Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Okay, as we discussed earlier, Rep. <$NoAd$> Charles Taylor (R-NC) has put out a statement saying that he voted "NO" on CAFTA last night but that the voting machine didn't register his vote.

In the statement he put out he seems to imply that he and Rep. Howard Coble voted "No" together on the floor.

The exact statement reads (emphasis added)...

I voted NO on the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) in the vote last night. I informed the Majority Leader and the Appropriations Chairman I was voting no, as I had informed my constituents I was voting no. Rep. Howard Coble and I voted "no" together. Due to an error, my "no" vote did not record on the voting machine. The Clerk's computer logs verified that I had attempted to vote, but it did not show my "nay". I am re-inserting my "No" vote in the record. But even with my NO vote re-inserted, the bill still passed.

I'm reprinting the exact language of the statement because I want you to evaluate for yourself just what the words are supposed to mean. But I took them to mean that Coble was in some way a witness to his vote, that they had physically went to vote at the same time, etc.

I talked a few minutes ago with Rep. Coble (R-NC) and what he told me is this.

Coble recalled that he and Taylor had spoken earlier in the day and both told each other they were going to vote "No". Both had apparently been asked by House whip Roy Blunt to wait until late in the voting, even though they planned to vote "No", and both had agreed to do so.

Later that evening, when the voting was actually underway, Coble saw Taylor on the floor and suggested that after they both voted they should both leave the chamber together, to avoid strong-arming from the leadership to change their votes -- something that did eventually happen to fellow North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes.

After Coble eventually voted, he told me, he saw Taylor 15 to 20 feet away. Taylor said he'd just voted "No" too. After which, both left the chamber and went to Congressman Taylor's Appropriations Committee office, where they remained for roughly an hour.

During that time they watched the vote on the closed circuit House video, but without the volume on.

While this was happening, Coble's chief of staff Ed McDonald was watching on C-Span and heard Taylor's name being called off as not having voted. Realizing the problem, Coble told me, McDonald twice called Taylor's office to report the problem, but got no response -- the reason being, of course, that Coble and Taylor were in Taylor's Appropriations Committee office, watching with the volume off.

On the key question, was Coble actually with Taylor when he voted? Or did he see him vote? Apparently not.

"I didn't see him insert the card," said Coble.

When I asked Coble whether he had ever heard of such a vote tabulation error in the House, he told me he'd been in the House for twenty-one years and thought he had a recollection of its possibly having occurred once, but was not certain.

Late Update: I left messages this afternoon with Gerry Van at the House Clerk's Office to determine whether their computer records had in fact confirmed the voting snafu, as Rep. Taylor's statement claims. But I have yet to hear back from them.

(ed.note: We're discussing this evolving story in this discussion thread at TPMCafe.)

On this matter of Rep. Charles Taylor's (R) disputed vote on CAFTA last night, it's important to make the following point. The bill passed 217-215. Taylor was first counted as not voting. His no vote would make it 217-216, which of course still means it passes.

But that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story.

These sorts of high-stakes votes are highly fluid and dynamic. Either side might have a handful of members on the sidelines who won't budge if it's a two or three vote margin but will make the hard vote if the margin is down to just one.

Normally this sort of monday morning quarterbacking is just woulda, coulda, shoulda. But if Taylor's vote was really misrecorded, it's worth considering.

Rep. Charles Taylor (R) of North Carolina has just put out a statement about his claim that his "NO" vote last night on CAFTA was not recorded by the House clerk.

We've posted the statement here.

As noted below, CAFTA won in the House last night by a mere two votes -- 217-215 -- in what has been described as unprecedented arm-twisting. Already, one Republican representative, Charles Taylor (R-NC) has claimed that, contrary to press accounts, he voted "No", only to have the House clerk "botch" his vote and record him as not voting.

If that's true, the bill passed by a single vote.

How often to votes get 'botched' by the House electronic voting system? And what more stories are yet to bubble out?

Representative Charles Taylor (R-NC), a longtime opponent of CAFTA, is down in press reports out this morning as not casting a vote on the bill last night.

But we hear that his office is telling constituents that the House clerk "botched the vote", that he actually voted "no", and that his office is now trying to resolve the issue.

Taylor's Ashville office tells me they're about to release a statement.

(ed.note: We're discussing this over in this discussion thread at TPMCafe.)

CAFTA because ya HAFTA?

Who will be the first to talk?

We all know what happened the last time the White House told the House GOP leadership that it had to pass a certain bill, despite significant resistance from GOP backbenchers. Lots of offers were made that couldn't be refused. And that was when out-going Rep. Nick Smith got hit with a mix of bribes and threats on the floor of the House itself.

I've been hearing from various sources that what the GOP leadership did in the House last night on CAFTA put that earlier episode to shame. Rep. Early Pomeroy (D) of North Dakota told the local paper: "I've seen the Republican leadership break arms on close votes before, but nothing quite this ugly."

I've been getting lots of stories in. But a lot of the details may well show up in local papers rather than the big national dailies. So collaborative research, as we did with Social Security and the DeLay Rule, is really the only way to get a handle on the story.

One interesting story is that of Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC): to paraphrase that lame jibe from last year, Hayes voted 'No' before he voted 'Yes'. Only literally. Says Bloomberg: "In the end a 40-minute delay in the vote was broken after the Republican leadership convinced Representative Robin Hayes of North Carolina to switch his vote to yes."

If you see articles in local media that seem to give some part of the story, let us know in this discussion thread we've just we've just set up over at TPMCafe. If you were there or have other details to share, let us know that too. And if you need to remain anonymous, you can always send a note directly to TPM at the comments email at the top of the sidebar.

Out of the corner of my eye I've been watching this growing dispute over whether and which 'documents' about Judge Roberts the White House will turn over to the senate as part of his confirmation hearings. And quite apart from the particular documents in question, I'm wondering what the argument is, precisely, for the White House having access to any more information in the process of nominating Roberts than the Senate should have in confirming him.

It seems like a basic point of logic. Why should the senate's call be, by definition, less well-informed than the president's?

In national security appointments, there may be some genuine separation of powers issues at stake. For instance, when Condi Rice was promoted from National Security Advisor to Secretary of State. But as long as the information relates to Roberts personal finances, work history and so on, clearly none of those issues are involved.

I know it may seem like I'm being willfully dense or naive. But what's wrong with the standard of: If the White House got to see it, why not the senate?

A very important article in tomorrow's Times. The lede: "Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show."

I really doubt they'd have the nerve to try. But I just posted a story over at TPMCafe about how pressure may be building to can Patrick Fitzgerald as US Attorney in Chicago, with the thumb down possibly coming from Denny Hastert. It's a complicated story, with various levels of possible political maneuvering in play.

I've mentioned a few times here that I'm not sure that Judy Miller is really in jail for things she did in her role as a journalist, at least not in the sense most of us would understand the term. Over at her blog, Arianna Huffington just posted a scenario along these lines about Miller -- one Arianna says is making rounds at the Times itself.

Not all the details are the same. But I've heard similar stuff.

Stop by and see what she says.