The feud reached a new level when Levi Johnston, joined by his mother and his sister, sat down for interviews early last week in a media tour designed to dispel several rumors about the family that the Johnstons said were false.
After an appearance Monday on the Tyra Banks show where the young father said he had lived at Gov. Palin’s home while Palin’s daughter, Bristol, was pregnant with the teenage couple’s child and soon after the baby’s birth, a spokesman for the governor said Levi Johnston had lied in the interview.
In a later interview on CBS’ morning show, the young father struck back, sharply refuting the Palins' claim he was lying about being permitted to live with his onetime fiancé and suggesting the Palin family is now essentially treating him as an outcast.
Rather than quell the media frenzy surrounding the break-up of the two teenagers and subsequent feuding between their respective clans, the statement on Palin’s behalf only served to add fuel to the media fire, two journalists said Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich weighed in Sunday on news that the first family has finally settled on a new puppy for daughters Malia and Sasha.
“I hope that the girls love the dog,” Gingrich said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I hope the family – and all the pressure they’re going to be in – finds it useful. And I think that this whole thing is fairly stupid.”
The six-month-old puppy is a Portuguese water dog that the Obamas have decided to name Bo. The dog is a gift to the first family from Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, a longtime Obama political ally who also owns several dogs of the breed.
“It’s great that they have a dog. It’s great that the kids are adjusting,” Gingrich said. “And where they got it from – who cares? It’s a nice gesture on Senator Kennedy’s part to give it to them but who cares?” Gingrich added.
Perhaps it was a partisan difference, but Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Donna Brazile had kinder words for the new first puppy.
“What’s not to like about this dog?” Brazile said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “He’s cute. He’s adorable. But, I hope he’s potty trained,” she joked
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama granted two separate requests from the Defense Department to go forward with a military operation to rescue Captain Richard Phillips, an administration official tells CNN.
Related: Hostage captain rescued, 3 pirates killed
Obama granted the authority to use appropriate force with the focus on saving and protecting Phillips’ life. The requests were made by the Pentagon Friday and Saturday. For technical reasons, authority was granted two different times, according to the official, because different U.S. forces moved in the region near the coast of Somalia.
CNN has also learned that Obama has phoned Phillips on board the USS Boxer as well as Phillips’ wife and family at their home in Vermont.
In a statement issued by the White House after Phillips had been successfully rescued, the president said his administration is “resolved to halt the rise of piracy in this region.”
“To achieve that goal, we must continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, be prepared to interdict acts of piracy and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes."
In less than seven hours, Odierno has increased the number of “supporters” connected to his new Facebook page by more than a factor of ten.
When his CNN interview initially aired Sunday morning, Odierno had roughly 70 followers on the social networking site and by Sunday afternoon, the general has nearly 900.
The U.S. military commander in Iraq told CNN’s John King that he was excited about using the site to get the word out about what American troops are accomplishing.
“I think it’s important that people can reach out and ask questions,” Odierno said of his new Facebook page. “Maybe [I can] educate them a little bit more on what’s going on here in Iraq and get to know us a little bit better.”
“This is new for me. This is new ground so we’ll see how it goes. But I’m actually pretty excited about it.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama issued a statement Sunday about the release of Captain Richard Phillips.
"I am very pleased that Captain Phillips has been rescued," Obama said. "His safety has been our principal concern."
The president also said his administration wil continue to fight back against piracy. "We remain resolved to halt the rise of piracy," the statement also said.
Related: Captain jumps overboard, Navy SEALs shoot pirates, official says
(Read Obama's full statement after the jump)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has confirmed that President Obama and the first lady will make a donation to the Washington D.C. Humane Society.
The first family originally planned to get their new dog from an animal shelter but ultimately settled on a puppy given to them by Sen. Ted Kennedy, one of the president's close political allies.
The donation was first reported by the Washington Post which described the plan to give the money as "intended [by the Obamas] to lend a serious symbolic note" to their original pledge to get a shelter animal.
In a statement released Sunday, the Humane Society of the United States urged action from the new administration to protect animals across the country.
“President Obama can do even more for animal protection through the policies of federal agencies that deal with the welfare of millions of pets,” the statement said, by “helping us enforce existing animal welfare laws and cracking down on the national shame of rampant puppy mills in America.”
(CNN) – In “The Last Word” segment of CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took on critics of President Obama’s cap-and-trade plan aimed at lowering greenhouse gases.
The proposal would impose a cap on the total amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted in the United States and would also institute a system that allows U.S. companies to trade emission credits. Because the plan would force polluters to assume the cost of the pollution they produce – as determined by the new market for emission credits – it is also likely to make energy more expensive. Many observers expect energy companies to pass those additional costs on to American consumers, with some criticizing the proposal as an “energy tax” on the public.
“They are wrong,” the former senator told CNN’s John King. “I think it’s a false choice that is being set up by those who are in opposition to us addressing the issue of carbon emissions.”
“We, the government of Iraq and the security forces in Iraq are much more suited now for this fight,” Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie said on CNN’s State of the Union. “And we believe that now we are leading and we are planning and carrying out most of the combat operations in the country and the United States forces are moving or transitioning to a more support role, more training, more providing more logistical support, rather than engaging in a huge military or kinetic combat operations.”
But al-Rubaie refused to say whether the Iraqi government would permit U.S. troops to stay in the country’s cities past an upcoming June 30 deadline if U.S. Gen. Ray Odierno decided the presence of U.S. troops was still necessary.
“I don't think we should answer this hypothetical question now,” al-Rubaie told Chief National Correspondent John King.
And al-Rubaie was mum when asked how new President Barack Obama was different from former President George W. Bush when it comes to diplomacy and conducting the affairs on the United States.
“I don't want to elaborate on differences,” the Iraqi security adviser said. “But I believe that President Obama understands the situation in Iraq and I believe he wants to stick by ... the withdrawal agreement.”
Related: U.S. should be out of Iraq by late 2011, general says
WASHINGTON (CNN) – General Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander on the ground in Iraq, said Sunday that he believes U.S. troops will be out of the country by the end of 2011.
CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked Odierno to rate his confidence, on a scale of one to ten, that U.S. troops would be out by the agreed upon timeline between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
“As you ask me today, I believe it’s a ten – that we will be gone by 2011.”
Odierno, one of the key architects of the surge strategy in Iraq, also weighed in Sunday on the new president’s approach to the troubled nation.
“He’s our commander-in-chief,” Odierno said of President Barack Obama, whose opposition to the Iraq war and to the surge strategy became trademarks during the 2008 White House race. “As our commander-in-chief, we take direction from him.”
“He’s very attentive. He listens. He’s incredibly intelligent. He talks through the issues. . . .He makes a decision and then we execute those decisions and that’s all you can expect out of your commander-in-chief. And I’ve been very pleased with the interaction that I’ve been able to have with him.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The top U.S. military commander on the ground in Iraq said Sunday that conditions in the war-torn country have improved in the last year or so.
“They’ve improved significantly,” Gen. Ray Odierno told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on State of the Union. “Obviously, we still have some very serious incidents . . . but, again, it’s much safer.”
Odierno also said Sunday that the number of combat fatalities in March was the lowest number suffered by U.S. troops since the beginning of the Iraq war. “So, there’s been a clear improvement of security here,” Odierno added.
“The issue is: can we maintain that? Can the Iraqis maintain it? And that’s what we’re working through now. We want them to be able to maintain this stability as we pull out.”
Odierno told King that he believed the U.S. military was on track to meet its schedule to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq over the next 18 months, adding though that he had the flexibility to re-assess that schedule.
The general also cautioned that there were still threats in Iraq. “There are some cells out there who are still capable of conducting suicide attacks,” Odierno said when asked about a recent uptick in violence and U.S. fatalities.
Odierno also said the U.S. military had made it more difficult for foreign fighters to get into Iraq through Syria, but there was still support for the Iraqi insurgency coming from Iran.