By ARLETTE SAENZ (@ArletteSaenz)
ABC's RICK KLEIN: You've read stories upon stories about how President Obama has virtually no relationship with the vast majority of members of Congress, including those of his own party. You've seen quotes about how Obama isn't Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush, and has no apparent interest in building ties to fellow Democrats, not to mention Republicans. (You've also read the White House's pushback statistics before.) What makes today's New York Times story different is the color and context provided by Democrats, mostly on the record - that fact by itself a sign of the ultimate frustration among elected officials. Fine, Sen. Joe Manchin lost the right to complain about the way the White House has reached out to the Hill, around the time he fired a gun at one of the president's signature pieces of legislation. But Angus King? Claire McCaskill? Harry Reid (and his top aides, of course)? This is quite the synopsis from McCaskill, one of Obama's first and most enthusiastic backers: "The White House has something in common with the rest of America, and that is disdain for Congress." http://nyti.ms/1rjWxwN
ABC's JIM AVILA: Early conventional wisdom is that the charges against Texas Governor Rick Perry are in the words of David Axelrod, "sketchy". And the Perry defense team spent most of its news conference shifting attention from the courtroom in their client's future to the courtroom where the Travis County District Attorney pleaded guilty to drunk driving and bad behavior. Playing the videotape of her drunken display to reporters who had already seen it. They also attempt to focus reporters' attention on the veto Governor Perry issued to strip DA Rosemary Lehmberg of her budget. Repeatedly saying he has the legal right to veto any bill sent his way, without explanation. Problem is, no-one is arguing with them about either issue. Her behavior was despicable by her own account. Fact is, Lehmberg is no longer on trial, she has served her time. And it's not the veto that may cause the governor problems in court. Legal sources tell ABC news, it's not the action, it's the threat that puts the governor in legal jeopardy. Telling her to resign or he would cut her budget is the basis for both the abuse of power charge and the coercion of a public official charge. The veto was hardball politics, the threat to cut the budget if she doesn't resign, may be a crime. And while the other conventional wisdom seems to be this is all a political farce, as Governor Perry called it, his lawyers, nor his office have yet to explain why the Republican special prosecutor or the Republican judge who appointed him would conspire to charge a Republican governor with serious felonies. In the fog of early political punditry, first reports can often be inaccurate. Perhaps that's why Governor Rick Perry has assembled such a new and expensive legal team of 5 prominent attorneys.
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Republicans in Alaska have a big decision facing them today: who can beat Sen. Mark Begich? That won't be the goal of everyone casting their ballot, but most and although Dan Sullivan may be the establishment-favored frontrunner Alaska is notoriously difficult to poll. Each team: Sullivan, tea party favorite Joe Miller, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell all feel like the momentum has shifted towards them. This, of course, isn't just any primary. Alaska could be the deciding vote that shifts control of the Senate to the GOP. So, which Republican can take down Begich? Is it Sullivan who has the most money (by far) and the backing of Republican powerbrokers like Karl Rove or is it Treadwell who has been in the state 40 years and has been going door to door to try and convince voters to pick him or is it Miller who stunned the state and the country four years ago when he beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a primary upset? (She ended up beating him in the general election in a successful write-in campaign). There may have been a good deal of outside influence in this race, as well as the ballot measure, but now it's all up to Alaskans. And no matter who wins defeating the incumbent and well-known Begich won't be easy.
with ABC's SCOTT WILSON
PERRY LAWYERS VOW TO 'PREVAIL' AFTER INDICTMENT. Texas Gov. Rick Perry's legal team Monday vowed to fight the felony charges the governor faces for threatening to veto public funding and calling for the resignation of the head of the state's public integrity unit, ABC's BENJAMIN SEIGEL and ARLETTE SAENZ report. "Governor Perry will fight this indictment 100 percent, and at the end of the day he will prevail," said lead attorney Tony Buzbee. Perry will be arraigned August 22, according to the Travis County Courts, the same day he is scheduled to appear in New Hampshire. In 2013, Perry publicly threatened to withhold $7.5 million in funding for the state's public integrity unit, which investigates corruption, unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned following a drunken driving arrest. For the statement and the veto, a grand jury charged Perry last week with abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official, which together carry a maximum sentence of 109 years. http://abcn.ws/1At1LqK
MEET ROSEMARY LEHMBERG, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AT THE CENTER OF THE RICK PERRY INDICTMENT. In a move panned by most Republicans and even some Democrats as largely "political," Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted on two felony charges following his veto of state funding for the Travis County District Attorney's Office - a public integrity unit led by a Democratic lawyer convicted of driving drunk, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY reports. Perry, accused of abusing his official capacity and coercing a public servant, said he refused to fund the office because Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg "lost the public's confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically" following her high-profile DWI arrest and conviction. If she did step down, the governor would name her replacement. Lehmberg, 63, was apprehended in April 2013 with an open bottle of vodka in her car and a blood alcohol level of 0.23 - nearly three times the 0.08 legal limit. She later pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. http://abcn.ws/1n2qpGo
RECAPTURE OF CRITICAL DAM IN IRAQ IS A SUCCESS, OBAMA SAYS. Aided by U.S. airstrikes over the weekend, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have successfully recaptured Mosul Dam, which was seized by terrorist group ISIS earlier this month, President Obama told reporters Monday, note ABC's ERIN DOOLEY and ARLETTE SAENZ. Helping wrest control of the dam from ISIS is "directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq," Obama said during a news conference. "If that dam was breached it could have proven catastrophic," the president said. Situated just 80 miles northwest of Erbil, the two-mile-wide dam could easily be turned into a weapon of mass destruction: A breach would unleash a torrent of water that would flood nearby Mosul and swamp the capital city of Baghdad, leading to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths. Obama went on to praise the Iraqi and Kurdish forces for working together on "taking the fight" to ISIS and vowed the continued support of the U.S. The president said the United States will work with its partners to provide humanitarian assistance to people in the region and will continue developing a "long-term strategy to turn the tide against" ISIS. http://abcn.ws/1AsLiD0
HILLARY CLINTON IS FINALLY GOING BACK TO IOWA. Hillary Clinton is going back to Iowa for the first time in six years. The former secretary of state will headline Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry in Indianola next month, making her first visit to the state since 2008, ABC's JEFF ZELENY and LIZ KREUTZ note. "Democrats in Iowa are going to come out to show their affection and thanks for Bill and Hillary for all that they've done," Harkin told ABC News in an interview Monday. "And they're also going to be anxious to let Hillary and Bill know that they have a lot of friends in Iowa." Bill and Hillary Clinton will be on hand for Harkin's final steak fry, a representative for the couple confirmed. It's a long-standing tradition that launched a young Barack Obama back in the fall of 2006. This year's event is scheduled for Sept. 14. Hillary Clinton's decision to headline the steak fry, which "might promise to be the best ever," could be seen as a swift political move for the former New York senator as she continues to mull a second run for president. http://abcn.ws/YpuGOL
U.S. SHIP COMPLETES DESTRUCTION OF SYRIA'S MOST DANGEROUS CHEMICALS. The Pentagon has announced the completion of the destruction of the most dangerous of Syria's chemical weapons aboard the American ship MV Cape Ray, according to ABC's LUIS MARTINEZ. Since early July the ship has been in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea destroying 600 tons of a nerve gas precursor and 20 tons of mustard agent. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called the ship's crew on Monday to congratulate them on a job well done in a process that seems to have taken 41 days, far ahead of early estimates. Hagel spoke with Navy Captain Rich Dromerhauser and "expressed his gratitude for the crew's service, dedication, and expertise, noting that with the world watching, they performed flawlessly every step of the way," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby. Kirby said Hagel told him that "commended the crew for conducting every aspect of the mission in a highly professional manner, with strict adherence to safety and with no impact to the surrounding environment." http://abcn.ws/1p7pJV4
REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: PAUL RYAN'S ESCAPE. As Rep. Paul Ryan's new book, "The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea," goes on sale today, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON recounts the hours before Paul duped the political press and snuck through the woods of his Janesville, Wis. home for one of the most secretive vice presidential announcements yet: "When the day finally came, I changed out of my suit, threw on a camouflage hat and shirt, and slipped out the back," Ryan begins in his book. "It was August 2012, and the press was eager for any indication that Mitt Romney had picked his running mate. Reporters from ABC and NBC camped out in my front yard, trying to figure out if I was missing so they could report that an announcement was coming." Just a few hours earlier that morning, August 10, 2012, I followed Ryan in my rental car from Janesville to Oak Creek, Wis., where we would attend a memorial service for the six Sikh victims killed in a shooting in suburban Milwaukee. Ryan was a passenger in a red pickup truck, driven by his chief of staff and childhood buddy Andy Speth. All week, I had been tracking the duo as they crisscrossed the Dairy Land amid increasing speculation that Ryan could be picked to become Mitt Romney's running mate. http://abcn.ws/1pDbyqc
CHRIS CHRISTIE AND JOHN MCCAIN DANCE IN THE HAMPTONS WITH STARS. Arizona Sen. John McCain and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie broke it down in the Hamptons this weekend at an Apollo Theater benefit concert, notes ABC's SCOTT WILSON. Egged on by Jamie Foxx, McCain appeared to revive everyone's favorite dance move-the robot-as Christie flailed and wiggled on stage for the star-studded crowd. Celebrity attendees at Saturday night's event included Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, Paul McCartney, Barbara Streisand and Roger Waters. Christie, who attended the event as a guest of fellow New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi was summoned on stage when Jamie Foxx reportedly shouted to the audience "I know you've got a dance in you, Chris Christie." http://abcn.ws/1tgDpfH
WHAT WE'RE READING
"IS GOV. RICK PERRY'S BAD JUDGMENT REALLY A CRIME?" by the Editorial Board of the New York Times. "Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America, having done great harm to immigrants, abortion clinics and people without health insurance during his 14 years in office. But bad political judgment is not necessarily a felony, and indictment handed up against him on Friday - given the facts so far - appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution…Governors and presidents threaten vetoes and engage in horse-trading all the time to get what they want, but for that kind of political activity to become criminal requires far more evidence than has been revealed in the Perry case so far. Perhaps Mr. McCrum will have some solid proof to show once the case heads to trial. But, for now, Texas voters should be more furious at Mr. Perry for refusing to expand Medicaid, and for all the favors he has done for big donors, than for a budget veto."
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
PRESIDENT OBAMA WRAPS PRESSER WITH TRIBUTE TO ABC'S ANN COMPTON. In a brief moment of levity during an otherwise somber news conference, President Obama congratulated ABC News' Ann Compton, a veteran correspondent set to retire after 41 years at the network, according to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY. "Ann Compton, everybody here knows, is not only the consummate professional but is also just a pleasure to get to know," Obama said. "I was proud to be able to hug her grandbaby recently, and I suspect that may have something to do with her decision," he added. "But I just want to say publicly, Ann, we're going to miss you, and we're very, very proud of the extraordinary career and work that you've done … And I suspect you may get some cake at some point." Compton, who joined ABC in 1973, was the first woman to cover the White House full time for a network news organization. She serves as the White House Correspondent's Association president and has reported on every president since Gerald Ford. http://abcn.ws/VAnFZL
@rickklein: Out: Paul Ryan bicep curls. In: Paul Ryan archery shots - with deer heads. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/08/18/paul-ryan-crusade-to-change-the-gop-congress/13830503/ …
@SethMeyers: RIP Don Pardo. A voice that meant so much. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/19/nyregion/don-pardo-the-voice-of-saturday-night-live-dies-at-96.html?_r=0 …
@stlcountypd: Molotov cocktail seized by police pic.twitter.com/4sR7jRsGEJ