TPM News

"Lucien," the young male escort hired by George Rekers to carry his luggage and give him erotic massages on a trip to Europe, spoke on Anderson Cooper 360 Friday night.

Lucien says that, although the massages were sexual, the two did not have sex. He also said that Rekers -- a leader of the ex-gay movement who has testified in favor of banning gay couples from adopting children -- maintains that he is not gay.


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WaPo: Obama Sees Legal Gravitas In Kagan To Counter Roberts The Washington Post reports: "Why is President Obama choosing his solicitor general, Elena Kagan, as his second nominee to the U.S Supreme Court? By all accounts, Obama wants someone who can serve as a counterweight to the intellectual heft of Chief Justice John Roberts. Regardless of how strong a liberal Kagan would prove to be, as a former dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan practically defines legal gravitas."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will announce the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court at 10 a.m. ET. He will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10:45 a.m. ET. He will meet at 12:05 p.m. ET with the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, and will meet at 1 p.m. ET with senior advisers. He will hold a meeting at 2:30 p.m. ET, to review BP efforts to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. He will meet at 4 p.m. ET with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

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Two pollsters now show Rep. Joe Sestak leading Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. Over the weekend, a tracking poll of the race released by Muhlenberg College, which has shown Sestak surging in the last weeks before the May 18 primary, finally showed Sestak overtaking Specter and leading the race by a margin of 45-42.

Today, a new Rasmussen poll taken on Friday showed those numbers are no fluke -- that poll shows Sestak ahead by a margin of 47-42.

The current TPM Poll Average for the race still shows Specter ahead, but by a significantly reduced margin of 45-39.

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Expect this one to come up in Pennsylvania's brutal primary campaign this month -- Sen. Arlen Specter, then a Republican, opposed Elena Kagan's confirmation for the solicitor general position in March 2009. He joined 30 other Republicans while all the Democrats voted in favor of her nomination.

Soon after that vote Specter switched parties to give the Democrats a 60th vote in the Senate. He's been hammered by his Democratic challenger Rep. Joe Sestak as a political opportunist who only left the Republican party because he couldn't win a primary from the right. The primary is May 18 and the two are neck-and-neck, with Sestak even taking the lead in a recent poll.

Seven Republicans supported Kagan for solicitor general. They are: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). We have no idea how Specter views Kagan as a potential Supreme Court justice. At the time, he said she had given "inadequate answers" during her confirmation hearings.

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President Obama Monday will officially nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, his second selection for the high court. Multiple news outlets and the Associated Press are reporting that Kagan, 50, is Obama's choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

She has never tried a case in court but was considered an early favorite for the job, causing intense speculation Friday as the White House defended her record and some publications said it was highly likely she'd be his pick. Kagan served as a clerk in the late 1980s for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and was a clerk for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She worked at a private Washington law firm before taking a job in the Clinton administration.

Kagan is the first woman to hold the solicitor general post and until she took that position she was dean of Harvard Law School, also the first female to hold that job. Under her six-year tenure Kagan helped the law campus open new buildings and she updated the curriculum. She also was recognized for fundraising prowess. But Kagan banned military recruiters from campus, a sure lightning rod issue the GOP will focus on during her confirmation hearings.

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Appearing on the Sunday shows for the first time today, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama Administration wants to change the Miranda rule -- the requirement that police inform suspects of their right to remain silent and to a lawyer before interrogation -- in terrorism cases to "something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face."

Holder said on Meet The Press that the Administration wants to work with Congress to make the public safety exception to Miranda -- in which information from questioning before reading the Miranda warning can be admitted in court, in certain situations in which public safety is a concern -- "more flexible."

As TPMmuckraker reported Friday, experts believe the Administration is already pioneering a robust use of the public safety exception to Miranda. In the case of Faisal Shahzad, the man who allegedly tried to set off a crude bomb in Times Square, FBI agents reportedly questioned him for three or four hours before reading him his rights. Much more on the back story here.

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Holder: Pakistan Taliban 'Intimately Involved' In Times Square Plot Appearing on Meet The Press, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attempted Times Square bombing: "I can say that the evidence that we've now developed shows that the Pakistani Taliban has directed this plot. We know that they helped facilitate it, we know that we helped--they helped direct it, and I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence that shows they helped to finance it. They were intimately involved in this plot."

Holder: Al Qaeda Recruiting People With 'Clean Skins' Also on Meet The Press, Attorney General Eric Holder discussed how al Qaeda has been recruiting U.S. citizens with clean records: "Yeah. I mean, you certainly hear from them that they're looking for people, as they call it, people with 'clean skins.' They're trying to get people into the country or use people who don't fit any kind of a profile or not people who you might expect to be involved in these kinds of activities. And that's why we have to redouble our efforts in terms of intelligence-gathering to make sure that we are fully cognizant of what is it they're planning to do, who are they trying to use in, in coming up with these plots? It makes our job more difficult, not one that we can't do, but certainly makes it more difficult."

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Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) has lost at his state Republican convention -- officially defeating him for re-nomination without a primary. He is the first incumbent Senator to lose re-election in 2010, a Republican driven from office by the anti-establishment conservative insurgency.

The results of the second ballot, courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune: Businessman Tim Bridgewater 37%, attorney Mike Lee 36%, and the incumbent Sen. Bennett 27%. There will now be a final round of voting pitting Bridgewater against Lee, to see whether one of them can get 60% of the delegate vote and thus be nominated outright. If neither receives 60% of the delegate vote, the race will go to a primary on June 22.

It should of course be noted that Utah is one of the most conservative, Republican-friendly states in the nation. The last time it voted Democratic for president was in the 1964 Lyndon Johnson landslide; the last time it elected a Democratic Senator was 1970; and it voted for John McCain in 2008 by a margin of 63%-34%. So with that said, the eventual GOP nominee will be heavily favored to keep the seat in Republican hands.

Late Update: There will be a primary. Bridgewater took 57.28%, short of the magic 60%, to Lee's 42.72%.

Obama: 'This Is What Health Care Reform Is Achieving' In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama promoted the benefits that he said the new health care reform law has already achieved.

"I've said before that implementing health insurance reform won't happen overnight, and it will require some tweaks and changes along the way. Ultimately, we'll have a system that provides more control for consumers, more accountability for insurance companies, and more affordable choices for uninsured Americans," said Obama. "But already, we are seeing how reform is improving the lives of millions of Americans. Already, we are watching small businesses learn that they will soon pay less for health care. We are seeing retirees realize they'll be able to keep their coverage and seniors realize they'll be able to afford their prescriptions. We're seeing consumers get a break from unfair rate hikes, patients get the care they need when they need it, and young adults get the security of knowing they can start off life with one less cost to worry about. At long last, this is what health care reform is achieving."

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Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican candidate for governor, paid George Rekers at least $60,900 to be an expert witness in 2008 while defending Florida's ban against gay couple adopting children. When a judge called Rekers' testimony neither "credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy," McCollum explicitly defended him in following briefs.

Rekers is currently embroiled in a scandal for hiring a male escort to accompany him on a trip to Europe. But he's also a leader in the ex-gay movement. He co-founded the Family Research Council and sits on the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. He has, by all accounts, dedicated his life to protecting children from the "harmful" influence of gay people.

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