- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2009

STATE DEPARTMENT

Clinton denies rift with president

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton insisted Thursday that she maintains good relations with President Obama, despite media reports about tension between the one-time campaign rivals.

“I feel very honored and positive about my working relationship with the White House and my personal relationship with President Obama,” Mrs. Clinton said in response to questions during a news conference.

“I have been consistently involved in the shaping and implementation of our foreign policy,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton was forced to miss recent major foreign policy events - including Mr. Obama’s trip to the Group of Eight summit and to Russia - after she fractured her elbow, but she returned to the scene with a major foreign policy speech Wednesday.

“I broke my elbow, not my larynx,” she told reporters. “I think I am just going to do the work and make the contribution.”

WHITE HOUSE

All-female crew flies Obama copter

More history was made at the White House on Thursday when President Obama climbed aboard his helicopter: An all-female crew was waiting to take him to Andrews Air Force Base.

It was Maj. Jennifer Grieves’ last day in a rotation that made her the first female pilot of Marine One, the presidential helicopter.

To honor Maj. Grieves’ achievement, Thursday’s three-person crew was made up of women. Maj. Grieves hails from Glendale, Ariz.

Her co-pilot, Maj. Jennifer Marine, is from Palisade, Colo. Sgt. Rachael Sherman of Traverse City, Mich., was the crew chief.

Mr. Obama flew to New Jersey to campaign with Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. He also was addressing the 100th anniversary convention of the NAACP in New York City.

COURTS

Clinton removed from ‘Filegate’

A federal judge on Thursday threw out a 13-year-old lawsuit against Hillary Rodham Clinton involving the White House’s handling of FBI background records.

The case extends back to the secretary of state’s time as first lady and has included a voluminous record of nearly 1,500 legal filings. But Mrs. Clinton was summarily removed as a defendant in a three-page opinion by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth.

The group Judicial Watch, which has pursued the case, sometimes known as “Filegate,” had argued it should not be dismissed until Mrs. Clinton testifies. Judge Lamberth disagreed, saying there is no legal reason that he should “require a person who is a busy Cabinet secretary at this point to submit to an oral deposition.”

The FBI file controversy erupted in 1996 when the Clinton administration, which was under investigation for the firing of White House travel office employees, acknowledged it sought and received the FBI files of hundreds of prominent Republicans.

KENTUCKY

Bunning’s haul half that of rival

Sen. Jim Bunning, Kentucky Republican, raised $302,466 from April through June for his re-election campaign next year, about half the haul of a potential Republican rival.

Republican Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s secretary of state, raised $603,164 during the same period.

The Kentucky Senate race has so far been an odd game of chess in which Mr. Bunning, considered the most vulnerable Republican senator up for re-election next year, has insisted he is running for re-election despite not-so-subtle hints from his Republican colleagues that they would like him to step aside. Meanwhile, two Republicans - Mr. Grayson and Rand Paul - have readied campaigns without officially getting into the race.

Democrats have benefited as the Republican field has remained uncertain. Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, has eclipsed Mr. Grayson and Mr. Bunning, raising $1.3 million since he entered the race in April. Mr. Bunning has raised only $1.2 million since he narrowly won re-election in 2004.

Another Democrat, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, reported raising about as much as Mr. Bunning in the second quarter. This would be a second run for Mr. Mongiardo, who came within about 23,000 votes of unseating Mr. Bunning five years ago.

On the Republican side, Mr. Paul, the son of former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, said he’ll decide by Aug. 20 whether to jump in, regardless of whether Mr. Bunning is still in the race. He has raised about $100,000 since he formed an exploratory committee in May.

MISSISSIPPI

Pickering’s wife sues ‘other woman’

JACKSON, Miss. | The estranged wife of former U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering claims in a lawsuit that the Mississippi Republican had an affair that ruined their marriage and derailed his political career.

Leisha Pickering seeks unspecified damages in the alienation of affection lawsuit she filed this week against Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd of Jackson. There was no immediate response from Ms. Creekmore Byrd or Mr. Pickering. The Pickerings filed for divorce in June 2008, but the divorce is not complete.

The lawsuit says Mr. Pickering and Ms. Creekmore Byrd dated in college, reconnected and began having an affair while Mr. Pickering was in Congress and living in a Christian building for lawmakers near the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Pickering, 45, was elected to Congress in 1996, retired in January and became a lobbyist for a firm that represents Cellular South, the company Ms. Creekmore Byrd’s family owns. The lawsuit does not say when the affair started.

The three-story red brick house at 133 C St. SE is registered in D.C. tax records as a religious and commercial building. It is affiliated with a Christian group of many names, including the Fellowship Foundation, which sponsors the annual National Prayer Breakfast.

Among those who have lived in the house are South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, another former Republican congressman who said last month that he had confided in C Street friends about an affair he has had with a woman from Argentina.

LICENSES

U.S. warns states against AIDS bias

Federal officials are telling states they cannot deny licenses to aspiring barbers, masseuses and home health care aids because they have AIDS or HIV.

The Justice Department says it is advising state authorities that stopping people with the virus from getting such licenses or not admitting them to occupational training schools is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

For instance, some states require cosmetologists be free from contagious, communicable or infections diseases. The government says that type of regulation is outdated and was not intended to block people with HIV.

The Supreme Court has found people with AIDS or HIV are covered under the law barring discrimination against people with disabilities.

SPEECH

Glue Obama to his chair: Miller

ATLANTA | Former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller criticized President Obama’s recent travels overseas, telling a group of lawmakers Thursday that the White House chief of staff needs to put “Gorilla Glue” on Mr. Obama’s chair to keep him in the Oval Office.

“Our globe-trotting president needs to stop and take a break and quit gallivanting around,” said Mr. Miller, a Democrat well-known for zinging his own party.

Two black leaders who know Mr. Miller well said they were not offended by the suggestion that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel employ a bottle of Gorilla brand adhesive.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights leader, noted the glue is a brand name. “I ignore it,” he said. “I consider the source and go about my business.”

Democratic State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who leads the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said he wasn’t bothered by Mr. Miller’s comment.

Mr. Miller made his comments to more than 1,000 lawmakers at the American Legislative Exchange Council, which met in a packed hotel ballroom in Atlanta.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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