Quick Morning News

Morning Jumpstart

  • Trump: aaand the VP winner – 11 am Friday!
  • Cleveland’s cops, courts brace for protests
  • FBI checking extremist groups
  • Clinton: GOP “party of Trump”
  • Obama urges activists and police: Bridge divide
  • Ginsberg in hot water over Trump slam
  • Kerry to Moscow: Let’s make a deal
  • Congress lurches for the exits
Trump: aand the VP winner is – Friday 11 am (NYT, Hill, me)
• Stranded in Indianapolis Wednesday after an aircraft malfunction, Donald Trump brought the veepstakes to him. He met throughout the day with three finalists – including two, Newt Gingrich and Sen Jeff Sessions (R-Ala), flown in solely for that purpose. Trump and his children huddled with Gov Mike Pence (R-Ind) at Pence’s home
• Trump’s sudden series of back-to-back conversations with VP finalists gave at least the impression of indecision. Wednesday, Trump tweeted that he would announce his running mate at 11 am Eastern on Friday. Trump also spoke by phone Wednesday with Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) (this VP show has fake exxxcitement – Mr Robot is better)
• Among Trump’s advisers, Pence is seen as the lowest-risk option: a stolid if unspectacular choice, helpful for locking up conservative votes and perhaps boosting Trump’s appeal across the Midwest. Yet Trump hasn’t seemed publicly enthusiastic for Pence. “Who the hell knows?” Trump mused Tuesday about his prospects to be VP (who the hell does? you do – it’s all a tease)
• Even as Trump’s political advisers have largely rallied around Pence, there remains considerable affection for Gingrich within the Trump family, particularly from Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. Gingrich said Wednesday that Trump was like a “pirate” and so was he, and that Trump had to weigh whether he wanted that on the ticket (maybe it will be a surprise – snore…)
• Trump told WSJ this week that his VP must be an “attack dog.” But he backtracked on Fox News Wednesday and said he wasn’t looking for an attack dog. Pence is a comparatively unfamiliar face. If he would seem the safe choice politically, it would be a rare move for Trump to go outside his personal comfort zone to make perhaps his most important decision of the election
Cleveland’s Cops, Courts Brace for Protests (NYT, me)
• With thousands of protesters expected to descend on Cleveland for next week’s Republican convention, city officials have devised intricate plans to handle mass arrests should chaos break out on the streets, identifying jail facilities to house more than 975 arrested protesters and keeping courts open for 20 hours daily to process cases
• And to guard against violence, authorities have been collecting intel on extremist groups to identify any possible threats. The killing of five officers in Dallas last week added urgency to the planning, as officials tightened their security plans for handling what was already expected to be a volatile atmosphere surrounding the nomination of Donald Trump
• The event is attracting myriad groups, including white nationalist groups the American Freedom Party and Blood & Honour, along with skin heads and the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. “Everything She Says Means Everything” is working to have 100 naked women gather outside the convention, while a bus full of 21 nuns will be serving lemonade to crowds (at same time??)

• “We are not going to be out with helmets and shields and all this other kind of stuff. We are going to be in regular uniforms,” (not naked, then?) said Mayor Frank Jackson. “And if in fact there is a need to deal with something that is more aggressive, they will escalate according to the need. But it will be appropriate.” (definition of appropriate, please)

• Talk Media News will provide special on-the-scene coverage from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week 18 – 21 July. Check back here with Talk Media News throughout the day and throughout the week for the latest scoop


FBI Checking Anarchists, White Supremacists etc (NYT, me)
• The FBI has been looking into domestic and foreign terrorism threats but has found no direct threat from any group targeting the convention. Agents have cast a wide net, looking into anarchists, environmental activists, white supremacists, black separatists, extremist gun rights groups and sovereign citizens groups that believe they don’t need to abide by federal laws (great)
• FBI agents and Cleveland cops have also been knocking on local protesters’ doors and asking questions about their plans for the convention, a tactic that has alarmed some who think that the authorities are already being too aggressive (hello, ms Smith, are you a subversive vegan commie pinko? here, meet Stella, my friendly steel baton)
• Cleveland is bringing in roughly 2,500 law enforcement officers from as far away as California, Texas and Florida to bolster its own convention-dedicated force of about 500 officers. It’s deploying a video unit to document crowd management and police activity (will there be drones? haven’t seen reporting on that)
• Some are worried that the city’s Police Dept, which is being monitored by the Dept of Justice, could be eager to use some of the equipment it bought using a $50 million grant it received for convention security (note that – it’s being monitored by the Justice Dept)

• The Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild said the city has purchased 2,000 sets of riot gear, 2,000 steel batons, 24 sets of bulletproof vests and helmets and 10,000 sets of plastic handcuffs (what’s the point of having all the toys if you can’t play with them a little bit?)

• Interactive with pics and maps! In preparation for next week’s GOP convention, half of downtown Cleveland will be under restrictions. Demonstrators will be limited to a few sites, blocks from the convention center – oh but goody they can carry guns, including open carry (NYT, me)

Clinton: GOP “Party of Trump” (AP, WaPo, TMN, me)
• Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln has been transformed into “the party of Trump,” declaring her GOP presidential opponent a polarizing figure who is deepening the divisions in America (she would know all about polarizing figures)
• Clinton embraced the symbolism of Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech, using the Illinois Old State House chamber as the backdrop to argue that the nation needs to repair its divisions after a series of police shootings. “This man is the nominee of the party of Lincoln. We are watching it become the party of Trump. And that’s not just a huge loss for our democracy – it is a threat to it.”
• “As someone in the middle of a hotly fought political campaign, I cannot stand here and claim that my words and actions haven’t sometimes fueled the partisanship that often stands in the way of our progress,” Clinton said a week after she faced criticism from the FBI director over her emails. “So I recognize I have to do better, too.” (that’s refreshing – most of us have to do better)
• Clinton cited Trump’s toying with “creating a database to track Muslims in America,” his provocative statements about women and his work during Obama’s presidency to promote the “birther movement.” Clinton called Trump “dangerous,” “divisive,” “fear-mongering,” and “pitting American against American.” (but now he’s using a teleprompter and scripts – careful)

• She also sought to send a warning of what a Trump presidency might bring, telling supporters, “Imagine if he had not just Twitter and cable news to go after his critics and opponents, but also the IRS – or for that matter, the entire military.” Trump has a 2-point lead in Florida and Pennsylvania and they’re tied in Ohio – battlegrounds. (Not good news for Clinton. At All)

• Hillary Clinton will meet with Senate Democrats for lunch today, a source familiar with the meeting said, joining the caucus for their last meeting before the conventions and recess. After the meeting, Clinton is expected to campaign with Sen Tim Kaine (D-Va) in Virginia. Kaine is a frontrunner to be named Clinton’s running mate (she’s torn between safe and risky – risky is vital for her)

Obama Urges Activists and Police to Bridge Divide (NYT, Politico, Hill, me)
• President Obama said Wednesday that the profound tensions between the police and African-American communities were likely to worsen “for quite some time” after the series of wrenching shooting deaths this month, urging law enforcement officials and civil rights activists at a lengthy and sometimes tense WH gathering to keep pressing to bridge their differences
• “There is no doubt that police depts still feel embattled and unjustly accused, and there is no doubt that minority communities, communities of color, still feel like it just takes too long to do what’s right,” Obama said. “We have to, as a country, sit down and just grind it out – solve these problems.” (grind it out is a good way to put it – leading to a just and peaceful society)
• Obama listed five areas of agreement, including the need to build more confidence that there’s fair investigations after police use force, as well as helping local depts with training, hiring and recruiting. The group also discussed ways to improve police data use and collection and how the govt can help the 18,000 law enforcement entities in the U.S. coordinate their efforts
• Hostility flared at times behind closed doors at the session, particularly as those representing police organizations clashed with people who had been arrested at protests, said Rashad Robinson, executive director of the online civil rights group Color of Change, who was at the meeting. “What we heard was a willingness to listen,” he said (that’s the start of everything)

• The hastily arranged meeting came the same day as funerals began for five Dallas police officers slain last week by a black man, and one day after Obama traveled to Dallas to memorialize the officers. Obama will attend a town hall meeting today devoted to race and law enforcement that ABC and ESPN will broadcast (town halls need to happen at grass roots, too)

• Sen Tim Scott (R-SC), the first black Republican elected to the South in more than a century, gave the second of three speeches on race on the Senate floor Wednesday. He said he’s been stopped by police seven times in one year. Capitol police told him last year: “The pin I know, you I don’t. Show me your ID.” He got a phone call apologizing later – he’s now had three (WaPo)
Ginsberg in Hot Water Over Trump Slam (AP, Politico, Hill, TMN, me)
• Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s public criticism of Donald Trump is dividing legal experts over whether the leader of the court’s liberal wing should recuse herself in any future case involving him. She called Trump a “faker” who “really has an ego” in a CNN interview and “I can’t imagine what this country would be – with Donald Trump as president” to NYT
• Trump, who is 69, quickly fired back at Ginsberg, who was appointed to the high court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. He tweeted Wednesday that the 83-year-old justice was an embarrassment for making “very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot – resign!” “I think I am questioning her mental capacity,” he said on Fox News on Wed (read her opinions)

• Rep Alan Grayson (D-Fla) tweeted to the presumptive Republican nominee to “shut the fu*k up.” WH spox Josh Earnest refused Wednesday to say whether her comments were appropriate in the eyes of the WH, but joked: “She didn’t earn the nickname the ‘Notorious RBG’ for nothing.” (everyone knows she’s a liberal Democrat. So why is this a surprise?)

Would She Recuse if SCOTUS Decided the Election?
• What if a situation were to arise this year like that in Bush v. Gore, the case in which the Supreme Court decided the outcome of the 2000 presidential election on a partisan 5-4 vote? Stephen Gillers, professor at NYU School of Law, said it’s theoretically possible that Chief Justice John Roberts and the rest of Ginsberg’s colleagues could force her to recuse herself
• But in the long history of the precedent-bound Supreme Court, that’s never happened, he said. “The court routinely defers to the decision of the justice,” he said. “If Ginsberg declined to recuse herself in such a case that would be the end of the story. The court will not review it.” (why should she? Sandra Day O’Connor didn’t – see below)
• Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told the guests at an election party that Al Gore’s election victory in 2000 was “terrible.” One hundred years ago, Charles Evans Hughes won the GOP presidential nomination on the third ballot at the party’s national convention, and only then resigned his Supreme Court seat (wow)

• Justice William Douglas regularly played cards with FDR. Justice Abe Fortas continued secretly advising President Lyndon Johnson after he put Fortas on the court in 1965 (see Politico story for more hair-raising examples)

• Theresa May took the helm as Britain’s new PM on Wednesday and made Boris Johnson, who led the campaign to leave EU with no plan and many falsehoods, her foreign secretary. Boris referred to President Obama as the “part-Kenyan president” in a recent column, and in 2007 referred to Hillary Clinton looking like “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.” (good times ahead) (WaPo, TMN, me)
Kerry to Moscow: Let’s Make a Deal (AP, me)
• Frustrated by months of failure in Syria, the Obama admin is taking what might be its final offer to Moscow: Enhanced intel and military cooperation against ISIS and other extremist groups if Syria’s Russian-backed president Bashar Assad upholds a ceasefire with U.S.-supported rebel groups and starts a political transition (first he puts on his piggy wings and flies)
• When SecState John Kerry meets Russia’s top diplomat and possibly President Putin in Moscow later this week, Syria’s civil war and Assad’s future will top the agenda. Kerry is trying to reverse a trend in which he has hailed a series of agreements with the Russians only for them to fall short – officials with knowledge (translation: Russians, Syrians, Iranians broke them)
• Kerry will have to thread a needle. He’s watched the Syrian and Russian air force violate truce after truce in recent months. Kerry will be wary about offering too much. The talks in Moscow are scheduled fewer than three weeks before an August ultimatum for diplomatic progress. All signs augur poorly for a breakthrough
• Fighting is intensifying near Aleppo. Assad has reasserted control over more areas of the country he had once lost. Humanitarian aid deliveries to besieged, rebel-held areas are sporadic and grossly insufficient. And counterterrorism campaigns against ISIS and al Qaeda show no end in sight, meaning any peace would be partial (that’s a depressing litany)

• “Either something happens in these next few months or they [Russia, Syria] are asking for a very different track,” Kerry told reporters two months ago. But that “very different track” has remained undefined beyond vague hints of a military intervention involving Saudi troops. The WH and Pentagon don’t want to get sucked into a greater a role (so no real leverage)

• Russian authorities briefly detained and then deported Jeff Shell, chief of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. govt broadcasting overseas, including Voice of America. He was told he was subject to a lifetime ban because his name was on a “stop list” that Russia widened in response to U.S. visa sanctions on Russians (getting nasty) (AP, me)

Congress Lurches For the Exits (AP, Hill, Hill, me)
• A divided House is about to pass a $32 billion spending bill for the Interior Dept and environmental regulations as Congress prepares to exit Washington for a seven-week recess, but the bill faces a WH veto threat. The House measure would block EPA rules on coal-fired power plants and clean water rules involving coal operations
• Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are poised to vote today to again block bills to finance the fight against the Zika virus and fund the Pentagon for the upcoming budget year. The Zika measure has been hung up over Democratic objections to GOP language that would block Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico from receiving money to fight the virus (just let it run rampant)
• “We offered Republicans a legitimate compromise in the hopes they would join us at the negotiating table,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said Wed on the Senate floor. “But it’s clear they don’t want to stay in DC. They want to rush to Cleveland and wave the flag for Donald Trump.” (we’ll miss your snark, Harry)
• Senate Democrats also have blocked action on a huge Pentagon spending bill over a move by House Republicans to use accounting moves to add $18 billion to the measure. Democrats say the move would unravel last year’s hard-fought budget deal, which reversed curbs on both Pentagon and domestic accounts
• The WH on Wednesday reluctantly agreed to sign off on Congress’s first major bill to fight opioid abuse, but “Congressional Republicans have not done their jobs until they provide the funding for treatment that communities need to combat this epidemic,” a WH statement said – the bill doesn’t have an additional $900 million to help expand treatment capacity. (but it’s Congress’ one big win)
• House Science, Space and Technology Committee chair Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said Wed he intended to subpoena the Democratic AGs of New York and Massachusetts as well as eight environmental groups for conspiring to deny free speech to global warming deniers. Ranking member Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) called the investigation “illegitimate” (TMN, me)

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Victoria Jones – Editor