WASHINGTON (CNN) - At a crowded Judiciary Committee hearing today, House Democrats talked about impeaching President Bush.... to the disgust of the committee's Republicans.
It was purely stagecraft. The day's star witness, Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, received a noisy ovation filled with cheering, clapping and whistling as he walked into the hearing room. Kucinich, who has introduced articles of impeachment, exhorted the committee to "support and defend the constitution that has been trampled time and again over the last seven years."
The hearing, technically, was not about impeachment but about executive power and its constitutional limitations. Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Michigan, ticked-down a list of items that included, in his words, "the politicization of the Department of Justice, the misuse of signing statements, the misuse of authority with regard to detention, interrogation and rendition, possible manipulation of intelligence regarding the Iraq war, improper retaliation against critics of the administration... and excessive secrecy."
While Conyers called the evidence "both credible and substantial," Republicans scoffed.
Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the senior Republican on the committee, dismissed the hearings as "an anger management class."
For more on the impeachment back-and-forth, tune into Campbell Brown: Election Center tonight at 8 pm ET.
(CNN) – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain says what his top priority would be if elected president, in a CNN exclusive interview with Wolf Blitzer. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, the Arizona senator talks about bringing the troops back from Iraq and how he’d bring Osama bin Laden to justice.
Plus: Was the Pentagon involved in presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s decision to cancel his visit to a U.S. military hospital in Germany? CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider reports on the uproar over the Obama campaign’s cancellation of the trip.
And: The McCain campaign launches “McCain Nation.” CNN Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton takes a look at the new online event planner that aims to organize and bring McCain supporters together to help campaign for the candidate.
Finally: Obama sits down with CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley in an exclusive interview. The Illinois senator defends himself against criticism of his travels abroad and talks about the delicate situation between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Click here to subscribe to CNN=Politics Daily.
(CNN) – New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez is a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. After considerable delay, the bill to aid homeowners who are facing foreclosure because of significant jumps in the their "sub-prime" mortgage rates, will almost certainly pass the Senate Saturday morning. The White House says President Bush will sign it, despite his objections of $4 billion included that would allow distressed communities to buy up foreclosed homes.
Menendez talks about that issue and the fact it is difficult to get an actual cost on the bill, because it allows struggling borrowers to refinance under Federal Housing Administration-backed loans, but in a standard mortgage format (as opposed to sub-prime). Tacked on as well, is the idea the Treasury Secretary can help Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as needed, at a time when the two companies' stocks have dropped significantly.
Listen: Menendez talks to CNN Radio about the housing bill
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain on Friday said that as president he would consider bringing Osama bin Laden to justice through a Nuremberg-like international trial.
He told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “We have various options. The Nuremberg Trials are certainly an example of the kind of tribunal that we could move forward with. I don’t think we’d have any difficulty in devising an international - internationally supported mechanism that would mete out justice. There’s no problem there.”
McCain said that it would be a “good thing to reveal to the world the enormity of this guy’s crimes, and his intentions, which are still there.”
When asked if as president he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee unequivocally stated, “Yes." Asked when, he said, "Right away.”
(CNN) - A top aide to Barack Obama said Friday the campaign canceled a scheduled visit to an American military base in Germany the day before because the Pentagon expressed concerns it would be viewed as a campaign trip.
The incident is representative of the delicacy with which the Obama campaign has attempted to navigate the Illinois senator's entire journey abroad - at once staging elaborate photo-ops beamed back to the American media while at the same time insisting that Obama's trip is not a political one by definition.
The Illinois senator had planned on visiting a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany - currently housing American troops injured in Iraq. The visit was expected to come after Obama's speech in Berlin. But the campaign suddenly announced Thursday the stop had been canceled, saying then Obama had determined it would be "inappropriate."
But speaking to reporters Friday, Senior Obama adviser Robert Gibbs said Ret. Major Gen. Scott Gration, currently a policy adviser to the campaign, received a call from Pentagon officials earlier in the week who expressed concern with the trip - specifically because Obama was heading there on his campaign plane and campaign staff would be accompanying him on the visit.
After speaking with Gration, the campaign decided to cancel the trip. Gibbs said Obama is "comfortable with the decision" because he did not want to make the troops part of a campaign event.
But the decision to cancel the event drew widespread criticisms from conservative blogs and the McCain campaign.
"It is never ‘inappropriate’ to visit our men and women in the military," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters later Friday the Pentagon did not explicitly say Obama should not visit the base, but was concerned with whether his capacity there would be one of a presidential candidate, not a senator.
PARIS, France (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama said his multi-nation tour did not change his mind on issue of Iraq and added that it has “deepened” his “set of concerns” especially when it came to Afghanistan and Iran.
“Going to Afghanistan confirmed for me that situation is worsening there,” Obama said at a news conference Friday at the Elysee Palace with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “There was no leader I spoke with that was not concerned about the prospect of Iran getting a nuclear weapon.”
In a press conference that ranged from the serious to borderline love fest, Obama and Sarkozy each said they enjoyed the opportunity to meet and discuss their mutual concern on issues such as global warming and the situation in Darfur.
The French president U.S. senator emerged from behind closed doors to a crush of media crammed into what one French journalist described as the more “casual” area where the French president meets the press. “The French love the Americans,” Sarkozy said, which drew laughter from the crowd and Obama.
Obama returned the favor. “No one better captures the enthusiasm and energy of France than your president,” he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The FBI is celebrating its’ 100th anniversary Saturday, but it is unlikely that Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, will be sending a card or baking a cake. Grassley remains one of the bureau's harshest critics in Congress.
While the Iowa senator is quick to praise agents in the field, he says, over the years that when problems crop up at the FBI, "It's been when headquarters has been interfering with the local agents."
Grassley charges that the FBI remains locked in turf battles with other federal law enforcement agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
FBI Director Robert Mueller has repeatedly told Congress that the bureau has greatly improved its information sharing and cooperation with other federal agencies since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But Grassley says the bureau still has a "Pac-Man mentality" - intent on gobbling up the jurisdiction of other agencies.
Listen: Grassley talks with CNN radio about the FBI
Grassley concedes the FBI deserves credit, because there's not been another terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 2001, but the senator also insists there's room for the FBI to transform itself from a crime-solving agency into one that is capable of averting terror threats of the 21st Century.
PARIS, France (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama said Friday he was avoiding criticizing President Bush on his trip through Europe.
Speaking to reporters, the Democratic presidential candidate cited a tradition that "you don't criticize a sitting president while overseas," adding that "it's very important" that U.S. foreign policy is presented "in one voice."
"I can say affirmatively an effective U.S. foreign policy will be based on our ability not only to project power, but also to listen and to build consensus. And the goal of an Obama administration in foreign policy would be, obviously to act on behalf of the interests of the security of the United States, but also to listen to our allies," he said.
DENVER, Colorado (CNN) - John McCain on Friday defended his criticism that Barack Obama would rather "lose a war in order to win a political campaign," saying that to his Democratic rival, the war in Iraq is "just another political issue."
"I am accusing, I am stating the facts. The facts are that I don't question Sen. Obama's patriotism. I'm sure that he's a very patriotic American," he said in an interview from Denver, Colorado, where is making a speech and will later meet with the Dalai Lama.
"I question his judgment because he lacks experience and knowledge, and I questioned his judgment. ... Sen. Obama just views this war as another political issue, which he can change positions,” McCain said.
McCain argued that Obama opposed the surge and doesn't “understand the importance of this victory and the consequences of failure and the benefits of success.”
“Obama? He’s my buddy,” Sarkozy told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview first noted by Politco.
“Unlike my diplomatic advisors, I never believed in Hillary Clinton’s chances,” he added, “I always said Obama would be nominated.”
The article says the two first met when Sarkozy visited Washington in 2006 as France’s Minister of the Interior and he has “very good memories” of the encounter.
John McCain visited the Elysee Palace in March after locking up his party’s nomination and often speaks highly of the conservative pro-American French president on the campaign trail.
Sarkozy has not endorsed either candidate but says that an Obama victory would “validate” his efforts to bring the two countries closer together. The pair are meeting for an hour and then will address the press. Le Figaro points out that Sarkozy’s office is trying to keep the visit relatively low-key.