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Friday, May 24, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama to tour Jersey shore with Christie - Months after their post-Hurricane Sandy embrace became an endurinng image of bipartisanship, President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will survey the storm's damage once again.
On Tuesday, Obama and Christie will tour areas in New Jersey affected by the storm, the Washington Post reported.

Christie has enjoyed enormous popularity at home in the months following Sandy, with many crediting the Republican's show of bipartisanship after the storm. He is an overwhelming favorite to win re-election this year over his little-known Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono.

Some Republicans expressed frustration toward Christie for praising Obama's handling of the storm with the election only days away, insisting that it helped secure a second term for the President. has more here.


Obama outlines new guidelines for use of Drones - Obama used the first major counterterrorism address of his second term to outline newly narrowed guidelines that call for deploying drones only against targets that pose a “continuing, imminent threat” to the United States and only in cases in which avoiding civilian casualties is a “near-certainty.”
“As our fight enters a new phase, America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion,” Obama said. “To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.”  The Washington Post has more here.


Obama to give Naval Academy commencement speech today - President Barack Obama on Friday will travel to Annapolis, Md. where he will deliver the commencement address at the United States Naval Academy. Obama is scheduled to give the remarks at 10:00 a.m. ET.


Justice Department to review guidelines for leak investigations - At a national security speech, the president said he was "troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable," and had expressed that concern to Holder.
The attorney general, in turn, agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing leak investigations and meet with a group of media organizations. Obama said that the Justice Department would present him with a report on media targeting by July 12.

"Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs," Obama said. "Our focus must be on those who break the law." has more here.


IRS official Learner placed on leave - Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversees the agency’s division in charge of tax-exempt organizations, has been placed on administrative leave, a source told NBC News on Thursday. The IRS has selected Ken Corbin as acting director during Lerner's absence.

Lerner, whose responsibility for the targeting of conservative groups at the IRS has become a point of scrutiny in the controversy, had come under bipartisan fire. Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., wrote acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel earlier on Thursday seeking Lerner’s suspension.

Lerner had appeared before a House committee on Wednesday, but invoked her Fifth Amendment rights, and declined to testify. She offered a broad declaration denying any wrongdoing, however, which has prompted some Republicans to conclude she had effectively waived her Fifth Amendment rights. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who heads the oversight panel before which Lerner appeared, suggested Thursday he’ll seek to recall her as a witness.  NBC News has more here.


Kerry announces "productive talks" with Palestine, Israel - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that his shuttle talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on prospects for reviving direct negotiations had been "very productive".

Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv after two days of talks in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Kerry urged both sides to refrain from provocative actions "that take us backwards" and said they should focus instead on progress towards peace talks.

"We are reaching the time (where) leaders need to make hard decisions," Kerry said following separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. has more here.


Russia says Syria will attend Geneva peace talks - The Syrian government has agreed to participate in an international peace conference coordinated by Russia and the United States, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry had agreed during a meeting in Moscow earlier this month to pull together the peace conference, with Russia responsible for bringing the government of Bashar al-Assad to the table and the Americans focused on securing the participation of the Syrian opposition. The NY Times has more here.


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