TPM News

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is apparently not agreeing with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who said in the New York Times on Monday that the Obama Administration was deliberately increasing unemployment and lowering stock prices, "intended to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not to kill it."

The Dallas Morning News asked Cornyn whether he agreed that Obama wants higher unemployment and other economic problems. "Absolutely not," said Cornyn.

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  • A new cache of Treasury emails released by Judicial Watch reveals, inter alia, that Hank Paulson's chief-of-staff was a guy named Jim Wilkinson who was nt only clueless -- and this is, mind you, an entire month after the Lehman bailout -- as to the names of the nation's nine biggest financial institutions, he was clueless enough to put it in writing. But not so clueless that he didn't understand that the administration's decision to flow them a few hundred bil was a hit with the Dow Futures, bro! This guy makes Neel Kashkari look pretty awesome.

  • Also in the docs: Paulson used his "Texas Fed" strongman tactics with all nine big banks, couldn't get ahold of McCain to brief him; JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon arrived 45 minutes early. [Judicial Watch]

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  • Former Rep. Pat Toomey's (R-PA) campaign has just announced the endorsement of a prominent GOP Congressman from Pennsylvania, Rep. Charlie Dent, a sign that Toomey's effort might just be picking up more steam now that former Gov. Tom Ridge declared that he wouldn't be running for the GOP nod.

    Dent represents Toomey's old House seat, but is generally viewed as a relatively more moderate, establishment personality. For example, he voted against federal intervention in the Schiavo case, and he endorsed the socially-liberal Rudy Giuliani for president in 2007.

    The first big step for Toomey was declaring his candidacy at all, which then had the very-much unforeseen consequence of triggering Sen. Arlen Specter's party switch. The GOP establishment then began looking for another candidate, such as Ridge, but Toomey appears to be gaining momentum now.

    In the new Washington Post profile of Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), this amusing nugget is given about how he's still getting used to his new partisan identity:

    Specter himself occasionally struggles to stay in character as a Democrat, flubbing his lines. When he wants to say "my party," he catches himself to make sure he's referring to the correct party.

    "I've been on a lot of issues which are right in line with the Democratic Party," he said to some reporters who cornered him in the union hall. "A woman's right to choose. Had a split with my own party -- with the Republican Party -- on embryonic stem cell research ... Had a split with my party, with the Republican Party -- on the nuclear test ban treaty."

    A quick tip for Sen. Specter: Just remember that you're for Al Franken in the Minnesota Senate race. All else follows from there.

    Obama Jokes About ASU Honorary Degree Flap When delivering the commencement address last night at Arizona State University, President Obama joked about the university's decision to not grant him an honorary degree. "I learned to never again pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA bracket," said Obama. "And your university President and Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."

    Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will hold a town hall at 12 p.m. ET, at Rancho Rio High School in New Mexico, where he will discuss proposed credit card reforms and consumer protections. He will depart from Kirkland Air Force Base at 2:15 p.m. ET, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 5:50 p.m. ET.

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    Huge surprise: the SEC is mobilizing to sue sue former Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo for insider trading.

    Perhaps no one made so much money so directly perpetrating the abuses responsible for the most painful consequences of the economic collapse as Mozilo, whose massive mortgage giant encouraged sales reps to sell homeowners on the biggest and most abusive loans possible, fueling a meteoric rise in housing prices that sustained Countrywide's profit margins for much of the last decade -- until 2007, when the market finally broke down and Countrywide tried to change tactics, raising its lending standards with an internal memo encouraging employees to "Do the right thing."

    That memo was instantly parodied by Countrywide employees, who posted and circulated an alternate version that ended:

    P.S. My naked orange body is rolling around in piles of hundreds of millions of dollars from the stock I've dumped.
    The first of innumerable shareholder lawsuits alleging insider trading was filed shortly thereafter.

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    A new Rasmussen poll in the New Jersey gubernatorial race finds that the establishment Republican choice, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, could be in a tough race for the GOP nomination against the conservative insurgent, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan.

    The numbers: Christie 39%, Lonegan 29%, with a ±5% margin of error. The winner of the Republican primary, on June 2, will face Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine, whose approval ratings have been in negative territory.

    From the pollster's analysis: "In primary elections, turnout is often the key. Lonegan's supporters are somewhat more committed to participating in the primary suggesting that a low turnout could favor his prospects."

    My own perspective as a New Jerseyan: This state has become heavily Democratic, with Barack Obama carrying it by a 57%-42% margin. The last time the Republicans won the governorship was with the narrow re-election of the moderate Christie Whitman in 1997. In 2001, the conservative insurgent Bret Schundler won the GOP nomination, and then lost the general election by more than ten points.

    Greg Sargent gets the answers from Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) that I've been seeking for weeks. The two both say they remain undecided about the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that he'd need "a couple" Republicans to cross the line before he could move Johnsen's confirmation to the floor, as Greg notes, this suggests her nomination's simply stalled--not dead in the water.

    But here's the corollary to that.

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    AIG CEO Ed Liddy's much-anticipated appearance in Congress today was... not really worth all the anticipation, in our humble opinion. Questions posed by members of the House Oversight Committee included "what is the address of AIG?", an inquiry into whether the company's value was reflected in its stock price, and the follow up to the first question "Is that in New York City?"

    But today the blog ZeroHedge wonders something we'd like to see Ed Towns bring up next time: wherefore the apparent halt in the unwind of derivatives held by the money vortex called AIG Financial Products? Back in February the company was saying it had unwound 25% of its $2.7 trillion in notional exposure, which would leave it with 2.025 trillion in outstanding swaps. By March they said they had unwound another $400 billion and change. But in the two months since then, if Liddy's testimony today is accurate, the unit has only managed to offload $100 billion in additional exposure. What's to explain for the sudden halt? Did someone give up "unwinding complex trades" for Lent?

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