CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 23, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
OBAMA, TERRORISM AND THE FUTURE: President Barack Obama in a major counterterrorism speech Thursday defended the American drone program, saying that despite the controversies around it, the strikes are legal and save lives. – Jamie Crawford and Joe Sterling
ON DRONES: “America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists – our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute them. America cannot take strikes wherever we choose – our actions are bound by consultations with partners, and respect for state sovereignty. … And before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.”
ON GUANTANAMO: “When I ran for President the first time, John McCain supported closing GTMO. No person has ever escaped from one of our super-max or military prisons in the United States. Our courts have convicted hundreds of people for terrorism-related offenses, including some who are more dangerous than most GTMO detainees. Given my Administration's relentless pursuit of al Qaeda's leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened.”
INTERRUPTED: OBAMA HECKLED BY CODE PINK LEADER… President Barack Obama's solemn remarks on drones and counterterrorism were interrupted at length Thursday by a protester who loudly advocated for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison – the same position Obama was stressing in his speech. The woman shouting was identified as peace activist Medea Benjamin of the group Code Pink, whose members have been loudly interrupting congressional hearings and official speeches for years.
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks pare morning losses to end mostly flat after world markets plunge. Dow dips 11 points.
If Penny Pritzker is confirmed as Commerce Secretary, she will be the wealthiest member of the president’s cabinet. Who would be second?
As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton embarks on her new career as a paid speaker, she joins a lucrative family business that already has earned her husband more than $100 million since leaving office in 2001. And despite the sluggish economy, business is booming.
According to a CNN analysis of 12 years of federal financial records, former President Bill Clinton had his most active and profitable year on the lecture circuit in 2012, delivering 73 speeches for $17 million from mid-January 2012 through mid-January 2013. That brought his total haul in speaking fees since leaving the White House to $106 million. His previous record for annual speech income was $13.4 million in 2011. President Clinton's speaking fees were detailed Wednesday in a financial disclosure report that his wife was required to file after resigning as secretary of state.
Secretary Clinton, who stepped down in February, is also expected to be in high demand as a paid speaker. She delivered her first paid remarks last month in Dallas to the National Multi Housing Council and has at least eight additional events scheduled in 2013.
Both Secretary Clinton's personal office and The Harry Walker Agency, which represents the Clintons on the speaking circuit, declined to comment on how much she would earn per speech. Politico reported in February that the former first lady would earn "well into the six figures." That would likely put her at a similar tier as her husband, who records show has averaged $195,000 per speech, ranging from as little as $28,000 for one event to $750,000 for another.
Secretary Clinton's upcoming schedule provides at least one additional clue as to how much she could earn per event. In August, she will give the keynote address to the Global Business Travel Association's annual convention in San Diego. A GBTA spokeswoman declined to comment on the former secretary's speaking fee, but federal records show the group paid President Clinton $250,000 to keynote its 2012 convention in Boston. Former President George W. Bush also spoke at the 2012 event, but his speaking fees are not available to the public.
While it is not unusual for former presidents to earn millions of dollars in speaking fees after leaving office, President Clinton has been the only one subjected to strict disclosure requirements as a result of his wife's position as a high-ranking federal official, first as a U.S. senator and then as the nation's top diplomat. Now that both Clintons are private citizens, their speech income for 2013 and onward will not be available to the public unless one of them rejoins the federal government or runs for federal office.
– Since leaving office, President Clinton has delivered 544 paid speeches and earned an average of $195,000 per event
– He has given paid speeches in 27 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico
– He earned $57 million – more than half of his total speech income – for paid speaking events held in 54 other countries
– His biggest payday ever for a single event was $750,000 for a 2011 speech to Ericsson in Hong Kong.
– His most lucrative 2012 speech was to a newspaper publishing company in Lagos, Nigeria, for $700,000
– He has spoken at 76 paid events in New York, 49 in California, 37 in Florida and 23 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
– Hillary Clinton has at least speaking engagements scheduled for 2013
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: 'Shame on us' if Weiner elected, NY Gov. says
On the day of Anthony Weiner's first official campaign stop, the governor of New York offered a scathing evaluation of the disgraced former congressman's bid for mayor. “Shame on us” if New Yorkers elect Weiner to City Hall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the editorial board of the Syracuse Post-Standard. – Kevin Liptak
Leading Drudge: Premature Election: Cuomo Slaps Weiner
Gov. Cuomo says it would be shameful if Anthony Weiner is elected mayor. Cuomo, during an appearance before the Syracuse Post-Standard's editorial board Wednesday, was asked his thoughts on Weiner entering the race. – Ken Lovett
Leading HuffPo: 'Something To Hide': Boehner Hurls Harsh Accusations
Hours after IRS official Lois Lerner invoked her 5th Amendment right to avoid testimony at a House Oversight & Government Reform Committee hearing, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) failed to buy her claim of “I did nothing wrong.” In an interview aired on Wednesday's edition of Fox News' "On The Record with Greta Van Susteren," Boehner continued to hammer at the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. – Chris Gentilviso LINK
Leading Politico: New gay-rights battleground: Virginia
Welcome to the gay rights battleground of Virginia. Yes, you read that right. In the 2013 off-year elections, a state that once leaned solidly to the center-right has become the newest focal point in the national debate over same-sex relationships. A gubernatorial race already defined partly along culture-war lines has grown even more contentious since last weekend, when Virginia Republicans nominated as their lieutenant governor candidate a firebrand minister who has called gays “very sick people psychologically” and suggested a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia. – Alexander Burns
Leading The New York Times: Obama, in a Shift, to Limit Targets of Drone Strikes
President Obama plans to open a new phase in the nation’s long struggle with terrorism on Thursday by restricting the use of unmanned drone strikes that have been at the heart of his national security strategy and shifting control of them away from the C.I.A. to the military. – Charlie Savage and Peter Baker
Leading CNN Money: McDonald's gives Charles Ramsey free food for a year
One hero's reward, coming right up. Charles Ramsey, who helped rescue the three Cleveland women held captive by Ariel Castro, will get free McDonald's from his local fast food favorite for the next year, a McDonald's spokeswoman said. – Emily Jane Fox
The political bites of the day
– GOP senator: POTUS’ speech will be viewed by terrorists as a victory –
REPUBLICAN SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS OF GEORGIA IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT: “The President’s speech today will be viewed by terrorists as a victory. Rather than continuing successful counterterrorism activities, we are changing course with no clear operational benefit. We knew five years ago that closing Guantanamo was a bad idea and would not work. Yet, today’s speech sends the message to Guantanamo detainees that if they harass the dedicated military personnel there enough, we will give in and send them home, even to Yemen. With the recidivism rate now at 28% and the increased threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates, including in Yemen, GTMO must stay open for business.”
– Commerce secretary nominee defends families use of offshore trusts –
COMMERCE SECRETARY NOMINEE PENNY PRITZKER IN HER SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARING: “I didn't create them. I don't direct them. I don't control them," she told the members of the committee. And "I have complied with all of the disclosure obligations ... required of me in this [confirmation] process.”
– Boehner talks drip, drip, drip of scandal –
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER IN HIS WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: “Well today is a new day which means we are sure to get a new story from the White House on the IRS scandal. … Drip, drip, drip. Every day there is something new. We don't know how deep this extends within the administration that's why our committees are going to continue to investigate all of this. What's most troubling in this White House is that the lights are on but it doesn't seem to be anybody at home.”
– The ol’ his neighboring district trick –
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI IN HER WEEKLY CAPITOL HILL PRESS CONFERENCE: “Well, the president doesn't know about everything that is going on in every agency of government. Should Mr. Boehner have known because this is his neighboring district in Cincinnati where the IRS office is? I don't think we can hold him accountable for what happened in that IRS office. But I think that obviously the public will make its decision about it.”
– Don’t ask, don’t tell… in the White House –
JAY LENO ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “The president didn't know about Benghazi, didn't know about the IRS scandal, didn't know about the AP scandal. You know what this means? They took ‘don't ask, don't tell’ out of the pentagon and moved it into the White House.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Penny Pritzker, Obama’s nominee for Commerce Secretary, is worth a whole lot of pennies.
According to Forbes Magazine, Pritzker, a business executive and heiress to the family that founded the Hyatt hotel chain, is worth 185 billion pennies – or $1.85 billion.
Pritzker testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in her confirmation hearing Thursday. Her nomination is not seen as being in any danger.
If Pritzker is confirmed, she will knock Secretary of State John Kerry off the highly coveted (not really) perch of Obama’s wealthiest cabinet secretary. Kerry, according to Roll Call magazine in 2012, has a minimum net worth of $198.65 million.
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