(CNN) - Sarah Palin and her husband Todd will testify in the federal case against a Tennessee man who allegedly accessed Palin's private e-mail account during the 2008 presidential race, Palin's attorney told CNN Thursday.
"Governor and Mr. Palin have been asked by the U.S. Department of Justice to testify in its ongoing criminal prosecution in the case of U.S. v Kernell," attorney Thomas Van Flein said in a statement. "The Palins expect to testify in person in Knoxville, Tennessee."
The case involves University of Tennessee student David C. Kernell, the 22-year old son of a Democratic state representative.
Kernell was indicted in October 2008 after he allegedly used information freely available online to guess the password to Palin's personal Yahoo! account, the name of which was posted on numerous Web sites at the time. Kernell accessed the account around the same time questions were being raised about Palin's use of personal e-mail accounts to conduct state business as governor of Alaska.
Washington (CNN) - A finding by the Senate parliamentarian has narrowed Democrats' options for passing health care reform and could force House Democrats to approve the Senate health care bill and have the President sign it into law before they vote on changes to the measure.
Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin notified leaders from both parties Thursday that the process Democrats are using to pass health care reform, known as reconciliation, must be tied to something already signed into law, according to staff for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional sources.
Practically, this could force House Democratic leaders to ask members who oppose the Senate bill as it stands now to vote the measure into law and have faith that the Senate will agree to a package of changes.
House Democrats are still discussing strategy for passing revisions to the Senate bill using reconciliation. But Democratic aides have admitted that it would be easier to vote on the original Senate bill if it were followed immediately by a vote on the package of changes in reconciliation.
Republicans see the decision as a tactical victory, making the climb to health care passage steeper. Don Stewart, spokesman for McConnell, e-mailed a statement confirming the decision, writing, "The Senate Parliamentarian's office has informed Senate Republicans that reconciliation instructions require the measure to make changes in law."
The parliamentarian's decision leaves open one other option: Democrats could try to tie the changes they want in the Senate health care bill to other laws currently on the books. But it's not clear if that is feasible, especially because some key issues in the health care bill are not found in existing laws, such as how to pay for reform.
Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s wife broke her back and neck and his daughter suffered a neck injury in an auto accident, a spokesman said late Thursday afternoon.
“Their injuries are non-life threatening,” Jon Summers, Reid’s spokesman, said in a statement. The Nevada Democrat’s family was traveling along a “Washington, D.C. highway” when “their vehicle was rear-ended by a semi-truck,” Summers said.
“Senator Reid’s wife, Landra, and daughter, Lana, were involved in an accident earlier today. They are being treated at a Washington-area hospital. While driving on a Washington, DC, highway, their vehicle was rear-ended by a semi-truck. Mrs. Reid has broken nose, broken back and broken neck. Lana has a neck injury and facial lacerations. Both Mrs. Reid and Lana are conscious, can feel their extremities, and according to doctors their injuries are non-life threatening. Senator Reid has been to the hospital and appreciates the support he and his family are receiving from Nevadans and his colleagues in the Senate.”
UPDATE: Reid returned to Capitol Hill to participate in health care talks after visiting his wife and daughter in the hospital. Reid spokesman Jim Manley said that the senator’s wife continues to undergo testing.
“Let’s be clear, for those who may know, he loves that woman more than life itself,” Manley told reporters. “But she’s in good hands at the hospital and (he) felt the need to come back and work on this piece of legislation and he’ll be heading back to the hospital as quickly as possible. I just spoke to him and he’s looking forward to getting back to the hospital.”
Update Friday 11:48 a.m.: From Reid spokesman Jim Manley: “Mrs. Reid remains in serious condition. Lana was released last night. Sen. Reid and Landra’s family is coming to be by her side. Sen. Reid was at the hospital until almost midnight last night. He stayed there until the doctors told him he needed to leave so his wife could rest. He returned first thing this morning to be with her and is still there.”
– CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report
Read the Virginia State Police statement regarding the accident after the jump:
Washington (CNN) – Two Obama administration sources told CNN Thursday that plans are in the works to shift Gene Sperling from a senior Treasury Department role to the No. 2 job at the Office of Management and Budget. But the No. 1 man at the OMB, Director Peter Orzag, sent word late in the day that he "has not offered the job to anyone."
That statement, delivered through Orzag deputy and lead spokesman Kenneth Baer, the OMB's assistant director for communications and strategic planning, reflected internal tensions over the prospect of Sperling moving to the OMB.
Sperling now serves as counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The job of deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget became vacant last month when
Robert Nabors left the No. 2 budget job to become a senior adviser to chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The Washington Post reported back then that Sperling was among the candidates to replace Nabors.
The two sources, who spoke to CNN on Thursday, said Sperling was the White House choice for the job, and was undergoing the vetting process. The OMB job requires Senate confirmation; Sperling's current Treasury position did not. A third source was somewhat less definitive, saying the shift was "probable," but not certain because the vetting process was not completed. All three sources are administration officials involved in economic policy who discussed the issue only on condition of anonymity because it is a personnel matter.
After seeing a brief CNN report on the issue, Baer contacted CNN and disputed the process was as far along as the other sources had suggested. "Director Orzag has talked with Gene about this job," Baer said. "He also has talked with other candidates. He has not offered the job to anyone … Nothing has been decided. No job has been offered."
Washington (CNN) - Public schools in Western states can continue teacher-led reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, after a federal court ruled against a group of atheist parents.
The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U-S Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Thursday that the pledge does not represent a government endorsement of religion, prohibited by the Constitution.
"The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our republic was founded and for which we continue to strive: one Nation under God," wrote the majority. "Millions of people daily recite these words when pledging allegiance to the United States of America."
The ruling applies only to the 11 states and territories in the West covered by the 9th Circuit, but it reinforces other rulings from other courts upholding the pledge. The same appeals court also ruled separately Thursday, upholding the use of the words "In God We Trust" on U.S. money.
Washington (CNN) – Senate Democrats huddled in the Capitol Thursday afternoon to hash out the issue of whether to include changes to student loan policies in the same reconciliation bill that will include fixes to health care reform.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid emerged from the meeting to say that while a consensus among Democrats is forming, he does not expect a decision on the controversial issue today.
Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said more Senate Democrats support adding the student loan language than oppose it.
"There are some who think it complicates the ultimate vote. There are others who think it helps the ultimate vote. It's an honest difference of opinion," Durbin said.
The student loan legislation is a priority of President Obama and many Democrats on the Hill. It would remove private banks from offering student loans in favor of direct lending from the government.
Many Republicans and some Democrats oppose a government takeover of student loans and say it will cost jobs in many states where those private lending institutions exist.
(CNN) – Rod Blagojevich may have lost his job, but the former Illinois governor hasn't lost his sense of humor.
Blagojevich appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman" Wednesday to present the show's Top Ten list. The category: "The top ten questions Rod Blagojevich asked himself before appearing on 'Celebrity Apprentice.'"
The former politician, who was impeached after he was accused of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama, delivered punchlines that focused more on his hair than his politics.
Blagojevich opened his performance with the number 10 question - "Can I get paid in shampoo?" - and ended the list with, "Will my hair get along with Trump's hair?"
But in between the fluffy hair jokes, Blagojevich found room for one or two politically-charged digs, including, "How come I'm not a governor and Paterson is?"
The former governor's late night appearance comes four days ahead of this season's "Celebrity Apprentice" premiere. As a cast member, Blagojevich follows in the footsteps of his wife, Patti, who appeared on NBC's "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" last summer.
Read Blagojevich's entire Top Ten list after the jump:
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama will donate his $1.4 million 2009 Nobel Peace Prize award to 10 charities, the White House announced Thursday.
The organizations receiving the money "do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need," Obama said in a statement. "I'm proud to support their work."
The list of charities includes:
- $250,000 to Fisher House, a group that helps provide housing for families of patients receiving medical care at military and Veterans Affairs medical centers;
- $200,000 for the Clinton-Bush Haiti fund, which supports relief efforts in the earthquake-ravaged nation;
Washington (CNN) – Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty, two potential rivals for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, will meet in Minneapolis next month to help raise money for Rep. Michele Bachmann, an outspoken conservative and popular figure among Tea Party activists.
Palin had previously announced that she would campaign for Bachmann this spring, and Bachmann's campaign followed up Thursday with the announcement that the former Alaska governor will host an April 7 fundraiser for the Bachmann's re-election campaign.
But Bachmann's campaign also announced that Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor, will be one of several "Honorary Hosts" for the fundraiser - adding an extra layer of 2012 intrigue to the event.
The other "Honorary Hosts" are also Minnesota Republicans: former Sen. Norm Coleman, Rep. John Kline and Rep. Erik Paulsen.
Bachmann's campaign said a rally with Palin is still being planned.
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