CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for June 5, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
LAWMAKERS TOLD BERGDAHL WOULD HAVE BEEN KILLED IF DEAL WAS LEAKED ... Senators were informed at a classified Sen ate briefing on Wednesday with the White House that the U.S. obtained credible information that if anything about the Bergdahl prisoner exchange swap became public, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be killed. Obama administration officials showed a so-called "Proof of Life" video of Bergdahl at the briefing, but the session failed to convince numerous skeptics that swapping Taliban terror detainees for the captured Army sergeant was the right thing to do. Meanwhile, other senators said they believed that Bergdahl’s health appeared to be in poor condition in the video. (See reactions from both sides in HOT SOTS below.)
MCCAIN: I WOULD HAVE REJECTED THE DEAL ... Republican Sen. John McCain, himself a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, says his "heart goes out" to Bowe Bergdahl, but slammed the deal that swapped five Guantanamo Bay detainees for the captured Army sergeant. "I wanted him home. I didn't want to risk the lives, and don't want to risk the lives of Americans," McCain said on The Lead with Jake Tapper. "I would never agree with that." Asked if he would have rejected the deal, even if that meant Bergdahl would still be held prisoner in Afghanistan or Pakistan, McCain says he would have. – Jake Tapper, Sherisse Pham
BERGDAHL BACKLASH SHOCKS WHITE HOUSE ... White House officials expected controversy when the deal was announced to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Despite the feel-good moment in the White House Rose Garden featuring President Obama and Bergdahl's beaming parents last Saturday, the five-for-one trade was sure to create an uproar, a White House official acknowledged. What came as a surprise to White House aides, one official says, was the barrage of harsh personal attacks aimed at Bergdahl and even his family. – Jim Acosta
OBAMA ON BERGDAHL SWAP: “I MAKE NO APOLOGIES” ... President Obama stressed Thursday he has no regrets about the decision. "I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody's child–and we don't condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back," he said at the end of the G7 summit in Belgium.
THE BUZZ: INSIDE POLITICS: THE CASE OF THE MISSING TWEETS ... When news of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s return home in exchange for five Taliban prisoners broke last week, a handful of politicians took to social media to send a welcome home message to the former prisoner of war. But a few days into the Bergdahl swap controversy, some lawmakers and congressional candidates quickly retracted their tweets, including Iowa GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Massachusetts, and Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio. Cochran, who faces a competitive runoff to retain his Mississippi Senate seat after 36 years, deleted the first tweet below and tweeted out a much different message four days later.
May 31: Sen. Thad Cochran (@SenThadCochran)
Welcome home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. A grateful America thanks you for your service.
June 4: Sen. Thad Cochran (@SenThadCochran)
Details of Pres Obama’s Taliban prison exchange & propensity to ignore the law raise serious natl security questions: 1.usa.gov/TeLRA5
MARKET WATCH: Another record-setting day for Dow and S&P 500 after European interest rates are cut. NASDAQ gains 1%.
What four words are written on the official POW/MIA flag?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Bob Gates was ‘very uncomfortable’ with prisoner swap idea in 2011
Then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates was “very uncomfortable” with the idea of a Guantanamo prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl when it was raised in 2011, a former senior Defense Department official familiar with Gates’ thinking told CNN. – Gloria Borger
Leading CNNMoney: How much $ do you need to be happy?
When asked how much would do the trick, just over half of people surveyed in CNNMoney's American Dream poll said it would take less than $100,000. Nearly a quarter of the people who took the poll, conducted by ORC International, said between $50,000 and $74,999 would work. That calls to mind the results of a Princeton study, which found that emotional well being rose with income, but not much beyond $75,000. – Jeanne Sahadi
Leading HuffPo: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
A new ad campaign by national veterans group VoteVets.org Action Fund takes aim at GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Richard Burr (N.C.). Their qualm: Both senators talk about the importance of supporting services for veterans while voting against increases that would pay for such services. – Kasey Varner
Leading Politico: Big Brother: Meet the Parents
You’ve heard of Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Now get ready for Big Parent. Moms and dads from across the political spectrum have mobilized into an unexpected political force in recent months to fight the data mining of their children. In a frenzy of activity, they’ve catapulted student privacy — an issue that was barely on anyone’s radar last spring — to prominence in statehouses from New York to Florida to Wyoming. – Stephanie Simon
Leading New York Times: Democrats See a Break in a Gain for the Tea Party in Mississippi
It is a major headache for the national Republican Party and perhaps the biggest break Democrats have been handed in this difficult election year: a three-week runoff campaign in Mississippi between a party elder, Senator Thad Cochran, and the sometimes unpredictable Tea Party favorite, Chris McDaniel. – Jonathan Weisman
The political bites of the day
- Lawmakers disagree on whether Bergdahl’s condition was poor -
SEN. ANGUS KING, I-MAINE, ON CNN’S “NEW DAY”: “He looked terrible. And I think that video should be released at some point. He could barely talk. He couldn't focus his eyes. He was downcast. He was thin. He looked like a man - I looked around the room, as that video was shown, and I think it was clearly effective and when the video stopped, it wasn't very long, maybe 30 seconds, there was a dead silence in the room.”
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLORIDA, TO REPORTERS WEDNESDAY AFTER VIDEO BRIEFING: “I remain as deeply skeptical about this as I did before this conversation that we just had with the administration. For two days now, we've asked questions, many of which have not yet been fully answered.”
- GM axes 15 after report reveals new information on botched recall -
GM CEO MARY BARRA AT A PRESS CONFERENCE: “What it (the report) found was a pattern of incompetence and neglect ... It represents a fundamental failure to meet the basic needs of these customers ... We simply didn't do our jobs. We failed these customers ... While everybody who was engaged on the ignition switch issue had the responsibility to fix it, nobody took responsibility ... Throughout the entire 11-year history, there was no demonstrated sense of urgency, right to the very end."
- Reid has a Hillary moment: ‘What difference does it make?’ -
REPORTER TO SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID: “How come it seems that you were the only one who got a heads up the day before?”
REID: “I am not sure I was the only one. I mean they made a big deal over nothing. Was it Friday or Saturday – what difference does it make? What difference does it make?”
- Begala on GOP’s response to Obama’s handling of Bergdahl -
DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST PAUL BEGALA ON CNN: "If Barack Obama cured cancer, Republicans would attack him for putting oncologists out of work."
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Ed O'Keefe (@edatpost)
24 Republicans joined all voting members of Senate Democratic caucus in confirming Sylvia Matthews Burwell to lead HHS
Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt)
Obama hails Burwell vote: "Sylvia is a proven manager who knows how to deliver results" and has ties with "Democrats and Republicans alike."
Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN)
In @QuinnipiacPoll, 45% in PA say they'd back @HillaryClinton, 41% back @GovChristie. Margin w/in sampling error | http://bit.ly/1hBCplj
Paul Steinhauser (@psteinhauserCNN)
With the "Hard Choices" book release closing in, here's a look at the groups that have Hillary Clinton's back http://cnn.it/1hC5vkI
Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich)
"Can you hate the federal government but love the money it spends on you?"The Mississippi paradox wapo.st/1pGAHBi via @washingtonpost
Zach Wolf (@zbyronwolf)
.@AmericanXRoads statement on @senthadcochran was like a "drive by shooting" a member of GOP establishment told @JohnKingCNN #insidepolitics
Alex Burns (@aburnspolitico)
Tea Party Express PAC $ email: "We just got off the phone with the McDaniel campaign and they need our help!"
Evan Pérez (@evanperez)
Bergdahl backlash: Ted Cruz says he plans bill to stop all Gitmo transfers http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/ted-cruz-bergdahl-guantanamo-prisoner-stop-107483 .html#.U5C3x6ZaDe1.twitter …
Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto)
POTUS says #Russia must cease support of separatists and recognize new #Kiev govt. No mention of #Crimea
Alex Castellanos (@alexcast)
.@BarackObama says he talks w/ Putin on phone a lot. suggest he stop of Russians will have bases in Florida. #naive
John Newsome (@JohnNCNN)
First Lady Michelle Obama (@FLOTUS) will deliver remarks Saturday at a private memorial service for Dr. Maya Angelou
Senate Democrats (@SenateDems)
Read Sen. Al Franken's commentary on #tbt college pics of @SenateDems. Do it now. http://www.buzzfeed.com/senatorfranken/as-dem-senators-tackle-college-costs-a-tbt-post-e04l …
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
The four words that appear on the official POW/MIA flag are “YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.” The flag was designed by a World War II pilot almost 30 years after his service.
Newton Heisley was commissioned in 1971 to design a flag that would garner support for the efforts of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. While working on the design, Heisley’s son, 24-year-old solider Jeffrey Heisley, contracted hepatitis during a Marine Corps training program.
Jeffrey Heisley’s shrunken condition is what inspired his father to draw his silhouette on the POW/MIA flag.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congrats to Adam Sharp (@AdamS) and Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.
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