May 8th, 2014
06:19 PM ET
9 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for May 8, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 8, 2014 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

SHINSEKI SUBPOENAED, CALLS FOR AUDIT AT ALL CLINICS … Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has ordered a "face-to-face audit" at all Department of Veterans Affairs clinics, a spokeswoman told CNN on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the House Veterans Affairs Committee voted to subpoena Shinseki in the wake of accusations that his department is responsible for deadly delays in health care at some of its hospitals.

The Shinseki subpoena will cover e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a secret list, first reported by CNN, of veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital. The House panel agreed to issue the subpoena in a verbal vote Thursday morning. Shinseki will testify May 15 before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, CNN also learned.

Shinseki told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that he would not resign over allegations that U.S. veterans died awaiting care at VA hospitals across the country. "I serve at the pleasure of the president," Shinseki told the newspaper when asked whether he would step down. "I signed on to make some changes. I have work to do." – Ashley Fantz

President Obama still has "complete confidence" in Secretary Shinseki, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with the president in California.


BOEHNER: “I'm not ready to join, to join the chorus of people calling for him to step down … I think there's a systemic management issue throughout the V.A. that needs to be addressed, and I don't believe that just changing someone at the top is going to actually get to the solutions that many of us are looking for.”

FLAKE: “Let’s wait and see the inspector general investigation first. I’m holding off.”

MCCAIN: “I think he should be allowed to come forward and explain. He’s being brought before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He should be before the Senate but, of course, he’s not.”

NEW FIGHT OVER BENGHAZI … House Republicans are unlikely to bend to Democratic demands for more equity in the structure of a select committee to investigate the Benghazi terror attack, a GOP source familiar with the matter told CNN … The House was set to vote on creating the panel later in the day that, at this point, would include seven Republicans and five Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner called that division fair on Thursday at a briefing with reporters, and said he had spoken with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi about her party's concerns.

Democrats are threatening to boycott the committee, believing they would not have access to witnesses or equal say in subpoenas, which would make the investigation inherently partisan. CNN is also told Democrats are discussing another option - minimal participation - something short of an all-out boycott and less than the full contingent of Democrats. According to a Democratic leadership aide, this option would "make clear they're protesting, but also have full member participation to ensure that there are Democrats in the room to hold Republicans accountable for their behavior on the committee.

The controversy highlighted yesterday about GOP fundraising over the Benghazi controversy, according to Democratic aides, is underscoring their argument that this is a politically driven committee. Boehner punted on the question of Republican fundraising off the Benghazi select committee – refusing to endorse or dismiss it.– Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh

See @GloriaBorger column: The biggest mistake Democrats could make on Benghazi

RNC MAKES MOVE TO CONTROL PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES … CNN’s Mark Preston reports from Memphis: The Republican National Committee is expected to approve a new penalty Friday that would punish candidates who participate in non-sanctioned RNC presidential primary debates.

Any candidate who participates in a non-sanctioned RNC debate would be barred from appearing in future RNC sanctioned debates, according to language approved Thursday afternoon by the RNC Rules Committee.

The full RNC membership will vote on the new penalty Friday as well as the creation of a committee that will be charged with overseeing the GOP primary debate process including the timing, location and media partners for the debates. It is expected to easily pass. It is the first step by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus effort to gain more control over the Republican presidential nominating process.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: SEN. MARCO RUBIO TO POLITICO: “A comprehensive, single piece of legislation on any topic, but especially on immigration, is going to be very difficult to achieve … We keep talking about the same issue now for 15 years, and everybody is doing this all-or-nothing approach. And all-or-nothing is going to leave you with nothing.”

BASH NAMED ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL MOTHERS IN THE WORLD ...  Working Mother Magazine has named CNN’s Dana Bash the fifth most powerful mom of 2014. Bash joins CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in the top five along with Christina Aguilera, Apple’s Angela Ahrendts and GM’s Mary Barra. Bash and Amanpour beat out other notable names on the list including Victoria Beckham, Beyoncé, Sandra Bullock, Tory Burch, Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Tiny Fey, Melinda Gates, Sen. Sen. Kristin Gillibrand, Gov. Nikki Haley, Kim Kardashian, Marissa Meyer, Amy Poehler, Shonda Rhimes, Sheryl Sandberg, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Shakira, Neera Tanden, Kerry Washington and more.

Click here to see the full list.

THE BUZZ: HILLARY’S NEW BOOK GETS ITS OWN TWITTER HANDLE … The highly anticipated new Hillary Clinton memoir is coming to a Twitter feed near you. While the book, titled “Hard Choices,” isn’t being released until June 10, 2014, it has already started to develop a life of its’ own on social media ahead of its debut. The Twitter handle @HillaryBook has almost 200 followers. So far it has only tweeted once.

HillaryBook (@HillaryBook)
Sign up at for exclusive updates on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new book, #HardChoices.

ARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end mixed, with Dow adding 33 points, and NASDAQ and S&P 500 sliding. Tesla shares fall 11% on outlook.

[twitter-follow screen_name='GutCheckCNN']
(Answer below)

In honor of the 79th NFL Draft starting today, who is the only member of the current Congress that previously played in the NFL?

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Biden courts Iowa leaders
It's not so noteworthy for Vice President Joe Biden to stop by a social reception. But what was noteworthy about the one he attended Wednesday evening was its audience – full of Iowans. Biden stopped by a party at a Washington hotel for a group of 195 Iowans from the Greater Des Moines Partnership – a group aimed at promoting economic development in Des Moines. The group of Iowans are on a three-day trip to the nation's capital to help spur job creation in Des Moines and lobby Congress. – Kevin Bohn

Leading Daily Beast: Hillary Dropped the Ball on Boko Haram
The State Department under Hillary Clinton fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years. And now, lawmakers and former U.S. officials are saying that the decision may have hampered the American government’s ability to confront the Nigerian group that shocked the world by abducting hundreds of innocent girls. – Josh Rogin

Leading CNN Money: Bitcoin OK for politics, with $100 limit
The Federal Election Commission on Thursday approved the use of the alternative currency Bitcoin for political contributions with limits of $100 per donor per election cycle. The 6-member panel voted unanimously to allow the contributions, a move that could open the floodgates for donors to make political contributions with the digital currency in the upcoming midterm elections. – Jennifer Liberto

Leading Drudge: Putin Tests Nuke Forces
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday oversaw a military exercise involving Russia's nuclear forces amid escalating tensions over Ukraine. While Putin said the exercise had been planned back in November, it comes as relations between Russia and the West have plunged to their lowest point since the Cold War over Ukraine.

Leading HuffPo: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Pretty much everyone loves the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. "This is a fine piece of legislation," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday. "It does enjoy broad bipartisan support," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said moments later. But the bill is probably doomed. Leaders of the Senate Republican caucus have demanded votes on unrelated amendments, which Reid declined. Reid instead offered Republicans a chance to vote on a separate bill that would force the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline - but only if they first approve the energy efficiency bill. – Kate Sheppard and Sabrina Siddiqui

Leading Politico: Cashing in on Keystone
From advertisements blanketing Metro stops near Capitol Hill and the State Department to TV commercials saturating the Sunday morning talk shows, to print and digital promos in this publication and others, Keystone has been virtually omnipresent. Well over 100 lobbyists have registered to lobby the issue. Top consultants from Obama’s campaigns have signed up on both sides. The pro-pipeline American Petroleum Institute holds regular war councils to plot strategy and has shelled out millions promoting the project; just this week, API spent more than $50,000 on radio ads promoting Keystone in states with competitive 2014 Senate races.- Alexander Burns and Andrew Restuccia

Leading New York Times: House Vote on Former I.R.S. Official Signals Element of G.O.P. Election Strategy
The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to hold Lois Lerner, a former Internal Revenue Service official accused by Republicans of abusing power, in contempt, laying bare the bitter divide over which much of the midterm elections will be fought. – Jeremy Peters


The political bites of the day

- Kerry says U.S. intelligence team hitting the ground in Nigeria –
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY TO REPORTERS AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT: “The images from Nigeria this week have captured the public's attention about extremism in far-away places, and it has also helped focus the world's attention on Boko Haram, a concern that we have been focused on for some period of time. Our interagency team is hitting the ground in Nigeria now and they are going to be working in concert with President Goodluck Jonathan's government to do everything that we possibly can to return these girls to their families and their communities. We are also going to do everything possible to counter the menace of Boko Haram. The entire world should not only be condemning this outrage but should be doing everything possible to help Nigeria in the days ahead.”

Gut Check Full Service: For those asking, the girls were abducted on April 14th.

- Schiff on Benghazi committee: ‘It’s a select committee on fundraising’ –
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIFORNIA, TO CNN’S CAROL COSTELLO: “It is a select committee on talking points, fundraising vehicle for the Republican party - and that frankly is really destructive and yet again partisan exercise that gets us, unfortunately, farther from focus on bringing people to justice and farther from focus on where are we in terms protecting our diplomatic facilities around the world. That is really not what this select committee is interested in.”

- Obama to donors: 'Feel a sense of urgency' about midterms -
PRESIDENT OBAMA AT A DEMOCRATIC FUNDRAISER IN LOS ANGELES WEDNESDAY: “My main message to all of you is feel a sense of urgency about this election. This is my last campaign, and I'm going to put everything I've got into it, but I need you to feel that this is just as important, because we can't afford to wait until 2016.”

- Issa defends Kashkari on religious attack -
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, in a statement RESPONDING TO A FACEBOOK POST BY California Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly THAT CLAIMS KASHKARI SUPPORTS SHARIAH LAW: “As an Arab American of Lebanese Christian decent, who faced similar baseless charges from an opponent when I ran for Congress, I was offended and outraged that someone who would run for the highest office in our state would resort to such hateful and disgusting rhetoric. It is crap like this that gives Republicans a bad name and there is no place in the Republican Party or in this race for someone like Tim Donnelly.”

- House colleague on Justin Amash: ‘He’s Al Qaeda’s best friend in the Congress’ -
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California on Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, in an interview with Politico: (He) “isn’t a serious member of Congress … This is someone here playing games, and trying to be on the opposite side of Republicans… He’s been leading the charge and not telling the truth about [NSA surveillance policies] … He’s been fanning the flames, and it gets to the point where my assessment is this is a guy willing to work with San Francisco democrats to protect big fish, and at the same time he’s Al Qaeda’s best friend in the Congress.”

- Amash lashes back -
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, LATER TO POLITICO: “I vote less often with Nancy Pelosi, the real San Francisco Democrat, than any member of Congress. I opposed Nunes’s water bill on constitutional grounds, and his comments are unbecoming of a representative.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

The White House (‏@WhiteHouse)
"We’re going to do everything we can to provide assistance." —President Obama on helping Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls:

The First Lady (‏@FLOTUS)
Our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families. It's time to #BringBackOurGirls. -mo

Jake Tapper (‏@jaketapper)
#TheLead was asking the WH last Summer why it hadn't yet designated Boko Haram a terrorist group

Paul Steinhauser (‏@psteinhauserCNN)
First on CNN: NRSC begins to showcase the personal narrative of Thom Tillis, their new nominee in North Carolina

GallupNews ‏(@GallupNews)
Four Years in, #GOP Support for #TeaParty Downto 41%...

Joe Pounder (‏@PounderFile)
From @AmericaRising ... With Boko Haram, Clinton’s State Department Dropped The Ball /…

Greg Sargent @ThePlumLineGS
DCCC chair Steve Israel privately urging House Dems to BOYCOTT the new GOP #Benghazi probe: …

jennifer bendery (‏@jbendery)
Burwell's hearing is over. Two hours, hardly any GOP pushback. Burr and McCain actually raved about her.

Katie Pavlich ‏(@KatiePavlich)
As Senators heap praise on Burwell don't forget she's the one who has come up w/ Obama's budgets, all of which have been completely rejected

Ed Gillespie ‏(@EdWGillespie)
For Throwback Thursday here's a photo from my days as a Senate parking lot attendant #tbt

Chris Stirewalt ‏(@cstirewalt)
On this, the 69th anniversary of V-E Day, listen to Winston Churchill deliver the news. …

TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer

Rep. Jon Runyan, R-New Jersey, is the only member of the current Congress to have previously played in the National Football League. Runyan was first drafted in 1996 to play for the Houston Oilers and later played for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers. He spent 14 seasons in the NFL before retiring in 2010.

Comparing football to Congress, Runyan told Politico in January, “While it’s tough to say which is more difficult, there have been plenty of times in the past few years when I’ve thought politics was harder. At least in football you know exactly who your opponent is.”

Prior to Runyan, several former football stars have also made their way off the field and onto Capitol Hill. They include former Reps. Jack Kemp, Steve Largent and Heath Shuler.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congrats to Catie Weckenman (@CatieWeck) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.

Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits:
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing

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.

Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Michele Bachmann , we miss you !

    May 8, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. smith

    Malory Archer

    smith – A famous anchorman lost his job and career for telling the truth about GWB`s service record. Like or not, had it been anyone else they would have been subjected to punishment that could be as extreme as death.



    Additionally, unlike the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who was all for it as long as he wasn't the one whose backside was on the line, Bill Clinton was a vocal anti-war protester who didn't want ANYONE to go. Can you say "false equivalence"? The draft ended following Vietnam and we weren't fighting a war with anyone during President Obama's young adulthood in the 1980s, so your remark about his lack of military service is laughable at best.

    So let me get this straight, you harp on Bush for serving in the Air National Guard during the Veitnam War but you give Bill Clinton a pass for not serving in the military because he protested the Veitnam War? Then you give Obama a pass for not serving in the military because the Veitnam War was over? Your statement is one of 100% hypocrisy and is beyond dumb.

    May 8, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    GOP needs to stop this bs. Nothing wrong with Benghazi too. These Republican idiots are wasting tax payer money while bunch of uneducated are looking like owls.

    May 8, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |

    *TO EVERYONE! Where is a Human and Moral?.All The AMERICA "VET" GOV'T Need to Help 100% by they life if they had some thing ...Happen by HEALTH.

    May 8, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  5. Stuffitu

    I hope dingy Harry Reid can hold off the psychiatric people from hauling him off before election 2014. He makes more stupid remarks everyday.

    May 8, 2014 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. Peter Gerdeman

    I support Gen Shinseki, USA. VFW, Sen McCain, and others – need to site down, and s-h-u-t u-p! This is a continuation of the non-stop, demagoguery, from the right -wing-nuts. There may be problems, but how about getting the facts before conducting the sentence?! We have had enough of the white, male, evangelical, extremists – who are not about solving a problem – but more about exacerbating them!!!! To you problem enhancers – know that we know that and are not swayed by your BS!

    May 8, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |