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.



  • PATRIOT Act: Votarama?
  • Trading up in Senate?
  • Obama: Not losing ISIS fight
  • DC mansion murders: Arrest
  • Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi emails
  • 6 Baltimore officers indicted
  • California probes oil spill cause
  • Christie goes off on #*$^%*! press
PATRIOT Act: Votarama? (AP, Politico, TRNS, me)

• Chair of the Senate Intel Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) floated what he called a compromise Thursday that would end bulk collection of phone records by the NSA after a two-year transition period, leaving it up to the House to accept the deal or allow expiration of govt surveillance powers 1 June. “I don’t think anyone in the House wants it to go dead,” he said (er sure)

• Meanwhile, the WH and House leaders from both parties urged the Senate to take up the USA Freedom Act, HR 3361, that sailed through the House, and that would kill NSA bulk collection. Burr predicted the House bill wouldn’t get 60 votes and that a two-month extension of the current law – that he backed – wouldn’t, either

• So he’s predicting that leadership would propose the Senate vote today to extend current law between 5 days and a month, leaving it up to the House (which has already gone, gone, gone on recess) to take or leave the Senate proposal. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said he saw a “big disconnect” with the Senate. “I’ve been surprised by it.”

• In a conference call with reporters, senior admin officials were adamant that if the Senate failed to pass the USA Freedom Act, the phone records and other counterterrorism surveillance is in jeopardy. They noted that a federal appeals court ruled that the program was illegal but kept in place only because Congress was debating changes

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has set up competing votes on the House bill and on his plan for a two month extension of the current law. Burr’s proposal might result in a third vote. (w-w-weekend work?) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said a two-month extension is unworkable. She said senators should “face reality and come up with a bill.”

• A DoJ watchdog report released Thursday found that the FBI uses Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to collect at least some records about people’s activity on the internet, that it can yield gigabytes of info and that some of those searches also focused on people who weren’t direct subjects of their investigations (it’s gotta go) (Hill, me)


Senate: Trading Up (Hill, TRNS, me)

• The Senate voted 62-38 to end debate on fast-track trade legislation Thursday, handing a significant victory to President Obama and moving the bill a step closer to passage. The bill allows Obama to send a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade deal to Congress for an up-or-down vote, and prevents the deal from being amended by Congress – some Dems hate it

• But Sens Patty Murray (WA), Maria Cantwell (WA) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH) were among the final Democratic yes votes. They appeared to vote after Cantwell got a deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow a vote in June on renewing the Export-Import Bank’s charter

• The bank, which some conservative Republicans call “crony capitalism” (although it mostly helps small business), helps finance U.S. investments meant to increase trade, and has been supported in the past by Boeing. There are still votes on amendments and final passage is unlikely before today or even Saturday – gulp – they might actually work a weekend

• If the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015), S.995, is approved by the Senate, it sets up an even tougher fight in the House, where Democrats fiercely oppose it and many Republicans don’t want to give Obama additional power – or additional anything, for that matter

• Extraordinary interactive: How ISIS expands – it aims to build a broad colonial empire across many countries; a year after announcing its expansion goals, it’s operating or has cells in more than a dozen countries (NYT)

Obama: Not Losing ISIS Fight (The Atlantic, NYT, TRNS, me)

• “I don’t think we’re losing,” President Obama told The Atlantic in an interview conducted Tuesday, just two days after the Iraqi city of Ramadi fell to ISIS fighters. “There’s no doubt there was a tactical setback, although Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time, primarily because these are not Iraqi security forces that we have trained or reinforced.”

• The president’s comments came a day before ISIS seized a second city, Palmyra, in central Syria, reinforcing concerns that Obama’s strategy has faltered. The U.S. is sending 1,000 antitank rockets to Iraq to help its forces counter vehicle bombs, used to capture Ramadi, but the W.H. won’t engage in a broader overhaul of the American war effort

• “The lesson of the last dozen years

[since the Iraq War] is that Iraqis have to be willing and capable to govern their own country. If they are not willing to fight for the security of their country,” Obama said, “we cannot do that for them.” Obama also spoke about his recent disagreements with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

• Obama said that his public criticism of Netanyahu had been blown up by some who have made “a very concerted effort on the part of some political forces to equate being pro-Israel, and hence being supportive of the Jewish people, with a rubber stamp on a particular set of policies coming out of the Israeli govt.” Obama said he rejected that view

• Within minutes of President Obama’s first, cheerful tweet on his new @POTUS account, the hate-filled, racist posts and replies began. One person posted a doctored image of Obama’s iconic campaign poster, instead showing the president’s head in a noose, and replacing the word “HOPE” with “ROPE.” “We still hang for treason, don’t we?” the post said (NYT)


DC Mansion Murders: Arrest (WaPo, me)

• Police arrested late Thursday night a suspect in the gruesome killings of three members of a DC family and a housekeeper, DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. “Just got him,” Lanier said shortly before 11.30 pm, speaking of Daron Dylon Wint, 34, who was apprehended in Northeast Washington

• Wint was traveling with two women in a car. The car was following a box truck, which had two black males inside. Police found at least $10,000 in cash in the box truck. The women and the men were taken into custody. The manhunt for Wint was extended to NYC. Wint at one point worked for the victims’ family business

• Wint is charged in a warrant with first degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, his wife, Amy, their 10-year-old son, Philip, and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa. Wint has a long history of alleged assaults and threatening behavior, according to law enforcement and police records

• Police believe the victims were held overnight and had been bound. For the first time, Lanier said the suspect had targeted his victims. Wint was identified by DNA from the crust of pizza delivered to the home. Officers said all four victims were killed before the house was set on fire last week, and three of them had been stabbed or bludgeoned

• Authorities believe the victims were taken captive 13 May. On the morning of 14 May, Savvas Savopoulos’s assistant dropped off a package at the house with $40,000. Police records show a series of phone records involving Savopoulos, his assistant, a bank and an accountant in the hours before the fire. A housekeeper received a text not to come into work


• Hillary Clinton will hold her campaign’s first major event, a formal announcement rally, on 13 June, at a location TBA. Separately, the Clinton family has brought in about $12 million to the Clinton Foundation by delivering 97 paid speeches, the Foundation revealed Thursday (AP, Politico, TRNS)


Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Emails (NYT, Politico, TRNS, me)
• In a memo sent to SecState Hillary Clinton a day after the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal blamed demonstrators who were protesting “The Innocence of Muslims” video.  According to emails obtained by NYT and published Thursday, Clinton forwarded the email to top foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan, requesting “more info”

• In a second email the next day, Blumenthal noted “sensitive sources” in Libya said Ansar al-Sharia, an al Qaeda-backed terror group, had planned the attacks for a month and used the protest as a cover. That info contradicted the WH narrative at the time (and what he said the day before). “We should get this around asap,” Clinton wrote in an email to Sullivan

• The emails represent a third of the approx 850 pages of emails from Clinton’s personal account that have been turned over to State. A spox for state, Marie Harf, said Thursday, the dept will release “very, very, soon the first set we said we would release” that they have provided to the House select committee on Benghazi

• Blumenthal flagged a Salon article for Clinton on 1 Oct 2012 that warned of the Republicans’ potential intent to exploit the Benghazi attacks to damage President Obama a month before the election. Clinton forwarded to Sullivan. “Be sure Ben knows they need to be ready for this line of attack,” Clinton wrote – meaning deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes

• Clinton downplayed Blumenthal’s influence in answers to reporters’ questions this week in Iowa. “He sent me unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances, and I say that that’s just part of the give and take.” (just?) She said the emails were useful to ensure she wasn’t “caught in a bubble” with info coming only “from a certain small group of people.”

• President of the Boy Scouts of America, Robert P. Gates on Thursday urged the organization to reconsider its blanket ban on gay leaders or face “the end of us as a national movement.” The former SecDef said: “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.” (WaPo, TRNS)

6 Baltimore Officers Indicted (WaPo, TRNS, me)

• A grand jury Thursday indicted the six police officers involved in the case of Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody. Marilyn Mosby, state’s attorney for Baltimore, announced the charges during a briefing Thursday afternoon

• Charged are Officers Caesar R. Goodson Jr, William G. Porter, Edward R. Nero, Garrett E. Miller,  Sgt Alicia D. White, Lt Brian W. Rice. Goodson faces the most serious charges – second-degree -depraved-heart murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault, among other charges

• Also Thursday, federal authorities released a series of wanted posters, seeking to identify people believed to have intentionally set fires in looted stores and on the streets during overnight rioting that began shortly after Gray’s 27 April funeral

• A video of his arrest shows officers on top of Gray locking his legs in a brace, and then dragging his seemingly limp body to the back of a police transport van. Police believe Gray was injured during the 45 minutes he spent unsecured in the back of a police van, shackled at the wrist and ankles

• The union representing the officers and attorneys for the officers have lashed out against the charges and Mosby, accusing her of several conflicts of interest – her husband is a City Council member who represents the district in which Gray was arrested. They also say she rushed the investigation. Mostby’s office calls the accusations desperate


• A federal judge Thursday reaffirmed her earlier ruling that same-sex couples in Alabama have a right to wed under the Constitution, but she put the ruling on hold under the U.S. Supreme Court issues a landmark ruling on gay marriage (Reuters)


California Probes Oil Spill Cause (BBC, me)

• Clean-up crews are working around the clock as investigators look into how tens of thousands of gallons of oil spewed into the sea off Santa Barbara. More than 7,000 gallons of oil have been mopped from the spill – a fraction of the 20,000 gallons officials say spilled into the sea after a pipe burst on Tuesday

• Federal officials are to excavate the pipe to find clues to how it ruptured. Up to 105,000 gallons spilled over a period of three hours Tuesday – most stayed on land. “We deeply, deeply regret that this incident has occurred at all,” Plains All American Pipeline LP Chair and CEO Greg Armstrong said (will regret it more before this is over)

• Gov Jerry Brown (D-CA) declared a state of emergency Wednesday. “We will do everything necessary to protect California’s coastline,” he said. State and local prosecutors are investigating the incident to see if criminal charges could be brought or if there are grounds for civil liability

• It’s estimated that a nine-mile slick of oil has formed. Environmentalists are concerned that the oil may harm wildlife, including birds (already is) and whales, with seals, sea lions and whales also migrating north through the area. A wildlife official said that six oiled pelicans are being treated, and that a number of dead marine animals have been recovered

• Vid: “I’m a Muslim Not a Terrorist” by Bad Man, aka comic Humza Arshad (funny). He’s the centrepiece of the British govt’s latest effort to prevent students from joining ISIS and has been on tour with the counterterrorism unit of the Metropolitan Police. At the end of the month, he’s coming to New York and LA to hold talks with schools on his counterterrorism work (NYT)


Christie Goes Off on #*%$*! Press (Bloomberg Politics, International Business Times, me)

• Gov Chris Christie, assuring reporters that he’s still planning a 2016 presidential campaign, delivered a potty-mouthed tirade about the NJ press corps Wed night at the annual off-the-record Legislative Correspondents Dinner – it’s a fundraiser for scholarships, supposed to be lighthearted. Christie, in his seventh year, seems to have got sick and tired of it

• “Anything that gets me off this f**king stage next year, I’m willing to do anything,” Christie said. “Why do you think I might run for president? Cause I don’t know what primary is in May 2016 next year, but if I’m at it 1 f**king percent, I will be there.”

• In past years, Christie has made a video of the event, but Christie told the roomful of reporters that he was done with that. “The reason we don’t have a video is that we just don’t give a sh*t anymore,” Christie said. “We don’t give a sh*t about this or any of you.” At the top of the list of things Christie didn’t care about any longer was Claude Brodesser-Akner, a reporter for

• Christie pushed back at complaints that reporters aren’t told where Christie is at times. “This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day. Then just get the f**k away from me. Every time I turn the corner in NH, you and that beard are there. So here’s my suggestion: Open your eyes, clean the sh*t out of your ears, and pay attention.”


• Rocking – this is rocking – into the weekend with the new one from Breaking Benjamin: “Defeated”

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Nicholas Salazar, Anna Merod and Washington Desk contributed to this report

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