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.

In the News

  • Fence jumper made it to East Room
  • Secret Service grilling today: Epic drama
  • Oh no! “Classified?”
  • Twitter wags on fence jumper’s romp
  • WH mops up Obama’s 60 Minutes interview
  • Did U.S. govt invent Khorasan?
  • Hong Kong: Leader urges crowds to leave
  • What will China do?
  • U.S./India: “Rules based” global order
  • SCOTUS cuts Ohio early voting
  • Netanyahu/UN: “Hamas is ISIS & ISIS is Hamas”
  • OK beheading: Charges expected today
Fence Jumper Made It to East Room


• It’s waaay worse than we thought. The man who jumped the WH fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor – according to three people familiar with the incident (WaPo, me)
• An alarm box near the front entrance of the WH designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, said a Secret Service official – anonymous (if true, soon to be ex-usher)
• The officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds, often through the alarm boxes, they must immediately lock the front door
• After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters (!). He then ran into the East Room, often used for receptions or presidential addresses• Here’s a cool GIF that Vox created, using info from the WaPo article about Gonzalez’s route. You literally follow him through the WH

Secret Service Grilling Today: Fence Jumper +++


• Gonzalez was tackled by a counter-assault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn. Secret Service officials had earlier said he was quickly detained at the main entry (lies). Agency spox said the office isn’t commenting due to an ongoing investigation (gotcha, I’ll bet)
• Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has said the breach was “unacceptable” to her, and Friday she briefed President Obama on her plans to shore up security (fly on wall)
• Pierson’s expected to face tough questioning (worst of her life) today at a hearing by the House Oversight and Govt Reform Committee. Will cover lots of lapses, including new revelations about the failure to identify and properly investigate a 2011 shooting attack on the WH. The hearing calls for deck chair, barbecue, pie and whiskey (and that’s just for teetotalers)
• The more detailed account of the breach (ie the truth) comes from people who provided info about the incident to WaPo and whistleblowers who contacted Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-AZ), chair of a House Oversight subcommittee on Homeland security
• Color map: WH State Floor plan


• Chaffetz said he plans to ask Pierson how an alarm meant to alert officers to intruders could be silenced or turned down. Chaffetz said two people inside the agency told him the boxes were silenced because the WH usher staff, whose office is near the front door, complained they were noisy


• A Secret Service official told WaPo that the usher’s office was concerned the boxes were frequently malfunctioning and unnecessarily sounding off. The alarm boxes – crash boxes – are key pieces of the agency’s first-alert system. If they spot an intruder, agents are trained to hit the large red button on the nearest box – sending an alert to all boxes and piping sound to other boxes


• Remember that a plainclothes surveillance team was on duty that night outside the fence, meant to spot jumpers and give early warning before they jumped. When that team didn’t see Gonzalez, there was an officer in the guard booth on the North Lawn
• When that officer couldn’t reach Gonzalez, there was supposed to be an attack dog, a specialized SWAT team and a guard at the front door – all at the ready
Oh No! “Classified?”


• Chaffetz on Monday night called on Pierson to refrain from dodging public questions in the hearing today. “Just because something is embarrassing doesn’t mean that it is classified, so it will be interesting to see the mix,” Chaffetz said about Pierson’s upcoming testimony (Hill)
• Pierson had earlier sent a letter to the Oversight Committee asking that much of the briefing take place behind closed doors due to the sensitive nature of the president’s security (here we go – Gonzalez apparently knows how to get in, so it’s not all that classified)
• “I don’t want to hear the director continue to say it’s classified, it’s classified, it’s classified,” said Chaffetz. (simple solution: Obama can declassify)
Twitter Wags on Fence Jumper’s Romp


• John Tabin, American Spectator: “White House fence jumper makes it to Situation Room, serves as highly influential foreign policy adviser for six months before being caught.” (WaPo)
• Simon Maloy, Salon: “The intruder signed 3 bills and paused for a brief photo with the president of Burundi before he was apprehended.”
• Bob Hardt, NY1: “White House jumper also apparently made several recess appointments before being apprehended.”
• David Waldman, Daily Kos: “White House intruder actually live-tweeted entire event, also vacuumed steps, began baking cookies.”
• John Schwartz, New York Times: “After a refreshing nap in the Lincoln bedroom, the fence jumper took Bo for a walk.”
WH Mops Up Obama’s 60 Minutes Interview

• It’s aisle three – pass a mop and a bucket. WH spox Josh Earnest spent most of Monday’s briefing defending Obama’s statement on 60 Minutes: “Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” among other related statements

• Earnest said officials were aware of the threat posed by ISIS, but misjudged the will of the Iraqi military to fight back and how successful the terror group would be at capturing territory. He said “everybody” – from the intel community to the WH – made the same mistake, but that Obama was ultimately responsible (Hill, NYT, me)

• State Dept spox Jen Psaki, speaking earlier, saw things slightly differently. Did the admin overlook the threat? “Absolutely not,” she told MSNBC, saying the admin had “long been tracking this.” She said there was a difference “between being aware of a threat and seeing the level the threat poses.” (isn’t that sort of the crucial bit? Tiger vs tiger about to bite my head off)

• House Intel Committee chair Mike Rogers (R-MI) said in a statement Monday, “For over a year, U.S. intel agencies specifically warned that ISIL was taking advantage of the situation in Syria to recruit members and provoke violence that could spill into Iraq and the rest of the region.” NYT today reports on missteps in assessment of ISIS threat

• Earnest sought to make lemonade out of the situation by highlighting comments Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made Sunday about boots on the ground. Earnest sought to link the  speaker’s proposition to a strategy “that was pursued by the Bush administration.” Troops on the ground is polling badly with the American people

• A third video has appeared featuring British hostage John Cantlie who’s being held by ISIS. The journalist delivers a scripted message mocking the U.S.’s strategy of employing airstrikes combined with local ground forces (BBC, me)

Did U.S. Govt Invent Khorasan?

• Did the U.S. govt invent the al Qaeda affiliate known as the Khorasan Group? That’s what the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain charge in an extensive new report. They depict a carefully orchestrated campaign by U.S. officials to depict an imminent threat of terror attacks by Khorasan against U.S. targets (Salon, me)

• Media outlets, including News Notes, zeroed in on Khorasan. Claims that Khorasan planned to launch attacks on the U.S. came from anonymous sources who provided thin evidence that any such attacks were at risk of being carried out

• However, days after after stories of sophisticated, far-reaching plots, officials are backtracking. A new AP story notes that FBI director James Comey and Pentagon spox Adm James Kirby have said they don’t have “precise intel about where or when the cell … would attempt to strike a Western target.”

• Meanwhile, sources on the ground told NBC’s Richard Engel that they’ve “never heard of Khorasan or its leader,” while former CIA official Ali Peritz and former federal terror prosecutor Andrew McCarthy have also cast doubt on Khorasan’s existence

• Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford has also stated that while govt officials used “Khorasan” to describe some militants, “they don’t call themselves that.”

• The U.S. and Afghanistan will sign an agreement today allowing some 10,000 U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after combat operations end at the close of this year. Former President Hamid Karzai wouldn’t sign (AP, me)

Hong Kong: Leader Urges Crowds to Leave

• Hong Kong leader CY Leung has urged pro-democracy protesters to “immediately” stop their campaign, as huge crowds continue to bring parts of the territory to a standstill. On Monday night, tens of thousands blocked streets, singing and chanting (BBC, NYT, South China Morning Post, me)

• The protesters want Beijing to give Hong Kong a free vote for its next leaders, without vetting by a Beijing committee, something Beijing has rejected. By today, streets were relatively quiet but crowds are expected to swell for the eve of Chinese National Day tomorrow. Over the weekend police used tear gas and pepper spray, but riot police have since withdrawn

• The protesters want Leung to step down, but he appeared to reject this, saying such a move would represent a step backwards. Today, students are picking up cigarette butts and plastic bottles and others are distributing breakfast buns. This is why those on the streets are being called “the politest protesters” by some on social media

• WH spox Josh Earnest Monday urged authorities in Hong Kong to “exercise restraint..” “The U.S. supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the basic law and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people.”

What Will China Do?

• President Xi Jinping’s record so far – unyielding opposition to political liberalization and public protests has been a hallmark of his rule – has suggested a politician who abhors making concessions. And any meaningful concessions could inspire rallies on the mainland around other causes (NYT, TRNS, me)

• He’s fashioned himself into a strongman unseen in China since the days of Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong, and few if any, party insiders and political analysts expect him to give serious consideration to the demands for full democratic elections in Hong Kong. China is blocking internet access to search items on the protests

• Xi met with business leaders from Hong Kong in a closed-door session in Beijing last week to reiterate that the party will not allow political change in Hong Kong. Instead, there are signs that China may harden its position, including a commentary on the website of People’s Daily

• If Xi chose to pursue compromise, he could replace Leung, a figure much loathed by the pro-democracy advocates. That might be enough to sap their energy. Beijing would install another puppet. Beijing could give Hong Kong voters more say in choosing members of the election committee – but Xi may not want even to give the appearance of compromise

U.S./India: “Rules Based” Global Order

• President Obama and new Indian PM Narendra Modi vowed Monday to expand and deepen their countries’ strategic partnership and make it a model for the rest of the world. They met for the first time over a WH dinner at which Modi drank only warm water as he is on a strict nine-day religious fast (AP, me)

• In a joint “vision statement” issued afterwards, the two leaders said they would work together “not just for the benefit of both our nations, but for the benefit of the world.”

• They said their countries would cooperate on security and to fight terrorism and would back a “rules based” global order in which India assumed greater multilateral responsibility, including in a reformed UN Security Council
• They also vowed to work together against the threat posed by climate change and to cooperate to address the consequence of unchecked pollution. They would work to ensure that economic growth brought better livelihoods for all people and stressed the importance of open markets and fair and transparent practices to allow trade to flourish

• The two leaders continue talks today. Modi’s spox said the dinner meeting was “extremely convivial,” and that the two men found they had a common interest in technology (compared phones and shared apps…). They shared experience in that they were relative political outsiders before coming to power

SCOTUS Cuts Ohio Early Voting
• The Supreme Court Monday voted 5-4 (usual suspects) to block Ohio from beginning early voting today. The court stayed a lower court order that invalidated a state law that cut back early and evening voting (Hill, WaPo, Reuters, me)

• The lower court had found the Ohio law cutting back voting hours unconstitutional and said it violated the Voting Rights Act. The lower court had ruled Ohio must revert back to 35 days – instead of 28 – of early in-person voting. That included a so-called golden week when citizens can register and vote on the same day

The ruling would have also required early voting polling places to hold evening hours and allowed early voting the Sunday before the election – a typically high turnout day for African-Americans who vote after church in an initiative dubbed “souls to the polls.”

• Separately, the nine justices met in private Monday for the first time since they got back from their vacations They were considering whether to take up the hotly contested question of whether states can ban gay marriage. Four justices need to approve a decision to take a case

• The court has seven cases before it concerning bans in five states: Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Indiana. If the court agrees to take one or more of the cases it has the chance to rule when, if ever, gay men and women in the 31 states that now bar them from marrying could get marriage licenses. Expect to hear in the next week to weeks

Netanyanu – “Hamas is ISIS & ISIS is Hamas”

• In a blistering speech at the UN Monday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu railed against world leaders for simultaneously condemning the Jewish state for its war with Hamas and praising President Obama for attacking ISIS and other extremist militants in Iraq and Syria (AP, TRNS, me)

• “They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree,” Netanyahu said. He added: “when it comes to its ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.” Netanyahu likened ISIS and Hamas to “another fanatic ideology that swept into power eight decades ago” – Nazism

• Netanyahu also lashed out at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who accused Israel last week of carrying out war crimes and waging a “war of genocide” during the fighting in Gaza. Netanyahu said Hamas committed “the real war crimes” in Gaza by using Palestinians as human shields&&&

• Netanyahu accused Iran of mounting terrorist attacks all around the world, and lumped the country in with Islamic extremist movements. “To say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees,” he said (directed to U.S. audience)

• Netanyahu launched a scathing attack on the UN Human Rights Council and charged that the body has become a “terrorist rights council.” He said the council’s treatment of Israel reflects “the return of one of the world’s oldest prejudices.”

• “It’s called anti-Semitism. It is now spreading in polite society, where it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel,” Netanyahu said

• Gov Rick Perry (R-TX) said Monday on Fox and Friends (where else) that the OK beheading was “an act of terrorism” (because he’s seen the evidence? It may be. Or the guy may be a nutter) (TRNS, me)

Charges Expected Today: OK Beheading
• Authorities expect charges – likely murder and assault with a deadly weapon – to be filed today against an Oklahoma man suspected of attacking a co-worker with a large knife and eventually severing her head, then repeatedly stabbing another victim before he was shot by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy (LAT, Daily Mail, AP, CBS,, me)

• Alton Nolen, a convicted felon, was fired from his job at the Vaughan Foods processing plant shortly before the attack began Thursday. He’d been in trouble at work for his performance and for trying to convert workers to Islam, to which he was a recent convert. Sources said he “felt oppressed” over not getting a raise and was angry. The FBI is assisting in the investigation

• According to prison records, Nolen had a tattoo on his stomach that read “As-salaamu Ataikum” which could be a misspelling of “Assalamu alaikum,” a standard Muslim greeting that means “Peace be upon you.” He also had the words “Jesus Christ” tattooed across his chest and an image of praying hands on his right arm

• In a video statement on Facebook, a woman identifying herself as Nolen’s mother apologized to the victim’s families. “Our hearts bleed right now, because of what they’re saying Alton has done. I want to apologize to both families because this is not Alton.” His sister said her brother had “never been a violent person”

• Saad Mohammed, spox for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said Nolen was seen as “a little odd” and “a little weird” by those who attended the same mosque he did. Mohammed said Nolen attended services where sermons were delivered against beheadings like those committed by ISIS

• Vid: Oh dear – Kissing Congressman Vance McAllister (R-LA) just got hit with a devastating attack ad. His “personal issues are well known,” the Club for Growth’s ad says, then goes after his voting record (WaPo, me)

Senate odds for 4 November• FiveThirtyEight: GOP 61% chance of winning

• Republicans 8/15 and Democrats 11/8

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Victoria Jones

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar and Luke Vargas contributed to this report