In the News
- Inside Clinton’s Benghazi emails
- 2016: Ted Cruz is IN! Eh?
- Iran: Deal or no deal?
- Brennan warns Iran: Costs if no deal
- SCOTUS: TX Confederacy license plates
- Obama: Tough talk on Netanyahu
- Obama / Ghani: Detente?
- Kabul murder: Afghan women break burial taboo
- Yemen: “Edge of civil war”
- Secret Service stonewalling?
Inside Clinton’s Benghazi Emails
• The roughly 300 emails from Hillary Clinton’s private account that were turned over last month to the House Benghazi committee provide no evidence that she issued a “stand down” order to halt American forces responding to the violence in Benghazi or took part in a broad cover-up of the admin’s response, according to senior American officials (NYT, me)
• But they did show that Clinton’s top aides at times corresponded with them about State Dept matters from their personal email accounts, raising questions about her recent assertions that she made it her practice to email aides at their govt addresses so the messages would be preserved, in compliance with federal record-keeping regs
• The emails haven’t been made public, and NYT wasn’t permitted to review them. But four senior govt officials offered descriptions of some of the key messages, on the condition of anonymity because they didn’t want to jeopardize their access to secret info. A spox for Clinton said she and aides had used their email accounts appropriately
• Clinton used a private email account that was housed on a server at her home in Chappaqua NY while she was SecState, which kept many of the messages secret. Strikingly, Clinton is not a verbose correspondent. At times, she sends her foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, an email containing a news article, a simple instruction: Please print
Rice on Sunday Shows
• The messages shed some light on a pivotal moment in the Benghazi attack’s aftermath involving then ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. On 16 Sept, five days after the attack, Rice appeared on five Sunday shows to offer the admin’s view. Some conservatives said that Rice want on so Clinton could duck the controversy. Rice said Clinton was tired after a grueling week
• The emails don’t settle that question, the senior officials said. But they do suggest that Clinton and her aides were ultimately relieved that she hadn’t gone as far as Rice in her description of the attacks
• The day Rice appeared on the shows, Sullivan emailed Clinton a transcript of Rice’s appearance on ABC’s This Week. Sullivan appeared pleased. “She did make clear our view that this started spontaneously then evolved,” Sullivan wrote to Clinton
• But in the days that followed, the admin’s view of what occurred grew more complicated. Amid intense criticism from Republicans, who accused the WH of playing down the attack in an election year, admin officials began to call it a “terrorist attack.” Rice’s initial description of the attack as spontaneous came under intense scrutiny
• Two weeks after that first email assessing Rice’s appearance, Sullivan sent Clinton a very different email. This time, he appeared to reassure the SecState that she had avoided the problems Rice was confronting. “You never said ‘spontaneous’ or characterized their motivations,” Sullivan wrote, saying he’d reviewed her public remarks since the attack
• At the time she was SecState, federal regs said agencies that allow employees to use private email addresses “must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record-keeping system.”
• Clinton spox Nick Merrill defended the aides’ use of personal mail, saying that it was “their practice to primarily use their work email when conducting state business, with only the tiniest fraction of the more than one million emails they sent or received involving their personal accounts.”
• Benghazi Committee chair Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has said he suspected Clinton hasn’t turned over all her Benghazi-related emails, and has asked Clinton to turn over her server to a neutral party to examine all of her emails, including the ones she deleted. He’s also likely to asked about the aides’ use of personal email
2016: Ted Cruz Is IN! Eh?
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) made his intention to join the 2016 presidential race official early this morning, just minutes after midnight, with a message posted to Twitter. “I’m running for President and I hope to earn your support!” he wrote, with a link to a 30-second video. Cruz, a first-term senator, will announce at Liberty University, an evangelical Christian school in VA (NYT, Houston Chronicle, Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Cruz, the Canadian-born son of a Cuban immigrant, gained fame by trying to block funding for President Obama’s health law in 2013. His tactics resulted in a partial closure of the federal govt, a turn of events that made “Cruz” a four-letter word to his party’s leadership but endeared him to made party activists
• But in recent months, firebrand Cruz has been overshadowed by other potential Republican candidates in the early competition for donors, staff, volunteers and news coverage. Most notably, Gov Scott Walker (R-WI) has drawn attention from those interested in an alternative to former Gov Jeb Bush (R-FL)
• Cruz plans on portraying himself as not only the most doctrinaire candidate, but as the one most willing to fight for the principles of the conservative movement. Cruz’s first challenge is finding a way to stand out in a crowded field in Iowa, where the possible Republican field includes at least eight major candidates
• Cruz believes that his brand of small-govt, culturally traditional and hawkish conservatism – what he calls “three legs of the proverbial Republican stool” – will appeal to primary voters who may have questions about the fealty of the other candidates to what he sees as the pillars of the right. He aims to raise between $40 million – $50 million during the primary campaign
• Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) will declare his candidacy for 2016 on 7 April, MSNBC reported, citing multiple sources inside the Paul camp (Reuters). Former SecState Hillary Clinton is widely expected to declare her candidacy on the Democratic side in April
Iran: Deal Or No Deal?
• Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that a political deal between his govt and six world powers was within sight, but SecState John Kerry said the two sides hadn’t yet reached “the finish line.” Talks between the U.S. and Iran are expected to resume Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland (WSJ, me)
• In tough remarks that brought fresh cries of “Down/Death with America” from the crowd at his annual Iranian new year’s speech, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini on Saturday demanded that any deal must lift sanctions on his country immediately and accused the U.S. of wanting to spark antiregime protests in Iran
• Khameini signaled that hopes that a nuclear deal could lead to a genuine detente between Iran and the U.S. on issues like the Syria conflict and the fight against ISIS, were unrealistic. “These negotiations with the U.S. are merely nuclear and nothing else. We don’t talk about regional issues. Their goals are totally different than ours in the region,” he said (true on goals)
• Saturday, Kerry moved to play down differences between the six-power group on how to settle final issues. France has sounded a tough line in recent days. “We are united in our goal, our approach, our resolve and our determination to ensure that Iran’s program is entirely peaceful,” Kerry said of the group
• French FM Laurent Fabius warned in a radio interview Saturday that if the nuclear deal isn’t “serious enough,” countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Egypt could opt to seek nuclear weapons. “France wants a deal but only one that is robust … it’s the only way to avoid proliferation.”
• House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is scheduled to visit Israel in a few days. He will be leading a delegation of congressional Republicans. He will begin his visit on 31 March, which is also the deadline for the Iran talks. The visit was finalized during Israeli PM Netanyahu’s U.S. visit some two weeks ago (Haaretz, TRNS) (#wrench?)
Brennan Warns Iran: Costs if No Deal
• CIA Director John Brennan said on Fox News Sunday, “I think they
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