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

  • NSA phone data program expires
  • But DoJ has workarounds…
  • GOP senators rip Rand Paul
  • Beau Biden dies: Outpouring of grief
  • 2016ers news
  • Taliban five: Travel ban extended
  • Kerry breaks leg / Iran talks
  • Police shootings: Numbers higher
  • Social Security: Millions to Nazis
  • United Airlines under fire: “Islamophobia”

NSA Phone Data Program Expires (Politico, NYT, NYT, CNN, Fox News, TRNS, me)

• Key parts of the Patriot Act expired at midnight after a bitterly divided Senate adjourned after failing to reach agreement during a rare Sunday session to extend the anti-terror law (if you weren’t watching C-Span 2, you weren’t where it’s at)

• The Senate did vote 77-17 to advance the USA Freedom Act, S.1123, a House-passed surveillance reform bill that GOP leaders opposed but were forced to accept given the lack of time and other options. But Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) refused to allow the measure to be adopted in time to replace the expiring Patriot Act provisions

• The expiration of three key provisions of the Patriot Act means that, for now, the NSA won’t collect newly created logs of American’s phone calls in bulk. It also means that the FBI can’t invoke the Patriot Act to obtain, for new investigations, wiretap orders that follow a suspect who changes phones – – –

• – – – wiretap orders for a “lone wolf” terrorism suspect not linked to a group, or court orders to obtain business records relevant to an investigation

But DoJ Has Workarounds…

• But the Justice Dept may invoke a so-called grandfather clause to keep using those powers for investigations that had started before 1 June, and there are additional workarounds investigators may use to overcome the lapse in the authorizations (ah yes, of course there are)

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had hoped to pass an extension of current law to avoid a midnight shutdown of current programs, but Paul wouldn’t relent. The Senate will vote next to end debate on the House bill on Tuesday, as well as amendments intended to make it more palatable to Senate hawks. Then the House will have to reconcile  (that could be fun_

• “We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible,” said WH spox Josh Earnest. “Individual senators must put aside their partisan motivations and act swiftly.”

• A visibly angry McConnell made a last-gasp attempt to keep the provisions on two-week life support. McConnell gave a stern speech, sometimes staring at Paul, and said letting the provisions expire “would mean disarming completely and arbitrarily, based on a campaign of disinformation.” He was interrupted by Sen Pat Roberts’ (R-KS) “Frozen” phone ringtone (can’t make it up)

• Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) rails against the Patriot Act in the Senate on 31 May


• After the vote, Paul said on the floor: “It concerns me that the president

[who] supports bulk data collection and has been performing it illegally for six years is supporting this bill. It’s hard for me to have trust in the people we are giving great power to.”

• House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urged the Senate to act: “Al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorists around the globe continue to plot attacks on America and our allies. Anyone who is satisfied with letting this critical intelligence capability go dark isn’t taking the terrorist threat seriously.”

• Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blasted his successor’s leadership of the Senate: “The job of the leader is to have a plan. In this case, it is clear the majority leader simply didn’t have a plan.”


GOP Senators Rip Rand Paul (Politico, me)

• In a closed-door meeting Sunday, Republicans lashed out at Sen Rand Paul’s (R-KY) defiant stance. Sen Dan Coats (R-IN) even accused Paul of “lying” about the matter in order to raise money for his presidential campaign, according to three people who attended the meeting. Only prob: Paul skipped the hour-long meeting – which infuriated his colleagues even more

• Sen John McCain (R-AZ) noted that Paul has missed a “number of meetings” on the Patriot Act. “I know what this is about – I think it’s very clear – this is, to some degree, a fundraising exercise,” McCain said Sunday. “He obviously has a higher priority for his fundraising and political ambitions than for the security of the nation.” (meow)

• And on the Senate floor, Coats and McCain were speaking about the NSA’s metadata program when Paul tried to ask a question. Coats said he hadn’t yielded the floor. Coats then yielded to McCain. “The senator from Kentucky needs to learn the rules of the Senate,” said McCain. “Maybe the senator from Kentucky should know the rules of the Senate.” (ouch)

• Paul was loving the attention. Eventually he was allowed to speak on the Senate floor. He took a personal whack of his own. “People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake. Some of them, I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me.”


• At one point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to pass a short-term extension of some provisions of the Patriot Act, when Paul launched into an impassioned speech – only to be shouted down by his colleagues. Sen Roger Wicker (R-MS) pounded his (!) desk while presiding over the Senate

• “Is there objection?” Wicker asked as Paul tried to continue on. A number of Republican senators began yelling over Paul to restore order in the chamber and prevent another lengthy speech. “Regular order!” shouted Sens John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) among others

• “I object,” Paul responded. That prompted McConnell to launch his own speech. At times glaring at Paul, the Senate leader blasted what he called “a campaign of demagoguery and disinformation launched in the wake of unlawful actions of Edward Snowden, who was last seen in Russia.” Paul sat at his desk quietly, holding his glasses in his hand

• Wheaton College on Sunday removed the name of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) from one of its programs after the graduate was indicted on charges he lied to authorities about payments he made to a man he allegedly sexually abused (New York Daily News). Weird C-Span phone call Speaker Hastert once got from a Yorkville IL man called “Bruce


Beau Biden Dies: Outpouring of Grief (NYT, NYT, Hill, Fox News, TRNS)

• Beau Biden, the son of VP Joe Biden, died Saturday night after battling brain cancer for nearly two years. His death at the age of 46 ended a promising political career in Delaware and left his wife and two children without a husband and father

• “It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life,” the statement from VP Biden’s office said. “The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words.”

• Beau Biden served two terms as Delaware’s top law enforcement official before announcing last year that he wouldn’t run for a third term so he could make a bid for governor in 2016. Biden served in the Delaware National Guard, was deployed to Iraq and won the Bronze Star. He was a popular politician in his home state and very close to his father

• Biden’s death is a second tragic loss for the VP, whose first wife, Neilia, and 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car accident in 1972. Beau Biden and his brother, Hunter, were both injured in the crash, but both survived


• VP Joe Biden’s extraordinary speech (21 mins) at TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar 2012 – discusses grief and the loss of his wife and daughter – profoundly moving

• In an unusually lengthy and emotional statement, SecState John Kerry, a longtime friend of the Biden family, eulogized Biden as a “class act, period, ingrained with integrity, compassion, a sense of moral obligation to help others, and especially people who were hurting.”

• President Obama said in a statement that Biden had been a “good, big-hearted, devoutly Catholic and deeply faithful man, who made a difference in the lives of all he touched.” The Obamas traveled to the Naval Observatory on Sunday to spend time with the grieving VP Biden and his family

• “Hillary & I mourn the loss of Beau Biden – so full of life, love, honor, and service – and we pray for the strength of his wonderful family,” former President Bill Clinton wrote on Twitter shortly after Biden’s death was announced by the VP’s office

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Sunday offered their condolences to the Biden family. “The Senate offers its presiding officer and every member of his family its prayers and its sympathy,” McConnell said during his opening remarks of the Senate’s Sunday session

2016ers News (WSJ, CNN, Politico, WaPo, me)

• Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is expected to announce his candidacy this morning outside what was once the pool hall run by his parents, in which he grew up, in the town of Central (Pop: 5,184.) Graham’s hopes for the WH hinge on his performance in South Carolina’s “first in the South” primary in February. He polls at less than 2%

• Former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-MD), fresh off his 2016 announcement, said on ABC’s This Week: “When you have somebody that’s the CEO of one of the biggest repeat-offending investment banks in the country telling his employees that he’d be fine with either Bush or Clinton, that should tell all of us something.” “I am not beholden to Wall Street interests.” (couldn’t get the money, either)

• Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-FL) sounded like the decision of whether to run wasn’t his to make in a back-and-forth with retiring Bob Schieffer on CBS’s Face the Nation. “I, look, I hope, I hope I run, to be honest with you. I’d like to run, but I haven’t made the decision.” A bit later: “I hope so. I hope, I hope I’m a candidate in the near future.” (dithering much?)

• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said on NBC’s Meet the Press, “We need a lot more debates in this campaign. I hope very  much that we can begin with the Democratic candidate debates as early as July and have some Republicans in those debates as well.” (as if)

• The Obama admin took Cuba off a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism Friday, after more than 30 years, but WH spox Josh Earnest said some issue still need to be worked out before full diplomatic relations can be restored (TRNS)



Taliban Five: Travel Ban Extended (AP, NYT, me)

• Qatar has agreed to temporarily extend travel bans of five senior Taliban leaders released last year from Guantanamo in exchange for Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, a senior U.S. official said Sunday. The ban would remain in place until diplomatic talks for a longer-term solution are completed. The restrictions were due to expire today

• As a result of the talks, Qatar “has agreed to maintain the current restrictive conditions on these individuals as we continue these discussions,” a U.S. official said. The five are currently in Qatar. UN officials have yet to lift their own international travel ban and few countries seem eager to take the five men in

• At least one of the five allegedly contacted militants during the last year while in Qatar. The WH confirmed that one was put under enhanced surveillance. One or more met with some members of the al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani militant group in Qatar earlier in the year, according to Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

• U.S. officials have noted in the past that the five Taliban leaders are middle-aged or older, were former officials in the Taliban govt and probably wouldn’t be seen again on any battlefield, although they could continue to be active members of the Taliban

• Lawmakers have complained that the WH didn’t give Congress a 30-day notification of the transfer of Bergdahl for the Taliban detainees. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said last week that Congress would “continue our efforts to investigate the administration’s handling of the Taliban Five swap.”

Iran Talks / Kerry Breaks Leg (Reuters, NYT, me)

• SecState John Kerry broke his leg in a bicycle crash in France on Sunday. He delayed his trip back to the U.S. to stay in a Swiss hospital Sunday night for precautionary reasons. What impact this will have on the Iran nuclear talks isn’t clear. He’s been very active in negotiations and it’s not known how soon he’ll be able to resume his (crazy) travel schedule – prob not soon

• Meanwhile, six world powers have agreed on a way to restore UN sanctions on Iran if the country breaks the terms of a future nuclear deal, clearing a major obstacle to an accord ahead of a 30 June deadline. Other hurdles remain, including insuring UN access to Iranian military sites and nuclear scientists and the pace of sanctions relief (big obstacles)

• As part of the new agreement on sanctions “snapback,” suspected breaches by Iran would be taken up by a dispute-resolution panel, including the six powers and Iran, which would assess the allegations and come up with a non-binding solution, Western officials said (non-binding?)

• The IAEA would also continue regularly reporting on Iran’s nuclear program, which would provide the six powers and the Security Council with info on Tehran’s activities to enable them to assess compliance. If Iran wasn’t complying with the terms of the deal, then UN sanctions would be restored

• The officials didn’t say precisely how sanctions would be restored (devil/details) but Western powers have been adamant it should take place without a Security Council vote because of concerns about possible vetoes by China and Russia. A Western official pointed out, however: “Now the Iranians need to agree.”

Police Shootings: Numbers Higher (BBC, WaPo)

• Data collected by WaPo suggests that the number of people shot by U.S. police is twice as high as official figures claim. The paper said that during the first five months of this year, 385 people – more than two a day – were killed

• The number of black people was disproportionately high among the victims, especially unarmed ones. There’s currently no reliable way of tracking police shooting deaths. The govt relies on self-reported figures from the nation’s 17,000 law enforcement agencies. The figures exclude killings deemed not to have been justified

• WaPo says it logged every fatal shooting in 2015 by police in the line of duty using interviews, police reports, local media reports and other sources. It found a homicide rate of almost 2.6 per day so far this year – more than double the average 1.1 deaths per day reported in FBI records over the past decade

• Among findings: Black people were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusted for local population; most were armed but one in six was unarmed or carried a toy weapon; in all three 2015 cases in which charges were subsequently filed against officers, videos had emerged showing officers shooting s suspects during or after a chase on foot


Social Security: Millions to Nazis (AP, me)

• In a report triggered by an AP investigation, the top watchdog at the Social Security Administration found the agency paid $20.2 million in benefits to more than 130 suspected Nazi war criminals, SS guards and others who may have participated in the Third Reich’s atrocities during World War II (disgusting)

• The payments are far greater than previously estimated and occurred between Feb 1962 and Jan 2015 when a new law called the No Social Security for Nazis Act kicked in and ended retirement benefits for four beneficiaries. No names of Nazi suspects in the report

• The American public had no idea about the size of the influx of Nazi persecutors into the U.S., with estimates ranging as high as 10,000. Many lied about their Nazi pasts to get into the U.S. and even became American citizens. They got jobs and didn’t say much about what they did during the war

• But the U.S. was slow to react. It wasn’t until 1979 that a special Nazi-hunting unit, the Office of Special Investigations, was created within the DoJ. AP found that the DoJ used a legal loophole to persuade Nazi suspects to leave the U.S. in exchange for Social Security benefits

• If they agreed to go voluntarily, or simply fled the country before being deported, they could keep their benefits. (stunning) The DoJ denied using Social Security benefits as a way to expel former Nazis (but clearly they did)

United Airlines Under Fire: “Islamophobia?” (HuffPo, CNN, NBC News, me)

• Tahera Ahmad, Director of Interfaith Engagement and associate chaplain at Northwestern University, has accused United of “Islamophobia” after an encounter with a flight attendant Friday that left her in tears. She was allegedly refused an unopened can of soda because she might “use it as a weapon.”

• Ahmad wrote on Facebook that she asked for an unopened can of Diet Coke during beverage service. When she was brought an open can, she requested a new beverage for sanitary reasons but was told, “I’m sorry I just can’t give you an unopened can so no diet coke for you.”

• A man sitting near her was later brought an unopened beer. Ahmad, who wears a hijab, asked the flight attendant why she wasn’t able to have a similar can. The flight attendant then opened the can of beer and said: “We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a WEAPON on the plane,” Ahmad wrote (use it how, exactly?)


• Ahmad wrote that after the encounter, she asked her fellow passengers if the experience was discriminatory, but no one responded aside from one man who said, “You Moslem, you need to shut the f*ck up … yes you know you would use it as a WEAPON so shut the f*ck up.” (so she shakes it until it explodes?)

• A statement from United said the incident was a “misunderstanding” and the flight attendant had tried to accommodate Ahmad’s soda request “several times.” “We spoke with Ms Ahmad yesterday to get a better understanding of what occurred and to apologize for not delivering the service our customers expect when traveling with us.”

• Ahmad wrote on Facebook Sunday, “Unfortunately United has dismissed my entire narrative and trivialized it to a can of soda.” Ahmad said her intent isn’t going after the airline. “This is about bigotry and racism and our country is going through a very difficult time right now.”

• A so-called “Rally for free speech” that featured black “F*ck Islam” T-shirts and a draw Muhammad cartoon contest passed off relatively peacefully in Phoenix Friday night. Organizer Jon Ritzheimer, asked if he had anything to say to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who had interviewed him Thursday, held up his middle finger – “yeah, f*ck you.” (Phoenix New Times)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Loree Lewis and Washington Desk contributed to this report

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