WASHINGTON (CNN) – Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn was part of a group of Washington-based intermediaries that confronted fellow Sen. John Ensign in an effort to convince him to end an extra-marital affair, according to a report published on the Web site of the Las Vegas Sun.
Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign’s former mistress, spoke publicly for the first time about the affair in an on-camera interview with Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston to be broadcast on his show on LasVegasOne.
Doug Hampton worked in Ensign’s Senate office, while his wife, Cynthia, was an employee of Ensign’s political action committee and reelection campaign.
In an effort to try to end the affair, Hampton told Ralston he reached out to a group of “intermediaries involved in a Christian fellowship home in Washington, D.C.,” the Sun reported. The group “confronted Ensign and suggested that the Hamptons needed to be given financial assistance – in the millions of dollars – to pay off their $1 million-plus mortgage and move them to a new life away from Ensign,” according to the Sun’s report.
In a statement given to CNN and the Sun, Coburn spokesman Jon Hart said the Oklahoma Republican tried to intercede to put an end to the affair.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CIA Director Leon Panetta recently testified to Congress that the agency concealed information and misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001, according to a letter from seven House Democrats to Panetta made public Wednesday.
The letter to Panetta, dated June 26, was published on the Web site of Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California.
"Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week," said the letter, signed by Eshoo and six other House Democrats - Reps. John Tierney of Massachusetts, Mike Thompson of California, Rush Holt of New Jersey, Alcee Hastings of Florida, Adam Smith of Washington and Janice Schakowsky of Illinois.
The letter contained no details about what information the CIA officials allegedly concealed, or how they purportedly misled members of Congress.
(CNN) - Nearly two years after being pushed out of office by a scandal surrounding the firing of federal prosecutors, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has taken a job at Texas Tech University, the school announced Tuesday.
Gonzales will work to recruit minority students for the Lubbock-based college's diversity office and teach a junior-level political science seminar on "Contemporary Issues in the Executive Branch," according to a statement from Texas Tech.
"I am excited that Alberto Gonzales is bringing his experience to Texas Tech," Kent Hance, Texas Tech's chancellor, said in the statement. "His own upbringing in Houston as part of a migrant family with eight children makes him qualified to tell underrepresented Texas students that college is possible."
L'AQUILA, Italy (CNN) - President Barack Obama revealed to G-8 colleagues at a dinner Wednesday that he's planning a nuclear security summit in Washington for next March, according to senior administration officials.
Obama first raised the idea of bringing major nations together for such a summit earlier in the week at a news conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Obama said then he would like a follow-up summit held in Moscow to deal with the thorny issue of preventing nations like Iran and North Korea from getting nuclear weapons.
But getting G-8 members like Russia to sign on to new sanctions against Iran is proving difficult for Obama.
The senior administration officials added that a G-8 declaration condemning the recent post-election violence in Iran will stop short of sanctions.
(CNN) – A former chief of staff to Rod Blagojevich pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single count of participating in a scheme to commit wire fraud related to the former Illinois governor's alleged efforts to profit off of his appointment of a replacement to fill the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
Under the plea deal, federal prosecutors will ask that the defendant, John Harris, serve no more than 35 months in prison. Harris agreed to testify at Blagojevich's trial, set to begin June 3, 2010, said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney.
"At times defendant assisted Blagojevich's efforts to carry out the scheme by suggesting means by which Blagojevich could secure personal benefits for himself in exchange for appointing a United States senator, conducting factual research relating to the scheme at Blagojevich's direction, and counseling Blagojevich on carrying out the scheme," the 25-page plea said.
"At other times, defendant expressed opposition to Blagojevich's efforts to enrich himself through his appointment of a United States senator, and/or did not follow instructions from Blagojevich to assist in those efforts," it added.
(CNN) – The Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act's ("DOMA's") definition of marriage as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."
Massachusetts, which legalized same-sex marriages in 2004, claims that the federal definition violates its authority under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution to define marriage as it sees fits.
"From its founding until DOMA was enacted in 1996, the federal government recognized that defining marital status was the exclusive prerogative of the states and an essential aspect of each state's sovereignty," the suit says.
The state also asserts that the federal definition of marriage negatively impacts its ability to administer a number of federal programs within its borders and unjustly denies it federal funding it should receive.
For example, in the suit, the state estimates that it loses out on $2.37 million in Medicare funding because of DOMA.
Third, Massachusetts claims that requiring it to comply with a federal definition of marriage limited to different-sex couples, the state is put to an unlawful choice between discriminating against people which its own laws treat equally and foregoing federal funding.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A contrite head of the Federal Protective Service took the blame Wednesday for security lapses that allowed covert investigators to sneak bomb components into 10 federal government buildings.
The Government Accountability Office, which conducted the tests, testified they showed the service to be "an agency in crisis."
Plainclothes investigators testing the effectiveness of private contract guards at federal office buildings were able to smuggle in bomb components in all 10 attempts. Only one investigator was stopped and questioned, but he was allowed to pass with the components of a liquid bomb.
Once inside the facilities, the testers assembled the bombs in restrooms, put them in briefcases and "walked freely" into government offices, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Asked point blank at a Senate hearing Wednesday why the security guards had failed, Protective Service Director Gary Schenkel said, "It's purely a lack of oversight on our part."
He added, "I take full responsibility. I am the director of the organization."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The war of words between House Minority Leader John Boehner and the Democratic Party over the impact of President Obama's stimulus plan escalated Wednesday - with each side accusing the other of lying to the American people.
The Ohio Republican told reporters that Vice President Joe Biden's weekend comments that the administration had "misread" the extent of the economic crisis were "the greatest fabrication I've seen since I've been in Congress."
"I found it also interesting over the last couple of days to hear the vice president... and the president mention the fact they didn't realize how difficult an economic circumstance we're in," Boehner said. "Now, this is the greatest fabrication I've seen since I've been in Congress. I sat through those meetings at the White House with the president and the vice president, and trust me, there's not one person that sat in those rooms that didn't know how serious our economic crisis was.
Obama told NBC on Tuesday that "rather than say 'misread,' we had incomplete information."
"What I would say is that in some areas you're seeing the economic engine turn," Obama said in that interview. "But what we always knew was that a.) This recession was going to be deep; b.) It was going to last for a while."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The president's health care reform package - which has faced resistance from conservatives who oppose a public insurance option - came under attack from liberals yesterday, with most of the fire focused on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Emanuel's apparent suggestion in a Wall Street Journal article published Tuesday that the White House would be willing to consider a "trigger" clause on a public option - to delay full implementation of the plan if insurance companies met certain conditions on coverage and cost - drew outrage from liberal members of Congress and MoveOn.org, which has poured millions of dollars into a campaign supporting the president's health care proposal.
Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona immediately sent a letter to President Obama denouncing the idea. And MoveOn - which has launched ad campaigns in recent weeks pressuring equivocal senators to support the president's plan, and a public option - quickly turned its criticism on the White House.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Fiscally-stressed states are using their stimulus dollars to satisfy immediate needs rather than undertake longer-term reforms, according to a government report released Wednesday.
For example, states are spending education funds to prevent layoffs and maintain programs, a Government Accountability Office report found.
Trying to survive one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, state and school district officials say they don't have the money to undertake projects such as building new schools and expanding early-childhood education.
Similarly, states are using nearly half their infrastructure funds for pavement improvements, which can be implemented quickly and don't require environmental clearances and in-depth design work.
The $787 billion recovery act walks a fine line between trying to get funds out quickly to stimulate the economy and spurring longer-term initiatives.