Washington (CNN) - John Brennan came well-prepared Thursday and held his own during questioning at his Senate confirmation hearing to become the 21st director of the Central Intelligence Agency. It was in stark contrast to what was considered by many as an ill-prepared, lethargic performance by defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearing last week.
Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee mostly grilled Brennan about his knowledge of the CIA's controversial interrogation and detention program and the lethal targeting of suspected terrorists. Republicans tended to focus on leaks of secret information about counterterrorism activities.
(CNN) - To the people of Colbert Nation, a retreat for Democratic House members may be the last place they'd expect to find Stephen Colbert.
Unless the comedian who plays a conservative on television is plotting to take the Democrats down.
(CNN) - Retired basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson visited the White House on Thursday, a White House official told CNN.
Johnson was in town for an unrelated event, but met with President Barack Obama "briefly to discuss the important issue of HIV and AIDS in the African American community, and other issues," the official said.
(CNN) - Senate Democrats are working on a temporary measure, which includes new tax measures, to avoid steep automatic spending cuts looming on March 1, CNN has learned.
While a source familiar with the plan did not specify any cuts that would be part of the package, he did outline three areas for possible revenue increases to be proposed "in the next couple of weeks."
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama told House Democrats Thursday he will headline eight fundraising events for them in 2013, and promised to do many more in the 2014 midterm election year.
Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told CNN the president made that promise while attending the House Democrats' retreat.
(CNN) - Outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu wants you to know he isn't stepping down because of a saucy scandal.
Especially not one "reported" this week by the sarcastic mock newspaper The Onion.
Washington (CNN) – A group of four senators working behind the scenes on a bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales is making significant progress, according to sources in both parties familiar with their work.
The group includes Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who has an A rating with the National Rifle Association, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, a long time advocate of gun rights, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a long time supporter of gun control.
CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 6, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DRONES, PROTESTORS AND WATER BOARDING: John Brennan, the Obama administration’s nominee to lead the CIA, faced a tough hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday. Here is a taste:
On Water Boarding: “I had expressed my personal objections and views to some agency colleagues about certain of those EITs such as water boarding, nudity and others where I professed my personal objections to it. But I did not try to stop it because it was something that was being done in a different part of the agency under the authority of others.”
On Drones: “I think there is a misimpression on the part of some American people who believe that we take strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions. Nothing could be further from the truth. We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there is no other alternative to taking actions that is going to mitigate that threat.”
DEVELOPING: LEVIN TO PRESS FORWARD WITH COMMITTEE VOTE ON HAGEL, DESPITE OPPOSITION… Democratic Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin is making clear he is fed up with Republicans dragging their feet on Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Defense Secretary, and now says he will schedule a vote soon, even over Republican opposition. “We can’t not vote because there is dissatisfaction on the part of people because that could be endless,” said Levin, D-Michigan. “We’re going to schedule a vote as soon as we’re ready to have a vote.” Levin, who had hoped to vote as early as Thursday, put it off after more than two dozen Republicans pressed Hagel to provide additional financial information about corporations and other organizations he’s been associated with since leaving Congress. – Ted Barrett
Lansdowne, Virginia (CNN) - House Democratic leaders rolled out a wide ranging set of proposals on Thursday to address gun violence, an agenda that largely mirrored those released by Vice President Joe Biden last month but faces an uphill battle in Congress to become law.
After meeting with victims of gun violence, gun rights groups, law enforcement officials and others a task force created by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi presented fifteen principles it aimed to convert into legislation soon. The central and most controversial piece includes reinstating the assault weapons ban, a politically charged issue that Congressional aides from both parties doubt will get enough support to pass either chamber on Capitol Hill. The group also said Congress should ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and require universal background checks for anyone purchasing firearms.