Morning Briefing: January 19, 2012

The Des Moines Register reported today that GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum actually finished ahead of Mitt Romney in this month’s Iowa GOP caucuses by 34 votes after a recount. However, the votes from 8 precincts are “missing and will never be recovered and certified,” thus there are “too many holes” to know who won for certain. The state GOP has declared it a tie.

The British newspaper side of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has admitted guilt and is set to settle legal claims in a wide-scale phone hacking scandal at News International. Lawyers for phone hacking victims said the company “has agreed to compensation being assessed on the basis that senior employees and directors…knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it.”

Eight lawmakers have withdrawn their support from the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) after multiple internet sites shut down in protest yesterday. Two of PIPA’s GOP co-sponsors, Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Roy Blunt (MO), withdrew over “legitimate concerns” and asked Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to “abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor.”

At Personhood USA’s pro-life presidential forum last night, Rick Perry attacked Mitt Romney, who did not attend, for his shifting position on abortion rights. The four candidates present strove to outdo each other in touting their anti-choice credentials, including offering support for a constitutional amendment banning the abortions without exceptions for rape or incest cases.


K Street is “licking their chops” at the prospect of hiring the 25 retiring members of Congress, as many have accrued the seniority and connections that law and lobbying firms would find valuable, the Hill reports. “We are doing a mock draft with some of our clients,” said one corporate headhunter.

A $25,000 check to the Congressional Institute bought lobbyists face time with House Republicans at their recent retreat in Baltimore. Lobbyists from mega-corporations like Verizon, UPS, Altria, and American Express and trade associations all attended.

A new New York Times/CBS News poll shows 43 percent of Americans blame President Bush for the deficit, compared to just 14 percent who blame President Obama.

ABC News is planning to air tonight a potentially explosive interview with Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife, with whom he has a poor relationship after the collapse of their marriage. Gingrich blasted the decision to air the interview as “simply wrong.”

And finally: There’s an outside chance Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert could go to jail as they’re “pushing the limits” of campaign finance laws in order to satire them. Colbert handed over control of Super PAC to Stewart after announcing a bid for the presidency, and they now intentionally skirt of line of coordination, which federal law does not allow them to do.

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