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

  • Emails: 6 questions for Hillary Clinton
  • Obama says he learned last week
  • Feinstein wants answers from Clinton
  • Troubles ahead for Congress
  • Debt limit: Both sides jockeying
  • Iran: Obama prepared to walk away
  • Thousands march on Selma bridge
  • Iowa ag summit for 2016ers: 5 takeaways
  • Obama: High-tech hiring effort
  • Dempsey: Some Iraqi troops not ready

Emails: 6 Questions for Hillary Clinton

Why did Clinton set up this email system? No other secstate has used one exclusively. Did she simply want to have as much control over her email correspondence as possible? If so, why? Was there political motivation, to shield communications from the GOP? Did she consider a private server more secure from hacking? If so, who advised her? (WaPo)

How many emails did Clinton send from her private account during her four years at the State Dept? Clinton World has shipped 55,000 pages of emails to State. How many more pages exist? A Clinton aide has said 90% of those turned over were between Clinton and agency employees. The others were other govt officials. Still doesn’t say if that was all the emails

What did Clinton mean with her tweet? “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them…” Did she mean the 55,000 pages? Or all of her emails? If it’s all her emails, the burden to turn them over rests with her, not State


Who was in charge of deciding which emails Clinton sent to State for archiving? We know someone (or people) in Clinton’s orbit went through the emails to decide which ones should be shipped to State. The supposed standard for withholding was “personal.” But we don’t know who it was and we need to

Did anyone at State or the WH raise concerns about Clinton’s exclusive use of the private email system? A Friday Politico piece said the WH, State and Clinton’s personal office knew in August that House Republicans had info that Clinton used personal email. Did anyone at State or the WH raise a red flag earlier? If so, what was Clinton’s response? Did it get to her?

How do we know there was no classified info in those emails? What about “sensitive” material, and if they did include “sensitive” material, did her email system meet State requirements for the exchange of such info? State has said there didn’t appear to be any classified info, but they needed to go through the trove again to check for “sensitive” info – so – wiggle room
Clinton Emails: Obama Says He Learned Last Week
• President Obama said Saturday that he had learned only last week that Hillary Clinton used a private email system for her official correspondence when she was SecState. In a CBS News interview, Obama said the policy of his admin was to “encourage transparency” and he was pleased Clinton had instructed State to turn over her emails for archiving (NYT, me)

• “My emails, the Blackberry I carry around, all those records are available and archived,” Obama said. Asked how Clinton’s email practices met the standards of transparency he has called for, Obama said that “the fact that she is going to be putting them forward will allow us to make sure that people have the information they need.”

• Obama didn’t address how he could have avoided noticing that Clinton was sending emails from a “” address throughout the years she served in his admin. WH officials have said in recent days that some in the West Wing were aware that Clinton wasn’t using an official “” email address for official correspondence

• WH spox Josh Earnest has repeatedly said the guidance from admin lawyers is that employees should use their govt-issued email addresses for their official business. He’ll likely be hammered again in the briefing today

• The WH has refused to say whether they believe that Clinton violated any admin policies or broke any laws by conducting all of her business with a private email address. Clinton tweeted Wed: “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”

• Vid: Hillary Clinton – “a relatable woman on a couch” – doesn’t let a little thing like the email controversy get in the way of her inevitable rise to the presidency in SNL’s open

Feinstein Wants Answers From Clinton
• Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that Hillary Clinton “needs to step up and come out and state exactly what the situation is. I think from this point on the silence is going to hurt her.” Feinstein didn’t accuse Clinton of any wrongdoing (Hill, me)

• Former SecState Colin Powell said on ABC’s This Week Sunday that he had no record of his State Dept email messages. “I don’t have any of them – I don’t have any to turn over. I did not keep a cache of them. I did not print them off. I do not have thousands of pages somewhere in my personal files.” He declined to weigh in on what Clinton should do 

• Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair of the House select committee on Benghazi, said Sunday on CBS that there are “gaps of months and months and months” in the emails provided to the committee by Clinton. He pointed to an image of Clinton looking at a smartphone while on a trip to Libya. “We have no emails from that day. In fact, we have no emails from that trip.”

• Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA), former House Oversight Committee chair, said on CNN Sunday, “A subpoena, which Trey Gowdy issued, is so that in fact it will be a crime if she knowingly withholds documents pursuant to subpoena.”

• Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA), who sits on the House Benghazi committee, pushed back on CNN. “They issued a subpoena for records we already have. We’ve read them. There’s nothing in them. What is the law at the time? The law at the time was that she could use her personal emails as long as she preserved it.”

• Wow: “I don’t email,” Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “You can have every email I’ve ever sent. I’ve never sent one.” (HuffPo)

Troubles Ahead for Congress
• In their first major test of governing this year, Republicans stumbled, faltered – and nearly shut down the Dept of Homeland Security. And that vote may have been the easy one (NYT, me)

• In April, doctors who treat Medicare patients face a dramatic cut in pay. In May, the highway trust fund runs dry. In June, the charter for the federal Export-Import Bank ceases to exist. Then in October, across-the-board spending cuts return, the govt runs out of money – and Treasury bumps up against its borrowing limit. All require congressional action

• “We really don’t have 218 votes to determine a bathroom break over here on our side,” said Rep Charlie Dent (R-PA). “So how are we going to get 218 votes on transportation, or trade, or whatever the issue? We might as well face the political reality of our circumstances and then act accordingly.” Democrats feel empowered

• In an interview in her office, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Part of our strength stems from: They need our votes to pass something. But part of it is, it’s no use for you going down this path, because the president’s going to veto it and we’re going to sustain his veto. And that gives the president leverage and that gives us leverage.”

• But hard-line conservatives like Rep Walter Jones (R-NC) warn: “If the leadership continues to reach out to Democrats and forgets that the Republican Party has certain core principles as a party, it will create more and more animosity.”

• U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew by 295,000 jobs in February, the Labor Dept said Friday. The economy has now added more than 200,000 jobs for 12 straight months, the longest such streak since 1995. Feb’s unemployment rate came in at 5.5% down from Jan’s 5.7% (WSJ, TRNS, me)
Debt Limit: Both Sides Jockeying
• Congress will be in no hurry to raise the federal govt’s borrowing limit, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Sunday, but will act in time to avoid Washington defaulting on its debt. “The debt ceiling will be handled over a period of months,” McConnell said on CBS’s Face the Nation (Reuters, me)

• On Friday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked Congress to raise the statutory cap on borrowing “as soon as possible.” The govt is expected to exhaust its borrowing authority around 15 March, but it can take “extraordinary measures” to continue paying its bills. The CBO estimates such steps will run out sometime in October or November

• “I made it very clear after the November
[2014] election we’re certainly not going to shut down the govt or default on the national debt,” McConnell said. Even so, Congress is emerging from a contentious fight that brought the Dept of Homeland Security within hours of a partial shutdown

• Small-govt tea party activists, who make up a vocal part of Republican ranks, could try to link the debt limit to legislation that President Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress might balk at

• McConnell said he hoped a debt limit extension “might carry some other important legislation that we can agree on in connection with it.” No specifics. President Obama is likely to insist on a clean lifting of the debt limit – so here we go…

Iran: Obama Prepared to Walk Away
• President Obama said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, “”If there’s no deal, then we walk away. If we cannot verify that they are not going to obtain a nuclear weapon, that there’s a breakout period so that even if they cheated we would be able to have enough time to take action, if we don’t have that kind of deal, then we’re not going to take it.” (NYT, Hill, me)

• “If we have unprecedented transparency in that system, if we are able to verify that in fact they are not developing weapons systems, then there’s a deal to be had,” Obama said. “But that’s going to require them to accept the kind of verification and constraints on their program that so far, at least, they have not been willing to say yes to.”

• Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said later and in a separate appearance on the same program that he opposed the deal as it seemed to be emerging, saying inspections wouldn’t be a guarantee because they failed to stop North Korea from building a nuclear bomb and failed for years to detect Iran’s secret program

• But he acknowledged that in his speech to Congress last week he effectively backed off from his past insistence on holding out for a deal that would leave Iran with zero capacity to enrich uranium, even at lower grades for civilian fuel

• Obama said, “I would say that over the next month or so, we’re going to be able to determine whether or not their system is able to accept what would be an extraordinarily reasonable deal, if in fact, as they say, they are only interested in peaceful nuclear programs.”

• Sunday, the Likud election campaign said that Israeli “PM Benjamin Netanyahu said that in light of the situation that has arisen in the Middle East, any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions or withdrawals, they are simply irrelevant.” No two-state solution, in other words (Haaretz, me)
Iran: Senators Spar
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, “The fact that the president doesn’t seem to want Congress to participate in this underscores what a bad deal it is, because I think he’s afraid that we might not approve it. So I’m very worried about it.” (Hill, me)

• “I think we have to do a nuclear agreement to protect from a breakout,” Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. She said a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program “could be a real sea change for Iran” and the region as a whole

• “This negotiation was lost at the start,” said Sen Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on Fox News Sunday. “Here’s what Iran is, they’re evil,” he said later. “We do not want an economically strong Iran.”

 • “Let’s see what the negotiation produces,” Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) said, appearing with Johnson. “Let’s hope there’s an alternative to war.” Nelson sits on Homeland Security and is the top Democrat on Commerce. He said the “key” to the deal will be getting Iran to agree to “intrusive and unannounced inspections” of its nuclear programs

• The Wisconsin Justice Dept’s Division of Criminal Investigation has taken over the investigation into the shooting death in Madison by a veteran white police officer of unarmed 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was black, on Friday evening
Thousands March on Selma Bridge
• Thousands of people crowded the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma AL on Sunday, many jammed shoulder to shoulder, many unable to move, to commemorate a bloody confrontation 50 years ago between police and peaceful protesters that helped bring about the 1965 Voting Rights Act (AP, TRNS, me)

• AG Eric Holder, speaking at Brown Chapel AME Church Sunday, drew parallels between the events of 1965 and today, He noted that the “Bloody Sunday” march was sparked by the shooting death of activist Jimmie Lee Jackson, “an unarmed, young black man. “An unarmed, young black man,” he repeated

• On 7 March 1965, police beat and tear-gassed marchers at the foot of the bridge in Selma in a spasm of violence that shocked the nation. The attack helped build momentum for passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year. Saturday, President Obama joined civil rights leaders and others at the bridge


• “We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us,” Obama said. “We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character requires admitting as much.”

• Obama was joined by others, including Rep John Lewis (D-GA) – an Alabama native who was among the demonstrators attacked by law officers on a march for equal voting rights

• The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act which required states with a long history of minority voter suppression to get permission from the Justice Dept before changing voting laws

• Groups traveled to Selma from across the nation, including five busloads from Nashville. “It’s up to us … to explain to them what actually happened and why this march is happening,” said Ernest Patton, a Nashville Freedom Rider who made the trip. “They should walk up to somebody and say, ‘were you a part of this 50 years ago?’ And get the history.”
• AG Eric Holder told the WH press pool he may seek dismantling of the Ferguson PD. “If that’s what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that.” (NYT)
Iowa Ag Summit for 2016ers: 5 Takeaways
• Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), which require an amount of ethanol and biofuels being blended into the nation’s fuel supply, are wildly popular in the first-in-the-nation caucus state because they boost the corn industry. Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) came out Saturday against what he’s called “corporate welfare” in the past and the crowd was cool to his message (Politico, Hill, me)

• Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) came across as somewhat subdued and the speaker system didn’t fully project his address until he was handed a mic halfway through. Then he was heckled by a handful of protesters who had come from NJ. “Still not home after Sandy” a sign said. Christie talked them down. “My people follow me everywhere,” he boasted

• Former Gov Rick Perry (R-TX) said “I don’t even remember four years ago.” His presentation emphasized his deep roots in agriculture. In a way his rivals didn’t, Perry spoke the language of farmers. “I’ve watched a wheat crop be lost to a hail storm. I understand the vagaries…”

• Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-FL) spoke in nuances, but long replies to simple questions made him seem overly cautious and unwilling to say just what he really thinks. On America’s relationship with China, Bush said “it’s one that we need to manage with great care because of the complexity of the relationship.”

• Gov Scott Walker (R-WI) was confident, loose and relaxed. His eyebrow-raising moment was when he blanked on the name of Norman Borlaug. A procession of speakers had heaped praise on the deceased Iowa biologist for unleashing the green revolution. Walker knew he won the Nobel Prize, but couldn’t remember his name

• The three big companies that collect and disseminate credit info on more than 200 million Americans will be more proactive in resolving disputes over info contained in credit reports. A settlement will be announced today after a year of talks with New York AG Eric Schneiderman (WSJ, me)
Obama: High-Tech Hiring Effort
• Facing stubbornly stagnant wages, President Obama has obtained commitments from more than 300 employers as well as local govts in 20 regions of the country to train and hire high tech workers in an effort to drive up higher-income employment (AP, me)

• People familiar with the program said Obama is to announce the program, called TechHire, during a speech today to the National League of Cities. The initiative is designed to prepare U.S. workers for a growing number of tech jobs

• According to the WH, of the 5 million jobs available today, more than half a million of them are in fields such as software development, network admin and cybersecurity. which pay up to 50% more than the private sector, according to the WH. Obama’s attention to tech comes as the unemployment rate is dropping, but wages still remain flat

• The admin’s plan is for universities and community colleges to provide training, but to also rely on high-tech educational academies, some of which have entered into arrangements with cities to train workers in a matter of months and then help place them in jobs

• Under the plan, the federal govt would provide as-of-yet unspecified federal assistance to help local govts leverage training for high tech workers. The unemployment rate in Feb dropped to 5.5% but average hourly earnings rose just 3 cents to $24.78 from Jan

• A Russian court has charged two men in connection with the murder of Russian opposition activist Boris Nemtsov. Three other suspects in custody. A sixth man reported to have killed himself. They’re Chechens reported angry over Nemtsov’s alleged support of magazine Charlie Hebdo – but he had made few comments on Muhammad cartoons. Was known for strong criticism of the Kremlin… (set-up?) (BBC, me)



Dempsey: Some Iraqi Troops Not Ready
• Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen Martin Dempsey said Sunday, “We’ve got trainers and advisers that are waiting for some of the Iraqi units to show up, and when they’ve shown up – a handful of them – they’ve shown up understrength and sometimes without the proper equipment. The Iraqi govt can actually fix that themselves.” (WSJ, AP, me)

• Dempsey said the military part of the conflict could be concluded “in the foreseeable future.” The underlying problems – failures in Iraqi governance and a disaffected Sunni population – probably will take longer to resolve. Dempsey spoke to reporters aboard a French aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf

• Asked to respond to criticism that the U.S. isn’t using air power aggressively enough in Iraq and Syria, Dempsey said, “This is not an enemy that is sitting around in the open desert waiting for me to come find it … The enemy has adapted and they have developed tactics and techniques that make them a little more difficult to find.”

• Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi expressed concern about ISIS on Sunday on ABC’s This Week. “If they are not stopped on time, I can assure you no army in the region can stand in their … way.’ “We have to stop them for our own sake, and I think the world has to stop them for their own sake.” Abadi is scheduled to meet this week with Dempsey

• Aside from supplying drones, heavy weaponry and ground forces, Abadi said the head of Iran’s special forces unit known as the Quds Force, Qasim Soleimani, and scores of his top lieutenants were playing major roles in operations. “He comes and he goes,” Abadi said


• An oath of allegiance by Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based militant group, to ISIS on Saturday reinforces Western fears that the terrorist group is growing beyond its base in Iraq and Syria. These worries have prompted American and allied commandos to rush to train African counterterrorism troops to fight extremists on the continent (NYT)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald and Washington Desk contributed to this report


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