WASHINGTON (CNN) – In an effort to clear the way for Sen. Hillary Clinton’s confirmation as secretary of state, CNN has learned that her husband’s foundation has reached a written agreement with the Obama-Biden transition team.
The five-page document states that former President Bill Clinton will not personally solicit funds for the Clinton Global Initiative, a high-profile annual gathering of the Clinton Foundation that solicits contributions from around the world in order to address global challenges like poverty, climate change, and global health issues. In the document, the foundation also agrees to separate the Clinton Global Initiative off from the rest of its operations and incorporate that initiative as a separate entity.
The foundation also agrees to seek review by State Department ethics officials of certain donations to its effort to fight HIV and AIDS throughout the world.
The agreement was turned over to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by the Obama transition team Wednesday and obtained by CNN Thursday.
Click here to read the agreement.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) – Minnesota's Supreme Court Thursday barred officials from including rejected absentee ballots in the recount of the state's hotly contested U.S. Senate race unless both of the candidates and elections officials agree the ballot was improperly rejected.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and former Air America talk show host Al Franken are caught up in a fiercely fought battle over the recount of ballots from the November 4 election.
Coleman had filed suit to stop the recount of thousands of rejected absentee ballots until a "uniform" process for reviewing the ballots can be devised.
Instead of halting the recount, the court ruled that local elections officials "lack the statutory authority to count" rejected ballots on their own but can do so if they and the candidates all agree that a ballot was rejected in error.
Updated 7:38 p.m.
(CNN) – Caroline Kennedy spoke publicly about her desire to fill Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate seat for a second consecutive day Thursday, meeting with the Rev. Al Sharpton for lunch in Harlem.
The activist praised Kennedy as a "unique candidate," but would not say whether he supports her Senate bid. "I will trust the government’s judgment to decide what’s best for the state, he told reporters. "I won’t get into that.”
Speaking after the meeting, Kennedy - who largely steered clear of partisan politics until this year - described herself as “a Kennedy Democrat, a Clinton Democrat, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama - I mean, these are all leaders whose values I share, and I feel like those are the kinds of values I would bring to this position.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined Thursday to endorse Caroline Kennedy as Hillary Clinton’s successor, but added that he knows “exactly” who should be the next senator to represent his state.
But he wouldn’t give a name.
Bloomberg did praise Kennedy saying that “she’s very competent” and “she’s done a lot for New York City,” but added that he is not in the position to publicly endorse any prospective replacement for Clinton, who is President-elect Barack Obama’s designate for Secretary of State.
“I should stay out of the race, personally,” Bloomberg said during an appearance on ABC’s ‘The View.’
“It’s not my call. If it were my call to pick somebody, I know exactly …,” added Bloomberg, who was immediately asked “Would you pick her?”
“I can’t tell you, because then I’d be getting involved,” Bloomberg responded.
Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg’s deputy mayor, is supporting Kennedy’s bid to be appointed to the seat by New York Gov. David Paterson.
Bloomberg also noted that Paterson is “lucky to have a number of different candidates” to consider for the seat.
–CNN Producer Shirley Zilberstein contributed to this report.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is quietly prepping for the possibility of a temporary Senate appointment, given the increasing likelihood the nation's lone unresolved Senate contest might not officially come to a close before Congress convenes again next month.
As the contentious Senate recount of the race between Republican Norm Coleman and Al Franken stretches more than six weeks past Election Day, the Republican governor's spokesman Brian McClung told CNN that the governor's office has asked the general counsel to Gov. Pawlenty "to begin looking into... what might trigger the need for a gubernatorial appointment to the U.S. Senate."
There is no word yet on who, if anyone, might be under consideration for a temporary Senate seat if a winner is not declared by the congressional swearing-in date of January 6.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, may have fallen short of breaking the ultimate glass ceiling in American politics, but two of her fellow female senators will make history next year.
When Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, becomes chair and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, becomes the ranking member of the Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, the two will become the first pair of women to lead a full committee in the House or the Senate
The accomplishment would not have been possible 20 years ago. “We’ve never had more than two women in the Senate at one time until after the election in 1992,” said Associate Senate Historian Don Ritchie.
Ritchie also observed that with the number of female senators at a record high, with women accruing the levels of seniority necessary to obtain coveted committee chairs, and with women occupying more positions of authority in both parties, the odds are greater now that women will lead more committees
In a news release issued Thursday, Landrieu and Snowe emphasized their plan to promote the interests of women-owned small businesses as their historic roles atop the committee.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The military has prepared an initial plan for withdrawal from Iraq that meets the demands of the recent agreement with Iraq, but appears to contradict the wishes of President-elect Barack Obama.
Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, the top commanders in Iraq, briefed Defense Secretary Robert Gates on plans for the withdrawal of the 146,000 troops in Iraq, when Gates visited the country last weekend.
In turn, Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Obama this week about "the way ahead in Iraq," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday.
That briefing was a "point of conversation" during the 5-1/2 hour national security team meeting Monday in Chicago, a senior military official said.
An Obama transition official confirmed that Mullen discussed the "current plans developed under President Bush."
Among those attending the meeting were Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and Gen. James Jones, Obama's choice for national security adviser.
The meeting covered a "whole range of topics," including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, the transition official said.
The current withdrawal plan proposes removing all U.S. combat troops from Iraqi urban areas in 2009, and all American troops from Iraq by 2011, in keeping with the recent Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, signed by President Bush, according to the senior military official.
The agreement with Iraq details withdrawals for 2009, 2010 and 2011, the official said. It proposes removing troops at a slower pace than Obama promised during the campaign, when he called for all combat troops to be out within 16 months - by the summer of 2010.
(CNN) - Caroline Kennedy is on a public campaign for Sen. Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, which may make it difficult for New York Gov. David Paterson not to send President John F. Kennedy's only living child to Washington.
While she has to win over only one voter - Paterson - Kennedy essentially began a political campaign for the seat, which was once held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, with a visit to upstate New York on Wednesday.
And on Thursday, Kennedy meet with civil rights activist Al Sharpton, an influence in national and New York politics.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk as U.S. Trade Representative, according to one Democratic official.
(CNN) - A report to Congress that requests $73.2 billion to pay for infrastructure projects around the country includes plans for a polar bear exhibit, an anti-prostitution program, a water park ride, zoos, museums and aquatic centers, CNN has found.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors went to Capitol Hill earlier this month with a report listing 11,391 infrastructure projects proposed by 427 cities. The mayors claimed the proposal would create 847,641 jobs in 2009 and 2010.
The more than 800-page document is titled "Main Street Economic Recovery: 'Ready To Go' Jobs and Infrastructure Projects."
"Our plan calls for investments that will stimulate our economy by quickly creating jobs, fixing our aging and crumbling infrastructure, increasing our global competitiveness, and further reducing our carbon footprint," Miami, Florida, Mayor Manny Diaz said at a news conference last week. Accompanied by other big-city mayors, he held up a copy of the hefty report to stress its importance.
"To reverse the current economic crisis, we must invest wisely. We must invest where we get the greatest return. We must invest in Main Street," said Diaz, who is the president of the mayors' group.
But a close examination of the projects by CNN shows proposals that go far beyond basic infrastructure plans for roads, bridges and other traditional public works projects.