The Note: Constitution Avenue Freeze-Out

ByABC News
October 19, 2005, 10:18 AM

— -- WASHINGTON, Oct. 19

On April 8, 2002, when the federal courthouse in Washington, DC held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new annex, Vice President Cheney gave remarks that included the following (We aren't kidding.):

"Usually, when a crowd gathers outside this building, somebody is in trouble. (Laughter.) . . . The U.S. Courts Building does not really stand out in the Washington landscape. It's not known for special style or flare or extravagance; nothing at all flashy about it. In short, the perfect place for a joint appearance by Dick Cheney and Bill Rehnquist." (Laughter.) LINK

Scroll down here and check out the photo. LINK

As for 2005, the grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative's name gathered at 9:00 am ET today at that very federal courthouse in Washington, DC. And there is quite a crowd gathered, although the betting at this writing is that nothing will happen today of Note -- at least not in public.

ABC News' Jason Ryan reports, "Grand jury 03-3 -- the jury hearing the CIA leak case -- is meeting, but indications from a court source are that Fitzgerald and his team will not be at the courthouse today."

"Currently two assistant US attorneys who work on drug prosecutions are using the grand jury for a case they are working on."

President Bush will need not be bothered with having to refuse to prejudge anything today because he has no public schedule as of this writing. (Be on the lookout, however, for a closed presidential meeting with Republican congressional leaders.)

With an added final paragraph pregnant with meaning, the New York Times' Johnston/Stevenson duo advances the CIA leak investigation on two key fronts. The Timesmen report that Fitzgerald "is not expected to take any action in the case this week" and "he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation," leading some to believe indictments are more likely than not to be forthcoming. LINK

Here's that final graph: "Officials who testified or were questioned by investigators also included John Hannah, Mr. Cheney's principal deputy national security adviser."

The timing of the Times seems to comport with Rove attorney Robert Luskin's guidance given to ABC News' Jonathan Karl that if indictments were coming down today he would "absolutely 100 percent" know about it by last evening and he did not.

And take a look at what might be a window into some new White House thinking on how best to position the President in advance of any possible indictments. LINK

Super-plugged-in Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News reports exclusively that an "angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair. . . 'He made his displeasure known to Karl,' a presidential counselor told The News. 'He made his life miserable about this.'"

DeFrank has another source claiming that reports that Rove may have misled Bush about the "Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the president."

Yesterday's US News item about a possible Cheney resignation gives those of you in the Gang of 501-50,000 some insight into what is going on with the rest of us. LINK

While the Cheney quote above is absolutely real, the following "memo" "from" three top Democratic strategists is PHONY, FAKE, SATIRICAL, and NOT REAL.

This "memo," "obtained" by ABC News last night, offers insight into why the White House is not nearly as worried as it might otherwise be about all this.


TO: The Honorable Harry Reid, The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, The Honorable Charles Schumer, and Rahm

FROM: Mark Fabiani, Mike McCurry, and Joe Lockhart

DATE: 10/18/05


The opportunity is at hand.

Within days, there seems to be a very good chance that Patrick Fitzgerald will indict one or more White House officials.

All too many members of our base around the country -- including major donors -- have no confidence that the party will do the right thing (politically and substantively) to plan for and react to these indictments.

If you all and our allies perform at what will we call "the usual" level of communications and political competence, we will waste the moment, and, incredibly, President Bush might politically survive something that should paralyze and devastate him.

If there are charges brought, the White House and the RNC will surely go into attack mode, and try to make all this about Joe Wilson and other distractions. We can't let them do that.

Also, we cannot let the White House flip this into yet another debate over which party will keep the country safe. We know how that debate comes out. We must keep the narrative focused on criminality, fraud, a fundamental breach of faith with the nation and its armed forces.

The legal issues will play themselves out as the prosecutor moves forward. There is a likelihood that this case will focus on the systematic manufacturing and leaking of classified information by the Bush Administration. The prosecutor will focus on the law -- the dissemination of classified information and related issues -- with some combination of conspiracy, suborning perjury, perjury, and obstruction.

Democrats need to provide the political narrative that explains why the breaking of these laws was so bad and damaging to our national security.

This cannot be a case about a leak (since the press doesn't like to cover leak stories as most of them are recipients of leaks and it sounds small bore); this cannot be a matter about White House aides (most people think Scooter Libby is something you ride on, and Karl Rove isn't as famous as you think he is); this cannot be about an isolated incident that smells, feels, and tastes like business as usual in Washington, DC (since that won't break through).

It's got to be about big things that impact the real lives of real Americans -- and about how Bush pushed our country into a war.

Here are the specific steps to take:

(1) Message: Make this much bigger so that there is a political narrative that draws the connection between the manipulation of intelligence and the war in Iraq.

The Bush Administration manufactured and manipulated information in order to fool elected officials and the public into supporting a war where nearly 2,000 American soldiers have been killed. This goes all the way to the top -- the Vice President of the United States appears to have been directly involved. Above all else this is a matter of national security and it is critical we understand how national security information was manipulated and manufactured to advance a political agenda -- and that those who were responsible are held accountable.

(2) The name game: Give this scandal a name that makes it clear that it is more than about Valerie Plame or Joe Wilson or Karl Rove. "Iraq-WMD Affair" and "Iraq-gate" are too clunky. Maybe a contest on the DSCC website and outreach to the liberal bloggers to find a name? Or maybe ask Roy Spence for some ideas?

(3) Keep the focus squarely on Bush: Bush's changing comments; Bush's integrity; Bush as Commander in Chief. Seek documents; seek sworn testimony from the White House; get into fights over Bush's refusal to turn over information that would explain to the public exactly what the Bush White House did. This is not a "WDHKAWDHKI?" -- this is "WDHD with WMD?" -- what did he do with the weapons of mass destruction intelligence?

(4) The ties that bind: Make it clear that this scandal is just one of many -- DeLay, Ney, Abramoff, Safavian, possibly Frist -- that demonstrates an arrogant unaccountable majority dangerously controlling all the levers of power in Washington. Make sure people know the prosecutor is a Republican appointed by Bush's Justice Department and praised by Bush himself. And make sure they know the investigation originated with a request from the CIA.

(5) Apply pressure to the Republicans to hold hearings: The Republicans -- especially those up for re-election in '06 and '08 -- should be forced in their states/districts and in DC to explain why they are resisting holding bipartisan hearings.

(6) Feed the fire: Continue to pour fuel on the fire by giving out tidbits and creating news to drive coverage; work DC up into a froth; and leverage competitive pressures between news organizations. Judy Miller's New York Time colleagues will be hot and heavy for anything on this. The newsweeklies can't get enough. And you can float daily questions to The Note, which will likely run them without any filter/editing if you deliver them right before their deadline; White House and Hill reporters will then ask every Republican they see whatever is listed there all morning and into the afternoon. . .

(7) Be prepared to push reforms: If this really is as big as it could be -- meaning it becomes clear that the Bush White House had created an off-line, out-sourced effort to manufacture information on WMD that they then put out in a carefully orchestrated way to generate support for the war -- we will need to become the party of reform. This scenario -- and we are not there yet though you can see it getting there -- would be comparable to Watergate and be a watershed moment that we will need to be prepared to leverage by making it clear we want to put in reforms to make sure that such a thing would never happen again. And we say diplomatically: not every leader in the party is equally qualified to make this argument.

Last year, the President was holding an extraordinarily weak hand politically, and yet he won re-election. Although various factors (the war, gas prices, Katrina) have driven down his poll numbers, all of our leading pollsters (especially Stan) have research suggesting our party has not taken advantage of much of anything that makes Bush weak.

Now is the time, we are the party, this is our moment.

Respectfully we say: please don't blow it.


See the rest of today's schedule at the end of The Note.

The Fitzgerald investigation:
Just as the DNC would want, the New York Daily News writes that the White House Iraq Group "morphed into a virtual hit squad that took aim at critics who questioned its claims," according to sources who add that Judy Miller a "charter member" of the group. LINK

"What has been depicted is an administration effort to refute the allegations of a critic (some of which did in fact prove to be untrue) and to undermine his credibility, including by suggesting that nepotism rather than qualifications led to his selection. If such conversations are deemed a crime, journalism and the public will be the losers," writes the Washington Post editorial board. LINK

The New York Daily News' Rush and Molloy say some New York Times colleagues heard Judy Miller and executive editor Bill Keller "screaming at each other" on Saturday in the hours before the paper's Plame stories went to bed. LINK

As part of its broader mission of holding the "brain-dead media" accountable, the American Progress Action Fund, the C4 arm of the Center for American Progress, is launching a Web site today designed to prebut what the group considers "right-wing myths" about the Fitzgerald investigation. LINK

The folks who created it want you to think of it as a handy-dandy guide for the Gang of 500.

When conservative "yappers" say things like "leaking classified information is no big deal" because that kind of thing happens all the time in Washington, the Web site directs readers to text -- and video -- of Bush 41 saying on April 26, 1999 that exposing an undercover CIA agent is "the most insidious of crimes."

Or, if someone tries to paint Fitzgerald as a "runaway prosecutor," the folks at the C4 arm of John Podesta's shop want you to remember that Bush 43 said Fitzgerald was conducting a "very dignified investigation" as recently as October 11, 2005.

Harriet Miers for Associated Justice:
Even in the era of snap judgments, it's too soon to say if yesterday was a good day or a bad one for Harriett Miers' confirmation prospects.

But the words of a Republican Senate leadership aide to ABC News are pretty stark:

"I'm not hearing good things about White House efforts to turn the corner. The only argument they seem to be putting forward is 'we don't need an intramural scrimmage right now.' The latest courtesy meetings haven't gone well because she has not been so forthcoming. The questionnaire was subpart at best and late. We'll help with the heavy lifting but you gotta help us out here," our source says to the Administration.

"You mostly will see deadly silence on our side of the aisle and continued aggression by groups. . . It may end up torture by a thousand cuts for all, but she may end up getting through by a slim margin."

Adding another cut, in a must-read op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Robert Bork rips the originalist credentials of Harriet Miers and writes that President Bush has not governed as a conservative. "This George Bush, like his father, is showing himself to be indifferent, if not actively hostile, to conservative values. He appears embittered by conservative opposition to his nomination, which raises the possibility that if Ms. Miers is not confirmed, the next nominee will be even less acceptable."

The Washington Post's Goldstein and Babington report that yesterday's disclosure "did not appear to quell doubts among some conservatives" that Miers is a "sound choice" to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. LINK

The Washington Post duo also revisit the "controversy and confusion" surrounding Miers and Griswold v. Connecticut.

Despite issuing a correction at Miers's request late on Monday, Specter told reporters on Tuesday that his recollection of the conversation remains "the one I gave you" Monday. Specter portrayed the confirmation process as "among the most chaotic and contradictory of his 25 years in the Senate. 'I can't think of one where a disagreement arose in quite this way,' he said. Specter said he will revisit his Monday conversation with Miers but only at the hearing, when cameras and tape recorders will be rolling. 'I may meet with her again on other subjects,' he said. 'But not on this conversation. We've had it. I've had it.'"

Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) tells The Hill he will likely back Miers. "More than likely, at some point, I'll be satisfied," he said. LINK

The Hill reports that Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left unfulfilled by Miers' questionnaire, have requested that the White House turn over policy documents written by Miers during her tenure there. As for the issue of executive privilege, Graham said, "When there's a close call, the tie goes toward disclosure." LINK

The Washington Times has Sen. Brownback saying he "took some comfort from" Miers' stated views on abortion, while Sen. Vitter says he still has "a lot of questions and concerns." LINK

It seems to us that David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times gets to the crux of the 1989 pro-life questionnaire (completed by Miers when she ran for Dallas City Council) at the end of his lede paragraph: "The disclosure alarmed abortion rights supporters but failed to assuage the concerns of some conservative Republicans." LINK

Kirkpatrick also Notes expected questions from Sen. Specter on Griswold to clear up any confusion that may have occurred in his Monday meeting with the nominee.

We wonder which Senator on the Judiciary Committee will be the first to ask, "Ms. Miers, why did you not want this job in July, but you do want it in October?"

Leaning more favorably towards Miers than others in their news-of-day account, the Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds writes that some Republicans may be warming to Miers after seeing her 1989 abortion survey responses, as Democrats focus concern on her brief responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. LINK

The New York Daily News writes, "The White House is attempting a complex juggling act: convincing a skeptical right wing that Miers is conservative enough, while avoiding giving Democrats ammunition to vote her down as an unacceptable ideologue. Neither strategy appeared to be working yesterday." LINK

The Los Angeles Times overview on the new documents: LINK

Note that several of the stories on her answers point out flaws that give rise to additional vetting questions and which some see as an unexpected sign of sloppiness from a woman said to be so meticulous. We count about seven such things.

The Washington Post ed board Notes that Roberts went further than Miers in explaining how he would handle potential conflicts of interest on the Supreme Court even though he had "nowhere near the baggage she carries on this issue." LINK

After covering the requisite abortion ground, Rick Klein and Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe make sure to include some color: LINK

"The documents also revealed lighter aspects of Miers's character. According to an undated questionnaire for Dallas City Magazine, Miers speaks no other languages, would pick Britain if she had to live abroad, and took inspiration from Mother Teresa."

"She is more likely to visit a museum than the ballet, and her favorite artist is Rembrandt."

Glen Justice of the New York Times crunches her financial disclosure numbers: LINK

"If confirmed for the court seat, Ms. Miers, currently the White House counsel, would rank near the bottom of the justices in terms of wealth, surpassing only Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. She reported her net worth was about $675,000, according to filings with Congress this week. Her $1.3 million in assets consist primarily of a house in Dallas valued at $688,000 and a condominium in Arlington, Va., worth roughly $295,000. Ms. Miers also listed about $223,000 in investments, and loans, mostly mortgages, totaling $573,000."

Bush agenda:
Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times writes in his must-read news analysis that the Bush team appears to be returning to its tried-and-true strategy of trying to steady its conservative base -- an effort that may push independents further away in the process. LINK

"Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, said that stabilizing the president's base was more important for the GOP over the next year than wooing independents disaffected from the administration. Those independent voters, Dowd predicted, will 'shift rather quickly based on current events' in the coming months. But, he maintained, 'the more important question for 2006 is: How motivated is each side's base? That's more important than the vicissitudes of swing voters.'"

Stan Greenberg begs to differ.

The White House plans to nominate a replacement for Fed Chief Alan Greenspan early next month, reports USA Today. LINK

David Rosenbaum of the New York Times looks at the two tax reform plans the President's panel will recommend to him and forecasts some unhappiness in Congress. LINK

"The first plan would simplify the current system by eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, among other tax benefits. The second and more far-reaching proposal would move the tax code toward a modified tax on consumption," writes the Washington Post's Birnbaum, who does the most, naturally, to gather the Gucci Gulch reaction of some stuck-pig lobbyists. LINK

In the Wall Street Journal's coverage of the President's tax-overhaul panel, Robert Guy Matthews and Brody Mullins have former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), the co-chairman of the tax panel, saying: "We gave them a plan, and I think that the President will be able to propose something in the State of the Union address." DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel reacted to the plan moments after it was released by calling it a trick to move toward a consumption-based tax.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that California Democrats are not at all pleased with the tax reform proposals and Sen. Schumer (D-NY) called the proposal a "dagger to the heart of the people of New York." LINK

The New York Times' Andrews heard Treasury Secretary Snow move away from solely focusing on pushing China to let the yuan float more freely and incorporate that call into a broader package of "financial modernization." LINK

The politics of immigration:
The Washington Post's Fears and Fletcher frame Bush's immigration proposal as striking a "tough but compassionate tone on an issue that has caused "deep rifts" within the Republican Party. LINK

"Mr. Bush's words, among his most insistent on illegal immigrants to date, were intended to calm conservatives upset at his temporary-worker plan, which a number of Republicans view as an amnesty program. Mr. Bush first proposed the plan in January 2004, but it has run into resistance," write Elisabeth Bumiller and Eric Lipton of the New York Times. LINK

"In a renewed effort to win support, the White House is now emphasizing the border enforcement part of the plan, but at the same time insisting that enforcement can work only as a part of what Mr. Bush on Tuesday called 'a larger, comprehensive immigration reform program.'"

In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday: "Our goal at DHS is to completely eliminate the 'catch and release' enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions."

Elsewhere in Washington yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) -- while appearing with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) at a US Chamber of Commerce event -- said: "There's an element in my party" that likes "to say 'send them back'. Well, my friends, that is not what the Lady Lamp of Liberty is all about."

Mindful of conservative criticism of his earned-legalization program, McCain said: "Anyone who calls that amnesty doesn't read the same dictionary that I do. We think it's pretty tough."

Asked if his critics were racist, McCain said he doesn't like to make those kinds of accusations, before adding, "We'll let other people draw those conclusions."

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) writes a letter to the editor of the New York Times to make sure he gets his share of the credit on immigration reform. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:
"In the House, Republican leaders began to hedge on their plans to force a vote on Thursday on raising their overall budget-cutting goal to $50 billion as they sought to assure moderates wary of the cuts and conservatives calling for additional across-the-board reductions in current spending," writes Carl Hulse of the New York Times. (Hulse also reports that cuts to the food stamp program have been removed from the chopping block by the Senate Agriculture Committee.) LINK

The Hill's Patrick O'Connor also has the budget vise tightening around the necks of House Republicans. LINK

Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times writes up the Senate voting down a pay increase, but says the symbolic gesture won't make it any easier to agree on more substantive cuts to pay for hurricane spending. LINK

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), is hoping to have a version of the budget-reconciliation bill ready this week. He's struggling, however, to find a way to reconcile his pet project -- temporary Medicaid expansion to hurricane victims -- with major cuts to Medicaid and Medicare. LINK

Harold Meyerson writes in a Washington Post op-ed that "the beauty" of House Republicans "taking the cuts out of Medicaid and student loan programs" is that "it doesn't reduce the flow of funds to the Republican campaign committees by a single dime." LINK

GOP politics:
Roll Call's Ben Pershing nicely sums up the delicate dance facing Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-MO) in his new role as a stand-in for Rep. Tom DeLay: "In effect, Blunt has three intersecting, and somewhat contradictory, challenges: leading the Conference, avoiding an appearance of campaigning for a permanent promotion, and staying abreast of any possible leadership challenges that could emerge in January. " He also Notes that Blunt's first pen-and-paper briefing is scheduled for tomorrow.

"U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's chief lawyer says he has no evidence that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle participated in grand jury deliberations, despite having made that allegation in motions to dismiss DeLay's indictments," writes Janet Elliott of the Houston Chronicle. LINK

2008: Republicans:
On the eve of John McCain's semi-under-the-radar-sure-to-be-boffo speech to the Al Smith Dinner in Gotham City tomorrow night, Investor's Business Daily files a must-read (for George Allen and Mitt Romney) from Puerto Rico on the Senator's show-stopping perf at the American Magazine Conference, where he overshadowed even Matt Cooper and proved yet again that, as the man always says, he knows whom his base is. LINK

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) talked to reporters about his stock sale and the investigation into it, predicting that he would be fully exonerated, reports Roll Call.

New Hampshire:
Per the Associated Press, the GOP will remain atop the New Hampshire ballot if it continues to garner the most votes since a Granite State judge upheld the current state law and suggested the legislature as the appropriate venue to change it. LINK

In her New York Times political memo, Diane Cardwell explains why some Democrats are not fearful of crossing party lines to support Bloomberg. LINK

The New York Times' Greenhouse explores how Mayor Bloomberg's demand for productivity gains from labor unions in exchange for wage increases has ruffled a few feathers and fallen somewhat short of what he set out to accomplish. LINK

Mayor Bloomberg's campaign continues to hit Ferrer hard on all fronts, despite their huge lead in the polls. LINK

"'The rule in a Brooklyn street-fight is you knock the other guy down, and then you kick him until he can't get up,' said Baruch College Prof. Doug Muzzio. 'And Bloomberg, once you get him in a fight, is that kind of guy.'"

It's probably safe to say that it isn't the most compelling race to cover for the New York political press corps if the New York Times' Lueck leads his daily campaign trail story with Mayor Bloomberg denying he placed a personal ad in the New York Times and his girlfriend asserting that "he is spoken for." LINK

It was mostly a "subdued" affair between an "aggressive" Forrester and a "sharply focused" Corzine at the New Jersey gubernatorial debate last night which mixed in a couple of minor party candidates as well, reports the New York Times. LINK

The New York Times' David Chen's look at the latest negative spot from the Forrester campaign tying Corzine to McGreevey, Kushner, and Katz. LINK

The AP has the latest Quinnipiac University poll numbers from the Garden State showing Jon Corzine with a slightly wider lead than he had in the September 28 Q-poll – mostly attributed to independent voters going his way. LINK

The Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports in the newspaper's Metro section that in a toss-up Virginia governor's race, the declining popularity of Bush and GOP struggles could have a small but significant impact. LINK

Weeks after Democrat Tim Kaine began running ads featuring Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA), Jerry Kilgore, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, launched an ad yesterday featuring Sen. George Allen (R-VA) who, like Warner, is a potential presidential candidate in 2008. LINK

Per the AP's Bob Lewis, Allen praises Kilgore in the ad for helping him secure passage of the signature achievement of his term as governor--parole abolition.

Allen also claims Kilgore "provided an additional $2 billion in funding for Virginia's school children," an achievement, the AP writes, "that was beyond Kilgore's influence or authority as Allen's secretary of public safety."

The Note brings you this exclusive from Maryland:

The Steele Exploratory Committee will make its formal announcement as to whether Lt. Gov. Steele will or won't run on Tuesday October 25 at Prince George's Community College – just a few blocks from his home and in the county where he started his political career.

Be on the lookout later today for details about the planned announcement.

Jeanine Pirro hit Hillary Clinton's Hollywood fundraising, while rolling out her first radio spot. LINK

Pirro's day was filled with more gaffes yesterday, per the New York Post. LINK

Rep. Ted Strickland (D-OH), who is giving up his House seat to run for Ohio governor, urged Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to run for Senate, with the hopes that they could have "complementary campaigns." LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:
California unions have shifted their advertising efforts to focus on attacking Gov. Schwarzenegger. LINK

"The return to concentrating more on the man than on his ballot measures highlights the hope of labor leaders that broad public disappointment in Schwarzenegger can doom his entire election agenda. But it also raises the question of whether a strategy focused so tightly on him can fully succeed, now that millions of voters are sorting through the complexities of the election's eight ballot measures."

Following in the steps of Mickey Mouse, retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will lead the 2006 Parade of Roses. LINK

The Washington Post's Al Kamen Notes that the White House nominated media guru Mark McKinnon to replace Republican Fayza Veronique Bouland Rodman on the Broadcasting Board of Governors on Monday after initially trying in August to nominate McKinnon, "an erstwhile Democrat," to replace Democrat Joaquin Blaya on the nine-member board that oversees outlets such as the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Marti. LINK

Other Wednesday schedule items:
Sen. Specter will hold a 12:30 pm ET press conference in the Senate gallery to announce the start date of the Miers confirmation hearing.

At 9:30 am ET, the Senate Judiciary Committee began a hearing looking at a national shield law with Justice Department witnesses and a panel including Judith Miller, ABC News David Westin, and others.

Past presidents of the Dallas Bar Association will gather in Dallas, TX at 11:00 am ET to express their support for Harriet Miers.

David Keene of the American Conservative Union, Dr. Edward Feulner of the Heritage Foundation, Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth, and others will hold a 10:00 am ET press conference "to challenge Congress and the Bush Administration to rein in federal government spending." We suspect they may get a question or two on Harriet Miers as well.

Secretary of State Rice is scheduled to go before the Foreign Relations Committee to testify about Iraq at 10:00 am ET.

The Democratic leadership team in the Senate will hold a press conference on Democratic priorities at the Ohio Clock at noon ET. Sens. Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Stabenow, and Baucus all plan to attend.

The House Democratic leaders will hold their post-caucus stake-out at 10:00 am ET.

The Hotline Quarterly Political Briefing is underway at the Watergate this morning.