CNN's GUT CHECK | for September 23, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
EMBATTLED IRS OFFICIAL STEPS DOWN: The woman who first confirmed the Internal Revenue Service had unfairly targeted certain political groups is retiring, the IRS said in a statement Monday. Lois Lerner, director of tax exempt organizations for the IRS, was placed on administrative leave in May, just weeks after she admitted the IRS was applying extra scrutiny to certain groups. – Dana Bash
ISSA STILL WANTS TO TALK: “Lois Lerner’s exit from the IRS does not alter the Oversight Committee’s interest in understanding why applicants for tax exempt status were targeted and inappropriately treated because of their political beliefs,” House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa said in a written statement. “Her departure does not answer these questions or diminish the Committee’s interest in hearing her testimony.”
SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN: HOW IT PLAYS OUT THIS WEEK… In Washington, a week is like an NFL triple-header - a seemingly endless stream of mindless commercial breaks with a few bursts of furious action and momentum swings. Anyone who predicts a shutdown with certainty a week ahead of time is messing with your head. – Tom Cohen
THE AL SHABAAB THREAT: Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked militant group based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the deadly attack at Kenyan mall on Saturday. According to a 2011 House Committee on Homeland Security report, roughly 40 Americans have joined the terrorist organization in the last few years.
SHOULD WE BE WORRIED? “I'm concerned,” said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said on “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” “I think we have a pretty high degree of confidence as to who they are but there possibly could be Americans over there that we do talk about. And I think that's one of my biggest concerns. … The idea of (them) coming back into the United States is a very real threat that we have to prepare ourselves for.”
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end lower as investors worry about the budget battle in Congress. Dow drops 48 points.
Who was the first female candidate for President of the United States?
On the eve of the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, two stories about Clintonland, its fundraising practices and Bill and Hillary's future have shed further light on what the next three years could look like for the would-be frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
In the first – and more glowing – story, Hillary Clinton spoke with New York Magazine for her first interview since stepping down as Secretary of State and discussed grappling with whether or not to run for president.
"I do," Clinton said when asked whether she wrestles with the idea of running. "But I'm both pragmatic and realistic. … I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other."
She continued: "I'm not in any hurry. I think it's a serious decision, not to be made lightly but it's also not one that has to be made soon."
So we will put you down as a maybe?
The first story was a somewhat glowing profile that gave readers a glimpse at what life for Clinton has been like since leaving the State – and what it would take for her to run in 2016.
The second was anything but that – instead, the New Republic story by Alec MacGillis shed light on a possible problem the former first lady would confront: the handling of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
The story fingers and profiles Doug Band, one of Bill Clinton's closest aides, as someone who is selling access to the former president and his popular annual meeting, while also personally benefiting from his connections to the powerful political family.
“Doug has always been reasonably commercial, let’s just say,” one of Band's former White House colleagues told the New Republic. “He was a gatekeeper who charged tolls.”
The story charges that Band has not only built his financially successful life off of Clinton, but has used shady dealings to work with companies that would eventually partner with the Clintons’ foundation.
"There’s an undertow of transactionalism in the glittering annual dinners, the fixation on celebrity, and a certain contingent of donors whose charitable contributions and business interests occupy an uncomfortable proximity," MacGillis writes. "More than anyone else except Clinton himself, Band is responsible for creating this culture. And not only did he create it; he has thrived in it."
Could this favor peddling hurt Clinton in 2016? Possibly. It depends on the details, and for the most part, the story makes Band look like the seedy back room dealer to Bill Clinton’s altruistic philanthropist.
What is striking throughout the piece is the fact that now two Clinton loyalists, Band and Huma Abedin, both known to be extremely media shy, have forced their bosses to face pretty awful press cycles.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: 10 ways a government shutdown would affect your daily life
Ticktock. Ticktock. Just over a week remains. If the Democrats and Republicans don't stop bickering and agree to how the U.S. should pay its bills, the federal government will shut down, come October 1. – David Simpson and Saeed Ahmed
Leading Drudge: T-Minus 7 Days
There is just one federal health law, but the way Americans experience the debut of its main provisions on Oct. 1 will vary widely depending on where they live. Every state, whether it supports the law or not, will have a health-insurance exchange where people will shop for coverage—the health overhaul's centerpiece. – Amy Schatz and Louise Radnofsky
Leading HuffPo: Backfire: GOP's Anti-Obamacare Push Gives Dems Big Gift
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised more than $840,000 in online contributions since House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced last week that Republicans would include a measure to strip funding from the Affordable Care Act in a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. – Paul Blumenthal
Leading Politico: Cruz scrambles to salvage strategy
Ted Cruz and his allies are fighting a battle they will almost certainly lose in the Senate this week. The freshman Republican from Texas, along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and some vocal House conservatives, pushed House Republican leaders to pass a bill Friday that funds the government but denies money for Obamacare. That defunding provision is a nonstarter with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who says it’s “dead” in his chamber. – Burgess Everett
Leading The New York Times: Often at the Forefront, McConnell Seems to Step Back
As Congress nears another budget abyss, Senator Mitch McConnell is balancing leadership demands with re-election ones. – Jonathan Weisman and Jeremy W. Peters
The political bites of the day
– In GQ profile, Cruz knocks McCain… again –
REPUBLICAN SEN. TED CRUZ OF TEXAS IN AN INTERVIEW WITH GQ: “I don't know a conservative who didn't feel embarrassed voting in 2006 or 2008. I think the Republican Party lost its way. We didn't stand for the principles we're supposed to believe in."
– Obama offers law enforcement support to Kenya after attack –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A UNITED NATIONS EVENT IN NEW YORK: “We are providing all the cooperation that we can as we deal with this situation that has captivated the world. I want to express personally my condolences to not only to President Kenyatta who lost some family members in the attack but to the Kenyan people. We stand with them against this terrible outrage that has occurred. We will provide them with whatever law enforcement support that is necessary and we are confident that Kenya, which has been a pillar of stability in eastern Africa will rebuild. But this I think underscores the degree to which all of us as an international community have to stand against the kind of senseless violence that these kinds of groups represent.”
– Experts provide dower warnings for Al-Shabaab terrorism –
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “Al-Shabaab has previously shown that it is capable of carrying out operations outside of Somalia, bombing two groups of fans watching the World Cup on television in Kampala, Uganda, on July 11, 2010, killing more than 70. The group seemed to have carried out that operation because Uganda had provided troops to a United Nations-authorized African Union mission then fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia.”
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “A soft target's got many entrances and exits. There is no sort of hard perimeter by which you could screen for security purposes, so it's difficult to protect. Think hotels, malls, any sort of open facility, a park. Very difficult to protect because you got so many entry and exit points.”
– Bush: Obama should play golf –
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE GOLF CHANNEL: “I see our president criticized for playing golf. I don't. I think he ought to play golf. Because I know what it's like to be in the bubble. I know the pressures of the job, and to be able to get outside and play golf with some of your pals is important for the president. It does give you an outlet.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
.@Lagarde on possible Yellen appointment: If she is appointed, she will do great. #Amanpour
Kim Ghattas (@BBCKimGhattas)
Iran FM @JZarif + @StateDept Secy Kerry will b in same room this week at UN, for a P5+1 meeting on Iran. That in itself is a breakthru.
New York Magazine (@NYMag)
Sean Eldridge, husband of Facebook co-founder and New Republic owner Chris Hughes, starts uphill climb to Congress: http://nym.ag/18lbosW
Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner)
In the news release announcing his candidacy, @SeanEldridge makes no mention of his husband or marriage work: http://bit.ly/1agTAAn
Sarah Palin says that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be President, which basically counts as a ringing endorsement in my book.
Rosa Flores (@RosaFlores)
Governor Christie launches Spanish re-election ad: "Un Mejor Futuro, Mas Brillante" ("Better, Brighter Future"): http://youtu.be/HDbwamcjxUs
Sascha Meinrath (@saschameinrath)
AP WashPo analysis excoriates Obama's "independent" NSA tech review panel: http://ow.ly/p7nbu
Matt Apuzzo (@mattapuzzo)
When Obama says the panel is independent and a member of the panel says nobody could possibly say it's independent, it tells you something.
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
If you ask someone who Victoria Chaflin Woodhull was, their response would likely be, "Who?"
But Woodhull, who was born on this day in 1838, was an instrumental leader during the woman's suffrage movement and was the first female candidate for President of the United States, according to the Library of Congress.
In 1872, Woodhull was nominated for president by the nascent Equal Rights Party. The party nominated abolitionist Frederick Douglass for Vice President, although he never accepted the nomination.
Although her campaign sustained until Election Day in 1838, she never garnered much support outside the woman's suffrage movement and was even arrested a few days before the presidential election for publishing an "obscene newspaper" where Woodhull detailed the affair of a local reverend as a way to show sexual double-standards.
Despite his lack of presidential success, Woodhull ran for the president two other times – in 1884 and 1892.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Rebecca Sinderbrand (@sinderbrand) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
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