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So when exactly will Karl Rove have his big sit-down with the House Judiciary committee to reveal what he knows about the White House's involvement in the US Attorney firings?

According to Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, not for "several weeks." That's how long it will likely take, Luskin told TPMmuckraker, for both Rove and the committee to review the relevant documents and schedule the testimony. Luskin declined to give a more specific time frame.

The agreement securing Rove's testimony, announced Wednesday between Congress and the Bush administration, acknowledged this need for deliberation, declaring: "The interviews will be conducted as soon as possible consistent with needed preparation time and the availability of the witnesses and their counsel."

But Luskin did defend Rove's comments to FoxNews.com, published yesterday, in which he warned of a "show trial" and said that Democrats "would love to have me barbecued."

Arguing that Rove had legitimate concerns about the fairness of the process, Luskin referred to a comment made about Rove by Judicary chair John Conyers -- "someone's got to kick his ass." Luskin also said that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had told Rolling Stone that Rove might have to go to jail. (In fact, Pelosi said she foresaw Rove being prosecuted.)

"If you were the subject of that, you'd worry about the process too," said Luskin.

Luskin also confirmed to TPMMuckraker that he had played no role in the agreement, and was not kept closely informed about the progress of negotiations.

Is this the end for Jeff Frederick, the colorful (and bungling) Virginia Republican Party chairman? NBC reports that state GOPers are mobilizing to try to fire him at the next state committee meeting, due to the various misfortunes the state GOP has suffered over the last year.

It will be tough, though, as the rules require a three-quarters vote to oust a chairman in midstream. However, they do appear to have some momentum, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the move has been essentially endorsed by the de facto Republican nominee for governor this year.

Frederick is perhaps best known now for Twittering an announcement that a Democratic state Senator was about to switch parties and give the GOP control -- a misstep that was blamed by some for derailing the whole scheme, though the claim of any deal has been denied by the Dem legislator in question.

But Frederick's also done a lot more than that, too. Back in October, he famously compared Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden, while briefing campaign volunteers on the talking points they could employ while going door to door.

It didn't help, apparently: Not only did Barack Obama carry Virginia -- the first Democrat to do so since the 1964 LBJ landslide -- but Dems also knocked off two incumbent House Republicans and picked up another open seat, and gained a Senate seat in a landslide.

The WSJ has a great piece today on the troubled history behind the Food and Drug Administration's approval of Menaflex, a medical device intended to help heal injured knee tissue.

The FDA ended up approving the device under fast-track rules after two of its staff scientists turned down Menaflex, thanks to an "aggressive" and "adversarial" lobbying effort by its maker, ReGen Biologics, according to the Journal. And New Jersey's congressional delegation lent a hand as well:

After the FDA's second rejection of fast-track status, in September 2007, ReGen asked lawmakers from New Jersey, its home turf, for help. Supporters included Democrats Sen. Robert Menendez; Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Steve Rothman of Hackensack; and Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Messrs. Menendez, Lautenberg and Rothman signed a letter to the FDA in December 2007 asking for Dr. von Eschenbach, the FDA commissioner, to review the issue personally. Mr. Menendez talked with the commissioner by phone, his office said.


Later in the story, we hear from a ReGen lobbyist, Michael Hutton, who talked about the device company's very specific criteria for scientists who would sit on the panel evaluating Menaflex for fast-track approval:

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The slowdown in approval of President Obama's economic team, both at Treasury and the Council of Economic Advisers, is getting a lot of attention today. But let's not forget that two senior White House science adviser-designates are still going nowhere: John Holdren, named to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Jane Lubchenco, named to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, remain in limbo.

The likely source of the culprit would seem to be the Senate Commerce Committee, although that panel approved the nominations last month. "I am unaware of any GOP Commerce Committee members who are raising questions," one Senate source said via email.

But other sources pointed me to Commerce -- so just in case, I reached out to all the Republicans on that committee. The next likely source of the slowdown would be GOPers on the Senate environment committee, particularly given Holdren's progressive views on climate change, but Sen. Jim Inhofe's (R-OK) office did not return a request for comment on the nominations.

Rest assured, however, that we'll stay on this story.

Late Update: A source close to the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that there is, right now, no hold from Menendez on the nominees. It remains unclear when the hold evaporated -- sometime between the WaPo's original report on Tuesday and today, it seems. But either way, the nominees would have been quickly cleared if Menendez were the only original objector. So the search goes on...

We didn't get to this yesterday afternoon... but it looks like Bank of America is going to the mat to avoid telling Andrew Cuomo's investigation who got those controversial Merill Lynch bonuses.

B of A, reports Bloomberg, filed court documents yesterday claiming that revealing the identities of the lucky bonus recipients would cause "grave and irreparable harm" to the firm, because it would let competitors know which areas of B of A's business the company considers most valuable, and would therefore make it easier to steal B of A's top talent. It would also create "internal dissension and consternation," and could even create security risks for those named.

In other words, if it became known who we gave huge bonuses to in a year when Merrill collapsed, people would be so mad they'd physically attack them.

Does any of this even pass the laugh test?

Former Merrill CEO John Thain has already talked to Cuomo's team about the bonuses, after a judge ordered him to do. But its not clear what he said. B of A CEO Ken Lewis refused last week to turn over a list of who got the bonuses.

Merrill gave out the awards on an accelerated schedule last December, just weeks before the failed firm came under the control of B of A. Thain has since been fired.

Another nail in the coffin for those bogus GOP claims of voter fraud...

Remember how Todd Graves was fired as US Attorney for the western district of Missouri, after he wouldn't go along with a Bradley Schlozman-backed effort to sue Democratic state officials for failing to purge ineligible voters from the rolls, alleging that this failure could open the door to rampant voter fraud? The Bushies then moved Schlozman himself into Graves' position as US Attorney so that he could push the case personally.

Well, the case has quietly dragged on, after being dismissed by one court, then reinstated by another. But yesterday, lawyers for the Obama Justice Department asked a judge to drop the suit.

There wasn't much doubt by this point about the suit's bogusness, especially given what we've learned about Schlozman's politically motivated approach to his work both at main DOJ and as US Attorney. But now it's more or less official.

Another Republican claim of voter fraud bites the dust.

The mainstream media is rifling through its Roget's this morning to find new synonyms for "embarrassment" after Senate Democrats failed to pass the $410 billion spending bill last night that would have kept the government funded between now and October.

Politico just goes with it and deems the postponed vote a "major embarrassment," while the NYT dials it back to mere "embarrassment," as does the AP. ABC News, getting creative, calls it the "omnibus breakdown."

Breaking through some of the Beltway static, however, you can see that the bill's passage next week is a fairly sure thing. The measure includes money to pay GOP congressional staffers' salaries for this year, as well as home-state earmarks that help sweeten the pot for several GOP senators, including Richard Shelby (AL) -- who ranks No. 2 among the bill's earmark recipients -- Susan Collins (ME) -- who loves her lighthouse money -- and Bob Bennett, who takes his Mormon cricket infestations very seriously.

So if the spending bill's going to pass eventually, why all the hullabaloo about the delay now? Could the Democrats have handled it better to avoid today's bad press? The answer is no ... and yes.

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GOP criticism of Michael Steele is now intensifying, with his former rival for the chairmanship now going on the record in badmouthing his performance.

"I have a very different management philosophy and style," said Katon Dawson, the South Carolina party chairman who Steele defeated by a 91-77 vote in late January, in an interview with the Politico. Dawson also had this to say about Steele's recent transfer of a million dollars each to the NRCC and NRSC: "It wouldn't have taken me four weeks to give them the money."

It should also be noted that Ada Fisher, the RNC member who has called for Steele's resignation, was a Dawson-supporter during the leadership race.

Another former Steele rival, who wished to remain nameless, complained that Steele hasn't filled key staff positions yet. No Republicans said Steele is actually in serious danger right now, but the temperature does seem to be going up.

Steele adviser Curt Anderson fired back: "They didn't win and they're not happy about it. They've been waiting for him to stumble and now they're teeing off."

And sure enough, Steele did in fact stumble. Repeatedly.

Senate Republicans Force Delay In Omnibus Bill Senate Republicans successfully blocked cloture last night on the omnibus spending bill, leaving Democrats one vote short of 60 and forcing Harry Reid to delay the it until Monday, after debate and votes on GOP amendments that are not expected to pass. Congress will have to fund the government through a stopgap bill today, in order to avoid a shutdown of parts of the government.

Obama Speaking To Police Recruits, Promoting Stimulus President Obama is speaking at 11 a.m. ET today to the Columbus Police Graduation Exercises in Ohio. The reason for this event: Before the stimulus package passed, the city was going to lay off these 25 new police recruits rather than swear them in as officers, but is instead using some of the money to pay their salaries.

Biden Also Promoting Stimulus With Trip To Police Department Joe Biden is visiting the Miami Police Department at 10:15 a.m. ET, joined by Mayor Manny Diaz and other local officials. As with Obama's trip to Columbus, the purpose of his visit is to highlight how the stimulus package has put $4 billion into local law enforcement throughout the country.

Hillary On Climate Change: "Never Waste A Good Crisis" Hillary Clinton told a young audience at the European Parliament that climate change provides great opportunities to build a new, greener economy. "Never waste a good crisis," said Hillary, adding: "Don't waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security."

Gibbs Explains Media Strategy In Pundit Wars In an interview with The Hill, Robert Gibbs explained why he has taken to calling out media hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santelli or Jim Cramer: "There's a certain amount of theater to it that might make it more fun, but it's important that people understand the policy." And his take on the GOP infighting over Limbaugh: "If your enemies are fighting themselves, then don't get in the way."

Anti-Burris Special Election Bill Dies In Illinois Committee The Illinois legislature has given up on a recent push for a new special election for the Senate, in order to oust Roland Burris. A state Senate committee killed the proposal in a 3-2 vote -- Democrats against, Republicans in favor -- and a spokesman for Governor Pat Quinn told the New York Times: "He assessed the political reality that there was not going to be special election legislation."

Huck Heading To South Carolina Mike Huckabee will be visiting the crucial presidential primary state of South Carolina -- the site of his narrow defeat by John McCain last year -- for a "Fair Tax" rally in April. It will be his second trip to South Carolina since the general election, after an earlier visit for his book tour.

Bunning: GOP Leaders Against Me "Are Kind Of Down The Scale" The New York Times examines the continuing standoff between Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), and the Republican leaders who are trying to force him into retirement. Bunning is standing strong -- and ridiculing his intra-party opposition. "When you've dealt with Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Stan Musial," he said, "the people I'm dealing with now are kind of down the scale."

A federal grand jury indicted Bruce Karatz, the former CEO of real estate company KB Home, on Thursday for manipulating stock options to earn more than $230 million in three years. The indictment estimated that the backdating made Karatz's stock options $1.63 to $4.56 more valuable per share. Karatz has already paid a fine of $20 million to KB Home and the federal government for backdating stock options between 1999 and 2006. If convicted of all twenty counts of fraud and making false statements, Karatz will face 415 years in prison. (LA Times)

Darrell Dochow, an official at the Office of Thrift Supervision, retired quietly last Friday while under investigation for fraud. The U.S. Inspector General claims that Dochow allowed IndyMac to deceive its investors by reporting an $18 million deposit in a March 2008 financial disclosure document though the funds were not transferred until May. IndyMac filed for bankruptcy protection four months later. To investigators, writes ABC News, Dochow's retirement shows "how cozy government regulators have become with the banks and savings and loans they are supposed to be checking on." (ABC News)

The FEC will instiute a new fundraising rule designed to reduce the impact of lobbyists on elected leaders. Effective March 19, the rule requires PACs to disclose the names of lobbyists who collect contributions of more than $16,000 (sub. req.) from multiple sources. Currently, lobbyists can curry favor with lawmakers by collecting bundles of political contributions from personal and professional contacts. Disgruntled lobbyists tell Roll Call that they plan to dodge the restriction by hosting fundraisers registered under the names of multiple co-hosts, who could each raise $15,000. (Roll Call)

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