(CNN) - Hillary Clinton released her tax returns for the years 2000 to 2006 late Friday afternoon, ending weeks of speculation over her delay in making them public.
“The Clintons have now made public thirty years of tax returns, a record matched by few people in public service,” spokesman Jay Carson said in a statement. “None of Hillary Clinton's presidential opponents have revealed anything close to this amount of personal financial information.”
The campaign said the records showed Bill and Hillary Clinton had paid more than $33.7 million in federal taxes on a joint income of $109 million and donated $10.2 million to charities over the past eight years.
The New York senator had initially said that she would not release them unless she was the Democratic nominee. But at a debate shortly before the March 4 primaries, she said she would consider releasing them "even earlier," though she did not name a precise date.
(CNN) - Clinton releases years of tax returns and CNN's Brian Todd gives you the highlights, in the latest edition of CNN=Politics Daily.
Also, the presidential candidates mark the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King's death. CNN's Candy Crowley reports on how Clinton and Obama spent the day while Sean Callebs tracks McCain.
Bill Schneider takes a look at the latest poll numbers on the economy and analyzes how they may affect the presidential race.
Finally, a podcast exclusive: CNN's Jennifer Mikell brings you the week's most memorable moments on the campaign trail.
Click here to subscribe to CNN=Politics Daily
(CNN) - A Democratic National Committee spokeswoman confirms to CNN that the party has returned $45,000 to three Florida donors unhappy with the continuing uncertainty over the seating of that state's delegation at the party's presidential nominating convention this summer.
The move follows reports that some major Democratic donors from Florida and Michigan - the two states penalized by the party for moving their presidential primary votes to January - would look to have their donations returned if full delegations were not seated at the convention in Denver, or new votes held that would abide by DNC rules.
This week, Howard Dean met with Florida's Democratic congressional delegation and party leaders, and released joint statements with that group and with the Michigan committee looking to craft a resolution of the controversy in that state. Democratic state party leaders in both Florida and Michigan have announced that new votes are not logistically possible.
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign sent back $3 million in donations, an aide confirms to CNN.
The return of the donations seems to suggest that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee might be planning to accept public financing for the general election.
Presidential candidates can receive a maximum of $4,600 from any single donor: $2,300 for their primary run, and $2,300 for the fall campaign. But if they accept government funds for the general election campaign, they are only allowed to keep the first $2,300.
McCain will still be able to use much the money, if donors who have had their checks returned re-direct them to his “general compliance fund” instead – a move he has requested in a letter to supporters.
(General compliance funds are used for legal expenses that arise from Federal Election Commission requirements, including related payroll and fundraising costs.)
Neither of the Arizona senator’s potential fall opponents will likely be bound by the fundraising limits of the federal public financing system.
Sen. Barack Obama, who had earlier pledged to accept public money if the GOP nominee did as well, has been more equivocal on his plans since becoming the Democratic frontrunner. Sen. Hillary Clinton has said that she will not participate in the program.
(CNN) - Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn said Friday it was an "error in judgment" for him to meet with the Colombian ambassador to advocate for a free-trade agreement Hillary Clinton has said she opposes.
"The meeting was an error in judgment that will not be repeated and I am sorry for it," Penn said in an issued statement. "The senator's well known opposition to this trade deal is clear and was not discussed."
The meeting, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, occurred Monday. Penn appears to have been acting in his role as chief executive of the international communications and lobbying firm, Burson-Marsteller Worldwide. The Colombian Embassy hired the firm to help achieve congressional approval of a bill allowing free trade with the country - a proposal Clinton has sharply criticized.
Earlier Friday, Clinton spokesperson Mo Elleithee said the New York senator "remains steadfast against the Colombian Trade Bill," and maintained Penn's meeting was "not in any way done on behalf of the campaign."
Clinton has sharply criticized America's free trade agreements as she campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, and was particularly critical of rival Barack Obama in February when it was reported that one of his chief foreign policy advisors had suggested to a Canadian official that the Illinois senator was not as anti-free trade as he was claiming to be on the trail.
"I don't think people should come to Ohio and tell the people of Ohio one thing and then have your campaign tell a foreign government something else behind closed doors," Clinton said then. "That's the kind of difference between talk and action and that I've been pointing out in this campaign."
"I would ask you to look at that story, substitute my name for Senator Obama," she also said. "If some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments and basically saying ignore what I'm saying because it's only political rhetoric ... I think it raises serious questions."
BUCHAREST, Romania (CNN) - It wasn't exactly a typical last day at the NATO summit – at least not for some members of the White House press corps.
As President Bush and other world leaders gathered behind closed doors for private meetings, journalists monitoring the events from a nearby hotel were paid an unexpected visit from an American cult figure – Zamfir, master of the pan flute.
For those who may not remember, Gheorghe Zamfir is probably best known for the late 80s/early 90s commercials that aired on CNN.
(As several colleagues have said, Zamfir paid their salaries for a long time.) But Zamfir is a true musical maestro, with a host of Hollywood movie credits, including performing for the soundtracks of Kill Bill and the Karate Kid. (Who can forget those musical montages of Daniel Larusso training for the big tournament? That pan flute was Zamfir.)
How the Romanian musician came to visit the workspace is a story in itself. Basically, he's a friend of a friend of a local Romanian working for a U.S. television network. He planned to stop by the workspace for just a brief visit to say hello, but quickly had the press corps buzzing with excitement. I asked him afterwards what he thought when he walked in and received … well, a rock star's reception.
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Another day closer to the slow, painful, but inevitable end that seems more and more to be staring Hillary Clinton square in the face. Barack Obama has now drawn almost even with Clinton among the superdelegates.
Three months ago, Clinton led Obama by more than one hundred superdelegates. Now her lead is down to 28. Since March 4th, 17 superdelegates have publicly announced for Obama while Senator Clinton has actually lost one. They include New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, who had been appointed the state's U-S attorney by Bill Clinton. Plus former President Jimmy Carter - who won't disclose who he's backing, but strongly hints that it's Obama.
Some Clinton supporters are now suggesting that she needs to top Obama in the popular vote in order to have any chance of winning.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - Michigan Democrats will not to go to the polls again to choose a presidential nominee, even though the national party has refused to recognize the results of their vote in January, the party announced Friday.
"We have concluded that it is not practical to conduct such a primary or caucus," the state party's executive committee said in a written statement. But they added they will continue to work with the Democratic National Committee and elected officials to ensure that the state is represented at the party convention in Denver this August.
Michigan Democrats held their primary earlier than national party rules allowed. The Democratic Party responded by refusing to seat Michigan’s delegates at the convention.
Many Democratic candidates, including Sen. Barack Obama, removed their names from the Michigan ballot after the DNC’s decision, leaving Sen. Hillary Clinton as the only major contender in the state.
Clinton got 55 percent, while 40 percent of the state's voters opted for "uncommitted.”
Clinton said Friday the party had to find a way to avoid “disenfranchising” 600,000 Michigan voters. “Those votes have been cast…. So the Democratic party is going to have to come to grips with whether or not we want to be like the Republicans and disenfranchise people or whether we will stay true to the voting-rights record of this party.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Secret Service source confirms that there have been contacts to arrange a meeting to discuss possible protection for Senator John McCain. The source tells CNN the contact was initiated by the McCain campaign.
Two sources, one in the campaign and one in the government, tell CNN there has been occasional contact for some time, although the presumptive Republican nominee himself has long declined a security detail. The discussions centered on issues like the potential risk of certain locations, though nothing that has ever reached the point of a specific or worrisome threat.
A sit-down meeting between McCain aides and top agency officials was scheduled to take place several weeks ago - before yesterday's congressional testimony by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan that the Arizona senator was not currently protected by an official security detail - but that discussion was postponed by the campaign.
That meeting had been scheduled to discuss a timetable for the eventual addition of protection, one that both sources now say they expect to be accelerated, and to begin in the near future (though no specific date has yet been set.) A detail is ready; candidate details teams have been training for months, and there is a McCain team ready to go on very short notice.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In wake of the new jobs report, Speaker Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders are calling on President Bush to work with Congress on another economic stimulus package.
"Today’s disturbing unemployment numbers, combined with Chairman Bernanke’s recession warning, and threats to our standard living because of the rising costs of gas, groceries and health care compels the President to work with Congress on a second stimulus package to get our economy back on track, create jobs, and speed assistance to families struggling to make ends meet,” Pelosi said in a written statement.
Pelosi added, “When congressional leaders meet with the President next week, I will urge him to refocus his attention on America’s economy and to again work in a bipartisan manner on a new stimulus package. We need to work together to restore consumer and market confidence, to assist millions of Americans threatened with the loss of their homes, and to help families meet the rising costs of necessities
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Illinois, said, “We need an economic program that rebuilds America and offers real help to the middle class. The Democratic Congress will now begin work on a second stimulus package to help American families and get our economy back on track.”