Fox News Halftime Report -- Podesta backs bid to overturn electoral vote

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FOX NEWS HALFTIME REPORT
Dec. 12, 2016
By Chris Stirewalt

On the roster: Podesta backs bid to overturn electoral vote - Key dates in Russian involvement in 2016 campaign - GOP Senators want clarity from Tillerson on Putin ties - Audible: Like, duh - Bag men

PODESTA BACKS BID TO OVERTURN ELECTORAL VOTE

This whole "stages of grief" thing doesn't seem to be working for some Democrats.

John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman and the victim of the most famous hack since Jennifer Lawrence, has joined the call from some members of the Electoral College that they be made privy to the secret findings of the intelligence community about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

The hope of the electors, led by Christine Pelosi, daughter of the House minority leader, is that the information would cause red-state electors to break from the popular vote in their states.

While conservatives may be cheered to see the sudden swell of support for federalism and republicanism on the left, that's not really what's cooking here.

It's been more than a month since Trump pulled off a stunning upset to win the presidency, but some still refuse to accept what happened.

Even before the electoral uprising gained steam today, Democrats were looking for a Russia-inspired reboot. Since the revelation Friday that the CIA concluded Russia was trying to help Trump and hurt Clinton, "#revote" has been bouncing around the internet.

Trump's win is hard for many Democrats to accept, especially given the fact that Clinton won the popular vote by about 2.8 million votes, but…come on, people.

No one, not even the strongest Russophobe, has suggested that there was any interference in the election by the Kremlin. While only the most chronic consumers of Putin propaganda would say there was no Russian effort to interfere with the campaign, there is no credible reason to believe that Russia messed with any ballots, rigged any vote totals or anything of the like.

Russia obviously meddled in the campaign. There's no evidence that Russia interfered with the election.

And that was hardly unknown.

In his statement, Podesta complained that despite the Clinton campaign's "protestations, this matter did not receive the attention it deserved by the media."

That would be a novel standard for the government to use when risking prejudicing the views of the members of the Electoral College: Damaging topics to one candidate lacked sufficient media coverage.

Whether it was supporting WikiLeaks, doing the actual hacking of Democratic emails, as intelligence agencies say, or the origination of deceptive propaganda posing as news, the Kremlin clearly wasn't ignoring the U.S. election.

It was a major theme in the campaign and the subject of hundreds of news stories. Clinton even brought it up in their second debate. After all, we'll never forget that sterling bit of repartee: "You're a puppet."

It would fine for an elector to vote his or her conscience in contradiction of the voters and to face the consequences under their state's law. It might even be a refreshing blast of federalism.

But saying that you were going to break the law of your state and vote for someone the voters rejected on the grounds that not enough attention was paid to a topic kind of defeats the purpose of having voters.

You could say the same thing about public awareness and media coverage of lots of topics as Podesta & Co. are now saying about Russia meddling.

Another 100 stories about Trump's sketchy charitable donations or treatment of women might have tipped the narrow votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Or maybe they wouldn't have. But it's all over now, Baby Blue.

A bad guy wanted Trump to win. There were probably other bad guys and gals who wanted Clinton to win. Team Putin meddled as they were able, a fact perhaps not fully explored but hardly unknown. That's not cause for a revote or electoral usurpation.

Trump and many Republicans are particularly sensitive about the Russian stuff because of the aforementioned popular vote minority but also because of the now obviously real effort to overturn the outcome.

In his interview with Chris Wallace, Trump flatly dismissed notions that the Russians did mischief during the campaign, and said that it was just Democrats making excuses.

One understands Trump's sensitivity, given the ongoing effort to deprive him of his prize. But Republicans should remember that but both things can be true: Democrats can be over-interpreting the significance of Russian interference, while still allowing the fact that the Russians interfered.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today, Putin's Russia is not a friend to the U.S. McConnell promised to back every real effort to find out what the Kremlin was, and is, up to.

If Democrats are sincere about wanting to root out Russian interference, they'd better quite exploiting the issue in such dangerous ways.

Clinton has, frankly, no excuse for losing the election, given her advantages. Russia made life harder on her, perhaps. But the presidency was not stolen.

Her campaign chairman trying to overturn the outcome is worse than sour grapes. It does exactly what Putin is hoping and further undermines confidence in the system.

KEY DATES IN RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT IN 2016 CAMPAIGN
--June 14:
DNC learned that Russian hackers gained access to their system and stole opposition research on Donald Trump.

--July 22: WikiLeaks releases 22,000 DNC emails on the eve of the party's convention that show the inner workings of the organization and lead to then-Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's termination.

--July 29: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also confirms it was hacked in a similar style to that of the DNC.

--Sept. 7: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says in a speech at the Intelligence and National Security Summit that the Russians hack U.S. systems all the time, but declined to blame them directly for the DNC leaked emails.

--Oct 7: Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security issued a joint statement stating that the U.S. Intelligence Community, which includes 16 agencies, was "confident" the hacking of the various branches of Democratic Party organizations were backed by the Russian government.

Also on Oct. 7, WikiLeaks releases its first round of top Clinton aide John Podesta's personal emails.

--Oct 20: Private security group concludes Podesta was hacked by Russian foreign intelligence service, the GRU, after tricking him into clicking on a fake Google login page to give his credentials in March 2015.

--Nov. 17: Clapper says his office and fellow agencies waited four months after news of the hack to release a statement because they wanted sufficient evidence before making an accusation against Russia.

--Nov. 30: Seven members of the Senate Intelligence Committee send a letter to President Obama requesting more information on the hack.

--Dec. 9: President Obama announces a "full review" of any election-related hacking.

THE RULEBOOK: MADE FOR YOU
"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." – John JayFederalist No. 2

TIME OUT: WISDOM OF THE AGES
Can a pretend city help suffering people recover real memories? The Atlantic: "An estimated 5.4 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a number that is expected to rise as the Baby Boomers age. Still more suffer from other forms of dementia. To keep such patients' minds engaged and give their caregivers at home a break, doctors often refer them to day centers, where they can exercise, take part in activities, and receive counseling or medication. Recently, the George G. Glenner Alzheimer's Family Care Centers, a San Diego nonprofit that operates three such facilities, has begun to create a very different sort of daytime space for its patients: a faux town of 24 buildings, arranged around a central green and designed to evoke the era when most of today's dementia patients were young adults. The hope is that visual reminders of their youth will spark memories and conversation."

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

GOP SENATORS WANT CLARITY FROM TILLERSON ON PUTIN TIES
Fox News: "Sen. Marco Rubio and other GOP senators fired a warning shot this weekend over President-elect Donald Trump's consideration of ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, raising concerns about the global energy titan's reported Russian ties. Tillerson is thought to be a favorite for the position of top U.S. diplomat and met again with the president-elect in New York on Saturday…Tillerson is reported to have close ties to Russia. Democrats already have seized on the accounts, with the Democratic National Committee preemptively declaring such a choice 'another victory for Vladimir Putin.' Republicans have taken a more measured – but still cautious – approach."

Meet Rex Tillerson - WaPo: "[Rex] Tillerson, 64, joined ExxonMobil in 1975, after receiving a civil engineering degree from the University of Texas. He worked his way up through the ranks, beginning as a production engineer and becoming chairman and chief executive in 2006. Over his decades at the company, Tillerson's work took him all over the world, including to Yemen and Russia. That, along with his experience as CEO, apparently provides the basis of his familiarity with international diplomacy."

[No stranger to controversy - In his career, the corporate honcho has had to address controversies from his company's stance on global warming, to deciding whether there should be gay scout masters when he served as head of the Boy Scouts of America.]

SUBSTITUTIONS
The list of those scheduled to meet with the president elect at his New York office includes:

--Carly Fiorina is rumored possible pick for director of national intelligence, sources tell the NYT.

--Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said to be one of four finalists to serve as secretary of energy along with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who Trump will also meet with today), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Ray Washburne, a Dallas businessman who was vice chairman of Trump's campaign victory committee.

--Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, House Republican Conference Chair, who is expected to be tapped as interior secretary.

--Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho

--Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana

AUDIBLE: LIKE, DUH
"You know, I'm, like, a smart person." – Donald Trump, in an interview on "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace," explaining why he doesn't need intelligence briefings every day.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Federal judge blocks Green Party bid for Pa. recount - Reuters
 
Trump takes aim at F-35 program saying 'cost is out of control' - Fox News

Sessions confirmation hearing for attorney general slot set for Jan. 10, 11 - WashEx

It's official: Trump taps John Kelly for Homeland Security  - The Hill

Not it: Conway says she declined press secretary spot - Politico

Chinese state media call Trump 'ignorant' after Taiwan phone call - Fox News

Netanyahu optimistic about working with Trump - Fox News

Senate passed spending bill, but fight signals what may occur in 2018 - Roll Call

FROM THE BLEACHERS
"What a lightweight you are Chris Stirewalt!  What evidence do you have that Russians interfered with our election when trained. Intelligence officers cannot even confirm this?  I thought you were a journalist.  I lost all respect for your 'ditty' speculation day in and day out.  Fake news. T.V. off can't stand to listen to you anymore. [Can't] believe you get paid for your nonsense" – Marsha Frost, Springfield, Va.

[Ed note: Ms. Frost, we're always sorry to lose a reader. We wish you well. As for the question of the proof that Russia meddled in the 2016 election: I assume that as it has in all but a handful of U.S. elections in the past 70 years, the Kremlin took steps to shape the outcome. Russians would no doubt say the same of Washington in the two decades of elections since the fall of the Soviet Union. Hostile powers do that to each other. And certainly we can see with the sources of propaganda aimed at American news consumers and support for Wikileaks efforts, Putin was trying to shape the discussion here. There is also the finding on the part of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia was behind the hacks of top Clinton and Democratic campaign officials. It's possible, of course, that they are lying or wrong. That could always be true of any government agency. But in this case, we are inclined to accept their findings given their plausibility and the fact that the stakes are, for the time being, at least, low. If we were talking about launching a war against Russia or invalidating the results of the election, we would want to see verifiable evidence.]

"The quote of #8, Federalist, really sums up what is going on today.  Please quote this over and over, and do a program on this subject.  We, as a nation, should be so grateful, but the media only subjects us all to the negative statements, events, politics, etc.  What we really need for Christmas from Santa would be a load of happy pills and laughs!!! Thanks for your daily musings - great reading." – Marie Little, Washington State

[Ed. note: Indeed! As we are increasingly deprived of common purpose and even a common conversation, our liberty is ever more at risk – as Hamilton wrote "prey to the means of defending ourselves against the ambition and jealousy of each other." How best to restore the mutual trust and shared purpose necessary for the keeping of a republic? Well, a good place to start is for each of us to avoid insulting others and to leave until a last resort impugning the motives of those with whom we disagree. That's hard stuff in an era when the ignorance and rage of anyone with an internet connection becomes part of the global conversation. But necessary, I think. Merry Christmas, and thanks much for reading!]

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

BAG MEN
Independent: "Originally used to smooth out frown-lines and crow's feet, it was never going to be long before Botox was taken to other parts of the body. And whilst usually associated with the frozen faces of women, it's now men getting in on the Botox action - but not just for their faces. Men are now having Botox - the neurotoxin drug that temporarily paralyses muscles - injected into their scrota. Although it sounds bizarre, doctors predict the treatment, so-called Scrotox, is only going to become more popular in 2017. New York-based plastic surgeon Dr. John Mesa has performed Scrotox on 15 men in the past year alone, although he calls the procedure 'ball ironing,' according to Men's Health. The effect of Scrotox is much the same as regular Botox (or ironing, for that matter): the removal of wrinkles, and the effect lasts for about four months."

Chris Stirewalt is politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in you inbox every day? Sign up here.

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