Talk Media News

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

Morning Jumpstart

  • Trump: “Extreme vetting”
  • Trump campaign defends: Ukraine cash
  • Obama: Dems need to campaign “scared”
  • Biden: Trump “would have loved Stalin”
  • US transfers 15 Guantanamo detainees
  • Aleppo: Russia-US deal to fight ISIS close?
  • House GOP chairs push Clinton perjury charge
  • Has NSA been hacked? Russia?
Trump: “Extreme Vetting” (AP, NYT, Politico, TMN, me)
• Donald Trump called Monday for “extreme vetting” of immigrants seeking admission to the U.S., vowing to block those who don’t embrace American values or who sympathize with extremist groups. He said the policy would first require a temporary halt in immigration from dangerous regions of the world (but wouldn’t say which those countries are)
• Speaking in Ohio, Trump also said his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton lacks the “mental and physical stamina” to take on ISIS (ie she’s nuts and too old – but she’s younger than him – this is being stirred up by Drudge and Fox News’ Hannity). Trump said he would partner with any countries to destroy ISIS, specifically singling out Russia (North Korea? Iran? Syria?)
• Trump said a key component of his foreign policy would be “halting” the spread of “radical Islamic terrorism” by limiting their access to the internet. He didn’t say how he would accomplish that, but “we cannot allow the internet to be used as a recruiting tool.” (and – maybe not allow the internet to be used for trashing “dishonest and corrupt” media by “failing” – – – stop it, jones…)
• While Trump has been harshly critical of President Obama’s handling of the threat posed by ISIS, his own policies of defeating the group remain vague. He talked of changing immigration policy to keep potential attackers from entering the country (main thing that struck me was how extremely bored Trump looked – maybe using teleprompter – but he just seems over it to me)
• Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said at the Trump event: “Before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack inside the U.S.” – alluding to the 8 years in which George W. Bush was president. Giuliani was mayor from 94-01 – umm, the World Trade Center was attacked by al Qaida and nearly 3,000 people were killed on Sept 11, 2001…
• The govt would use questionnaires, social media, interviews with friends and family or other means to determine if applicants support American values like tolerance and pluralism (yup, highly Trumpy ideas, those two…). The U.S. would stop issuing visas in any case where it cannot perform adequate screenings (what is “adequate”)
• Trump didn’t clarify how U.S. officials would assess the veracity of responses to the questionnaires or how much manpower it would require to complete such arduous vetting. Nor did the campaign say whether additional screenings would apply to the millions of tourists who spend billions of dollars visiting the U.S. each year (plus how much would all this cost?)
• Trump spent much of the speech building a case that Obama and Clinton are to blame for the creation of ISIS. He brought out a frequent complaint of Republicans that the Obama admin doesn’t use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” and claimed Clinton wouldn’t say it, (which is false – she has said it on occasion). Top U.S. officials argue the phrase plays into militants’ hands
• Trump has been heavily criticized for suggesting a religious test for entry into the country, and his aides have sought to change the language to reflect the targeting of regions. But instead of backing away from the words “Muslim ban” when questioned recently, Trump described the newer version of his proposal as an “expansion”
• It’s not clear whether the ban would apply to citizens of countries like France, Israel or Ireland, which have suffered recent and past attacks. Trump had promised to release his list of “terror countries” soon. But aides say the campaign needs access to unreleased Dept of Homeland Security data to assess exactly where the most serious threats lie (when have facts got in the way?)

 

• A comprehensive guide to Donald Trump’s shifting positions on the Iraq war – with audio – support for regime change at length in 2000, tepid support in 2002, positive and negative remarks about it in 2003 and strongly opposed in 2004 (Buzzfeed)

Trump Campaign Defends: Ukraine Cash (NYT, TMN, me)

• The Trump campaign was on the defensive on Monday after a NYT report revealed that its campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was designated to receive $12.7 million in undisclosed and potentially illegal cash payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine (note that the NYT report never said that Manfort actually received the cash)

• In a statement, Manafort denied wrongdoing and said The Times was ignoring the facts to fulfill a political agenda against Trump. He denied ever receiving an “off-the-books cash payment” or having worked for the Ukrainian or Russian govts. “The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical,” Manafort said (non denial – maybe it wasn’t cash?)

• He said any payments he received were for a broader political campaign team that included local and international staff, polling and research. Manafort also criticized the news media. “The Times does fail to disclose the fact that the Clinton Foundation has taken (and may still take) payments in exchange for favors from Hillary Clinton while serving as SecState,” Manafort said

• Democrats pounced on the situation, drawing a connection between Manafort’s ties to the region and Trump’s frequent praise of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. Trump has regularly lauded Putin’s leadership capabilities, and has called on Russia to use its espionage capabilities to hack into Clinton’s emails (NYT didn’t speak of Clinton in the piece – but it wasn’t about her)

• “Given the pro-Putin policy stances adopted by Donald Trump and the recent Russian govt hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said in a statement

• The Commission on Presidential Debates has released the five polls it will use to decide who gets to participate in the first presidential debate 26 Sept. You have to get to 15% to be on the stage. Looks like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will get lecterns, but Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Jill Stein – not so much. They’re at an average of 9% and 5% respectively (TMN)
Obama: Dems Need to Campaign “Scared” (WSJ, Reuters, HuffPo, me)
• President Obama warned against Democratic complacency Monday, warning members of his party that Republican nominee Donald Trump could still win the WH in this unpredictable election season. The president said continuing criticism had taken a toll on Hillary Clinton’s reputation in recent weeks (senior Democrats are worried Dems will get complacent on cash/campaigning)
• At a fundraiser in Martha’s Vineyard, Obama made an enthusiastic pitch for Democratic nominee Clinton and called on her supporters to work aggressively during the final 12 weeks of this campaign. “If we do our job, Hillary will be elected president of the U.S. But if we do not do our jobs, then it’s still possible for her to lose,” Obama said (she should do hers, too, yes?)
• “If we are not running scared until the day after the election, we are going to be making a grave mistake,” he said. “We are still going to have to fight what has been an unrelenting negative campaign against her that has made a dent in the opinion of people when who are inclined to vote for her.” (much of which is of her own making – and she’s not cleaning it up, either)
• Obama has previously called Trump “unfit” to be president. “Frankly, I’m tired of talking about her opponent,” Obama said Monday night. “I don’t have to make the case against her opponent because every time he talks, he makes the case against his own candidacy.” (don’t believe that for a minute – suspect Obama loves trashing Trump)
• The president briefly interrupted a two-week family vacation on the island for Monday’s event, which benefited the Hillary Fund, a joint committee of the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties. Clinton is expected to travel to Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday for another fundraiser
• North Carolina on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a state law requiring voters to show ID to remain in effect for the 8 Nov election despite an appeals court ruling that the measure intentionally discriminates against minority voters. The appeals court refused to put its decision on hold for the Nov election (Reuters)
Biden: Trump “Would Have Loved Stalin” (Politico, AP, NYT, TMN, me)
• At a rally with Hillary Clinton in his hometown of Scranton, Pa, on Monday, VP Joe Biden said of Donald Trump: “This guy’s shame has no limits. He’s even gone so far as to ask Putin and Russia to conduct cyberattacks against the USA. Even if he is joking – which he’s not – even if he’s joking, what an outrageous thing to say.”
• Biden warned that Trump was unprepared to oversee nuclear codes and cited Trump’s praise of Russian President Putin and late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. If Trump likes them, “He would have loved” Joseph Stalin, Biden said. Stalin led the Soviet Union until his death in 1953. Scholars estimate that under Stalin, more than 1 million people were executed in political purges
• Introducing Biden, Clinton sought to sow doubts about Trump’s ability to bring jobs back to blue-collar communities like Scranton, where Biden lived for the first decade of his life. She acknowledged that many people in the audience might have friends considering voting for the Republican, but offered: “Friends should not let friends vote for Trump.”
• Biden said that Clinton “has forgotten more about American foreign policy than Trump and his entire – not exaggerating – his entire team will ever understand.” “Ladies and gentlemen, Hillary’s been there, she has been tested. I’ve been in the room with her, as we jointly have, with the president’s leadership, sent some of these killers to the gates of hell.”
• Trump is “trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a break, and to repeat myself, that’s such a bunch of malarkey,” Biden said. “It makes no sense. None, none, none, none. This guy doesn’t care about the middle class, and I don’t even blame him in a sense, because he doesn’t understand it. He doesn’t have a clue.” (Democrats must regret he’s not running)
• Sen Tim Kaine (D-Va), Hillary Clinton’s running mate, plays bluegrass on the harmonica with a band at a campaign stop on Monday in North Carolina. This is the only video I’ve been able to find so far. If the bloody annoying MSNBC anchors would shut the bleep up for a minute, we could actually hear him… But they prefer the sound of their own droning voices…
US Transfers 15 Guantanamo Detainees (BBC, NYT, Reuters, me)
• The U.S. says it has sent 15 Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United Arab Emirates – the largest single transfer during President Obama’s admin. The Pentagon says the transfer of 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans brings the total number of prisoners down to 61 at the U.S. facility in Cuba (congressional Republicans had fits on beaches all around the U.S.)
• Most inmates have been held without charge or trial for more than a decade. Obama wants to close the prison before he leaves office. Really unlikely. (errr zero) The WH also wants to transfer the remainder of prisoners to the U.S. – but Congress is opposed. the WH believes Guantanamo fuels the recruitment of Jihadists and creates stronger anti-U.S. feelings
• “In its race to close Gitmo, the Obama admin is doubling down on policies that put American lives at risk,” Rep Ed Royce (R-Calif), chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. “Once again, hardened terrorists are being released to foreign countries where they will be a threat.” All 15 had been cleared for release by SecDef Ash Carter
• “I think we are at an extremely dangerous point where there is a significant possibility this [Guantanamo] is going to remain open as a permanent offshore prison to hold people, practically until they die,” said Naureen Shah, Amnesty International’s U.S. director for security and human rights
• Most of the prisoners freed from Guantanamo – 532 – were released under the admin of President George W. Bush. The office of the director of national intelligence says 21% of those went on to re-engage in militant activities, while of those released under Obama only 5% have done so (cold comfort either way, frankly)
• Tension eased on Monday night in Milwaukee, as teenagers respected a late night curfew to deter a third night of protests or rioting that hit the city following the police shooting of an armed black man (Reuters)
Aleppo: Russia-US Deal to Fight ISIS Near? (NYT, Reuters, me)
• Acknowledging an unfolding disaster in Syria’s besieged city of Aleppo, where roughly two  million people are trapped, Russia conceded on Monday that daily three-hour halts in fighting it had proposed last week were insufficient, possibly opening the door to longer pauses (no kidding – they thought you could get trucks into a war zone, unload aid and get out in three hours?)
• Russia also suggested that it was close to an agreement on military collaboration with the U.S. to attack ISIS fighters in the Aleppo area as part of a solution. Such a joint effort would be a new level of cooperation between the two powers in seeking a way out of the five-year-old Syria war, in which the Russians and Americans basically back opposite sides (surprising, this)
• The developments suggested that Russia wished to avoid the appearance of responsibility for the suffering in Aleppo, the once-thriving commercial epicenter of northern Syria that has been a strategic battleground for much of the war. The president of the International Red Cross on Monday called the fighting in Aleppo “one of the most devastating conflicts in modern times.”
• American officials had no comment on the possibility of a joint fight against ISIS with Russia and it was unclear how such a joint effort could be undertaken. The U.S. supports an array of armed opposition groups fighting President Assad. The Russians, Assad’s longtime allies, have been helping the Syrian govt with airstrikes and bombings that target many of those groups
• But both Russia and the U.S. oppose ISIS, which has occupied parts of Syria and Iraq. Russia and the U.S. also lead the International Syria Support Group, a multinational diplomatic effort that has been trying for three months to create the conditions for peace talks (ultimately the dreadful conflict can only be solved multinationally – how, exactly, is unclear right now)
• At least seven people have been killed and more than 20,000 have had to be rescued since Friday in some of the worst flooding Louisiana has ever seen. As of Monday, the rain had mostly stopped, but rivers and creeks in many areas were still dangerously bloated and new places were getting hit by flooding (AP)
House GOP Chairs Push Clinton Perjury Charge (Hill, me)
• The Republican chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Monday told the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing Phillips, specifically where they believed Hillary Clinton had committed perjury to Congress about her email setup at the Dept of State (if she’s elected president, it’ll be Investigation Town and Impeachment City)
• In at least four separate occasions during a marathon appearance before the House Benghazi Committee, Rep Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) and Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) alleged, the former SecState’s claims were at odds with what the FBI has now discovered to be the truth about her private server (difficult to prove – if she believed it to be true at the time – even if wrong later…)
• The GOP chairman appear to be making a case for an indictment, perhaps building off widespread unease with the decision by the Justice Dept not to prosecute Clinton. In addition to their letter on Monday, the Oversight Committee also released a 2.5 minute video detailing apparent inaccuracies in Clinton’s testimony (never forget she’s a lawyer, too)
• In one example, Clinton repeatedly claimed that none of the material she sent or received via her personal email account was marked as classified. The FBI later declared that at least three emails on her machine contained some classified markings, although they were incomplete and apparently done in error (that’s a bit of a weak one to get her on)
• Additionally, Clinton previously claimed that her lawyers had gone through each of her emails individually, that all of her work-related emails were given back to the State Dept in 2014; and that she used only one server throughout the course of her tenure as the nation’s top diplomat. Each of these points was proven incorrect, the GOP lawmakers claimed (good luck, mates)
• In a letter to FBI director James Comey on Monday, 35 GOP lawmakers asked for a copy of Hilary Clinton’s interview with agency investigators about her use of a private email server while SecState, but State Dept wants to review them first. Members could receive notes as soon as this week, according to reports (Hill)
Has NSA Been Hacked? Russia? (Foreign Policy, me)
• A mysterious online group calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” is claiming to have penetrated the NSA, stolen some of its malware, and is auctioning off the files to the highest bidder. The authenticity of the files cannot be confirmed but appear to be legitimate, according to security researchers who have studied their content (article has more detail)
• Their release comes on the heels of a series of disclosures of emails and documents belonging mostly to Democratic officials, but also to Republicans. Security researchers believe those breaches were perpetrated by agents thought to be acting on behalf of Moscow. The NSA didn’t answer Foreign Policy’s questions about the alleged breach on Monday (i’ll bet)
• “It’s at minimum very interesting; at maximum, hugely damaging,” said Dave Aitel, a former NSA research scientist and now the CEO of the security firm Immunity. “It’ll blow some operations if those haven’t already been blown.” The files posted over the weekend include two sets of files. The hackers made one set available for free

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• The other set remains encrypted and is the subject of an online auction, payable in bitcoin. That set includes, according to the so-called Shadow Brokers, “the best files.” If they receive at least 1 million bitcoin – equivalent of at least $550 million – they will post more docs and make them available for free (bit steep – doubt they’ll get it)
• The set of free files contains a series of tools for penetrating network gear made by Cisco, Juniper and other major firms. Targeting such firms, which includes such things like routers and firewalls, is a known tactic of Western intel agencies like the NSA and was documented in the Snowden files. Security researchers analyzing the code posted Monday say it’s functional
• If the leak is a genuine example of NSA code – which, so far, researchers say is the case – then this month’s season of info warfare has taken yet another bizarre turn. Is Russia responsible for this alleged penetration of the NSA? Aitel believes that it is, and that we’re witnessing a small part of the shadow war playing out between Washington and Moscow (fascinating)

• Pic: Usain Bolt smiles as he looks over his shoulder while running in the 100m this week. Will this become The Photo of the Rio Games? Taken by Cameron Spencer of Getty Images

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__________________
Victoria Jones – Editor
News is news
Comments are mine

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