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David Taintor

David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He's a native of Minnesota. Reach him at taintor@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by David

President Obama will commend Colorado for passing new gun control measures during a speech Wednesday in Denver, according to excerpts of the President's remarks released by the White House. Colorado recently placed limits on gun magazines and expanded background checks for gun purchases. The legislation was a response to a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., where 12 people died in July 2012.

Below are excerpts of Obama's speech, as prepared for delivery:

“From the beginning of this effort, we’ve wanted law enforcement front and center in shaping the discussion and the reforms that emerge from it.  After all, you’re often the first to see the terrible consequences of gun violence – lives lost; families broken; communities irrevocably changed.  You know what works and what doesn’t, and we wanted that experience and that advice.  And I’ve come here to Denver today because Colorado in particular is proving a model for what’s possible.

 

It’s now been just over 100 days since the murder of 20 innocent children and six brave educators in Newtown, Connecticut shocked this country into doing something to protect our kids.  But consider this: over those 100 days or so, more than 100 times as many Americans have fallen victim to gun violence.  More than 2,000 of our fellow citizens, struck down, often just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And every day we wait to do something about it, even more are stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

 

Colorado has already chosen to do something about it.  This is, obviously, a state that has suffered the tragedy of two of the worst mass shootings in our history – 14 years ago this month in Columbine, and just last year in Aurora.  This is also a state that treasures its Second Amendment rights – a state of proud hunters and sportsmen, with a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s handed down from generation to generation with reverence and respect.

 

I’m here because I believe there’s no conflict between reconciling these realities.  There doesn’t have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment rights.  I’ve gotten stacks of letters from proud gun owners, whether they’re for sport, or protection, or collection, who tell me how deeply they cherish their rights, and don’t want them infringed upon – but they still want us to do something to stop the epidemic of gun violence. 

 

I appreciate every one of those letters.  I’ve learned from them.  And I think that Colorado has shown that practical progress is possible by enacting tougher background checks that won’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners, but will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

 

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by Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, and Sergio Hernandez, special to ProPublica

The murder case against Tony Bennett seemed pretty straightforward.

Shortly before midnight on May 7, 1994, police found a 26-year-old man in the foyer of an apartment building near Flushing, Queens. Jake Powell was near death, blood pouring from a gunshot wound, but he managed to speak the name of the man who had shot him: "Tony Bennett."

Bennett, a two-time felon, was eventually captured, convicted of murder, and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

But Bennett never served anywhere near that sentence. He has, in fact, been free since 2008 because Claude Stuart, the former Queens assistant district attorney who handled his case, violated a basic rule of law by withholding critical evidence from Bennett's attorney. A state appeals court overturned Bennett's conviction and released him after 13 years in prison.

That early release has freed Bennett to describe his role in a crime he had insisted for two decades he did not commit.

"He was wrapped up in a shower curtain in the corner of the bathroom, shivering and shaking," Bennett recalled of Powell, who Bennett said had terrorized his family for years. "He was saying all this, 'Please, please, don't hurt me, don't shoot, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' And I said, 'Yeah, I'm sorry, too.' And I did what I had to do."

Stuart's wrongdoing in the Bennett case wasn't his only act of misconduct. He manipulated evidence in another case, and that conviction wound up being reversed by the courts, too. But his bosses took no action after that misconduct became known. A state disciplinary committee reprimanded Stuart, but that fact remained secret from the public. Indeed, Stuart's superiors did not act until another conviction was overturned, and Stuart was found to have lied to a trial judge about the whereabouts of a key defense witness.

That, at last, cost Stuart his job.

Stuart's career, across many years and with repeated abuses, helps demonstrate a broader truth: New York's system of attorney oversight is ill-equipped or unwilling to identify, punish and deter prosecutors who abuse their authority.

A ProPublica analysis of more than a decade's worth of state and federal court rulings found more than two dozen instances in which judges explicitly concluded that city prosecutors had committed harmful misconduct. In each instance, these abuses were sufficient to prompt courts to throw out convictions.

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Two young boys were kidnapped early Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. by their "anti-government" parents, the Orlando Sentinel reported

The boys' father, Joshua Hakken, allegedly entered the home of the children's grandmother, tied her up and took the kids, according to the report. The kids, Cole and Chase Hakken, are 4 and 2 years old, respectively. 

A statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office called the parents "anti-government" and said they had attempted a previous kidnapping at gunpoint:

On April 3, 2013 at 6:30 a.m., Joshua Hakken entered the residence at 14040 Shady Shores Drive belonging to Patricia Hauser, maternal grandmother of the children. Joshua tied up Patricia, removed the children and fled in Patricia's 2009 Silver Toyota Camry. The children could possibly be in a Black 2006 GMC Pickup registered to Joshua Hakken. Both suspects are anti-government and have attempted a previous abduction at gun point in Louisiana. 

 

Anyone with any information regarding the location of these children are asked to immediately dial 9-1-1 or call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 247-8200. Both subjects are considered armed and dangerous. 

WTSP reported that neither parent has legal custody of the kids.

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White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Wednesday claimed that media outlets still have a "Pavlovian response" to news stories posted on The Drudge Report. 

"It's not that it drives our conversation in our world, I'm fairly ambivalent to what Drudge puts up on a daily basis," Pfeiffer said at Politico's Playbook Breakfast. "This is less true now than it was before, but there's a Pavlovian response from, you know, some media outlets. It's like, why are you asking me about this? Well, it's on Drudge."

Politico's Mike Allen asked Pfeiffer how he responds to such requests for comment. "I sort of ask them to repeat themselves, say that to themselves out loud again and think about it," Pfeiffer said, adding that usually reporters claim an editor is on them about a particular story. 

Pfeiffer also said The Drudge Report negatively impacts the White House's message. "The example being that, you know, that anyone saying anything can, um, can get caught up in, in the spin cycle in a way that is very damaging -- you know, it hurts what we're trying to do on a daily basis but is also very damaging to that individual person," Pfeiffer said. 

One example of Drudge's influence came during the 2012 presidential campaign. Drudge reported that Mitt Romney had placed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice near the top of his vice presidential shortlist. Of course, the story was proven wrong when Romney tapped Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate, but it still inspired headlines on an array of political news websites.   

Watch:

h/t Business Insider.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) lamented the difficult landscape for compromise in the Senate, in an interview with Mother Jones published Wednesday: "Today a minority of the minority plays hostage politics. It's all-or-nothing politics at its worst," she said. 

Given that Warren's recent tirade against big banks went viral, Mother Jones' David Corn asked what she thought of Sen. Ted Cruz's claim that he will shake up the Senate. "I'm not here to shake," she said. "I'm here to get something done. For me, it's an extension of the work I've done for 30 years to strengthen middle-class families. If I could find a way to do that here and never say another word publicly, I'm all for it."

Read Corn's piece here.

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President Obama is expected to attend the opening of George W. Bush's presidential library in Dallas later this month, TIME magazine reported Tuesday. 

Former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are also expected to attend. 

Josh Earnest, White House deputy press secretary, told TIME that Obama has "developed a good relationship with both President George W. Bush and President George H.W. Bush. He has routinely expressed his deep appreciation for the 43rd President’s commitment to this country we love, and is looking forward to returning to Texas later this month.”

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Bob Woodward had lunch with White House officials after a spat erupted between the legendary journalist and an Obama administration official. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said he, White House economic adviser Gene Sperling and White House press secretary Jay Carney had lunch with the veteran journalist in the White House's mess hall. 

"It was a good conversation," Pfeiffer said Wednesday at Politico's Playbook Breakfast. "We had a good laugh about this, and we had a serious discussion about the issues." 

The drama between Woodward and the White House started after Woodward published an article claiming that the sequester deal stipulated it could only be replaced with spending cuts. The White House panned the article, and Sperling told Woodward he would regret his reporting. While Woodward never specifically called Sperling's remark a threat, he did concede that it seemed like a "coded 'you better watch out.'"

Pfeiffer on Wednesday said White House staffers want to continue to be on good terms with Woodward and would not limit his access. 

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Asked which blogs President Obama likes to read, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said the President is a big fan of the Washington Post's Ezra Klein. 

Pfeiffer also said Obama likes to read Grantland's Bill Simmons. Obama appeared on Simmons' podcast last year, which Pfeiffer described as the easiest media pitch to the President he has had to make. 

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Wednesday at Politico's Playbook Breakfast that President Obama will continue to reach out to congressional Republicans. There will be more dinners and meetings with Republicans and Democrats, Pfeiffer said. Asked by Mike Allen whether the charm offensive will continue for months, not weeks, Pfeiffer said "absolutely." 

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Wednesday at Politico's Playbook Breakfast that President Obama wants to sign the "strongest gun bill he can."

Obama is scheduled to push gun control measures during a speech Wednesday in Denver. But reports this week have indicated that background checks for gun purchases face an uphill battle in the Senate, despite a push by Obama and Democratic lawmakers. 

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