By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- ‘THAT DID NOT SELL ME AT ALL’: Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl appeared drugged but not near-death in a proof-of-life video, several U.S. senators said last night after a classified briefing where a clip was shown as part of a multimedia presentation by several senior administration officials at the Capitol, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON. ”It appeared that [Bergdahl] was drugged, and that he was barely responsive in the video itself,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters. “I don’t think from a health standpoint there was any issue that dictated the release of these five nasty killers in exchange for Bergdahl.” Sen. Joe Manchin said he was not convinced that Bergdahl’s life was in danger based on what he saw on the video. “That did not sell me at all. The proof of life was basically five months ago. December? At that time he was impaired,” Manchin, D-W.V., said. “That is not the person that was released here. He was not in that type of dire situation when he was released.” http://abcn.ws/1mUEsyr
- ‘WE’RE NOT DEALING WITH A WAR HERO’: Sen. Manchin also raised questions about Bergdahl, 28, and his parents’ outreach and communication with the Taliban. “We all agree that we’re not dealing with a war hero.” he said. “We’re dealing with a soldier who should be looked in more extensively. There’s a lot to be answered here and there’s a lot of peculiar behavior that’s gone on between the family, this solider and his actions.” Several senators who attending the classified briefing also said the administration officials failed to present a compelling case that the five Taliban will not re-enter the fight after they are able to leave Qatar next year. “I was not satisfied from the briefing that I received today that the conditions that they’ve agreed upon are sufficient to ensure that they won’t re-engage back in the fight against us and threaten either Americans or our allies in some way,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said. http://abcn.ws/1mUEsyr
- HAPPENING NEXT WEEK: Secretary Hagel has agreed to testify before the House Armed Services Committee next Tuesday about the Bowe Bergdahl transfer, ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ reports: “Secretary Hagel looks forward to testifying before the House Armed Services Committed about this important detainee transfer,” according to a Pentagon statement. “He understands there are concerns by committee members, and he is ready to address those concerns.”
ON THE ROAD WITH OBAMA: DINNER FOR TWO. President Obama spent the morning at the G7 meeting in Brussels attending meetings on the economy, energy and climate. Later today (9:50 AM Eastern) the president holds a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The president then flies to Paris where he will go out to dinner with French President Francois Hollande. And Obama isn’t Holland’s only dinner date tonight, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. After his meal with Obama, he will have supper with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
with ABC’s ALINA KLEINEIDAM
HOW HILLARY CLINTON WROTE HER NEW MEMOIR: ‘BARRELS’ OF DRAFTS. Hillary Clinton seems to have been enjoying her downtime since leaving the State Department. She takes long walks, spends time with her dog and, according to an interview in People magazine, has even been “binge-watching” the Netflix TV series, “House of Cards.” But don’t be too fooled. Amid this seemingly “leisurely” schedule, Clinton has been working hard on her fourth book, “Hard Choices,” which will be released next week. Clinton first announced she was embarking on the book, a memoir about her time at the State Department, in April 2013, just two months after stepping down as secretary of state. “It was that or eating bon-bons,” Clinton joked recently. Clinton spent the next year working on the roughly 650-page book – a laborious and sometimes amusing process, which she has recounted in appearances and interviews over the past few months. ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ has the details: http://abcn.ws/UbTbxa
HALEY BARBOUR NOT BACKING DOWN IN ‘NASTY’ MISSISSIPPI RACE. The Mississippi GOP Senate primary, the nastiest this cycle, is officially headed for a runoff, possibly just a three-week extension of more intraparty warfare, notes ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. Backers of six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran now need to make the decision about whether to keep the fight up against tea party challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel when he might very well end up as their nominee. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is backing the pro-Cochran super PAC Mississippi Conservatives and, in an interview with ABC News, said he would absolutely in no way back down from the fight. “No, ma’am, not one bit,” Barbour said. “We are not going to let a bunch of people from Washington or New York dictate who represents Mississippi in the U.S. Senate.” In a nail biter of a race, McDaniel came out on top Tuesday with 49.5 percent of the vote to Cochran’s 49 percent. Less than 1,400 votes separated the two when counting finally was completed this afternoon. Mississippi requires a threshold of 50 percent to declare a winner so there will be a runoff June 24. http://abcn.ws/1nPPfPE
OBAMACARE SIGN-UP ERRORS PUT SOME OF 2 MILLION ENROLLEES IN JEOPARDY. The Obamacare enrollment flap is far from over, ABC’s DEVIN DWYER notes. Some of the more than 2 million Americans who signed up for insurance through HealthCare.gov could be at risk of losing their coverage or be forced to repay part of all of their premium subsidy because of discrepancies with their applications, according to a government document obtained by the Associated Press and confirmed to ABC News by an administration official. That’s roughly one in four applicants overall. In many cases consumers provided identity and income information that conflicts with what the government has on record, the Department of Health and Human Services said yesterday. The result: some Americans may have received greater subsidies than merited or were allowed to purchase plans for which they were ineligible. HHS says it’s now “double- and triple-checking” with applicants to verify their information. http://abcn.ws/1rMeynl
MICHELLE OBAMA TARGETS ‘MORAL OUTRAGE’ OF VETERANS’ HOMELESSNESS. With scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs still smoldering, first lady Michelle Obama yesterday used her megaphone to deliver an impassioned call to action on veteran homelessness, a problem she declared a “moral outrage,” according to ABC’s DEVIN DWYER. “Even one homeless veteran is a shame,” she said at an East Room event sponsored by her Joining Forces initiative. “The fact that we have 58,000 is a moral outrage. We should all do more about it.” Obama was launching the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, an effort that has drawn commitments from 77 mayors, four governors and four county officials to more aggressively reach out to homeless vets and connect them with available resources. “Tens of thousands of veterans who risked their lives for our country are living in a shelter or sleeping near a subway vent. We should be horrified,” she said, “because that’s not who we are as Americans. http://abcn.ws/1pG7mXX
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
PUTIN ON HILLARY: ‘BETTER NOT TO ARGUE WITH WOMEN’. In a wide-ranging interview with French TV yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took a swing at former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, responding particularly to remarks she made earlier this year in which she compared Russia’s tactics to Adolf Hitler’s in the 1930s, ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ notes. “It’s better not to argue with women,” Putin said, taking specific aim at Clinton’s gender. “But Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements.” Putin does say the two might be able to laugh together at a good joke “someday,” but that for now he’s not impressed by her “extreme” statements. “When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak,” he added. “But maybe weakness is not the quality for a woman.” Here’s the full translated exchange of Putin’s comments from French TV: http://abcn.ws/1pRXjMD
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
THE TALIBAN’S BOWE BERGDAHL VIDEO REVEALS MORE THAN JUST A HANDOVER. The video of the Taliban handing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl over to the US military is one of the most fascinating pieces of footage the world has ever seen. But take another look. There’s a lot more to the tape than meets the eye, says retired Col. Steve Ganyard, a former Marine Corps pilot. In an interview with ABC’s MARTHA RADDATZ, host of ”On the Radar,” Ganyard explains everything you see has a purpose. “I’m sure there’s a whole series of things that the Taliban and US went through to build enough confidence to say ‘I’m not going to let you trick me’.” The handover was in a valley so the Taliban could be “up in the hills and be able to fire downward on those helicopters in case the US does something that they don’t like,” explained Ganyard, an ABC News consultant. But the U.S. had its own requirements, likely among them the white flag that the Taliban carried, and how the vehicles were parked. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1x9uikz
@newtgingrich: The Administration should release the 6 month old “proof of life” video which they claim drove them to release five high level terrorists.
@TomBeaumont: DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa’s Ernst wins GOP Sen primary with strong, authentic image, which Braley (D) plans to attack. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/iowas-ernst-wins-primary-emphasizing-her-life …