The Washington Post

Beans spilled about quiet White House lunch betwen President Obama, Hillary Clinton

People magazine tweeted that Hillary Clinton had a meeting with President Obama . Then the tweet disappeared.

“PEOPLE’s @sswestfall chats w/@HillaryClinton before her mtg at the WH. Hope we didn’t make her late for @barackobama!” the magazine’s main account told its 5.5 million followers.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, People’s Washington bureau chief, who interviewed the former secretary of state Thursday at her Washington home, told the Loop in an ­
e-mail that People retweeted the image clarifying that it was a “lunch” with Obama, not a “meeting.”

When she and Clinton parted, Clinton — whose book about her State Department years comes out June 10 — told Westfall she was off to dine with the president.

Westfall said that the White House did not contact her to take down the tweet, and that she was the one who asked People’s social-media team to clarify what Clinton was doing there.

Specifying that it was a lunch denotes a more casual event. After the initial tweet was out, the White House confirmed the non-meeting meeting. “The president enjoyed an informal, private lunch with Secretary Clinton at the White House this afternoon,” an official said.

The lunch was not on Obama’s official public schedule. Unclear whether they invited Joe Biden.

Reefer madness

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), profiled by The Washington Post this week as a pro-pot lawmaker with his eye on a leadership slot, blasted the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration as “terrible” during a heated floor exchange over the agency’s budget.

Polis was offering an amendment to an appropriations bill that would strip an additional $35 million from the DEA allocated for “pay and nonbase pay costs.” He argued that while other agencies are facing cuts, the DEA was undeserving of additional funds.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) rushed to Administrator Michele Leonhart’s defense, condemning Polis for questioning her service and accusing him of undercutting the work of DEA agents.

Leonhart “has given her life to law enforcement for the last 30 years, so I don’t think you meant it, but if I were a DEA agent back in some remote area, maybe watching C-SPAN in Afghanistan where there’s a number of DEA agents risking their lives, when we’re in a very safe community surrounded by policemen — but maybe they’re in Kabul right now where there was just some killings the other day,” Wolf said.

Polis countered, “She may have been a fine line officer and cop on the beat, but she’s a terrible agency head.”

Wolf, noting that he served in Richard Nixon’s administration, then charged Polis and the Obama administration with acting Nixonian for going after a career civil servant within their own ranks. Leonhart and the administration have also been clashing on marijuana law enforcement and mandatory minimum sentences.

Polis and Leonhart have clashed over the DEA chief’s hard line against marijuana. At a hearing in June 2012, she refused to answer Polis when he asked her whether she thought heroin and crack were worse for a person’s health than pot. She would say only that all illegal drugs are bad. She further incensed Polis when she reportedly said that July 4, 2013, was the worst day of her life because an American flag made from Colorado-raised hemp flew over the Capitol.

Chatting with the Loop after his exchange with Wolf, Polis did not back down.

“It bothers me greatly that she doesn’t know the basic facts, or fails to let herself know the basic facts about areas under her jurisdiction,” Polis said.

And as to Wolf’s ardent defense of her? “Maybe she should go back to Baltimore and keep the streets safe there,” Polis said.

Word on the street

A bipartisan group of House members — including Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — has called on District Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council to rename part of a Northwest Washington street that runs by the Chinese Embassy in honor of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

The lawmakers said renaming part of International Place NW after Liu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, would bring “renewed international attention to Chinese human rights violations.” The precedent for the move was the renaming of a street in front of the Soviet Embassy for anti-Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

“June 4 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre,” the 13 House members said in a letter obtained by the Loop, and “egregious Chinese human rights violations are regrettably as much a reality” now as they were then.

“In light of these realities,” the letter said, “we write to seek your partnership in bringing renewed international attention to Chinese Human Rights violations.”

The letter was also signed by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) and Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.).

Youth movement

It appears that Team Obama has finally figured out something Republicans have long known about changing the shape of the federal judiciary: If you want enduring change, appoint younger judges.

We wrote last year that the Democrats appeared to have a policy of minimizing their impact on the judiciary by appointing the oldest judges ever, going back to the Jimmy Carter administration, according to a report by the liberal Alliance for Justice.

Back then, Obama’s confirmed appeals court judges were on average about 55 years old, nearly four years older than Bush II’s and 4.7 years older than Bush I’s.

But the average age (at nomination) for the eight court of appeals judges confirmed so far this year is 47.3 years, according to a tally by the Alliance for the Loop, including one 41-year-old and two 42-year-olds.

The likely GOP capture of the Senate in November, of course, will bring Obama’s hopes for many more confirmations to a screeching halt.

— With Colby Itkowitz

The blog:
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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