Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama is expected to receive a CIA update Monday on the botched Christmas Day terrorist attack, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton.
The president will also meet with his deputy national security adviser, John Brennan.
Obama returned to Washington on Monday at the conclusion of the first family's Hawaii holiday vacation.
Washington (CNN) - In his new book, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele accuses President Obama of being "hypocritical" for choosing to send his daughters to an expensive private school while also killing a voucher program that offered low-income children in Washington the chance to do the same.
After winning the presidential race, the Obamas chose to send their daughters Malia and Sasha to the Sidwell Friends School in Northwest Washington, where tuition costs nearly $30,000 a year. In December 2009, Obama signed the 2010 omnibus spending bill, which included language ending the Washington Scholarship Fund, a federally-funded D.C. program that awarded school vouchers to lower-income children.
"Here in D.C., President Obama doesn't have a problem cutting off the lifeline for kids who need a good education as much or more than any children in the nation," Steele writes in his book "Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda," which was released Monday.
"After all, he can afford to send his kids to Sidwell Friends, and he needs to keep the teachers' union bosses happy. He won't sacrifice his own kids for the teachers' unions - and he shouldn't. But he shouldn't sacrifice other people's kids either."
Steele writes that he doesn't fault the president for sending his kids to an elite private school over D.C. public schools, which he calls "the absolute worst in the nation." But he does accuse Obama of being disingenuous.
"Vice President Biden's grandchildren attend Sidwell," he writes. "Bill Clinton's daughter went there too, and so did Al Gore's son. President Obama is just carrying on a hypocritical Democrat tradition that boils down to this: do as I say, not as I do."
Washington (CNN) – Senator John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, is undergoing hip surgery Monday, his second hip procedure in five months, CNN has learned.
The surgery will take place at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital, according to Kerry spokesperson Whitney Smith.
"Senator Kerry chose this time for surgery in order to ensure he'd be back on his feet in plenty of time for the legislative period later this month. He'll spend a couple of days in the hospital before returning home in Boston with his family," said Smith.
Dr. Dennis Burke, the orthopedic surgeon who performed Kerry's earlier hip procedure in August, is scheduled to perform this second surgery.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama appointed a transgender woman, Amanda Simpson, to be a Technical Advisor at the Commerce Department.
Simpson has worked in the aerospace and defense industry for 30 years, and most recently served as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tuscon, Arizona. At Raytheon, she made the transition from male to female and helped convince the company to include gender identity and expression to its equal opportunity employment policy.
"I'm truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me," Simpson said in a statement released by the National Center for Transgender Equality. "And at the same time, as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds, and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others."
Simpson, who was named one of the YWCA's "Women on the Move" in 2004, was a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
(CNN) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, an early frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, is returning to Iowa as part of his upcoming book tour. The midwestern visit will mark the first time Romney has traveled to the Hawkeye State since finishing second in the 2008 presidential caucuses.
Several other potential 2012 candidates - including Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Mike Pence and Rick Santorum - have already made the pilgrimage to the early voting state.
Romney will make two appearances on March 29, according to the Des Moines Register: a book signing in Des Moines, and a speech at Iowa State University in Ames. His latest book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," is due out in early March.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Romney, said the rest of the book tour is still being finalized with the publisher, St. Martin's Press.
"We are looking at an 18-state tour where Mitt Romney will be on the road the entire month of March doing book signings, speaking engagements and media interviews," Ferhstrom said in an e-mail.
(CNN) - President Obama enters 2010 facing many of the problems he vowed to confront during his first year, along with a handful of new responsibilities.
The president returns Monday from a Hawaiian vacation intended to provide some down time, but with the Christmas Day terror incident, there was little time for rest and relaxation. While on vacation, the president tacked on an overhaul of the intelligence community to his already-full agenda.
Obama also scheduled a Tuesday meeting with his national security team to discuss how to plug holes in aviation security.
Republicans have blasted the administration's handling of the failed attack, with former Vice President Dick Cheney accusing the president of pretending the nation is not at war.
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, however, all but called Cheney a liar.
"Either the vice president is willfully mischaracterizing this president's position, both in terms of language he uses and the actions he's taken, or he's ignorant of the facts," he said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
(CNN) – South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown, a five-term Republican, is set to announce his retirement Monday, two sources tell CNN.
Brown, whose 1st Congressional District includes much of South Carolina's coastline –including Charleston and Myrtle Beach - won a closer-than-expected reelection bid in 2008 and was already set to face a primary challenge from Carrol Campbell III, the son of a once powerful South Carolina Republican.
The news was first reported by the Palmetto Scoop.
But while Brown only won his reelection bid by 4 points in 2008, his district is considered to be reliably conservative, handing then-Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain 56 percent of the vote in 2008.
According to the Palmetto Scoop, at least three other Republicans besides Campbell have announced their intention to run for Brown' seat, including Mt. Pleasant Town Councilman Mark Fava.
Paul Thurmond, the son of the longtime Sen. Strom Thurmond, and Tim Scott, a current State Representative who is currently making a bid for lieutenant governor, could also enter the race.
(CNN) – Houston will become the largest city in the country to be governed by an openly-gay person when Annise Parker takes over Monday as the city's mayor.
Parker was sworn in over the weekend in a private ceremony as chief executive of the nation's fourth largest city. Public events are planned for Monday.
The 53-year-old three-term city controller has never tried to shield her sexual orientation in any of her campaigns for public office. Parker has been with her partner for 19 years and has two adopted children.
Parker won nearly 54 percent of the vote in a runoff election last month, topping former city attorney Gene Lock in the battle to succeed Bill White, who was term limited. White is now aiming for a higher office: Texas governor.
Atlanta gets a new mayor Monday as well, as Kasim Reed is sworn in. Reed, who topped Mary Norwood in a runoff election last month, replaces two-term mayor Shirley Franklin.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
(CNN) - Lincoln Chafee Monday will formally announce his bid for Rhode Island governor Monday.
The former Republican senator-turned-independent will officially jump into the race at an event in Warwick, where he once served as mayor.
The 56 year old Chafee lost his U.S. senate seat in 2006 to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse after a bitter Republican primary battle against Stephen Laffey. Chafee eventually left the GOP and is now an independent.
Two-term Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election this year.
"I believe that running as an independent will free me from the constraints that party politics impose on candidates," Chafee said when announcing his candidacy. "This freedom will allow me to bring in the best people from both major parties and people without political ties to solve our problems. The standard for govermment service in these trying times must be what you can do for our state, not who you know in politics."
(Updated at 1:15 p.m. with additional information)
CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
Thomas Kean, the Republican who chaired the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, said Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan had sounded “a bit defensive,” in an interview that had just aired on CNN’s State of the Union.
Kean said Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who failed in his attempt to set off an explosive on an airplane about to land in Detroit, “probably did us a favor.”
“We had an administration which was not focused, as it should be, on terrorism and that’s understandable,” Kean said. “They were focused on health care and global warming and the economy. That’s very understandable. Secondly, we weren’t really focused on Yemen and the terrible things that are happening there. Now we are and that’s a good thing. And, thirdly, there were holes obviously and the [intelligence gathering] system wasn’t working well. We found out it wasn’t working well and the president understands it’s not working well and now we’re focused on fixing it.”
Kean directly repudiated Brennan’s earlier assertion that the circumstances that allowed AbdulMutallab to board a U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day were different from those that led up to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.