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.

 
News Now
  • Trump-Bush 9/11 feud now insane
  • Benghazi blow-up
  • Benghazi committee email flap
  • Iran deal moves forward
  • Speaker scramble: Is Ryan wavering?
  • Far right: Impeach IRS chief?
  • Israeli killed in bus station attack
  • GOPers woo evangelicals in Texas
Trump-Bush 9/11 Feud Now Insane (CNN, TPM, NYT, Politico, me)
• The feud between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush over the Sept 11 terrorist attacks escalated Sunday. “Jeb
[Bush] said ‘We were safe with my brother. We were safe.’ Well, the World Trade Center just went down. Now, am I trying to blame him? I’m not blaming anybody, but the World Trade Center came down, so when he said we were safe, we were not safe.” – Trump
 
• “I am extremely, extremely tough on people coming into this country,” Trump continued on Fox News Sunday. And if he were president then, he said, he doubted “those people would’ve been in the country. … “I’m not blaming George Bush, but I don’t want Jeb Bush to say ‘My brother kept us safe,’ because Sept 11 was one of the worst days in the history of this country.”
 
• “It looks as though he’s an actor playing the role of a candidate for president – not boning up on the issues, not having a broad sense of the responsibilities of what it is to be a president,” Bush said later on CNN. “Across the spectrum of foreign policy Mr Trump talks about things as though he’s still on The Apprentice.”

 

• During his month’s-long vacation at his Texas ranch in August 2001, President George W. Bush received this memo in his presidential daily brief on 6 August 2001: “Bin Ladin determined to strike in US” (which curiously almost none of the stories written about the feud mention. Also, Trump would have had no reason to keep “those people” out of the country then – no attacks yet)
 
• “My brother responded to a crisis, and he did it as you would hope a president would do. He united the country, he organized our country and he kept us safe,” Bush said. “And there’s no denying that. The great majority of Americans believe that.”
 
• It all began Friday morning on Bloomberg TV when Trump said the World Trade Center “came down during his time.” Bush angrily tweeted Friday afternoon: “How pathetic for @realdonaldtrump to criticize the president for 9/11. We were attacked & my brother kept us safe.”
 
• But Trump doubled down on Twitter Friday night,”No @JebBush, you’re pathetic for saying nothing happened during your brother’s term when the World Trade Center was attacked and came down.” Then: “@JebBush, like it or not, our country needs more energy and spirit than you can provide! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain”

 

• Chinese hackers have targeted at least seven companies since President Xi Jinping vowed last month in DC that his country wouldn’t conduct cyber-economic espionage, according to CrowdStrike, a firm that helps companies track and prevent intrusions – (Obama expressed real skepticism at the time, standing next to Xi) (WaPo)
 

Benghazi Blow-Up (Politico, NYT, WaPo, Reuters, me)

• House Benghazi committee chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md) slugged it out on CBS on Sunday. “I have told my Republican colleagues and friends: Shut up talking about things you don’t know anything about. They’re three people who have no idea what they’re talking about,” Gowdy said
 

• Over the past weeks, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), Rep Richard Hanna (R-NY) and a former GOP Benghazi investigator fired from the panel in June all have made statements suggesting Gowdy’s probe is a partisan effort aimed at bringing down Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign
 

• Cummings called for Gowdy – who he called a “good man” who has been “pressured from the right” – to release the transcripts of panel interviews, which he says show the panel “has been zeroing in on Hillary Clinton. Cummings dismissed the entire probe as a sham
 

• “The families came in with tears in their eyes literally and said, ‘Please do not make this a political football.’ That’s exactly what’s happened,” Cummings said. “When he talks about these 50 witnesses, we still have been zeroed in on Hillary Clinton and there is absolutely no doubt about that and it’s very unfortunate.”

&&&
 

• “We are much more focused on the four dead Americans than we are anyone’s presidential aspirations,” Gowdy said, noting that they’ve found new info they can’t yet release that has nothing to do with Clinton (GOP committee members have clearly huddled and decided they have to change course drastically this week – gonna hear a lot about “four dead Americans”)
 

• Clinton said on CNN on Sunday, “I already testified about Benghazi. I testified to the best of my ability before the Senate and the House. I don’t know that I have very much to add. I will do my best to answer their questions, but I don’t really know what their objective is right now.” (she’s going to play a bemused martyr on Thursday at the hearing)
 

• Gowdy summarized some of the contents of new emails the panel received from slain U.A. Ambassador Chris Stevens. A number of them, he said, show Stevens was asking for more security for the compound just months before the attack, a request that was ultimately denied (note that as usual he summarized “some” of the contents)
 

• Meanwhile, Clinton’s top aides in Washington were asking Stevens how to “message” the violence in Libya back home. Or to weigh in on Clinton’s ally Sid Blumenthal’s unsubstantiated intel that he sent to the then-SecState

 

Benghazi: Committee Email Flap (Politico, me)

• House Benghazi committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md) says the CIA has pulled the rug out from under a Republican claim that former SecState Hillary Clinton received and forwarded the name of a sensitive CIA source in her personal email account – vicious back and forth between Gowdy and Cummings
 

• In a letter earlier this month, chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asserted than an email to Clinton from outside adviser Sid Blumenthal contained what the U.S. govt considered one of its most closely held classified secrets: the name of a source relied on by the intel community
 

• However, Cummings said the CIA advised the committee on Saturday that the info is unclassified. “The CIA confirmed that ‘the State Dept consulted with the CIA on this production, the CIA reviewed these docs, and the CIA made no redactions to protect classified info,” Cummings wrote in a letter to Gowdy
 

• “The name of the alleged source was redacted from the material cleared for public release by someone else in the Executive Branch – the fact that the CIA says it didn’t do it does not mean the material was not sensitive or classified,” Gowdy wrote back on Sunday
 

• In Gowdy’s 7 Oct letter, he described the identification of the CIA source as “redacted due to sources and methods.” However, Cummings’ letter Sunday said that redaction was done by Gowdy and his staff, not by the State Dept, which is still reviewing many of the messages for public release (if true, Gowdy’s letter contains at best a “mischaracterization”)

 

• VP Joe Biden spent the weekend in Wilmington, DE, with his family. Sunday, he attended mass alone. Friday, Biden spoke with the president of the powerful International Assn of Firefighters. A source said Biden talked about presidential campaign strategy during the call and indicated a final decision on whether he’d run is imminent… (CNN)
 

Iran Deal Moves Forward (Reuters, NYT, me)

• The U.S. approved conditional sanctions waivers for Iran on Sunday, though it cautioned they wouldn’t take effect until Tehran has curbed its nuclear program as required under a historic deal reached on 14 July (which may take a while). President Obama called it an “important milestone” in a statement
 

• Sunday was “adoption day” for the deal, which came 90 days after the UN Security Council endorsed the agreement reached by six world powers and and Iran, under which most sanctions on Iran would lifted in exchange for limits on Tehran’s nuclear activities. SecState John Kerry said Iran would now have to act to restrain its nuclear program
 

• The EU on Sunday published legal acts that open the way for the bloc to lift sanctions if Tehran meets conditions. Iran told the IAEA on Sunday it would fulfill a commitment under the deal to allow UN nuclear inspectors more intrusive access to Iranian facilities. That will be on “implementation day,” the IAEA said in a statement
 

• The redesign and reconstruction of the Arak research reactor so it doesn’t produce plutonium needs to move forward. Also, Iran must reduce the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges it has in operation, cut its enriched uranium stocks and answer UN questions about past activities that the West suspects were linked to work on nuclear weapons (so a lot of stuff)
 

• What may be key in coming months is answers to the two major questions: how transparent the Iranians are with the IAEA about past work on suspected weapons programs, and how open they are to inspections the agency may demand. Also Iran has to dismantle its nuclear program – it took South Africa nearly nine years to dismantle most of its program

 

• Michelle Obama will unveil a public awareness campaign and matching website today that will encourage students to continue education after high school. BetterMakeRoom.org will be a place for students ages 14-19 to get info on matters such as signing up for the SAT and ACT, filling out federal financial aid forms and applying for college (NYT)
 
Speaker Scramble: Is Ryan Wavering? (CBS News, me)
• Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis) is now open to trying to corral the fractured Republican conference and is seriously considering a bid for speaker of the House. But. Confidants tell CBS News he won’t horse trade with the House Freedom Caucus over changes to House rules and other very specific promises they’ve been demanding from candidates (note – single-sourced story)
 
• Ryan’s confidants say he hasn’t ruled out meeting with the Freedom Caucus if asked,  but “he’s not going to go to the Freedom Caucus and say, ‘I’ll do this and this’…otherwise you’ve sold yourself to them from the very beginning and set yourself up for failure.” “He still really, really does not want to do this. He has his dream job.” (not quite – might want to be president)
 
• Those close to Ryan say the true test will come Wednesday. The House returns from recess Tuesday evening, House Republicans are likely to meet behind closed doors Wednesday morning. Ryan will likely be asked to speak, and he’ll have his first chance to gauge reaction from members as they express their views (gonna be super lively)
 
• While many Republicans – including some running for or considering running for speaker – have openly exhorted Ryan to run, some hardline conservative members have refused to say whether they’d back him in a floor vote. “You don’t pick a candidate until you know who all of the players are,” said Rep Blake Fahrenthold (R-Texas)
 
• Allies expect Ryan to make a decision soon (no choice). Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has scheduled a floor vote for 29 October. A source close to Boehner said that if Ryan bows out, there’s a growing recognition that Boehner may have to postpone his plans to leave Congress, cancel the vote and stick around until the end of the year while things are sorted out
 

Far Right: Impeach IRS Chief? (Bloomberg, me)

• The far-right House Freedom Caucus wants to impeach John Koskinen, the commissioner of the IRS. The specifics of any supposed impeachable offenses are vague. Koskinen, 76, is a respected, successful govt exec who, at the behest of the WH, took on the job of cleaning up the agency in Dec 2013 after offenses had been committed
 

• The accusations stem from 2013, when the IRS’s tax-exempt division was found to have disproportionately targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. Although Koskinen was brought in after the damage had been done, Rep Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and his Freedom Caucus followers say Koskinen has tried to cover up wrongdoing. Some accuse him of lying
 

• “They are manufacturing a phony issue for ideological reasons,” said Rep Gerry Connolly (D-Va), who serves on the Oversight Committee. The specific charges seem specious: There may have been miscommunications, but there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by Koskinen (beating up on a 76-year-old mop-up agent: nice)

• The alleged pre-Koskinen abuses by the tax-exempt division have been the subject of three inquiries, including by Treasury’s Republican IG appointed by President George W. Bush. All were critical of IRS mismanagement, but none found any evidence of illegal activities or political directions from on high
 

• A NYT investigation of the IRS’s Cincinnati operations described an understaffed, bureaucratic, poorly led office that rarely discussed politics but searched for political phrases to flag groups that might not qualify for exemptions. The Freedom Caucus is riding high off its success bringing down Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) but many GOP colleagues think this is a huge mistake

• Watch! You thought you’d seen the Democratic debate – but not with Larry David killing it as Bernie Sanders: “BernieSanders.com. Check it out. It’s a mess.” SNL live open

 
Israeli Killed in Bus Station Attack (BBC, AP, me)
• An Israeli soldier was killed on Sunday evening and 10 people wounded in a gun and knife attack at a bus station in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva. Israeli police said the attacker, thought to be Palestinian, was killed. Eight Israelis have died in attacks by lone Palestinians this month. More than 40 Palestinians, including several attackers, have been killed
 
• Israeli forces have imposed tighter restrictions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel has begun erecting a 16ft high concrete barrier between the Palestinian district of Jabal Mukaber in East Jerusalem and the neighboring Jewish Armon Hanatziv
 
• Israeli officials insisted the wall was a temporary measure, but Palestinians are concerned it will become permanent. SecState John Kerry is to meet Israeli PM Netanyahu and, separately, Palestinian President Abbas, this week in a bid to help restore calm (this situation is devolving – fast. there’s little to indicate Netanyahu/Abbas/Kerry can do much about it)
 
• A foreigner was shot by police during the bus station attack after they apparently mistook him for an assailant. Israeli media said the foreigner was an Eritrean national living in Israel. Video footage showed people kicking him and spitting at him as he lay in a pool of blood on the floor. The man has since died of his wounds
 
• Earlier Sunday, the Israeli military removed Jewish worshipers it said had illegally entered Joseph’s Tomb in the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. Thirty Israelis arrived at the religious site and were assaulted by Palestinians before being handed over to Israeli forces by Palestinian police, reports say

 

• The violence has been triggered in part by Palestinians’ anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem’s al Aqsa compound, which is Islam’s holiest site outside Saudi Arabia and is also revered by Jews as the location of two destroyed Jewish temples

 

GOPers Woo Evangelicals in Texas (Politico, me)
• Six GOP 2016ers gathered Sunday at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, to prove their Christian bona fides and campaign for the hearts and minds of evangelicals at a megachurch which counts 40,000 members. Donald Trump didn’t go (and was a blip on the radar)
 
• Hometown Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was a crowd favorite, earning repeated standing ovations for his unbending stances and unequivocal declaration that “religious liberty is under threat as never before in this country.” They cheered when he vowed he would “not surrender” on gay marriage (he didn’t say anything you wouldn’t expect)
 
• The event highlighted both the clout of the evangelical vote in the GOP primary and the newfound importance of Texas in 2016, which has moved up in the primary calendar to 1 March, the biggest prize of the so-called SEC primary that day. Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee all settled on 1 March to increase their influence
 
• Ben Carson retold his own faith journey. He said he achieved greatness when he decided, “God, you be the neurosurgeon, I’ll be the hands.” Carly Fiorina said reflectively, “I have battled breast cancer. I have buried a child. And through it all the love of my family and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ has seen me through.”
 

• Mike Huckabee delivered popular one-liners, including dismissing those who want to tackle climate change as thinking “the greatest threat we face is a sunburn and not a beheading. And that is nonsense.” (so’s the mischaracterization) Pastor Jack Graham told Jeb Bush his brother “did keep us safe, no matter what anybody says,” – perhaps the loudest standing ovation of the day (Trump better watch it)

 

• CNBC caved to Donald Trump’s demands on Friday – and the other candidates who piled on – for the 28 Oct presidential debate. The RNC announced that the program would be capped at a total of two hours and allow the candidates to give opening and closing statements (infomercials and protect the quarterback against policy details) (me, TRNS)
 

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Washington Desk contributed to this report

 

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