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’s teflon times
  • Spox “John Miller” aka Donald Trump??
  • Clinton stumps in Kentucky
  • Nevada Dem Convention: Chaos
  • Obama tells Rutgers grads ignorance not cool
    House GOP to consider impeaching IRS chief
  • Dems: Benghazi chair ignores own GOP lawyer
  • Benghazi GOP lawyer praised DoD actions
Trump’s Teflon Times (NYT, Guardian, WaPo, NYT, Reuters, WaPo, Politico, me)
• After a week of make-up meetings with Donald Trump, Republican party leaders have arrived at a new strategy to accommodate their presumptive presidential nominee: ignore his problematic attitude to women, his tax issues and his shape-shifting positions on trade, immigration, foreign relations et el and instead embrace the will of Republican voters (what they call unity)
 
• Sunday, a day after NYT published a lengthy investigation into Trump’s alleged mistreatment and objectification of women, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus told Fox News Sunday, “People don’t care. The question is, who is going to bring an earthquake to Washington DC?” (are earthquakes good things, happy things?)
 
• There are still murmurs of an effort to mount a third-party challenge. Plotters include 2012 candidate Mitt Romney and conservative commentator Wiliam Kristol, Their efforts have been rebuffed. “This is a suicide mission,” Priebus told CBS. “What people should do is take the Paul Ryan approach which is to work with Trump and find out whether or not there’s common ground.”
 
• Meanwhile, Trump was defiant on ABC on Friday. Asked whether he thought voters had a right to see his tax returns, he replied: “I don’t think they do.” He added: “It’s under routine audit. When the audit ends, I’m going to present them. That should be before the election. I hope it’s before the election.” (how would he know the IRS’s audit finish date?)

• But when asked by interviewer George Stephanopoulos what effective tax rate he pays, Trump retorted: “It’s none of your business.” “You’ll see it when I release, but I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible.” (we’ve been told twice here it’s not our business. will be interesting to see whether full, complete returns are ever released)

 

• RNC chair Reince Priebus said “people don’t care” what’s in Donald Trump’s tax returns and about how he treated women. Senior aide Paul Manafort said “middle America” isn’t interested in the tax returns – only the media are. Why are we being told people don’t care? I’ve always found “middle” America likes being well-informed. What’s actually going on here?
 
Spox “John Miller” aka Donald Trump??
• WaPo reported that “John Miller,” an alleged spox for Trump back in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, was very, very close to the mogul. So close in fact that he was the real estate mogul, making calls to reporters under an assumed name to boost Trump’s status. Another name used was “John Barron.” (Trump denies it was him – listen below – speech patterns, boasting – come on)
 
• “I’ve never seen somebody that’s so immune” to bad press, said “Mr Miller,” during an interview with People magazine in 1991. Miller talked about the billionaire’s romantic encounters and his business dealings. The recording featured phrases and speech patterns commonly used by Trump, including “he’s starting to do tremendously well financially” and use of “frankly”
 
• Trump denied it and said it didn’t sound like him. Which is interesting because in a 1990 lawsuit – regarding his alleged use of undocumented workers from Poland to build Trump Tower – Trump testified under oath that “I believe on occasion I used that name” – specifically “John Barron” but it’s widely reported he used Barron and Miller interchangeably at the time
 

• With Trump monopolizing so much of the coverage, his likely Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has been far less visible. Some Democrats fear she is being harmed by the lack of exposure. Still, last Wednesday Trump told attendees at a NJ fundraiser that Clinton “got her ass kicked” in the West Virginia primary. (she could prob do without that kind of coverage)

 

• Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson told Donald Trump in a private meeting last week that he was willing to contribute more to elect him than he has to any previous campaign, a sum that could exceed $100 million, according to two Republicans with direct knowledge of Adelson’s commitment (but all voters are equal, right?) (NYT, me)

 

Clinton Stumps in Kentucky (AP, me)
• Hillary Clinton is making a big final push in Kentucky, where rival Bernie Sanders hopes to extend his winning streak and further delay her clinching the Democratic presidential nomination. Sunday, she dropped in at Louisville churches and held rallies in Louisville and Fort Mitchell. Sanders made a swing through Kentucky as well
 
• While Clinton leads Sanders by nearly 300 pledged delegates going into Tuesday’s primaries in Kentucky and Oregon, the Vermont senator continues to win contests and has pledged to stay in the race until the July convention. Oregon is favorable terrain for Sanders, but Clinton’s campaign thinks Kentucky is competitive (but she sooo wants to be done with this primary season)
 
• In a Fort Mitchell backyard, Clinton pledged to put husband Bill Clinton “in charge of revitalizing the economy” “because, you know, he knows how to do it.” She provided no further details, but during Bill Clinton’s admin, economic growth averaged 4% per year, median family income rose and the budget deficit was turned into a surplus (plus, people like Bill)
 
• Clinton said that when people feel left behind, they “become very interested in easy answers and the kind of demagoguery we’ve seen in this election.” Clinton only briefly mentioned Sanders at both events, repeating a critique that he didn’t vote to fund the auto industry bailout. Sanders has accused Clinton of mischaracterizing his record on the issue
 

• Watch Sen Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) tell angry and vocal Bernie Sanders supporters at the Nevada Democratic convention this weekend that when they boo her, they’re booing Bernie Sanders. “I grew up in Brooklyn, I’m not afraid of bullies. I’m for Hillary Clinton because she’s for all of us. So keep booing and boo yourselves out of this election,” Boxer says (point, but do they care?)

 

Nevada Dem Convention: Chaos (AP, Las Vegas Sun News, me)
• The Nevada Democratic Convention turned into an unruly and unpredictable event, after tension with organizers led to some Bernie Sanders supporters throwing chairs and to security clearing the room, organizers said (there are disputes about exactly what happened – but this doesn’t bode well for kumbaya at the Democratic national convention)
 
• Friction between Sanders’ supporters and state Democratic Party leaders had flared throughout the day Saturday. The convention was scheduled to end by 7 pm, and when it hadn’t wrapped up by 10 pm, authorities at the Paris Las Vegas casino informed party organizers they could no longer provide the security necessary to handle the crowd
 
• Hostilities began when Sanders supporters accused state party leaders of putting them at a disadvantage, and they objected to procedural votes to approve the rules of the event on Saturday. They also questioned a credentials committee’s disqualification of 58 would-be Sanders delegates. Some Clinton delegates were ruled ineligible too, although in lower numbers
 
• Clinton has a five-delegate advantage over Sanders in Nevada, 20 to his 15, and is expected to win a majority of the state’s eight unpledged superdelegates. Going into Tuesday’s primaries, Clinton has 1,716 pledged delegates, compared with 1,433 for Sanders (not counting superdelegates – whole other thing)
 
• Sanders tried to tamp down the tensions roiling even before the convention. He issued a statement on Friday, reminding supporters that all Democrats shared the common goals of defeating Donald Trump and electing Democrats to office, “working together respectfully and constructively” – (forget about GOP convention in Cleveland, Dems in Philadelphia will be where it’s at)
 
Obama Tells Rutgers Grads Ignorance Not Cool (AP, Politico, WaPo, me)
• President Obama used an audience of 50,000 at the Rutgers University graduation ceremony on Sunday to deliver a sharp and barely concealed critique of Donald Trump. He told the students that the pace of change on the planet is accelerating, not subsiding, and that recent history has proved that the toughest challenges cannot be solved in isolation (unity theme again)
 
• “A wall won’t stop that,” Obama said, bring to mind Trump’s call for building a border wall with Mexico. “The point is, to help ourselves, we’ve got to help others – not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.” Repeatedly, Obama referred to disparaging comments about Muslims and immigrants. Also what he saw as a reject of facts, science and intellectualism in politics
 
• “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue,” Obama said. “It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about,” the president said, starting to laugh (think he’ll start to name Trump once there’s a Dem nomineee)
 
• If young people are frustrated by lack pf progress on income inequality, Obama said, they bear some responsibility. “The reason some of these things have not happened even though the majority of people have approved, it’s really simple. It’s because a huge chunk of Americans, especially young people, do not vote.” He added: “Apathy has consequences.”
 
• Obama’s speech was also infused with progressive optimism that the country’s best days are ahead of it. “The system isn’t as rigged as you think, and it isn’t as hopeless as you think,” he said. “Have faith in democracy,” Obama said a few minutes later. “It is not always pretty. I know. Really. I have been living it.”

 

• Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962 came as a result of a tip-off from an agent of the CIA, a report in the Sunday Times says. The revelations are based on an interview with ex-CIA agent Donald Rickard shortly before he died. Mandela served 27 years in jail for resisting white minority rule before being released in 1990 (BBC)

 

House GOP to Consider Impeaching IRS Chief (Politico, Hill, me)
• House Republicans will start considering whether to impeach IRS commissioner John Koskinen over accusations that he failed to comply with a subpoena and lied to Congress about the status of sensitive emails regarding the IRS tea party scandal. The docs were deleted during a House Oversight Committee probe of the scandal. Judiciary Committee will hold two hearings
 
• House Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and House Freedom Caucus chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a fervent IRS watchdog, have talked for well over a year about impeaching the commissioner. They introduced a resolution to do that with several co-sponsors. GOP leadership pushed back for months, but appear to be at least considering it

• The IRS responded with a statement reading, “Commissioner Koskinen and the IRS workforce remain focused on serving the nation’s taxpayers. In addition to completing a successful filing season this spring, we continue making progress on a number of important issues involving taxpayer service, tax enforcement and cybersecurity.” (does this include answering phones?)


 
• Koskinen took the helm of the IRS in late 2013, several months after news broke that the IRS had sidetracked hundreds of conservative tax-exempt applications for years. But while the agency admitted to making a mistake when they flagged groups using like “tea party,” it said its actions weren’t intentional or politically motivated (progressive groups were flagged, too)
 
• Republicans requested docs from the IRS about then senior official Lois Lerner only to be told in early 2014 that a large chunk of her emails were missing and unrecoverable. But years later, it turned out that about 422 backup tapes of emails did exist when Congress first asked for them – and the backups had been deleted in March 2014 during back and forth with the committee
 
 
• Expect Supreme Court end-of-year decisions to start trickling out today. With only eight sitting justices since the death in February of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, it will be interesting to see if there are 4-4 splits in some of the high-stakes pending cases
 
Dems: Benghazi Chair Ignores Own GOP Lawyer (AP, me)
• Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the House Benghazi committee’s chair, is ignoring statements by his own former lawyer indicating that the U.S. military acted properly on the night of the deadly 11 Sept 2012 attacks in Libya, the panel’s Democrats said in a letter obtained by the AP
 
• Ranking member Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md) and Rep Adam Smith (D-Wash) said Gowdy omitted the lawyer’s comments when he fired back at the Defense Dept for criticizing the GOP-led probe into the attacks that killed four Americans. Gowdy’s actions, and delays, “have damaged the credibility of the select committee beyond repair,” Cummings and Smith wrote to Gowdy
 
• The criticism by the two Democrats is the latest volley in an escalating, election-year fight over the Benghazi panel’s actions – or inaction. The panel, created in May 2014, hasn’t conducted a public hearing since Oct when former SecState Hillary Clinton testified (it’s gone on longer than the 9/11 commission – but who’s counting?)
 
• Democrats call the panel a thinly veiled excuse for Republicans to criticize Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Republicans say the Obama admin has dragged its feet, failing to produce needed documents or interview subjects, delaying a final report (that will be a GOP report as the Democrats have their arms crossed and mittens on)
 
• Ambassador Chris Stevens was among those who died during the twin assaults nearly four years ago. Previous investigations blamed failures at the State Dept for a lack of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, an issue that has dogged Clinton and other Obama admin officials

 

Benghazi Panel GOP Lawyer Praised DoD Actions
• Cummings and Smith cite comments by retired Army Lt Gen Dana Chipman, who served as chief counsel on the Benghazi panel, and attended a closed-door interview with former SecDef Leon Panetta on 8 Jan. Chipman “repeatedly commended the military’s actions on the night of the attacks during closed interviews with Defense Dept officials,” Cummings an Smith wrote
 
• Chipman to Panetta: “I think you ordered exactly the right forces to move out and to head toward a position where they could reinforce what was occurring in Benghazi or Tripoli or elsewhere in the region. And, sir, I don’t disagree with the actions you took, the recommendations you made and the decisions you directed.” (can see what that might be left out…)
 
• Chipman later told Panetta he was “worried” that U.S. officials were caught by surprise during the Benghazi raids, which occurred on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Still, Chipman told Panetta: “Nothing could have affected what occurred in Benghazi,” Cummings and Smith wrote
 

• The letter comes after Gowdy wrote to SecDef Ash Carter complaining that a top Pentagon official had intentionally mischaracterized the inquiry. Stephen C. Hedger, an asst secdef, wrote to Gowdy expressing frustration with the Gowdy panel, citing a “crescendo” of costly, duplicative and unnecessary requests including a few interviews based on talk radio or Facebook

• Democrats Bernie Sanders and Bill Clinton will campaign in Puerto Rico today as House Republicans last week missed a self-imposed deadline for a plan to help the U.S. territory manage $70 billion in debt. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said in a statement Friday that a new bill will be introduced in “the coming days.” (Hill, me)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

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