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.

Syrian President Assad makes surprise trip to Moscow, meets with Putin to discuss the Syria war, Russian state media say (CNN)
 
News Now
  • Ryan will run for speaker – IF GOP unites
  • Ryan’s biggest worry
  • Biden bin Laden reboot
  • Debt limit deadline creeps up
  • Army’s intel system down during hospital attack?
  • Tech cos oppose controversial cyber bill
  • Senate Dems kill sanctuary cities bill
  • Dem Jim Webb shows up – to quit 2016 race
 
Ryan Will Run for Speaker – IF GOP Unites (Politico, WaPo, CNN, USA Today, me)
• House Ways and Means chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said Tuesday night he would serve as speaker if he’s the party’s “unity” candidate. He wants to know by Friday if the 247 members of the House Republican Conference support him. If not, he’s “happy” to continue as chair of the powerful tax-writing panel, the 45-year-old lawmaker said (over a barrel)
 
• Ryan will only run if he’s supported by the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and the moderate Tuesday Group, his spox Brendan Buck, said. Ryan wants changes to House rules made as a team; he wants to make it harder to overthrow a sitting speaker; and he wants a better work-life balance than outgoing speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had (all?)
 
• Ryan said, “This is not a job I ever wanted or I ever sought. I am in the job I’ve always wanted here in the Congress. I came to the conclusion that this is a very dire moment, not just for Congress, not just for the Republican Party, but for our country. I think our country is in desperate need of leadership.” (prob is no guarantee freedom caucus would stick to an agreement)
 
• Ryan has three young children and said he will “genuinely worry about the consequences of my serving
[as speaker] will have on them. Will they face the viciousness and incivility that we all face here on a daily basis?” (yes – regardless)

 

Ryan’s Biggest Worry
• “My biggest worry is the consequence of not stepping up, of having my own kids ask me, ‘When the stakes were so high, why didn’t you do all that you could do? Why didn’t you stand and fight for my future when you had a chance to do so?'” Ryan added, “None of us wants to hear that question. And none of us should.”
 
• “I don’t know of anyone better to do it,” said Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who dropped his long-shot bid for speaker when Ryan announced. “He would be wonderful, fantastic as a speaker. I think the smart path for us is to unify behind Paul Ryan.”
 
• Boehner resigned last month and is set to leave Congress on 30 October, though he’s agreed to stay on until a new speaker is chosen. He’s expected today to reveal the dates of the internal GOP vote for speaker, and even more important, the date for a floor vote (which would be public, with members shouting out names)
 
• Ryan’s move could put major pressure on the Freedom Caucus, which had endorsed Rep Daniel Webster (R-Fla). Rep Matt Salmon (R-Ariz), a founding member, said, “I think the issue of process reforms are going to have to be addressed one way or another before the Freedom Caucus wholesale jumps in bed with him.” Caucus board members meet today to discuss…

 

• Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signed the defense policy bill on Tuesday, sending it to President Obama’s desk for an expected veto. The president has 10 days to veto it, or it becomes law. The WH opposes the bill since it would leave spending caps on defense and non-defense spending but boost defense spending through the use of a separate war fund (TRNS, (Hill)
 
Biden bin Laden Reboot (NYT, WaPo, AP, LAT, TRNS, me)
• Still silent about his presidential ambitions, VP Joe Biden, speaking at GW University with former VP Walter Mondale, on Tuesday cast himself as President Obama’s kindred spirit and revised his claim to have warned Obama against the bin Laden raid in 2011 (is this going to be the pattern if he gets in? revise, reverse, reboot?)
 
• Instead, Biden said he never gave his own views on controversial issues until the rest of the cabinet had spoken, mindful that he didn’t want the rest of the team to see a difference between his opinion and that of the president
 
• Biden said only two members of the cabinet had expressed definitive views on the raid – CIA director Leon Panetta, who supported it, and SecDef Robert Gates, who opposed it. Biden pointedly didn’t mention Hillary Clinton, who was SecState and who has said that she was in favor of the raid (first under bus throwing of potential campaign LOL)
 
• “I said, ‘I think we should make one more pass with another UAV [drone] to see if it is him,'” Biden said. After the meeting, Biden said, he gave the president his real view. “As we walked out of the room and went upstairs, I told him my opinion, that I said that I thought he should go but to follow his own instincts,” Biden said

Contradicting Clinton?
• Clinton has said she supported the raid from the start, using it on the campaign trail to bolster her credibility as a valued and hardened adviser to Obama on matters of national security. But Biden implicitly contradicted Clinton’s account


 
• William Daley, who was Obama’s chief of staff at the time and in the room, said shortly after the forum that the meeting happened as Biden described it. “I think the way he articulated it was absolutely the truth. I was in the room and I saw him walk out with the president,” said Daley, who wasn’t part of their private, post-meeting conversation
 
• Adding another wrinkle to the historical account, Biden said he knew about the Abbotabad, Pakistan, compound where bin Laden was hiding in August 2010 – long before the “major players” in Obama’s cabinet learned about it in Jan or Feb
 
• The VP’s new take put the WH in a difficult spot. WH spox Josh Earnest on Tuesday declined to answer questions about whether Biden had changed his story, “I’m going to leave the dissection and the oral history, if you will, of those days to those who were actually there,” Earnest said (who’d prob never been more relieved he wasn’t)

 

• Raw: A Frenchman with his cat in his clothes jumped from his sailboat onto a second vessel south of Alaska. A nearby Coast Guard airplane monitored the rescue and videotaped it (bloody rough seas) (AP, me)
 
Debt Limit Deadline Creeps Up (Hill, Hill, Hill, me)
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) on Tuesday remained tight-lipped on the Senate’s plan to avert a default on the debt next month. “We’re going to wait and see what the House does on that subject,” McConnell told reporters, adding that the Senate will “respond accordingly.”
 
• Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) told reporters Tuesday that it was his understanding that the House would take up a debt ceiling bill later this week, allowing the Senate time to consider it next week in time to beat a 3 November deadline for the exhaustion of the Treasury’s remaining borrowing capacity
 
• House Republicans are expected to take up legislation this week that would allow the govt to prioritize debt payments if Congress doesn’t increase the debt limit by the deadline. Reid called the bill “absurd.” “A partial default. Mr President, you can’t be partially pregnant,” Reid said on the Senate floor
 
• Treasury Sec Jack Lew told members of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that President Obama will not negotiate entitlement reforms in order to raise the debt ceiling. Lew warned the powerful panel, which has jurisdiction over Social Security, Medicare and tax law, that Obama will only accept a clean bill
 
• “They want a clean debt limit,” said Sen John Thune (R-SD), a member of the panel, who added that Lew didn’t specify by how much the admin wants to raise the debt ceiling. Lew also talked about the need to raise caps on discretionary spending, according to GOP senators who attended

 

• Rep Adam Schiff (D-Calif) said Tuesday that Democrats on the House Benghazi Committee, of which he is a member, may quit the panel soon after former SecState Hillary Clinton testifies tomorrow. “We lend legitimacy, by being there, to a committee that really has none,” Schiff said (Reuters, Hill)
 
Army’s Intel System Down During Hospital Attack? (AP, NYT, me)
• The Army’s $5 billion intel network, which is designed to give commanders battlefield awareness, but has been criticized for years as a boondoggle, wasn’t working in Afghanistan during the recent American air attack on a hospital, according to Rep Duncan Hunter (R-Calif), who has been in touch with military whistleblowers (the more comes out, the worse it looks)
 
• Significant elements of the Distributed Common Ground System, a network of computers and sensors designed to knit together disparate strands of intel, were off line in Afghanistan when US. commanders approved an air strike 3 Oct that killed 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Hunter wrote Tuesday to SecDef Ash Carter
 
• It’s unclear whether the breakdown of key DCGS systems contributed to the decision to approve the air attack, which Pentagon officials say was a mistake. But the coordinates of the hospital were entered into an intel database that’s part of the DCGS intel network, according to an anonymous U.S. official
 
 
Testers Question System’s Effectiveness
• The Army over the years has touted DCGS as having “saved lives” with its ability to fuse together various intel sources, including drone footage, mapping software, human source reports, social media and eavesdropping transcripts. But independent Army testers repeatedly have questioned the system’s effectiveness
 
• AP has reported that special ops intel analysts knew the Doctors Without Borders facility was a hospital, and were circulating intel reports about possible enemy activity at the site. However, independent witnesses on the ground say there were no fighting going on and there were no Taliban operating out of the hospital
 
• Pentagon officials have said the military didn’t intentionally target the hospital, but they haven’t explained why the Army analysts who knew it was a medical facility weren’t able to convey that intel to commanders who approved the air strike. Hunter told Carter his sources say they fear for their careers if they speak out publicly
 
• Meanwhile, NYT reports today that the airstrike was approved by U.S. special ops forces normally assigned to other parts of Asia, the Afghan commandos who requested the strike had been rushed from another part of the country to help quell the Taliban attack and the AC-130 gunship that unleashed the fire hadn’t worked with either group before (total fu*#-up, then…)

 

• President Obama will host congressional Democrats at a WH reception today as he seeks to build support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Obama will talk about “shared priorities in trade” during a working reception that will include House and Senate lawmakers
 
Tech Cos Oppose Controversial Cyber Bill (WaPo, Hill, Reuters, me)
• Apple and Dropbox said Tuesday that they oppose a controversial cybersecurity bill that, according to critics, would give the govt sweeping new powers to spy on Americans in the name of protecting them from hackers. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, S.754, or CISA, is next up on the Senate’s agenda this week
 
• Twitter took to Twitter to oppose the bill Tuesday. Yelp, reddit and the Wikimedia Foundation – which runs Wikipedia – have all said they oppose CISA. Other Silicon Valley firms including Google, Facebook and Yahoo have voiced their concerns through a trade group in DC called the Computer and Communications Industry Assn (think this all is a clue)
 
• One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), said Tuesday, “Things like Social Security numbers, addresses, passwords and credit info would unrelated to a cyber threat and would, except in very exceptional circumstances, be removed” before being transmitted to authorities (what “very exceptional circs”, hmm?)
 
• But a major critic of the bill, Sen Ron Wyden (R-Ore) pointed out the sheer number of tech cos aligned against the bill and said, “If you share more info without strong privacy protections, millions of Americans will say, ‘That is not a cybersecurity bill. It is a surveillance bill.'”
 
• Still, CISA’s supporters estimate they have roughly 70 votes in the Senate, enough to approve the WH-backed legislation. Apple has positioned itself aggressively on user privacy, encrypting messages between iPhone users and critiquing the govt for asking the company to stop doing so

 

• Donald Trump receives 27% GOP voter support and Ben Carson receives 22% in the latest CNN/ORC poll. Trump receives 25% compared with Carson’s 22% in the latest WSJ/NBC News survey. They’re way ahead of Marco Rubio in third place at 13% in WSJ/NBC. Carly Fiorina has plummeted to 4% from 15% in the CNN/ORC poll (Hill, NYT)
 
Senate Dems Kill “Sanctuary Cities” Bill (Hill, AP, AP, Salon, me)
• Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked from moving forward legislation to crack down on “sanctuary cities” that shields residents from federal immigration authorities, casting the bill as anti-immigration policy that echoes the rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump
 
• Republicans have pushed the bill since the 1 July shooting of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco. The man charged in the killing was in the country illegally despite a long criminal record and five prior deportations. He had been released by San Francisco authorities despite a request from federal immigration authorities to keep him detained
 
• The bill from Sen David Vitter (R-La) would have limited federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities and increased penalties for undocumented immigrants who reenter the U.S. illegally after being deported. Vitter is currently running for governor of Louisiana
 
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a 2016er, making a rare appearance on the Senate floor, raged: “Democratic senators choose to value partisan loyalty to the Obama WH over protecting the lives of the children who will be murdered by violent criminal illegal aliens in sanctuary cities.” (shades of “Minority Report” – knowing the crimes gonna be committed ahead of time)
 
• Cruz urged GOP leadership to attach the measure to a “must-pass” bill if Democrats blocked it. The WH had vowed it would veto the measure. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said Monday, “like the disgusting and outrageous language championed by Donald Trump, this legislation paints all immigrants as ‘criminals and rapists.'”

 

• The Board of Supervisors upheld San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary for immigrants on Tuesday, unanimously passing a resolution that called on local law enforcement not to notify federal authorities when unauthorized immigrants are released from custody (NYT)
 
Dem Jim Webb Shows Up – to Quit 2016 Race (WaPo, NYT, TRNS, me)
• Former Sen Jim Webb (D-Va) announced on Tuesday that he’s dropping out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination after his bid failed to gain traction. His standing in the polls has hovered near zero and his fund raising efforts have produced paltry results compared with his rivals
 
• Webb said he has yet to decide if he will remain a registered Democrat. Acknowledging the tall odds facing an independent presidential bid, he said he and his team would explore whether there’s an opening for him to launch such a candidacy. Webb was rarely spotted on the campaign trail (because he was rarely there)
 
• Webb’s frustrations with the process were evident last week at the Democratic debate, when he only spoke for 15 minutes out of two hours and frequently complained about the lack of attention (on which he made a contrast with other Democrats on issues like gun control). After the debate, he suggested it was “rigged.” (maybe it was)
 
• Webb said Tuesday he had felt marginalized by the Democratic establishment, but that he was “not trying to stand here and attack the Democratic Party.” “The Democratic Party is heavily invested in the notion of interest group politics – and interest group politics can also exclude people who also need a voice in the hallways of power.” (may be true)
 
• Still, Webb expressed confidence that he would make a good president and that he could beat opponents such as Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, if he were to mount another bid. “If we ran an independent race, I honestly could see us beating both of them,” Webb said with his wife standing by his side (errr, nah – but give it a shot)

 

• This is the creepiest 2 minutes on the internet right now. Nobody knows where it comes from, but the audio and video hold secrets. Reddit users have been decoding them. They’ve found coordinates of the WH, a skull, “You are already dead,” images of a woman possibly being tied up – and in Spanish “You have one year left, or less” – messages to Obama? (DailyDot)

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

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

 

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