The Oval Office Pen and Phone strike again,while unsealed documents suggest it’s strike one for Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor fighting back a criminal probe. Hillary Clinton calls out conservatives at a town hall meeting, and – surprisingly – the answer isn’t “Benghazi!.” That came later on Fox News.

And just after the USA’s futbol team notched a big opening win in the 2014 World Cup, the US Patent & Trade Office sacked the Washington NFL franchise’s attempt to maintain the rights to its unfortunate name. Here’s a roundup of last week’s top headlines on BNR.

Stuck with a recalcitrant Congress that’s perhaps the least effective in American history, President Obama went his own way, yet again at the start of the week. Along with signing an order helping boost American manufacturing and entrepreneurship by easing access to federal research and development programs, Obama announced he’s set to create a huge marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean, declaring it off-limits to industrial fishing and commercial activity. Then, the president signed an order giving same-sex partners who work for the federal government equal access to family and medical leave under U.S. employment law and another providing workplace LGBT discrimination protections to federal workers. Those moves pairs up nicely with Obama’s other recent pen-and-phone activities: making it easier for college students to repay their federal loans and collecting data to try and ensure federal offices and contractors pay men and women equally.


Continuing the publicity tour for her new book, “Hard Choices,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a few of her own – including stating plainly that she wouldn’t mind seeing a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban as a way to curb spree shootings, and taking a few questions from Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren on The Benghazi News Network aka Fox News.

Madame Secretary made the remarks about the assault weapons ban during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in a live town hall meeting, also broadcast on CNN. Moreover, she said, it’s time for a come-to-Jesus meeting with the NRA:  “I believe that we need a more thoughtful conversation. We cannot let a minority of people — and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people — hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.”

In appearing on Fox News, Clinton faced a metaphorical firing squad, taking on the Benghazi question in its birthplace. Judging by the reaction, she fought it to a draw: while Van Susteren and Baier pressed her on the issue, Clinton managed to tout Tuesday’s arrest of Ahmed Abu Khattala, whom authorities say engineered the Sept. 11, 2011 rampage that left four dead, including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens.


After seemingly courting controversy during his term in office, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made more headlines this week, albeit the kind he probably didn’t want to see: a special prosecutor accused two of his top aides of helping Walker run a “criminal conspiracy” in the service of Republican politics.

Though the governor himself wasn’t charged, and the documents making the allegations came to light when another conservative group sued to stop the investigation, it seems as if the chickens are coming home to roost.

Since taking office in 2011, Walker’s led a full-on assault against moderate and progressive interests – most famously a bitter fight against public-sector unions that led to a full-scale occupation of the state capitol that year. And the governor reportedly has deep ties to the Koch Brothers, who donated $8 million to fight his recall, as well as other well-heeled conservative groups.

Walker has denied wrongdoing, but the investigation is sure to take a lot of air out of his ongoing bid for a third term – and his aspirations for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.


It’s likely millions of people called in sick on Tuesday, due to an outbreak of FIFA fever.  It was the opening World Cup match for the US, against Ghana – the team that dismissed them from the global competition last go-round. But get-well cards weren’t necessary as the Yanks gave Ghana the boot this time, 1-0. The teams may meet again in the round-robin tournament, and clearly revenge was sweet – just as it was for Native Americans towards the end of the week.


On Thursday, the US Patent and Trade Office voided the trademark for the Washington Redskins, the NFL’s third-most valuable franchise. Responding to a complaint from several Native American interest groups, the court ruled that the team name is, indeed, racist and offensive, a violation of USPTO rules. While the ruling clearly was a blow to team owner Daniel Snyder, the odds are long he’ll change the name any time soon. Snyder has publicly declared that he will “never” rename the Washington NFL franchise, no matter who doesn’t like it, and there are several appeals to go before the trademark ruling is final.

And just because we like it, we’ll end with a video of guys dancing in high heels in front of the Eiffel Tower, stealing some of Beyonce’s moves in the process. Impressive, but I still say, “vive le difference!”


Joe Williams (@VerbDC) is a BNR contributing editor and a former White House correspondent for Politico. He’s a writer and blogger based in Washington.