Friday, June 16, 2006
Jefferson's lawyer objects to office search
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A lawyer for embattled congressman William Jefferson asked a federal judge Friday to declare last month's FBI search of his Capitol Hill office suite unconstitutional.
The search -- believed to be the first ever of a lawmaker's office -- set off a firestorm, with Jefferson and congressional leaders complaining that it violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.
Jefferson's attorney, Robert Trout, argued Friday that agents were able on May 20 to search through everything in the congressman's office to find the materials they took away.
"They went through every hard drive and every scrap of paper," the attorney told U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, who approved the search warrant. "This particular search, by design, was to go through legislative records."
Hogan said he would rule on the motions in coming weeks.
The Situation Online
Former President Clinton is the keynote speaker at the official Columbine Memorial
groundbreaking ceremony. Sketches (PDF)
of the memorial can be found online.
How prepared are we?
We examine a new report by the Department of Homeland Security concludes that most states and urban areas are still unprepared for catastrophic disasters. What is your state's emergency plan?
The "Worst Case Survival Handbook", "Singin' in the Rain" on DVD, and a ten-foot braided leather whip - just a few of the hundreds of gifts given to President Bush by foreign leaders in 2004. We highlight some of our favorites. If you plan to visit the White House, you may first want to review this complete list of gifts (PDF) published today by the State Department.
Watch "The Situation Room" at 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM, ET for these stories and more from our Internet reporters.
The Morning Grind
Jefferson Movin' On Out?
Embattled Louisiana Rep. William Jennings Jefferson is digging in his heels after his Democratic House colleagues voted 99-58 last night to oust him temporarily from his coveted seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee over accusations that he accepted $100,000 in bribes to further a company's interests in Africa.
"I stand firm in my position that this move is unprecedented, unfair in process and most importantly, it unjustly punishes my constituents," said the eight-term congressman in a statement shortly after the vote. Jefferson is the target of a federal investigation on the matter, but he has not been indicted and maintains his innocence.
Just before the three-hour caucus meeting convened, Jefferson did offer to step down from the committee on two conditions: that House Democrats impose an across-the-board rule that any member under investigation be asked to step down from a similar committee, and that his Ways and Means seat be given to fellow Louisiana Democrat Charlie Melancon. Pelosi rejected the proposal.
"It's very sad. But our House Democratic Caucus is determined to uphold a high ethical standard. We said it, and now we are doing it," Pelosi said after the vote. "This isn't about proof in a court of law. It's about an ethical standard ... what is acceptable public behavior for a public servant."
The caucus vote does not automatically remove Jefferson from the committee. The next step is a full vote on the House floor, unless Jefferson steps down voluntarily before then. CNN's Deirdre Walsh reports that when asked if that would happen, his spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said, "No, it will be on the floor."
***Iraq the Vote
The House resumed debate Friday morning on a resolution that labels the Iraq war part of a global fight on terrorism and says an "arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of troops is not in the national interest. Members debated the issue until midnight last night, and vote is expected later this morning. Stay tuned to CNN and CNN.com for the latest developments.
***You Heard it Here First: The Next President Will Probably Be Loaded
This may not come as a shock to you, but a review of Senate Financial Disclosure documents released this week (yes, we're still looking at these blasted things) confirms what we all suspected: the next President of the United States will probably have deep pockets.
At least eight of the ten 2008 presidential hopefuls who currently work in the U.S. Senate are millionaires. We use the mushy qualifier "at least" because the statements only require senators to state their wealth in very broad ranges, and do not require them to report the values of certain big-ticket assets, like their primary residences.
Nonetheless, the following would-be presidents currently toiling away in the Senate fall somewhere in the range of "rich" and "very rich":Evan Bayh (D-Indiana)
Estimated net worth: $1,954,000 to $6,360,000
Hillary Clinton (D-New York)
Estimated net worth: $10,045,000 to $50,235,000
John Kerry (D-Massachusetts)
Estimated net worth: $158,691,000 to at least $241,590,000
George Allen (R-Virginia)
Estimated net worth: $1,828,000to at least $3,845,000
Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)
Estimated net worth: $2,313,000 to $9,095,000
Bill Frist (R-Tennessee)
Estimated net worth: $12,660,000 to at least $46,715,000
Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska)
Estimated net worth: $2,183,000 to $7,495,000
John McCain (R-Arizona)
Estimated net worth: $13,875,000 to at least $23,085,000
There are additional millionaires in the rest of the 2008 field, including former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina), who doesn't have to fill out these reports anymore, but had an estimated net worth between $12.8 million and $60 million when he was in office.
Mayor Bloomberg Is At It Again
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) wined and dined members of the Democratic National Committee's convention site committee last night at Rockefeller Center's Top of the Rock in an effort to woo yet another national political convention to the Big Apple. The DNC site committee members also toured Madison Square Garden, the site of the 2004 Republican National Convention, before sitting down with the likes of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D), former NYC Mayor David Dinkins (D), Barbara Walters and Charlie Gibson of ABC News fame, and others for dinner and a presentation. New York City is also on the short list to host the Republican convention in 2008. The Democratic convention will be held August 25-28, 2008; the GOP convention will be held September 1-4.
Elsewhere in the Political World . . .
BUSH SHAKES THE MONEY TREE (Part I): President Bush visits with two Republican members of Congress today in their home districts and does what members of Congress think presidents of their own party do best: raise money for them. The stumper-in-chief first flies cross-country to Medina, Washington to headline a morning fundraiser for Rep. Dave Reichert and the state party. Then it's south to Albuquerque, New Mexico to extend the same courtesy to Rep. Heather Wilson. The president has raised more than $100 million for GOP candidates since his re-election. Reichert voted with President Bush 86 percent of the time in 2005, according to Congressional Quarterly; Wilson clocked in at 70 percent.
BUSH SHAKES THE MONEY TREE (Part II): Not to be outdone by her husband, First Lady Laura Bush also lends a hand to a Republican lawmaker today. She'll praise Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl at a Scottsdale luncheon. This is Mrs. Bush's third fundraiser this week. On Tuesday, she raised money for both Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and New Jersey Senate candidate Tom Kean, Jr.
MCCAIN ON THE TRAIL: Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) also gets into the act, fundraising for U.S. Senate hopeful Michael Steele tonight in Baltimore, Maryland. On Saturday, he's off to the Chafee Family Picnic in Exeter, Rhode Island to help his GOP colleague Lincoln Chafee, one of the most endangered Senate Republicans this cycle.
COURTING IOWA (Part I): It's a local affair at tonight's Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Dinner in Des Moines. No big name out-of-state politicians will be on-hand tonight, but there will be one 2008 White House aspirant: Gov. Tom Vilsack. Of course, Vilsack is attending in his role as governor, not as a presidential hopeful. But after placing a distant fourth in a Des Moines Register poll earlier this week, some quality face time probably wouldn't hurt. He'll attend with fellow Hawkeye state officials Sen. Tom Harkin, Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson, and Rep. Leonard Boswell.
COURTING IOWA (Part II): Three Republican presidential hopefuls will be in Iowa this weekend courting state Republicans at their annual convention in Des Moines. New York Gov. George Pataki, who not-so-coincidentally announced his "Iowa Leadership Team" earlier this week, will headline tonight's "The GOParty Picnic." Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney will attend a breakfast with convention delegates on Saturday morning, and later that afternoon, Virginia Sen. George Allen will keynote a luncheon. Also on Saturday, there will be a reception with announced 2008 presidential candidate... John Cox? Yes, John Cox. He's running for president. He's from Illinois. Here's his website: http://www.cox2008.com/
COURTING NEW HAMPSHIRE: On schedule to woo New Hampshire Democrats today is Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware. The only 2008 presidential hopeful to freely admit that he's a 2008 presidential hopeful (that is, besides John Cox from the previous item) will attend a fundraiser for state senate candidate Betsi DeVries in Manchester. This evening, he'll chat with local reporters in Dover and then attend a town meeting with Strafford County Democrats.
WESTWARD ROMNEY: Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) again goes west to Avon, Colorado to talk health care policy with the American Enterprise Institute. Earlier this year, Romney signed a universal health care law for Bay State residents. Afterwards, he'll speak to the Idaho Republican state convention in Idaho Falls. The governor was also in the general area earlier this week, raising money for his Commonwealth PAC in Utah on Monday.
SHHHHHHHHHH!!!!: New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) speaks this morning to the American Constitution Society in Washington, D.C. to deliver what her office bills as a "major policy address" on privacy. We'd tell you more, but her office politely declined our request for a preview. I guess that's what they mean by "privacy." Sen. Clinton's two previous "major policy addresses" were on the economy and energy.
Top Billing in Billings: Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman will address the Montana State Republican Convention tonight in Billings.
Democrats Want "New Direction": Congressional Democratic leaders Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Richard Durbin and Steny Hoyer will unveil their "New Direction for America" at a Friday morning presser in the Mansfield Room in the U.S. Capitol. The plan will address issues such as high gas prices, health care, college costs, and retirement security.
Political Hot Topics
"ONE OF THE SHARPEST LEGISLATIVE CLASHES" OVER IRAQ:
The House and the Senate engaged in angry, intensely partisan debate on Thursday over the war in Iraq, as Republicans sought to rally support for the Bush administration's policies and exploit Democratic divisions in an election year shadowed by unease over the war. It was one of the sharpest legislative clashes yet over the three-year-old conflict... In the House, lawmakers moved toward a vote Friday after more than 11 hours of debate on a Republican resolution promising to "complete the mission" in Iraq, prevail in the global fight against terrorism and oppose any "arbitrary date for withdrawal." In the Senate, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to shelve an amendment calling on the United States to withdraw most troops by the end of this year, although Democrats vowed to revisit the debate next week. New York Times: Congress Erupts in Partisan Fight Over Iraq WarBUSH SIGNS EMERGENCY $$$ BILL:
The Senate Thursday sent President Bush a $94.5 billion emergency spending bill, meeting his funding requests for America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and providing new aid to Gulf Coast hurricane victims. The 98-1 vote on the compromise House-Senate legislation gave much-needed funds to support U.S. troops overseas. Most of the money - $66 billion - goes to the Pentagon for military operations overseas. Bush praised Congress for providing funds to "fight terrorism, defend our homeland, enforce our borders, and fulfill our moral obligation to help our fellow Americans in need." He signed the measure into law only hours after receiving it. The bill would bring to almost $320 billion the tally for the campaign in Iraq and $89 billion for the one in Afghanistan. AP via Yahoo! News: Senate sends Bush $94.5B for Iraq, KatrinaIS AL QAEDA REALLY AT "THE BEGINNING OF THE END"?
The U.S. military in recent weeks has seized a "huge treasure" of intelligence materials on al Qaeda in Iraq, including a revealing document in which the terror group acknowledges its own "bleak situation" caused by losses on both the public relations and war fronts. The documents seized in the weeks leading up to the June 7 killing of Abu Musab Zarqawi also have provided intelligence that has helped direct nearly 500 allied combat operations and resulted in the killings of 104 insurgents, the U.S. command in Baghdad said yesterday. Al Qaeda's acknowledged failures and the military offensive have been so successful that Iraq's national security adviser flatly predicted that Zarqawi's group, al Qaeda in Iraq, is at "the beginning of the end." He said all U.S. troops could be out of Iraq by 2008. Washington Times: Papers reveal weakening terror groupHOUSE DEMS VOTE TO REMOVE JEFFERSON FROM COMMITTEE:
Democrats voted last night to strip Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.) of a plum committee assignment while he is embroiled in a federal bribery investigation. The 99 to 58 vote followed weeks of public and private wrangling, as Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) sought to take a strong election-year stance on ethics, while Jefferson's allies -- mainly fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- protested that he was being singled out for unfair treatment... If he refuses to step aside from the Ways and Means Committee, as urged by the Democratic Caucus, the next step would be a vote on the House floor to remove him from the prestigious committee. Even his allies want to avoid that. Washington Post: Party Urges Jefferson To Leave CommitteeCBC VS. DEM LEADERS:
Members of the black caucus who have supported Jefferson argued it would be unprecedented to force him off the committee before any criminal charges had been filed against him. Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.), head of the black caucus, warned that Pelosi's push for Jefferson's removal might cause black voters to conclude that "a different standard... based on race" was being applied. The controversy pits Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders against the black caucus at a time when the clout its members exert within their districts is especially important. Turnout by black voters is considered crucial to Democratic hopes of winning control of the House in November's elections. Los Angeles Times: Black Caucus Opposes Democrats' Move to Take Jefferson Off Key CommitteeA "TEST" FOR PELOSI:
...Pelosi has presided over a period of remarkable unity among members of a party not traditionally known for its harmony. Though critics warned when she became leader three years ago that a San Francisco liberal would encounter troubles leading a national party, the fault lines have not ruptured along traditional liberal-conservative lines, a friction to which Pelosi has paid careful attention. Several factors have brought attention to party differences: members flexing their muscles during this week's debate over Iraq, black members complaining about efforts to oust Jefferson and a surprise bid for the No. 2 House leadership slot by a Pelosi ally. Pelosi has personally involved herself in each of the disputes, and outside of Capitol Hill has so far kept them relatively low-profile affairs. San Francisco Chronicle: Divisions among Democrats test Pelosi as leaderPELOSI WEALTHIEST HOUSE LEADER:
If the Democrats take over the House this fall, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will bring more than different political views to the Speaker's chair. She'll be bringing a net worth that far exceeds that of the current Speaker, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Pelosi is worth at least $14 million, according to her 2005 financial disclosure form, which was released Wednesday. That makes her the wealthiest House leader on either side of the aisle. Hastert, by contrast, is worth a minimum of $1.3 million. Roll Call: Pelosi Tops House Leaders With $14 Million Net WorthSCOTUS OKS NO-KNOCK SEARCHES:
Drugs or other evidence seized at a home can be used in a trial even if police failed to knock and announce their presence, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a major shift in its rulings on illegal searches by police. The 5-4 decision in a Detroit drug case undercuts a nearly century-old rule that says evidence found during an unlawful search cannot be used. The decision also offers a sign that the court might be more apt to strengthen the hand of police with Justice Samuel Alito in the place of retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor... Alito sided fully with Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion, which emphasized that tossing out evidence acquired in violation of the knock-and-announce rule - but with a valid warrant - could mean "releasing dangerous criminals." USA Today: Justices allow no-knock searchesDHS WON'T BUDGE ON NEW YORK, WASHINGTON CUTS:
A top official at the Department of Homeland Security said the agency will not reconsider its decision to cut anti-terror grants for Washington and New York by 40 percent, despite criticism and pointed questioning yesterday by congressional representatives from those regions. George W. Foresman, DHS undersecretary for preparedness, stood by the complicated formulas used by a secret panel of reviewers to divide $711 million in 2006 funds for urban areas across the country. The result was that Washington and New York, the two areas targeted on Sept. 11, 2001, will get less than last year, while Omaha, Charlotte, Louisville and other cities will receive more. Washington Post: DHS Stands By Anti-Terror CutsROCKIN' THE SUBURBS:
In searching for any advantage in this year's Congressional elections, the two parties are focusing with increased intensity on those cul de sac jungles of tenuous political loyalties, the suburbs and exurbs. After years in which Republicans capitalized on rapid growth in outlying areas, Democrats now see an opportunity to make gains in close-in suburbs where changes in the composition of the population are working in their favor. In a dozen or so Congressional districts that are leading battlegrounds in the midterm elections, older, more densely packed suburbs are trending Democratic, helping to offset Republican dominance on the sprawling exurban frontier. New York Times: '06 Race Focuses on the Suburbs, Inner and OuterMD METRO OFFICIAL FIRED OVER "DEVIANCY" REMARK:
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. fired one of his appointees to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority yesterday after the board member asserted on a local cable talk show that homosexuals lived a life of "sexual deviancy." The termination came a few hours after Metro board member Robert J. Smith, an architect and unsuccessful Republican candidate for the General Assembly from Montgomery County, was publicly confronted by a transit board colleague. Board member Jim Graham, a District of Columbia councilman who is openly gay, called on Smith to disavow his remarks or resign during yesterday's regular meeting of the panel, which oversees Metro business. Baltimore Sun: Ehrlich appointee fired over remarkNEW COUNCILMAN WILL PARTICIPATE VIA SPEAKERPHONE:
While Maj. Mike McNamara was in Iraq, his family handled much of his city council campaign for him: They handed out fliers, held a campaign rally and put up signs around town. Meanwhile, he answered voters' questions from Fallujah by e-mail. The strategy paid off this week when the Marine reservist won a seat on the Grand Forks City Council. McNamara, 48, beat four other candidates with 49 percent of the vote in the city's second ward, despite serving thousands of miles away. McNamara said he will take part in council meetings via speakerphone until he returns to North Dakota in about 90 days. He said he could not have won the race without his family, and he would encourage others serving in Iraq to run for office. AP via Yahoo! News: Reservist in Iraq wins N.D. council seatBUSH APOLOGIZES AFTER SUNGLASSES REMARK:
President Bush, who often teases members of the White House press corps, apologized Wednesday after he poked fun at a reporter for wearing sunglasses without realizing they were needed for vision loss. The exchange occurred at a news conference in the Rose Garden. Bush called on Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten and asked if he was going to ask his question with his "shades" on. "For the viewers, there's no sun," Bush said to the television cameras. But even though the sun was behind the clouds, Wallsten still needs the sunglasses because he has Stargardt's disease, a form of macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss. The condition causes Wallsten to be sensitive to glare and even on a cloudy day, can cause pain and increase the loss of sight. AP via Yahoo! News: Bush apologizes to L.A. Times reporterTELEMARKETERS INFILTRATE GOV'S EMERGENCY HOTLINE:
Ever feel there's no getting away from telephone sales calls? You're not the only one. The federal government has decided to put its own secret Homeland Security hotline to the nation's 50 governors on the federal Do Not Call Registry, according to Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. The move came after a complaint Thursday by Minner, who said that when her line rings, chances are it's not an emergency but an unwanted intrusion. "Every time that phone rings, it's telemarketers," she said in Washington. Minner keeps the secret homeland defense hotline in her office. Governors have them for instant communication with Washington in case of a major emergency. Minner says that when her line rings, it's someone offering a time-share condominium or the latest deal on long-distance phone service. "I wonder about the security of that line," Minner said. USA Today: Sales calls push security hotline to refuge of Do Not Call list
Thursday, June 15, 2006
House opens debate on Iraq war resolution
The House of Representatives opened debate Thursday on a Republican-drafted resolution of support for the war on terrorism that includes language rejecting an "arbitrary" timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, a provision Democrats denounced as an election-year stunt. (Full story
White House: 2,500 fatalities a 'sad benchmark'
Calling it a "sad benchmark," White House spokesman Tony Snow stressed the president's desire to end the war in response to a question about the 2,500 U.S. service members killed since the start of the Iraq war.
The number, which includes seven Department of Defense civilians, is made up of 1,972 service members classified as killed in action and 528 deaths classified as "non-hostile." (U.S. and coalition casualties
"It's a number," said Snow. "Every time there's a 500 benchmark, people want something.
"The president wants the war over now. Everybody wants the war to be over now. The one thing we saw in Iraq this week is further testimony to the quality of the men and women who are doing that, and the dedication and determination to try to ensure the people of Iraq really do live in a free, effective democracy of their own creation and design.
"Any president who goes through the time of war feels very deeply the responsibility for sending men and women into harm's way, and feels very deeply the pain the families feel. And this president is no different. ... It's always a sad benchmark, and one of the things the president has said is that these people will not die in vain."
After deadly year, Bush signs mine safety bill
Randy McCloy, the lone miner to survive the Sago blast, spent three months in the hospital before being discharged.
As the lone survivor of a deadly mine explosion and relatives of lost miners looked on, President Bush on Thursday signed a bill he called the most sweeping, safety-focused overhaul of the American mine industry in nearly three decades.
"America's miners work hard every day to support their families and support this country," Bush said. "It's hard work. You deserve the best training and the best equipment and safeguards that we can provide to protect your lives."
In the past year, 33 American miners have died in mine accidents. They include 12 who died at West Virginia's Sago Mine after a January explosion and five who died last month after a blast in Kentucky.
The sole survivor of the Sago explosion, Randal McCloy, and his wife, Anna, were among those attending the signing ceremony. McCloy, 27, received a standing ovation as he walked in.
The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act, or MINER Act, is supported by coal industry officials and the United Mine Workers. It requires more oxygen supplies underground, stronger seals on abandoned mine shafts, two-way communication throughout a mine and less distance between miners and rescue teams.
The law doubles the amount of emergency air that must be given to each miner -- a two-hour supply instead of enough for a single hour.
Mining companies are required to report a possible accident within 15 minutes of its occurrence; they also are required to install fire-resistant lifelines to help miners find their way out in an emergency. Companies also are required to stash larger oxygen supplies along mine escape routes. The law increases penalties for those violating mine safety laws.
High court: Police don't have to knock, wait
A deeply divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that drug evidence seized in a home search can be used against a suspect even though police failed to knock on the door and wait a "reasonable" amount of time before entering.
The 5-4 decision continues a string of rulings since the September 11, 2001, attacks that in general give law enforcement greater discretion to carry out search and seizure warrants. (Full story
Senate committee OKs flag desecration amendment
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit the desecration of the American flag.
The 11-7 vote was supported by all committee Republicans and opposed by all but one Democrat -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who voted with the GOP majority. (Full story
The Morning Grind
Two days after President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq, a full week after the death of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and with the latest CNN poll showing that 47 percent of Americans support withdrawing the troops immediately or within a year, Congress will focus on Iraq policy. Today, a formal debate in the House will be held on the issue for the first time since 2003.
On the Senate side today, Democrats sponsor amendments that call for troop withdrawal by the end of the year or the next 18 months. And the House debates a Republican-sponsored resolution which states "it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of troops." In what promises to be at least ten hours, if not more, of back-and-forth beginning at 11:45 am, the House will continue to debate the resolution into tomorrow, if necessary.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert will evoke the memory of first responders on 9/11 and passengers on United Flight 93 when he opens up the debate this morning, according to excerpts of his statement obtained for the Grind by CNN's Deirdre Walsh. He'll use the words of former President Ronald Reagan, as well to call for Congress to adopt the resolution. Hastert will say:
"'Freedom is the very essence of our nation,'" President Reagan said in 1990 when a section of the Berlin Wall was presented to his Presidential Library. He continued, 'But even with our troubles we remain a beacon of hope for oppressed peoples everywhere.' President Reagan also observed that freedom is not passed on at birth. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on."Just Call Him 'Dollar Bill'
CNN's Robert Yoon reports that former president Bill Clinton earned $7.5 million in 2005 by hopscotching the globe speaking to groups willing to pay top-dollar to hear him impart his presidential wisdom. Clinton gave 43 speeches in 14 countries last year, averaging a sizable $174,000 per gig.
The details of the former president's speaking fees were released Wednesday by the Senate Office of Public Records. His wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, is required to file annual financial disclosure reports that detail not only her own, but her husband's financial activity for the previous calendar year.
In one particularly lucrative trip to Canada in October 2005, the former president delivered three speeches in two days for a total haul of $775,000. Not bad for a couple of days' work, especially when you consider that it took Clinton four years in the White House to earn $800,000.
The former president gave paid overseas speeches in Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, Denmark, Switzerland, Paris, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Spain and Russia.
The Clintons reported owning assets valued between $10 million and $50 million, about half of which is socked away in regular ole' Citibank deposit accounts, which yielded them a nice $100,000 to $1 million in interest last year. Cold Hard Cash
Rep. Bill Jefferson (D) submitted a financial disclosure statement that provides a unique but hazy glimpse into those final days before the embattled Louisiana Congressman -- and his infamous freezer -- made national headlines. Although the House released these financial documents to the public on Wednesday, members of Congress were required to submit their reports by May 15. Jefferson complied, and also filed two amended reports, the latest on May 17, just three days before the FBI raided his congressional office.
So what can we glean from Jefferson's report? The Grind crunched the numbers and found that Jefferson reported owning assets valued between $551,000 and $1,165,000. These assets included two parcels of farmland, each valued between $50,000 and $100,000. He also reported having $50,000 and $100,000 saved away in, of all places, a bank account. Jefferson also reported selling a home in New Orleans on an unspecified date for anywhere between $100,000 and $250,000. The congressman set up a legal defense fund in 2005, and raised $149,750 from October through December of that year.
Jefferson reported taking several trips in 2005 at the expense of an outside sponsor. He and a family member traveled to Egypt with the Arab-American Chamber of Commerce picking up the tab. He also went to the UAE and Qatar, also with a family member, at the expense of the Islamic Free Market Institute and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce. The report is hand-written and some of the various trip details are difficult to decipher.Gerson Gone
Michael Gerson, one of President Bush's closest advisors and top speechwriters, is stepping down in the next couple of weeks, senior administration officials confirm to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.
Gerson's departure is not part of the new chief of staff Josh Bolten's White House "shake up," officials say. He had been planning to leave the White House for months, but was waiting for the political dust to settle before taking off, they say.
"He's going to pursue writing and policy work. Everyone is certainly sad to see him leave, but respect his decision. He's been one of the President's closest advisors," a senior administration official said.
Gerson wrote Mr. Bush's speeches for seven years, and first joined his presidential campaign in 1999. He is best known for articulating the President's philosophy of "compassionate conservatism" and shaping Mr. Bush's foreign policy by making spreading democracy its focal point.Bush Teases Blind Reporter
CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports that in yesterday's Rose Garden press conference President Bush seemed startled and incredulous when a reporter stood up to ask him a question wearing dark sunglasses. When Mr. Bush addressed Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times, the exchange went as follows:
Mr. Bush: "Yes, Peter. Are you going to ask that question with shades on?"
Wallsten: "I can take them off."
Mr. Bush: "I'm interested in the shade look, seriously."
Wallsten: "All right, I'll keep it, then."
Mr. Bush: "For the viewers, there's no sun." (laughter)
Wallsten: "I guess it depends on your perspective." (laughter)
Mr. Bush: "Touche." (laughter)
As it turns out, Wallsten was wearing the sunglasses because he has Stargardt's Disease, a rare genetic sight disorder which makes him legally blind. Wallsten is progressively losing his sight due to the eye disease.
White House aides say the President Bush didn't know, and Wallsten said he took no offense to the President's comments.
"I had no expectation he'd know," Wallsten said after the press conference. "I don't share it with most people."
But the blogs quickly picked up the story, which created a firestorm of criticism. Wallsten said the blogs were "blowing it all out of proportion." Word of the controversy trickled down to the President's aides, who immediately began receiving phone calls from reporters who were inquiring whether Mr. Bush was aware of his social blunder. Six hours after the press conference, President Bush picked up the phone and called Wallsten to personally apologize.
"The White House called my cell phone around 4:30 in the afternoon, and one of the President's assistants said to me, 'the President is on the line," Wallsten said. "He [Bush] apologized, and I said I didn't think it warranted an apology. It didn't bother me. He then said he felt like he crossed the line. And I repeated what I said, that I didn't think it was necessary for him to apologize," Wallsten said.
"He [Bush] then said he needles reporters as a sign of affection. I told him I hope you don't think you have to treat me any differently. I just want to be treated the same. I told him 'feel free to needle me.' And he said "I will, just next time I'll use a different needle," Wallsten said. The conversation between the blind reporter and the President lasted just three minutes.Staffing Up
New York Governor and '08 hopeful George Pataki announced an Iowa team yesterday for his 21st Century Freedom PAC. Iowa State Senator and Former Majority Leader Stew Iverson will serve as the PAC's Iowa Chairman. Ed Failor is the Senior Political Advisor to the PAC, and Diane Crookham-Johnson is the PAC's Executive Director in Iowa. Also on the team: Loras Schulte and JoEllen Hill.
Political Hot Topics
PRESIDENT POSITIVE ON IRAQ:
President Bush said yesterday that the United States is making steady progress in Iraq toward its goal of standing up a government that can sustain and protect the country, but he emphasized that the ultimate success of the U.S.-led venture lies in the hands of Iraqis. In a Rose Garden news conference just over six hours after his surprise whirlwind visit to Baghdad, Bush said that "I sense something different happening in Iraq" and predicted that "progress will be steady" toward achieving the U.S. mission there. Washington Post: Bush Sees Progress in IraqBUSH WAITING FOR COURT BEFORE CLOSING GITMO:
President Bush said Wednesday that he'd like to close the U.S. military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where three detainees committed suicide Saturday. He said he was awaiting a Supreme Court decision about how terrorism suspects there could be tried. "I'd like to close Guantanamo, but I also recognize that we're holding some people there that are darn dangerous and that we better have a plan to deal with them in our courts," Bush said at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden. USA Today: Bush: Guantanamo's future up to Supreme CourtWAR IS STILL A WINNER:
The Iraq war is the most immediate foreign policy problem besetting the Bush administration. But as a political issue, the White House and top Republican strategists have concluded that the war is a clear winner. GOP officials intend to base the midterm election campaign partly on talking up the war, using speeches and events to contrast President Bush's policies against growing disagreement among leading Democrats over whether to support immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Los Angeles Times: The Republican Party's Iraq OffensiveREPUBLICANS READY FOR RUMBLE ON IRAQ:
Politics are permeating election-year debates on Iraq in the House and Senate, where Republicans and Democrats alike are carefully staking out their positions on the increasingly unpopular war. Seeking an advantage, House Republicans aim to force Democrats to go on record supporting President Bush's wartime policies by staging a vote as early as Thursday on a GOP resolution that praises U.S. troops and rejects setting "an arbitrary date" for withdrawing them from Iraq. "The fundamental question in this debate is: Are we going to confront the threat of terrorism and defeat it, or will we relent and retreat and hope the problem goes away?" House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, providing a preview of the possible GOP line of attack should Democrats oppose the resolution. AP on Boston.com: House, Senate incumbents weigh Iraq stanceCONGRESS DISCLOSES FINANCIAL ASSETS:
House and Senate members detailed their finances Wednesday in the midst of public and government scrutiny of certain dealings that have caused Congress' popularity to drop. The reports require lawmakers to list last year's assets and debts, along with any income beyond the $162,100 salary for the rank-and-file House and Senate members. Rules require lawmakers to donate their speaking fees to charity and to limit gifts from any individual to $100 in a year.USA Today: Lawmakers list last year's assets, debtsBUSH BACKS ROVE:
President Bush yesterday reaffirmed his trust in White House strategist Karl Rove, and GOP allies said the longtime presidential adviser has no reason to apologize for his role in the disclosure of a CIA officer's identity three years ago. "Along with others in the White House, I took a sigh of relief" when the news broke this week that Rove would not be charged in the CIA leak investigation, Bush told reporters in a Rose Garden news conference. "I trust Karl Rove." A senior White House official said Bush and his staff are eager to "put this behind us" as quickly as possible. Washington Post: Bush Reaffirms His Confidence in RoveBUSH ADVISER LEAVING:
Michael Gerson, the White House speechwriter and policy adviser who shaped nearly every major address of George W. Bush's presidency, said Wednesday that he was leaving the administration to pursue new career options. Mr. Gerson has been one of Mr. Bush's closest aides and is credited with giving voice to both the "compassionate conservatism" that Mr. Bush espouses and his more hawkish lines, like "axis of evil." New York Times: Adviser Who Shaped Bush's Speeches Is LeavingTONING DOWN THE CONSERVATIVE LABEL:
Republican Rep. Christopher Shays cites his differences with President George W. Bush, produces a chart outlining his moderate voting record and pledges his independence from party leaders in Congress. His Connecticut colleague, Republican Rep. Rob Simmons, says working with Democrats comes naturally in a district where voters favored Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry over Bush by 10 percentage points in 2004. Reuters in the Washington Post: Endangered Republicans play down party labelLIEBERMAN THINKING INDEPENDENTLY:
Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, warily watching his primary challenger advance in the polls, must soon decide whether to start collecting signatures for a possible independent bid this November. Lieberman's campaign contends that it's focused only on winning the Aug. 8 primary, but the Democrat has not ruled out petitioning his way onto the November ballot as part of a backup plan to secure a fourth term in the Senate. AP on Yahoo! News: Lieberman weighs re-election bid optionsPLAN B TOOK LONGER THAN EXPECTED:
The Food and Drug Administration had intended to allow over-the-counter sales of Plan B last year but delayed the move while determining how to limit those sales to women 17 and older -- a process that should have wrapped up by now, the agency's former chief testified. Former FDA commissioner Lester Crawford, in a sworn statement, said he had reserved the right to decide whether to loosen the sales restrictions on the prescription-only emergency contraceptive pills. His account of that unusual and perhaps unprecedented move, given in a deposition over a lawsuit against the FDA, confirmed earlier testimony given by two senior agency officials who said he'd shut them out of the decision-making process. AP on Yahoo! News: Ex-FDA chief: Agency meant to OK Plan B
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
DAYAHEAD: Elsewhere in the political world ...
President Bush took the red-eye flight back from Baghdad and arrived back in Washington in the wee hours of the morning. There are no big surprises in his schedule today, at least as far as we know. He'll hold a Rose Garden presser at 9:45 a.m. ET, postponed by yesterday's trip, then meet with the president of Colombia this morning at 11 a.m. ET. He'll discuss his Iraq trip with his Iraq Study Group, and then round out the day with First Lady Laura Bush at a picnic for members of Congress on the White House South Lawn.
Former New York Mayor and maybe-White House hopeful Rudy Giuliani held his first fundraiser in some time for his Solutions America leadership PAC last night in New York City. Giulani told the crowd what many presidential candidates-in-waiting have said about 2008: "This is really so that we can insure that we have a Republican Congress in 2006. You know, everyboydy has started thinking about 2008 way earlier than any election has started before.... There is a long way to getting to 2008." Rudy had about $234,000 in his PAC's coffers at the end of April, and has not raised any money for his PAC all year until yesterday's event. He hired a fund-raiser last month, so expect to see more events down the pike.
Secretary of State and unlikely-but-not-impossible 2008 candidate Condoleezza Rice will deliver a foreign policy address this morning at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. It's of course not surprising for a U.S. Secretary of State to deliver a foreign policy speech; if she speaks next week on the wonders of ethanol, we'll let you know.
Former Vice President Al Gore appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" Tuesday night as part of his "I Don't Have Plans to Be a Candidate Again" promotional tour for his book and movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." Gore again said that he does not "expect" to be a presidential candidate in 2008, and media professionals, such us myself, continue to report on it.
2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards is in Honolulu, Hawaii, today meeting with local hotel workers. Earlier this week, Edwards was in Iowa campaigning for local candidates
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) heads to New Hampshire for a two-day trip. He started the day at the famous "Politics and Eggs" event hosted by the New Hampshire Political Library and the New England Council, and will keynote the Manchester Democratic party's Flag Day Dinner tonight.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) is the latest 2008 hopeful to address the Campaign for America's Future's "Take Back America" conference this morning in Washington, D.C.
Fresh from an appearance on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman will take questions from Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., tonight as part of their "American Conversations" series.
Political Hot Topics
BUSH PROMISES SUPPORT IN BAGHDAD:
President Bush told Iraq's prime minister and his cabinet Tuesday that "we'll keep our commitment" not to withdraw troops from the country until the new government is capable of defending itself. During an unannounced visit to Baghdad aimed at buttressing the newly formed government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Bush pledged his support for the country's new leader and declared that "the fate of the Iraqi people is in their hands, and our job is to help them succeed." Washington Post: In Baghdad, Bush Pledges Support to Iraqi LeaderNO CHEERS FOR CLINTON:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) drew boos and hisses from an audience of liberal activists yesterday as she defended her opposition to a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, and later she received an implicit rebuke from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for failing to acknowledge that her support for the war was a mistake. Washington Post: Liberal Activists Boo ClintonDEMS TO DELIVER NEW PLAN:
Democratic House and Senate leaders are planning to reduce the cost of student loans and prescription drugs, raise the minimum wage and launch an effort to develop alternative fuels if they win back control of Congress. In an interview Tuesday with USA TODAY, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi previewed the "New Direction for America" platform hammered out by Democratic members of Congress, mayors and governors. She and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid plan to formally unveil the plan today. USA Today: 'New Direction' is new theme for Democratic planWIN THE MAJORITY FIRST, THEN GO FOR MAJORITY LEADER:
Representative John P. Murtha, a candidate for majority leader if Democrats take control of the House from Republicans in November, said he would not actively campaign for that post until after the elections. "I'm encouraged, but I'm willing to suspend it if it diverts from my major reason: that's winning the House back," said Mr. Murtha, of Pennsylvania. Mr. Murtha, a former marine, has gained prominence in recent months by leading his party in demanding an early troop withdrawal from Iraq. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland also plans to seek the majority leader post if Democrats gain 15 seats and Representative Nancy Pelosi ascends to the position of speaker. New York Times: Democratic Congressman Hesitant on LeadershipSIGNS OF HOPE IN NEBRASKA FOR DEMOCRATS:
It was standing room only the other night at the Blue Bottle Coffeehouse. The Dodge County Democrats were meeting for their convention - and there were about 60 of them, up from barely a dozen in 2004. That was enough for outgoing chairman Jim Dake to declare the county's Democratic Party officially revitalized. "The proof is all around you," he said. "We've filled the room." Early organizing, early advertising and a full slate of candidates for Congress are among the signs of hope for Democrats in this conservative farm state with a streak of prairie populism. Their real test will come on Election Day, though, and Republicans here say they shouldn't get their hopes too high. USA Today: Democrats rebuild on the prairieKENNEDY TAKES PLEA:
He arrived with the trappings of an American prince: a storied family name; a somber blue suit set off by a sumptuous orange-striped necktie; an entourage that included a lawyer, a congressman, a phalanx of aides and news reporters... But in this first case after lunch yesterday in Courtroom 115 of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, no proof was necessary. "I am pleading guilty to driving under the influence," said Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island. Providence Journal: In D.C. court, Kennedy pleads guiltyEX-GOP VS. GOP IN VIRGINIA SENATE RACE:
Former Republican James H. Webb Jr. handily won a Democratic U.S. Senate primary yesterday, setting up a fall contest with Sen. George Allen that will draw national attention. Webb, who was a secretary of the Navy for President Reagan, racked up large margins in Northern Virginia. Webb, who endorsed Allen in 2000, last night questioned Allen's leadership, saying he had blindly followed President Bush on the war in Iraq and in sending jobs overseas. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Senate race set -- Webb to face AllenSC: GOVERNOR'S RACE SET:
The Democratic race for governor that started out a year ago with candidates taking aim at Republican Gov. Mark Sanford was in the hands of voters Tuesday. Sanford, meanwhile, easily won his party's nomination, but a little-known and poorly funded challenger was able to grab enough of the vote to send a message to the incumbent. The Post and Courier: Sanford beats challenger in Republican race; Governor to face Democrat MooreMAINE SENATE RACE TOO CLOSE TO CALL:
Sen. Olympia Snowe was unopposed on Republican ballots Tuesday as she geared up her quest for a third term while two Democrats seeking their party's nomination to become her underdog challenger in November were narrowly spaced in a race too close to call. AP on MaineToday: Two Democrats in tight battle for Senate nomination
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The Situation Online
Watch "The Situation Room" at 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM, ET for these stories and more from our Internet reporters: Rampant Rove reaction
White House senior adviser Karl Rove
Patrick Fitzgerald's decision
not to indict Karl Rove has liberals online both surprised
, and some even speculating that Rove may have cut a deal
of some sort. On the right, bloggers suggest
that Rove can now focus on midterm elections.Pleading guilty
We examine the plea bargain (PDF)
that Rep Patrick Kennedy signed after pleading guilty
to driving under the influence of prescription drugs. We also take a look at the original police report (PDF)
detailing his car crash last month and the doctor's note (PDF)
affirming that he was taking prescription medicine.
With Bush in Iraq, Dems continue verbal attacks
Democrats and Republicans have been largely at odds over U.S. policy in Iraq.
While President Bush
touted successes in Iraq, Democrats in Washington presented a sharply different view -- criticizing Republicans for spearheading a policy that remains largely unpopular
, even after the death of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Democratic Sens. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and Joe Biden (D-Delaware) waited until Bush left Iraq, to which he staged a surprise visit this morning, before making their comments. Some, like Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), focused more on strategy and the prospect of troop reductions and "phased redeployments."
But other Democrats didn't hold back.
In remarks on the House floor, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) claimed the GOP-led Congress had "cut and run from its oversight responsibility" -- saying it failed to provide enough troops, account for its high price tag, or properly assess and respond to the insurgency.
"Oversight requires the vigilance and patriotic determination of every member of Congress," said Emanuel, who is leading the Democrats efforts to retake control of the House. "It's time for new priorities in Iraq."
Sen. John Kerry offered a cautious, albeit skeptical comments to reporters
, but unloaded on the Bush administration in an address to the liberal Campaign for America's Future group.
"War is no excuse for its own perpetuation," said Kerry, drawing parallels with the Vietnam War. "And a war in Iraq founded on a lie can never be true to America's character."
The office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) quickly and vigorously challenged Kerry and defended the Bush administration, issuing a press statement entitled, "John Kerry's Democrats Fail to Grasp What's At Stake In Iraq."
The statement accused Kerry of reversing course in now calling for a withdrawal of U.S. troops by year's end, criticizing Bush while the president was "on the ground in Baghdad" and saying the senator's "misguided plan comes at a critical time for the future of Iraq."
Massachusetts senators offer advice as Bush visits Iraq
A skeptical Sen. Kerry said: "I hope he'll do the real diplomacy that's necessary."
While the Democratic party waited for President Bush to leave Iraq before formally commenting on his surprise visit, two Democratic senators from Massachusetts weighed in on the trip and U.S. policy -- expressing hope and skepticism and offering advice.
Departing a party event, Sen. John Kerry -- who challenged Bush in the 2004 presidential election -- responded to a reporter's question about the trip, saying, "I hope he'll do the real diplomacy that's necessary. Let's see."
The office of Sen. Edward Kennedy released a statement voicing the senior senator's desire to see a pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq. The statement read:
"I hope the president will deliver a clear message in Baghdad: Now that a democratic government has been elected and the al Qaeda leader in Iraq has been killed, it's time for American troops to begin to come home.
"We need to view disengagement as part of the solution in Iraq. Our overwhelming military presence and our open-ended military commitment have fueled the insurgency and made America a crutch for the Iraqi government.
"If America really wants the new Iraqi government to succeed, we must begin to disengage from Iraq, and they from us. The Iraqi government must begin to make its own decisions, make necessary compromises to avoid full-scale civil war, and take responsibility for its own future."
The Morning Grind
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, got a mere 5-minute warning before meeting President Bush.
President Bush landed in Iraq this morning at 8:11 am in a surprise visit to Baghdad, where he is holding a bilateral meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the Old Republican Palace.
When Mr. Bush walked in this morning, Prime Minister Maliki had a five-minute warning that it was "a special visitor." When Mr. Maliki saw Mr. Bush, he said, "Good to see you." Mr. Bush shook his hand and said "thanks." The meeting between the two leaders is expected to last about five hours.
Mr. Bush took off from Andrews Air Force Base at 9:07 p.m. ET last night. He came on board the plane at 8:58 p.m. and announced himself by saying "POTUS is on board" to the pool. He then walked into his cabin and the plane departed. He was accompanied on the plane by senior aides including National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, White House counselor Dan Bartlett, Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagan and White House spokesman Tony Snow.
Presidential counselor Dan Bartlett told reporters aboard Air Force One that the trip was planned by a "very, very close circle of people," in the White House, over the past month. He said that Bush had wanted to come to Iraq as soon as the final positions in Mr. Maliki's government -- the ministers of Defense and Interior -- were chosen. Had those posts been filled sooner, Mr. Bush would have made the trip several months earlier, Mr. Bartlett said.
The surprise trip comes amid a two-day Iraq summit that Mr. Bush has convened at Camp David, and comes after last week's victory of a strike against insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
CNN released a new poll yesterday that shows continued dissatisfaction amongst Americans over the situation in Iraq. The poll shows that a majority of Americans, 55 percent, continue to believe that it was a mistake to send troops into Iraq, despite the news of the recent strikes against Zarqawi. Almost half of Americans, 47 percent, believe that the United States should pull out troops immediately or within a year. And, moral questions persist over the situation as well; less than half of Americans, 45 percent, believe that U.S. actions have been morally justified in Iraq (down two points from 47 percent in March), and a majority, 58 percent of Americans saying that they are following news stories about the Haditha incident. A majority of Americans, 57 percent, say that it is "very" or "fairly" likely that U.S. troops committed war crimes.
***Relief for Rove
Another major headline today: After nearly three years of investigation into the CIA leak case, Karl Rove will not be charged with any wrongdoing by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Mr. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, released a statement this morning saying, "On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove. In deference to the pending case, we will not make any further public statements about the subject matter of the investigation. We believe that the Special Counsel's decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove's conduct."
Rove's spokesperson told CNN this morning that Mr. Fitzgerald informed him of this decision last night, which came after Rove met with the Grand Jury on five separate occasions, most recently on April 26.
A White House spokesperson said this morning, "We are pleased that the Special Counsel has concluded his deliberations. Karl is, as he has been throughout the process, fully focused on the task at hand -- crafting and building support for the president's agenda."
Mr. Rove found out about Mr. Fitzgerald's decision last night, just as he was getting off of a plane to speak at a GOP fundraiser in New Hampshire. A spokesperson described him as "elated." He gave the audience, who paid $100 per person to hear him speak, some campaign message advice, saying that Republicans should campaign on the economy and the war in Iraq. A source tells CNN that Rove's attorney told Mr. Fitzgerald that there will be "no victory lap" from Mr. Rove after this news.
Iraq is also the story on both sides of the Hill this week. House Republicans, in what some might call an effort to expose Dem divisions over the issue, are debating Iraq for the first time. GOP House members added language about troop withdrawal to an Iraq resolution yesterday that wasn't there in previous drafts. And on the Senate side, GOP Senators have the same goal with the Defense bill, but apparently, they don't need to push Dems to expose their own divisions, especially the 2008 caucus. Senator Kerry said he's offering his plan as an amendment. Senator Feingold is doing the same. Senator Reid is working feverishly to find some language they can all agree on.From CNN's congressional team
DAYAHEAD: Elsewhere on the 2008 campaign trail ...
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani holds a fundraiser for his PAC, Solutions America, tonight at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, after giving a policy speech on energy today at the Manhattan Institute. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will attend the event, which is geared towards "helping electeds and those who want to be elected for '06," according to a Giuliani spokesperson, who says that they expect "about 100" people to attend, and they expect to raise "half [a million dollars]." Other VIPS expected to attend are: Rep. Dave Reichert, Rep. Ralph Norman, Rep. John Sweeney, and Rep. Sue Kelley, and Illinois congressional candidate David McSweeney, Iowa congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti, and Minnesota congressional candidate Michele Bachman.
After the Giuliani PAC event tonight, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will appear on "The Daily Show."
Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry, and Governor Tom Vilsack speak at the Campaign for America's Future "Take Back America" conference this morning, beginning at 8:15 am. According to a preview of the speech obtained by the Grind, Mr. Kerry will say, "The time has also come for a Congress that shares responsibility for getting us into Iraq to take responsibility for helping to get us out. Sure, we were misled. But we know it now -- and we know the truth. So we must demand a change in policy, a change in course. This week on the floor of the Senate I will fight for an up or down vote on my amendment to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. Our soldiers have done their job. It is time for Iraqis to do their job -- it's time for Iraqis to stand up for Iraq. It's time for Iraqis to want democracy for themselves as much as we want it for them."
The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) will present its Outstanding Public Service Award to U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for her efforts to promote reproductive health issues as First Lady and a U.S. Senator, at a Congressional Luncheon at 12 p.m. at the Sewall-Belmont House, 144 Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, DC.
Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack delivered "Foreign Policy: A Governor's Perspective" at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, at 8:30 a.m.
Political Hot Topics
BUSH IN BAGHDAD:
President Bush arrived Tuesday in Baghdad on an unannounced visit to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. It marks Bush's first visit since al-Maliki took office recently. The trip comes as at least 70,000 forces -- most of them Iraqi -- prepare to deploy Wednesday on the streets of Baghdad in an effort to bring security to the Iraqi capital, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry. CNN.com: Bush makes surprise visit to BaghdadNO CHARGES AGAINST ROVE:
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has told White House aide Karl Rove that he does not expect to seek charges against him in connection with the CIA leak case, Rove's lawyer said today. In a statement this morning, Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, said that Fitzgerald "has formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges" against Rove. Washington Post: Karl Rove Won't Be Charged in CIA Leak CaseBUSH LOOKING FOR BEST WAY FORWARD IN IRAQ:
President Bush gathered top aides at Camp David here on Monday to calibrate the best way forward in Iraq during what the administration described as a critical juncture, following the death last week of the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq and the final formation of a unity government there. The meeting was as much a media event as it was a high-level strategy session, devised to send a message that this is "an important break point for the Iraqi people and for our mission in Iraq from the standpoint of the American people," in the words of the White House counselor, Dan Bartlett. New York Times: White House Hones a Strategy for Post-Zarqawi EraCIA COMES UNDER TOUGH QUESTIONS:
A federal appeals court panel in Manhattan questioned a lawyer for the federal government yesterday as to whether the Central Intelligence Agency had a legitimate national security interest in refusing to confirm or deny the existence of documents authorizing it to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects overseas. The tough questioning came in oral arguments by the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers for the C.I.A. before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. New York Times: Judges Press C.I.A. Lawyer Over Withheld DocumentsONE MORE VOTE NEEDED FOR FLAG AMENDMENT:
The Senate is one vote away from passing a constitutional amendment that would ban desecration of the U.S. flag, the closest that amendment supporters have been to passage. The American Legion, which supports the amendment, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes it, both say there are 66 votes to pass it. Whether advocates can find the 67th vote to send the flag amendment to the states for ratification remains unclear. A Senate vote is set for the week of June 26. USA Today: Flag-desecration amendment needs 1 more voteROVE STAYS ON MESSAGE IN NH:
The Bush administration is said to have a new playbook, with a more inclusive attitude toward critics and an openness to skeptical debate. Karl Rove, apparently, still has his copy of the old playbook. In a speech to New Hampshire Republican officials here Monday night, the White House deputy chief of staff attacked Democrats who have criticized the U.S. war effort in Iraq, such as Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), who he said advocate "cutting and running." Washington Post: Rove's Speech to N.H. Republicans Keeps to Partisan LineSCHUMER'S MOVE MAY NOT BE THE BEST:
It's not yet clear whether Sen. Charles E. Schumer's endorsement of James Webb over Harris Miller in today's Democratic Senate primary in Virginia will help move votes. But it did move money -- away from Schumer (N.Y.) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee he leads ... The most immediate fallout of Schumer's endorsement was the relocation of a post-primary fundraiser for the DSCC that was scheduled to be at the home of former lieutenant governor Donald S. Beyer Jr. and his wife, Megan. The longtime Democratic fundraisers are Miller supporters. The Beyers begged off after Schumer's move, for which they received no notice. Washington Post: Schumer Gets Cold Shoulder for EndorsementGOP GETTING READY FOR IRAQ DEBATE:
Several days of pointed congressional debate on the war in Iraq coming this week began to take shape Monday when Republican House leaders unveiled a draft resolution praising American troops and saying the United States will show "continued resolve" in Iraq. The Senate also is expected to discuss the war and could vote on an amendment calling for all American forces to be withdrawn by the end of this year. San Francisco Chronicle: House GOP unveils war resolution; praise for 'noble struggle'; 3 senators to urge withdrawalSAME SEX MARRIAGE A TEST FOR DEMS:
Gay and lesbian political leaders applauded Democrats in the U.S. Senate last week for defeating the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, but they say the real test of the party's commitment to the gay community will come this fall. The national party is simultaneously courting conservative evangelical Christian voters and planning how to defeat proposals on the November ballot in six states for constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. That has created tension between the Democratic Party and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. San Francisco Chronicle: Gays want more from Dems on marriageKERRY SURPRISES CLINTON:
U.S. Senator John Kerry startled some of those in a ballroom full of big-time Massachusetts Democratic donors on Sunday when he arrived unexpectedly to a Boston fund-raising event for Senator Hillary Clinton, his potential rival in a 2008 presidential race. Just as Clinton got up to begin her talk, Kerry appeared in the back of the room where 350 of Massachusetts leading party contributors and activists were attending the dinner fund-raiser at the Westin Copley Place. Boston Globe: Kerry drops in on Clinton fundraiserVIRGINIANS VOTING FOR A CHALLENGER TO SENATOR ALLEN:
Democrats and perhaps a few Republicans will decide today between Harris N. Miller and James H. Webb Jr. in a primary election that has drawn national attention. The winner will take on Republican Sen. George Allen in November's general election. Most observers expect a light turnout in a contest so close that no one was willing to predict a winner. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Democrats today choose challenger for Allen's jobRICE FOR DINNER:
When Esquire asked a panel of men whom they'd invite from a list of 14 notable women to a dinner party, they chose Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over such stars as Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston. Chicago Tribune: Leno, Rice Top Celebrity Dinner Survey
Monday, June 12, 2006
The Morning Grind
Edwards gets Iowa boost
Edwards during the 2004 Democratic convention
He was in the neighborhood to stump for two local Democratic candidates, but John Edwards got a campaign boost of his own during his latest swing through Iowa, topping a field of 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls in a Des Moines Register poll released Sunday.
Thirty percent of those polled in the first-in-the-nation caucus state said Edwards was their White House pick at this early stage in the race. The former North Carolina senator lead New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who placed second with 26 percent, as well as Massuchusetts Sen. John Kerry, his 2004 ticket-mate, who was a distant third with 12 percent. In the 2004 Iowa caucuses, Edwards posted a come-from-behind second place finish with 32 percent, behind Kerry, the eventual Democratic nominee, who won 37 percent.
"I had my 53rd birthday yesterday, and it's a nice gift to know we still have friends in Iowa," Edwards told reporters after a campaign rally yesterday for congressional candidate Bruce Braley at the United Steelworkers Hall in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Iowa governor Tom Vilsack placed fourth in the poll with 10 percent, followed by former Sen. Tom Daschle (South Dakota), Sen. Russ Feingold (Wisconsin), former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, each at 3 percent, and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, and retired Gen. Wesley Clark, both clocking in at 2 percent.
A senior Edwards adviser echoed his boss' enthusiasm with the results: "It is very early, and things will change a million times, but it is obviously encouraging. Senator Edwards' favorables are a great way to start if he runs" for president.
Edwards remains in Iowa today to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver at events in Iowa City, and at the Maytag Plant in Newton. He stumps once again for Braley tonight at a fundraiser in Des Moines.
***Elsewhere on the 2008 campaign trail...
* Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) will campaign with U.S. Senate hopeful Jim Webb, who is on tomorrow's Democratic primary ballot to face incumbent Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) this fall. Kerry and Webb will hold a 3:30 p.m. ET rally in Arlington, Virginia. Allen, himself a 2008 presidential hopeful on the Republican side, began airing his first television ads last week, though he is unopposed in tomorrow's primary.
* Expect a frenzy of fundraising this month, as candidates and politicos hope to sock away enough cash by the Federal Election Commission's June 30 mid-year fundraising deadline to claim bragging rights in July. Today's entry: Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts) heads to Utah to raise money for his Commonwealth PAC.
* Despite his lackluster fourth-place finish in his home-state Des Moines Register poll, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack starts a busy week raising his profile with events in Washington, D.C., and New Hampshire. He starts a two-day New Hampshire swing on Wednesday, meeting with local Democrats. He will also be one of several 2008 Democratic hopefuls to address a crowd of self-proclaimed liberals at Campaign for America's Future "Take Back America" Conference, which will also feature speeches by Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, and Russ Feingold.
* Former President Bill Clinton headlines a rally in Orlando, Florida, today, lending a hand to statewide and local candidates in the Sunshine State. Clinton will address, no surprise, "the need to win in November," and how to "get the country on the right track again," according to an aide. Meanwhile, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) starts her day with a non-political ribbon-cutting ceremony at a Lockheed Martin facility in Oswego, New York.
* He's not running for president, but presidential adviser Karl Rove will be in New Hampshire tonight to keynote the state Republican party's annual fundraising dinner. Rove is expected to discuss his thoughts on Republican election hopes in 2006 and 2008. He is not expected to address his role in the ongoing CIA leak investigation, or the state party's ongoing legal troubles. Tickets to the event are $100, but those willing to shell out $250 get to attend a private reception, complete with a photo with Rove.
***Supreme Court finances
At least six of the nine justices on the Supreme Court are millionaires, according to recent financial disclosure documents reviewed by CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears.
The reports show that Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens each own investments and holdings valued at at least $1 million.
Justice Clarence Thomas may join the list in future years, once he finishes his autobiography, for which he is reportedly earning at least $1 million. Justice Antonin Scalia will file his financial disclosure report in August.
The report also indicates most of the justices did quite a bit of business-related travel in the past year for which they were reimbursed. Breyer flew overseas to England, France, Italy, Australia and Israel. Closer to home he spoke in Des Moines, Iowa, and Philadelphia, among other places. He wrote a book last year, and did several separate media and promotional appearances.
Ginsburg traveled to Puerto Rico for a law school speech, Justice Anthony Kennedy to Thailand for an Asian judicial conference, and Roberts to England to teach a course.
Stevens reported his visit to Wrigley Field in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, last September to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs game.
Financial disclosure reports for members of Congress will be released later this week.
***17,327 days in office, but who's counting?
Anyone remember what they were doing 17,327 days ago?
If you are Sen. Robert Byrd (D), you were on the floor of the United States Senate on that 3rd of January in 1959 getting sworn-in for the very first time to represent the state of West Virginia.
Today, a mere 47 years, 5 months, and 9 days later, Byrd makes the history books by becoming the longest-serving U.S. Senator in history, surpassing the record previously held by the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South Carolina). Thurmond served from December 1954 to January 2003, with a seven-month break in 1956 -- a total of 17,326 days, according to a painstaking count by the U.S. Senate Historical Office.
Byrd will deliver a speech on the Senate floor today to mark the occasion, and gave his only TV or radio interview on the topic to CNN's Dana Bash.
"Now I have the experience. And I'm going to run again. And I believe the people will re-elect me in West Virginia," he said. "I may be an old man in years. That's all right. Moses was quite an old man, I suppose."
Byrd also addresses the "greatest mistake of my life" as well as his reputation as "The King of Pork." You can catch the rest of the interview on CNN's American Morning (6-10 a.m. ET) and on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" (4-6 p.m. ET).
Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) are the third- and fourth-longest serving senators, each with over 43 years of service, but they have a ways to go before hoping to catch up with Byrd, who is up for re-election this November. If Byrd wins and completes his 9th term, he will tack on another 2,397 days, for a grand total of 19,724 days of Senate service.
To give you some context for how long ago 17,327 was, Byrd was sworn in the same day Alaska became the nation's 49th state.
Political Hot Topics
BUSH CONSIDERING FUTURE OF U.S. IN IRAQ:
Encouraged by the death of a top terrorist leader and continued progress on the formation of a new government in Iraq, President Bush is gathering his top military and civilian war advisers to plan the U.S. role in the country's future. The president planned two days of meetings at the mountainous Camp David presidential retreat starting Monday, with national security advisers on hand and top commanders in Iraq connected by videoconference. White House officials have said announcements of force reductions are not expected. Yet the top U.S. commander in Baghdad predicted on the eve of the meeting that coalition troops will gradually move out of the country in the coming months. USA Today: Bush, adivsers plan future of U.S. in Iraq at Camp DavidIRAN PLAYING ALONG:
Iran said Sunday that it accepted some parts of a Western offer aimed at getting Tehran to drop its nuclear program, but it rejected others while calling the central point ambiguous. Iran said the key issue of uranium enrichment -- a process that can make nuclear fuel for a power plant or fissile material for an atomic bomb -- needed clarification." Chicago Tribune: Iran Accepts Parts of Western Nuke OfferCOURT TO AT LEAST LISTEN TO ARGUMENTS ON WIRETAPPING:
Critics of the government's domestic surveillance program claim it violates the rights of free speech and privacy. The Bush administration says it is necessary and legal. Both sides were due in court Monday to argue the constitutionality of the program...The Bush administration has asked [U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs] Taylor to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the litigation would jeopardize state secrets. But Taylor said she would first hear arguments on the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, despite the government's assertion that no court can consider the issues. Wahington Post: ACLU Tries to Stop Warrantless WiretappingHOW TO GOVERN AND REPRESENT -- FOR DEMS, IT'S A DILEMNA:
The political landscape has gotten friendlier for congressional Democrats over the past six months, but the party's prospects for scoring big gains in governors' races now look more difficult. In some cases, the same concerns that are costing congressional Republicans - and raising Democrats' hopes of gaining control of the House or Senate -- are hurting Democratic governors in November's races.. USA Today: Dems slipping in state racesDEMS PLAN TO UNVEIL PLAN:
Democrats will introduce a domestic agenda for the 2006 campaign this week, confident that their opportunity to pick up seats is the best in a generation, yet divided over how much an agenda will matter. The Democratic program will consist of bread-and-butter priorities: increasing the minimum wage, cutting costs of prescription drugs, reducing interest rates on student loans, rolling back subsidies for oil companies, and pay-as-you-go budgeting, according to party officials. San Francisco Chronicle: Democrats to roll out action plan; program on domestic issues part of strategy to retake HouseMURTHA: PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE OR JUST BEING PREPARED?:
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a leading critic of the Iraq war and a close ally of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has launched a run for majority leader should the Democrats win control of the House in the November election, likely touching off an open fight for power among House Democrats. "If we prevail as I hope and know we will and return to the majority this Congress, I have decided to run for the open seat of majority leader," Murtha wrote in a letter to colleagues Friday. "I would appreciate your consideration and vote and look forward to speaking to you personally about my decision." Such a race would pit Murtha against the second-ranking House Democrat, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) for a job that Democrats do not currently control. The Hill: Murtha launches bid for majority leaderEDWARDS GETS A "GIFT" AND A LIFT FROM IOWA POLL :
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards called a new Des Moines Register poll showing him as the favored Democratic presidential prospect in Iowa "a nice gift" Sunday, as he returned to the lead-off caucus state for the fifth time this year. But Edwards, who surged to second place in the 2004 Iowa caucuses, declined to say whether the poll, published Sunday, puts new pressure on him to repeat his success in Iowa, should he seek the 2008 nomination. Des Moines Register: Edwards call poll 'nice gift'LAW FIRM DEFENDED BY DEMS:
The embattled securities class-action law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman received some political backing late last week with the release of a statement signed by four Democrats from the House of Representatives condemning last month's indictment of the firm on criminal charges. "The Justice Department's crusade against trial lawyers, the first line in the average citizen's protection against corporate greed, has taken a new low in the indictment of an entire leading law firm in the plaintiffs' bar," said the statement, which was released Friday. The statement was signed by three representatives from New York - Charles B. Rangel, Carolyn McCarthy and Gary L. Ackerman - and Robert Wexler from Florida. New York Times: 4 From Congress Defend Indicted Law FirmLEWIS AIDE SOLD LOBBYING FIRM FOR $2M:
Jeff Shockey, a top aide to the House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), received $1.9 million last year for the sale of his share of a lobbying company whose ties to Lewis are under investigation by the Justice Department investigation. The Hill: Lewis aide received nearly $2 million from lobbying firmAZ: RACE A REFERENDUM ON IMMIGRATION:
At 47, Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth has nearly 12 years of experience in Congress. At 65, Democrat Harry Mitchell has none ... The race for Arizona's Republican-dominated 5th District is considered competitive for the first time in a decade. Analysts point to troubles in the White House and Congress, as well as Hayworth's outsize profile on immigration. It all makes for an intriguing contest in an unpredictable state where pollsters see a shift to the center. It also makes the race something of a referendum on immigration policy. Washington Post: Arizona Race Tests a Hard Line on ImmigrationBYRD BECOMES RECORD BREAKER:
Robert Byrd plans to begin today as he has begun each of his previous 17,326 days as Senator. The West Virginia Democrat said he'll get up and immediately think: "What can I do today for West Virginians and to champion my state?" That it's also the date the 88-year-old Byrd passes the late Sen. Strom Thurmond's (R-S.C.) record as the longest serving U.S. Senator in history will hardly be foremost in his mind, he insisted. Roll Call: Byrd's Record-Breaking Day Just Like Any OtherPLAN B: STATES GET ABORTION BAN READY, JUST IN CASE:
Anticipating a day when American women no longer have a federal constitutional right to abortion, a number of states are considering laws that would automatically outlaw the procedure if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses itself. Such "trigger laws" are designed to ban abortion as soon as the court overturns Roe vs. Wade or the Constitution is amended to give states a free hand to regulate abortion. Louisiana lawmakers passed such a bill in the last week, and other states recently considered them. Seven states, including Illinois, already have trigger laws on the books, although legal experts say it's not clear the older ones would result in an immediate ban. Chicago Tribune: States set stage for bans on abortionJUSTICES LIKE ROAD TRIPS, TOO:
Supreme Court justices crisscrossed the world last year, with stops in Bangkok, Paris, London and Prague, and less-exotic places like Omaha, Neb., and Morgantown, W. Va. Financial disclosure reports released Friday show that several justices got out of Washington a good bit in 2005 at the expense of law schools and legal groups... Like other top elected and appointed federal officials, the justices each year report their assets, including gifts and earnings, but in ranges of thousands of dollars and not exact amounts. In addition, the justices are required to provide some details of reimbursements they receive for travel. AP on Yahoo! News: Supreme Court justices report road trips