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.

Top U.S. military officer Gen Joseph Dunford arrives in Iraq for visit and talks on situation in country (AP)

 

News Now
  • Clinton’s Benghazi hearing game plan
  • Biden watch: Tick tick tick
  • Pressure on Boehner to work on debt limit
  • Americans want stricter gun laws
  • FBI probes claim: Hacker broke into CIA chief’s private email
  • Israel police hunt Eritrean’s attackers
  • Planned Parenthood wins/loses
 
Clinton’s Benghazi Hearing Game Plan (Politico, Hill, me)
• Hillary Clinton’s main defender David Brock is expected to give a “prebuttal” speech Wednesday, laying out a detailed case against the House Benghazi Committee, ahead of Clinton’s scheduled Thursday appearance. At Correct The Record, a PAC that coordinates with Clinton’s campaign, there’s a war room of about 30 staffers on hand (30, really?)
 
• The outside PAC supporting her campaign, Priorities USA, will be airing its first TV ads of the cycle in the two days leading up to the hearing. But Clinton herself is expected to show up for Thursday’s committee hearing solemn and serious in manner, her full commander-in-chief mode on display, allies told Politico (#whatwillhillarywear)
 
• She will attempt to treat the appearance as part of her responsibility to the four Americans killed in Libya under her watch in 2012, as well as an opportunity to outline more broadly how she would conduct foreign policy as president (if Republicans give her a chance – they’re going to try to shut her down)
 
• She’s expected to be grilled on both the Benghazi attacks as well as her use of a private email account while she was secstate. Clinton is expected to offer a full-throated defense of the fact that the U.S. had diplomats on the ground in Benghazi

• Hillary for America released a video highlight reel from her State Dept service Monday that includes endorsements and testimonials from Cabinet officials and others praising Clinton’s diplomatic work – major pre-hearing propaganda push by the campaign

 

• Clinton has testified once already on the attacks, in Jan 2013, during a heated six-hour hearing. She’s been giving interviews for months on the emails and isn’t expected to go beyond what she’s already said – that she didn’t email any classified material on her private server while secstate (which isn’t going to be enough)
 
• The biggest issue for Clinton isn’t the substance but the presentation – allies said the most important thing for her to keep in mind is to remain calm and not come across as overly defensive. Many Clinton allies expected Republicans on the committee to help her to overplaying their hand (but they know that now; they’re going to try to seem reasonable…)
 
• While Clinton is expected to take the high road at the hearing, her surrogates have been armed with talking points blasting the Republicans “willing to sink to exploit the deaths of four brave Americans in order to attack Hillary Clinton,” according to a copy of the talking points obtained by Politico (sick drinking game: “four dead Americans” – under the table by 11.30 am)
 
• Meanwhile, Rep Mo Brooks (R-Ala) said on Monday that, if Clinton locked up the nomination, she “would be subject to impeachment,” adding “subject to impeachment means that should the House and Senate so choose, she could be impeached based on offenses … that she has in all probability already committed.” – classified info on her private email server (bit keen?)
 
• Former Sen Jim Webb (D-Va) will hold a presser this morning. His campaign announced Monday he’s considering an independent run at the WH. Webb has struggled to win a following among Democrats with a political message that defies easy characterization (polite way of saying no one has a clue) (WaPo)
 
Biden Watch: Tick Tick Tick (CNN, CNN Money, TRNS, me)
• It’s starting to get silly. VP Joe Biden has said nothing. Everybody else has, though. MSNBC on Monday morning said Biden would make an announcement within 48 hours. A couple of hours later, Fox News’s Ed Henry, citing three sources, said Biden is “expected to announce he is running” but urged caution about the 48-hour timeline
 
• CNN reported that Biden’s associates are setting up interviews for potential staff positions on a Biden presidential campaign, citing a source familiar with the process. Biden was to meet with top political advisers Monday night – the same group he met with at least twice last week
 
• Rep Brendan Boyle (D-Pa), who tweeted Monday morning that he has a source who says Biden will run, says he’s confident his info is accurate and that an announcement is coming “very soon.” “If he didn’t run, it would be pulling back from a decision that’s already been made,” Boyle told CNN
 
• The earliest filing deadlines to enter states’ primaries come at the end of October, imposing a deadline that could force Biden to make a decision or risk losing delegates he would need if locked in a close battle with Hillary Clinton and Sen Bernie sanders (I-Vt)
 
• WH spox Josh Earnest was asked numerous times and in multiple ways at the briefing Monday (got very boring – and a waste of valuable time) when or whether Biden would run. While praising Biden as someone who would be an “influential candidate, an effective candidate,” Earnest made it clear that this is “something only the vice president knows.”

 

• The campaigns for Donald Trump and Ben Carson have requested Secret Service protection, a Homeland Security spox said. The requests will be reviewed by DHS Sec Jeh Johnson in consultation with a congressional panel of Democrats and Republicans from House and Senate (CNN)
 
Pressure on Boehner to Start Work on Debt Limit (WaPo, Hill, me)
• House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is facing growing pressure to start work this week on a bill to increase the federal borrowing limit as the debt ceiling deadline fast approaches amid the chaos over who will succeed him at the end of the month (under pressure…)
 
• The Treasury Dept estimates that the debt limit will need to be raised by 3 Nov in order to avoid a default that could rock financial markets. In order to get a bill through Congress by then, congressional aides said Monday they expect the House will pass an increase in the debt limit by the end of the week – with the help of Democratic votes – to go to the Senate next week
 
• But Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky), a 2016er, told reporters during a telephone press call Tuesday afternoon that conservatives want to attach debt legislation to a plan to balance the budget in five years. “Those in the House Freedom Caucus are hearing the same message that people want us to exert leverage to use the power of the purse,” he said (taking more hostages…)
 
• The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a contingency plan that would allow the govt to “prioritize” payments if the debt ceiling isn’t increased, with interest on govt debt and Social Security benefits at the top of the list (daft – it’s a complex computer program. not someone taking paper bills out of a shoebox)
 
• But the bill has been panned by economists and officials from both parties who argue that the govt can’t pick and choose which bills to pay. In other words, a default is a default. “We have about 80 million transactions a month. Our system wasn’t set up not to pay,” Treasury Sec Jack Lew said on CNBC

 

• Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Monday that he will sign the 2016 defense policy bill today, setting into motion the 10 days that President Obama will have to follow through on a promised veto while Congress is in session – or else the law goes into effect (Hill)

Americans Want Stricter Gun Laws (Politico, Hill, Reuters, TRNS, me)

• A Gallup crime survey out Monday shows that more than half of Americans want stricter gun laws when it comes to the sale of guns. Among adults nationwide, 55% want regulations to be more strict, up 8 point from 2014. Just 33% think things should remain as is and 11% want fewer laws on the books – this after the recent mass shooting at an Oregon community college
 
• Compared with 2014, more gun owners want stricter laws – 30% to 36% – this year, as do more people who don’t own guns – 57% in 2014 to 64% this time. By comparison, the share of Republicans expressing a desire for more gun laws decreased slightly from last year, from 29% to 27% this time
 
• The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Monday upheld core provisions of two gun control laws. It upheld the bans on semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines, but struck down a NY provision regulating load limits and a Conn provision on the non-semiautomatic Remington 7615
 
• NY and Conn’s gun control measures, among the strictest in the nation, were signed into law after a gunman killed 26 children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn, in Dec 2012. President Obama then launched an aggressive gun control push, but his efforts largely failed in Congress
 
• The appeals court, in upholding the provisions, ruled against coalitions that included firearms dealers, sports shooters and gun owners who claimed the mandates infringed on their Second Amendment rights to possess firearms in self-defense (think this one will run all the way to the Supreme Court – if they take it up)

 

• Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texas boy who became a cause celebre after he was detained and handcuffed for taking a homemade clock to school, got a hug Monday from President Obama on his first visit to the WH for its second astronomy night. Ahmed had been too busy traveling to bring the clock with him (NYT)
 
FBI Probes Claim: Hacker Broke Into CIA Chief’s Private Email (NYP, AP, WaPo, TRNS, me)
• The FBI is investigating claims by an anonymous hacker that he stole potentially sensitive files from the private email account of CIA director John Brennan and posted them online, U.S. officials said. The hacker spoke to the New York Post, which described him as “a stoner high school student” motivated by opposition to U.S. foreign police and support for Palestinians
 
• The CIA said it referred the matter to the proper authorities. The hacker’s Twitter account, @phphax, includes links to files that he says are Brennan’s contact list, a log of phone calls by then-CIA deputy director Avril Haines and other docs. The Post said he didn’t reveal his name or where he lived
 
• The hacker also claimed to have breached a Comcast account belonging to Homeland Security Sec Jeh Johnson and released what appeared to be personal info. He claimed that he listened to Johnson’s voicemails
 
• One doc purporting to come from Brennan’s AOL account contains a spreadsheet on people, including senior intel officials, along with their Social Security numbers, although the hacker redacted the numbers when he posted on Twitter. It’s unclear why Brennan would have stored such a doc in his private email account (CIA director has an AOL account?)
 
• The hacker said he got the info through a “social engineering” ploy in which he posed as a Verizon tech and tricked the company’s tech support unit into revealing Brennan’s account number, password and other details. Then he used that to call AOL to request a reset of the CIA chief’s online password. He said he repeatedly prank called Brennan since August

 

• Federal regulators said Monday that they plan to require recreational drone users to register their aircraft with the govt for the first time in an attempt to restore order to U.S. skies, which have been invaded by rogue flying robots (good – industry group says they’re likely to sell 700,000 drones this holiday season… no escape) (WaPo, me)
 
Israel Police Hunt Eritrean’s Attackers (BBC, AP, me)
• Police in Israel are investigating an attack by bystanders on an Eritrean, who died after being mistaken for a gunman and was then shot and beaten. Video showed Mulu Habtom Zertom, 19, lying in a pool of blood as onlookers threw a set of chairs on him and kicked him. It happened at the time of a deadly attack by an Israel Arab, at the same place, in Beersheba
 
• The Israeli Arab was shot dead. Israel has seen a wave of stabbings and shootings by Palestinians this month. Eight Israelis have been killed and dozens wounded in the attacks. More than 40 Palestinians, including several of the attackers, have also been killed in the growing unrest. Israel is soul-searching after the attack on the innocent Eritrean
 
• Extra troops have been deployed on the streets and police in Jerusalem have erected a concrete barrier between the Palestinian district of Jabal Mukaber, where three attackers have come from, and the neighboring Jewish settlement of East Talpiot, also known as Armon Hanatziv

&&&


 
• SecState John Kerry is expected to meet Israeli PM Netanyahu, Palestinian President Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah separately this week to try to find ways to calm the spiraling tensions
 
• Kerry said Monday that an international presence at the holy site of the escalating violence, which has been proposed by France, isn’t needed. Kerry noted that not only are the U.S. and Israel against the move, but so is Jordan, which governs the agreement regarding the site
 
• Instead, he said, what is needed is clarity over pledges by Israel to maintain the status quo at the hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and home to the al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine and a key national symbol for Palestinians

 

• Former President George W. Bush unleashed on Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at a fundraiser for Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, on Sunday night. “I just don’t like the guy,” Bush said of Cruz, according to conversations with more than half a dozen donors who attended the event (Politico)
 
Planned Parenthood Wins/Loses on Monday (Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Texas on Monday barred Planned Parenthood from receiving state Medicaid money, the latest setback for the women’s healthcare provider since it became embroiled in controversy over undercover videos about its handling of fetal tissue. Hours earlier in Louisiana, a federal judge blocked that state’s efforts to cut the group’s funding
 
• PP vowed to fight back in Texas, though it didn’t say whether it would mount a legal challenge. The anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, said the videos showed PP officials discussing the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue – but the videos are 10 minutes long, heavily edited and nobody has seen the unedited footage which may run to thousands of hours
 
• PP has said the videos were deceptive, denied any wrongdoing and challenged the funding cuts by Republican-controlled states as politically motivated. Gov Bobby Jindal (R-La), who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, had also severed PP’s Medicaid funding
 
• But late Sunday, U.S. District Judge John deGravelles signed a temporary restraining order requiring the state to continue providing Medicaid funding to the group’s clinics for the next two weeks as the legal fight over the payments continues
 
• “In fact, the uncontradicted evidence in the record at this time is that
[PP Gulf Coast] does not perform abortions in Louisiana, is not involved in the sale of fetal tissue and none of the conduct in question occurred at the PPGC’s two Louisiana facilities,” judge deGravelles said in his ruling

 

• “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – official trailer 2015 – it’s here

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Justin Duckham, Nicholas Salazar, Loree Lewis and Brittany Gervais contributed to this report

 

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