By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
- IT'S BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR OREGON GOV. JOHN KITZHABER, who is facing calls for resignation from top state Democrats, editorial pages and petition writers, in light of a conflict-of-interest scandal involving plum jobs his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, got with groups who had business before the state. Late last week the Oregon Attorney General opened a criminal investigation into Kitzhaber and Hayes, and things only got worse this week. Here's a timeline, courtesy of ABC's ALI WEINBERG:
MONDAY: Kitzhaber sends a letter to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, asking her to open a "full and independent factual review" of the issues surrounding himself and Hayes. She responds in a letter saying she's already started the investigation.
TUESDAY: Kitzhaber calls Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, visiting Washington, DC for a conference, asking her to "come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone," Brown said in a statement. Kitzhaber also meets with Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney - a meeting Courtney later says he left feeling certain the governor was going to resign.
WEDNESDAY: Brown returns to Oregon, which raises eyebrows among political observers because the Secretary of State is the second-in-line for the governorship. Brown says she met with Kitzhaber briefly, and that he asked her why she came back early from DC, although he asked her to - which she said she found "strange." Kitzhaber tells Brown he does not want to resign but "began a discussion about transition," according to Brown. Later Wednesday, Kitzhaber releases a statement: "Let me be as clear as I was last week, that I have no intention of resigning as Governor of the state of Oregon. I was elected to do a job for the people of this great state and I intend to continue to do so."
THURSDAY: The Oregonian reports that Kitzhaber did in fact intend to resign Tuesday but then changed his mind by Wednesday, after meeting with McDermott and Hayes. Kitzhaber meets with Courtney as well as House Speaker Tina Kotek. At a press conference after the meeting, Courtney and Kotek call Kitzhaber "upset," "defiant" and "struggling." "This thing is evolving by the second," Courtney says. The blog Willamette Week reports that Kitzhaber tried to get his personal email archives destroyed last Thursday, but IT officials refused the request. Kitzhaber spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki said the request to delete emails was routine.
with ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
ASH CARTER CONFIRMED AS DEFENSE SECRETARY. The Senate confirmed Ash Carter as the next Secretary of Defense with a vote of 93 to 5 yesterday. Carter, who was nominated to the post in December, will replace Chuck Hagel and will be President Obama's fourth defense secretary in six years. He's a veteran Pentagon official who recently served as Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2013 and worked at the Defense Department under President Bill Clinton. Carter earned bipartisan praise throughout his confirmation process. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted unanimously on his nomination after a hearing where he stated his views on providing lethal aid to the Ukrainian military to the mission to defeat ISIS, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. http://abcn.ws/1E5yVOd
NOTED: SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DELAYS VOTE ON LORETTA LYNCH. The Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed a committee vote on Loretta Lynch's nomination to be Attorney General until the last week of February. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the committee, said there were several requests from Republican senators to hold over Lynch's nomination, and he agreed to honor the requests. This means the full Senate may not have the chance to vote on Lynch until March - four months after President Obama first nominated her.
JOE BIDEN REVEALS TIMEFRAME FOR 2016 PRESIDENTIAL DECISION. Vice President Joe Biden is in no rush to decide whether he'll run for president in 2016, telling reporters in Iowa Thursday he'll make up his mind "at the end of the summer." "That's a family personal decision that I'm going to make sometime at the end of the summer," Biden, who was on an official trip to the state, said during a classroom tour at the Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny. Asked by a reporter if he's holding any meetings about a 2016 campaign while in Iowa yesterday, Biden noted he's not engaging in any organizing for a presidential run on this trip. "I've been here a lot, I have a lot of friends. I'm going to see some of my friends [who] are still in the Legislature and they're here today. But no I'm not doing any organization if that's what you mean," he added. http://abcn.ws/1DL0lLB
EBOLA CZAR QUIETLY RETIRES FROM ROLE. He rarely appeared in public, and never once spoke from a major platform, but now Ebola Czar Ron Klain is quietly leaving from his role he held for less than four months. The announcement came a day after President Obama announced the end of the military mission to fight Ebola in West Africa - and effectively declared Mission Accomplished in curbing global spread of the latest outbreak. Obama bid farewell to the man who oversaw the effort, even if he came to it late, appointed amidst a firestorm of criticism, ABC's DEVIN DWYER writes . "When I asked Ron Klain last fall to become the Administration's Ebola Response Coordinator, the apprehension and even fear of Ebola in the United States was at its peak. Likewise, there was more than a little skepticism from some corners at the selection of Ron to fulfill this function. But, the background noise notwithstanding, I chose Ron for a reason: I have known him to be nothing less than an effective, dedicated, and tireless manager and leader. And those traits have been on full display since October," President Obama said in a statement.
CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS BEGIN TO GRAPPLE WITH AUMF. As Congress begins to wrestle with the president's new request to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State, sharp divisions are emerging at the Capitol that could risk congressional approval. On one hand, Republicans like Speaker John Boehner believe the president's proposal is too restrictive. "The president has tied his own hands and wants to tie his hands even further with the authorization that he's sent up here," House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday at a news conference at the Capitol, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. Across the aisle, Democrats are grappling with ways to rein in the scope of the mission. Many Democrats want tougher limitations and are concerned that the plan doesn't repeal a 2001 authorization to fight al Qaeda, lacks adequate assurances that the United States won't be sucked into a ground offensive, and places no geographic limitations on military force.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
WHY BROOKLYN GOT SNUBBED AND PHILADELPHIA WON THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION. The Democratic National Convention will be in Philadelphia, not Columbus, Ohio, or the most talked about possibility, New York City, specifically Brooklyn. Philly may have been the leading favorite, but why did Brooklyn get snubbed? It turns out there are quite a few reasons, according to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, JOSH MARGOLIN, AARON KATERSKY and MARK CRUDELE. In a conference call, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC Chair, said the decision was the result of a "year-long effort" that is "primarily a business decision" and the "decision was not easy," adding "all the cities who initially bid were phenomenal American cities." She added that while "New York City put together a very strong bid," Philadelphia's bid was "unmatched" and that the committee wanted to "ensure a city could transport and house attendees seamlessly." http://abcn.ws/1zPnlr5
@JessicaTaylor: I mean, was anyone 100% sober during the State of the Union? http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/232735-ginsburg-wasnt-100-percent-sober-during-state-of-the-union …
@ByronYork: London lessons for Walker: 1) There's no protection from out-of-the-blue questions. http://ow.ly/J06CW
?@KatrinaNation: Why does Congress have debates about war, but no debates about peace?