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

  • Trump fails to challenge man’s birther BS
  • Dems unite: Plan to avert shutdown?
  • Game of thrones: Boehner in peril
  • Vatican offended: WH guest list for Pope visit
  • WH to weaken Cuba embargo
  • Iran deal: Done? Really done?
  • Post GOP debate: Candidates’ spin
  • Bergdahl had “severe mental disease” – lawyer
  • WH campaign: Encourage citizenship
Trump Fails to Challenge Man’s Birther BS (WaPo, CNN, NBC News, Hill, me)
• During a rally in New Hampshire on Thursday evening, Donald Trump failed to challenge an audience member who said that President Obama is a Muslim and “not even an American.” Trump was also asked what he’d do to get rid of Muslim “training camps.”
• It all went down during a rally in Rochester NH when Trump asked the audience for questions. To kick things off, Trump pointed to a man. “Okay, this man. I like this guy.” “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” the man said. “We know our current president is one. You know, he’s not even an American. Birth certificate, man.”
• “Right,” Trump said, interrupting the man, chuckling. “We need this question? This first question.” “But anyway,” the man said. “We have training camps growing where they want to kill us.” “Uh huh,” Trump said. “That’s my question. When can we get rid of them?” The man said
• Trump said: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things, a lot of people are saying bad things are happening out there, we’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.” (totally ignores the Obama lies – tacit agreement – but didn’t appear to have a clue on the issue of “camps” – which is a huge right wing deal)


• Man says President Obama is a Muslim and also not an American – Trump doesn’t challenge him / Here’s a guy at the Trump rally who apparently disagreed with the birther bull#%it


• The whole “Muslim training camps” scare has gone on with the far right for years, especially since the rise of ISIS. World Net Daily and Judicial Watch have published lots of stories that allege FBI knowledge of dozens of camps, many across the deep South – with zero evidence, BTW
• Social media, naturally, went nuts over Trump’s comments and non-comments. Trump said in a statement: “The media wants to make this issue about Obama. The bigger issue is that Obama is waging war against Christians in this country. Their religious liberty is at stake.” (he seems almost to be saying Obama runs the camps LOL)
• Later,Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said, “The question was specifically about training camps. The media wants to make this issue about Obama.” When asked whether Trump agrees with the man that Obama is a Muslim, the spox said, “I don’t speak for Mr Trump.” (why were you speaking for him to the press, then?)
• Obama, who has spoken openly about his Christian faith, was born in Hawaii (which actually is in America) to an American mother and Kenyan Muslim father. Trump said he didn’t know where Obama was born as recently as July. A recent CNN poll found 29% of Americans and 43% of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim


• Hillary Clinton tweeted late Thursday night: “Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plan wrong. Cut it out. -H”
Obama, Dem Leaders Unite: Plan to Avert Shutdown? (Hill, Politico, TRNS, me)
• President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress want to pass a clean, stopgap bill to avert a govt shutdown and allow negotiations more time to reach a long-term budget deal. Senate Minority leader made the announcements after meeting with Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) to plot strategy – can it work in time?
• Congress faces a 30 Sept deadline to pass a spending bill before govt funding runs out. The biggest hurdle? Demands from House conservatives that even a short-term continuing resolution funding the govt blocks money for Planned Parenthood
• House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Pelosi met Thursday for about 20 minutes to discuss a govt funding bill, aides said. Pelosi’s lieutenant, Rep Steny Hoyer (D-Md), said Wednesday Democrats had “no idea” how Republicans were going to avoid a shutdown because they hadn’t been included in talks (helpful)
• Democrats for months have been demanding negotiations on next year’s spending levels with Republicans, who are dealing with a festering internal rift over Planned Parenthood. The Senate’s No. 2, John Cornyn (Texas) said Thursday the Senate will vote on a defunding measure in relation to a govt funding measure
• Democrats want any final deal to lift spending ceilings on defense and nondefense spending. Some Republicans are open to increasing the ceilings for defense, but most want to avoid any hike to nondefense spending. Meanwhile, panicking GOP leaders on Thursday showed rank-and-file GOP members polling data showing they would be blamed for a shutdown


• House and Senate Republican leadership don’t have a plan to avoid a govt shutdown. No trick up their sleeve. They’re going to vote to strip Planned Parenthood of govt funding – doomed. The House doesn’t expect to even vote to fund the govt before the week of 30 Sept. Plus, John Boehner’s speakership is on the line (grab the Xanax) (Politico, me)
Game of Thrones: Boehner in Peril (Roll Call, Politico, me)
• Talk by conservatives of deposing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has reached such a crescendo that frustrated Rep Kristi Noem (R-ND) stood up in a closed-door meeting Wednesday night and said she didn’t appreciate all the calls she was getting from potential leadership candidates asking for her vote (weren’t they watching the debate?)
• Thursday, Politico reported Republicans were testing out a leadership run – though pols pushed back on the charge. No. 2 Republican in the House, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif) said, “We have an election every two years to pick our speaker. We’ve had that election, and now, let’s move on.” Some lawmakers are thinking he could replace Boehner
• McCarthy and Ways and Means chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis), another possible successor, in a pair of statements, forcefully backed Boehner and called for an end to the intraparty warfare crippling the House Republican Conference as it faces a possible govt shutdown on 1 October
• Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash), No. 4, and highest ranking GOP woman, has been actively positioning herself for a run for the No. 2 spot. She said in a statement Thursday, “I have not made calls to members to seek their support for any other position.” she said John Boehner “has my support.” (dagger at 6 o’clock…)


• House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La), No, 3, has been asking lawmakers to commit to him in a race for majority leader if one develops. A senior GOP aide said Rep Tom Price (R-GA) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill), a former chief deputy whip, have been calling. Spox for both men denied it (must be true, in that case )
• Rank-and-file members all assume it will just take a conservative spark to light the powder keg. One anti-Boehner Republican said a chairman had asked him not to call a vote on a motion to vacate the chair until Pope Francis, invited to address by the Catholic Speaker, makes his speech next week (one may smile and smile, and be a villain…)
• Rep Matt Salmon (R-Ariz) said Boehner’s handling of the Planned Parenthood issue in the govt funding bill is “the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. I think we’ve seen promises to fight tooth and nail on things in the past and it hasn’t really materialized.”
• But Boehner allies say the majority of the House GOP Conference is behind Boehner – and there isn’t a real alternative. When Boehner was asked how confident he is he’ll have the votes to defeat a motion to vacate the chair, he only needed one word – “very.”


Vatican Offended: WH Guest List for Pope Visit (WSJ, me)
• Awkward. The Vatican has taken offense at the Obama admin’s decision to invite to Pope Francis’s welcome ceremony transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia. The pope arrives in the U.S. next week (should have expected this)
• According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with these guests at the WH welcoming ceremony next Wednesday could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities. Plus, it’s not yet clear if the WH has invited any reps of the U.S. anti-abortion movement, a high priority cause for U.S. bishops
• The tension exemplifies concerns among conservative Catholics, including many bishops, that the WH will use the pope’s visit to play down its differences with church leaders on such contentious issues as same sex marriage and the contraception mandate in the health care law
• No comment from the WH. WH spox Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday he was unaware of names of individuals on the guest list but cautioned against drawing too many conclusions on specific guests “because there will be 15,000 other people there too.” (but cameras can do awfully clever things)

• Among the expected guests is Bishop Gene Robinson, a former Episcopal bishop of New England and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the U.S. Another guest, Mateo Williamson, is a former co-head of the transgender caucus of Dignity USA, a group for LGBT Catholics


• Croatia has closed seven of its eight border crossings with Serbia following a huge influx of refugees. Officials said they had no choice after more than 13,000 people entered the country since Hungary fenced off its border with Serbia earlier this week. Huge numbers of people heading north from the Mediterranean have created a political crisis in the EU, which has a summit on 23 Sept (BBC)
WH to Weaken Cuba Embargo (Reuters, me)
• The WH is drafting sweeping regs to further weaken the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba that would ease restrictions on U.S. companies, allow them to establish offices in Cuba, and make it safer for Americans to travel there, U.S. govt sources said Thursday. The regs could be announced as soon as today
• The regs could make it easier for airlines and cruise ships to import parts and technology to improve safety in Cuba and allow authorized companies to establish subsidiaries with Cuba, possibly via joint ventures with Cuban firms such as state telecom monopoly Etecsa
• However, they don’t authorize private financing of trade nor change current rules on who can travel to Cuba, though it’s possible regs could still be modified by other agencies or updated later in the year, according to people familiar with the WH’s thinking. No immediate comment from the Obama admin
• The regs expand on others President Obama announced in January to ease the 53-year-old embargo of the Communist-ruled island after Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in December they would move towards normal relations
• Efforts to pass a bill that would ease trade and travel restrictions have been stymied by opposition from Republican congressional leaders. Obama is using executive powers to ease the trade barriers. Jose Cabanas, a veteran diplomat, on Thursday became Cuba’s first ambassador to the U.S. in 54 years
• The Federal Reserve left short-term interest rates unchanged Thursday. Within the Fed, 13 of 17 members expect the central bank will raise rates before year-end. Fed chair Janet Yellen said in a presser that officials decided to hold off “in light of the heightened uncertainties abroad” and the prospect of low inflation for a longer period(TRNS, WSJ)
Iran Deal: Done? Really Done? (Hill, Hill, Politico, TRNS, me)
• Senate Democrats blocked a resolution disapproving the Iran nuclear deal for a third time Thursday, sealing a major foreign policy victory for President Obama (probably). Senators voted 56-42 against ending debate on the resolution of disapproval, falling short of the 60 votes needed on the procedural motion
• The vote came just hours ahead of the deadline for lawmakers to pass a resolution on the deal. The deadline has passed. With neither chamber of Congress expected to take another vote on Iran, the admin is poised to protect the agreement after months of lobbying to solidify Democratic support
• Republicans argue that Democrats are blocking the resolution in an effort to protect Obama from having to use a veto, something he’s only had to use four times while in office. Republicans had hoped that by staging repeat votes they could pressure at least two more Democrats to vote against the deal. They couldn’t
• But Sen Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) said “it does not make sense” to take repeated procedural votes on Iran that are sure to fail. “I don’t agree with my leadership on this.” “There is no value to our allies to see there is a split in Congress or between Congress and the executive on this issue.”
• Later, 57 House Republicans wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), telling him that blocking the deal was “simply so consequential” that it demanded a change to the Senate’s rules, known as invoking the nuclear option – ie a simple majority of 51 votes (oh boy). Then, of course, there’s vague talk of suing Obama over “side deals” (not over until…)


• Hillary Clinton’s campaign – not known for its humor – is out with a pretty funny new ad mocking the GOP debate for not talking about issues “that matter” and talking about things like “I’d like to link these two issues, both of which are incredibly important: Iran and Planned Parenthood.” – Carly Fiorina (aaand – the answer Carly? Persian cats? Rice?)
Post GOP Debate: Candidates’ Spin (NYT, NYT, me)
• Whether Carly Fiorina can turn buzz from her strong performance at Wednesday’s Republican debate into momentum hinges on overcoming challenges. One question is can she quickly build a top tier organization. Another is how well her corporate record will stand up once voters start examining it more closely
• Nearly all GOP 2016 contenders make a pilgrimage today to South Carolina for a forum hosted by conservative group Heritage for Action – they’re not expected to appear together. The event promises to give them a chance to stake out positions on issues that are stirring the party’s base – will anyone address Trump’s re-emerged birtherism?
• Gov Scott Walker (R-Wis), who has faltered in the polls, told donors on a conference call, “We need folks to help us out right now.” He urged backers to describe his debate answers as “feisty” and “aggressive.” He repeatedly stressed that he was asked only two questions and spoke bluntly about the importance of winning Iowa (he’s wondered about Obama’s religion, too)
• Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) was quiet on the campaign trail on Thursday, but he told Fox News that the debate had been framed like “a pay-per-view boxing match” and he defended his Senate attendance after Donald Trump poked him over it Wednesday night
• Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla) drew an anemic turnout of fewer than 150 supporters to a rally in Las Vegas. He expressed hope to the crowd that “I will be so brilliant and so eloquent and so high-energy that you sign up.”

• He’s arrived! Democratic presidential candidate Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) makes the cover of the new Time magazine (did they have to make his hair green, too, like his shirt?) (me, Daily Kos)


Bergdahl Had “Severe Mental Disease” – Lawyer (NYT, Guardian, AP, me)
• Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, who faces a possible life sentence for endangering the troops who searched for him after he left his Afghanistan base in 2009, at the time had “a severe mental disease or defect,” one of his lawyers said Thursday during the first day of an Article 32 hearing
• The diagnosis was later made by an independent Army psychiatry board, said defense lawyer Lt Col Franklin Rosenblatt of the Army. Because of his psychological problems, Bergdahl washed out of Coast Guard basic training three years earlier, Rosenblatt said, and had to obtain a waiver to join the Army
• Rosenblatt’s statements appeared to hint at part of the defense team’s possible strategy: to argue that the military indirectly shares blame for Bergdahl’s decision to leave his remote outpost in the middle of the night, spurring a huge manhunt by American troops, because officials should have known that he was mentally unfit for combat
• Bergdahl disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009 and was held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years, until President Obama agreed to exchange him for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay, in a deal that spurred huge criticism from Republicans – and some Democrats
• A prosecutor, Maj Margaret Kurz, sought to portray Bergdahl as vain and selfish, arguing in her opening statement that he had walked off his base “to bring attention to himself so he could have a private audience with the general.” “For 45 days, thousands of soldiers toiled in the heat” with little rest during the search, Kurz said
WH Campaign: Encourage Citizenship (NYT, me)
• WH officials announced the start of a nationwide campaign on Thursday to encourage legal immigrants to become American citizens, which could add millions of voters to the electorate in time for the presidential election next year. There are 8.8m legal residents in the country eligible to become citizens (can already hear GOP freaking out)
•The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (ICE) will offer practice tests on cellphone for the civics exam that immigrants must pass, but which many find daunting (it’s not easy – aced it) and will hold prep workshops in rural areas. Applicants will also be able to pay the fee – still a hefty $680 – with a credit card
• There will be 200 naturalization ceremonies just in the coming week alone. The WH is also aware of federal figures showing that about 60% of immigrants eligible to naturalize are Latino and about 20% are Asian, both groups that voted overwhelmingly for President Obama (GOP freakout now complete)
• The campaign, which includes a blitz of TV ads with a welcoming message for immigrants, gives Obama a chance to set up a contrast with Republicans vying to succeed him. In the Republican debate Wednesday, Donald Trump returned to his hard-line proposals that include building a wall along the Southern border
• “We have a lot of really bad dudes in this country from outside,” Trump said, claiming that undocumented immigrants include many gang members and drug dealers (evidence not Americans?). “First day, they’re going,” he said, referring to Baltimore and Chicago as places where deportations of criminals would begin


• Rocking into the weekend with some good, young rock and roll – “Bohemian Like You” – The Dandy Warhols

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Anthony Herrera, Ebony Romero and Washington Desk contributed to this report


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