TPM News

A new group is set to launch in the House of Representatives, made up of conservatives set on defending American power and interests against encroachment from international institutions: The Congressional Sovereignty Caucus.

Their kickoff meeting will be this coming Wednesday, featuring co-founders Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), plus Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) -- and special guests Oliver North, Frank Gaffney and Doug Feith.

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Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has now signed up with the Birther cause -- the people who think Barack Obama isn't a natural-born citizen and should be required to produce a birth certificate (which he already did, anyway) -- World Net Daily reports.

Coburn has now voiced his support for a bill offered by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and five House co-sponsors so far. "The bill requires any federal candidates' campaign committee filing with the Federal Election Commission to produce a copy of the candidate's birth certificate," wrote Coburn. "If the bill makes it to the Senate, I will likely support it."

Coburn also endorsed a similar bill in the Oklahoma legislature: "I hope the Oklahoma State Legislature will give serious consideration to this bill and I hope more states will reform their ballot access laws to ensure federal candidates must affirmatively prove their eligibility."

(Via Ben Smith.)

The White House's decision to fire the AmeriCorps inspector general was set in motion by a unanimous request it received from the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which asked the White House to review the IG's performance, according to a board member.

The firing "would not have played itself out" were it not for the fact that the board raised concerns about the IG, Gerald Walpin, after the May 20 board meeting, a board member told TPMmuckraker. The board member added that the White House had no role in encouraging the board to make the review request, calling it "completely board-initiated." The White House had cited the request from the board in its letter to Congress explaining the reason for Walpin's firing.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Sen. Dianne Feinstin (D-CA), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IA), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA); Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Rep. Pete Hoesktra (R-MI), and Karim Sadjadpour, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI); and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TV); Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Have things reached the point in the ongoing (and going, and going...) Minnesota Senate race, where even Norm Coleman's staffers may have seen the writing on the wall? In recent weeks, two of his top staffers have gotten new jobs.

LeRoy Coleman (no relation), who served as Coleman's Senate communications director, has now joined the Republican National Committee as director of media affairs. And two weeks ago another top Coleman staffer, campaign manager Cullen Sheehan, became an RNC regional director.

The fact that Sheehan signed up for a new job is pretty telling, even though he'll still be helping out with the Coleman camp. The reason is that Sheehan is the official co-plaintiff, along with Coleman, in the actual ongoing election lawsuit.

Norm himself got a consulting job months ago with the Republican Jewish Coalition, providing him with a source of income.

Roll Call reports that Rep. Charlie Melancon has confirmed that he is considering a Campaign for Senate in 2010 against incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter -- the Christian Right champion whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal two years ago.

"Many Louisianians have encouraged me to run for U.S. Senate next year," Melancon said in a statement. "I am discussing this opportunity with my wife and kids and will be making an announcement in the coming weeks."

Louisiana reporter John Maginnis reported earlier today that Melancon, a relatively conservative Democrat, had already told national Democratic officials that he would be running.

A Democratic source could not confirm whether or not Melancon will be getting in the race, but did say that "he'd be a very very strong candidate against Vitter."

The House voted 405-1 today for a resolution in support of the Iranian dissidents and condemning the ruling government. And the one man who opposed it was...Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

Paul said in his floor speech that he was in "reluctant opposition" to the resolution -- that he of course condemns violence by governments against their citizens. On the other hand, he also doesn't think the American government should act as a judge of every country overseas, and pointed out that we don't condemn countries like Saudi Arabia or Egypt that don't even have real elections.

"It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made," Paul said. "I have admired President Obama's cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly."

Check out Paul's full floor statement, after the jump.

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Fox News has denied tipping off Sen. John Ensign after receiving that bizarre letter from Doug Hampton, in which Hampton asked for Fox anchor Megyn Kelly's help in exposing Ensign's affair with Hampton's wife Cynthia.

Tom Lowell, the senior producer of Kelly's show, has told the Huffington Post that a booker for the show did get Hampton's letter, via email, the day before Ensign went public about the affair. Lowell said a producer followed up with Hampton, but he seemed "evasive and not credible," so Fox didn't pursue it -- which, frankly, sounds reasonable.

But more importantly, Lowell said no one at Fox had let Ensign's camp know about the letter. "I categorically deny that we ever reached out to the senator in any way shape or form prior to him making his announcement," Lowell said.

So that still leaves a big mystery: Ensign has now said clearly that it was the threat to go to a TV news show that prompted him to go public. So how did Ensign know about that?

The bell has finally tolled for Allen Stanford.

Federal prosecutors today filed a criminal indictment against the billionaire Texan, as well as three other Stanford Financial Group executives and the former head of the Antiguan bank regulatory agency, charging them with helping to orchestrate a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

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So as we told you earlier today, Senator John Ensign has now admitted that he helped Doug Hampton, the husband of the senator's girlfriend, find employment after both Hamptons left Ensign's office. Ensign's office pointed out that he has done the same thing "for many other staff members." That's almost certainly true -- it's hardly unusual.

But a close look at the timeline of l'affaire Ensign makes a few things clear:

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