Morning Jumpstart

  • Attack at Istanbul airport: 36 dead
  • House Benghazi report: No Clinton smoking gun
  • Benghazi report: 5 serious accusations
  • Benghazi report: Democrats’ reax
  • Senate Dems block “poison pill” Zika bill
  • SCOTUS won’t hear abortion restriction appeal
  • Trump: Trade “rape” – Biz bites back
Attack at Istanbul Airport: 36 Dead (BBC, NYT, Hill, TMN, me)
• A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport has killed at 36 people and injured more than 140, officials say. Three attackers opened fire near an entry point to the terminal late Tuesday and blew themselves up after police fired at them, officials say

• Turkish PM Binali Yildirim said early signs suggested ISIS was behind the attack. At time of writing, ISIS hadn’t taken responsibility. Recent bombings have been linked to either ISIS militants or Kurdish separatists. Pictures from the airport terminal showed bodies covered in sheets, with glass and abandoned luggage littering the building

• Ataturk airport was long seen as a vulnerable target, BBC’s Turkey correspondent said. There are X-ray scanners at the entrance to the terminal, but security checks for cars are limited (so despite knowing it was vulnerable to ISIS and Kurdish attacks, it wasn’t doing its job)

• Turkish President Reccep Erdogan said, “The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world.” Video emerged of the moment of an explosion in the terminal. Video emerged that appears to show a police officer shooting one of the attackers, who detonates a suicide belt as he is lying injured on the ground (graphic)

• WH spox Josh Earnest said the U.S. “condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s heinous terrorist attack” and sent “deepest condolences” to families and loved ones of those killed. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both issued statements condemning the attack

• President Obama will meet with PM Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico during today’s North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa, also dubbed the “Three Amigos Summit.” The leaders will pledge to rely on renewable energy to generate 50% of North America’s electrical power by 2025. Brexit will also be on their minds (Reuters)
House Benghazi Report: No Clinton Smoking Gun (BBC, NYT, TMN, me)
• The U.S. military failed to protect four Americans who died in attacks on a U.S. compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi, the House select committee on Benghazi says. The Obama admin was criticized for lax security and a slow response to the 11 Sept 2012 attacks on the compound, in the report by House Republicans (sooo nothing new so far)
• But they found no new evidence of wrongdoing by ex-SecState and current WH hopeful Hillary Clinton. The investigation took more than two years and cost over $7 million. Islamic militants stormed the U.S. compound in Benghazi in 2012, killing two Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. An attack on an annex run by the CIA killed two more Americans

• Earlier this year, Clinton said she took responsibility for the attack during a marathon 11-hour hearing before the GOP-led committee on the matter. Military leaders have said they didn’t have sufficient intel on what was happening or the resources to respond quickly enough

• Two of the committee’s hard-line conservative members, Reps Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) wrote a 48-page addendum to the report. “With the presidential election just 56 days away, rather than tell the American people the truth and increase the risk of losing an election, the admin told one story privately and a different story publicly.”
• At a presser Tuesday, committee chair Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said: “Nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost eight hours after the attacks began.” U.S. help was too slow because of “an obsession with hurting the Libyans’ feelings,” he said (if really inflaming Libyans could have led to more attacks, would that be a bad thing, then?
• Clinton, in Denver, told reporters the investigation had found nothing to contradict past findings, arguing that the committee’s work had assumed a “partisan tinge. “I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report,” she said, “but I think it’s pretty clear, it’s time to move on.” (maybe move on to your emails, Hillary – there’s no escape, you know)

• Democrats, in their own report, said the State Dept’s security measures were “woefully inadequate” but Clinton had never refused requests for more security. They called the Republicans’ report a “conspiracy theory on steroids, bringing back long-debunked allegations with no credible evidence whatsoever.”

• “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) said in Sept. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable.” The comments helped stymie McCarthy’s bid to become the new speaker
Benghazi Report: 5 Serious Accusations (WaPo, me)
State Dept failed to protect U.S. diplomats in Libya: The report’s bottom line is that then SecState Hillary Clinton and the Obama admin should have realized the risks. Requests for more security in Benghazi leading up to the attacks went unheard or were refused, though Clinton never personally refused security – requests didn’t go up to her level (everyone agrees = #fail)
• Democrats’ version of the report says that “security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate,” pointing the finger at the security and law enforcement arm of State rather than Clinton. Ambassador Chris Stevens was at the diplomatic compound with only two official bodyguards even after other Western diplomats had left the country – and he insisted on staying there
• The report finds that the then-vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t join in an emergency video conference because “he had left to return to his residence to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries.” He received one update on the attacks during the dinner and returned to a monitor events after dinner (but he wasn’t a key player in the events)
The CIA missed warning signs: The report says the agency misread how dangerous Libya, in the midst of a revolution after throwing Muammar Qaddafi a year earlier, was at the time. There was confusion in U.S. intel circles about who ultimately came to the Americans’ rescue. It was in fact a military unit loyal to the country’s former dictator (who U.S. had ousted – bit ironic)

Defense Dept failed to rescue Americans in time: Or at least, was late in deploying help, waiting until well after the initial attack had begun even though President Obama had authorized the military to do whatever it needed to hours earlier. (note that) U.S. military forces didn’t reach Benghazi until 2 pm the day after the initial attack on the diplomatic compound

• Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, a State Dept info officer, were killed in an attack on the main diplomatic compound in Benghazi by a mob of militia fighters. Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, contractors for the CIA, died later when a separate annex run by the agency came under mortar attack (NYT)
• The report blames a breakdown in the chain of command for the delay, including a debate among Marines about whether they should wear their military uniforms or civilian attire. State Dept says that consideration didn’t cause any delay. Democrats’ report concludes that even if the military had arrived earlier, it couldn’t have saved the lives of the four Americans who were killed
The Obama admin “stonewalled” the investigation: The admin engaged in what committee chair Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC) called “intentional” and “shameful” stonewalling. The report says State, Pentagon and CIA refused to turn over all of the agencies’ records and delayed getting other to Congress – State has consistently denied this and said some requests were ridiculous
• At the heart of this accusation is Clinton’s use of a private email server exclusively while she was SecState. You know the story (no space for it here) but Clinton was allowed to delete emails on her server she considered private and emails are still showing up. Democrats accuse Republicans of stonewalling them by not including them in key interviews or sharing key evidence (below)
A Clinton aide influenced the State Dept review: State did its own inquiry, intended to be internal but independent. The GOP report says the State report “was consistently influenced” by Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff. Mills has said she offered suggestions on drafts, but they were merely that: suggestions (that’s a real he said/she said – no clue as to truth)

What the report doesn’t answer: Allegations that the U.S. was helping to get weapons to Libyan rebels. Any such operation would have been top secret. The report says the admin refused to let anyone who might have knowledge of such a program testify (there seems to basically nothing new in this report that changes the underlying narrative, just bits, details and scuttlebutt)

• Fact-checking the findings (must-read to understand report) (NYT) + comparison of congressional reports on 2012 Benghazi attack (very helpful), including: Preventing the attacks / military response / whether there was a “stand down” order / Hillary Clinton (AP)
Democrats: Reax to Benghazi Report (Hill, WaPo, me)
• “This has been one of the saddest exercises I’ve ever engaged in in my 20 years in Congress,” committee ranking member Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md) said Tuesday afternoon. “He’s [chair Gowdy] still not releasing certain transcripts.” “They basically hid the report from us. It’s supposed to be a bipartisan effort. We literally got the report three hours ago.”
• “Witnesses interviewed and we’re not told about it. Exculpatory evidence found out by the Republicans [and] they don’t tell us about it. A failure to allow us to have free access in regard to transcripts.” (this isn’t new – Cummings complained about this throughout the investigation and they were certainly kept out of things and not allowed access)
• WH spox Josh Earnest on Tuesday characterized the House Republican Benghazi report as a politically motivated effort to “tear down Dec [Hillary] Clinton’s poll numbers.” “Is the [RNC] going to disclose the in-kind contribution they received from House Republicans today?” Earnest quipped
• “They are cynically trying to capitalize on the death of four innocent Americans,” Earnest said. “The degree to which Republicans are willing to play politics with their death and this tragedy is astounding.” (you saying that with a straight face, Josh?)

• Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), top Democrat on the Senate Intel Committee, which released its own report in 2014, charged that the report was “blatantly political,” “squandered $7 million of taxpayer funds” and “diverted significant Defense Dept, State Dept and intel community resources.”

• Senate leaders threw their support behind a House bill to provide debt relief to Puerto Rico on Tuesday. The Senate has until the end of Thursday to approve the Puerto Rico legislation before the island is expected to default Friday on $2 billion in bond payments. The bill is set for s procedural vote today. Defections are expected in both parties… (Hill, me)
Senate Dems Block “Poison Pill” Zika Bill (NYT, Hill, Roll Call, me)
• Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked, 52-48, a federal spending bill that would have provided $1.1 billion to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus, saying Republicans had sabotaged the legislation with politically charged provisions. “They’re just not living in the real world,” said Sen Bill Nelson (D-Fla) (middle-aged and elderly men don’t get pregnant. am i wrong? or young ones)
• Democrats called for a new round of negotiations to produce a bipartisan bill, but Republicans rejected that demand. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said they would hold another vote on the same measure after the Fourth of July recess to give Democrats another chance. McConnell said no changes would be made to the bill (or that’s good – bzzzz bzzzz)
• Democrats charged that Republicans had booby-trapped the bill by adding provisions that included a ban on any direct govt funding for Planned Parenthood, to provide contraceptive services related to fighting the Zika virus, which is also transmitted sexually (you’ve got contraception + Obamacare + Confederate flag = poison pill of strychnine variety – bouncing off walls)
• Democrats also said Republicans had inserted a provision cutting $500 million in financing for the Affordable Care Act, and that they had stripped a House provision that would ban the flying of the Confederate battle flag in federal cemeteries. They also objected that the measure was partially paid for with cuts to Ebola-response funding (let’s throw in Ebola, too – it’s only Africa)
• With concerns about Zika arriving in Southern states, and 481 cases in pregnant women in the U.S., the blame game has already started. McConnell called Democrats’ actions “inexplicable.” Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Republicans knew their bill was doomed but had to appease hard-line Conservatives in the House. “It’s all going to be on the Republican shoulder.” (the bites?)

• A team of medical researchers reported  in the journal Nature the discovery of two successful Zika vaccines for mice on Tuesday, a development that could prove instructive in the hunt for a preventative vaccine for humans. Public health officials caution that a safe and effective vaccine could still be several years off (TMN)

SCOTUS Won’t Hear Abortion Restriction Appeal (TMN, CNN, me)
• Abortion rights advocates hailed the Supreme Court’s refusal Tuesday to hear appeals from Mississippi and Wisconsin seeking to put restrictions on abortion doctors a day after the court struck down similar requirements in Texas. Federal appeals courts had ruled against the laws in both states (dominoes?)
• “This decision has opened the door to go state by state, legislature by legislature, law by law, and restore access to safe, legal abortion,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. Tuesday’s refusal came in the two states’ bids to implement laws stipulating that doctors must have admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion clinic
• The 2012 Mississippi law would have shut down the state’s only abortion clinic. In its 5-3 ruling Monday, the court rejected a Texas law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges and for clinics to adhere to strict, hospital-like requirements of surgical centers
• In the Texas case, the court found the requirements created “an undue burden on abortion access,” violating the U.S. Constitution. Meanwhile, Alabama AG Luther Strange (R) said Monday’s SCOTUS ruling prompted his office to drop its appeal of a state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital in the same city where they perform abortions

• Separately, the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by a Washington state grocery store and pharmacy whose owners say they object on religious grounds to regulations requiring them to dispense emergency contraceptives. Three conservative justices voted to hear the case, expressing concern for the future of “religious liberty” claims

• Contenders to succeed David Cameron as Conservative leader and British PM are set to come forward today. Boris Johnson is said to have the support of 100 Tory MPs, while Home Secretary Theresa May is also expected to seek the leadership. Meanwhile, EU leaders begin the second day of their Brussels summit – but without the UK after it voted to leave the bloc (BBC)
Trump: Trade “Rape” – Business Bites Back (AP, TMN, me)
• Donald Trump called for a new era of economic “Americanism” Tuesday, promising to restore millions of lost factory jobs by backing away from decades of U.S. policy that encouraged trade with other nations – a move that could undermine the country’s place as the dominant player in the global economy (Little Britain meet Antiquated America)
• The speech marked a significant break from years of Republican Party advocacy for unencumbered trade between nations, and drew immediate condemnation from GOP business leaders. The pro-Republican U.S. Chamber of Commerce tweeted: “Under Trump’s trade plans, we would see higher prices, fewer jobs, a weaker economy.” (Trump’s going after blue collar Democrats)
• Trump threatened to exit the more than 2-decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement and vowed to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership that has yet to take effect. At a rally later, Trump declared that TPP had been “done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country.” (no, that’s not what rape is = trivializing rape)

• In the speech, he pointed to China as a source of many of America’s economic woes, promising to label that country a currency manipulator and slap new tariffs on America’s leading source of imports, a decision with the potential to dramatically increase the cost of consumer goods (and hurting the very working-class voters he claims to champion)

Biz: Trade Good for Workers
• The National Assn of Manufacturers slammed Trump’s logic on Tuesday, with the organization’s president, Jay Timmons, writing on Twitter: “@realDonaldTrump you have it backward. Trade is GOOD for #mfg workers and #jobs. Lets #MakeAmericaTradeAgain.”
• Many economists have dismissed Trump’s promise to immediately restore manufacturing jobs as dubious at best, given the impact of automation and the many years it typically takes to negotiate trade agreements. The introduction of robotics and access to cheaper foreign markets has reduced U.S. factory employment to a total last seen around 1941 (oh facts shmacts)
• In making his case for a new approach to trade, Trump recounted economic policies in place at the founding of the country – a time when goods traveled by horseback and schooner, the invention of the telegraph was still decades away and the advances of the internet and broadband communication hardly imaginable (very snarky, AP – but point is appeal to the old days)
• Trump then skipped to the 1990s, blaming the Clinton admin – and Hillary Clinton – for negative impacts of globalization, including NAFTA. But Trump, in a 2005 blog post on a website affiliated with now defunct Trump University, argued that outsourcing isn’t always a bad thing

• “We hear terrible things about outsourcing jobs – how sending work outside of our companies is contributing to the demise of American businesses. But in this instance I have to take the unpopular stance that it is not always a terrible thing,” he wrote (not for you, who manufactures your Trump stuff in all kinds of countries other than America – journos – call him on it)

• Watch: Tourist Star Swain sings an impromptu national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial, causing other visitors to stop, listen, be awed and applaud. A Facebook video has gone viral – 14.6 million views – and yes, maybe she should sing it at the Super Bowl in 2017

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Victoria Jones – Editor


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.