A number of readers have written in to ask if we're accepting equivocal denials from senators' staffers on the Secret Hold issue
-- the answer is no. And we've gotten a lot of these.
TPMm Reader EF writes of her conversation with Sen. Domenici's (R-NM) office:
An assistant named Jacob said "As far as I know, he is not the one."
I protested that the statement left some wiggle room, and he was unwilling or unable to clarify.
And TPmm Reader SD:
I called Senator Bayh's office just now. A staffer named Ann answered. I asked if Bayh put the secret hold on the bill. To her credit she was aware of the bill's intent, but not the answer to my question. She put me on hold briefly, came back and said Bayh intended to vote for the bill and to quote directly "was a strong supporter of it". I pointed out that didn't address my question and said he could intend to vote for it and still be responsible for the secret hold. Again I was put on hold. She returned and said the Senator was not in the office to directly address the question. However a "senior staffer" told her to tell me in no uncertain terms he was a strong supporter of the bill, hoped for its passage and that was the only comment they could make at this time.
So they remain a suspect until their staffers can state as fact that the senator was not responsible for the hold.Update
: Bayh's spokesman has written in to categorically deny that Bayh was responsible for the hold.Update
: Domenici is also now a definitive no.