From NBC's Mark Murray
A new round of Administration emails, from January 2005, indicates that Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales (while he was still White House counsel) "had considered replacing prosecutors earlier than either has previously acknowledged."
The Justice Department released this statement: "[Gonzales] has no recollection of any plan or discussion to replace U.S. Attorneys while he was still White House Counsel. The period of time referred to in the email was during the weeks he was preparing for his confirmation hearing, January 6th, 2005, and his focus was on that."
The Wall Street Journal: "White House officials said the emails weren't inconsistent with the administration's position that then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers -- not Mr. Rove -- had first raised the idea of sacking all the federal prosecutors."
Has Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), become the second Republican to call for Gonzales to step down? "'The senator believes it would be helpful to have an attorney general that Congress can have more confidence in,' said R.C. Hammond, a Smith spokesman." But the Los Angeles Times says the statement from Smith's office "stopped short of saying he should quit."
On Wednesday, Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) said Gonzales should resign. Both Sununu and Smith hail from blue states and are up for re-election in 2008.
Smith was also the only Senate Republican to vote in favor of the Senate measure to withdraw most US troops from Iraq by March 2008. It failed by a 48-50 vote. The New York Times writes: "'It is clear now that the majority of the Senate opposes a deadline for the withdrawal of troops,' said [Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell… [Majority Leader] Harry Reid … countered, 'The Republicans are rubber-stamping the president's failed policy. That's the message here.'"
Yet a House bill that also seeks to withdraw US troops by next year passed the House Appropriations, the Washington Post says. "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) still lacks the 218 votes she needs to pass the bill next week, aides said, but they insist she has the momentum." If passes, however, Bush has threatened to veto it.
As California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation into law moving up his state's primary to February 5, 2008, a similar effort in Florida has stalled in the state Senate.
The Washington Post: "While the rush to move to dates earlier in the nominating process has been motivated by states' desire to have more say in selecting the Republican and Democratic nominees, analysts said it may enhance the importance of the few small states whose contests will be held in January."
McCain begins Day Two of his Straight Talk Express tour Iowa; he then heads to New Hampshire (despite the poor weather in the Northeast). McCain said of his overall effort to launch a national campaign: "We haven't done a great job, but we've done a pretty good job in doing what's necessary to prepare."
As Mitt Romney hits McCain for his support of comprehensive immigration reform, the Boston Globe reports that Romney wasn't always critical of McCain's immigration bill. "In a November 2005 interview with the Globe, Romney described immigration proposals by McCain and others as 'quite different' from amnesty… Romney did not specifically endorse McCain's bill, saying he had not yet formulated a full position on immigration. But he did speak approvingly of efforts by McCain and Bush to solve the nation's immigration crisis, calling them 'reasonable proposals.'"
Per the New York Post, Bill Clinton criticized the New York Times' coverage of his wife at fundraiser on Tuesday. "'Clinton said the Times is attacking Hillary because she won't apologize for her vote on the war in Iraq,' [one guest] said.
And Valerie Plame today testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Washington Post: "People close to Plame say her primary goal in testifying … is to knock down persistent claims that she did not serve undercover. 'She is so tired of hearing that,' her mother, Diane Plame, said in an interview earlier this week."