They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

AP reporting:

Rep. Tom DeLay, the once-powerful majority leader whose career was undermined by scandal, said Thursday he would resign from the House on June 9.

"As you are aware," the Texas Republican wrote House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., "I have recently made the decision to pursue new opportunities to engage in the important cultural and political battles of our day from an arena outside of the U.S. House of Representatives."

Prosecutors have asked the judge for an 18- to 24-month sentence in the trial of James Tobin, a GOP operative convicted of crimes stemming from a phone-jamming operation against Democratic volunteers in New Hampshire on Election Day 2002.

Tobin was found guilty last December of two counts: aiding and abetting telephone harassment, and conspiracy to commit telephone harassment. They reportedly carry a maximum penalty of seven years.

Here's the sentencing memorandum.

Update: An earlier version of the post said prosecutors asked for a "light" sentence. It appears that although the maximum sentence for Tobin's crimes is seven years, the sentencing guidelines a judge actually uses are much less severe. It appears that without the prosecutors' request, Tobin may have faced a much shorter sentence, or no jail time at all.

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, reacts to this morning's LA Times piece citing three anonymous sources who say there's a federal corruption investigation into his activities:

"I have never, under any circumstances, told or suggested to someone seeking federal dollars for a project that they would receive favorable treatment by making campaign donations," Lewis' statement said. "If I learned that anyone on my staff made such a suggestion, they would no longer be working for me."

He and his staff have not been contacted by Justice "with regard to an investigation into my congressional service," he said.

"I am angered and frustrated by anonymous sources, either inside or out of the Justice Department, who would imply to journalists that an investigation has been launched," he said, particularly since "no suggestion has been made that an investigation is needed." (I assume CREW is wondering if it's chopped liver.)

But the LA Times' anonymous sources aren't the only ones who have gotten under the lawmaker's skin. Cunningham also made him very, very mad:

Lewis also said he had never been as angry at anyone in his entire career as he was at Cunningham, who served with him on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. "The standards of integrity I have followed in my career are a direct repudiation of the kind of behavior displayed by Mr. Cunningham," he said.

Here's an investigation waiting to happen.

As USA Today most recently reported, most major phone companies acceded to NSA's request to share call information for their Biggest Database in the World project. Only Denver, Colo.-based Qwest declined. The NSA tried everything to get their cooperation, USAT says, before resorting to this fancy bit of unethical and probably illegal arm-twisting:

[T]he [NSA] suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Recall that this was during 2003 and 2004, when Gen. Michael Hayden was still heading up the NSA. One more thing to ask him about at his confirmation hearing?

That's according to Marcus Stern, the Copley News Service reporter who broke the Duke Cunningham story. Here's what he wrote back in March, after Duke's sentencing:

...the onetime war hero's teary acknowledgements of his congressional crimes, including taking more than $2.4 million in bribes, belie the fact that the scope of the plea agreement largely covers his dealings with only two defense contractors over a period of only five years.

There is no evidence that Cunningham has provided any significant information to the government beyond the proof the government already had - much of it from Wade - when Cunningham approached prosecutors about a plea agreement. People closely involved with the case privately admit as much.

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Reacting to today's news that the NSA is "amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans," Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) have put out a statement questioning the legality of the program.

Their statement contains this: "when the Attorney General was forced to testify before the House Judiciary Committee a few weeks ago, he misled the Committee about the existence of the program."

Here's what they're referring to. On April 6, 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before the House Judiciary Committee, and in one exchange, Rep. Gerald Nadler (D-NY) tried to nail him down:

NADLER: Number two, can you assure us that there is no warrantless surveillance of calls between two Americans within the United States?

GONZALES: That is not what the president has authorized.

NADLER: Can you assure us that it's not being done?

GONZALES: As I indicated in response to an earlier question, no technology is perfect.


GONZALES: We do have minimization procedures in place...

NADLER: But you're not doing that deliberately?

GONZALES: That is correct.

Below, Justin noted the mixed signals coming from Rick Gwin, the Pentagon's top investigator into the Duke Cunningham case, about Duke's level of cooperation. I called legal experts and asked -- if Cunningham isn't talking to investigators, as Gwin claims, why not?

If Duke's staying silent, it's because prosecutors have already forfeited their only leverage to get him to talk, the experts said. In fact, they've given him incentive to hush up.

Prosecutors rushed Duke's sentencing -- and now that he's in prison, he has little reason to talk to them, the experts told me. Even worse, if Duke tells them anything that implicates him in crimes they didn't know about, he's in for a new world of hurt for violating his plea agreement.

"If I were Duke Cunningham, frankly, I wouldn't be cooperating," Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and the Executive Director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told me. "They sentenced him too fast -- once you're sentenced, you're done. There's no more carrot and stick." She went on to explain how an investigation with as wide a scope as the Cunningham investigation typically runs: "Generally, your deal is dependent on cooperating, and your sentencing is put off until your cooperation is complete." Prosecutors should have gotten everything they could from Cunningham long before they sent him off to prison.

Especially telling in this respect is that prosecutors sought the harshest possible sentence for Cunningham - 10 years. In cases where defendants provide a substantial amount of information on other investigation targets, prosecutors typically temper their requested sentence.

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Following published complaints by a Pentagon investigator in the North County (Calif.) Times, the New York Times today reported that former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), now in prison for taking bribes in exchange for legislative favors, is "refusing" to give information or speak with him and his agents.

I spent a good part of yesterday looking into this, and I think the picture's not as clear as the NY Times describes it.

I spoke with the Pentagon investigator, Rick Gwin, yesterday morning, and he repeated his original claim that he was unsatisfied with Cunningham's level of cooperation.

"We haven't talked to [Cunningham]," he said. "He's not talking to us."

Have you asked to speak with him? I asked Gwin.

"He has to make the overture to come forward to us," the investigator said.

So have you ever made a request to Cunningham or his lawyer to interview the prisoner?

"I think we have," he responded, "through my agents. But I have not seen a response."

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