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.

Rick Perry wisdom: “A broken clock is right once a day”

 

News Now
  • Biden unsure about 2016: “Emotional energy”
  • $1B arms deal as Saudi king visits WH
  • Trump flubs terror policy questions – so?
  • Trump signs GOP loyalty pledge – and?
  • What Cheryl Mills told Benghazi Committee
  • Kentucky clerk to jail – deputies spared
  • Kentucky clerk: 2016ers reax
  • Khameini orders parliament to vote on Iran deal
 
Biden Unsure About 2016: “Emotional Energy” (Politico, AP, Politico, me)
• VP Joe Biden said Thursday night, “The honest-to-God answer is I just don’t know,” answering a question about whether he’ll run for the presidency from longtime friend and former ambassador Stuart Eizenstadt after a speech at a synagogue in Atlanta. “I can’t look you straight in the eye and say now, ‘I know I can do that.'”
 
• “The most relevant factor in my decision is whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run. Some might think that is inappropriate,” Biden said. “Unless I can go to my party and the American people and say that I am able to devote my whole heart and my whole soul to this endeavor, it would not be appropriate.”
 
• Biden will march in a Labor Day parade with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in Pittsburgh on Monday, host his annual reception for Jewish leaders at the Naval Observatory on Tuesday evening, and then on Wednesday sit down for his first interview since 2016 rumors swirled – with Stephen Colbert
 
•  “The factor is, ‘Can I do it? Can my family undertake what is an arduous commitment?’ that we would be proud to undertake in ordinary circumstances and the honest to god answer is, I just don’t know,” Biden said (odds, anyone? anyone who’s grieved a really close family member knows the emotional exhaustion. dunno – I’m leaning no)

 

• The Labor Dept puts out the jobs report at 8.30 am ET today. It will be highly scrutinized, now that the Fed is poised to raise interest rates, perhaps as early as this month. Economists surveyed by WSJ expect a gain of 220,000 jobs in August and a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.2% from 5.3% (WSJ)

 

 
$1B Arms Deal as Saudi King Visits WH (NYT, AP, me)
• In a move meant to reassure a vital Persian Gulf ally about the Iran nuclear deal, the Pentagon is finalizing a $1 billion arms agreement with Saudi Arabia that will provide weapons for the Saudi war effort against ISIS and Yemen, senior admin officials said Thursday
 
• Details of the pact are being worked out ahead of a visit by King Salman of Saudi Arabia to the WH today, officials said, adding that the deal must be approved by Congress before it’s final. The two leaders are also expected to discuss additional training that the U.S. can provide for Saudi Arabia, among other things
 
• Admin officials stressed that there are no warplanes included in the deal. The pending weapons sale is already coming under criticism from human rights activists who say the admin is supplying arms to Saudi combat ops in a conflict in Yemen that has taken an enormous toll on civilian lives
 
• But under Salman, Saudi Arabia has become increasingly assertive in the Middle East, intervening in a war in Yemen and stepping up support for rebels in Syria as he positions his country to be the defender of the region’s Sunnis
 

• The king makes his first visit to the U.S. four months after skipping a summit meeting of Persian Gulf nations at Camp David. He’s widely seen as more vocal than his predecessor in his unhappiness with the U.S. A recent trove of docs from the Saudi Foreign Ministry illustrated a near obsession among the kingdom’s leaders with Iran – dominated by Shiites

 

• Prosecutors in South Carolina say they’ll seek the death penalty for white supremacist Dylann Roof who is accused of shooting dead nine black people in a historic church in Charleston during Bible study. The 21-year-old also faces separate federal charges of hate crimes. Photos emerged of Roof holding the Confederate battle flag (TRNS, BBC)
 
 
Trump Flubs Terror Policy Questions – So? (WaPo, Politico, me)
• Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt peppered Donald Trump with a series of (totally reasonable) foreign policy questions in a Thursday interview that Trump flubbed. Hewitt asked if he knew the leaders of Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS (and Hewitt named them). “No,” Trump said, with a strikingly dismissive answer:
 
• “No, you know, I’ll tell you honestly, I think by the time we get to office, they’ll all be changed. They’ll all be gone.” (um – really?) Trump said that asking him who the key players are was a “gotcha question.” Later, Hewitt said he didn’t believe “in gotcha questions.” (Hewitt is pretty fair – smart, too)
 
• Trump, after confusing the Kurds with the Quds Forces, disagreed. “Well, that is a gotcha question, though. I mean, you know, when you’re asking me who’s running this, this this, that’s not, that is not, I will be so good at the military, your head will spin.” (dunno what that means – a bit Linda Blairish – his followers don’t care)
 
• Making matters worse, later in the day, Hewitt asked Carly Fiorina the same set of questions. She recognized the name of the Quds Force and and was knowledgeable. She differentiated between Hamas and Hezbollah, but hesitated a little when Hewitt mentioned Hasan Nasrallah (Hezbollah), Aywan al-Zawahiri (al Qaeda) and the others
 

• Trump hasn’t seen the last of Hewitt. He’s slated to ask questions at the second GOP debate on the 16th of this month and foreign policy is his thing. (Trump’s followers aren’t bothered by his ignorance – and polling bears it out. they’ve decided that he’ll figure things out when he gets the gig and they’re not interested in policy details – big mistake to forget this)

• Brian Pagliano, the former aide to Clinton, who set up and helped manage her private email server, isn’t cooperating with investigations of FBI and State Dept officials. Yahoo Politics cites unnamed sources who say Pagliano could be a central figure in the investigation with knowledge of what protections were (or weren’t) used to protect it against hackers (Hill, Yahoo Politics)

 

 
Trump Signs GOP Loyalty Pledge (Politico, AP, TRNS, me)
• Donald Trump and Reince Priebus have a deal. The Republican front-runner announced at a presser on Thursday, “I have signed the pledge.” “So, I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands and we will go out and we will fight hard and we will win,” he said
 
• The deal, which was announced after a private meeting with Priebus in New York regarding a party-sponsored pledge that candidates will support the nominee, is a winner for Trump. In the short term, it clears the way for his name to appear on primary ballots and addresses the concerns of GOP voters turned off by his initial unwillingness to pledge fealty to the party
 
• Rival campaigns griped about the very idea of a pledge. One adviser said, “We’re all going to sign it, but it’s meaningless because it’s not binding and Trump is going to do whatever he wants anyway. And to see Reince standing up there next to the guy who has destroyed his autopsy, it’s just ridiculous.” (not a good deal for GOPers – they’re now tied to him)
 
• The pledge isn’t legally binding. Trump could always change his mind, particularly if GOP establishment leaders take aggressive steps to thwart his candidacy in the coming months. But a top Republican source said that Trump thinks he could very well be the nominee, and with the pledge in place, other candidates would have to support him
 

• Trump has long viewed the threat of a third-party candidacy as priceless leverage. But he agreed to the pledge partly to take away an attack line in the next debate on 16 September, a close associate told Politico

Searing, harrowing series of pics of desperate refugee father in Hungary who throws himself, his wife and baby onto rail tracks after realizing their “train to Austria” is actually taking them to a refugee camp. What happens next (Daily Mail). This vid is moving – young Syrian refugee boy pleads: “Just stop the war in Syria” – and the refugees won’t come to Europe

What Cheryl Mills Told Benghazi Committee (Politico, me)

• Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Dept, who oversaw the release of her emails, told the House Benghazi Committee behind closed doors Thursday that no work related messages had been withheld or destroyed to keep them from public eyes – and that she never knowingly mishandled classified info – source familiar with her testimony (ie leaker)
 
• The longtime family lawyer for the Clintons, who defended Bill during his impeachment days, worked alongside Clinton’s lead lawyer David Kendall to oversee the process whereby they selected which emails should be saved from a homemade personal server. After they finished scouring the messages, they had the server wiped clean, deleting the rest (questionable)
 
• Mills testified that they weren’t trying to hide anything when Clinton decided to wipe the server and that they were over-inclusive in what they thought might be work-related messages. Panel Republicans are skeptical, particularly after they found about a dozen undisclosed Clinton emails in messages received from her ally Sid Blumenthal
 
• Mills said she wasn’t involved in setting up the initial server, nor was she part of the decision to have it served at small start-up firm Platte River Networks, where the server was reportedly stored in a bathroom closet at one point (sooo sounds like she removed herself as far as possible from the coming nuclear big bang lol)
 
• She reiterated what the Clinton camp has consistently said about the Benghazi attack: She said she knows of no “stand down order” following the attacks, nor has she any knowledge of the U.S. moving weapons or knowing of other countries moving weapons to Libyan rebels. Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top policy staffer, will testify before the panel today

 

Kentucky Clerk to Jail – Deputies Spared (AP, NYT, Lexington Herald Leader, TRNS, me)
• A defiant county clerk went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but five of her six deputies agreed to end the church-state standoff in Rowan County, Kentucky. U.S. District Judge David Bunning said he had no choice but to jail Kim Davis for contempt after she insisted her “conscience will not allow” her to follow federal court rulings
 
• “God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis told the judge before she was taken away. The judge later tried to keep Davis out of jail after all, saying she could go free if her staff agreed to comply with the law and she agreed not to interfere. But Davis rejected the offer, choosing jail (seems like that’s what she wanted). Bunning will revisit decision in a week
 
• The hearing ended and gay and lesbian couples vowed to appear at the Rowan County clerk’s office today. Davis’ lawyer, Roger Gannam, compared her willingness to accept imprisonment to what Martin Luther King Jr did to advance civil rights. Laura Landenwich, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “She is not a martyr. No one created a martyr today. She is not above the law.”
 
• Speaking earlier from the bench, Benning, a President George W. Bush appointee, said, “Her good faith is simply not a viable defense. I myself have genuinely held religious beliefs … but I took an oath.” “Mrs Davis took an oath. Oaths mean things.” Benning said at one point that a fine could be paid for by supporters, so it might not compel her to change her mind
 
• Davis said she hopes the legislature will change Kentucky laws to find some way for her to keep her job while following her conscience. But unless the governor convenes a costly special session they won’t meet until January. Until then, the judge said, he has no alternative but to keep her behind bars – however, he’s revisiting the decision in a week

• A federal judge has overturned a four-game suspension against NFL quarterback Tom Brady, calling the league’s disciplinary process “fundamentally unfair.” NFL will appeal. The NFL imposed the punishment following the “Deflategate scandal.” NFL officials found that Brady colluded with New England Patriots team members to deflate footballs below the allowable limit (TRNS, BBC)

 

Kentucky Clerk: 2016ers’ Reax (Vox, Hill, me)
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas): “Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny. Today, for the first time ever, the govt jailed a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America.” – statement on website next to a button where you could donate to his campaign (actually jailed for refusing to obey the law)
 
• Former Gov Mike Huckabee (R-Ark) tweet: “I’m headed to Kentucky to stand with #KimDavis. We must end the criminalization of Christianity! #ImWithKim”
 
• Donald Trump maintained his usual standards: “I don’t know enough about it to comment on it. Was she jailed? I really don’t know much about it.”
 
• Carly Fiorina: “When you are a govt employee, I think you take on a different role. When you are a govt employee as opposed to, say, an employee of another kind of organization, then in essence, you are agreeing to act as an arm of the govt.” Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said something along similar lines
 
• Hillary Clinton tweet: “Marriage equality is the law of the land. Officials should be held to their duty to uphold the law – end of story.”

 

• Pentagon officials said five Chinese navy ships operating off Alaska in recent days had come within 12 nautical miles of the U.S. coast, entering U.S. territorial waters, but they complied with international law. The ships didn’t do anything threatening and transited U.S. territorial waters in accordance with a principle of “innocent passage,” the Pentagon said (WSJ)

 

 
Khameini Orders Parliament to Vote on Iran Deal (NYT, Hill, AP, TRNS, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• A day after President Obama secured enough votes to ensure approval of the Iran nuclear deal in Congress, Ayatollah Khameini on Thursday ordered Parliament to vote on the agreement and threatened to cancel the pact entirely if the West merely suspended, rather than canceled, economic sanctions, state news media reported
 
• While the Iranian Parliament is expected to approve the deal, the announcement represented a setback for President Rouhani and his team of nuclear negotiators, who wanted the deal ratified by a council which Rouhani heads. Their fear is that a debate in parliament will provide a platform for strident archconservative opponents of the pact (who, the GOP?)
 
• Nevertheless, Khameini is widely seen as the architect behind the deal, and analysts expect that lawmakers will support the agreement. Khameini blamed what he called “badly speaking American officials, who are making statements, saying the structure of the sanctions must remain intact.”
 
• Meanwhile, in the U.S., the deal gained critical backing from Democratic Sens Cory Booker (NJ), Mark Warner (Va) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) on Thursday, boosting WH hopes of blocking a disapproval resolution in the Senate so the president wouldn’t have to veto it
 

• And VP Joe Biden spoke to a small gathering of Jewish leaders at a community center in Davie Fla, in a district represented by key undecided lawmaker, Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee. For nearly an hour, the VP gave a wonky, detailed defense of the Iran deal – and chance to show his foreign policy experience

 
• Rocking into Memorial Day Weekend with the new, slightly melancholy and totally catchy “High By The Beach” – Lana Del Rey – a perfect coming-to-the-end-of-the-summer record (warning: naughty words) (obsessed with this song)

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Justin Duckham, Nicholas Salazar, William McDonald, Loree Lewis and Ebony Romero contributed to this report

 

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