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

  • US plan: Hundreds more trainers to Iraq
  • Texas pool video cop quits
  • Manhunt for killers comes up empty
  • Trade vote Friday? M-m-maybe
  • Hastert pleads not guilty
  • Judge: Arkansas must recognize 500+ gay marriages
  • Obamacare: Obama makes his case
  • Bomb threats: White House/Capitol
  • Poll: Voldemort beats many GOP candidates


U.S. Plan: Hundreds More Trainers to Iraq (WSJ, me)

• President Obama is poised to send about 500 more American military personnel into a strategic Iraqi region, Anbar province, to help devise a counterattack against marauding ISIS militants, U.S. officials said Tuesday, a shift that underscores American concern over recent battlefield losses there. There are now 3,080 American advisers, trainers and support in Iraq


• The expansion is intended to help Iraqi forces prepare for the looming fight to break the extremists’ hold on Anbar province, which has long served as a command center for anti-American insurgents near Baghdad. The new troops would go to a base in Anbar where Iraqi forces are crafting plans for the Ramadi counterattack. Already are U.S. training forces in Anbar


• In the aftermath of the recent fall of Ramadi to ISIS, Obama asked the Pentagon for new options, which were presented to the president last week. The proposal would expose American forces to greater risk of being drawn into direct combat with ISIS forces that already control ground around likely sites for a training base


• As part of the deal to send more Americans to Iraq, the U.S. has sought assurances from Iraqi PM al-Abadi, the Shiite leader, that he would follow through on new promises to recruit and train thousands of Sunni tribal fighters to fight in an Iraqi military into which the U.S. has invested more than $20 billion since the 2003 invasion


• Last month, the Iraqi military began to train Sunni tribesmen in Anbar. U.S. officials are looking to recreate the success of the 2006 Anbar Awakening, which empowered Sunni tribes that turned against al Qaeda extremists who had pulled the country into a destabilizing sectarian war. (tougher to do – more disillusioned, more divided, weak leadership in Iraq)



• SecDef Ash Carter announced Tuesday that gay and lesbian troops for the first time will be protected from discrimination by the Pentagon’s equal opportunity policy. The change ensures that gay and lesbian troops’ complaints about discrimination based on sexual orientation will be investigated by officials (USA Today, TRNS)



Texas Pool Video Cop Resigns (NYT, AP, Daily Beast, me)

• Cpl David Eric Casebolt, the McKinney TX cop who was seen on video pulling his gun on teenagers in swimsuits and shoving a young girl’s face in the ground at a pool party has resigned, the police said Tuesday. He had been placed on admin leave and remains under investigation. He will keep his pension and benefits (he’ll need them if he gets sued)


• Chief Greg Conley said at a Tuesday presser that Casebolt’s actions were “indefensible.” He said “our policies, our training, our practice doesn’t support his actions.” “He came into the call out of control, and as the video shows was out of control during the incident.” Casebolt was McKinney’s officer of the year in 2008


• Police said Casebolt and 12 other officers were responding to a call about a fight and a disturbance at a community pool in Craig Ranch, a racially diverse subdivision north of Dallas. Casebolt’s attorney, Jane Bishkin, said he has received death threats and she would release more info at a presser today (maybe she’ll explain his wacko barrel roll – see video)


• Casebolt was sued for excessive force in 2007 along with other officers in 2007. They arrested Albert Brown. Authorities said Brown was found with crack during a traffic stop. Brown alleged Casebolt “reached in my private area” when searching for drugs and they shined a flashlight in Brown’s anus after slamming his face repeatedly into the hood of the car. Case dismissed…


• The pool incident has prompted criticism of the affluent suburb of McKinney, among the nation’s fastest growing cities, and ranked by a Time publication last year as the best place to live in America (for whom?). McKinney has also been the subject of lawsuits accusing it of racial segregation in public housing


• With the Obama admin preparing to make millions more Americans eligible for overtime pay, Republicans have set a (lopsided as far as witnesses go) House hearing for today to highlight claims by business owners who say the move could kill jobs and spark more lawsuits (Hill, me)



Manhunt for Killers Comes Up Empty (NYT, AP, me)

• Reports of two men walking along a road late Monday during a torrential rainstorm brought nearly 450 law enforcement officers to the small town of Willsboro in upstate NY for a sweep that seemingly turned up no signs of two killers who escaped Saturday from a maximum-security prison. Police said leads continued to be generated


• Searchers walked shoulder-to-shoulder, wearing bulletproof vests and carrying sidearms as they went through hilly woods, fields and swamps, checking every home, garage, shed and outbuilding, then yelling, “Clear!” when there were no signs of the inmates


• By early evening, it appeared the sweep had come up empty and there was no confirmation from police that the escaped convicts had been there. David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48, cut through a steel wall, broke through bricks and crawled through a steam pipe before emerging through a manhole outside the prison grounds


• There was speculation that the inmates had arranged for someone to pick them up outside the prison and were long gone from the area, even Canada or as far as Mexico. A woman who works at the prison, though not a guard, was being questioned in connection with the escape and has been removed from duty. Several prison employees have been interviewed



• The Obama admin has “made a lot of progress on the attribution front” in the massive digital theft of 4 million federal workers’ records, Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA) told reporters after meeting with officials Tuesday night. Cabinet secretaries may be affected. U.S. officials have said privately that Chinese hackers are behind the hit (Hill)



Trade Vote Friday? M-m-maybe (Politico, me)

• House leaders, confident but not yet certain they have the support to pass sweeping trade legislation, are aiming to bring the controversial package to a floor vote, ideally by Friday – even as they rush to sort out a last-minute hangup over how to pay for aid to displaced workers. It’s going to be an extremely tight vote, by all accounts (popcorn mandatory for this one)


• If Republicans want to bring the bill to the floor Friday, they must decide today. Things are still fluid though, and the vote could slide into next week. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) huddled late Tuesday with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to address some unresolved spending and procedural issues (very ecumenical)


• House Republicans will hold a closed-door meeting this morning at which the trade vote is expected to be a major topic of conversation (flies on walls – will be lively). The WH, meanwhile, is working with House GOP leadership to solidify Democratic support (so weird to type that). Sources say from 25 to 30 Dems must vote for the package for it to pass – don’t have ’em yet


• This floor vote on the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015) (HR.1890) is one of the most consequential of President Obama’s in the WH, with huge stakes for an array of Washington interests


• In a last-ditch move, Obama has begun leaning on the Congressional Black Caucus to come through for him on the floor (bit serious, that). Pelosi may face the most difficult path of any party leader on this issue, and she hasn’t publicly declared how she’ll vote. Progressives are heavily lobbying her against the trade bill


• The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that two of Texas’s controversial abortion law’s requirements – that providers must seek admitting privileges to nearby hospitals and that facilities must be upgraded to meet standards of an outpatient surgical center – can go into effect for all but one facility. Likely “all but seven abortion clinics” are at risk of closing, abortion rights activists say (Hill)



Hastert Pleads Not Guilty (NYT, Chicago Tribune, WSJ, TRNS, me)

• After days of silence, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he illegally structured bank withdrawals and lied to authorities about millions of dollars he had promised to pay someone for misconduct that occurred decades ago


• Hastert, wearing a dark pinstripe suit, a gold watch and a familiar helmet of grey hair, stood slightly stooped before the judge. He was flanked by lawyers as he answered a few of the judge’s questions in a quiet voice, saying only “yes” and “yes, sir.” It was the first time he had appeared in public since the charges were announced


• He was released on a $4,500 bond and ordered to stay in the continental U.S., to surrender his passport and to remove his sons’ guns from his suburban home within two weeks. He was also told to avoid contact with anyone who might be a witness or an accuser in his case


• Judge Thomas Durkin said he believed there was reason to question his impartiality in the case. In the early 2000’s, he donated $1,500 to Hastert’s campaigns and worked alongside Hastert’s son, Ethan. Durkin’s brother is the GOP leader in the Illinois House. Durkin said he’d remove himself unless both sides decided this week to waive objections


• Two people briefed on the evidence in an FBI investigation have said that Hastert, who once taught and coached wrestling in Yorkville IL, was paying a former student not to say publicly that Hastert had sexually abused him decades ago – “Individual A” in the indictment



• Several dozen of the newly recruited Secret Service officers have been posted in sensitive positions without completing the required national security clearance process, according to two govt officials familiar with the situation. They’re being rushed through now. They were taken on in the wake of the fence-jumper who made it into the WH mansion’s front door (WaPo)

Judge: Arkansas Must Recognize 500+ Gay Marriages (AP, me)

• Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ordered Arkansas officials on Tuesday to recognize more than 500 same-sex marriages performed in the state last year, a move that will let the couples enjoy a host of benefits such as filing taxes jointly (enjoy?) and enrolling together in state health insurance plans


• Griffen validated marriage licenses that were issued to gay couples after another judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban. The state Supreme Court halted the distribution of marriage licenses to gay couples after a week in May 2014 and is considering the appeal over a voter-approved same-sex marriage ban


• “With shameless disrespect for fundamental fairness and equality,

[Arkansas Dept of Finance Admin Director Larry Walther] insists on treating the marriages of same-sex couples who received marriage licenses between May 9 and May 16 as ‘void from inception as a matter of law,'” Griffen wrote in his ruling


• AG Leslie Rutledge (R), who has vowed to defend the state’s gay marriage ban, didn’t say whether she would seek a stay of Griffen’s ruling. Same-sex couples of married in Arkansas last year sued in Feb, alleging the state was violating their rights by not recognizing the unions


• The ruling comes as SCOTUS is nearing a major decision this month on whether to legalize gay marriage nationwide. The Arkansas Supreme Court hasn’t indicated when it will rule on gay marriage



• Republican presidential candidate and former Gov Jeb Bush (FL), in Berlin on a European tour, on Tuesday called Russian President Putin a “ruthless pragmatist,” demanding isolation of the country’s “corrupt leadership” and vowing to reassert American leadership. Bush is expected to announce his campaign for president next week (NYT)



Obamacare: Obama Makes His Case (Politico, TRNS, me)

• Addressing the Catholic Health Assn on Tuesday, President Obama spoke about the 100 years it’s taken to reform health care in the U.S. “This is now the fabric of how we care for one another,” he said. “This is health care in America.” Monday in Germany, Obama said the case before the Supreme Court “probably shouldn’t even have been taken up.”


• As many as 6.4 million people are at risk of losing the subsidies that make their health insurance affordable if the govt loses in the high court. King v. Burwell considers whether the subsidies, based on the wording of the law, can legally be distributed to customers in states that use the federal online exchange instead of building their own state-based exchanges


• Congressional Republicans have said they don’t want to see Americans lose their subsidies, but haven’t coalesced around a single alternative. Monday, top Senate Republican John Barrasso (WY) said: “Let’s be clear: If the Supreme Court rules against the admin, Congress will not pass a so-called one-sentence fake fix.”


• Obama called attempts to roll back the law “deeply cynical.” “The rugged individualism that defines America has always been bound by a set of shared values; an enduring sense that we are in this together, that we have an obligation to put ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes,” Obama said. Obama focused on the law’s accomplishments:


• “Whether it was bankruptcies avoided, the ability of a parent to bring a child to the doctor, or a wife being able to take a walk with her husband after recovering from an illness.” He continued: “Is there any greater measure of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness than those simple pleasures that are afforded by good health?” (we’ll find out soon from SCOTUS)


Bomb Threats: White House/Capitol (WaPo, Hill, TRNS, TRNS, me)

• The WH daily televised briefing was interrupted Tuesday about 2.10 pm when reporters and staff were evacuated by the U.S. Secret Service due to a bomb threat made over the phone, authorities said. Reporters were led to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Spox Josh Earnest and his aides went to another section of the building


• Secret Service agents searched the room with bomb-sniffing dogs before reporters were allowed back into the room about 2.40. Earnest said President Obama, who was in the Oval Office, wasn’t evacuated. First lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters were in the residence and weren’t evacuated


• Secret Service agents interrupted the briefing as Earnest was answering a question about a recent online security breach at OPM, allegedly at the hands of Chinese hackers. “We need to evacuate the press briefing,” a voice is heard saying. “Jesus!” exclaims a reporter


• During the Secret Service’s search of the room, the TV network cameras – which were still streaming footage of the room – were covered up, according to correspondents. They’re private property. Earnest said he didn’t know who obscured the cameras (press is pretty ticked off about it, too)


• Earlier Tuesday, Capitol Police said they found nothing suspicious after they evacuated a large part of the Dirksen Senate Office Building due to a bomb threat. And when police responded to a report of a suspicious package at the Russell Senate Office Building, they found an unattended cooler


• Italian PM Renzi’s spox (who’s a total fink) posted Sunday on Instagram this pic of President Obama clutching a white object that appears to be a pack of cigarettes, as he talks with Renzi. They were both at the G7 in Germany. Really? A spox would do that? Obama said on an open mic in 2013 that because he was “scared of” his wife he hadn’t smoked in six years… (Hill, me)



Poll: Jaws’ Shark, Voldemort Beat GOP Candidates (WaPo, me)

• WaPo/ABC News did a poll. Republican and Democratic candidates plus Barack Obama vs Villains: the Terminator, Shark from Jaws, Darth Vader, Voldemort from Harry Potter. Well, the Terminator has massive net favorability, followed by Darth Vader (something’s up with that) and the Shark is in the favorables too – (weird) ever swum where big sharks swim? I have…


• Thennnn – we get to real people. Bernie Sanders beats everyone! He’s +1, but that’s because 62% haven’t heard enough of him to have an opinion. Next is Marco Rubio – he evens out at zero. Next are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton with – 4. But remember, the fictional villains made the top three rankings and beat out all human beings – sorry, all politicians


• Then it’s downhill skiing, folks. After Clinton and Obama, then Martin O’Malley, Rand Paul and Scott Walkerl manage to squeak in above Lord Voldemort – but everyone is in the negatives now. OK. Voldemort killed Harry Potter’s parents, fed his enemies to a giant snake and tortured and killed people for fun. So who’s lower than Voldemort?


• Well, tied just below the Dark Lord are Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz. Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum are even lower (that European tour Jeb’s on had better go real well), then comes Chris Christie with net favorability of – 26 and lurching and dragging in at the bottom, and maybe even a death-eater, dare I suggest it, is Donald Trump with a net favorability of – 56 – ouch



• Global airlines announced Tuesday a new, non-binding guideline that recommends shrinking carry-on bags, in an effort to free up space in packed overhead bins. It raises the possibility that many fliers would be forced to check their favorite carry-on bag. Or buy smaller cases or pay a fee to check their bags, typically $25 each way. Expect outrage (AP)



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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Justin Duckham, William McDonald, James Cullum, William Hadden and Anna Merod contributed to this report


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