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Transition: Bill Clinton gets vetted

The New York Times writes that Bill Clinton perhaps remains the last obstacle to Hillary Clinton being named as Obama's secretary of state. "President-elect Barack Obama's advisers have begun reviewing former President Bill Clinton's finances and activities to see whether they would preclude the appointment of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as secretary of state, Democrats close to the situation said Sunday. The examination of the former president suggests how seriously Mr. Obama is considering bringing his onetime rival for the Democratic presidential nomination into his cabinet."

More: "A team of lawyers trying to facilitate the potential nomination spent the weekend looking into Mr. Clinton's philanthropic organization, interactions with foreign governments and ties to pharmaceutical companies, a Democrat close to both camps said. While Mr. Clinton has used his foundation to champion efforts to fight AIDS, poverty and climate change around the world, he has also taken millions in speaking fees and contributions from foreign officials and businesses with interests in American governmental policies."

The Washington Post also looks at the potential conflicts of interest that Bill Clinton poses to an Obama Administration. "'He's a former president of the United States. He's been traveling around the world, and he's got his foundation and a lot of foreign policy efforts going on,' said Leon Panetta, Clinton's former chief of staff and now a professor of public policy. 'What they will have to obviously be careful of are the potential conflicts that might appear.'" 

"Obama is considering primary election rivals Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson to be his secretary of state, as Senator John F. Kerry, an early supporter of Obama, appeared to be out of the running according to Democratic officials," the AP's Pickler writes. Obama met with Richardson on Friday, per AP, and Clinton over the weekend, he confirmed on 60 Minutes. "Staff for Kerry appeared to prepare for the senator to take over leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations committee."

In previewing today's Obama-McCain meeting, USA Today notes that Obama appears to be mimicking Lincoln in another way besides courting onetime Dem rival Hillary Clinton to serve in his cabinet. "Early in his tenure, after the outbreak of the Civil War, Lincoln met with one of the men he defeated in the 1860 general election, Stephen Douglas."

More: "The former antagonists will have close associates with them: Rahm Emanuel, Obama's pick for White House chief of staff, and McCain's friend, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Graham said that in some ways, the meeting is a follow-up to the rivals' separate remarks on Nov. 4. Obama had praised McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, as a 'brave and selfless leader,' and said he looked forward to working with him 'to renew this nation's promise.' In his concession speech, McCain pledged 'to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.' There is no agenda for the meeting, Graham said. McCain wants to learn how Obama plans to proceed and 'where we can fit in,' Graham said, citing work on climate change as a potential area of common ground." 

The AP says don't expect Obama to make a job offer to McCain.

Over the weekend, Obama named the following appointments to his White House staff: Jim Messina and Mona Sutphen as deputy chiefs of staff; Valerie Jarrett and Peter Rouse as senior advisers; Ron Klain as Biden's chief of staff; and Phil Schiliro as assistant to the president for legislative affairs.

Also, NBC's Andrea Mitchell confirmed that Greg Craig will be Obama's White House counsel. Craig was a member of Obama's campaign team and is a well-known Washington lawyer at Williams and Connolly. He is a former Hill staffer for Sen. Edward Kennedy, and in 1998 he defended President Bill Clinton before the Senate in his impeachment trial.

Speculation over whom New York Gov. David Paterson could appoint to replace Hillary Clinton -- should she be appointed secretary of state -- is heating up.

Al Hunt writes about the balance Obama needs in his Cabinet between change and "smart retreads." "[T]he appointments over the next several weeks will establish the early persona of the Obama presidency. Two dominant realities are in conflict. One, he promised change, not just from the Bush administration but from the 'decades of broken politics in Washington.' He faces the most perilous situations of any new president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, with a financial crisis and two wars, conditions that demand experienced judgment. He wants to assemble a group that has gravitas and is fresh, one that reflects the diversity of his political appeal and the depth and knowledge he promised to bring to government. Insiders and outsiders. The large Obama-Biden transition team illustrates these conflicts. There are a lot of able people who understand governance."

The Los Angeles Times looks at who Obama might appoint to the Supreme Court. "Three frequently mentioned candidates are Judges Diane Wood, 58, of the U.S. appeals court in Chicago; Sonia Sotomayor, 54, of the U.S. appeals court in New York; and Elena Kagan, 48, dean of Harvard Law School." 

Very little media speculation has focused on Homeland Security.

Chief of staff: Emanuel NAMED / Deputies: Jim Messina NAMED, Mona Sutphen NAMED
Senior advisers: Valerie Jarrett NAMED, Peter Rouse NAMED
Assistant to the president for legislative affairs: Phil Schiliro
White House counsel: Greg Craig
Press Secretary: Gibbs
Biden chief of staff: Ron Klain NAMED
Agriculture: Tom Vilsack, Tom Buis (Natl Farmers Union), Charlie Stenholm, Jim Leach, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Commerce: Penny Pritzker, Kathleen Sebelius, John Thompson (Symantec), Ron Kirk (former Dallas Mayor), Scott Harris (Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis fndr)
Defense: Robert Gates, Richard Danzig, Chuck Hagel, Sam Nunn, Jack Reed, Colin Powell, John Hamre, Tim Roemer, Thomas Pickering, Anthony Zinni
Education: Joel Klein (NYC), Linda Darling-Hammond, Kathleen Sebelius, Colin Powell, Jim Hunt, Arne Duncan, Inez Tenenbaum, Michael Bennett, George Miller
Energy: Kathleen Sebelius, Philip Sharp, Ed Rendell, Arnold Schwarzenegger (has said no), Al Gore, Jeff Bingaman, Jennifer Granholm, Steve Westly, Frederico Pena, Dan Reicher, Jason Grumet
HHS: Tom Daschle, Howard Dean (reportedly ruled out), Eric Whitaker Homeland Security: Tim Roemer, Ray Kelly, James Lee Witt, Tom Kean Sr, Jane Harman, Janet Napolitano, Artur Davis
HUD: Jim Clyburn, Shirley Franklin (Atlanta mayor)
Interior: Bill Richardson, Jay Inslee, John Kitzhaber, Tony Knowles, Ken Salazar, Jamie Rappoport Clark, Brian Schweitzer
Justice (AG): Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, Charles Ogletree, Deval Patrick, James Comey, Patrick Fitzgerald, Artur Davis, Tim Kaine, Jamie Gorelick (but was vice chair of Fannie), Ken Feinberg, Cass Sunstein, Kathleen Sullivan (Stanford Law prof, possible Solicitor General. Also possible SGs: Beth Brinkmann – DC Atty; Preeta Bansal – Skadden, Arps; Elena Kagan –Harvard law dean; Pamela Karlan—Stanford; Teresa Wynn Roseborough -- MetLife litigation counsel)
Labor: Andy Stern (SEIU) (said not interested), Richard Gephardt, George Miller, David Bonior
State: John Kerry, Bill Richardson, Richard Lugar, Chuck Hagel, Richard Holbrooke, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, Thomas Pickering
Transportation: Ed Rendell, Jane Garvey, Mortimer Downey, Earl Blumenauer, Steve Heminger, James Oberstar
Treasury: Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin, Jon Corzine, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, Laura Tyson, Jamie Dimon (JP MorganChase), Jacob "Jack" Lew, Sheila Bair, Indira Nooyi,
Veterans Affairs: Max Cleland, Tammy Duckworth
CIA: Tony Lake, John Brennan
DNI: Tony Lake, John Brennan, Tim Roemer, Rand Beers, Jane Harman, John Abizaid, Evan Bayh
FEMA: James Lee Witt
EPA: Howard Learner (Pres, Exec. Dir, Environmental Law and Policy Center), Ian Bowles (MA), Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Sebelius, Kathleen McGinty (former secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection), Mary Nichols (chair of California's Air Resources Board), Robert Sussman, Dan Esty
FBI: Robert Mueller (term expires 2011)
Fed Chair: Ben Bernanke (at least for first year)
FDA: Steven Nissen (Cleveland Clinic), Joshua Sharfstein (Baltimore health commissioner), Janet Woodcock (Big Pharma's choice), Susan Wood (GWU occupational and environmental health professor), Diana Zuckerman (president, National Research Center for Women & Families)
Natl. Economic Council: Jason Furman, Austan Goolsbee, Laura Tyson Natl Sec Adviser: Jim Steinberg, Rand Beers, Susan Rice, Greg Craig
NSC: Dennis Ross, Susan Rice, Tony Lake
OMB: John Spratt Jr., Gene Sperling, Jason Furman Peace Corps: Chris Shays
UN Ambassador: Caroline Kennedy, Susan Rice
USTR: Cal Dooley (American Chemistry Council president), Daniel K. Tarullo (Georgetown University law professor), Lael Brainard (Brookings Institution vice president)
Other mentions for various White House staff posts: Patti Solis Doyle, David Wilhelm, John Rogers, Bill Daley, Cass Sunstein, Bob Bauer, Michael Froman, Federico Pena, Lawrence J. Korb, Carol Browner (Clinton's EPA head), Thomas Perrelli, David Ogden, Terry Tamminen (climate change, adviser to Schwarzenegger)