The Note: End Game



Krauthammer's Solution prevails. LINK

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination.

President Bush's statement:

"Today, I have reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers' decision to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States."

"I nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court because of her extraordinary legal experience, her character, and her conservative judicial philosophy. Throughout her career, she has gained the respect and admiration of her fellow attorneys. She has earned a reputation for fairness and total integrity. She has been a leader and a pioneer in the American legal profession. She has worked in important positions in state and local government and in the bar. And for the last five years, she has served with distinction and honor in critical positions in the Executive Branch."

"I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is clear that Senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House – disclosures that would undermine a President's ability to receive candid counsel. Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the Constitutional separation of powers – and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her."

"I am grateful for Harriet Miers' friendship and devotion to our country. And I am honored that she will continue to serve our Nation as White House Counsel."

"My responsibility to fill this vacancy remains. I will do so in a timely manner."

Per an Administration official close to the confirmation process:

"She made the decision to put the President and the presidency first, unwilling to compromise the President's ability to get unfettered advice."

"The prep for hearings was going well and I can tell you there are people who are disappointed that the world won't get to see her/learn about her in the hearings."

"But she is someone who sticks to principle - a principle she fought for as White House counsel."

According to ABC News' Karen Travers:

"Miers called the President at 8:30 pm last night to inform him. She went into the Oval Office at 8:30 am today to hand him her withdrawal letter."

"The President is deeply disappointed in the process and will now be moving forward in a timely matter."

"McClellan said the White House was focused on the Senate and it was conversations with members of the Senate that led her to believe these conflicts could not be resolved."

Fast replacement? White males need apply? Does Miers keep her White House job? Leaks about how Miers got picked? Will anyone but historians read the Miers do-over questionnaire which was about to be released? Lessons for the President? Lessons for the conservative movement? What will Rush say at noon?

Stay tuned . . . .

(Oh, and Michael W. McConnell.)

As for the next shoe. . .

ABC News' Jason Ryan reports that he has received guidance from Patrick Fitzgerald's spokesman Randall Samborn stating that no announcements are expected today. So: it looks like tomorrow.

Meanwhile, President Bush and first lady Laura Bush make 9:35 am ET remarks at the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth at Howard University in Washington, DC. The President holds a 1:20 pm ET event in Florida and participates in a tour of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL at 3:55 pm ET. The President returns to the White House at 7:00 pm ET.

Vice President Cheney is in Washington, DC today where he will receive his regular briefings and where he will attend a closed press evening reception for Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY).

The Select Hurricane Katrina Committee holds a hearing on "Hurricane Katrina: Preparedness and Response by the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama" at 10:00 am ET.

At 11:30 am ET in US Capitol Room HC-9, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL) discuss legislation that they have introduced that would allow displaced residents from the Gulf coast region who are temporarily located in other states to maintain their voting privileges in their home states (Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana) for federal elections through the 2008 election cycle.

New York Gov. George Pataki addresses the Clinton County Republican Party and visits Davenport, IA.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean appears at a "Say No to 73-78" Rally" at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, CA.

HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt discusses pandemic preparedness at the National Press Club in Washington, DC at 12:30 pm ET.

The "Out of Iraq" congressional caucus will hold a 9:30 am ET press conference in the House Radio and TV gallery to thank American soldiers for their service, to honor those who have died while serving in Iraq, and to encourage other members of Congress and the President to "bring our soldiers home."

Justice Scalia keynotes the American Spectator annual dinner at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, DC.

"Friends of Hillary" communications adviser Ann Lewis addresses the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) speaks on poverty at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

The Fitzgerald investigation:

In the blockbuster lede of the day, the Washington Post's VandeHei and Leonnig report that the prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation is "expected to announce a final decision on charges in the two-year long probe tomorrow [Friday], according to people familiar with the case." LINK

In one of your Thursday must-reads, GOP advisers tell Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times that the President's plan for dealing with the fallout of indictments amounts to this: "Keep the problem at arm's length, let allies outside the White House do the talking, and try to change the subject to something -- anything -- else." LINK

Be sure to Note one unnamed White House official's look ahead at how this might play out with the political calendar being what it is for the next few weeks, Grover Norquist on Karl Rove's name ID, and Ken Duberstein on how to revive a second term.

The Wall Street Journal's Anne Marie Squeo reports that Fitzgerald's 45-minute meeting with Judge Thomas Hogan yesterday may be significant because "prosecutors need to hand up indictments to a judge before they are sealed or publicly released."

The Journal Notes that it is expected that "any indictments will be very detailed and discuss the involvement of other White House officials who aren't charged."

Johnston and Stevenson of the New York Times attempt to read the tea leaves remaining behind after Fitzgerald's three hours with the grand jury and 45-minute meeting with Judge Hogan. LINK

"The grand jury deliberations and the special prosecutor's meeting with the judge ratcheted up fears among officials that Mr. Fitzgerald might have obtained an indictment from the grand jury, and was requesting that it be sealed. He could also seek an extension of the grand jury's term, which expires on Friday."

And they manage to squeeze in an attribution from the Judge's assistant, who has the mystery-novel-worthy name of Sheldon Snook.

Richard Schmitt of the Los Angeles Times reports "some lawyers close to the case" are speculating that Fitzgerald may have already secured one indictment that is being kept under seal. But Schmitt discounts the possibility of a grand jury extension, since federal rules would prevent such a scenario. LINK

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz Notes that poetry that in an investigation into who anonymously ousted a CIA operative, "virtually every bit of information, confirmed and alleged, comes from unnamed sources." LINK

The New York Times explores the roles played by Susan Ralston, the woman at the center of not one, but two investigations underway in Washington. Anne Kornblut writes that the personal aide to Karl Rove has been interviewed at least twice by the grand jury in the leak investigation, in addition to the interviews she's given to lawyers looking into the activities of Jack Abramoff, her former boss. LINK

Deb Orin of the New York Post says that while some Republicans are preparing for battle over the indictments, they are "in a distinct minority" -- most in the GOP believe the best move is to just "talk about something else." LINK

Dick Morris writes in the New York Post that if the New York Times is correct that Cheney told Libby about Valerie Plame, then the Vice President is responsible for any lies Libby may have told the grand jury and "owes us all an explanation." LINK

If the players and their connections in the leak investigation have you confused, the New York Daily News has a helpful FAQ. LINK

The New York Daily News says severance talks between Judy Miller and the New York Times reached a standstill yesterday, with the two sides far apart. LINK

For the Wall Street Journal's Marketplace section, June Kronholz and Jackie Calmes report that a city that had been holdings its breath yesterday anticipating indictments "found itself deflated."

"'Today was supposed to be Christmas, and now Christmas is delayed,' complained Brad Woodhouse, spokesman for the Emergency Campaign for America's Priorities, a union-financed lobby."

In a must-read op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Georgetown Law Professors Viet Dinh and Neal Katyal dissect why Ashcroft's decision to grant Fitzgerald all the power of the Attorney General have created the "spectacle" that Fitzgerald, a "respected prosecutor of unquestioned integrity," may face claims of "an unwarranted prosecution."

Bush agenda:

David Brooks thinks the President is suffering from a case of second-term-itis, and he's got the prescription to cure it. "Breaking out doesn't mean bringing in James Baker. It means bringing in like-minded but objective people who haven't been molded by five years in power...As Lincoln showed, humility is the only antidote to the corruptions of the insane lifestyle of the presidency."

Donald Lambro of the Washington Times looks at the spending of the Bush Administration and comes to the conclusion that tax cuts are the way to rein it in, because in regards to Congress, "When you take away their money, they have less to spend." LINK

David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register surmises that it could be close to the worst of times for the President -- and proceeds to count the ways in which the Bush Administration needs to shape up. LINK

The White House will reinstate a law that requires federal construction projects to pay the local prevailing wage, reports the New York Times. The Administration was criticized by Democrats and some union-friendly Republicans when it suspended the Davis-Bacon Act following Hurricane Katrina. "'With all the political problems the administration has, why pick this fight?' asked Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board scolds President Bush's decision to reinstate Davis-Bacon wage standards as an act of "unprincipled political calculation" that "ranks right up there with the decision to impose tariffs on imported steel during Mr. Bush's firs term."

Big Casino budget politics:

"The Senate Budget Committee approved a $39 billion deficit-reduction package that promises $71 billion in five-year savings but then spends almost half to win passage on the floor next week," the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports.

Rogers calls the plan the "most sweeping single piece of legislation this year," touching on everything from Medicare to milk subsidies. He also Notes that the White House hopes to use the bill to open up portions f the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration.

President Bush calls for cuts in spending to offset the costs of Hurricane Katrina, which Karen Finney, spokeswoman for the DNC, called "empty rhetoric" reports Joseph Curl of the Washington Times. LINK

The politics of Katrina:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the GOP sees an opportunity to pick up seats in the Democratic stronghold of Louisiana reports Audrey Hudson of the Washington Times. LINK

As the weather outside gets colder, the more than 1,000 people still living in tents in Biloxi, Miss., are starting to vent their frustration with the continued slow pace of FEMA's assistance efforts, reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Per the New York Times, Congress' broadly worded hurricane tax relief package proves a boon to wealthy Katrina donors. LINK

The politics of energy:

A House committee approved new offshore oil drilling rules yesterday, but Sen. Frist's office tells the Los Angeles Times the measure faces a "steep uphill battle" in the Senate, where a bipartisan group opposes it. LINK


John Bresnahan reports in Roll Call that Tom Delay's legal expense trust fund failed to report more than $22,500 in late 2000 and 2001.

Jennifer Yachnin writes in Roll Call that, because Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is not only the House Majority Leader but also Majority Whip, he appears to have greater influence over the Republican Steering Committee than Tom Delay did.

The economy:

The Wall Street Journal's Murray Hiebert reports that China's rising clout is splitting Republicans in Congress with one faction stressing the benefits of trade while another focuses on the military threat posed by the country.

2008: Republicans:

The New York Times' Michael Cooper got a hold of a fundraising letter sent by Speaker Hastert to help fill the coffers of Gov. Pataki's PAC. LINK

Paul Kane reports in Roll Call that Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) used his family's founding of HCA Inc. as a rags-to-riches story in stump speeches in South Carolina and Iowa last week.

2008: Democrats:

Sen. John Kerry's call for President Bush to withdraw 20,000 troops over Christmas if the December elections are successful is part of the first item of the Wall Street Journal's "What's News: World-Wide" section.

In his Georgetown speech, Kerry cited such voices as former Nixon administration defense secretary Melvin R. Laird to argue that the U.S. military presence in Iraq in "vast and visible numbers has become part of the problem, not the solution," the Washington Post's Cillizza and White report. LINK

In his sketch of the same speech, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes that "the good news" is that Kerry settled on his Iraq policy yesterday. But Notes that the "bad news" is that he did so "51 weeks after losing the election." LINK

The Washington Post's David Broder dubs the DLC the "thinking branch of the opposition" and favorably reviews their call for striking a bipartisan bargain that would involve "some short-term tax increases in return for long-term savings on entitlement programs and improvements in the administration of government." LINK

New Hampshire:

In his Granite Status column in the New Hampshire Union Leader, John DiStaso has an uncommitted Steve Murphy on whether or not the DNC should approve a calendar with nominating contests taking place between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. DiStaso also Notes that tomorrow Hillary Clinton heads to the Harvard Club in Boston to headline a fundraiser for Gov. John Lynch. Finally, if you can't make it to New Hampshire's Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser this weekend for a glimpse of Evan Bayh, you can catch his speech live on CSPAN. LINK


The New York Times has this progress report on Mayor Bloomberg's effort to improve the city's schools: "The corporate-philanthropic world is thrilled. Parents are guardedly optimistic. Elected officials are skeptical. Much of the teaching force is deeply demoralized. Principals are torn. Policy experts are fascinated but undecided." LINK

Why did Mayor Mike Bloomberg keep a Metropolitan Republican Club event off his public schedule on Monday? The New York Post speculates Bloomberg is doing "everything he can" to keep from being identified with the GOP. LINK

Bloomberg is turning to Rudy Giuliani for help in the closing days of the New York mayoral race. LINK

Juan Gonzalez previews Sunday's Bloomberg-Ferrer debate, the first of two scheduled TV debates between the candidates. LINK

Iraq became an issue yesterday in the New York mayoral race. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Minority-advocacy groups are starting to actively fight the Schwarzenegger ballot issues, claiming they would weaken the power of California's blacks and Latinos, reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times previews a Public Policy Institute of California poll set to be released on Friday that shows every one of the Schwarzenegger propositions failing among likely voters. The numbers for Schwarzenegger's own performance are not much better. LINK

The Schwarzenegger propositions are drawing significant corporate donations on both sides of the issues, reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Per Bloomberg News, spending on the Nov. 8 special election in California may exceed $350 million according to an estimate by Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University. LINK


Ben Pershing writes in Roll Call that some Congressional Republicans have started to distance themselves from the Bush Administration.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee's (R-RI) decision to side with the Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee "appears to have doomed" new oil-refinery incentives this year, the Wall Street Journal's John Fialka reports.


Jeffrey Young reports in The Hill that two governors -- Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) -- joined the Department of Health and Human Services' Medicaid Panel, which the National Governors Association and Congress had been trying to boycott. LINK

The New York Times digs up financial disclosure forms that show former FDA head Lester Crawford or his wife sold shares of companies regulated by the agency. LINK