TPM News

The White House released the following statement from President Obama on the interim appointment of Paul Kirk to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat:

"I am pleased that Massachusetts will have its full representation in the United States Senate in the coming months, as important issues such as health care, financial reform and energy will be debated. Paul Kirk is a distinguished leader, whose long collaboration with Senator Kennedy makes him an excellent, interim choice to carry on his work until the voters make their choice in January."

Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) has officially announced his appointment of former DNC chairman Paul Kirk, a Kennedy family friend, former Ted Kennedy staffer, and head of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, as interim Senator in the late Kennedy's Senate seat.

"Paul will not seek the open seat in the special election that's coming up in January," said Patrick. "But for the next few months he will carry on the work and the focus of Sen. Kennedy, mindful of his mission, and his values, and his love of Massachusetts."

Sen.-designate Paul Kirk then addressed the media. He reaffirmed that he will not run in the special election, and he thanked the Kennedy family for their support, and discussed his own long-time friendship with Ted Kennedy himself. "To also have the encouragement and support of his family, that I be a voice and a vote for his causes, and his constituents, in the Senate that he loved, is a blessing I can only repay by giving my very best efforts to be the best public servant I can be in the few months ahead."

Kirk also said that he is keeping Kennedy's staff for the duration of his service, maintaining constituent service work that the office had been conducting.

Najibullah Zazi has been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to use a weapons of mass destruction -- explosive bombs -- the Justice Department has announced.

Zazi, who lives outside Denver, had previously been charged with making false statements to investigators, after he was questioned by the FBI in connection to that New York City terror probe.

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Najibullah Zazi, the suspect in the ongoing NYC terror probe, has been indicted for a conspiracy to use explosives bombs (weapons of mass destruction) in the United States. Read the full press release from the Department of Justice below.



       WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that Najibullah Zazi, 24, a resident of Aurora, Colo., and legal permanent resident of the United States from Afghanistan, has been indicted in the Eastern District of New York on a charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction (explosive bombs) against persons or property in the United States.

FBI agents in Colorado first arrested Zazi on Sept. 19, 2009 pursuant to a criminal complaint charging him with knowingly and willfully making false statements to the FBI in a matter involving international and domestic terrorism.  Zazi made an initial court appearance on those charges in the District of Colorado on Sept. 21, 2009. The government will ask that those charges be dismissed and that Zazi be transferred to New York to face this new charge.

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We told you yesterday about the FBI agent who resigned after superiors found his list of sexual conquests, including a key witness in the corruption probe of Congressman William Jefferson, and who now appears to be hyping the threat of Islamic terrorism professionally.

But what left us scratching our heads, and what a court filing didn't address, is why the exactly the agent, John Guandolo, would write and then keep a document listing affairs with female FBI agents and a witness in a high-profile corruption case.

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Fallout from that New York City terror probe...

The New York Times reports:

The New York Police Department has removed a senior official from one of its two sometimes competing antiterrorism units, after it played a role in disrupting a sensitive federal terrorism investigation, current and former police officials said on Wednesday. He was replaced by a top official from the other unit.

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On a conference call with Iowa reporters yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he's looking to assemble a new bipartisan group to work on health care reform.

Grassley said he's reaching out to have senators from both parties -- and from neither of the committees that are currently working on reform, the Finance Committee and the HELP Committee, The Hill reports.

The hypothetical group would offer amendments to whatever bills come out of those committees.

"I think, though, that it'd be very helpful for people who aren't on the Finance committee or even the HELP committee...would kind of take the bull by the horns themselves and try to coalesce around something that could eventually become more bipartisan," he said.

New York Gov. David Paterson had other plans when he campaigned as Eliot Spitzer's running mate -- and they didn't involve being governor.

"I did not sign up for this," Paterson said yesterday, reports the New York Times. "I wanted to be lieutenant governor. I had this grand plan that Hillary Clinton was going to become president. Maybe the governor would appoint me to the Senate."

Alas, Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal, thrusting Paterson into the top job. Yet Paterson is running in next year's gubernatorial election, over the reported objections of President Obama.

Paterson has so far refused to step aside. But, he said yesterday, "if I got to a point where I thought that my candidacy was hurting my party, obviously it would be rather self-absorbed to go forward."

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The Louisiana Democratic Party has a funny new online petition, targeting Republican Senator David Vitter, and his campaigns against ACORN.

The petition calls upon Congress to defund David Vitter, citing Vitter's own past involvement with prostitutes. From the party's press release:

Last week, admitted criminal Vitter introduced an amendment that would have kicked innocent families out of public housing in New Orleans if one member of that family committed a crime. Vitter said the federal government should not fund centers of crime.

Just yesterday, Vitter asked the U.S. Justice Department - whose investigation turned up Vitter's phone number in the DC Madame's phone records - to investigate an organization recently implicated in a prostitution scandal. Think about that one for a second.

Vitter said he wants to make sure federal money doesn't go to people who break the law and we couldn't agree more. It's time to defund David Vitter.

Patrick To Announce Senate Pick, Kirk The Favorite Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) will announce today his appointment for interim Senator, at an 11 a.m. press conference. The widespread expectation is that Kennedy family friend Paul Kirk will be appointed to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, to serve as a caretaker until the January special election.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will chair a 9:15 a.m. ET meeting of the U.N. Security Council. At 12 p.m. ET, he will co-chair, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a meeting of the leaders of the Friends of Pakistan. He will depart from New York at 2:20 p.m. ET, arriving at 3:30 p.m. ET in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At 6 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will greet leaders of the G-20 and their spouses. At 7:30 p.m. ET, Obama will attend a G-20 leaders working dinner.

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