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

  • SCOTUS allows nationwide health subsidies
  • Roberts’ ruling: “Inartful drafting”
  • Scalia’s dissent: “Pure applesauce”
  • Furious Republicans pledge repeal
  • Obama/Democrats celebrate
  • State: Clinton didn’t turn over emails
  • Charleston funerals begin
  • Roof wanted an AR-15
  • Confederate flag backlash: Congress
  • Iran talks: Crunch weekend
  • McCain slams OPM chief
  • House clears key trade bill
  • “The Watcher” scares NJ family from home

 

SCOTUS Allows Nationwide Health Subsidies (Reuters, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a conservative legal challenge that could have doomed President Obama’s healthcare law, upholding nationwide tax subsidies crucial to his signature domestic policy achievement. Some 6.4 million people could have lost their health insurance coverage if the ruling had gone the other way
• Obama strode into the WH Rose Garden after the ruling to declare that Obamacare is working, helping millions of Americans afford health insurance who otherwise would have none, and that it’s “here to stay.” Obama said the law has been “woven into the fabric of America.” The admin says 16.4 million previously uninsured people have gained insurance since the law
• Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote in the 6-3 ruling that Congress clearly intended for the tax subsidies that help millions of low- and moderate-income people afford private health insurance to be available in all 50 states. Second time in three years that Roberts has helped Obamacare survive
• The court decided that the law didn’t restrict the subsidies to states that establish their own online health insurance exchanges, as the challengers in the case contended. Roberts was joined by fellow conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy and the court’s four liberal members. Justice Antonin Scalia read a scathing 11-minute dissent from the bench
• The question before the justices was whether a four-word phrase in the 2,000-word law saying subsidies are available to those buying insurance on exchanges “established by the state” has been correctly interpreted by the admin to allow subsidies to be available nationwide. Hospital shares soared on the news of the court’s ruling

• Interactive: What to take away from the decision – key sections from ruling and dissent – really helpful stuff (NYT)

Roberts’s Ruling: “Inartful Drafting” (NYT, AP, me)

• “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “If at all possible, we must interpret the act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

• Roberts wrote that the words “established by the state” must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. “In this instance, the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.” (conservatives’ heads have exploded over this sentence – see “shocking” video)

• Several portions of the law indicate that consumers can claim tax credits no matter where they live. No member of Congress said at the time that subsidies would be limited, and several states said in a separate brief to the court that they had no inkling they had to set up their own exchanges for their residents to get credits

• Roberts pointed out that the law “contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting,” including three separate sections numbered 1563. (!!) He said the court’s duty was to read the provision at issue in context and with the larger picture in mind

• Vid: President Obama speaks on the ruling in the Rose Garden on Thursday

Scalia’s Dissent: “Pure Applesauce” (Hill, TPM, TRNS, me)

• Justice Antonin Scalia’s summary was laced with notes of incredulity and sarcasm, which sometimes drew amused murmurs in the courtroom as he described the “interpretative somersaults” he said the majority performed. “We really should start calling this law SCOTUS-care,” Scalia said, to laughter from the audience. Roberts smiled slightly

• “Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Govt should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved,” Scalia wrote in his bitter dissent

• “Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State’ means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Govt’?” Scalia wrote. “Little short of an express statutory definition could justify adopting this singular reading.”

• Scalia accused the court of performing “somersaults of statutory interpretation” in its “defense of the indefensible.” He called the majority’s argument “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” He described the majority’s logic as “pure applesauce.” (he was epically operatic on Thursday. he was in and of himself a reason for cameras in the court)

• Rep Brian Babin (R-Texas) is introducing a bill, the SCOTUScare Act, that would force the Supreme Court justices and their staff to enroll in Obamacare. “By eliminating their exemption from Obamacare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with,” he said Thursday (Hill)

Furious Republicans Pledge to Repeal (Politico, Hill, TRNS, me)

• Sen John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Thursday Republicans will “continue to fight tooth and nail to repeal” the Affordable Care Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) weighed in, saying that the decision “won’t change Obamacare’s multitude of broken promises.”

• “We will continue our efforts to repeal the law and replace it with patient-centered solutions that meet the needs of seniors, small business owners, and middle-class families,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “There was a lot of talk using reconciliation to deal with Obamacare, I’m sure there probably still is, but my point is there’s been no decision made how to pursue.”
• “After 58 votes to repeal Obamacare in part or in whole, I call on our Republican leadership to use reconciliation to put a full repeal of Obamacare on the president’s desk,” said uber-conservative Rep Tim Huelskamp (R-Kans). Many Republicans on Thursday weren’t sure whether to give in gracefully for now on Obamacare – or keep fighting

• “They

[SCOTUS] deserve an Olympic medal for the legal gymnastics,” said Rep Joe Pitts (R-Pa). ” It “turns both the rule of law and common sense on its head,” said Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky), a presidential candidate

• The Supreme Court on Thursday, 5-4, endorsed a broad interpretation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The question was whether plaintiffs suing under the housing law must prove intentional discrimination or merely that the challenged practice had produced a “disparate impact.” The justices endorsed both interpretations (NYT)

Obama/Democrats Celebrate (Hill, me)

• “After multiple challenges before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” President Obama said during a statement in the Rose Garden after the ruling. Obama likened the program to Social Security and Medicare. “This generation of Americans chose to finish the job.”

• Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said (D-Nev), “I say this respectfully to my Senate colleagues, and I mean that: Stop banging your heads against the wall on this legislation. It passed. Move on. Republicans should really, they should pause for a minute and look back. … I would hope Republicans would rethink what they’ve been up to.”

• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), an architect of Obamacare who ushered the bill through the lower chamber, said she’s “jubilant.” “It’s past time the Republicans abandon their assault on the newfound health security the Affordable Care Act is providing.”

• Rep Steny Hoyer, (D-Md), the Dem whip, said to a few reporters: “I was just up on the floor. I saw Paul Ryan. He was lamenting this decision with a very broad smile. The Republicans have just been saved from themselves by the Supreme Court of the United States.” Ryan (R-Wis) is among the most vocal opponents of Obamacare

• The Supreme Court could release its same-sex marriage decision today, the two-year anniversary of the court’s decision on U.S. v. Windsor, a ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and forced the federal govt to recognize gay marriages (Hill)
State: Clinton Didn’t Turn Over Emails (NYT, WSJ, Hill, me)
• The State Dept said Thursday that 15 emails sent or received by Hillary Clinton were missing from records that she’s turned over, raising new questions about whether she deleted work-related emails from the private account she used exclusively while in office (she’s developing a real problem for herself)
• Clinton has said she gave State about 50,000 pages of emails that she deemed to be related to her work as SecState and deleted roughly the same number. She said the messages she deleted were personal, relating to topics like yoga, family vacations and her mother’s funeral (and Benghazi?)
• A State official admitted Thursday evening that they couldn’t previously find the emails. State discovered it lacked the communications following the House Benghazi Committee’s release of roughly 60 emails it had acquired Monday. The panel acquired the emails after interviewing Clinton’s longtime adviser Sidney Blumenthal earlier this month

&&&

• Committee chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said, “It just so happens these emails directly contradict her public statements that the messages from Blumenthal were unsolicited.” Blumenthal identified the source of his Libya info as Tyler Drumheller, a former high-ranking CIA official, part of a group seeking to do business in Libya
• Supporters of Clinton have argued that the committee’s mission has crept far beyond its original scope: to investigate the Benghazi attacks. “This Benghazi select committee has become the committee to investigate Hillary Clinton. Period,” Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md), top Democrat on the panel, said last week
• GOP members of the committee have contended that State has withheld docs to protect Clinton and grind the investigation to a halt. State officials have said that one of the reasons it’s taken so long to produce docs is that the dept’s record-keeping system is cumbersome, and the committee hasn’t been specific in its requests
• Facing enormous blowback, House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Thursday reversed course and said he was reinstating Rep Mark Meadows (R-SC) as a subcommittee chairman. Chaffetz stripped Meadows of his gavel last week after the rep joined other conservatives in voting against leadership (Hill)

 

Charleston Funerals Begin (AP, me)
• South Carolina took a small step toward healing the wounds of last week’s massacre at a historic black church in Charleston as mourners gathered for the funerals of two of the nine victims, Ethel Lance, 70, and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45
• Brandon Risher, Lance’s grandson, told the congregation, “She was a victim of hate. She can be a symbol of love as she was in life. Hate is powerful but love is more powerful.”
• Funerals for the seven other victims, including for Rev Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel AME Church, are scheduled in coming days. President Obama will deliver Pinckney’s eulogy today. Hillary Clinton will be among the mourners. Thousands turned out Thursday evening for Pinckney’s wake at the church
• The mood in Charleston is somber, said Charleston Sheriff Al Cannon, who will try to attend all nine funerals. “There’s some anger. I don’t think we’ve really started healing. I see more outpouring of love and empathy and sympathy.”
Roof Wanted an AR-15 (The State, me)
• Police had an eye on Dylann Roof for months before he shot dead nine African-American worshipers in cold blood on 17 June. An officer arrested him on drug possession in late Feb. During the bust, the officer noted that Roof had been asking suspicious questions at a shopping mall: When does it close? How many people work there?
• The officer made note of the questions in a police report. Roof was released after the drug arrest on his own recognizance. Then, on 13 March, the same officer spotted Roof loitering in his car for hours at a public park. He was wearing all black, the police report said
• Because the officer was off-duty, he alerted another to investigate. The second officer asked Roof if he could search the car. Roof complied. That’s when 40-round magazines turned up. Roof also had a forearm for an AR-15 in his trunk. It allows a shooter to more easily keep a grip on the rifle as the barrel grows fiery hot from the shots pouring out of it
• Roof legally could have owned an AR-15. He told the responding officer he wanted to buy one but couldn’t afford it. Two weeks later, Roof allegedly received money for his birthday that he used to buy the 45 caliber Glock handgun used in the racially motivated Charleston attacks (if he’d had an AR-15…)



• In the U.S. – weird reality: 96 people killed in car accidents every day, 62 people killed by bees, wasps or hornets in 2013, 48 people killed by right wing extremists since 9/11, 32 people killed by lightning every year, 27 people crushed by their own furniture every year (really? that’s a thing?), 26 people killed by Muslim extremists since 9/11 (Intercept)

Confederate Flag Backlash: Congress (Hill, me)
• Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday introduced a resolution calling for a national ban on the use of the Confederate flag on any govt property – including license plates
• Rep Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) on Thursday sought House approval of a resolution requiring the removal of state flags containing any portion of the Civil-War era Confederate battle flag from the House side of the U.S. Capitol. Suspect in the Charleston massacre Dylann Roof had posed with a Confederate flag in photos on a website that displayed a racist manifesto
• House members representing states with the Confederate battle flag image on their state flags still would be allowed to display the banners at their offices under Thompson’s plan. But, in a mostly partisan 240-184 vote, Republicans repelled the move. The legislation was sent to a committee to mull (mull = linger and likely die)
• Also Thursday, Sen Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced legislation punishing states that issue specialty license plates bearing the Confederate flag. Brown’s bill would reduce federal funding for those states’ transportation programs
• Vandals have targeted monuments dedicated to the leaders and soldiers of the Confederacy, painting the slogan “Black lives matter” on memorials in a half-dozen states where the landmarks stand in parks and outside govt buildings (AP)
Iran Talks: Crunch Weekend (Reuters, Hill, me)
• Russian President Putin called President Obama on Thursday as SecState John Kerry heads (on crutches) to Vienna today for a crucial weekend of nuclear talks between six world powers and Iran ahead of a 30 June deadline, which is likely to slip. The two leaders “underscored the importance of continued P5+1 unity in ongoing negotiations.”
• Meanwhile, several influential U.S. lawmakers said they don’t want to see any sanctions lifted before Tehran begins complying with a deal, and want a tough verification regime, in which inspectors could visit Iranian facilities anytime and anywhere. They also want Tehran to reveal past military dimensions of its nuclear program
• “I have become more and more concerned with the direction of these negotiations and the potential red lines that may be crossed,” said Sen Bob Corker, (R-Tenn), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
• However, officials said Kerry has phoned Iran’s foreign minister to say that Tehran must answer questions about whether its past atomic research was arms-related if it wants a deal. And a senior U.S. official said Thursday negotiators could see a way to a very good nuclear agreement
• The Obama admin accused Iran of “severe restrictions on civil liberties,” “unlawful killings,” “disappearances,” “judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging.” A total of 721 people were reportedly executed last year, the State Dept said in its annual report on human rights around the globe. Discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities continues (Hill)

 

McCain Slams OPM Chief (Hill, Hill, Hill, Newsweek, me)
• “I must say Ms Archuleta, I’ve seen a lot of performances,” said Sen John McCain (R-Ariz) during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday. “Yours ranks as one of the most interesting.” Office of Personnel Management director Katherine Archuleta has been (ineffectually) defending her work as more comes out about about the massive federal data breach
• “Are you ready to state that since it’s been in all public periodicals that it was China responsible for this hacking?” McCain asked. “I would have to defer…” Archuleta started. “That’s a pretty simple answer,” McCain said, cutting her off. “So the answer is no.” Sparring continued, with McCain repeatedly talking over Archuleta
• James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said Thursday at a Washington intel conference that “China remains the leading suspect” but that “the U.S. govt continues to investigate” the hack. U.S. officials have said privately they believe China was behind the hack, which may have accessed more than 18 million peoples’ personal info

• The hackers breached FBA agents’ files, Newsweek reports. It’s not clear whether the reported FBI infiltration was part of the first or second hack. The FBI has more than 35,000 employees. Ramifications of those employees’ info getting out could be “mind boggling,” a source told Newsweek, “because there are national security implications.” (beyond awful)

• Day 21: Gene Palmer, the prison guard charged in connection with the escape of two killers, has admitted providing them with tools, paint, frozen hamburger and access to a catwalk electrical box but says he never knew they planned to bust out, authorities say. Prison tailor Joyce Mitchell is charged with helping them break out (AP)
House Clears Key Trade Bill (Politico, TRNS, me)
• The House voted 286-138 Thursday to renew a 50-year-old worker entitlement program with overwhelming support from Democrats, who reversed themselves on the legislation after losing a battle with the WH and Republicans over a bill to fast-track approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

• The Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015, HR.1892, which provides retraining for workers who have lost their jobs because of trade, was packaged with a renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and two other programs to help Haiti and more than 120 developing countries sell their goods to the U.S.

• The vote sends the bill to President Obama to sign into law. Democrats opposed the bill in droves two weeks ago when it was packaged with a trade promotion authority bill that most in the party oppose. After that “snafu,” as WH spox Josh Earnest called it, GOP leaders went ahead with a stand-alone fast track bill, which passed with 28 Democrats voting yes
• The Senate approved that bill 60-38 on Wednesday, sending it to President Obama to sign. The fast-track bill will allow Obama to send the Asia-Pacific agreement and other trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes, shielding them from amendments. Democrats can’t wait to move on from a split caucus and ultimate defeat
• Vid: State-run media in Russia is allowing President Putin to get away with actions that aren’t in his country’s best interests, President Obama says in an interview with VICE airing tonight on HBO. “Because ordinary Russians aren’t getting good information, there’s no check on what Putin may do,” Obama said (VICE, Politico)
“The Watcher” Scares NJ Family From Home (WaPo)
• OMG. A couple who says they were scared away from their new $1.4 million home because of creepy letters from a stalker has sued the sellers for not telling them about a person with a “mentally disturbed fixation” on the house (but is it a person or a thing?)
• Derek and Maris Broaddus said the former owners of the home in Westfield, 25 miles west of NYC, should have warned them of the person who signs letters as “The Watcher.” He claims to have been controlling the home for two decades and that former owners John and Andrea Woods sold because “It was their time to move on and kindly sold it when I asked them to”
• “Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested?” reads one letter, according to the suit. The suit also names an insurance company and settlement company as defendants. The Union County prosecutor’s office is investigating. At a township council meeting Tuesday, the mayor pleaded with anyone with info to call the police
• Three days after the Broadduses moved in, they got their first letter. “My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested?”
“What Is In The Walls?”
• In two more letters, he wrote, “Have they found out what is in the walls yet?” the complaint stated. “In time they will.” “I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me. Will the young bloods play in the basement?” (walls and basements are beyond creepy)
• “Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I’ll know as soon as you move in, … It will help me to know who is in which bedroom then I can plan better.” (plan what) In one letter he reportedly said that the home’s windows and doors “allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house.” Then came more ominous notes
• “You have changed it and made it so fancy,” one letter reportedly read. “It cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed its halls. … When I ran from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants there.”
• “And now I watch and wait for the day when the young blood will be mine again.” “I am in charge,” of the home, one letter reportedly read. “Let the young blood play again like I once did” and “stop changing it and let it alone.” (every single light is on in my place right now)

• Rocking into the weekend with “Rock the Casbah” – The Clash. Fantastic song. Happy Birthday to Mick Jones – 60 today

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___________________

Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar, Patrice Harris, Sydnee Fried and Mike Stankiewicz contributed to this report

 

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