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

  • Clinton campaign: Email problem “nonsense”
  • Clinton’s very bad day: What next?
  • Clinton’s woes: GOP has a field day
  • Biden on vacay: Weighing 2016 run
  • China allows further drop in yuan
  • Jimmy Carter has cancer
  • Odierno: Maybe embed troops in Iraq
  • Mine spill co named / Navajo slam EPA
  • Iowa polls: Men <3 Trump / Women <3 Clinton
  • New attack video: Planned Parenthood
Clinton Campaign Says Email Problem “Nonsense” (AP, Politico, Politico, me)
• A day after Hillary Clinton turned over her personal email server to the DoJ, Clinton’s campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri warned supporters in a lengthy email Wednesday, “Look, this kind of nonsense comes with the territory of running for president.” (er – I’m almost ready – not quite – to predict she’ll pull out; hedging bets still)
• Palmieri acknowledged that the situation had become “complicated” by the passage of time. “It’s common for info previously considered unclassified to be upgraded to classified before being publicly released,” she wrote. “Some emails that weren’t secret at the time she sent or received them might be secret now.” (not what they’re saying)
• Palmieri stressed that Clinton isn’t facing a criminal investigation and said she remains “committed to cooperating” with federal investigations into her private account. “And sometimes govt agencies disagree about what should be classified, so it isn’t surprising that another agency might want to conduct its own review.” (if marked top secret by NSA, it’s top secret)
• Palmieri hit GOP candidates with complicated email histories. “As
[Fla] governor, Jeb Bush owned his own private server and his staff decided which emails he turned over as work-related from his private account.” She also went after Gov Bobby Jindal (La), Gov Scott Walker (Wis) and former Gov Rick Perry (Texas) for “email issues”
• Studiously avoiding the email issue, the Clinton campaign (not signed personally by -H) sent out an ungrammatical tweet asking followers to respond: “How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.” (fewer – meanie internet erupted over the – very easy to make – error ) (WSJ, me)
• Federal investigators have begun looking into the security of Clinton’s homebrew email setup after the IG of the intel agencies said that classified info may have passed through the system. There’s no evidence she used encryption to prevent prying eyes from accessing the emails or her personal server (odd as she seems pretty secretive)
 • Two emails that went through Clinton’s personal system contained info that had been designated “top secret” and “sensitive compartmented info,” one of the govt’s highest classification ratings, U.S. officials said. Clinton has said the server account never held classified info
• For months, Clinton refused calls to give up the email server she used in her suburban NYC home to send and store email through a private account as SecState. She has defended the use of a private server, saying she used it as a matter of convenience to limit the number of electronic devices she had to carry
• The issue didn’t come up during Clinton’s campaigning in New Hampshire this week, said Terry Shumaker, a longtime supporter. “People were free to ask about anything, and nobody asked about emails
• Lawyers for former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin told the State Dept on Wednesday they would abide by District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s request that they not erase any copies of federal records including emails related to work at State in their possession

• Vid: Recently, at a presser, Hillary Clinton defended her use of a private email server – listen to her words carefully (me, NYT)

Clinton’s Very Bad Day(s): What Next? 🔮☔⏳ (WaPo, me)
• Hillary Clinton said last month: “I am confident that I never sent or received any info that was classified at the time it was sent and received.” A State Dept spox said Wed that emails with classified info were sent to Clinton, but “they weren’t sent by her.” (she should have expected to receive classified info in her job) What could be next?
• Does State turn over more of the 30,000 Clinton work-related emails to the intel community’s IG? So far, he has reviewed 40 of Clinton’s emails and found that four contained classified info: that’s 10% of a very small sample
• How many more – if any – emails show that Clinton was sending or receiving classified info via her email server? And, was any of that info classified at the time she received or sent it? Did she know? If not, why not?
• Will any of the more than 31,000 emails that were deleted off the server after being determined to be private and personal be recovered? According to an expert on email recovery that WaPo talked to, there’s a 90 to 95% chance they could be recovered “if no other steps were taken to go in and otherwise make the data inaccessible.” – we don’t know yet
• The bigger question is whether there are legal reasons to try to recover the 31,000 deleted emails. If those are recovered and examined, it’s hard to imagine this story doesn’t go from bad to worse for Clinton
• The last batch of Clinton emails released by State included one from Clinton asking to borrow a book called: “Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better.” Chapter Six: “The Email That Can Land You In Jail” – includes a section on “How to Delete Something So It Stays Deleted”    (ABC News) (just cannot make this up)
Clinton’s Woes: GOP Has a Field Day(AP, TRNS, me)
• Republicans pounced. House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) said in a statement: “It’s about time. Secretary Clinton’s previous statements that she possessed no classified info were patently untrue. Her mishandling of classified info must be fully investigated.”

• GOP candidate Gov Scott Walker (Wis) said, “This is something that isn’t just a matter of her not being able to tell the truth; this is something that has put national security at risk and highly questions her ability to be the commander in chief of the United States.” He called it a “serious and potentially criminal offense.”

• Donald Trump said, “Did she commit a crime? Yes. Will they prosecute it? Perhaps no.”
• “@HillaryClinton’s email scandal proves that another Clinton presidency will bring more drama to the White House,” Sen Marco Rubio (Fla) tweeted
• Rep Darrell Issa (R-Calif) said, “If any other American had shown the same disregard for securing classified info that Hillary Clinton showed, the U.S. govt would move quickly and decisively to hold them responsible.”
• ISIS has claimed responsibility for a truck bomb which has killed at least 76 people and wounded more than 200 others today in the mostly Shia district of Sadr City in Baghdad (Reuters)
Biden on Vacay: Weighing 2016 Run (WSJ, me)
• VP Joe Biden is using part of his vacation in South Carolina this week to sound out friends and family about a presidential bid, as some Democrats press him to enter the race and give the party another option in the face of lingering controversies involving Hillary Clinton. He’s giving the strongest signal yet that he’s considering a third run for the WH
• Biden’s aides wouldn’t comment. Kendra Barkoff, Biden’s spox, said, “In recent weeks, the VP has worked on the nuclear deal with Iran, traveled across the country to highlight the admin’s economic priorities and more.”
• Biden would have to start from scratch. He has no super PAC to back his candidacy with independent fundraising or a network of paid staff in early voting states. Clinton has already signed up some of the party’s most seasoned fundraisers etc. His entry could prompt Clinton’s supporters to rally around her (the email thingie must be nudging him more and more)
• However, the former senator would come to the race with built-in advantages as an incumbent VP who has spent decades in politics. Longtime Democratic fundraisers have already said they would be willing to hedge their bets, which could help him raise cash fast
• As a candidate, Biden could peel off some of the mainstream Democratic support Clinton is counting on to hold off Sen Bernie Sanders, who’s gained support from liberals. Biden may also attract rust-belt Democrats, Catholics and white, working class men, with whom he has some cultural affinity – (and who Clinton might struggle with)
China Allows Further Drop in Yuan (BBC, me)
• China has set the guiding rate for its yuan currency lower for a third consecutive day. But today’s rate of 1% down against the dollar was a smaller margin than the shock cuts earlier in the week
• The bank had on Tuesday announced it would start setting the daily rate based partly on the previous day’s trading, bringing the yuan closer to a free-floating currency. The move triggered concerns over a currency war to boost China’s exports
• Recent economic data had seen a decline in Chinese exports, adding to the worries that the world’s second largest economy was headed for a prolonged slowdown. A weaker yuan will make products cheaper abroad, meaning Chinese companies are more competitive on international markets
• The People’s Bank of China said today that the country’s strong economic environment, sustained trade surplus, sound fiscal position and deep foreign exchange reserves provided “strong support” to the exchange rate
• But in light of the weak economic data and Tuesday’s policy change to set the daily midpoint based on the previous day’s trading, market forces could well pull the currency even lower in the next days

Raw vid captures massive explosions in Northern China’s Tianjin. Could be felt 10 km away. At least 44 people are now known to have died, and more than 500 injured, including 12 firefighters. Two blasts happened in a warehouse storing “dangerous and chemical goods” (BBC, me)

 

Jimmy Carter Has Cancer (Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday that recent liver surgery revealed he has cancer that had spread to other parts of his body. “I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter, 90, said in a statement. He said more info would come when more facts were known – “possibly next week”
• Carter, a Democrat, served as the 39th president from 1977 to 1981 after defeating Republican incumbent Gerald Ford. He was defeated for re-election in 1980 by Republican Ronald Reagan. President Obama telephoned Carter Wednesday to wish him a full and speedy recovery. Obama also put out a statement, saying he and America were “rooting for you.”
• The Carter family has a history of pancreatic cancer, including his parents, two sisters and younger brother Bill Carter. Asked by NYT in 2007 why he has escaped cancer for so long while it devastated the rest of his family, Jimmy Carter said: “The only difference between me and my father and my siblings was that I never smoked a cigarette.”
• Carter’s health became a matter of concern in recent months, after he cut short a trip to Guyana in May to observe national elections. Carter is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist on a range of issues from global democracy to women and children’s rights, as well as affordable housing
• He published his latest book last month, “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.” He said in an interview that the civil rights movement led to great progress toward racial equality in the U.S., but “there’s still a great prejudice in police forces against black people and obviously some remnants of extreme racism.”
• A 30-year-old Croatian oil surveyor hostage abducted in Egypt by ISIS militants has been beheaded, according to a gruesome image circulated Wed online – a killing that, if confirmed, would be the first of its kind involving a foreign captive in the country – a blow to the govt’s efforts to project stability and get the economy back on course (TRNS, me)

 

Odierno: Maybe Embed Troops in Iraq (Hill, CNN, TRNS, me)
• “If we find in the next several months that we aren’t making progress, we should absolutely consider embedding some soldiers [in Iraq],” Gen Ray Odierno, outgoing Army chief of staff, said Wednesday at his final Pentagon press briefing. But: “Syria is different.”
• Odierno rejected the idea of the U.S. taking over the fight against ISIS: “We’d probably be back where we are today six months later. I absolutely believe the region has to solve this problem. The U.S. can’t solve this problem for the region.”
• Odierno said Russia is the top military threat to the U.S. “I believe Russia is the most dangerous. First, they are more mature than some of our other potential adversaries, and I think they have stated some intents that concern me, in terms of how the Cold War ended.”
• The general said he is also “greatly concerned by the prospect of Russia violating the sovereignty of Baltic states that are members of NATO, which would require the U.S. military to come to their defense under Article V of the organization’s founding treaty.” Russia is “constantly assessing the reaction of NATO to any of their actions.”
• Odierno said the U.S. had to increase its ability to move quickly to the region if needed, and increase interoperability with other NATO forces. “A true deterrent is one where people are worried that if they do conduct operations, that there will be some level of response.”
• Swedish prosecutors will drop their investigation into sexual assault allegations against Julian Assange today because of the statute of limitations. The Wikileaks founder still faces the more serious allegation of rape. Assange denies everything and says it’s a smear campaign. He’s been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 (BBC, me)

Mine Spill Co Named / Navajo Slam EPA (WSJ, WashTimes, me)

• Environmental Restoration LLC was the contractor whose work caused a mine spill in Colorado that released an estimated 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into a major river system, according to a person familiar and govt docs reviewed by WSJ. The company is one of the largest EPA emergency cleanup contractors. Neither the company nor EPA commented

• EPA officials are going door-to-door, asking Navajo, many of whom don’t speak English as their primary language, to sign a form that offers to pay damages incurred so far from the spill – but waiving their right to come back and ask for more if their costs escalate or they discover bigger problems, Navajo President Russell Begaye told WashTimes

• “It is underhanded. They are just trying to protect their pocketbook,” Begaye said. Begaye has already promised a lawsuit on behalf of the Navajo Nation, and said he suspects the EPA is trying to buy off as many Navajo as possible now to head off a bigger settlement later (if so, this is appalling)

• The spill has dumped millions of gallons of polluted water into the Animas River, which feeds the San Juan River and eventually the Colorado River, which provide water for grazing and crops in much of the area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah which Navajo Nation covers. No comment Wed from EPA

• Julia Bell Slingsby, a spox for Rep Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the committee will be investigating the entire disaster and “chairman Bishop is outraged at the reports that the EPA is asking tribal members to sacrifice their rights after EPA’s ineptitude has potentially threatened their health and livelihoods.”

• Yes! Watch a wedge-tailed eagle in Australia – a massive 2 metre-sized bird – take down a drone out of the sky with its claws – swipe – bam. Now that’s the way you deal with pesky drones. Can we train American bald eagles?

Iowa Polls: Men <3 Trump / Women <3 Clinton (CNN, CNN, me)
• Donald Trump has a significant lead in Iowa in a new CNN/ORC poll of Republican 2016ers, topping the field with 22%. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson follows with 14%, bumping Gov Scott Walker (Wis) down to third with 9%. Walker had held the top spot in the most recent polling in Iowa. The Iowa State Fair opens today (yummy stuff on sticks!) – time to heckle candidates…
• Sen Ted Cruz (Texas) follows at 8%, with businesswoman Carly Fiorina and former Gov Mike Huckabee (Ark) at 7%. Former Gov Jeb Bush (Fla) is tied at 5% with Sens Rand Paul (Ky) and Marco Rubio (Fla). The rest of the field stands at 3% or lower (three-legged also-rans might want to go back to the stables)
• Two-thirds of Iowa Republicans who are likely to attend the caucus say they’re still trying to decide whom to support. Trump faces a large gender gap: He holds a 15-point lead over his nearest competitor among men, but he trails among women – 20% back Carson, 15% Trump and 11% back Fiorina
• Hillary Clinton holds a 50% to 31% lead over Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), according to a new CNN/ORC poll of Democratic 2016ers. VP Joe Biden, who hasn’t decided whether to run (see story above), is third with 12%, while the rest of the field is at 1% or less (trot home to stables, horsies, and save the money and time)
• Among women, Clinton tops Sanders by 58% to 25%. Among men, the two are even: 38% back Clinton, 37% back Sanders. Among moderates, 57% back Clinton, 21% Sanders. Liberals split 46% for Clinton to 41% for Sanders. Liberals are most apt to say they’re firm in their choice – 42% have already definitely decided (significant)

• Vine: Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) does a (really baaaad) impression of Donald Trump during a stop in New Hampshire on Wednesday (Buzzfeed) Next, Trump issues typo-ridden statement: “I easily beat him [Paul] on the golf course and will even more easily beat him now, in the world in the politics [sic].” (Politico)

New Attack Video: Planned Parenthood (Politico, WSJ, Hill, me)
• An anti-abortion group has released its latest heavily edited video in its campaign against Planned Parenthood, this one featuring an interview with an anti-abortion former StemEpxress technician, who claims she saw people illegally collect fetal tissue and organs without patients’ permission at a clinic
• Former tech Holly O’Donnell said she saw people working in the clinic collect tissue or organ samples even when a patient refused to sign a consent form – an allegation, if proven, that would violate federal law. She also said she was told to encourage patients to sign the forms. The group making the videos provided no evidence to support her claims
• StemExpress “unequivocally” denied the allegations. “Ensuring that patients have provided consent for blood or tissue donation to support medical research, education or treatments is a threshold issue that is non-negotiable for StemExpress,” the company said in a statement, saying the video was “deceptively edited and falsely worded”

&&&

• Planned Parenthood said the video “shows someone who has never worked for Planned Parenthood making false and outrageous claims, without any evidence to back them up.” “Planned Parenthood follows all laws – period. This latest video is part of a fraud intended to deceive the public and advance an extreme political agenda.”
• The Center for Medical Progress, which made the video, lost a bid in California this week to dissolve a temporary restraining order requested by StemExpress. It’s unclear whether the video’s release violates the judge’s restraining order
• Meanwhile, the Obama admin has warned Louisiana and Alabama that they could be violating federal law by cutting off Planned Parenthood for their states’ Medicaid programs because beneficiaries may obtain services from any qualified provider
• Official teaser trailer: The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino’s 8th film – out on Christmas Day – really is a tease – makes you want it nooow

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___________________

Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Loree Lewis and Washington Desk contributed to this report

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