CNN's GUT CHECK for May 16, 2013
May 16th, 2013
04:49 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for May 16, 2013

CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 16, 2013 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

CONFIDENCE IN HOLDER: President Barack Obama said Thursday that he has “complete confidence in Eric Holder” and that “he is an outstanding Attorney General” during a news conference. Holder has been under fire since it was learned that the Justice Department obtained phone records from Associated Press reporters as part of an investigation of classified leaks.

‘SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE’: Obama also used his joint press conference with the Turkish prime minister to address the fact that the IRS was prejudice against tea party and conservative groups that applied for non-profit status. “My main concern is fixing a problem,” Obama said. “We will be putting in new leadership that will be able to make sure that - following up on the IG audit - that we gather up all the facts, that we hold accountable those who have taken these outrageous actions.”

TAX MAN: Obama appointed Danny Werfel as the acting IRS commissioner, the White House announced Thursday. Werfel is currently the controller of the Office of Management and Budget. BIO

CONFIRMED: The Senate approved Ernest J. Moniz’s nomination to be the new Secretary of Energy along a 97-0 vote.

MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end lower after mixed economic data. Dow falls 44 points. NASDAQ dips 0.2%, S&P falls 0.5%.

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer below)
Who was the first British monarch to address the United States Congress?

MARK (@PrestonCNN) & DAN (@DanMericaCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

After being subjected to a political pounding from Republicans, it appears that the White House is now punching back.

In the last 48 hours, President Barack Obama has gone on the offensive in an effort to try and prevent three scandals from overwhelming his agenda, CNN’s Tom Cohen notes.

As Gut Check wrote on Tuesday, the three potential scandals – Benghazi, the DOJ subpoenaing phone records from the Association Press and the IRS targeting certain conservative groups – threaten to stymie Obama’s ability to push his agenda on Capitol Hill at a critical time in his presidency.

Obama’s three-pronged response is an effort to get on top of the nagging issues.

IRS: At a hastily scheduled Wednesday televised statement, Obama announced the resignation of the acting Internal Revenue Service director over the political targeting, calling the agency's conduct “inexcusable” and declaring: “Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I'm angry about it.” Today, OMB official Danny Werfel was named the new acting IRS commissioner.

AP phone records: Earlier on Wednesday, the White House announced its support for strengthening protections of journalists and confidential sources even as Attorney General Eric Holder evaded questions at a congressional hearing about how his Justice Department obtained phone records of The Associated Press from 2012 as part of an investigation of classified leaks.

Benghazi: Late Wednesday afternoon, the White House released more than 100 pages of e-mails sought by GOP critics about the talking points on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

As Cohen writes, “Together, the actions by Obama and the White House were a swift counter-attack in the face of mounting questions and demands by Republican leaders, and some Democrats, over the controversies threatening to overwhelm his agenda less than four months into his second term.”

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Probing questions, long delays for tea party groups
Tea party groups describe an arduous IRS application process for tax-exempt status with probing questions and long delays. In addition to standard questions that organizations face when applying for tax-exempt status, a handful of tea party organizations told CNN they were asked probing questions about the websites they maintained, literature they use for research and future activities the groups had planned. – Dan Merica

Leading Drudge: Congressman Charges: They Tapped House Cloak Room!
California congressman Devin Nunes made the claim yesterday that the Justice Department wiretapped telephones in the House of Representative's Cloak Room, an exclusive part of the Capitol where members are able to privately interact with one another. Nunes made the claim on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. – Daniel Halper

Leading HuffPo: Longing To 'Go Bulworth'
The New York Times reported that President Barack Obama has spoken privately of “going Bulworth,” a reference to the 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a California Senate candidate who becomes unusually honest after having run as a centrist Democrat. “Probably every president says that from time to time,” Obama adviser David Axelrod told the Times. “It’s probably cathartic just to say it. But the reality is that while you want to be truthful, you want to be straightforward, you also want to be practical about whatever you’re saying.” – Luke Johnson

Leading Politico: Obama to Congress: Boost embassy security funding
President Barack Obama called on Congress to take action to boost security at U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world, as he continued efforts Thursday to take control of a controversy that has plagued his administration for the past eight months and intensified amid heightened scrutiny this week. – Jennifer Epstein

Leading The New York Times: Onset of Woes Casts Pall Over Obama’s Policy Aspirations
Thwarted on Capitol Hill, stymied in the Middle East and now beset by scandal, President Obama has reached a point just six months after a heady re-election where the second term he had hoped for has collided with the second term he actually has. – Peter Baker

TRAIL MOMENTS
The political bites of the day

– FBI Director: Al Qaeda remains a threat –
ROBERT MUELLER, DIRECTOR OF THE FBI, AT A HEARING ON CAPITOL HILL: “Al Qaeda and surrogates, in particular al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, pose a continuing and growing threat. And in light of the recent attacks in North Africa, we must focus in emerging extremists groups capable of carrying out such additional attacks.”

– Boehner pledges to hold administration accountable –
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER AT HIS WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: “We're also focused on holding this administration accountable. Our committees are working overtime to uncover the truth about what happened in Libya and they're trying to get to the bottom of what happened in the IRS scandal. Public service requires humility and everyone in public office needs to be constantly reminded that they serve the American people and it's not the other way around.”

– Rand Paul: ‘IRS scandal needs more than a scapegoat’ –
REPUBLICAN SEN. RAND PAUL IN AN OPINION EDITORIAL FOR CNN: “On Wednesday, the president requested and received the resignation of Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller - but that is not enough. The executive branch has been aware of this scandal for nearly two years and now, only as a result of massive public pressure, the administration has found a scapegoat. … Holding the guilty parties accountable is just the first step. But if the handling of the attack in Benghazi, Libya, is any indication, there are no guarantees this will happen.”

– Gillibrand hopes to root out sexual assault in the military –
DEMOCRATIC SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND AT A SENATE HEARING: “The issue of sexual violence is not new. It has been allowed to go on in the shadows for far too long. And for all of us, we believe enough is enough. It's time to change this system that has been held over since George Washington that is simply not working today for the men and women who are serving. Due to the series of incredibly hard to fathom events, this issue has been raised in the national consciousness. We have to cease this opportunity and act now so we can move towards a true zero tolerance reality in the armed services.”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN

It took nearly 215 years after the United States declared its independence from the British, for the first British monarch to address the United States Congress.

On this day in 1991, Queen Elizabeth II addressed a joint meeting of Congress during her 13-day visit to the United States. In her remarks, the queen acknowledged the unique relationship between the United States and Britain.

"Some people believe that power grows from the barrel of a gun," the Queen said. "So it can, but history shows that it never grows well nor for very long. Force, in the end, is sterile. We have gone a better way: our societies rest on mutual agreement, on contract and on consensus."

The queen’s visit was also fairly controversial.

Democratic Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy of Massachusetts and a handful of other lawmakers boycotted the speech because, according to The New York Times, "the British occupation in northern Ireland."

Democratic Rep. Gus Savage of Illinois, along with civil rights leaders, said black lawmakers should protest the event because of Britain's support of South Africa during apartheid.

Also on the queen's itinerary: a trip to the White House, visits to Florida, Texas and Kentucky and even a baseball game in Baltimore.

GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)

Congrats to Peter Ubertaccio (@ProfessorU) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Nice work.

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Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Sgt. Obama Schultz - There is nothing here to see, move along

    Obama should have appointed a well known Republican to lead the IRS to prove the problem would be fixed instead of the problem being white washed like everything else. But of course that would have infuriated his base of lawless lefties.

    May 16, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Public service requires humility and everyone in public office needs to be constantly reminded that they serve the American people and it's not the other way around.”"

    And yet the MSM seems hellbent on reminding everyone of that except the useless House GOPers/Teatroll, with their 37th symbolic vote to repeal Obamacare today and not a single piece of legislation on jobs or the economy in almost 4 years...or the GOPers/Teatrolls in the Senate and their obstruction and abuse of the filibuster or their current hostage taking of "regular order" on the budget process in order to demand that they get everything they want in the budget or they won't even conference to resolve the House and Senate budgets.

    Why is this? Because the GOP/Teatrolls have a lock on what the MSM wants and needs and craves: scandal, controversy, hyperbole, accusations, conspiracy theories, etc. Their crack is better than the Dems' crack and the MSM can't get enough and neither can their advertising clientele. It's still crack though. Ad revenue is a helluva drug. We'd be looking at a lot of strung-out, arm-scratching, jittery MSM bobbleheads if the GOP/Teatrolls were forced to serve the American public instead of serving up BS.

    May 16, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. just sayin

    benghazi, irs, ap, still no jobs and the economy stinks. hey none of this was obama's fault! heck he wasn't even in the white house! he was out golfing! it must have been bush's fault! yeah that's the ticket, it all bush's fault. cut the clown some slack will ya?! it ain't easy golfing, i mean governing.

    May 16, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Gerald Tinnon

    These are not "scandals" as you enjoying saying, they are witch hunts. They are just excuses to attack a President that the opposition can't beat at the polls so blame him for anything and everything. I just hope that some FBI agent doesn't get a parking ticket, it will surely be his fault or the First Lady's. Government has become a sham because all that anybody cares about is bringing down their opponents and all could care less about governing.. The system is falling apart..

    May 16, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Learn this word, CNN: NONTROVERSY.

    May 16, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. bassman

    Wouldnt it be nice if Pres. Obama actually answered the question that was asked of him:
    Q: 'Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency's actions before your counsel's office found out on April 22?'
    A: 'I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the (inspector general) report...'
    Pres.Obama was never asked if he knew about the IG report.

    May 16, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Who cares about Obama small troubles , the gop is going to lose control of the house in 2014 mid terms ,even their vote riging won't help them. The gop, the garbage of America !!!!!

    May 16, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. don in albuquerque

    Ya know this whole investigation thing is getting just a little tooooooooo convenient. First Benghazi (which is now blowing up in the GOTP's face), then Fast and Furious (which was a Bush program), now the IRS (which all took place under a Bush appointee, and ignores the targeting of groups in the past like Greenpeace, and the NAACP under Repug presidents), and I have no doubt that the AP "scandal" is on the burner just waiting to boil. I think what it is time to do is investigate the investigators. I have read and heard alot of people comparing this too Watergate, when it is actually more akin to Whitewater, another investigation by the GOTP that yielded nothing, but cost the taxpayers millions and millions to carry out. I am not saying that President Obama is the greatest thing since white bread, he is not. Many progressives, and liberals would agree with that. But I do believe I smell conspiracy in the air, but it is a conspiracy that has the stench of GOTP wafting all around it.

    May 16, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Their crack is better than the Dems' crack and the MSM can't get enough and neither can their advertising clientele. It's still crack though. Ad revenue is a helluva drug. We'd be looking at a lot of strung-out, arm-scratching, jittery MSM bobbleheads if the GOP/Teatrolls were forced to serve the American public instead of serving up BS.
    -------------------------------------------------I
    It is still crack though..... We have to get consistently better at just saying NO to it.
    You've become more and more eloquent over these past 5 years. Your posts are informative, entertaining and factual, and I continue to enjoy the hell out of them.
    Keep up the good, TRUE fight my friend. I'm with you all the way.

    May 16, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    @ bassman

    You understand that the question was loaded, right? That he was being asked to speak to the internal knowledge of every single person in the WH...hundreds of people...as if he would have access to their mental state and experiences or would, for some unknown reason, have questioned every single one of them personally as to their knowledge? The question was a set-up. He could either say "oh yes, I know what's in everybody's heads at all times" and later be proven wrong somehow OR answer honestly and either give the answer he gave and speak to his own knowledge or say "no, sorry, but expectations that I can somehow personally monitor every single person's knowledge in the WH are unreasonable, ridiculous and unrealistic...I'd be reduced to doing nothing else but that if it was somehow part of my responsibilities to micromanage at that kind of level." Clearly, the answer he gave is the most diplomatic of the 3.

    But of course, you don't understand that.

    May 16, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |