TPM News

In the newest round of White House shake-ups, none other than White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is set to leave. Or perhaps it's not so much an exit as an inter-departmental transfer across the total Obama operation.

The New York Times reports:

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary and close confidante to President Obama, said Wednesday that he will step down and become an outside political adviser to the president and his re-election campaign.

Mr. Gibbs said that he intends to leave the podium in early February. His successor has not yet been decided, he said, but will likely be announced within the next two weeks.

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New details about John Wheeler's final days paint a picture of a man visibly distraught and disoriented, and in such bad shape that people he encountered thought he was homeless and offered him money.

Wheeler, the former chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and an appointee in three Republican administrations, was found dead in a Delaware landfill last Friday. Police have ruled his death a homicide.

Police have been tight-lipped about how Wheeler, 66, may have died and have no suspects or crime scene. But one police source told the Philadelphia Inquirer that evidence has tied Wheeler to an attempted arson at the home of a neighbor with whom he was feuding.

According to the Inquirer's source, Wheeler may have something to do with an incendiary device, described earlier this week as a smoke bomb, thrown into the home of a couple who is building a house across the street from Wheelers. Wheeler and his wife have reportedly been fighting the construction in court because the new home would block their view.

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Incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) -- who will officially take the gavel this afternoon -- will say in his opening speech that the American people voted to "end business as usual" and the 112th Congress can "no longer fall short."

In his prepared remarks, Boehner also said the American people have humbled the new Congress, and want their representatives to be honest and accountable.

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Today's the day the White House's Office of Management and Budget was supposed to give the ATF the go-ahead to implement a rule requiring gun dealers on the Mexican border to report bulk sales of semiautomatic weapons to the feds, a plan intended to combat the trafficking of such firearms south of the border.

But the Obama administration says it needs more time.

"ATF's information collection request is still under review," an administration official told TPM.

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Could it be -- could Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the darling of the Tea Party right who has claimed to get her political marching orders directly from God, emerge as a sensational new entry into the presidential race?

ABC News reports:

A source close to the three-term congresswoman said Bachmann will travel to Iowa this month for multiple meetings to seek advice from political forces there and party elders close to the caucus process before coming to a final decision regarding a potential presidential run. Bachmann, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, also is set to deliver a keynote speech at an Iowans for Tax Relief PAC fundraiser Jan. 21 in Des Moines, Iowa.


"Nothing is off the table," Bachmann chief of staff Andy Parrish told ABC News when asked whether the Iowa trip signaled Bachmann's intent to run for president. "The congresswoman is excited about her first trip to Iowa this year."

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Taking The House, GOP Primes For Fight With Obama The Associated Press reports: "Taking control of the House at last, Republicans are rushing straight into a political fight with President Barack Obama over health care and changes in Washington they say voters demanded in the midterm elections. 'It's new energy,' incoming House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on the eve of his swearing-in."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET. Obama will meet with senior advisers at 10:30 a.m. ET. He will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 3:45 p.m. ET.

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On Wednesday afternoon, new members of Congress will be sworn in, John Boehner will be elected Speaker, and the Republican majority will settle into control of the House of Representatives.

After some pomp and circumstance -- and probably a few tears -- the House will get to work on a dramatically different agenda than Democrats pursued in the 111th Congress. And that's one side of a fundamental tension that will set the stage for (bipartisan) gridlock, posturing and, eventually, high-stakes brinksmanship.

It'll start almost right away.

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