WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two sources close to Republican Rep. Roy Blunt tell CNN he will announce Thursday a run for the Missouri U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by GOP Sen. Kit Bond.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said Wednesday that a Senate ethics panel is investigating Sen. Roland Burris following his disclosure that he had spoken with Rod Blagojevich's brother about raising money for the disgraced former governor while seeking appointment to the Senate.
Durbin’s comments came shortly before Rep. Phil Hare, a Democrat from western Illinois, became the first member of Congress to publicly call on Burris to step down, describing the ongoing Blagojevich saga as “a recurring nightmare.”
“Given this latest revelation, I believe it is in the best interest of all Illinoisans that Senator Burris resigns,” Hare said in a statement. “Our state and its citizens deserve the whole truth, not bits and pieces only when it is convenient.”
Durbin, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, told reporters during a congressional trip to Europe that “the Ethics Committee of the Senate is undertaking an investigation.”
“That is the appropriate thing at this point,” Durbin said.
He added that public statements by Burris in recent days “have raised questions which need to be looked at very carefully, as to the nature of his relationship with the former governor and the circumstances surrounding his appointment.”
Burris defended himself in another press conference Wednesday, and said he welcomed any investigations into his actions by the Senate or the state of Illinois.
“I ask you today to stop the rush to judgment,” he said. “You know the real Roland. I’ve done nothing wrong and I have absolutely nothing to hide.”
(CNN) – When it comes to race relations, says Attorney General Eric Holder, America is a “nation of cowards.” In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN Democratic Strategist Jamal Simmons and conservative commentator Terry Jeffrey weigh in on Holder’s strong words in Wednesday’s Strategy Session.
Also: Just days after his swearing in, President Obama began making cabinet announcements at a record pace. But after a month in office - and a string of recent nominee withdrawals - his cabinet remains incomplete. CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider reports on the holdup.
Plus: “Roland Burris must resign,” says the Chicago Tribune. CNN’s Susan Roesgen reports on the controversy that still surrounds former Illinoi Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Senate pick, as new information brings calls for the resignation of Sen. Roland Burris.
Meanwhile: Hillary Clinton retraces President Obama’s steps. The Secretary of State visited the president’s childhood school in Indonesia during her first foreign trip to Asia. CNN’s Jill Dougherty brings us the story from Jakarta.
Finally: As many Americans face the prospect of losing their homes, President Obama releases a new plan to help them fight off foreclosure. CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian has the latest.
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) – Perhaps laying the groundwork for an appeal to a higher court, Republican Norm Coleman’s attorneys are beginning to publicly question the three-judge panel presiding over his post-election legal battle, saying Wednesday that the judges are creating a "real problem” by not reconsidering their ruling from Friday that put a damper on much of Coleman’s case over rejected absentee ballots.
“The court creates a real problem for itself and the reliability of these proceedings,” said Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg, adding that it could create a “legal quagmire that makes ascertaining a final, legitimate result to this election even more difficult.”
Coleman’s attorneys maintain the judges’ Friday order that threw out certain rejected absentee ballots and ruled them unlawfully cast due to certain errors fails to account for “thousands” of absentee ballots that could have been accepted while still containing the same errors.
According to Ginsberg, “illegally cast ballots under their definition are included in the counts.”
The types of ballots ruled taboo by the judges include categories of absentee ballots submitted by non-registered voters, absentee ballots inside a return envelope not signed by the voter or absentee ballot applications that were not signed, and absentee ballots that were dropped off in person on election day.
Ginsberg said that about 100 ballots allowed in to the count during the recount process would have fallen under the new outlawed categories.
The Coleman campaign’s press release does not say whether or not they are currently pursuing other legal avenues or setting up an appeal.
Asked if that were the case, Coleman spokesman Mark Drake said only, "We're concentrating on the 3-judge panel and hoping they cure the defect they've created.”
A spokeswoman for Democrat Al Franken Jess McIntosh said Coleman's lawyers are "denegrating" Minnesota's election process "in order to set up their appeal."
Franken held a slight lead of 225 votes after the recount was completed. The trial is now in its fourth week of testimony with no apparent timetable for a speedy conclusion.
(CNN) – Alaska officials have told Gov. Sarah Palin she must pay back taxes on the thousands of dollars she received in state per diem funds while living at her home in Wasilla.
The Washington Post first reported last September that Palin had billed the state for nearly $17,000 worth of meals and other living expenses while staying in her own home during the first 19 months of her administration, even though the official governor’s residence is in Juneau.
The news clouded Palin’s self-styled image as a small government reformer, just weeks after she was tapped as John McCain’s running mate. At the time, Palin’s office said the governor was entitled to the payments.
Alaska administration commissioner Annette Kreitzner told the Anchorage Daily News on Tuesday that the governor’s office had asked the office to review the tax treatment of the per diem payments after questions about the funds were raised.
Kreitzner told the paper that following the review, the per diem payments will be treated as income and that a revised W-2 statement will be sent to the governor.
Palin’s office would not say how much she owes in back taxes, or if she would continue to receive the payments.
UPDATE: Palin spokesman Bill McAllister tells CNN that Palin "will abide by all IRS regulations and rulings and will pay what she owes. That number, though, is not a matter of public record."
Post updated 3:02 p.m. EST
TOPICS: Barack Obama, Obama Personal Characteristics, Most Important Problem, Mood of Country, Economy, Stimulus Package, Auto Bailout, Iraq, Afghanistan, GOP 2012 Primaries, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John McCain, Ted Kennedy, George W. Bush, Democratic Party, Republican Party
WASHINGTON (CNN) – On the eve of President Barack Obama's first trip outside of the United States, a new national poll suggests that Americans think that world leaders have far more respect for him than they did for former President George W. Bush. But the Gallup survey, released Wednesday, indicates little improvement from last year in the number of respondents who are satisfied with America's standing in the world.
President Obama travels to Canada Thursday, where he’ll discuss trade issues and world affairs with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Sixty-seven percent of those questioned in the poll released on the eve of that trip say they think world leaders respect the new president. That compares with just 24 percent who said the same thing about President Bush a year ago.
The results come from Gallup's world affairs survey, which has been conducted each February since 2001.
The poll suggests American believe the president will have to work hard to improve America's international standing. Forty-five percent of those questioned think the U.S. rates favorably in the eyes of the world. That's roughly the same as the 43 percent who felt that way last year, under President Bush. And just 32 percent said they are satisfied with the standing of the United States in the world - barely higher than the 3 in 10 who felt the same way a year ago.
"Americans have a realistic view of what it will take to improve the view of the United States abroad," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "People in other countries didn't like George W. Bush, but they also didn't like his policies. Electing a different president may be step one, but step two won't occur until the new president changes U.S. policy, and that hasn't happened yet."
The Gallup poll was conducted February 9-12, with 1,022 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Two of the Big Three American automakers are holding out their hands again for more of your taxpayer dollars.
General Motors and Chrysler say they need another $21.6 billion to stay afloat, this is in addition to the more than $17 billion they received a couple months ago. The companies have both put out plans for how they’ll restructure in order to survive. I thought they were supposed to have already done that.
GM says it will cut 47,000 more workers, close 5 more plants in North America and cut half of its brands — Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer and Saab — leaving them with only Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. The company also says it’s making headway in its talks with the United Auto Workers union and bondholders to find more ways to cut costs. Chrysler says it will cut another 3,000 jobs and discontinue 3 models — the Dodge Durango, PT Cruiser and Chrysler Aspen.
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Today in Arizona, President Obama unveiled his solution to the nation's home foreclosure crisis: a $75 billion mortgage relief plan to help up to 9 million borrowers suffering from falling home prices and unaffordable monthly payments.
The long-awaited foreclosure fix marks a sharp departure from the Bush administration's reliance on having servicers voluntarily modify troubled mortgages.
The Obama plan will make it easier for homeowners to afford their monthly payments, either by refinancing the mortgages or having their loans modified.
CNN’s John Lisk talks with Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley about the plan - who will be for it, who will be against it and why - in today’s Political Notebook.
Listen to her take:
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Eric Holder, the country’s first African-American attorney general, called the United States “a nation of cowards” Wednesday for failing to candidly talk about matters of race.
In a speech to Justice Department employees commemorating Black History Month, Holder said average Americans remain uncomfortable with race-related issues and need to do more to confront them head on.
“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and we, I believe continue to be in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said.
He said Americans often “retreat to our race-protected cocoons,” a tendency that inhibits fruitful discussion that might lead to racial progress.
“This nation has still not come to grips with its racial past nor has it been willing to contemplate in a truly meaningful way the diverse future it is fated to have,” he said. “To our detriment this is typical of the way in which this nation deals with issues of race.”
Holder said Black History Month itself “is given a separate and unequal treatment by our society" and suggested that February should offer a chance not just for commemoration, but also for frank dialogue between races.