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
  • Trade votes on the line today
  • Package could collapse
  • Obama out to the ball game
  • Hackers stole data of every federal employee?
  • Dems block cybersecurity bill
  • Escaped killers: Dogs on the scent
  • House passes defense bill
  • Hillary Clinton: Major NY speech
  • Tamir Rice: Judge – cop should be charged
  • McConnell/Reid: Mean boys


Trade Votes On The Line Today (Hill, Politico, TRNS, me)
• House GOP leaders and the Obama admin are scrambling to win over lawmakers in both parties ahead of two critical trade votes today. Last-second Democratic threats to vote down a bill granting aid to workers displaced by trade is threatening the larger package and lawmakers in both parties say the outcome is in doubt (high drama)


• President Obama seeks fast track negotiating authority, which the Senate has endorsed. It allows presidents to present Congress with proposed trade agreements that it could ratify or reject, but not change. If he gets it, Obama hopes to advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other nations – not popular with Democrats


• The WH late Thursday was pleading with Democrats to back Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a program that traditionally has had more support from Democrats than the GOP. Because of possible Dem defections, Rep Tom Cole (R-OK) said the GOP whip team may have to approach some anti-TAA Republicans for votes (massive come-down)


• The complicated path that GOP leaders and the WH are walking was highlighted Thursday night, when a House rule governing the debate narrowly passed – and only because eight Democrats broke ranks and supported it. President Obama spent Thursday afternoon calling members for support





Package Could Collapse
• The rule sets up votes on both trade promotion authority (TPA), also known as fast track, and TAA today. If the TAA bill is defeated, there won’t even be a vote on fast track and the whole package will collapse. Incentive for Democrats opposed to fast track to vote against TAA to drag the whole package down (WH will be raging livid)

• In a closed-door meeting, Treasury Sec Jack Lew told Democrats it was a “life or death” moment for TAA. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka attended the same meeting and urged Democrats to oppose the trade package (atmosphere in meeting was said to be pretty tense)


• House Republicans don’t want to change the actual text of the TAA legislation already passed by the Senate because doing so would require sending it back to that chamber for another vote. The bill before the House is the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015, HR.1892


• And despite a deal between Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that replaced cuts to Medicare as a way of paying for TAA, some liberals said the bill would still leave them exposed to charges that they voted to cut Medicare 



Obama Out to the Ball Game (WaPo, HillRoll Call, me)
• President Obama emerged from the Democrats’ dugout at Nationals’ Park during the top of the 4th inning to a standing ovation and boisterous cheers from the thousands of Democratic staffers in attendance at the 54th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game Thursday night. Why did the semi-reclusive president go to the game? Read on…


• The Democrats ultimately prevailed for their seventh straight victory, 5-2. While Democratic fans continued to cheer, Republican staffers in the stands on the first base line shunted “TPA!” – highlighting the contentious and complicated issue – and, of course, the real reason why Obama was at the game. Dems chanted “Four more years!”


• Obama, all smiles, wore a blue button down shirt and black sunglasses and brought two-dozen bottles of WH beer for the winning team. Obama mingled for half an inning with Democrats, then strolled to the Republican dugout to chat with lawmakers, where the trade bill enjoys considerable support


• He shook hands with anyone who offered a hand. Obama stayed for roughly 15 minutes. The president had his picture taken with Rep Joe Barton (R-TX), who’s opposed the WH on issues ranging from climate to Obamacare. He also spoke with Rep Kevin Yoder (R-KS)


• The last play Obama saw was Sen Rand Paul (R-KY), another critic of the admin and a 2016 hopeful, being struck out (sign of things to come, Rand?)



• Overriding a GOP governor’s veto, North Carolina lawmakers Thursday enacted a law that allows state court officials to refuse to perform a marriage if they have a “sincerely held religious objection,” a measure aimed at curtailing same-sex unions. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans (NYT)
Claim: Hackers Stole Data of Every Federal Employee (AP, Hill, Bloomberg, WSJ, me)
• David Cox, president of the American Federation of Govt Employees (union), said in a letter to Office of Personnel Management director Katherine Archuleta Thursday that based on OPM’s internal briefings, “We believe that the … hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree and up to 1 million former federal employees.”


• Multiple sources on Capitol Hill, within the federal workforce and around Washington have estimated the final tally of people affected by the hack could easily eclipse the 4 million first reported by the Obama admin. The number’s expected to grow to encompass as many as 9 million to 14 million people, including govt contractors


• WSJ reports that, astonishingly, the govt didn’t discover the breach. At a sales demonstration, CyTech Services, trying to show OPM how its cybersecurity product worked, ran a diagnostics study on OPM’s network and discovered malware was embedded on the network. Federal investigators say it may have been there for over a year (wowww)


• Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on the Senate floor that the Dec hack into OPM was carried out by the “Chinese” without saying whether he means the Chinese govt or individuals. Reid is one of eight lawmakers briefed on the most secret intel info. U.S. officials have declined to publicly blame China, which has denied involvement



“Abysmal Failure”
• The union believes the hackers stole military records and veterans’ status info, address, birth date, job and pay history, life insurance, pension info; and age, gender and race data. AP obtained the letter. The union said it’s basing its assessment on OPM briefings. OPM has sought to downplay the damage


• “We believe that Social Security numbers were not encrypted, a cybersecurity failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous,” Cox said. The union called the breach “an abysmal failure.” Samuel Schumach, an OPM spox, said that, “for security reasons” they wouldn’t discuss specifics of the info that might have been compromised (I’ll bet)


• The central personnel data file contains up to 780 pieces of info about an employee. Those personal details can be used for blackmail, or to shape bogus emails designed to appear legitimate (phishing) while injecting spyware on the networks of govt agencies or businesses Chinese hackers are trying to penetrate


• U.S. intel officials say nearly every major U.S. company has been hacked from China. OPM also holds extremely sensitive info assembled through background investigations of employees and contractors who hold security clearances



Dems Block Cybersecurity Bill
• Schumach, has said that there’s “no evidence” that info was taken. But there’s growing skepticism among intelligence agency employees and contractors about that claim (stunning statement)


• In the Senate Thursday, Democrats blocked 56-40 a Republican effort to add the cybersecurity bill to a sweeping defense measure. Democrats had warned of the dangers of cyberspying after the theft of govt files, but were frustrated with the GOP-led effort to tie the two bills together which would block amendments some see as necessary to improving the bill


• The House Oversight and Govt Reform Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the breach next Tuesday (C-Span radio was made for this – or stream it. Grab a fizzy drink). The WH is weighing its responses to the hack…



• It appears ABC caught LeBron James making an adjustment just before tipoff Thursday night, moments before Game 4 of the NBA Finals began – see for yourself (warning – possible private parts) (Deadspin)

Escaped Killers: Dogs On the Scent? (CNNAPWSJ, me)

• Investigators are looking at surveillance video from a gas station about a mile from the NY prison where two inmates escaped over the weekend, Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie said Thursday night. Tracking dogs picked up the scent of Richard Matt and David Sweat at the station and followed it east to Cadyvilile, he said


• The law will come down hard on any prison system employee who crosses the line, NY Gov Andrew Cuomo (D) said, as suspicions swirled around Joyce Mitchell, 51, a female employee believed to have had a role in the escape. “If you do it, you will be convicted,” Cuomo said


• Investigators believe Mitchell had agreed to be the getaway driver but never showed up. (she lost her bottle – Britspeak) A person close to the investigation said authorities believe Mitchell, an instructor at the prison tailor shop where the convicts worked, had befriended the men and was supposed to pick them up, but didn’t


• Mitchell hasn’t been charged. She checked herself into the hospital with chest pains Saturday. She’s been questioned several times. She’s told investigators Matt made her feel “special” though she didn’t mention being in love with him. She was the subject of an earlier probe regarding an alleged relationship with one of the inmates


• Matt was serving 25 years to life for the 1997 kidnap, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of Matt’s 76-year-old former boss, whose body was found in pieces in a river. Matt and a buddy stuffed the boss in a car trunk in pyjamas and drove around with him for 27 hours because he wouldn’t tell him where money was that he was believed to have


• The Obama admin is considering opening a network of new bases in Iraq like the hub being established west of Baghdad, Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday, something that would deepen the U.S. role in the war against ISIS (drip drip drip) (WSJTRNS)

House Passes Defense Bill (AP, Hill, me)
• The House on Thursday approved this year’s spending bill for the Pentagon in a 278-149 vote. Passage of the $579 billion bill comes after the WH threatened a veto over insufficient funding levels and controversial policy riders that would prohibit funds from being used to transfer detainees at Guantanamo Bay to the U.S.


• Republicans added $38 billion to the war fund to give the Pentagon spending above the budget caps created by the sequester, but they left the limits in place for nondefense spending. This absolutely infuriated Democrats and the WH. They want the sequester lifted in full. Some conservatives also opposed the war fund – busting budget


• Shortly before final passage, the House defeated 196-231 an amendment by Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA) that would force Congress to vote on an authorization for use of military force against ISIS. “While our pilots and special forces risk it all, Congress refuses to do its job,” Schiff said after the vote


• The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, HR.1735 itself enjoyed bipartisan backing when separated from the broader budget debate. Men and women in uniform would get a 2.3% pay hike, a percentage point higher than requested by President Obama
Hillary Clinton: Major NY Speech (NYTPolitico, me)
• Hillary Clinton, at a major outdoor rally Saturday, will directly address concerns that have emerged in the early weeks of her candidacy, telling voters they can trust her to fight for the middle class and stressing that she cares about their problems, several people briefed on her plans say


• The speech will be held on Roosevelt Island in NYC, as Clinton tries to evoke the legacy of the New Deal and lays out her vision for a federal govt substantially engaged in lifting American families that feel economically insecure and increasingly left behind (work cut out)


• Clinton will highlight her personal journey marked heavily by the deprivations faced by her own mother. Starting with the story of her mother’s abusive and traumatic childhood, Clinton will explain the role her family played in making her an advocate for other people




• And she’ll channel her personal hero, Eleanor Roosevelt, in emphasizing women’s and civil rights and her assertion that the Republican Party is out of touch with an increasingly diverse electorate. Her plans were described by people briefed on the speech 


• But the event must counteract polls showing that a growing number of Americans don’t trust her or feel she understands their lives. A CNN poll on 2 June showed that 57% thought that Clinton wasn’t honest and trustworthy, up from 49% in March


• Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea, will appear with her at the rally, the first time the family will make a joint campaign appearance since Clinton became a candidate. Bill – so they say – won’t speak… The campaign will release a biographical video about Clinton’s career as a fighter for the middle class



• Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) caught on hot mic making a joke at Senate committee markup Thursday. “I’ve been joking with Lindsey
[Graham]. Did you see that? He’s going to have a rotating first lady. He’s a bro with no ho,” Kirk said. Sen Graham (R-SC), a 2016er, unmarried, has said he’d have a rotating first lady in the WH. Kirk regrets the remark (HuffPo, TPM, TRNS)
Tamir Rice: Judge – Cop Should Be Charged (WaPo, NYT, me)
• A judge in Cleveland on Thursday said that he believes there’s probable cause to charge a police officer with murder for the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy fatally shot while playing with a toy gun last year – a victory for local activists that doesn’t amount to formal charges being filed for the officers involved


• Judge Ronald Adrine wrote in an administrative order released Thursday that in his opinion officer Timothy Loehmann should be charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide. He wrote that officer Frank Garmback should be charged with negligent homicide. However, he wrote that it was up to prosecutors to decide


• Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement Thursday evening he still plans to bring the case to a grand jury. Officers were called to the park on 22 Nov when someone called 911 after seeing a young man with a weapon, which turned out to be Rice. Video showed officers shot Rice within two seconds of arriving


• “After viewing it several times, this court is still thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly,” Adrine wrote. He notes that the police car is still stopping when Rice is shot, and also that neither officer approaches Rice – wounded – on the ground for four minutes after the shooting


• Earlier this week, activists used an Ohio law stating that private citizens “having knowledge of the facts” can file affidavits alleging an offense. A lawyer for the Rice family, Walter Madison, said Tamir’s relatives were “overwhelmed” by the findings and “cannot believe that the system has actually worked in their favor.”





McConnell/Reid: Mean Boys (Politico, me)

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) ratcheted up their partisan sniping Thursday morning. Going to be a long, hot  summer. It was a 35-minute exchange. Couple of fun highlights:


• McConnell, fuming – in a bright blue seersucker suit – honoring Seersucker Thursday – speaking about Democrats blocking spending bills: “Democratic leaders don’t seem the least bit bothered by the dire national security implications of what they’re doing. They packed the car for their filibuster vacation and they’re ready to hit the road.”


• Reid, speaking about the GOP’s attempt to tie cybersecurity to the defense bill, which he called McConnell’s “cynical ploy:”  “I would suggest he walk into his office, his little bathroom there, and look in the mirror. Because over that mirror, he should be able to see the words hypocrisy and cynicism.” (he really can be incredibly meeeen)



• Rocking into the weekend with the Highly Incredibly Controversial! 100 Greatest Songs of All Time – the Daily Telegraph’s rock critic picks his best songs


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_____________________Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ James Cullum, Nicholas Salazar and William Hadden contributed to this report

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