**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**On the roster: Mueller leaves House in a quandary - I’ll Tell You What: We should back up – Struggling Dems bemoan debate standards – Nasty GOP Senate primary battles brewing - Sub-Prime MUELLER LEAVES HOUSE IN A QUANDARY NYT: “In a way, the special counsel’s statement proved more challenging for Democrats than for Mr. Trump because now they will have to decide what to do about it. In effect, [Robert Mueller] divided Democrats between those running for president, who quickly called for impeachment as they court the party’s liberal base, and those running the House, who still see only political peril in the ‘i-word,’ as Mr. Trump has termed it. … Without a more cooperative investigator to produce a televised dramatization of the case against Mr. Trump, as [Ken Starr] did against [then-President Bill Clinton], Democrats will have to weigh whether they can change the minds of the public. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that support for impeachment has risen in recent weeks to 45 percent, but still below a majority. Republicans said they felt confident Democrats would make themselves look like partisan Trump haters who refuse to give up.”Trump thought ‘dirty, filthy, disgusting’ impeachment was impossible – Politico: “President Donald Trump expressed bewilderment on Thursday at the prospect that House Democrats could even consider moving to oust him from office, calling impeachment a ‘dirty, filthy, disgusting word.’ ‘I don't see how they can because they're possibly allowed although – I can't imagine the courts allowing it. I’ve never gone into it,’ Trump told reporters of potential impeachment proceedings while leaving the White House Thursday. ‘I never thought that would even be possible to be using that word. To me it's a dirty word, the word impeach. It's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word.”Pelosi doesn’t seem to budge - Politico: “Special counsel Robert Mueller handed Democrats a new weapon on Wednesday that they hoped would convince Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. But Pelosi remains unmoved, reiterating her view that House Democrats must continue to investigate Trump’s conduct to evaluate whether impeachment is warranted. ‘Where they will lead us, we shall see. Nothing is off the table,’ Pelosi said at an event in San Francisco. … But cracks in her leadership team continue to lay bare. A week after House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a longtime impeachment advocate, contradicted Pelosi in front of the entire Democratic caucus, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) also endorsed an impeachment inquiry on Wednesday.”Pergram: House speaker faces treacherous trail - Fox News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is lucky that Congress is not in session this week. Capitol Hill would have exploded with demands for impeachment… The timeout gives Pelosi and company a chance to let the air out of the balloon. Allow things to simmer for a bit. … Pelosi, as she often does, may have to once again finesse a decision on how Democrats proceed. At the very least, the first question Democrats must resolve is whether or not they subpoena Mueller since he will not appear willingly for a closed-door interview or a public hearing. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. sidestepped this question at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in New York… The House is back in session next Tuesday.”David Frum: Trump impeded the investigation in public view - The Atlantic: “[President Trump’s] first order to fire the special counsel appointed in the director’s place was issued on June 17, 2017, a month after Mueller’s appointment. That order would be followed by many more. Trump directed his staff to lie about these orders. Over and above his efforts to fire the special counsel, ‘the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.’ The subversion of the investigation was brazen. ‘Many of the President’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, occurred in public view.’”Andy McCarthy: Mueller shoves Democrats out on a tightrope - National Review: “Mueller has made life much tougher for Democrats from districts where Trump is popular. They’ve been walking a tightrope: To avoid offending progressives, they agree that the president has committed impeachable offenses; to avoid offending Trump-sympathetic constituents, they argue that there is no point proceeding with impeachment because there is no way the GOP-controlled Senate would remove the president. To pull this off, they’ve been relying on the seeming ambiguity of Mueller’s treatment of the obstruction question: Was he saying there was not enough evidence, or was he saying the OLC guidance prevented him from charging? Today, he indicated it was the latter — and, for good measure, he added that in our system it is for Congress to take action against a sitting president. From that premise, the hardline anti-Trump Left will now argue that if Congress does not act, it is shirking its duty and placing the president above the law.”THE RULEBOOK: HATERS CAN UNFOLLOW “[These papers] solicit the attention of those only, who add to a sincere zeal for the happiness of their country, a temper favorable to a just estimate of the means of promoting it.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 37TIME OUT: A LOFT ALOFT WSJ: “Sleeping on airplanes is hard enough in business class. It’s darn near impossible for most in coach. But new research is yielding tips on how to give yourself a snoring chance. Increasingly, what airlines sell you on long flights is sleep. It’s the top reason people upgrade and highest priority for 70% of long-haul passengers, according to JPA Design, a London-based firm. JPA reviewed academic and passenger studies and conducted its own tests of various in-flight sleeping configurations. … But here’s the punchline: Some of the newest designs at airlines may not be conducive to good sleep. Airlines advertise bed length and shoulder-room dimensions. Research shows that for those who sleep on their sides, which is most of us, space at your hips may be most important. The long, skinny business-class seats being rushed into airplanes can be difficult for many sleepers. … The key distance: from your hips to curled-up knees when lying on your side. … Even one inch can make a difference between sleeping and stirring for tall passengers.”Flag on the play? - Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.SCOREBOARD Trump job performance Average approval: 41.6 percentAverage disapproval: 53.2 percentNet Score: -11.6 pointsChange from one week ago: no change [Average includes: CBS News: 41% approve – 52% disapprove; Monmouth University: 41% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve – 53% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve – 52% disapprove.]WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT? You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: WE SHOULD BACK UP This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss Robert Mueller’s first comments on the Russia investigation, the popularity of sports gambling and Dana shares how Jasper did puppy-sitting Spike. Plus Chris answers mailbag questions and trivia: “I give you the job-once-held, you give me the President.” LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERESTRUGGLING DEMS BEMOAN DEBATE STANDARDS Politico: “The Democratic National Committee’s stricter new requirements for presidential contenders to appear in party debates this fall triggered swift backlash Wednesday from Democratic candidates, many of whom are now in danger of being cut from the showcase events in September and October. Some campaigns have already been struggling to reach the 65,000-donor threshold — or secure one percent in three qualified polls… ‘The DNC is playing a gatekeeping function and they’re creating a filter to determine which candidates can make their arguments to the American people,’ former Rep. John Delaney, who is largely self-funding his presidential campaign, said in an interview with POLITICO… The rules are also reshuffling spending priorities among less-prominent candidates, some of whom have shifted plans to hire organizers based in Iowa or New Hampshire in order to pour money into donation-generating digital advertising.”David Byler: Where’s the 2016 magic for Bernie? - WaPo: “Remember that in the 2018 House Democratic primaries, candidates backed by Our Revolution (a Sanders-adjacent group), Justice Democrats (another progressive group) and Sanders himself often failed to win primaries. And a recent Gallup poll showed that a majority of Democrats wanted the party to become ‘more moderate’ – a vague term, to be sure, but one that probably doesn’t refer to what Sanders is trying to do – rather than ‘more liberal’ in the future.”Same old problems - Politico: “Bernie Sanders, 77, has a problem with old people. In poll after poll, he places a distant second behind former Vice President Joe Biden among the senior set, the demographic that has long had more sway over who becomes president than any other. His campaign acknowledges it's a problem and is trying — so far, unsuccessfully — to fix it. It’s a familiar issue for the septuagenarian senator: In 2016, Sanders won more voters from young people than Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump combined. But Clinton crushed him among older Americans at the ballot box, denying him the nomination. … Sanders’ team knows he needs to do better among older voters. The campaign is scheduling events to attract more elderly voters, including one on Thursday at a seniors community center in Nevada, and his aides are optimistic that his plans to expand Social Security and Medicare benefits will help.”Harris proposes federal controls on state abortion laws - WaPo: “Sen. Kamala D. Harris … has proposed legislation modeled after the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that would require states with a history of limiting women’s abortion rights to get clearance from the Justice Department before passing laws that limit abortion. In connecting the two issues, Harris is highlighting the prevalence of discrimination against women in America. … It’s an idea that could prove popular with the Democratic base and with the country more generally. Though strict bans appeal to the GOP base, 60 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll on the issue.”Hickenlooper wants to subsidize long-term contraception - CBS News: “Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced a plan Wednesday to expand access to long-acting reversible contraception, or LARC, should he be elected president in 2020. The Democratic candidate's plan calls for subsidizing the cost of LARC for women who want to use the birth control method but cannot afford to do so. Public funds would also be used to start a public information campaign to promote the method and pay for the training health care providers would need to offer LARC. The Hickenlooper campaign argues that LARC, which requires a one-time doctor's visit and can work for years, is more convenient and effective than low-cost contraceptives like the pill. … Hickenlooper says he would pay for the program by expanding Title X funding by $700 million. Title X is a program that helps low-income women pay for medical care and family planning services.”NASTY GOP SENATE PRIMARY BATTLES BREWING The Hill: “Senate Republicans are facing a potential intraparty brawl as they fight to hold on to the chamber next year. Republicans are defending 22 seats in 2020, mostly in deep-red states, limiting Democrats’ pickup opportunities and increasing the odds of the GOP keeping the Senate. But nasty primary fights brewing in a handful of key states could threaten to throw a curveball into the Republican strategy, potentially setting the party up for a repeat of previous cycles when conservatives caused headaches by defeating more mainstream GOP candidates, only to lose to Democrats in November. Three races have jumped into the spotlight as looming problem areas for Republicans: In Alabama and Kansas, where conservatives Roy Moore and Kris Kobach, respectively, are flirting with Senate bids, and in North Carolina, where Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C) is viewed as vulnerable to a primary challenge. … National Republican groups aren’t ruling out intervening in the three GOP primaries as part of an effort to fend off candidates viewed as unelectable in November…”Moore says Trump wants a senator for ‘Washington, D.C.’ - Politico: “A defiant Roy Moore brushed aside Donald Trump’s warning not to run for Senate again, telling [Politico] on Wednesday that Alabama voters are capable of deciding for themselves whether he’s fit for office. ‘The president doesn’t control who votes for the United States Senate in Alabama,’ Moore said in a phone interview. ‘People in Alabama are smarter than that. They elect the senator from Alabama, not from Washington, D.C.’ … With or without Moore, the GOP contest appears wide open. Several Republicans are already running: Rep. Bradley Byrne, state Rep. Arnold Mooney, and Tommy Tuberville, the former head football coach at Auburn University.”Gianforte to run for Montana governor, setting of scramble for House seat - KBZK: “U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte plans to run for governor in 2020, MTN News has learned — adding to a crowded Republican gubernatorial primary and creating an open race next year for Montana’s only congressional seat, and possibly other statewide offices. The Bozeman businessman will become the fourth Republican running for governor, which is an open seat in 2020, because term limits prevents Gov. Steve Bullock from running for re-election. Through a spokesman, Gianforte told MTN News Tuesday that he’s been getting ‘a lot of encouragement’ from Montanans about running for governor, and that he’ll announce his decision in the coming weeks. ‘Greg’s considering how best he can use his executive experience and background in creating high-wage Montana jobs to best serve Montana,’ the spokesman said.”THE JUDGE’S RULING: LOOKING AT FREEDOM OF SPEECH This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains why he believes Julian Assange's indictment should upset you: “[James Madison] insisted that the word ‘the’ precede the phrase ‘freedom of speech’ in what was to become the First Amendment, so as to reflect its pre-existence; meaning, the freedom of speech pre-existed the United States. …Congress enacted the Espionage Act of 1917, which punished speech deemed harmful to America's war efforts. … It was Assange and WikiLeaks that published the infamous Democratic National Committee emails in October 2016… The data that Assange revealed had been stolen for him by an Army private then named Bradley Manning. …Manning today can be tried for theft, but the publisher is absolutely protected by the ‘no law’ language of the First Amendment.” More here. PLAY-BY-PLAYFormer seven-term Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi’s prince of pork, dead at 81 - Fox NewsGeorge Will: Protectionism is a big government idea - National ReviewPelosi resists Trump’s updated NAFTA deal - NYTSen. Lamar Alexander had surgery for benign leg tumor - WaPoAUDIBLE: WHICH IS SAYING SOMETHING “It will be my biggest statement so far…” – President Trump speaking to reporters about an upcoming policy statement on immigration. FROM THE BLEACHERS “I’ve had it. I used to think that you were fair. I no longer think so. Over the past few months you have turned into a slightly masked ‘Never Trumper.’ Oh, it’s not overt. It’s not in your face. You are the master of subtlety. A comment here, a note there. It has now gotten to the point that you are not hiding it. Please explain to me how stating the truth is ‘stoking racial resentment.’ The president has been called everything, including a traitor, and barely a word from you. Oh, you will acknowledge that it happened, but that is about as far as it goes. On air, and in print, every little bit of innuendo is about sticking it to President Trump and his supporters. Don’t try and blame that headline on the NY Post. The headline is not in quotes. YOU did that. From my point of view, the only person stoking racial resentment here is you. I’m sure your reply, if there is one, will be the same as before, that I’m an ‘always Trumper’ that sees nothing wrong with anything that the President does. That would be false. It always has been. The statement that the president made is merely fact. Trump would be far from the first person to raise the point that Joe Biden supported the bill in 1994. Fox News has shown clips from the Senate several times over the past few days. I guess that you would tell me that he shouldn’t have said a word. In my world, stating history is not racial. It is just fact. Facts have a way of getting in the way of a politician’s campaign.” – Ronald S. Lawrence, St. Cloud, Fla. [Ed. note: First, Mr. Lawrence, I am genuinely sorry for the hurt in your heart. Anger of the kind you express here has to derive from a deep-seated, and no doubt sincerely held worry. I also want you to know that the headline I wrote on Tuesday, “Trump stokes racial resentment to hinder Biden’s rise’ was in no way intended to make you or anyone else feel victimized. I know these are hard, embittered times in American politics, even more so than usual. It’s understandable that some folks would tend to see all coverage as necessarily slanted in one direction or another – either a defense or an attack of one’s preferred party or politician. I get it. But I would offer you this small bit of counsel: We have a long way to go in this election cycle, so maybe try to save something for the 523 days ahead. It is probably neither good for you nor the process to stay in this angry space for so long. I know the temptation is to believe that THIS will be the most important election ever and that if your team does not prevail that all hope for the republic will be lost. But don’t buy in to the self-serving rhetoric of politicians and partisans. It is in the interests of politicos on both sides to keep their supporters as angry and afraid as possible at all times. It is within your power to deny them that control over your day-to-day contentment. America faces some significant challenges, it’s true. But I would not trade our troubles for those of any nation in the world. The process of politics and government is particularly caustic right now, but I continue to have faith that we will pass through this troubled time as we did those we faced 50, 90, 130 and 160 years ago. Be of good cheer. We are Americans, after all! As for the president exploiting racial resentments with his attacks on the former vice president: Of course he did. When Trump’s predecessor did similar things, albeit in subtler ways, it was worthy of mention, and certainly it is worthy of mention here. Similarly, it has been and will continue to be worthy of mention when serious contenders for the Democratic nomination exploit racial grievance for their own political advantage. Politicians have long exploited race as a wedge issue precisely because it is so effective. No subject has caused more misery for this great nation. Trump is seeking to pry away from Biden the African American Democratic primary voters who so far seem to overwhelmingly support him. I don’t know that the president will succeed, but it does reflect Trump’s understanding that the status quo in the Democratic process is dangerous for his chances at re-election. Trump needs for Democrats to fight and fight bitterly so that whomever the party nominates will face massive resentment and discontentment from the opposing faction. It took a lot to produce Trump’s shocking upset of 2016, but one component was certainly the hard feelings of the defeated Democratic runner up, Bernie Sanders, and his supporters. We’ll see how it goes this time. Along the way, try to remember what your fellow Floridian, Gen. Joe Stillwell, who led the fight against Imperial Japan in China, Burma and India, adopted as his Latin motto: “Illegitimi non carborundum.” That would roughly translate to “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” They’re only politicians.] Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.SUB-PRIME WHNT: “He thought he was ordering some household goods off Amazon. Instead, what a man from Colbert County [Ala.] got wasn't even close. He wants to know why he was sent somebody else's urine. It started as a simple Prime order on Amazon. … ‘I opened it. And when I reached in and pulled it out. Some kind of urine specimen or something like that.’ It wasn't the shower curtain rings he ordered. ‘I was very surprised. My son was standing there watching me open it and he got a good laugh out of it.’ He asked WHNT News 19 not to use his name. But the container inside the bag did include a woman's name and birthday, likely indicating it was being sent in for testing. … The man says he contacted Amazon about the mix-up where a representative told him, ‘we don't want it.’ … ‘They said the shower curtain rings will be here Saturday,’ he said.”AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES… “We have a legal system in the United States for punishing crimes committed by Americans. These laws apply to crimes committed by Americans abroad, even in military uniform. Our code of military conduct is particularly strict. We don't need European prosecutors who answer to no one running around the world putting American soldiers in jail and forcing them to defend themselves on whatever charge the human rights activists of the day find convenient.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for the Weekly Standard on Aug, 26, 2002. 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.