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On the roster: Mayor Pete surging in Iowa – Trump gets Mueller bump – President dismisses idea of spending deal – Manchin endorses Collins – The Duke boys are wanted for questioning
MAYOR PETE SURGING IN IOWA
Monmouth University: “Democratic voters in the Hawkeye State like Joe Biden – a lot. The former vice president leads the pack and holds the best favorability rating in a field of two dozen presidential contenders, according to the first Monmouth University Poll of Iowa Democratic voters in the 2020 cycle. … In a field of 24 announced and potential candidates, Biden holds the lead with 27% support among Democratic voters who are likely to attend the Iowa caucuses in February. He is followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (16%), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (9%), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (7%), California Sen. Kamala Harris (7%), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (6%), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (4%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (3%), and former cabinet secretary Julián Castro (2%). Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang each receive 1% support from likely caucusgoers. The remaining 10 candidates earn less than 1% or were not chosen by any respondents in the poll.”
Warren loses out to Buttigieg on key home state endorsement – Boston Globe: “When Pete Buttigieg gathers supporters this weekend in Indiana, the ascending 2020 contender will count among them a name very familiar to Massachusetts voters. Steve Grossman, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and state treasurer, is endorsing the 37-year-old South Bend mayor for president, giving Buttigieg a well-connected ally in the donor-rich state. Grossman said he will attend what’s widely expected to be Buttigieg’s formal campaign launch Sunday. The two-time gubernatorial candidate was a supporter and organizer for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign, and has offered to begin raising money for Buttigieg’s campaign in Massachusetts, where fellow Democrat Elizabeth Warren is building her own 2020 operation.”
Sanders 2020 > Sanders 2016 – FiveThirtyEight: “…[W]hen he announced he was running in 2019, after his challenge to Hillary Clinton had dragged deep into the primary calendar, the tenor was different: ‘He is among the best-known Democrats in a crowded field,’ the [New York] Times wrote earlier this year. But even though he now faces much more competition than he did in 2016’s two-person race, Sanders is already outperforming his benchmarks from the last presidential election cycle. Now he is one of the frontrunners, not the insurgent. You can see that dynamic affecting several of the early indicators… The media, voters, donors and other politicians are all paying a bit more early attention to Sanders than they did last time around.”
Yang defends free money – Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang appeared on ‘Fox and Friends’ Friday morning to defend his campaign’s key proposal of giving $12,000 to each American adult every year and criticized Democrats for their newfound support for the abolition of the Electoral College. Yang, former ambassador of global entrepreneurship in the Obama administration and a long-shot candidate for the party’s nomination, was grilled by the show hosts and the audience about his universal basic income program, dubbed ‘Freedom Dividend,’ and his other views. … He added that due to an increasing automation, ‘most of us’ won’t work at Amazon or other companies, leaving the rest of the people at a disadvantage because their source of income will disappear.”
McAuliffe wants to wrestle – WaPo: “Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, long wrestling with whether to run for the White House, has finally hit upon a perfect meme — one that evokes the literal swamp creature he once battled for campaign cash. ‘Of all the candidates running, how many have actually wrestled a 280 pound, 8-foot alligator for a political contribution?’ the Democrat told a crowd of union leaders Wednesday. ‘I’m your man, folks. . . If I can wrestle an alligator, I can certainly wrestle Donald Trump!’ He followed up Thursday on Twitter with side-by-side photos. On the left: a svelte, 23-year-old McAuliffe perched atop the imposing reptile he fought on behalf of President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 reelection bid. On the right: President Trump, looking especially rotund in golf attire. … For the record, McAuliffe bested the gator, wrangling a $15,000 donation to Carter from Florida’s Seminole Indian tribe. But that was not enough to help Carter, who lost the race.”
THE RULEBOOK: NSFW
“What is the spirit that has in general characterized the proceedings of Congress?” – James Madison, Federalist No. 46
TIME OUT: KEEP ON READING
WTVD: “Beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary is hitting a milestone on Friday. She’s turning 103. April 12 is also National D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day in honor of Cleary. The National Medal of Arts winner and Library of Congress Living Legend is best known for books about her character Ramona Quimby and sister Beezus. … Though her most famous character, Ramona, is one of the most well-known little sisters in the history of children’s literature, Cleary herself didn’t have any siblings. … Cleary started her career as a librarian, where she realized that boys needed more books with characters they identified with, she said. She published Henry Huggins in 1950 to remedy that. … Like many centenarians, Cleary gets asked about the secret to longevity. Her response? ‘I didn’t do it on purpose.’ She also says she doesn’t look a day over 80.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 51.6 percent
Net Score: -8.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.8 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve – 52% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 50% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve – 53% disapprove.]
TRUMP GETS MUELLER BUMP
Gallup: “President Donald Trump‘s job approval rating increased relatively sharply over the past month to 45% in an April 1-9 Gallup poll, up from 39% in March. This marks the third time the 45th president has reached a 45% job approval rating in Gallup trends — his highest in the series. This is Gallup’s first measurement of presidential approval since special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation into Russian attempts to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Attorney General William Barr‘s synopsis of Mueller’s findings reported no Russian involvement in the Trump campaign and insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice — which Trump claims fully vindicates him. Congress has raised questions about the attorney general’s synopsis of Mueller’s findings and is demanding to see the report. While this plays out, Americans are slightly more approving of Trump than they were before the report’s delivery — though a small majority (51%) still disapprove of the president.”
PRESIDENT DISMISSES IDEA OF SPENDING DEAL
Politico: “President Donald Trump scoffed Thursday night at the idea of striking a bipartisan two-year deal to ward off billions of dollars in spending cuts. ‘House Democrats want to negotiate a $2 TRILLION spending increase but can’t even pass their own plan. We can’t afford it anyway, and it’s not happening!’ Trump tweeted. The president’s jeers come on the heels of House Democrats’ failure this week to muster the support to pass a bill that would stave off $126 billion in spending cuts in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, as well as cuts in the fiscal year that follows. While the proposal would increase discretionary spending to about $1.3 trillion for the upcoming fiscal year, the Trump administration contends that it would lead to nearly $2 trillion in spending increases over 10 years.”
Senate in decline – Politico: “Just last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) triggered the ‘nuclear option’ and weakened the Senate’s vaunted filibuster to steamroll over Democratic resistance to President Donald Trump’s nominees… To top it all off, the Senate has now failed to muster enough votes to pass a simple disaster-aid bill, something that was once routine and is a failure that will affect millions of Americans. McConnell and his Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, exchanged verbal blows on Thursday as they gave dueling accounts over who was to blame for the Senate morass. … As Republicans changed the Senate rules last week, McConnell and Schumer engaged in a fierce tit-for-tat on the floor culminating with McConnell literally pointing at Schumer as the one to blame. It was an ugly moment for the Senate. Yet these types of bitter personal exchanges have become routine, and a growing number of senators just try to tune it all out.”
MANCHIN ENDORSES COLLINS
Politico: “Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin endorsed GOP Sen. Susan Collins for reelection on Thursday, in a rare rebuff of partisan politics in an increasingly polarized Senate. The moderate West Virginia senator also offered to campaign for the vulnerable Maine incumbent. It’s a boon for Collins, who Democrats likely need to beat if they hope to take the Senate majority in 2020. ‘I would go up and campaign for Susan Collins. If she wanted me to, I would campaign for Susan Collins. For America to lose somebody like Susan Collins would be an absolute shame. I feel that strongly about her,’ Manchin said on Thursday. He admitted his comments will not please Democrats eager to defeat Collins.”
Hold the Rice – AP: “Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser under President Barack Obama, won’t be challenging Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in 2020. Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday in New York that she loves Maine and that her family has deep roots in the state. But she said she decided with her family ‘that the timing really isn’t right for us.’ Rice tantalized Democrats in October when she expressed interest in Collins’ seat during the contentious confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She said Collins supporting Kavanaugh ‘felt like betrayal.’ Rice said during the event on Thursday that her daughter is going into her junior year of high school and moving to Maine to run a campaign isn’t the best move for her family. Rice and her family currently reside in Washington D.C.”
Illinois Senate threatens to bar Trump from 2020 ballot for tax returns – WBEZ
Report: Administration considered dumping migrants in sanctuary cities – Fox News
Herman Cain to abandon bid for Fed board – ABC News
“The only unpardonable sin in New York society is poverty.” – Rich Farley, a New York lawyer and author, talking to the Atlantic about Ivanka Trump.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“While everyone is preaching Amtrak Joe (or Uncle Bernie) as the front-runner, allow me to remind everyone of what happens to front-runners with a single word: JEB!” – Jeff Smith, Statesboro, Ga.
[Ed. note: Indeed, Mr. Smith! Frontrunners are the ones walking around with the biggest bullseyes on their backs. Jeb Bush failed to understand this and adopted an astonishingly arrogant approach to the race. He gamed the system to run a giant PAC that was intended to amass so much money that he could destroy any opponent. And when he did get in the race, he turned his death ray not on his real competitor, Donald Trump, but rather on his fellow mainstream Republicans. Biden should pay attention to that lesson. As frontrunner, you’ve got to get in, take your licks like a grown up and play to win.]
“Someone must eventually ask Buttigieg, if after being reared in a Marxist household, he will disavow Marxism now. Unless he unequivocally answers, ‘Yes,’ which he won’t, he is toast.” – Joe Guyton, San Antonio
[Ed. note: I’m guessing, based on your question, Mr. Guyton, that your vote is not up for grabs this cycle. I heard the same comments about former President Barack Obama’s politically radical associates – his father, William Ayers and others. I also heard how President Trump’s connections in the world of organized crime would doom him. I think you might be surprised at how little attention persuadable voters pay to these kinds of considerations.]
“Chris, It being Lent, a couple of thoughts about the Mayor Pete vs Vice President Pence story. Those of us who believe in Jesus Christ and the truth of the Bible have no reason to dislike Mayor Pete. We dislike sin, not the sinner. We are all sinners. We do not celebrate sin. According to the Bible, marriage is between one man and one woman. What Mayor Pete does is his free choice. It is our belief, based on the teaching of the Bible to consider it sin without judging the sinner. Judgement is the Lord’s. The Pence family from what I can discern, agrees. Keep up the good work.” – Chuck Gibson, Lakeland, Fla.
[Ed. note: Very lovingly said, Mr. Gibson. Augustine of Hippo wrote, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” When I am tempted to judge the faith of another, I first have to consider how I am using my own feet, eyes and ears. And that is work that will never, ever be done in this life.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
THE DUKE BOYS ARE WANTED FOR QUESTIONING
WLBT: “For the second time in several weeks, thieves have stolen the wheels off of Jackson [Miss.] Police Department cars. Sgt. Roderick Holmes says three police cars were towed Saturday after police found that their wheels had been stolen. The cars were parked behind a police museum in downtown Jackson and police aren’t sure when the wheels were taken. This is the second time wheels have been stolen from patrol cars in recent weeks. A car was left on blocks outside the west Jackson police training academy in March after thieves stole the tires and rims. The thefts are under investigation.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I think the big mistake Trump made was to quote Assange and he sort of had to walk it back. He never admits error. But it is a big mistake to quote somebody who clearly is an enemy of the United States…” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) on “Special Report with Bret Baier” on Jan. 5, 2017.
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.
Source: Fox News Politics
ANKARA, Turkey – Europe’s human rights watchdog is urging Turkey to respect voters’ decisions after electoral authorities blocked some newly elected district mayors from taking office despite winning local elections on March 31.
The Council of Europe on Friday also urged Turkey to confirm the final results of the vote in Istanbul, where the opposition candidate apparently has won a tight race after a recount. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party has refused to concede defeat and is preparing to appeal for a rerun of that vote, citing irregularities.
Anders Knape, a senior official at the Council of Europe, says “the implementation of the will of the voters has absolute priority in democratic systems.”
In a controversial decision, Turkey’s electoral board has refused to reappoint mayors fired from government positions after a failed coup in 2016.
Source: Fox News World
Sen. Cory Booker’s not soaring in the polls, and he doesn’t appear to have the buzz that Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have enjoyed the past six weeks.
But that’s just fine with the Democratic senator’s presidential campaign, aides say.
“We’re not building this campaign to win a poll in April of 2019. We’re trying to win the election in February of 2020, in March of 2020, in April of 2020. This is a long race where there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs,” Booker campaign manager Addisu Demissie told Fox News.
Demissie explained that the campaign’s philosophy is “you’ve got to organize and get hot at the end.”
He highlighted that the New Jersey senator and his team are “laser-focused on building strong teams in the states that are going the set the narrative around the primary starting in February of next year.”
Booker’s campaign manager detailed his strategy with political reporters on Thursday, ahead of Saturday’s ‘hometown kickoff’ by Booker in Newark. Booker served as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city for seven years before winning election to the Senate in 2013.
The campaign’s putting most of its firepower in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, the four states that next February will kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.
“We’ve built our operation with the intention of having the strongest operation in the states on the front end of the primary calendar,” he said.
Demissie touted that the strategy’s paying off, noting that “we’ve earned the first legislative endorsements in Iowa and South Carolina and the first state senator to endorse in New Hampshire.”
And he spotlighted that “no campaign, I think, can boast the level of staff infrastructure and local support that we have.”
But that staffing up is expensive. And presidential campaign history is littered with candidates who grew their infrastructures too fast and spent too much, only to drop out — in some cases — even before the voting began.
Booker declared his candidacy at the beginning of February and quickly spent much of his time stumping in the first four states to vote on the road to the White House.
Demissie noted that Booker held 60 events and stops in the early voting states to show “the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina that we were going to campaign in the best traditions of those states and planting that flag on the ground early and often.”
The concentration on visiting and staffing up in the early voting states may be one reason why Booker’s fundraising figures – $5 million in the first quarter of this year – were respectable but far behind the campaign cash leaders – Sens. Bernie Sanders ($18 million) and Kamala Harris ($12 million).
And while candidates like O’Rourke and Buttigieg are grabbing media attention, Demissie said he wasn’t concerned his candidate’s yet to have a breakout moment.
“We want to win an election, not a news cycle,” he emphasized.
Source: Fox News Politics
ATLANTA – A man who killed his ex-girlfriend and another woman nearly 25 years ago is set to be the first prisoner executed in Georgia this year.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced Friday that 52-year-old Scotty Garnell Morrow is scheduled to die May 2 at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend Barbara Ann Young and her friend Tonya Woods at Young’s Gainesville home in December 1994.
Prosecutors said at trial that Morrow shot the two women and another woman when they turned him away when he tried to get Young to take him back. The third woman survived.
Lawyers for Morrow have argued he was a good person who snapped because of lingering trauma from abuse and bullying he suffered as a child.
Source: Fox News National
Surveillance video from a Chicago high school reveals a shocking incident between local police and a 16-year-old student, who officers can be seen dragging down a flight of stairs before beating and Tasing her — despite later saying the teen instigated the violence.
The incident began as Dnigma Howard was being escorted out of Marshall Metropolitan High School in January by two officers assigned to the school after a reported “confrontation” between her and the assistant principal. Police said that, as they were leading her out of the building, she attacked them, causing all three to fall down the stairs.
Video obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, however, paints a different picture. Howard can be seen standing next to one of the officers, and slowly turns towards him. Apparently unprompted, the officer then appears to grab her and throw her down the stairs. Footage from the bottom of the staircase then shows two officers pulling Howard down the stairs by her arms, holding her down, stepping on her chest, punching her and using a stun gun on the teenager.
Throughout the violent exchange, Howard’s father stood by and was told not to intervene. Howard was arrested and charged with two felony accounts of aggravated battery against the officers, who said in their report she “became irate and initiated a physical altercation with the officers.”
The charges against her have since been dropped “in the interest of justice,” prosecutors said, but the Howard family has since filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday against the city, the Chicago Public School system and the two officers involved in the altercation, Johnnie Pierre and Sherry Tripp. The two are no longer working at the school, and one is reportedly out due to “injury on duty.”
“The Board of Education and CPD continue to fail our children. An unarmed 16-year-old girl was beaten, kicked, punched and tasered by officers,” Howard’s lawyer Andrew M. Stroth said. “Those officers filed a false statement. Their statements are completely untrue and are completely contradicted by what is shown on the video. The saving grace for Dnigma is that this was caught on camera.”
Howard admitted that she was resisting officers at first, but only acted in her own defense responding to their actions.
A spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools said that they are “deeply disturbed and troubled by this incident which has no place in our schools.”
Strouth has also called on Chicago’s new mayor-elect, Lori Lightfoot, to take on the issue of police violence in the city’s schools.
Source: Fox News National
Tennessee Republican Rep. Mark Green said a bipartisan immigration deal would be “a huge win,” adding he thinks “it’s time.”
“I think everybody knows it’s a crisis so we have to do something about the border. We have to do something about immigration and if we can put it all together that would be a huge win,” Green, who serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security, said on “America’s Newsroom” Friday.
“I think the Democrats haven’t had a win in this cycle. The president is leading. He’s made changes on taxes, regulations. He called it a crisis when it was a crisis, when it began. Now [Obama’s Former Homeland Security Secretary] Jeh Johnson is out saying it’s a crisis, so the Democrats are wanting perhaps to do something and Leader McConnell knows what’s going on in the Senate, he’s got a read on that so he’s going to take advantage of it and I think it’s time.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for bipartisan talks aimed at strengthening asylum laws and addressing border security, issuing a bid for negotiations amid a surge of migrants overwhelming the southern border and President Donald Trump’s continued calls to clamp down on immigration.
“What we need to do is sit down in a serious, adult, bipartisan basis and try to fix the problem, because the problem is pretty obvious,” McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday. “Border security is a part of it, but that doesn’t solve the asylum issue, and that can’t be solved, I don’t think, without some kind of statutory adjustment.”
McConnell’s comments came just hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was looking to tackle the issue.
“It’s complicated, but it isn’t hard to do if you have good intentions,” said Pelosi Thursday.
She added, “I’m not giving up on the president on this… I’m always optimistic and this has to happen. It’s inevitable.”
“That’s clearly a softening for Speaker Pelosi and maybe that’s an olive branch. I certainly hope that we can interpret it as that,” said Green in response to Pelosi’s statements. “Again, Leader McConnell came across and said, ‘Hey there’s something we can do, we can get something done here on immigration. That certainly should create hope for all of us.”
Green added: “Hopefully we can get an agreement on this and it’s sort of like playing poker right now. Nobody’s showing their cards. It’s not time. But at some point we’re all going to get in here, we’re going to negotiate, we’re going to find some common ground and hopefully get something done on immigration.”
When asked if Green would be willing to work with Pelosi on immigration he responded: “I think we’ve got to fix immigration. Clearly there are things that we’re not going to give up on. They’ve got things they’re not going to give up on. If we can find that sort of middle ground on some issues we can get some of this fixed and I certainly am willing to talk about that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
SALT LAKE CITY – A man has pleaded guilty to a felony terroristic threat charge after authorities said he threating to target women in a mass shooting because he couldn’t get a girlfriend.
Utah prosecutor Chad Grunander tells the Deseret News that 27-year-old Christopher W. Cleary of Denver was in court on Thursday.
Police said Cleary wrote on Facebook he was planning to become a mass shooter because he was still a virgin and wanted to kill as many women as possible.
He was arrested during a trip to Provo, Utah, on January 19, the same day women’s marches were held around the country. Colorado authorities have said he was on probation after stalking and threatening women there.
His attorney Dustin Parmley did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Source: Fox News National
MADRID – A Spanish National Police spokeswoman says that Hugo Chavez’s longtime spy chief has been arrested in Madrid on a United States warrant for drug-trafficking offenses.
Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal, also known as “El Pollo” Carvajal, is the most influential figure from Venezuela’s military to have declared his loyalty to opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
He has in the past been indicted on drug-trafficking related charges in the states of Florida and New York. He escaped extradition to the U.S. in 2014 after he was arrested briefly in Aruba, where he was Venezuela’s consul.
The police spokeswoman, who wasn’t authorized to be identified by name in media reports, said he was arrested Friday.
The U.S. embassy in Madrid didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Source: Fox News World
White walkers in the White House?
Hillary Clinton joked Thursday that “Game of Thrones” most closely resembles reality in politics during a speaking engagement with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, at the Beacon Theater in New York.
“Which is closer to the reality of life in politics? Which TV show? The West Wing or Veep?” the moderator asked Clinton. “Probably Game of Thrones”, the former 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said, pausing as the crowd roared in laughter before adding “at least in my experience.”
The HBO series “Game of Thrones” first aired in 2011 and has grown wildly popular over its seven-season span. Fans became hooked on the dramatic tales of royals committing incest, dragons, flawed kings and even zombie armies all vying for power. Its final season begins airing Sunday.
While Clinton’s extensive political career may fall a few dragons short of “Game of Thrones” level controversy, the former Secretary of State addressed other dramas she’s faced in her pursuit of her own Iron Throne, most notably her experience with disgraced WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange.
WikiLeaks was accused of affecting Clinton’s shot at the White House when the organization disseminated information from stolen internal communications at the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign in 2016.
Assange was arrested Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to be extradited to the U.S. where he faces conspiracy charges in stealing military secrets with Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst who leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Clinton is, therefore, no stranger to the cutthroat world of politics. the “Game of Thrones” final season, which will have a total of 13 episodes, kicks off Sunday.
Source: Fox News Politics
Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig’s indictment this week represented a stunning fall for the high-powered Washington lawyer — who aside from his work in the Obama administration represented everyone from Bill Clinton to Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin John Hinckley, Jr.
Now, he’s on the other side of the attorney-client coin, defending himself against an indictment alleging he made false statements and concealed information in a federal foreign lobbying investigation spun off from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Craig, the first prominent Democrat to be named in the probe, is accused of concealing material facts from the Justice Department about work he performed for the Ukrainian government.
“I did not participate in a scheme to mislead the government or conceal material facts,” Craig, 74, said this week, denying the charges as his lawyers called the case “a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”
In private practice, Craig’s list of clients included former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was charged in a leak investigation.
Craig also made headlines in 2008 as one of Obama’s biggest backers. The endorsement came as a surprise to then-Democratic presidential primary candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband, both of whom knew Craig while attending Yale Law School in the early 1970s. The attorney was also tapped as special counsel to then-President Clinton during his 1998 impeachment proceedings, convincing the Senate during a trial that Clinton’s offenses weren’t cause to unseat him.
“To Greg. We struck the right pose—and you struck the right chords! Thanks — Bill Clinton, 2/99,” the former president wrote on a photo of the pair — along with the rest of the legal team — that he gifted to Craig after his acquittal, according to The New Yorker.
In November 2008, Obama announced Craig would be his White House counsel, a move that drew scrutiny given other elements of the lawyer’s history.
In the early 1980s, Craig sparked outrage for helping win then-25-year-old Hinckley, who shot former President Reagan and three others outside of a Washington, D.C., hotel, a not guilty verdict for reason of insanity, landing him in a psychiatric facility instead of a maximum-security prison. In 2016, the notorious gunman was released from the hospital to live with his elderly mother in Virginia, telling mental health professionals he’s “happy as a clam” with his new life.
Craig also became a pariah in the Cuban-American community in 2000 after helping Cuban Juan Miguel Gonzáles gain custody of his 6-year-old son Elián after his mother and others drowned in a boat trying to reach Florida. Elián had been living in the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami with his uncle at the time, but the court forced the boy to leave his extended family and return to Cuba after Craig’s victory.
Despite his controversial background, Obama defended his decision and touted Craig’s various roles in the federal government including serving as Sen. Edward Kennedy’s senior adviser on defense, foreign policy and national security issues and as senior adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Before the election, Craig volunteered to portray the late Sen. John McCain in mock debates with Obama — a role he was easily able to emulate, as his father William was a Republican who lost Vermont’s gubernatorial race in 1976.
But his time in the Obama administration was short-lived. He resigned after one year on the job following criticism over his handling of Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Craig’s work drew the Justice Department’s attention in 2012, when Craig and his law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP were hired by the Ukrainian government to write a report on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister. Tymoshenko was a political opponent of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a longtime patron of disgraced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort who’s slated to spend a total of 81 months in prison.
In 2013, the DOJ told Craig and his firm in a letter that he was required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) while representing Yanukovych — but the lawyer allegedly refused.
In its settlement earlier this year, Skadden acknowledged it should have registered under FARA and also confirmed it received a $4.6 million payment for the report instead of the $12,000 the Ukrainian government previously claimed.
The Thursday indictment says Craig did not want to register under FARA because doing so could keep him or others at his law firm from getting government positions and because the filing would require him to disclose the millions paid from a “private, wealthy Ukrainian.” To help hide the private funding, Craig is accused of backdating and falsifying invoices at Manafort’s request to make it appear the Ukrainian government was the sole funder of the report.
Craig is being charged with two counts of making false and misleading statements to investigators — including Mueller’s team, which uncovered his purported wrongdoings while investigating Manafort as part of the Russia probe — in connection with his work on behalf of Yanukovych.
“This indictment accuses Mr. Craig of misleading the FARA Unit of the Department of Justice in order to avoid registration. It is itself unfair and misleading. It ignores uncontroverted evidence to the contrary. Mr. Craig had no interest in misleading the FARA Unit because he had not done anything that required his registration,” Craig’s attorneys, William Taylor and William Murphy, said in response.
Fox News’ Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics