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The Obama White House announced Wednesday evening that the president re-performed the oath of office after yesterday's hiccup -- not because they felt he had to, but just to be on the safe side:

The following is a statement from White House Counsel Greg Craig.

"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday. But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time."


The pool report says that Roberts asked Obama if he was ready, to which the new chief executive replied: "I am, and we're going to do it very slowly."

Unfortunately, it would likely have been a violation of the separation of powers for Obama to have ordered Roberts to write, "I will not bungle the presidential oath," 100 times.

A GOP release on the Lily Ledbetter bill, which would allow women crucial time to sue for alleged pay discrimination, just hit my inbox. And it begins:

Senate Republicans will hold a press conference tomorrow, Thursday, January 22, at 11:30 a.m., in [location redacted] to discuss the Democrats' trial lawyer bailout bill ...


Nice to see that Republicans have found new enemies.

Over at TPM, Josh and David have been mulling the significance of the executive order, issued today by President Obama, concerning the Presidential Records Act. Could it apply retroactively to previous administrations, making it easier to pry loose records that the Bush White House has fought to keep secret?

According to Anne Weismann, a lawyer for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the tentative answer is yes.

As David notes, the order says:

Going forward, anytime the American people want to know something that I or a former President wants to withhold, we will have to consult with the Attorney General and the White House Counsel, whose business it is to ensure compliance with the rule of law.


As a result, Weismann told TPMmuckraker, the order could affect any case in which the White House has claimed executive privilege over presidential (or, to be clear, vice presidential) records. Most important, it would subject those claims to review by the Justice Department. "It does have the potential to impact ongoing litigation," she said. Weismann specifically cited the ongoing legal fight between the House Judiciary committee and the Bush White House, over documents relating to the US Attorney firings. Among other documents, Congress has been seeking a key memo written by a White House counsel, which might shed light on White House involvement in the firings.

Weismann told TPMmuckraker that that the order likely would not affect a lawsuit she had been working on, on behalf of CREW, which sought to compel Dick Cheney's office to hand over all his records to the National Archives. On Monday a judge declined to order Cheney to do so. Weismann said that case turned on an interpretation of the Presidential Records Act itself, rather than on a claim of executive privilege.

Still, it certainly seems possible that on his first full day in office, the new president has dealt significant a blow to the Bush administration's efforts to permanently keep information from the public. But a lot more questions than answers remain, and we've got calls out to some experts in executive privilege who might be able to shed further light on what Obama's order does and doesn't do.

I wondered last week why the $825 billion House stimulus bill gave the short end of the stick to mass transit, despite vows from President Obama and other Dems to wean the country off its obsession with gas-guzzling car travel. After all, the House bill contains only $10 billion for transit compared with $30 billion for road-building -- a $20 billion-plus cut from the infrastructure stimulus proposal put forth last month by Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House transportation panel.

It looks like Oberstar himself shed some more light on the question two days ago, while Washington was in the thick of inauguration fever. In a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Oberstar explained why ground-breaking infrastructure projects got sliced: to make room for tax cuts. Here's how he put it:

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Oral arguments ended a short while ago on Al Franken's motion to dismiss Norm Coleman's lawsuit contesting the Minnesota Senate race, with Franken lawyer David Burman arguing to the special three-judge panel that they do not have the constitutional authority to deal with most of Coleman's claims -- they instead would belong to the Senate -- while Coleman's lawyer James Langdon predictably said the court does have the authority.

Burman lambasted the Coleman team for the general non-specificity of their arguments, saying it created too many openings. "If you allow them to go off on this fishing expedition will they find something? Probably," Burman said, explaining that an election involving 2.9 million ballots is bound to contain a few new quirks somewhere, even after the long process we've already seen. "At some point, Minnesota has to say it has done the best job human beings can reasonably do."

The most fascinating part, though, was Langdon's statement the Coleman campaign has examined the remaining 11,000 rejected absentee ballot envelopes, and they now believe 4,500-5,000 should be included -- up from their previous number of 654.

"No one knows what's in them," said Langdon. "No one's opened them."

At this point, though, we should really treat with great skepticism any claim that a selective sample of ballots, no matter how large or small, is unknown in terms of the content. As we've learned, the campaigns have had many opportunities to either know for certain what is in a ballot, or at least get an idea of the probabilities, without ever having to open a single envelope.

Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) decision today to force a week-long delay in Eric Holder's Judiciary Committee confirmation vote has opened an unexpected fissure in the GOP. On the one side are Republicans who want Holder to echo President Obama's promise to "move forward" -- widely interpreted as a hint that Bush-era officials and operatives would not be prosecuted for the torture of detainees -- and on the other side is, well, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

During today's Senate vote to confirm Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I talked to both senators. And Graham, a former attorney in the JAG Corps, has a more even-handed view of the torture-prosecutions dilemma than Cornyn's. When we spoke this afternoon, Graham echoed Judiciary panel chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) judgment that Holder should not be expected to unilaterally rule out all prosecutions related to torturous interrogations.

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Republicans on the Senate Judiciary committee are delaying for up to a week a vote on Eric Holder's nomination to be Attorney General, with some saying they want more time to consider his record on torture.

John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, told Politico:

Part of my concern relates to his statements at the hearing with regard to torture and what his intentions are toward our intelligence personnel who were operating in good faith based on their understanding of what the law was.


Holder declared last week at the hearing that "water-boarding is torture."

It seems plausible that Cornyn's and other GOPers' concern might relate not just to intel personnel who carried out torture, but also to high-ranking Bush administration officials who ordered or approved it.

In a statement, committee chair Pat Leahy expressed his displeasure:
I am extremely disappointed, but they have that right, and this historic - historic - nomination is held over.

When we learned that David Iglesias -- one of the US Attorneys purged by the Bush administration for political reasons -- is going to be prosecuting Guantanamo detainees as a member of the Navy JAG corps, it struck us that he appeared to have been on the job for a little while. That would suggest he was tapped for the assignment by the Bushies -- which would be ironic given his past.

Turns out that's not exactly the case. Iglesias told TPMmuckraker that he had responded to an email sent out by the Navy JAG corps, looking for prosecutors for the assignment. His application was eventually approved, he said, by that office and by the Office of Military Commissions, which is run by Susan Crawford -- the retired general who last week told the Washington Post unequivocally that we tortured Mohammed al- Qahtani, a Gitmo detainee.

In other words, it appears that it was the uniformed military, rather than the civilian DOD, that brought Iglesias on board.

As for the value of his new work, Iglesias said: "It's important for people to have confidence in what's going on, in light of all the problems the office has had over the years" -- which have included allegations of rigged prosecutions.

And he called the new leadership under Defense Secretary Bob Gates "fantastic," adding "they get it."

I stopped by the Google Ball last night. Wanted to be able to say I went to one of them. It was at the Mellon Auditorium which sounds like a classroom but is one of the more grand facilities in Washington. They filled the place and, of course, had high-tech tickets with barcodes. The company, as I told one reporter last night, has remarkable clout in D.C. It's stock may be down from its peak but it has the kind of cache that few other companies do both because of its enormous market capitalization and the fact that everyone uses it. It's probably telling that today is also the day that Toyota passed GM in worldwide sales. Lots of economic despair in the room after yesterday's market drop and very good buzz on the speech. A former Democratic White House speechwriter who was there had a very positive reaction and was taken by how Obama stuck it to Bush while he was sitting there. The speechwriter liked that and I must say, although some readers yesterday thought I was dissing that part of the speech, I thought it bracing in a good way. Favorite aspect of party: A game room complete with Wiis.

Just wanted to highlight something I wrote yesterday about Chief Justice John Roberts and his inauguration flub. President Obama (!) was gracious enough to exonerate him and even credit Roberts for helping him out. But it sure seemed like Roberts flubbed it and had no notes at hand to help him out. Vice President Joe Biden was not so forgiving. Yesterday I noted in a TPMDC world exclusive--theme music, please--that I had talked with someone who works with Roberts. This person noted to me about ten days ago that Roberts was studying hard for the inaugural and was taking his preparation very seriously. At the time I didn't give it much thought. But I should have asked myself why he'd need to study at all. The oath is short enough that one might easily memorize it and you could always bring notes if you didn't but it doesn't seem like the latter occurred to the chief justice.

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