POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Tornado Hits Oklahoma: Congress Sends Tweets, Maybe Help

05/20/2013 06:27 pm ET | Updated Jul 20, 2013

President Obama offered Burma Myanmar's president advice on how to democratize his country, but thankfully omitted labeling journalists as criminal "conspirators" from his tip list. Andrew Cuomo might sue Khloe Kardashian -- 2016 watchers will wait and see if Martin O'Malley files suit against the cast of "Ace of Cakes." And when you start complaining about the cicada brood in a week or two, just be glad it's not a half-mile wide tornado. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 20th, 2013:

TORNADO HELL - Huge tornadoes clobbered the midwest today. HuffPost's liveblog has breaking news.

A twister flattened Moore, Okla., Rep. Tom Cole's hometown. He got emotional watching video of the damage: "I can literally recognize the homes and the businesses. I just saw my cleaners." [Politico]

WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS LEARNED OF IRS PROBE, DIDN'T DISCUSS WITH THE PRESIDENT - Does three weeks even count as a coverup? And wouldn't unveiling the findings in April have distracted from our national discussion about the President's White House Correspondents Dinner jokes? (Oh, and that bombing.) Sam Stein: "White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged on Monday that senior staffers to President Barack Obama were informed in late April that a forthcoming audit of the IRS would reveal that officials there had targeted conservative groups. Nevertheless, Carney said, they did not warn the president about the scandal soon to hit his administration. Speaking to reporters at his daily briefing, Carney said White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler told top staffers that an inspector general audit was near completion after she herself was notified of the audit on April 24. Carney said Ruemmler had told Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the forthcoming report but he did not name the other staffers who were briefed. Carney himself was kept in the dark. He said nobody saw an actual draft of the report." [HuffPost]

Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch are pushing to expand the investigation of the IRS: "In a letter sent today to acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sought details on how the agency reviewed applications for wide range of tax exemptions -- not just the requests for 501(c)(4) status at the center of the current scandal. The lawmakers also want to know whether any elected officials influenced employees as they decided which applications for a tax exemption deserved extra review." [Politico]

FBI TARGETING JOURNALISTS - Jeez, and here we thought the pay was the crummiest part. WaPo: "When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material. They used security badge access records to track the reporter's comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter's personal e-mails...In the documents, FBI agent Reginald Reyes described in detail how [Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News] moved in and out of the State Department headquarters at 2201 C St. NW a few hours before the story was published on June 11, 2009...Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, 'at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.' That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target." [WaPo]

The president of Myanmar, which is transitioning to a more democratic/less authoritarian form of government, visited the White House today.

@DOJOnIt: Guys, a reporter is fishing around for information, and THE DOJ IS ON IT http://wapo.st/12NDWIA

MOVEON LEANING INTO PETITION THING - MoveOn is folding its petition platform into its main advocacy organization, shuttering the successful SignOn.org and renaming it MoveOn Petitions. "We're baking petitions into everything we're doing," MoveOn's relatively new head Anna Galland told HuffPost Hill. It means lots of local organizing, but also will be leveraged with national campaigns, such as Jeff Merkley's effort to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act or Elizabeth Warren's bill to lower student loan rates. Galland said that her tenure has shown that folks who thought MoveOn was exiting the national stage were too pessimistic. "That's pretty clearly not true, if you look at the track record the last 5 months," she said.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Sequester again. "Missourians receiving unemployment benefits through a federally-funded program for people who have been out of work long-term won't receive payments for next week, the last week in July and a week in September because of the federal sequestration. Under the sequestration -- the automatic federal spending cuts that took effect in March -- states have had to cut their Emergency Unemployment Compensation program payouts by 10.7 percent through September." [STLtoday.com]

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POLL: PRESIDENT OBAMA RESIGNING IN DISGRACE NOT HURT BY SCANDALS - You'd almost think the guy had taken up with a White House intern. CNN: "President Barack Obama comes out of what was arguably the worst week of his presidency with his approval rating holding steady, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday morning also indicates that congressional Republicans are not overplaying their hand when it comes to their reaction to the three controversies that have consumed the nation's capital over the past week and a half. And the poll finds that a majority of Americans take all three issues seriously. According to the survey, which was conducted Friday and Saturday, 53% of Americans say they approve of the job the president is doing, with 45% saying they disapprove. The president's approval rating was at 51% in CNN's last poll, which was conducted in early April." [CNN]

We can only imagine what kind of hell will be unleashed over the White House tours: "Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, says President Barack Obama may face impeachment over his administration's response to the Benghazi attack. 'They purposefully and willfully misled the American people, and that's unacceptable,' Chaffetz tells me. 'It's part of a pattern of deception.'" [National Review]

IRS SCANDAL LEADING STATES TO ABANDON FEDERALISM - Congratulations, several IRS employees in Ohio who watch too much MSNBC, you really screwed the pooch! Sam Stein: "The most assertive push to get in front of the story came in Illinois, where on Friday two state representatives introduced legislation instructing the White House to comply with congressional investigations into the agency.. The bill was introduced by Republican state Reps. Darlene Senger and David McSweeney. It's unclear what type of authority they believe they have over congressional activities, or whether anyone on the Hill is aware of their resolution. Neither office returned a request for comment. But symbolic bills are often the most popular. By the time of its introduction, Senger and McSweeney's bill already had 11 other co-sponsors." [HuffPost]

GOVERNMENT STOPS DEPORTING SOME OF THE TIRED, POOR AND/OR HUDDLED MASSES - Elise Foley: "Nearly 300,000 undocumented young people have been granted reprieve from deportation concerns since the Obama administration began its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last August, according to new data released Monday by the government...The program means that these young people -- often called Dreamers after the Dream Act that would provide them legal status -- can work legally, obtain driver's licenses, and temporarily be protected from the possibility of deportation at any time. The Obama administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy last June and it went into effect in mid-August...Even 300,000 applications approved is still a small fraction of the estimated number of eligible undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. The Migration Policy Institute estimated in June that there are 1.4 million non-citizens living in the U.S. who are under the age of 30, the upper age limit for applying for deferred action." [HuffPost]

Judd Gregg is back, being Judd Gregg. Christina Wilkie: "Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) has been named the new CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), one of Wall Street's largest lobbying trade associations. Gregg retired from the Senate in January 2011, two years after he withdrew his nomination to serve as secretary of commerce under President Barack Obama. SIFMA also announced Monday that former Rep. Ken Bentsen (D-Texas) will be the group's president. Bentsen has worked for SIFMA's government relations team since 2009. As the onetime ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Gregg was a staunch defender of Wall Street and the financial sector throughout the 2008 financial crisis, helping to author the bill that bailed out the nation's largest banks. The finance, insurance and real estate sector was a top contributor to his campaigns, donating more than $1 million since the 1992 election cycle." [HuffPost]

FBI JOINING BACHMANN CAMPAIGN PROBE - Nick Wing: "The FBI has jumped into a multi-pronged investigation of alleged misconduct by the failed presidential campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Sunday...sources with knowledge of the campaign and the investigation told the Star Tribune that the FBI had made inquiries about former Bachmann chief of staff Andy Parrish, as well as other former staffers...Newer claims include allegations of secret payments to campaign aide and Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R), as well as improper use of Bachmann's leadership PAC funds to pay a political director for the campaign...Parrish said in a sworn affidavit in April that Bachmann 'knew and approved' of payments to Sorenson. Peter Waldron, Bachmann's former national field coordinator, has also filed a complaint alleging that Bachmann's campaign funneled leadership PAC money through a fundraising group to pay Sorenson, a claim that has also reportedly drawn the attention of the FBI, according to the Star Tribune. Sorenson has denied these allegations." [HuffPost]

If President Obama quit threatening to veto Peter King's pre-cog authorization bill, we could avoid this kind of thing: "A former Philadelphia police officer once hailed as a hero and given a seat next to the first lady at a speech by President Obama has been arrested and charged after police say he raped two women at gunpoint...DeCoatsworth was hailed as a hero in 2007 after he was shot in the face with a shotgun during a traffic stop but still was able to chase down the suspects as they fled, CBS Philly reports. DeCoatsworth was invited by Vice President Joe Biden to attend the president's televised February 2009 address to Congress and sat with First Lady Michelle Obama." [CBS News]

VIRGINIA FEELING KINDA BLASE ABOUT THAT WHOLE 'FEMALE VOTER' THING - And yet, if someone proposed a law requiring men to report a kidney stone they passed within five years, Fox News would have wall-to-wall coverage the government overreach. ThinkProgress: "If a woman in Virginia has a miscarriage without a doctor present, they must report it within 24 hours to the police or risk going to jail for a full year. At least, that's what would have happened if a bill introduced by Virginia state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R) had become law. And yet, the Virginia Republican Party wants to make Obenshain into the state's top prosecutor. This weekend, Virginia Republicans selected Obenshain as their nominee to replace tea party stalwart Ken Cuccinelli (R) as the state's attorney general...Under Virginia law, a Class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 'confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500,' so Obenshain's bill could lead to a woman who decides to take a day to grieve the loss of a pregnancy she'd hoped to carry to term spending a year of her life in jail for that decision." [ThinkProgress]

You don't say: "The Republican Party is actively working to recruit more women to run for public office, but they still face 'institutional barriers' to getting involved in GOP politics at the ground level, Republican State Leadership Committee President Chris Jankowski said Monday...'I think sometimes our party does not value them as much,' Jankowski told reporters at a morning briefing at the RSLC headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Monday." [Yahoo News]

Elsewhere in the Commonwealth: "Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken T. Cuccinelli (R) has asserted that the state's freedom of information laws do not apply to the Office of the Attorney General, a break from past practice. While Cuccinelli's office has continued to respond to requests for documents under the law -- which says that except in certain instances, all records of public bodies should be accessible to the public -- it has begun to insert new language into its responses citing a 2011 Virginia Supreme Court case to support the claim that the law does not apply to the office." [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - We need to stop spoiling our sloths.

ANDREW CUOMO MIGHT SUE KHLOE KARDASHIAN - Answering the age-old question: How would Chuck Schumer behave if he were governor? Daily News: "The administration has ordered a high-end clothing line run by Khloe Kardashian and her husband, NBA player Lamar Odom, to stop selling a designer T-shirt, because it bears an emblem that looks suspiciously like a state logo, the Daily News has learned. And if the reality star and baller don't comply within five days, the state will sue, according to documents obtained by the Daily News..State officials believe the logo resembles one the state Department of Agriculture created to identify food grown in New York. The state's 'Pride of New York' symbol features the Statue of Liberty overlooking a farm, and the state's name appears in a font similar to how it is printed on the Rich Soil shirt." [Daily News]

COMFORT FOOD

- Stephen Colbert delivered this year's commencement address at UVA. [http://bit.ly/112kElT]

- Two journalists tracked down their most nagging and provocative internet troll and took a liking to him. [http://bit.ly/14Ilr9V]

- Comedy troupe turns NYC subway into the set of a talk show. [http://bit.ly/Z80p6a]

- How not to sing the National Anthem. [http://deadsp.in/110bp5z]

- Tenacious D delivered the weather report for a New Zealand television station for some reason. [http://bit.ly/18Xthjr]

- Guy Fieri quote or something our comedy team made up? [http://huff.to/10gKC3H]

- A dress stamped with Larry David's face. [http://bit.ly/16F2jOU]

TWITTERAMA

@daveweigel: It's really just a matter of time until Obama's impeached for making that Marine hold an umbrella.

@katenocera: Al Franken quips to Jeff Sessions in hallway: "so you're against the immigration bill? That's what I'm getting?"

@jessicataylor: My autocorrect just tried to change "Cuccinelli" to "Fettuccine" #VAGov

ON TAP

TOMORROW

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: A host of political and media bigwigs gather to celebrate the launch of Karen Finney's new weekend show on MSNBC. [5102 Yuma Place NW]

6:00 pm: Provisional Third Amigo, Kelly Ayotte, is fighting for her political life. A fundraiser with a bunch of government relations types might help. [R.B. Murphy and Associates, 220 E Street NE]

6:30 pm: As if he really needed the help, John Barrasso passes the hat for his reelection. The invite touts a "VIP Guest," which will undoubtedly be John Boehner's future rasta pothead son-in-law. [Charlie Palmer, 101 Constitution Ave NW]

6:30 pm - 8:00 pm: Rand Paul, the Senate's most recalcitrant member, continues his against the grain ways with a fundraising dinner hosted by Akin Gump and Google. [1101 New York Ave NW]

7:00 pm: Jean Shaheen, the senator from New Hampshire who is not fighting for her political life, attends a campaign function with Barbara Mikulski and Martin O'Malley.

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