Sunday, January 18, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants an investigation into whether the Bush administration broke the law when it fired a group of federal prosecutors.

She said that what she calls the politicizing of the Justice Department cannot go unreviewed. Mrs. Pelosi made the comment today on “Fox News Sunday.”

House Democrats last week recommended a criminal investigation to see whether administration officials broke the law in the name of national security. The report cited the interrogation of foreign detainees, warrantless wiretaps, retribution against critics, manipulation of intelligence and the fired prosecutors.

President-elect Barack Obama has been more cautious. He has said he believes there is a need to look forward as opposed to looking backward. Mrs. Pelosi also said she wants Congress to consider repealing President Bush’s tax cuts well before they expire in 2010, in contrast to what Mr. Obama is proposing. In the Sunday interview, Mrs. Pelosi said, “I don’t want them to wait two years to expire because they have to prove their worth to me.”

In a separate interview Sunday, on “Meet the Press,” Mr. Obama’s chief of staff said that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich did not ask for anything improper in their discussions about Mr. Obama’s Senate successor.

Aide Rahm Emanuel said he talked with Mr. Blagojevich and the governor’s ex-chief of staff about the type of person who should replace Mr. Obama. But Mr. Emanuel said he never got the impression that Mr. Blagojevich wanted anything improper in return for naming a replacement.

The Illinois House impeached Mr. Blagojevich last week. Federal authorities have accused Mr. Blagojevich of scheming to benefit by selling Mr. Obama’s old Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Another top aide to Mr. Obama said the new administration is determined to “put the brakes on the most serious economic downturn” in years.

But David Axelrod, who will join Mr. Obama’s White House after serving as a key campaign adviser, said Sunday that “even if we move rapidly, it’ll take a little while.” He also said that Obama wants to pursue whatever strategy necessary to avert double-digit unemployment across America.

The nation’s unemployment rate shot up to 7.2 percent in December, the highest in 16 years.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Axelrod said the new administration will try to guide its policies with “a combination of optimism and realism.” He said officials believe that it will take years, not months, to turn the economy around.

Mr. Axelrod also said the public should have confidence in Mr. Obama’s pick for Treasury secretary despite his tax problems.

He said Timothy Geithner made a common mistake in not paying his self-employment taxes for money he earned from 2001 to 2004 while working for the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Axelrod said that accountants say this is a fairly common mistake. He also said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that when Americans get to know Mr. Geithner, they will have the same confidence in him as the finance community does.

Mr. Geithner paid some of the taxes in 2006, after an Internal Revenue Service audit. Days before Mr. Obama tapped him for Treasury, Mr. Geithner paid back most of the taxes.

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