Talk Media News

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

Quick News

  • Nevada turns up Trumps
  • Democrats: CNN town hall
  • McConnell: No SCOTUS nominee
  • Obama plan: Close Guantanamo
  • Gitmo: Will Obama go it alone?
  • Zika: 14 new reported US sex cases
  • DOJ ISIS summit: Western recruitment
  • Judge: Clinton aides should be questioned
Nevada Turns Up Trumps (NYT, Politico, AP, Fox, me)
• Notching up three in a row, Donald Trump decisively (45% at time of writing) won Nevada’s Republican caucuses Tuesday as Marco Rubio looked to elbow out Ted Cruz for second place in an increasingly urgent effort to slam the brakes on the Trump juggernaut (Drudge Report has already crowned Trump the nominee…)
• “We’re winning, winning, winning,” Trump declared to a raucous crowd holding Trump signs, flags and a few Bud Lights at the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas. “It’s going to be an amazing two months. We might not even need the two months, folks, to be honest.” (it’s very simple – unite or fall to Trump, GOP – and you may be too late)
• Entrance polls – small – showed six in 10 caucus goers said they were angry with the way the govt is working, and Trump got about half of them. Nevada was critical for Rubio and Cruz; Rubio was out to prove he can build on recent momentum and Cruz was looking for a spark to help him recover from a particularly rocky stretch – (he’s got a rep for dirty tricks, not)
• Lagging far behind: John Kasich and Ben Carson. Rubio was already campaigning in Michigan as results came in and needs a win soon to support the idea he can beat Trump (can’t). For Cruz, another disappointing finish would raise new questions about his viability heading into a crucial batch of Super Tuesday states on 1 March
• The results are likely to reinforce the sense among national GOP leaders that only direct confrontation can block Trump from claiming the nomination, because none of the party’s most powerful voting blocs seems likely to thwart him on its own. Pressure will be on his opponents to somehow join forces. But will they?


• Reporters spotted caucus chaos. Tweets: Mashable’s Emily Cahn: “No one is checking in or checking IDs. They’re handing out ballots willy nilly. Some guy voted trump twice.” National Review Elaina Plott: Caucus volunteers wearing Trump gear “Actively bullying folks.” Reporter Jon Ralston: Report from Wooster HS…Yelling swearing disorganized. People are pissed.” (Politico)
Democrats: CNN Town Hall (CNN, Hill, Politico, Politico, me)
• “Why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else? Hillary Clinton asked during a Columbia, SC, CNN town hall over demands for the transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. She said she’d release the speeches “if everybody does it, and that includes the Republicans.” The Dem South Carolina primary is Saturday
• Bernie Sanders, who appeared before Clinton, said “I have not had a paid speech … I have given speeches. The money was donated. … I am happy to release all of my pages to Wall Street, here it is, Chris
[Cuomo],” Sanders said, making a throwing gesture, “there ain’t none. I don’t do that. I don’t get speakers’ fees from Goldman Sachs.”
• Asked which Supreme Court justice he admired, Sanders told the heavily African American audience that it was Thurgood Marshall, lead counsel in Brown v Board of Education and the first African American judge to take the bench. “Thurgood Marshall was a damn good Supreme Court justice,” Sanders said
• Reassuring supporters concerned about her email controversy, Clinton said, “The facts are that every single time somebody has hurled these charges against me, which they have done, it has proved to be nothing.” On whether she would lie in the future – after an indirect answer to a similar question last week – “I’ll just say, ‘No!'”
• Sanders called the SCOTUS controversy GOP “obstructionism,” then: “And this on top of this ‘birther’ issue, which we heard from Donald Trump and others, a racist effort to try to deligitimize the president of the U.S. … Guess what, nobody has asked for my birth certificate. Maybe it’s the color of my skin?” – cheers from the audience


• Listen: Director Spike Lee has cut a radio ad for “my brother Bernie Sanders”: “Wake up South Carolina! This is your dude, Spike Lee and I know that you know the system is rigged. For too long, we’ve given our votes to puppets, sold the okie-doke,” Lee opens the 60-second ad, in which he invokes Sanders’ civil rights work


McConnell: No SCOTUS Nominee (NYT, Politico, Hill, Hill, me)
• The Senate will not confirm any Supreme Court nominee put forward by President Obama before the November election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) stated unequivocally Tuesday. Obama has made clear that he will choose a nominee (apparently the 8th year of a Democratic presidency no longer counts)
• “He has every right to nominate someone,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, addressing Obama. “Even if doing so will inevitably plunge our nation into another bitter and avoidable struggle, that is his right.” Meanwhile, Sens Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill) have said hearings should be held
• McConnell and GOP Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said they wouldn’t even meet with Obama’s nominee. “I don’t see the point of going through the motions and creating a misleading impression that something else is going on,” Cornyn, who referred to Obama as a “lame-duck,” said to reporters. A hearing is ultimately up to Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

• A majority of Americans, 56%, say the Senate should hold hearings on President Obama’s choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, while 38% say the Senate should wait until the next president – 66% of Republicans say to wait and 79% of Democrats say to hold hearings


• “The Senate, the world’s greatest deliberative body?” Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) asked, railing against Republicans. “They’re not going to deliberate at all.” Democrats scrambled to contain any damage from VP Joe Biden’s 1992 floor speech as a senator urging President Bush not to nominate (Biden is playing old-fashioned Twister over it)
• Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Grassley, calling the decision an “unprecedented and drastic departure” from Senate precedent.” Separately, ranking member Sen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) said “11 GOP senators in a back room” shouldn’t decide if Americans can have a “full-strength” Supreme Court (watch for Obama to make a statement soon)
• The GOP argument made internally against a hearing is that giving a nominee a platform could backfire for Republicans and build support for Obama and his SCOTUS pick. Republicans want to avoid proceedings that could drag on close to the election and instead halt the 24/7 news coverage of the conflict – like right now
Obama Announces Plan: Close Guantanamo (NYT, Politico, LAT, Hill, me)
• President Obama on Tuesday sent Congress a long-awaited plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, beginning a final push to fulfill a campaign promise and one of his earliest national security goals. Republican lawmakers responded with deep skepticism (sooo not going to cooperate – only route for Obama = executive order. he’s going through motions)
• At the WH, the president made clear his frustration at how what was once a bipartisan goal had become a partisan dispute. “I am very cleareyed about the hurdles to finally closing Guantanamo – the politics of this are tough,” Obama said during a statement – he took no questions from reporters
• Congress required Obama to present a plan as part of the most recent defense authorization bill. It centers on bringing between 30 and 60 detainees who are deemed too dangerous for release to a prison on domestic soil, while transferring the remaining 91 detainees to other countries
• The plan offered few specifics and didn’t identify any of the potential replacement prisons. Pentagon officials visited military prisons at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Charleston, SC, as well as several civilian prisons in Colorado. Lawmakers in those states have already freaked out


Gitmo: Will Obama Go It Alone?
• Obama’s plan faces steep obstacles. Congress has enacted a statute that bars the military from transferring detainees from Guantanamo onto domestic soil for any purpose, and congressional Republicans have shown little interest in lifting that restriction (understatement)
• Some of Obama’s former aides and legal advisers have floated the proposition that the Constitution gives him the power, as commander in chief, to move the detainees, despite the statute. The WH wouldn’t say whether Obama would consider taking executive action to close the prison if negotiations with Congress fail (i’ll bet)
• The proposal said upgrading an existing prison would require between $290 and $475 million in one-time construction expenses, but cost $65 to $85 million less annually to operate than keeping detainees at Guantanamo does. Staying at Guantanamo, the DoD will need to spend about $225 million to replace or upgrade aging infrastructure there
• GOP 2016er Ted Cruz said Tuesday, “I believe that President Obama intends to try to give the Guantanamo naval facility to Raul and Fidel Castro as a parting gift.” Marco Rubio made similar remarks. The WH has repeatedly said such a move is off the table, but it’s a great chance to slam the president ahead of his visit to Cuba in March


Zika: 14 New US Sex Cases? (NYT, me)
• The Centers for Disease Control said Tuesday they were investigating 14 new reports of the Zika virus possibly being transmitted by sex, including to pregnant women. If confirmed, the unexpectedly high number would have major implications for controlling the virus, which is usually spread by mosquito bites. There’s no treatment and no vaccine
• Scientists had believed sexual transmission of Zika to be extremely rare. “We were surprised that there was this number,” Dr Anne Schuchat, deputy director at the CDC, said. The agency said there’s no evidence that women can transfer Zika virus to their sex partners, but added that more research was needed
• In all, the U.S. has around 90 cases of Zika, which is believed to cause birth defects and a rare condition of temporary paralysis, according the CDC’s most recent count. If confirmed, the cases of sexual transmission identified on Tuesday would represent more than 10% of that total
• The CDC reported the potential cases in an alert to health care providers. In all the cases, women in the continental U.S. had sex with men who had traveled to countries where the virus is circulating and the travelers reported symptoms within two weeks of the onset of their non-traveling female partner’s symptoms
DOJ ISIS Summit Today: Western Recruitment (AP, AP, me)
• The Justice Dept is hosting a summit this afternoon to discuss efforts to counter the propaganda of ISIS and its recruitment of Westerners to become terrorists. The meeting involves govt officials as well as dozens of reps from advertising and social media companies and Silicon Valley (think about it – this is a bit late to the party)
• The summit reflects ongoing concerns about slick ISIS propaganda that encourages disaffected young adults to join the terror group’s cause or to commit acts of violence closer to home. Officials and private sector execs have been brainstorming ways to fight that messaging, which has often spread through social media platforms such as Twitter
• “Over the past year, organizations and companies across a range of industries have asked how they might contribute to efforts to counter radicalization and recruitment activities by ISIL and other violent extremists,” the DOJ said in a statement Tuesday (how many clued-in Muslims or representatives from Muslim youth are attending? – without them it’s pointless)
• The meeting takes place amid an ongoing technology encryption clash that has divided the Obama admin and Silicon Valley, though a govt official said the meeting had nothing to do with that topic and was planned long before the current flare-up between the DOJ and Apple over access to a locked iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters
• Apple will tell a federal judge this week in legal papers that its fight should be kicked to Congress, rather than decided by courts (more friends of Apple on the Hill). Apple will argue that the Obama admin’s case is improper under the 1789 All Writs Act, which it will argue has never been used to compel a company to write software to help the govt
• The Syrian govt and the main opposition umbrella group say they accept the terms of a deal announced by the U.S. and Russia to cease hostilities from Saturday. But the opposition says its acceptance depends on govt forces ending sieges and air strikes on civilians (don’t hold your breath until Saturday, in other words) (BBC, me)

Judge: Clinton Aides Should Be Questioned (WaPo, Hill, WSJ, Hill, me)

• DC District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday said that top aides to former SecState Hillary Clinton should be questioned about their role in Clinton’s private email setup, and the potential that federal open records laws were skirted. The ruling came in response to a long-running lawsuit from right wing advocacy group Judicial Watch

• Sullivan, a President Bill Clinton appointee, hinted that he may order the govt to issue a subpoena to Clinton and longtime aide Huma Abedin, which would force them to hand over all of the emails from Clinton’s private server. Clinton has given only about half of the 60,000 emails from her time at State. The rest she has said, were personal and were deleted

• Sullivan ordered Judicial Watch and State to discuss plans for moving forward with discovery – a series of deadlines leading up to 15 April. “This case is about the public’s right to know,” Sullivan said, when making the ruling (how can 30,000 emails be about yoga classes and your mother’s funeral – and what did she do with her time, anyway?)

• The FBI is looking into the potential mishandling of classified info on the private server, congressional committees are probing, and there are several lawsuits against State. Critics say the arrangement may have put sensitive info at risk and made it more difficult for journalists and others to access Clinton’s records

• State staffers aren’t allowed to use private servers for official classified business, SecState John Kerry told a Senate committee Tuesday. “In today’s world, given all that we’ve learned and what we understand about the vulnerability of our system, we don’t do that, no,” Kerry said while testifying


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Victoria Jones – Editor