TPM News

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is the latest to call for the impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee, in response to the release of those torture memos last week.

Bybee wrote one of the memos in 2002, when he served in the Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel.

Here's Feingold's statement:

The just released OLC memos, including the 2002 memo authored by Jay Bybee, are a disgrace. The idea that one of the architects of this perversion of the law is now sitting on the federal bench is very troubling. The memos offer some of the most explicit evidence yet that Mr. Bybee and others authorized torture and they suggest that grounds for impeachment can be made. Clearly, the Justice Department has the responsibility to investigate this matter further. As a Senator, I would be a juror in any impeachment trial so I don't want to reach a conclusion until all the evidence is before me.

It's worth thinking about the story from CQ, that the DCCC has received $250,000 in leftover money from El Tinklenberg, the Democrat who lost to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) last year by a 46%-44% margin. How did he come so close, and have that much money left over?

You might recall that after Bachmann's now-infamous Hardball appearance on October 17, in which she said she was deeply concerned that Barack Obama might be anti-American and called for the media to investigate members of Congress for anti-Americanism, liberals around the country immediately clamored to send some money to her opponent. As a result, Tinklenberg took in $1.9 million in the home stretch.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet with Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid tonight--a weekly meeting--and will discuss the creation of a congressional panel to investigate the causes of the financial crisis and worsening recession, Hill sources say.

In 1933, a Sicilian-born American lawyer named Ferdinand Pecora became the chief counsel to the Senate Banking Committee, and conducted a wide-ranging investigation on the causes of the financial crisis that prefigured the Great Depression. Today, Pelosi says she wants Congress to take a similar look into the collapse on Wall Street.

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The White House press corps gave Robert Gibbs a hard time today about President Obama's comments this morning that left the door open to prosecutions of Bush officials for torture.

It's true that the president's comments go further than anything he'd said before, and could suggest that the White House is tacking this way and that on a crucial subject. That impression is strengthened by the fact that the White House has now had to walk back Rahm Emanuel's comments from Sunday that the Bushies wouldn't be prosecuted.

Late Update: Looks like The Huffington Post's Sam Stein had the same response to the briefing that we did.

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Rep. John Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary committee, has announced that he plans to hold hearings into the Bush-era OLC memos released last week.

Despite his pledge to hold hearings in his own committee, Conyers said he agrees with President Obama's statement that he favors a probe conducted by a bipartisan commission, rather than solely by a congressional committee.

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Regular readers know we've been following the nomination of Dawn Johnsen pretty closely. Johnsen is President Obama's choice to head the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel and her appointment has sent the right into conniptions for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, her writings on abortion and her criticisms of the Bush administration's Justice Department. Senate Republicans have even hinted at the possibility of filibustering her confirmation vote.

Two of the leading indicators on this front are the fact that a date has not been set for the nomination to be debated and voted on, and that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has not yet determined whether he'll support a filibuster (Johnsen's nomination cleared the committee on a party line vote from which Specter abstained).

Congressional Quarterly has an update from Specter, though, and the update is that...there is no update.

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Appearing on C-Span today, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) gave a very interesting spin on the right-wing attacks against President Obama for shaking Hugo Chávez's hand -- saying that Chávez and Obama are so very much alike:

"But something that comes to mind when I see this image, too, is here are two world leaders that have both, within the last month, nationalized huge private-sector companies," said King. "In the case of President Obama, General Motors and Chrysler, at least in effect if not in actuality, and moved it down that path, when he fired the CEO of General Motors, and when he ordered that Chrysler merge with Fiat."

"Those two have done the same thing to private business," King added, "and I think that image also will soak into the minds of investors around the world, and where they want to put their money."

Too often a tedious standoff between the somnolent/dry and the grandstanding/gratuitous, Congressional hearings about the financial crisis have nevertheless produced a few moments of existential clarity. (We refer, obviously, to the time in December when Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings asked Neel Kashkari if he was a "chump", which was surely a question on the lips of anyone who had glimpsed the then-TARP overseer's high school yearbook photos.)

But Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's appearance before a the TARP oversight panel this morning yielded a similarly exchange when AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel Damon Silvers dared to accuse Geithner of being a "banker":

Partial transcript after the jump.

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The Franken campaign has filed its motion for an expedited appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court, arguing for a quick response to Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the election trial.

The court is widely expected to grant a fast-tracked appeal, whether it's by the Franken camp's exact requested timeline or in some other way. The proposed schedule from Team Franken calls for Coleman to submit his legal brief by next Monday, April 27, for Franken to submit his brief by Saturday, May 2, and for Coleman to file any new reply by that Monday, May 4, with oral arguments scheduled as soon as possible after those preparations.

The filing cites the election-contest statute itself, and its requirement that the appeal "takes precedence over all other matters before the Supreme Court." Beyond the strict legalese, they also get into the political significance of this whole matter: "Under the United States Constitution, Minnesota is entitled to be represented by two United States Senators. Minnesota has been without its second Senator for more than 100 days."

Think Progress, the blog of the Center for American Progress, is circulating an online petition calling on Congress to impeach Jay Bybee, who, while at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, wrote one of the torture memos released last week. Bybee is currently a federal judge.

CAP is led by John Podesta, a close White House ally who helped run Barack Obama's transition.

Think Progress joins Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Jerry Nadler, the New York Times, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in calling for Bybee's impeachment.

Late Update: Sen. Pat Leahy, who chairs the Judiciary committee, has called on Bybee to step down from the bench, though he doesn't seem to have mentioned anything about impeachment.