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.

News Now

  • Foul! FIFA officials arrested: Corruption
  • IRS: Thieves stole tax info from 104,000
  • Immigration: Obama suffers court defeat
  • Killer weather
  • SCOTUS: One-person, one-vote
  • SCOTUS: Blacks kept off jury?
  • Obama slams Senate: Patriot Act
  • U.S. & Iraq: Blame game
  • Cleveland PD: Excessive force
  • Sanders campaigns in Vermont
  • Clinton’s emails every 60 days?
Foul! FIFA Officials Arrested: Corruption (NYT, BBC, me)

• Six top soccer officials have been arrested in an extraordinary early-morning operation in Zurich, Switzerland, to face federal corruption charges in the U.S. Plain clothes officers took the room keys from reception at their hotel and headed to their rooms (fly on wall). Two vice presidents are among those arrested. The operation was carried out peacefully (sure)

• The charges include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering. The DoJ called the alleged corruption “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted.” Officials targeted members of FIFA’s powerful executive committee, which does its business largely in secret. The corruption allegedly involves marketing and broadcast deals and bids for the World Cup (no surprise there)

• FIFA members are gathering in Zurich for their annual meeting Friday, where incumbent President Seth Blatter is seeking a fifth term. Blatter isn’t understood to be under arrest. The inquiry is a major threat to him, however. AG Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey will hold a joint presser this morning in New York. She supervised the investigation

• With more than $1.5 billion in reserves, FIFA is as much a global financial conglomerate as a sports organization. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement today that U.S. authorities suspected the officials of paying millions of dollars worth of bribes and kickbacks via U.S. banks “between the early 1990s and the present day.”


• A one-year travel ban is expiring for five senior Taliban leaders held in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, until they were released last year in exchange for Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, raising the possibility that they five can move freely around the world as early as Monday. U.S. officials have discussed with the Qataris the possibility of extending the travel ban – no deal so far (AP)


IRS: Thieves Stole Tax Info From 104,000 (CNN, CBS News, Hill, me)

• IRS Commissioner John Koskinen announced Tuesday that what appears to be a “sophisticated” crime syndicate gained access to old tax returns on the IRS website for 104,000 taxpayers using personally identifiable info obtained elsewhere (security much?)

• An unnamed cybermafia used an IRS app called “Get Transcript” to download forms full of personal info. The service is an easy way to download several years of tax forms for tasks like applying for a mortgage or college financial aid

• The hackers posed as legitimate taxpayers and tried to download forms on 200,000 people between Feb and May. They got away with about half of them. The crooks used about 15,000 of them to claim tax refunds in other people’s names. But the potential damage is worse

• Koskinen said he believes the criminals’ true mission was to gather vast amounts of personal info. Armed with that info, fraudsters can open bank accounts, credit lines and steal tax refunds in the future. IRS law enforcement agents are investigating and the agency’s own internal investigator is looking into how this happened (horses, barn doors)

IRS: Thieves Stole Personal Data

• The IRS said criminals were able to use the Get Transcript service because they plugged in personal data they had already stolen: Social Security numbers, birthdays, physical addresses and more. They even correctly answers personal identity verification questions – the ones we all know as being too specific and annoying to answer ourselves

• This shows their intent was to gain even more personal data: accurate salary info and details on specific tax deductions people take. The IRS has temporarily disabled the Get Transcript service. The agency is now trying to increase the security on the popular app; in recent months, Americans downloaded 23 million transcripts

• The IRS said it will notify by mail all 200,000 people who might have been affected. They’ll all be placed on a list of Americans who tax profiles are more closely monitored next year. The IRS is also offering paid credit protection programs for them

• The agency is offering a secure PIN to the 104,000 whose tax forms the IRS is sure were exposed. It’s not offering that protection to the 100,000 other people – even though the criminals already have their Social Security numbers and can already claim refunds in their names (ridiculous – of course they should get it)

• International negotiations with Iran are likely to continue past a deadline at the end of June, French ambassador Gerard Araud said Tuesday in DC. “The Iranians for the moment are obviously not negotiating to get an agreement very shortly,” he said at an event at the Atlantic Council (Hill)


Immigration: Obama Suffers Court Defeat (Hill, AP, Reuters, NYT, TRNS, me)

• The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday dealt President Obama a defeat as it refused to lift a Texas judge’s order blocking his sweeping executive action on immigration. The court sided 2-1 with Texas Judge Andrew Hanen, a President George W. Bush nominee

• “Because the govt is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay and the request to narrow the scope of the injunction,” the judges wrote. The DoJ is weighing its next move, according to an admin official. That could be an appeal to the full 5th Circuit or to the Supreme Court

• After Congress failed to pass an immigration overhaul last year, Obama ordered the creation of a new program that allows parents of U.S. citizens or legal resident children to apply for temporary deportation relief and work permits. He also expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that applies to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children

• But Texas and 25 other states filed a lawsuit challenging those actions, arguing Obama exceeded his constitutional authority. They also said the programs would overburden state healthcare, education and motor vehicle services

• The WH has long argued that the president acted within the law by using “prosecutorial discretion” to exempt certain immigrants from deportation who don’t pose a public safety threat and who can contribute to their communities. The DoJ also argued the temporary hold interfered with Homeland Security’s ability to protect the U.S and secure the nation’s borders


Killer Weather (NBC News, TRNS)

• A third body was found near the Blanco River in Texas on Tuesday, bringing the death toll in that state and in Oklahoma to at least 20 after weekend storms dumped rain on the region and caused devastating floods. The floodwaters affected virtually every part of Houston and paralyzed some areas

• Fourteen people are missing in Texas, including eight members of two families who were staying in a vacation home that was swept away by a tsunami-like “wall of water” that roared down the Blanco River in Wimberley over the weekend following a wave of torrential rain (beyond imagination)

• “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and the communities that have been affected by some of these devastating, record-breaking floods,” President Obama said Tuesday. Obama pledged federal assistance to the region. Search-and-rescue operations were continuing on land and air

• At least 13 people died in Texas, authorities said, including a 14-year-old boy in Desoto who was found in a storm drain, and Alyssa Ramirez, an 18-year-old homecoming queen whose car was swept off the road as she returned home form prom in Devine on Sunday, authorities said. There have been seven weather-related deaths in Oklahoma since Friday


• Amnesty International accused Hamas militants today of abducting, torturing and carrying out summary executions of Palestinians during last year’s conflict in the Gaza Strip. The report said those targeted were either political rivals or those the militant group had accused of cooperating with Israel (Telegraph)


SCOTUS: One-Person, One-Vote  (WSJ, AP, LAT, NYT)

• The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would decide whether the Constitution requires legislative districts be equal in number of registered voters, rather than only in population, taking up a case that could redefine how voting districts are formed. The court has never resolved whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters

• The court’s ruling could be immensely consequential. Should the court agree with the two Texas voters who brought the case, its ruling would shift political power from cities to rural areas, a move that would benefit Republicans. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally

• The Texas case, brought by a group that fights affirmative action policies, contended it’s unconstitutional to base voting districts on raw population, rather than on numbers of registered voters. Voter registration numbers often correlate with race and ethnicity, with whites having among the highest registration rates and Hispanics substantially lower rates

• The group, Project on Fair Representation, argued the one-person, one-vote principle in the Constitution is violated when the populations of registered voters varies, because it’s that number, rather than the overall population, which determines the proportional strength of each voter

SCOTUS: Blacks Kept Off Jury?

• The Supreme Court will consider whether prosecutors improperly singled out potential black jurors in notes and then excluded them all from the death penalty trial of a black Georgia man accused of murder. The justices agreed to hear an appeal from Timothy Foster, who was sentenced to death in 1987 for murdering a 79-year-old white woman in Rome, Georgia

• The notes show that the name of each potential black juror was highlighted on four different copies of the jury list and the word “black” was circled next to the race question on questionnaires for the black prospective jurors. Three of the prospective jurors were IDd in notes as “B(hash)1,” “B(hash)2,” “B(hash)3”

• The notes also show that the prosecutors’ investigator ranked the black prospective jurors against each other in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors.” Prosecutors struck all four black jurors out of the 42 qualified jurors. The prosecutors submitted an affidavit saying they didn’t make the green highlight marks noting prospective black jurors

• A Georgia state court sided with prosecutors who said they challenged each of the possible black jurors for legitimate, race-neutral reasons and didn’t rely on the highlighted jury lists. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. (anyone smell anything?) Just one year before Foster’s trial, SCOTUS ruled that it’s unconstitutional to dismiss a potential juror because of race

• Amtrak announced Tuesday that it will begin installing inward facing cameras aboard its locomotives, following the fatal crash of Amtrak 188 two weeks ago. Investigators have been frustrated by the lack of clarity about what went on inside the cab of the train that crashed. Engineer Brandon Bostian says he (still!) doesn’t recall anything right before the crash (CNN, TRNS)


Obama Slams Senate: Patriot Act (WaPo, Hill, AP, TRNS, me)

• President Obama on Tuesday slammed the Senate for failing to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire on 1 June. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama called on the Senate to “work through” the Memorial Day recess. “This needs to get done,” Obama said during a meeting with NATO SecGen Jens Stoltenberg (not on recess…)

• Obama said the Senate should take another look at the USA Freedom Act, “which strikes an appropriate balance.” The bill would renew portions of the Patriot Act while placing new limits on the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records. A House GOP leadership aide said Tuesday afternoon there were no talks happening between the two chambers (good start?)

• Obama noted that the expiring portions also include other powers “that are non-controversial” that will lapse. They include a tool used by the govt to eavesdrop on suspects who continuously discard their cellphones, and a provision that allows the FBI to collect records from hotels, rental car companies and libraries (libraries?)

• Meanwhile, Sen Rand Paul (R-KY), who played a major role in forcing the Senate to adjourn without taking action, said Monday he wants to add two amendments to the USA Freedom Act. He wants a vote on ending the bulk collection, and he said that data that has already been collected “should be purged” or thrown out


U.S. & Iraq: Blame Game (Hill, TRNS, me)

• The WH on Tuesday stood by SecDef Ash Carter’s Sunday statement that the Iraqis lacked “the will to fight” against encroaching ISIS militants, with spox Josh Earnest calling it a “problem we’ve seen in the past.”

• The Pentagon took it a step further, saying the Iraqi troops “chose to withdraw” from Ramadi despite a “substantial” advantage in combat power. “The command and control structure does not appear to have been fully up to the task,” spox Army Col Steve Warren said. The U.S. wants Baghdad to speed up arms and equipment to the Sunnis and Kurds (#whatamess)

• Hakim al-Zamili, Iraq’s head of the parliamentary defense and security committee, called Carter’s criticism “unrealistic and baseless.” Al-Zamili said the U.S. bears much of the blame for failing to provide “good equipment, weapons and aerial support” to Iraqi forces. Sunni fighters said they hadn’t received pay or weapons from the Iraqi govt for 18 months (#totalmess)

• Warren acknowledged that none of the 7,000 Iraqi forces that the U.S.-led coalition has trained and equipped were in Ramadi when it fell. The admin has so far insisted on distributing all military aid through the Shiite-dominated central govt of Iraq, which generally views the Sunni tribal fighters with mistrust – and U.S. forces aren’t training Sunni tribal fighters (#justamess)


Cleveland PD: Excessive Force/Other Abuses (AP, me)

• Cleveland agreed to overhaul its police dept under the supervision of an independent monitor in a settlement announced Tuesday with the DoJ over a pattern of excessive force and other abuses by officers. Examples: officers had endangered lives by shooting at suspects and cars, hit people over the head with guns and used stun guns on handcuffed suspects – and worse

• The announcement came three days after a white police officer was acquitted of manslaughter for his role in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire that left two unarmed black suspects dead. That case helped prompt an 18-month probe by the DoJ, which issued a scathing report in December

• The settlement calls for new guidelines and training in the use of force; a switch to community policing – work closely with neighborhoods; new training in avoiding racial stereotyping and dealing with the mentally ill; an overhaul of the machinery for investigating misconduct allegations; modernization of police computer technology

• Two other high-profile police-involved deaths still hang over the city: that of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy who was killed by a white rookie patrolman while playing with a pellet gun, and that of 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill woman who suffocated last fall after she was subdued on the ground and handcuffed. Will any officers be charged? Convicted?

• Vid: Ann Coulter twice refuses to be hugged by undocumented immigrant audience member who is willing to risk catching the flu from Coulter and who wants to recognize their shared humanity (note: Coulter has none). In an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, she said “There are cultures that are obviously deficient” in reply to a question about Latinos and crime (Politico, me)

Bernie Campaigns in Vermont (NYT, me)

• In Burlington VT Tuesday, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) drew implicit contrasts with Hillary Clinton in the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, as he played the liberal purist: a $15 minimum wage, $1 trillion for public works jobs, “break up the largest financial institutions in the country,” a Medicare-for-all system of universal health care – in his first campaign rally

• To some of his strongest applause, Sanders said, “This campaign is going to send a message to the billionaire class. And that is: You can’t have it all. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. … Your greed has got to end.”

• But Sanders offered nothing in the way of strategies for getting his left-wing policy ideas through the politically gridlocked Congress other than promising to “build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back.” Sanders spoke before an adoring crowd of several thousand on the edge of Lake Champlain

• Sanders proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United; an unspecified expansion of Social Security benefits; free tuition at public universities and lower interest rates on loans for college students; and a universal prekindergarten system. But he focused on issues of income inequality and stagnant wages

• Even if the presidential nomination is a tall order, he’s fighting on behalf of people and ideas – he has huge support among his base – and some Democratic strategists believe he could emerge with more votes than any other challenger to Clinton. Former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-MD) is expected to enter the race on Saturday in Baltimore

State: Clinton’s Emails Every 60 Days (Politico, CNN, AP, me)

• The State Dept on Tuesday filed a court proposal to resume the release of emails from former SecState Hillary Clinton’s private account by posting them on the dept’s website on 30 June and continue posting them every 60 days, with the goal of making them all publicly available by 15 Jan 2015

• U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras last week rejected State’s initial proposal that it not produce the bulk of the 55,000 pages of emails until January next year. The judge ordered the agency to come up with a new proposal allowing for “rolling” releases. State’s proposal doesn’t estimate the number of pages in each release (uh huh)

• The judge is considering a FOIA lawsuit filed by Jason Leopold, a reporter for Vice News. Leopold’s lawyer, Ryan James, said Tuesday, that “I do not believe that additional rolling productions every 60 days is sufficiently frequent to enable the public to engage in fully informed discussion about Sec Clinton’s leadership style and decisions.” they want 2 weeks

• Separately, Clinton is in South Carolina today to deliver the keynote address to the South Carolina House Democratic Women’s Caucus and the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council. She’ll also sit down with a group of minority women who own small businesses. Is this her start on the road to redemption among black voters? She got a drubbing in 2008

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ James Cullum, William McDonald, Anna Merod and Washington Desk contributed to this report

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