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Jesse Jackson Jr., wife, agree to guilty pleas for campaign fund fraud

In a spectacular fall from political prominence, former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife agreed Friday to plead guilty to federal charges growing out of what prosecutors said was a scheme to use $750,000 in campaign funds for lavish personal expenses, including a $43,000 gold watch and furs. Federal prosecutors filed one charge of conspiracy against the former Chicago congressman and charged his ex-alderman wife, Sandra, with one count of filing false joint federal income tax returns for the years 2006 through 2011 that knowingly understated the income the couple received. Both agreed to plead guilty in deals
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Republicans use Hagel debacle to try and sink Obama

Republicans have found a boatload of reasons to try to sink Chuck Hagel‘s hopes of becoming the next defense secretary. But the issue they used this week to stall his nomination — the White House’s handling of last September’s deadly Benghazi attack — may seem entirely unrelated to Hagel’s qualifications because, well, it is. Here are some questions and answers about the connection between President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Pentagon and the campaign by Sen. John McCain and others in the Senate to press for more answers on Benghazi: Q: How did the Hagel nomination become entangled with
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House right-wingers want three-year freeze on federal pay

House conservatives want to extend to a full three years the current freeze on cost-of-living pay increases for the nation’s 2 million civilian federal workers. They say that blocking a modest raise proposed by President Barack Obama for the last nine months of this year will save $11 billion over the long run and that well-compensated federal employees can afford it. Democrats, and a few Republicans, say federal workers have already done more than their fair share in helping reduce the federal deficit and they are being singled out for punishment by anti-government lawmakers. The House on Thursday took up
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Thousands supporting gun control jam rally in Connecticut

Thousands of people, including some first-time activists moved by the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, rallied at Connecticut’s state Capitol on Thursday demanding lawmakers toughen gun laws. Holding signs that read: “We are Sandy Hook. We deserve change” and “Let’s get this done,” many in crowd — estimated by the state Capitol Police at 5,500 — said they wanted to make sure their opinions were heard. They said they did not want them overshadowed by vocal gun rights advocates who’ve successfully defeated gun control measures in Connecticut in the past, such as limits on the size of ammunition
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Obama slams Republicans over delay of Hagel nomination

President Barack Obama is criticizing Senate Republicans for delaying the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as his secretary of defense. The president said his opponents are using politics while the nation is still in a war in Afghanistan. Obama called Hagel, who is a former senator and Vietnam veteran, “eminently” qualified for the job Thursday and expressed confidence he would ultimately be confirmed. He said Republicans now insist that every issue and nomination requires a super majority of 60 votes. Senate Democrats on Thursday came up short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural step that would have permitted
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Senate Republicans force delay on Hagel confirmation

By delaying a confirmation vote on Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary, Senate Republicans have forced Leon Panetta to remain on the job he is eager to give up. But they’ve also given the White House an opportunity to cast the GOP as obstructing President Barack Obama’s assembly of a second-term national security team. Senate Republicans temporarily blocked a Hagel confirmation vote on Thursday, insisting that the administration must first answer more questions about its handling of a terrorist attack last September on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Jay Carney,
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GOP Senators call Hagel a liar, want his nomination vote delayed

Senate Republicans have questioned Chuck Hagel’s truthfulness and they’ve challenged his patriotism. Now they’re threatening to stonewall his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s defense secretary unless the White House gives them more information about what Obama was doing on the night of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has set the stage for a full Senate vote on Hagel, a former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska and twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran. Reid filed a motion Wednesday to limit debate and force a vote, which is expected to be
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New right-wing Senator tries to take Washington by storm

For new U.S. senators, the drill typically goes something like this: Keep quiet once you arrive in Washington, learn how things work and then begin asserting yourself. That is not exactly the path Ted Cruz is taking. He has been in office for barely six weeks, but already the senator from Texas, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, has shown a provocative, in-your-face style that has won him criticism and praise. Cruz, 42, has been chided by Democrats and even fellow Republicans who say he trampled Senate etiquette during contentious hearings in which he went after former Republican
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Boehner backs off, lets other take the lead on issues

John Boehner is pulling back. After two stressful years as Washington’s most powerful Republican and a pair of failed, high-profile rounds of budget talks with President Barack Obama — and disappointment over Obama’s re-election — the battle-scarred House speaker has adopted a you-first approach to the Democrat in the White House, his allies who control the Senate and anyone else who wants to work with them. Upcoming across-the-board spending cuts set to slam the economy in two weeks? Boehner says a solution is up to Obama and Senate Democrats. New ideas to prevent gun violence? Let’s see what the Senate
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Documents reveal ties between Clinton, Nixon

In the final months of his life, Richard Nixon quietly advised President Bill Clinton on navigating the post-Cold War world, even offering to serve as a conduit for messages to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other government officials, newly declassified documents show. Memos and other records show Nixon’s behind-the-scenes relations with the Clinton White House. The documents are part of an exhibit opening Friday at the Nixon Presidential Library, marking the centennial of his birth. Clinton has talked often of his gratitude to Nixon for his advice on foreign affairs, particularly Russia. In a video that will be part of
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