(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele praised Bob McDonnell Saturday for receiving the official party nomination in the state's gubernatorial race, and said he is part of a "Republican renaissance that starts this year in Virginia."
“I would like to congratulate Bob McDonnell for being selected by Virginia Republicans today as their candidate for governor," Steele said in a statement. "It is going to be a tough fight, but we are well positioned for victory in November."
Steele said the RNC is committed to devoting its "full attention and significant resources" to helping McDonnell take back the governor's mansion in November.
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe is now in the final weeks of a tough three-way primary battle for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He has received an enthusiastic endorsement this year by former President Bill Clinton.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration has informed a federal judge it will continue to invoke the "state secrets" privilege in a legal battle with an Islamic charity suspected of funding terrorism.
The United States has designated the Oregon-based al-Haramain Islamic Foundation as a terrorist organization. The group, which has sued the government over alleged warrantless wiretapping, is demanding classified information about the program.
U.S. officials have refused to tell the charity's lawyers whether the group was subjected to presidentially authorized, warrantless, foreign intelligence surveillance in 2004 and, if so, what information was obtained.
In a court document filed overnight in San Francisco and released early Saturday in Washington, the Justice Department said its case-by-case review of the government's use of the state secrets defense has not changed its position in the al-Haramain case.
The defense allows courts to block lawsuits against the government on grounds that the litigation could harm national security.
(CNN) - The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday at an international conference.
"We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region - or on us," said Gates, speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.
"Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state," he said.
His comments came amid growing concern across the globe over North Korea's latest nuclear test and test-firings of short-range missiles.
On Friday, two Defense Department officials said the latest U.S. satellite imagery has spotted "vehicle activity" at a North Korean ballistic missile facility.
"North Korea's nuclear program and actions constitute a threat to regional peace and security. We unequivocally reaffirm our commitment to the defense of our allies in the region," Gates said in Singapore.
(CNN) - U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, of Oklahoma, checked himself into the Betty Ford Center in California on Thursday night for treatment for alcohol addiction, according to a written statement from his office.
Sullivan, a Republican from Tulsa, said in the statement that he will be taking a leave of absence from Congress while he seeks treatment.
"I value my relationship with the citizens of Oklahoma's First Congressional District, whom I am privileged and honored to have served for the past eight years," Sullivan said in the statement, released Friday evening. "So, I wanted to be open and honest on this tough situation."
Sullivan is married with four children, according to the biography on his Web site.
"My family is going through a difficult time right now, and I ask that you respect their privacy and keep us in your thoughts and prayers," he said. "With God's help and strength, I will get through this most challenging time in my life."
The Betty Ford Center, named for the former first lady, opened in 1982. It specializes in treatment of dependency on alcohol and other drugs.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele suggested Friday that Republicans hold off on "slammin' and rammin'" Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and instead recognize the "historic aspect" of her nomination.
While guest hosting the Bill Bennett radio show on Friday morning, Steele said he was "excited" to see a Hispanic woman in this position.
"The trap here for the GOP I think is enormous," Steele said. "And I know that a lot of folks want to do the knee jerk you know let's start slammin' and rammin', but I think we really need to take a step back from this and deal with two things, one, the historic aspect of it, acknowledge it, but then move on to the substance of the conversation about what this woman believes."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Critics of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor often cite a comment the federal judge made in 2005 that the U.S. Court of Appeals, where she has served since 1998, "is where policy is made."
Sotomayor made the statement at the Duke University School of Law during a panel discussion with other federal judges on judicial clerkships. The purpose of the event was to encourage the law students in attendance to pursue judicial clerkships during their legal careers. According to the panel moderator, the judges would be asked to describe "what it is their clerks do, what the relationship between the judge and the clerk is like, … different kinds of clerkships, maybe at the trial court level and at the court of appeals level, how those differ and maybe a little bit about the selection process."
The "policy is made" comment came near the end of the 51-minute discussion, when a student asked the panel to describe the differences between district court clerkships and those at the appeals court level, also known as the circuit court level.
A small portion of the student's question was inaudible, and those sections are marked in brackets. Also serving on the panel with Sotomayor were Judges Carlos Lucero and Robert Henry, both from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. A video of the full panel discussion, held February 25, 2005, can be seen on the Duke University School of Law Web site.
(The full text and time codes of the exchange are provided after the jump)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Indiana, confirmed Friday that federal law enforcement officials had issued subpoenas for materials from his congressional and campaign offices in their investigation of a defense lobbying firm that had employed his former chief of staff.
The PMA Group was raided by the FBI earlier this year. Former Visclosky chief of staff Rich Kaelin had lobbied for the firm.
"Federal law enforcement officials have issued grand jury subpoenas to my Congressional office, campaign committees, and certain employees to request documents relating to PMA," Visclosky said in a statement. "It is my intention to fully cooperate with the investigation consistent with my constitutional obligations to Congress and my duties and responsibilities to my constituents.
"I will continue to work hard to represent the people of Indiana's First Congressional District as I have done since being elected to Congress. I am confident that at the end of this process, no one will conclude that I have done anything wrong or harmed my constituents in any way," he said. Citing respect for the investigative process, the congressman said he would not be commenting further on the situation.
Visclosky has returned thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the firm and its employees, who were among his biggest financial supporters.