Johnson’s Senate office released the above photo of the senator in mid May.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Tim Johnson will be able to resume his duties as a U.S. senator, his doctor said Monday in a statement issued by the Democrat from South Dakota.
"In my discussions with Sen. Johnson, I am very well aware that he is interested in continuing his work as a senator and I am confident that he will be able to resume his duties," said Dr. Michael Yochelson, director of brain injury programs at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington.
"During my last visit with him last week, he demonstrated physical improvement in his ability to walk across the room himself," he said. "I could also see continued improvement in his speech as it has become more fluid. With his improving language skills, the senator is able to express himself more clearly, which allows us to recognize the fact that he is doing well cognitively. He is reading the paper daily and talking with friends, family and colleagues. His memory and processing skills are strong."
Johnson's most recent MRI shows continued healing since last December's brain surgery, said Dr. Vivek Deshmukh, who performed the surgery.
Bush received a warm welcome in Bulgaria Monday.
SOFIA, Bulgaria (CNN) - President Bush boarded a plane Monday to return to the United States, where the political turmoil and low popularity that await him serve as a stark contrast to the overwhelmingly warm welcome he received in Albania and Bulgaria on the final legs of his European tour.
In Albania, crowds lined the streets to cheer for the U.S. president. And in Bulgaria on Monday, President Georgi Parvanov - speaking through a translator - announced that Bulgarian-U.S. relations "are in their best state now in more than a hundred years of their establishment."
Bush is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Albania.
Lieberman says Iran's involvement in Iraq a dangerous element
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN)– The United States should consider possible military action against Iran, Senator Joseph Lieberman said Sunday.
"I think we've got to be prepared to take military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq." He spoke in regards to Iran's role in Iraq. "And to me, that would include a strike into - over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."
His comments come on the heels of the first high level talks between the U.S. and Iran in nearly 30 years. Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq met with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad recently to discuss ways the two countries might work to stabilize Iraq.
While supportive of the talks, Lieberman said military force is an option that should not be ruled out. "If we're going to sit and talk with the Iranians, tell them what we want them to do, which is to stop doing that because it's killing Americans, we can't leave it at that."
He made the comments on the CBS News program "Face the Nation".
Lieberman, from Connecticut, was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000.
- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Relatives of the late Zakia Zaki hold a photograph of Zaki holding her son.
ATLANTA (CNN) - U.S. First Lady Laura Bush on Sunday issued a statement condemning last week's killing of the woman director of Peace Radio in Afghanistan, citing the slaying represents the threat terrorism poses to the dignity of women in that country.
Zakia Zaki, director of Afghan Radio Peace, in Afghanistan's Parwan province, north of the capital, was killed last Wednesday.
The Associated Press reported over the weekend that Afghan police had arrested six men in connection with her death.
Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* President Bush "dismissed as 'meaningless' a planned Senate vote today on a resolution of no confidence in U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales." (Bloomberg)
Speaking at a joint press avail with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, Bush was also optimistic about reviving his stalled immigration overhaul.
"'I believe we can get it done,' Bush said of the immigration bill that has run into deep trouble on Capitol Hill. 'I'll see you at the bill signing.'" (AP)
* "Sudan has secretly worked with the CIA to spy on the insurgency in Iraq, an example of how the U.S. has continued to cooperate with the Sudanese regime even while condemning its suspected role in the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur." (Los Angeles Times)
* Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation" yesterday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I/D-CT) said the U.S. should consider a military strike against Iran:
LIEBERMAN: I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me that would include a strike into–over the border into Iran where I–we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.
* "A well-placed Iowa Republican political operative" said the Fred Thompson campaign "was in talks with state GOP officials about taking part in the straw poll" in Ames this August. (Roll Call)
* And it is one of Ronald Reagan's most memorable lines... but it was almost edited out.
Why was "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" nearly omitted from that famous 1987 address at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria, this morning and met with President Georgi Parvanov and Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev.
The President and Mrs. Bush arrive back at the White House at 7 pm ET tonight.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Bill Frist, Tom Daschle, Ashley Judd, Jack Oliver, et. al. help launch The ONE Campaign's "ONE Vote '08" initiative, a "bi-partisan high-tech, high energy campaign to mobilize voters and engage U.S. presidential candidates to make the fight against global poverty and disease a key foreign policy and security issue at the 2008 ballot box." 11:15 am ET at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill.
* Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gives an 11 am ET policy address, "The Path to Energy Independence," at the Center for American Progress in DC.
From advanced excerpts of his remarks:
"Maybe this President thinks it's fine to let unstable countries dictate our foreign policy - because they hold the oil that we can't live without... And maybe this President thinks it's fine to invite oil companies to write national energy policy at secret White House meetings. He may be fine with that approach to energy. But I'm not. Democrats are not. And neither are the American people."
* NM Gov. Bill Richardson fundraises in CA, and holds a 1:30 pm ET press avail in West Hollywood.
* John Edwards holds a "Small Change for Big Change" event at The Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne, FL, at 8 pm ET.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
GONZALES "EXPECTED TO SURVIVE" TODAY'S SENATE VOTE: By his own admission, he may have misled the public in describing his role in firing eight U.S. attorneys. A top aide probably violated civil service laws by injecting politics into the hiring of career prosecutors at the Justice Department. And his bedside manner leaves something to be desired. But Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales is nonetheless expected to survive today when the Senate takes up a no-confidence vote on his performance. Now, the question is where a Democratic-led investigation of Gonzales' two-year tenure at the department goes from here, and whether it is losing steam. Los Angeles Times: Vote on Gonzales marks juncture in probe
BUSH CALLS AG VOTE "POLITICAL," "MEANINGLESS": President George W. Bush dismissed as "meaningless" a planned Senate vote today on a resolution of no confidence in U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, America's top law enforcement officer. "To me, it's political," Bush said at a press conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, calling it "a political resolution on my attorney general that's going to have no bearing on whether he serves in office or not." Gonzales, a longtime Bush friend, has come under fire - from some Republicans as well as Democrats - who have demanded his resignation. The clamor has escalated with Gonzales' changing explanations of why eight U.S. attorneys around the country were fired while many others may have been targeted for reprisals. Gonzales initially said he knew few details about the matter, but his now-departed chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has testified that the attorney general was more involved than he told Congress. "They can try to have their vote of no confidence, but it's not going to determine - make the determination, who serves in my government," Bush told reporters. "There's been no wrongdoing." Bloomberg: Bush Calls Vote on Attorney General 'Meaningless'
PRESIDENT WILL TRY TO REVIVE IMMIGRATION BILL WITH HILL VISIT: President Bush plans a rare trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday in an effort to resurrect a bipartisan immigration deal that collapsed last week amid partisan recriminations. Bush will join Republican senators at their weekly luncheon meeting, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Sunday. Backers of the bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pulled from the Senate agenda late Thursday are hoping that Bush's personal lobbying will help revive the measure. "The fact that he's coming to the Hill is kind of dramatic and shows his dedication to this issue," Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., told USA TODAY on Sunday. Martinez, who also serves as general chairman of the Republican National Committee, acknowledged that the immigration stalemate threatens to drive a wedge between his party and Hispanic voters. USA Today: Bush to meet with GOP over immigration
AT LEAST 1/3 OF APPOINTED IMMIGRATION JUDGES SINCE '04 HAD GOP CONNECTIONS: The Bush administration increasingly emphasized partisan political ties over expertise in recent years in selecting the judges who decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, despite laws that preclude such considerations, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. At least one-third of the immigration judges appointed by the Justice Department since 2004 have had Republican connections or have been administration insiders, and half lacked experience in immigration law, Justice Department, immigration court and other records show. Washington Post: Immigration Judges Often Picked Based On GOP Ties
BUSH "TREATED LIKE A ROCK STAR" IN ALBANIA: His poll numbers may be in the basement, but when he zipped through this small, relentlessly pro-American nation on Sunday, President Bush was treated like a rock star. Military cannons boomed a 21-gun salute in his honor. Thousands of people jammed Skanderbeg Square in downtown Tirana, wearing Uncle Sam top hats in the sweltering heat, hoping to glimpse the presidential motorcade. The superlatives flowed so freely that Mr. Bush looked a tad sheepish when Prime Minister Sali Berisha proclaimed him "the greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times." The eight-hour stop — Mr. Bush left Rome in the morning and was headed to Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday night — made him the first sitting American president to visit this former Communist state. New York Times: Thousands Hail Bush in Visit to Albania
U.S. HAS "SECRETLY WORKED" WITH SUDANESE SPIES IN IRAQ: Sudan has secretly worked with the CIA to spy on the insurgency in Iraq, an example of how the U.S. has continued to cooperate with the Sudanese regime even while condemning its suspected role in the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur. President Bush has denounced the killings in Sudan's western region as genocide and has imposed sanctions on the government in Khartoum. But some critics say the administration has soft-pedaled the sanctions to preserve its extensive intelligence collaboration with Sudan. The relationship underscores the complex realities of the post-Sept. 11 world, in which the United States has relied heavily on intelligence and military cooperation from countries, including Sudan and Uzbekistan, that are considered pariah states for their records on human rights. Los Angeles Times: U.S. relies on Sudan despite condemning it
LIEBERMAN SAYS U.S. SHOULD CONSIDER MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAN: Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Sunday the U.S. should be prepared for a military strike against Iran, proclaiming that "we cannot let them get away" with training anti-U.S. forces for operations in Iraq. "I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Lieberman said. "And to me, that would include a strike... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers." Lieberman said the U.S. presented Iran with that evidence last month when the two nations opened diplomatic talks for the first time since 1979. According to Lieberman, who appeared on CBS' Face the Nation, if Iran does not respond to U.S. demands, military action is the logical recourse. The Hill: Lieberman: Iran strike should be considered
NEW DETAINEES ARRIVING AT GITMO: The Bush administration has transferred three suspected terrorists to the Guantanamo Bay prison since March, despite recent legal setbacks and President Bush's statement that he would like to close the controversial facility. The three detainees are the first to arrive in Guantanamo Bay since 2004, with the exception of those who were abruptly transferred last fall when Bush closed secret CIA prisons in Europe after their existence became known. Two of the recent transfers were captured in a sweeping counterterrorism operation in Somalia. The third is Iraqi. The lack of new arrivals - and the large number of detainees who were being sent home - had led many human rights advocates to believe the Guantanamo Bay prison was being phased out amid widespread international outrage. But now, new detainees are arriving and the flow of releases has slowed significantly - from 102 last year to 15 this year. Boston Globe: No signs of phaseout for Guantanamo
IS ETHICS REFORM STILL A TOP PRIORITY FOR DEM LEADERS? Keeping momentum on ethics reforms is proving tough for House Democratic leaders, who are struggling to sell lawmakers on a proposal for overhauling House ethics enforcement, which is part of the party's pledge to improve accountability in Congress. A week that began with the indictment of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) on bribery and racketeering charges ended on Friday with failure to forge Democratic consensus on plans for an independent ethics overseer, despite a sense of urgency among party leaders, lawmakers involved said. As envisioned, the independent, bipartisan ethics panel would, for the first time in a decade, give non-lawmakers an avenue for lodging ethics complaints against lawmakers. Washington Post: Democrats Lose Traction on Reforms
40+ STATES HAVE BUDGET SURPLUSES: State lawmakers across the country, their coffers unexpectedly full of cash, have been handing out tax cuts, spending money on fixing roads, schools and public buildings, and socking something away for less fruitful years. Budget surpluses have largely stemmed from higher than expected tax collections — corporate tax revenues alone were 11 percent higher than budget estimates — and booming local economies. There has also been some relief in Medicaid spending, which fell from an 11 percent annual growth rate to something closer to 7 percent in the past few years. More than 40 states have found themselves with more money than they planned as they wound down their regular sessions. New York Times: States Finding Fiscal Surprise: A Cash Surplus
"ONE VOTE '08" WILL TRY TO MAKE POVERTY A TOP ISSUE FOR CANDIDATES: The anti-poverty campaign of U2 frontman Bono is promoting a $30 million effort to pressure Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to make the oft-forgotten issue a priority. Dubbed ONE Vote '08, the bipartisan political push aims to get President Bush's successor to commit to taking concrete steps in the first 100 days to combat hunger and disease while improving access to education and water across the globe. "If we really are going to change the mind-set of our political leaders we've got to make sure that the next person who sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue understands the global health and global poverty emergencies," said Susan McCue, president and chief executive of ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History. Created in 2004 by rocker Bono, the ONE organization counts 2.5 million members from across the political spectrum and all 50 states. Until now, the focus has been on raising awareness of global poverty and encouraging activists to lobby Congress to devote more money to the cause. AP via Yahoo! News: ONE Vote to launch anti-poverty campaign
ROMNEY'S RUN "A PROUD SIGN OF PROGRESS AND A CAUSE OF TREPIDATION" FOR MORMONS: In this wide valley where the twin spires of the Mormon temple dominate the landscape and some neighborhoods have a Mormon chapel every few blocks, Mitt Romney's bid for president is both a proud sign of progress and a cause of trepidation. Many Mormons here are rooting for Mr. Romney, a fellow church member whose success in business, Adonis looks and wholesome family tableau seem to them to present the ideal face of Mormonism to the world. Among the Republican front-runners, Mr. Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, recently was the leader in campaign fund-raising; his candidacy is, for many Mormons, a historic moment of arrival... But even for the many Mormons who support Mr. Romney, the moment is fraught with anxiety because his candidacy is bringing intense scrutiny to their church, and could exacerbate longstanding bigotry. New York Times: Romney's Run Has Mormons Wary of Scrutiny
FRED THOMPSON "IN TALKS" ABOUT TAKING PART IN AMES STRAW POLL: The Iowa Republican Party, which raises more than $1 million through its presidential straw poll, could be rescued by former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), whose entrance into the nonbinding but potentially significant contest would more than replace the money the state GOP appeared to have lost when presidential frontrunners Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) announced last week that they would not participate. A decision by Thompson to compete in the straw poll would be good news for Iowa's Republican Congressional candidates, who rely on the party's resources and infrastructure every election cycle. Thompson is expected to formally get into the presidential race shortly. A well-placed Iowa Republican political operative said Friday that the Thompson campaign was in talks with state GOP officials about taking part in the straw poll, which is set for Aug. 11 on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames. Roll Call: Thompson May Help Iowa GOP Candidates
RICHARDSON PUSHES "TOTAL WITHDRAWAL" OF U.S. FORCES FROM IRAQ: Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson said Sunday he wanted a total withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq and that American troops are targets in a civil war. "I would leave no troops in Iraq whatsoever," Richardson said. "The difference between me and the other candidates is, they would leave troops there indefinitely, and I would not." He said a U.S. withdrawal should be used as leverage to promote a reconciliation conference of sectarian groups, an all-Muslim peacekeeping force and a donor conference to rebuild Iraq. Richardson says U.S. troops should be redeployed by the end of the year to Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. Other Democratic presidential candidates also advocate troop withdrawals but leave room for residual forces. The Bush administration envisions a decades-long U.S. presence in Iraq. AP via Yahoo! News: Richardson: I'd leave no troops in Iraq
EDWARDS, ON HIS BDAY, ASKS LOW-DOLLAR SUPPORTERS TO VOLUNTEER TIME: Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards used his Sunday birthday fundraiser – an event light on cash but heavy on voters – to urge his shallow-pocket supporters to donate their time to help mobilize his campaign. While most presidential campaign fundraisers feature thousand-dollar-a-plate meals, Edwards returned to his hometown roots with an event featuring backyard barbecue and pie. The entrance fee: $15. Campaign officials said more than 500 people attended. "If you want to see big, bold change in this country – your country needs you. It needs you badly," Edwards, who turned 54 on Sunday, told the crowd. "The great movements in the American history did not start in the Oval Office, they started out across America."... "We need you in this cause," Edwards said, pleading for volunteer time instead of donations at the fundraiser dubbed "Small Change for Big Change." AP via Yahoo! News: Edwards courts shallow-pocket voters
FLYNT'S AD HAS "YIELDED ABOUT 200 TIPS SO FAR": Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt told Yeas & Nays on Saturday that the newspaper ad he took out last week offering a million-dollar bounty for evidence of illicit sexual activity with lawmakers has yielded about 200 tips so far. He said he'll let them continue to trickle in over the next two weeks or so before his team begins to follow up on them. "We'll be lucky if we get 2 to 4 percent" hard leads that could yield a payout, he said. Flynt, bedecked in a monogrammed silk shirt, a diamond bracelet and multiple rings, said he fully expects to snare a big fish or two from the effort. When asked why he decided to go ahead with this now, he reminded us that he also did this for the first time way back in 1976 and likes to do so regularly to expose the hypocrisy of high-ranking officials (he did it again during President Clinton's impeachment in 1998). With an election coming up, Flynt thought the timing was right. DC Examiner: Flynt Says Scandal Bribe Yielding Tips
"WORRY ABOUT THAT MOB IN WASHINGTON" SAYS GOTTI WIDOW: Mob widow Victoria Gotti yesterday used the fifth anniversary of her infamous husband's death to make an impassioned plea for peace – in Iraq. "It's disgusting that people are still obsessed with Gotti and the mob," she said outside the Queens mausoleum where one-time Gambino crime boss John Gotti is entombed. "They should be obsessed with that mob in Washington," she continued. "They have 3,000 deaths on their hands. Worry about that mob in Washington." John Gotti died of cancer in federal prison five years ago yesterday, after the FBI finally brought him down. His widow wore a black dress, black sunglasses and a dark scowl – but instead of ripping into federal prosecutors, as she has in the past, she attacked the men at the top. New York Daily News: The real mob's in D.C.!
"TEAR DOWN THIS WALL" NEARLY EDITED OUT: Top administration officials said the speech was all wrong. Too provocative, said the National Security Council. Too tough, said the State Department. The president overruled his advisers and, as he rode through the streets of West Berlin on June 12, 1987, he told an aide that his speech at the Brandenburg Gate was simply "the right thing to do." Addressing a crowd of thousands as he stood before the Berlin Wall - the world's most notorious symbol of Soviet tyranny - President Reagan declared: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Washington Times: Reagan's famous line nearly clipped from Berlin speech