Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • No Charges Against Bush Lawyers Over Torture Memos?

    A source tells the Associated Press tonight that the Justice Department won’t recommend criminal charges against former Bush administration attorneys who drafted secret memos giving the legal go-ahead for harsh interrogations of terror suspects. An initial draft ethics report, which is still subject to revisions and approval from Attorney General Eric Holder, recommends two of the attorneys—Jay Bybee and John Yoo—be referred to state bar associations for possible disciplinary actions. The report made no recommendations about Steven Bradbury, a third Bush administration attorney involved in drafting the memos, the AP reports. Neither Bybee, who is now a federal Appeals Court judge in California, or Yoo, now a law professor in California, would comment. This comes upon word from the Washington Post that attorneys for the men has pressed other former Bush administration officials to lobby the Justice Department in recent days to “soften” the report. The Bush attorneys aren't out...
  • SCOTUS Watch: Not This Week, Gibbs Says

    Hold your horses, Orrin Hatch. Asked today about the timing on when President Obama might name his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs ruled out an announcement this week. “It’s not going to happen,” Gibbs said. Asked about next week, Gibbs dodged. “I can certainly rule out this week,” he said.
  • Did the WH Press Corps Snub Bush?

    Your Gaggler loves nothing more than a silly scandal, but sometimes it’s just annoying. Case in point: OMG, the press corps stood up for President Obama last week when he made a surprise visit to the White House Press Briefing room when, holy moly, they didn’t do the same for George W. Bush. Oh, the bias! Well, not exactly. Your Gaggler wasn’t on hand last week when Obama surprised everybody during the briefing with Robert Gibbs, but can speak from experience having covered Bush’s second term. This reporter was around for more than a few press conferences, including a handful in the Rose Garden and a couple in the press briefing room. Long story short: reporters always stood upon Bush’s arrival in the Rose Garden, the East Room and, yes, even at pressers on foreign trips. In the briefing room, it was a little more complicated. Your Gaggler stood up in there just once, when she was new on the beat, only to have a photographer whisper furiously that she was blocking his shot of Bush....
  • Biden Presses Israel on the "Road Map"

    Later this afternoon, President Obama is scheduled to meet at the White House with Israeli President Shimon Peres. What will Obama say? It’s good guess that he’ll basically repeat what Vice President Joe Biden said this morning in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Speaking to AIPAC’s annual conference here in Washington, Biden urged Israel to back a two-state peace solution with the Palestinians. “You’re not going to like my saying this,” Biden prefaced his remarks. “(Israel should) not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement.” But the speech wasn’t all tough love. Biden called on the Palestinians to “combat terror and incitement” aimed at Israel. He also urged the Palestinian Authority and other neighboring Arab states to make “meaningful gestures” toward Israel. Hinting at the tensions over the U.S.’s overtures to Iran, Biden reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to Israel’s security. “That is not...
  • Asked if She Still Loves Her Husband, Elizabeth Edwards Says Its "Complicated"

    Following on the leaks to the New York Daily News, Brand X has a full excerpt of the new book by Elizabeth Edwards, where she writes about her reaction to her husband, John, and his affair with Rielle Hunter. Edwards doesn’t name Hunter, describing her only as a “female videographer,” and says that although the former senator admitted the affair long before it became public knowledge, he wasn’t as truthful as he could have been. She writes:...
  • SCOTUS Watch: A Nominee This Week?

    Could President Obama pick his nominee for the Supreme Court this week? That’s what Orrin Hatch thinks. The Utah senator and one of the longest serving Republicans on the Judiciary Committee talked to Obama yesterday by phone about the coming nomination. The president didn't go into the question of timing, but Hatch was quick to get an idea. “I’d be surprised if it went beyond this week,” Hatch tells Politico.  “I would think by the end of this week or over the weekend, he’ll nominate somebody. I’m sure they’ve discussed this internally, back and forth for months now.” The White House won't comment on specifics, though Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday they are on a "tight timeline" to makes sure Congress takes up the nomination before its summer recess in August. Chances are, Obama will meet or talk to the potential nominee before he or she is announced. You know what that means: It’s time to start watching who sneaks into the West Wing or into Obama...
  • Vegas Smacks Biden on Flu Gaffe

    Memo to Joe Biden: Don’t mess with the tourism industry. Inside today’s print version of USA Today, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau—the folks behind the slogan “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”—have a full page ad featuring a not-so-flattering photo of Biden frowning. “Mr. Vice President,” the ad says. “If you’d said it here, no one would have known.” Good one. They are, of course, talking about Biden’s statement last week in which he said he’d warn his family to stay off planes and public transportation in the wake of the swine flu scare. The White House quickly clarified his remarks, but apparently not soon enough for tourism folks, who were already struggling because of the bad economy.
  • The Feds Look Into John Edwards' Campaign Cash

    John Edwards: That’s someone we haven’t seen or heard from in a while, but chances are, we’re going to be talking about him a lot this week. On Sunday, the onetime Democratic presidential hopeful and former senator confirmed reports that federal investigators are looking into his use of campaign funds in relation to payments made to Rielle Hunter, the former campaign videographer who had an affair with Edwards. His political action committee paid a firm affiliated with Hunter more than $100,000 for video services, but as the Charlotte Observer reported yesterday, the inquiry could go deeper into “a cluster” of different non-profit groups affiliated with Edwards that haven’t been subject to the same rules of transparency, including one committee that raised almost $3.5 million from a single donor. For his part, Edwards denies wrongdoing and says he’s cooperating. “I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly,” Edwards said in a statement yesterday....
  • What is Obama Reading?

    Say what you will about George W. Bush: The guy liked to read, regularly devouring massive biographies of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson and other public figures who, coincidentally, all had in common the fact that they had to make tough decisions while in office. As president, Bush even picked up a novel on occasion, including The Stranger by Albert Camus—prompting many reporters, including this one, to wonder, “Hmm.”...
  • Postcard from Somalia: The Obama Restaurant & Cafe

    Yes we can… run into Obamamania everywhere. Jeff Bartholet, Newsweek’s D.C. bureau chief (and your Gaggler’s boss—please forward all complaints to him, thank you very much) is traveling in Africa this week and stumbled upon the Obama Restaurant & Café—yes, named after that Obama—in Hargeisa, Somaliland. (This is an independent republic due west of Puntland, Somalia, an autonomous region where most of the pirates operate.) Here’s Jeff:The owner, 35-year-old Mohammed Hassan, grew up in California and Oregon, but his family comes from what is now called the Republic of Somaliland. Hassan moved back to the city of Hargeisa three years ago. He says he wanted to "get away from Bush and Bushonomics for a while.Hmm. Wonder if he serves beets. One more photo after the jump.
  • Obama: He's Just Like US!

    Well, technically no: Your Gaggler officially blows at basketball. But, Mr. President, we’ll take you at skee ball anyday. Here’s video of Obama shooting hoops earlier this week at the White House with the UConn Lady Huskies, who won the NCAA national championship a few weeks ago. And, yes, viewers, you are seeing it correctly: Obama sinks every basket.
  • Can Obama Win Over the GOP or Will Politics Get In the Way?

    John Dickerson has an interesting piece over at Slate talking about the odd position President Obama finds himself in when he praises a Republican only to have other Democrats go after him (or her). The example he uses is Charlie Crist, the Republican governor of Florida, whom Obama praised earlier this year for standing up to his party and supporting the stimulus package. Crist, who is considering a U.S. Senate run, is now being attacked by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as a spineless politician who runs when problems get tough.  So who is he: A guy who rises above politics to do the right thing or an opportunistic politician?...
  • Breaking News: Souter to Retire From the Supreme Court

    Barack Obama said yesterday that one of the things that had surprised him most about the presidency was how it seemed that every major issue or problem possible had come to a head in the early days of his time at the White House. Well, now he can add one more thing to his plate: NPR’s Nina Totenberg is reporting that Justice David Souter will leave the Supreme Court at the end of the current term in June. The news isn’t that surprising: Souter has made clear for a while that he wanted to leave Washington. But as NPR reports, Souter first waited to see what his other colleagues had decided about their future. Justice John Paul Stevens, at 89, has been the subject of speculation, although it appears he’s not going anywhere. Ditto for Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who recently had cancer surgery. “Souter apparently had waited to learn his colleague’s plans before deciding his own,” NPR reports. But people began to get suspicious. As NBC's Pete Williams reports, justices began hiring clerks...
  • Scare Force One: The Joy of Photoshop Edition

    On the heels of that Scare Force One flyby earlier this week, the New York Daily News is holding a contest inviting folks to submit their best photoshopped images featuring Air Force One. Some are seriously hysterical. Your Gaggler recommends paging through all of them, though her personal favorites are here, here, here and here. (RIP Bob Ross.)
  • Holy Moly Is Right: Palin on American Chopper

    Sarah Palin is a guest on TLC’s American Chopper tonight. The guys meet up with Palin to talk about a motorcycle they are building to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s statehood. The preview, up on YouTube, shows Palin cozying up against a HUGE bear rug that’s about, oh, three times her size. We’d seen it in pictures before, but for some reason, it just looks bigger this time. Wow.
  • Can Bush Ever Redeem Himself?

    A few weeks ago, your Gaggler blogged a story from the Dallas Morning News about what George W. Bush has been up to since leaving the White House. Now Vanity Fair is out with a more expansive look at what 43 has been up to and how he and his former aides are trying to shape his legacy. The reporter, Nancy Jo Sales, got access to Bush’s maiden voyage into paid public speaking last month in Canada, and it sounds like the former prez basically delivered a total stand-up comedy routine.  In one anecdote, Bush is quoted talking about a man he met at his local hardware store last month who pulled him aside to tell him that he looked remarkably like George W. Bush. “Yeah, man, happens all the time,” Bush responded. “Oh, that must make you mad,” the man replied. (Funny, your Gaggler thinks she’s heard that line before.) “If Bush is going to succeed at remaking his legacy, a lot will depend on the thing Karl Rove spotted long ago as his greatest political asset: His ability to charm, to come...
  • Biden: At Least He Didn't Say Swine Flu

    Uh oh: Is Joe Biden in trouble? The Veep went on the Today Show this morning to talk about swine flu. NBC’s Matt Lauer asked Biden about the advice he’s giving his family. Here’s the exchange:...
  • Gaggle Cam: The Show Before the Show

    At the White House, there is no moment more strange or funny than final minutes before the president goes before reporters for a news conference. There is a message that goes out over the sound system that gives reporters the two-minute warning before the presser is to begin. In the final seconds, the major TV correspondents rise to do a final stand-up previewing what the president will say. Your Gaggler has been covering the White House for four years and has never not been amused by how odd it is: Five, sometimes six, correspondents all loudly talking into cameras at the same time. On TV, you can often hear another reporter talking in the background of a correspondent’s live shot. But you’d never imagine how loud it actually is in the room and how much concentration it takes not to get distracted by your competitors, who literally are standing inches away. Your Gaggler shot this with her small camera—which means the quality isn’t super great—but you’ll get the jist of what the...
  • A Few Thoughts on the Obama Presser

    President Obama didn’t make a lot of news at his press conference Wednesday night, but that was probably by his own design. Speaking at his third primetime presser, held not coincidentally on his 100th day in office, Obama exhibited the style we’ve come to know about him in his short time as president: He likes to play it safe. Asked about Pakistan ahead of a major summit he’ll host next week with that country’s president and the leader of Afghanistan, Obama confessed that he is “gravely concerned” about the stability of the country. But pressed on what is widely considered the most worrisome scenario of Pakistan’s fragile state—the Taliban seizing control of the country’s nuclear weapons—and what the U.S. would do about it, Obama refused to go there, saying that he thinks the arsenal is still safe and that he won’t address a “hypothetical.” Obama declared definitively that he believes waterboarding and the tactics discussed in the Bush era legal memos his administration recently...
  • Yeah, We Could Use a Massage Too

    The thing about town halls is that anything can happen. Here’s an excerpt from President Obama’s stop in St. Louis earlier today, where he took questions from the audience: Q: I'm a licensed acupuncturist and licensed massage therapist in Florissant.  And so -- THE PRESIDENT:  I could use one right now.  (Laughter.)  My back is stiff.  I've been working hard. Q    I'll be happy to help you.  (Laughter.) Meow.
  • Obama: So Far So Good

    What's President Obama going to talk about at his press conference tonight? The White House just released excerpts of his opening statement:...
  • Dear Rahm: You Were Talking About What?

    Remember that whole question of whether the White House flip flopped on prosecuting former Bush administration officials for those controversial CIA interrogation techniques? Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, initially said his boss didn’t want to prosecute former Bushies, only to be contradicted by Obama himself, who said it was up to Attorney General Eric Holder to weigh the legal merits. Well, ABC’s Charlie Gibson brought up the apparent contradiction in an interview with Emanuel today. His response: Emanuel says he was talking about "policy guidance." Huh? Here’s the excerpt: ...
  • Biden: How Can You Not Love This Guy?

    Vice President Joe Biden was on the road in Texas yesterday, where he was the featured attraction at fund-raiser in Austin (which, for the record, happens to be one of your Gaggler’s favorite cities in the world). These events are mostly pep talks for the party faithful, but Biden, as usual, did a little bit of stand-up comedy. Verdict: Pretty funny. Here’s an excerpt from the pool report: “Texas is the only place I know that turns a river into a lake,” Biden gibed to laughter, a reference to Lake Austin being in a chain of lakes broken up by dams along the Colorado River. Biden went on: “You Texas guys are ugly as hell, but your women are beautiful. In southern Delaware, they would say y’all married up.” And, taking note of guests not touching their bbq-rubbed tuna on jalapeno-ginger rice cakes: “Please eat your meat, please. I’m a former United States senator. I’m used to not being taken seriously.”
  • Lingo Watch: From Swine Flu to H1N1 Virus

    Did you catch President Obama’s comments this morning about swine flu? Well, he didn’t actually use that specific term. Obama referred repeatedly to the “H1N1 virus,” which is the scientific term for the sickness. What changed? Well, the Obama administration has been hearing big time complaints from the pork lobby and others that the term “swine flu” is misleading—after all, you technically can’t catch the virus from eating pork—and they contend its damaging to the industry. Earlier this week, several countries, including China and Thailand, announced a ban on pork products from the US. That has prompted some damage control among Obama officials, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This really isn’t swine flu. It’s the H1N1 virus,” Vilsack told reporters Tuesday. “We want to say to consumers here and broad that there is no risk to you, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that there is any link between consuming pork, prepared pork products and the H1N1 virus.” But ...
  • Specter Called Biden First

    When Arlen Specter decided to switch parties, the first person he called at the White House wasn’t President Obama but his longtime friend Joe Biden, who has been pushing Specter for years to join the Democrats. A senior administration official tells Newsweek that Specter phoned the vice president around 8:45 Tuesday morning, but Biden, who is traveling in Texas today, wasn’t able to take the call. Specter tried calling Obama at 10:15am, but the president was in his economic briefing, though they subsequently talked a few minutes later. Shortly before 11am, Specter and Biden finally connected. According to the senior official, Biden didn’t know before Tuesday that Specter would join the Democrats, though they had been talking about it. But the official, like other Obama aides, insisted that Specter made the decision on his own and that nothing was promised to him, at least on their end. It’s no secret that Biden and Specter are extremely close. For years, the two rode the train home...
  • McConnell: This is About Pennsylvania Not the GOP

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just talked to reporters on the Hill. He said Specter broke the news to him yesterday afternoon. According to McConnell, Specter said that he’d determined that he couldn’t win the GOP primary in Pennsylvania or be elected as an independent so he was switching to the Dems. McConnell was quick to paint this development as a “Pennsylvania story” and not reflective of the party nationally. Here are the notable excerpts:...
  • More GOP React: Steele Calls Specter "Left Wing"

    Ah, how the love affair ends. Here’s one more statement from a prominent GOPer, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, who brings up Specter’s “left wing voting record.” He's already left wing? Wow. Here's Steele:Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not. Let’s be honest-Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record. Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first....
  • The GOP Line on Specter: He's a Sell Out

    At the moment, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is huddling with other top Republicans on the Hill trying to figure out how exactly to respond to word that Arlen Specter is switching parties. It goes without saying that it’s a devastating blow to a party struggling to stay politically afloat. Several Senate Republican aides contacted by Newsweek declined to talk about what the party knew about Specter’s discussions with Democrats, preferring to leave it up to McConnell, who will go before reporters later this afternoon. Sen. John Cornyn, who heads up the Senate GOP’s campaign committee, just issued a statement that sums up what most Republicans are saying: That Specter sold out his principals for politics in what Cornyn’s aides describe as “seemingly insurmountable bid for re-election.” “Sen. Specter’s decision today represents the height of political self-preservation,” Cornyn said. Other Republicans aren’t quite that nice. “Disgusting,” one Senate GOP aide told Newsweek. ...
  • Specter: How Obama Found Out

    Obviously one of the biggest questions is what role the White House played in convincing Arlen Specter to join the Democrats. It’s highly unlikely that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Dem leaders didn’t tell the White House about their conversations with Specter, who Obama officials have viewed as reliable ally in the Senate. So far, the White House isn’t saying. All we know is how President Obama found out. According to two administration officials, who spoke to Newsweek on background, Obama was in the middle of daily economic briefing when an aide handed him a note around 10:25 this morning. “Specter is announcing he is changing parties,” it read. A few minutes later, Obama called Specter. “You have my full support,” Obama told him, according to aides. “Thrilled to have you.”