A Mississippi Mess

Jun 4, 2014 9:04am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • MISSISSIPPI SENATE GOP BRAWL LOOKS HEADED FOR A RUNOFF: It looks like Mississippi Republicans will have to wait another three weeks to find out who their party’s candidate will be come November, since none of the GOP candidates hit the requisite 50% mark to win the June 3 primary election, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and BARBARA SCHMITT report. Six term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and Tea Party-backed Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel, were locked in a nail biter of a race throughout the evening. This was the worst result for the party as it extends the primary, which has been exceptionally nasty. http://abcn.ws/1o86U2C
  • ANALYSIS — ABC’S JEFF ZELENY: The Republican Party has been far more strategic and wise this year, with lessons from the 2010 and 2012 Senate races seared into its collective memory. But a remarkably divisive Mississippi contest, the likes of which we’ve rarely seen, is poised to add a sour note to an otherwise well-orchestrated mid-term election cycle. If Sen. Thad Cochran didn’t win the race out-right last night, how can he survive a three-week period of overtime? That is the question top Republicans are asking today. (As well as this: Why didn’t he just retire like everyone expected he would last year?) But outside groups have already doubled-down to an unprecedented degree. There’s no turning back or time for a truce now. It still remains an open question whether a Democrat could even win the Mississippi seat in the fall, but the ugliness of the race could spill into other campaigns, which could make the GOP path to winning 6 seats — and the majority — more difficult than it needed to be.
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A COMMUNICATIONS BREAKDOWN BETWEEN PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HARRY REID? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that the White House told him about the Bergdahl deal on Friday — before it actually happened.  That would be notable because it appears nobody else in Congress was told about the deal until after the fact on Saturday, ABC’s JONATHAN KARL notes. That prompted a senior administration official to urgently tell reporters traveling with the President that Senator Reid was mistaken and that he had been told on Saturday just like everybody else. So, Senator Reid simply got his days mixed up, right?  Maybe not. Shortly after the senior administration official sought to correct Senator Reid, Senator Reid’s spokesman sought to correct the senior adminstration official. “This is mildly awkward,” tweeted Reid spokesman Adam Jentelson, “but someone at the WH must be confused…” In a second tweet, Jentelson added:  “We were alerted earlier in the week that a significant notification was imminent & learned on Fri that Bergdahl op was going fwd.” Asked about that, the senior administration official had a new response:  “No comment.”

 

INSIDE THE CIA

Fusion’s JORGE RAMOS went inside one of the most secretive agencies in the U.S. government to explore how the intelligence agency is recruiting the next generation of agents and adapting in a post-Snowden era. “Agents of Change: An AMERICA Special” aired last night on Fusion – the ABC, Univision joint venture. The special came one-year after Edward Snowden released what has become one of the largest leaks of classified information in modern American history.

RAMOS TO CIA DIRECTOR: DON’T YOU NEED ‘MORE PEOPLE LIKE SNOWDEN?‘ CIA Director John Brennan told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos that the Snowden controversy hasn’t caused “any type of diminishment of interest in the agency” as the CIA continues to bring in monthly recruiting classes. Many recruits share Snowden’s youth and tech fluency. According to Brennan, that’s where the similarities stop. During his exclusive interview with Brennan, Ramos asked him whether the CIA should recruit more “resourceful and intelligent” people like Snowden. “We need people who are technologically capable,” Brennan said. “But also who believe strongly in the national security of his country and want to do what they can to keep this country safe.” Brennan claims that the beliefs of young CIA operatives closely mirror that of his agency when it comes to Edward Snowden. “I am very pleased to see that once they have a better understanding of what Mr. Snowden did, they agree with me and with others that it is just damaging to our national security,” Brennan said. “It is not something to be praised.” http://fus.in/1kHb7Es

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s ALINA KLEINEIDAM

PRESIDENT OBAMA PRAISES UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT-ELECT, OFFERS US SUPPORT.  President Obama met with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko this morning and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to ensuring Ukraine has the support and resources needed to succeed, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. “Ukraine has gone through a very challenging time. And what we have seen has been an incredible outpouring of democracy in the face of actions by Russia, as well as armed militias in certain portions of the east who violate international law and international sovereignty,” Obama said at the end of the meeting. “Despite all that, what the Ukrainians said in the elections that resulted in the election of president elect Poroshenko … is that they reject violence, they reject corruption.” “In my discussion with [Poroshenko] today, it’s clear that he understands the aspirations and the hopes of the Ukrainian people,” the president added. The president said he and Poroshenko discussed economic plans for Ukraine, as well as how Ukraine could become more energy independent so that it could rely less on Russia. http://abcn.ws/Ub9U3x

HOG-CASTRATING, HARLEY DAVIDSON-RIDING JONI ERNST WINS IOWA SENATE PRIMARY. Joni Ernst, the hog-castrating, Harley Davidson-riding Iowa state senator who burst onto the national scene with a series of provocative television ads, clinched the Republican nomination for Iowa’s Senate seat in a decisive victory over a crowded field of opponents, ABC’s KYLE BLAINE reports. She will now challenge the de facto Democratic nominee Rep. Bruce Braley in the general election. If she were to win in November, in what’s expected to be a highly competitive race, she would become the first female senator from the Hawkeye state. http://abcn.ws/1kIJKKr

OPPOSITION GROUPS GET EARLY START FEUDING OVER HILLARY CLINTON BOOK. Hillary Clinton’s book is about to erupt. The former secretary of state’s memoir, “Hard Choices,” isn’t even out yet and already groups on the right and left are engaged in hand-to-hand political combat between Clinton, the book, and each other, according to ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ. On Monday, the conservative research group, America Rising announced the launch of an e-book to be released next week in tandem with Clinton’s “Hard Choices,” titled “Failed Choices: A Critique of the Clinton State Department.” Like Clinton’s memoir, the e-book will have an entire chapter dedicated to the events in Benghazi. Meanwhile, the pro-Hillary Clinton Democratic opposition group, Correct the Record, has been busy disseminating talking points to surrogates based on anticipated attacks from the right. http://abcn.ws/Ssvor4

JOHN BOEHNER DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM OBAMA ON BOWE BERGDAHL PRISONER EXCHANGE. House Speaker John Boehner called on the Obama administration yesterday to clarify not only what steps it took to finalize the exchange of five Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, but also “what steps the president has taken to guarantee this exchange is not a signal that it is open season on our fellow citizens, both military and civilian personnel, serving our country abroad,” according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON. “We must all be mindful that the United States has diplomatic, civilian and military personnel deployed in other countries with both challenging security environments and active terrorist networks interested in targeting not just our facilities but our people,” Boehner said in a statement yesterday. “One of their greatest protections — knowing that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists — has been compromised.” http://abcn.ws/S43kK7

HOW CLOSE WILL OBAMA AND PUTIN COME TO MEETING? President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin may meet face-to-face Friday for the first time since the two leaders found themselves at odds over the crisis in Ukraine, according to ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ.  But if they do cross paths, it will be more by chance than due to an arranged meeting. As part of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Obama and Putin are both invited to attend a leaders luncheon hosted by French President Francois Hollande on Friday, and they will both participate in an  international ceremony for the historic day.  The two leaders last met in September at the G20 summit on Putin’s home turf of St. Petersburg, Russia. It comes at a time when relations between the two countries and the two presidents have become frosty. The nicest thing the two leaders have had to say about each other recently is that they are fairly certain that the other guy would come to their rescue if they were drowning. http://abcn.ws/1kHmQmK

BOWE BERGDAHL PRISONER SWAP ‘TOTALLY’ DID NOT FOLLOW THE LAW, SENATE INTEL CHAIR SAYS. The Obama administration “totally” did not follow the law when going forward with the Taliban Five exchange for Bowe Bergdahl last weekend, the chairwoman of the Senate’s Intelligence Committee said yesterday, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports. Dianne Feinstein recounted a classified briefing in November 2011 that she said moved her to join bipartisan letters to President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that “registered concerns with the proposal and opposed the transfer of the [Guantanamo Bay] detainees to Qatar.” Clinton wrote back a classified response on Jan. 13, 2012, that “contained security assurances and a promise of consultation with the Congress,” Feinstein said. http://abcn.ws/1nMf7Mi

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

JET LAG GETS BEST OF KERRY IN WARSAW. Even an experienced traveler such as Secretary of State John Kerry can get a little worn down by jet lag, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. At the end of President Obama’s news conference with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, cameras caught the secretary of state dozing off as Komorowski gave his closing remarks. Sitting next to him was National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who also looked tired. Kerry and Rice traveled to Poland on Air Force One with President Obama on a flight that lasted just under eight hours. White House troops are now dealing with a six-hour time difference from what they’re used to in Washington, D.C. Check out Kerry’s cat-nap here: http://abcn.ws/U9pw7R

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

ADDICTED TO KOCH? NEW DOCUMENTARY TRACES INFLUENCE OF KOCH BROTHERS’ MONEY IN GOP. A new documentary makes the controversial case that a political cocktail of big corporate money and racially charged sentiments has helped fuel the rise of the tea party. And squarely behind that movement, the film argues, are the Koch brothers. Co-Directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin sat down with RICK KLEIN and OLIVIER KNOX of “Top Line” to discuss their film, ”Citizen Koch,”and why they say the GOP’s deep-pocketed donors, the Koch brothers, are such figures in American politics today. “Money – $100 billion now,” Deal said in explaining the Kochs’ influence. “When we started out making this film, their net worth was about $68 billion combined, and we have to keep going in and changing the film and updating it, because it was just recently reported they’re up to $100 billion.” http://yhoo.it/1o9FHN3

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@rickklein: Putin on Obama: “I am prepared for a dialogue…” http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/06/russias-putin-says-hes-ready-for-dialogue-with-president-obama/ … via @KiritRadia

@ZekeJMiller: State: On June 4, Secretary Kerry will travel to Beirut to meet with senior officials to discuss bilateral relations, Syria

‏@ananavarro: There was evidence Bergdahl didnt serve w/honor & distinction. WH knew it or should’ve. Tried to sell him as hero to fit political narrative

@DLeonhardt: The U.S. received a terribly unfair World Cup draw. Here’s how to build a better draw — with simulator. http://nyti.ms/1nNSXsO 

@ShaneGoldmacher: If you want to know more about Neel @neelkashkari, the man challenging Jerry Brown, I profiled him earlier this year: http://bit.ly/1gg5DPd 

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