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
  • Trump towers in New York
  • Clinton wins NY: “This one’s personal”
  • Flint water crisis: Criminal charges today
  • Graham: Hold Saudi 9/11 bill, but…
  • Obama to Saudi Arabia: Strained
  • Utah: Porn public health crisis
  • Court rules for transgender student
Trump Towers in New York (NYT, AP, Politico, AP, Hill, me)
• Donald Trump secured a commanding victory in the Republican New York primary Tuesday, winning at least 89 of the 98 GOP delegates, adding to his lead over Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and significantly improving his chances of winning the Republican nomination. No delegates for Cruz. Gov John Kasich (R-Ohio) won at least three – (and won’t drop out)
 
• Trump appeared Tuesday night in the lobby of Trump Tower to the strains of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” He then walked a red carpet with an American flag as a backdrop, the whole scene bathed in red, white and blue lights (taste factor – Melania? please – anyone – help the WH if he ever gets his hands on it)
 
• Trump’s speech was more restrained than any other he has given on an election night – a focused, tightened message about trade and the economy as he prepares to campaign in states hit hard by manufacturing job losses. The speech reflected the growing influence of Paul Manafort (earlier, Trump said, bizarrely and egotistically, that it was a “great honor” to vote for himself…)

• NYC comptroller Scott Stringer announced an audit Tuesday of the city’s Board of Elections amid reports that thousands of voters have had difficulty accessing the polls or have been wrongly removed from the voter rolls – reports of closed polling places, broken machines and voters not on the rolls (Hill)

 

• Cruz’s poor showing left him without any mathematical chance of clinching the nomination before the GOP convention in July, though Trump could still end up short of the needed 1,237 delegates needed to seal victory before the gathering. But: “We don’t have much of a race anymore,” Trump boasted during his victory rally
 
• Cruz sought to spin the loss as Trump simply being a hometown guy. “I am so excited to share with you what America has learned over the past few months. And it has nothing to do with a politician tonight winning his home state. … We have learned that America is at a point of choosing.” (yup #NewYorkValuesFail, Ted)
 
• Ron Nehring, Cruz’s spox, said on Fox News Tuesday night, “I think it’s very, very likely – if not a certainty at this point – that this will be a contested convention.” “Donald Trump does something every day to alienate even more people and that’s why the Republican Party is absolutely not going to consolidate behind him.” (remember I said months ago: Trump would “move” to middle?)
 
• Manafort and other new Trump hire Rick Wiley will be critical as Trump tries to ensure that delegates are loyal to him in a contested convention – could be tough. But Trump could wrap things up if he finishes strong in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware – all next week – as well as New Jersey and California in early June (North East not easy for Cruz)
 
 
• Fox News spent 666 (satanic) minutes interviewing GOP candidates or surrogates with 11 minutes on Democrats, between 21 March and 15 April, according to the conservative Media Research Center. CNN: 729 minutes on GOP and 326 minutes on Democrats, including the debate. MSNBC: 296 minutes on Democrats in prime time and 246 minutes for GOP (AP)

 

Clinton Wins New York: “This One’s Personal” (Politico, NYT, AP, Hill, me)
• Hillary Clinton’s decisive victory in New York Tuesday ended a string of wins by Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and gave her more delegates than her advisers expected. With 247 delegates at stake, Clinton will pick up at least 135. Sanders will win at last 104. Based on only primaries and caucuses, Clinton now has 1,242 delegates to Sanders’ 1,149. It takes 2,383 to win
 
• Five states that vote on 26 April – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island – are seen as playing to Clinton’s strengths. Ted Devine, a senior adviser to Sanders, told AP late Tuesday night that the campaign would “assess where we are” after those contests. Sanders said he was going to recharge today. Clinton is in a strong position this morning
 
• Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said on MSNBC Tuesday night that the campaign would be within its rights to try to persuade superdelegates – elected officials and party insiders – to switch from Clinton to Sanders regardless of the state of the delegate count at the convention in July. “We’re going to go to the convention,” Weaver said

• Working against Sanders was New York’s closed primary system in which only registered Democrats cast ballots, walling off independents who make up a big chunk of Sanders’ support – as many as 3 million. The Sanders campaign also said in a statement: “We are deeply disturbed by what we’re hearing from polling places across the state.” – long lines, understaffing etc


 
• Exit polls suggested Democrats were ready to rally around whoever the party nominates. Nearly 7 in 10 Sanders supporters in New York said that they would definitely or probably vote for Clinton if she is the party’s pick. About two-thirds of Democratic voters said they’ve been energized by the nomination process. “This one’s personal,” Clinton said of her victory
 
• A judge on the secretive Foreign Intel Surveillance Court was “extremely concerned” that analysts within the NSA “potentially” violated the law by improperly failing to delete info collected about people on the internet, a heavily redacted declassified opinion states. The office of the DNI – bleated – in a statement that there was no intent to leave a “misimpression or misunderstanding” – course not (me, Hill)

 

Flint Water Crisis: Criminal Charges Today (AP, me)
• Michigan’s AG will announce criminal charges today – presser scheduled this afternoon – against a pair of state Dept of Environmental Quality officials and a local water treatment plant supervisor, alleging wrongdoing related to the city’s lead-tainted water crisis, according to anonymous govt officials familiar with the investigation
 
• The felony and misdemeanor charges include violating Michigan’s drinking water law, official misconduct, destruction of utility property and evidence tampering, according to one official. The city has been under a state of emergency for more than four months, and people there are using filters and bottled water
 
• For nearly 18 months after Flint’s water source was switched while the city was under state financial management, residents drank and bathed with improperly treated water that coursed through aging pipes and fixtures, releasing toxic lead. Gov Rick Snyder (R) announced in Oct that the city would return from the Flint River to its earlier source, Detroit municipal system
 
• But by that time, dangerously high levels of lead had been detected in the blood of some residents, including children, for whom it can cause lower IQs and behavioral problems. Outside experts have also suggested a link between the Flint River and a deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak. There were at least 91 cases, including 12 deaths, during a 17-month period – five-fold increase
 
• Snyder announced the firing of Liane Shekter Smith, former chief of the DEQ’s office of drinking water and municipal assistance. A district supervisor, Stephen Busch, is on paid leave after being suspended earlier. Mike Prysby, a district engineer, recently took another job in the agency
 

 

• The Senate on Tuesday voted 95-3 to approve legislation that would boost domestic travel security in the wake of the Brussels attacks and authorize the programs of the FAA through Sept 2017. The measure goes to the House, where lawmakers are stuck on their own bill because of a fight over privatizing the air traffic control system (Reuters, me)

 

Graham: Hold Saudi 9/11 Bill, But… (Hill, Hill, AP, NYT, me)
• WH spox Josh Earnest on Tuesday praised House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) and Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who both voiced concerns about legislation that would allow American families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for any role it played in the attacks. Graham placed a hold on the bill. “In the current political climate, bipartisan support is rare,” Earnest said
 
• Graham, a co-sponsor of the bill, cited edits made last week by Sen Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) that might expand the scope. “Anything we do in this bill can be used against us later,” Graham said. But he said he would drop his opposition if the sponsors of the bill agreed to unspecified changes. He predicted it could pass the Senate next week
 
• The WH has already threatened to veto the legislation, but stopping it in Congress would be a more favorable outcome for the admin by showing support remains for the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The fierce debate threatens to overshadow President Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia today and Thursday (GOP leaders held off on the bill while Obama was in Saudi)
 
• Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell off $750 billion in U.S. assets if the bill becomes law in order to shield it from financial risk. Obama has said passing the bill could lead to American citizens overseas being placed in legal jeopardy if other nations decide to pass reciprocal laws that remove sovereign immunity (and why wouldn’t they?)
 
• Several members of the House and Senate have joined 9/11 families in pressuring for declassification of 28 pages of a congressional report on the attacks amid speculation of a possible Saudi role. Obama said that the Director of National Intelligence has been “going through this” to make sure whatever is made public doesn’t damage U.S. national security interests
 
 
Obama to Saudi Arabia: Strained (WSJ, AP, me)
• President Obama is due in Saudi Arabia today and Thursday with relations between the U.S. and a once tightly allied group of Gulf Arab nations at a low point and on track to worsen. Differences over Iran, regional conflicts, a looming showdown over oil prices and congressional pressure over Riyadh’s alleged role in the 9/11 attacks have all clouded the mix (fun trip, then)
 
• Riyadh is seeking assurances that the U.S. hasn’t ditched loyal Gulf allies in favor of Iran. Such concerns have only intensified in the nine months since the U.S. and other world powers struck a nuclear deal with Iran. Obama has attempted to soothe that anxiety by offering deeper security ties and improved defense capabilities for the Gulf states
 
• In a new U.S.-Saudi irritant, U.S. lawmakers are lining up behind legislation that would allow courts to hold Saudi Arabia liable if the govt or Saudi officials are found to have had any role in or connection to the 9/11 attacks – as some critics have long alleged (see above)
 
• The Obama admin said Monday it’s likely to veto the bill. But there’s been a backlash from Riyadh, which vehemently denies involvement of any kind with the 9/11 plotters. The Director of National Intelligence is working to determine whether to declassify 28 pages of a congressional report that could provide answers to out standing questions
 
• Obama hopes to prod Gulf allies to put more resources into the fight against ISIS and to nudge Saudi Arabia towards a potential dialogue with Iran, WH officials said. He also is seeking diplomatic cooperation from Riyadh to help resolve the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, where Iran and Saudi Arabia are at odds (some pretty big lifts – even on a good day)

 

• President Obama is scheduled to meet with Saudi King Salman this afternoon. Thursday, he attends a six-nation Gulf summit. Then it’s on to London – lunch with Queen Elizabeth II, meeting with PM David Cameron, town hall with young people, then on to Germany for meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Various pressers planned

 

• The main purpose of the trip is a summit Thursday with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Expectations are low for significant announcements on new counterterrorism cooperation or defense measures. The summit is a follow-up to one Obama hosted last year in an attempt to gain tacit support for the Iran deal (that didn’t go so well, either)
 
• Obama’s expressed desire for a dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia – longtime rivals – has fueled the perception among Gulf states that the U.S. is turning away from them and trying to fundamentally shake up traditional alliances. Obama has fueled those concerns by questioning Riyadh’s confrontational stance
 
• “The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians – which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen – requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” Obama said recently to the Atlantic (“share the neighborhood” drove Saudis nuts)
 
• Saudi Arabia fired back, with its powerful former intel chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal accusing Obama of turning his back on the kingdom’s decadeslong friendship with the U.S. “Now, you throw us a curveball,” al-Faisal wrote in response, also rejecting Obama’s characterization of Saudis as “free riders.” (“free riders” comment – a fair one, actually – drove several nations nuts)

• Riyadh has repeatedly rejected the accusations that it helped to fund the 9/11 attacks, and cited the (carefully worded) findings of the 9/11 Commission to do so. Some Saudi officials play down strained ties. “There is no single issue that is more important than the relationship as a whole,” said Saudi Arabia’s recently appointed ambassador to the U.S.

 

 

• Houston Fox 26 TV meteorologist Mike Iscovitz got really mad that people were being forced to commute to work in the deadly floods. Watch: “If anybody got fired because they didn’t go out to work in this … call our news desk and we will expose that person on the air in front of millions of people and embarrass them. I will do that. I’m serious” Bloody right (WaPo, me)

 

Utah: Porn Public Health Crisis (KSL, me)
• Utah on Tuesday became the first state in the country to declare pornography a public health crisis, and called on the industry and businesses to help keep “evil, degrading, addictive” materials away from children. “We realize this is a bold assertion, “Gov Gary Herbert (R-Utah) said. “It is, in fact, the full-fledged truth.” (good. keep porn away from kids. legally)
 
• Herbert signed a resolution the state legislature unanimously passed earlier this year calling for education, prevention, research and policy changes to address the pornography “epidemic.” Herbert also signed a bill requiring computer technicians to report to authorities finding child pornography in the course of their work
 
• Sen Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross) said his resolution doesn’t ban anything or infringe on freedom of speech. Weiler called on the multibillion dollar pornography industry to “help us protect children from your evil, degrading, addictive harmful substances. If adults want to do that, that’s their choice.” (might be a better way than that to approach them, Todd)
 
• Brigham Young University family life professor Brian Willoughby said numerous studies connect pornography to lower mental health outcomes and relationship well-being and detrimental expectations about sex. But “we’re far from being able to make definitive causal statements about what pornography does and how it influences everyone who views it.”

 

• Fidel Castro bade farewell to Cuba’s Communist Party on Tuesday at the close of a party congress in Havana. “Soon, I will be 90,” said Castro, 89. “Our turn comes to us all, but the ideas of Cuban communism will endure.” (not all of them will) The party announced that Castro’s brother, Raul, 84, will continue as president (young activists are getting restless) (NYT, me)
 
Appeals Court Rules for Transgender Student (Reuters, AP, me)
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled for a transgender student seeking access to the bathroom of his gender identity. The ruling sent back to a lower court the widely watched case that considered whether transgender students are protected by the 1972 Title IX Act, which prohibits sex-based discrimination by schools receiving federal funding
 
• Student Gavin Grimm was barred from using the boys’ bathroom at his local high school in Gloucester County, Va. Grimm was born a female but identifies as a male. The appellate court reversed a district court’s dismissal of a Title IX claim by the student and said he could proceed with his lawsuit, which contends that the school board’s decision was discriminatory
 
• The appeals court said in its ruling that the district could “did not accord proper deference to the Dept of Education’s regulations.” The case was remanded to the district court to be reheard. First time a federal appeal court has found Title IX rights protect transgender students, the ACLU said. It could impact other states in the 4th circuit where similar cases have arisen
 
• North Carolina faces a lawsuit challenging a new state law requiring transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the sex listed on their birth certificate. North Carolina is in the 4th circuit. The law has prompted a national backlash, with businesses, politicians and entertainers announcing boycotts of the state – and legal challenges
 

Vote here to name the two eaglets (fluffy pic) born to Mr President and The First Lady at the National Arboretum in March (nobody got squashed or eaten – phew). Five pairs of names to pick from: Freedom and Liberty; Stars and Stripes; Anacostia and Potomac; Honor and Glory; Cherry and Blossom. Winning names will be announced 26 April

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Victoria Jones – Editor