she continued to capitalize on the political acclaim she’s earned since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Georgia and Texas trips mark the latest in dozens of out-of-state outings on Noem’s calendar in recent months, first campaigning in multiple battle ground states in support of President Trump’s re-election bid. While the presidential election is in the rear view, Democrats and Republicans are still battling for control of the U.S. Senate with a pair of runoff elections in Georgia. Noem voiced a personal endorsement for Georgia’s Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, via her social media Sunday, the same day she was in Atlanta for Loeffler’s debate with Democrat Raphael Warnock.”

Kraushaar: ‘The coming tests of the Republican Party’s Trumpiness’ – National Journal: “In a post-Trump era, the biggest challenge for the Republican Party is figuring out a way to move past the whims of its erratic and vengeful leader without splitting itself in half. Republican leaders want to incorporate the Trump administration’s populism into a forward-looking agenda that can hold onto Trump’s working-class voters while making inroads with the moderate suburbanites who grew estranged from the GOP by the president’s crude behavior. But so many of Trump’s core supporters are acting like political nihilists. … In the coming two years, there will be numerous tests for a party that seeks to reconstitute itself without the catalyst of Trump at its apex. From a closely watched governor’s race across the Potomac River from the White House to a hotly contested Senate race involving one of his closest allies, these are the races to watch that will signal the GOP’s future.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Biden: ‘Why I Chose Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense’Atlantic

Pergram: Dems try to ensure House majority in the new CongressFox News

AUDIBLE: TERRY THE COMEBACK KID
“We need to go big, and be bold to make sure Virginia rebuilds stronger than ever after COVID-19.” – Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday announced his candidacy for his old job.

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

THEY WERE CALLING TO REPORT BEING FROZEN OFF
KMSP: “A large number of ‘butt dial’ 911 calls from ice fishermen were reported by authorities in central Minnesota Monday. According to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, its 911 center reported the increase in pocket dials from fishermen, especially on Upper Red Lake. ‘Crouching over an ice hold with your phone in your pocket can press the magic call 911 buttons,’ the Sheriff said in a Facebook post. While the department said it doesn’t mind the fishing reports, it asked anglers to reserve 911 for emergencies.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“It must be targeted, focused and limited. We are friends to all, but we come ashore only where it really counts.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) talking about international relations and the strategy of Democratic Realism in his Irving Kristol Award acceptance speech on Feb. 10, 2004.

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.