WASHINGTON (CNN) - Embattled State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard announced his resignation Friday, a department spokesman said.
"We thank him for his dedication to public service and wish him well in his future endeavors," said Gonzo Gallegos, director the State Department's office of press relations.
Krongard came under scrutiny over his handling of investigations into State Department contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, led by California Democrat Henry Waxman, is investigating allegations that Krongard interfered with investigations and blocked fraud probes.
Waxman said that Krongard's oversight of construction of the nearly $600 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad - which remains unfinished - was conducted with "reckless incompetence," and that he refused to pursue allegations of fraud and labor trafficking by contractor First Kuwaiti.
The Waxman committee also said Krongard's office had threatened staff members with dismissal if they cooperated with congressional investigators, which Krongard denied.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ducked out of a press conference on the economy Friday after learning her daughter Alexandra had gone into labor, her office tells CNN.
The California Democrat is headed to New York City for the birth. The new arrival - reportedly a boy - will be Pelosi's seventh grandchild, and Alexandra's second child.
–CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Yellin
Huckabee is in second place in several national polls.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mike Huckabee has jumped into second place nationally in the Republican race for the White House, according to a new poll out Friday - the third national survey this week to indicate the former Arkansas governor's surge is not limited to Iowa.
Huckabee registers support from 18 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters in a new AP/Ipsos poll, a number that puts him 6 points behind former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Arizona Sen. John McCain is in a close third with 13 percent - virtually tied with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at 12 percent and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson at 11 percent.
Huckabee's rise nationally seems to have hurt Thompson the most. A similar survey a month ago had the Tennessee Republican at 19 percent - 8 points higher than his current position.
Huckabee's rise nationally follows his success in the crucial early-voting state of Iowa, where Christian conservatives make up a significant proportion of the state's Republican voters. The onetime Southern Baptist minister has made his conservative stances on social issues a centerpiece of his dark horse campaign and is now virtually tied with Romney there.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Rockefeller told reporters he will likely hold hearings about the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller told reporters Friday that he is “inclined” to hold hearings as soon as next week on news of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes.
The revelation this week that the intelligence agency had destroyed 2002 video recordings of the interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects that may have involved the controversial “waterboarding” technique of terror suspects drew criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Rockefeller, who was ranking Democrat at the time, did not attend initial briefing on the tapes, held shortly after they were made, but said he learned about the tapes’ existence shortly afterwards. “[The CIA] destroyed it without letting us know, without asking our permission, without consulting, without informing us in any way,” he added. “They just did what the CIA likes to do.”
Said Rockefeller, “I’ll tell you I’m really sick of this. I’m really angry about it. It’s the manipulation of the Congress.
“The use of two people out of the Senate, two people out of the House, because nobody else can be told and they say… ‘oh! They’re briefed.”
(CNN) - The original 18,000-seat arena turned out not to be big enough. So, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign is now holding a South Carolina campaign event featuring media superstar Oprah Winfrey in an 80,000-seat football stadium. But, with all the interest in Oprah, could she overshadow the Democratic presidential hopeful she is trying to help?
In today's Race to '08 audio podcast, CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley talks with CNN Radio's John Lisk about Obama's upcoming campaign events featuring Winfrey.
Bill Richardson meets with Iowa voters.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Most Democratic voters in the early nominating states have been bombarded with phone calls and home visits from the presidential campaigns, according to a Pew Research Center Poll released Friday.
In Iowa, 65 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers said they have received personal phone calls from campaigns and 33 percent said campaign volunteers have visited their homes. The campaigns are almost as active in New Hampshire, with 56 percent saying they have been called by a campaign, and 30 percent saying they have received home visits.
The Republican campaigns have not been as active in either state, according to the poll. In Iowa, 46 percent said they received personal calls and 8 percent said they were visited at home. In New Hampshire, 45 percent said they had been called from the campaigns and 15 percent said they had been visited at home.
But both parties have been inundating potential voters with robo-calls. About 80 percent of likely Iowa caucus-goers in both parties said they have gotten prerecorded calls from the campaigns. In New Hampshire, 67 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans said they have received them.
The Iowa poll included 2,111 registered voters and the margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. The New Hampshire poll surveyed 1,300 registered voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Obama and Bill Clinton are competing for a Grammy.
Both the Illinois Democrat and former President Clinton were nominated for a Grammy Thursday in the spoken word album category.
Clinton's telling of "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World" is up against Obama's "The Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming The American Dream."
Another famous politician is also in the race: former President Jimmy Carter got a nod for "Sunday Mornings in Plains: Bringing Peace to a Changing World."
All three have been successful in the same category before. Carter won last year for his book "America's Moral Crisis," while Obama won in 2006 for "Dreams from My Father." Clinton won in 2004 for his autobiography, "My Life."
Hillary Clinton has also won the award: she took home a Grammy in 1997 for her reading of her book "It Takes a Village."
Two non-politicians are also up for this year's award - poet Maya Angelou for "Celebrations," and actor Alan Alda for "Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself."
The awards are set to be handed out February 10, five days after Super Tuesday.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An effort to require better mileage from U.S. cars and trucks failed in its bid for a full Senate vote Friday morning, 53 to 42.
Opponents of the measure, which passed the House Thursday, had threatened to filibuster the bill, and its supporters could not muster the 60 votes required to bring it to a full vote.
The bill, which was opposed by President Bush, would have ended some tax loopholes for the oil industry and used those funds to extend tax credits for renewable energy sources.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, had said earlier that he would require the four Senate Democrats currently on the presidential campaign trail to return to Washington if the bill came up for a full vote this weekend.
– CNN Congressional Producer Lesa Jansen
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A former appeals court judge venerated in conservative circles for spearheading the movement’s takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention endorsed Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign Friday.
The nod from former Texas judge Paul Pressler could provide a major boost for Thompson's presidential run among social conservatives, especially in the early-voting state of South Carolina.
In a release from the Thompson campaign, Pressler calls the former Tennessee senator "the consistent conservative in the presidential race" and "the most electable." The statement says that Pressler is "revered among Southern Baptists as a warrior and hero."
Last month, Pressler questioned the conservative credentials of former Arkansas governor and current presidential contender Mike Huckabee, telling the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund that “I know of no conservative he appointed while he headed the Arkansas Baptist Convention."
Pressler wrote in his autobiography that he turned down a post in the administration of the first President Bush – an offer that stirred controversy among Baptist moderates – because he wished to avoid the confirmation process and the "personal vendetta in which liberals engage to destroy innocent people."
Louisiana College, a school affiliated with the SBC, has said it plans to open a law school named in Pressler’s honor that promotes a “biblical worldview” – one of a recent wave of similarly-oriented institutions, including law schools at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and Pat Robertson’s Regent University.
– CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand
Ann Romney called her husband's speech 'historic.'
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) – Ann Romney made two campaign stops in Las Vegas Thursday night, telling crowds that the address husband Mitt Romney gave earlier in the day on the role of religion in America and his Mormon faith was a “historic moment.”
The former Massachusetts first lady admitted that it had been a long and emotional day but that she was very happy with the outcome. “I knew that his emotions were on edge and I knew that he was talking from the depths of his soul.” She emphasized that Gov. Romney had written the speech himself and felt compelled to give it despite opposition from advisors.
Befitting a day that centered on faith, Mrs. Romney later told a group of staffers and volunteers at Nevada campaign headquarters, “We had lots of prayers today.” She revealed that she was moved to tears when the Romney family knelt in prayer in their hotel room prior to the speech and that they had also shared a private prayer with former President George Bush and wife Barbara at the Presidential Library – the site of the address.
At both stops, Mrs. Romney highlighted the importance of religious freedom with what her husband called “the nation’s symphony of faith.” Asked if she thought they would continue to be dogged with questions about Mormonism, Mrs. Romney told CNN, “I hope not.”
- CNN Nevada Producer Alexander Marquardt