POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/13
The Senate Ethics Committee has referred the case against former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, Roll Call reports.
The committee’s report found “substantial credible evidence that provides substantial cause to conclude that Senator Ensign violated Senate Rules and federal civil and criminal laws.”
Ensign is accused of helping former aide Doug Hampton, already indicted, by funneling lobbying clients to him during a mandated cooling-off period. The senator previously admitted to having an extramarital affair with Hampton’s wife.
He is also said to have lied about a $96,000 payment to the Hamptons, violated campaign finance laws and obstructed justice by deleting emails.
Also interesting: Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was the person who tipped off Ensign that the Hamptons had contacted Fox News about the affair.
Donald Trump is working on a policy book “in conjunction with his potential presidential campaign,” Real Clear Politics reports.
Regnery Publishing is preparing for a late-summer release date.
However, John DiStaso reports that in a visit to New Hampshire yesterday Trump said that he “is skeptical that he could deal with the Inside-the-Beltway style of the Washington establishment, and he’s less sure that the establishment could deal with him. Such talk left the impression that The Donald is pulling back from a candidacy.”
Jonathan Capehart was stuck on a broken Amtrak train with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and could resist asking him if there was anything Republicans could do to convince him to run for president in 2012.
Said Bush: “I don’t think so. A lot of people are asking me that, and it’s flattering. But the Magic Eight Ball says, ‘Outlook not so good.'”
Mitt Romney isn’t the only Republican presidential candidate who once backed an individual health insurance mandate.
Here’s Newt Gingrich in his 2008 book, Real Change: “Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond). Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor.”
From his 2005 book, Winning the Future: “You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance… We need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured, but we should make it clear that a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system.”
Huffington Post: “In his post-congressional life, Gingrich has been a vocal champion for mandated insurance coverage — the very provision of President Obama’s health care legislation that the Republican Party now decries as fundamentally unconstitutional.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) “refused to comment when asked if he believes in evolution or the theory of creationism when asked at a press conference earlier today,” the Newark Star Ledger reports.
Said Christie: “That’s none of your business.”
The ethics case against former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) will be made public today.
Sources tell NBC News that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who lead the Senate Ethics Committee, will go to the Senate floor at about 2:00 pm ET and reveal what their 22-month investigation learned.
Ensign resigned from his seat earlier this month hoping to stop the investigation.
Just published: Reagan: What Was He Really Like? by Curtis Patrick, a former aide to President Ronald Reagan.
President Obama announced he is seeking a two-year extension for the 10-year term of FBI Director Robert Mueller III which expires in September.
A statement: “I believe continuity and stability at the FBI is critical at this time. Bob transformed the FBI after September 11, 2001 into a pre-eminent counterterrorism agency, he has shown extraordinary leadership and effectiveness at protecting our country every day since. He has impeccable law enforcement and national security credentials, a relentless commitment to the rule of law, unquestionable integrity and independence, and a steady hand that has guided the Bureau as it confronts our most serious threats. I am grateful for his leadership, and ask Democrats and Republicans in Congress to join together in extending that leadership for the sake of our nation’s safety and security.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the first lawmaker to see the photos of a dead Osama bin Laden at the CIA headquarters, went on Fox News to describe what he saw.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is set to officially launch his presidential campaign Friday morning during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Politico reports.
He is then scheduled to start a two-day swing through New Hampshire and Iowa.
“What I think is unfortunate about Mitt Romney is he doesn’t even know who he is.”
— DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in an interview with ABC News,adding that he is “twisting his head into a pretzel.”
Josh Green: “The Tea Party may continue to alter races across the country, and could also shape the Republican presidential field. But it appears to have reached the limit of its influence in Washington. Here, where it counts most, the Tea Party is looking like a spent force.”
Newt Gingrich said that he will offer a new “Contract With America” similar to the 1994 document that helped him become the first Republican House speaker in 40 years, Bloomberg reports.
He said that he would ask Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to join him with an agenda that a Republican Congress would pass and a Republican president would sign into law.
Said Gingrich: “If we had a contract in the fall of 2012 and we had an election on core principles, we would have a mandate on the very first day.”
If reports are correct, the biggest obstacle to a presidential bid by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is his wife, Cheri, who doesn’t want details of their once troubled marriage brought into the open.
Well, it’s too late for that.
New York Times: “While much is known about Mr. Daniels in Republican circles… there is one period of his life that has remained almost entirely private — until now. He has been married twice — to the same wife. Should he run, that chapter in his life would no doubt be picked over in public and become a part of the personal narrative that springs up around any serious candidate.”
Washington Post: “In exchange for anonymity, an official for another GOP prospect provided contact information for the ex-wife of the man Cheri Daniels married, in the years between her divorce and remarriage to Daniels.”
Which leads Ben Smith to note: “The bitter pill has now, at least in part, been swallowed. If a fear of triggering public discussion of a 15 year old marital rift was a reason for Cheri Daniels to veto the run, it’s less of one now, for the simple reason that it’s already underway.”
The latest National Journal Political Insiders poll finds political operatives in both parties believe that the Republican chances for winning back the Senate are relatively high.
“Democrats thought there was a five-out-of-ten chance that the Republicans would net the four Senate seats they need to gain control of the chamber. To put that figure in perspective, back in 2006 when the Democrats picked up six seats and won the Senate majority, during the entire election cycle, Republican Insiders never rated the Democratic chances that good for taking over the Senate… On average, Republican Insiders thought they had a two-out-of-three chance of winning back the majority in the Senate.”
The Washington Post speaks with a number of negotiation professionals about Washington’s current negotiations over the debt ceiling. Their conclusion: “It’s one thing, negotiators say, to threaten the country with financial calamity if your demands aren’t met. It’s another thing to do it incorrectly.”
“They have learned the rules that help resolve unsolvable standoffs: Don’t lie to a man on a high ledge. Don’t box yourself in with sweeping threats. Don’t tell your adversary to ‘act like an adult.’ Now, they have watched the two parties bend or break those three rules. They worry that the politicians’ mistakes might only prolong their dispute — at a moment where every day of delay adds to Wall Street’s worries.”
Ezra Klein: “If we were really just negotiating over the deficit, this would be easy… There’s not only apparent unanimity on the goal, but a broad menu of approaches. We’d just take elements from each and call it a day. But if the Republicans are negotiating over their antipathy to taxes and their belief that government should be much smaller, that’s a much more ideological, and much tougher to resolve, dispute. The two parties don’t agree on that goal. And if the Democrats haven’t quite decided what their negotiating position is, save to survive this fight both economically and politically, that’s not necessarily going to make things easier, either. Negotiations are hard enough when both sides agree about the basic issue under contention. They’re almost impossible when they don’t.”
Mark Halperin: “As long as Republicans stick to their ‘No new taxes’ mantra, a deal is impossible. And Speaker of the House John Boehner’s demand for trillions in spending cuts to match any increase in the debt ceiling is unhelpful in the extreme. Even if a compromise can be found, White House officials worry that rank-and-file House GOP hard-liners could well vote down the package anyway, creating the kind of political disarray and global anxiety that Obama, most Republican leaders and the financial markets want to avoid.”
Jack Davis (I), the self-funding independent candidate in the special election in New York’s 26th District, was caught on video taking a swipe at a tracker and laughing about it.
What to watch: As the three-way election with Davis, Republican Jane Corwin and Democrat Kathy Hochul rapidly gears up, keep an eye on how much traction this video gets among Republicans who currently split between Davis and Corwin.
Dave Catanese: “Almost every politician is forced to confront a tracker at some point in their career. How they handle it can be a defining moment. Being able to keep your cool counts for something in this YouTube-viral world.”