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

  • Emails: FBI digs deep / Clinton doubles down
  • Heroin fight: WH will push treatment
  • Excess in Iowa: Candidates sweat it
  • Trump/immigration: “They have to go”
  • Biden: Getting closer to “yes”?
  • ISIS chief raped US hostage Kayla Mueller
  • Iran deal: Obama can act on his own
  • Syrian airstrikes kill 80+
  • Chelsea Manning: Denied access to prison library
Emails: FBI Digs Deep / Clinton Doubles Down (NYT, Politico, HuffPo, me)
• FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s private email server are seeking to determine who at the State Dept passed highly classified info from secure networks to Clinton’s personal account, according to law enforcement and diplomatic officials and others briefed on the investigation. Clinton is running for president as a Democrat (for now, anyway…)
• In addition, specially trained cybersecurity investigators will try to determine whether Russian, Chinese or other hackers breached the account or tried to transfer any of Clinton’s emails, including those containing classified info, several officials said, Law enforcement officials have said that Clinton is not a target of the investigation (so far, anyway)
• Clinton said Saturday at the Iowa State Fair: “I never sent classified material on my email and I never received any that was marked classified. I’m gonna let whatever this inquiry is  go forward and we’ll await the outcome of it. It’s not anything people talk to me about as I travel around the country.” (careful wording which has morphed)
• The IG of the intelligence agencies told Congress last week that Clinton had top secret info in her email account. Some of that info may have come from a program called Talent Keyhole, which relies on satellite intercepts of conversations or imagery data. The program involves some of the most secure info in the intel agencies’ computer systems

Vid: Hillary Clinton  on Friday joked about the FBI investigation into her emails, saying how much she loves Snapchat. “You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves,” she said

• Clinton has said her emails contained no classified info – having classified info outside a secure govt account is illegal – and she was using a homebrew server from her Chappaqua NY home. In reviewing a sampling of 40 emails, the IG said he found four that contained classified info, though perhaps stripped of any indication that it was of classified origin
• According to current and former State Dept officials who worked with Clinton, most classified info was routed to classified govt servers in her office, where it was printed out for her review. Her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, often operated the same way
• Computer experts said it was likely that FBI technicians would be able to recover from the server at least some of Clinton’s deleted personal emails
• Speaking of Clinton’s scheduled 22 October appearance before the House Benghazi Committee, chair Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC), said on Fox News Sunday, “If she is going to insist on only coming once, I’m going to insist that all questions are asked and answered, so she’s going to be there for a while.” (super gulp as well as mega popcorn, then)
Heroin Fight: WH Will Push Treatment (WaPo, me)
• As heroin overdoses and deaths soar in many parts of the nation, the WH will announce today an initiative, initially funded for one year in 15 states from New England to DC, that will pair intel officers with public health coordinators, to trace where heroin is coming from, how and where it’s being laced with a deadly additive, and who is distributing it to street-level dealers
• The death rate from heroin overdoses has quadrupled in the past decade, according to a report from the CDC. The increase in heroin use is particularly steep in New England and some of the other Northeastern states covered in the new program
• The new effort will hire 15 drug intel officers and 15 health policy analysts who will collect overdose data, find patterns and get intelligence about trafficking trends to street-level law enforcement far more quickly than the current system allows. The initiative will also train first responders on when and how to deploy medication that can reverse opioid overdoses
• $2.5 million is being committed to the program by the WH Office of National Drug Control Policy. An official said he proposed the initiative to overcome bureaucratic hurdles that make it difficult for info about overdoses and trafficking to cross state lines and get to police in a timely manner
• “If somebody from Brooklyn is arrested with heroin in Burlington, Vermont, we may not hear about it for months, when that info could allow us to see a trafficking pattern that lets us focus on who to go after,” he said. The initiative will allow agencies “to see where fentanyl-laced heroin is turning up, in real time, so we can react,” the enforcement official said
• First Fox News national poll since the GOP debate: Trump: 25%, Ben Carson: 12%, Ted Cruz: 10%, Jeb Bush: 9%, Mike Huckabee: 6%, Scott walker 6%, Carly Fiorina 5%, John Kasich 4%, Marco Rubio 4%, Chris Christie 3%, Rand Paul 2%. Everyone else was 1% (Politico)
Excess in Iowa: Candidates Sweat It (NYT, me)
• It was 90 degrees and humid at the Iowa State Fair. Donald Trump arrived by helicopter – campaign later offered kiddies rides. Trump told one small boy who asked if he was Batman: “I am Batman.” Trump strode through the fairgrounds, a mob of news media and fairgoers following. Trump, unable to move through the crowd, had to break his date with the butter cow
• Trump currently leads the crowded GOP field. Fairgoers had mixed reax to the celebrity candidate. Sue Harrington, 60, said, “He tells it like it is. A lot of politicians just lie.” “Pull the hat off! I want to see the comb over!” one man, holding a 27-ounce super chill beer, yelled at Trump
• A brown cow mooed behind Hillary Clinton as she fielded questions about the the private email server she used as SecState and criticized Jeb Bush about his views on the Iraq war and ISIS. Then, she and a dozen Secret Service agents and staff members headed to get a pork chop on a stick
• Some seemed frustrated that they couldn’t get close to the former first lady, who is trying to connect on an intimate level with Iowans who shunned her last presidential campaign. “I couldn’t hear a darn word she said,” one woman grumbled
• Greeted by delirious supporters chanting, “Bernie, Bernie,” Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), arrived. In an interview at a picnic table, Gwen Ifill asked him if he was the left’s Donald Trump. Sanders, who thinks of himself as the opposite of Trump, demurred. Then he deadpanned: “I knew I forgot something. I left the helicopter at home.”

• Zap! Pow! New Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) attack ad uses actual footage of Donald Trump identifying himself more as a Democrat and saying the economy does better under Democrats under Republicans

Trump on Immigration: “They Have to Go” (NYT, Reuters, Reuters, AP, me)
• After staking his early campaign on accusing Mexico of sending criminals and rapists to the U.S., Donald Trump on Sunday outlined his plan to fix the country’s immigration system and deal with people who are in the country illegally. The position paper was released moments after Trump appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press (why not before? so he wouldn’t be challenged…)
• The paper stated that “a nation without borders is not a nation” and called for a wall to be built along the southern border. Trump repeated his promise to make Mexico pay for it: largely through increasing fees on border movement between the U.S. and Mexico. “We will not be taken advantage of anymore,” it stated
• The proposal calls for strengthening the “enforcement arm” of the Immigration and Enforcement office, to be paid for by “eliminating tax credit payments to illegal immigrants. He proposes enforcing the nationwide e-verify system, ending birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants. “They have to go.” (everybody has to go – he doesn’t say how…)
• On NBC, Trump spoke about his plans to deport illegal immigrants. “We have to keep the families together, but they have to go.” He said families with U.S. born children could return quickly if deemed worthy by the govt: “the good ones.” He didn’t elaborate on how he would define “good people.” (but he would throw out U.S. citizens, apparently, to keep “families together”)
• Trump said he would place the issuing of green cards to foreign workers on pause so employers would have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed workers. (hmmm – considering his own companies’ suspect record of hiring foreign workers rather than Americans, that’s a bit rich. someone should nail him on that)
• Donald Trump “bombarded” Princess Diana with massive bouquets of flowers after her split from Prince Charles. Broadcaster Selina Scott writes in the Sunday Times that it felt like stalking. “He gives me the creeps,” Diana confided to Scott. When Diana died in 1997, Trump told his friends his biggest regret was that they hadn’t dated (not that she died?) (Sunday Times, me)
Biden: Getting Closer to “Yes”? (Politico, Politico, me)
• With his blessing, confidants to VP Joe Biden have begun strategizing about travel to early primary states and identified potential donors who could bankroll a campaign even as he remains undecided about whether to pull the trigger on a late-entry 2016 run for president. Potential donors at a Sunday night fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Martha’s Vineyard didn’t seem keen on it
• Biden still hasn’t set a time frame for a final decision – though it could come within weeks, or he may yet stretch the end of summer deadline he talked about earlier this year. The final call is expected to be made at a meeting of the VP’s closest circle of advisers at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. So far, that meeting hasn’t been scheduled. 1 Oct is seen as cut-off
• Biden’s circle has identified what they see as potential voting blocs: Reagan Democrats, Jews, an LGBT base that largely credits him with pushing President Obama into supporting gay marriage and Rust Belt voters. They believe he’ll benefit from better stump skills than any of the other candidates running (as long as he doesn’t screw up)
• The anxiety over Clinton’s failure to catch fire so far is less a factor than Biden’s own emerging view that passing on the 2016 race would be another loss to compound on the death of his son earlier this year, sources said. And if he does go forward, the Biden orbit is counting on tapping into an Obama base re-energized by the president’s recent run of victories
• The read on Biden has changed enough in almost a matter of hours that a level of anxiety has set in among the Obama orbit, who out of personal affection for Biden are hoping he won’t run a race they feel certain he’ll lose, only to get pummeled along the way. There’s also some anxiety that Obama would have to tango around picking sides between Biden and Clinton
• Bio vid: Julian Bond, charismatic civil rights activist, lightning rod of the anti-Vietnam War campaign and lifelong champion of equal rights, died Saturday night. He was 75. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which he helped found, announced his death. His wife, Pamela Horowitz, said the cause was complications of vascular disease (AP, NYT)
ISIS Chief Raped US Hostage Kayla Mueller (ABC News, CSM, me)
• Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi, self-proclaimed leader of ISIS, had repeatedly raped American hostage Kayla Mueller during her 1.5 years in captivity, U.S. intelligence officials told her family in June. Also, “we were told she was tortured, that she was the property of al-Baghdadi,” Kayla’s parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller told ABC News
• A 14-year-old Yazidi girl captured by ISIS in Iraq last August revealed the American aid worker’s ordeal to U.S. officials, who later confirmed the reports. The young girl says she spent two months with Mueller in a house in Syria before escaping in October 2014. ISIS held Mueller and the girl with two other teens and repeatedly raped all four girls
• When al-Baghdadi visited the home, which was lived in by Abu Sayyaf, a top tier ISIS leader, and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, al Baghdadi would take Mueller to his room, and later the hostage would tell her fellow captives what he had done to her. She came back crying
NYT in-depth: Claiming the Qu’ran’s support, ISIS enshrines a theology of rape. Some ISIS fighters pray before and after raping girls. One militant said to a preteen girl who he bound, gagged and raped that Islam allowed him to rape an unbeliever: “He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God.” NYT heard that theme repeatedly (sickest thing ever)

• Mueller tried to shield the girls from the terrorists’ abuse and violence, sometimes putting their lives before hers. When the Yazidi girl escaped with her sister, she asked Mueller to join them, U.S. officials said. Yet Mueller refused, out of fear that her foreign appearance would put them in danger

• By Jan 2015, U.S. special ops senior commanders were aggressively attempting to find and track Sayyaf in order to plan a possible rescue of Mueller and to bring her intelligence-rich captor to justice, several officials said. Mueller was dead by early Feb ISIS claimed it was a Jordanian airstrike on a building in Syria. The U.S. disputes that. It’s unknown how she died
• Special ops tracked Abu Sayyaf and overwhelmed his compound. Delta Force killed him, but his wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured and has “spilled everything” including details about various ISIS leaders’ locations and patterns of life, in drawn-out U.S. interrogation (fly on wall). She organized the sex trade during Mueller’s captivity
• Last week, the U.S. announced that Umm Sayyaf was handed over to Kurdish authorities in Irbil, who are known for lightning swift justice (bet she’s dead – and in hell). Some U.S. prosecutors had hoped to try her in federal court in Manhattan
• Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini said today, referring to the U.S, “In their understanding of the
[nuclear] deal, of which its fate is not clear since it is not clear it will be approved here or there, their intention was to find a way to penetrate into the country.” The remarks as seen as suggesting he supports the deal (AP)

 

Iran Deal: Obama Can Act on His Own (AP, Politico, Politico, Reuters, Hill, me)
• If a veto is sustained, President Obama still could suspend some U.S. sanctions. He could issue new orders to permit financial transactions that are banned now. Obama could use executive orders to remove certain Iranians and entities including banks, from U.S. lists, meaning they no longer would be subject to economic penalties – access to global financial system
• Saturday Sen Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he won’t support the Iran nuclear deal because he believes it constrains the U.S.’ ability to punish Iran in the future for its non-nuclear aggression in the Middle East. The WH had courted Flake heavily on the deal. President Obama may get no Republican support without Flake
• Speaking of Obama’s actions regarding Iran, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said on Fox News Sunday, “I think anything is anti-Semitic if it’s against the survival of a state that’s surrounded by enemies and by people who want to destroy them.”
• Former Gov Mike Huckabee (R-Ark) said on CNN Sunday he’s headed to Israel this week to discuss the prospects of a nuclear deal with Iran that he called “insane.” (fund raising push, too) “I think it is one of the most dangerous situations that we face, not just for the Middle East but for the rest of the world in a long time,”

• GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said on NBC Sunday it would be “very tough” to “rip up” the Iran deal. But “I’m really good at looking at a contract,” Trump said, and “as bad as the contract is, I will be so tough on that contract.” Trump also called SecState John Kerry “incompetent.”

• The Obama admin has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of Chinese govt agents operating secretly in the U.S. to pressure prominent expatriates – some wanted in China on charges of corruption – to return home immediately, according to American officials (NYT)

 

Syrian Strikes Kill 80+ (AP, me)
• Syrian airstrikes on a Damascus suburb killed more than 80 people and wounded 200 on Sunday in one of the deadliest such raids of the four-year civil war, as fighting escalated in and around President Assad’s seat of power at a time when his overstretched forces have been losing ground elsewhere in the country
• The air raids struck the main market in Douma during rush hour, when hundreds of people were out shopping on the first working day of the week, activists said. The strikes appeared to have been launched in retaliation for the capture of an army base in a nearby suburb a day earlier by ISIS, which enjoys strong support in Douma
• Rami Adburrahman, a spox for the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said warplanes fired a missile at the market and then launched another after people rushed in to retrieved the wounded (how disgusting). Another activist group said the air raids killed at least 100 and wounded about 300
• Iran is a close ally of Syrian’s govt, and is preparing a peace initiative that would include a cease-fire and a power-sharing govt. Assad would remain in the picture, pending internationally supervised elections, according to an anonymous Lebanese politician familiar with the proposal
• Such efforts appear to have gained urgency as Assad’s forces have suffered a string of defeats in recent months, mainly in the northwestern Idlib province, where hard-line Islamic militant groups captured the provincial capital of the same name. ISIS has also advanced against Syrian troops, capturing the central town of Palmyra
Chelsea Manning: Denied Access to Prison Library (Guardian, TRNS, me)
• Chelsea Manning, soldier and Guardian columnist, was denied access to a prison legal library days before a crucial hearing Tuesday at which she will represent herself against charges including possession of unapproved reading material, according to a message posted to her official Twitter account at the weekend
• The hearing is part of a legal process that could result in indefinite solitary confinement for Manning, for reported violations that also include storing a tube of expired toothpaste in her military prison cell. Manning was given a 35-year sentence for having been the source of the vast leak of U.S. state secrets to Wikileaks
• Last week, Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the ACLU who is handling Manning’s legal dispute with the U.S. military over her health treatment in prison as a transgender woman, said it seemed Manning was being unfairly targeted. “Chelsea has a growing voice in the public discussion and it would not surprise me were these charges connected to who she is.”
• Manning has told supporters that property confiscated from her cell included the memoir I Am Malala by Nobel peace prize laureate Malala Youzefzai, the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair, a novel featuring trans women called A Safe Girl to Love and a copy of the U.S. Senate report on torture
• The WH released President Obama’s summer playlist from Spotify on Friday morning and it was a mixed bag, ranging from Billie Holliday through John Coltrane to Mos Def, Erykah Badu and the Lumineers via Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. I could make you a fab playlist, Mr President (me, TRNS)

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___________________

Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Sydnee Fried contributed to this report

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