President Obama blasts ‘phony scandals’

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Supreme Court strikes a blow to Obama, future presidents
  • Arming Syrian rebels — now?
  • ‘Phony scandals’
  • More Mississippi forensics

Recess appointments are essentially dead: The Supreme Court unanimously decided that President Barack Obama’s three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, made during a three-day recess, were illegal. The court essentially defined a recess as at least 10 days. The court’s conservatives would have gone further. Amazingly, this is the first time the court has ruled on recess appointments in U.S. history. This is not just a blow to Mr. Obama, but future presidents. It makes the recess appointment power, used by presidents for a couple hundred years, “almost wholly unusable,” Harold Bruff, a University of Colorado Law School professor and author of a forthcoming book on presidential powers, told the L.A. Times. “The only time he will be able to use it is when he has majorities in both houses in Congress, and then he doesn’t need it.” But the biggest decision of the court’s term comes Monday when it rules on the so-called Hobby Lobby case, dealing with whether companies that have religious objections to birth control and morning-after pills can be legally required to pay for health plans that cover them. On the NewsHour Thursday night, Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal broke down the recess appointments case as well as the court striking down a “speech” buffer zone at abortion clinics.

$500 million for Syria rebels: As part of a $66 billion request from Congress to fund overseas operations, President Obama requested $500 million Thursday to fund what the administration sees as moderate rebels in Syria. The question many will have though is, “Now?” The AP reports that this would supplement an ongoing covert operation to train rebels there. But the timing of this — as the group The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, gains a foothold in Iraq and over the border in Syria — makes it look like an acknowledgment that it was a mistake for the Obama administration not to arm moderate rebels more palatable to the West earlier.

Obama blasts ‘phony scandals’: President Obama hit the road Thursday for Minnesota, grabbing a burger stuffed with cheese and some ice cream while trying to interact with “real” people. He also again dished out some criticism of the political culture in Washington, namely what he called “phony scandals” that he said are based on “fabricated issues” aimed at “ginning up a base” at a town hall. The president followed up those comments later at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where he talked about the struggles of Rebekah Erler, a working mother he had spent time with earlier in the day. Instead of figuring out ways to help Erler and her family, the president said lawmakers “talk about everything else.” He went on to say: “We talk about phony scandals, and we talk about Benghazi, and we talk about polls, and we talk about the tea party, and we talk about the latest controversy that Washington has decided is important — and we don’t talk about her.” The comments come as House Republicans have intensified their investigation of the improper targeting practices of the IRS in light of reports that thousands of emails from former official Lois Lerner went missing after her hard drive crashed in 2011. On top of that, GOP lawmakers have also formed a special select committee to investigate the administration’s response to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. And House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that Republicans planned to sue the president over his use of executive authority.

What happened in Mississippi: Thad Cochran’s narrow win for reelection in the GOP Senate race in Mississippi has sparked discussion about whether Democrats, specifically black voters, put Cochran over the top. Without exit polls, it’s difficult to know precisely, but the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman concluded that it was very likely. He divided the state into 24 majority black counties and 58 others and found that turnout went up in those majority black counties 40 percent. Overall, turnout was up 20 percent. What’s more, Cochran netted 10,384 MORE votes from the June 3 primary in majority black counties, greater than his overall margin of victory June 24. He cranked up his percentages in those counties in the three weeks from 62 percent to 67 percent. In the predominantly white counties, turnout was just 17 percent, and McDaniel’s margin in those counties went UP 2,635 votes. For its part, the Cochran campaign doesn’t put it all on black voters. Austin Barbour, former Gov. Haley Barbour’s nephew and an adviser to the Cochran campaign, told Morning Line that traditional Cochran voters — white and black — had “taken it for granted” that Cochran would win June. 3. But he acknowledged, “More black voters came out because they felt engaged with the campaign.” Though he said the campaign didn’t explicitly appeal to black voters, others did so on his behalf. There were radio ads in mostly black areas, noting that funding for historically black colleges and food stamps could be cut under McDaniel. And Cochran’s own ads did show him interacting with black voters, and the senator met with black pastors during the three-week runoff campaign.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1991, Justice Thurgood Marshall resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court. Who did Bush nominate to succeed Marshall? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Christina Bellantoni‏ (@cbellantoni) and EmGusk‏ (@EmGusk)
for guessing Thursday’s trivia: What was the memorable line President John Kennedy delivered during his famous speech at the Berlin Wall? The answer was: Ich bin ein Berliner.


  • Obama’s day: The president speaks about the economy at 11:50 am ET from Minneapolis before heading back to Washington. He meets with the acting secretary of Veterans Affairs at 5 pm ET.
  • Special prosecutors for the probe into illegal campaign contributions during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections in Wisconsin say that Gov. Scott Walker is not the focus of the investigation right now.
  • Tennessee Republican and former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker died Thursday. He was 88 years old.
  • The Senate on Thursday confirmed the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq, but there are 31 other ambassador nominees, who have already made it through the Foreign Relations Committee, waiting for full Senate action.
  • Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., gave House Republicans a “red card” on immigration reform Thursday. “Too many flagrant offenses and unfair attacks and too little action,”he said. “You are out. Hit the showers.” On the GOP side, Rep. Bob Goodlatte reiterated that the president first needs to enforce existing laws.
  • House Majority Whip-elect Steve Scalise, who urged the party to increase red-state representation in leadership, has selected North Carolina Rep. Patrick Henry as his chief deputy whip.
  • Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr, who is waging a primary challenge against Sen. Lamar Alexander, released his first TV ad Thursday accusing Alexander of supporting amnesty.
  • Even left-leaning voters who believe in environmental causes don’t think building the Keystone XL pipeline is antithetical to that cause or to their support for alternative energy, according to the Pew Political Typology Report.
  • The Washington Post breaks down the $104.9 million Bill Clinton has received for the 542 speeches he’s given between when he left office and when Hillary Clinton stepped down as secretary of state.
  • A week after court documents revealed a ninvestigation into possible illegal campaign coordination between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups, the special prosecutor said Thursday that Walker had not been a target of the investigation and that they hadn’t reach a conclusion about anyone being charged with a crime.
  • A federal judge in Colorado upheld the state’s gun laws that were signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper last year.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., will headline a fundraiser in Boston on Monday for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
  • A new survey from Pew Research Center finds that 62 percent of people feel the American economic system unfairly favors the powerful and 78 percent believe that power is concentrated in too few companies.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law Thursday the highest minimum wage increase of any state — $11 per hour by 2017.
  • The New York State Court of Appeals on Thursday squashed the New York City Board of Health’s last hopes of having former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas reinstated.
  • Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices” will not be available in China.
  • South Carolina businessman and reality TV star Thomas Ravenel is planning to challenge Sen. Lindsey Graham as an independent. He served as state treasurer until resigning because of federal drug charges.
  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.














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