TPM News

Eight Republican Senators have written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him whether the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel issed an opinion on whether four recess appointments made by President Obama when the Senate was conducting pro-forma sessions were legal.

The letter states that previous legal guidances “clearly indicate the view that a congressional recess must be longer than three days – and perhaps at least as long as ten — in order for a recess appointment to be constitutional.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a statement that the Justice Department and the White House “owe it to the American people to provide a clear understanding of the process that transpired and the rationale it used to circumvent the checks and balances promised by the Constitution.”

“Overturning 90 years of historical precedent is a major shift in policy that should not be done in a legal opinion made behind closed doors hidden from public scrutiny,“ Grassley said.

The letter is signed by Senate Judiciary Committee members Grassley, Orrin Hatch (Utah), Jon Kyl (Arizona), Jeff Sessions (Alabama), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah) and Tom Coburn (Oklahoma). View it here.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has announced on his Facebook account:



Please join me on January 19th - the two year anniversary of our historic 2010 victory - to officially announce my 2012 re-election campaign at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. I hope you attend this special event where I will lay out my vision for a brighter, better, stronger America and Massachusetts. Please click the link below for full event details and to RSVP. My wife Gail and I look forward to seeing you on the 19th!
http://scottbrown.com/2012-kickoff

The Rick Santorum "surge" is real, ladies and gentlemen. The former Pennsylvania senator has raised a million bucks since his photo finish in Iowa earlier this week. And, as Stephen Colbert said Thursday, he has "caught the notice of the most influential voice of the 19th century": George Will.

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Rick Santorum will return to South Carolina on Sunday for two campaign events, according to a campaign release. At 4 p.m. ET Sunday, Santorum will hold a campaign rally with supporters, and at 6:30 p.m. ET he will be the featured guest at the Greenville Republican Party Fundraising Dinner. His wife will also be in attendance at the dinner.

Appearing before a largely youthful crowd in Dublin, NH, Rick Santorum reiterated his staunch opposition to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” When asked by an audience member how he reconciles his small government orthodoxy with anti-gay rights positions, Santorum suggested that the reversal of the policy has opened the door for individuals who will undermine the strength of the United States military:



"I would say that serving in the military is not a right; it's a privilege and it's selective. Not everyone is selected. People are chosen based on who will make us the best fighting force in the world, and I don't think that includes those who are openly homosexual."

It's not the general election yet, but we already know what one key issue will be: Medicare. Republicans in the House voted to basically end Medicare as we know it, a position Mitt Romney fully embraced in December. Progressives think it's never too early to remind voters where Republicans stand on the issue.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America are raising money to air an ad on the issue during the two debates this weekend. The ad, which aired this June, is aimed at New Hampshire rep. Charlie Bass who voted for the Ryan plan -- and who endorsed Mitt Romney.

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The Gallup tracking poll of the national GOP race shows former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at 15 percent, passing Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) who has held the third spot for more than a month. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is second with 19 percent, having fallen from a high in the mid-thirties at the beginning of December. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is in the lead with 27 percent.

The Gallup tracking poll averages 200 interviews a night with registered Republicans over a five day period.

The Obama administration thinks many in the liberal blogosphere are mistaken in their belief that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by the president on New Year's Eve authorizes the indefinite detention of citizens captured on U.S. soil.

Many progressive and libertarians have argued that the NDAA codifies the president's ability to detain a U.S. citizen captured on American soil until the war on terrorism is declared over. The administration believes that the NDAA doesn't specifically allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens, but concedes that it doesn't specifically ban the practice either.

A senior administration official maintained in an interview with TPM that the NDAA "changes nothing" about the legal question of whether the government could allow for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens captured in the United States.

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