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

  • Freedom Caucus backs Ryan for speaker
  • Benghazi: Hillary Clinton’s Very Big Day
  • Benghazi: Both sides slug it out
  • 2016: Joe says no
  • Kerry on Mideast #fail mission
  • House passes debt limit bill
  • Obama says US will tackle drug epidemic

Freedom Caucus Backs Ryan for Speaker (NYT, Politico, Hill, AP, WSJ, TRNS, me)

• A strong majority of hardline conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus voted Wednesday to support Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis), the Ways and Means Committee chair, for House speaker, assuring that he’ll have the votes to secure the post next week and averting a leadership meltdown for Republicans – wasn’t an endorsement, he needed 80% support for that
• Rep Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan) said he has no intention of voting for Ryan. He said Rep Daniel Webster (R-Fla), the group’s earlier pick for the job, has a longer record than Ryan of reforming legislators and provided a clear plan to “empower our members.” Webster was speaker of the House in Florida (unclear Ryan can get the job done when he’s in it – major disunity)
• Ryan declared that he wants the endorsements of the Freedom Caucus, the moderate Tuesday Group and the Republican Study Committee before mounting his bid. The RSC will endorse Ryan, sources in the group said, and the Tuesday Group is sure to as well. The first vote is next Wednesday. Public floor vote is Thursday
• Ryan initially proposed broad changes to a procedural move called a “motion to vacate,” which essentially allows a rank-and-file member to attempt to oust the speaker. Conservatives balked when they thought Ryan wanted to do away with that rule, but Ryan later clarified he meant changing the vote threshold – and Freedom Caucus sources appear OK with that
• Wednesday, some Freedom Caucus members took issue with Ryan’s desire to balance family life with the demands of the job. “It’s like interviewing a maid for the job and she says, ‘I don’t clean windows, I don’t do floors, I don’t do beds, these are the hours I’ll work.'” Rep Matt Salmon (R-Ariz), said, oddly. (ryan opposes paid family leave, btw)


• President Obama’s going to make a big public thing of vetoing the defense policy bill today. He plans to hold a photo-op in the Oval Office. The decision amounts to a public rebuke to congressional Republicans, who warned him not to veto the measure. Obama argues it irresponsibly skirts spending caps put in place in 2011 (TRNS, Hill)

Benghazi: Hillary Clinton’s Very Big Day (WaPo, NYT, AP, Hill, WSJ, me)
• From the start, probes of the Sept 2012 Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador, have focused on: Why was security insufficient at the diplomatic compound? Why was there no timely U.S. military response? And why did the admin initially describe the attacks as a spontaneous protest, rather than a planned terrorist assault?

• The House Benghazi select committee will question former secstate Hillary Clinton today. The answers to the questions, which some don’t like, have been provided repeatedly by Clinton and many other senior admin and intel officials, as well as in a series of independent and bipartisan congressional reports (all-day affair – pajamas – order pizza)

• Scheduled to begin at 10:00 am, the hearing is to consist of four rounds of questions lasting 10 minutes from each of its seven Republicans and five Democrats. Republican members have been cautioned by chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a former prosecutor, to stick to the facts and avoid providing ammunition to Democrats who accuse them of a political vendetta

• Expecting Republicans to use a rapid-fire prosecutorial technique to get yes/no answers. (Clinton’s a lawyer, too, don’t forget) Democrats are prepared to restate the majority’s questions and try to elicit more thoughtful responses, while also seeking to focus attention on what the admin has done to avoid future such attacks

• Republicans are expected to focus on the Benghazi attack, State Dept’s overall Libya policy, assessment of threats, response, what Clinton knew, her relationship with Sid Blumenthal. Likely mostly absent – emails! Servers! GOPers are very worried as a result of three Republicans who have said they were out to derail Clinton’s 2016 bid with the probe


• Interactive: Members to watch on the Benghazi committee (NYT) / Nearly 6 in 10 Americans, 59%, say they’re tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday – 79% of Democrats, compared with 42% of Republicans (Hill)
Both Sides Slug It Out Ahead of Hearing
• One year after the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee released a report debunking multiple allegations about the violence in Libya, Rep Devin Nunes (R-Calif), the new chair, is saying he won’t stand by its findings. Rep Mike Pompeo (Kan), who sits on Intel and the Benghazi committee, said “Its scope was very limited.” (seven reports debunked…)
• A “devastated” Clinton worked late into the night on 11 Sept 2012, trying to protect her people caught up in the attack on the compound, Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, said in the full 307-page transcript of testimony released by Democrats on the Benghazi committee Wednesday. They say Republicans are making misleading leaks
• Wednesday night, Clinton defender David Brock spoke before the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia. He described a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and said Gowdy has only managed to “besmirch the memory of four dead Americans while betraying the public trust.” He also slammed Gowdy’s attendance record at committee hearings
• Senate Democratic leaders on Wednesday urged the Republican National Committee to reimburse the govt for expenses incurred during the committee’s work, a request that has no chance of being granted but which depicts the group as a strictly partisan entity ( think they were just getting into the spirit of the hearing)


• Interactive: How the story of Hillary Clinton’s emails has changed (NYT)

2016: Joe Says No (Politico, NYT, WaPo, CNN, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• VP Joe Biden on Wednesday ended months of breathless speculation about a potential presidential run, saying he’s simply “out of time” to mount a real and winnable campaign. Biden spoke in the Rose Garden, flanked by President Obama and his wife, Jill (helps Hillary Clinton – CNN/ORC poll shows her up 7 points – he could have been a spoiler)

• “Beau is our inspiration,” Biden said. “Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time. The time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination. But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent. I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully.” His address at times sounded like a draft stump speech. Democrats should embrace Obama’s legacy, he said

• “I believe we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart. … It’s mean-spirited, it’s petty and it’s gone on for far too long,” he said. “I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our opposition. They’re not our enemies.” – a clear swipe at Clinton, who in the debate labeled Republicans among her enemies


• #Mediafail: Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol had been definite Biden would run. Fox News’ Ed Henry had three sources on Monday that he would. Even CNN’s Jeff Zeleny on Tuesday said he heard it was definite. Rep Brendan Boyle (D-Pa) on Monday said it was on. Google: “biden leaning toward running” – treasure trove (TPM, WaPo, me)

• Clinton issued a warm written statement. “Joe Biden is a good man and a great vice president,” she said. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) said in a statement, “Joe Biden, a good friend, has made the decision that he feels is best for himself, his family and the country.”

• Questions persisted about whether Biden could put together a strong enough team to be successful. Never known as a good fund raiser, he didn’t begin courting donors until September. And though many potential campaign aides were approached about jobs, the planning remained haphazard

• Biden said he would focus on his final stretch in office and gave little hint about what might come after that. He made a forceful argument for policies he said would benefit the middle class, including expanded aid for college and child care, revamped immigration rules and higher taxes on the wealthy  (WH journos only got 10 minutes’ notice for the presser – unusual)


• “I think Joe Biden made correct decision for him & his family. Personally, I would rather run against Hillary because her record is so bad,” Donald Trump tweeted (unlike his record, which is not only non-existent, but whose “policies” change from day to day – and then he fibs about it or claims he misheard the question) (me, TRNS)

Kerry on Mideast #Fail Mission (AP, BBC, NYT, TRNS, me)
• SecState John Kerry embarked on his latest round of high-stakes diplomacy Wed, headed for Berlin to meet Israeli PM Netanyahu today, then to Vienna, where he’ll see the FMs of Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia about Syria on Friday. He then plans to visit Amman, where he’ll meet Palestinian President Abba and Jordan’s King Abdullah. Maybe Saudi Arabia (phew)
• Complicating things, Netanyahu blamed a former Palestinian leader for inspiring Hitler’s Holocaust. Those comments, coupled with a new Palestinian attack on an Israeli today, threaten to make things worse. Plus, Russian President Putin hosted Syrian President Assad in Moscow, showing Moscow is a key player in the Middle East
• U.S. officials have yet to detail any American plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian unrest that erupted a month ago over Jerusalem’s most holy site. Now, 10 Israelis been killed by Palestinian assailants, while 47 Palestinians – including 26 labeled by Israel as attackers – have been killed by Israeli fire
• The site is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. For Muslims, it’s the Noble Sanctuary, home to the al Aqsa Mosque and the third holiest site in Islam. Palestinians accuse Israel of trying to change the longstanding status quo at the site, which allows Jews to visit but not to pray. Netanyahu says that’s not so and are no plans to
• Kerry has said he wants “clarity” about the status quo about the site, but doesn’t support a proposal for an international presence. The WH on Wednesday criticized Russia for putting on a “red carpet welcome” for Assad. The U.S. says Assad must go but could be part of a political transition (but it’s not clear Kerry’s going with any real solutions to anything)


• “All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spox Steffan Seibert said. “We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.” (Reuters)


House Passes Debt Limit Bill (Hill, WSJ, me)
• The House on Wednesday passed 235-194 legislation to prioritize debt payments in the event the U.S. defaults, ahead of a looming 3 Nov deadline for Congress to raise the debt limit (which wouldn’t work as the system isn’t set up to pick and choose which bills it pays – and Wall Street is starting to freak out – see WSJ piece)
• Friday, the House is expected to vote on a bill authored by the Republican Study Committee that would raise the debt limit through March 2017 in exchange for budget reforms. It would require a House vote on a balanced budget amendment by 31 Dec and ban all new regulations through 1 July 2017, among other (impossible to pass in Senate) things
• Democrats slammed the debt prioritization bill. “I’d like to see the formation of a Responsibility Caucus,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md) said during floor debate. “The Responsibility Caucus would say to the American people, ‘If we bought it, we’re going to pay for it.'” (a caucus with zero members, then)
• President Obama issued a veto threat. Both bills are going nowhere in the Senate. Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who’s likely the top Senate Democrat in the next Congress, said Wednesday that both bills were “dead on arrival.”
• Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Wednesday expressed concern that “last-minute brinkmanship” in Congress would lead to a legislative “accident” in which lawmakers fail to raise the debt ceiling before the 3 Nov deadline


• Wikileaks has published a handful of docs it says came from the private emails of CIA director John Brennan. This is just days after a 13-year-old “stoner” claimed to have hacked his AOL account. They include a paper on the future of intel, a memo on Iran and a paper from a GOP lawmaker on CIA interrogations (AP, Forbes)
Obama Says US Will Tackle Drug Epidemic (AP, me)
• Traveling to a region in the throes of a drug abuse crisis, President Obama promised Wednesday to use his bully pulpit and federal programs to try to combat the “epidemic” of heroin and prescription painkiller abuse that’s upending communities across the country
• Obama attended a panel discussion on opioid drug abuse in Charleston, WV. Police Chief Brent Webster said his officers deal with a “community of zombies walking around” in need of treatment. A father of five daughters described what it was like to find one of them had overdosed, a needle hanging from her arm
• West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S. – more than twice the national average, according to a report by Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A CDC report released in July found the number of people who reported using heroin within the past year had nearly doubled from 2002 to 2013
• Researchers say two factors are driving the trend: the rise in abuse of opioid painkillers – drugs that are often a precursor to heroin – and the increasing availability of cheap heroin. Experts say too few prescription drug health care providers are properly trained to safely prescribe painkillers, while access to treatment is difficult
• The WH has proposed $133 million for new treatment programs. The admin has said it wants to expand access to medications that can help addicts transition off other opioids, and has also pushed to expand availability of naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdose. Obama also announced steps Wednesday for federal agencies to address policies

• Not had enough Star Wars yet? Here’s every scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ trailer – analyzed as only the geeky Verge can do it

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar, Brittany Gervais, Ebony Romero and Ryan Prete contributed to this report


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