Newtown Anniversary Comes And Goes
PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks during an event marking the six month anniversary of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting at the U.S. Capitol, June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Credit Win McNamee/Getty Images

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • 'WE'RE NOT GOING TO GIVE UP THE FIGHT': Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that Congress will not abandon the fight on gun legislation, putting the Republicans - and Democrats - who voted against the bill on notice, ABC's JEFF ZELENY reports. "The writing is on the wall," Reid said, taking the rare move of calling out the four Democrats in his party, along with the Republicans, who opposed the background check proposal. "I'm here to tell you: We're not going to give up the fight." Today is the sixth-month anniversary of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and yesterday the family members of the slain victims read a roll call of the names in the Capitol. Some in the crowd wept when the age of the slain students - 6 - was read over and over. "Sometimes people have very short memories," Reid, D-Nev., said, sounding an apologetic note to the families about the lack of progress in Congress on the gun debate.
  • THE OUTLOOK: Even though Senate leaders have pledged to hold another vote, the path forward remains a difficult one. Even if five more votes could be found in the Senate, the Republican-controlled House has shown little intention of taking up any gun measures. "Congress cannot continue to allow these guns to be in the hands of madmen," said Jillian Soto, whose sister Victoria was killed in Newtown. "We will continue to fight until Congress makes us safe from gun violence." WATCH Jeff Zeleny's interview with Gilles Rousseau, whose daughter Lauren was a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook and was killed in the shooting:
  • HAPPENING TODAY: "The tragedy will be marked with a moment of silence, the reading of thousands of names of gun violence victims and calls around the country to pass legislation expanding background checks for gun purchases," the Associated Press reports. "Family members, elected officials and other leaders will gather in Newtown on Friday for a day of remembrance and a call to action. The reading of names is expected to take 12 hours. Mayors Against Illegal Guns will launch a bus tour that will travel to 25 states over 100 days to build support for background checks legislation."
  • DEMOCRATS LAUNCH 'AMERICA DESERVES A VOTE': To mark Newtown's six month anniversary, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today launched a new website, "America Deserves a Vote" to petition House Speaker John Boehner and his House Republican colleagues to "end their obstruction and allow a vote on a commonsense background checks." A background check compromise failed in the Senate in April.

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': In a "This Week" Sunday exclusive, ABC Chief White House Correspondent JONATHAN KARL goes one-on-one with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on the debate over immigration reform and U.S. aid to rebels in Syria. And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, with ABC News' George Will; Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; and ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz. Plus, in a special Father's Day Sunday Spotlight, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush discusses the influence of his father former President George. H.W. Bush, who turned 89 this week. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Check the "This Week" page for full guest listings. Tune in Sunday:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: How have these guys never shared a stage before? There's so much Bill Clinton in Chris Christie, unless you want to argue there's ample Christie in Clinton. The extroverted, larger-than-life, rarely predictable personalities will engage in a joint appearance on "Cooperation and Collaboration" today in Chicago, at the Clinton Global Initiative America gathering. The title alone could describe the potential intricacies and complexities of the Clinton-Christie relationship. Christie sees obvious benefit in associating himself with Clinton, and you can imagine Clinton wanting a little of Christie's reflection on him, as he cruises to easy reelection this year. So the question will become, what will they share in the future? (And might they ever square off, say, on a presidential campaign trail?)

ABC's JOSH MARGOLIN: Never a darling of the Republican right wing, Gov. Chris Christie and his aides are well aware that a trip to the Clinton Global Initiative is more than just a pleasant diversion to Chicago. It can, in fact, provide potential opponents with more ammunition to demonstrate how disloyal Christie is to the conservative electorate that turns out in presidential primaries. For a governor who constantly reminds people he can work with leaders of all stripes, the appearance today and the friendship with Clinton are worth the political risk. "This is a stature thing," a Christie source said. "It burnishes his (Christie's) bipartisan credentials and it shows the governor is a serious guy. He's talking about leadership with Clinton. That's a big deal." As for Clinton's efforts to destroy Christie last time around: Christie "understands the game as well as anybody. The campaign's over."


FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: SNOWDEN IS "DELUSIONAL". A former CIA chief of staff says U.S. officials are concerned that NSA leaker Edward Snowden could be "aiding our enemies" by handing over sensitive U.S. intelligence to the Chinese government. Jeremy Bash told ABC's JONATHAN KARL, host of "Politics Confidential" that Snowden had access to "very sensitive information" in his job as a government contractor and could do "tremendous damage." He said the government's concern goes beyond the documents that were leaked - extending to the knowledge that Snowden still stores in his head. "If a foreign government learned everything that was in Edward Snowden's brain, they would have a good window into the way we collect signals intelligence," Bash said. "He has information in his head, he's making threats, he's on the loose," Bash added. "We don't know what other documents he copied, and we don't know who else he's talking to." While Bash said that Snowden is "very dangerous," he also describes him as "delusional."

WHO IS THIS GUY? When Edward Snowden revealed himself to be the source of the NSA leaks in an interview with The Guardian Sunday, he briefly described how he went from a high school dropout to a man entrusted with some of the nation's most closely guarded secrets. An investigation by ABC's JAMES GORDON MEER, MATTHEW MOSK and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE pieced together the many parts that he left out. After Snowden quit high school, he earned his GED and then undertook a self-designed college education through a patchwork of classes at community, for-profit and online schools. As a young man, Snowden lived on his own, according to a neighbor, and took work at a Japanese anime website based in a residential home on the Fort Meade, Maryland Army post, just one block from the National Security Agency headquarters. During this period, it appears he designed his own syllabus, taking college courses at five different institutions without bothering to seek a diploma - an unorthodox path to a career in the world of high-tech intelligence gathering. More about Snowden's bio: TIMELINE: Edward Snowden's Life As We Know It


U.S. CONFIRMS SYRIAN GOVERNMENT CROSSED THE 'RED LINE'. The United States has concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has used chemical weapons in the fight against its own people, the White House announced yesterday, ABC's DANA HUGHES, Z. BYRON WOLF and MARY BRUCE report. "Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year," Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said in a written statement. "The use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades." While traces of chemical weapons in Syria were detected by the U.S. intelligence community months ago, President Obama and his administration had delayed making a determination on who had used the deadly agents. The president has said repeatedly that the use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line" and be a "game-changer" that would prompt greater American involvement in the crisis.

WHAT'S NEXT? Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters on a conference call late this afternoon that the administration has prepared for many contingencies in Syria but that "we are going to make decisions on further actions on our own timeline." "We have not made any decision to pursue a military operation such as a no-fly zone," he added. Rhodes said the U.S. will increase "direct support" to Syrian rebels in an effort to make them more effective, but he stopped short of saying whether the White House was planning to arm them. "I cannot detail for you all of the types of that support for a variety of reasons," Rhodes said. "The president has made a decision, in part because of the assessed use of chemical weapons, to provide additional types of support to the [Supreme Military Council]." ABC's Pentagon reporter LUIS MARTINEZ confirms that the stepped-up military aid to Syrian rebels the White House announced yesterday includes weapons (lethal aid) - small arms, not big weapons systems.

CLINTON AND CHRISTIE: ANOTHER BIPARTISAN BRO-MANCE. Today New Jersey Gov. Christie is headlining the closing ceremonies of Bill Clinton's annual international forum in Chicago. Sources close to both Clinton and Christie told ABC's JOSH MARGOLIN that today's session - called "Cooperation and Collaboration: A Conversation on Leadership" - is the product of an odd-couple pairing of Clinton and Christie that has developed in the four years since the popular former president tried unsuccessfully to end Christie's political career before it really took off. "They're both similar in a lot of ways," one Clinton insider told ABC News. Clinton "respects him and his nature and he likes him as a person. Clinton likes the straightforward style, they have similar backgrounds, they were both prosecutors - Clinton as an attorney general in Arkansas. They're both normal guys from humble beginnings." Intimates of both men say the real story behind today's event is the private friendship that has developed between the ex-president and a governor who would like to be president. The two have met, traded war stories, talked on the phone - all inside of four years since Clinton campaigned hard on behalf of then-Gov. Jon Corzine, the incumbent Christie beat in 2009.

ON THE AGENDA: This morning, President Obama hosts a Father's Day luncheon at the White House to celebrate "the importance of strong families and mentorship," ABC's MARY BRUCE reports. He will be joined by fathers and their children as well as students and leaders from the Becoming a Man program at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago. Later this afternoon he welcomes the WNBA Champion Indiana Fever to the White House.

WILL REPUBLICANS LISTEN TO JEB BUSH? Jeb Bush is trying his best to convince his fellow Republicans that immigration reform is good for the party, despite concerns among some that there is little to gain politically from allowing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. "It's always: immigrants don't like Republicans. Why? Why do we assume that?" Bush lamented yesterday at a Bipartisan Policy Center event on immigration. "Why do we assume it's always going to be that way because it currently is that way?" Bush is ardently making the case that Hispanic and Asian American voting patterns, which currently favor Democrats, won't always be that way if Republicans do something about it. According to the former Florida governor, the answer lies in creating a more optimistic, aspirational message that resonates more with recent immigrants. "So I would argue that Republicans win when we are positive and hopeful and aspriational. And we draw people towards our cause when we do that," Bush said. "If we just play the game that we're for less government … that message is not aspirational, it's not very hopeful, it's not particularly optimistic, and we could lose."

DINGELL HONORED AS LONGEST SERVING IN CONGRESSIONAL HISTORY. Rep. John Dingell, who is serving his 30th term in the House of Representatives, was honored yesterday as the longest serving member in the history of the U.S. Congress, having eclipsed the tenure of Sen. Robert Byrd late last week, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. Dingell, 86, first took office on Dec. 13, 1955, at the age of 29 after winning a special election to replace his late father, John Dingell Sr., as the representative for Michigan's 15th Congressional District. "I want to say that I am probably the luckiest man in shoe leather, and I am proud mostly of the friends that I have made," Dingell, D-Mich., said. "That has been the most important thing in my life." The Michigan Democrat, born July 8, 1926, broke Byrd's record June 7, although the House was not in session that day. Dingell has owned the title of Dean of the House of Representatives since 1995, given for the longest continuous service of a current member. He has served with 2,419 lawmakers in the House, worked with 11 U.S. presidents and cast more than 25,000 votes during more than 21,000 days in Congress.

OBAMA'S TRIP TO AFRICA COMES WITH A HEFTY PRICE TAG. President Obama's upcoming trip to Africa will require extraordinary security measures and will likely cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, according to a confidential planning document obtained by the Washington Post. ABC's MARY BRUCE notes that in addition to the hundreds of agents that will be required to secure the president when he visits Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania later this month, the Washington Post reports that military planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks' worth of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the president's hotels. The security precautions go beyond the ground to the nearby seas and skies. The Post reports that an aircraft carrier with a fully staffed emergency medical center is being positioned nearby and that fighter jets will protect the president's airspace 24 hours a day. While the trip's price tag remains unknown, President Clinton's visit to Africa in 1998 cost the federal government at least $42.7 million, according to the Government Accountability Office.

RAND PAUL AND MARCO RUBIO PITCH CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES. Two potential 2016 presidential contenders shifted their focus, briefly, from the wave of scandals buffeting the Obama administration on Thursday and turned their attention to more worldly matters - specifically the persecution of Christians around the globe. But, ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE reports, that in separate speeches at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., appeared to suggest different roles for the United States. "It angers me to see my tax dollars supporting regimes that put Christians to death for blasphemy against Islam, countries that put to death Muslims who convert to Christianity, and countries who imprison anyone who marries outside their religion," Paul told conference-goers. "There is a war on Christianity, not just from liberal elites here at home, but worldwide." Rubio also addressed the plight of Christians in volatile countries, counseling a more interventionist role for the U.S. "If America does not step forward and say, 'This is wrong and something should be done about it,' who will?" he said. "There is nothing to replace us. I promise you, it's not the United Nations. I promise you, it's not China. I promise you, it's not the European Union." Rubio added, "If we lose either the willingness or the power to be an influence on the global stage, there is nothing to replace us."


@ llerer: Scoop! Obama promises angry donors that a White House climate plan is coming in July.

@KyleTrygstad: Shoutout to @MeredithShiner in @usatoday sports for her excellent writeup of congressional baseball game

@ZekeJMiller: Brennan Rocks the Boat With Deputy CIA Pick via @TIMEPolitics

@mattklewis: Rick Santorum's blue collar appeal - and a missed opportunity …

@Ginger_Zee: Live shot - in Rockville, MD for @gma

More ABC News