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.
 

SUPER TUESDAY TODAY
 
Quick News
  • Clintons’ plan to defeat Trump
  • Trump rally chaos
  • Obama to press GOP leaders: SCOTUS nominee
  • Apple on the Hill today
  • Senate opioid bill moves forward – but…
  • SCOTUS: Clarence Thomas speaks
  • Boston Marathon bomber: Didn’t care
Clintons’ Plan to Defeat Donald Trump (NYT, me)
• Since Donald Trump won South Carolina and Nevada, several Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, have said that Trump clearly had a keen sense of the electorate’s mood and that only a concerted campaign portraying him as dangerous and bigoted would win what both Clintons believe will be a close November election
 
• That strategy is beginning to take shape, with groups that support Hillary Clinton preparing to script and test ads that would portray Trump as a misogynist and an enemy to the working class whose brash temper would put the nation and the world in grave danger (they clearly see her as winning the nomination)
 
• The plan: To fight Trump’s ability to sway the news cycle, Bill Clinton wouldn’t hold back on the stump, and President Clinton has told allies he would gleefully portray Trump as incapable of handling the duties of the Oval Office. Democrats say they risk losing the presidency if they fail to take Trump seriously – as Republicans have in the primary
 
• Publicly, the Clinton op is letting the Republicans slug it out. But privately, it and other Democrats are poring over polling data to understand Trump’s populist appeal and building up troves of opposition research on his business career. Is he suited to be commander in chief and can he be relied on as a champion for anyone but himself? (no, no – but will it matter?)

 

• Meanwhile, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) took several shots at Hillary Clinton while campaigning in Massachusetts on Monday night, the eve of Super Tuesday. “One of the differences in our campaigns is I don’t have a super PAC, I don’t want a super PAC, I don’t need a super PAC,” he said (Hill)

 

Will Clintons’ Trump-Takedown Plan Work?
• But the tactics the Clintons have used for years to take down opponents may fall short in a contest between the blunt and unpredictable Trump and the cautious and scripted Clinton. “Hillary has built a large tanker ship, and she’s about to confront Somali pirates,” said Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist to former President GW Bush’s campaign (and she doesn’t listen)
 
• Trump has signaled that he would be vicious against Clinton. He said that she should be indicted for her use of a private email server as secstate and that Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs were “fair game” in the election because they were an “abuse of women.” (and his philandering?) The Clinton plan has three thrusts:
 
• Portray Trump as a heartless businessman who has worked against the interests of the working class voters he now appeals to; broadcast the degrading comments he has made against women in order to sway suburban women; and highlight his brash, explosive temper to show he’s unsuited to be commander in chief (first two might work – some voters like his temper)
 
• As Clinton tried to remain above the fray, Bill Clinton would be unleashed to respond when Trump lashed out. But there remains deep anxiety that the messages may not break through. Clinton’s uneven performance with male voters so far, especially white men, could create an opening for Trump to attract Democrats and independents
 
• And Trump’s direct and visceral style could prove difficult for Clinton, whose inclination is detailed policy talk and 12-point plans. (she doesn’t soar) And hard for her to stay above the fray. “Hope and change, not so much,” said David Plouffe, who managed Bill Clinton’s 2008 campaign. “More like hate and castrate.” (so – castrate him? it’s that kind of year…)

 

• It’s the BIG ONE: Super Tuesday today: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia – Republicans and Democrats. Alaska: GOP caucuses. Colorado: Democrats caucuses. American Samoa: Democrats / 661 GOP delegates / 865 Democratic delegates – everything to know here (Politico)

 

Trump Rally Chaos (Reuters, Reuters, NYT, Politico, Buzzfeed, me)
• A Donald Trump rally in Radford, Va, was repeatedly disrupted Monday by protesters, including some from the Black Lives Mater movement. A Time magazine photographer trying to document the exit of dozens of black protesters from the rally was grabbed by the neck and shoved to the ground by a U.S. Secret Service agent
 
• Trump taunted the protesters, repeatedly shouting: “Are you from Mexico?” at one of the them. (that’s nice) Trump followers in the audience confronted the hecklers in angry, face-to-face exchanges. As black protesters were escorted from the rally, the crowd around them began to shout, “All lives matter!” Trump said, “All lives matter.” The crowd roared with applause
 
• Trump’s rivals, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, urged him to ask NYT to release a recording of his recent interview with its editorial board, following a Buzzfeed report he told it he wasn’t serious about his immigration proposals. “By the way it is negotiable. Things are negotiable. I’ll make the wall 2 feet shorter or something,” Trump said on Fox News Monday night (intriguing…)

&&&


 
• Time photog Chris Morris was on the fringe of an enclosed media “pen” when he was seized by a Secret Service agent assigned to protect Trump. “I stepped 18 inches out of the pen and then he grabbed me by the neck and started choking me and then he slammed me to the ground,” Morris told CNN at the scene. Secret Service is looking into it
 
• Earlier Monday, Trump claimed that a “lousy earpiece” from CNN meant he couldn’t hear during an interview on Sunday when he repeatedly refused to disavow white supremacist David Duke’s support (he’s used this excuse at least twice before – it’s rubbish – he never asked Jake Tapper to repeat himself and Trump clearly knew what he was saying on Sunday)
 
• Sen Ben Sasse (R-Neb), a conservative, on Monday became the first Republican member of Congress to say he wouldn’t vote for Trump. A number of Republicans in Congress have vowed “Never Trump.” Sen John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No 2 Republican, said a Trump nomination could be an “albatross” in down-ballot races
 
Obama to Press GOP Leaders: SCOTUS Nominee (Reuters, me)
• President Obama will press Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (Iowa) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Antonon Scalia. Obama is slated to speak at 11:30 am today. Republicans vow not to act on anyone he nominates
 
• Any pick by Obama must be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. McConnell and Grassley have argued that the seat should remain vacant until Obama’s successor takes office next Jan, allowing the American people to have a say in the selection when they pick a new president (thus denying the people who already picked President Obama as president!)
 
• WH spox Josh Earnest on Monday said Obama was committed to having a serious discussion with the lawmakers about his “constitutional responsibility” to appoint a successor to Scalia. “We’ll have to see if Republicans are also committed to that kind of serious conversation,” Earnest said (could be a short, fun meeting)
 
• Without Scalia, the court now has four conservative and four liberal justices, meaning that any potential Obama nominee could tip the balance of the court to the left for the first time in decades

 

• President Obama presented the Medal of Honor on Monday to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers Jr, a Navy Seal who participated in a daring 2012 raid that rescued an American hostage in Afghanistan – read the story (AP)

Apple on the Hill Today (Intercept, AP, WaPo, me)

• Bruce Sewell, Apple’s top lawyer, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee today about why the company is refusing to help the govt access a terrorist’s phone by developing malware to hack in. Sewell will say: “Should the FBI be allowed to stop Apple, or any company, from offering the American people the safest and most secure product it can make?”
 
• “Do we want to put a limit on the technology that protects our data, and therefore our privacy and our safety, in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks?” and “Should the FBI have the right to compel a company to produce a product it doesn’t already make, to the FBI’s exact specifications and for the FBI’s use?”
 
• A California federal magistrate judge ordered Apple to help the govt break into an iPhone used by San Bernardino killer Syed Farook on 16 Feb – but Apple says that demand is onerous and oppressive. Apple thinks the answer shouldn’t come from the courts: “The decisions should be made by you and your colleagues as representatives of the people.”
 
Meanwhile…
 
• The Justice Dept cannot force Apple to provide the FBI with access to locked iPhone data in a routine Brooklyn drug case, federal Judge James Orenstein ruled Monday, concluding that Apple isn’t obligated to assist govt investigators against its will. He noted that Congress hasn’t adopted legislation that would achieve the result sought by the govt
 
• He said the interests at stake go beyond expectations of privacy and include the commercial interest in conducting business free of potentially harmful govt intrusion and the “far more fundamental and universal interest … in shielding sensitive electronically stored data from the myriad harms, great and small, that unauthorized access and misuse can cause.”
 

• The DOJ said in a statement that it’s disappointed in the ruling and plans to appeal in coming days. It said Apple had previously agreed many times prior to assist the govt and “only changed course when the govt’s application for assistance was made public  by the court.”

 

• Document: Classified 2009 email about North Korea on Hillary Clinton’s private email server (NYT) – released by State. The Dept released the final haul of emails from the 30,000 messages on Clinton’s server on Monday. The North Korea email is a point of dispute
 
Senate Opioid Bill Moves Forward – But (Hill, AP, me)
• Senators voted 89-0 to begin considering a bipartisan bill to combat drug abuse. But, “There are some signals on the horizon that indicate some potential trouble,” Sen John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. “Part of the message …
[is] give us what we want or we might hijack a bipartisan bill that would literally save lives.” (bit dramatic)
 
• Democrats want $600 million in emergency funds to be added to be bill. “I would hope that it wouldn’t come to that. We’re all interested in addressing this issue, whether it’s through funding or what’s in the [Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery] bill,” Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) told reporters when asked if she would block the measure (so she said nothing, then)
 
• Shaheen said that she was still waiting to hear if her amendment would be able to get a vote. She declined to comment on whether Democrats would block the bill if it doesn’t. Democrats argue the extra money is essential for communities ravaged by drug abuse to act quickly
 
• The bill authorizes – but doesn’t appropriate – funding for programs to combat prescription drug and heroin abuse, in addition to increasing the availability of naloxone, a drug to treat overdose. Getting the bill passed could help Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) send a signal that the Senate can still govern amid a deeply partisan Supreme Court battle
 
SCOTUS: Clarence Thomas Speaks (AP, NYT, me)
• Justice Clarence Thomas broke 10 years of silence and provoked audible gasps at the Supreme Court on Monday when he posed questions from the bench during oral arguments in a case about a federal law that bans people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns (strangely liberated by Justice Scalia’s death)
 
• With about 10 minutes left in the hourlong session, Justice Dept lawyer Ilana Eisenstein was about to sit down after asking the justices if there were no further questions. Thomas then caught her – and everyone – by surprise, asking whether a misdemeanor conviction of any other law “suspends a constitutional right” – ie to bear arms, in this particular case
 
• The sound of Thomas’ gravelly voice filling the courtroom prompted a few gasps among other lawyers attending. None of the justices reacted to his remarks (they’re a cool bunch of customers). Thomas last asked a question in court on 22 Feb 2006
 
• Perhaps Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was a sort of passing of the baton, as it left Thomas as the only member of the court fully committed to the mode of constitutional interpretation known as originalism, which seeks to apply to rulings the understanding of those who drafted and ratified the Constitution

 

Boston Marathon Bomber: Didn’t Care (Boston Globe, me)

• Dzhokhar Tsarnaev didn’t tell anyone to stay away from the Boston Marathon on 15 April 2013, because he didn’t care if any of his friends were hurt, and he only asked one friend about the bombing – to see what people thought, according to court records unsealed Monday (he was just as creepy as we suspected)
 

• Tsarnaev told federal agents two days after he was arrested hiding in a boat in Watertown, Mass, that only he and his older brother Tamerlan had planned the bombing because they couldn’t trust anyone else. Tsarnaev said he called Tamerlan – not the other way around as his lawyers suggested at trial – “to try to synchronize the two detonations.”
 

• The records were unsealed in the case of Tsarnaev’s close friend, Robel Phillipos, who is appealing his eight year sentence for lying to federal agents about seeing two other friends remove evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the bombing
 

• Tsarnaev told agents that he and his brother randomly selected the spots where they placed the bombs near the Marathon finish line. He also reportedly said that he and Tamerlan built the bombs at Tamerlan’s Cambridge house with instructions from Inspire magazine, downloaded from the internet. They used powder from fireworks bought in New Hampshire
 

• Tsarnaev’s statements were made without a lawyer present, and prosecutors agreed not to use them in his trial last year after his lawyers questioned whether the statements were legally admissible


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Victoria Jones – Editor