Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joins Mike Emanuel with insight on ‘Special Report.’

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On the roster: McConnell tries to hold the line on lawsuits – Biden keeps ‘em waiting – Trump shaves deficit from 13 to 10 in Monmouth Poll – Omar faces voters in Minnesota primary – Canadian crime spree

MCCONNELL TRIES TO HOLD THE LINE ON LAWSUITS
Bloomberg: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence that legal liability protections for businesses, schools and colleges be included in any new coronavirus relief bill is approaching a moment of reckoning. Warning that an avalanche of litigation would undercut any rebound from the pandemic’s economic damage, McConnell has repeatedly said he won’t let a bill to pass the Senate without a temporary shield from most coronavirus-related lawsuits for businesses that follow public health guidelines. But the proposal remains in limbo with talks on a stimulus package stalled. Action by President Donald Trump over the weekend to at least partially extend expired unemployment aid and defer payroll taxes failed to spur any new negotiations between Democrats and the White House. McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Monday exchanged blame but no new ideas on breaking the deadlock. McConnell’s view that that liability protections must be part of any eventual deal doesn’t appear to be shared by Trump, who’s been non-committal on the issue.”

Governors leery of Trump’s unemployment money – NYT: “Governors across the United States struggled on Monday with how to make good on President Trump’s order that their economically battered states deliver billions more in unemployment benefits to jobless residents. Democrats were harshly critical of Mr. Trump’s order, which he signed on Saturday night after talks with Congress on a broad new pandemic aid package collapsed. But even Republican governors said the order could put a serious strain on their budgets and worried it would take weeks for tens of millions of unemployed Americans to begin seeing the benefit. Congress initially provided a $600-a-week supplement to unemployment benefits when the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the United States in March. But that benefit lapsed on July 31, after talks between the White House and Congress broke down. Republicans had pushed for a $400 supplemental benefit, Democrats said it was not enough, and so on Saturday Mr. Trump ordered the $400 benefit — but said it was contingent on states to come up with $100 of that on their own.”

Extra unemployment benefits added up to a quarter trillion – WSJ: “The federal government spent nearly $250 billion on extra $600-a-week unemployment benefits from early April to the end of July, the Labor Department said, as millions of workers were laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic. Workers who permanently lost their jobs, were furloughed or had their hours cut were able to tap $600 in federal unemployment benefits on top of the amount they qualified for from the state, under a relief law Congress passed and President Trump signed in March. The benefits expired on July 31. Mr. Trump on Saturday signed an executive order that would replace the larger payments with $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits, and called on states to provide another $100 a week. The White House remained deadlocked Monday over a broader pandemic relief deal with Democratic lawmakers, who said the president’s moves over the weekend were an unconstitutional breach of congressional spending powers.”

Employers face big risks on payroll tax delay – WSJ: “Employers considering President Trump’s plan to allow deferred payment of payroll taxes face a series of costs, uncertainties and headaches. The president wants employers to stop collecting the 6.2% levy that is the employee share of Social Security taxes for many workers, starting Sept. 1 and going through the end of the year. But his move… doesn’t change how much tax employees and employers actually owe. Only Congress can do that. Employers’ biggest worry: If they stop withholding taxes without any guarantee that Congress will actually forgive any deferred payments, they could find themselves on the hook. That is a particular risk in cases where employees change jobs and employers can’t withhold more taxes from later paychecks to catch up on missed payments. … ‘Liability is going to stick to the employer like flies to flypaper,’ [said Marianna Dyson, a lawyer at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington who specializes in payroll taxes].”

College football faces decision time – Sports Illustrated: “A potential shutdown of college football evoked an outpouring of support Monday for playing a 2020 season, from the President of the United States to the head coach at Ohio State, sending a divided sport’s nation into what could be a Tuesday of cataclysmic conference decisions. Or another day of delayed action. Nothing is certain. Adhering to its fractured nature, the NCAA’s richest five conferences formed factions over the idea of playing a season this fall or not, splitting off into warring parties: the Pac-12 and Big Ten are expected to cancel or postpone their seasons; the SEC and ACC would like to play; and the Big 12 is ‘really split,’ according to multiple sources. A divided conference sitting between other divided conferences is a fitting metaphor for the entire sport.”

THE RULEBOOK: FEDERALISM IS BETTER 
“An entire consolidation of the States into one complete national sovereignty would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent on the general will.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 32

TIME OUT: OF CONS AND CONFIRMATION BIAS
The Atlantic: “At a September 2012 academic conference in Rome, Karen King, a historian at Harvard Divinity School, made a major announcement. She had discovered a fragment of papyrus that bore a shocking phrase: ‘Jesus said to them, My wife.’ … The journalist Ariel Sabar covered King’s 2012 presentation for Smithsonian magazine, and [later] tracked down the owner of the papyrus – a man whose identity King adamantly refused to share with the press. Could this man have forged the explosive text? Was King’s discovery too good to be true? …Sabar’s Atlantic article prompted King to admit that the papyrus was probably a forgery. ‘I had no idea about this guy, obviously,’ King told Sabar of the papyrus’s owner. ‘He lied to me.’ Sabar, for his part, kept reporting. Today he published Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.”

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

SCOREBOARD
NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE
Trump: 40.6 percent    
Biden: 51.4 percent    
Size of lead: Biden by 10.8 points    
Change from one week ago: Biden 0.4 points, Trump no change in points    
[Average includes: Monmouth University: Trump 41% – Biden 51%; Fox News: Trump 41% – Biden 49%; ABC/WaPo: Trump 44% – Biden 54%; Quinnipiac University: Trump 37% – Biden 52%; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 40% – Biden 51%.]    

BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (109 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6)
Lean R/Likely R: (180 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 40.8 percent   
Average disapproval: 56.8 percent    
Net Score: -16 points    
Change from one week ago: no change in points    
[Average includes: Fox News: 45% approve – 54% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 40% approve – 58% disapprove; Gallup: 41% approve – 56% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 36% approve – 60% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 42% approve – 56% disapprove.]    

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.

BIDEN KEEPS ‘EM WAITING
NYT: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. has told allies that he has interviewed every finalist in his vice-presidential search, and his advisers are planning an announcement for the middle of the week, people briefed on the selection process said on Monday. In a sign that the choice is now in Mr. Biden’s hands alone, the four-member committee that screened his potential running mates is said to have effectively disbanded — its work is complete, Biden allies said, and there is little left to do except for Mr. Biden to make up his mind. Mr. Biden’s political team has prepared rollout plans for several of the finalists, and he is expected to announce his decision as soon as Tuesday, though more Democrats expect it to come on Wednesday. The former vice president, however, has not been known for his punctuality so far in the presidential race and the timeline could well slip again. Mr. Biden has spoken with the vice-presidential candidates through a combination of in-person sessions and remote meetings over the last few weeks, but the exact timing and circumstances of all of the meetings are not clear. Close advisers to Mr. Biden said he had been directly in touch with all of the leading candidates.”

Beschloss: What a running mate can do – WaPo: “By substituting Truman as vice president in 1944 for the dreamy, left-leaning incumbent, Henry Wallace, Roosevelt hoped to show that his postwar administration would be more centrist because after a time of tumult, ‘you have to digest it.’ At the 1952 Republican convention, after narrowly besting conservative Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower united the party by anointing Nixon, who — although he had secretly favored Eisenhower — was popular with the Taft wing. In 1976, President Gerald Ford, who had almost been defeated by Ronald Reagan in Kansas City, accepted Reagan’s suggestion that he choose conservative Kansas Sen. Robert Dole, which made it so much easier for many bitter-end Reaganites to support the ticket that Ford nearly won in November. Four years later, when Reagan became the nominee, he immediately positioned himself as a more centrist national candidate by selecting his more moderate ex-rival, George H.W. Bush.”

Democratic convention speakers announced – Fox News: “…[The] Democratic National Convention revealed more details Tuesday about the lineup of events and speakers at this year’s event. … The former vice president is set to speak on the final night of the event from his home state of Delaware. …[The] convention will kick off Monday with speakers including Biden’s primary opponents Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former first lady Michelle Obama and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich… Tuesday’s lineup includes former President Bill Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former secretary of state John Kerry and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. … Wednesday’s speakers are scheduled to include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. There is also a spot for the as-yet-unnamed vice presidential nominee. Thursday, the convention concludes with appearances by Biden’s primary opponents Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and others.”

TRUMP SHAVES DEFICIT FROM 13 TO 10 IN MONMOUTH POLL
Monmouth University: “The Monmouth University Poll also finds that Joe Biden currently holds a 10-point lead over Donald Trump in the presidential race. Biden is currently supported by 51% of registered voters and Trump by 41% … while 4% of voters are undecided. This is similar to the Democrat’s late June lead of 52% to 39% … Biden’s edge stood at 52% to 41% in early June, 50% to 41% in May, 48% to 44% in April, and 48% to 45% in March. Slightly more voters say they are certain about their support for Biden (39%) than say the same about Trump (35%). This is similar to the ‘firm support’ gap in late June, when it was 40% Biden to 34% Trump. Fully half (50%) of registered voters continue to say they are not at all likely to support the incumbent (identical 50% in late June), while 40% say the same about the challenger (39% in late June).”

Wisconsin remains tight – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, according to Tuesday’s Marquette University Law School Poll. Among likely voters, those who say they’re absolutely certain they’ll cast ballots in the fall, Biden holds a 49% to 44% advantage over Trump. Among registered voters, Biden had a 6-point lead, poll director Charles Franklin said. In last month’s survey, Biden led Trump by 49% to 41% among registered voters. At this same point in the 2016 race in Wisconsin, the Marquette Poll showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton leading Trump by 10 percentage points among registered voters and 15 points among likely voters. Trump narrowly won the state in the general election and claimed the White House.”

Some elections officials turn to ballot drop boxes – NPR: “Many voters are worried about casting their ballots in person this November because of the pandemic. They’re also concerned that their mail-in ballots could be misplaced or delayed. One voting option that’s gaining popularity — and also attracting controversy — is the use of drop boxes, where voters can deposit their absentee ballots to be collected later by election officials. … Michigan had hundreds of drop boxes available for its primary after more than 1 million voters decided to cast absentee ballots rather than go to the polls.”

No change in New Jersey turnout despite mass mailing ballots – NJ.com: “More New Jerseyans voted last month than in any presidential primary but one, but the percentage of those participating remained the same as four years earlier even as the state sent mail ballots to every registered Democrat and Republican. Almost 1.5 million voters cast ballots either in person or by mail, second only to the 1.7 million who voted in 2008, according to newly released figures from the state Division of Elections.”

OMAR FACES VOTERS IN MINNESOTA PRIMARY
Fox News: “Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin hold primaries on Tuesday, with Georgia holding a Republican primary runoff in the state’s 14th Congressional District. But the race grabbing the most national attention is in Minnesota, where Rep. Ilhan Omar – one of the four members of the group of progressive first-term congresswomen of color known coast to coast as ‘The Squad’ – is facing a Democratic primary challenge from a candidate who’s vastly outraised the incumbent. The firebrand freshman lawmaker quickly became a nationally known politician two years ago as one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress – and for her outspoken criticism of President Trump. But the attention surrounding the Somali born progressive lawmaker – and her Twitter feed – have made her a target of Republicans and even some fellow Democrats. And Omar’s no stranger to controversy, apologizing early in her congressional tenure for making comments viewed as anti-Semitic.”

Georgia Republicans may pick conspiracy theorist for House seat – AP: “A Republican criticized for promoting racist videos and adamantly supporting the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory faces a neurosurgeon who campaigned on his experience to improve the health care system in Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff for an open U.S. House seat representing northwest Georgia. The results could indicate just how far candidates can push the limits of political rhetoric in the age of President Donald Trump before triggering a backlash from voters. Businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Dr. John Cowan have both positioned themselves as staunch Trump supporters, pushing anti-abortion, pro-gun and pro-border wall messages. But while Cowan has taken a more traditional campaign approach, Greene has found a loyal following — and controversy — by sharing video chats and social posts expressing racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views.”

BLACK LIVES MATTER LEADER BACKS CHICAGO LOOTING
WMAQ: “Members of Black Lives Matter held a solidarity rally on Monday night with the more than 100 individuals who were arrested after a night of looting and unrest in Chicago. The rally was held at the South Loop police station where organizers say those individuals are currently being held in custody. ‘I don’t care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike store, because that makes sure that person eats,’ Ariel Atkins, a BLM organizer, said. ‘That makes sure that person has clothes.’ … ‘That is reparations,’ Atkins said. ‘Anything they wanted to take, they can take it because these businesses have insurance.’ Chicago police believe the looting began after officers shot a man in the city’s Englewood neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. Authorities say the man, identified as 20-year-old Latrell Allen, had a gun and fired at police before they returned fire, striking and wounding him.”

Seattle chief resigns after de-funding measure – KOMO: “Police Chief Carmen Best announced her stunning retirement Monday evening from the department in the wake of Seattle City Council voting to defund her department by 14 percent. Best said her retirement from the Seattle Police Department will be effective Sept. 2 in an email to staffers in the department. The police chief’s retirement follows the City Council proposing deep cuts to her pay and the compensation for 12 members of her command staff. Best, the first Black woman to lead the Seattle Police Department, was appointed the city’s police chief in July 2018. She spent 28 years with the Seattle Police Department. ‘This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time,’ Best wrote in the email. ‘I want to thank Mayor Durkan for her continuous support through good times and tough times.’”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Nightmare scenario: Puerto Rico primary ends with inconclusive chaos – NYT

Pergram: Coronavirus bill a monster lift that worries lawmakers on ballot box and economy – Fox News

AUDIBLE: OBVIOUSLY
“Obviously, Joe Biden is spending the day scrolling through Twitter, checking out what everyone has to say about who he should pick.” – The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere tweeted on Tuesday.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“No reputable poll has had Trump within 6 points of Biden in Wisconsin since May. President Trump won the state in 2016 by less than 23,000 votes. Since then, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D) kept her seat in 2018 by more than 10 points. Governor Tony Evers (D) unseated incumbent Scott Walker.  In fact, Democrats won all constitutional statewide offices on the ballot in 2018 (including Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer), the first to happen in Wisconsin since 1982. I’m not saying it’s a foregone conclusion by any means, and I will always defer to you political professionals to see the bigger picture. BUT, my question is simply: what will it take to move Wisconsin from toss-up to ‘Lean D?’ Asking for a friend in Waukesha.” – Ken Levine, Lionville, Pa.

[Ed. note: As you saw above, not only is the race in Wisconsin competitive, it’s getting more so. While your friend from Waukesha is quite right that Democrats have staged an impressive comeback after a decade of reversals in the Badger State, it is no sure thing for the Blue Team. Wisconsin looks to me like Trump’s best bet among the big three Upper Midwest states that flipped from blue to red in 2016.]

“Is there an intention to present the actual battleground scores, or will the projection remain static?” – Stan Zieg, Atlanta

[Ed. note: Those seem to be two different things, Mr. Zieg. The question about “scores” is easy: There aren’t any. Certainly we pay attention to state polls, but when it comes to competitive races there will never be anything like enough state-level polling to just rely on that. While polls certainly are part of our analysis, we are looking at other data as well including things like historical trends, registration numbers and contributions among others. But that does not mean that the rankings are static. We most recently shifted Iowa into the Toss-Up category, and any reasonable observer would know that it will soon be time for more changes as we enter the terminal phase of the campaign.]

“Yes, the civics lesson was much appreciated. I saw in a reader’s letter [Monday] (the content of which I agreed with, though it would be agonizing) that she is saving it. I’ve saved a number of your reports, but I posted much of ‘What happens if there’s no clear winner?’ on my Facebook page for friends and family across the spectrum. And yes, I gave you credit. I find myself looking forward to your report more eagerly every day, and I recommend it to many on both ‘sides.’ Keep up the good work!” – Chris Howard, Mesa, Ariz.

[Ed. note: Thank you, Mr. Howard! Just make sure to go take my name off of it if it turns out it’s wrong…]

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

CANADIAN CRIME SPREE
CTV: “Ottawa police say a man accused of robbing a bank on Rideau Street last week followed physical distancing protocols before allegedly slipping the teller a note. Police said they were called at around 11:30 a.m. Friday on reports a man had passed a note to a teller demanding cash. He left with an undisclosed amount before police arrived. Police said the suspect waited in line outside the bank, per COVID-19 protocols, before making the alleged demand once inside. A suspect was arrested a short time later without incident. Police said Davis Morris, 58, of Ottawa, is facing one count of robbery and appeared in court for a show cause hearing on Sunday.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“No, I don’t go to [National’s] games to steel my spine, perfect my character, journey into the dark night of the soul. I get that in my day job watching the Obama administration in action.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on April 23, 2010.

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.

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