CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for July 17, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
HAPPENING NOW … ISRAEL LAUNCHES GROUND OPERATION INTO GAZA … The Israeli military launched a ground operation into Gaza late Thursday, the government said. The much-anticipated operation follows some of the most intense fighting in the 10 days of bombings and airstrikes between Israel and Hamas. Palestinian medical and security sources say 240 people have been killed in Gaza, including at least seven children who died Thursday, and about 1,800 injured. Israel says one of its citizens has died. – Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman, Michael Pearson and Jethro Mullen
BREAKING NEWS: A large IDF force has just launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. A new phase of Operation Protective Edge has begun.
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MALAYSIA AIRLINES PLANE CRASHES IN UKRAINE ...A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, prompting a Ukrainian official to say that the flight carrying 295 people had been "shot down." "Terrorists" fired on the plane operating a Buk surface-to-air missile system, according to a Facebook post from Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. The plane, a Boeing 777, went down near the town of Torez in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, according to the post, as it flew at about 10,000 meters (nearly 33,000 feet).– Ashley Fantz
U.S. CONCLUDES PLANE WAS SHOT DOWN… A senior US official tells CNN’s Barbara Starr that the US has concluded the Malaysian airline was shot down. One radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the plane was shot down, according to the official. A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit, the official explained.
PRESIDENT OBAMA… “Obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border, and it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now we're working to determine whether there were American citizens on board – that is our first priority – and I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why, and as a country our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.”
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: U.S. SENDING TEAM TO UKRAINE … Vice President Joe Biden said he has been in contact with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and has offered U.S. assistance in the aftermath of the "tragic event that's taken place on the Ukrainian border" with Russia. The Ukrainian president accepted the assistance, Biden said.
PUTIN BRIEFED OBAMA … According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, near the end of a call this morning with President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the early reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border.
MCCAIN: 'PROFOUND REPERCUSSIONS' IF PLANE SHOT DOWN ... "If it is the case, then we're going to have to act, and act in the most stringent fashions, including real sanctions (and) including giving the Ukrainians the ability to defend themselves, which we have not done so far," the Arizona Republican said in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
ON THE HILL ... HOUSE OVERSIGHT FIGHT GETS UGLY: House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a Republican, and the panel's top Democrat, Elijah Cummings, have clashed repeatedly. And now they're at it again. A day after sparring over a committee subpoena of a top White House official, Cummings blasted Issa for using the committee as "center stage for political theater."Cummings told CNN's Kate Bolduan on "New Day" that it was wrong for Issa to try to compel testimony from David Simas, director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach.
Issa is looking into that unit and demanding to know whether Simas' duties violate the Hatch Act, which bars most federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities ... Cummings has said Issa lacks any evidence to show Simas or his staff violated the law ... Issa contends the White House has delayed providing the panel with information about the re-creation of Simas' office in January. – Sara Fischer
THE BUZZ: GEORGE W. BUSH'S STAND-IN? HILLARY CLINTON ...After former President George W. Bush had to cancel an upcoming speech at a conference because of knee surgery, Hillary Clinton has agreed to speak instead. Politico's Maggie Haberman, who's also a political analyst for CNN, reports that Clinton will speak at the Ameriprise Financial conference in Boston next week as Bush recovers from a second partial knee replacement surgery he had last weekend in Chicago. He had surgery on his other knee in May.
THE KICKER: POLL: REPUBLICANS SLIGHTLY BEHIND CLINTON IN KEY 2016 STATES ... A new poll indicates Hillary Clinton is either tied with or holds a narrow advantage over potential Republican presidential contenders in Iowa and New Hampshire. According to a new NBC News/Marist survey, Clinton is tied with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 45% in Iowa and barely edges out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 44%-43%. – Ashley Killough
SOCIAL WATCH:HAPPENING TONIGHT … Breaking News and Drinking Brews: CNN and National Journal join forces to explore the 2014 midterm elections at the first "Politics on Tap" event this evening. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, will join CNN’s Jake Tapper, Brianna Keilar and Peter Hamby, as well as National Journal’s Ron Fournier, and Michelle Cottle for the private gathering starting at 6pm. Follow along with the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #PoliticsOnTap.
MARKET WATCH: Sharp selloff for stocks after Malaysian Air crash in Ukraine and Israeli offensive in Gaza. Dow falls 162 points.
Which foreign leader has made the most addresses to Congress?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Netroots Nation's to-do list: Get Democrats to polls in November
The spotlight will shine on the 2014 and 2016 elections as some 3,000 activists from the left gather in Detroit starting Thursday. That's when the annual Netroots Nation conference, the largest gathering of progressive leaders and activists, kicks off. And two of the Democratic Party's biggest stars – Vice President Joe Biden and freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – will give keynote addresses. – Paul Steinhauser
Leading CNNMoney: Gold prices jump after Ukraine plane crash
Gold prices rose and the market's fear gauge spiked Thursday after a civilian aircraft crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border. Gold futures were up 1.5%, to about $1,317 per ounce as investors sought safety in so-called hard assets. – Ben Rooney
Leading Des Moines Register: Chris Christie tells Iowans: 'I preach to the choir so they'll sing'
In a private fundraiser here, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the story about how he thought "preaching to the choir" sounded like a waste of time until a Lutheran minister in Albany explained the phrase in a way that gave it new meaning. "I preach to the choir so they'll sing," Christie said, according to guests who attended his second Iowa stop of the day, a $125-a-person luncheon fundraiser for Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen on the campus of Kirkwood Community College. – Jennifer Jacobs
Leading HuffPo: Just Stop: Akin Won't Quit Talking About Rape
Two years after he lost his 2012 Senate campaign, former Missouri Republican congressman Todd Akin still can't stop talking about rape. Appearing on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown" on Thursday, Akin sought yet again to explain the infamous comments about rape that roiled his bid to oust Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). In a 2012 interview, Akin said, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." – Igor Bobic
Leading Politico: VA request complicates reform push
An unexpected funding request from the Department of Veterans Affairs is complicating negotiations over a bill to reform the embattled agency, Florida Republican Rep. Jeff Miller said on Thursday. On Wednesday, Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson told the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs the department needs $17.6 billion to hire thousands of doctors and reduce wait times at VA facilities. – Lauren Frernch
Leading New York Times: Political Duel for California Governor Spans Nation
Gov. Jerry Brown has a little-known Republican challenger campaigning against him across California, taunting him on issues from taxes to transit. But his most formidable Republican adversary is turning out to be a fellow Californian who wields his power from an office 2,700 miles away: Representative Kevin McCarthy, the incoming House majority leader. – Adam Nagourney
The political bites of the day
– Schiff: Plane crash could say something about Russian conflict –
SENIOR HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE MEMBER REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIFORNIA, IN A STATEMENT: “If this was indeed a missile attack on a civilian airplane by pro-Russia separatists, it represents a tragic and dramatic escalation in this conflict. It’s been clear from the beginning that, notwithstanding Putin’s duplicitous statements to the contrary, Russia has continued to stoke the conflict and allow violent separatists in eastern Ukraine access to an array of Russian armaments. I hope that Europe will quickly follow America's lead by implementing broader sanctions, since it is plain that until Russia stops its support of the separatists, this conflict – and all the loss of life it has occasioned – will not end.”
Mark Kirk (@SenatorKirk)
Russian-made advanced SAM has murdered 295 innocent people. Over-due Russian sanctions should expand to oil and energy sectors.
– Iranian official: Measures will ensure Iran doesn’t create nuclear weapons -
IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF TO CNN’S CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: “We will put in place an international mechanism in order to make sure that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.”
– Feinstein: GM bankruptcy doesn’t get company off the hook –
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIFORNIA, AT A GENERAL MOTORS RECALL HEARING: “The bankruptcy of GM is no barrier to compensation. If there were accidents that occurred before the bankruptcy, they are as eligible as accidents that occurred after the bankruptcy.”
– Warren, McCain, Ayotte, King: Time to tackle the ‘too big to fail’ problem –
SENS. ELIZABETH WARREN, JOHN MCCAIN, KELLY AYOTTE, AND ANGUS KING IN A CNN OP-ED: “Congress should not wait until the next crisis to address the ‘too big to fail’ problem. Nor should it wait any longer in the hopes that regulators will end this phenomenon themselves. It's been four years since Congress passed, and rulemaking began on, the Dodd-Frank Act. The regulators have so far missed more than half of their statutory rule-making deadlines and many rules remain unwritten.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Jim Acosta (@JimAcostaCNN)
POTUS says US officials working to determine whether Americans were on board plane that crashed
Jim Roberts (@nycjim)
Very strange to watch Obama talking about infrastructure at a rally when everyone else is transfixed by plane crash in #Ukraine.
Niels Lesniewski (@nielslesniewski)
Surprise! Nominee to be ambassador to UN airplane crash investigator is stuck in #Senate confirmation limbo: http://roll.cl/1kAa9vi #MH17
Kate Nocera (@KateNocera)
rival seems like an odd word choice MT @j_strong: Issa leading 'rival' delegation to investigate border crisis http://breitbart.com/Big-Government …
Brandon M. Mercer (@bmmercer)
#MH17 Passenger posts photo of his plane before boarding, making joke about "in case it disappears." http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/07/17/passenger-posts-facebook-photo-of-malaysian-flight-mh17-as-joking-reference-to-mh370-before-taking-off-mh17-mh370-social-media-cor-pan/ …
John Gravois (@Grav1)
Is Wendy Davis' campaign distorting campaign finance numbers? Jay Root finds her money haul was less than advertised http://trib.it/1mVOQsc
Kasie Hunt (@kasie)
US Senate-branded flip flops, on sale in gift shop, feature a bottle opener on the bottom #bottomsup https://twitter.com/kasie/status/489839632268292097
Travon Free (@Travon)
Starbucks opened a store in Columbia? Well I guess we should get to work on that Olive Garden location in Italy.
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill still holds the record for the most addresses to Congress made by a foreign leader. Churchill addressed joint meetings in 1941, 1943 and 1952. South African president Nelson Mandela addressed Congress on two occasions in 1990 and 1994. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin also addressed joint meetings of Congress twice, in 1976 and 1994.
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