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.

Police led at least 12 demonstrators from Baltimore City Hall before dawn today to police transport vans. They were protesting a council subcommittee’s vote in favor of making interim police commissioner, Kevin Davis, permanent. They were upset he hadn’t met with activists to listen to their demands. They had occupied the building for hours. Police warned them they faced arrest (AP)
News Now

  • 2016 race: No room for Biden?
  • Second Republican: Benghazi about Clinton
  • Debt ceiling: Boehner’s last hurrah?
  • Speaker scramble: Why not – anybody?
  • Iran sends ground troops to Syria
  • DoJ: Domestic terror “real and present danger”
  • Kerry to Middle East: Israeli-Palestinian tensions
  • Committee receives unseen Planned Parenthood “footage”
  • Gabby Giffords: Protect women from gun violence
2016 Race: No Room For Biden? (NYT, Politico, Hill, Hill, WSJ, me)
• Hillary Clinton’s solid performance in the first Democratic debate didn’t just excite her supporters and reassure nervous party officials about her candidacy, it also swiftly cooled talk about the need for VP Joe Biden to enter the campaign and offer Democrats an alternative. “I thought every one of those folks did well, thanks,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday (cursing them)
• Biden and his advisers knew that waiting until October to make a decision was a gamble: Would Clinton’s late-summer tailspin continue? Would she fumble and stumble through the first debate? And most importantly, would the primary race take off without him?
• Now, Biden’s orbit has put out word that he’s going to take another week to make a decision – right up against Clinton’s appearance before the House Benghazi committee that once seemed like it could become an embarrassing inquisition, but that she’s now already framing a tedious partisan fishing expedition (she’s on a roll – if she plays it smart, he’s boxed in)
• Time is ticking, and the VP and the people looking at the race with him know it. Forget about rushing to put together tens of millions of dollars – they don’t even have a bank account. Georgia and Michigan filing deadlines are coming up quickly, with others right behind and they’re in very early conversations about staffing a potential campaign
• “We’ve come to the point where he should decide,” said John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman (piling on). “And if he’s going to get in, we’re going to run our race. And I think you saw that race being run tonight. She just hit it out of the park.” (even so, Biden’s an old-time pol, who’s been under pressure before. he can handle this)


• Watch: “You’re going to wind up looking silly if you keep going on like this” – CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to Democratic (totally non) hopeful 2016er Lincoln Chafee on Wednesday. “At what point will you drop out?” Owww. Give Chafee credit. He keeps going and doesn’t lose his cool – or maybe he should have…


Second Republican: Benghazi About Clinton (Think Progress, Hill, Hill, Politico, me)
• In an interview uncovered by Think Progress, Rep Richard Hanna (R-NY) said on the Keeler in the Morning radio show in New York: “Sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in DC is to tell the truth. This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people, and an individual, Hillary Clinton.”
• “After what
[GOP Rep] Kevin McCarthy said, it’s difficult to accept at least a part of it was not,” Hanna continued. “I think that’s the way Washington works. But you’d like to expect more from a committee that’s spent millions of dollars and tons of time.” (think he’s getting a horse’s head on his pillow while he’s home during the recess – gift from GOP leadership)
• “After failing to produce any new info on the tragic 2012 attacks at Benghazi despite a 17-month investigation, John Boehner has reportedly urged the committee to shift its focus to Hillary Clinton’s emails in an ongoing attempt to try to hurt her politically,” Clinton campaign spox Brian Fallon said in a statement Wednesday
• Clinton’s longtime aide, Huma Abedin, will testify Friday before the House Benghazi committee, according to multiple reports. A committee source told CNN that Abedin won’t undergo a full deposition and would be interviewed behind closed doors by committee staffers (more secrecy – why can’t we know what they’re doing?)
• Republicans on the House Benghazi committee are reportedly focusing on next week’s much-anticipated hearing with Hillary Clinton. They say their line of questioning will reveal new info about the attack and demonstrate their ability to stay above the political fray. But Democrats are expected to continue their barrage of criticism in the meantime (having too much fun)


• Findings from the 2014 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released Wednesday concluded that religious minorities in the Middle East, Asia and Africa face increased threats to religious freedom – an issue SecState John Kerry said “endangers all.” (TRNS)

Debt Ceiling: Boehner’s Last Hurrah? (Reuters, Politico, Politico, me)

• The House of Representatives could try to pass legislation this month raising federal borrowing authority before speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) retires, an aide to Boehner said Wednesday. “The speaker has made it clear that he wants to solve some outstanding issues before he leaves. No decisions have been made,” said the aide

• In Sept, Boehner stunned the political world when he announced he plans to retire from Congress on 30 Oct. But he might stay on, as House Republicans are in utter shambles over a replacement. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that lawmakers must raise the debt limit in the next 30 days, adding to the pressure

• Raising the debt limit is a controversial issue for conservative Republicans in Congress, who want to extract deep reductions in domestic spending over the long-term before allowing an increase in govt borrowing – and President Obama has said he won’t play that game; he wants a clean bill

• Those same House conservatives have tussled with Boehner throughout his tenure as speaker and are playing a central role in the selection of his replacement. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), the leading candidate, dropped out last week saying he couldn’t unite the GOP rank-and-file (can anyone?)

• Since then, only House Ways and Means chair Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis) has emerged as a possible candidate (riding in on white unicorn), and he says he doesn’t want the job. He’s under pressure. Meanwhile, a spox for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn’t comment on his intentions for moving a debt limit bill if the House were to act


Speaker Scramble: Why Not – Anybody? (AP, me)
• Every day another Republican lawmaker seems to wake up and decide that he – or she – might make a pretty good speaker of the House. We’re now approaching double digits. Even with all attention focused on Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis), who doesn’t want the gig, at home in Janesville, Wis, thinking it over, under pressure from top party leaders
• Congress is on a week’s recess. Capitol Hill has fallen quiet after a series of wild, crazy days following speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) shocker announcement that he was quitting Congress, then the even more gobsmacking withdrawal of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) from running for the speaker’s job, amid rumors about his private life
• “If we all spend enough time on our knees praying for each other, we can heal our divisions and truly work together to restore America to the ‘Shining City on a Hill’ that President Reagan challenged us to become.” Rep Bill Flores (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to fellow House members Wednesday, saying he was considering running for speaker (or preacher)
• Even a freshman (really?) got into the action. “We’re looking at it. Our phones are ringing off the hook because I think America wants something different,” said Rep Ryan Zinke (R-Mont). Why any of them would want a job that defeated the current occupant and scared off his No. 2 is another question (i dunno – ego, hubris, monomania, narcissism, ambition – shall I go on?)
• The chaos has turned into a punch line for Washington politicians who aren’t House Republicans. “I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that I am not running – and if elected, I would not serve as speaker of the House of Representatives,” SecState John Kerry joked at a dinner Wednesday night (wouldn’t you? No. 3 in line for the presidency…)
• Federal prosecutors in Chicago want former House speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill) to serve prison time to resolve a criminal indictment charging he violated federal banking law when he withdrew about $900,000 in cash to pay an unnamed associate as part of an effort to cover up past misconduct, sources said. A hearing in court is set set for today in Chicago (Politico)
Iran Sends Ground Troops to Syria (Reuters, BBC, AP, Politico, Fox News, me)
• Iran has sent around 1,500 troops into northern and central Syria in the first such open deployment in the civil war, joining fighters from its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in an offensive against rebels and taking advantage of cover from Russia’s air campaign, a regional official and Syrian activists said Wednesday (mission creep, creep creep)
• Their arrival is almost certain to fuel a civil war in Syria. It also highlights the far-reaching goals of Russia’s military involvement in Syria. Russia says its airstrikes are meant to weaken ISIS and other terrorists in Syria, but Western officials and Syrian activists say most strikes have focused in areas where the extremist group doesn’t have a large presence
• The official, who has deep knowledge of operational details in Syria, said the Iranian troops and their allies were building up for a huge offensive against insurgents in Aleppo province, which would be announced in the coming days. Fox News reports that Cuban military operatives reportedly have been spotted in Syria, where they may aid Damascus fighting rebel forces
• The U.S. and Russian militaries are finalizing a memorandum of understanding that sets out basic air safety procedures in the skies about Syria, a U.S. official said, after the latest round of talks between the former Cold War foes on Wednesday. The Pentagon has cited cases in which Russian aircraft came within a couple of miles of piloted U.S. fighter jets and drones
• In a speech on Wednesday, SecDef Ash Carter said aligning with Syrian President Assad militarily “will have consequences for Russia itself, which is rightfully fearful of attack upon Russia.” “We have not, and will not, agree to cooperate with Russia as long as they continue to pursue this misguided strategy.” (this is all getting increasingly dangerous – think frog in heating water)

• President Obama on Wednesday said he had ordered 300 troops to Cameroon to work with West African soldiers seeking to counter the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram. In a letter to Congress, Obama said the troops would provide “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” in the region. The WH said they’d be armed for protection but not engage in combat (TRNS, NYT)


DoJ: Domestic Terror “Real and Present Danger” (CNN, HuffPo, Hill, me)

• Domestic terror groups pose a greater threat to America than ISIS or al Qaeda, Asst Attorney General John Carlin said Wednesday. To help combat them, the DoJ has created a new division that will coordinate the investigation and prosecution of anti-govt and hate groups

• Carlin, who oversees national security at the DoJ, announced the new division – the Domestic Terrorism Council – following a number of violent attacks or plots against the U.S. that he said were motivated by “anti-govt views, racism, bigotry and anarchy, and other despicable beliefs.”

• “Looking back over the past few years, it is clear that domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists remain a real and present danger to the U.S,” Carlin said. “We recognize that, over the past few years, more people have died in this country in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups.”

• It’s the hope of the DoJ that the counsel will not only help to coordinate the prosecution of domestic terrorists, but also “to identify trends to help shape our strategy, and to analyze legal gaps or enhancements required to ensure we can combat these threats,” Carlin said. The DoJ identified white supremacists as the most violent of the domestic terror groups

• For domestic terrorists – just as it has for ISIS – social media “can create for an extreme segment of society a sort of ‘radicalization echo chamber’ where followers reinforce for each other extremist propaganda and calls for violence,” Carlin said. “Studies now posit that mass killings are contagious,” Carlin said (all very disturbing)


Kerry to Mideast: Israeli-Palestinian Tensions (BBC, AP, TRNS, me)
• SecState John Kerry plans to travel to the Middle East soon in a bid to ease soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions amid a wave of deadly violence. WH and State Dept said Wed that details of the trip aren’t yet determined but could come together quickly. Kerry is due to travel to Europe this weekend on a previously scheduled trip
• Officials familiar with the planning said Kerry would like to meet separately with Israeli PM Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas in Jordan. No three-way meeting is envisioned (couldn’t get them in the same room) and Kerry would not likely visit Israel or the Palestinian territories
• In recent weeks, eight Israelis have died in a string of stabbings, shootings and the stoning of a car, while 31 Palestinians have been killed – 14 of them identified by Israel as attackers, the rest killed in stone-throwing clashes with Israeli forces
• Attacks continued Wednesday in parts of Jerusalem only hours after Israeli forces launched a major security operation in Arab areas of the city. Tuesday night, Israel’s security cabinet authorized police to close or surround “centers of friction and incitement” in Jerusalem. Also that the homes of Palestinians who attacked Israelis would be demolished
• Abbas accused Israel of carrying out “executions of our children in cold blood,” highlighting the case of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot by Israeli police after he and a 15-year-old stabbed an Israeli on Monday. Netanyahu called the comments “lies and incitement,” adding that the boy was alive in the hospital

• Violence has spiraled since clashes erupted at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site in mid-September. It was fueled by rumors among Palestinians that Israel was attempting to alter a long-standing religious arrangement governing the Western Wall, and allow Jews to pray there – which they’re not allowed to do now, as it’s in close proximity to the al Aqsa Mosque


Committee Receives Unseen Planned Parenthood “Footage” (Hill, me)

• The GOP-led House Oversight Committee announced Wed it has received hundred of hours – nearly 800GB – of previously unseen footage of secretly recorded Planned Parenthood meetings that have spurred a political uproar. Members and staff will be able to view the footage in a closed-door screening room, chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said

• The center for Medical Progress has released 10 videos, each about 10 minutes long, that appeared to show PP officials negotiating the price of fetal tissue. Until this month, the footage was under a temporary restraining order after a group claimed in court that its release could endanger its members who appear in the footage

• A PP statement said that “it’s highly unlikely that this is full, unedited source footage. For months, David Daleiden [CMP] has claimed that unedited video was posted publicly, when in fact every video he has posted has been heavily and deceptively edited.”

• “Last month, we sent leaders of this committee a memo from a leading expert who analyzed video for the FBI for several years, which explained that anything short of full source footage is useless. In the past, David Daleiden has said that he has multiple terabytes of video footage, and today it was announced that Congress has received 800GB of data. Where’s the rest?”

Gabby Giffords: Protect Women From Gun Violence (Hill, TRNS, me)
• Former Rep Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz) on Wednesday launched a new campaign aimed to protect women from gun violence. The bipartisan coalition is designed both to highlight the gun threat facing women and to promote the policy changes to combat the scourge nationwide

• Giffords, who was nearly killed in a shooting rampage in her Tucson district in 2011, said the issue is urgent. “We have a problem in this country,” Giffords said during a conference in DC examining domestic violence. “Too many women are dying from gun violence.”

• Aside from Giffords, the group includes former SecState Madeleine Albright, former Gov Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ), former Rep Connie Morella (R-Md), Neera Tanden, head of the Center for American Progress and the actress Alyssa Milano. The group comes with some daunting stats:

• A woman in the U.S. is 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other developed countries, they note, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 1980 and 2008, firearms were the weapon of choice in more than two thirds of all spouse and ex-souse homicides, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics

• Janee Harteau, chief of police in Minneapolis, said, “When is the last time you saw a woman shoot up a school? You don’t. … The reality is women are brought up differently. We’re losing both sexes, because our men are going to prison and our women and children are dying. We need to do something.”

• Caroline Westlake, a former meerkat expert at London Zoo, has been ordered to pay $1,235 compensation to Kate Sanders, a monkey handler, who she attacked with a wine glass in a love spat over colleague Adam Davies, a llama-keeper. Westlake was then fired by the zoo. The llama-keeper and monkey handler have now split. (no comment from the meerkats, llamas or monkeys) (AP, me)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Brittany Gervais and Ebony Romero contributed to this report


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