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.

In the News

  • Hillary Clinton tries to quell email furor
  • Democrats irate over GOP Iran letter
  • Ferguson city manager resigns
  • Human trafficking bill debacle
  • Is Netanyahu in election trouble
  • Obama said to resist pressure to arm Ukraine
  • Obama: Help students pay back loans
  • Wikimedia sues the NSA
Hillary Clinton Tries to Quell Email Furor
• Hillary Clinton, in a (defensive, lawyerly and awkward) presser Tuesday, revealed that she had deleted about half her emails from her years as SecState, saying she had turned over to the Obama admin all correspondence about govt business but had erased records about private matters, like yoga routines, her daughter’s wedding and her mother’s funeral (NYT, TRNS, me)

• She acknowledged it would have been wiser to use a govt email for official business, but said she had “fully complied with every rule” and was going “above and beyond” what was required of her in asking State to make public much of her correspondence

• “No one wants their personal emails made public,” she said, “and I think most people understand that and respect their privacy.” She said she had only convenience in mind in choosing to use just a personal email account.”

• “I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” she explained. She asked, in effect, that voters trust that she was disclosing more of them than she needed to – and even to credit her with an unusual degree of transparency (which she hasn’t been known for)

• Doc: Hillary Clinton’s office releases nine-page explainer on her email usage

• Clinton said that she turned over some 30,490 emails to State in December, nearly two years after leaving office. But she said she had deleted nearly 32,000 others

• Her confirmation that she and her aides had chosen which emails to make available to State raised new concerns about Clinton’s power to decide which records of her tenure as SecState would be available to congressional investigators, to journalists filing FOIA requests and to history

• Republicans pounced. “Because Sec Clinton has created more questions than answers, the Select Committee is left with no choice but to call her to appear at least twice,” said Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who’s chair of the committee (salivating)

• “For any govt employee, it is that govt employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work related,” Clinton told clamoring reporters. “I went above and beyond what I was requested to do.”

• Indeed, nothing prohibited federal employees from using private accounts for work when Clinton was SecState, although the practice was discouraged


• But beginning in Oct 2009, 10 months after she took office, new regs from National Archives and Records Admin said agencies where employees were free to use private email systems “must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record keeping systems.”

• Clinton’s emails were backed up on a private server, not a govt one. But she argued that, because she had sent emails to “govt officials on their State or other .gov accounts so that the emails were immediately captured and preserved” she had complied with the rule. She didn’t address how emails she sent to people outside the govt had been preserved

• Clinton said that the server that housed her email address had been set up on property guarded by the Secret Service, and that there had been no security breaches (how would she even know?). She said she had never emailed classified material to anyone (she didn’t address whether she emailed “sensitive” material to anyone)

• It’s unclear if the emails were deleted irretrievably, and a spox for Clinton declined to elaborate on how she had erased the correspondence (reporters asked multiple questions – mistake – gave her the opportunity to cherry pick which ones to answer and meant many questions were left unanswered)

• Vid: Hillary Clinton admits to using an iPhone and a Blackberry during a Q&A at a Silicon Valley event, but after the vid ends, she adds that she has an iPad and an iPad mini

• Clinton’s explanation that it was more convenient to carry only one device seemed at odds with her remark last month at a tech conference in Silicon Valley, that she uses multiple devices, including iPads, an iPhone and a Blackberry. She said then: “I don’t throw anything away. I’m like two steps short of a hoarder.”

• At one point Tuesday, Clinton said the emails she had deleted contained “personal communications from my husband and me.” But on Sunday, a spox for Bill Clinton told reporters that the former president had “sent two emails in his life.”

• After the presser, Clinton’s office provided several new details about the email account and what she has provided to State. More than 100 govt officials knew about Clinton’s use of private email, her office said. She used her email only once to communicate with a foreign official, her office said

• In 2007, Clinton, then a NY senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, accused the George W. Bush admin of using “secret WH email accounts” along with secret wiretaps and military tribunals. “You know, our Constitution is being shredded,” she said at the time
• The DoJ revealed that AG Eric Holder has used multiple govt email aliases (this isn’t rare – officials get swamped with emails). Also, former SecDef Chuck Hagel used a personal email address in at least one correspondence (not exactly earth-shattering) (Politico, me)



Democrats Irate Over GOP Iran Letter
• For the second day in a row, the WH lashed out at Senate Republicans for a highly unusual letter to Iranian leaders. “We feel that this was a blatant, flagrant and partisan attempt to interfere with the
[nuclear] negotiations,” principal deputy spox Eric Schulttz told reporters (Hill, WSJ, MSNBC, Intercept, NYT, AP, TRNS, TRNS, me)

• Senior Obama admin officials expressed concern that factions within Iran could use the letter to undo a deal, even as they said the deal’s framework could be in place by next week. “We were able to build the sanctions regime multinationally because at every juncture … it was evident to the international community that Iran was the obstacle to resolving the issue.”

• “It is shocking, dangerous, and deeply troubling to me that 47 members of this body decided … to stand on the side of the ayatollahs and the most extreme voices in Iran,” Sen Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said on the Senate floor. At the UN, Former SecState Hillary Clinton weighed in, saying Republicans were either trying to help the Iranians or hurt President Obama


• Freshman Sen Tom Cotton (R-AR), the author of the letter, who told a tele-townhall during his recent election campaign that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels joining forces to attack Arkansas was an “urgent problem,” said Tuesday, “They are nothing but hardliners in Iran and if they do all of those things without a nuclear weapon, imagine what they would do with one.”

• Iranian FM Javad Zarif, who has been steeped in the negotiations with SecState John Kerry, said Tuesday, “This kind of correspondence, which is an unprecedented and nondiplomatic action, in fact, tells us that the United States is not trustworthy.” Earlier, he dismissed the letter as a “propaganda ploy.”

• VP Joe Biden Monday night issued a harshly worded statement: “The decision to undercut our president and circumvent our constitutional system offends me as a matter of principle. As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have also offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine.”

• Interactive: Report – What’s wrong with the Ferguson PD? (NYT)

Ferguson City Manager Resigns
• John Shaw, the city manager of Ferguson and its most powerful official, whom a DoJ report blamed for overseeing the financially driven policies that led to widespread discrimination and questionable conduct by the police and courts, has agreed to resign. The announcement came during a city council meeting on Tuesday (NYT, AP, me)

• Shaw offered a staunch defense in a letter to the community that was distributed during the meeting: “I must clearly state that my office has never instructed the PD to target African Americans, not falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor. Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false.”

• In an instance in the report, Shaw acknowledged a council member’s complaints that municipal judge Ronald Brockmeyer – who was removed Tuesday – wasn’t doing a good job, but noted that “the city cannot afford to lose any efficiency in our courts, nor experience any decrease in our fines and forfeitures.”

• In another instance, Shaw responded to an email from Police Chief Tom Jackson about a record-setting month for court revenue – nearly $180,000 in Feb 2011 alone – with the exclamation, “Wonderful!”

• And when Jackson told Shaw in Jan 2013 that municipal court revenue had exceeded $2 million the previous year, the city manager was similarly excited. “Awesome!” he said, according to the federal inquiry
• Graphic: How other Missouri cities are like Ferguson (NYT)

Human Trafficking Bill / Abortion Politics Debacle

• Abortion politics – and an emerging trust gap between Democrats and Republicans – threatened to derail the ostensibly noncontroversial human trafficking bill on the Senate floor Tuesday (probably the only noncontroversial bill of the week) (Roll Call, me)

• Democrats said they were effectively hoodwinked by Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and other GOP senators with the unexpected inclusion of an expansion of the scope of the prohibition of federal funding on abortion known as the Hyde amendment (ie it was allegedly sneaked in)

• “We’re on the bill. And these provisions, my caucus did not know about them. You can blame it on staff, you can blame it on whoever you want to blame it on, but we didn’t know it was in the bill,” Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expostulated Tuesday. “The bill will not come off this floor as long as that language is in that bill.”

• Cornyn told reporters he didn’t think it was possible Democrats didn’t know about the anti-abortion provision, which represents a change from current law in applying the Hyde amendment to something other than an appropriations bill. “All members of the Judiciary Committee voted to support it.”

He Said / He Said

• “That leads me to believe that … some of the suggestions being made now that there were provisions in the legislation that people didn’t know about are simply untrue,” Cornyn said (fighting words)

• Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Democrats received a list of changes from the version of the bill introduced last Congress, and the anti-abortion piece “was not listed among them.” (who dunnit?)

• “I don’t know how that happened or who was the author of it, but the fact is the bill that is on the floor today has a provision in it which we were told would not be included,” Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. Schumer and Durbin sit on the Judiciary Committee, which voted on the bill with no dissenting votes (who didn’t read it?)

• Ranking member Sen Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, “Senate Republicans need to decide whether they want to be a majority party that works across the aisle to advance legislation, or if they want to use debates about some of the most vulnerable among us to advance their own political agenda. The children should be our priority, not just scoring political points.” (ummm)

• “This is one subject where Washington can come together on a bipartisan basis, and do some real good on behalf of some of the most vulnerable victims of some of the most heinous conduct that most of us can imagine,” Cornyn said, (or maybe we can’t)

• The ATF said Tuesday it will not seek to ban a form of armor-piercing ammunition used in AR-15 hunting rifles “at this time” after receiving more than 80,000 comments on the proposal, the “vast majority” of which were negative. “You spoke, we listened,” the ATF tweeted (NRA wins again) (Hill, me)

Is Netanyahu in Election Trouble?

• A new poll released Tuesday from the Knesset Channel finds Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in danger of losing his bid for a fourth term ahead of national elections in one week (Salon, Haaretz, me)

• The poll puts the center-left Zionist Union ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, with the Zionist Union on track to win 24 seats in the 120-seat parliament to Likud’s 21. The centrist Yesh Atid party is projected to win 14 seats

• Haaretz notes that if the Zionist Union joins forces with Yesh Atid and smaller left-leaning and Arab parties, it could form a govt with 56 seats. Combining with smaller right-rightist and ultra-Orthodox parties, Netanyahu is on track to assemble 55 seats at most – could change – really close

• The Zionist Union is a coalition of Isaac Herzog’s Labor and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah parties. If the coalition manages to form a govt, the two plan to rotate the prime ministership, with Herzog serving as premier for the first two years of the govt’s term and Livni serving for the latter half

• Both Herzog and Livni harshly criticized Netanyahu’s congressional address denouncing a potential Iranian nuclear deal, arguing that the speech further isolated Israel on the international stage

• Parker Rice, a former University of Oklahoma fraternity member who was shown in a video chanting a racial slur, issued an apology Tuesday, as did the parents of a second student (AP)

Obama Said to Resist Pressure to Arm Ukraine

• Democrats joined Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday in unanimously pressing the Obama admin to send weapons to Ukraine. Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly urged President Obama to consider such a move last week, joining SecDef Ash Carter and James Clapper, Director of National Intel (NYT, TRNS, me)

• But the president has signaled privately that despite all the pressure, he remains reluctant to send arms. In part, he has told aides and visitors that arming the Ukrainians would encourage the notion that they could actually defeat the far more powerful Russians, and so it would potentially draw a more forceful response from Moscow

• He also wants to give a shaky ceasefire a chance to take hold, despite a reported 1,000 violations so far, and seems determined to stay aligned with European allies, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that oppose arms for Ukraine

• The Obama admin has committed to sending Ukraine $118 million in nonlethal aid, but so far only about half has been delivered, officials told the panel. An announcement of more deliveries may be made as early as today, and the admin plans another $120 million of aid, such as night-vision goggles and counter-mortar radar

• Victoria Nuland, an assistant secretary of state, told the panel that there was a “spirited debate” going on inside the admin over whether to send arms to Ukraine. Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said that it was “taking a very long time” to decide

• Utah legislators Tuesday passed a bill, that if ratified by Gov Gary Herbert (R), will allow inmate executions by firing squad in the event that lethal injection drugs are unavailable. The bill will make Utah the only state in America with such a provision (where are we headed? Iran?) (Time, me)


Obama: Help Students Pay Back Loans
• President Obama laid out a plan, a Student Aid Bill of Rights, at Georgia Tech on Tuesday, to protect borrowers and make it easier for them to repay their federal student loans, avoid default and understand more clearly where their money is going (AP, WaPo, TRNS, me)

• The executive action requires student loan servicers – middlemen who borrowers deal with when repaying federal loans – to be more transparent. It stipulates that these servicers let borrowers know when they become delinquent on payments. The companies must work with borrowers who are behind on payments to ensure that they’re not charged excessive fees

• To help people avoid falling behind, companies must make it clear to borrowers when their loans are transferred from one servicer to another and ensure that payments are applied to loans with the highest interest rate unless a borrower instructs the company not to do so

• “Higher education has never been more important, but it’s also never been more expensive,” Obama said in his speech. “We’re gonna take a hard look to see if we need new laws to strengthen protections for borrowers.” Obama admitted that there’s no “silver bullet” to fix the problem of mammoth student loan debt

• The admin will set up a centralized web site where borrowers can file complaints against lenders, schools, collection agencies and student loan servicers. It will not be operational until July 2016. “We did not come from families of means,” Obama said to deafening applause. “That’s why this has been such a priority for me. When I look out at all of you, I see myself.”

• Researchers working with the CIA have spent nearly a decade trying to crack the security of iPhones and iPads – Snowden docs. Appears focused on gaining access to user data on devices around the world as well as introducing back doors to monitor devices at will. They claim to have found a way to introduce surveillance into apps sold through Apple’s App Store (Intercept, Hill, TRNS,  me)

Wikimedia Sues the NSA
• The Wikimedia Foundation, which is behind Wikipedia, joined forces Tuesday with a slew of human rights groups, The Nation magazine and other organizations in a lawsuit accusing the NSA and DoJ of violating the constitutional protections for freedom of speech and privacy (Hill, me)

• The lawsuit targets the NSA’s “upstream” surveillance program, which taps into the fiber cables that make up the backbone of the global internet and allows the agency to collect vast amounts of info about people on the web

• “As a result, whenever someone overseas views or edits a Wikipedia page, it’s likely that the NSA is tracking that activity – including the content of what was read or typed, as well as other info that can be linked to the person’s physical location and possible identity,” Wikimedia and Wikipedia wrote in a joint NYT oped announcing the lawsuit

• Because the ops are largely overseen solely by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – which operates out of the public eye and has been accused of acting as a rubber stamp for intel agencies – the foundation accused the NSA of violating the guarantees of a fair legal system

• In 2013, a similar lawsuit by Amnesty International was tossed out by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the organization wasn’t affected by the spying and had no standing to sue. That decision came before Edward Snowden’s leaks, which included a slide featuring Wikipedia’s logo alongside other top websites
• Robin Thicke noticeably ripped off Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” when he wrote the smash hit “Blurred Lines” with Pharrell Williams and T.I., an LA jury has decided. Thicke and Williams must pay Gaye’s family $7.3 million as part of the ruling (Variety, Rolling Stone)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Mary Jarvis, Loretta Lewis, William McDonald and Midori Nishida contributed to this report


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