TPM News

CQ's blockbuster story, about a wiretap that picked up Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) discussing the AIPAC spying case with a "suspected Israeli agent", picks up on a sequence of complex events from several years ago, and involves several moving pieces.

So we thought it would be worthwhile to put together a timeline of events laying out the major reported developments in this sprawling story.

Without further ado:

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On a conference call with reporters just now, the Coleman legal team announced that they are formally filing their notice of appeal today with the state Supreme Court, and will now await an order from that court to have briefs submitted and to schedule oral arguments.

"We do believe that the district court got it wrong on the law," said legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg, "and wrong because the Minnesota tradition and law are to enfranchise people, and their decision disenfranchises many Minnesotans, whose votes have been wrongly rejected."

Coleman attorney Jim Langdon laid out the campaign's hopes at the state Supreme Court -- that the state Supreme Court is not bound by the same rules as the trial court, but can instead make and clarify those rules.

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It's climate change week in the House of Representatives. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), who heads the Energy and Environment Subcommittee have announced four days of hearings to discuss their draft climate change legislation.

The hearings, which will occur Tuesday through Friday, will "examine the views of the Administration and a broad range of stakeholders", including those in industry. Friday's hearing will include testimony from Al Gore and former Sen. John Warner (R-VA). Warner became an advocate of climate change during his last months in office, and was a lead sponsor, along with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), of a compromise bill which failed to overcome a cloture vote last year.

Full list of the (many) panelists below the fold

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The remaining vote-count in the NY-20 special election is starting to take shape, with the lawyers and local election officials set to gather on Thursday to review...about 200 ballots.

Judge James V. Brands just handed down an order formalizing an agreement from both sides.

About 200 ballots that were opened up but objected to on the basis of voter intent -- that is, a campaign challenged it based on how the voter marked it, similar to the ballot-challenges we saw in Minnesota -- will be brought to the State Elections Board, as a centralized location, on Thursday.

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Rep. Jane Harman's office has released a statement in response to CQ's report that the congresswoman was heard on an NSA wiretap telling an "Israeli agent" that she would press the Justice Department to ease up on the AIPAC spy case in return for political help.

The CQ Politics story simply recycles three year-old discredited reporting of largely unsourced material to manufacture a 'scoop' out of widely known and unremarkable facts - that Congresswoman Jane Harman is and has long been a supporter of AIPAC, and that some members of AIPAC regarded her as well-qualified to chair the House Intelligence Committee following the 2006 elections. Congresswoman Harman has never contacted the Justice Department about its prosecution of present or former AIPAC employees and the Department has never informed her that she was or is the subject of or involved in an investigation. If there is anything about this story that should arouse concern, it is that the Bush Administration may have been engaged in electronic surveillance of members of the congressional Intelligence Committees.

The DSCC and NRSC have just released their first-quarter fundraising numbers, showing a mixed bag of news for each side as the Dems race to get a 60-seat super-majority and the GOP works to stop them.

The Senate Dems brought in $10.4 million for the quarter and have $7.2 million on hand, compared to the Senate GOP's $9.6 million and $2.27 million on hand. However, the NRSC has only $1 million remaining debt, compared to the DSCC's $10.9 million in debt.

So while the DSCC is taking in money at a faster clip right now -- and having a near-super-majority certainly helps in doing that -- they're still not yet out of their hole from the 2008 elections, while the GOP has effectively climbed out.

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The moneyed interests that organized last week's Tea Party protests may insist that their efforts did not constitute astroturfing--that, much like the anti-Iraq war protesters who've taken to the streets between 2003 and today, the tea party attendees are articulating organic anger, and groups like FreedomWorks have only helped them co-ordinate.

That's probably not how students and officials at Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, SD feel about it. According to the Argus Leader, 19 school drummers and 15 choir members (though there appears to be some overlap between the two) showed up at the local tea party and were shocked to find themselves at a political event.

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Another local newspaper in Minnesota is calling upon Norm Coleman to concede, after having endorsed him in the 2008 election. This time, it's the Bemidji Pioneer:

Sen. Coleman's appeals were necessary and a legal part of the process. But at some point, incessant appeals serve no more than to obstruct the process than to guarantee justice. It's not unlike the Death Row inmate who exhausts all his appeals, taking years, and reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. And how many cases does the high court acquit?


The public perception at this point appears not to be one of letting Sen. Coleman fully seek redress of his legal grievances, but rather one of obstructing the Democrat-controlled Senate to prevent it from reaching that magic number of 60 votes. Adding Mr. Franken would mean 59 Democrat votes in the Senate. To continue to obstruct doesn't bode well for Minnesota, nor for Sen. Coleman's career, should he continue in politics.

Similar calls have come from at least two other papers that endorsed Coleman in 2008: The Albert Lea Tribune and the Worthington Daily Globe.

The new Siena poll in New York State shows that a majority of registered voters here favor legalizing gay marriage -- a push that currently has the support of Gov. David Paterson and others, but is not guaranteed passage in the state Senate.

The numbers: 53% favor, 39% oppose, with a ±3.8% margin of error. The internals show all regions of the state (New York City, the suburbs and Upstate) support it by various margins.

Among religious sub-groups, only 41% of Protestants favor it to 53% against, Jews favor it 64%-32% -- and Catholics favor it by a 49%-41% plurality. In the racial cross-tabs, Whites are in favor 56%-36%, Latinos are for it 57%-31%, and African-Americans oppose it with 44% in favor to 49% against.

The interplay of racial and religious politics could very well determine whether this proposal sinks in the Senate, or ends up signed into law.