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

  • Greece debt crisis: Deal reached
  • Iran deal: Today?
  • Iran deal: Pols weigh in
  • Funding battle: Could be punted
  • Walker IN for 2016: Is he ready?
  • Hillary Clinton: Economic vision today
  • Donald Trump storms Phoenix
  • Trump: Bleeping and unplugged
  • Senators want action on background check loophole
  • Massive manhunt: El Chapo on the run


Greece Debt Crisis: Deal Reached (AP, BBC, Guardian, me)
• Greece reached a deal with its European creditors today that avoids an exit from the euro and the global financial chaos prospect that had raised. The deal calls for Greece, already reeling from harsh austerity measures, to cut back even further in exchange for more loans without which its financial system would surely collapse (going to be rough)

• French President Francois Hollande said the Greek parliament would convene within hours to adopt the reforms called for in the plan, and he celebrated Greece’s continued membership in the euro (wonder how long the governing Syriza party can survive in power in Greece after this)

• A breakthrough came in a meeting between Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU President Donald Tusk, after the threat of expulsion from the euro put intense pressure on Tsipras to swallow politically unpalatable austerity measures in exchange for the country’s third bailout in five years


• The deal includes commitments from Tsipras to push a drastic austerity program including pension, market and privatization reforms through parliament by Wednesday. In return, the 18 other eurozone leaders committed to start talks on a new bailout program that should stave off the imminent collapse of the Greek financial system

• A Cypriot official said the creditors would look into bridge financing for Greece later today, suggesting that the political decision could pave the way for the European Central Bank to extend emergency liquidity assistance to Greek banks. Without it, they risk running out of cash this week

• If the talks had failed, Greece could have faced bankruptcy and a possible exit from the euro. No country has ever left the joint currency, which launched in 1999, and there’s no mechanism for one to do so. Greek debt stands at around $357 billion – a staggering 180% or so of annual gross domestic product
Iran Deal: Today? (NYT, AP, me)
• Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have entered their 17th – and possibly last – day in Vienna as diplomats continue to haggle over details ahead of the expiration of an interim accord. With the temporary deal set to expire at midnight tonight, diplomats said they were planning to complete and announce a final agreement before day’s end – no guarantee

• Iran state TV today is saying the West needs to make tough decisions in the coming hours and that Iran’s FM Javad Zarif wants “no more extensions.” They’re highlighting that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program must be less than 10 years, which implies this may be still under discussion


• In recent rounds of talks, negotiators have wrestled with what limits to set on Iran’s nuclear research, the pace of sanctions relief and, most recently, the terms of a new UN Security Council resolution that would endorse the accord and provide a legal framework for lifting sanctions

• The question of when to lift the arms embargo against Iran has been among the vexing issues. The Iranians see the embargo as part of the “nuclear-related” sanctions, and expected them to be lifted under the fundamental trade off in this nuclear deal (or so they say)

• But the U.S. and the Europeans fear that with access to arms and billions of dollars in newly acquired oil revenues, Iran’s ability to project power and support President Bashar Assad of Syria, along with militant groups in the region, would be greatly expanded (ie they would become huge Middle East arms dealers and suppliers – and steer conflict outcomes)

• WaPo’s Jason Rezaian is back in court in Tehran today – unexpected appearance – and interesting that it’s happening on the same day that a nuclear deal is expected. At time of writing, it’s unknown what’s happened in court

Iran Deal: Pols Weigh In (WSJ, AP, me)
• “It’s going to be a very hard sell – if it’s completed – in Congress,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said on Fox News Sunday. “We already know that it’s going to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state. It appears as if the admin’s approach to this was to reach whatever agreement the Iranians are willing to enter into.”

• “From everything that’s leaked from these negotiations, the admin’s backed away from almost all of the guidelines that they set up for themselves,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on CBS on Sunday. “No deal is better than a bad deal.” (no deal means they can do anything right now – prob not the option you want)

• Sen Bob Corker (R-Tenn), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on NBC Sunday, “At the end of the day I think people understand that if this is a bad deal that is going to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they would own this deal if they voted for it, and so they’ll want to disapprove it. On the other hand, if we feel like we’re better of with it, people will look to approve it”

• Sen Ben Cardin (D-Md), the Foreign Relations committee’s ranking member, said in a statement: “In our deliberations we need to ensure the negotiations resulted in a comprehensive, long-lasting and verifiable outcome that also provides for snap-back of sanctions should Iran deviate from its commitments.”
Funding Battle: Could Be Punted (Politico, me)
• At the rate things are going, a continuing resolution seems inevitable to many lawmakers. Only three weeks until the long August recess, but Senate Democrats are still promising to filibuster every spending bill in a bid to force negotiations over strict spending caps while Republicans refuse to come to the bargaining table

• A CR extends existing govt funding for a period of time: a week, three weeks, two months or even longer. Short-term CRs have been used as a bridge to help lawmakers buy time for a budget deal. Right now, each side is pointing the finger at each other over a possible govt shutdown

• The longer Congress waits to settle the spending deal, the more unlikely a deal becomes: As the primary season heats up, Republicans will move further to the right as Democrats track leftward. And if a CR is extended into the election year, major political footballs – like immigration or Iran – are sure to spill into the process and further gum up the works

• As of now, GOP leadership still plans to push appropriations bills forward for the remainder of July. By the end of next week, the House Appropriations panel will have completed work on all 12 appropriations bills – the first time that’s happened since 2009. Senate Appropriations has finished 10 bills. Bringing them to the floor is another matter – Dems threatening filibuster

• And in the House, GOP leadership has had to scrap scheduled consideration of spending bills for the Interior Dept and financial services govt agencies like the IRS because Democrats want Confederate flag votes. The left has insisted on amendments that ban the flag on certain federal grounds – a hot potato issue for the right. (this week should be fun)

• The NAACP has lifted its 15-year economic boycott of South Carolina a day after the state took down a Confederate battle flag flying near the Statehouse. The NCAA, which honored the ban, has said it will resume holding championship events in the state (AP)
Walker: IN Today 2016 – Is He Ready? (NYT, me)
• After listening to Gov Scott Walker (R-Wis) as he’s traveled the country preparing his campaign for 2016, which kicks off today, admiring voters most often describe him as “authentic,” “real” and “approachable,” Walker’s adviser say. Two words they don’t use? “Smart” and “sophisticated.” “Scott is working on that,” said Ed Goeas, a senior adviser

• As Walker enters the race, the crucial question he must answer is whether he can cross the threshold of credibility so that someone entering a voting booth cam imagine him as president, according to several leading Republicans and interviews with regular voters

• Walker is now emerging from a crash course of policy tutorials and conversations with leaders. The goal is to no longer sow doubts with comments like comparing union leaders to ISIS, refusing to answer a question about evolution, or saying he doesn’t know if President Obama is a Christian or if he loves America (race will be more boring…)

• Pete Peters, a Republican voter in New Hampshire and a Navy veteran, said that the rise of ISIS was his foremost concern in the 2016 election. “I like Walker, but he doesn’t come across like a guy who has thought hard or creatively about the Middle East,” he said

• The policy briefings have cut into time that Walker might have otherwise devoted to fund-raising events – hence fairly modest totals. But some potential donors have said in recent weeks that Walker’s busy schedule wasn’t an issue; rather, they were taking a wait-and-see approach on Walker (ouch, so far he hasn’t convinced heavy-hitters that he is one)

• Audio: TRNS interviews former President Jimmy Carter, 90. He says, “The best time of my life has been the last 35 years.” He talks about his new book: A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, and weighs in on politics including the current surge by presidential contender Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) (TRNS)
Hillary Clinton: Economic Vision Today (NYT, Reuters, me)
• In a speech at the New School in NY today, intended to outline her economic vision, Hillary Clinton will present a stark assessment of a middle class whose weekly earnings have virtually stalled for 15 years, and she’ll criticize “trickle down” Republican policies as having contributed to a vast concentration of wealth among the richest Americans – campaign aides, anonymous

• Clinton has had months of conversations with more than 200 domestic policy experts and dozens of economists, and as a result she believes that increasing the wages of average Americans to reduce income inequality is the “defining economic challenge of our time,” a campaign aide said

• To that end, Clinton will present proposals that include paid family medical leave, an increase in the federal minimum wage and incentives for corporations to increase profit sharing programs. She will also praise President Obama’s proposals to make more workers eligible for overtime pay

• Clinton will propose more investment in infrastructure, tax relief for small businesses, better access to child care, assistance to make college more affordable, stronger support for collective bargaining and tax increases on the wealthiest Americans

• Will her emphasis on wage growth to alleviate income inequality be enough to appease a growing sense of anger over economic inequality? In a NYT/CBS News poll conducted late May, two-thirds of Americans said they thought the distribution of money and wealth in this country should be more even

• Republicans are prepared to spend several hundred million dollars in an attempt to vilify Hillary Clinton early. An expensive and sophisticated effort is underway to test and refine the most potent lines of attack against Clinton (her wealth being one of them) (NYT)

Donald Trump Storms Phoenix (Politico, Arizona Republic, me)

• In a 70-minute stream of consciousness at the Phoenix convention center Saturday, Donald Trump said, “I love the Mexican people … I respect Mexico … but the problem we have is that their leaders are much sharper, smarter and more cunning than our leaders, and they’re killing us at the border.” (follows his theme that Mexican govt is sending immigrants to U.S.)

• Trump mocked the brands that cut ties with him, called out “lyin’ Brian Williams” and much of the rest of the news media. “I’m, like, a really smart person,” Trump said. He concluded: “The silent majority is back, and we’re going to take the majority back, and we are going to make American great again.”

• Ahead of the event, Sen John McCain (R-Ariz) called Trump’s immigration comments “offensive.” Sen Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) called his views “coarse, ill-informed and inaccurate.” Fact-checkers pointed out that Trump’s assertion that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are that country’s criminal element appears to be flat wrong. But many voters are eating it up

• Hazel Powell, 68, said that after President Obama’s election she went into self-exile in Bulgaria where she taught English for two years in the Peace Corps. “I was depressed every day,” said Powell, wearing a cowboy hat, American flag nail polish, American flag cowboy boots, and a shirt that said, “Arrest Obama.”

• Ahead of Trump on stage was immigration hardline Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose dept was found by a federal judge to have racially profiled Latinos. Arpaio brought up his and Trump’s interest in Obama’s birth certificate. “He investigated it. And I have. That’s common. We both want to do something about the illegal immigration problem.”

• Vid: David Letterman comes out of retirement to deliver Donald Trump-inspired Top Ten List

Trump: Bleeping Unplugged (WaPo, me)
• Saturday night aboard Donald Trump’s gleaming Boeing 757 after his Phoenix speech. In an expletive-laden interview over soft drinks, Trump said he has no plans to change the way he’s running for the Republican nomination. What’s next? “More of the same, I’ll keep doing my thing. … I get the biggest crowds. I get the biggest standing ovations.”

• Silent majority for the Saturday speech? “I was just thinking about it today. When I heard about this overwhelming – I’m telling you, it was 500 people at the start and the hotel called us begging to be released. They said they never had anything like this and we had to move the venue. I said to myself, “That’s the silent majority.”

• Don’t care about Nixon overtones? “Nah. Nobody remembers that. Oh, is that why people stopped using
[the phrase]? Maybe. Nobody thinks of Nixon. I don’t think of Nixon when I think of the silent majority. The silent majority today, they’re going to vote for Trump. … And I’ll also get the Hispanics, you watch.”

• What do they see in you? “They see somebody who’s going to turn the country around – somebody who has the ability to turn this country around. They’re tired of the incompetence. When you see my [financial] statement, you’ll be very impressed. That’s why it’s important. Let’s say I was worth $10. People would say, ‘who the [expletive] are you?'”

• “You understand? They know my statement. Fortune. My book, The Art of the Deal, based on my fortune. If I didn’t make a fortune, who the [expletive] is going to buy The Art of the Deal? That’s why they watched The Apprentice, because of my great success.”

23 people and institutions Trump trash talked in a single speech (WaPo)

Senators Want Action on Background Check Loophole (NYT, Hill, Raw Story, me)
• Sens Chris Murphy (D-Conn) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) have called on President Obama to take executive action to close the so-called “default to proceed” rule under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act which allows gun dealers to sell a weapon to a person if they haven’t been notified by the FBI of a buyer’s criminal background within three business days

• The rule allowed Dylann Roof, the alleged killer of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston SC, to buy a gun even though he was arrested on a felony drug charge and admitted to possessing drugs. “We are all sick this happened,” FBI director James Comey said to reporters Friday. “We wish we could turn back time.”

• The criminal background check on Roof wasn’t initiated until two days after Roof first attempted to purchase the gun and didn’t discover his admission of drug possession until five days later. A combination of jurisdictional complications in SC, mistakes by the FBI examiner, non-response by a prosecutor and delays all combined (read NYT story)

• Whataburger Texas restaurant chain – 780 locations in 10 states – will not allow the open carrying of guns on its properties, one month after Gov Greg Abbott (R-Texas) signed a bill that made it legal to carry handguns openly on the streets (AP)

• Despite new procedures and billions of dollars that have been spent on computer upgrades in the years after 9/11, the federal authorities still don’t have a seamless way of examining Americans’ criminal histories that eliminates human error (why didn’t the examiner start the check until two days after Roof went into the store?)

• Gov Nikki Haley (R-SC) said Sunday that she didn’t support increasing waiting periods. “It’s about technology. You know, this is something, when someone has a charge filed against them, it should go into a database and it should be shown immediately to anyone that’s looking at it.”

• Dan Gross, the head of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the disclosure underscores the urgency for Congress to vote on a bill that would provide $400 million to enter the records of prohibited people into the FBI’s background check database

• Office of Personnel Management director Katherine Archuleta resigned Friday “of her own volition” (sure – no pressure) after the catastrophic breach that exposed some 22 million people’s personal records finally came to light. She went to the WH in person Friday to inform President Obama of her decision (NYT, TRNS, me)

Massive Manhunt: El Chapo On the Run (LAT, AP, NYT, me)
• Mexico mounted an all-out manhunt Sunday for its most powerful drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, who escaped from a maximum security prison through a 1 mile tunnel from a small opening in the shower area of his cell, according to the country’s top security official

• Eighteen prison guards and other employees were detained for questioning. U.S. officials had sought Guzman’s extradition, in part for precisely the fear that he would take advantage of the weak, corrupt Mexican justice system to continue his trafficking business and even escape. Several U.S. indictments have been filed against Guzman, unclear if an extradition request filed

• Guzman dropped by ladder into a hole 30 feet deep that connected with a tunnel about 5 feet high that was fully ventilated and had lighting, Security Commissioner Rubido said. Authorities found a motorcycle adapted to run on rails that they believe was used to carry dirt out and tools in during the construction

• The tunnel terminated in a half-built house in a rural farm field near the prison. Authorities, attempting to explain how it was possible for such an elaborate construction to have taken place unnoticed, said Guzman’s shower was the only place in his cell where there were no security cameras

Guzman Known For His Tunnels
• Guzman has escaped from prison before, in 2001, probably in a laundry cart, and was only caught in Feb 2014. President Pena Nieto said shortly after Guzman’s capture last year, “It would be more than regrettable, it would be unpardonable that the state and the govt not take adequate measures to ensure that what happened years ago not be repeated.”

• Guzman is known for the elaborate tunnels his cartel has built underneath the Mexican-U.S. border to transport cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, with ventilation, lighting and even rail cars to easily move products

• Guzman’s capture is an enormous embarrassment to Pena Nieto’s govt, which has captured a number of drug bosses but has faced the rise of new criminal groups that have emerged as larger groups have splintered. He had campaigned on one main promise – to diminish drug cartel violence. Pena Nieto is currently in France

• The U.S. has poured more than $1 billion into joint efforts at battling organized crime cartels, much of it focused on reforming the Mexican criminal justice system. AG Loretta Lynch said in a statement that the U.S. govt stood ready to work with “our Mexican partners to provide any assistance that may help support his swift recapture.” (must be furious)

• During his first stint as a fugitive, Guzman became arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in the world, with an estimated fortune of more than $1 billion, according to Forbes. The cartel expanded its reach throughout much of the U.S., Europe and even Australia
• Vid: Star Wars: The Force Awakens by J.J. Abrams – Comic-Con 2015 reel – contains behind the scenes movie footage

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Ellen Ratner and Sydnee Fried contributed to this report


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