“Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces. Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said. … Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq.”
Roll Call reports:
In a second blow to House Republicans this week, the FBI raided a business tied to the family of Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) Thursday afternoon as part of an ongoing investigation into the three-term lawmaker.
Details of the raid on Patriot Insurance Agency in Sonoita, Ariz., were not immediately available. Renzi’s most recent financial disclosure form lists the business as an asset belonging to his wife, Roberta, and valued at $1 million to $5 million.
Little is known about the inquiries into Renzi’s activities, but according to media reports the Justice Department has been running a two-track investigation into Renzi regarding a land deal, as well as a piece of legislation he helped steer that may have improperly benefited a major campaign contributor. It was not immediately clear which investigation the raid pertained to, and neither his attorney nor his spokesman could be immediately reached for comment.
As a result of the raid, Renzi is stepping down from his seat on the House Intelligence Committee, according to a statement from his office obtained Thursday evening by Roll Call.
“Today, the FBI came to my family’s business to obtain documents related to their investigation,” Renzi said. “I view these actions as the first step in bringing out the truth. Until this matter is resolved, I will take a leave of absence from the House Intelligence Committee. I intend to fully cooperate with this investigation.”
UPDATE: CREW has background on the two investigations into Renzi. There are also suspicions that Paul Charlton, the former U.S. Attorney in Arizona, was purged in part because of his probe into Renzi’s activities. (Gonzales was asked about Charlton today.)
“Two Bush administration officials who have been linked in scandal are now linked in wedlock.” Former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles and former Justice Department lawyer Sue Ellen Wooldridge “were married March 26, three days after Griles pleaded guilty to lying to Congress” about his relationship with Jack Abramoff. “Legal experts note that people can refuse to testify against their spouses, and that in some cases, people can prevent their spouse from testifying against them.”
From a new Fox News poll:
One Senator recently claimed that setting a date for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is more accurately described as a date for surrender — do you think it is accurate to compare withdrawal with surrender?
Yes: 33 percent
No: 61 percent
Now who could that one Senator be?
MCCAIN: Supporters of this provision say they want a date certain for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. But what they have offered us is more accurately described as a date certain for surrender.
President Bush has repeatedly said he will veto the Iraq supplemental funding. Back-up plans are already being prepared if the veto occurs. John Podesta lays out four principles to remember and four scenarios for Congress to consider:
In an interview with CNN’s Larry King tonight, President Bill Clinton says the best thing Alberto Gonzales can do for the President he has “served so loyally is to step aside”:
I understand why President Bush is reluctant to let him go. I don’t think he ought to force the President to fire him. He had a long and good run here. And if what I saw coming out of Sen. Specter today and others is right, and there’s a lot of opposition to him in the Congress. These cases raise real troubling questions — these U.S. Attorney firings. The best thing he could do for this president that he served so loyally is to step aside.
In today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Aberto Gonzales tried to claim that he never intended to take advantage of a Patriot Act provision that allows the administration to indefinitely name “interim” U.S. attorneys and avoid Senate confirmation.
But in a Dec. 19, 2006 e-mail, Gonzales’s then-chief of staff Kyle Sampson wrote an e-mail explaining the administration’s plan for installing Karl Rove’s protege Tim Griffin as U.S. attorney in Arkansas:
We should gum this to death. [A]sk the senators to give Tim a chance…then we can tell them we’ll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in “good faith,” of course.
Gonzales today said it was a plan he “never liked” and immediately “rejected” it. Watch it:
But at one point, Gonzales did like the plan. A timeline of events:
Sampson tells Gonzales about plan to appoint Griffin without Senate approval. Sampson testified that he told Gonzales about the plan to avoid Senate approval for Griffin in early December. At that time, Gonzales did not “specifically reject” the idea.
Gonzales promises Pryor that Griffin will face Senate approval. In a meeting with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK) on Dec. 15, Gonzales said that he “wanted to go through a Senate confirmation” for Griffin. When Pryor objected to Griffin’s nomination, Gonzales promised that Justice Department would “look for someone else” and asked Pryor to “give me names that we ought to consider.”
Sampson implements plan to avoid Senate approval on Griffin. Four days after the meeting between Gonzales and Pryor, Sampson sends out the e-mail recommending that they “gum this [Griffin's nomination] to death.”
Gonzales finally rejects Sampson’s plan. Sampson testified, “I don’t remember him specifically rejecting the idea until after he spoke with Senator Pryor in mid-December, and I don’t remember him specifically rejecting the idea until sometime in January. … [H]e did reject it after that e-mail.”
Therefore, Gonzales did not reject Sampson’s plan until after he met with Pryor and assured the senator that any U.S. attorney nominee would face Senate scrutiny. According to the Arkansas News Bureau, “Pryor said he still believes the attorney general lied to him by stating that he intended to seek Senate confirmation for Griffin.”
As Schumer noted, “I mean, you can’t have it both ways. If your chief of staff is implementing a major plan that contradicts what you just told the U.S. senator from that state, in my view, you shouldn’t be attorney general. And if, on the other hand, what you said to Senator Pryor contradicts the plan, you also shouldn’t be attorney general.”
Transcript: Read more
Statement from White House spokeswoman Dana Perino:
President Bush was pleased with the Attorney General’s testimony today. After hours of testimony in which he answered all of the Senators’ questions and provided thousands of pages of documents, he again showed that nothing improper occurred. He admitted the matter could have been handled much better, and he apologized for the disruption to the lives of the U.S. Attorneys involved, as well as for the lack of clarity in his initial responses. The Attorney General has the full confidence of the President, and he appreciates the work he is doing at the Department of Justice to help keep our citizens safe from terrorists, our children safe from predators, our government safe from corruption, and our streets free from gang violence.
President Bush must have been watching a different hearing. Several “very loyal Republicans made it clear to CNN that they were really dripping with disappointment.”
For the past six years, the Bush administration and the Justice Department’s political appointees have “pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates. … On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division’s Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans.”
In 2005, the Justice Department sued Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) for not keeping the state’s voting records up-to-date. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey sharply criticized the Justice Department’s weak case and ruled in favor of Carnahan:
Laughrey said it was difficult to gauge the scope of the problem “because the United States has not presented the actual voter registration lists and shown who should have been included or excluded and why.”
“It is also telling that the United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote as a result of deficiencies alleged by the United States,” Laughrey wrote. “Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred.”
The case was led by the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Bradley Schlozman, who earlier served in the Justice Department’s civil rights division. In 2005, he reversed the career staff’s recommendations to challenge a Georgia photo-ID law that a federal judge later likened to a “modern-day poll tax.”
Courts are increasingly dismantling the Bush administration’s attempts to go after political adversaries at the state and local levels. Earlier this month, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an aide to Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle “was wrongly convicted” of public corruption. The federal judges, acting with “unusual speed,” “assailed the government’s case” and said that U.S. attorney Steven Biskupic’s evidence was “beyond thin.”
After viewing Bill O’Reilly’s now-infamous meltdown with Geraldo Rivera, Denver Post TV critic Joanne Ostrow wrote an April 7 column describing O’Reilly’s outbursts as “a new low in what passes for modern political discourse.” She added that O’Reilly had “spewed racist bile.”
O’Reilly responded on the April 9 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, calling Ostrow “dishonest — flat-out dishonest — and a far-left ideologue.” O’Reilly didn’t stop there. After Ostrow declined to appear on The Factor, O’Reilly sent his producer, Porter Berry, to Denver, where he snuck up on Ostrow in a supermarket parking lot and interrogated her on camera. (Colorado Media Matters has video of the exchange.)
During the exchange, Ostrow asks Berry why he is “stalking” her “in a parking lot” to get the footage. Berry denied the claim, saying “I’m not stalking you. We called you and invited you to come on the program, so — because we want to get an explanation.”
When contacted by the Denver alternative weekly Westword, Berry refused to comment on his ambush tactics:
What does Berry say to Ostrow’s assertions? Zip — and his silence comes with a serving of irony. When reached on April 16, he claimed he couldn’t speak without permission from Fox News’s media-relations branch. “I’ll do anything they tell me,” he maintained. Requests to interview both Berry and O’Reilly were then submitted to a Fox spokeswoman, who phoned back to say, “We’re going to take a pass.” Was it hypocritical for the two men to criticize Ostrow for not standing up for her actions when they rebuffed inquiries about theirs? The spokeswoman didn’t retort on the record — but she did request that her name not be printed. (No problem, ma’am. Happy to preserve your deniability.)
The next day, Berry agreed to personally ask the spokeswoman for permission to speak. He apparently got nowhere, and an e-mail to O’Reilly went unanswered.
So, O’Reilly and his staff “criticize Ostrow for not standing up for her actions,” but then when asked to justify their own actions, they balk and hide behind Fox News’ corporate policy.