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
  • Obama seals Iran deal win
  • Clinton aide to take the Fifth
  • 87 Clinton email threads: Foreign govts’ info
  • Kentucky clerk files emergency motion
  • Final DOJ report: Ferguson
  • GOP’s loyalty pledge / Trump cheats at golf?
  • Biden stumps (?) in Miami

Notes

  • Obama in Arctic, stresses climate change
  • Freddie Gray trials to proceed
  • IG: 867,000 veterans may have apps with VA
Obama Seals Iran Deal Win (NYT, AP, Hill, Hill, TRNS, me)
• Overcoming ferocious opposition, President Obama on Wednesday secured the vital 34th Senate commitment, from Barbara Mikulski (D-Md), the longest serving female senator in history. He now has the votes to ensure the Iran nuclear agreement survives in Congress (but the WH is now pushing for 41 votes – they want to avoid a veto entirely)
 
• Supporters now have the votes to uphold Obama’s veto, if necessary, of a resolution of disapproval Republicans are trying to pass this month. GOP lawmakers who control the House and Senate despise the deal, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions (watch out for punishing legislation)
 
• Despite the continuing rancor on the Hill, there’s also growing recognition, even among some accord opponents, that the other negotiating nations – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, and especially Iran – would be unwilling to renegotiate the agreement even if Congress formally rejected it (they want to do deals with Iran. they’re done with this)
 
• In Philadelphia, SecState John Kerry defended the deal: “There is not a single sentence, not a single paragraph in this whole agreement, that depends on promises and trust. Not one.” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who had personally lobbied U.S. lawmakers to block the pact, will continue fighting the agreement, an Israeli official said
 
• In the House, the disapproval resolution is certain to pass next week. But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said she has the votes to back up an Obama veto. Next week, Donald Trump and fellow 2016er Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will rally outside the Capitol outside the agreement, as lawmakers return from recess to begin debating it (that’s gonna be wild)

• Great graphic: Where lawmakers stand on the Iran deal – how they’re leaning – what happens next (WaPo)

 

Clinton Aide to Take the Fifth (WaPo, NYT, me)
• Bryan Pagliano, a former aide to former SecState Hillary Clinton who helped set up the server that housed Clinton’s private email account, plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment right in response to questions from the House Benghazi Committee about the email practices, according to two people briefed. The panel will probably still call him for a closed door session
 
• Pagliano was the IT director for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and then worked at the State Dept as an adviser and special projects manager for its chief technology officer, according to his LinkedIn page. He left State in Feb 2013, the same month Clinton stepped down as SecState
 
• It’s not clear why Pagliano is refusing to answer questions about the server. The FBI is investigating how classified info was handled in connection with the account, but no evidence has surfaced that Pagliano had anything to do with those materials. WaPo first reported Pagliano’s response to the subpoena
 
• Clinton’s longtime lawyer and adviser, Cheryl Mills, is scheduled to testify in closed door session (boring – and wrong) before the committee today. The panel wants to ask her about how the email account was set up and how Clinton decided which emails she should hand over to State in response to its request last year for govt records for the account (we’d like to know)
 

• Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md), ranking member on the committee, defended Pagliano’s decision. “It is certainly understandable that this witness’s attorney advised him to assert his Fifth Amendment rights, especially given the onslaught of wild and unsubstantiated accusations by Republican presidential candidates, members of Congress and others”

 

87 Clinton Email Threads Contain Foreign Govts’ Info (Reuters, me)
• “Here’s my personal email,” Hillary Clinton wrote from the account on her unsecured, private server to U.S. special envoy George Mitchell one day in 2010 as he phoned one European official after another in an effort to keep peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians on track. Mitchell wrote back. State has redacted Mitchell’s thoughts – classified (er…)
 
• The exchange is among dozens in a new batch of Clinton’s emails released this week. The FBI is investigating Clinton’s server to see whether info was mishandled. No evidence has emerged suggesting Clinton’s email practices harmed national security
 
• A review last month by Reuters of previously released emails found 30 threads that State has marked to show they include info shared in confidence by foreign govt officials, from prime ministers to spy chiefs
 
••• U.S. govt regulations examined by Reuters say this sort of info, whether written or spoken, must be classified from the start, and handled through secure, govt-controlled channels

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The Clinton-Mitchell correspondence is one of 57 email threads found by Reuters in the latest batch of emails released Monday that State has marked as including the same type of info. In all the 87 email threads, State has blanked out the confidential info in the public copies, adding the classification code “1.4(B)”, denoting foreign govt info (this is major)
 
••• That’s the only kind of info that presidential executive orders say is “presumed” to likely harm national security if wrongly disclosed. State Dept regulations describe it as the “most important category of national security information” its officials encounter (sooo memo to FBI: likely to harm national security?)
 
• If State’s markings are correct, it appears that Clinton and her senior staff routinely didn’t follow the regs in the dept’s Foreign Affairs Manual, which tells employees they “must” safeguard foreign govt info by treating it as classified
 
• The dept and spox for Clinton have declined requests to explain this apparent lapse. The dept has said the info in some of Clinton’s emails is being newly classified now, but it has also said it cannot know for sure whether the info should have been handled as classified all along (bit of a careful statement by someone)

• Mysterious fumes in two Afghan schools in the city of Herat have sent more than 300 girls ages 9-18 to a hospital this week – and officials suspect it was deliberate, though they say they don’t know who was responsible. It was gas of some type (I can think of a few usual suspects who might have enjoyed doing it) (CNN, me)

 

Kentucky Clerk Files Emergency Motion (Reuters, WaPo, NYT, AP, me)
• Lawyers representing Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who has refused to issue same sex marriage licenses in defiance of a court order, filed an emergency motion on Wednesday asking for an injunction to temporarily block the order while she appeals. Davis says her strong Apostolic Christian beliefs stop her from issuing licenses to gay couples: “Heaven or Hell decision”

 

• Robert Stivers, the Republican president of the Kentucky state Senate, has asked U.S. District Judge David Bunnings to withhold his ruling ordering the four-times married Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples
 
• Stivers says Bunning needs to give the legislature time to pass a law that would exempt Davis from having to issue marriage licenses (oh come on – that’s a big part of the gig. she earns $80,000 and should quit if she won’t do her job) The legislature isn’t in session and won’t be until January. Democratic Gov Steve Beshear has refused to call for a special session
 

• A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June made gay marriage legal across the U.S. Davis is due in court this morning before Bunning for arguments on whether she should be held in contempt. Interestingly, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in 2002 that if he (Scalia) were to conclude the death penalty unconstitutional, he should no longer serve on the bench

• In “First Things”, Scalia wrote: “

[I]n my view the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation, rather than simply ignoring duly enacted, constitutional laws and sabotaging death penalty cases. He has, after all taken an oath to apply the laws and has been given no power to supplant them with rules of his own.” (can’t do job = leave the job)

• A picture of a small drowned Syrian boy lying face down on a Turkish beach has gone viral and may (or may not) force Europeans to face the migrant crisis. Twelve Syrians drowned from his boat (warning: very distressing images) (Independent, me)

 

Final DOJ Report: Ferguson (AP, me)
• The police response to unrest in Ferguson, Mo, last summer offers lessons in how not to handle mass demonstrations, according to a Justice Dept report that warns such problems could happen in other places roiled by mistrust between law enforcement and the community
 
• The final version, to be released today, was obtained in advance by the AP. The report focuses on the regional police response in the 17 days that followed the 9 August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white police officer
 
• The report tracks missteps that began almost immediately after the shooting when police wrongly assumed that crowds would quickly dissipate, withheld info from the public and were slow to grasp community angst over the hours-long presence of Brown’s body beneath white sheets in the street (how could you not think it would be upsetting)

&&&


 
• It details the improper use of police dogs, armored vehicles and snipers to monitor the crowds, the decision by some officers to remove their nameplates; arbitrary orders to demonstrators to keep moving after five seconds (???); and poor communications among agencies about which policy to follow and who was in charge
 
• Several law enforcement agencies whose actions were studied said they’ve learned from the events. Police officers interviewed complained of inconsistent orders from commanders, with some saying the “were unclear who they could arrest.” Community members described poor relationships with police that long predated – and were made worse by – the shooting
 
• “Having effective relations and communications with the community, recognizing that endemic problems were at the base of the demonstrations, and understanding how the character of the mass gatherings was evolving and spreading beyond the initial officer-involved shooting would have all aided in incident management decisions,” the report states
 
• Donald Trump has responded to an op-ed by Kareem Abdul-Jabaar on the difference between Trump and Bernie Sanders with a scrawled ad hominem note across the piece: “Now I know why the press always treated you so badly – they couldn’t stand you. The fact is that you don’t have a clue about life and what has to be done to make America great again!” (WaPo, me)
 
GOP’s Loyalty Pledge / Trump Cheats at Golf? (Politico, Politico, WaPo, Politico, Hill, Hill, Hill, WSJ, me)
• The GOP wants to box Donald Trump in. The Republican National Committee on Wednesday privately reached out to GOP 2016ers to ask whether they’d be willing to sign a pledge stating they wouldn’t run as an independent candidate in the event they fail to win the Republican nomination in 2016. Trump meets with chair Reince Priebus today – then holds a 2pm presser
 
• WaPo spoke with numerous golfers who have played with Trump. The verdict: He’s a lot of fun, but “when it comes to cheating, he’s an 11 on a scale of one to 10,” said sports writer Rick Reilly. Mark Mulvoy, former editor of Sports Illustrated, said Trump told him: “I have to cheat just to keep up with them [other guys].” Trump then trashed both men to WaPo (par for course…)
 
• In an ongoing showdown, Trump took another swipe at Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla) on Wednesday. “I like Jeb. He’s a nice man. But he should really set the example by speaking English while in the U.S.” Bush told reporters in Miami that “El hombre no es conservador.” (ei fod yn bigot, i feddwl)
 
• Gov Scott Walker (R-Wis), in an (inflammatory) op-ed on the website Hot Air, seeks to tie President Obama to two recent killings of police officers. “In the last six years under President Obama, we’ve seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric. Instead of hope and change, we’ve seen racial tensions worsen and a tendency to use law enforcement as a scapegoat.”

 

• “He has consolidated all Republicans who think Obama is a Muslim – and that he was born in Kenya. Whatever bloc that is, that’s what he’s got. And I’m going for the other crowd. I’m going for the crowd that says, OK, I think he’s a Christian and born in Hawaii, but he’s a bad president.” Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Donald Trump’s base of support (#bigotbloc?) (NYT)
 
Biden Stumps (?) in Miami  (Politico, NYT, Hill, NYT, Reuters, me)
• VP Joe Biden delivered a campaign sounding stump speech at Miami Dade College Wednesday, ostensibly about college readiness. Everyone watched for signs of whether he was running for president. “People who aren’t willing to risk failing never succeed.” (hmmm)
 
• Democratic voters would choose Biden as their preferred candidate for president in 2016 if current frontrunner Hillary Clinton shows signs of faltering, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday. More than 38% said so, while 30% said they’d back Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) should Clinton run into trouble (horses… barn doors…)
 
• Clinton on Wednesday released plans for a $10 billion initiative to combat the escalating drug epidemic that she says has swept through rural America. Her plan includes helping state and local govts put in place school and community-based programs to combat drug use and expanding mental health coverage to provide long-term support, among other things
 

• Former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-Md) is urging supporters to join a protest 16 September outside Democratic National Committee HQ over the decision to hold only six debates. “It’s frankly undemocratic. Enough tweeting. Let’s take action,” a campaign email says. O’Malley needs as much exposure as he can get – the debates are his only hope, Obi Wan

 

• Vid: Gov Dannel Malloy (D-Conn) held a presser on tourism at the Mystic Aquarium on Wednesday and got photobombed by the cutest baby beluga whale in the history of baby whales (#FreeBabyBeluga!) (me, MSNBC)

 

Obama in Arctic, Stresses Climate Change (AP, me)
• President Obama crossed the Arctic Circle on Wednesday in a first by a sitting president, telling residents in Kotzebue, a far-flung small town, that their plight should be the world’s wake-up call on global warming. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as anywhere else on earth, Obama said
 
• As he closed out a three-day tour of the state focused almost entirely on climate change, the president sought to show solidarity with Alaska Natives and rural Alaskans whose immense challenges are rarely in the national spotlight. He sought to snap the country to attention by showing the ways warmer temps have threatened entire communities and ways of life in Alaska
 
• Obama sought to use the changes wrought by climate change to Alaska’s breathtaking landscape to put pressure on leaders in the U.S. and abroad to cut greenhouse gas emissions, as he works to secure a global climate treaty that he hopes will form a cornerstone of his environmental legacy

• A U.S. official said five Chinese warships moved into the Bering Sea near Alaska after participating in a naval exercise with Russia. The U.S. military is aware of the ships and has been tracking their movements. They are operating in international waters and are not viewed as a threat

 

Freddie Gray Trials to Proceed (AP, WaPo, me)
• A Baltimore judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss charges against six police officers in connection with the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a black man who died of injuries he suffered while in custody. The judge also refused to remove the prosecutor in the case
 
• Gray’s death on 12 April sparked protests, rioting and unrest that shook Baltimore for days. A demonstration Wednesday outside the the Baltimore courtroom where a pretrial hearing on the charges took place attracted dozens, and resulted in just one arrest. Circuit Judge Barry Williams determined each officer should get his or her own trial
 
• Defense attorneys failed to convince Williams that what they claimed was prosecutorial misconduct on the part of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was reason enough to drop the charges against the officers – which range from second-degree assault to second-degree murder

 

• Gov Nikki Haley (R-SC) said Wednesday, “Black lives do matter and they have been disgracefully jeopardized by the movement that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore,” at the National Press Club. (don’t think the movement did it) She contrasted the way her state handled racially charged deaths with protests in New York, Baltimore and Ferguson (TPM)

 

IG: 867,000 Veterans May Have Apps With VA (AP, me)

• A report by the Dept of Veterans Affairs’ inspector general says 867,000 veterans have pending applications for health care. But the report says that “serious problems” with enrollment data make it impossible to determine how many of thee veterans with pending applications were actively seeking VA health care (why can’t Veterans get it right?)
 

• About one third of those with pending apps are likely dead, but the report says “data limitations” prevent investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when. The apps go back nearly two decades and officials said some applicants may have died years ago (waiting or what – seems important to know)
 

• The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health care apps as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic “transactions” over the past five years

 

• The hundreds of close friends of the Obamas who attended a Prince concert at the WH will retain their anonymity after officials declined to include the guest list as part of their routine release of visitor logs: the WH called it a private party. WH calls itself the “most transparent admin in history” (most murky and opaque when it suits – #whenjournoscry) (Politico, me)

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Washington Desk contributed to this report

 

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