TPM News

The office of a top Bush-appointed federal prosecutor who played a role in the U.S. attorney firings scandal received improper recordings of telephone calls between defense lawyers and their clients, and appears not to have turned them over to authorities, as required by law.

On Wednesday evening, Lisa Freeland, a Pittsburgh-based federal public defender, sent a lengthy email to fellow defense lawyers, reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, exposing the episode. "I am incensed," Freeland wrote.

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In an interview recorded yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said "any public option is a good one" and contended that a public option is "what [House members] believe in."

MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked Pelosi if it was worth it to try to get a robust public option in the House, when the Senate version would likely be something weaker, like an opt-out or trigger option. It's akin to making House members walk the political plank, Mitchell said.

"You don't want members to take any unnecessary political risk," Pelosi responded. "But this is what they believe in."

Video after the jump.

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a potential presidential candidate, is starting to sound an awful lot like he could end up endorsing Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 special election -- saying that he'ss "concerned" about moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava's positions.

Yesterday, Pawlenty had simply said that he didn't know anything about the race. Now it's quite different, as ABC News reports:

Pawlenty, who's widely mentioned as a possible 2012 presidential candidate, said he will "probably" make an endorsement in the race -- and sounded as if he's poised to support Hoffman over Scozzafava.

"As a conservative I'm concerned about some of the alleged issue positions that she holds," said Pawlenty, R-Minn. "I want to be fair to both candidates and look at their records. But there are some things that [I] have been told that you know, she holds dear, that may not be consistent with conservative principles."

Reporters aboard Air Force One this morning peppered White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton with questions about the swirling Capitol Hill news and negotiations on the public option today.

Burton gave some of the most oft repeated vague and general sentiments, saying that President Obama told Democrats he will "continue to work day and night" to get a bill passed. He also dodged an opportunity to critique or walk back adviser Valerie Jarrett's comment about a Politico reporter earlier today.

Asked what Obama wants from the several types of public option that are being considered, Burton demurred with the talking point the White House has been using for months.

"The president continues to think that the public option is the best way to achieve choice and competition, and that's what he's working towards," he said.

Bits from the White House transcript after the jump.

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John Stossel of Fox News will join a conservative activist group for rallies designed to build opposition to health-care reform.

Americans For Prosperity (AFP) has announced that Stossel, a "renowned health care reporter and analyst," will participate in three "Health Care Town Halls," starting next week in Arkansas.

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Twitter has shut down 33 accounts created by Connecticut Republicans because they impersonated local Democrats, including State House Speaker Chris Donovan, the Hartford Advocate reports. But the GOP will keep the 33 fake web sites associated with the accounts, claiming First Amendment rights.

Republicans used the Twitter handles, such as MeetRepDonovan, to tweet mocking remarks in the Democrat's voice. Democrats complained. So Twitter, citing a policy against impersonation, shut them down.

But that hasn't deterred the Republicans.

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As we've been reporting today, House Democrats held a private caucus meeting on health care and the various public option possibilities for a final version of their bill.

A Democratic leadership source tells TPMDC that leaders read out the names of the entire caucus this morning to get Democrats on record with their positions. Members were asked if they support a "robust" public option.

"There are a lot of undecided members," the source said.

Reports that any counts of House Democrats are firm or weak aren't accurate, the leadership aide said.

"We're still working on getting there," the source added. "At the end of the day, we will have a public option, the question is what it will look like."

There's been some scuttlebutt today about whether progressives promised Speaker Nancy Pelosi more than the votes they could deliver on the most aggressive public option. Our leadership source says no, and believes progressives "did a great job of coalescing the caucus."

TPMDC has more detail here.

Nancy Pelosi called an "emergency meeting" of House Democrats this morning in an attempt to beat back rumors that she and other congressional leaders have abandoned the so-called robust public option. The House Speaker insisted that, despite reports to the contrary, the public option is very much alive as Democrats draft the health reform bill they hope to send to the House floor next month.

The Hill reports:

The Speaker met late Thursday night with the Progressive Caucus, the bloc of Democrats most supportive of a robust public option, and assured them that it was still on the table, according to a member in attendance. And according to attendees, Pelosi reiterated that pledge to the larger caucus at Friday's morning meeting."

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In a rich irony, the Republican congressman leading the fight to have Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) ousted as chair of the House's top tax-writing body turns out to have ethics problems of his own.

Rep. John Carter (R-TX) had nearly $300,000 in unreported profits from oil stock sales in 2006 and 2007, Roll Call reported yesterday.

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