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

  • Des Moines Register fires Trump
  • Hill: Illegal immigrant killings today
  • US/Cuba = BFFs: Grievances persist
  • UN Security Council backs Iran deal
  • Abdulazeez: Troubling picture emerges
  • McConnell: Bipartisan highway bill likely
  • Sandra Bland’s death probed as murder
  • Planned Parenthood: Video was fraudulent
  • Hillary Clinton’s Facebook Q&A


Des Moines Register fires Trump (Politico, AP, Des Moines Register, me)
• The Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in early-voting Iowa, published an editorial Monday night calling on Donald Trump to drop out of the presidential race. “Trump has proven himself not only unfit to hold office, but unfit to stand on the same stage as his Republican opponents,” the Register said (not wrong)

• Trump has become “a feckless blowhard who can generate headlines, name recognition and polling numbers not by provoking thought, but by provoking outrage.” “His comments
[John McCain] were not merely offensive, they were disgraceful. So much so, in fact, that they threaten to derail not just his campaign, but the manner in which we choose our nominees for president.”

• Trump over the weekend dismissed Sen John McCain’s (R-Ariz) reputation as a war hero, saying of the man who was held five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, “He’s a hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Trump then tried to say that he hadn’t said that -( in numerous iterations that would be tedious to write – and worse to read)

• Monday night Trump seemed bewildered. “If there was a misunderstanding, I would totally take that back,” he said in an evening interview on Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor. On CBS Evening News, he said: “I don’t know if I made a mistake.” (not that difficult to figure out – get an adviser – or some humility)

• McCain said on MSNBC Monday morning that Trump owes an apology not to him, but to the nation’s veterans and their families. “I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country.”

• Gov John Kasich (R-Ohio) will become the 16th major Republican candidate to enter the 2016 presidential race today. Blue-collar upbringing, congressional budget hawk, investment banker, successful two-term governor – and short fuse. Yup, Kasich is working to control his temper (this GOP field just gets better and better) (Politico, me)
Hill: Illegal Immigrant Killings Today (Hill, TRNS, me)
• The House will vote this week on legislation that would dent funding to “sanctuary cities” that have policies designed to shelter illegal immigrants from deportation. Sanctuary cities largely refuse to cooperate with federal immigration policies. Such laws have come under heavier scrutiny in the wake of Kathryn Steinle’s death last month in San Francisco

• Steinle, 32, was fatally shot while walking with her father along San Francisco’s waterfront. The police have charged Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant with a history of felony convictions who had been deported five times, with the crime – he says the gun went off accidentally

• Legislation authored by Rep Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) would deny federal grant funding to states with policies that prohibit law enforcement from gathering info about individuals’ immigration status or that contradict federal statute. A vote on the bill is likely Thursday

• The issue has been highlighted in the 2016 presidential race, most notably in a controversial (very ugly) way by Republican Donald Trump. Steinle’s father will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, along with family members of other victims of crimes committed by people in the U.S. without documentation (this will be highly charged stuff)

• Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco will also testify before the committee today, and his testimony says that “a just and humanitarian policy should not be abandoned because of flaws in the system. Rather, proper authorities should make prudent adjustments in the application of the law in order to protect the public safety of all those living in the country.”
• A Reuters poll has found that 66% of Americans would support a 10-year term limit on Supreme Court justices, who now serve for life, while 17% support life tenure. Limiting terms would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution – Congress shows no signs of taking up the idea (Reuters, TRNS)
U.S./Cuba = BFFs: Grievances Persist (AP, Hill, Bloomberg, TRNS, me)
• In sweltering heat and humidity, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez presided over a flag-raising ceremony at the Cuban embassy in Washington DC Monday hours after full diplomatic relations with the U.S. were restored. Rodriguez later met with SecState John Kerry, becoming the first Cuban FM to set foot in the State Dept since 1958

• Echoing comments he made at the embassy ceremony, Rodriguez said at a joint presser with Kerry, “I emphasized that the total lifting of the blockade, the return of illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo as well as full respect for Cuban sovereignty and compensation for our people … are crucial to be able to move toward the normalization of relations,”

• Rodriguez also thanked President Obama for taking steps to ease sanctions thus far and calling on Congress to ease the embargo. Rodriguez noted “profound differences” but stressed that “we strongly believe that we can both cooperate and coexist in a civilized way based on due respect for these differences.”

• Kerry said, “We understand that Cuba has strong feelings about it, and I can’t tell you what the future will bring, but for the moment that [returning Guantanamo to Cuba] is not part of the discussion on our side.”

• Outside the embassy, the activist group Code Pink held pink umbrellas that spelled out “Amigos.” There were several protesters, including one whose shirt was covered in red paint who was removed from the scene by police

• Raw vid: Cuban flag is raised over embassy in Washington DC as full diplomatic ties restored after 54 years

UN Security Council Backs Iran Deal (Reuters, Hill, NYT, TRNS, TRNS, TRNS, me )
• The UN Security Council on Monday backed Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers, but the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards attacked the resolution, underlining powerful opposition to the deal

• President Obama hailed the UN endorsement, saying it showed last week’s accord commanded broad international support as the best way of ensuring Iran never gets nuclear weapons. Obama told reporters he’s hopeful Congress “will pay attention to that broad-based consensus.” The EU also approved the deal

• However, the agreement still faces strong opposition in Congress and some Middle East states, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as from the Revolutionary Guards and other Iranian hardliners. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Monday, “This is a bad start for a bad deal.”

• SecDef Ash Carter visited the remote Hussein Lookout outpost along Israel’s border with Lebanon Monday, where he listened to Israeli officials describe how Iranian proxies – especially Hezbollah – had bedeviled them. “We will continue to help Israel counter Iran’s malign influence,” Carter said after an hour-long briefing

• Even before the Council passed the resolution in New York, top Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammed Ali Jafari denounced it for interfering with Iran’s military operations and crossing “red lines” set by Ayatollah Khameini. “We will never accept it,” he was quoted as saying

• SecState John Kerry says in an interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV published today that a speech by Ayatollah Khameini on Saturday vowing to defy American policies in the region despite the Iran nuclear deal: “if it is the policy, it’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling.” (this is a major statement from Kerry – who’s been very careful not to criticize Iran) (Reuters)
Abdulazeez: Troubling Picture Emerges (NYT, Reuters, ABC News, WaPo, CNN, me)
• Muhammad Abdulazeez, 24, suspected of killing five members of the U.S. military in Tennessee last week, was in Qatar at least once during a 2014 trip to the Middle East, according to two U.S. govt sources, who said reasons for the stopover were still unknown, as is how long he spent there. Qatar is home to jihadist supporters as well as a U.S. air base

• One of the four Marines killed may have been armed and could have exchanged fire with Abdulazeez. Marines aren’t authorized to carry personally owned firearms at the Navy Operational Support Center, but the FBI recovered a pistol from the scene which may have been “privately owned and used by one of the Marines.”

• Authorities who were examining Abdulazeez’s computer found that he had viewed material connected with Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was killed in Yemen by an American drone strike in 2011, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation (the most potentially damning thing so far)

• Authorities said they were investigating what they described as a likelihood that Abdulazeez received some kind of assistance in organizing his attack, perhaps financial aid in obtaining weapons. But it remains unclear whether anyone who helped him was aware of what he intended to do, or when
• Reps Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn) introduced legislation Monday to repeal the ban on military personnel carrying guns on bases after the attack last week in Chattanooga that left five members of the military dead (Hill)
• On 11 July, Abdulazeez stocked up on ammunition at Walmart. Two days later, he wrote in his blog long entries on Islam, describing the world as a prison and cautioning, “Don’t be fooled by your desires, this life is short and bitter and the opportunity to submit to allah may pass you by.”

• He had drug abuse problems, was worried about debt and faced the possibility of bankruptcy, according to his family. He returned from a lengthy trip to Jordan in 2014 concerned about conflicts in the Middle East, two friends said. The FBI is still investigating the trip

• Close friends have said Abdulazeez drank alcohol and smoked marijuana, had received treatment for drug problems, and struggled to reconcile those habits with his Islamic beliefs. His family said in a statement at the weekend that he suffered from depression and had been diagnosed as early as 12

• Abdulazeez, an engineer, wrote about having suicidal thoughts and “becoming a martyr” as far back as 2013, after losing his job due to drug use, both prescription and non-prescription, a family representative said. The person said Abdulazeez abused sleeping pills, opioids, painkillers, marijuana and alcohol

• President Obama kicked off a week of renewed focus on Africa on Monday by welcoming Muhammadu Buhari, the new president of Nigeria, to an Oval Office meeting. Obama was full of praise for his avowed commitment to fighting corruption and Boko Haram. Obama heads to Kenya and Ethiopia later this week – but skips Nigeria (NYT)
McConnell: Bipartisan Highway Bill Likely (AP, me)
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said Monday, “Sen [Barbara] Boxer (D-Calif) and I have been in negotiations all weekend and I spoke with her yesterday, and we’re hoping to be able to announce tomorrow a major bipartisan multiyear highway bill.” Boxer has been leading negotiations for Senate Democrats

• While a deal is close, Senate Democratic leaders haven’t yet signed off on a bill – Senate Democratic aide. Time’s running out. Authority for transportation programs expires 31 July, which would eliminate the Transportation Dept’s ability to process promised highway and transit aid payments to states

• Without an infusion of cash, the balance in the federal Highway Trust Fund is forecast to drop below $4 billion – the minimum cushion needed to keep money flowing to states without interruption – by the end of the month

• Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) last week drew up a list of about $80 billion in tax changes and spending cuts. But Democrats objected to the biggest proposal, which would reduce the rate of return on one of the investment funds available to federal retirees – a $31 billion savings over a decade

• The House passed an $8 billion bill last week to keep transportation programs going until 18 Dec. One long term option would be for lawmakers to raise the 18.4 cents-a-gallon gas tax, the chief source of Highway Trust Fund revenue, but voters might go ballistic. The tax hasn’t been raised since 1993. Lawmakers have passed 34 short-term extensions since 2009…

• Supporters of the Export-Import Bank are pushing to revive the bank by attaching it to the highway legislation. Conservative groups, backed by the Koch brothers, oppose the bank which they claim is corporate welfare. The bank underwrites loans to help foreign customers buy U.S. goods. It’s possible that supporters have the votes (AP, me)
Sandra Bland’s Death Probed as Murder (Reuters, NYT, me)
• The death of an Illinois woman found hanged in her Texas jail cell in what local authorities said was a suicide will be “treated like a murder investigation,” Waller County DA Elton Mathis said Monday. Sandra Bland, 28, was found dead 13 July, three days after she was arrested for assaulting an officer during a traffic stop, authorities have said

• The Waller County Sheriff’s Office said Bland took her own life and the death was ruled a suicide by the Harris County ME’s Office. But her family and friends have publicly questioned the official account. At a presser Monday, Mathis said there were “too many questions” to determine how she died (weird story)

• Bland’s family has called for an independent autopsy and the for Dept of Justice to open an investigation, saying the young woman had moved to Texas from Chicago to start a new job and wouldn’t have taken her own life. Last week, the FBI and Texas Rangers said they were looking into Bland’s case

• Bland’s family told Chicago media that Bland, a black woman, was outspoken about allegations of bias and excessive force by law enforcement in a year that saw protests across the country following the killings of unarmed black men by white officers in New York, Missouri and South Carolina. Dashcam video of her arrest will be released today. Here’s some video of it

• The trooper who took Bland into custody following a traffic stop – failing to signal a lane change – has been put on desk duty for violating protocol during her 10 July arrest. Bland was accused of becoming combative and assaulting the officer, according to arrest records and local media. The sheriff’s office released three hours of footage from the jail
• Vid: President Obama speaks Monday at the WH on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act



Planned Parenthood To Congress: Video Was Fraudulent (AP, HuffPo, Hill, me)
• Planned Parenthood told the House Energy and Commerce Committee Monday that a secretly recorded video released last week by an obscure anti-abortion group is fraudulent and part of a decade-long pattern of illegal harassment aimed at prohibiting abortion and intimidating women and doctors. Goal: Ban abortion. The committee has launched an investigation

• The letter represented Planned Parenthood’s fullest response so far to a video releasd last week by the Center for Medical Progress. In it, a top Planned Parenthood official discusses how the group sometimes provides tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research, a conversation over wine and lunch she was having with two actors posing as purchasers of fetal organs

• In its letter to the committee, Planned Parenthood says center official David Daleiden is behind the video. The center lists Daleiden as its project lead. The letter says that Daleiden has secretly recorded Planned Parenthood staff and patients at least 65 times over the last eight years, and then used heavily edited tapes to make false charges

• “Ten times during the conversation, Dr Nucatola said Planned Parenthood would not sell tissue or profit from tissue donations, and all ten instances were cut out of the video, misleading the public into thinking she said something she didn’t,” Planned Parenthood said in the letter to chair Fred Upton (R-MI)
Thousands More Hours?
• Planned Parenthood writes that Daleiden may have thousands of hours of video “that he will use to edit deceptively into short clips to make false claims.” such as that the provider is engaged in illegal and racially biased activities

• “We also believe that in at least one interaction at a PP facility, the Biomax representative asked questions about the racial characteristics of tissue donated to researchers studying sickle cell anemia.” PP said the group apparently did this “to create a misleading impression” that PP is targeting African-American fetuses

• PP said impersonators posing as health care professionals also offered to pay various sums of money for fetal tissue or organs – from $100 to $1,600 – in an attempt to catch PP officials selling the tissue, but that PP staff refused

• “The Center for Medical Progress follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work, and we look forward to showing the public more clear evidence that Planned Parenthood routinely profits from the sale of baby parts and changes the abortion procedures it uses on pregnant women in order to do so,” the group said in a statement

Hillary Clinton’s Facebook Q&A (E! Online, me)
Immigrants’ pathway to citizenship? “Donald Trump in particular is getting a lot of attention for some hateful rhetoric, but Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio actually agree with him on denying a pathway to citizenship and consigning hardworking immigrants to second class status. I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform that includes that pathway to citizenship.”

Racism: “Black lives matter. Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that. We need to acknowledge some hard truths about race and justice in this country, and one of those hard truths is that that racial inequality is not merely a symptom of economic inequality.”

When told Sen Mitch McConnell said, “The gender card isn’t enough” to become president: “Wow. If that’s what he said, Mitch McConnell really doesn’t get it. There is a gender card being played in this campaign. It’s played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave.” – continues – space

What it’s like being a grandmother: “IT’S THE BEST THING EVER!”

• Famed physicist Stephen Hawking + tech billionaire Yuri Milner + an ambitious $100 million program + the world’s most powerful telescopes + unprecedented computing capacity = the best chance for finding extraterrestrial life ever launched in a new 10-year project. “We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know,” Hawking said (AP, me)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Luke Vargas, James Cullum, Nicholas Salazar, Willia, Hadden, Patrice Harris and Sydnee Fried contributed to this report


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