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

  • Iran: WH pushes nuke deal
  • Paul: “Defeat the Washington machine”
  • Clinton: Focus on contact with voters
  • SecDef to Asia: “Rebalance”
  • ACLU sues Obama admin: Immigration/abortion
  • Boston Marathon bombings: Closings
  • Ferguson election: Will people vote?
  • Rolling Stone “reckless” / Frat sues
  • Vanity Fair: Brian Williams
Iran: WH Pushes Deal
• President Obama says today, “The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.” Obama spoke on NPR’s Morning Edition today (NYT, Hill, AP, NPR, me)
• The WH deployed Energy Sec Ernest Moniz Monday – a nuclear physicist – to offer a scientific defense of a deal that Moniz said would block all Iranian pathways to a nuclear weapon. He described the emerging deal as a “forever agreement,” and said “this is not built upon trust,” describing a set of intrusive inspections

• Under the deal, Moniz said, Iran would agree – in perpetuity – to a beefed-up level of inspections by the IAEA. Other elements of the inspection regimen, such as those dealing with storage and mining of nuclear materials, would end sooner. Skeptics were undeterred

Graphic: Iran deal from both sides – “anyplace” – “immediately” – “no longer” – “snap back” – “limited” – explained (NYT, me)

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), just back from the Middle East, questioned why Iran would be allowed to retain more than 6,000 centrifuges. Meanwhile, Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY), next in line to become Senate Dem leader, said Monday that Obama must submit the deal to Congress and said he’ll support the Senate bill, due to be marked up 14 April
• The strongest international criticism has come from Israel. Israel’s minister for strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, on Monday announced 10 desired modifications for the final agreement, including an end to all R&D activity on advanced centrifuges in Iran. The Lausanne framework, as described by the U.S., leaves unclear what kind of work Iran will conduct
• The Obama admin is working feverishly to persuade lawmakers, foreign leaders and advocacy groups to embrace or at least stomach the deal. In a phone call Monday, Obama told Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman that the U.S. was committed to working with Oman and other Gulf nations to address “Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region,” the WH said
• Sen John McCain (R-AZ), 78, will declare a bid today for a sixth six-year term, an aide confirmed early this morning, ending speculation that he might retire after his term expires at the end of 2016. He’s likely to face a primary challenger (Politico)
Paul: “Defeat the Washington Machine”
• Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) will today announce his run at the presidency at 11.30 am at Louisville’s Galt House, a kickoff event that will take him to the first four nominating states this week. Today’s speech has been in the works for six weeks and early drafts didn’t mention his controversial libertarian father, Ron (Politico, TRNS, me)
• The address is designed to highlight the idea that Paul is a different kind of Republican and a different character than his father, who’s likely to be present. Paul’s advisers say the launch event will cast him as a transformative figure with a fresh approach and broad appeal – especially to voters who have spurned the GOP in recent years
• In stark terms, Paul will frame himself as “the most anti-establishment figure in the race.” Later in the week, aides say, the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier backdrop in hawkish South Carolina is a response to concerns about whether he’s strong enough on defense and foreign policy (cake and eat it)
• The slogan Paul will unveil at his announcement is: “Defeat the Washington machine. Unleash the American dream.” The slogan, beneath the RAND PAC logo of a torch flame, is designed to evoke populist, anti-establishment themes. (except Paul is a part of the Washington machine)
• GOP likely 2016er Carly Fiorina told the Blaze Radio on Monday that the drought in California “is a man-made disaster.” “California is a classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology. It’s a tragedy.” (Politico)
Clinton: Focus on Contact With Voters
• Hillary Clinton is expected to launch her presidential campaign sometime in the next two weeks with an initial focus on intimate events putting her in close contact with voters. She wants to avoid soaring speeches delivered to big rallies and the risk they’ll convey the same cloak of inevitability that contributed to her loss in 2008 (AP, me)
• The goal, according to people close to the Clinton organization, is to make her second run more about voters and less about herself. Clinton’s initial events are expected to be held in Iowa and New Hampshire
• Clinton aides have long said her second WH run will look different from the first, and a focus on smaller, more unscripted events will be how Clinton tries to make good on that pledge. In 2008, Clinton learned that she couldn’t compete with Barack Obama’s rhetorical skills at large rallies or draw the massive crowds he could
• Friends and advisers have long said Clinton is more at ease in small group settings and one-on-one conversations where she can display both policy expertise and a personal warmth that she sometimes struggles to convey in front of larger crowds. The risk is that she could be drawn off message or make a misstep – like during her recent book tour
• Clinton’s decision to sign a lease for office space in Brooklyn last week likely set off a 15-day period in which presidential candidates are required to make their intentions known. She may make the official announcement with an online video or social media post, though those plans are still being finalized, according to those familiar with the campaign plans
• Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-FL) and likely 2016er identified himself as Hispanic on a voter registration form in 2009. He checked the “Hispanic” circle. The circle next to it marked “White, not Hispanic” was not checked. A Bush spox said it was a “paperwork error.” The Bush family made much hilarity out of it Monday (NYT, Hill, TRNS, me)
SecDef to Asia: “Rebalance”
• At a time of crisis across the Middle East and beyond, the Obama admin is trying to keep its focus on a widely advertised shift to Asia. SecDef Ash Carter is visiting Japan and South Korea this week, part of a string of planned trips to the region during his first year as Pentagon chief (AP, TRNS, me)
• At Arizona State University on Monday, Carter urged Congress to give President Obama authority to complete a free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation accord that Carter said holds “enormous promise” for jobs and economic growth in the U.S. He said TPP is as important to him as a new aircraft carrier
• Before he became SecDef in Feb, Carter was a supporter of what the Obama admin calls its “rebalance” to Asia. That term was meant to rebut the implication that by giving more attention to Asia, Washington is pivoting away from its traditional allies in Europe and its extensive commitments in the Mideast
• His Tokyo visit beginning today is meant in part to smooth the way for Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s visit to Washington in late April. That trip will coincide with a historic reworking of the guidelines that govern U.S.-Japan defense cooperation in a way intended to give Japan’s self defense forces a more active role in Asian security
• Later in the week, Carter plans meetings with South Korean govt officials in Seoul and to visit U.S. troops. Among the hottest defense topics in South Korea is the prospect of deploying an advanced U.S. missile defense system, called the Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD

• Vine: NYC parks dept covers the Edward Snowden sculpture in Fort Greene Park. Three sneaky artists installed a sculpture of the NSA leaker in the park early Monday morning – fusing the sculpture on top of a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers

ACLU Sues Obama Admin: Abortion/Immigration
• The ACLU is suing the Obama admin for docs it says will show religious organizations are restricting access to abortions for unaccompanied immigrant children. The ACLU is concerned that unaccompanied immigrant teenagers who have been raped are being denied access to emergency contraception and abortion because of the beliefs of religious groups providing care
• The govt contracts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to care for unaccompanied immigrant children. The USCCB is objecting to a new reg proposed by the Obama admin that would require contractors to provide access to contraception and abortion for unaccompanied immigrant children who have been raped (Hill, me)
• “The bishops want to take millions of dollars in govt contracts, but at the same time, they don’t want to comply with the terms of the contracts,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney at the ACLU, said on a call with reporters. At the moment, the ACLU is only suing for the release of the docs, not for any action to take place
• The USCCB, along with other religious groups, has submitted comments to the Obama admin on its proposed reg, objecting to the requirement. The bishops also object to a proposed accommodation which would allow them to refer a child to others for contraception or abortion so they don’t have to provide the services themselves
• The USCCB views this as still enabling actions that violate their religious beliefs. The bishops point to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act in making the case against the reg
• The UN Security Council has demanded humanitarian access to the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus. One UN official described the situation for the 18,000 refugees there as “beyond inhumane.” The situation has deteriorated since 1 April, when ISIS launched an offensive (BBC)
Boston Marathon Bombings: Closings
• Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev followed his older brother’s lead in carrying out the 2013 bombings that killed three people, rather than acting on his own motivation, his attorney Judith Clarke argued on Monday. “There is no excuse. No one is trying to make one,” she said. Jury starts deliberations today (Reuters, me)
• But in a counterpoint to the blunt “it was him” admission of her opening statement, Clarke told the jury that brother Tamerlan, who died four days after the bombing following a gunfight with police, had planned the attack and built the bombs. “Tamerlan did that,” she said. “We need to understand who was leading and who was following.” – going for life in prison rather than death
• Tsarnaev, 21, could be sentenced to death if a jury finds him guilty of carrying out the 15 April 2013 attack and fatally shooting a police officer three days after as he and his brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, tried to flee the city
• The jury on Monday also viewed video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev standing with a backpack in the crowd at the marathon’s finish line minutes before the blasts that killed three people. Tsarnaev is also accused of the fatal shooting of an MIT police officer. Prosecutors argued that the younger Tsarnaev shared his brother’s violent ideology
• “The defendant thought that his values were more important than the people around him. He wanted to awake the mujahadeen, the holy warriors,” assistant U.S. attorney Alika Chakravarty said. “He wanted to terrorize this country. He wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people.” Chakravarty noted that Tsarnaev had copies of al Qaeda’s Inspire mag on his computers
• The Anti-Defamation League is warning Jewish institutions and individuals to prepare for a potential hacking campaign mounted by a pro-Palestinian affiliate of Anonymous today. The collective known as AnonGhost is threatening an “electronic holocaust” to coincide with the celebration of Passover (Hill)
Ferguson Election: Will People Vote?
• Voters in Ferguson MO head to the polls today for the first municipal election since the fatal shooting last year of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer led to weeks of unrest and exposed deep racial imbalances in local law enforcement, courts and govt (WSJ, me)
• The election for half of the city council’s six seats could shift the body’s racial makeup. About 67% of the city’s 21,111 residents are black, according to the 2013 Census, but the council has just one African American member. Ferguson’s mayor, who is a council member at large, is also white
• One council seat is being contested only by black candidates, and African American candidates are among those running for a second seat. The third seat is contested only by white candidates, including former Mayor Fletcher. Candidates have for weeks taken part in forums that have drawn hundreds of potential voters to ask questions
• But early predictions of turnout – voter registration and absentee ballots – aren’t signaling that the election will bring out large numbers of new voters, election officials said. The city sees traditionally low turnout for municipal races, with 11% of 13,745 registered voters coming to the polls for the last council election
• Seats are often won in uncontested races, and few African American candidates have traditionally run for city council. In 2014, the mayor ran uncontested for his seat, which isn’t open this year

• Vid: The great WH bee panic of 2015: President Obama was interrupted by buzzing bees during story time at the WH Easter Egg Roll Monday. He was attempting to read “Where The Wild Things Are.”

Rolling Stone “Reckless” / Frat Sues
• Rolling Stone’s “shock narrative” about sex assaults at the University of Virginia was rife with bad journalism, and the magazine has nobody but its own staff to blame, Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll said Monday (AP, me)
• The magazine pledged to review its practices and took the article down from its website, but publisher Jann Wenner said he won’t fire anyone. Wenner said any failures were isolated and described the student identified as “Jackie” as a “really expert fabulist storyteller” who managed to manipulate the magazine’s journalism process
• “We do disagree with any suggestion that this was Jackie’s fault,” Coll said at a presser. “The editors made judgments about attribution, fact-checking and verification that greatly increased their risks of error but had little or nothing to do with protecting Jackie’s position,” the report found
• The fraternity where “Jackie” said she was gang-raped announced Monday that it will “pursue all available legal action against the magazine.” Columbia’s review “demonstrates the reckless nature in which Rolling Stone researched and failed to verify facts in its article that erroneously accused Phi Kappa Psi of crimes its members did not commit,” its statement said
• University President Teresa Sullivan said the article hurt efforts to fight sexual violence, tarred the school’s reputation, and falsely accused some students “of heinous, criminal acts and falsely depicted others as indifferent to the suffering of their classmate.” Some students have called for disciplinary action against Jackie. Others worried that other women will suffer
• Duke topped Wisconsin 68-63 for the national title Monday night, led by Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafur, outscoring Wisconsin by 14 points over the final 13 minutes
Vanity Fair: Brian Williams
• Two months after Brian Williams’s suspension from NBC News, Vanity Fair has gone in-depth into the network’s handling of the scandal. Not much new in revelations. But plenty of damning quotations about NBC News leadership, including NBC News President Deborah Turness (Vanity Fair, Politico, me)
• “News is a very particular thing, NBC is a very particular beast, and Deborah, well, she really doesn’t have a fu*king clue,” one senior NBC executive tells Vanity Fair’s Bryan Burrough. “She’s letting the inmates run the asylum. You have kids? Well, if you let them, they’ll have ice cream every night. Same thing in TV.”
• Williams is described as an insecure man with a “penchant for embellishment” who was unable to admit that he lied about his experiences in Iraq. Richard Esposito, the NBC exec leading the ongoing investigation into the affair, “has compiled a number of other incidents that, taken as a whole, paint a portrait of Williams as a man who has consistently burnished his stories.”

&&&

• But the responsibility for NBC’s woes – which include the Ann Curry and David Gregory fiascos at Today and Meet the Press respectively – ultimately lies at the feet of Comcast, sources tell Burroughs
• Vanity Fair published the story online just minutes after midnight today, one day after Andrew Lack took over as chairman of NBC News Group, in charge of both NBC News and MSNBC. He’s charged with restoring stability. In March, current and former staff told On Media blog that Lack’s return could signal Williams’ return to the network, as Lack is a close friend
• Standing in the way of that effort is none other than Tom Brokaw, whose legacy at NBC News has long cast a shadow over Williams. “Tom will never say this for the record, but I’ve talked to him about this, and I can tell you for a fact that Tom is livid about this,” a friend of Brokaw’s tells Burroughs
• Louis Jordan, the man rescued from a disabled sailboat off the NC coast, issued a statement Monday in response to critics, explaining that he avoided sunburn and blisters by staying in the vessel’s cabin and that he survived by rationing food and water to keep his calories expenditure low (AP, me)

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___________________

Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ James Cullum, Nicholas Salazar and Washington Desk contributed to this report

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