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.

Happy 55th Birthday, Mr President!

Morning Jumpstart

  • Trump under fire – from GOP
  • Trump “literally can’t help himself”
  • Clinton rips Trump over outsourcing
  • Iran cash payment is flashpoint
  • US seeks to protect voting system: Cyberattacks
  • SCOTUS blocks order allowing transgender student bathroom choice
  • Obama commutes 214 sentences
  • HHS warns: Zika funding running out
Trump Under Fire – From GOP (Politico, Guardian, WaPo, NYT, TMN, TMN, me)
• On Wednesday, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s top strategist, flatly denied a report that Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani are planning an intervention with the candidate after a stunning streak of unforced errors – too many to list – you know them by now (babies, grieving war mothers, Purple Hearts, etc etc)
• Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, did a bit to mend fences, saying he endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) – snubbed by Trump – and that Trump had “strongly” encouraged him to do so. But the level of alarm among top Republicans is mounting (which makes no sense that you’d have half the ticket on one side and half the other side. none)
• Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, warned, “The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable. Trump is helping her win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is.” He later clarified that Trump wasn’t as unacceptable (fact that he had to do that says everything…)
• Even Priebus abandoned his softer demeanor when he called Trump Tuesday afternoon. “He lit into him pretty good,” said a source with knowledge of the conversation. “It was basically him saying, ‘Do you realize how badly you’re fu*king this up?'” (you have to have basic self-awareness to realize that – he has none – he just knows he thinks his status is being attacked)

• Amid reports suggesting that he and other staffers are beginning to “phone it in,” Manafort subtly shifted blame to his candidate. “Well, first of all, the candidate is in control of his campaign. That’s No. 1,” Manafort said. “And I’m in control of doing the things that he wants me to do in the campaign.”  (one of the weasellyest things ever stated. brilliant in fact – keeps him viable)

• Clint Eastwood says in an Esquire interview, “I’d have to go for Trump.” “[Trump’s] on to something, because secretly everybody’s getting tired of political correctness, kissing up. We’re really in a pussy generation, Everybody’s walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist.” (called lynching)
Trump “Literally Can’t Help Himself”
• “There’s just not much communication going on. It’s really sad, to be honest with you. They really just aren’t working as a team. Everyone’s just doing their own little thing,” said one former Trump adviser – anonymous. The adviser said Trump “literally can’t help himself” in responding to perceived slights or taunts (think that’s true – instinct when he thinks his top dog position is hit)
• Hillary Clinton has recently skated past her own unforced errors – she wrongly asserted in an interview Sunday that the FBI director praised her truthfulness during the investigation into her use of a private email server – because Trump’s behavior since the Democratic convention has been all-consuming (and she’s kept her head down – but has seemed invisible as a result)
• There are now active discussions among high-ranking Republican officials about how much longer the party can wait before recasting their focus away from Trump and towards down-ballot nominees. One veteran strategist close to Priebus indicated that officials may have to turn their attention to congressional and governors’ races as early as next month (that’s huge)
• The top trending question on Google is: “Is Trump dropping out of the elections?” Second: “What is a Trump surrogate?” – hours after former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski got into it on CNN when he suggested President Obama isn’t a citizen. Third trending question: “What will happen if Trump quits?”

• According to a long-time Trump confidant, the candidate himself may believe he no longer needs to play nice with the RNC, now that he’s gotten through the convention. “You can see from how Trump is behaving that he thinks Reince and Ryan don’t have many more chips now that the convention has past. Trump doesn’t think he needs them anymore.”

• A woman has died and five other people were injured in a knife attacked in Russell Square, central London, late Wednesday night. Police arrested a man, 19, who is being held under armed guard in a hospital. They said mental health was a “significant factor.” Homicide command was leading the investigation, with support from the counterterrorism unit (BBC)
Clinton Rips Trump Over Outsourcing (AP, Politico, me)
• Hillary Clinton ripped into Donald Trump’s use of outsourcing at his companies, part of an effort to undercut his business record. “What kind of man does business by hurting other people? I am just so determined that we are not going to let him do to America what he has done to small business,” she told several thousand people Wednesday in Commerce City, Colo
• Clinton highlighted Trump’s use of outsourcing to manufacture some of his branded products, arguing he’s profited from the same foreign labor he now blames for killing U.S. jobs. Most of Trump’s branded neckties, shirts and suits are made abroad, in China and Bangladesh, as are the bulk of the products made by his daughter, Ivanka

• Even his campaign hats, which say they’re “Made in the USA,” are not entirely made domestically, according to an AP analysis. “He said: “Well, we don’t make that stuff in America. I’m here to tell you Donald, you’re wrong,” said Clinton. “I know he’s wrong because I’ve been collecting info and visiting places that actually do make these things in America.” (that where she’s been?)

• Hammering Trump over outsourcing is a good tactic for Trump. He struggled pathetically on ABC on Sunday to give a decent explanation for why he makes his stuff overseas. Her problem is that she doesn’t seem to stick with an issue and keep hammering at it so the voters can catch hold of it. Will we hear about this again so it becomes familiar to us?
• Clinton touted a new website set up by her campaign that provides info on places in the U.S. that are making ties, suits etc. Before her campaign rally, Clinton visited a Denver tie company that employs a staff of largely refugee workers to manufacture ties and scarves
• “I wish Donald Trump could meet with all of you and see what you are making here,” Clinton told the workers. “If he wants to make America great again, he should start by making things in America – and there’s a lot he could learn by coming here.” (better not – he’d only try to have them deported – and why use his phrase? giving it credence)

• Clinton also hit Trump for his criticism of the Khan family, who delivered a speech attacking Trump at the Democratic convention last week. Their son, a Muslim-American Army Captain, was killed by a 2004 suicide bomb in Iraq. “There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is unqualified to be president and unfit to be commander in chief,” she said

• President Obama will meet today with military and national security advisers at the Pentagon to assess the counter-ISIS campaign as the military ramps up its engagement in Libya. Following the meeting, the president plans to take questions at a presser. He’s about to leave on vacation – McMansion on Martha’s Vineyard
Iran Cash Payment Becomes Flashpoint (NYT, WSJ, TMN, me)
• A cash payment of $400 million delivered to Iran in January became part of the presidential campaign Wednesday, as Donald Trump seized on the transfer. “Our incompetent Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was the one who started talks to give 400 million dollars, in cash, to Iran. Scandal!” Trump tweeted
• WH spox Josh Earnest said the payment to Iran was part of the resolution of a longstanding financial dispute between the two nations, and was delivered in cash on pallets because the two nations don’t have a banking relationship

• Earnest also denounced the assertions from some Republicans that the $400 million in foreign currency delivered to Iran was a ransom for four Americans released at the time. “They are once again in a position of making the same argument as hard-liners in Iran in an attempt to undermine the nuclear agreement,” Earnest told reporters

• WSJ reported Wed night that senior officials from the Justice Dept objected to sending a plane full of cash to Tehran, but were overruled by the State Dept. “People knew what it was going to look like, and there was concern the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment,” one source said (well, maybe they could have waited a couple of weeks…)

• AP fact check: Trump is wrong about Clinton’s involvement. The $400 million payment is a separate issue from the Iran nuclear deal that Clinton initiated. Litigation over the $400 military equipment deal has continued intermittently for 35 years, preceded Clinton’s tenure as SecState by decades, and heated up only after she left the job
• The existence of the payment was disclosed in January, and Earnest dismissed a WSJ report on Wednesday about the details of the cash payment as a “six-month-old news story” that’s being pushed by opponents of the president’s nuclear deal with Iran
• In January, the U.S. announced a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program, but it also announced separate agreements to release four Americans held in Iran, and a third agreement to resolve a longstanding claim by Iran over money held in U.S. banks. The financial dispute involved money that Iran had sent to the U.S. in 1979 to purchase weapons
• Those weapons weren’t delivered after the shah of Iran was overthrown, and the money was never returned to Iran, which had demanded in The Hague that they were owed the money, plus interest charges. The U.S. was expected to lose the case, and the interest would have been much larger than the payment actually made

US Seeks to Protect Voting System: Cyberattacks (NYT, AP, me)

• The Obama admin is weighing new steps to bolster the security of the U.S.’ voting process against cyberthreats, including whether to designate the electronic ballot-casting system for November’s elections as “critical infrastructure, like the power grid,” Homeland Security Sec Jeh Johnson said on Wednesday (it’s August – and you’re only “weighing” new steps now?)

• In the wake of hacks into the Democratic campaign computer systems, Johnson said he was conducting high-level discussions about “election cybersecurity,” a vastly complex effort given that there are 9,000 jurisdictions in the U.S. that have a hand in carrying out the balloting, many of them with different ways of collecting, tallying and reporting votes

• Johnson said that he was considering communicating with state and local election officials across the country in the coming weeks to inform the about “best practices” to guard against cyberintrusions, and that longer-term investments would probably have to be made to secure the voting process (they knew about hacking risks before the DNC)

• WH spox Josh Earnest said Wednesday that the admin was committed to offering support to state and local govts so they could protect the integrity of the voting process but “varied infrastructure and those different systems also pose a different challenge to potential hackers. It’s difficult to identify a common vulnerability.” (how about – they’re all vulnerable)

• Meanwhile, Texas agreed to weaken its voter ID laws after losing in court. Changes must still be approved by a federal judge. Voters lacking a suitable ID to cast a ballot this fall would now be allowed to sign an affidavit to cast a regular full ballot, and their vote would be counted. Texas must also spend at least $2.5 million on voter outreach before November

• Nicholas Young, a police officer working for the Washington DC transit system has been charged with aiding militants of ISIS. Federal officials said Young, 36, sent an FBI informant about $250 worth of credits for cell messaging accounts used by ISIS fighters. It’s the first time a U.S. police officer has been charged with helping ISIS militants (TMN)
SCOTUS Blocks Order Allowing Transgender Student Restroom Choice (NYT, Buzzfeed, me)
• The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a court order that had allowed a transgender boy to use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school. The 5-3 ruling in the student’s challenge to the Gloucester County School Board’s policy had Justice Stephen Breyer joining his more conservative colleagues
• The case concerns Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as a male and will soon start his senior year at Gloucester High School in Virginia. For a time, school administrators allowed Grimm to use the boys’ bathroom, but the local school board adopted a policy that required students to use bathrooms and locker rooms for their “corresponding biological genders.”
• The board added that “students with gender identity issues” would be allowed to use private bathrooms. Grimm sued, and a divided panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va, ruled the policy unlawful. A trial judge then ordered school officials to let Grimm use the boys’ bathroom
• Breyer joined the court’s more conservative members “as a courtesy.” He said that this would preserve the status quo until the court decided whether to hear the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. The court’s order has no effect on any other case
• The school board has said that it will file a petition in late August asking the Supreme Court to hear its appeal. In the meantime, the board submitted an emergency application that asked the justices to let school officials continue to bar Grimm from the boys’ bathroom

Obama Commutes 214 Sentences (Buzzfeed, Politico, me)

• President Obama commuted the sentences of 214 people serving federal sentences on Wednesday – the most commutations issued by a president in a single day since at least 1990. Including Wednesday’s commutations, Obama has granted a total of 562 commutations – a number the WH says is more than the previous nine presidents combined

• “We’re going to keep our foot on the gas pedal when it comes to reviewing applications for clemency,” WH counsel Neil Eggleston said, “but we are also going to need leaders in both parties in Congress to pass long overdue reforms to our criminal justice system to achieve lasting change on the scale that is needed.” (dunno that that’s going to happen any time soon)

• Sixty-seven of Wednesday’s commutations are for people serving life sentences – almost all, the WH said, for nonviolent drug crimes. A review of the full list appears to show that the same holds true for the vast majority of the underlying offenses involved in the other commutations as well
• Some people have their sentences merely reduced, but they will continue to be imprisoned for the near term. Others have release dates set for a year or two from now. Some of the commutations include conditions, including enrollment in a residential drug treatment program
• Marc Osler, professor at St Thomas University and co-founder of Clemency Resource Center at NYU Law, said in a statement that “More than 11,000 petitions are still pending, according to the Justice Dept. We believe that more than 1,500 people are eligible for commutation under the criteria the admin established but at current pace they will fall far short of reaching that threshold.”
HHS Warns: Zika Funding Running Out (AP, Hill, me)
• In a letter to key lawmakers on Wednesday, the secretary of Health and Human Services said the National Institutes of Health would exhaust its resources for vaccine development for the Zika virus by month’s end. The letter from Sylvia Burwell said that without additional money the second phase of clinical trials would be delayed, and Americans would wait longer for a vaccine
• The news comes as the first local transmissions of the virus have been found in Miami and authorities are warning pregnant women to stay away from the area. The virus can cause birth defects. This week, authorities have been spraying insecticides in Miami’s Wynwood arts district, where 14 people have become infected
• Congress gridlocked over President Obama’s $1.9 billion emergency spending request after House Republicans added language blocking Planned Parenthood from using funds for Zika in Puerto Rico and on other issues that was unacceptable to Democrats. Then lawmakers left town for a seven-week recess and won’t be back until September
• Republicans have been downplaying the urgency of the issue, questioning why the admin hasn’t spent more than $350 already on hand, including money redirected from the Ebola fight. Burwell’s letter gives a detailed accounting

• Rep Nita Lowey (D-NY) called on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) to reconvene the House to act on a bipartisan Zika bill that had passed the Senate. Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) called for lawmakers to “act quickly, whether it’s in pro forma, whether it’s returning to Washington and voting on this.” (sooo unlikely to happen)

• Rocking into Thursday with “Cheap Thrills” – Sia ft. Sean Paul – great song and it’s fun

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Victoria Jones – Editor
News is news
Comments are mine