The Note: Gone Fishing?

ABC News' Jason Ryan reports that the House counsel is expected to say the speech and debate clause has been violated and that members of Congress should be informed when a search will be executed. The Justice Department attorneys will say that they took special steps to ensure none of the prosecutors reviewed any items covered by the speech and debate clause. The government may also state that members of Congress should not be afforded special rights greater than the citizens they represent. Rep. Jefferson is not expected to be at the hearing. Pursuant to President Bush's order that they be sealed, the documents are currently in the Solicitor General's office.

The big political event this weekend is the Iowa Republican Party's convention which will feature Gov. George Pataki (R-NY), Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), and Sen. George Allen (R-VA). More from the Iowa City Press-Citizen. LINK

For his part, Sen. McCain raises money for Chris Wakim in Wheeling, WVA while Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) visits New Hampshire, and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) begins a two-week official visit to Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.

Politics of Iraq:

"The new Republican drive to focus attention on the Iraq war represents a high-stakes gamble: that doubts about the direction Democrats might set on national security exceed anxieties about the course charted by President Bush," writes Ron Brownstein in his mega-must -read Los Angeles Times analysis. LINK

More Brownstein: "'We think we can win that debate,' said one senior GOP strategist familiar with White House thinking, who requested anonymity when discussing internal party deliberations. 'We won it in 2004, and the Iraq war was not particularly popular then. It is better when we debate other people instead of debating events.'"

In his New York Post op-ed column, John Podhoretz Notes the failure for Democrats to include any item relating to Iraq or the war on terror in their "New Direction for America" agenda. LINK

"Democratic politicians are, for the most part, emotionally opposed to continuing the effort in Iraq. But they are basically neutral about it as a matter of policy. This is why they could not agree on a plank in their new Contract With America dealing with the most important issue facing the nation. That's blatant political cowardice, and voters don't like cowards," writes Podhoretz.

While Noting the way in which Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to skewer Democrats by bringing up Sen. Kerry's amendment, the Washington Post's Weisman and Babington write that although the votes are not binding to President Bush, the debates put politicians on the record on a key issue that Democrats have had a hard time establishing a consensus over. LINK

The Los Angeles Times coverage of the debate includes this key, sage quote: "'Frankly, I believe their real challenge is that they have no common unified position on Iraq as a party,' said Rep Tom Cole (R-Okla.). 'Whether we are right or wrong on our side of the aisle, we do have a common position, and it's expressed in this resolution.'" LINK

The Columbus Dispatch Notes that both Sen. Kerry and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) were in the minority on the vote on the Kerry amendment and promise further debate next week. LINK

Rick Klein of the Boston Globe called the debates "more a tune-up for the fall congressional campaigns than a high-minded discussion of US foreign policy." LINK

The Washington Times: LINK

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