Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of May 21, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.

Important Election Dates:

Early Voting for GOP and Dem. Primary Runoff: NOW – May 23

Election Day for GOP and Dem. Primary Runoff: May 27

Election Day for Lubbock City Council District 3 Runoff: June 14

Evan Vucci-Pool, Getty Images
Evan Vucci-Pool, Getty Images

Executive Actions

The Hill reports that the White House will be issuing more executive actions in order to "improve economic security".

The White House will be “picking up the pace on executive actions,” as Congress focuses its efforts on the newly formed select committee investigating Benghazi, senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer declared Tuesday.

In an op-ed for The Huffington Post, Pfeiffer argued that congressional Republicans are not interested in engaging on the economy, instead spending time “obsessively trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act” and “ginning up politically motivated investigations.”

“Given this dynamic, President Obama has only one option — use every ounce of his authority to unilaterally improve economic security,” Pfeiffer said.

“Next week, as congressional Republicans spend their energy on yet another partisan investigation, we'll be picking up the pace on the executive actions to help the economy,” Pfeiffer added.

The White House has dismissed the select committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, announced earlier this month by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as redundant and politically motivated. Republicans have argued that the special panel was necessary after the release of a previously undisclosed email from White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes showing involvement in drafting then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's infamous talking points.

The veteran White House aide did not detail exactly how the president would exert his executive authorities in the coming days, although Obama is expected to take at least two major actions on the environment.

On Wednesday, Obama is slated to designate the largest national monument of his presidency in the mountains of New Mexico. And Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy hinted Monday that the president would personally present new carbon emissions limits on coal-fired power plants. The White House has said that announcement would come in early June.

The president will also travel to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Thursday, Pfeiffer said, “to make it easier for foreign tourists to see more and spend more money in our country.”

“We have many more executive actions to come, and every day the president has charged us with looking for additional ways to expand opportunity,” Pfeiffer said.

The accelerated focus on executive actions might further complicate efforts to pass major legislation on Capitol Hill before the summer recess, however.

House Republicans have said that the president’s willingness to act unilaterally is a core reason they’re reluctant to move on immigration reform legislation — one area where the White House has conceded that executive actions alone aren’t enough.

Earlier this year, Boehner warned that if Obama “tries to ignore” the Constitution, “he’s going to run into a brick wall.”

“House Republicans will continue to look closely at whether the president is faithfully executing the laws — as he took an oath to do," Boehner said.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. Over the next year or more you will continue to see this administration attempt to get around Congress to get their agenda through.

Drone Memo

On Tuesday the Obama administration announced that they would release edited versions of a memo that POLITICO reports points to the reasoning behind the administration targeting American citizens with drones.

The Obama administration has agreed to make public edited versions of a memo one of its judicial nominees wrote finding it lawful to use drones to kill an American terror suspect overseas, an administration official said Tuesday.

The decision to release the memo was disclosed on the eve of a scheduled Senate cloture vote Wednesday on confirming former Justice Department official David Barron to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Some senators had said they were reluctant to confirm Barron without broader access to the legal opinions he wrote while at Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Two weeks ago, after the issue emerged as a possible obstacle to Barron’s confirmation, the White House made some legal memos written by Barron available to all senators. The documents had previously been available only to members of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

An administration official who asked not to be named said Solicitor General Donald Verrilli made the decision in consultation with Attorney General Eric Holder, in response to a court ruling last month that ordered the release. The Justice Department faced a deadline in a couple of weeks to ask a larger panel of judges to re-hear the case.

The White House was briefed on the decision Tuesday, the official said.

While the timing of the disclosure of the administration plan to make at least one memo public seems aimed at easing Barron’s path through the Senate, the documents are unlikely to be published anytime soon. Instead, they will be reviewed again to try to separate the legal advice from classified details about drone operations and their targets.

Tuesday’s about-face is the the latest in an administration pattern of insisting on the confidentiality of legal advice — but relenting or compromising when important nominations are at stake.

After Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA became the subject of such a fight last year, the White House agreed to show intelligence committee senators legal memos the president had previously refused to turn over.

Despite the incremental moves toward greater access, there have been continued questions about whether senators have seen all legal memos related to the so-called targeted killing policy. The Senate Intelligence Committee indicated at one point that there were a total of 11 memos on the subject. However, several senators have reported only having access to a pair of memos.

Earlier Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had indicated to reporters that senators had only been shown memos about the use of deadly force against Americans. That seemed to leave open the possibility that legal memos about use of drones against foreigners were still being kept from most members of the Senate.

“The administration has made available unredacted copies of all written legal advice issued by Mr. Barron regarding the potential use of lethal force against U.S. citizens in counterterrorism operations,” Carney said. “Anticipating any question about public release, I would refer you to the Justice Department.”

Last month, a federal appeals court in New York ordered the administration to release an edited version of one such memo in response to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times. That opinion apparently pertained to the targeting of Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American citizen killed in a U.S.-led drone attack in Yemen in 2011.

It’s unclear how much additional detail any newly-released memos will include. The administration’s basic legal rationale was contained in a “white paper” shared with some members of Congress a couple of years ago and leaked last year to Michael Isikoff, then of NBC News.

The full legal memoranda reportedly include detailed discussion of the factual basis for killing Al-Awlaki and others and may contain details on why it was deemed not to be feasible to attempt to arrest him rather than using a drone strike to kill him. However, some of those details are classified and the administration indicated Tuesday it plans to keep at least a portion of the information under wraps.

“We intend to seek redactions in the OLC memo as well as certain redactions in the 2nd Circuit opinion,” said the official. The official also said the decision, first reported by the Associated Press, applies only to the memo at issue in the appeals court case and not to any other legal opinions Barron drafted.

Other Top Stories:

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