Impeach Bush

 Pentagon needs more money
 Bush raises debt ceiling
 Pickering Headed to Defeat
 Greenspan Pans Economic Stimulus
 Doomsday Clock Moved Forward
 Ridge's Rent-Free Stay Draws Flak
 Lay's ties to Bush go back years
 Web parody sparks GOP legal threat
 Lobbyist Plotted Against Dems
 Lawmaker Criticizes Ashcroft on Microsoft
Pentagon Needs More Money for Terror War

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With the U.S. war on terror costing nearly $3 billion a month, the White House plans to ask Congress as early as March for more cash to press the fight in Afghanistan and increase security at home and abroad, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The military bill alone could total $30 billion by October and, with only $17.4 billion approved by Congress to date, funds could begin running out in April or May, according to Pentagon figures.

"Any final decision is up to President Bush. But I would look for a supplemental request from OMB (the Office of Management and Budget) sooner rather than later," one of the U.S. officials, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.

Published reports have indicated that an emergency request to pay for additional military operations alone through the current 2002 financial year that ends in September could total up to $10 billion. But officials cautioned against speculation on the figure.

Congress has already provided $17.4 billion in supplemental anti-terror funds to the Defense Department and $20 billion to cities and other federal agencies since the devastating Sept. 11 attacks on America.

But the Pentagon supplemental -- which is paying for increased efforts ranging from feeding U.S. airborne troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan, to keeping F-16 fighter jets on 24-hour alert in the United States -- will run out in April or May, officials said.


A Pentagon report circulating in Congress puts total emergency defense costs for fiscal 2002 that ends on Sept. 30 at $30 billion to cover deployment to theater, mobilization of guard and reserves, and increased air and naval operations and combat operations in Afghanistan.

"We have learned from hard experience that you don't take money from normal day-to-day military operations for things like this. So we will need a supplemental," said one senior military officer.

"It's being studied very carefully, but I haven't heard any figure like that ($10 billion) discussed" for 2002, added a senior U.S. official.

The Pentagon has already asked Congress for $27.7 billion in financial 2003 for the military's part in the war on terror.

That includes $10 billion for unplanned day-to-day military costs, $9.4 billion for items such as building additional unmanned spy planes and $7.9 billion to boost intelligence and other efforts.

It is hard to pin down an exact figure for the additional costs of fighting terrorism, although Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim said last month that the cost could be running as high as $1.8 billion a month for the military in Afghanistan alone.

That figure may have decreased with fewer U.S. air patrols now in the skies over that rugged country and virtually no bombs being dropped.

Some analysts also note that while it costs the military $1 million a day to keep an aircraft carrier at sea, the bill for maintaining two carriers in the Northern Arabian Sea in support of the Afghanistan operation would be the same if those ships were at work anywhere in the world.

Does the phrase "spend till you drop" come to mind? I'm thinking it must be really, really easy to be president when you can ask congress for more spending and tax cuts in the fact of growing deficits.


Bush's raises debt ceiling

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Reuters) - President Bush on Wednesday urged congressional leaders not to play politics with raising the federal debt limit, which must be extended by the end of next month or the government will be unable to borrow money.

"He's reminded them this is a very serious matter that when it comes to risking the default of the United States government in the pursuit of politics, that is something the American people will not welcome," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

"He hopes they will not politicize this issue," Fleischer told reporters as Bush was traveling to North Carolina for a political event.

Fleischer said Bush made his appeal during a breakfast meeting with congressional leaders at the White House. Included in the meeting were Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt, Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott and Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The debt limit is due to expire at end of March and Congress must increase it so the government can continue to borrow money.

Fleischer also said the nation's bond rating is at stake. He added there had been no agreement on what the increased limit should be and said that was part of ongoing discussions.

Bush, like Reagan and Bush 1 before him spends like there's no tomorrow, then creates massive deficits, and in time will blame congress for what he's asked them to do. Watch!


Pickering Headed to Defeat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mississippi judge Charles Pickering, branded by liberals as "a right-wing ideologue," seems certain to become the first Bush administration judicial nominee to be rejected by the Democratic-led U.S. Senate, top congressional aides said on Tuesday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, told Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott this past weekend Pickering does not have enough support to be even voted out of his committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration as a federal appeals judge, the aides said.

Subsequently, Lott requested and obtained from Leahy a one-week delay on a confirmation vote by the panel, which had been scheduled for Thursday.

The postponement was announced in a brief statement on Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which said the vote will now be held some time next week.

"Senator Lott requested a delay and, as a courtesy, I granted it," Leahy said. Democrats control the panel, 10-9.

A coalition of liberal interest groups and civil rights organizations, including the National Organization for Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have attacked Pickering's record on civil rights and abortion rights, branding him "a right-wing ideologue."

A former private attorney and Mississippi state senator, Pickering has served the past decade as a U.S. District judge in Mississippi.

At the urging of Lott, a fellow Mississippian, Bush last year nominated Pickering to serve on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

"I'm still hoping that the Judiciary Committee will report his nomination to the full Senate," Lott said on Tuesday.

Lott said he requested the delay because Pickering needed more time to respond to written questions submitted to him by members of the Judiciary Committee.


At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush "believes in Judge Pickering and will fight for Judge Pickering."

A top Democratic leadership aide said, however, the White House has not waged much of a campaign on behalf of Pickering.

"The White House doesn't seem all that interested," the aide said. "They seem to see Pickering as Lott's guy, not their guy."

While Pickering has come under criticism from liberal groups as well as a number of U.S. lawmakers, he has drawn support from community and minority leaders in his home state, including James Evers, brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

They note had Pickering had reached out to minorities and had the courage to oppose the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s.

Yet other elements of his career dogged his nomination, like suggesting ways in 1959 to make Mississippi's law against interracial marriage more effective, and bolting the Democratic Party in 1964 after the state party was forced to include blacks in its delegation at the national convention.

At a Feb. 7 confirmation hearing, Pickering said he regretted some earlier actions and said many merely reflected the times.

Sen. John Edwards, a North Carolina Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee, announced on Tuesday he will vote against Pickering.

Edwards noted Pickering, in presiding over a 1994 cross-burning case in Mississippi, took steps to reduce the sentence required by law for one of three defendants.

"Judge Pickering's record ... clearly demonstrates he is willing to put his own views above the law," Edwards said.

The Pickering postponement came as the Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing on another embattled Bush judicial nominee, D. Brooks Smith, now chief judge of the U.S. District Court for western Pennsylvania.

Bush has nominated Smith to serve on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Like Pickering, he has come under fire from mostly liberal groups, which have charged, among other things, that he has been too quick to dismiss lawsuits against big corporations.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican, said he expected Smith to be confirmed.

Yet more evidence the puppet (or president) doesn't have a clue what's going on and doesn't care. He nominates a man to the judiciary then wages no campaign to get him to the bench. If Pickering isn't Lott's guy as democrats charge, why did the puppet nominate him? The puppet does whats he's told.


Greenspan Pans Economic Stimulus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Wednesday that last year's tax cuts were effective in helping the economy recover but that further fiscal stimulus was probably not needed now.

"The problem with fiscal policy ... is that it is very difficult to implement in a timely manner," Greenspan said in response to questions before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

"The tax cuts of last year did show up as increased expenditures in July and August," he said. "They turned out to be quite effective, best as I can judge."

But Greenspan said that it remains difficult to craft an effective fiscal stimulus and, as Congress mulls such a package, the powerful central banker said, "My own impression is that it probably is not necessary."


Doomsday Clock Moved Forward

2002 | Seven minutes to midnight

Little progress is made on global nuclear disarmament. The United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces it will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Terrorists seek to acquire and use nuclear and biological weapons.

Back to the Reagan years. Evil Empires, Evil Axis etc. What is it with these republicans? Is it an excuse to spend money we don't have? You betcha!


Ridge's Rent-Free Stay Draws Flak

HARRISBURG, Pa. Feb. 27 Former Gov. Tom Ridge's family had free lodging in the governor's residence for four months after he left office, and now some Democrats are crying foul.

At least one lawmaker wants the family to pay the state rent for using the property after Ridge stepped down Oct. 5 to accept President Bush's appointment as the nation's homeland security chief.

Ridge's wife, Michele, and their two children moved out of the riverside mansion within the past three weeks, said Steve Aaron, a spokesman for Gov. Mark Schweiker.

Ridge lives in the Washington area during the week and commutes to the family's Harrisburg town house on weekends. Schweiker and his family continue to live in the lieutenant governor's residence at Fort Indiantown Gap, about 20 miles northeast of the capital.

Ridge was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the former governor's family was entitled to stay under the security provided by the state and had left before the six months were up.

"(The state) chose to make this accommodation by allowing the Ridges to remain in the governor's mansion," Johndroe said. "The family moved out under that time period."

But state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Ridge should pay about $2,000 a month in rent payments to the state.

Fumo raised the issue while trying to restore funding to a program that helps people pay their mortgages when they lose their jobs. Ridge tried to eliminate the program in 1996.

"For him to want to cut (the program) and then have his family live comfortably in the mansion for four months is extremely hypocritical and cold-hearted," Fumo said.

"As far as I was concerned, it was tantamount to white-collar welfare," said Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Mellow, another Democrat, although he said he does not share Fumo's desire for Ridge to pay rent.

Talk about double dipping. First he's paid by the US taxpayer, then his home state flips the bill for his housing. Not bad if you can get it. What can we expect from the "free lunch crowd?"


Lay's ties to Bush go back years

AUSTIN – Even before George W. Bush became governor in 1994, Enron chairman Kenneth Lay recommended that he put Pat Wood on the agency crucial to Enron's expansion into the energy market in Texas.

Mr. Lay wrote that Mr. Wood, then a 32-year-old assistant to a state railroad commissioner, was "best qualified to provide" what he called "new thinking" on the Public Utility Commission.

Mr. Bush followed the advice – and repeated the pattern seven years later when he elevated Mr. Wood to a federal energy commission after a similar recommendation by Mr. Lay.

Correspondence released Wednesday suggests that Mr. Lay's ties to Mr. Bush and his efforts to influence state energy policies assisting Enron's explosive growth extended far earlier than previously known.

Last month, President Bush said he "got to know" Mr. Lay after being elected governor and described the Houston energy executive as a supporter of his political opponent, Democrat Ann Richards.

According to the documents released Wednesday under the Public Information Act, Mr. Lay wrote Mr. Bush in December 1994, shortly after the Republican's victory over Ms. Richards.

Mr. Lay recommended that the governor name Mr. Wood to the utility commission. In February 1995, three weeks after being sworn in, Mr. Bush appointed him to the post.

Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said appointees backed by Mr. Lay were qualified and had other support.

"There were many people who contributed ideas and made suggestions for people to serve in state government. The governor received many recommendations. These were very qualified individuals who had a lot of support. They were chosen based on their qualifications and their experience," she said.

Mr. Wood recently has disputed suggestions that Mr. Lay played a key role in his appointments.

In January 1995, Mr. Lay also was successful in recommending that Frank Maresh be promoted chairman of the State Board of Public Accountancy. After a Lay letter to Bush appointments chief Clay Johnson, Mr. Maresh got the top job.

And in Washington

Mr. Lay, a top campaign contributor to Mr. Bush, reprised his recommendation last year after Mr. Bush went to Washington. The former Enron chief recommended in a letter to Mr. Johnson, now White House personnel director, that Mr. Wood be named to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The president appointed Mr. Wood to the commission in August.

Mr. Lay resigned as chairman of Enron after the company's financial meltdown amid questions about its business practices.

Mr. Wood has been an advocate of market-oriented regulation favored by Enron, the Houston energy company whose spectacular financial rise ended in bankruptcy last year.

Over the years, Mr. Lay recommended other appointments to Mr. Bush and to his successor, Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

In a letter to Mr. Perry last year, Mr. Lay recommended Ronnie Rudd, a retired Arthur Andersen LLP executive, to the State Board of Public Accountancy.

Mr. Perry, who has received more than $220,000 in campaign contributions from Enron executives, did not make the appointment.

Mr. Perry did appoint Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, to a committee overseeing utility deregulation after a recommendation by Mr. Lay.

Kathy Walt, a Perry spokeswoman, said Ms. Nelson was especially qualified for the post. "It was not made because Ken Lay recommended it," she said.

'Dear George'

Some of Mr. Lay's letters took a friendly tone.
Opening his December 1994 letter to Mr. Bush with the greeting "Dear George," Mr. Lay touted Mr. Wood as "best qualified to provide" what he called "new thinking" on the utility commission.

Mr. Lay was among the most fervent supporters of a 1999 law clearing the way for deregulation of the energy market in Texas. As governor, Mr. Bush supported the deregulation effort.

In a letter to Mr. Bush in June 1999, Mr. Lay praised Mr. Bush for the measure's success in the just-completed legislative session.

"We at Enron were especially pleased," Mr. Lay wrote. "It is a good and should generate great economic benefits for the state in coming years."

"Critical to the success," he wrote, "is its implementation by the Public Utility Commission. Pat Wood and his colleagues have done a masterful job in positioning Texas to move forward under that legislation."

He urged Mr. Bush to reappoint commissioner Judy Walsh to another term on the public utility commission. Mr. Bush made the reappointment, but Democrats in the Senate rejected the selection, and Ms. Walsh subsequently resigned.

Not all Lay recommendations to Mr. Bush were followed.

John Duncan, whom Mr. Lay asked the governor to name to the University of Texas System Board of Regents, was not appointed.

Lobbying effort

In addition to pressing for appointees, Mr. Lay lobbied Mr. Bush on behalf of laws limiting lawsuits against business. The state's existing tort system in 1994 had become "the laughingstock of the country" and could over time encourage "many of us with large operations in Texas to entertain moving some of these to other states to attempt to reduce our exposure to what has become an extremely capricious legal system," Mr. Lay wrote.

Mr. Bush made so-called tort reform a major issue in his 1994 campaign and, as governor successfully advocated legislation limiting lawsuits against business.

Mr. Perry came under fire recently for his appointment in June of former Enron executive Max Yzaguirre to the PUC. The day after making that appointment, Mr. Perry received a $25,000 campaign contribution from Mr. Lay.

Mr. Yzaguirre resigned from the PUC amid the storm surrounding Enron's collapse.

Mr. Perry has received more than $220,000 in Enron-related contributions since the early 1990s.

Tom Smith, director of the Texas chapter of Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group, said the correspondence indicates those who make contributions to a governor have sway.

"If you ever wonder if campaign contributions pay off, the proof is in the appointments," he said.

Ms. Walt, the governor's spokeswoman, said other letters from Enron executives to Mr. Perry, such as those congratulating him on becoming governor and one inviting him to a reception, did not show influence by the energy company on the governor's office.


Web parody sparks GOP legal threat
Star Telegram

AUSTIN - Texas Republicans aren't amused by one Democratic operative's Grand Old Parody.

At least the Republicans' lawyer isn't laughing.

Jonathan Snare, a lawyer for the state Republican Party, has sent a letter to the designer of a Web site that spoofs the state GOP's site as "a wholly owned subsidiary" of Enron Corp.

The site shows Enron's trademark slanted capital E on a Republican elephant, and the site's features mimic those of the official party site.

Snare's letter says the site,, violates federal trademark law and threatens legal action if the site is not taken down.

The parody page is the product of Texas '02, an organization headed by Austin Democratic consultant Kelly Fero, who said it is helping coordinate the statewide Democratic ticket this year. Fero said the site enjoys constitutional free speech protections and thanked the lawyers for helping to publicize it.

"One of the party's goals this year is to reach out to groups that traditionally have not been a part of the political process, and one of those is the online community," Fero said. "We appreciate the assistance of the Republican lawyers."

The site features news articles about Republicans who have accepted Enron-related campaign contributions and about efforts by GOP officials to assist the failed energy trader to achieve its public policy goals.

"Your website is clearly intended to imitate and mimic the [Texas GOP] trademark symbol and website, and to create confusion and mislead the public," Snare wrote in his letter to Fero. "As a result, the public is likely to be deceived into believing that your website ... is sponsored by or affiliated with the" Texas GOP.

Fero called the suggestion "laughable."

"Let's just say we have a higher opinion of the public's intelligence than the Republican lawyers do," he said.

State GOP spokesman Ted Royer conceded that few, if any, discerning voters would mistake Fero's site for the Republican's real McCoy. He said the party wants only to protect its copyrighted elephant symbol.

"The allegations on that page are so silly and so ludicrous that they won't present any long-term damage to the Republican Party or any of the Republican candidates," he said. "But violating federal trademark law is no laughing matter."

The parody:


Enron Lobbyist Plotted Strategy Against Democrats

While the Bush administration was drafting its national energy policy, a leading lobbyist for Enron Corp. was plotting strategy to turn the plan into a political weapon against Democrats, according to a newly obtained memo.

Edward Gillespie, who parlayed his close ties to the Bush White House into a lucrative contract representing the energy giant, warned that the administration faced "a classic liberal-conservative ... dynamic," which cast Republicans as the party of big business and enemies of the environment.

"Instead of picking the fight that has been picked for us, we should pick a new fight," said the confidential April 2001 memo, presented to energy companies and industry groups. The memo suggested the industry "change the dynamic by 'Carterizing' the Democrats"--an allusion to the dour ex-president. "We need to make them the 'eat your peas' party." Gillespie's simultaneous lobbying and campaign strategizing underscore Enron's influence in Washington before its collapse last year, as well as the way politics and policy often blur under the loophole-filled laws governing their combination.

Gillespie said he never shared his memo with the White House, and his thoughts on political strategy, offered in informal conversations with administration officials, were never taken.

But within weeks, Gillespie's recommendations surfaced in advertising promoting Bush's energy plan. One newspaper ad read, "Remember the 70s? Gas lines were long, rationing was in, Jimmy Carter was president and he told us to wear a sweater."

The ad was sponsored by a collection of conservative groups, operating as the 21st Century Energy Project. Gillespie was the group's director. Under the murky federal laws governing such "independent expenditure" campaigns, its funding source remains secret.

Last year, the energy industry gave well over $1 million in campaign contributions to members of the two major political parties. At the same time, hundreds of thousands more were spent on such independent expenditure campaigns, targeting environmentalists and Democratic foes of the administration, including California Gov. Gray Davis.

Republican Party officials, from the Bush administration down, have denied involvement. But two of the groups, the 21st Century Energy Project and the American Taxpayers Alliance, had ties to prominent GOP strategists.

Alex Castellanos, who produced ads for the American Taxpayer Alliance, created TV spots the Republican Party ran in 2000 against then-Vice President Al Gore.

Gillespie, of the 21st Century group, has more direct ties to the White House. He served as a top communications aide to Bush's presidential campaign, assisted in his inauguration and helped Commerce Secretary Don Evans set up his agency during the transition from the Clinton administration.

In January 2001, Gillespie's lobbying firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, was hired by Enron to press the company's case on tax and energy issues. The firm was paid $700,000 for a year's work.

"At the time my firm signed Enron as a client, they were on the cover of national magazines as one of the best-run companies in America," Gillespie said in an interview. "We had no idea about their financial arrangements or their business model."

Gillespie, a longtime GOP activist who was a key strategist in the party's 1994 takeover of Congress, was frustrated last spring at the political debate shaping up around Bush's national energy policy, then being drafted behind closed doors by Vice President Dick Cheney.

On April 10, Gillespie produced his four-page strategy memo. It was intended, he said, for energy companies and industry trade groups. He did not share the memo with Bush's political team or Cheney's energy task force, Gillespie said, but his sentiments were known from earlier conversations with White House officials.

"I didn't seek their approval or disapproval," he said. In fact, he added, the White House chose not to follow his strategy suggestions.

But Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), a leading foe of the administration's energy plan, criticized Gillespie's behind-the-scenes activities. "Our nation's energy security is too important to be used as a political weapon," Waxman said. "It's unfortunate that one of the Bush administration's closest advisors urged that it be used exactly that way."

Waxman and other Democrats have pushed for details of Cheney's meetings last year with representatives of Enron and other companies as the vice president developed his energy policy. The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, is preparing to file suit to obtain the documents. The Bush administration maintains that releasing the papers would impede its ability to get candid advice.

In the memo, Gillespie anticipated the "roll-out" of Bush's energy plan and offered his ideas for ways to frame the debate in hopes of taking "the fight to Davis and the Washington Democrats."

"We can not underestimate the extent to which Democrats and liberal groups will respond to the administration's energy policy initiative," Gillespie wrote, forecasting a ferocity and intensity not yet seen by the administration. "The proposal could promise to meet future energy demands by harnessing wind and gerbils on treadmills and it would make no difference--the gloves are coming off."

The memo suggested creating "a narrative about the liberals" to counter the notion that "Republicans are in the pocket of big business." To that end, Gillespie said, "We must make sure ... voters understand their use of their SUVs, microwave ovens and televisions are threatened."

Gillespie said in an interview that the energy companies and trade associations balked at his aggressive strategy. So instead, he turned to conservative groups, which adopted his suggestions and agreed to push the message under the banner of the 21st Century Energy Project. The group sought to recast the energy debate as a choice between abundance and austerity, just as Gillespie urged.

"If some on the left have their way," one newspaper advertisement read, "'soccer moms' will be forced to sell their minivans. They'll be a luxury only the elite can afford."

Last May, at a Washington news conference announcing the group's formation, one member said the 21st Century group planned to spend $500,000 on ads to counter "enviro-leftist propaganda." But Gillespie indicated the group never reached that financial goal.

"I struck out," he said, citing the energy companies' unwillingness "to engage in this debate and take on the environmental groups head-on."

Nine months after its unveiling, Bush's energy plan is still languishing in Congress.

Lawmaker Criticizes Ashcroft on Microsoft Case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior House Democrat said on Thursday that Attorney General John Ashcroft should have recused himself from the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case just as he did from the investigation of collapsed energy giant Enron Corp.

In a letter to Ashcroft, John Conyers Jr., the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, asked "why the reasons that dictated your recusal in the Enron matter did not also necessitate such a recusal in the Microsoft case?"

Ashcroft, a former Missouri senator, recused himself from the Enron case last month, citing campaign contributions he had received from the company.

Conyers said he was "disappointed you have failed to take similar action in the Microsoft case," noting that Ashcroft had received $20,000 worth of contributions from the software giant during the 2000 election.

In November the Justice Department agreed to settle the case against Microsoft after the company agreed to measures designed to give computer makers more flexibility to configure the software on the machines they sell.

However, the settlement has since come under attack from some consumer groups and some Democrats in Congress who say the settlement is weak and ineffectual. Nine of the 18 state attorneys general in the case have refused to sign on to the deal and are continuing to press for stricter sanctions.

In the letter released on Thursday, Conyers called the settlement "suspect." And he repeated past demands that the department release more details on any contact between Microsoft lobbyists and a high-ranking Ashcroft aide.

In an earlier, Nov. 6 letter to Ashcroft, Conyers has expressed concern that the Microsoft case had been subjected to "inappropriate political influence."

Specifically, Conyers has questioned whether the Ashcroft aide, who was recused himself from the Microsoft case, had "communicated with outside lobbyists in an effort to convince them to alter their clients' views regarding the role of the states in the case."

Later that month the Justice Department told Conyers it could not turn over much of the information he had requested, saying "disclosure of those communications would be detrimental to the unfettered exchange of views that is essential to our decision-making process regarding such matters."

In a letter to Conyers, the department said allegations of improper influence were not "credible."

Officials at the Justice Department were not immediately available for comment about Conyers latest letter.