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The Situation: Friday, October 7

Editor's Note: The Situation Report is a running log of dispatches, quotes, links and behind-the-scenes notes filed by the correspondents and producers of CNN's Washington Bureau. Watch "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer on CNN 3 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

The Morning Grind





George W. Bush
Capitol Hill
Harriet Miers

Posted: 9:00 a.m. ET
From Molly Levinson, CNN Political Unit

All rise.

There are a few images that come to mind when you think about politics: the Senate chamber is one, smoky bars on Capitol Hill, the White House, small restaurants in Manchester, skywalks in Des Moines, farms in Ohio, retirement homes in Florida. Yet, whether it's the chambers of the Supreme Court, in Texas where Ronnie Earl convened a grand jury, the U.S. District Court buildings where David Safavian will be arraigned today, and where a grand jury sits to determine how the name of a CIA operative was leaked, the over-arching political focus in this October of an off-year is a court room.

Conservative angst over the Supreme Court continues today, following yesterday's attempts by the White House to corral their right flank at least to the gangplank, if they aren't ready to get on board. On a call organized by RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, a panel of Big Name Conservatives argued to support their President, appealing to the larger picture of it all. Said White House political director Sara Taylor, "I was in Iowa last night at a Republican dinner... I talked with activists...all of them were dumbfounded at how the conservative media is acting." And, assuaging fears that Ms. Miers will be another Souter, Dr. Richard Land, called "One of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America" by Time Magazine, said, "There are virtues valued as highly as any in Texas culture: courage and loyalty. This president, he knows Harriet Miers is also a Texan." Dr. Land continued, "he and she both understand if she were to get on court, and rule in ways contrary to how the President would want her would be a deep betrayal."

Yet, there are continued setbacks for the White House, including a Washington Post op-ed headlined "Pull the Candidate" by Charles Krauthammer, and stories about "skeptical" Senators. Even after a meeting yesterday with Ms. Miers, Sen. Sam Brownback demurred, "no promises were made either way." And, says a top aide, he'll continue to repeat that over the weekend when he visits Iowa for a "Iowans for Tax Relief" event with Laura Ingraham and Rep. Jim Nussle on Saturday. Says the aide, along with his speech on needing tax reform, Sen. Brownback will say, "that he is still not convinced and still not satisfied and needs to know more about [Miers]."

Senators head home this weekend for a week of recess and a Columbus Day holiday: time to ponder their votes on Miers, along with sinking approval for the war in Iraq and for President Bush, and for those on the blue side of the aisle, the new Kamarck/Galston report that says, among other things, that "at a congressional level, Democrats arguably are in the worst shape since the 1920's."

President Bush is in the Oval office this morning, meeting with the Prime Minister of Hungary at 10:15 a.m. At 2:35 p.m. he makes remarks on Hispanic Heritage Month in the East Room of the White House - backed up by a soon-to-be-released RNC website targeted towards Hispanics, link.

Meanwhile Karl Rove has agreed to testify for the fourth time in front of a grand jury in the Valerie Plame leak case, fueling heightened speculation that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will act soon. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, however, says that Fitzgerald gave no indication that an indictment of his client was imminent.

Also, an attorney for David Safavian tells CNN's Sasha Johnson that he will be arraigned this morning at 9:30 a.m. Says the attorney, there will be, "no statements," and "no fireworks" at the hearings today. We'll see.

** CNN's David deSola and Julie Hofler contributed to this report.

Political Hot Topics

Posted: 8:40 a.m. ET
From Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

BACK TO THE GRAND JURY: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove will again testify to a grand jury that is in the final stages of investigating whether senior Bush administration officials illegally leaked the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media more than two years ago, a source familiar with the arrangement said yesterday. Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald contacted Rove last week to seek his fourth appearance before the grand jury -- but warned Rove's lawyer that he could not assure that Rove would not be indicted, according to the source. Rove could appear as early as today, when the grand jury is next scheduled to meet. Washington Post: Rove to Testify Again in Grand Jury's CIA Leak Probeexternal link

SOME THINK MIERS SHOULD STEP ASIDE: The White House moved to contain a continuing revolt among conservatives on Thursday over President Bush's selection of Harriet E. Miers for the Supreme Court. Some conservatives said that Ms. Miers could withdraw, and White House officials countered that the idea was preposterous. The White House aides said they were now focusing their efforts on the Senate floor. "There's frustration because people don't know Harriet and they have all these questions," said Ed Gillespie. New York Times: White House Tries to Quell a Rebellion on the Rightexternal link

SIT BACK AND WATCH THE WEDGE WORK ITS MAGIC: Democrats are holding their fire on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers because conservatives already are grinding away at her thin judicial record, a top Democrat said yesterday. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that Democrats can pin Miss Miers down on a whole range of topics in due time. "But for the moment, you know, people like Sam Brownback and Trent Lott are doing that job for us," he said. Washington Times: Democrats let the right lead attack on Miers nodexternal link

DeLAY MET WITH ELLIS SAME DAY AS RNC SENT CHECKS: Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) met for at least 30 minutes with the top fundraiser of his Texas political action committee on Oct. 2, 2002, the same day that the Republican National Committee in Washington set in motion a series of financial transactions at the heart of the money-laundering and conspiracy case against DeLay. During the meeting at his Capitol office, DeLay conferred with James W. Ellis, the head of his principal fundraising committee in Washington and his chief fundraiser in Texas. Ellis had earlier given the Republican National Committee a check for $190,000 drawn mostly from corporate contributions. The same day as the meeting, the RNC ordered $190,000 worth of checks sent to seven Republican legislative candidates in Texas. Washington Post: DeLay Meeting, RNC Actions Coincidedexternal link

COMMITTEE WILL QUESTION FLANIGAN ON ABRAMOFF TIES: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Oct. 18 to explore the ties between Timothy Flanigan, President Bush's pick for the No. 2 spot at the Justice Department, and former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was indicted recently on federal mail and wire fraud charges. Abramoff is also under federal investigation over his business dealings with American Indian tribes. At a Sept. 29 hearing of the Judiciary Committee, Flanigan, now a top executive for manufacturing conglomerate Tyco International Ltd., declined to answer questions from Senate Democrats over Abramoff's work on behalf of Tyco, citing attorney-client privilege. Roll Call: Judiciary Will Hold Hearing on Flanigan's Ties to Abramoffexternal link

THIS GUY JUST CAN'T STAY OUT OF THE NEWS: Two Democratic congressmen called for the appointment of an outside special counsel Thursday to investigate whether lobbyist Jack Abramoff played a role in the demotion of a U.S. attorney in Guam who was investigating him. Reps. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and George Miller of Martinez cited what they called evidence of "political manipulation" in a letter to Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales. They also questioned whether Abramoff might have had unauthorized access to classified documents relating to national security concerns in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, where the lobbyist had several clients. "The Congress and the American people need to know whether a criminal investigation was tampered with," the congressmen said in a statement. Los Angeles Times: Special Investigation of Lobbyist Urgedexternal link

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