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
  • All 3 GOP 2016ers back off loyalty pledges
  • Battery: Trump defends campaign manager
  • Democratic campaigns’ reax: told you so
  • GOP senator hammers Republicans on SCOTUS nominee
  • Democrats campaign in Wisconsin
  • Obama pushes opioid treatment
 
All 3 GOP Candidates Back Off Loyalty Pledges (Hill, Politico, Hill, AP, CNN, me)
• Donald Trump said Tuesday on CNN he will no longer honor his pledge to support the eventual Republican pick for president (i predicted that months ago). And his two GOP rivals, Sen Ted Cruz (Texas) and Gov John Kasich (Ohio), also refused to say they would support Trump or whoever is the nominee (sending negative signals to world about standing by treaties…)
 
• Earlier, Cruz had told Anderson Cooper: “I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and family … I think nominating Donald Trump would be an absolute trainwreck, I think it would hand the general election to Hillary Clinton.”
 
• Cooper sparred with Trump over his retweet of a hideous picture of Heidi Cruz. Trump: “I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi.” Cooper: “C’mon.” Trump: I thought it was fine. She’s a pretty woman,” Cooper: You’re running for president of the U.S.” Trump: I didn’t start it. I didn’t start it.” Cooper: Sir, with all due respect, that’s the argument of a 5-year-old.” Trump: “I didn’t start it. No, it’s not.”
 
• Cooper sparred with Cruz. “In December, did you really believe Donald Trump was terrific?” (Cruz tweeted he was) Cruz: “What I knew was that the media was engaged in a lovefest, giving Donald Trump $2 billion in free media.” Cooper: “We’ve asked you for interviews pretty much every day; you’ve declined every offer on my program.” The exchange continued, with Cruz dodging
 
• Trump attacked Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields (see below). “She shouldn’t have been touching me” (no evidence she was) “She had a pen in her hand. It could have been a knife. It might have been dangerous.” “a bomb” (so any reporter holding a pen who approaches Trump from now on should be stopped by Secret Service in case it’s a mini poisoned umbrella…)
 
Battery: Trump Defends Campaign Manager (NYT, Politico, me)
• Donald Trump’s presidential campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with battery Tuesday by police in Jupiter, Fla, who said he had grabbed a reporter this month as she tried to ask Trump a question. Lewandowski will plead not guilty. Trump said he wouldn’t be firing Lewandowski
 
• His formal arrest was detailed in a police report that cited new security camera images of the episode (Trump’s own cameras), which show Lewandowski roughly pulling reporter Michelle Fields out of his way – despite his vigorous denials that he ever touched her and his repeated attacks on her credibility, Lewandowski, who turned himself in, was quickly released
 
• Following initial reports of the incident, Trump himself speculated that Fields had “made the story up.” “I wasn’t involved in it. The Secret Service was surrounding everybody. They said nothing happened, everybody said nothing happened. Perhaps she made the story up. I think that’s what happened.” (unpack all that as this story continues – Trump now totally contradicts himself)
 
• Separately, On 19 March, Lewandowski was captured on video grabbing a protester by the shirt collar at a Trump rally in Arizona and yanking him backwards – normally the work of security guards, not a top political adviser

• Surveillance footage released Tuesday shows Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski manhandling Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, who received bruises on her arm as a result of the encounter (Gawker, me)

 

• To Trump on Tuesday, Fields was out of bounds and his campaign manager was the victim. “The news conference was over, and she was running up and grabbing and asking questions,” he said late Tuesday, in the first of several iterations. “She wasn’t supposed to be doing that.” (untrue – he took questions from at least two TV reporters – + no evidence she grabbed him)
 
• But Trump’s and Lewandowski’s depiction of Fields as a drama queen faking an injury – “How do you know those bruises weren’t there before?” Trump asked – risked a new level of fallout for a candidate repeatedly accused of making misogynistic remarks who polls show is already regarded negatively by an overwhelming number of women (and is started to sink in popularity)
 
• Lewandowski, in the weeks since the encounter, repeatedly denigrated Fields as “delusional” and “an attention seeker.” And Trump, on Tuesday, redoubled the attack on Fields’ credibility, saying, “Wouldn’t you think she would have yelled out a scream if she had bruises on her arm?” (and women are only raped if they resist fiercely, I suppose – and only by strangers…)
 
• WaPo reporter Ben Terris also witnessed the incident, and Politico posted audio of their conversation following the encounter, in which Terris and Fields can be heard discussing how she was “thrown out of the way. Terris was interviewed by the Jupiter police before they filed charges against Lewandowski
 
• A Trump spox, Hope Hicks, said Lewandowski will be represented by Scott Richardson and Kendall Coffey. Coffey has had his own trouble with the law, resigning from his job as the top federal prosecutor in South Florida in 1996 after reports alleged that he had bitten a stripper (so he’s well qualified for the gig, then)

• Watch Donald Trump blame former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields for the bruises on her arm, saying she would have screamed at the time if she had got them during the incident

 

• Lewandowski, 42, has been a combative and sometimes divisive figure in Trump’s circle. He has been known to scream and curse at reporters with regularity, putting some on a “blacklist” for coverage he considers unfavorable. (some female reporters covering Trump have claimed they don’t answer the phone late at night from Lewandowski as he hits on them or harasses them)
 
• In 1999, as chief of staff to then Rep Bob Ney (R-Ohio) – Ney now with TMN – Lewandowski was charged with a misdemeanor when he took a pistol into a congressional office building. He claimed it had been an accident. The police seized the weapon, prompting him to sue unsuccessfully, claiming he had been stripped of his gun without due process
 
• The Fields episode set off an incendiary dispute within Breitbart News, the conservative website where she worked and that has at times been a vocal champion of Trump. Several of its journalists resigned after accusing management of failing to support Fields, who resigned six days after the episode (didn’t support) – “Clearly I was wrong,” top exec Joel Pollak tweeted Tuesday
 
• The new security camera images show Lewandowski reaching for and then grabbing Fields’s arm, tugging at her clothing as he pulls her, then walking ahead of her as she reacts, close behind Trump. The entire episode takes less than four seconds
 
• Before his late-afternoon remarks, Trump tweeted like crazy at midday, in one asking cryptically why people weren’t looking at Fields’ “earliest statements as to what happened” from “before she found out the episode was on tape.” To which Fields tweeted in reply: “Because my story never changed: Seriously, just stop lying.”
 

Timeline of accusations and denials leading to arrest of Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (CNN)

 

Democratic Campaigns’ Reax (Politico, Hill, AP, me)
• Hillary Clinton said in Wisconsin Tuesday that Donald Trump has been “inciting violent behavior, aggressive behavior.” She declined to comment on the charges themselves, but said Michelle Fields “deserves a lot of credit for following through on the way she was physically manhandled.” “Ultimately,” Clinton said, “the responsibility is Mr Trump’s.”
 
• “I think Sen
[Bernie] Sanders has been very upfront of the kind of thuggery that happens at many of these Trump events,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said. “I think that the kind of advocacy of violence by Donald Trump is really unacceptable, and this is what it leads to.”
 
• Jim Messina, President Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, slammed Trump, tweeting that “Campaigns and their staff are a reflection of their candidate. Clowns hire clowns.” Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, tweeted: “A Presidential campaign manager’s job is to manager the circus. Not become one.”
 
• “Donald Trump’s campaign has come to be known for his outrageous lies and violent rallies, violence encouraged by the candidate himself,” David Brock said in a statement released through Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton super PAC he founded. “Trump needs to end the reality TV show that his campaign has become and tell Lewandoski, ‘You’re fired.'”
 
• The State Dept and Pentagon ordered the families of U.S. diplomats and military personnel on Tuesday to leave posts in southern Turkey due to “increased threats from terrorist groups” in the country (Reuters)
 

GOP Senator Criticizes Republicans Over SCOTUS Nominee (Reuters, Politico, me)

• Sen Mark Kirk (R-Ill) on Tuesday accused many of his fellow Senate Republicans of being “closed-minded” by refusing to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court (not that he’s necessarily going to vote for him, just meet with him)
 

• Kirk, the first Republican to meet with Garland since the appellate court judge’s 16 March nomination, told reporters before the private meeting: “We need open-minded, rational, responsible people to keep an open mind to make sure the [confirmation] process works.”
 

• Asked whether that meant that Republican senators such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), weren’t open-minded and rational because they’re refusing even to meet with Garland, Kirk responded, “I think when you just say, ‘I’m not going to meet with him at all,’ – that’s too closed-minded.” Kirk is facing a very tough re-election battle
 

• Seventeen Republicans, from conservatives like Marco Rubio to the more centrist Lisa Murkowski, have signaled some willingness to sit down with Garland after McConnell set the tone for the conference by refusing a meeting with Obama’s nominee
 

• Republicans inside and outside the Capitol say there’s never been an edict from McConnell or anyone else to deny Garland a meeting with senators, though Sen Susan Collins (R-Maine), a centrist who supports Judiciary Committee hearings, told a Maine radio station that McConnell is “not real happy” with her

 

• The Supreme Court on Tuesday divided 4-4 in a case that, before Justice Scalia’s death, threatened to roll back state laws requiring some public sector workers to pay union fees. Before Scalia’s death, unions had been expected to lose. Instead, the case ended in a tie, upholding a lower court ruling in favor of the California Teachers Assn (Hill)

 

Democrats Campagn in Wisconsin (NYT, WBAY, AP, Politico, me)
• Hillary Clinton spoke to African-American parents about gun violence on Tuesday. “The epidemic of gun violence spares no one, but it is concentrated in areas that are short on hope and where we still face the effects of systemic racism,” Clinton said at the Tabernacle Community Baptist Church in Milwaukee. “We can’t go on like this, my friends.”
 
• For all the emotional impact of the event, speaking about  gun violence has also proved politically beneficial to Clinton. And with Clinton’s prospects in next Tuesday’s primary, where she lost to Sen Barack Obama in 2008, appearing dim, the black voters concentrated in Milwaukee can help deliver delegates and cushion a potential loss to Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt)
 
• Meanwhile, Sanders spoke before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,700 at an arts center in Appleton. “We’re going to end private prisons. Corporations should not be making money locking up fellow Americans,” Sanders said
 
• Sanders said governors like Gov Scott Walker (R-Wis) have been making it harder for people to participate in the political process and vote. Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which went into effect this year, is one of the most restrictive in the country. If elected president, Sanders said, he will take on Walker and others to make it easier for people to vote (not sure how he’d do that)
 
• Aaand Clinton’s campaign on Tuesday refused to budge from its refusal to participate in any future debates until Sanders pledges not to launch any attacks on her (kind of lame). Sanders’ campaign isn’t backing off, saying that Clinton only wants to debate when it suits her position in the polls and she should accept his offer to debate in New York ahead of the 19 April primary

 

• A second federal judge has taken the rare step of allowing a group suing for records from Hillary Clinton’s time as secstate to seek sworn testimony from officials, saying there was “evidence of govt wrong-doing and bad faith.”  (drip drip) (Reuters, me)
 

Obama Pushes Opioid Treatment (AP, Hill, me)

• President Obama said Tuesday that more people are being killed from opioid overdoses than from traffic accidents. “I think the public doesn’t fully appreciate yet the scope of the problem,” Obama told about 2,000 people attending the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit. He said the issue has to be moved to the top of the nation’s radar screen
 

• Obama’s appearance at the conference came as his admin issued proposed regs and announced new funding for states to purchase and distribute the opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone, and to train first responders and others on its use. The actions also coincide with a commitment from 60 medical schools to heighten training for prescribing opioids
 

• Congress is attempting to allocate more resources to confront the problem – a rare area of agreement in an election year. But the WH is critical of a Senate bill it says lacks critical funding. Obama is seeking $1.1 billion in new money to expand treatment for opioid addiction – about triple current levels (but some House Republicans say it’s not the job of the federal govt)
 

• Obama suggested that the nation’s response to the opioid crisis has lagged because drug addiction until recently was perceived as a “poor and minority” problem. “I think we have to be honest about this.” “One of the things that’s changed in this opioids debate is a recognition that this reaches everybody.”

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Victoria Jones – Editor