The Morning Line: The Rangel Trial Gets Underway

BY Terence Burlij  July 29, 2010 at 9:53 AM EDT

Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., has still not reached a deal with the House ethics committee to avoid a public trial of sorts, as many of his fellow Democrats had hoped he would.

morningline.jpgThe New York Post reports that the main sticking point in Rangel’s attempt to reach a settlement is his apparent refusal to admit any wrongdoing surrounding one of the charges against him:

“‘He feels, I think very strongly, that he has not done anything that was wrong,’ said a Democratic member of the House in Rangel’s camp.”

“The supporter said Rangel was drawing a line in the sand on the matter of his solicitations of big-bucks contributions from corporations for the Charles Rangel Center for Public Affairs at CCNY.”

With no deal in place, the House ethics committee is scheduled to hold a public organizational meeting at 1 p.m. ET today to discuss the specific charges against Rangel and the process going forward.

Rangel does not currently plan to participate in today’s hearing.

NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE TURNS 100

President Obama will talk education this morning when he delivers remarks at the National Urban League’s Centennial Conference in Washington, DC.

The White House has billed it as a “major education reform speech” that will emphasize how the President’s “signature Race to the Top program and other initiatives are driving education reform across the country.”

Mr. Obama’s address, scheduled for 10:05 a.m. ET, could receive a cool reception from some in attendance. Last week, a coalition of civil rights groups including the NAACP and the Urban League put forward a framework for education reform that criticized “the limited reach of the Race to the Top Fund and other market-based frames for federal education funding.”

Race to the Top provides competitive grants to states that make transformative changes to their school systems, such as turning around low-performing schools, improving teacher and principal effectiveness and adopting common standards and tests.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced earlier this week that 18 states and the District of Columbia had been named finalists for the more than $3 billion available in the second round of funding for the Race to the Top program.

GINGRICH LAYS DOWN 2012 FOREIGN POLICY MARKER

At a speech at the American Enterprise Institute Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to deliver a foreign policy critique of the Obama administration and stress the need to look more broadly at radical Islam as a persistent threat to the United States.

This is similar to the foreign policy turf that Mitt Romney, a potential 2012 rival of Mr. Gingrich, has been mining for some time.

In fact, if Ron Paul doesn’t make it onto the Republican presidential nomination debate stage next year, you can expect every candidate running for the chance to take on President Obama in November 2012 to trumpet similar notes.

“If the President insists on a July 2011 withdrawal from Afghanistan, he is frightening potential Afghan allies, encouraging our enemies to hang on for a few more months until we cut and run, and courting a disastrous defeat which will have worldwide consequences,” Gingrich plans to say, according to prepared remarks of his speech.





More excerpts from Gingrich’s speech:

“The left’s refusal to tell the truth about the threat from radical Islamism is a natural parallel to the 70 year pattern of leftwing intellectuals refusing to tell the truth about communism and the Soviet Union.”





”Discussing strategy in Afghanistan without first defining the larger war and outlining a strategy in the larger war is like discussing Gettysburg without taking into account the civil war of which it was a part.”





”The fight against radical Islamism, the imposition of sharia and Madrassas that teach hatred and fanaticism is more important than Afghanistan or Iraq. It is the heart of the enemy movement from which the terrorists spring forth.”

BRINGING HOME THE BACON

In an election year when many incumbents seem to be distancing themselves from any ties to Washington, DC, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is one lawmaker who isn’t afraid to showcase how her role on Capitol Hill affects voters back home.

Murray has released a new campaign ad touting her efforts to help Boeing win a $40 billion contract to build airborne refueling tankers for the Air Force.

In the 30-second spot, Boeing workers credit Murray with saving jobs that “were going to France.” Airbus won the $35 billion tanker contract two years ago, but Boeing was able to get the Air Force’s decision overturned after disputing the selection process. Boeing and Airbus are in the midst of another competition to supply the Defense Department with the tankers.

Murray’s likely opponent in November’s election, Republican Dino Rossi, took aim at Murray earlier this week for her pursuit of earmarks, saying, “There is nothing in the Constitution that says the job of a senator is bringing home pork.” He accused Republicans and Democrats who engage in the practice of “bankrupting America.”

BP A NO-SHOW

From PBS NewsHour Foreign Affairs Editor Mike Mosettig:

A much-ballyhooed Senate hearing on BP’s alleged role in securing the release of a Lockerbie bomber has been scrubbed for want of witnesses.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee posted a one-word item on it’s website – “Postponed.”

Basically, current and former members of the British and Scottish governments politely but firmly told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee they would not be available to answer questions from American Senators on whether BP’s lobbying played any role in the release of Abdelbassett Ali al-Meghrai from a Scottish prison back to Libya last June.

On compassionate health grounds, the Scottish government set free the only person ever brought to justice for the December 1988 bombing over the town of Lockerbie that killed 270 passengers and crew on Pan Am flight 103, including 190 Americans and 43 British citizens. Suffering from cancer, al-Megrahi ostensibly had only months to alive, but at the moment appears to be alive, if not fully well.

The demand for hearings had been led by the four U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who had been scheduled to preside, told reporters yesterday he was upset that British officials and outgoing BP President Tony Hayward had declined the committee’s invitation.

“It is utterly disappointing and I think outrageous that none of these witnesses will testify.” Menendez was quoted as telling reporters Tuesday. He said he would try to have hearings when Congress returns from its summer recess in September.

BP has acknowledged lobbying the previous Labor government to sign a prisoner transfer accord with Libya. But in a lengthy July 22 letter to Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., Britain’s new foreign secretary William Hague wrote “…there is no evidence that corroborates in any way the allegations of BP’s involvement in the Scottish Executive’s entirely separate decision…” to release al-Megrahi.

Meanwhile, the weekend edition of the Financial Times reported that BP would soon begin drilling operations off the coast of Libya.