TRNS News Notes is brought to you by Victoria Jones. Victoria Jones is the Chief White House correspondent and global analyst of the Washington DC based Talk Radio News Service, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

BREAKING NEWS: Mass shooting at a satirical newspaper this morning in Paris, France leaves at least 12 dead, at least three more in critical condition. Latest reports say two masked gunmen opened fire, and are currently at large.  More details coming up on today’s show.



In the News

  • In a squeaker, Boehner’s speaker
  • Now – Boehner’s revenge
  • Republican heads will roll
  • Keystone: WH threatens veto
  • Sony hack: More info from FBI today?
  • Obama and embattled Mexican president meet
  • Bob McDonnell sentenced to 2 years: Corruption
  • Jeb Bush gets a super PAC – running?
  • U.S.: Bombing / shooting
  • Syrian rebels’ training: Spring 2015 start?


In a Squeaker, Boehner’s Speaker
• Rep John Boehner (R-OH) beat back a right wing rebellion on the House floor Tuesday, winning a third and possibly final term as Speaker of the House of Representatives. But on the opening day of the new GOP-controlled Congress, a bloc of tea party insurgents fired off a warning shot to GOP leadership (NYT, Hill, Roll Call, TRNS, me)

• In a public roll call, 25 House Republicans defected from Boehner in the Speaker vote, double the dozen who launched a failed coup attempt against him exactly two years ago. The anti Boehner crowd’s message was simple: Don’t expect any cooperation from us in the 114th Congress (see below for Boehner’s revenge)

• In remarks to the full House after retaking the gavel, Boehner said, “They say nothing is going to be accomplished here, divisions are greater than ever … Skepticism of our govt is healthy and in our time quite understandable. But one problem with saying, ‘it can’t be done,’ is that it already has been done, or at least started.”

• Tuesday’s vote for speaker represented a reach for relevance by some rank-and-file conservative lawmakers, including those making good on campaign promises about standing up to Boehner and the culture of Washington

• For Boehner, meanwhile, quashing a right wing uprising sent a strong signal to House Republicans, as well as outside conservative groups, that he will not be cowed by recalcitrant members of his conference. But the mere questioning of Boehner’s leadership still offers a sting to the speaker

• Vid: Biden being Biden in 102 seconds – pure, priceless unadultered Bidenisms at the Senate swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday (WaPo)

Boehner’s Revenge
• John Boehner’s (R-OH) allies have thirsted for the speaker to strike back at those who betray him. He finally has learned the lesson. After he secured his third term Tuesday, losing 25 Republican votes, Boehner moved swiftly to boot FL Reps Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent from the influential Rules Committee (ouch) (Politico, me)

• The reason was simple: Webster ran against Boehner for speaker, distributing fliers outlining his candidacy. Nugent supported his fellow Republican in the quixotic endeavor. Webster didn’t even give Boehner a heads-up that he was running (rude – and cowardly)

• The House Republican leadership is carefully reviewing the list of members who voted against the speaker and those who opposed a procedural motion in December on the so-called Cromnibus, the $1.1 trillion spending package to keep the govt open through to September

Pic: The Kiss: Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) embrace, while Boehner caresses his Big Gavel

Heads Rolling

• Subcommittee chairmanships might be stripped and other perks could fall away, top Republican sources suggested, in a process that could take months to unfold. Dozens of Republicans could face a backlash (revenge dish best served cold)

• For example, Rep Scott Rigell (R-VA) got a slot on the Appropriations Committee, good for his Virginia Beach district, yet voted for Webster, a move that infuriated Boehner loyalists. Particular ire was directed toward Rep Marlin Stutzman (R-ID) who had a dinner Monday night where the uprising was discussed (they’re for the chop, methinks)

• Boehner worked much harder for this re-election than he did in 2012. He called nearly every House Republican during the last three months asking for their support. He made calls from Washington, continued while in Florida for the holidays, and resumed Monday as soon as he landed in DC

• Boehner and his team say their “working majority” is around 220 members. “We don’t need these fringe guys as much as we did anymore,” said a GOP leadership aide, anonymous. “We can let them walk on certain bills, and it just won’t matter. That gives us breathing room.”

• President Obama has invited the top four Democrats and Republicans (16 total) from both chambers to the WH next Tuesday for a meeting on the legislative agenda for the year. They’ll also receive an update from the WH on a number of foreign policy situations (Hill)

WH Threatens to Veto Keystone Bill
• The WH on Tuesday threatened to veto the first piece of legislation introduced in the Republican-controlled Congress: Keystone XL pipeline approval. “If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it,” WH spox Josh Earnest said. It’s “premature to evaluate the project before something as basic as the route of the pipeline has been determined,” he said

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was shocked, shocked: “The president threatening to veto the first bipartisan infrastructure bill of the new Congress must come as a shock to the American people who spoke loudly in November in favor of bipartisan accomplishments.” (nah) (AP, NYT, TRNS, me)

• The two main sponsors, Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen John Hoeven (R-ND) said Tuesday morning they had enough votes to overcome a filibuster of the bill but not a presidential veto. “If this is the start of this, it is a sad beginning,” said Manchin

• In recent months, Obama has been increasingly critical of the project and has resisted prior efforts to fast-track the process. At his year-end presser, Obama said the pipeline would benefit Canadian oil companies but wouldn’t be a huge benefit to American consumers, who are already seeing low prices at the pump thanks to oil prices

• In an unexpected twist, Sen Dick Durbin (D-IL) objected Tuesday to the Senate energy committee holding a Wednesday hearing on the bill, so it’s been postponed. Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “I hope this isn’t our most productive day of the year.” (hopes up don’t get…)

• Vid: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), speaking from his DC apt – with a heavily bandaged black eye and badly bruised chin – gives shoutouts to fellow boxers Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather as he previews the 114th Congress

More on Sony Hack from FBI Today
• FBI Director James Comey is expected today to reveal more details about how the FBI determined that North Korea was behind the Sony Pictures breach, and to respond to a growing wave of public criticism by info security professionals who have questioned the FBI’s attribution to North Korea (Intercept, me)

• Also, an FBI and Dept of Homeland Security report, dated 24 Dec, obtained by the Intercept, warned that the hackers who infiltrated Sony’s computer servers had threatened a subsequent attack on “a news media organization,” and that the threat “may extend to other such organizations in the near future.”

• But David Allen Garrett, a 30-old blogger from Knoxville TN, says he believes he was the one who started the chatter about attacking a media organization. He says it was a joke that went viral and that he notified the FBI when media outlets began speculating that federal authorities were taking his online post as a serious threat against CNN

“I’d like you to know that it was a joke,” he says he wrote to the FBI after a journalist, Matthe Keys, found a 20 Dec Pastebin post mentioning CNN that appeared to match the details of the threat referenced in the FBI bulletin. Garrett says he became concerned after Gawker picked up Keys’ story

• FBI officials told the Intercept Tuesday that they’re now investigating the hack of a CBS affiliate and the Albuquerque Tribune newspaper; both organizations had their Twitter feeds hacked, and the CBS affiliate’s website was taken over by a group claiming allegiance to ISIS
• President Obama heads to Detroit MI today, the first leg of a three-state, three-day trip to tout his proposals on manufacturing, housing and education that will be part of his 20 January State of the Union address. He’ll also visit Arizona Thursday and Tennessee Friday (AP, me)

Obama Meets Embattled Mexican President

• President Obama embarked on a new year of foreign policy by welcoming Mexico’s embattled president to the WH Tuesday, seeking help to jump start a new U.S. approach to immigration, Cuba and trade (AP, Reuters, USAToday, me)

• Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto praised Obama’s executive action to shield from deportation some 4 million immigrants – most of them from his country – and his move to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba

• And they discussed a scandal that has sparked massive protests in the Mexican streets and a smaller one in the snow outside the WH as they met – the 26 Sept abduction and presumed murder of 43 college students, allegedly at the hands of local officials and police in league with a drug cartel. Pena Nieto’s been criticized for a lack of interest in the case

• Pena Nieto said he offered to collaborate on Obama’s effort to re-establish diplomatic and commercial ties after a half century of estrangement with Cuba. Obama said he’ll participate in the Summit of the Americas in April in Panama. But he says he will insist that human rights and other concerns he has about Cuba be on the agenda

• Cuba has freed some of 53 people the U.S. regards as political prisoners as agreed under last month’s U.S.-Cuban rapprochement and Washington wants to see the rest released soon, State Dept spox Jen Psaki said to reporters Tuesday. She wouldn’t provide a specific number of prisoners released (why not)

• UN SecGen Ban Ki-moon says the state of Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on 1 April, a high-stakes move that will enable the Palestinians to pursue war crimes charges against Israel – but opens them up to charges themselves. The move is strongly opposed by the U.S. (AP, me)



Bob McDonnell, Ex Gov of VA, Sentenced to 2 Years
• Bob McDonnell, the former governor of Virginia who was convicted in Sept on corruption charges, was sentenced to 24 months in prison on Tuesday. He had been found guilty of trading favors in return for $177,000 in loans, vacations and gifts from a wealthy family friend who was trying to promote his vitamin supplement business

• McDonnell, a Republican who was once considered a possible contender for the WH, initially faced the prospect of up to 20 years in prison. “I stand before you as a heartbroken and humbled man,” he said in court, as many supporters in the packed room dabbed at their eyes with tissues (NYT, WaPo, TPM, TRNS, me)

• Nearly 450 people, including family, had written letters to the judge seeking leniency. One daughter, Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky, blamed her mother, Maureen McDonnell, who was also convicted of various charges and is to be sentenced in late February

• Ms McDonnell “has always been concerned about getting discounts or freebies,” Zubowsky wrote. “She hid her coordination with people for free or discounted things or services, and she didn’t communicate with my dad because she knew he wouldn’t approve.” (throwing Mummy under the bus??)

• Former Rep Bob Ney (R-OH), who was convicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal and then did 30 months in jail, told me Tuesday: “He is in complete denial and he really got a wrist slap … he needs to come to terms with the fact that he did wrong things which he still seems to struggle with.” Ney is now with TRNS
• McDonnell’s defense centered on his wife’s relationship with a VA businessman, Jonnie Williams Sr, whose company, Star Scientific, was under investigation by the SEC for possible security violations when feds granted Williams immunity from those charges in exchange for his cooperation with the McDonnell inquiry

• Defense lawyers portrayed the McDonnells as incapable of conspiring with Williams because the two had such a bad marriage. Williams gave the couple $120,000 in low interest loans, paid for much of the wedding of a daughter, bought a Rolex for the governor, picked up bills for golf outings and lent them his Ferrari

• McDonnell’s lawyers portrayed Ms McDonnell as a “nutbag” so taken with Williams that she had lost general control of her office and her marriage. Judge Spencer, referring to Williams, said Ms McDonnell “may have let the serpent into the mansion” but the governor, he said, let Williams into his financial affairs

• After the sentencing, McDonnell maintained his innocence, saying he had “never, ever betrayed my sacred oath of office in any way while I served as the governor of this great commonwealth.” He said he respected the judicial system but looked to Jesus Christ for his “ultimate vindication.”
• Rep Robert Aderholt (R-AL) is set to propose legislation to override President Obama’s decision to defer deportations and grant work permits for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. It’s a sweeping bill, sure to be opposed by the WH, and is garnering support from anti-immigration outside groups (Politico, me)
Jeb Bush Gets a Super PAC
• In his latest step toward running for president, former FL Gov Jeb Bush (R) is organizing a political action committee called Right to Rise that will allow him to raise and spend money on campaign activities, he announced Tuesday on Facebook. He appeared in a cellphone video speaking both English and Spanish (NYT, me)

• On the website for the new PAC, Bush offered something of a roadmap to his potential campaign, saying it would address income inequality, immigration and the nation’s education system. “We will not cede an inch of territory – no issues, no demographic groups, no voters – as we unite our citizens,” he wrote on the PAC’s site

• Bush is employing a well-worn playbook of early, aggressive and high-profile maneuvers to deflect attention and resources from his potential rivals, who have remained largely quiet over the past few weeks as the son and brother of presidents commanded the spotlight

• But the tactics carry genuine risk: Bush, who has told friends that he was in no hurry to enter a presidential contest that is still two years off, is now placing himself directly in the cross hairs of both Republicans and Democrats who view him as a threat

• And in a sign of how quickly, and inadvertently, messages can be muddled, Bush posted the video of himself speaking in front of BlackRock, a Wall Street investment firm, on a day when he was trying to highlight the plight of the middle class. Social media lit up with unflattering references to the juxtaposition


Best. Newspaper. Editorial. In. History. Of. World. (check first letter of each paragraph in editorial just for fun) Kirby. Delauter. Kirby. Delauter. Kirby. Delauter. So sue me, Kirby Delauter. MD politician Delauter had threatened to sue the local newspaper for using his name – this is the paper’s brilliant response (me, Frederick-News Post)

U.S.: Bombing / Shooting
• An improvised explosive device was detonated against the exterior wall of a building housing the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP on Tuesday, officials said. The explosion knocked items off the office walls, but no one was injured (AP, Denver Post, TRNS, me)

• The FBI said investigators were looking for a balding white man in the 40s who may be driving a dirty white pickup truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate. The FBI said it was not known whether the NAACP or a business in the vicinity was the target

• Separately, the FBI will question hundreds of patients at a West Texas veterans’ hospital who may have witnessed a shooting that left two people dead, including the suspected gunman, the bureau’s top El Paso agent said

• Investigators, who took no questions from reporters during a Tuesday night presser, didn’t say whether the gunman killed himself or was killed by someone else. They also provided no details on the victim or the gunman and no possible motive for the shooting (so – not much at all, then)

• The VA clinic came under scrutiny last year after a federal audit showed it had some of the the nation’s longest wait times for veterans trying to see a doctor for the first time. A survey of hundreds of West Texas veterans last year found that they waited an average of more than two months to see a VA mental health professional and longer to see a physician

• Watch four former WH press secretaries, as callers, ambush WH spox Josh Earnest when he appears on Bloomberg TV


Program to Train Syrian Rebels: Spring 2015 Start?
• The long-awaited coalition program to train the Syrian moderate opposition could begin by early spring, and officials are beginning to identify individual fighters who could participate, the Pentagon said Tuesday (AP, TRNS, me)

• Pentagon spox Rear Admiral John Kirby also said for the first time that the U.S. military is conducting several investigations into reported civilian casualties that may have occurred in the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS. Military leaders said earlier that they were unaware of any civilian deaths resulting from the bombings

• The effort to train Syrian rebels is part of the overall campaign to defeat ISIS militants who seized large swaths of Syria and Iraq. Kirby said that once the training program gets up and running it may require additional U.S. forces to assist with the instruction. Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have agreed to provide training locations

• Kirby said ISIS momentum in Iraq has stalled and ISIS fighters have largely been in a defensive posture for several weeks. U.S. forces have been flowing into Iraq to conduct training. As of this week, there are about 2,140 U.S. troops in Iraq. Kirby said the remainder of the 3,000 President Obama has authorized should arrive in the next four to six weeks

• On the civilian casualties, Kirby referred reporters to Central Command for details such as the number of alleged deaths and when they came to CentCom’s attention. Officials at CentCom said they were unable to immediately provide answers but were preparing a statement with further details
 Vid: Bao Bao the panda’s first snow day! With rolling down a hill in the snow, wrestling with a friend in the snow, being ridiculously cute in the snow. Cute factor is off the charts (Smithsonian, me)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Justin Duckham, Nicholas Salazar, James Cullum and Loretta Lewis contributed to this report


The Talk Radio News Service is the only information, news booking and host service dedicated to serving the talk radio community. TRNS maintains a Washington office that includes White House, Capitol Hill and Pentagon staffed bureaus, and a New York office with a United Nations staffed bureau. Talk Radio News Service has permanent access to every breaking newsevent in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.