President Obama is planning to nominate for Dept. A.G. Comey to become FBI director
WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former hedge fund executive who served as a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to two people with knowledge of theBy choosing Mr. Comey, a Republican, Mr. Obama made a strong statement about bipartisanship at a time when he faces renewed criticism from Republicans in Congress and has had difficulty winning confirmation of some important nominees. At the same time, Mr. Comey’s role in one of the most dramatic episodes of the Bush administration — in which he refused to acquiesce to White House aides and reauthorize a program for eavesdropping without warrants when he was serving as acting attorney general — should make him an acceptable choice to Democrats.
On the night of March 10, 2004, as Attorney General John D. Ashcroft lay ill in an intensive-care unit, his deputy, James B. Comey, received an urgent call.
White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and President Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., were on their way to the hospital to persuade Ashcroft to reauthorize Bush’s domestic surveillance program, which the Justice Department had just determined was illegal.
In vivid testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Comey said he alerted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and raced, sirens blaring, to join Ashcroft in his hospital room, arriving minutes before Gonzales and Card. Ashcroft, summoning the strength to lift his head and speak, refused to sign the papers they had brought. Gonzales and Card, who had never acknowledged Comey’s presence in the room, turned and left.
The sickbed visit was the start of a dramatic showdown between the White House and the Justice Department in early 2004 that, according to Comey, was resolved only when Bush overruled Gonzales and Card. But that was not before Ashcroft, Comey, Mueller and their aides prepared a mass resignation, Comey said. The domestic spying by the National Security Agency continued for several weeks without Justice approval, he said.
“I was angry,” Comey testified. “I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me.”
After that episode the acting A.G. prepared a resignation letter to be delivered to President Bush:
8:0: The President delivers remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner; The First Lady attends
Tomorrow: The President has no public events scheduled
Monday: The President will deliver remarks at the National Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary
Tuesday: As part of the Joining Forces initiative, President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will make a significant employment announcement for veterans and military spouses. This event will take place at the White House
Wednesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
Thursday: In the morning, the President will depart Washington, DC for his visit to Mexico and Costa Rica
Friday: In the afternoon, the President will depart Mexico for Costa Rica
Saturday: In the afternoon, the President will depart Costa Rica and return to Washington, DC
Sunday: The President will deliver the commencement address at Ohio State University. He will return to Washington, DC, later that day
Please note: formal dress only for the WHCD, so any TODers who turn up here tonight in jeans will be thrown out.
Breaking: AMK wants to wear his pajamas, because of timezone issues – so, he has an exemption.
ThinkProgress: 12 Programs Congress Refuses To Save From Automatic Spending Cuts
After thousands of flight delays across the country this week, the Senate voted Thursday night to give the Federal Aviation Administration the flexibility to keep the nation’s airports running smoothly … That means lawmakers will be able to fly home for recess this weekend without any delays ….. Unfortunately, though, Congress has shown no willingness to provide similar relief for the families that are being hammered by sequestration in other ways. Here are 12 programs that have experienced devastating cuts because Congress insists on cutting spending when it doesn’t need to — and that have been ignored by the same lawmakers who leaped to action as soon as their trips home were going to take a little longer:
1 Long-term unemployment, 2 Head Start, 3 Cancer treatment, 4 Health research, 5 Low-income housing, 6 Student aid, 7 Meals On Wheels, 8 Disaster relief,
9 Heating assistance, 10 Workplace safety, 11 Obamacare, 12 Child care….
Business Insider: his week G.E. Capital Finance announced that it would no longer finance gun purchases, becoming the latest in a string of companies that have decided to leave a large amount of money on the table rather than risk their reputations on the gun business.
It’s one of the few places where the high-profile publicity campaign in support of increased gun control has led to a real world result….
Rachel Weiner: The group launched by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, is out with its first ads criticizing senators who voted against expanded background checks for gun purchasers.
The Americans for Responsible Solutions radio spots target Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Both ads feature disappointed voters lamenting that their senator “ignored the will of the people” and opposed “common sense legislation” to “keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
To start, it’s a buy of a couple hundred thousand dollars — not huge — but it’s a sign of what the group is planning in the wake of legislative defeat. The New Hampshire ads are running in Concord, Manchester, Keene and the Seacoast. The Kentucky ads are in Louisville and Lexington.
Melanie Hicken: GE Capital, which provides consumer financing services, had previously provided lending services to gun shops to help consumers finance firearm purchases. Earlier this year, the company sent letters to shops notifying them that the program would be terminated for future purchases.
The move was the result of “a more rigorous audit process… in light of industry changes, new legislation and tragic events that have caused widespread reexamination of policies on firearms,” GE Capital spokesman Russell Wilkerson said in an e-mail.
Jared Bernstein: Here’s a US Senator (Tom Coburn) from yesterday: “the fact is, our country is headed toward bankruptcy” (from CQ News, no link).
In fact, the fact is that this is factually incorrect. To the contrary, according to a recent, detailed analysis by GS researchers, the budget deficit is falling faster than was expected, as the rate of spending is falling and receipts are rising. There are, of course, growing deficits in our future, but they have everything to do with health care spending and nothing to do with bankruptcy. Preserving current cuts–Coburn was explaining why he was blocking legislation to replace the sequester–will only make it harder to escape the current slog in which we’ve stuck for a very long time.
Dylan Matthews: Good news for George W. Bush! His approval rating is the highest it’s been in years, just as he’s set to open his presidential library at Southern Methodist University. Forty-seven percent of Americans approve of Bush, up from 33 percent when he left office as the economy cratered.
Bad news for George W. Bush! His newfound popularity comes, as my colleague Dan Balz notes, because of “the passage of time and Bush’s relative invisibility” rather than any re-evaluation of his record. Majorities still oppose his decision to invade Iraq and disapprove of his handling of the economy.
Jamelle Bouie: This week, George W. Bush dedicates his presidential library and re-enters public life after a long, quiet hiatus. Not that he was missed.
Most Americans have nothing but disdain for the former president. The failures of his administration—including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, and the 2008 financial crisis—left him with an abysmal approval rating. And as recently as six months ago, a majority of voters viewed him as responsible for the poor economy. If, as suggested by some conservative pundits, America has graded Barack Obama on a curve, it’s almost certainly because he is still dealing with the fallout from eight years of neglect, disinterest, and incompetence.
ThinkProgress: House Republicans plan to vote on a bill on Wednesday that would shift money from the portion of Obamacare that invests in prevention and use it to expand a temporary initiative that has helped individuals and families with pre-existing medical conditions obtain coverage.
Esther Yu-Hsi Lee: In the past year, housing ownership by Americans fell to 65.3 percent while ownership increased among immigrant households. But if the bipartisan immigration bill set forth by the Gang of Eight passes, that number could soon skyrocket.
The growing trend among immigrants has been to rent for a few years, then to purchase a house as a way of solidifying their American dream. While the rental market is expected to steady because of the projected upward mobility, housing ownership is expected to increase due to increased job growth. With the push for immigration reform, the ability for highly skilled immigrants to seek jobs will allow them to pay for a home, which is often viewed as the ultimate price of permanence. Immigrants make up just 16 percent of the United States population, but they are expected to make up 35.7 percent of homeowners by the year 2020.
12:0: VP Biden and Dr Jill Biden attend a memorial service for Officer Sean Collier at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
12:30: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
12:45: VP Biden delivers remarks at the memorial
4:25: The President and the First Lady depart the White House
6:35: Arrive Dallas, Texas
7:35: The President delivers remarks at a DNC event; the First Lady also attends (Private Residence, Print Pool for Remarks Only)
Steve Benen: A confluence of events appears to have created a curious new talking point on the right. With former President George W. Bush’s library set to open, and last week’s Boston Marathon bombing still very much on the public’s mind, Republican pundits see value in trying to tie the two together in the hopes of improving Bush’s reputation.
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, for example, published this gem yesterday: “Unlike Obama’s tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11.”
A few hours later on Fox News, Eric Bolling echoed the sentiment.
…. When it comes to Bolling, I should note that this is an improvement from his previous stance. Two years ago, he suggested on the air that he didn’t recall 9/11 at all….
I should also note that neither Rubin nor Bolling seemed to be kidding. Their comments weren’t satirical or jokes intended to make Republicans appear silly…..
Andrew Sullivan: …… The country Bush broke is still broken. And the cost in terms of human life and tax-payers’ dollars still looms over us all. And yet some like Rubin still do not see the failure staring at them in the face. Because they cannot. Late-era neoconservatives can never admit error. They do not have the intellect for it.
Steve Benen: For the last couple of months, congressional Republicans were content to ignore the consequences of their sequestration policy, celebrating the deep budget cuts as a “victory.” Now that it’s causing several flight delays as the FAA begins furloughs, Republicans have suddenly discovered they don’t like the sequester after all. Indeed, they’re now blaming President Obama, suggesting some kind of conspiracy is afoot — the White House wants air travelers to suffer to make some kind of point about the value of government spending.
Greg Mitchell: A lot of outrage, and not-so-gentle mockery, this morning over a classic Politico piece by editor Jim VandeHei and chief reporter Mike Allen complaining about President Obama manipulating the press….
So John Cook, editor of Gawker, just performed a public service by posting on Twitter every question Allen chose to ask President Bush when he did get full access back in 2008. You may remember 2008 – the economy was about to collapse and we were still in a full shooting war in Iraq …. these below catch the spirit. Keep in mind that Allen wrote today that Obama avoids Politico reporters in part because they “ask tough, unpredictable questions.”
Q: Now, Mr. President, you and the First Lady appeared on American Idol’s charity show, “Idol Gives Back.” And I wonder who do you think is going to win? Syesha, David Cook, or David Archuleta?
President Obama greets a child on the Kingsmill Resort grounds during a break from debate prep in Williamsburg, Va., Oct. 14 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: Just last night, Ezra explained on the show that the new monthly job figures would be released this morning, and a lot of folks would be shocked by how bad the numbers would be. Why? Because of Hurricane Sandy. Most expected to see only 80,000 jobs created.
This morning, everyone’s shocked for a very different reason. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November, nearly double the projections. What’s more, the overall unemployment rate dropped to 7.7%, its lowest point in four years.
AP: A month after the bitterly fought election, President Barack Obama has his highest approval ratings since the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll, and more Americans say the nation is heading in the right direction now than at any time since the start of his first term.
Obama’s approval rating stands at 57 percent, the highest since May 2011, when U.S. Navy SEALs killed the terror leader, and up 5 percentage points from before the election. And 42 percent say the country is on the right track, up from 35 percent in January 2009. A majority think it’s likely that the president will be able to improve the economy in his second term…..
Charles Pierce: ….. Morning Joe Scarborough has a piece about how the president’s abilities at artificial pleasantries, manufactured politesse, and general intramural Potomac ass-kissing leave something to be desired….
…. In what universe is this president “personally isolated”? This one drives me straight up the wall. He just won his second national election, this one against longer odds even than the first one. He is immensely popular in the country at large, which is supposed to be the only place where popularity is supposed to matter. The country doesn’t seem to find him aloof….
…. And, in case it’s escaped the squint, the only people capable of making the next four years different from the last four years are the people who spent the previous four years refusing to accept the results of the 2008 election. Let John Boehner get all the bats in the House belfry flying in formation. That’s his job. The president’s is to lead the country for the rest of us…..
Washington Post: President Obama’s second inauguration will feature two swearings-in and the traditional parade and official balls. All the pomp will follow a national day of service to honor the country’s shared values and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the newly launched Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Thursday.
Eva Longoria, who was a big fundraiser and prominent surrogate for Obama’s campaign, will serve as a committee co-chair, all four living former presidents will serve as honorary co-chairs, and several top campaign officials will organize the weekend’s festivities.
Salt Lake Tribune: …. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”
The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.
…. If this portrait of a Romney willing to say anything to get elected seems harsh, we need only revisit his branding of 47 percent of Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes….
…. our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.
Two-year-old Sacha Marzett waits in line to attend a campaign rally with her mother Lazette Marzett and friend Catherine Ignacio at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Tampa Bay Times: Four years ago, Barack Obama offered an inspiring message of hope and change to an uneasy nation bogged down in two wars and facing economic collapse. The rosy idealism quickly gave way to the harsh realities of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The recovery has proven more difficult than anyone imagined. But conditions would be far worse without the president’s steady leadership. This is not the time to reverse course and return to the failed policies of the past. Without hesitation, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Barack Obama for re-election as president.
…. We wish the economic recovery was more vigorous, and we would like the president to present a sharper vision for a second term. But Obama has capably steered the nation through an incredibly difficult period at home and abroad, often with little help from Congress. The next four years will not be easy for whoever occupies the Oval Office, but Obama has been tested by harsh circumstance and proven himself worthy of a second term.
For president of the United States, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Barack Obama.
Washington Post: Romney’s 12-million job promise has garnered a lot of attention. We became interested in this ad after a reader asked whether the campaign had provided much detail on how he would reach this total …
…. the candidate’s personal accounting for this figure in this campaign ad is based on different figures and long-range timelines stretching as long as a decade — which in two cases are based on studies that did not even evaluate Romney’s economic plan. The numbers may still add up to 12 million, but they aren’t the same thing — not by a long shot.
… Clearly, some clever campaign staffer thought it would be nice to match up poll-tested themes such as “energy independence,” “tax reform” and “cracking down on China” with actual job numbers. We just find it puzzling that Romney agreed to personally utter these words without asking more questions about the math behind them.
Greg Sargent: …. Let’s recap what Kessler has discovered here. The plan that is central to Romney’s candidacy on the most important issue of this election — jobs — is a complete sham. This is every bit as bad — or worse — than Romney’s claim to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain, or his vow to cut spending by eliminating whole agencies without saying which ones, or his refusal to say how he’ll pay for his tax cuts.
This could not have come at a better time for Obama. Here is the evidence he needs to spell out as clearly as possible that Romney is peddling economic hokum to the American people. Any fair reading of the backup the Romney campaign itself supplied for his plan reveals that it is nothing but a bill of goods. Obama needs to seize on this in a big way. This should be a big story.
Oh, and by the way: Economists have evaluated Obama’s jobs plan. And they concluded it would create one to two million jobs. The bottom line is simple: One candidate has a jobs plan, and the other doesn’t.
NYT: A longtime aide to George W. Romney issued a harshly worded critique of Mitt Romney, accusing him of shifting political positions in “erratic and startling ways” and failing to live up to the distinguished record of his father, the former governor of Michigan.
Walter De Vries, who worked for the senior Mr. Romney throughout the 1960s, wrote that Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House was “a far cry from the kind of campaign and conduct, as a public servant, I saw during the seven years I worked in George Romney’s campaigns and served him as governor.”
“While it seems that Mitt would say and do anything to close a deal – or an election,” he wrote, “George Romney’s strength as a politician and public officeholder was his ability and determination to develop and hold consistent policy positions over his life.”
… “George would never have been seen with the likes of Sheldon Adelson or Donald Trump.”
… Mr. De Vries, who said he wished to the see the Republican Party return to its moderate roots, said he intended to vote for Mr. Obama on Election Day.