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We've told you that Joe Cassano, who ran the AIG unit that made those credit default swaps, has hired a lawyer in connection with an ongoing Justice Department investigation.

And from the looks of the lawyer in question, Cassano is taking the charges very seriously indeed.

F. Joseph Warin, who works out of the Washington, DC office of the prestigious Los Angeles-based law firm Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher, is, according to his bio, a former assistant US Attorney who specializes, perhaps unsurprisingly, in white collar crime and securities enforcement, and chairs the firm's White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice Group*.

Investigators are reported to be examining, in particular, whether Cassano and other AIG execs committed fraud by intentionally making misleading public statements about the firm's level of exposure to losses on its credit default swaps.

Warin didn't return a call from TPMmuckraker. But his assistant asked, unprompted, whether we were calling about Cassano.

Sounds like he's getting a lot of calls.

*This sentence has been corrected from an earlier version, which incorrectly reported that Gibson, Dunn is based in Washington, DC.

President Obama has just released this statement on the House's passage of the bonus tax:

"Today's vote rightly reflects the outrage that so many feel over the lavish bonuses that AIG provided its employees at the expense of the taxpayers who have kept this failed company afloat. Now this legislation moves to the Senate, and I look forward to receiving a final product that will serve as a strong signal to the executives who run these firms that such compensation will not be tolerated.

In the end, this is a symptom of a larger problem - a bubble and bust economy that valued reckless speculation over responsibility and hard work. That is what we must ultimately repair to build a lasting and widespread prosperity."

Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate in the March 31 special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's former House seat, is upping his populist appeal against the AIG bonuses: He's not just endorsing the 90% bonus tax, but he's calling for Tim Geithner to be fired -- and challenging his Democratic opponent Scott Murphy to join him.

Murphy has responded with a press release declaring that he's ideally for a 100% tax on the AIG bonuses -- though he would have voted for the 90% tax, too.

When asked about Tedisco's call for sacking Geithner, Murphy spokesman Ryan Rudominer told TPM: "Scott trusts President Obama's judgment. Tedisco is just trying to distract from saying no to creating or saving 76,000 jobs Upstate and the largest middle class tax cut in history."

Rudominer is referring here to the stimulus bill, which Tedisco said on Monday he would have opposed. And since Tuesday, Tedisco has been using the stimulus bill as a foothold to accuse Murphy of supporting the bonuses.

We now have an illustrious addition to the ranks of Republican governors turning down stimulus money: Sarah Palin.

Palin has announced that she is rejecting $416 million, out of $930 million originally headed to her state. "We are not requesting funds intended to just grow government," Palin said in a statement. "We are not requesting more money for normal day-to-day operations of government as part of this economic stimulus package. In essence we say no to operating funds for more positions in government."

Freshman Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Begich has already called on the legislature to override Palin on this.

This is notable for two reasons. First, Palin is widely seen as a potential presidential candidate, and a move like this can help her build up credibility with conservatives. Second, this might actually be the first time that Alaska rejected federal dollars for anything.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has received the names of the AIGers who got bonuses, and is weighing whether to release those names, his office has announced.

Cuomo had subpoenaed AIG for the names. Yesterday, the firm's CEO, Ed Liddy, declined to tell Congress he would cooperate with the subpoena, citing concerns about the safety of employees whose names were released.

Cuomo's full statement follows after the jump....

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Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has confirmed that his department did press Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) to water down the executive-bonus limits included in last month's stimulus bill, delivering a boost to the beleaguered Dodd -- but at a greater potential cost to his own damaged credibility on Capitol Hill.

In an interview set to air later today on CNN, Geithner took "full responsibility for the situation" and said "calls for resignation are part of the job," according to an early report on the network's website.

Late Update: The full exchange between CNN's Ali Velshi and Geithner is posted after the jump. It's notable how rapidly the media has become fixated on this change to the Dodd amendment ... considering that most mainstream news outlets were fudging the truth on it just days after it became law.

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During the debate over mass-transit funding in the stimulus bill, TPMDC highlighted the puzzling disconnect between the Obama administration's calls for investment in sustainable transportation and its low level of actual money to modernize the system.

Now that modernization debate has moved into its next phase, with Congress poised to take up its five-year transportation authorization bill later this spring. The prospect of kick-starting a true greening of U.S. transportation policy has prompted lawmakers to introduce two bills that form a progressive marker for that coming debate.

The first is known as Complete Streets, offered last week by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA). It would ensure that federal transportation spending is apportioned to benefit not only auto drivers but pedestrians and bike riders as well. Complete Streets initiatives have been launched at the state and local level in Minnesota, New York, Washington, California, and elsewhere.

The second green-transit marker bill, known as CLEAN TEA, highlights a growing schism over the distribution of revenue from a possible cap-and-trade climate change regulatory system. CLEAN TEA would ensure that 10% of the revenue from auction of carbon emissions permits goes toward green transportation projects.

The Obama administration has suggested that as much as 20% of auction proceeds could go towards green transit, but Republicans are mounting an early pushback to that effort by insisting that 100% of the proceeds from the system be given back to taxpayers. Look for this question to become a flashpoint during the climate change debate, if and when it finally occurs later this year.

Yesterday we laid out some preliminary evidence that AIG execs -- led by Joseph Cassano, who ran the firm's financial products unit -- may have committed criminal fraud in connection with those credit default swaps that brought the company down. And as we noted, federal investigators have been probing that very question.

A former federal fraud prosecutor confirmed to TPMmuckraker today that criminal fraud occurs when someone willfully misstates the facts about a company's position in any public statement -- such as an SEC filing, an earnings release, a presentation to investors, or even a press conferences -- and when there's a clear financial motive for doing so. The former prosecutor further confirmed that the facts of the AIG case as currently known -- in which Cassano and other AIG execs made what turned out to be incorrect public statements, which had the effect of concealing from investors the company's true exposure to losses on its swaps -- could potentially lead to such charges, but declined to go further without access to the details of the investigation.

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The House has just voted 328-93 to pass the 90% tax on bonuses over $250,000 at financial institutions receiving bailout money.

We'll keep an eye out for when the roll call vote is posted on the House's site, in order to answer the question: Who were the 93 that voted No?

Late Update: The roll call vote has been posted. Among Republicans, 87 voted No, 85 voted Yes, and six did not vote. A full list of the No voters is available after the jump.

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