CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 22, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: Two men arrested and charged Monday were part of an al Qaeda-supported plot to derail a passenger train, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. The suspects, Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser, are accused of conspiring to kill people on a VIA train, police said. Officials said that the suspects had the capacity to carry out an attack but that the public was never in imminent danger. The two men were receiving support "in the form of direction and guidance" from al Qaeda elements in Iran, police said. They are not Canadian citizens.
DEVELOPING: BOSTON BOMBER MAY FACE DEATH PENALTY… Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death, the Justice Department said. The case is death penalty eligible. Tsarnaev had his initial court appearance from his hospital room before a magistrate and was represented by a public defender. It was not an arraignment and another court date was set for May 30.
HEADED TO TEXAS: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will attend the memorial service on Thursday for victims of the explosion in West, Texas, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday. On Thursday morning, the Obamas will attend the George W. Bush presidential library opening.
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end higher on mixed corporate and economic news. Dow adds 19 points. NASDAQ gains 0.9%, S&P rises 0.5%.
Who said, "You’ll be here in the year 2000 and we’ll see how I’m regarded then"?
President Barack Obama needs a win.
After gun control legislation failed to pass the Senate last week, Obama’s Rose Garden statement, where he tried to shame those Republicans and Democrats who voted against the bill, was proof that the gun bill defeat was a loss for the White House.
And Obama has been hearing about the loss from the left. In a post titled “No Bully in the Pulpit,” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote Obama’s loss on guns proves “he still has not learned how to govern.”
“How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate,” Dowd wrote. “It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him.”
But this week is a new week and the multi-pronged focus the administration took at the start of Obama’s second term means another win opportunity is right around the corner. Enter: the immigration reform bill being batted around Capitol Hill this week.
While the bill’s list of stakeholders is long – immigrants, conservative evangelicals, blue-state Republicans and more – the president and his White House are near the top of that stakeholder list, largely because immigration reform is a campaign promise of old.
“I cannot guarantee that it (immigration reform) is going to be in the first 100 days,” Obama said in 2008. “But what I can guarantee is that we will have, in the first year, an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible.”
That promise never was completed in the first 100 days, first year or even his first term. Now, within the first 100 days of the second term, Obama has a chance to make good on an old promise.
There is no doubt that the bill will face criticism – whispers of the bill being amnesty can be heard all over Capitol Hill – but much like guns, public sentiment is with passing immigration reform.
According to a CNN/ORC International survey released last week, 84% of the public backs a program that would allow undocumented workers to stay in the United States and apply for citizenship if they have been in the country for several years, have a job, and pay back taxes.
Then again, public opinion was defeated when the gun control bill went down in the Senate.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Senate panel will examine FBI handling of bombing suspect
The Senate Intelligence Committee will examine the FBI's handling of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein told CNN on Monday. A hearing with FBI officials, expected to take place behind closed doors, could happen as soon as Tuesday, said Feinstein, D-California. – Jim Acosta, Ted Barrett and Tom Cohen
Leading Drudge: 'You Have The Right To Remain Silent'
White House press secretary Jay Carney says Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will not be charged as an enemy combatant but instead face trial in a federal court. – Ian Schwartz for Real Clear Politics
Leading HuffPo: Trust Fall: Rubio Push Faces Conservative Backlash
The official line from conservatives who oppose the immigration reform bill is that it will cost too much money. The real reason is a total lack of trust. – Jon Ward
Leading Politico: Obama political arm strikes fear in GOP
As if President Barack Obama’s political machine hasn’t left them battered and bruised enough, Republicans are fretting that it could help Democrats win the House next year. The president’s deep-pocketed political arm, Organizing for Action, can’t by law spend most of its money on elections, and officials insist it won’t play directly in the 2014 midterm. But Republicans aren’t buying it: They’re convinced OFA will find other, indirect ways to help Democrats capture the House and allow Obama to finish his presidency unchecked by Congress. – Alex Isenstadt
Leading The New York Times: Rewinding History, Bush Museum Lets You Decide
Visitors to an interactive theater at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum will be presented with the stark choices that confronted the nation’s 43rd president. – Peter Baker
The political bites of the day
– Boston bombing suspect to be tried in civilian court… –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “He (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. And it is important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.”
– … despite protests from a Republican senator –
REPUBLICAN SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: "I strongly disagree with the Obama administration's decision to rule out enemy combatant status for this suspect at this time. … Under our criminal justice system it is inappropriate to ask questions of any defendant accused to elicit information to use against them in court. There is ample evidence here on the criminal side. A first year law student could prosecute this case."
– Senators clash over immigration reform, connections to Boston –
DEMOCRATIC SEN. PAT LEAHY, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN, AT A COMMITTEE HEARING: “Last week, opponents of comprehensive immigration reform began to exploit the Boston marathon bombing. I am a New Englander. I spent a lot of time in Boston growing up and do so today. Friends and relatives there. I urge restraint in that regard. Refugees and asylum seekers have enriched the fabric of this country from our founding. … Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous attacks of these two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people.”
REPUBLICAN SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER, AT A COMMITTEE HEARING: “I don’t hear any criticism of people when there is 14 people killed in West, Texas, and demanding taking advantage of that tragedy to warn about more government action to make sure that fertilizer factories are safe. I think we are taking advantage of an opportunity when once in 25 years we deal with immigration to make sure that every base is covered.”
– Senate Intel chair has questions for FBI over Boston bombing –
DEMOCRATIC SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN OF CALIFORNIA IN AN INTERVIEW ON CAPITOL HILL: "I have asked the staff director of Intelligence this morning to set a hearing particularly with FBI intelligence exactly when did Russia call to ask about this individual? What did he do when he went back for six months? Did he sit in his aunt and uncle’s home for six months or was he doing something else? And when he came back to this country why didn’t it ring a bell with the FBI intelligence unit that he should be checked out and vetted again? DHS clearly denied him to be naturalized as a citizen for some reason so I think, not to criticize because I am a big fan of the FBI’s, but to go back and see that we plug loopholes is really critical."
– Library a place for facts, not a record defender, says Bush 43 –
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH USA TODAY: “There's no need to defend myself. I did what I did and ultimately history will judge.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Just four years after resigning the presidency, disgraced President Richard Nixon went to Oxford University to deliver a speech and answer a few questions. Expectedly, one questioner pushed Nixon on the Watergate scandal, to which Nixon offered a slight mea culpa.
“Some people say I didn’t handle it properly and they’re right,” Nixon said. “I screwed it up. Mea culpa. But let’s get on to my achievements. You’ll be here in the year 2000 and we’ll see how I’m regarded then.”
The Oxford speech was just part of Nixon trying to recapture his national standing. His much publicized interviews with British journalist David Frost – which touched on everything from Nixon’s family to Watergate – were seen as one of the president's first attempts at a mea culpa.
These efforts, however, didn’t do much for Nixon’s standing in the United States – most polls that ask respondents to rank the presidents have Nixon in the bottom third.
Nixon, who was once a towering figure in the Republican Party, died on this day in 1994 after suffering a stroke four days earlier.
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