June 17th, 2009
06:48 PM ET
14 years ago

John Edwards talks affair, future

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/17/art.jedwards0617.gi.jpg caption=" Edwards isn't ruling out politics in the future."](CNN) - In his first at-length interview in the year since he admitted to an extramarital affair, former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards says he's still not sure whether it was a mistake to run for the White House knowing his act of infidelity could be exposed.

"Did it make sense to run and stay in the race? Time will tell," Edwards told the Washington Post in an interview published on the paper's Web site Wednesday.

The former North Carolina senator credited his run with highlighting the issue of poverty and pushing his chief Democratic competitors - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - toward more progressive stances on a host of issues.

"If you were to ask people during the campaign who's talking most about [poverty], it was me," Edwards said in the interview. "There's a desperate need in the world for a voice of leadership on this issue... The president's got a lot to do, he's got a lot of people to be responsible for, so I'm not critical of him. But there does need to be an aggressive voice beside the president."

The comments come a month after his wife Elizabeth embarked on a high-profile book tour, during which she documented at length her anguishing reaction to Edwards' affair with a campaign staffer three years earlier.

Edwards - the 2004 vice presidential candidate and onetime frontrunner for an Obama cabinet post - also said he is not ruling out a future in politics.

"Sometimes you just keep your head down and work hard and see what happens," he said.

Filed under: Extra • John Edwards • Popular Posts
June 17th, 2009
06:47 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama order grants some benefits to same-sex couples

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama signed an executive order granting some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees Wednesday, calling it "a historic step" but promising more action to come.

"We've got more work to do to ensure that government treats all its citizens equally, to fight injustice and intolerance in all its forms and to bring about that more perfect union," Obama said.

The signing followed sharp criticism of the president over a Justice Department motion filed last week in support of the Defense of Marriage Act - which effectively bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions.

Obama said he still wants to repeal the act.

"I believe it's discriminatory. I think it interferes with state's rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it," he said.

The memorandum he signed Wednesday means same-sex partners of civil service employees can be added to the long-term care program, employees can use their sick leave to take care of domestic partners and children and same-sex partners of Foreign Service employees will be included in medical evacuations and housing allocations, according to the White House.

But it does not cover full health-care coverage, which would require an act of Congress, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Full story

June 17th, 2009
06:40 PM ET
14 years ago

WH would prevent release of detainee photos, senator says

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration has promised to classify photos of alleged U.S. abuse of prisoners and detainees if that is necessary to keep the controversial photos under wraps, a senior Republican senator announced Wednesday.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, informed Attorney General Eric Holder at a Judiciary Committee hearing that Graham had just won the promise from the White House chief of staff.

"A moment ago Rahm Emanuel indicated to me that the president will not let these photos see the light of day," Graham told Holder at a packed Committee hearing.

Graham is pressing for a congressional prohibition against the release of hundreds of allegedly explosive photos of prisoner abuse that U.S. military leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan believe would fuel anger in the region and endanger U.S. troops.

But if the Congress fails to act and the courts rule against the administration, it would be left to the president to find a way to keep the photos from being released.

"I think having Congress act would be a preferred way," Holder replied.

June 17th, 2009
06:17 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama calls for summer of service

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/17/art.boserve0617.wh.jpg caption="In an online video released Wednesday, President Obama called on all Americans to volunteer in their communities."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama unveiled a new community service initiative Wednesday with a focus on his administration's domestic policy priorities: education, health care, energy, and turning around the nation's struggling economy.

"[W]e cannot do this alone here in Washington," the president said in an online video announcing the launch of "United We Serve."

"We can rebuild our schools, but we need people to be mentors and tutors . . . we need volunteers in our hospitals and communities . . .we need people to use energy-efficient products in their homes and train for the green jobs in the future," he said. "...[W]e need to build a new foundation for economic growth in America."

The campaign will begin on June 22 and run through September 11, which became "The National Day of Service and Remembrance" when Obama signed legislation promoting community service soon after taking office.

As part of the new campaign, the administration also launched serve.gov Wednesday. The Web site allows users to register their community service projects and connect with others interested in volunteering.

"United We Serve" will be overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency charged with fostering community service and volunteerism.

Filed under: President Obama
June 17th, 2009
05:25 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: 'A sweeping overhaul'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – President Obama on Wednesday unveiled his long-anticipated plan to restructure how banks and other firms are regulated in the hope of preventing another financial collapse.

The far-reaching effort would reorder the roles of some key agencies to try to tighten government supervision of the financial sector. It would also toughen up standards for big financial firms and create a new agency dedicated to consumer protection.

"We did not choose how this crisis began. But we do have a choice in the legacy this crisis leaves behind," Obama said. "So today, my administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system, a transformation on a scale not seen since the reforms that followed the Great Depression."

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will head to Capitol Hill to detail the Obama proposals and answer questions. Most of the administration's plans will require legislation to gain force.

One of Obama's more drastic moves would be to abolish the embattled Office of Thrift Supervision and merge it with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Full story

Filed under: President Obama
June 17th, 2009
04:50 PM ET
14 years ago

Pence: US needs to show support for Iranian protesters

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/13/art.pence.jpg caption="Rep. Mike Pence said the US should 'speak a word of support for the people of Iran.'"]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Rep. Mike Pence, criticizing President Obama for not saying more in support of protestors in Iran, said Wednesday that he is taking another step to show solidarity for the dissenting citizens of the country.

"I appreciate the fact that the president said the protesters have a right to be heard and represented, and I appreciate the fact that he said he is troubled," Pence said in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on the Situation Room. "But I respectfully disagree with the administration's decision to essentially draw the line at not meddling and not interfering."

Pence, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a resolution in the House that he said would "speak a word of support for the people of Iran." He said he didn't think the United States should endorse the opposition candidate, but should instead show support for the protesters who are "risking their lives for free and fair elections."

Pence said showing support could lead to a "fresh start" with the citizens of Iran.

"I really believe we may have an opportunity for a fresh start here, not with the tyrants in Tehran, not with Ahmadinejad, who even looks at what this administration is doing and accuses them of meddling," Pence said. "But rather with the good and decent and courageous people of Iran who are stepping forward and risking their liberty and their lives for principles that we as Americans cherish."

Filed under: Iran • Mike Pence
June 17th, 2009
04:25 PM ET
14 years ago

Biden: Remember me? I used to work here

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/17/art.bidenpt0617.gi.jpg caption="Vice President Biden addressed his former Senate colleagues at an event Wednesday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Joe Biden returned to his old stomping grounds Wednesday wearing three hats: vice president, historian, and comedian.

Biden delivered the keynote address at the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee's Green Jobs Summit.

The vice president needled his former colleagues. "I just want to remind you guys I hope you remember me. I used to work here. So easily how they forget," he said.

Biden served in the Senate for 36 years before being elected vice president.

The summit was held in the caucus room of the Russell Senate office building, which inspired Biden to discuss the room's history.

"It's good to be home in this room. This is - business folks and labor leaders probably know - but this is one of the most historic rooms in the United States Senate," said Biden.

"John Kennedy announced his run for the presidency here. This was the room in which the Bork hearing took place. And this is the room in which the Clarence Thomas hearing took place. Over which I presided on both of them and I am so glad to be here not talking about the Supreme Court. Umm... laugh a little bit, guys. Come on - you're a stiff audience here, man."

–CNN's Virginia Nicolaidis contributed to this report.

Filed under: Joe Biden
June 17th, 2009
03:21 PM ET
14 years ago

Frank slams Obama for 'big mistake' on Defense of Marriage Act (updated)

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/18/aig.bonuses.congress/art.frank.gi.jpg caption="Rep. Barney Frank says the Obama administration made a 'big mistake' on a Justice Department brief supporting the Defense of Marriage Act."](CNN) - Four days after the Justice Department filed a brief strongly supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, openly gay Rep. Barney Frank said the Obama administration made a "big mistake" and is calling on the president to clearly explain his views on the matter.

"I think the administration made a big mistake. The wording they used was inappropriate," the Massachusetts Democrat told the Boston Herald during an interview published in the paper's Wednesday edition.

Update: Rep. Frank has since said his comments were based on a flawed description of the administration's brief and believes President Obama does not deserve criticism for the document. (full statement below)

Many gay activists have called on Frank and other gay members of Congress to speak out against the recent DOJ brief, which appeared to equate gay marriage to incest in its reasoning that states have the right not to recognize gay marriages from other states.

The brief says states favor heterosexual marriages because they are the "traditional and universally recognized form of marriage," and specifically argued that the Constitution's "full faith and credit" clause - whereby states have to respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" - does not apply to gay marriage just as it does not apply to mariages involving incest.

"I've been in touch with the White House and I'm hoping the president will make clear these were not his views," Frank also said.

(Updated below the jump with latest Frank statement)


June 17th, 2009
03:20 PM ET
14 years ago

Sen. John Ensign resigns GOP leadership post

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/16/art.ensignfrown0616.gi.jpg caption="Sen. John Ensign Wednesday resigned his position in the Senate Republican leadership."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - A day after admitting to an extramarital affair, Nevada Sen. John Ensign has resigned his position in the Senate Republican leadership, a Senate GOP leadership source confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

Ensign was the head of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking elected leadership position.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement saying “He’s accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to his family and constituents. He offered, and I accepted, his resignation as chairman of the Policy Committee.”

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, a good friend of Ensign, said the Nevadan still has a role to play in the party.

“He’s a very intelligent senator," Kyl said, adding, "John is a person of great faith. So I know this is a very, very difficult deal for he and his family."

Meanwhile Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, who shares a house with Ensign in Washington, said time will tell what his future role in the party will be.

"He’s a bright young man and lot of people make mistakes," Coburn said.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. with comments from Sens. Kyl, Coburn.

Filed under: John Ensign
June 17th, 2009
02:34 PM ET
14 years ago

McCaskill says latest WH letter puts it in compliance with the law

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/27/art.mccaskill.gi.jpg caption="McCaskill says administration’s latest letter puts it in compliance with the law."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Claire McCaskill - a key Senate critic of the way the Obama administration launched the removal process for the government's Americorps watchdog - said Monday the White House's new letter accusing Gerald Walpin of being "disoriented" and "unduly disruptive" had brought it into compliance with legal requirements.

"Last night, in response to my request for adequate information on the firing of Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service Gerald Walpin, the White House submitted a letter to Senators Lieberman and Collins that now puts the White House in full compliance with the notice requirement in the law," the Missouri Democrat said in a statement issued Wednesday.

"The next step for Congress is to use the 30 days provided by the notice to seek further information and undertake any further review that might be necessary. The reasons given in the most recent White House letter are substantial and the decision to remove Walpin appears well founded."

The statement echoes her comment on Twitter earlier in the day. "The letter from the White House late yesterday is certainly compliance with the law as to reason for removal," she tweeted in response to a query from a Missouri reporter.


Filed under: Claire McCaskill • White House
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