Morning Jumpstart

  • SCOTUS strikes Texas abortion restrictions
  • SCOTUS throws out guv’s bribery conviction
  • Clinton/Warren electrify in Ohio
  • Trump’s shifting drifting Muslim ban
  • Democrats release own Benghazi report: Committee report today
  • Cameron to – gulp – meet EU leaders
  • Pelosi urges Dems: Hold “family sit-ins”
SCOTUS Strikes Texas Abortion Restrictions (Bloomberg, Bloomberg, Politico, Reuters, TMN, TMN, me)
• The Supreme Court Monday struck down Texas abortion restrictions that had threatened to close three-quarters of the state’s clinics by putting new requirements on facilities and doctors. The 5-3 ruling invalidates a law that required clinics to meet hospital-like surgical standards and forced abortion doctors to get admitting privileges at a local hospital
• Texas said the rules safeguarded patient safety, while opponents said the real aim was to reduce access to abortion. The law provides “few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an undue burden on their constitutional right to do so,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court (aim was to reduce access)

• The case divided the court along ideological lines. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hailed the ruling on Twitter as a “victory for women in Texas and across America. Safe abortion should be a right not just on paper, but in reality.”


• The Trump campaign reached out directly to Christian leaders after the decision was announced. Its new religious board reaffirmed Trump’s commitment to appoint only pro-life judges. The campaign didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment (Trump waiting to be told what to say by the leaders? – no clue on the topic most likely)

• The case tested how much leeway the govt has to regulate clinics in the name of protecting women’s health. The effect of the law was to leave some patients hundreds of miles away from the nearest provider. It’s the court’s first abortion decision in almost a decade. The case is Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt

• The ruling raises new questions about some of the more than 300 abortion restrictions put in place around the country since 2010. Those laws include limits on drug-induced abortions and bans on procedures after specified points in a pregnancy

• The decision will galvanize both sides of the divisive abortion debate as the presidential campaign builds towards the national party conventions and intensify the political focus on the Supreme Court’s vacancy, which is frozen in the Senate. The decision is sure to be cited to remind voters that the next president will almost certainly name several justices to the bench

SCOTUS Throws Out Governor’s Bribery Conviction (Bloomberg, TMN, me)
• The Supreme Court Monday set aside former Gov Bob McDonnell’s (R-Va) bribery conviction in a ruling that sets a new standard for corruption prosecutions of public officials. The justices unanimously said the jury instructions made it too easy for prosecutors to win a conviction. The ruling left open the possibility that McDonnell could be retried

• The case stemmed from more than $175,000 in cash and gifts (yummy ones – Rolex, designer duds, daughter’s wedding, trips…) McDonnell and his wife received from Jonnie Williams, a businessman who was trying to get a state university to conduct important clinical tests on a dietary supplement

• The justices didn’t reach the biggest question in the case: whether McDonnell provided enough in return to warrant prosecution. Chief Justice John Roberts, however, faulted a federal trial judge for refusing to tell jurors that it wasn’t enough that McDonnell arranged meetings and hosted events to promote the supplement (you’d think that would be basic)

• Roberts said the govt’s interpretation of federal corruption laws risked making routine service by govt officials into a crime. “Conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact other officials on their behalf, and include them in events all the time,” Roberts wrote (former Gov Rod Blagojevich mush be gnashing his teeth)

• A federal appeals court had upheld the conviction and McDonnell, 62, was facing a two-year prison sentence. The pivotal statute makes it a felony to agree to take “official action” in exchange for money, campaign contributions or other gifts. The two sides disagreed about exactly what constitutes “official action.” (some slippery public officials are going to get away with stuff now)

Clinton/Warren Electrify in Ohio (WaPo, Politico, TMN, TMN, me)
• Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren together electrified a crowd in Cincinnati on Monday by locking their arms, punching the air and excoriating Donald Trump. The senator from Mass labeled Trump a “small, insecure money-grubber,” a “thin-skinned bully” and a “nasty man” who would “crush you into the dirt to get whatever he wants.” (she was having a good time)
• “Donald Trump says he will ‘make America great again.’ It is right there – it’s stamped on the front of his goofy hat,” Warren said, knowingly using the same adjective Trump uses to taunt her on Twitter. “You want to see goofy? Look at him in that hat.” (someone finally said what everyone was thinking)

• Clinton smiled, chuckled, nodded and clapped. When she took the mic, she congratulated Warren. “I do just love to see how she gets under Donald Trump’s thin skin,” Clinton said, laughing.”

• Trump quickly responded to Warren, telling NBC News that she is “a total fraud,” “very racist” and “easy” to compete against. He again called her “Pocahontas,” a slur alluding to controversy about Warren’s claim of partial Native American heritage (how does he have time to watch all this stuff on TV? what does he do all day, actually?)

• As Clinton considers her choices for VP, she’s seriously weighing the potential negative impact her decision could have on Democratic efforts to retake control of the Senate, and is also said to be worried about how her pick could affect congressional elections in 2018, according to anonymous party members familiar with her thinking (AP)
VP Tryout for Warren?
• Monday’s appearance amounted to a vice-presidential tryout for Warren, who is being formally vetted for the job by Clinton’s lawyers and advisers. Trump’s campaign issued a statement calling Warren a “turncoat for the causes she supposedly supports,” highlighting their differences on issues such as trade
• The two women apparently have bonded over being grandmothers. In her remarks, Warren testified to Clinton’s progressive credentials. “Hillary has brains, she has guts, she has thick skin and steady hands, but most of all, she has a good heart, and that is what America needs and that is why I’m with her,” Warren said
• Former Sen Scott Brown (R-Mass) – who lost to Warren in 2012 – told reporters on a conference call Monday, “She’s not 1/32 Cherokee.”  In the 2012 race Brown tried to make a campaign issue out of the Native American issue, but it backfired, especially after some campaign workers were filmed war-whooping and making “tomahawk chops” at Warren

• “Harvard can release the records, she can authorize the release of those records, or she can take a DNA test,” Brown said, insisting that Warren took a job that might have rightly gone to a nonwhite applicant. “It’s a reverse form of racism, quite frankly.” (Brown should stick to taking his shirt off – he’s good at that, quite frankly)

• Conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch released 34 new emails to or from Hillary Clinton on Monday that appear not to have been among the roughly 30,000 messages handed over to the State Dept nearly two years ago – drip drip  (Hill)

Trump’s Shifting Drifting Muslim Ban (AP, WSJ, me)
• From the moment he first declared it, the plan has been a signature of his campaign for president: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” (position 1)
• Since then, the GOP WH candidate has evaded questions when pressed for details (as he has on everything). Now that he has sliding poll numbers, his spox says he’s no longer seeking the ban at all. In its place, he’s offering an approach based on a standard of terrorism that he and his campaign refuse to define (because they don’t know what it is)
• The ban idea originated with 28 direct and forceful words, issued immediately after the Dec shootings in San Bernardino that killed 14 people. Lots of questions emerged. Would it apply to U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad? Members of the armed forces? Foreign leaders? Or Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai?

• In response, Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Corey Lewandowski, said the ban would apply to “everybody” – including tourists and Muslims seeking immigrants visas. Trump’s campaign refused to answer additional questions, including how the U.S. would determine a person’s religious beliefs. Trump said in an email to AP: “…You figure it out!”

Who’s In? Who’s Out? Trump Won’t Say
• Later, he said the ban would include exemptions for world leaders and athletes (athletes??). (position 2) Then his language softened further. “It’s a temporary ban. It hasn’t been called for yet, nobody’s done it,” Trump said on Fox News Radio in May. (position 3)
• Then came this month’s Orlando shootings. A day after the attack, Trump said, “I called for a ban after San Bernardino and was met with great scorn and anger. But now … many are saying that I was right to do so. And although the pause is temporary, we must find out what is going on. We have to do it.” (position 4 – redux of position 1)
• In the speech, Trump added a new element: “When I’m elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the U.S., Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats (position 5)

• Did this replace the Muslim ban, or was it an addition? What qualified as a “proven history of terrorism?” Would it apply to Northern Ireland, with a proven history of terrorism? What about Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of most 9/11 hijackers, and a U.S. ally? Would Christians from Syria and Jews from Israel be banned? What about Turkey, a NATO ally? (dear me, sooo complicated)

Press “Tried to Cause Confusion” – Spox
• Terror attacks or attempted attacks against the U.S. and its European allies have been carried out in recent years by people from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Iraq, Syria, France and Belgium, among other places (so let’s ban immigration from the U.S. – someone should say that to him – really)
• Then, during a visit to his golf courses in Scotland at the weekend, Trump said he would have no issue with a Muslim from Scotland coming to the U.S. (position 6 – the haggis position) And following a Twitter outburst, spox Hope Hicks said he no longer supports his original ban and only wants to limit immigrants from states with extremist elements (position 7)
• Trump said Saturday, “I would limit specific terrorist countries, and we know who those terrorist countries are.” But he also suggested he wasn’t actually proposing a hard ban on immigration from “terrorist countries.” but only that people from such states – which he would not specify – should be strongly screened (position 8, at least – losing count – could be 94)
• Asked to clarify whether Trump still supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as originally proposed, a ban on immigration from states associated with terrorism – post-Orlando speech, or strong vetting as he said in Scotland, Hicks said: “Mr Trumo stated a position consistent with his speech two weeks ago.” (position confused)

• “He has been very clear,” she added in an email Monday. It’s the press, she said, that has “tried to cause confusion.” (position head exploding)

• Donald Trump has compared himself with Ronald Reagan. Talk Media News examines the words of the two Republicans – about walls – and finds that the two GOP politicians are very different in tone and substance (TMN)

Democrats Release Parallel Benghazi Report (Bloomberg, Hill, me)
• Democrats on the House Benghazi Committee on Monday released a minority report blasting the Republican-led panel investigating the admin’s response to the 2012 attacks, saying it has found little new information, while targeting Hillary Clinton politically, and “spending more than two years and $7 million in taxpayer funds” The report finds:

• “The Defense Dept couldn’t have done anything differently on the night of the attacks that would have saved the lives” of the four Americans. “The State Dept’s security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate as a result of decisions made by officials in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but Sec Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi”

• “The Intelligence Community’s assessments evolved after the attacks as more information became available, but they were not influenced by political considerations.” “Admin officials did not make intentionally misleading statements about the attacks, but instead relied on information they were provided at the time under fast-moving circumstances.”

• The 339-page report accuses committee chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of conducting the investigation “like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction rather than a neutral judge of facts seeking to improve the security of our diplomatic corps.”

• The Democrats, who said they will post the committee’s unclassified interview transcripts online, also asserted that the panel’s Republicans have waited to release their report “until directly before the presidential conventions for maximum political impact.” (aaand see bullet below for what appears to be slightly panicked response by GOP members of the committee…)

• Monday evening, the Republican-led House Benghazi committee announced that it plans to release its final report today and will hold a 10 am presser (release moved up because of Democrats?). The report will say that Clinton wanted to visit Libya again, perhaps in October in 2012 . Said to be one of few new revelations (Bloomberg, WaPo, me)

Cameron to Meet EU Leaders (BBC, AP, WSJ, me)
• David Cameron is to meet EU leaders today for the first time since the UK voted to leave (awkward). The British PM will discuss the way ahead at an EU summit in Brussels. German, French and Italian leaders said Monday there could be no “formal or informal” talks on a British exit at this stage. In the U.S., the Dow Jones average of stocks closed down 1.50% (Asia is up today)
• Also today, Labour MPs will vote on a motion of no confidence in their far left leader Jeremy Corbyn – who has insisted he is staying put – while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will address MSPs over Brexit’s implications for Scotland’s future (masses of resignations from Corbyn’s cabinet that he didn’t support Remain as he should – but many Labour voters went Leave)
• Cameron won’t attend talks between the leaders of the other 27 EU members states at breakfast on Wednesday (no croissants for him). Cameron is standing down after last week’s referendum went against him. The PM said Monday in Parliament that the result must be accepted – it’s not law and not binding (he could have gone the other way – risky – but could have)
• Cameron said it’s up to his successor – who will be elected by his own party by the start of September – to decide how to proceed and precisely when to give formal notification of the UK’s intention to leave by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (nice bit of under the bus throwing by Cameron – ooh in a slap – English may no longer be the official language of the EU – merde!)
• SecState John Kerry met top officials from the UK and the EU on Monday, telling both sides to act responsibly (like it’s his business). “It’s absolutely essential that we stay focused on how, in this transitional period, nobody loses their head, nobody goes off half-cocked, people don’t start ginning up scatter-brained or revengeful promises” (prob bit late for that, John)
• The leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico will make a joint pledge at a summit in Ottawa on Wednesday that by 2025 half of their overall electricity generation will come from clean power sources, according to admin officials (WaPo)

Pelosi Urges Dems: Hold “Family Sit-Ins” (Hill, Hill, Hill, me)
• In a Monday letter to Democratic lawmakers, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) urged Democrats to hold “family sit-ins” in their districts this week to capitalize on the momentum from last week’s nearly 26-hour House sit-in on the floor to push for action on gun control legislation. Wednesday is to be a “day of action”

• “John Lewis’s historic sit-in on the floor has resonated across the nation, energizing Americans tired of Republicans’ reckless obstruction of bipartisan gun violence legislation,” Pelosi wrote. “Now, we must continue to carry forward this momentum in our districts.”

• The Democrats’ sit-in, unprecedented in recent congressional history, was a direct response to the refusal of Republican leaders to consider tougher gun laws in the wake of the 12 June shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were killed and another 53 injured by a single gunman

• House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said in a Wisconsin TV interview Sunday, “We are not going to handle it

[another sit-in] in the same way. We will not take this. We will not tolerate this.” Ryan wouldn’t say specifically how his party would react differently to another protest but signaled there would be a swift response

• In a radio interview Monday, Ryan said Democrats had hoped to get arrested during the protest. But Republicans, cognizant of the bad optics of putting civil rights icon Rep John Lewis (D-Ga) and other senior Democrats in handcuffs, (ya think?) never called the sergeant-at-arms to intervene. A conservative group has filed an ethics complaint against the Democrats

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Victoria Jones – Editor
News is news
Comments are my own

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.