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

  • Boston man plotted to behead Pamela Geller
  • Democrats challenge voter restrictions
  • Clinton to tackle ballot access today
  • Voters think Clinton’s dishonest
  • Fox News poll: No GOP frontrunner
  • I took 2010 bribes: Ex-FIFA official
  • Defense bill: McConnell/Reid throw punches
  • Tamir Rice case to prosecutors
  • Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar: Defensive


Boston Man Plotted to Behead Pamela Geller (CNN)

• Usaamah Rahim, who was fatally shot after waving a military knife at law enforcement officers in Boston, was originally plotting to behead Panela Geller, an activist and conservative blogger, law enforcement sources told CNN on Wednesday (she’s awful but she has a right to be without losing her head for it)


• But Rahim, a 26-year-old security guard who officials believe was radicalized by ISIS and other extremists, decided instead to target the “boys in blue”, a reference to police, according to court docs. “I can’t wait that long” he said of the original plan, according to an FBI affidavit


• Geller drew national attention last month after she organized a cartoon drawing contest of Prophet Muhammad in Texas. Two individuals believed radicalized by ISIS attempted at attack the event and were thwarted by an off duty police officer working security. They were both killed. “This is a showdown for American freedom,” Geller said Wednesday


• Rahim’s alleged associate, David Wright, 25, appeared in court in Boston Wednesday to face a charge of obstructing a federal investigation by destroying evidence on Rahim’s smartphone


Man Bought Military Fighting Knives

• Rahim bought three military fighting knives with blades longer than 8 inches on, court docs said. “I just got myself a nice little tool,” Rahim told his associate, according to the court docs. “You know it’s good for carving wood and … carving sculptures.” They’re then heard laughing


• Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said surveillance video shows four or five officers approach Rahim without their weapons drawn. The officers backtrack as he comes after them with a knife and gets “close enough to cause imminent harm.” They eventually draw their weapons and open fire


• Anti-terrorism authorities had Rahim under 24-hour surveillance. He was the subject of a terror investigation involving suspected Islamist extremists, law enforcement sources said. The FBI noted a recent change in his behavior, including social media threats against police


• Authorities showed the surveillance video of the incident during an unusual meeting with religious and civil rights leaders in an attempt to allay community concerns about the shooting


Video Claim: Not Shot in Back

• “What the video does reveal to us very clearly is that the individual was not on the cell phone, the individual was not shot in the back and that the info reported by others that that was the case was inaccurate,” Darnell Williams, president and chief exec of the Urban League of Eastern Mass said at a presser with the police commissioner and others


• Rahim’s brother had posted on social media that the suspect was on the phone with their father and was shot three times in the back during the confrontation with police. Williams said prosecutors want Rahim’s family to see the video before showing it to the public


• Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, speaking for the Muslim community, said the video was inconclusive. “I don’t think he was shot in the back …. However we couldn’t see clearly at all.” He added, “We can’t say what happened. We weren’t there. We do see a very vague video that is not clear as to what transpired.”


• The FBI task force had been watching Rahim and two associates also believed to be radicalized, according to a law enforcement official. Rahim had been monitored for at least a couple of years. The FBI is still investigating whether more people are connected with the three



• Former Gov Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) officially jumped into the race for the Democratic nomination for 2016 Wednesday. “I enjoy challenges and certainly we have many facing America,” Chafee said in a speech in Arlington VA. Chafee spent time explaining his vote against the Iraq War in 2003 as a GOP senator – a big dig against Hillary Clinton, who voted for it (Hill, TRNS)



Democrats Challenge Voter Restrictions: Battleground States (NYT, me)

• Democrats allied with Hillary Clinton are mounting a nationwide legal battle 17 months before the 2016 presidential election. They want to roll back Republican-enacted restrictions on voter access that Democrats believe could make all the difference in a close campaign – could be tough


• The Democrats began last month with lawsuits filed in Ohio and Wisconsin, presidential battleground states. Issues on the table: Voter ID requirements that Democrats consider onerous, time restrictions imposed on early voting that they say could make it difficult to vote the weekend before Election Day, and rules that could nullify ballots cast in the wrong precinct


• The effort reflects an urgent practical need, Democrats say: to get litigation underway early enough so that federal judges can be persuaded to intervene in states where Republicans control legislatures and governor’s offices (most places, in other words). The effort’s being headed up by Marc Elias, who’s also the general counsel for Clinton’s campaign


• More lawsuits could soon be filed in Georgia, Nevada and the increasingly critical state of Virginia. A similar lawsuit was begun last year in North Carolina


• Almost all of the states have growing African-American or Hispanic populations, whose voting rights Democrats say could be impinged next year – which could knock the Democratic party out of the running. Democrats seeking office at every level in 2016 could gain if lawsuits in their states are successful. As could Clinton if she’s the party’s nominee


Clinton to Tackle Ballot Access Today (NYT, Politico, me)

Today, Hillary Clinton will tackle the issue of ballot access head-on in an address at Texas Southern University, a historically black university in Houston. She’s expected to condemn the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling striking down part of the Voting Rights Act, which opened the way for states to pass laws requiring government voter ID at the polls


• Clinton will call for an early voting period of at least 20 days in every state. Her speech will tie voting rights into the broader civil rights strife that’s erupted over the recent deaths of several unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, aides said


• But don’t expect the press to ask Clinton any questions after the speech. The university’s guidance: “There will be NO opportunities to interview Hillary Clinton; her speech will be her interview.” Whaaaaaat? That’s from the university, not the campaign, BTW – but it’s in keeping with the way the campaign has treated the press – loooong arm’s length


• And the university said to the press: “You must stay within the barricades once you enter the arena” and the press had to use media-designated restrooms – until updated language came out, saying: “There will be wifi and restrooms available. We look forward to accommodating you.” Still no questions for Clinton, though. Is it surprising she’s in trouble in the polls?


Voters Think Clinton’s Dishonest (Hill, Hill, me)

• Two polls out Tuesday asked voters whether they viewed Hillary Clinton as honest and trustworthy. An ABCNews/WaPo poll found 52% answered “no” compared with 41% who expressed trust in Clinton. A CNN poll found 57% answered “no” and only 42% said that she is honest and trustworthy – not exactly what she wants to hear


• A Democratic strategist – anonymous, of course, citing fear of retribution by Clinton loyalists – argued that Clinton’s campaign has consistently underestimated the damage that’s been wreaked by negative stories about donations to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s use of a private email account while SecState (person’s correct – and I’m not concerned)


• “The bottom line is that there is this pervasive belief that the story is going to go away and they can mitigate this with silence,” the strategist said of the Clinton campaign. “And it ain’t working.” The Clinton campaign says her policies will, over time, foster a different, more important kind of trust among voters (times have changed – people’s ideas are cementing fast)


• Journalist Ron Brownstein has pointed out that exit polls from the 1996 presidential election showed that 54% of voters didn’t view President Bill Clinton as honest or trustworthy. He won handily regardless. (but they liked his policies – more importantly, they couldn’t help liking him, “the rogue” – they don’t feel that same connection to Hillary Clinton, yet)


• “I don’t want to debate you over your poll,” Joel Benenson, a senior adviser and pollster to Hillary Clinton, said to Wolf Blitzer on CNN Wednesday. (suspect he was on for that reason, though) Benenson went on to say, “I think that people in the media want this to be a sprint every day, but the truth is that a presidential campaign is a marathon.”



• Former Gov Rick Perry (R-TX) will launch his second consecutive bid for the WH today and seek to erase his “oops” showing in the 2012 GOP presidential contest. Perry will announce outside Dallas, flanked by current and former service members in a bid to set himself apart as one of the few GOP candidates with military experience (Hill)



Fox News Poll: No GOP Frontrunner (Fox News)

• A new Fox News poll out Wednesday finds former Gov Jeb Bush (R-FL), Gov Scott Walker (R-WI) at 12% and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 11%. They’re followed by Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) at 9%, Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) at 8%, Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) at 7%, Former Gov Mike Huckabee (R-AR) at 6% and Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) at 5%


• Former Gov Rick Perry (R-TX), who announces today, and Donald Trump each get 4%. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Gov John Kasich (R-OH) each garner 2%


• More than half say they would “never” support Trump – 59%.(ouch) That’s the highest number saying they wouldn’t vote for a particular candidate. Christie comes next – 37%, followed by Bush and Huckabee – 24% each and Paul – 20%. Bush alone has the distinction of being in the top five of both “definitely” and “never” vote for lists


• On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has 57% support among self-identified Democratic primary voters, down from 63% last month. Support for Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) nearly doubled, from 6% last month to 11% now. Former Gov Martin O’Malley garners 4%, a nice bump from the 1% he had before his announcement


• Would you rather the next president be a Democrat or a Republican? The poll finds . . . a split! 40% prefer a Democrat and 39% a Republican. The results are also evenly divided among independents: 24% say Democrat, 24% Republican and 35% say other



• The Pentagon disclosed Wed that it inadvertently (eeek) shipped possibly live anthrax to at least 51 labs across the U.S. and to three foreign countries over the last decade, but it’s yet to figure out how it happened, who’s to blame, why it wasn’t discovered earlier and how much worse the embarrassment will get (worse)… (AP, TRNS, me)



I Took 2010 Bribes: Ex-FIFA Official (BBC, me)

• Former top FIFA official Chuck Blazer has admitted that he and others on the executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the choice of South Africa as 2010 World Cup host. The American said he also helped to arrange bribes over the 1998 event. He’s said to have recorded colleagues using a mic hidden in a keychain


• The admissions came in a newly released transcript from a 2013 U.S. hearing in which he pleads guilty to 10 charges. The U.S. has launched a wide-ranging criminal case that engulfed FIFA and led president Sepp Blatter to resign. Wednesday, South Africa denied paying a $10m bribe to secure the hosting of the 2010 event (cheap at the price)


• U.S. prosecutors last week indicted 14 people on charges of bribery, racketeering and money laundering (cash in a briefcase!). Four others had already been charged, including Blazer. For many years Blazer didn’t file tax returns, which was suspicious considering he had a luxury apartment in Trump Tower solely for the use of of his cats, according to docs (and why not)


• The DoJ alleges the people accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m over a 24-year period. Blazer was the second-highest official in FIFA’s North and Central American and Caribbean region (CONACAF) from 1990 to 2011 and served on FIFA’s exec committee between 1997 and 2013


• Swiss authorities have launched a criminal investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated. Qatar has said there’s no way it will be stripped of the 2022 World Cup despite the probe. FM al Attiyah dismissed a “bashing campaign” as anti-Arab prejudice (sure, and the 1000+ workers deaths are – business expenses?)



• Deputy SecState Antony Blinken told France Inter radio Wednesday that more than 10,000 ISIS fighters have been killed since an international coalition began a campaign against the group in Iraq and Syria, but he warned that ISIS remained resilient and capable of taking the initiative. Numbers couldn’t be independently verified (BBC)



Defense Bill: McConnell / Reid Throw Punches (Hill, me)

• Senators agreed to take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) S.1376, Wednesday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned Democrats against dragging out work on the legislation, saying that “blocking this bill is not in the national interest.” The WH has threatened a veto


• “It would be profoundly unfair to our troops,” he said from the Senate floor. “So let’s skip the partisan games and start working toward common sense reforms as this bill proposes. Let’s work together to pass the best defense authorization bill possible.” Kumbaya suggestion didn’t go down too well


• Because of the veto threat, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had told reporters Tuesday that taking up the NDAA in June “really is kind of a waste of time.” McConnell slammed Reid Wednesday, saying that Democrats “want to punish the men and women of our military.” Lawmakers usually work to finish the bill at the end of the year – not in June


• Reid said Wednesday that by taking up the bill now – which could take weeks – McConnell is risking missing upcoming deadlines for the Export-Import Bank and the Highway Trust Fund. “The American people will have to endure another manufactured crisis at the hand of Senate Republicans.” – left hook at the NSA surveillance debacle


• “Should we also assume that the majority leader will so the same with the federal highway program, which expires at the end of July?” Reid asked. He added: “Governing by brinksmanship, manufactured crisis, flirting with deadlines, a game of chicken. You can call it whatever you want, but they’re doing it.” knockout?


• Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation Wednesday that aims to ensure military service dogs come back to the U.S. after their tours are over. The proposed bill would require the Pentagon to arrange and pay for transportation of trained military dogs back to the States if the are injured or when their skill are no longer required overseas (Hill)


Tamir Rice Case to Prosecutors (CNN, AP, me)

• The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Dept in Ohio on Wednesday handed its investigation into the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice to prosecutors. The dept said in a statement it “performed an extensive, thorough and unbiased investigation.” The prosecutor will ask a grand jury to decide if criminal charges should be filed against the police officer


• Tamir was holding a fake gun when rookie Cleveland patrolman Timothy Loehmann shot him 22 November. The boy died a day later. He had been playing in a park near his home. Loehmann shot within two seconds of his police cruiser arriving on the scene as he and his partner answered a call about someone waving a gun (boy had no chance)


• In December, the Justice Dept released the results of a two-year investigation that found Cleveland officers used guns, Tasers, pepper spray and their fists excessively, unnecessarily or in retaliation (for being mentally ill, or just existing, it seemed)


• Also in December, Loehmann’s previous employer, the Independence Police Dept in a Cleveland suburb, said it had numerous complaints about Loehmann, including that he was “emotionally immature.” He also showed “dangerous loss of composure during live range training” and an “inability to manage personal stress,” the dept said


• Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) rapidly apologized after making a joke at the expense of VP Biden, whose son died over the weekend. Cruz trotted out an old line, but this time he got hammered on social media from people who noted that Biden’s grieving over his son, Beau. Cruz apologized on Facebook and then on Twitter… (Politico, me)



Duggars Get Defensive (Buzzfeed, WaPo, LAT, me)

• Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, in part one of a two-part interview with Job Bob and Michelle Duggar, asked some decent and some softball questions about the sexual molestation perpetrated by their eldest son, Josh, on five young girls, including four of his younger sisters when he was a teenager. “He was a child preying on a child,” Jim Bob Duggar bleated of Josh’s alleged crimes


• The Duggars’ account is primarily about Josh and not about their daughters. The girls, the Duggars assured us, never knew what happened until they were told and the incident lasted mere “seconds” allegedly and the touching allegedly happened mostly “over their clothes” (not true, BTW, that they were asleep for all the incidents)


• Kelly promoted a further interview Friday night with two of the older Duggar daughters, Jill and Jessa. It promises to be pathetic. Bear in mind that the Duggars’ extremist Christian sect, the Quiverfull, teaches absolute obedience and subservience by women to men in all things. So expect Josh to be a victim, too – boys are more important than girls


• Michelle Duggar astonishingly claims her daughters “weren’t even aware … they probably didn’t even understand that it was improper touch.” Josh Duggar molested his sisters’ and another girl’s breasts and vaginas both over and under clothes. Really? I’m thinking most children are aware that their privates are private, even at a young age or even as infants


• The Duggars seem to be more upset that a sealed juvenile record of the incident made its way to the tabloids (and messed up their reality show career?) They said they’re even considering suing the official they think may have leaked the info to the press. They feel police chief Kathy O’Kelley may have been targeting them – victims again, so sad for them

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald and James Cullum contributed to this report


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