Former White House Political Director Sara Taylor.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Both Judiciary Committees were issuing subpoenas Wednesday for former White House employees as the congressional probe into last year's firings of eight U.S. attorneys were ratcheted to a new level, multiple congressional sources told CNN Wednesday.
They are the first subpoenas issued since the U.S. Justice Department dismissed the lawyers - all but one in December.
More Justice documents also were being subpoenaed Wednesday.
The Senate panel, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, was issuing a subpoena to Sara Taylor, former White House political director and a key deputy to Karl Rove, the top political adviser to President Bush. She resigned a few weeks ago.
The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, was subpoenaing former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
The committees have tried, with no success, to get Rove to testify at the hearings on the investigation.
A statement issued by White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "We are aware of the judiciary committees' plans to issue subpoenas. We will respond appropriately. The committees can easily obtain the facts they want without a confrontation by simply accepting our offer for documents and interviews. But it's clear that Senator Leahy and Rep. Conyers are more interested in drama than facts."
– CNN's Dana Bash and Ted Barrett
WASHINGTON (CNN) - On the heels of a Sen. Bob Menendez's endorsement of Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, CNN's Mary Snow takes a look at the importance of the Latino vote this election cycle and how the campaigns are vying for it.
(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama parted with some of his nicotine gum at a Los Angeles campaign stop Tuesday to help a man having trouble kicking the habit.
At a gas station where the Illinois Democrat discussed his plan for a low carbon fuel standard, a man asked if he still smoked cigarettes.
Obama, who has said he quit smoking before his presidential campaign under pressure from his wife, replied, “I do not.”
When the man asked how Obama was able to quit, the Democratic presidential hopeful said, “Nicorette. You want one?”
With that, Obama grabbed his own pack and tossed the man two pieces, saying, “Here, try one out.”
To laughter, Obama added, “That’s two milligrams. I only had like three or four cigarettes a day when I smoked. If you’re a heavier smoker, you may need the four milligram. It’s not bad, though. It works.”
– CNN Political Desk Manager Steve Brusk
Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* "President Bush, once able to easily corral GOP lawmakers to get what he wanted on Capitol Hill, found himself in an unusual role yesterday: scrounging for votes from members of his own party." (Boston Globe)
"In an effort to revive a crippled immigration bill, President Bush visited the Capitol on Tuesday to try to assure wary Senate Republicans personally that border security was a driving force behind his push for changes in immigration law." (New York Times)
"Although senators described the meeting as cordial, even jovial, they also said the president's efforts to rally GOP support did not win any converts." (Washington Post)
* Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said yesterday that "the Senate will face another round of votes on the Iraq war before the July Fourth recess, a strategy intended to show that Democrats are not giving up on efforts to bring troops home." (AP)
* Fred Thompson did not make any Schwarzenegger-esque announcements last night on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," but he spoke about testing the waters – "they're warm" – and said POTUS is a job he'd like:
LENO: Would you like the job of president of the United States?
THOMPSON: I've never craved the job of president, but I want to do some things that only a president can do. So the answer's yes.
* However, Thompson's "ride is starting to get a bit bumpy" thanks to oppo research, The Politico reports. What "soft spots in his conservative bona fides" are his rivals digging up? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* The president makes remarks via satellite to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at 11:45 am ET from the Map Room.
At 1 pm ET, Bush participates in a presentation of the Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy in the Oval Office.
Tonight, Bush speaks at the 2007 President's Dinner at the Washington Convention Center a 7:15 pm ET.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Mike Huckabee takes a 9:30 am ET tour of Advanced Analytical Technology in Ames, IA, and tours Erickson Machine Tools at 10:50 am ET in Story City, IA. This afternoon, Huckabee hosts the grand opening of his exploratory committee's IA HQ in Des Moines at 1 pm ET.
* Michelle Obama participates in a 12 pm ET "Women for Obama" event at the Cambridge Community Center in Las Vegas, NV.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) fundraises in CA. He holds a 2:30 pm ET presser in Los Angeles.
* Bill Richardson kicks off a busy afternoon of fundraising and meetings in Las Vegas with a 4 pm ET education rally at Reynaldo Martinez Elementary School.
* John Edwards holds a 6:15 pm ET "Small Change for Big Change" event at BB's Bar and Restaurant in Chicago.
* Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) appears on "The Colbert Report."
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
REID ANNOUNCES MORE IRAQ VOTES BEFORE JULY 4 RECESS: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday the Senate will face another round of votes on the Iraq war before the July Fourth recess, a strategy intended to show that Democrats are not giving up on efforts to bring troops home. While the measures are unlikely to pass, the announcement comes as party leaders are under fire by many liberal supporters for passing legislation that funds the war through September. "We're going to hold the president's feet to the fire," Reid, D-Nev., told reporters after emerging from a closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats. Under Reid's plan, the Senate will cast separate votes on whether to cut off funding for combat next year, order troop withdrawals within four months, impose stricter standards on the length of combat tours and rescind congressional authorization for the Iraqi invasion. The measures likely will be offered as amendments to the 2008 defense authorization bill, a measure that approves $649 billion in military spending. AP via Yahoo! News: Senate Dems plan new round of Iraq votes
IRAQ'S ARMY NEEDS AT LEAST 20,000 MORE TROOPS, SAYS U.S. COMMANDER: A senior U.S. military commander said yesterday that Iraq's army must expand its rolls by at least 20,000 more soldiers than Washington had anticipated, to help free U.S. troops from conducting daily patrols, checkpoints and other critical yet dangerous missions. Even then, Iraq will remain incapable of taking full responsibility for its security for many years - five years in the case of protecting its airspace - and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently led the U.S. military's training effort in Iraq. Washington Post: Big Boost In Iraqi Forces Is Urged
"DEADLOCK" IN IRAQI PARLIAMENT: Iraq's political leaders have failed to reach agreements on nearly every law that the Americans have demanded as benchmarks, despite heavy pressure from Congress, the White House and top military commanders. With only three months until progress reports are due in Washington, the deadlock has reached a point where many Iraqi and American officials now question whether any substantive laws will pass before the end of the year. Kurds have blocked a vote in Parliament on a new oil law. Shiite clerics have stymied an American-backed plan for reintegrating former Baathists into government. Sunnis are demanding that a constitutional review include more power for the next president. And even if one or two of the proposals are approved — the oil law appears the most likely, officials said — doubts are spreading about whether the current benchmarks can ever halt the cycle of violence gripping Iraq's communities. New York Times: Iraqis Are Failing to Meet U.S. Benchmarks
PRESIDENT BUSH "SCROUNGING FOR VOTES" ON IMMIGRATION BILL: President Bush, once able to easily corral GOP lawmakers to get what he wanted on Capitol Hill, found himself in an unusual role yesterday: scrounging for votes from members of his own party. Accompanied by Vice President Dick Cheney, the president made a rare visit to the US Capitol, hoping to persuade skeptical Republicans to resurrect an immigration overhaul package that many in his party have criticized as an "amnesty" bill for illegal immigrants. Bush was warmly received at a luncheon meeting - his first with Senate Republicans in five years, senators said - and tried to address conservatives' concerns that the bill is weak on border security. Boston Globe: Bush presses GOP on immigration bill
LAT/BLOOMBERG: MOST AMERICANS BACK IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION: Most Americans back a guest-worker program and a proposal allowing illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens that were part of legislation the Senate shelved last week after it failed to gain sufficient support. A new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll shows that at least a plurality of Americans favors the two most contentious provisions of the bill, the proposal to offer 12 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and the program for temporary workers. Of a third provision - a point system for immigrants based on professional qualifications - many say they don't have enough information to have an opinion. Moreover, most of those surveyed appear to reject one of the central arguments deployed by the bill's opponents: The poll finds that less than a third of all respondents, including Republicans, believe illegal immigrants take jobs away from Americans who need them. Bloomberg: Most Americans Back Stalled Senate Immigration Bill, Poll Shows
SENATE TO DEBATE RAISING FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS: The Senate is weighing the first major increase in federal fuel economy standards since Congress first responded to the oil crisis of the 1970s, part of a new energy bill that Democratic leaders hope to pass in the next few weeks. The measure would raise fleetwide fuel economy standards by 35 miles per gallon by 2020, up from the 25 miles per gallon average now for cars and trucks. The standards would rise an additional 4 miles per gallon every year until 2030. But lawmakers must first overcome stiff resistance from U.S. automakers, who claim the new standards are impossible to meet and could cripple an already ailing industry. Michigan lawmakers plan to offer amendments to weaken or kill the new fuel efficiency standards. San Francisco Chronicle: Major increase in fuel standards in the works
MIERS, ROVE AIDES "DEEPLY ENMESHED" IN ATTORNEYS RESPONSE: Several high-ranking White House officials were closely involved in crafting a public response to the uproar over the firing of a group of U.S. attorneys, according to documents released late yesterday. Then-White House counsel Harriet E. Miers and aides to presidential adviser Karl Rove were deeply enmeshed in debates over how to respond to the controversy as early as mid-January, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questioned the spate of prosecutor departures in a Senate floor speech, according to e-mails that the Justice Department turned over to the House and Senate judiciary committees. The e-mails are the latest documents to surface among the thousands of pages provided to Congress in last year's firing of nine U.S. attorneys. Washington Post: Bush Aides Helped Respond to Firings, E-Mails Show
COLEMAN MAY SEE PRIMARY CHALLENGE FROM FORMER ADVISER: An Iraq war veteran and former adviser to Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) yesterday said he is considering a primary challenge against the lawmaker in 2008. Retired Lt. Col. Joe Repya (R) lost a race for the state Republican Party chairmanship last week, after which speculation began to percolate that he would challenge Coleman. Yesterday, in a statement, Repya confirmed that he is mulling a run. He said he will travel around the state and talk to people about the viability of a bid during the next two months. "I've received numerous calls and have been approached by a number of people who have asked me to consider running against Norm Coleman for U.S. Senate," Repya said. "I am making no decisions at this time. I am going take 30 to 60 days to decide what my political future is going to be." The Hill: Coleman faces challenge from his former adviser
OVERSEAS VOTERS "UNCERTAIN" THEIR BALLOT WILL BE COUNTED: Over the last six years, the Defense Department has spent more than $30 million trying to find an efficient way for American soldiers and civilians living abroad to vote in elections back home. But with the presidential primaries approaching, the Pentagon's system, which is Web-based, remains slow, confusing and plagued with security and privacy problems. And that has left many of the five million Americans overseas uncertain that their vote will be counted. Fewer than 20 local election officials in the United States have said they want to use the military's Web system in the coming election. Just 63 voters used it in the 2006 election to request and return ballots over the Internet, according to a Defense Department study. New York Times: Casting Ballot From Abroad Is No Sure Bet
OBAMA Q2 $$$ VICTORY "WOULD MEAN NOTHING TO MY CAMPAIGN," SAYS CLINTON: Senator Clinton insists she is not worried about the fund-raising prowess of her chief Democratic rival, Senator Obama, but a recent flurry of campaign activity suggests she is leaving nothing to chance. On a day when her campaign was touting the endorsement of a prominent Hispanic senator, making a new appeal for cash, and rallying support among women of color, Mrs. Clinton downplayed the potential impact of an Obama victory in the next round of fund raising. "It would mean nothing to my campaign. Nothing at all," Mrs. Clinton declared to reporters yesterday after announcing the endorsement of Senator Menendez of New Jersey. The former first lady had started to leave the event, but she stepped back to the microphone to answer a question about Mr. Obama's fund raising. New York Sun: Clinton Is Taking No Chances on Fund Raising
MENENDEZ ENDORSES CLINTON, WILL CO-CHAIR CAMPAIGN: Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Tuesday that New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez will serve as co-chair of her presidential campaign, providing her with a strong link to the Hispanic community. In a joint news conference, the New York senator said she appreciates Menendez' support and called him "the embodiment of the American dream." "The support of Latino Americans is especially important to me because these days require us to bring our country together," Clinton said. Menendez, a Cuban-American and former member of the House leadership, was appointed in December 2005 to fill the Senate seat of Gov.-elect Jon Corzine. Menendez was re-elected in 2006, defeating Thomas Kean, Jr., the son of the former Republican governor, in a hard-fought and expensive race. AP via Yahoo! News: Menendez to co-chair Clinton campaign
OBAMA BACKS OFF PLAN TO PUSH COAL AS ALTERNATIVE FUEL: With pressure mounting on Democratic presidential candidates to adopt hard-line positions on curbing global warming, Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday backtracked from his long-held support for a controversial plan to promote the use of coal as an alternative fuel to power motor vehicles. The Illinois Democrat made his announcement with little fanfare — in a dryly worded and technical-sounding e-mail sent late in the day from his Senate office to environmental advocacy groups — and did not mention the issue during an appearance at a Brentwood gas station designed to shore up his green bona fides with a renewed call to nationalize California's ambitious goals for reducing carbon levels in fuel. Los Angeles Times: Obama yields to a greener side
FRED THOMPSON'S "RIDE IS STARTING TO GET A BIT BUMPY": Fred Thompson has had a relatively easy ride as he has flirted with a bid for the Republican presidential nomination. His strategists have found traction promoting him as the heir to Ronald Reagan - and a conservative alternative to the top tier of the GOP field. But the ride is starting to get a bit bumpy. Opponents and their researchers have begun working - mostly behind the scenes - to highlight perceived soft spots in his conservative bona fides. And Thompson will have to neutralize questions on the campaign trail and in the media about his centrist votes in the Senate, his stances on litmus test conservative issues including abortion and - perhaps most significantly - his work as a lawyer and lobbyist. The Politico: Rivals try to deflate F. Thompson campaign
"SIGNS OF UNRAVELING" IN McCAIN CAMP? Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is showing signs of unraveling, with a continuing slide in the polls, voters' irritation over his support of what they called amnesty for illegal aliens and his decision to pull out of the Iowa straw poll. Party fundraisers say potential McCain donors are hanging back while Republican voters register rage over the Arizona senator's backing of the immigration reform bill, which was sidetracked in the Senate last week. The fundraisers say the party's base remains annoyed with Mr. McCain's refusal to say the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law was a mistake that hurt free speech and helped wealthy Democratic donors and that his initial opposition to President Bush's tax cuts was meant to endear him to independents and Democrats. Washington Times: McCain '08 bid losing steam
ROMNEY SPENDING BIG BUCKS ON EARLY ADS: Mitt Romney has stepped up what is already the costliest early advertising push in a presidential campaign, an effort that his advisers and several media experts credit with helping vault him to the lead in the Republican field in some recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has spent some $4 million on television advertising since February, focusing mostly on Iowa and New Hampshire, crucial early voting states, according to industry estimates and tracking by an opposing campaign. That heavy spending comes even though the first nominating contests are at least six months away. He increased his advertising in a huge way last month, spending more than $2 million, much of it on national cable advertisements. This month, he added a run of television commercials in South Carolina, another early primary. New York Times: Romney Steps Up Advertising Push
GIULIANI UNVEILS 12-POINT PLAN; EXPANDING MILITARY #1 PRIORITY: Rudy Giuliani yesterday promised to make the war on terror, a larger military, and illegal immigration among his top priorities if he is elected President. "We're going to lay out a mission of doing what other people think are impossible," Giuliani said. "I love that. I love doing what people think are impossible. Nothing energizes people more than doing the impossible." Speaking at the Old Town Hall, Giuliani unveiled a 12-point agenda for his Presidency, contrasting his optimism and focus on the future with what he called the defeatism and despair of Democratic Presidential candidates he said want to bring the country back to the higher taxes and lower military spending that characterized the Clinton Presidency. New Hampshire Union Leader: Giuliani vows war on terror, larger military will top list