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

  • Biden: Family won out over 2016
  • Ryan: No honeymoon for speaker-in-waiting?
  • Ben Carson denies he’d end Medicare
  • GOPers on Benghazi committee: Regrouping
  • Obama: Not obsess over standardized tests
  • Sanders goes on attack at Iowa dinner
  • Palestinians suspicious of Kerry’s camera plan
  • DoJ won’t prosecute Lerner in IRS scandal
Biden: Family Won Out Over 2016 (NYT, USA Today, Hill, me)
• VP Joe Biden (D) delayed making a decision about a potential presidential campaign for months, in part because of the tears of his 11-year-old granddaughter. That time for family healing after the death of her father, the VP’s son Beau, in May ultimately meant he wouldn’t be able to win, Biden said on CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday
• Biden recalled a  moment by the family swimming pool this summer when his granddaughter Natalie was sitting in his lap. She “turns around and puts her arms around me and starts sobbing and says: ‘Pop, I see Daddy all the time. Pop, you smell like Daddy. You’re not going to leave me, are you, Pop?” (heart-wrenching)
• Biden suggested that just a week ago Natalie was in a better place emotionally. “It just takes time,” Biden said. “And until you get there, you know, it’s not – not an appropriate thing to throw your – and by the way, you can’t run for president unless you throw your entire being into it.”


• “I’ll be very blunt. If I thought we could’ve put together the campaign that – that our supporters deserve and our contributors deserve, I’ll – I would have gone ahead and done it.” Biden said his wife Jill Biden was pressing him to run. But speculation in the news media, often inaccurate “was driving us crazy,” he said
• Biden said there was no death-bed request from Beau. “There was not what was sort of made out as kind of this Hollywood-esque thing that at the last minute Beau grabbed my hand and said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to run, like, win one for the Gipper,'” he said. “It wasn’t anything like that.” (what was it like?)
• Biden said he had no intention of running for office again. He also said his comment last week that Republicans weren’t “my chief enemy” wasn’t intended as a subtle criticism of Hillary Clinton, who had listed Republicans as among her enemies in answer to a debate question. He insisted that he and Clinton “get along together” and that he liked her


Ryan: No Honeymoon For Speaker-in-Waiting? (AP, TRNS, me)
• Is the honeymoon over before it begins for House speaker-in-waiting Paul Ryan (R-Wis)? (probably) On track to prevail in secret ballot GOP election elections Wednesday and in a full House vote Thursday (where they shout out their votes), Ryan would take over at a moment of chaos notable even for a Congress where crisis has become routine
• There’s the 3 Nov deadline to raise the federal borrowing limit or face an unprecedented govt default – no plan for averting it. Crucial highway  funding authority to about to expire, requiring a short term expansion that no one supports. And early December will bring the next chapter in the govt shutdown wars (so fun fun fun)
• Now Ryan will face immediate – and perhaps competing – tasks: passing must-do debt and spending bills likely to be opposed by a majority of Republicans, even while he attempts to unite a badly fractured House GOP. At least House Freedom Caucus chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Sunday that Ryan is the “right guy” to be the next speaker – phew
• GOP House leadership backtracked last week on tentative plans to get the ball rolling with legislation linking a debt limit increase to deep spending cuts and a balanced budget plan. It faced certain rejection in the Senate. Now, it seems inevitable that the House will end up voting on a “clean” debt ceiling increase devoid of cuts or other attempts at reform
• Such legislation would pass almost entirely with Democratic votes. GOP leaders are claiming they may not even be able to muster the 30-odd Republicans who would be needed to get it through. It’s a situation certain to provoke howls from the GOP base, especially if it ends up being the first item on a newly installed Speaker Ryan’s to-do list (and he wants the job…)

• This is great – in plain English: NYT interactive – what fights Paul Ryan as speaker can expect with the Freedom Caucus. They’ve got 21 demands, written in politician-speak. In plain English, they’re revealing (and going to be tough for Ryan to fulfill)

Ben Carson Denies He’d End Medicare (WSJ, Reuters, me)
• Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Sunday denied he would end Medicare and Medicaid, suggesting he would reshape the programs. The former neurosurgeon struggled to answer specific questions about his plans for the programs. A campaign spox declined to provide details and said the campaign hasn’t yet released a formal plan
• Carson said he wanted to make health savings accounts available to all Americans and to fund them at least in part by diverting govt dollars now being spent on Medicaid (steal from the poor) and Medicare (steal from older Americans)
• If someone prefers the current govt programs to the health savings account approach, “I’m not going to deny you the privilege of doing that,” Carson said on Fox News Sunday (there just won’t be any money there to pay for it). Carson made similar comments on NBC
• In both interviews, Carson proposed funding health savings accounts for poor people by reallocating much of the nearly $500 billion Medicaid budget and giving each of the 80 million Medicaid recipients $5,000 to spend on health care. But the govt estimates per capita spending for healthcare at over $9,000 per year – $11,000 for Medicare patients (stay healthy, then)
• NBC and Fox News pressed Carson on his previous proposal to individuals’ fund health savings accounts with annual $2,000 payments from the govt. “No, that’s the old plan. That’s been gone for several months now,” Carson said on Fox. “I’m a little bit confused,” Fox’ Chris Wallace said (so’s everybody else)


• Donald Trump said on ABC on Sunday that he agrees with Ben Carson on health savings accounts. “You’re going to have to look at that, but I’ll tell you what, the health savings accounts, I’ve been talking about it also. I think it’s a very good idea and it’s an idea whose probably time has come. … It’s something that’s proven.” (ABC News, me)


GOPers on Benghazi Committee: Regrouping (Hill, Hill, Hill, Politico, Hill, me)
• Amid growing Democratic accusations of overreaching, Republicans on the House Benghazi committee are reconsidering how aggressively to pursue the email scandal that’s been dogging Hillary Clinton. They’re also undecided about whether to call ex-Clinton staffer Heather Samuelson, who helped screen Clinton’s State Dept emails – is it worth the drama?
• Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said on NBC on Sunday, that Clinton “answered all the questions, and I would not I don’t think I ever cut her off. She was given ample opportunity, so she answered the questions, yeah, if that’s your definition of cooperative. .. Was it an accurate answer? No.”
• Ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md) said on NBC on Sunday that Democrats will not resign from the panel in protest “because someone has to be in the room to defend the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
• Committee member Rep Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said on Fox News Sunday, “She was telling the truth in private, she was telling spin to the American people.” After the Benghazi attack, Clinton said the attack was in response to an anti-Islam film, but her emails showed that she told daughter Chelsea that the attack was planned. (She testified that there was more than one reason)
• Meanwhile, Donald Trump said on CNN Sunday that the Benghazi hearing was “very partisan and it looked very partisan. The level of hatred between Republicans and Democrats was unbelievable. You’ve never seen anything like this.” (Trump said on Friday he watched about 10 minutes of the hearing – just part of Clinton’s opening statement)


• Donald Trump, whose campaign has fallen behind Ben Carson’s in Iowa, swiped at him over religion on Saturday, “I mean, Seventh Day Adventist, I don’t know about,” and “lower energy than Jeb.” Carson, who compared abortion to slavery on Sunday, said Saturday, “My energy levels are perfectly fine.” (NYT, CNN, me)
Obama: Not Obsess About Standardized Tests (AP, Politico, Guardian, CNN me)
• Delighting parents and students everywhere and addressing a flashpoint in the debate over Common Core academic standards, President Obama on Saturday called for capping standardized testing at 2% of classroom time. “Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble,” Obama said in a video released on Facebook
• Students spend about 20 to 25 hours a school year taking standardized tests, according to a study of the nation’s 66 largest school districts released Sat by the Council of the Great City Schools. But it’s not known how much time students spend preparing for mandatory tests under the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind law
• Obama and Education Sec Arne Duncan plan an Oval Office meeting today with teachers and school officials working to reduce testing time. Obama can’t force states or districts to limit testing, which has drawn consternation from teachers and parents
• The Dept of Education said “the admin bears some of the responsibility for” the issue, releasing a “Testing Action Plan” outlining new principles for measuring student aptitude. The guidelines are recommendations for school districts to follow, but aren’t binding regulations
• Admin officials said that in many cases, testing is redundant, poorly aligned with curriculum or simply overkill. For example, some states and school districts were requiring both end-of-year tests and end-of-course tests in the same subject in the same grade


• Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ), not exactly meek, had to leave the “quiet car” of the Acela Express train from Washington on Sunday for talking too loudly on his cellphone, a spox confirmed. Conflicting reports from fellow passengers about how loud he really was… (NYT)
Sanders Goes on Attack at Iowa Dinner (Politico, NYT, me)
• Saturday night, at the Democratic Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) launched a new, frontal assault on Hillary Clinton’s record, caution and character – a direct response to her recent surge in the polls. He didn’t go after her in a personal way or mention her by name (but Bernie’s feeling the bern from Clinton as she hits her stride)
• Sanders attacked Clinton’s slowness to take a position on the Keystone pipeline. “This was not a complicated issue,” he said. He lambasted her for now opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and he went after her 2002 vote to support the war in Iraq. “When I came to that fork in the road, I took the right road, even though it was not the popular road at the time.”
• Compared with the broadsides delivered by Sanders and former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-Md), Clinton was more measured. “I haven’t been shouting, but sometimes when a woman speaks out, some people think it’s shouting,” she intoned – a reference to Sanders’ accusation that she was “shouting” about gun control during the debate (he shouted his way through the debate…)
• Sanders also targeted former President Bill Clinton for his support of the Defense of Marriage Act. “In 1996, I faced another fork in the road – another very difficult political decision. It was called the Defense of Marriage Act, brought forth by a Republican-led Congress. Its purpose was to write discrimination against gays and lesbians into law.”
• Adacia Chambers, 25, will appear in court today on second-degree murder charges after authorities said she plowed a car into the crowd at an Oklahoma State University homecoming parade, killing four people including a toddler, injuring at least 47. Arrested DUI, her lawyer says he believes she suffers from a mental illness (CNN)


Palestinians Suspicious of Kerry’s Camera Monitoring Plan (Reuters, AP, BBC, me)
• Palestinian officials reacted warily Sunday to what SecState John Kerry hailed as Jordan’s “excellent suggestion” to calm Israeli-Palestinian violence by putting the sensitive al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem under constant video monitoring (you think?). “This is a new trap,” FM Riyad al Maliki said on Voice of Palestine radio

• Although Israeli security forces control the holy site and Jordan is its religious custodian, it was unclear how new cameras could be installed without stoking more violence at the flashpoint site if Palestinians objected to them. Al Maliki accused Israel of planning to use footage to arrest Muslim worshipers it believes are “inciting” against it

• Kerry, who met Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian President Abbas in Amman on Saturday, said Israel gave assurances it has no intention of changing the status quo at the site, which allows non-Muslims to visit but not pray, and is holy to Muslims and Jews (but nobody trusts anybody else)

• Muslim fears that Israel seeks to lift its long-standing ban on Jewish prayer at the site have fueled a three-week-old wave of Palestinian stabbings in Israel. Israel has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have been amplified on social media and by past visits to the site by ultranationalist Israeli politicians. There were several new incidents of violence in Israel on Sunday

• Speaking to his cabinet on Sunday, Israel’s PM Netanyahu said Israel “has an interest in cameras being deployed everywhere on the Temple Mount” to refute claims that it’s changing the status quo. Israeli police cameras already cover the open areas of the compound. The new plan called for cameras to be placed inside the al Aqsa mosque and viewed by Israel and Jordan


DoJ Won’t Prosecute Lerner in IRS Scandal (Politico, AP, WSJ, me)
• Republicans said they won’t abandon their scrutiny of the IRS’ treatment of political nonprofits, despite the Justice Dept’s decision not to prosecute former agency official Lois Lerner or other IRS officials. House Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said “A clear message must be sent that using govt agencies to stifle citizens’ freedom of speech will not be tolerated.”
• Ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md) said, “Over the past five years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have squandered literally tens of millions of dollars going down all kinds of investigative rabbit holes – IRS, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi – with absolutely no evidence of illegal activity.”
• The DoJ opened its probe of the IRS in May 2013, after an IG audit found the agency had used inappropriate criteria to single out for extra scrutiny political groups applying for tax-exempt status, including tea party organizations. Lerner, the former head of the tax-exempt division, was at the center of the controversy
• A bipartisan review from the Senate Finance Committee in August found management flaws at the IRS contributed to a “dysfunctional culture” that allowed agents to mistreat conservative groups when they applied, but the report offered conflicting theories on the cause of the scandal (DoJ decision will feed view that its a tool of the Obama admin – regardless)


DoJ: Poor Management Not a Crime
• “Poor management is not a crime,” assistant AG Peter Kadzik wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Friday. “We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.” Also no attempt to obstruct justice
• Lerner drove Republicans nuts in May 2013 when she refused to testify in front of House Oversight. Her decision to first deliver an opening statement proclaiming her innocence led some Republicans to say she’d waived her right to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination
• The House approved a criminal contempt resolution against Lerner, but Justice said this spring that it wouldn’t pursue criminal charges against Lerner for her refusal to testify
• Federal investigators repeatedly interviewed Lerner, and looked into whether she should face charges, particularly after the discovery of emails from her IRS account that “expressed her personal political views.” Prosecutors said none of the IRS employees they interviewed suggested Lerner discriminated against conservatives on the job
• And though they acknowledged the probe was slowed by the crash of Lerner’s hard drive, causing the destruction of her email archives, investigators found no evidence that Lerner had intentionally crashed her hard drive or otherwise intended to hide docs (big question for GOP committees now is whether to hold more hearings or what to do)

• Check out the most popular Halloween costumes – by state! (influenster)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Ebony Romero contributed to this report


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