In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Judge David Hamilton will testify once again before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the behest of the committee's Republicans, most of whom refused to attend his first hearing.

Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) isn't happy. "It has been four weeks since Judge Hamilton first appeared before the Committee, and I am disappointed that Committee Republicans have yet to ask a single question of this nominee," Leahy said.

Nonetheless, at the request of the Ranking Member, I have invited Judge Hamilton to testify on April 29. Judge Hamilton has the strong support of his home state senators, Senator Lugar and Senator Bayh. After Judge Hamilton appears again before the Committee, I hope Republican members will not further delay our consideration of this qualified judicial nominee.

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A newly-elected Democratic Senator is now breaking with the Obama administration on trade, after Trade Representative Ron Kirk commented yesterday that issues with NAFTA can be addressed without officially renegotiating it.

Freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), whose textile state has never been friendly to free trade, put out this press release today:

"While I understand the President's desire to maintain a good relationship with our North American trading partners, I am disappointed US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has said it is not necessary to renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)," said Hagan. "This country's current trade policy is not working. The manufacturing economy in North Carolina has suffered and far too many North Carolinians have lost their jobs. It is only right we require our trading partners to enforce the labor and environmental standards that we ask of our manufacturing industry."

In yet another setback for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel has just ruled that Blago is not allowed to travel to Costa Rica to appear on a Survivor-style reality show for celebrities.

Blago would have needed to this special permission to leave the country during a time when he is under indictment. The Chicago Sun-Times quotes the judge as saying: "I don't think this defendant in all honesty ... fully understands the position he finds himself in."

Besides, this whole thing seemed pretty superfluous: Blago already starred on a really fun reality show.

The latest legal filing from Norm Coleman's legal team, officially registering their appeal of his defeat in the Minnesota election trial, seems to contain an interesting pair of contingency plans when it quickly lays out exactly what his case is: That either votes should be counted showing that he is the winner -- or that no winner can be determined at all.

The filing is not a complicated brief, but a quick summary of what Coleman's points will be at a later date. It mainly focused on Coleman's claim that thousands of rejected absentee ballots that he identified ought to be counted, if he can get a standard of admission less than the strict compliance with the law demanded by the court.

But then it adds this:

II. Whether the trial court violated the constitutional protections of equal protection and due process when it declared that Respondent received the highest number of "legally cast votes" where the record demonstrated that, by the trial court's rulings, the number of "illegally cast" ballots counted on election day and during the recount greatly exceeded the margin between the candidates and it cannot be determined for which candidate those illegal votes were counted?

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In case you weren't already convinced of the awe-inspiring power of TPMDC, yesterday we corrected the many errors House Minority Leader John Boehner made during his Sunday appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. We even provided the good congressman with a primer on cow flatulence and how it contributes to climate change. Last night, Ed Schultz provided a similar service. Watch:

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If you live in a state with a Republican senator--or, more specifically one of the many Republican senators who used to decry filibustering executive nominations--you may be getting a phone call from a sultry-sounding supporter of Barack Obama's appointees.

Kathleen Turner, who you may remember from such films as Body Heat and The Jewel of the Nile, has agreed to record a robocall urging recipients to call their senators and tell them to confirm Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's designated chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

The call--which will go out in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Utah--is part of a campaign by People for the American Way aimed at preventing Johnsen's nomination from being filibustered. Turner has been a member of the organization's board for years. The transcript of the robocall appears below the fold.

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Geithner To Face Questions On TARP Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner will be testifying at 10 a.m. ET today before the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP program, where he is expected to face tough questions on the progress of the program -- and regarding a recent report by Inspector General Neil Barofsky criticizing the program for benefitting business and being potentially unfair to the taxpayer.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with King Abdullah of Jordan one-on-one at 10 a.m. ET, and the two will hold an expanded meeting at 10:30 a.m. ET. At 2 p.m. ET, Obama will present the Commander in Chief's trophy to the Naval Academy football team. At 2:45 p.m. ET, he will meet with Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton to discuss national service, and at 4 p.m. ET he will sign the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law, at the SEED School in Washington.

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DSCC chairman Bob Menendez released this statement tonight, regarding Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the Minnesota election trial:

"It is sad, but not surprising, that Norm Coleman would continue to drag this process out any longer. While it is certainly within his right to appeal, given all of the challenges facing this country right now, we'd hope that he would put the interest of Minnesotans above his own and allow all of us to move on. It is 167 days since the election - it is time for Republicans to stop holding this seat hostage as a way to obstruct President Obama's agenda. We should all let Senator-elect Franken get to work for the people who elected him. The Minnesota Supreme Court needs to be the end of the road."

The Dems have been steadily drawing a line in the sand, that Al Franken should be seated after he presumably wins at the state Supreme Court, without this getting further bottled up in the federal courts. We'll find out in due time how successful they are.

Earlier today, Josh flagged Andrea Mitchell bringing the supposed controversy over Barack Obama's brief handshake with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez into the mainstream. As ridiculous as this all is--and Josh lays out the reasons nicely--she's had a lot of help in the last few days from many of her colleagues.

But there was a small problem with her segment. She said "the analogy [conservatives and Republicans] are making is when John F. Kennedy went to Vienna, Kruschev sized him up and realized or thought that he was weak, and what we had then was the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Wall, and a series of East-West conflicts."

That's not really the point Newt Gingrich made on the Today Show during the segment Mitchell was referring to. Here's Gingrich:

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On a conference call with reporters, lead Franken lawyer Marc Elias reacted to the Coleman campaign's filing of its notice of appeal -- and lambasted it up and down, before calling for a super-speedy expedited schedule for the state Supreme Court to handle this.

"So what we have now is the death throes of the Coleman legal effort," Elias said. "This is a process that has obviously been going on for some time now. I understand how difficult it is, emotionally and otherwise, for a candidate and a legal team to come to the place where they must accept that they simply didn't get as many votes as the other candidate. And I've said to some of you before, both on calls and one on one, I've represented enough campaigns to know how difficult that is."

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