CNN's GUT CHECK | for June 24, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
CAT-AND-MOUSE: WHERE IS HE? NSA leaker Edward Snowden – whose passport has been revoked by U.S. authorities – left Hong Kong Sunday on a "refugee document of passage" issued by Ecuador, according to Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which is aiding Snowden in his efforts to find a safe haven. Russian officials confirmed that he had flown to Moscow, where he spent the night at Sheremetyevo International Airport, according to media reports. It was unclear where he was Monday, but White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. officials presume he remains in Russia. – Jethro Mullen and Michael Pearson
DAMAGE TO U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: “We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at Monday’s press briefing. “This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.”
IRS AUDITS ITSELF: The Internal Revenue Service used multiple lists of inappropriate criteria in reviewing applications for tax-exempt status up until this month, the temporary head of the tax agency said Monday in his first report on the targeting of conservative groups. IRS Principal Deputy Commissioner Daniel Werfel provided no details of what inappropriate criteria were on the lists, but said "there was a wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum.” The practice of using so-called "Be On the Look Out" or BOLO criteria has been suspended in considering tax-exempt applications, Werfel told reporters in announcing his initial review of the agency he took over in May. – Tom Cohen
IRS TARGETED PROGRESSIVES TOO: CNN’s Deirdre Walsh and Dana Bash report that the IRS targeted liberal groups as well as conservatives for extra scrutiny in tax exempt applications, using the term “progressive” among other liberal sounding terms to screen for groups engaged in political activity, multiple congressional sources tell CNN.
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks pare earlier losses but still end in the red. Dow loses 139 points. NASDAQ falls 1.1%, S&P drops 1.2%.
What book spurred Senate passage of the nation's first federal safety standard for cars on this day in 1966?
What caught our eye today in politics
When former Republican Sen. Scott Brown won the 2010 Massachusetts special election, the 54% voter turnout was far higher than most special elections. Brown defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley by more than 100,000 votes – 1,168,107 votes for Brown compared to 1,058,682 for Coakley.
With Bay State residents heading to the polls on Tuesday for another special election – this time to choose between Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democrat Ed Markey to fill the seat long held by John Kerry – a different set of questions is being asked. Will the more than 1.16 million people who pulled the lever for Brown turn out to vote on Tuesday? And if they do, are they voting for Markey or Gomez?
Although media attention on the race has picked up, most signs point to lower turnout than 2010. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said last week that he was "extremely concerned" about low turnout, citing requests for absentee ballots.
"With many people focused on the (NHL's Boston) Bruins playing in the Stanley Cup final, the (Whitey) Bulger trial, and the end of the school year, the special election has a lot of competition for attention," Galvin told reporters last week.
While Markey enjoyed double-digit leads in most polls – most recently in a Suffolk University survey released Monday that found him up 10 points - abnormally low turnout could throw polling numbers off. If fewer people head to the polls, a few thousand votes could alter the outcome.
With a number of major issues – immigration, a possible renewed gun debate and the budget – all looming large over Congress, the result of Tuesday’s vote is important in a closely divided Senate, and we will be watching.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Supreme Court punts affirmative action back to lower court
The Supreme Court sidestepped a sweeping decision on the use of race-conscious school admission policies, sending a case over equal protection rights of white applicants at the University of Texas back to lower courts for further review. – Bill Mears
Gut Check Full Service: The court will meet in public session for at least two more days to release the remaining half-dozen rulings. The court is definitely meeting on Tuesday and will update its schedule at the end of that session.
Leading Drudge: Catch Me If You Can!
The hunt for Edward Snowden stretched around the globe Sunday as the 30-year-old leaker of U.S. classified material flew out of Hong Kong under cover of darkness, dropped into the protective embrace of Russia and made plans to hopscotch through Cuba and Venezuela to eventual asylum in Ecuador. – Richard Serrano and Sergei L. Loiko for Los Angeles Times
Leading HuffPo: Return To Sender: High Court Punts On Major Decision
By a 7-1 vote on Monday, the Supreme Court told an appeals court that it misinterpreted the justices' precedent when reviewing the University of Texas at Austin's affirmative action policy. – Mike Sacks and Ryan J. Reilly
Leading Politico: 'Gang' warfare over Senate immigration bill
They represent conservatives’ last stand in the Senate. To a small band of Republican senators, the problems with the Senate’s immigration reform bill could fill an encyclopedia. – Burgess Everett
Leading The New York Times: Supreme Court Orders Lower Court to Reconsider Affirmative Action Case
The decision will likely have few immediate implications for affirmative-action programs around the country, including in Texas. – Adam Liptak
The political bites of the day
– ‘People may die as a consequence to what this man did’ –
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “What I see is an individual who threatened his country and put Americans at risk though the acts that he took. People may die as a consequence to what this man did. It is possible that the United States would be attacked because terrorists may now know how to protect themselves in some way or another that they didn't know before.”
– WikiLeaks stands by Snowden, pays his way –
JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS FOUNDER, ON A CONFERENCE CALL WITH THE MEDIA: “Every person has the right to seek and receive political asylum. Those rights are enshrined by the United Nations agreements, of which the United States is a party. It is counterproductive and unacceptable for the Obama administration to try and interfere with those rights. It reflects poorly on the U.S. administration and no self-respecting country would submit to such interference.”
– Questioning Obama over Snowden –
REPUBLICAN REP. PETER KING OF NEW YORK IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “I hate to be in the middle of the crisis second guessing the president, but where is he? Where is the president? Why is he not speaking to the American people? Why is he not more forceful in dealing with foreign leaders?”
– Christie challenger takes a dig at Bill Clinton –
BARBARA BUONO, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “What frustrated me was that President Clinton didn't call him out for being a climate-change denier. That's what frustrated me. The irony in all of this is that he is basking in the afterglow of Sandy, and yet we know that climate change, we know that our sea levels are higher, we know our atmosphere is warmer. We know that climate change is upon us, and that's why we're are having more extreme and more frequent weather patterns coming across New Jersey and across our nation.”
– Conservatives go after McConnell on immigration –
MATT HOSKINS FROM SENATE CONSERVATIVES FUND IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “Senator McConnell is the one person who could shut this down. He’s not showing the kind of leadership that the grassroots around the country are looking for in the Republican leader in the Senate.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Secretive group of lifetime appointees won't even tell you what they decided on. This is what it's like in Iran every day.—
Ryan Teague Beckwith (@ryanbeckwith) June 24, 2013
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicles Safety Act, a bill that was unanimously passed by the Senate, Ralph Nader, a young consumer rights lawyer, was credited with spurring national action on car safety.
His book – “Unsafe at Any Speed” – won national acclaim for its dismantling of the auto industry’s least reliable and most unsafe cars. In particular, Nader called out General Motors for their Corvair model for a number of crashes caused by the car’s suspension system.
“For years now, we have spent millions of dollars to understand and to fight polio and other childhood diseases. Yet up until now, we have tolerated a raging epidemic of highway death, which has killed more of our youth than all other diseases combined,” Johnson said on September 9, 1966, when he signed the bill. “Through the Highway Safety Act, we are going to find out more about highway disease–and we are going to find out how to cure it.”
Following the bill signing, the Secretary of Commerce established the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some of its first mandates included seat belts, dual braking systems and windshield wipers.
Nader’s career was made by his work on highway safety and he would go on to become a famed consumer activist and presidential candidate.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) for correctly answering today’s trivia question. A streak has started.
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