POLITICS
05/13/2013 05:52 pm ET | Updated Jul 13, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Obama Administration Days Away From Slipping On Banana Peel

The IRS targeted people for their political beliefs, a tactic the government is only supposed to use for drawing congressional districts. Newt Gingrich still isn't familiar with the term "smartphone," a remarkable lapse in tech knowledge from a guy who wants to establish a moon base. And 41 percent of Republicans think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in this country's history, which is insane because everyone knows
the biggest scandal is President Obama's secret golf game with Tiger Woods. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 13th, 2013
:

DOJ SECRETLY COMBS THROUGH AP PHONE RECORDS - Eric Holder will soon take to the road to locate the few people left in the country who he hasn't alienated, insulting them and/or pouring salt in their flower bushes. AP: "The Justice Department has secretly obtained two months of telephone records of journalists for The Associated Press in what AP's top executive says is an unprecedented intrusion into newsgathering. Prosecutors took records showing incoming and outgoing calls for work and personal numbers for individual reporters, plus for general AP offices in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn. The government also seized those records for the main phone number for AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. The Justice Department disclosed the seizure in a letter the AP received Friday. The letter did not state a reason, but prosecutors have previously said they are conducting a leaks investigation into how the AP learned about an al-Qaida bomb plot in Yemen before it was made public last year. Prosecutors have sought records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices is unusual." [AP]

Letter from AP President Gary Pruitt to Eric Holder: "There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know." [Ibid.]

@Philip_Elliott: ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Minnesota Senate approves #gay marriage bill; governor's signature expected Tuesday

GRAHAM THREATENS TO TORPEDO IMMIGRATION REFORM OVER LGBT PROVISION - Elise Foley: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Monday that he would pull support from his own immigration reform bill if his fellow Judiciary Committee members voted to include LGBT provisions. The immigration legislation put forward by the bipartisan 'gang of eight' doesn't address the problems faced by binational same-sex couples, who under the Defense of Marriage Act cannot petition for green cards for their foreign national partners. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced amendments to the gang of eight bill that would give same-sex couples equal treatment to heterosexual ones under immigration law. But Republicans in the gang of eight, including Graham, have cautioned that such a move would kill the bill. In January, when the group first unveiled its broad framework for immigration reform, Graham said LGBT provisions would be a non-starter for Republicans." [HuffPost]

OUR ANONYMOUS REPUBLICAN LOBBYIST CONTRIBUTORS REALLY PLEASED WITH CURRENT NEWS CYCLE - HuffPost Hill's Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things, a little depressed after failing to secure a corporate sponsor for the Jefferson Memorial ("5-hour Energy Jefferson Memorial" fell apart at the last minute), was cheered up by last week's revelation about the Benghazi memo and the IRS' targeting of conservative advocacy organizations. "I am so psyched to watch White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler Jay Carney at the next press conference to watch him sweat it out as he talks about immigration reform Benghazi the IRS' Nixonian tactics," FALPAT writes. "FALPAT loves second-term scandals and forced early retirements. #LameDucky." Meanwhile, Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, takes a more charitable view."At least Jay Carney can go back into journalism," PSLGOPL writes. "Poor Scott McClellan is still unemployed." Thanks, FALPAT and PSLGOPL!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - More sequester fester out in the land: "State officials say federal automatic budget cuts will lower an unemployment benefits program for people in Washington. The Employment Security Department announced Wednesday that beginning on May 19 'emergency unemployment compensation' will be reduced by 21.08 percent under the so-called sequester." Well done, Congress. [MasonCountyDailyNews.com]

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HOUSE COMMITTEES ALREADY PLANNING IRS INVESTIGATIONS BECAUSE OF COURSE - The best part will be to see how it's tied to Hillary Clinton (she never told the Internal Revenue Service to not target conservative organizations). Politico: "The Republican-controlled House won't waste any time before it begins investigating the Internal Revenue Service's alleged targeting of conservative groups. The Ways and Means Committee is likely hold a hearing in the next two weeks before Congress recesses for a week for Memorial Day, according to several sources involved in planning. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been busy investigating the attack in Benghazi, is also likely to hold hearings, sources said." [Politico]

Even a broken clock... "But over a year before Obama learned about the story, and the national media began asking him about it, several conservative sites were raising questions about why the IRS had been contacting a number of tea party-affiliated groups with similar demands for information. 'Is Obama Using The IRS To Silence Opposition Voices?' Mike Opelka asked Feb. 14, 2012 on The Blaze, the conservative network and website launched by Glenn Beck. Less than two weeks later, Colleen Owens asked on Right Side News: 'Is The IRS Attempting to Intimidate Local Tea Parties?'" [HuffPost's Michael Calderone]

OBAMA COMMENTS ON IRS SCANDAL - At what point will the president stop giving actual answers and just start delivering the "bowl of shit" story from "The Wire"? Sam Stein: "In a press conference on Monday, Obama called the reports 'outrageous' and intolerable, while saying he would reserve harsher judgment for when a fuller report on the IRS's actions is formally released. 'This is pretty straightforward,' said Obama. 'If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that is outrageous, and there is no place for it, and they have to be held fully accountable, because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity and people have to have confidence that they are applying the laws in a non-partisan way. You should feel that way regardless of party.' 'But I have got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it, and we will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this,' he added. The remarks were the president's first on the evolving scandal surrounding the tax collection agency." [HuffPost]

BOEHNER'S STAFF SAW BENGHAZI EMAILS IN MARCH - ABC News: "News of the Obama Administration's role in the extensive editing of CIA talking points on Benghazi rocked the political world last week and prompted a demand from Speaker of the House John Boehner for the release of all related White House emails, but it should not have been a revelation to the Speaker. The White House first briefed the House leadership on the talking point revisions on March 19. The briefing was given to the House Intelligence Committee, but the White House also invited Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to attend or to send a senior staff member. Boehner did not attend, but he did send staff, according to the Speaker's office. Those attending the closed briefing were permitted to view the emails, but not to copy them." [ABC News]

One day, Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings will stop hating each other: "Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, is demanding that Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) allow the authors of an internal State Department review of Benghazi to testify at a public hearing instead of a private deposition. Cummings said the co-authors of last year's Accountability Review Board (ARB) report should have a chance to defend themselves in public from allegations they sought to shield top administration officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, from criticism." [The Hill]

POLL: BENGHAZI NOT SAVING THE GOP - PPP: "Voters trust Hillary Clinton over Congressional Republicans on the issue of Benghazi by a 49/39 margin and Clinton's +8 net favorability rating at 52/44 is identical to what it was on our last national poll in late March. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans remain very unpopular with a 36/57 favorability rating. Voters think Congress should be more focused on other major issues right now rather than Benghazi. By a 56/38 margin they say passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill is more important than continuing to focus on Benghazi, and by a 52/43 spread they think passing a bill requiring background checks for all gun sales should be a higher priority. While voters overall may think Congress' focus should be elsewhere there's no doubt about how mad Republicans are about Benghazi. 41% say they consider this to be the biggest political scandal in American history to only 43% who disagree with that sentiment. Only 10% of Democrats and 20% of independents share that feeling." [PPP]

Newt Gingrich doesn't know what a smartphone is. He has been calling his iPhone a "handheld computer," and is crowdsourcing a new term for this nifty device.

SD SEN: HERSETH SANDLIN NOT RUNNING - Nick Wing: "Former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) on Monday announced that she wouldn't seek the state's open Senate seat, set to be vacated by retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)...With Herseth Sandlin out, state Democrats can further exhale as the prospect of a bitter primary continues to fade. Last week, Rick Weiland, a former Clinton Federal Emergency Management Agency official who has run for House before, became the first Democrat to jump into the Senate race. Top South Dakota Democrats quickly rallied around Weiland, and many saw his entrance into the race as a sign that Johnson's son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, won't run in 2014." [HuffPost]

Maximum Kerry: "The brother of Secretary of State John Kerry will temporarily join President Obama's Cabinet as the acting head of the Commerce Department. Cameron Kerry, Commerce's general counsel, will become acting secretary when Rebecca Blank, the current acting head, steps down at the end of the month. The Cabinet-level brother act may be short-lived, however: President Obama earlier this month nominated Chicago hotel executive Penny Pritzker to lead the department." [The Hill]

WEINER STAFFING UP FOR POSSIBLE MAYORAL BID - Should Weiner run and fail, Americans will be surprised to learn that New Yorkers can be offended by someone's marital indiscretions, despite the general assumption that they split their time between soliciting friends to join their polyamorous relationships and freebasing morning-after pills. Politico: "Anthony Weiner, the fallen congressman who has been eyeing a comeback in New York City this year, has tapped at least one staffer for a mayoral run, two sources told POLITICO. It's the most affirmative step Weiner has taken toward a campaign, since he made his confessional interview to The New York Times Magazine weeks ago. Sources did not identify the name of the staffer, or what position the person will play on the campaign. But it comes after Weiner and his associates have spent weeks canvassing for names of potential press aides and other hires." [Politico]

Vote early, vote often: "In politics every vote does count, even if it's just one vote as was the case in the race between Patty Cortez and Christina Mercado in the District 1 Lytle ISD contest. This was a tight race with one vote for Mercado and zero for Cortez. Yes, you read that right." [My San Antonio]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Cat is freaked out by its owner's sneeze.

DC: TOMMY WELLS RUNNING FOR MAYOR - WaPo: "D.C. Council member Tommy Wells will bring more than three months of exploration to an end Saturday when he formally launches his mayoral campaign at a rally in Northeast Washington. Wells (D-Ward 6), who announced the rally in an e-mail to supporters Monday, is likely to become the second candidate in the race, following fellow Democrat and council member Muriel Bowser. Incumbent Vincent C. Gray (D) has not announced whether he will seek a second term... Wells, 56, has represented Ward 6 on the council since 2007. A former social worker who has lived in the city since the early 1980s, Wells formerly served on the D.C. Board of Education and on the advisory neighborhood commission in Capitol Hill." [WaPo]

COMFORT FOOD

- The first trailer for the new season of "Arrested Development." [http://bit.ly/13U5ptF]

- Ryan Gosling won't eat his cereal. [http://bit.ly/YMDBc4]

- A collection of animals who've tucked themselves into cups. #YOLO[http://huff.to/10I5odB]

- Views of food cut vertically down the middle. [http://chzb.gr/10AOtJP]

- What happens when you open a bottle of soda on the ocean floor? [http://bit.ly/13dYnNE]

- "Casino Royale" made out of LEGOs. [http://bit.ly/19iqm1W]

- A trailer for "The Great Catsby." [http://bit.ly/YELjCJ]

TWITTERAMA

@achorowitz: Are you a DOJ employee that secretly obtained AP phone records? If so, the AP would like to talk to you.

@ryanbeckwith: Whenever I see a Minnesota Democrat, I think someone is cursing. D-MN

@pourmecoffee: Obama doubling-down on attempt to treat cicada invasion as a non-issue.

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