CNN's GUT CHECK | for June 12, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
MORE TO COME: 'I AM HERE TO REVEAL CRIMINALITY,' NSA LEAKER TELLS HONG KONG NEWSPAPER… The former NSA contractor who disappeared after he acknowledged leaking details about secret American surveillance programs will fight any effort to bring him back to the United States for prosecution, a Hong Kong newspaper reported Wednesday. – Jethro Mullen and Michael Pearson
THE DEFENSE: NSA SAYS DATA MINING HELPED THWART TERROR… Phone records obtained by the government through a secret surveillance program disclosed last week helped prevent "dozens" of terrorist events, the director of the National Security Agency told a Senate hearing Wednesday. – Tom Cohen
THE BUZZ: BUSH 41 TURNS 89. What brought Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi and the Republican National Committee together? Honoring George H.W. Bush’s birthday by donning colorful socks. The former president even sported some Superman socks in honor of his birthday.
UP NEXT: Jim Acosta reports that Vice President Joe Biden will hold a gun control event next week. The event is expected to jump-start discussion and renew debate over gun control.
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks close lower for 3rd straight day. Dow posts its worst losing streak in 2013, ending down 127 points.
MASS WATCH: Former President Bill Clinton to campaign for Democratic Senate nominee Ed Markey on Saturday.
According to a recent study, which state donates the most to charity?
What caught our eye today was the fact that immigration reform, an issue that many believed would be a legislative flashpoint, has proceeded through the Senate without being front page news.
The NSA leaks. IRS targeting. Benghazi.
These are three stories that have received a lot of coverage over the past two weeks. But while all of this was going on, a critically important debate over immigration reform was brewing in the Senate.
That said, a lot has happened on the issue. Here are two stories from the past 24 hours:
Paul on the fence over immigration bill: Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he's not ready to vote on the immigration reform package as it now stands in the Senate, adding the measure needs tougher provisions on border security in order to have a chance in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. – Ashley Killough
Vermont senator revives debate over gay rights in immigration bill: Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy filed three amendments on Tuesday night to the immigration reform package, including a controversial amendment involving gay rights that could potentially derail the bill's progress in the Senate.
What more do you need to know about immigration reform. CNN's Congressional Producer Alan Silverleib breaks down the under covered debate for us with an incredibly helpful tip sheet: 5 things to know about immigration reform.
– The 'Gang of Eight' remains unified –
Eight men put the bipartisan Senate bill together - South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, Florida Republican Marco Rubio, Arizona Republican John McCain, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet, and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. Each has promised to oppose any major changes to the bill.
– Reform advocates have momentum, but there's a long way to go –
Assuming every member of the Democratic caucus backs the bill on the Senate floor, five Republicans will be needed to ensure it receives the 60 votes needed to pass the 100-member chamber. The bill's backers have been hoping for as many as 70 votes in order to give the proposal significant bipartisan momentum heading into the GOP-controlled House.
– Immigration is Obama's best shot for big second-term legislative win –
Why? Democrats are basically unified on the issue, while Republicans are divided. On Sunday, New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte became the first GOP senator outside of the "Gang of Eight" to publicly endorse the group's plan.
For the rest of Silverleib's vital tip sheet, click here.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Mass. Senate ad evokes killing old people, toilet seats
It's not every day a candidate manages to include toilet seats and Congress into the same ad. But that's what Massachusetts Senate hopeful Gabriel Gomez is doing in a sarcasm-filled, 30-second ad meant to mock attacks from his Democratic rival Rep. Ed Markey. – Kevin Liptak
Leading Drudge: 'I'm Neither Traitor Nor Hero. I'm An American'
The former CIA employee who leaked top-secret information about U.S. surveillance programs said in a new interview in Hong Kong on Wednesday that he is not attempting to hide from justice here but hopes to use the city as a base to reveal wrongdoing. For the AP
Leading HuffPo: See No Evil...
Just months after many U.S. senators opposed tougher background checks for gun buyers on the grounds that they would tread on Americans' liberties, many of them are standing behind the far more intrusive intelligence-gathering programs of the National Security Agency. – Michael McAuliff and Sabrina Siddiqui
Leading Politico: Establishment renders harsh verdict on Edward Snowden
He is the toast of the libertarian left and the libertarian right. But for most of the political establishment, across the ideological spectrum, it has taken only a few days to conclude that Edward Snowden is nothing less than a dangerous villain. – Alexander Burns
Leading The New York Times: Environmental Rules Delayed as White House Slows Reviews
Proposed rules that would require appliances, lighting and buildings to use less energy have languished for as long as two years awaiting approval from White House officials. – John Broder
The political bites of the day
– FEMA denies aid to rebuild West, Texas –
A LETTER FROM THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: “Based on our review of all of the information available, it has been determined that the remaining cost for permanent work is within the capabilities of the state and affected local governments. Accordingly, we have determined that a major disaster declaration is not necessary … Your request for a major disaster declaration is denied.”
Gut Check Full Service: West Mayor Tommy Muska in a statement to CNN: “I am disappointed the people in FEMA and Washington decided we didn’t have enough damage that qualified for public assistance. We don’t have money available to go out and borrow money and we can’t repay the loaned money back. The president said he was going to be behind us and his words and actions are completely different; the government at this time is not doing anything to help this city rebuild, and the government is hindering the rebuilding on this town. He (President Obama) is so far behind us we can’t even see him. And instead of being behind us, I would like for him to be beside us.”
– While campaigning, Obama blasts campaign politics –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN BOSTON: “This is not only the greatest nation on Earth in the past. This is gonna be the greatest nation on Earth for the foreseeable future. There's no country on Earth that would not trade gladly with the United States. But what's holding us back right now is inaction in Washington, gridlock in Washington, too many folk in Washington who are putting the next election ahead of the next generation.”
– Republicans go after Obama’s credibility –
REPUBLICAN REP. LUKE MESSER OF INDIANA IN A SPEECH ON THE HOUSE FLOOR: “The president has said that these surveillance programs don’t involve listening to people’s phone calls or reading their e-mails. Americans want to believe their president, yet his tax agency lied about targeting conservative groups and his justice department spied on reporters who were just doing their job.”
– Hagel cautions against total military revamp in name of sexual assault prevention –
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL AT A CONGRESSIONAL HEARING: “I don't personally believe that you can eliminate the command structure in military from this process because it is the culture, it is the institution, it's the people within that institution that have to fix the problem. And that's the culture, the people are the culture. So I don't know how you disconnect that from the accountability of command. Now, as I said, we need to change some things. We can do things much better. We have to. But I think, I think we've got to be very careful when we talk about taking the command structure out of this process.”
– Comedians continue to joke about NSA –
CONAN O’BRIEN ON HIS LATE NIGHT COMEDY SHOW: “According to a poll, the majority of Americans are ok with the Obama administration listening in on our phone calls. Guys approve because they feel it increases security. And women approve of Obama’s policy because finally a man is listening to them. They're happy.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
A recent report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy makes one thing clear: Not all states are created equal when it comes to how much their residents donate to charity.
Utah, according to the study, is the most charitable state in the union. Residents of Utah, a state with a large population of Mormons, donate an average of 10.6% of their income to charity. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Mormons – compels their followers to donate 10% of their income to the church. It appears that much of Utah's giving stems from that practice.
Rounding out the top five: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.
The state with the lowest giving rate? New Hampshire, where residents only gave 2.5% of their income to charity.
The Northeast, overall, was fairly stingy. Residents of Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts all donated less than 3% of income, while Rhode Islanders gave 3.1%.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Greg Dean (@gregdean11) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.
Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits: email@example.com
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
WANT TO SIGN UP?
Do you have a friend who wants to sign up for GUT CHECK or our new CNNPolitics Breaking News Alerts? Click here, log on and scroll down.