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
  • Obama apologizes for Afghan hospital attack
  • Iran’s role in Russia’s Syria campaign
  • Murdoch: Carson “real black president”
  • Dems fail to shut down House Benghazi committee
  • Senate Dems ready sweeping guns bill
  • House creates Planned Parenthood committee…
  • Dems: GOP hiding Planned Parenthood videos
  • First House speaker vote today


Obama Apologizes for Afghan Hospital Attack (NYT, NYT, AP, Hill, CNN, TRNS, me)
• President Obama apologized to Doctors Without Borders on Wednesday for the American air attack that killed at least 22 people at its hospital in Afghanistan, and said the U.S. would examine military procedures to look for better ways to prevent such incidents. WH spox Josh Earnest described Obama’s apology as “heartfelt.”
• Obama’s phone call to the group’s international president, Joanne Liu, came a day after the WH had stopped short of an apology, waiting to learn more while acknowledging that the attack was a huge mistake. Liu confirmed the apology and reiterated her organization’s call for the U.S. govt to consent to an independent investigation (they say it’s a war crime)
• Liu said to reporters that the attack was an “attack on the Geneva Conventions.” She wants to mobilize the never before used International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, created after the Gulf War in 1991. It’s made up of diplomats, legal experts, doctors and some former military officials from nine European countries. The U.S. isn’t a signatory (bit panicked, I suspect)


• Citing anonymous sources, NYT reports that Gen John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has said in private conversations that he believes the airstrikes didn’t meet any of the criteria U.S. troops are supposed to follow before deciding to launch such an attack
• The report contrasts with Campbell’s public statements in which he has declined to elaborate on the bombing, pending the outcome of three investigations. Campbell testifies before the House Armed Services Committee today – should be remarkably lively (understatement – big screen TV, large drink, pumpkin flavored popcorn)
• NYT also reported that U.S. Special Ops Forces apparently couldn’t positively identify the area the strike was hitting (oh that’s good, that is). At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Campbell took responsibility for the sustained bombardment of the hospital, saying it was the result of “a U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command.” (under the bus)


• Senate Democrats on Wednesday joined with Republicans 70-27 to approve an annual defense bill, defying a veto threat from President Obama over budget caps. Democrats insist some of their members would vote differently if asked to override the president (TRNS, Hill)
Iran’s Role in Russia’s Syria Campaign (Reuters, WaPo, BBC, AP, AP, TRNS, me)
• Iran played an integral role leading up to Russia’s move to launch its air campaign in Syria and play a stronger role in Iraq, with powerful Gen Qasim Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds force meeting for three hours with President Putin in Moscow to push for intervention, Iraqi govt officials tell AP (Iran is a big playuh here – not just Russia)
• Meanwhile, Russia’s growing military involvement in the Syria conflict is expected to he high on the agenda of NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels today. It comes after NATO member Turkey said Russian jets had violated its airspace. Russia has fired missiles from a warship in addition to airstrikes to support Syrian President Assad
• But Moscow denies Western accusations that its strikes have mainly hit Assad opponents, some supported by the West, and not ISIS militants. SecDef Ash Carter said coalition forces fighting ISIS in Syria wouldn’t cooperate with Russia. “We believe Russia has the wrong strategy. They continue to hit targets that are not ISIS.” (video evidence all over YouTube)
• Carter said he’s concerned about the Syrian ground offensive that began Wednesday. The Russian cruise missile strike bombardment Wednesday was the first naval salvo of Moscow’s week-old military involvement in Syria

• Also, House and Senate Intelligence Committees have begun probing possible intelligence lapses over Moscow’s intervention in Syria, concerned that American spy agencies were slow to grasp the scope and intention of Russia’s dramatic military intervention there. A senior admin official insisted there were “no surprises.” (really? said with incredulous rising inflection)


• Democratic 2016er and former secstate Hillary Clinton finally came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal Wednesday, siding with progressives against President Obama, on an agreement she worked to support as a member of his admin. She’ll face liberals Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley in a debate next Tuesday… (a clue) (TRNS, me)


Murdoch: Carson “Real Black President” (AP, National Enquirer, me
• Trending on Twitter! Fox News channel owner Rupert Murdoch’s odious, racist tweet from last night: “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide. And much else.” (Because Murdoch, who’s made millions off veiled and overt attacks on President Obama’s blackness, understands about black identity?)
• Meanwhile, GOP 2016er Ben Carson told Sirius XM radio host Karen Hunter Wednesday that he was once held at gunpoint at a Popeye’s fried chicken restaurant in Baltimore. “Guy comes in, puts the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe that you want the guy behind the counter,” Carson said, in his laid-back tone. “He said, ‘Oh OK,’ and moved on.” – (so he’d get another guy killed??)
• But a day before, Carson had boasted that if he’d been present at the Oregon attack, he would “not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.” (sounds like he’d actually have said “you want the guys behind me, leave me alone” instead)
• The National Enquirer has a hit piece out on Carson. The rag got hold of several malpractice lawsuits filed against the neurosurgeon. In a 2008 case, a woman claimed her eardrums were perforated during an op for facial pain performed by Carson’s team. When the pain recurred, Carson told her she might have a tumor. In fact the lump was “a sponge he had left in her brain.”
• One woman consulted Carson for side effects of MS in 1994. He said the cure was brain surgery. It did nothing to help. She said Carson came into the hospital room, agitated, and admitted he hadn’t reviewed pre-op MRIs. He allegedly said that if he had, “We never would have done the
[surgery].” (oops. at least it wasn’t a sponge)


• The leaders of the House Judiciary Committee have reached a rare bipartisan agreement on criminal sentencing reforms that they’re poised to unveil today. The push comes amid rising criticism of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, particularly for drug-related crimes (Hill)
Dems Fail to Shut Down Benghazi Committee (Hill, Hill, Roll Call, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• The House rejected a Democratic effort to abolish the select committee on Benghazi in a party-line, 240-183, vote Wednesday. Democrats argued the panel should fold following remarks by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), who touted its work in connection with Hillary Clinton’s falling poll numbers in her bid for the presidency
• Republicans blocked the effort by voting to table a resolution offered by Rep Louise Slaughter (D-NY), top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, to disband the committee. The effort served as a way for Democrats to force Republicans on the record about the Benghazi committee since the fallout over McCarthy’s remarks (and? GOP has massive majority)
• Last week on Fox News, McCarthy said: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A special committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”
• Democrats, who’ve been on offense, hope to make this political gift shadow Republicans all the way to 22 Oct, when Clinton testifies to the panel. Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who chairs the Benghazi committee, said Wed that McCarthy “screwed up.” (Clinton needs to float into the hearing room like Joan of Arc, no unforced errors, let Republicans overplay their hands – Win)
• Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said on the floor on Wed, “The Benghazi select committee is a sham.” And also on Wed, Rep Alan Grayson (D-Fla) filed an ethics complaint against McCarthy and Gowdy (BTW, untrustable isn’t a word and it’s distressing me. it’s untrustworthy. sorry. it’s been on my little mind)

• Hillary Clinton is trolling House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy over his foolish Benghazi comments – she’s come out with a mocking video featuring another Kevin McCarthy, who’s sick and tired of getting misdirected tweets meant for the pol – it’s not too bad

Dems Ready Sweeping New Guns Bill (Politico, WSJ, NYT, me)

• Senate Democrats will begin a campaign to combat gun violence today as party leaders prepare to unveil a sweeping package of legislation that builds on their failed 2013 attempt to require universal background checks for gun purchases, according to senators and aides. In addition to background checks:
• Democrats are aiming to add new money for the DoJ’s existing – faltering – background check system, include provisions to prevent domestic abusers from buying guns, cut down on gun trafficking, ensure that all key records are sent to a federal database and make straw purchasing a federal crime (big lift in GOP-controlled Senate. just saying)
• Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, the gunman who allegedly killed nine people and wounded nine others at an Oregon community colleges, was discharged from basic training after just one month in 2008 after trying to commit suicide, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the case. The Army wouldn’t confirm details
• The Army discharge didn’t affect the killer’s ability to legally purchase guns. He didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, which would have required a court-martial, according to an Army spox. The nature of his administrative separation is protected by privacy laws, and an Army spox said it could have been for a wide variety of reasons
• At a Wed presser, Oregon authorities said that two plainclothes Roseburg police detectives were the first to confront the gunman after he opened fire on a writing class. They exchanged fire with him, wounding him once. Then “he entered the classroom again, went to the front of the classroom and shot and killed himself,” said Douglas County DA Rick Wesenberg
• President Obama travels to Roseburg Friday to meet privately with families of victims. He’ll be on a West Coast trip. Some residents and the publisher of a weekly local conservative newspaper said he wasn’t welcome. The language got so angry that the mayor and city officials put out a statement saying they welcomed Obama and “will extend him every courtesy” (NYT)


House Creates Planned Parenthood Committee… (Hill, me)
• The House voted Wednesday to create a special committee to investigate (hound) Planned Parenthood and the handling of aborted fetal tissue. In a nearly party-line vote, lawmakers voted 242-184 to create a 13-member committee with broad power to probe alleged wrongdoing by PP
• The four-page bill doesn’t mention PP by name. But Republicans were clear that the committee’s work is intended to deepen three existing GOP-led House committee probes into PP.  Investigations in a dozen states, including by those with Republican AGs, have cleared PP of any wrongdoing and PP hasn’t faced any criminal charges
• The select committee’s chair, Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn), will have broad power, which she told the Rules Committee Tuesday would be used in consultation with the new speaker. The new speaker would have control over budget and schedule, she said. Six of the committee’s slots are reserved for Democrats, though it’s unclear if they’ll participate (bet they will)
• “Who knows, maybe the select committee on PP can shed some light on Benghazi,” Rep Adam Schiff (D-Calif) quipped during a hearing Wednesday. “I prefer to call it a taxpayer-funded campaign committee,” Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill), a member of the Pro-Choice Caucus, said Wednesday


Dems: GOP Hiding Planned Parenthood Videos (Hill, me)
• House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) – running for speaker – received a copy of the supposedly unedited Planned Parenthood videos on 25 Sept, and has since refused to share a copy with Democrats, according to a Democratic committee aide. He’s said he’ll set up a “viewing room” for Dems, but Republicans haven’t hosted a screening
• The aide called it a “direct violation” of the Democrats’ recent subpoena of the unedited footage. Democrats have repeatedly asked for copies of unedited footage of the secretly recorded meetings of PP officials and an anti-abortion group. The group has released 10 videos, all heavily edited
• It’s unclear if the footage given to Republicans is the full unedited footage requested by Democrats because the group was blocked from releasing some of the footage by court order. The order was lifted Tuesday night. A forensic exam of the “unedited” footage by PP found that even the “unedited” footage appeared to have been tampered with and there were gaps
• “Those videos are the property of the committee, but [Chaffetz] is refusing to give the Democratic members a copy of those videos,” said Rep Louis Slaughter (R-NY). “Those tapes are being hidden away. It appears that the Republicans don’t want the Democrats to be able to see those videos.” (afraid Dems might find out the truth?)


• President Obama called for higher blue-collar wages and benefits and promoted collective bargaining on Wednesday, courting workers and unions as his Pacific Rim trade deal has disenchanted many labor groups. He was speaking to workers, union leaders, lawmakers and employers at the first WH Summit on Worker Voice
First House Speaker Vote Today (Hill, Politico, Reuters, me)
• The hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday endorsed little-known long-shot Rep Daniel Webster (R-Fla) for speaker – a bold move that raises doubts about whether Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) can cobble together the 218 votes on the House floor he needs to be promoted
• McCarthy, only a five-termer, is expected to easily win the nomination when House Republicans huddle at noon today to pick a successor to outgoing speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). But the true test will come 29 Oct, when the House holds a public roll call to formally elect the next Speaker
• The Freedom Caucus holds enough votes to essentially veto a McCarthy speakership, though it’s unclear if all members would cast their ballot the same way. Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is also running – he jumped into the race last weekend
• The Freedom Caucus wants fundamental changes to how the House operates, and they’re skeptical McCarthy will deliver. They want him to put out a written statement on his plans to embolden committees and do away with punishments for lawmakers who vote against leadership. And conservatives are refusing to back him until they see results
• The public roll call, where lawmakers will have to shout out the name of their candidate for speaker on live TV, is sure to create headaches for many Republicans (but fun for us). Plus, conservatives inside and outside of the Capitol are trying to suggest that a vote for McCarthy is another vote for Boehner, a creature of Washington despised by the base

• Draft Biden, a super PAC urging VP Joe Biden to run, released its first ad Wednesday. Former Obama adviser David Axelrod, who’s worked with Biden in the WH, called it “tasteless” and said he didn’t believe Biden would politicize one of the most horrific events of his life – watch. (I’m thinking it’s awful/appalling – you?)  (me, Hill)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar, Loree Lewis and Ebony Romero contributed to this report


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