FishbowlDC has obtained e-mails written by WaPo’s conservative-beat blogger Dave Weigel, that the scribe sent to JournoList, a listserv for liberal journalists. (Read up on JournoList with Yahoo! News’s Michael Calderone’s 2009 story that he wrote for Politico).
Seems Weigel doesn’t like (and that would be putting it mildly) at least some of the conservatives he covers. Poor Drudge – Weigel wants him to light himself on fire.
•”This would be a vastly better world to live in if Matt Drudge decided to handle his emotional problems more responsibly, and set himself on fire.”
•”Follow-up to one hell of a day: Apparently, the Washington Examiner thought it would be fun to write up an item about my dancing at the wedding of Megan McArdle and Peter Suderman. Said item included the name and job of my girlfriend, who was not even there — nor in DC at all.”
•”I’d politely encourage everyone to think twice about rewarding the Examiner with any traffic or links for a while. I know the temptation is high to follow up hot hot Byron York scoops, but please resist it.”
•”It’s all very amusing to me. Two hundred screaming Ron Paul fanatics couldn’t get their man into the Fox News New Hampshire GOP debate, but Fox News is pumping around the clock to get Paultard Tea Party people on TV.”
Weigel says he “happy to comment” to FishbowlDC but it seems he’s tied up on the phone. Will bring you his remarks as soon as he provides them.
BY NATASHA KORECKI AND SARAH OSTMAN Staff Reporters
A top aide to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he believed Barack Obama knew of Blagojevich’s plot to win himself a presidential Cabinet post in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.
John Harris, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, testified Wednesday in the former governor’s corruption trial that three days after the Nov. 4, 2008, presidential election, the ex-governor told Harris he felt confident Obama knew he wanted to swap perks.
“The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he’s asked for. . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he’s asked for,” Harris said, explaining a recorded call.
Harris said Blagojevich came away believing Obama knew what he wanted after having a conversation with a local union representative, who in turn spoke with labor leader Tom Balanoff, with whom Blagojevich met to discuss a Jarrett appointment. Jarrett, now a White House adviser, was seeking the appointment to Obama’s Senate seat.
Defense lawyers say Harris’ testimony contradicts the government’s previous public statements that Obama knew nothing about deal-making involving the Senate seat appointment.
The defense on Wednesday moved to force the prosecution to turn over FBI reports of Obama’s interview with federal agents in December of 2008. Obama is not accused of wrongdoing.
“Testimony elicited by the government from John Harris and wiretaps played in court raise the issue of President Obama’s direct knowledge and communication with emissaries and others regarding the appointment to his Senate seat,” lawyers wrote in the filing.
The filing came on the trial’s third day of the extensive playback of recordings in which Blagojevich is heard repeatedly discussing ways to personally capitalize on his Senate seat appointment power. Blagojevich could be heard plotting to try to head up a charity; swearing and snapping at his wife, Patti, and dismissing the possibility of a federal position that pays $190,000 a year.
“I make $170 . . . So Fred, that has no appeal to me . . . I want to make money,” Blagojevich tells national Democratic consultant Fred Yang. “I might as well go out and find a way to make money.”
Obama’s 2008 internal report about his staff’s contacts with Blagojevich at the time indicates that Balanoff relayed to Jarrett that Blagojevich was interested in a Health and Human Services Cabinet post.
Recordings also revealed that Blagojevich had tried to get the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board fired after it ran a series of disparaging write-ups about the then-governor.
Harris testified that he ignored Blagojevich’s firing directive.
Also Wednesday, U.S. District Judge James Zagel refused to gag the talkative Blagojevich as prosecutors had asked. Zagel said Blagojevich keeps saying he’s innocent, and that anyone who says otherwise is a liar.
The repetition, Zagel said, has rendered Blagojevich’s out-of-court
Two federal agencies have joined the “boycott Arizona” trend and nixed conferences there out of concern over the state’s immigration law, a Democratic Arizona congresswoman said, calling the development “very troubling.”
The cancellations by the Department of Education and the U.S. Border Patrol may have been more out of a desire to steer clear of controversy than outright protest of the law. But Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who has written to dozens of cities and groups in a campaign to persuade them to end their boycotts, said it was disturbing to learn that the federal government would withdraw from the state over the issue.
“It is very troubling when the federal government becomes involved in a boycott against our state,” Giffords said in a written statement. “Although I personally disagree with the immigration law, it came about because of growing frustration over the federal government’s unwillingness to secure the border. The federal government’s participation in this boycott only adds to that frustration.”
FoxNews.com is awaiting response from both agencies. Giffords’ office said the cancellations were confirmed by the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association.
According to Giffords, the Education Department canceled a convention set for October at a Tucson resort after the Mexican government said it would not send any representatives to the meeting. The department then moved the event to Minnesota.
Further, her office said the Border Patrol canceled a conference set for May at a resort in Prescott after an official asked that it be moved out of concern over the immigration law debate. The Border Patrol — which has more than 4,000 agents in Arizona, representing nearly a quarter of its force — had booked 40 rooms for the event before canceling.
Giffords is among a number of Arizona officials who argue that the boycotts imposed by cities across the country do nothing to change the law and only punish workers and businesses there. The boycotts would hit the hospitality industry, which is made up in large part of Hispanic workers, particularly hard.
In the letter she has been sending to cities and groups that have imposed boycotts, Giffords wrote that the punitive measures have “unfairly targeted” her state’s businesses.
The Obama administration is planning to file suit against the Arizona law, citing its sustained concern about the move to subject some residents to routine checks on their immigration status.
So far, a couple of cities have written Giffords back defending their actions against her state.
El Paso Mayor John Cook wrote in a letter to the congresswoman June 10 that his city was not “condoning” illegal immigration by passing a resolution that prohibits city officials from attending conferences in Arizona. He said his city’s measure, though not a full-fledged boycott, emphasizes the importance of passing a comprehensive immigration overhaul and “expresses our concerns with the possibility of law enforcement racially profiling people.”
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell also wrote this month that its ban on employee travel to the state — and a reconsideration of city contracts there — was imposed out of concern for racial profiling.
Eight Republican senators and an independent group that supports tighter limits on immigration are warning that the Obama administration is drafting a plan to “unilaterally” issue blanket amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants as it struggles to win support in Congress for an overhaul of immigration laws.
The senators who wrote the White House on Monday say they are concerned that the administration is readying a “Plan B” in case a comprehensive reform bill cannot win enough support to clear Congress.
“It seems more real than just bullying (Republicans) into a bill — that it’s a plan that they can actually put forward … circumventing Congress,” an aide told FoxNews.com on Wednesday.
In their letter, the senators — Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; David Vitter, R-La.; Jim Bunning, R-Ky.; Saxby Chambliss, Ga.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; James Inhofe, R-Okla.; and Thad Cochran, R-Miss. — urge the president to “abandon” what they say is a move to “unilaterally extend either deferred action or parole to millions of illegal aliens in the United States.”
“Such a move would further erode the American public’s confidence in the federal government and its commitment to securing the borders and enforcing the laws already on the books,” they wrote.
Deferred action and parole, which give illegal immigrants the ability to seek a work permit and temporary legal status, are normally granted on a case-by-case basis. But the aide said the lawmakers have learned from “sources” that the administration is considering flexing its authority to grant the status on a mass basis.
Numbers USA, an organization that presses for lower immigration levels along with humanitarian treatment of illegal immigrants, has started a petition to the president expressing “outrage” at the alleged plan.
Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations with Numbers USA, said she’s been hearing for weeks from “sources close to the Democratic leadership” in both chambers that administration officials are discussing whether the Department of Homeland Security could direct staff to grant “amnesty” for all illegal immigrants in the country.
“They’re trying to figure out ways around a vote,” she said.
“Any attempt to force an amnesty on the American people using this underhanded method smacks of despotism,” reads the fax the group is urging supporters to sign.
The White House has not responded to a request for comment.
The Department of Homeland Security estimated last year that 10.8 million undocumented residents live in the United States; other estimates have ranged higher. Any move to grant blanket legal status, even temporary, would raise questions about how Homeland Security would be able to handle the caseload. Jenks said Congress certainly wouldn’t grant the administration the funding for more caseworkers.
The purported discussions of a blanket amnesty come in the middle of several concurrent and heated debates over illegal immigration. The recently signed immigration law in Arizona has divided the country, with some states trying to replicate the state’s tough legislation and other jurisdictions boycotting the state in protest. The Obama administration plans to file a court challenge.
Democrats, meanwhile, have been trying to round up support for an overhaul bill in Congress, and the Interior Department is facing renewed criticism from Republican lawmakers over restrictions it places on Border Patrol officers policing the border on federal lands. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., shocked several Arizona residents last week when he told them that Obama had said he would not beef up border security because it would leave Republicans without an incentive to pass broader immigration reforms.
Jenks said the talks about Homeland Security allowing illegal immigrants to stay are “serious.”
Under the law, immigration officials can grant deferred action to temporarily postpone removing an illegal immigrant from the country. That status does not offer a guarantee that they won’t face deportation, but Jenks said illegal immigrants granted parole are often allowed to seek permanent legal status.
If a “Plan B” is being discussed, it’s unclear how far along the talks might be. Another GOP Senate aide said the discussions started after Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., called on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in April to stop deportations of undocumented students who could earn legal status under a bill they introduced.
A Senate Democratic aide said the Obama administration never responded to the April letter.