Secret Service director in the hot seat

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testifies before congressional committee
  • The intel community pushes back on Obama’s blame
  • Comparing Obama’s intel comments to George W. Bush’s
  • Supreme Court overturns Ohio early voting decision

In the hot seat: Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testifies Tuesday at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing at 10 a.m. EDT. She’s sure to face tough questioning over the agency’s handling of a Sept. 19 White House fence jumper. The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig reported Monday that the intruder got much further into the White House than the public was first led to believe. Leonnig told NewsHour Monday night that the intruder was able to surpass five layers of Secret Service security protocol — (1) outside surveillance officers, (2) the Uniformed Division Officers inside the fencing, (3) the dogs that are supposed to be released, (4) an on-the-ground SWAT team, and (5) a Uniformed Division Officer posted to the White House door. Not to mention the White House door, which should have been locked. “it’s just is amazing that the successive layers would be breached,” Leonnig said, adding, “All of those, we know failed.” Darrell Issa, chairman of the Oversight committee, is expected, per prepared remarks reported by Politico, to call what happened Sept. 19: “amazing — and unacceptable. Common sense tells us this was a significant security failure — not an instance of praiseworthy restraint. … The White House complex is supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in the country, if not the world. So, how on earth did this happen?” We will stream the hearing in the player below:

Intel community pushes back: The intelligence community began to push back against the president’s blaming of it for underestimating the threat of the Islamic State group. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers issued a statement Monday following the president’s comments on 60 Minutes, saying, “For over a year, U.S. intelligence agencies specifically warned that ISIL was taking advantage of the situation in Syria to recruit members and provoke violence that could spill into Iraq and the rest of the region.” He added, “This was not an Intelligence Community failure, but a failure by policy makers to confront the threat.” The White House even walked back the president’s remarks on 60 Minutes slightly. “Ultimately, the president’s commander in chief and he’s the one who takes responsibility,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at the White House briefing.

IS intel was no ‘slam dunk’: The Wall Street Journal editorial page finds this irony: “President Obama rode to the White House in part by assailing George W. Bush for believing faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. So there is no small irony in his claim now that America’s spooks missed the rise of the Islamic State. The difference is that U.S. intelligence did warn about the threat from ISIS. Mr. Obama chose not to listen.” It notes former Defense Intelligence Agency head Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who testified in February before a Senate committee, that IS “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014….” It closes with this: “[I]f Mr. Obama truly believes this was an intelligence failure, we have a suggestion. Fire Mr. Clapper as director of national intelligence and replace him with Lt. Gen. Flynn, who retired from DIA earlier this year. The President clearly needs an intel chief who will tell him more than what he wants to hear.” Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute made similar points on NewsHour Monday night. A CNN/ORC poll finds 75 percent of Americans expect that the U.S. will likely send ground troops in at some point to fight IS. But unlike an NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll out Monday, they oppose sending those ground troops by a 60-38 percent margin. They even oppose training and arming Syrian rebels to fight IS by a 54-42 percent margin.

2014 watch — Supreme Court blocks Ohio early voting: It’s early voting season, and that means fights about when, who and how states implement the process will get more attention. On Monday, in a 5-4 decision along familiar conservative-liberal lines, the Supreme Court delayed the start of early voting in Ohio just a day before it would have begun. That could mean a potential tightening of early voting in other key states with cases that could land before the court — Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas and Arkansas, USA Today reports. It also could complicate Democrats’ turnout efforts either in 2014 or 2016. In Iowa during the 2012 presidential election, Jennifer DePinto notes President Obama won 60 percent of early voters, and Republican Mitt Romney won 52 percent of those who voted on Election Day. Democrats are investing heavily in the ground game for 2014, the New York Times’ Upshot reports, outspending Republicans by millions in states with key Senate races, while the GOP focuses on ads and direct mail.

2014 odds and ends: Former President Bill Clinton’s heading to Arkansas Monday and Tuesday to try and fend off a Republican takeover in the state where he was once governor. … Race-car driver Richard Petty endorses Thom Tillis in a new ad … Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s is highlighting his role in a child abduction case.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1962, President Kennedy sent 3,000 federal troops to Oxford, Mississippi to escort the first black student into Ole Miss. Who was the student? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Lee Clausen (@LeeClausen) for guessing last Monday’s trivia: What did Congress authorize President Reagan to do the first time they used the War Powers Act? The answer was: To keep U.S. Marines in Lebanon for 18 more months.

  • President Obama will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at the White House Tuesday. They will focus on regional issues, including current developments in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Vice President Biden will also participate.

  • Modi will also meet with top House leaders Tuesday. Texas Rep. Pete Sessions has called him “the next Ronald Reagan for the world” — but Modi didn’t always receive such a warm reception on the Hill.

  • The United States and Afghanistan signed a security pact Tuesday allowing U.S. forces to remain in the country past the end of this year.

  • The Washington Post editorial page is critical of the Secret Service’s handling of recent events.

  • In a speech at the U.N., Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Israel’s fight against Hamas to the U.S. fight against IS.

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry says President Obama should acknowledge that a beheading in Oklahoma was a terrorist act.

  • Former top Senate Democrat Tom Daschle isn’t pleased with his successor: Harry Reid has refused to endorse former Daschle aide Rick Weiland, the Democratic nominee to succeed Sen. Tim Johnson in South Dakota.

  • Democrats in very tight races have not been running like your typical liberals this year, and that includes their position on military action abroad.

  • House Speaker John Boehner cuts a 2-minute video from a recent economic speech at the American Enterprise Institute laying out a five-point economic plan.

  • The “Kissing Congressman,” Louisiana Rep. Vance McAllister, is too liberal for the Club for Growth. “The more you know, the worse it gets,” says a new ad from the group slamming the Republican.

  • A write-in candidate for governor in Rhode Island gets very honest about her cannabis use in a video posted on her YouTube channel. Video highlight: “Yes, I do smoke cannabis, and yes, I do inhale.”

  • Environmental groups, like the Leagues of Conservation Voters, are targeting a few state legislatures to help move their agenda forward.

  • Without a clear establishment candidate emerging from the GOP field, conservatives are hopeful that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz can wage their fight and possibly secure the nomination in 2016.

  • A majority of Republicans identify as hawks, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, and that could be a problem for Sen. Rand Paul if he decides to run in 2016.

  • Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb has minimal support among Democrats according to recent polling, but that’s not stopping him from seriously considering a presidential bid.

  • New Hampshire eyes are focused on 1st District Republican Frank Guinta, and that’s because whichever way his wave-susceptible district goes (in the third rematch with Rep. Carol Shea Porter) is likely to signal Republicans’ fate in the entire state, including Scott Brown’s.

  • In an attack airing Tuesday, the DCCC hits Guinta on the “forgotten” bank account that allowed him to loan his first congressional campaign $245,000.

  • Republicans control over half of the state legislatures in the U.S., but the GOP has their eye on picking up even more state legislatures this year.

  • Senators are already angling to see who will lead the party election committees next time around, in 2016, when the electoral map is expected to be more favorable to Democrats than this year.

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to expand the city’s living wage law by executive order Tuesday.

  • There’s a “genuine opening for a Romney third act,” Mark Leibovich writes in The New York Times Magazine, and “Romney is noticeably playing along.”

  • Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., belted out the Ben E. King classic [“Stand By Me”] at a campaign rally over the weekend.

  • 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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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.

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