Friendly Fire Friday

Jul 26, 2013 9:01am
AP Chris Christie ml 130726 16x9 608 Friendly Fire Friday

Credit: Mel Evans/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • NOTES ON A SCANDAL: Sunday on “This Week,” as the latest scandal engulfs New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS goes one-on-one with crisis management expert Judy Smith, the inspiration behind the hit ABC show “Scandal,” who has helped shepherd dozens of high-profile clients through the media spotlight, from Monica Lewinsky to Michael Vick. How would she handle the latest twists in the Weiner scandal? More about Judy Smith: http://www.judysmith.com/index.php
  • ALSO ON ‘THIS WEEK’: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew discusses the state of the economy, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., take on the fallout from the NSA spying story. And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC’s George Will, The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, and former Counselor to the Treasury Secretary Steven Rattner.
  • WHAT WE’RE READING: “Christie Cites 9/11 in Assailing Libertarian Trend in G.O.P.,” by The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin. “Invoking the families of Sept. 11 victims, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey on Thursday heatedly denounced the growing libertarian drift on national security in the Republican Party that is favored by Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, and others in the party. ‘This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,’ Mr. Christie said on a panel with other Republican governors here. Asked if he was alluding to Mr. Paul, a potential Republican presidential rival, Mr. Christie spoke in deeply personal terms about the impact of the 2001 terrorist attacks on his state. ‘You can name any number of people and he’s one of them,’ Mr. Christie shot back before referring to the more than 600 New Jersey families who lost relatives in the attacks. ‘These esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have.’” http://nyti.ms/19meD7f

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: It was a day for condemnation on Capitol Hill – the refreshing kind that was only unexpected in that congressional leaders so seldom try to make news at their news conferences. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was out there urging Anthony Weiner and San Diego’s Democratic mayor, Bob Filner, to “get a clue.” House Speaker John Boehner was busy labeling Rep. Steve King’s comments about undocumented immigrants “offensive,” “wrong,” “ignorant,” and “hateful.” As always, such bluntness reveals political strategy – and worry. The Democrats who rose to power railing against the “culture of corruption” can’t afford bicoastal mayoral sex scandals. And Republicans whose only hope in retaining power lies in not further alienating Latinos can’t stomach stray remarks that demean and stereotype immigrants. In reality, these were the easy alls for Boehner and Pelosi to make.

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with senior members of both the House and Senate Thursday to discuss Egypt and the “coup” designation. The Obama administration says that determination has not been made and may never be made, but the top Republican on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).  took issue with the idea that a determination may never be made. “We know it can’t stay out here in the land of not knowing what was or wasn’t.” He also said that Congress may need to take up the issue to ensure that the Obama administration’s decision really adheres to the foreign operations appropriations act, which states unequivocally that the U.S. cannot provide military assistance to any country that has been taken over by a coup. As for a timeline, Corker said it is “still being probed,” adding “we have some bills that are on the floor and others that are upcoming.”

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

INSIDE TAHRIR SQUARE: MEET THE VOICES OF THE EGYPTIAN PROTESTS. The protests raging in the streets of Cairo are expected to grow even larger today, following a call from the Egyptian military for its backers to show support for the new government and stop “violence and terrorism.” In this special edition of “On the Radar,” ABC’s MARTHA RADDATZ goes into central Cairo to bring you the voices of the Egyptian protestors – both those who are calling for President Mohammed Morsi to be returned to power and those who are supporting his ouster and want Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and the interim government to retain power. “It’s not a coup,” says one woman who supports Gen. El-Sissi’s overthrow of Morsi. She says the Egyptian economy has suffered under Morsi’s leadership. “Mohammed Morsi, he didn’t make anything for the people,” she says. “We have a lot of people, they didn’t have … any food; they didn’t have enough work.” http://yhoo.it/1697lkj

 

WHAT’S NEXT?

A SUPREME COURT ABORTION FIGHT COULD COME IN TIME FOR 2016 ELECTIONS. The cornerstone of the modern abortion rights movement is under siege. Twelve states have passed laws banning abortions at 20 or fewer weeks after conception, all directly flaunting the legal precedent set by the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling, ABC’s ABBY PHILLIP notes. The most stringent law is in North Dakota, which has banned the practice after six weeks.Six of those laws have been partially or fully blocked by the courts (including North Dakota’s), and more challenges are likely to come. As they do, all signs point to a march that will take the issue to the steps of the Supreme Court. What is less clear is who will win. “If four of the members want to take the case, they’ll take it,” Peter Hoffa, an American history professor at the University of Georgia, told ABC News. “There are four members of the court now who feel that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.” Add a fifth, believed by some observers to be Justice Anthony Kennedy, and the case could overturn 40 years of legal precedent on abortion. As more laws are passed and are challenged in federal courts, the more likely a Supreme Court challenge to Roe v. Wade becomes. http://abcn.ws/15k70Kw

 

BUZZ

HAPPENING TODAY: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are hosting members of the Cabinet and their families at Camp David tomorrow. The Obama depart the White House this morning and return in the evening.

ANTHONY WEINER’S OTHER WOMAN, SYDNEY LEATHERS, SPEAKS OUT. Sydney Leathers, the 23-year-old woman who says she exchanged steamy online messages and phone calls with Anthony Weiner, alias “Carlos Danger,” told Inside Edition in an exclusive interview that she believes the New York City mayoral candidate is “responsible for his downfall,” ABC’s ALYSSA NEWCOMB reports. “I feel sick about it. I’m disgusted by him. He is not who I thought he was,” Leathers, a college sophomore from Mount Carmel, Ill., majoring in political science, told “Inside Edition.” Leathers said she first sent Weiner, 48, a message when he resigned from Congress in June 2011, criticizing his behavior after it was revealed he had sent provocative photos of himself to women. Weiner responded a year later with a Facebook poke, Leathers said, and the conversation soon went from professional to X-rated, with the pair having phone sex at least twice a week. “I think it was a fantasy thing for the both of us,” Leathers told “Inside Edition.” She said their sexting relationship ended in November 2012 and that she believed Weiner was jealous of other men leaving comments on her Facebook page. Weiner last contacted Leathers four months ago to ask her to do him “a solid” and delete all of their chats. “Obviously I knew that he wanted me to erase any evidence of our conversations, because that was around the time I knew that he was going to run for mayor,” Leathers said. http://abcn.ws/1bSHYak

NOTED: PELOSI CONDEMNS WEINER AS ‘REPREHENSIBLE,’ ‘DISRESPECTFUL,’ ‘CLUELESS’. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned her former Democratic colleagues, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who have both come under a firestorm of criticism for their behavior toward women, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON notes. Weiner, who resigned from his congressional seat in 2011 under pressure from Pelosi after he inadvertently posted sexually graphic pictures on Twitter, has been back in the headlines this week after new revelations of sexting were disclosed. Filner, who decided to run for mayor of San Diego rather than seek re-election to the House in 2012, is facing accusations of sexual harassment by multiple women.  “The conduct of some of these people that we’re talking about here is reprehensible,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said of her former House Democratic colleagues yesterday. “It is so disrespectful of women, and what’s really stunning about it is they don’t even realize it. You know, they don’t have a clue. “If they’re clueless, get a clue,” she continued. “If they need therapy, do it in private.” Asked whether Weiner should drop out of the race, Pelosi said “That’s up to the people of New York.” http://abcn.ws/1aL7BqG

HOUSE SPEAKER SCOLDS IOWA CONGRESSMAN FOR ‘HATEFUL’ IMMIGRATION COMMENTS. House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday scolded a fellow Republican congressman for suggesting that many children of undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers are drug smugglers, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports. “There’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials,” Boehner said as he opened his weekly news conference at the Capitol. The sharp words were aimed at Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who stirred controversy earlier this week when he said the children should not be given special legal status because “for everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there” who bring drugs across the border. “What he said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party,” Boehner said, adding that the comments were “deeply offensive and wrong.” The speaker said remarks from King – and others – complicate the effort to overhaul what he called a broken immigration system. “It does make it more difficult, but I’m going to continue to work with members who want to get a solution,” Boehner said, adding that he would continue to work on immigration with lawmakers “who want to get a solution as opposed to those who want to do nothing.” http://abcn.ws/14agnsc

KING DEFENDS HIS ‘CANTALOUPE’ THEORY. “There’s no question that my comments were anything but ignorant,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said in an on-camera interview with ABC News Thursday afternoon. “What I spoke to was fact.” ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON notes that last week, King told Newsmax, “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Yesterday, King did not relent, saying that “80 to 90 percent of illegal drugs come from or through Mexico.” He added that the Drug Enforcement Agency told him that in every distribution chain of illegal drugs in the United States, “at least one link in that chain is an illegal immigrant.” “We have young people that are being recruited from age 11 on up to increasingly smuggle drugs into the United States,” King said. “We seem to want to be ignorant of that because there’s such a desire to pass a DREAM Act, which would include some valedictorians. We’re all sympathetic to those valedictorians, but it isn’t all going to be valedictorians.” http://abcn.ws/1735Gtv

EGYPT: A ‘COUP’ OR NOT A ‘COUP’? Senior administration officials tell ABC News that the Obama administration has not determined whether a military coup occurred in Egypt earlier this month, and legally may never have to.  According to U.S. foreign aid funding law, the designation of a coup would mean an automatic cut-off in aid to the country, which is roughly $1.55 billion a year, with $1.3 billion of that going to the military, ABC’s DANA HUGHES and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE note. “Egypt serves as a stabilizing pillar of regional peace and security and the United States has a national security interest in a stable and successful democratic transition in Egypt,” said an official in a statement. “The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination.” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with senior members of the Senate Thursday in a closed-door meeting to brief members of Congress on the decision. The top Republican on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), said the administration, which asked for the meeting, has “not made a decision” on the designation. He said no designation may ever be made and they may need to get to the bottom of it legislatively. He called the issue a “quandary legislatively” and said that it was important to work “towards stability” in Egypt. http://abcn.ws/15OBB1Q

HOMELAND SECURITY NOMINEE CALLS ALLEGED WRONGDOING ‘UNEQUIVOCALLY FALSE’. Under a cloud of Republican Party suspicion, President Obama’s choice for deputy homeland security chief yesterday denied that he improperly helped a politically connected foreign investor obtain a U.S. visa, ABC’s MIKE LEVINE notes. “I say it unequivocally, and I say it after 16 years of service to this country: I have never, ever in my career exercised undue influence to [change] the outcome of a case,” an often-somber Alejandro Mayorkas told a Senate panel, his voice halting at times. “I have never based my decisions on who brings a case, but rather upon the facts of the law.” Mayorkas, who currently leads the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, is one of several officials under internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog. Specifically, the department’s inspector general is looking into allegations raised last year that Mayorkas intervened on behalf of an electric car company co-founded by Democratic operative Terry McAuliffe, now a candidate for Virginia governor. Frustrated by the slow pace of processing visa requests for investors, McAuliffe appealed to senior USCIS officials for help. The top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said the allegations, “if true, may directly apply” to Mayorkas’ fitness to serve as DHS deputy secretary – the No. 2 at the department. Mayorkas would likely take over, in an acting capacity, for DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano when she leaves in September. Republicans boycotted the hearing. http://abcn.ws/12OgBG9

MCCASKILL, GILLIBRAND COLLIDE OVER MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULTS. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., yesterday defended her belief that it’s essential to keep military commanders involved in the prosecution of sexual assault cases, which she called a “very difficult and embarrassing and critical problem.” Standing in front of retired female officers, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports, McCaskill stressed the need to keep them as part of the process,  despite an opposing bill from fellow Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York that calls for military sexual assaults to be removed from the military chain of command and transferred to local civilian prosecutors. McCaskill noted that she talks “all the time” to Gillibrand and they are “joined at the hip on all of the very aggressive reforms that are in this bill,” but it’s an “honest difference of opinion” between the two on this one. “This boils down to whether or not you should remove all of the major criminal justice issues away from the command structure totally, and have just the lawyers making the decision,” McCaskill said at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “I think we’re going to continue to disagree on it.” McCaskill’s legislation calls for commanders to retain the power to refer cases for court-martial. But if commanders decline to pursue cases, there will be a review by civilians in the armed service branches. Gillibrand wants to remove the decisions from the chain of command and set up a separate and independent prosecutor’s office to handle sexual assault cases. She argues that would increase reporting and reduce the fear of retaliation. http://abcn.ws/11h87dc

PROSECUTION CALLS BRADLEY MANNING AN ANARCHIST AND TRAITOR. In their closing arguments, Army prosecutors portrayed Bradley Manning as an anarchist and a man hungry for fame who was fully aware that his leak of hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks would end up in the hands of America’s enemies, particularly al Qaeda, ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ writes. Manning faces the prospect of life in a military prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him of aiding the enemy. The former Army intelligence analyst already faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to some lesser charges in February. “He was not a whistleblower, he was a traitor,” said Major Ashlend Fein, wrapping up nearly five hours of closing arguments on Thursday.  Manning is alleged to have provided the anti-secrecy website with two air combat videos and nearly 700,000 classified documents, including military action reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic cables. Referring to the opening arguments by Manning’s attorney at the start of the court martial in early June that Manning was motivated to leak the documents because he was a naive young soldier who as a humanist wanted to change the world. “He was not a humanist, he was a hacker,” said Fein. http://abcn.ws/1bSOeim

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX

–MARCO RUBIO’S REBUTTAL TO OBAMA’S FLORIDA TRIP. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is responding to President Obama’s speech on economic issues in Jacksonville, Fla. yesterday in a video his office is releasing today. Here’s an excerpt for the Republican senators remarks: “In his speech, the President advocated for a variety of economic initiatives. And like most of his ideas, many of them require more spending and a bigger role for the federal government. … Mr. President, it’s not that Washington has taken its eye off the ball. It’s that you refuse to see ObamaCare’s failings and, like so many of your policies, when you see a problem, your solution is to throw more money at it. We can’t keep doing this, and we won’t.  Several of my colleagues and I have made clear we won’t fund ObamaCare as part of the spending bill being considered in September. ObamaCare is a disastrous law that threatens the future of small business owners and workers all around the nation.” WATCH: http://youtu.be/FJnlMqcgeC0

–HAPPENING TODAY: COMBATING ‘PATENT TROLLS’. Today on Capitol Hill, the Law and Economics Center at the George Mason University School of Law will be hosting a panel discussion examining the issue of so-called “patent trolls”.  This issue gained national attention last month when the White House announced a new initiative to combat inventors the President accused of ”just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money,” they estimate the direct cost of patent trolls were $29 billion in 2011.  A panel with experts from the business, government and legal worlds will be discussing this issue today at noon in Rayburn House Office Building Room 2237.  For more information and to RSVP: http://bit.ly/17qyvlD

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@AP: Lincoln Memorial splattered with green paint; statue temporarily closed until cleanup is done: http://apne.ws/168XsCZ 

@politicoalex: Another fiscal Armageddon? With 2014 approaching, some Republicans say, ‘No thanks’ http://politi.co/15QaZxr 

@HuffPostPol: Eliot Spitzer: Wife won’t appear on the campaign trail http://huff.to/1dZLaxH 

@stuartpstevens: POTUS gave his opinion on green or red chili, MM brackets, Beyonce. Why not abuse of women by elected officials?

@ktumulty: At Reagan airport, wifi network “FBI surveillance van” pops up on my iPhone.

 

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