(CNN) – In a stunning move that could throw a major roadblock in front of two of President Obama's biggest legislative initiatives, Sen. Lindsey Graham abruptly declared Saturday he's abandoning talks on climate change legislation because he believes Democratic efforts to bring up a separate immigration reform package is undermining the legislative process.
"Moving forward on immigration - in this hurried, panicked manner - is nothing more than a cynical political ploy," the South Carolina Republican wrote in a sharply-worded letter obtained by CNN.
The letter was sent to business, religious, and conservation leaders that the senator has been working with on the climate change legislation. An aide to Graham told CNN the senator will no longer be attending a major news conference scheduled for Monday with Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to unveil details of their "tri-partisan" climate change legislation.
Graham is the only leading Republican who has been working with the White House on the contentious issue.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama on Saturday strongly deplored the massacres of Armenians in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, but again avoided using the controversial term "genocide" to describe it.
In a statement commemorating Armenian Remembrance Day, Obama solemnly labeled the massacres and death marches as "one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century."
Tackling an issue fraught with political landmines, Obama referred to the event as "the Meds Yeghern," a term that means the "great catastrophe" and one that is used by Armenians to describe the killings.
Turkey, a moderate Muslim state and a strong ally of the United States, fiercely denies that a genocide occurred during the days of the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – Goldman Sachs officials knew their bets against mortgages, whose dramatic decline sparked the financial crisis, profited the firm, according to documents released Saturday by a Senate panel investigating the crisis.
"Of course we didn't dodge the mortgage mess," Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein told company executives in an e-mail dated Nov. 18, 2007. "We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts," or trading bets aimed at profiting when a bond drops in value.
Blankfein added: "Also, it's not over, so we don't know how it will turn out ultimately."
(CNN) – Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says a “fringe element” is using the Tea Party to transmit views that are unacceptable in the national political debate.
“There is a fringe element …that I think uses the Tea Party as a way to push into the mainstream - what are really and have been fringe sentiments,” Granholm, a Democrat, told CNN’s Candy Crowley in an interview airing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Granholm added she feels much of the grass-roots movement is “mainstream,” but said it also serves to “amplif[y] a voice that would previously have been unacceptable, I think, in most [of the] mainstream.”
Granholm, a two-term governor who will leave office in January, is reported to be on President Obama’s short list for the Supreme Court.
Candy Crowley’s full interview with Granholm airs Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union at 9 a.m. ET.
Washington (CNN) - The push for immigration reform may be on the front burner for congressional Democrats, but sources say that ultimately, they believe the issue is unlikely to have enough votes to pass.
Democrats say the goal is to try to take it up in the Senate before discussing the Supreme Court nomination this summer and spend the rest of the session before the midterm election on the politically potent issue of jobs.
One big reason for the immigration reform push, sources say, is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in a brutal battle to win re-election in Nevada, where a quarter of the population is Hispanic and he has promised to try.
(CNN) – Making light of the fact she was in one of America’s liberal bastions Friday night, Sarah Palin told attendees at an event in Eugene, Oregon she eats granola and organic food just like residents there do.
Speaking at the Lane County Republican's annual Lincoln Day Dinner, a major fundraising event for the organization, Palin told the crowd she’s more like people in Eugene than one might think.
Palin’s remarks also included the red meat jabs at Democrats that have become characteristic of her speeches this year, telling the crowd its OK for Republicans to be the “Party of No.”
"When the other party's wrong, we stiffen our spines," She told a crowd numbering 900, according to the Oregonian. "Why not be the party of not just no, but hell no.”
Washington (CNN) – Democrats will find electoral success in November if their candidates promote the party's efforts to reform Wall Street and effectively sell health care reform to the voters, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said in interview to air Sunday on CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley.
Democrats control the House and Senate by fairly wide margins, but Republicans are expected to make gains in the midterm elections. Granholm, a two-term governor who will leave office in January, acknowledged that the health care law was "controversial" but said that is why her fellow Democrats need to fully explain to individuals how it will help them.
"I think that people don't understand the benefits of it fully yet," she told Crowley in a wide-ranging interview. "And so there has to be an effort to try to educate citizens about that … between now and October and November."
Wall Street reform, Granholm predicted, won't be as tough a sell.
(CNN) - Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says Republicans will stand firm against any financial reform bill that allows for future government bailouts of failing banks.
“Republicans are working to ensure the bill would forbid any future bailouts of Wall Street banks,” said Hutchison in the Republican weekly radio and internet address airing Saturday. “The idea that a financial institution is ‘Too Big To Fail’ perverts free market capitalism. It suggests that large firms can privatize their profits, yet socialize their risks.”
“To be clear, we will stand firm against a partisan bill that exposes ordinary taxpayers to future bailouts or favors big companies over community banks across America,” she added.
Hutchison unsuccessfully sought the Republican Texas gubernatorial nomination, losing to Gov. Rick Perry last month. Amid urging from national and Texas Republicans, Hutchison decided to serve out the final two years of her Senate term, even though she pledged during the gubernatorial primary that she would retire this year.
Read the full remarks of the address after the jump
“On Friday…the Treasury Department informed Congress that this financial rescue – which was absolutely necessary to prevent an even worse economic disaster – will end up costing taxpayers a fraction of what was originally feared,” Obama says in the address. “This is a direct result of the careful management of the investments made by the American people so that we could recoup as many tax dollars as possible – as quickly as possible.”
Obama’s comments come days after he delivered a speech in New York City calling for reform of Wall Street practices.
“I once again called for reforms to hold Wall Street accountable and to protect consumers,” Obama says in Saturday’s address. “These reforms would put an end – once and for all – to taxpayer bailouts. They would bring greater transparency to complex financial dealings. And they will empower ordinary consumers and shareholders in our financial system.”
On Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 13-8 in favor of a bill that would impose regulations on the complex system of Wall Street trades known as derivatives. Senate leaders will look at merging the measure with a financial regulations reform bill already passed by the Senate Banking Committee that is headed for debate by the full chamber. The House of Representatives passed a regulatory overhaul in December.
Full remarks of the address after the jump