By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- POTUS PROCEEDING ‘METHODICALLY’: According to ABC’s JONATHAN KARL, a senior US official describes the options presented to President Obama this way: “It ranges from boosting the training and advising mission on the low end to dropping the bombs [on the high end].” In other words, the low-end option would be sending about 100 Special Operations forces to Iraq — this would add to the roughly 175 that are already there working with the Iraqis through the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. (These forces are in addition to the 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel the president is sending to the region for embassy protection). These troops would initially be advising and training from the embassy and not operating in the field (although there is nothing preventing that mission from evolving). Among the “training” these troops would be capable of: forward air controlling (the kind of on-the-ground targeting you need to carry out drone strikes). The president, the official said, is approaching this “methodically.” A decision is expected soon — but not likely today. ABC’s MARTHA RADDATZ reported for “Good Morning America” from Iraq: http://abcn.ws/1pExsuu And ABC’s JONATHAN KARL from the White House: http://abcn.ws/1pcbpaS
- WHAT IT MEANS: Sending a small contingent of U.S. Special Operations Forces would be a significant step for a president who has repeatedly touted the fact that all US troops have left Iraq except for the Marines there to protect the embassy, KARL notes. The White House may say that special operations “advisors” is different than sending “combat troops” — but they would be advising Iraqi forces in Iraq — something more than just training — and it is hard to make the case they would not be in harm’s way.
- WORD FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: National Security Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said: “The president was very clear that we will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq. That remains the case and he has asked his national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces.” That is the same qualifier President Obama, himself, used last week - “we will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq” — providing an opening to sending troops back to Iraq as long as they are not called “combat” troops. He is no longer simply saying he will not send US troops back to Iraq.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Even grading on the curve she’s set for herself, this is an extraordinary day in being Hillary Clinton. She’ll stop by at events at the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center, but that’s the easy part. Back-to-back televised appearances – a Bret Baier-Greta Van Susteren joint interview on Fox, and a Christiane Amanpour-hosted town hall on CNN – will cap the evening. It’s a marking point in Clinton’s shift from selling the book to selling herself – a task made more complicated by events of the past week. (Yes, her book media blitz is only eight days old now.) Hard choices can make for non-answers from non-candidates. Clinton has gotten some practice on those on everything from the Keystone Pipeline to next steps in Iraq in recent days. The practice, and the scrutiny, continues.
U.S. OPEN TO COOPERATING WITH IRAN ON IRAQ, KERRY SAYS. The United States and Iran may find themselves unlikely allies in the fight against Sunni extremists in Iraq, Secretary of State John Kerry indicated yesterday. Kerry said the United States would be willing to work with Iran on ways to stem the progress of ISIS, the militant army whose formal name is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ABC’s ALI WEINBERG reports. ”We’re open to discussions,” Kerry said during an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric . “I think we might be open to any constructive process that could minimize the violence, hold Iraq together, the integrity of the country, and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces.” Iranian President Hassan said over the weekend that Iran is willing to help Iraq if asked and that is also open to cooperating with the U.S. on Iraq. “Whenever the United States makes a move on the ISIS, then we can think about cooperation with them in Iraq,” Rouhani said over the weekend. http://abcn.ws/1p9coIR
OBAMA TO BAN FEDERAL CONTRACTORS FROM LGBT BIAS AGAINST WORKERS. President Obama has asked his staff to prepare an executive order to ban federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a White House official said Monday, according to ABC’s ARLETTE SANEZ. “Following on his pledge for this to be a year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, the President has directed his staff to prepare for his signature an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” a White House official said. “The action would build upon existing protections, which generally prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This is consistent with the President’s views that all Americans, LGBT or not, should be treated with dignity and respect.” President Obama is scheduled to attend the DNC LGBT Gala in New York City today. http://abcn.ws/1vuF2YM
–WHITE HOUSE ROAD TRIP: In Pittsburgh today, the president will tour and speak at TechShop Pittsburgh, a workshop and prototyping studio that provides access to tools and equipment to allow people to create products. He will discuss ways to enhance the manufacturing sector and outline a series of actions the administration is taking, including a commitment from 90 mayors and local leaders to expand access to manufacturing and prototyping equipment and locations in their communities, streamlining access for manufacturing entrepreneurs to $5 billion worth of equipment at R&D facilities, and expanding investment in the Material Genome Initiative to ensure the U.S. is leading in the manufacturing and development of advanced materials. The president then heads to New York City where he participates in a Senate Majority PAC roundtable event and attends the DNC LGBT Gala. Meanwhile in Brazil, Vice President Joe Biden holds separate bilateral meetings with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer. The two Vice Presidents are scheduled to deliver remarks to the press this morning.
WHY A GIANT REPUBLICAN SQUIRREL IS STALKING HILLARY CLINTON. It looks like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor isn’t the only one bumping into Hillary Clinton on her “Hard Choices” book tour, ABC’s SCOTT WILSON notes. A Republican National Committee intern dressed in a furry, orange squirrel costume was spotted at a recent Clinton book signing at George Washington University. And the squirrel’s not done yet. Wearing a tee shirt and handing out matching bumper stickers with the slogan “Another Clinton in the White House is NUTS!”, the squirrel getup was intended to detract from media attention Clinton has received since the launch of her new book. “Just last week Hillary got $50 million of free media to promote her book and define her narrative, the squirrel is a fun way to make sure people learn the non-airbrushed truth about what Hillary really did at State,” RNC spokeswoman Kristen Kukowski told ABC News. http://abcn.ws/1juPhVD
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
OPERATION VEEP: HOW THE REPUBLICANS SECRETLY SNUCK THEN-VP CONTENDER PAUL RYAN TO MEET WITH MITT ROMNEY. At first glance, Curt Myers is just your average undergrad trying to line up a job after graduation. The only difference is that this 21-year-old’s job interview is with the voters of Brookline, Mass., where he is running as the Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives. But even before launching his own political career, Myers had already secured a place for himself in the footnotes of political history for the role he played in 2012 presidential politics. It all started when Myers, the son of longtime Mitt Romney aide Beth Myers, received a text message from his mom. She needed his help in carrying out a top secret mission for the Romney campaign. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/SPZBAk
@michael_steel: Roll Call: Fears of Wait Lists, Problems Like VA Scandal Grow Under O’Care http://j.mp/1i7wu7T
@katie_glueck: HRC, long press-wary, last night named today’s news cycle as drawback of presidency http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/hillary-clinton-white-house-women-107906.html?hp=l14 …
@SalenaZitoTrib: A must read—> @TomBevanRCP: My latest, wherein I throw caution to the wind: 5 Reasons Hillary Won’t Run http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/06/17/5_reasons_hillary_wont_run_123015.html#.U6A0_FImsY8.twitter …
@DraperRobert: “The beauty of the game of baseball is that there is a place for every type of player…” RIP Tony Gwynn: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/tony-gwynn-san-diego-padres-dynamo-and-one-of-best-hitters-of-all-time-dies-at-54/2014/06/16/caf13fda-f56c-11e3-8aa9-dad2ec039789_story.html …