The Note: A Lot of Chatter, a Lot of Speculation and Opining



Could this really, truly be the last weekend EVER in which members of the Gang of 500 have versions of the following conversation over and over?

Gang Member 1: "What do you know?"

Gang Member 2: "Nothing."

Gang Member 1: "Nobody knows anything."

Gang Member 2: "So, Rove, Libby, or both?"

(Gang Members 1 and 2 proceed to have a 10-minute talk about who might be indicted and on what charges; what indictments would mean for Administration personnel and policy decisions; who the President is talking to about all this; whether there will be pardons; if they know anyone who has ever met John Hannah; what's-up with Judy Miller and the New York Times; why Tate let Libby send that letter; and if Patrick Fitzgerald reads the newspapers and/or online political digests/tipsheets.)

Gang Member 1: "But, really, nobody knows anything."

Gang Member 2: "Nobody knows anything."

If you haven't read the Big Four newspapers' Friday leak stories already, you in fact at this moment DON'T KNOW ANYTHING, and are far, far behind the game. All four pieces are must-reads and detailed in full below. But for the busy Note-reader-on-the-go, the shorthand:

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

Casual reader take-away: Scooter Libby was obsessed with Joe Wilson, suggesting possible motive.

Inside reader take-away: Does the White House (that is, Lynne Cheney) know who leaked all of this "private" data, including (oh. . . my. . . goodness) Liz Cheney's Blackberry messages.

An Administration official tells ABC News' Karen Travers: "It's silly to rehash what was a well known dust up with one reporter on one trip. Many reporters and producers have been aboard AF2 -- including (gasp) the New York Times. Old info."

The Washington Post: LINK

Casual reader take-away: The White House is in fact braced for indictments and possibly losing the services of Karl C. Rove, but is also planning to fight back if that seems fitting and proper.

Inside reader take-away: History might record that 9/11 job lock produced the burnout that set the Bush presidency down its current path.

The New York Times:


Casual reader take-away: The cover-up is (still) always worse than the crime.

Inside reader take-away: The entire Old Media now consider at least some indictments a mortal lock, with all the body language leaning towards some of the more nuclear scenarios.

The Wall Street Journal:

Casual reader take-away: The Espionage Act might be of more interest to Fitzgerald than the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

Inside reader take-away: We can't wait for Robert Luskin's first major interview or article (or book!!!) explaining his media strategy in this case.

As for another "lawyer familiar with the investigation," Joseph A. Tate -- our colleague Jon Karl actually got him on the telephone yesterday. And we hope that this is the last week for this kind of thing too:

ABC News: "Mr. Tate?"

TATE: "Yes."

ABC News: "This is Jonathan Karl with ABC News --

TATE: "No. I'm not talking. Thanks." (Click.)

The grand jury investigating the leak is scheduled to meet this morning at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. There are big stakeouts, but it isn't clear if Fitzgerald or any witnesses are showing up today, and most reports suggests that nothing public will occur today. But there sure is a lot of interest in what might happen Monday at Fitzgerald's office.

President Bush (sans Karl Rove) is in California. He raised roughly $1 million for the RNC last night. President and Mrs. Bush head to the Reagan Library today to pay their respects to the deceased president and attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Air Force One Pavilion at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA.

Check out Ed Chen's Los Angeles Times story on how some Reaganites perceive the Bush Administration, although the list of names and issues will be pretty familiar to you all. LINK

Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Talent's (R-MO) reelection campaign in St. Louis, MO at 6:30 pm ET

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) is scheduled to appear in a Travis County courtroom in Austin, TX this morning. DeLay will follow his court appearance with a media availability on at 11:00 am ET at the Texas State Capitol in Austin

At 11:00 am ET, there will be an on the record, but off-camera press briefing by the President's Homeland Security advisor Fran Townsend on the "lessons learned review of the federal government to Hurricane Katrina."

Might the Garden State be getting a mid-afternoon preview to the 2008 presidential race? Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have traveled together on climate change fact finding trips, appeared jointly on a Sunday morning talk show from Iraq, and both sit atop the fields of their respective party's list of presidential hopefuls.

And/but this afternoon they will be 25 miles from one another in central New Jersey stumping for their party's gubernatorial candidates. Sen. Clinton will appear with Sen. Corzine in Edison, NJ at 2:30 pm ET and Sen. McCain will stump for Forrester in Lincroft, NJ at 3:00 pm ET.

Sen. Clinton will head back across the Hudson River this evening to host a fundraiser for Fernando Ferrer's mayoral campaign.

Former President Bill Clinton plans to attend fundraisers for Tim Kaine's gubernatorial campaign in McLean and Charlottesville, VA.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Democratic candidate for the US Senate Bob Casey, Jr. keynote the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's annual Kennedy-Lawrence Dinner in Pittsburgh, PA.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) does a DLC event in Kansas City, MO this afternoon, focusing on health care and economic growth.

Sen./Dr./Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) addresses the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women conference in Spartanburg, SC. (Doro Bush Koch is scheduled to attend as well.)

Tomorrow, Sen. Frist is scheduled to serve as the special guest at the Iowa Republican Party's annual Ronald Reagan Dinner in Des Moines, IA. (You can catch it live on C-SPAN and read our preview of it below.)

Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) visits Manchester, NH on Sunday.

The Annual White House Fall Garden Tour will take place this weekend in Washington, DC.

Be sure to tune into "This Week" on Sunday when George Stephanopoulos sits down with DNC Chairman Howard Dean.

The Fitzgerald investigation:

The two key graphs from David Johnston's New York Times story on the potential cover-up being far more scrutinized than any potential underlying crime: LINK

Key graph 1: "Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say."

Key graph 2: "It is still not publicly known who first told the columnist Robert D. Novak the identity of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson. Mr. Novak identified her in a column on July 14, 2003, using her maiden name, Valerie Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald knows the identity of this source, a person who is not believed to work at the White House, the lawyers said."

Wallsten and Hamburger of the Los Angeles Times explore Scooter Libby's style in a "peek-inside-the-Cheney-world" story full of great nuggets including the Vice President's daughter allegedly influencing which reporters get to fly on Air Force Two. LINK

Again, this kind of leaking is almost unheard of in (read: "against") this White House. Why is it happening now, and, more important, by whom?

The Wall Street Journal trio of McKinnon, Squeo and Hagan report that lawyers and others close to the Fitzgerald investigation say he may be "piecing together a case that White House officials conspired to leak various types of classified material in conversations with reporters -- including Ms. Plame's identity but also other secrets related to national security."

In their Washington Post must-read, Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker report that a realignment of the Bush staff is being explored in the eventuality that indictments come down in the Fitzgerald investigation. The Washington Post duo has Republicans saying on background that Bush needs to address broader structural problems with his fatigued staff that have "bedeviled" Bush's second term. LINK

Judy Keen and Mark Memmott do a Q&A on the leak investigation for the Nation's Newspaper. LINK

Michael Kinsley columnizes that big media organizations should stop asking for special treatment when it comes to campaign spending limits and protecting sources in the face of criminal investigations. LINK

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson on "Judy Miller, piece of work." LINK

Harriet Miers for Associate Justice:

In an editorial which isn't quite brave enough to ask for her withdrawal, the Wall Street Journal ed board writes that it now seems clear -- even well before her Senate hearings -- that the Miers "selection has become a political blunder of the first order."

"Bad things happen when a President decides that 'diversity,' personal loyalty and stealth are more important credentials for the Supreme Court than knowledge of the Constitution and battle-hardened experience fighting the judicial wars of the past 30 years."

In an Opinion Journal column, John Fund looks at the odd bedfellows being created by Miers's tenure on the Texas lottery commission. LINK

In a must-read op-ed, the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer writes that for a nominee who has practically no record on constitutional issues, documents from her White House tenure are "essential for the Senate to judge her thinking and legal acumen." But given that the White House cannot allow release of this information "lest it jeopardize executive privilege," Krauthammer proposes that Miers withdraw "out of respect for both the Senate and the executive's prerogatives." LINK

The Washington Post's Charles Babington writes in a news analysis that the Miers nomination has been "so riddled with errors, stumbles and embarrassing revelations that some lawmakers and other observers find it hard to believe it emanates from the same White House." LINK

"Yesterday, in one of the twice-weekly conference calls involving conservative leaders and organized by liaisons to the White House, several participants said Miers should stop paying visits to senators because they do more harm than good."

Charles Hurt of the Washington Times reports that Miers will end her visits with Senate members today so she can "spend the next two weeks cramming for her Supreme Court confirmation hearings." LIN,K

But Republican close to the process assures ABC News that Miers has plenty of courtesy calls left to do, and she will keep on doing them.

"Nearly three weeks after President Bush chose Miers, her prospects for confirmation are clouded by opposition from conservative activists that is not waning, questions about her qualifications that remain unanswered, and lukewarm support even from strong Bush loyalists in the Senate," write Hook and Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller on the Miers murder boards, with Ed Gillespie wishfully explaining why Miers is at an advantage: LINK

John Dickerson of Slate writes that the first week of Harriet Miers 2.0 didn't go over extraordinarily well -- in fact, he says she is a dead-woman walking. LINK

Bush agenda:

Per Ruth Campbell of the Midland Reporter-Telegram, "In the first quarter of next year, a six-member committee comprised of Evans, Marvin Bush, Stapleton, Harriet Miers, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, will make a" presidential library "site recommendation to the Bushes." LINK

A West Texas coalition has been invited to give a presentation at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC on Nov. 16 at 9:00 am ET. The coalition includes Midland College and Texas Tech University.

USA Today's Judy Keen has Republican strategist Bill Dal Col saying: "It could be a lost year" in a piece that looks at how recent woes are putting the Bush agenda in doubt. We see no link.

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood reports that industries are mobilizing against potential setbacks in the tax-overhaul effort.

President Bush's panel on tax reform is (already) receiving mixed reactions, reports Donald Lambro of the Washington Times. LINK

Per the Washington Post's Amy Goldstein, "The House yesterday voted to shield companies that make and sell firearms from lawsuits by the victims of shootings, sending the legislation to the White House and handing the nation's gun lobby a paramount victory it has sought for years." LINK

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein Notes the bill will apply retroactively causing several pending cases to be thrown out of court. LINK

The New York Times reports that the US Attorney in Alexandria, VA, Paul McNulty, is the frontrunner for the number two job at Justice. LINK

Former Clintonite Gene Sperling writes for Boomberg News that amid "the turmoil" swirling around the Bush Administration, there is one "positive Bush legacy" Democrats "ought to recognize": the increase in "bipartisan support" for U.S. aid to fight AIDS and global poverty. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray has Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) telling Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK): "I don't kid people. If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state. . . I will resign from this body." Coburn had tried to block $453 million for two Alaska bridges that have been dubbed bridges to "nowhere." Coburn wanted to redirect the money to the Interstate 10 bridge across Lake Pontchartrain which was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board admires the political nerve of the Gentleman from Oklahoma.

House Republicans are attempting to strong arm the Senate by saying they will disregard any new Senate expenditures, a move not appreciated by Senators, reports Amy Fagan of the Washington Times. LINK

Brian Faler reports for Bloomberg News that tax-averse Republicans are seeking to raise fees to ease program cuts. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Democrats in California are capitalizing on the rift between the state and national Republican parties and doing their best to connect Gov. Schwarzenegger to the unpopular President before the upcoming special election, reports Lynda Gledhill and Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK

One top GOP official says, "Two and a half weeks before an election, to have a polarizing figure here is a bad idea."


The Washington Post's Smith and Lee on the "grinning politician in a gray suit and red tie" who was booked yesterday. LINK

The Houston Chronicle's R.G. Ratcliffe and Rosanna Ruiz write that with all the case "whirlwind" yesterday, "Tom DeLay's booking photograph… looked more like a campaign glossy than the mug shot of someone accused of felonies preparing to make his first court appearance." LINK

Luke Mullins's big brother reports for the Wall Street Journal that House GOPers are finding it "much more difficult to steer legislation through the House" without The Hammer. The "succession struggle" was only "started, not finished" by Blunt's ascension.

Tom DeLay missed the House vote on the gun bill yesterday, reports the Houston Chronicle. LINK

Timed to coincide with DeLay's courthouse appearance, Public Campaign Action Fund, a clean-money group, is attempting to tie Roy Blunt, the new House Majority Leader, to Tom DeLay, the recently indicted former House Majority Leader, with a 30-second television ad that accuses Blunt of improperly funneling money from DeLay to the campaign of Blunt's son and a company that hired DeLay's wife. David Donnelly, the group's director, is aiming to make the Blunt ad with its laundromat visuals part of a larger $100,000 ad campaign that will go after other Republican House members in their home districts. The ad will begin running in Springfield and Joplin, MO today and will run for one week. The ad can be viewed at: LINK


The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood reports in Washington Wire that both parties are bracing for more Abramoff fallout.

Anne Kornblut of the New York Times writes up Rep. Nancy Pelosi's efforts to make hay out of Bob Ney's Abramoff connections. LINK

The politics of Katrina:

The Washington Post's Lois Romano Notes that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has "infuriated longtime allies by introducing what advocacy groups are deriding as a voucher measure to assist Catholic schools in Louisiana. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The AP reports that Sen. John McCain is still thinking over 2008, but was able to joke with fellow possible 08er Gov. George Pataki about campaigning at the Al Smith dinner held in New York last night. LINK

The jokes will make you laugh.

The Boston Globe's Scot Helman reports that Gov. Romney wants tougher provisions put into an anti-drunk driving bill in Massachusetts. LINK

Dr./Leader/Sen. Bill Frist is expected to tout his work on judges when he speaks at the Reagan dinner in Iowa. Here is an advance look at what he'll say according to remarks prepared for delivery obtained by ABC News:

"I went out to South Dakota in 2004. I went out to campaign for John Thune and to unseat the Democrats' chief obstructionist. Believe me … I was criticized. The Washington punditry said it was something that had never been done before by a Majority Leader. Well . . . neither was denying a qualified nominee a fair up or down vote . . . neither was subjecting these gifted jurists -- and their families -- to a gauntlet of character assassination. The Democratic leader lost. We won."

"I made it clear -- abundantly clear -- that obstruction would not be tolerated. We were going to stand on principle . . . the principle of fair up-or-down votes. We were going to restore 214 years of senate tradition. And I made it clear that I'd use the nuclear option to do it. The result: 6 of the President's nominees -- each filibustered in the last Congress -- are now proudly serving this nation as federal judges."

2008: Democrats:

John DiStaso of the New Hampshire Union Leader gets some none-too-pleased reactions from Granite State Democrats to what they saw in the Hotline yesterday about a proposed nomination calendar floating around that looks to place two to four contests between Iowa and New Hampshire. LINK

The New York Daily News' Michael McAuliff takes a look at the $4 million Sen. Clinton spent this last quarter, most of it on prospecting donors. LINK

The New York Times reports that after a four day stay in North Korea, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) says the country is "fully committed" to return to disarmament talks next month. LINK

Gov. Tom Vilsack sketches out his legislative priorities for his final year in office in an interview with the AP's Mike Glover. LINK

From our affordable stringer correspondent in Cambridge, the smashing Gayle Tzemach:

John Edwards rolled into Harvard urging the second coming of the Great Society, telling the several hundred students gathered outside on a chilly afternoon that this was their time to lead on the "great moral issue of the time" -- the fight against poverty.

In a talk that teetered between a speech and a rally, Edwards invoked the memory of Bobby Kennedy touring Appalachia and the example of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $7.50 and the "real cultural, racial, and economic integration" of America's neighborhoods.

"This is about justice, it is about fairness," Edwards said of his "Opportunity Rocks College Tour" highlighting the plight of Americans living in poverty. "It is opportunity that changes lives."

Not once in his former running mate's home state did Edwards mention the former Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry. He did, however, mention another 2004 run.

"Some of you might remember I am the son of a mill worker," Edwards joked to the crowd. "I went from there to being what some would say was a serious candidate for president of the United States and the vice presidential" nominee of the Democratic Party, he added.

No longer in office, Edwards told the students the fight against poverty was not going to be led from official Washington.

"We know we can't count on the politicians to do this for us," Edwards said. "That's the reason I am here and not in Washington."

(Note Note: Hmmm . . . that's the reason?)

Perhaps Gen. Wesley Clark will try to squeeze in some trick or treating when he visits Indiana University on Halloween. LINK


Pat Healy offers up an absolute must-read on how the Clintons are navigating the need to support and distance themselves from the embattled Ferrer campaign. LINK

Carl Campanile reports in the New York Post that Bill Clinton endorsed Fernando Ferrer in a revitalized neighborhood of the South Bronx yesterday at an event that angered many reporters because they were not allowed to connect their microphones to a sound system to hear Clinton speak. LINK

Note: we can say it, even if Jen can't -- political reporters are B-A-B-I-E-S.

The New York Times on Democratic efforts to tie Michael Bloomberg to President Bush any chance they get. LINK

David Saltonstall follows Ben Smith's lead and writes up in the New York Daily News that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's re-election campaign has posted an ad on Craigslist, advertising "excellent pay" and "great political experience" for workers who go door-to-door to campaign for the mayor. LINK

Saltonstall also has a story on the Democrats accusing Mayor Michael Bloomberg of breaking the rules by campaigning in a city school yesterday after Bloomberg unveiled an expansion of New York City's after-school programs at a middle school in Brooklyn; he called it a "government event." LINK

The New York Post's Stephanie Gaskell writes that Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to attend a cancer research benefit this morning at The Harmonie Club, a private club from which he resigned in 2001, citing its lack of diversity. LINK

The New York Times poll on the New Jersey gubernatorial contest has Sen. Corzine nine points ahead of his Republican opponent, Doug Forrester. However, New Jerseyans believe Democrats are far more corrupt than Republicans which may prove troublesome for Corzine's efforts. LINK

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes that the Virginia governor's race is a contest between Kilgore's "backward-looking wedge politics" and Kaine's "forward-looking problem solving." LINK


Josh Green turns in a profile of Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) for Rolling Stone that Kathleen Connery will want to clip 'n save. The profile has it all: it's got Emanuel on the pleasures of his alma mater's four-to-one girl-to-guy ratio, Paul Begala praising Emanuel's "big old pair of brass balls," Daily Kos's Markos Moulitsas saying he doesn't give a (rhymes with) wit about who's a moderate and who's a liberal when the Democrats are in the minority, Emanuel's recruitment of "four military veterans, two FBI agents, a pastor, a sheriff, and a former NFL quarterback" to run in 2006; and Emanuel's positioning of the Democrats as "the party of change."

"We're the party of a new direction -- a break from rampant cronyism and the status quo. Period," Emanuel says.


Mark Leibovich pulls Powerball duty for the Washington Post's front page. LINK

The New Hampshire Union Leader's coverage of Sen. Gregg's winnings: LINK

The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood reports that former Bush Energy Secretary Abraham is opening a "strategic consulting firm" serving clients in the Mideast and other markets.

If you meet the following three criteria, we have news for you: (1) you live in Texas; (2) you think Texas Monthly's Evan Smith has interviewing skills that are like butta; (3) you don't equate the sound of Mark Halperin's voice with nails on a blackboard.

If that is you, you should know that this weekend and into next week is your chance to see Smith and Halperin talk about national and Texas politics on the program "Texas Monthly Talks" You can check out the times the show will air in your market right here. LINK

Be our intern:

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Not only will you get to write for "The Note," but ABC News Political Unit interns also are afforded the opportunity to cover political events around town, assist ABC News broadcasts in getting political stories on the air, and learn how to cover national politics during a midterm election year with 33 Senate seats, 36 governorships, and 435 House seats all up for grabs.

If you want to further understand and explore the fascinating and dynamic relationship between the American people and their elected representatives (and those seeking to represent them), then this is the internship for you.

To apply for a spring semester internship, please send your cover letter and resume to this email address, with the subject line: "INTERN":