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The blotter

Ted Van Der Meid testified before the House Ethics Committee yesterday.  Probably on the list of important people you've never heard of, Van Der Meid is the potential key to the question of what the Speaker's staff knew about Mark Foley's behavior with House pages and what, if anything, they did with that knowledge, reports NBC's Mike Viqueira.  As Counsel to the Speaker and director of floor operations, Van Der Meid has immense power when it comes to the day-to-day operations of the House.  His realm includes dominion over the House Clerk, who in turn runs the page program.  That's why many on Capitol Hill find it difficult to believe that Jeff Trandahl, who was Clerk at the time of the first allegations about Foley, would not have alerted Van Der Meid.  In fact, a source close to Trandahl says that the former Clerk, who testified last week, has said that's just what he did whenever complaints about Foley arose -- he took them to Van Der Meid.

Lawyers for Foley have announced that he "has been an inpatient" at the Sierra Tucson treatment facility in Arizona, NBC's Jim Popkin reports.  Popkin notes that since Foley began his 30-day treatment on October 1, he could conceivably be released from the Tucson facility this coming weekend.  However, his lawyers' language leaves open the possibility that he may not still be there.  The lawyers write that he "has been an inpatient" -- not that he is one currently.

The New York Times reports that the liberal, pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign fired an employee who, acting anonymously, "had created the Web site that first published copies of unusually solicitous e-mail messages to teenagers from former [Foley], which led to his resignation." 

Roll Call covers the "patchwork of probes" that are the Justice Department's investigations of members of Congress, which have sprouted all over the country.  At least 17 members of the 109th Congress have come under investigation, the paper says.  And in another story, the paper notes how Republicans are frustrated and suspicious of the number of probes that have sprung up lately.

Former Cheney chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby has a pre-trial hearing today in the CIA leak case.  US District Judge Reggie Walton must decide if a memory expert will be one of the witnesses allowed to appear at trial for Libby's defense, NBC's Joel Seidman reports.  Libby's attorneys want to admit the expert testimony of Dr. Robert A. Bjork, chairman of UCLA's psych department.  Bjork's testimony may shed some light, according to Libby's court filings, on why the pressure of his White House job "could have easily caused him to confuse or misremember minor details of conversations about [former Ambassador Joe Wilson's] wife and her job at the CIA - topics Libby did not consider significant at the time."  Libby is charged with five felony counts; his trial is scheduled to begin on January 15.