Aaron Schock spent nearly $1 million on legal fees this summer, hopefully enough to save the estate and get Scotland Yard to quit harassing the help. Dennis Hastert is pleading guilty over hush money payments, so maybe the "Hastert Rule" will now mean "don't do whatever Dennis Hastert did" instead of "shut down the government out of stubborn principle." And Donald Trump is threatening to pull out of the next Republican debate unless it maxes out at two hours, because inside that suit Trump is really two kids stacked on top of each other and the bottom kid got really tired at the last debate. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, October 15, 2015:
DRONES BAD, SAYS SOURCE - The Intercept got a hold of a bunch of secret slides documenting the U.S. military’s drone operations between 2011 and 2013. Jeremy Scahill: "The documents, which also outline the internal views of special operations forces on the shortcomings and flaws of the drone program, were provided by a source within the intelligence community who worked on the types of operations and programs described in the slides. ...Documents detailing a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker, show that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets." [The Intercept]
THAT WOULD BUY YOU LOTS OF PHEASANT FEATHERS - Today is the FEC filing deadline. Laura Barron-Lopez: "Disgraced ex-Congressman Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) spent nearly $1 million on legal fees between July and September, according to new campaign finance reports. Schock, once considered a rising star in the Republican party, resigned from his seat in the House in March after multiple reports alleged he used taxpayer money on expensive gifts, travel and events. Filings released by the Federal Election Commission on Thursday show Schock spent $901,337 of his campaign funds on legal fees in the most recent quarter. That's on top of the $1.05 million he spent between April and June on legal fees. According to the latest filings, there are nine different charges on Schock's campaign account that are labeled 'legal fees' or 'legal consulting.'" [HuffPost]
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HASTERT PLEADING GUILTY - He's pleading guilty to paying hush money over whatever bad thing he did, reportedly some kind of "sexual misconduct." Yikes. "An attorney for Dennis Hastert told a federal judge Thursday that the former House speaker intends to plead guilty in a federal hush-money case. John Gallo said during a brief hearing that he expects to have a written plea agreement by Monday. And he asked the judge to set a date for a change of plea. The judge scheduled an Oct. 28 hearing. Gallo did not mention any of the terms, including what counts Hastert would plead guilty to. A plea deal would avert a trial and help keep any potentially embarrassing secrets quiet." [AP]
AFGHANISTAN SO SWELL OUR TROOPS WILL HANG AROUND - Ryan Grim: "The president's decision to reverse course and remain in Afghanistan through 2016 is a sign that the U.S. strategy is working there, senior White House officials argued in a conference call with reporters Thursday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest added, however, that 'even when it comes to counterterrorism,' there is no 'military solution' in Afghanistan. The call came shortly after President Barack Obama briefed the press on his decision. The advisers said that the remaining troops, some 5,500 service members, would be focused on counterterrorism operations and training Afghan forces. A reporter from Agence France-Presse asked whether those tasks could really be accomplished in the next few years, if the last 14 years hadn't been enough time to get it done. 'I would not agree with the premise," said Deputy National Security Adviser Lisa Monaco. 'I don't think anyone ever intended that the job, so to speak, would be finished.'" [HuffPost]
DELANEY DOWNER Tens of millions of Social Security beneficiaries will not get a raise in 2016, the government announced on Thursday. "With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for nearly 65 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2016," the Social Security Administration said in a press release. The news comes on the heels of a debate between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has advocated changing the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated so that seniors are more likely to get annual raises. "It is unacceptable that millions of senior citizens and disabled veterans will not be receiving a cost-of-living adjustment to keep up with their rising living expenses,” Sanders said in a statement Thursday…. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, indicated this week that he wanted to make Social Security's cost-of-living adjustments less generous as part of a budget deal with President Barack Obama.[w/ HuffPost's Daniel Marans]
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DEBT CEILING DEADLINE ADVANCES - Jack Lew can only take extraordinary measures for so long -- it's exhausting! Niels Lesniewski: "In a new letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has moved up slightly the timetable for action on raising the debt limit. 'Based on our best and most recent information, we now estimate that extraordinary measures will be exhausted no later than Tuesday, November 3,' Lew wrote." [Roll Call]
BIG WHEEL KEEP ON TURNING - Mike McAuliff brings us this story of a retired New York firefighter who is still lobbying Congress to pass a 9/11 responders bill, despite having stage 4 cancer: "Most people who lobby Congress rely on millions of dollars and connections to well-placed insiders. Ray Pfeifer needed a new motorized wheelchair to make his way around Capitol Hill this week. Pfeifer, a retired FDNY firefighter who has cancer in his bones and lymph nodes, had visited Congress before, including during Jon Stewart’s daylong push in September to mobilize lawmakers in support of a new 9/11 health bill. The idea had been that a high-profile visit from the former host of 'The Daily Show,' along with a cadre of ailing Sept. 11 responders, would help convince lawmakers to pass the new bill before an existing version could expire, leaving in limbo a health program that treats 33,000 responders across the nation. It didn’t work, although more members of Congress did sign on to the bill. That partial success left Pfeifer exhausted, even with friends pushing the chair that he needs because large sections of his bones have been replaced to combat his stage 4 cancer." [HuffPost]
DONALD TRUMP HAS SENSIBLE DEBATE DEMANDS - This will either be a win for America or a win for Lindsey Graham if he gets to take Trump's place. Alex Isenstadt: "A Republican National Committee conference call to discuss plans for the Oct. 28 GOP debate with top advisers to the presidential campaigns spiraled into chaos on Thursday afternoon, as Donald Trump threatened to pull out of the debate if his demands for the format are not met. On the call, according to three sources who were on the line, Corey Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, said that if the debate does not include opening or closing statements and is longer than two hours total, including commercial breaks, the real estate mogul would have to reconsider his participation." [Politico]
IT'S NOT A TERRIBLE QUESTION! @realDonaldTrump: Why is the @GOP being asked to do a debate that is so much longer than the just-aired and very boring #DemDebate?
"From a psychological perspective," the Washington Post reports, "the people backing Trump are perfectly normal."
WHY JEB BOARDS IN ZONE 4 - Eli Stokols and Marc Caputo: "In New Hampshire, seen by many as a must-win for Bush, Bush and the Right to Rise super PAC backing him have spent at least $4.8 million on TV and radio to support him since early September. One ad-tracking firm produced an analysis for POLITICO that showed pro-Bush spots in the past three weeks have occupied about 60 percent of the political ad air-time in the state. Bush’s numbers have moved from 9 percent to 8.7 percent since the ad blitz began, according to the Real Clear Politics averages of polls in the GOP primary." [Politico]
In the spirit of transparency, Jeb has released a list of every donor who's given more than $17,600 to his campaign. Thanks, Jeb!
CARSON SUSPENDING CAMPAIGN TO DO STUFF THAT IS DEFINITELY NOT CAMPAIGNY - Katherine Faulders: "Republican presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson has put his public campaign events on hold for two more weeks to go on book tour for his new tome 'A More Perfect Union' and catch up on fundraising events. The campaign has been careful to separate campaign events and the book tour, and doesn’t want to classify the tour as related to the campaign in any way. This week he is catching up on fundraising events and will be back on his book tour next week making stops in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. So for the next two weeks, Carson won't be appearing at any public 'campaign events.'" [ABCNews]
Jeb Bush has apparently made the Redskins part of his stump speech.
WALKER CAMPAIGN UNINTIMIDATED BY MASSIVE DEFICIT SPENDING - Reid Epstein and Rebecca Ballhaus report the Walker campaign is $1 million in the hole partly because people were getting rich off it: "The biggest driver of Mr. Walker’s campaign debt was staff salaries, which cost his campaign nearly $2 million. Communications director Kirsten Kukowski, campaign manager Rick Wiley and lead advance man Matt Halleach made an annual salary of more than $200,000." [WSJ]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Thank you, Vanity Fair, for telling the untold story of the Ermahgerd Girl.
RAND PAUL WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW HE IS STILL AROUND - Call me maybe? Igor Bobic: "Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) presidential campaign on Thursday moved to push back against what it called a 'false narrative' that his presidential bid is slowly going down in flames. In a memo issued to the press, senior adviser Doug Stafford and campaign manager Chip Englander argued that Paul's political operation, ground game, and the coming debates left him well-positioned heading into the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. The memo highlighted Paul's recent straw presidential poll victories, his teams of supporters on the ground in early states, and his efforts to woo student voters across campuses in Iowa." [HuffPost]
- How to make a red velvet brain cake for Halloween.
- Truly frightening phone photos.
- Cringe-inducing realizations about your teen years.
@marinakoren: but I've already said no to dinner seven times
@gdebenedetti: Jim Webb, on the "rigged" debate: "I even turned around to Bernie Sanders at 1 point and said, 'Bernie, say my name, will you, say my name'"
@ChrisMurphyCT BREAKING: Murphy Demands Halloween Retailers Be Held Accountable For Shortage of Quality Green Lantern Costumes (3 year old size).
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