WASHINGTON (CNN) - A federal judge has ordered the Bush White House to preserve its e-mails, just days before a new administration takes over.
The court's preservation notice Wednesday stems from a ongoing lawsuit by private groups over allegedly missing electronic messages, and allegations the
White House failed to properly monitor its internal communications among staff.
The issue has been a thorny legal and political one for outgoing Bush officials, who are in the process of transferring more than 300 million e-mail messages and 25,000 boxes of documents to the National Archives.
U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy instructed officials to search all White House workstations "and to collect and preserve all e-mails sent or received between March 2003 and October 2005."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The endorsements continued Wednesday in the six-way race to take over the Republican National Committee, but the campaign remains wide-open with just two weeks left before the party gathers in Washington to select its next leader.
For the third straight day this week, incumbent chairman Mike Duncan picked up backing from the party membership, earning the support of Arkansas committee members Jim Burnett and Reta Hamilton. In a letter to party members, Burnett insisted that Duncan not be blamed for the party’s electoral drubbing in November. Instead, he wrote, Duncan managed to raise a record amount of money and compile a substantial e-mail list in the face of a Democratic headwind.
Meanwhile, Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis scored the support of Rhode Island GOP chair Giovanni D. Cicione, who published a letter on Anuzis’ blog praising the Michigander’s energy and commitment to technological innovation.
Duncan leads his opponents with 22 public endorsements, followed by Anuzis, who has 13. South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell each have 12 endorsements.
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele has nine pledged votes, and former Mike Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman has none.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Stuart Levey, a top Bush official, has agreed to stay on as acting Treasury Secretary if current Secretary Henry Paulson's successor is not confirmed by the Senate by Inauguration Day, a source close to the transition said Wednesday.
The bureaucratic move is significant because the confirmation of President-elect Barack Obama's designate for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, has hit a snag over his failure to pay $34,000 in federal taxes several years ago.
Democratic officials said they remained confident that Geithner's nomination will not be derailed, but acknowledged that an acting Treasury secretary may need to take the job because Republican questions could delay the confirmation beyond Inaugural Day.
Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, would be thrust into the spotlight if he gets the job. The Treasury Department is in the middle of a controversial debate among Congress and the ingoing and outgoing administrations about how the next $350 billion in bailout funds are to be spent.
(CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama's choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to face questions at her confirmation hearing Thursday about Bernard Madoff - the alleged mastermind of the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
Mary Schapiro heads the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which has examined portions of Madoff's firm for decades.
Now, questions are being raised about Schapiro's role in the failure to discover Madoff's alleged scheme. The SEC last week was criticized by Congress for missing red flags that alerted regulators to Madoff.
"The SEC never bothered to read the financial statements, not even for half an hour. Neither did FINRA," said U.S. Rep Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California who is also a certified public accountant.
"Clearly, Madoff's filings should have set off alarm bells, but there's a tendency in the regulatory agencies, both FINRA and the SEC, to basically say, we're dealing with gentlemen," Sherman said.
Sherman said it appears the authority missed several chances to catch Madoff.
"Then the question is - is this a systemic problem?" he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Obama has asked all U.S. Attorneys to "continue to serve for the time being" and is not demanding immediate wholesale resignations of Bush political appointees, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
In addition, Obama's transition team has asked current Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, also a Bush appointee, to serve as Acting Attorney General replacing outgoing Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Filip, a former federal judge from Chicago who has served in the number two position at the Justice Department for eight months, is expected to head the Justice Department until Attorney General designee Eric Holder is confirmed by the Senate.
The handling of U.S. Attorney departures is politically sensitive, after grumbling caused by the immediate firing of all but one U.S. Attorney by President Clinton when he assumed office, and outright anger over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys by the Bush Administration two years ago for what were widely viewed as politically-motivated dismissals.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday afternoon that Democrats are getting close to finalizing the details of an economic recovery package and may be ready to release the details later in the day.
She declined to give any details on the bill to reporters, but said she is more confident that Congress would reach the mid-February deadline for getting a bill to Obama's desk.
"It's about four words - jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs," she said.
(CNN) - Her bid for the vice presidency ended more than two months ago, but Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appears determined not to become a mere afterthought.
Departing from a historical trend of failed vice presidential candidates who descend into relative obscurity after Election Day, Palin continues to command the intense media coverage that befits a national office seeker.
It's an astonishing development, given that she has no role in national domestic policy and is a first-term governor of a state almost 4,500 miles from Washington.
Palin empathizers say the Alaska governor is merely trying to recover her good name after months of damage by the mainstream media, liberal bloggers and even high-level members of the McCain campaign who grew publicly dissatisfied with their VP nominee as Election Day neared.
But some political observers suggest that Palin's ongoing - and predominantly adversarial - relationship with the national media is all part of a savvy effort to retain her popularity with the legions of rank-and-file conservatives who stood so strongly behind her during the campaign.
The Secret Service has unveiled the new presidential limousine, to debut on Inauguration Day next Tuesday.
“Although many of the vehicles’ security enhancements cannot be discussed, it is safe to say that this car’s security and coded communications systems make it the most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world,” Nicholas Trotta, Assistant Director for the Office of Protective Operations, said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama defended his Treasury Secretary-designate Tim Geithner on Wednesday amid reports that Geithner failed to pay the correct amount on his taxes for a time and employed a housekeeper whose work authorization had expired.
Watch: Obama defends Geithner
Obama told reporters he did not think the controversy would jeopardize Geithner's confirmation. "Tim Geithner, when I nominated him, was rightly lauded by people from both sides of the aisle, from the market, from labor, as somebody who was uniquely qualified."
Obama said it was an embarrassment for Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but called it "an innocent mistake."
"It has been corrected. He's paid the penalties. ... So, my expectation is that Tim Geithner will be confirmed. And my expectation is that he is going to do an outstanding job on behalf of the American people," he added.
Geithner received immediate backing from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who met with Obama on Wednesday.
Geithner "has a great resume," Graham said. "I don't see any desire by the Republican Party to play 'gotcha' on something like this. We need a new secretary of the treasury who understands where this country is at financially and has a game plan to move forward. I think he's the right guy."
But other Senate Republicans are demanding more answers on the issue.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Democrats flexed their new political muscle Wednesday as the House of Representatives passed legislation expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by more than $32 billion over five years.
The bill, which will be taken up by the Senate next week, passed by a margin of 289-139. A majority of Democrats supported the expansion; a majority of Republicans were opposed.
President-elect Barack Obama, who emphasized his support for an expansion of the SCHIP program during the 2008 campaign, is expected to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
SCHIP currently covers over six million children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid - the federal health insurance program for the poor - but who can't afford private insurance. The bill's supporters say the legislation would extend the program to an estimated four million additional children, paying for it with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes.