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Obama agenda: Holder again becomes a punching bag

“Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., a lightning rod of Republican attacks during President Obama’s first term, is now contending with a new round of criticism over the Justice Department’s campaign against leaks to the news media,” the New York Times says. “This time it is the news media and even some Democrats who are upset with Mr. Holder, who in recent days has taken steps seemingly aimed at assuaging them. He endorsed the enactment of a “media shield” law and invited leaders of news organizations to meet with him Thursday to discuss tightening rules on warrants and subpoenas for reporters’ records as part of leak investigations.” 

The New York Times adds, “President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former hedge fund executive who served as a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to two people with knowledge of the selection. By choosing Mr. Comey, a Republican, Mr. Obama made a strong statement about bipartisanship at a time when he faces renewed criticism from Republicans in Congress and has had difficulty winning confirmation of some important nominees. At the same time, Mr. Comey’s role in one of the most dramatic episodes of the Bush administration — in which he refused to acquiesce to White House aides and reauthorize a program for eavesdropping without warrants when he was serving as acting attorney general — should make him an acceptable choice to Democrats.” 

A Quinnipiac poll finds Obama’s approval rating slipping to 45% from 48% earlier this month. And there’s this warning sign for the president: “Americans are divided 49 - 47 percent on whether Obama is honest and trustworthy, down from 58 - 37 percent, the last time Quinnipiac University asked the question September 1, 2011.” 

Politico: “A conservative watchdog group filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of 25 tea party groups against the Internal Revenue Service and Obama administration officials. The complaint, filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, alleges that the Obama administration overstepped its authority and violated the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.” 

“The government’s subsidized student loan program, a marquee issue for President Barack Obama last year as he courted young voters on the campaign trail, is back on the White House agenda one month before a scheduled interest rate increase. But Obama’s push to avoid the increase is far more low-key than it was in the election year,” AP writes. “The president will host college students Friday at the White House as he calls on Congress to keep the rates from doubling on July 1. But faced with a similar deadline, Obama by this time last year had launched a full-throated campaign to pressure Republicans to act, delivering speeches at college campuses and high schools in presidential battleground states.” 

But: “This year, Obama has been less confrontational, proposing a student loan plan in his budget and waiting to see what developed in Congress.” 

NBC’s Shawna Thomas reports: “At a Wednesday night Democratic National Committee fundraiser on New York City’s Upper East Side—the first she has attended this year—First Lady Michelle Obama urged the crowd to stay involved politically. She cited Congress’s failure to pass gun-safety legislation to remind the crowd that ‘Barack Obama cannot do it alone’ but needs legislators who will support his agenda. The event, billed as an LGBT Gala, also featured  NBA player Jason Collins who introduced  Mrs. Obama and talked about his own experience coming out as the nation’s first male, openly gay professional athlete. ‘I hope my actions give courage to those still unsure about coming out and I hope it shows them the overwhelming amount of support that is waiting for them.’ Collins continued, ‘If there's one thing to take away from my experience, it's that we're not alone.’ He praised the First Lady as ‘a steadfast champion for LGBT families,’ saying she and her husband had tried to spread the message that ‘the most important thing that defines a family is love.’” 

David Petraeus is cashing out and going to work for a private-equity firm.