For those wondering how much distance new Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales will keep from the White House, here's an early clue: He's taking three White House lawyers with him to be his top aides at the Justice Department.
Gonzales, confirmed Thursday, said during his confirmation hearings: "I will no longer represent only the White House, I will represent the United States of America and its people. I understand the differences between the two roles."
Alberto R. Gonzales spoke to Justice Department employees on his first day as attorney general. He reportedly will name as top aides three lawyers who worked for him at the White House.
(Mark Wilson -- Getty Images)
But now comes word that Gonzales plans to name Ted Ullyot to be his chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson as his deputy chief of staff, and Raul Yanes as counselor, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. All three have been lawyers in the White House counsel's office under Gonzales.
If the names sound familiar, it may be because Ullyot and Yanes were the coordinators of the White House's response to the investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. That investigation is being handled by, uh, the Justice Department.
Gonzales, who had been called before the grand jury in the case, has recused himself in the Plame probe, as promised during his confirmation and as predecessor John D. Ashcroft had done. It remains to be seen whether Gonzales will also have Ullyot, Sampson and Yanes recused, or whether he will take further steps to shield Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the case, from political influence.
A Misunderstood Man
The "B" does not stand for Bolivar?
Simon Rosenberg, who -- along with Donnie Fowler -- quit the race for Democratic National Committee chairman on Friday, may be the most misunderstood man in Washington.
CNN, in a political tip sheet distributed Wednesday morning, described Rosenberg, head of the New Democrat Network, as "the only Jewish candidate" in the DNC race. Earlier, in a conference call arranged by Rosenberg, pollster Sergio Bendixen described Rosenberg as "the most effective Hispanic leader within the Democratic Party that I have met over the last 30 years."
As it happens, Rosenberg attends an Episcopal church and has not a drop of Hispanic blood. The first mistake was caused by his last name (his father's roots are Jewish but his mother's family is Irish Catholic and German Protestant). The second mistake was actually an inside joke, an aide explains.
For the record: Bendixen is of Peruvian-Danish descent. And Rosenberg's middle name is "Bernard."
'Victims' Day' on Capitol Hill
You won't find it in the tourism brochures, but Tuesday is "Victims' Day" on Capitol Hill. The Center for Justice & Democracy, a group seeking to derail President Bush's call for limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, is bringing to town about 50 victims and their relatives, including the daughter of a woman who was poisoned by an overdose of chemotherapy, the mother of a child who suffered brain damage during birth, and the mother of a man who died from brain surgery. The center, which enjoys the support of trial lawyers but maintains that it is not tied to trial lawyer groups, has also requested a meeting with Bush to counter all of those presidential sessions with doctors being driven out of business by malpractice insurance costs.
But that's not likely: Bush, who likes to say that "nobody has been healed by a frivolous lawsuit," renewed his call for malpractice restrictions in Thursday's State of the Union address.
Powerful, but Lacking in Perks
Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) may be the Senate's most powerful member and one of its wealthiest, but the poor fellow has a real-estate problem: He doesn't qualify for a "hideaway," the name for offices sprinkled throughout the Capitol for lawmakers seeking a moment's peace.
The offices are allocated strictly by seniority, and with just 10 years in the Senate, Frist "doesn't qualify for a hideaway," senior aide Bill Hoagland told The Washington Post's Charles Babington. In fact, when Hoagland needs to meet with a few people in the Capitol, he decamps to the spacious second-floor hideaway assigned to his friend and former employer, Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.).
Frist may not be able to hide, but he does have use of the rather large majority leader's suite near the Rotunda, with a fireplace and a view of the Washington Monument.
An Update on Nader
And, now, for one in an occasional series of updates on Ralph Nader's effort to retire his presidential campaign debts. This from the Jan. 27 Press Democrat of Sonoma County, Calif.: "To help defray costs, Nader's campaign workers sold books Wednesday and asked for donations of up to $1,000 from audience members. While no one offered that amount, a handful of folks gave sums of $500, $250 and $100. Nader supporters passed several collection buckets through the small crowd and hawked old campaign materials in the lobby."