Fox News First

Obama on domestic snooping: Trust me

President Obama talks about National Security Agency (NSA)surveillance, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington.

President Obama talks about National Security Agency (NSA)surveillance, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington.  ((AP))

** Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

Buzz Cut:
• Obama on domestic snooping: Trust me
• Pelosi PAC heralds ObamaCare ‘whistleblower’
• ‘Irreplaceable’: Coburn to call it quits
• Dem: Beating McConnell like beating Nazis
• Thy will be done… for Auburn as it is for Alabama

The Obama administration was caught exaggerating ObamaCare numbers just yesterday, as multiple outlets declared estimates of enrollees wildly overstated. There’s ongoing outrage over the fact that the administration put a Democratic partisan in charge of the investigation of partisan targeting at the Obama IRS. And that’s just this week’s news on Obama accountability. So given all that, and the scandals that came before, how likely are you to believe President Obama today when he says that internal measures will remedy problems with the domestic surveillance program that has blossomed on his watch? The president, dragging low job approval and weak measures on public trust in him and his administration, will announce that Attorney General Eric Holder and his team will get a handle on the spy game. That’s going to be a tough sell.

[According to documents provided by leaker Edward Snowden, The Guardian reports that “[the NSA] has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe…]

The deets - In advance of the president’s speech on NSA, the administration is pushing out early details to reporters. A senior administration official tells Fox News that Obama will say that he is ordering a transition that will end the “telephone metadata program” as it currently exists, and move to a program that preserves the capabilities without the government holding the data. The official said Obama believes the program is important but can be preserved while addressing privacy and civil liberties concerns. From the talking points:

-- Effective immediately, the administration will modify the program so that a judicial finding is required before querying the database.
-- Obama has asked the attorney general and the intelligence community to report back to him before the program comes up for reauthorization on March 28
-- Obama will consult with the relevant committees in Congress to seek their views

[Watch Fox: President Obama delivers remarks on the NSA in the 11 a.m. ET hour.]

National Journal’s Ron Fournier told Megyn Kelly that President Obama “has not earned our trust” on domestic spying. “From the beginning they haven’t been very transparent about explaining what it is we’re doing and why so we really have to be real careful, really look hard at what the president says...,” Fournier said on “The Kelly File.” Watch the full interview here.

[Chris Wallace will welcome Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.]

How do you know that President Obama’s health law is unpopular? When incumbent Democrats on being ObamaCare “whistleblowers.” The House Majority PAC is currently running an ad in Arizona calling Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., “a whistleblower on the disastrous healthcare Web site.” The ad concludes saying, “Ann Kirkpatrick, seeing what’s wrong, doing what’s right.” For the PAC backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be running ads describing ObamaCare as something on which whistles must be blown, something must be terribly wrong. The ad comes in response to the ad blitz by conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

[Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio looks at how more Democrats are joining GOP efforts to address ObamaCares’s transparency issues.]

Koch-ed up -Washington Free Beacon’s  Matthew Continneti observes how billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch have become indispensable… for Democrats. “ may be broken, insurance plans may have been cancelled by the millions, enrollments may be lower than expected, the ratio of old to young and sick to healthy customers may yet cripple the program, but at least the president is opposed to a pair of septuagenarian libertarian billionaires living in Wichita and New York. You too can show your dislike of these senior citizens, and join ‘the group that’s fighting back—every single day,’ all for the affordable price of $15 or $1,000 or, if you are feeling generous, some ‘other amount’ As a 501(c)4 nonprofit, Organizing for America can receive unlimited contributions. So pony up.”

The American College of Emergency Physicians is giving the nation’s emergency care a “D+” because of emergency care shortages due to ObamaCare. The group says the near-failing grade is due to potential longer wait times, doctor shortages and limited access to treatment under the troubled entitlement program. Reuters has more.

While insurers continue to sift through data to determine who is actually insured under ObamaCare, the task could be made even more difficult. Gary Cohen, an Obama administration official overseeing the problem plagued Web site, told a House panel that the automated system to send payments to insurance companies isn’t complete. Cohen offered no definitive dates for when it would be finished. WSJ reports

President Obama and top Democrats have been talking a lot about income inequality in advance of the president’s State of the Union address. The topic is already emerging as a central theme for embattled Democrats in midterm elections. But what are the facts behind the rhetoric? Tonight on Special Report, I’ll look at the bigger picture.” – Bret Baier

[Watch Fox: “Special Report with Bret Baier” tonight at 6 p.m. ET]

With an administration-backed deal on Iran’s nuclear program set to kick in on Monday, the White House continues to keep a full-court press in place against Senate efforts to re-impose sanctions on the Islamist nation in the event that the current probationary period does not end well. –Watch Fox: Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen examines the road ahead for the Iran deal and what bipartisan blowback it could face on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told the Hill that President Obama “predicted the House would pass something this year” on illegal immigration. Obama’s boast came during a White House huddle with Senate Democrats. “Obama believes Republicans will feel politically vulnerable if they fail to advance the issue, a high priority among Hispanic voters, according to Democratic senators who met with the president this week,” wrote The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who was the lead sponsor of a Senate-passed immigration measure said Obama was “cautiously optimistic” after the meeting.

Activist split creates opportunity for GOP - A divide has developed between immigration advocates over a “path to citizenship.” From Buzzfeed: “Dreamers say their families need relief from deportation and they’re willing to pass on citizenship for now to get it, but old guard reform advocates don’t think that needs to happen.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is preparing to punish Red State Democrats for support of President Obama’s new global-warming rules. McConnell, along with 40 other Republicans, including commonwealth colleague Rand Paul, have offered a “disapproval resolution” to force vulnerable Democrats to cast a vote for or against the controversial rules. The resolution is a seldom-used maneuver allowing a simple majority to repeal a regulation. McConnell and Paul’s home state ranks third in national coal production, trailing West Virginia by a little less than 30 million tons last year. WSJ has details.

Peggy Noonan
considers Our Selfish 'Public Servants'. “Chris Christie’s problem isn’t that he’s a bully, it’s that he’s selfish. Barack Obama isn’t stupid and therefore the maker of mayhem, he’s selfish… There’s an increasing sense in our political life that in both parties politicians call themselves public servants but act like bosses who think the voters work for them… Someday history will write of our era, and to history the biggest scandal will be the thing we all accepted in our leaders, chronic and endemic selfishness. History will be hard on us for that.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.3 percent//Disapprove – 53.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.0 percent//Wrong Track – 63.2 percent 
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 42.5 percent// Republicans 42.0percent 

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., announced he will retire from the Senate at the start of 2016, one year before his current term ends. Coburn, who has been waging a long battle with cancer, wrote that “…after much prayer and consideration, I have decided that I will leave my Senate seat at the end of this Congress.” The 65-year-old obstetrician added, “As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere.” A fierce critic of wasteful spending known for his annual “Waste Book,” Coburn has long been a supporter of term limits. “My commitment to the people of Oklahoma has always been that I would serve no more than two terms,” Coburn said.

[“This is the worst news I have heard in a very long time. He’s irreplaceable.” – a senior Senate Republican aide talking to Fox News First about the impending departure of Sen. Tom Coburn.]

Then and now - Coburn rode 1994’s Republican wave to the House, where he served, as promised, only three terms. He returned to politics in 2004, winning the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Don Nickles. Earning the nickname “Dr. No” for using arcane procedures to block spending, Coburn can personally take credit for blocking billions of dollars of pork – sort of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., in reverse. He has also emerged as a deal maker in the otherwise-frozen era of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. As a candidate, then-Sen. Barack Obama would often tout his good working relationship with Coburn as evidence of bipartisanship – a talking point Obama quickly dropped when Coburn emerged as one of the most credible (and brutal) critics of the president’s massive health-insurance overhaul. Coburn’s resignation will likely spur a round of musical chairs among Oklahoma Republicans in a special election in 2016. Attorney General Scott Pruitt and state House Speaker T.W. Shannon are both possible contenders, as are Reps. Tom Cole and James Lankford. One of the most conservative states in the nation, Oklahoma is unlikely to elect any Democrat statewide. More.

Famously sour Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is known for his blunt personal attacks, but he thinks former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates should have held his tongue. “He denigrates everybody, everyone, [Hillary Clinton], the president, Joe Biden, me…” Reid said. “I'm surprised he would, in effect, denigrate everybody he came in contact with in an effort to make a buck.” Reid said he has not read Gates’ new book. AP has the story.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., says her committee’s damning Benghazi report is not an indictment of Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Feinstein told reporters that the bipartisan 58-page report, which offers a stinging rebuke to the State Department when it was under the command of the former first lady, does not mention Hillary by name. Feinstein faulted Republicans for using the report to advance a political agenda. “I want the record to be clear,” Feinstein said, “I condemn any effort to use this report for political purposes.” Daily Caller has more.

[Hillary huge - Time Magazine’s cover features a tiny man dangling from a giant woman’s shoe with the headline, “Can Anyone Stop Hillary?” The magazine’s editor gushed to MSNBC: “In a way she is a force that we have not seen before in terms of how much bigger and more powerful she is…”]

“If we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office, that’s silly, because there are great governors and great eligible people to run. I think that the Kennedys, Clintons, Bushes – there are just more families than that.” – Former first lady Barbara Bush in an interview with C-SPAN on whether her son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, should run for the presidency.

A New Jersey Assembly panel is serving 20 subpoenas as part of its probe of the decision to snarl traffic on the George Washington Bridge as political payback for mayor who refused to cooperate with the 2013 re-election bid of Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J. Christie is not on the list, but chief of staff Kevin O' Dowd and former aide Bridget Anne Kelly were served Thursday and are expected to testify. Kelly was one of two staffers that Christie fired last week in the fallout of the lane closing scandal. Christie vowed to move forward, telling reporters “nothing will distract me.” Read more from Correspondent Eric Shawn.

National Review Editor-at-Large Jonah Goldberg looks at how the President Obama’s sliding poll numbers are causing several incumbent Democrats to retire, and has others running scared. “Before the end of the year, up to 80 million people could see their [employer-provided] health plans canceled [due to ObamaCare] …The bulk of the cancellation letters notifying employees should be going out in October, right before the midterm elections. This could be the single most effective direct-mail campaign material in American history, and Republicans won't even have to pay for the postage.”

#mediabuzz: URGE OVERKILL 
Howard Kurtz will talk about this week’s media feeding frenzy around the 2016 frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie. Guests include National Review Editor-at-Large Jonah Goldberg. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.

Kentucky’s Speaker of the House, Democrat Greg Stumbo, compared defeating Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to liberating Europe from the Nazis. Speaking at “Kentucky for Alison Lundergan Grimes” event in Prestonsburg, Stumbo said the campaign “…reminded me of the feeling that our troops must have had when they liberated the European nations following World War Two. Can you imagine what it felt like to know that you were liberating a country? Well you are about to liberate your state, you are about to liberate your state, from the worst reign of misabuse (sic) that we’ve seen in the last thirty years.” Kelsey Cooper, Republican Party of Kentucky spokeswoman, issued a statement calling on Stumbo to apologize. The Louisville Courier-Journal has more.

Virginia Republican Senate hopeful Ed Gillespie is introducing himself to Old Dominion voters in a new Web video. The ad features his family and spears ObamaCare as a “job killing” policy. “Some say our weak economy is the new normal. Well it’s the old mediocre, and we can do better ,” Gillespie tells viewers. The former Republican National Committee Chairman is hitting the road to woo delegates to the Virginia GOP’s June nominating convention.

Republicans need to flip six Senate seats from blue to red in this year’s midterm elections in order to take control of the Senate. So which six Democratic seats are most vulnerable in November? The current consensus among Fox News First readers (in order of the number of times picked): Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, West Virginia, South Dakota and North Carolina. Reader Bryan Catanesi of Dallas agrees, but says if Republicans play their cards right, the map could quickly expand to include Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico “[if Republicans] can understand when to stand their ground and when to compromise (even if they don’t get everything they want from the Dems)…”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

During a visit to Detroit, Vice President Joe Biden thanked Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford Jr. “for saving our ass.” Ford was the lone American automaker not to be bailed out and taken over by the federal government during the Panic of 2008 and its aftermath. Ford’s endurance helped Team Obama buy time to find buyers for failed automakers GM and Chrysler, the UAW for GM and Italian automaker Fiat for Chrysler. Washington Examiner has more.

National Review Political Editor Jonathan Strong is taking over as Breitbart’s Washington editor. Strong, who has been a standout player at NR, will oversee Breitbart’s political coverage. Current Washington Editor Michael Flynn will stay on as a contributor as he becomes political director of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund. More from Brietbart.

[Ed. note: Power Play viewers know and very much like Jonathan, a top-notch reporter and keen observer. Best of luck in the new gig. See you on the Internet.]

At a White House event this week honoring the NBA champions the Miami Heat, seven-time NBA All-Star Chris Bosh offered a good-natured shot analysis of hoopster President Obama. “Looks like he’s just missing it,” Bosh told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl after watching a video of the president missing shot after shot at last year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. “The form looks pretty good, but you know, sometimes you just go two for 22.”

If you feel that your favorite team’s success can be attributed to your prayers, you aren’t alone. A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute finds nearly half of Americans believe God plays some role in the outcome of sporting events. Among sports fans, 26 percent have prayed that God would grant their preferred team a win, with 22 percent saying there is divine intervention in determining the outcome of a game.

“[Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius] says this is an attempt by Republicans –opponents – to bring down ObamaCare. Well, if there are problems of this magnitude, perhaps it ought to be brought down.” – Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30 a.m. ET, click here.


Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.