NEW YORK (CNN) - Federal prosecutors have charged Democratic fund-raiser Norman Hsu with breaking campaign finance laws and creating a $60 million Ponzi scheme.
Federal prosecutors announced the criminal complaint Thursday at a press conference in Manhattan.
Hsu has raised money for several Democratic candidates, but most substantially for Sen. Hillary Clinton's, D-New York, presidential bid. Clinton's campaign has said it will return the $850,000 Hsu raised to the individual contributors.
Clinton told CNN's Jessica Yellin Thursday she is not worried Hsu's charge will have a negative affect on her campaign.
"Unfortunately none of us caught the problem that were there," she said. "This happened to a lot of campaigns, a lot of investors who made investments that unfortunately don't look like they were treated appropriately. The system of justice will work its course, and I think that's appropriate."
Clinton voted against a Senate measure Thursday that condemns MoveOn.org.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate overwhelmingly voted to formally condemn the liberal organization MoveOn.org Thursday for its recent publication of an ad questioning the credibility of the top commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus.
Twenty Democrats joined the Republicans in the 72-25 vote that officially repudiates the group's ad. Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, also voted for the measure, sponsored by Texas Republican John Cornyn. (Related: Bush: MoveOn.org ad on Petraeus 'disgusting')
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, who has been criticized by several Republican presidential rivals for not formally distancing herself from the organization, voted against the measure.
As for the other 2008 Senate Democratic hopefuls, Chris Dodd of Connecticut voted against the measure while Barack Obama ofIllinois and Joe Biden of Delaware did not vote.
Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan issued a statement highly critical of both Clinton and Obama shortly after the votes were cast.
“Senators Clinton and Obama need to decide whether they’re running for America, or running for MoveOn.org," he said. "If Clinton and Obama cannot bring themselves to take a stand against a vicious attack on the man leading our forces in Iraq, why should American voters believe they are capable of demonstrating the leadership we need in a Commander in Chief?”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was also highly critical of Clinton, saying in a statement her vote raises questions over whether she would be a "credible commander-in-chief."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister campaigning for president here Wednesday, cast doubt on the effectiveness of condom use in combating AIDS in Africa.
Asked by CNN if he would direct U.S. funds to health programs that provide condoms in Africa, Huckabee demurred.
"I’d want to see how that’s used ... I've been a little reluctant to think that condoms alone are the most effective way,” Huckabee said. “It certainly is more effective than not having them. But I think helping people understand that condoms do have a failure rate, and they are not totally 100 percent successful. And it gives some people a false sense of security thinking that they can still live dangerously and recklessly and that that’s going to be a fail safe protection when it obviously is not.”
Huckabee made the comments after speaking to a group of about 70 supporters at a restaurant in Columbia where the former Arkansas governor emphasized his consistent position on social issues.
“You’re not going to go to the Internet and find some YouTube moment of me saying something dramatically different,” he said in what appeared to be a subtle dig at one of his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney has come under fire for his past position on abortion.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's beginning to get ugly between the two New Yorkers running for president.
A top surrogate to Sen. Hillary Clinton's, D-New York, White House bid, slammed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a television interview Wednesday night, saying "there's a lot that the rest of the country is going to get to know" about the Republican presidential frontrunner.
"I can't even get into the number of marriages and the fact that his children - the relationship he has with his children - and what kind of circumstances New York was in before Sept. 11," former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who briefly mounted a presidential bid himself earlier in the year before backing Clinton, told New York 1.
"There are lot of issues involving Mayor Giuliani . . . He's got a very interesting past," Vilsack added.
Meanwhile, Giuliani has been sharply critical of Clinton in recent days after she told the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that his assessment required "a willing suspension of disbelief," and for her refusal to formally condemn MoveOn.org after it published an ad in the New York Times attacking Petraeus' credibility.
Responding to Vilsack's comments, Giuliani's campaign said, "Gov. Vilsack is right. The rest of the country is going to get to know what New Yorkers already do - Rudy Giuliani tackled the impossible and turned around the City – cutting taxes, reducing crime and moving people off welfare and into work."
UPDATE: Asked by CNN's Jessica Yellin Thursday if Vilsack's comments were appropriate, Clinton said, "I'm not engaging in any of that. I'm focused on my campaign"
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush on Thursday slammed last week's advertisement from an anti-war group that criticized the top military commander in Iraq and upbraided Democrats, saying they were skittish about criticizing the group.
Bush, at a press conference at the White House, was asked about his reaction to MoveOn.org's ad in The New York Times that "mocked" Gen. David Petraeus as Gen. "Betray Us."
The president called the advertisement "disgusting." The group and other war critics have accused Petraeus and the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" to make it seem that military success is being achieved in Iraq.
Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, in reports to Congress last week, said they believe the U.S. troop increase, or "surge," has had successes, an assertion questioned by war critics.
Clinton referred to Cheney as 'Darth Vader' Wednesday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – She has been sharply critical of Vice President Dick Cheney in the past, but Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton took it up a notch Wednesday night, calling the president's No. 2 "Darth Vader."
The New York Democrat referred to Cheney as the infamous Star Wars villain at a New York fundraiser when she described his efforts to keep Republican senators behind the Iraq war.
"Vice President Cheney came up to see the Republicans yesterday," Clinton said at the fundraiser. "You can always tell when the Republicans are getting restless, because the Vice President’s motorcade pulls into the Capitol, and Darth Vader emerges."
The crowd erupted in laughter.
"I’m not invited to their meetings and I don’t know what he says or does," she added. "But all the brave talk about bringing our troops home, and setting deadlines, and getting out by a certain date just dissipated."
The comments came during an informal talk on stage with former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and retired Gen. Wesley Clark, both supporters of Clinton.
But this isn't the first time the vice president has been likened to Darth Vader. Cheney actually made the comparison himself in an interview with CNN's John King in June of 2006.
"I suppose people sometimes look at my demeanor and say, well, he's the Darth Vader of the administration," he said then.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, left, appears with President Bush at the White House on Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush announced Thursday that Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will resign his post. Johanns is expected to seek an open seat in the U.S. Senate from his home state of Nebraska.
"Mike came by the White House here a couple of days ago and he asked for my advice," Bush said. "During the discussion, he told me that he was interested in continuing to serve America, just in a different role."
Johanns made no announcement about what that role might be. (Related: Agriculture Secretary to step down to make Senate run)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Supporters of Sen. Barack Obama have always been mobilized in raising money online, but can they use the Web to energize voters in Hillary Clinton’s backyard?
Watch CNN’s Abbi Tatton examine the Democratic presidential candidate’s latest effort to promote a massive rally in the heart of New York City by putting his supporters to work.
- CNN Internet Producer Eric Weisbrod
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich, Lindsey Pope and Mark Preston
CNN Washington Bureau
Making News Today…
* Most of the Democratic candidates travel to Davenport, Iowa, tonight to participate in yet another presidential forum – this one hosted by AARP and Iowa Public Television. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will all take the stage. Notably absent will be Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is cutting back his appearances at these types of events. Also missing will be Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who has no real campaign infrastructure in the state. The questions in this forum will focus on “health care and financial security,” according to organizers.
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani returns home from a quick trip “across the pond” and will hold a media availability in Reston, Virginia. CNN National Correspondent John King interviewed Giuliani in London – read/watch the interview
* After weeks of bad news: the arrest of Idaho Sen. Larry Craig in a men’s restroom sex sting operation, Virginia Sen. John Warner’s decision to retire, former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen’s decision to challenge New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel’s announcement that he, too, would be retiring, Senate Republicans will finally get some welcome news. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will announce today he is stepping down to run for Hagel’s seat. Johanns is a popular former governor and it is unclear if his entry into the race might discourage former Sen. Bob Kerrey from making a political comeback. Kerrey is president of The New School in New York City. A Nebraska Democratic operative tells CNN Political Editor Mark Preston that Johanns entry into the race will not influence Kerrey’s decision. "Bob Kerry marches to the beat of his own drummer,” said the operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Nobody influences Bob, but Bob."
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ "VIRTUALLY" IMMUNE FROM AMERICAN, IRAQI LAW: The shooting incident involving private security guards in Baghdad on Sunday that left at least eight Iraqis dead has revealed large gaps in the laws applying to such armed contractors. New York Times: Armed Guards in Iraq Occupy a Legal Limbo
GATES NO NEOCON: It's probably too much to say that the foreign-policy realists are running the Bush Administration, but there's definitely one running the Defense Department. Chicago Tribune's The Swamp: Defense Secretary Gates's Non Rosy Scenarios
LESSONS FROM TERRORIST TRIAL TO AID AG PICK: On Jan. 17, 1996, after a nine-month terrorism trial and a rambling 100-minute lecture from a blind sheik found guilty of conspiring to wage war against the United States, Judge Michael B. Mukasey had had enough. NY Times: Big Terror Trial Shaped Views of Justice Pick
LEAHY: "CASTING ASIDE THE TIME-HONORED PROTECTION OF HABEAS CORPUS MAKES US MORE VULNERABLE AS A NATION": Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked an effort to give terrorism detainees the right to appeal their detention to federal courts, rejecting complaints that a new law denying that option ran against the nation’s principles. NY Times: Senate Blocks Detainees’ Rights Bill
ASTRONAUT DIAPERS AS SWAG: Groups lobbying Congress often hand out swag, be it a personalized coffee mug or T-shirt, supporting their cause. But the Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights has topped HOH’s list of the most creative souvenirs to get its point across — astronaut diapers, which the coalition cleverly labeled, so as not to be confused with something else. Roll Call's heard on the Hill: Also a Flotation Device?
VOTING MACHINE DISPUTES WILL DELAY SF RESULTS: San Francisco's election night will end early on Nov. 6, but thanks to a new ruling by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, it could be weeks before voters know who won. San Francisco Chronicle: S.F. Election Outcome Won't Be Won for Weeks
IMMIGRATION REFORM TOPS DEMS '08 AGENDA: Leading Democratic presidential candidates are signaling that they will return to the thorny issue of immigration reform faster than their party colleagues on Capitol Hill would like. The Hill: '08 Dems Push Immigration
WAVE OF GOP RETIREES CONTINUES: As Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) announced his retirement from the House on Monday, his candid acknowledgement that he is among a “dying breed” of GOP moderates in the chamber surely reverberated throughout the ranks of his party leaders and fellow centrists. Roll Call: More GOP Moderates Looking for Exit
DEMS BREAK THE BANK WITH 'O8 INITITIVES: The 2008 Democratic presidential candidates are promising voters billions of dollars in new government spending, paid for in part by "rolling back" the Bush tax cuts. Washington Times: Democrats Can't Afford '08 Promises
THOMPSON TAKES AIM AT CLINTON'S HEALTH CARE PLAN: Fred Thompson lashed out at Hillary Rodham Clinton's proposed government-mandated health-care plan yesterday, calling it "scary enough to make you sick." New York Post: Fred Hits "Scary" Hillcare
CHENEY'S STAR WARS CHARICATURE: "Vice President Cheney came up to see the Republicans yesterday. You can always tell when the Republicans are getting restless, because the Vice President’s motorcade pulls into the Capitol, and Darth Vader emerges," Hillary Clinton said just now at a $100-a-head fundraiser at Town Hall near New York's Times Square, referring to Cheney's efforts shore up Republican congressional support for the Iraq war. Politico: Darth Cheney
CLINTON NOT ALONE IN RECEIVING CASH FROM SHADY SOURCES: A list of the donors who have "bundled" large sums from dozens of individuals to give to Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign includes several figures who were involved in the 1990s Democratic Party fundraising scandal that tarnished her husband's record. Washington Post: Past Clouds Candidates' Donor List
CBC "DIVISIVE" OVER '08 ENDORSEMENT: Black members of Congress supporting Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) presidential bid are grumbling that leaders of the officially neutral Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are trying to help Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). The Hill: CBC'S Event for Clinton Prompts Grumbles
SOME SAY CALIFORNIA'S BLACK LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS MADE A "HASTY" DECISION IN OBAMA: Just a week after the Legislature's black caucus announced – with fanfare – its endorsement of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president as "the only candidate that can unite people to get things done," two high-profile African American legislators have split publicly with their colleagues to back Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic presidential contest. San Francisco Chronicle: Obama Endorsement Splits California Black Legislative Caucus
OBAMA "DREAMING" IN IOWA: The room covered with gorgeous woodwork that serves as the setting for Sen. Barack Obama's new 60-second television commercial debuting in Iowa today…The ad, called "Believe," is the first where the Illinois Democrat speaks directly to the camera as he tries to sell himself as a Washington outsider. Chicago Tribune's The Swamp: New Obama Ad Debutes in Iowa
OBAMA'S JENA OPPORTUNITY: Senator Obama's presidential ambitions may rest on how he responds to the trials in Jena, La., of six schoolboys accused of attempted murder in a case that has become a test of whether racialism still stalks the Southern states. New York Sun: Obama Hopes Could Rest on Jena Case
JACKSON SAYS OBAMA REMARKS TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT: Jesse Jackson was quoted as saying Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was "acting like he's white" for not speaking out more forcefully about a racially charged schoolyard beating in Louisiana… Jackson later told the newspaper he did not remember making the "acting like he's white" comment about Obama, who is black. AP via DC Examiner: Jackson Disputes Report on Obama Comment
"I'M PROBABLY ONE OF THE FOUR OR FIVE BEST KNOWN AMERICANS IN THE WORLD": Rudy Giuliani went on the trans-Atlantic campaign trail Wednesday, schmoozing with conservative idol Margaret Thatcher and bragging about his international credentials. USA Today: Guiliani: I'm One of the "Best Known Americans"
GIULIANI WANTS SUPPORT FROM GROUP HE ONCE FOUGHT: Rudolph W. Giuliani will go before the rank and file of the National Rifle Association on Friday, seeking support for his Republican presidential campaign from a group he once likened to "extremists" for its efforts to repeal the ban on assault weapons. Washington Post: Giuliani Seeking Support from NRA
GIULIANI GOES INTERNATIONAL: Rudy Giuliani scored a coup in his White House campaign yesterday by meeting Gordon Brown at No 10, conferring with Tony Blair, receiving an award from Baroness Thatcher and wrapping himself in the legacy of Winston Churchill. The Daily Telegraph: Rudy Giuliani campaigns With Brown and Blair
CONGRESSMAN SAYS THERE ARE "TOO MANY MOSQUES IN THIS COUNTRY": New York Rep. Peter King, a prominent House Republican, said there are “too many mosques in this country” in a recent interview with Politico. “There are too many people sympathetic to radical Islam,” King said. Politico: rep. Peter King: There are "too many mosques in this country"
“I DON’T THINK MY FOREIGN POLICY HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH MY FAITH”: The next president of the United States could be a Mormon whose faith requires him to believe that Jesus visited America after the Resurrection and will return one day to rule the world from Jackson County, Missouri. However, Mitt Romney insists that, in the meantime, that would not affect how he leads the free world. The Times of London: Mitt Romney- The Mormon Challenger Who Hopes "to do a JFK" in Quest for Presidency
ROMNEY POINTS OUT GOP FLAWS IN NEW AD: Recognizing political change as the hot new commodity, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is launching a television ad this week in New Hampshire and Iowa casting himself as the Republican best able to reclaim a wayward party and lead it in a new direction. AP via CNN.com: Republican Romney Ad Criticizes His Party and Calls for Change
EDUCATION SECRETARY ROCKS IN CLEVELAND: Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings earned major cool points Wednesday when she showed up at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of her ongoing Midwest bus tour. And she even sang. Spellings sang the chorus to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed. Sealed. Delivered. I’m Yours,” and a group of students analyzed the voice vibrations as a science lesson. DC Examiner's Yeas and Nays: Spellings Is Rocking
On the Political Radar:
* Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Bill Richardson participate in a "Divided We Fail" forum sponsored by AARP and Iowa Public Television in Davenport, Iowa.
* Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson talks about Iran at a press availability at Love Field in Dallas, Texas.
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani holds a press availability at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds a media availability at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford, Michigan.
* Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee campaigns in South Carolina, with morning stops at a pancake house in Lexington and an editorial board meeting with The State newspaper in Columbia. In the afternoon, he gives speeches to Greenville County Republican Women and the Palmetto Family Council.
* Sen. Sam Brownback tours the South Carolina Citizens for Life Headquarters and participates in the Palmetto Family Council Stump Meeting and Straw Poll in Columbia, South Carolina.
* Former President Bill Clinton is a guest on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He also is honored at the "VH1 Save The Music Foundation 10th Anniversary Gala Presented By LG Mobile Phones" in New York City.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook