(CNN) – In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily: President Obama set tough terms for a new bailout, calling for "painful concessions" from General Motors and Chrysler. CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian looks at the president in the driver's seat as he forces the GM CEO out.
Plus: Cash for clunkers. The president is supporting legislation that would provide vouchers to people who were willing to trade in their gas guzzlers for clean cars. CNN Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar looks at the plan in the works on Capitol Hill.
Also: President Obama may take some heat this week at the G-20 summit in London, as some countries blame the United States for the global economic crisis. CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley looks ahead to the president's first big appearance on the world stage.
Finally: Is it appropriate for the president to effectively fire a CEO of a company? Democratic Strategist Hilary Rosen and Republican Strategist Tony Blankley discuss the "murky" line between the public and private sector in Monday's Strategy Session.
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(CNN) - The Bush administration established a secret special operations unit unmonitored by Congress with authority to assassinate high-value targets in as many as a dozen countries, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh told CNN Monday.
A former Cheney aide denied the claim.
Watch both interviews today on The Situation Room at 6 pm ET.
In an interview on CNN's The Situation Room, Hersh said the group - called the Joint Special Operations Command - reported to Vice President Dick Cheney and was delegated authority to assassinate individuals based on their own intelligence.
"The idea that we have a unit that goes around and without reporting to Congress - Congress knows very little about this group, can't get hearings, can't get even classified hearings on it…goes around and has authority from the president to go into a country without telling the CIA station chief or the ambassador and whack someone, I am sorry Wolf, yes I have a problem with that," Hersh said in the interview with Wolf Blitzer.
Cheney aide John Hannah denied the claim. "It's not true," he told Blitzer Monday. "And I think you heard in that interview that there was a little walking back from the original claim that was made in the speech that Mr. Hersh made" in which the reporter characterized the group as an "assassination wing."
(CNN) - The Obamas are using their own money to redecorate the White House residence and Oval Office, the White House confirms, forgoing the $100,000 in federal funds that is traditionally allotted to new presidents for such renovation projects.
The first couple - who made well over $2 million in 2008, largely from book revenues - is also turning down money from the White House Historical Association, the organization that financed a $74,000 set of china for the Bushes.
New presidents have traditionally undertaken extensive redecoration efforts to their personal quarters reflect their own tastes, with a new Oval Office rug tradition ringing in as the priciest item. Former President George W. Bush spent over $60,000 on a new cream carpet designed by Laura Bush in 2000 to replace the deep blue rug that covered the space during the Clinton administration. Obama aides have said the president likes the Bush rug, and does not plan to replace it.
The decision to forgo federal funds, first reported by New York Magazine, is the president's latest belt-tightening move amid the sagging economy and widespread outrage over corporate excesses. Late last month, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the administration had put an order on hold for a fleet of new helicopters that will cost at least $11 billion.
But it remains unclear just how much money the couple plan to spend on redecorations. In January, the Obamas tapped high-profile interior designer Michael Smith to spearhead the project.
In accepting the position, Smith said affordability would be one of the "guiding principles."
"The family's casual style, their interest in bringing 20th Century American artists to the forefront and utilizing affordable brands and products will serve as our guiding principles as we make the residence feel like their home," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – In the final hours before the special election to fill the congressional seat in New York's 20th district, Democratic candidate Scott Murphy is using controversial Republican figures to get voters to come out to the polls on Tuesday.
Murphy's campaign has sent out a last-minute mailer featuring pictures of Rush Limbaugh, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former President George W. Bush.
"Upstate New York can have a congressman who works for them," the front of the mailer said, with arrows pointing to Limbaugh, Palin and Bush. "Or one who works for you."
"Republicans want to stop President Obama. On Tuesday, you can help stop them," the mailer said above a picture of Murphy.
The special election on Tuesday to fill Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's vacant congressional seat pits Murphy against Republican Jim Tedisco. Tedisco once held a comfortable lead in the conservative district, but the latest polls show Murphy closing in on his challenger.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A veteran employee of the Republican National Committee is leaving the organization, a spokesman confirmed to CNN.
RNC chief financial officer Jay Banning, who has been with the committee for 33 years, is resigning. No reason for the resignation was given.
Banning's departure comes as new RNC chair Michael Steele continues to shake up the organization and revamp its operations after a thorough internal review.
Banning's resignation was first reported by Roll Call.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama announced Monday that struggling automotive giants General Motors and Chrylser will be given a "limited" period of time to "restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional taxpayer dollars."
The federal government will give GM "adequate working capital" over the next 60 days to work in conjunction with the administration in developing a better recovery plan, he said.
Chrysler will be given "adequate capital" to continue operations for 30 days while completing a merger with automaker Fiat. The president said that if Chrylser can come up with a "sound agreement that protects American taxpayers, we will consider lending up to $6 billion to help their plan succeed."
Related: Polls: Americans don't like auto bailouts
Obama also indicated that both GM and Chrylser might need to file for bankruptcy in the process of successfully restructuring, which will involve working with "creditors, unions and other stakeholders."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Supreme Court has passed up a chance to examine how far states can go to restrict unsolicited e-mails, part of efforts to block "spammers" from bombarding computer users.
The high court without comment Monday rejected Virginia's appeal to keep its Computer Crimes Act in place. It was one of the toughest laws of its kind in the nation, the only one to ban noncommercial - as well as commercial - spam e-mail to consumers in that state.
The justices' refusal to intervene also means the conviction of prolific commercial spammer Jeremy Jaynes will not be reinstated.
His 2004 felony conviction was the first in the United States of someone on trial for sending bulk unsolicited electronic messages.
(CNN) – Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra is launching a bid for governor, the Republican congressman announced Monday morning on a local radio show.
Hoekstra, 55, is seeking to succeed current Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat who is barred from running again because of term limits.
Speaking on WJR-AM's Paul Smith Show, the seven-term representative said he will file former paperwork later Monday afternoon.
The state went heavily Democratic in the 2008 presidential election, though Granholm's popularity has taken a hit amid the faltering auto industry and a surging unemployment rate.
Speaking about a potential gubernatorial bid Friday, Hoekstra said he hopes the Democratic candidates, namely Lt. Gov. John Cherry, run on the same policies as Granholm.
"I hope that John Cherry and the Democrats run on Jennifer Granholm's record," Hoekstra said. "The slogan's very simple on the other side: if nothing changes, nothing changes."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Do Americans support more taxpayer money for the ailing U.S auto makers?
The answer appears to be no. Sixty-one percent of Americans questioned in CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted last month say they're opposed to more government assistance for the big Detroit auto companies, with 37 percent in favor of taxpayer help. And only one in four were confident that auto executives would make the right economic decisions to help the country escape from the recession. In a Gallup poll conducted around the same time, seven in ten people opposed an auto bailout.
"Americans tend to favor government assistance to individuals, such as homeowners in danger of foreclosure," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But they don't like the idea of federal money going to big institutions, like automakers or banks."
General Motors has already received more than $13 billion in federal assistance and Chrysler $4 billion. Last month GM asked for $16 billion more in taxpayer assistance and Chrysler requested $5 billion.
A CNN/ORC national poll conducted earlier this month suggests that Americans are split on how President Obama's addressing the crisis in the nation's auto industry. While the President's overall approval rating stood at 64 percent in the survey, only 46 percent favored Obama's handling of the problems facing the auto companies. Forty-nine percent disapproved of how the President is dealing with the Detroit auto makers.
"Obama's policies toward banks and auto companies are the only areas on which he does not get majority approval," Holland notes. "On the other hand, the public has much more confidence that the Obama administration than in auto executives when it comes to making the right economic decisions."
The most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls were conducted February 18-19 and March 12-15.