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.

The Tunisian National Dialogue Quarter has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in helping the country’s transition to democracy. The group made a “decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy” after the 2011 revolution,” the chair of the Nobel committee said (BBC)
News Now

  • McCarthy quits speaker race: GOP in chaos
  • GOPer: “Banana republic”
  • 7 who could be speaker
  • Unspoken McCarthy rumor
  • Obama weighs exec authority: Expand background checks
  • Carson: Germany’s Jews should have been armed…
  • Senate Dems: “Common sense” gun campaign
  • Russian missiles “fell in Iran”
  • VW hammered on the Hill: “Massive cover-up”
  • Benghazi committee GOPers leak more Clinton emails
  • Oklahoma killed inmate with wrong drug
McCarthy Quits Speaker Race, GOP in Chaos (NYT, AP,  TRNS, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• Rep Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) abruptly withdrew Thursday from the race to succeed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), blindsiding his House Republican colleagues and throwing their already tumultuous chamber into deeper chaos (if possible) with no clear leader in sight just weeks before a series of high-stakes fiscal battles (fasten seat belts – bumpy night)
• As lawmakers ate barbecue and sipped sodas (choked) during what was expected to be a pro forma event to select McCarthy as nominee, he did an about-face, saying he’d concluded he couldn’t unite the increasingly fractious GOP majority. “I am not that guy,” McCarthy said, with his wife and family by his side
• Moments later, Boehner, who learned of McCarthy’s decision only minutes before he announced it, declared the vote postponed and the meeting adjourned even though there were two other candidates in the running. Some Republicans, including Boehner and McCarthy, are pressing Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis) to step up – see below – he says no – so far…
• McCarthy’s decision leaves the House rudderless just weeks before the Treasury Dept faces a debt default that could roil markets, and two months before a deadline for a budget deal to avoid another govt shutdown (Wall Street is largely up, but worried). But it’s another victory for the unyielding hard-line conservatives who toppled another member of party leadership
• After McCarthy’s announcement, many visibly shaken and nearly speechless Republicans emerged from a large hearing room. “The first reaction was ‘Wow!’ or “What did he say?'” Rep Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb) said. “The next reaction was ‘Let me process this while eating lunch at the same time, because this was a shock, a surprise.'” (free barbecue, after all)

• Interactive: The power of the hard-line Republicans in the race for House Speaker (NYT)


• Boehner, who said last month that he’d leave at the end of October, said Thursday that he’d stay in the job until a replacement was chosen “in the coming weeks.” McCarthy’s turnaround appeared to stem from a growing realization that he risked a humiliating defeat on the floor
• A group of about 40 hard-right House conservatives announced Wednesday night that they would support Rep Daniel Webster (R-Fla), making it clear that McCarthy would have to accede to their demands as he struggled to assemble 218 votes over the next three weeks (more time for the right to rumble)
• McCarthy has also been dogged with questions about his verbal competence, his conservative credentials and his ability to fuse a group of members that may in fact defy unification. He said he would remain as majority member, scrambling the races for all of the House Republican leadership positions (and dashing hopes)
• McCarthy also caused his own damage when he suggested in a Fox News interview last week that the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks had the political aim of damaging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. At a brief presser, he admitted that his remarks had factored into his decision (did him in to an extent)
• In an interview Thursday night, McCarthy said, “It was only going to get worse. … This was for the good of the team.” House Republicans will meet this morning at the Capitol to begin charting a path forward

• As they voted on the House floor late Thursday, Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis) was besieged by his GOP colleagues. As the lawmakers huddled, Ryan aides canceled his fundraising and political events for the next 48 hours, a move interpreted by friends that he’s gone from a hard ‘no’ to undecided after speaking with speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) (WaPo)


GOPer: “Banana Republic” (WaPo, TPM, me)
• “It is total confusion – a banana republic,” said Rep Peter King (R-NY), a John Boehner (R-Ohio) ally, as he recounted seeing a handful of House Republicans weeping Thursday over the downfall of Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) and the broader discord. “People are crying, they don’t have any idea how this will unfold, at all.” (inmates – asylum)
• “Well it’s pretty obvious what happened,” said Rep Charlie Dent (R-Pa), a moderate. “The same members who wanted to take down John Boehner, I always said would try to frag the next guy. Well, they just fragged Kevin McCarthy.”
• “This hell-no caucus – the degree of purity that they’re looking for doesn’t exist,” said former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott (Miss), who was also once part of the House GOP leadership. “I’m sure they’re nice people, but Washington is not a place where you can come in off the street and make it work.” (but they don’t want to make it work)

• “Certainly it’s easy to poke fun at the chaos, but the fact is the challenge that is facing the next Republican speaker of the House, regardless of who it is, is the same challenge that John Boehner faced, the same challenge that Kevin McCarthy would have had to face – it is to unite a divided Republican caucus,” said Wh spox Josh Earnest.”


7 Who Could Be Speaker (Hill, me)
Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis): The 2012 VP candidate issued a statement to say he wouldn’t run for speaker. Ryan is perhaps the only one able to draw support from the entire GOP conference. He’s coming under intense pressure to change his mind. He’s said he wants to focus on chairmanship of House Ways and Means. He also has young children – demanding travel. But…
Rep Jim Jordan (R-Ohio): Chair of the House Freedom Caucus – group that pushed for a new speaker in the first place. He’s said repeatedly he’s not interested. One Freedom Caucus member suggested he could be persuaded. But House Freedom Caucus members are pretty toxic (like vomit) with other members at the moment – might not be able to get 218 votes
Rep Daniel Webster (R-Fla): A former Florida state House speaker, has the backing of the Freedom Caucus – at least 30 or 40 votes But a long shot – won just 12 votes against Boehner in January. 
• Rep Tom Price (R-Ga): Been battling Rep Steve Scalise (R-La) for majority leader spot, interested in moving on up


Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah): Chair of the House Oversight Committee. Said Thursday that McCarthy’s decision to drop out could give him a chance to siphon off previous McCarthy votes. But “I’m not sure if I’m the right person,” Chaffetz said. He’s also developed a reputation as something of a publicity hound
Rep Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga): Ally of leadership, member of the Benghazi committee. Moved towards throwing his hat into the ring Thursday after McCarthy dropped out – ally of leadership could doom him

John Boehner (R-Ohio): Like a plot from a rom-com. After trying out dozens of alternatives, Republicans might have to stick with the man they had all along. Boehner said he “will serve as speaker until the House votes to elect a new speaker.” Other lawmakers offered the idea of a “caretaker speaker” – just through 2016 – lots of names floating around


• Rep Mark Takano (D-Calif)’s staff drew up a Craigslist ad for Speaker of the House that they posted to Facebook and Twitter. “Are you an American citizen? Do you have experience negotiating hostage situations? Are you ready for the challenge of a lifetime? Then this job is for you!” Then come the qualifications, like “Babysitting experience strongly preferred”


The Unspoken McCarthy Rumor (McClatchy, Daily Caller, Hill, me)
• Everyone’s dancing around it. At a closed-door meeting on Tuesday with Texas’s GOP delegation, members pressed Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) for reassurances concerning rumors they worried could have hampered his bid for speaker. McCarthy told them the rumors weren’t true, people attending the meeting said. The delegation endorsed him
• Nobody would share the details of what was said. In addition, Rep Rep Walter Jones (R-NC) warned in a vague letter to GOPers that House members with “skeletons in their closets” should stay away from leadership races
• The two former House members from the 1990s that Jones cited as examples, Republicans Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, were both revealed to have engaged in extramarital affairs. For several days, a story about McCarthy’s private life had been circulated to House members
• An internet address originating from the Dept of Homeland Security was tied to entries made on the Wikipedia pages of Rep Renee Ellmers (R-NC) McCarthy, alleging that the two were having an affair. It’s unclear if someone at the agency actually was behind the edits, which were made on Thursday. A reporter from Washington Free Beacon flagged it on Twitter

• An alleged affair between McCarthy and Ellmers became the source of intense speculation Thursday after McCarthy announced in a closed door meeting that he was dropping out of the race to replace John Boehner (R-Ohio) as speaker of the House… (have no direct knowledge, heard absoutely nothing, so not touching it)


Obama Weighs Exec Authority To Expand Background Checks (WaPo, me)
• In response to the latest mass shooting during his presidency, President Obama is seriously considering circumventing Congress with his executive authority and imposing new background check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high volume gun dealers (GOP heads exploding – if any left unexploded after McCarthy Mess)
• The proposed executive action aims to impose background checks on individuals who buy from dealers who sell a significant number of guns each year The current federal statute dictates that those who are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms need to obtain a federal license – and therefore conduct background checks
• But that exempts anyone “who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.”
• WH officials drafted the proposal in late 2013 (after Sandy Hook massacre) to apply to those dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually, after Congress rejected legislation that would have expanded background checks more broadly to private sellers. WH Office of Legal Counsel concluded the reg was legally defensible. ATF officials objected that it would be hard to enforce

• NRA spox Jennifer Baker said any change could “ensnare” people not intended to be covered, such as a widow selling off her late husband’s gun collection. Nine days before the Oregon mass shooting, former Rep Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz) and her husband Mark Kelly had a meeting at the WH to push background checks for sizable numbers of guns


Carson: Germany’s Jews Should Have Been Armed (WaPo, ABC News, me)
• Here we go. GOP 2016er Ben Carson said Thursday that Adolf Hitler’s mass murder of Jews “would have been greatly diminished” if German citizens hadn’t been disarmed by the Nazi regime. The comments came in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer
• Carson has previously said he wouldn’t support a Muslim for president and boasted last week that he would “not just stand there and let him shoot me” – ref to the Oregon gunman. He once referred to the Affordable Care Act as “the worst thing to happen in this nation since slavery” (helping people = shackles, you see)
• “But just to clarify, if there had been no gun control laws in Europe at that time, would 6 million Jews have been slaughtered?” Blitzer asked. “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson said (bollcks)


• Blitzer pushed a bit more: “Because they had a powerful military machine, as you know, the Nazis.” “I understand that,” Carson said (doubt it). “I’m telling you that there is a reason that the dictatorial people take the guns first.” (actually they poison the minds first)
• “The notion that Hitler’s gun control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director. “The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state.”

• And Carson is an armchair hero. He said on Sirius radio Wed: “Guy comes in

[to Popeye’s chicken], put the gun to my ribs and I just said, ‘I believe that you want the guy behind the counter.’ He said ‘Oh, OK.'” “You just redirected him?” the host asked. “I redirected him,” Carson said, chuckling (to potentially kill some poor other sucker and save himself)

• President Obama travels to Roseburg, Oregon, today to meet privately with the families of victims of last week’s mass shooting. He may not find a warm welcome in this gun friendly town. Many residents are angered by his calls for gun control and protests are planned


Senate Dems Propose “Common Sense” Gun Campaign (Politico, Hill, Hill, me)
• About two dozen Senate Democrats unveiled a sweeping new gun control campaign Thursday, with a focus on three areas: bolstering current background check requirements, closing “loopholes” on background checks when guns are bought at gun shows or online, and closing the “pipeline of illegal guns” by making gun trafficking a federal crime
• Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore) said that the three areas are “reasonable,” adding that “they’re common sense. They ought to have bipartisan support.” More than half of the Senate Democratic Conference was at Thursday’s event. But in a GOP-controlled Congress, Republican senators were notably absent
• Meanwhile, House Democrats on Thursday introduced a resolution to form a special congressional committee tasked with studying the causes of gun violence in the hopes of reining it in. The measure arrives in the wake of a mass shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, last week
• “There have been nearly 280 mass shootings since Newtown and Congress has done nothing,” said Rep Mike Thompson (D-Calif). “No votes have been cast. No bills have been debated. No proposals have even been considered. This select committee can change that.” (no it can’t because it won’t happen, sigh)
• And the Obama admin is planning to demote the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – because he’s doing a great job. The unusual move allows the admin to avoid a nasty confirmation hearing. Career agent Thomas Brandon can’t serve as acting chief longer than 120 days – 27 October – so he’ll become deputy director instead
Russian Missiles “Fell in Iran” (BBC, NYT, Hill, CNN, TRNS, me)
• Four Russian cruise missiles fired at Syria from the Caspian Sea landed in Iran, unnamed U.S. officials say. It was unclear whether the missiles caused any damage. Wednesday, Russia said it had fired 26 missiles at 11 targets in Syria, about 930 miles away. Thursday, it insisted that all the rockets hit their targets
• Iran’s Irna news agency reported Wednesday that an unknown flying object had crashed in the village of Ghozghapan in the province of West Azerbaijan, said to be under the missiles’ flight path. But conservative Iranian media described the reports of missiles landing in Iran as “psychological operations by the U.S. against Moscow.”
• News of the apparent crashes came as SecDef Ash Carter sharply criticized what he called Russia’s “unprofessional” conduct in its incursion into Syria. He was at a NATO conference in Brussels. Carter warned, “In coming days, the Russians will begin to suffer casualties.” NATO renewed assurances to defend its allies in view of Russia’s “escalation” in Syria
• Sen Bob Corker (R-Tenn) is threatening to subpoena SecState John Kerry to testify on Syria. “I don’t know what to do when you have the biggest crisis – people flooding into Europe and 100% change taking place in the world,” Corker said. “[He] won’t return calls and underlings have been suggested to come up and talk with us.”
• During a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday, FBI director James Comey said, “My concern there is there are certain gaps … in the data available to us” in the feds’ ability to screen Syrian refugees headed into the country, even as their ability to check incoming migrants has improved


• “Afghanistan is at a critical juncture. So is our campaign,” Gen John Campbell, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan told House lawmakers Thursday. Campbell argued for keeping a military presence in the country (Hill)


VW Hammered on the Hill: “Massive Cover-Up” (AP, Hill, HuffPo, me)
• Volkswagen’s top U.S. exec apologized Thursday as the emissions-rigging scandal engulfing the world’s largest automaker deepened. “We have broken the trust of our customers, dealerships, and employees, as well as the public and regulators,” VW of America CEO Michael Horn told a House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight panel
• Even so, Horn distanced himself from the company’s behavior, saying he felt personally deceived by actions he said were taken by unknown individuals. “There was no board meeting that approved this,” Horn said. He said the company doesn’t yet have an approved recall plan and any fix for customers could take “one or two years” to carry out (lame)
• Horn said that three unidentified employees had been suspended (not fired?) since the EPA announced 19 Sept that VW rigged its diesel cars to bypass U.S. emissions standards for clean air (why did they do it?). The German automaker admitted it installed on-board computer software designed to cheat on govt tests in nearly 500,000 of its four-cylinder cars from 2009 on
• Rep Chris Collins (R-NY), an engineer, said he couldn’t accept that “this was the work of a couple of rogue engineers,” adding: “This didn’t happen in one day.” Collins said it appears that VW execs “are complicit in a massive cover-up at the highest levels that continues to this day.” VW could face up to an $18 billion fine for its pollution violations
• Rep Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said, “Over the past five years, the world’s three largest automakers [GM and Takata, too] have come before this committee to admit they have cheated the system and lied to American consumers. There seems to be a pervasive culture of deception in this industry, and it has to stop now.”


GOPers on Benghazi Committee Leak More Clinton Emails (Hill, me)
• Republicans on the House Benghazi committee on Thursday released portions of additional emails to and from former secstate Hillary Clinton. Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) wrote a scathing 13-page letter, accusing Democrats of repeatedly using the panel to advance a political message (mirror much?) and of stonewalling the GOP’s efforts to “follow the facts”
• Gowdy warned that he would soon release 1,500 pages of new emails concerning Libya – including a “small number” about the Benghazi attack – which had recently been handed over by the State Dept. Snippets of those emails were released in Thursday’s letter. Nearly half the messages involved longtime Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal
• Among emails between Clinton and her “de facto political advise,” Gowdy said, were multiple daily messages with “unvetted intel” – much of it from a former CIA officer – about situation on the ground in Libya during the uprising there. Blumenthal passed along info that Clinton should have identified as classified, Gowdy said
• The letter comes three days after the GOP was put on the defensive over comments that Rep Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) made linking the panel to Hillary Clinton’s sliding poll numbers. Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md), panel’s top Democrat, called Gowdy’s letter “a defensive and desperate attempt to save face” in the wake of a “terrible week.”

• “Why is he blocking the release of Mr Blumenthal’s deposition transcript in which he answered hundreds of questions from Republicans about his emails?” – Cumming statement. Earlier this week, Democrats said they would release the closed door testimony of Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, in an escalation of the committee’s arm wrestling (GOP loves leaking snippets)

Oklahoma Killed Inmate With Wrong Drug (CNN, AP, Oklahoman, me
• Oops. Again, sort of thing. Gov Mary Fallin (R) agreed Thursday that all executions in Oklahoma should be delayed after The Oklahoman newspaper revealed that the wrong drug was used to stop an inmate’s heart in January. Authorities didn’t acknowledge the mistake until the newspaper obtained the autopsy report (thank you for a free press)
• Citing Charles Frederick Warner’s autopsy report, The Oklahoman reported that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner received two syringes labeled potassium chloride, but that the 12 vials used to fill the syringes were labeled single dose Potassium Acetate Injection. That contradicts the official log of Warner’s execution, initialed by a prison staffer
• “We cannot trust Oklahoma to get it right or tell the truth,” said Dale Baich, an attorney representing Oklahoma death row inmates who are challenging the state’s lethal injection protocols. “We will explore this in detail through the discovery process in federal litigation.” Fallon declined to say if she still has confidence in prisons director Robert Patton (I’ll bet)
• Patton oversaw both Warner’s execution and the April 2014 lethal injection of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on the gurney, moaned and pulled up from his restraints. The next inmate scheduled to die, Richard Glossip, came within hours of his lethal injection last week before prison officials told the governor they had received potassium acetate, not potassium chloride
• In Jan 2015, Warner’s execution took place and Fallin released a statement praising the “professionalism” shown by the Dept of Corrections. After the first drug was administered during Warner’s execution, he said, “My body is on fire,” but showed no other obvious signs of distress (fire might have been a clue)


• Rocking into the weekend with “Smoke on the Water” live 1973 – Deep Purple, one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees (bout time). Chicago, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Chaka Khan, Chic, The JBs, Janet Jackson, Los Lobos, Steve Miller, NWA, Nine Inch Nails, The Smiths (YES!), The Spinners, Yes (bout bloody time) (bit of Brit showing through here, ex DJ, can’t help it…)

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Victoria Jones – Editor
TRNS’ Justin Duckham, Nicholas Salazar and Loree Lewis contributed to this report

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