TPM News

President Obama will renominate Dawn Johnsen to serve as one of the Justice Department's top officials, TPMDC has learned.

A White House official confirms that Obama will renominate Johnsen, along with a handful of others whose nominations expired at the end of the year, when the Senate reconvenes later this month.

"President Obama made an excellent choice in Professor Johnsen to lead OLC, and today he's shown his willingness to stand on principle and call the Republicans on their attack and delay tactics," said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, and a Johnsen supporter. "President Obama's statement today is a refutation of the GOP's efforts to spin this eminently qualified nominee as a controversial choice, and he should be applauded. Professor Johnsen's legal scholarship, her integrity, her substantive knowledge, and her commitment to this nation's security and to the rule of law will serve this country well once she's confirmed."

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RNC Chair Michael Steele released the following statement after President Obama delivered his remarks on the Christmas Day bombing attempt:

"While I am pleased that the president has acknowledged the breakdown in our system, I continue to urge him to recognize the genuine terrorist threat that our country continues to face. Too often President Obama and Democrats disregard the fact that terrorists are at war with us, which is dangerous thinking in this post-9/11 era.

"Some decisions - though politically popular with his left wing base - have not helped keep America safe. International terrorists are not common criminals; treating them as such and granting them the same protections as United States citizens compromises our national security and denies U.S. intelligence services valuable information. Attempting to close Guantanamo Bay will not stop al Qaeda from plotting attacks on Americans. President Obama should immediately and thoroughly reevaluate his decision to close this detention center. It is clear that the threat of terrorism is still a major concern for our country and it is time for Republicans and Democrats alike to come together and do everything we can to detect and stop future attacks before they happen."

After an emotional debate, the New Jersey state senate has defeated a bill legalizing gay marriage, 20 to 14.

The failure didn't come as much of a surprise. Earlier today, Senate President Richard Codey said the bill didn't have the support to pass -- even though Democrats hold the majority.

But supporters wanted to bring the bill to a vote anyway, because today's session was the second-to-last before Gov-elect Chris Christie, an opponent of same-sex marriage, takes office Jan. 19. If it had passed today, it would have gone to the state assembly Monday. If it had passed there, Gov. Jon Corzine was expected to sign the bill into law.

But those were big ifs.

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North Carolina State Senator R.C. Soles, the longest serving legislator in the state, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Soles, a Democrat and an attorney, allegedly shot one of his former clients on Aug. 23, 2008 and inflicted serious bodily injury, according to the indictment.

A local television station, WECT, reports that the victim and another man had kicked on the front door of Soles' home. Soles claims the shooting was done in self defense.

During a nearly two hour caucus conference call this afternoon, rank and file Democrats sought answers from their leadership about the state of ongoing House, White House health care negotiations. But they may not get concrete responses until the caucus meets again next week, or, failing that, until President Obama huddles with members at the Democrats' issue conference next week at Fort McNair.

"The questions were about national exchanges, about the public option, about the Cadillac plans, about consumer protection, about insurance reform," said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and one of the chief authors of the House health care bill. "We told them what things the staff had started to discuss or haven't discussed yet."

According to a House leadership aide, members chief concerns on the call regarded a familiar array of issues. "Many members raised concerns about excise tax (in opposition to it)," the aide said. State exchanges came up -- many Members want a national exchange. Several spoke up also in favor of anti-trust exemption (repealing it) and keeping in place strong insurance reforms."

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Republican aides in the House and Senate have had enough of RNC chair Michael Steele's big mouth, according to a new report from inside a closed GOP conference call. Aides on the Hill are upset with Steele's repeated controversial interviews in the press and his recent comments that Republicans may not be "ready to lead."

Reid Wilson gets the scoop on a tense daily press call with RNC staff, reporting that one angry aide called Steele a "fool" and another told RNC press staff, "you really need to have him be quiet." The aides told RNC staff Steele was "ruining what should be several days of glowing press for the GOP" after a string of high-profile Democratic retirements.

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As we've reported, a big question for 2010 is, does the tea party movement really intend to derail the Republican Party in what could be a big year for the GOP?

The answer from Texas appears to be, Yes. Candidate filing in Texas closed on Monday, giving us one of the earliest looks at what the 2010 field might look like across the country. And in the Republican stronghold of Texas there will be a big field full of "anti-establishment" conservatives. Around 20 candidates identifying with the Tea Party movement are running for Congress in Texas, most of them against Republicans.

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