- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2007

‘Urgent’ e-mail

The Justice Department yesterday released one e-mail from a Bush administration official indicating that the White House was worried back in February that the story about the firings of U.S. attorneys was going to be a problem, Jon Ward of The Washington Times reports.

Scott Jennings, a deputy to presidential adviser Karl Rove, sent the e-mail at 10:17 a.m. on Feb. 28 to Mr. Rove, four other White House officials and Kyle Sampson, then-chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

Mr. Jennings titled the e-mail an “urgent issue” and said he had just received a phone call from Steve Bell, chief of staff to Sen. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican, about former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias.

Mr. Iglesias, Mr. Jennings said, was preparing to hold a press conference that morning to divulge that Mr. Domenici had called him prior to the November election to see if he was going to deliver indictments on corruption charges against Democratic lawmakers before the election.

Mr. Jennings also said that Mr. Iglesias planned to say that because he did not bring indictments before the election, “he believes this ultimately led to his being asked to resign by DOJ.”

“Bell said Domenici’s idea is not to respond and hopefully make this a one-day story,” Mr. Jennings wrote in his e-mail. “Unfortunately, I do not think that they can make an allegation such as this go away so easily.”

Other recipients of the e-mail were White House Counsel Fred Fielding, White House communications director Kevin Sullivan, White House deputy spokeswoman Dana Perino, and Mr. Jennings’ counterpart in the White House political office, Sara Taylor.

The e-mail was released after Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, and Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, sent a letter to Mr. Gonzales on Tuesday, demanding to know why the attorney general had not met a deadline for responding to Mr. Leahy’s subpoena.

Senate ‘disaster’

“White-flag time on the border, and a national security and thus a political disaster,” Hugh Hewitt declared yesterday at Townhall.com in response to rumors that Senate Republicans had reached a deal with President Bush and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, that would allow millions of illegal aliens to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Mr. Hewitt posted what he said were “draft talking points from the GOP,” headlined: “Republicans Standing Together to Fight for Tougher Enforcement and an Immigration System That Better Serves American Interests.”

At NationalReview.com, Kate O’Beirne condemned the proposed legislation as “faith-based immigration reform.” Michelle Malkin (MichelleMalkin.com) declared: “With friends like the Senate Republicans, who needs enemies?”

Hagel vs. Gonzales

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel yesterday became the latest Republican to call for Alberto R. Gonzales‘ resignation.

“The American people deserve an attorney general, the chief law-enforcement officer of our country, whose honesty and capability are beyond question,” Mr. Hagel said. “Attorney General Gonzales can no longer meet this standard. He has failed this country. He has lost the moral authority to lead.”

President Bush continued to stand by his longtime friend and adviser. Asked about Mr. Hagel’s comment on Mr. Gonzales’ moral authority, press secretary Tony Snow replied: “We disagree, and the president supports the attorney general.”

Mr. Hagel’s harsh words followed testimony Tuesday by James Comey, deputy to Mr. Gonzales’ predecessor, John Ashcroft. Mr. Comey said that Mr. Gonzales pressured an ailing Mr. Ashcroft to approve the legality of Mr. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. Mr. Ashcroft — critically ill with pancreatitis at the time — rebuffed Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Comey said.

Rudy’s moment

“One thing, and one thing only, happened at the Republican presidential debate [Tuesday] night: Rudy Giuliani escaped the clutches of the abortion issue,” Fred Barnes writes at WeeklyStandard.com.

“As a pro-choice advocate in a pro-life party, Giuliani had let abortion dog him for weeks and nearly define his candidacy. But in a few emotional moments in the debate, he grabbed the national security issue and didn’t let go. It trumped abortion and, for now at least, it’s the issue that’s likely to come to mind when reporters and commentators and Republican voters think about Giuliani,” Mr. Barnes said.

“The debate — the significance of the debate anyway — was all about Giuliani. Given the chance to rise above the squabble over his view of abortion, he seized the opportunity and got the biggest cheers from the packed auditorium of 2,500 Republicans. We’re too far from the first actual contest in the presidential race next January for this to be a watershed moment. But it should give Giuliani as big a boost as possible from a debate watched by only a few million people.

“What Giuliani leaped on was Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s comment that Islamic jihadists attacked America on 9/11 because ‘we’d been over there’ in the Middle East. Paul didn’t say flatly that America had invited the attack, but he came mighty close to that.

“ ’I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11,’ Giuliani responded. He said Paul should ‘withdraw’ the statement. The crowd roared its approval.”

Hillary’s song

Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is asking supporters to help her choose a new presidential campaign song, poking fun at her own lack of singing skills in the process.

In a video posted yesterday on her campaign Web site, HillaryClinton.com, the New York senator asks for help with “one of the most important questions” she faces: What to choose for her campaign song.

“It’s something we’ve been struggling with, debating and agonizing over for months,” she insists, sporting a twinkle in her eye.

The video includes a few seconds of a popular YouTube clip from Mrs. Clinton’s first campaign trip to Iowa, where she is seen — and heard — attempting an off-key rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Whatever song you choose,” Mrs. Clinton says, “I make you this solemn and sacred promise — I won’t sing it in public. Unless I win.”

Jab at Giuliani

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday he would have to think long and hard before he would consider joining a ticket with a candidate who supports abortion rights.

“This is an issue to me that is very critical. It’s one of the reasons that I got into politics, because I believe the manner in which we treat innocent life and the matter in which we respect human life, at whatever stage … is an incredibly powerful statement about who we are as a people,” Mr. Huckabee told reporters in a conference call.

The Republican presidential candidate and Southern Baptist minister did not specifically name Republican front-runner Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Associated Press reports.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] com.

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