WASHINGTON, June 13
The Gang of 500 can breathe a little easier. Forgetting about a phone conversation with Matt Cooper turns out not to be a felony.
Karl Rove was formally Notified by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald yesterday that he will not be indicted, according to a statement released by Robert Luskin, his attorney. LINK
What to look for now:
1. The President stepping out of his gloat-free-zone the next time he meets with reporters, perhaps on his surprise trip to Iraq.
2. The White House otherwise, however, refusing to get into the details, with the Libby trail pending, putting David Gregory in high dudgeon.
3. Democrats turning to the questions of what Rove might have done that was unethical or tawdry, if not indictable.
4. Charlie Rose -- fresh off last night's return to the air and surprise party filled with Gang-o'-500 guests galore -- interviewing Richard Armitage, the man who tout le Washington believes was Bob Woodward's source on Plame (and probably Novak's too). That exclusive interview occurs this very day. And you won't believe how foxy and healthy Charlie looks.
5. The lefty bloggers to go nuts.
6. The RNC to trot out all the we-have-trust-in-Pat-Fitzgerald quotes from Democrats over the last many months.
7. The DNC to hype this: "A rule designed by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep groundwater clean near oil drilling sites and other construction zones was loosened after White House officials rejected it amid complaints by energy companies that it was too restrictive and after a well-connected Texas oil executive appealed to White House senior advisor Karl Rove," as reported by the Los Angeles Times' Hamburger and Wallsten. LINK
8. Poor Randall Samborn having to say "no comment" over 11,000 times today.
9. Rove's first TV interview in some time.
10. The Note's apology to Bob Luskin.
11. Mark Leibovich 's profile of Bob Luskin, keeping his front-page streak alive.
12. Bloomberg's Dick Keil's day in the sun coming closer to an end, but not before he writes that Fitzgerald's notification to Rove that he will not be indicted "suggests that the final parameters of the case have been drawn, leaving I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, as the only person facing charges." LINK
13. ABC News' Jake Tapper on scrutiny of the media's handling of all this, and what Rove might have done. LINK
While appearing on FNC's "Fox and Friends," RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman reacted to Rove's exoneration, saying, ". . . I thought it was wrong when you had people like Howard Dean and Harry Reid and others presuming that Karl Rove was guilty. I thought it was wrong when Democrats in the Senate would attack him personally, saying you ought to have his security clearance revoked. The fact is these are important issues and the immediate Democrat knee jerk reaction which is just to rush to judgment all the time is the wrong way. People should instead allow the process to move forward -- which has happened -- and that's important."
While appearing on NBC's "Today," DNC Chairman Howard Dean reacted to the Rove news by saying that his exoneration "does not excuse his real sin for leaking the name of an intelligence operative during a time of war."
"This is good news for the White House," Dean added, "but not very good news for America."
When asked how Rove's being out of legal jeopardy might affect Democrats, Dean said, "Karl Rove is clearly the political mastermind behind the Republicans, but he would have continued in that role even if he had been indicted, so I don't think it means much."
On ABC's "Good Morning America," former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) told Charlie Gibson that Rove's exoneration will allow the Bush confidante to "go back with new energy and new zest" in his aim to revitalize the White House, and adding that Fitzgerald's investigation took a heavy toll on a personal level.
Rove's speech before New Hampshire Republicans Monday night was classic Rove, writes David Farenthold of the Washington Post, with its sole focus on "the differences between the GOP and its opponents." LINK
Speaking of Sen. John Kerry and Rep. John Murtha, Rove said, "They may be with you for the first shots. But they're not going . . . to be with you for the tough battles."
On "Imus" this morning, NBC's Tim Russert called un-indicted Rove's comments in New Hampshire the "first shots fired" of the midterm elections -- a campaign season which, according to Russert, will be defined by rough battles over the politics of Iraq.
The Union Leader's indefatigable John DiStaso writes that Rove dodged questions about allegations over GOP phone-jamming while speaking in Manchester. LINK
According to a Republican in New Hampshire who was with Rove last night: "He was in top form and in a great mood."
On GMA, Gingrich also defended President Bush's handling of the Iraq war, saying Bush "has the potential" to convince the people that the war was worth the risk and loss, and he urged Congress to bridge the gap between the military and government bureaucracies managing the effort.
On Iraq, Howard Dean twice said that "the President is wrong to say this war will be left to the next president."
Reaction to the President's news-of-day might come when Senators are staked out following their closed 2:30 pm ET briefing on the Hill from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
At 12:00 pm ET, Sen. Clinton receives the National Family Planning Reproductive Health Association's "Outstanding Public Service Award" at the Sewall-Belmont House located at 144 Constitution Ave., NE. Earlier today, she spoke to the "Take Back America" conference which continues at the Washington Hilton today. Also speaking this morning were Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Back in March, Gingrich told Time magazine that what Democrats should do is "say nothing except 'Had enough?' In her remarks to the "Take Back America" conference, Pelosi did exactly that, asking: "Is it fair to say that we have had enough?"
"Enough -- of a war that has failed to make us more secure; enough - of burdening our grandchildren with billions in debt to pay for tax cuts to the wealthy; enough - of paying high prices for gas and prescriptions to protect the profits of oil and drug companies; enough - of seeing America led in the wrong direction."
"Democrats stand united today - perhaps more than ever before - in our belief that it is urgent to take America in a New Direction."
Fresh off a disappointing fourth-place finish in a Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa caucus goers, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) discusses foreign policy from a governor's perspective at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. At 12:30 pm ET, Gov. Vilsack will make his way to the Washington Hilton where he will speak to the "Take Back America" conference.
Liberal activists will also hear from Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and former Rep. David Bonior, (D-MI).
Ned Lamont, the millionaire challenging Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) in the Democratic Senate primary, is holding a 5:00 pm ET reception with a suggested $50 contribution at the Solar Suite in the Washington Hilton Hotel.
While all of this is going on in Washington, DC, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) heads to the Manhattan Institute in New York City where he will deliver a much-anticipated speech on energy policy.
Meanwhile, FLOTUS continues her Blue State campaign trail tour. The First Lady begins her day delivering remarks at a 9:30 am ET breakfast fundraiser for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in Appleford Estate Villanova, PA; she then delivers remarks at a 5:05 pm ET fundraiser for New Jersey Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. in Lakewood, NJ.
Back in Washington, DC, the jury in the David Safavian trial begins deliberations today.
Brian Bilbray, the GOPer who made it possible for NRCC Chair Tom Reynolds (R-NY) to exhale last week, gets sworn into office today by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) holds his weekly pen-and-pad session at 11:45 am ET in his Capitol conference room.
The Senate takes a recess from 12:30 pm ET to 2:15 pm ET for the weekly party policy luncheons. The official Senate photograph will be taken at 2:15 pm ET.
After the photo, the Senate will consider the nomination of Richard Stickler to be assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health, with a cloture vote on his nomination occurring at 3:30 pm ET. If cloture is invoked, the Senate will proceed to an immediate vote on confirmation of the nomination. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) will head to the Senate floor to claim that Stickler, as a former coal company executive, focused on profits and production, not worker safety.
The House will consider supporting responsible fatherhood, promoting marriage, and encouraging greater involvement of fathers in the lives of their children.
Gene Karpinski and Tony Massaro of the League of Conservation Voters unveil the next seven members of the LCV's 2006 "Dirty Dozen."
Reps. Eliot Engel and Joseph Crowley hold an 11:00 am ET press conference at the Cannon House Office Building on what they regard as an anti-Muslim ad regarding Kosovo independence that appeared in the June 8 edition of Roll Call.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean raises money at the Capital Hilton at 5:30 pm ET. His Republican counterpart appears on the "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" tonight. While in New York City, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will also speak at a fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani's Solutions America PAC.
Before you think he is playing favorites, Mehlman has also headlined fundraisers for the Frist and McCain PACs and is scheduled to do one for Sen. Allen's PAC as well. He agrees to do them as long as the money raised is being used for 2006 campaigns. (It's unclear how he feels if those campaigns are local races in New Hampshire and South Carolina instead of the top tier Senate/House/Governor races of the cycle.)
Today's contests: Virginia, Maine, South Carolina, and North Dakota:
Voters in four states -- Virginia, Maine, South Carolina, and North Dakota -- go to the polls today.
With his frequent football metaphors, regular guy persona and solidly conservative record, Sen. George Allen (R-VA) is a favorite among some of the conservative establishment in the early jockeying for the GOP's 2008 presidential nomination. But before Sen. Allen can get to 2008, he has to get through 2006—and in the minds of many national Democrats, they've got just the candidate to complicate Sen. Allen's march.
As a decorated Marine Corps veteran, former Reagan Navy Secretary, and supporter of gun rights, national Democrats think James Webb has the kind of persona that would allow him to perform well in rural parts of Virginia that have been hostile to some Democrats in the past. At the same time, Webb also appeals to party liberals through his early and outspoken opposition to the Iraq war.
National Democrats are so enthused about the prospect of a Webb-Allen match-up in the fall that DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took the extremely unusual step of endorsing Webb recently.
Typically, party committees stay out of contested primaries, and Webb's opponent, Harris Miller, is no slouch. Miller has a long record in the private sector and a consistent record of supporting Democrats. The Washington Post endorsed Miller last week, calling him "better-briefed, better-focused and more thoughtful." LINK
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza writes that Sen. Schumer's Webb endorsement "outraged many influential Democrats, including some who raise a lot of money that now won't be going to the DSCC." LINK
The Washington Post on the 11th hour campaigning by Virginia Democratic Senate hopefuls: LINK
Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that only 175,000 voters -- out of 4.5 million registered -- are expected at the polls in Virginia today. LINK
The Times Dispatch's McAllister says there are few things " more snooze-inducing than Democrats trying to become U.S. senators." LINK
The Washington Times' Seth McLaughlin on the tough prediction of who the winner will be due to expected low voter turnout and the state's rule that anyone from any party can vote. LINK
Adrienne Washington of the same paper advises Virginia voters in her op-ed to vote for the candidate whose "principles" align most with that of the state's and claims that her criticism of national Democrats' support for Webb "is not to suggest that Mr. Miller is a better bet." LINK
Per Roll Call's Laura Whittington, Democratic strategist Paul Goldman believes the primary will likely say more about the party's future direction and less about which candidate can beat Allen.
The main event in Maine today is the Republican gubernatorial primary. The emerging winner will get the chance to unseat the potentially vulnerable Gov. Baldacci (D-ME) who makes 16 campaign stops across the state today. State Sens. Chandler Woodcock and Pete Mills and former Rep. Dave Emery are the three contenders for the nomination. For those looking for a 2008 angle, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has endorsed Emery in this race -- we'll see if he improves his record after he failed to back the winning candidate in the Nebraska GOP gubernatorial primary last month. You can check out the Maine results here: LINK
The Portland Press Herald's Paul Carrier runs through the three GOP frontrunners in Maine's gubernatorial primary. LINK
Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who is getting ready to wield his veto pen, watches election returns with a group of friends at Liberty Tap Room and Grill in Columbia, SC. LINK
There are no network exit polls in any of the contests.
Polls open: 6:00 am ET
Polls close: 7:00 pm ET
Results will be available on the Web site of the Virginia State Board of Elections beginning at 7:30 pm ET; 95-99 percent of the results are expected by 9:30 am ET. LINK
Polls open: between 6:00 am ET – 10:00 am ET
Polls close: 8:00 pm ET
Maine's Secretary of State Web site: LINK
Polls open: 7:00 am ET
Polls close: 7:00 pm ET
Election returns: LINK
County-by-county results expected beginning at 11:00 pm ET
Polls open: 8:00 am ET
Polls close: 8:00 pm ET.
Election returns: LINK
Full results are expected by 10:00 pm ET
The Zarqawi effect:
Bush's increased approval rating, up 38% from 36% earlier this month based on the new USA Today/Gallup poll, reveals that the announcement of Zarqawi's death finally gave the Bush administration a break, per USA Today's Bill Nichols -- unless one believes in margin of error. While Republicans will likely exalt (with caution) in the poll's numbers, delighting in an increased 48% who believe that the Iraq war is winnable, Democrats will likely downplay its impact, pointing to the need for continued progress in Iraq. LINK
Politics of Iraq:
When the New York Times' David Sanger, Jim Rutenberg, Robin Toner, Adam Nagourney, and Katie Zezima all put their heads together, you get an excellent look at the current political debate surrounding Iraq. LINK
Sanger/Rutenberg on the President's Camp David gathering: "The meeting was as much a media event as it was a high-level strategy session. . ."
Sanger and Rutenberg also include Karl Rove telling "supporters in New Hampshire that if the Democrats had their way, Iraq would fall to terrorists and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would not have been killed."
The Timesmen also report on the Hyde resolution on Iraq and the Global War on Terror set for a Thursday vote. The resolution declares "that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq," which may cause some agitation for the Democrats. Put the Camp David gathering, Rose Garden press conference, and House resolution together and Sanger and Rutenberg Note that "the steps underscored how Republicans are pouncing on the first positive developments in months in Iraq to reverse a steep slide in support for the war."
In an effort to strengthen GOP support for the war in Iraq and to "embarrass Democrats," the Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman writes, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) will kick off Thursday's debate, Noting "it is better to take the war to the terrorists 'so we don't have to fight them in American neighborhoods.'" LINK
Politics of Alberto:
The St. Petersburg Times' Adam C. Smith examines the "hurricane 2-step" for Florida's gubernatorial candidates. LINK
Alberto forced Republican and Democratic candidates alike to cancel fundraising and speaking events Monday, prompting the question of how and when it is appropriate to campaign given inevitable hurricane damage.
The Abramoff affair:
After heated closing arguments, the David Safavian case went to the jury yesterday, reports the Washington Post. LINK
Per ABC News' Jason Ryan, if the jury finds Safavian not guilty, the government's prosecution in Abramoff-related investigations and cases would be viewed as undermined. The government has put a lot of time and effort into detailing the links between Abramoff, Safavian and members of Congress. This will be the first jury to consider a case related to Abramoff's investigation.
Safavian, a former GSA chief of staff director, was arrested in September 2005 and tried on charges of lying about his links to Abramoff. He faces charges of making false statement and obstruction of justice.
Murtha: Pelosi v. Hoyer:
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi remains hush hush about Rep. John Murtha's (D-PA) challenge to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for majority leader post, if Democrats win in November, Notes Roll Call's Steve Kornacki. LINK
Hoyer supporters Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Jane Harman (D-CA) are worried that the Hoyer-Murtha match-up will only turn attention away from Democrats' efforts to takeover the House, reports The Hill's Josephine Hearn. LINK
Adam Liptak of the New York Times writes up the arguments (similar to those you've heard in the political arena since December) presented in court yesterday and Notes a decision is not likely to come until after a related hearing occurs -- currently scheduled for next month. LINK
Big Casino budget politics:
The Washington Post expects the House to pass the emergency spending bill today, and the Senate to approve it later in the week. LINK
Even with the passage of the supplemental, the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers writes that the military is facing billion-dollar payroll shortfalls, thanks to the increasingly large bonuses it is being forced to pay to retain soldiers and recruit new ones.
The Washington Post ed board admits it is intrigued but concerned by Rep. Frank R. Wolf's (R-Va.) proposal for an "everything commission" that would reexamine the tax code and entitlement program spending. LINK
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank views the appearance of mainstream Democratic leaders at this year's Campaign for America's Future conference as a sign that they "aren't as afraid to be seen with the lefties who make up their 'base'" -- a fact Milbank attributes to said "lefties" toning down their "fratricidal attacks on elected Democrats." LINK
Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist's continued plan to rally the GOP base with social issues has raised sharp criticism from some conservative activists, including former Frist aide and chairman of the Third Branch Conference Manuel Miranda. The Hill's Jonathan Allen reports that "dozens of interest group leaders" have expressed disapproval with Frist's hope to push legislation that would ban flag desecration; they want the Senate to vote on judicial nominations. LINK
Clintons of Chappaqua:
The AP's Brendan Farrington Notes that at a Miami fundraiser for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), former President Bill Clinton said: ''It is now generally recognized that while Al Gore and I were ridiculed, we were right about global warming." LINK
More from the Palm Beach Post's Alan Gomez: LINK
The Tampa Tribune. LINK
The Orlando Sentinel. LINK
The Philadelphia Inquirer curtain raises the First Lady's Santorum and Kean fundraisers. LINK
Maryland Senate hopeful Rep. Ben Cardin, who is locked in a tight Democratic primary, yesterday called for a complete pullout of troops from Iraq by year's end and said he will describe his plan more fully on the House floor later this week. LINK
Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, running as the Republican nominee for Senate in Maryland, launches a new Internet political ad this week that, the Washington Post Notes, does not identify that he is a Republican. LINK
The New York Times' Hicks reports that black leaders in New York's 11th congressional district are planning on asking DNC Chairman Howard Dean to get involved in their efforts to maintain a historically black district in the face of a candidacy by David Yassky, a white city councilman. LINK
The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray reviews the fight Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) is weathering in PA-07, one of a handful of "traditionally solid Republican districts [that] for a variety of reasons -- including ethical and demographic -- are considered vulnerable this year." LINK
Roll Call's Erin Billings on the challenges the Senate will soon face when 2008 hopefuls spend more time campaigning than keying votes.
Maggie Haberman of the New York Post looks at the battle for New York political cash. Sen. McCain raised more than $1 million last night for his PAC and Rudy Giuliani is expected to raise $500,000 (that's the likely low bar set by his aides) at his first PAC fundraiser of the year -- featuring RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. LINK
The New York Daily News' Saltonstall has Giuliani adviser Tony Carbonetti saying: "This is money to help Republicans maintain the House and the Senate." LINK
Michael Bloomberg "waxed prolific" about a possible presidential run at a Connecticut fundraiser for Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) which may have been intended as an off the record session, but apparently was not. The New York Times' Cardwell has the story. LINK
As does the New York Post's David Seifman: LINK
And the New York Daily News' Michael Saul: LINK
The New York Daily News also explores the reality of an indy presidential bid: LINK
Sen. McCain lamented "out of control" federal spending and the tidal of protectionism at a luncheon in New York City yesterday, reports the New York Sun's Berman. Timing/location was impeccable to Rudy Giuliani, of course. LINK
Fresh from his first-place poll finish, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) stumped for Democrat Chet Culver's gubernatorial campaign in Iowa yesterday, the Des Moines Register's Jonathan Roos reports.LINK
Edwards said it would be fiscally irresponsible for Iowans to choose Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA), Culver's Republican opponent, because of the deficits that have grown during Nussle's watch. He also "railed" against big oil companies and tax cuts for the rich, and he urged more government help for the needy in calling for new moral leadership in this country.
The Charlotte Observer's Morrill Notes that Sen. Clinton is keeping mum about 2008 in light of her second-place run in the Des Moines Register's poll, and will focus first and foremost on her re-election bid in the Senate this year. LINK
Dick Morris uses his New York Post column to urge KT McFarland to get out of the Senate race in New York and cede the nomination to John Spencer who Morris believes has a better chance of defeating Sen. Clinton. Morris claims McFarland is being used as a "shill" by Clinton supporters and Notes all the money McFarland has collected from some big Democratic and Clinton contributors. LINK
Morris also claims Sen. Clinton is "wearing out her welcome with her party."
The Des Moines Register's Beaumont and Higgins have Gov. Vilsack saying state Republicans are driven by election-year politics, after they refused to rewrite a bill on eminent domain that the governor vetoed. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
The San Francisco Chronicle's Tom Chorneau and Mark Martin report that Gov. Schwarzenegger aims to spend $75 million on his reelection campaign, a paltry sum compared to the $130 million record Gray Davis set in 2002. Now that Proposition 34 has taken full effect, however, both candidates will depend in large part on the campaigning of independent groups -- such as labor, business, the California Teachers Association, and the prison guards union. LINK
As gay and lesbian political leaders gear up to fight six ballot measures that would ban same-sex marriage, the San Francisco Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan reports that the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force recently returned a $5,000 donation from the DNC after Chairman Dean said the party believes marriage should be only between a man and a woman while appearing on the "ultraconservative" 700 Club television show. LINK
Politics of the flag:
USA Today's Andrea Stone Notes that with the Senate just one vote away from passing an amendment banning flag burning, a Senate vote is scheduled to take place the week of June 26th. LINK
Bush Administration agenda and personality:
The Washington Post's Peter Baker reviews the "provocative" past of the President's new chief domestic policy adviser, Karl Zinsmeister. LINK
A Wall Street Journal editorial claims that CIA Director Michael Hayden's comments during his confirmation hearings last month criticizing some of the Pentagon's pre-war intelligence efforts do "not make for an auspicious, truth-telling start at CIA." LINK
The Boston Globe's Rick Klein credits new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten with creating a "new White House attitude that includes a willingness to consider dissenting views and take a more deliberate approach to policy questions." LINK
Politics of lobbying:
The Hill's Jim Snyder reports that according to a new report by the Center for Public Integrity, Northwestern University's Medill News Service and American Public Media, lobbying firms and lobbyists, who are not allowed to pay for congressional travel, were listed as contributing to costs for 90 congressional trips taken between 2000 and 2005. LINK
Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) ought to agree to Pelosi's demands to step down from his Ways and Means Committee seat, pens DeWayne Wickham in a USA Today op-ed. LINK
Sen. Robert C. Byrd:
The New York Times looks at his record-setting day by the numbers. LINK
The Washington Post's Charles Babington Notes that "uncharacteristically for a man who has rhapsodized about spring, Mother's Day and countless other topics in the Senate chamber," Sen. Byrd did not speak from the Senate floor during his record-breaking day. LINK
The Los Angeles Times explores the trend (if three makes a trend) of Kansas Republicans switching their party affiliation to Democrat and if these are early signs of a potential fissure in the national Republican Party. LINK