TPM News

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has firmly rejected former Rep. Rick Renzi's (R-AZ) claim that Constitutional protections granted to members of Congress prevented him from having to defend himself from charges that he used his position to enrich himself in a land deal.

The court's decision on Thursday strikes a debilitating blow to federal lawmakers' broad claims of immunity from prosecution on anything dealing with legislative activity. If Renzi appeals, it also could set up a Supreme Court showdown over exactly what level of protection from investigation and prosecution the Constitution provides members of Congress.

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Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attributed Republicans' exit from deficit talks on their refusal to budge on tax cuts and said their intransigence on the issue threatened to derail a deal.

Pelosi and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the ranking member of the Budget Committee, said at a press conference that they were told of Cantor's exit only after they left a morning meeting at the White House on the debt ceiling vote.

"We left the meeting to find that Leader Cantor had walked out of the meetings....because Democrats want to raise taxes," Pelosi said. "Yes, we do want to remove tax subsidies from big oil, we want to remove tax breaks from corporations that send jobs overseas. That list goes on."

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Sarah Palin has denied reports that she cut short her One Nation bus tour, posting on her Facebook page: "Why didn't anyone tell me? Oh, wait, that's because it hasn't been cancelled." But though Palin said she had been called back to Alaska for jury duty, she was vague about when she would restart the tour: "The next leg of the tour continues when the time comes."

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One of the Democrats participating in bipartisan debt discussions said he's "very disappointed" his Republican counterpart has ditched negotiations over an impasse on taxes, but says he hopes to continue working with the group in a different context.

He also made an impassioned case that new tax revenues be part of any deal to raise the debt limit that involves significant cuts to entitlement programs.

"I'm disappointed that Leader Cantor's withdrawn," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus during a hearing on health care spending. "I think we should stay at the table. I think we should keep working, difficult as it is, and try to balance between Medicare cuts -- additional Medicare cuts -- so long as there is commensurate additional revenue. We need balance here."

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The 2012 election season promises to be a boon for broadcasters.

Moody's Investment Services predicts political advertising revenues will grow 9 percent to 18 percent above the record-breaking 2010 election levels, according to a report released Tuesday.

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The Obama administration deployed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to appeal to House Democrats not to tie the President's hands when it comes to Libya when a House bill defunding the Libya operation comes to the floor as expected Friday.

The White House is leaning on Clinton to defend Obama's decisions on the two war fronts Thursday -- both the incremental Afghanistan withdrawal plan he announced Wednesday night and the controversial U.S. military action in Libya.

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In the hours after President Obama's Afghanistan draw-down speech (remember that?), Republican presidential candidates fired off responses that ranged from subtly supportive but unimpressed to totally opposed and really unimpressed.

Yes, GOP primary voter: No matter where you stand on the longest war in American history, there's a Republican running for president who speaks your language.

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In a joint statement, and in the midst of major turbulence in bipartisan debt negotiations, the top two Republicans in the Senate say President Obama needs to speak publicly about his insistence that new tax revenue and job promotion measures be included in any deal to increase the debt limit.

"The White House and Democrats are insisting on job-killing tax hikes and new spending," says a joint statement by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). "That proposal won't address our fiscal crisis, our jobs crisis, or protect and reform entitlements. And a bill with new spending and higher taxes would fail with bipartisan opposition - as it should. President Obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes, or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. He can't have both. But we need to hear from him."

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