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 signed off deal to deprive US of tax $$$
  • State’s IG scolds Clinton’s email practices
  • Trump: Maybe Biden could slip in
  • Clinton email report: 5 tricky bits
  • Stunning Airport security breaches
  • Traveling this weekend? TSA not ready
  • Trump: “I’ve used aliases”
  • Obama in Japan: G7, Hiroshima
  • States sue admin: Transgender bathrooms
Trump Signed Off Deal Designed To Deprive US of Tax $$$$ (Telegraph, me)
• Ruth Sherlock, U.S. editor for the Telegraph covering the U.S. election, tweeted this morning: “#Trump lawyer #AlanGarten told @Telegraph: “If you publish this story I’m going to come after you” #tax #USElection” (note: Telegraph is a pretty conservative newspaper, tends to lean right, does good, solid reporting, not a tabloid)
• (It’s a lengthy read and I’m still diving into it – it’s only just out) Donald Trump signed off on a controversial business deal that was designed to deprive the American govt of tens of millions of dollars in tax, the Telegraph says. The billionaire approved a $50 million investment in a company – only for the deal to be rewritten weeks later as a “loan.” (sniff? sniff?)
• Experts say that the effect of this move was to skirt vast tax liabilities, and court papers seen by the Telegraph allege that the deal amounted to fraud. Independent tax accountants and lawyers said that the docs Trump signed – copies of which were obtained as part of a three-month investigation – contained “red flags” indicating the deal was irregular
• But the Republican presumptive presidential nominee signed nevertheless. Bob McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, said the disclosures raised serious questions about Trump’s judgment as well as that of his advisers (he’s going to trash the Telegraph today – and it’s in theory an ally for him – except it’s an intellectual paper – and would never endorse him)
• Trump’s tax affairs have come under scrutiny in recent weeks when he broke with U.S. political convention and refused to disclose his tax returns before the election (now he says he’ll release them aft eran IRS audit). The outspoken tycoon – who revealed last week that he earned more than $500 million last year – has boasted of how he pays as little tax “as possible.”
• More than 4,200 veterans were mistakenly declared dead and had benefits cut off by VA officials over a five-year span, according to new dept data that shows the problem was much bigger than previously believed. Following congressional pressure, VA officials approved policy changes last Dec that give people 30 days after a death notice to prove they’re alive… (Military Times)
State’s IG Scolds Clinton’s Email Practices (WaPo, TMN, NYT, me)
• The State Dept’s independent watchdog has issued a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the dept, concluding that she failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private email server and that dept staff wouldn’t have given its blessing because of the “security risks in doing so.” (very bad day in ClintonWorld – spinning like tops)
• The IG found that Clinton’s use of private email for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with dept policies meant to ensure that federal record law are followed (of course it wasn’t – it was about keeping everybody out of her business as she saw it – the Clinton Achilles heel – secrecy)
• The report says Clinton, Democratic presidential front-runner, should have printed and saved her emails during her four years in office or surrendered her work-related correspondence immediately upon stepping down in Feb 2013. Instead, Clinton provided those records in Dec 2014, nearly two years after leaving office
• The report found that a top Clinton aide was warned in 2010 that the system may not properly preserve records but dismissed those worries, indicating that the system passed legal muster. But the IG said it couldn’t show evidence of a review by legal counsel


• “Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the Dept during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary’s server,” Clinton campaign spox Brian Fallon said in a statement (“successful” – ie hackers tried, just lousy hackers)
Clinton Declined to be Interviewed for Report
• The 83-page report reviews email practices by five SecsState and generally concludes that record keeping has been spotty for years. It was particularly critical of former SecState Colin Powell – who has acknowledged that he used personal email to conduct business
• The report includes interviews with SecState John Kerry, Powell and former secs Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, but it says that Clinton declined to be interviewed. The IG, Steve Linick, was appointed by President Obama and has served since 2013 (this is really bad – no excuse to refuse to be interviewed by State. none. this should come up in a debate)
• The FBI investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified material through her use of the private server in her home in suburban New York is still underway. Officials have said they plan to interview Clinton soon; she has expressed willingness to sit for such a session. They’ve said their probe so far has found little evidence that she maliciously flouted classification rules
• About 2,000 chains of Clinton’s correspondence include emails that State has since said are classified. A WaPo analysis found that Clinton herself wrote 104 of those notes. Others were written by about 300 other people including longtime diplomats and top officials in the national security community (prediction: FBI probe will slam her for carelessness not malice)


• “The report shows that problems with the State Dept’s electronic record-keeping systems were long-standing,” Clinton campaign spox Brian Fallon said in a statement, adding that “she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her records.” (others who exactly? mice?)


Trumps’s Reax: Maybe Biden Could Slip In (Politico, TMN, Roll Call, Hill, me)
• “I hear they’re going to slip Biden in,” Donald Trump said at a campaign rally in Anaheim, Calif, Wed, in reax to the State Dept IG’s report on Hillary Clinton’s emails. “She’s as crooked as they come… She had a little bad news today,” Trump said.”It could be that we run against Crazy Bernie [Sanders]. He’s a crazy man, but that’s OK, we love crazy people.” (mirrors…)
• “The State Dept said she didn’t comply? Doesn’t surprise me because I believe all evidence that I’ve read for the past couple, at least 18 months, kind of would indicate that she didn’t comply,” Sen Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Wednesday before reviewing the report
• “Now, this is not coming from some right-wing group,” Rep Peter King (R-NY) said on MSNBC Wednesday. “This is coming from, again, an inspector general appointed by the president. I know he’s independent. But again, we’re not talking about anybody from the right wing or any conservative or any Republican.”

• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said that Clinton acted out of “good conscience.” Sen Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) told CNN, “they basically say the Dept of State and the Office of the Secretary since Colin Powell did not follow the exact rules of preserving the electronic communications so I think that’s the key here for Hillary.” (the lemming defense?)


• Clinton spox Brian Fallon said on CNN that her decision not to meet with State’s IG was because she wanted to “prioritize the Justice Dept review.” Asked repeatedly by Wolf Blitzer why she didn’t have time to do both, Fallon noted the handful of inquiries Clinton has responded to as well as reports from inside the office that the probe had an “anti-Clinton bias” – but he wasn’t leveling accusations at State (Hill)
State’s Clinton Email Report: 5 Tricky Bits (Politico, WaPo, NYT, me)
• Clinton worried about “the personal being accessible.” Top aide Huma Abedin in Nov 2010 had a discussion with Clinton about emails from Clinton’s account not being able to be received by State employees. She suggested a solution. Clinton: “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” (and there we have it. secrecy)

• Clinton never sought assistance to set up her email system to transmit “sensitive but unclassified” information “despite the fact that emails exchanged on her personal account regularly contained information marked as SBU,” the report states. SBU = sensitive but unclassified
• The arrangement made staffers nervous – and management told them to keep quiet. Two Information Resources Management staffers raised concerns with their boss in late 2010. One staffer said the director stated that the dept’s mission is to “support the Secretary and instructed the staff never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.”
• In June 2011, there were two hacking attempts on the Clinton private email server system in one day. An adviser to President Bill Clinton tried to shut down the server each time. Hillary Clinton was personally sent a memo in 2011 warning of hackers trying to target unclassified, personal email accounts and was given a classified, in-person briefing on dangers, the report says (damning)
• On 13 May 2011, the report states that two of Clinton’s immediate staff discussed via email her concern that “someone was hacking into her email” after she received an email with a suspicious link, and it appears she received an email hours later. The report found no evidence that Clinton or her staff “reported these incidents” to anyone they should have done


• Rep Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif) on Wednesday admitted that he began treating his arthritis two weeks ago with a topical, wax-based marijuana product. He said he hasn’t been able to go surfing because he’s been in pain. “I went to one of those hemp fests in San Bernardino,” he said. He tried it, and it’s the first time in a year and a half “I’ve had a decent night’s sleep.” (WaPo)
Stunning Airport Security Breaches – AP
• A years after an AP investigation first revealed persistent problems with airports’ outer defenses, breaches remain as frequent as ever – about every 10 days – despite some efforts to fortify the nation’s airfields. At the same time, leaders at some airports and the TSA are saying some of the 345 incidents AP found shouldn’t count as security breaches (oh boy)
• Was it a security breach in March 2015 when a woman walked past a vehicle exit gate at San Francisco International Airport and onto the tarmac, where she tried to flag down a jet for a trip home to Guatemala? No, it wasn’t, said the airport and TSA officials, who also tried to suppress information about the case (oh, maybe she was on a real high speed security list)
• Nor did they label it a breach when a man, following voices only he could hear, drove through a San Francisco security gate and asked a worker fueling a plane when the next flight was (sounds legit)
• After discussing intrusions openly at first, officials at several airports and the TSA started withholding details, arguing the release could expose vulnerabilities. Following a two-year legal struggle with the TSA, AP has now used newly released info to create the most comprehensive public tally of breaches
• The count shows that an intruder broke through the security surrounding one of 31 major U.S. airports on average every 13 days from the beginning of 2004 through mid-Fed; since 2012, the average has been every 9.5 days


Intruders: Guns, Knives, Delusions, Drunks
• It’s an undercount, because several airports refused to provide complete info. While several intruders had guns or knives, the TSA and airports have been more focused on stopping weapons that passengers or baggage handlers try to sneak onto planes
• After eluding security and reaching parked planes at New York City’s JFK International Airport, one intruder warned an airport worker in December that he “better not say” anything. Authorities never found the man, though they did arrest three others at different times in 2015, including one man who drove his vehicle in with a convoy entering the airfield during the Pope’s visit
• Police reports suggest many of the trespassers were disoriented, intoxicated or delusional. Some came on skateboards and bikes, while others commandeered vehicles on the tarmac. One man got in a helicopter cockpit and was preparing to take off. (!!!!) Some were caught immediately, others not for hours. Five intruders brought knives and one a loaded gun (as you do)
• Philadelphia airport officials said last year that an intoxicated woman waited for someone to drive out of a gate in April 2012, then walked through. This year, the woman had just stabbed the drive of a tractor trailer hauling $1 million of Jack Daniels in an attempt to steal it. When an airport police officer confronted her, she grabbed his gun and pointed it at his head – he arrested her
• Since AP published its initial findings, a half-dozen airports and the TSA have started to withhold all video surveillance footage and other details they previously released – and deny that some incidents were “security breaches” at all. Like: a man jumping a Ft Lauderdale airport fence and climbing onto a jet and a man caught running near planes in Atlanta (course not)
Traveling This Weekend? TSA Not Ready (Bloomberg, Hill, Bloomberg, me)
• The head of the TSA told the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday that the agency has deployed additional agents and canine units, established a centralized command center and is training nearly 800 new screening officers to help battle long airport lines this summer (sooo officers won’t be there yet this weekend…)
• “The American people are fed up,” chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said. “Change is not happening fast enough.” (hear, hear) “This crisis didn’t just come out of nowhere,” McCaul said. “Airports and airlines have been sounding the alarm for months.” (where are those disgusting Albuquerque rioters when we need them?)
• TSA administrator Peter Neffenger said lines grew in response to lawmakers’ criticism last year about lax security and cuts in the agency’s budgets that has reduced the number of screeners by about 5,000 in the past five years. Neffenger took control of the agency last July (how about low morale and incompetence?)
• Neffenger removed the head of security and other officials this week in an attempt to make lines more efficient. Meanwhile, American, Delta and United airlines will spend as much as $4 million each for extra workers at their busiest airports to help manage lines and shuffle bins at checkpoints – freeing TSA officers to focus on screening
• The efforts follow waits of as much as three hours in security lines starting last month that caused thousands of travelers to miss flights. The U.S. Travel Assn released a poll Wed indicating 22% of Americans planning summer trips have decided against flying. If you’re still going – at least two hours for domestic and three hours for international (bring Depends…)


Trump: “I’ve Used Aliases” (AP, Hill, HuffPo, Politico, me)
• GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday night, “You know, over the years I’ve used aliases,” to buy real estate. Asked by Kimmel what aliases he’d used, Trump volunteered Barron, one of the names that surfaced as a spox he allegedly called himself years ago, along with “John Miller.” Trump now denies it – but admitted it in a deposition
• Trump said he enjoyed watching Hillary Clinton’s increasingly heated sparring with Democratic rival Bernie Sanders. “I had no idea it was going to be so nasty,” said Trump, who said he would be happy to take Sanders up on an offer of a one-on-one debate. “How much is he going to pay me?” Sanders tweeted later: “Game on” – he looked forward to it before the Calif 7 June primary
• Clinton and Sanders are in a virtual dead heat in California, the biggest prize of the Democratic primary season, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Clinton is 46% to Sanders’ 43% among likely voters (ooh so embarrassing for Clinton if she loses California and limps into the convention the presumptive nominee)
• Gov Susana Martinez (R-NM)’s office fired back at Trump on Wednesday, saying she “will not be bullied” into supporting him. Trump reamed Martinez during his Tuesday rally in Albuquerque. GOP officials are worried that Trump is attacking the wrong person – a high-profile Hispanic, Republican woman, when he should be focused on Hillary Clinton
• Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, told HuffPo that Trump will probably not pick a minority or a woman as his running mate. “In fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think,” “He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do,” Manafort said. (because there are no qualified minorities or women to choose from in the GOP…)
Obama in Japan: G-7, Hiroshima (Reuters, BBC, Reuters, me)
• President Obama joined other G-7 leaders at the Shinto religion’s holiest shrine today under escort of Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe, as the G7 summit begins in the country. The visit to the shrine is controversial as critics say Abe is catering to a conservative base that wants to put religion back into politics and revive traditional values
• Concerns about the health of the global economy and Europe’s refugee crisis are among the top issues of the G7 agenda. European Council President Donald Tusk said he would seek G7 support for more global aid for refugees. “If we [G7] do not take the lead in managing this crisis, nobody would,” he told reporters (nobody wants to, that’s why)
• Other summit topics include terrorism, cyber security and maritime security, including China’s increasing assertiveness in the East and South China Seas, where Beijing has territorial disputes with Japan and several Southeast Asian nations
• Abe protested to Obama on Wednesday about the killing of a young woman in Okinawa which has reignited resentment of the heavy U.S. military presence on the southern Japanese island. “The U.S. will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation and ensure justice is done under the Japanese legal system,” Obama said
• At least three atomic bomb survivors will attend an event in Hiroshima on Friday when Obama becomes the first incumbent president to visit the site of the world’s first atomic bombing. Obama has said he will not apologize or address the debate on whether the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was justified but will honor those who died in WWII
• Predicted this one wrong. The House voted late Wed to approve a resurrected measure to bar the govt from paying federal contractors that discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Members erupted into cheers after the measure, sponsored by Rep Sean Maloney (D-NY) was approved 223-195 – an amendment to the energy and water spending bill (Hill) (well done)


Transgender Bathrooms in Schools: States Sue Obama Admin (Reuters, Hill, TMN, NYT, me)
• Officials in 11 states sued the federal govt on Wednesday, arguing that it had no authority to direct the nation’s public school districts to permit students to use the restrooms that correspond with their gender identity (strong challenge – but the admin issued guidance not firm rules, so this will be interesting)
• The lawsuit, filed in Texas, said the Obama admin had “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over common sense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”
• Amid a national debate on transgender rights, the Obama admin on 13 May told public schools that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, upsetting Republicans and raising the likelihood of fights over federal funding and legal authority
• Texas is the lead plaintiff and was joined by Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia, plus the Arizona Dept of Education and the governor of Maine. School districts from Texas and Arizona also joined the suit. Louisiana and West Virginia are the only states with Democratic governors
• “If President Obama thinks he can bully Texas schools into allowing men to have open access to girls in bathrooms, he better prepare for yet another legal fight,” Texas AG Ken Paxton said in a statement earlier this month


• Watch Sen Tom Cotton (R-Ark) lose it on the Senate floor Wednesday and rip into Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev). He slams Reid for “outrageous slander” and “cancerous leadership.” Not done, he says he’s forced to listen to Reid’s “bitter, vulgar, incoherent ramblings.” When was the last time Reid “read a bill? It was probably an electricity bill,” Cotton quipped (C-Span, me)

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Victoria Jones – Editor