Two key Democratic senators said Friday that they would vote to confirm President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, apparently ensuring his nomination. The decision by Charles Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California ended weeks of drama over Mukasey’s dodges of questions in his confirmation hearing about whether or not waterboarding was illegal. That story leads the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the resignation of Citigroup’s CEO; the company’s stock has fallen 31 percent this year.
With Schumer and Feinstein on board, the Republicans on the Senate judiciary committee now have a majority in favor of passing Mukasey on to the full Senate, where approval looks to be much smoother.
The LAT goes into the most detail about what apparently decided it for Schumer: that in a private meeting Friday, Mukasey said that if Congress banned “coercive methods”—which congressional Democrats are trying to do—the president would have to obey. “And he flatly told me that the president would have absolutely no legal authority to ignore such a law, not even under some theory of inherent authority under Article II of the Constitution,” Schumer said. “He also pledged to enforce such a law and repeated his willingness to leave office rather than participate in a violation of law.”
The Post says that now that the drama over whether or not Mukasey will be confirmed is over, the focus will shift to the political ramifications of the confirmation vote, with most Democrats eager to cast an opposition vote against torture. Bring it on, Republicans say. “Democrats are demonstrating their weaknesses on security matters, which will work to their disadvantage,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
And speaking of controversial nominees for Cabinet positions: The NYT fronts a look at new evidence that former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani knew more than he admitted about Bernard Kerik’s ties to a mob-connected company when he promoted Kerik to be director of homeland security. As the Times delicately puts it: “The additional evidence raises questions not only about the precision of Mr. Giuliani’s recollection, but also about how a man who proclaims his ability to pick leaders came to overlook a jumble of disturbing information about Mr. Kerik, even as he pushed him for two crucial government positions.”
Everyone stuffs news of Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Turkey, where she’s trying to convince the Turks not to invade the one part of Iraq that isn’t causing the U.S. problems: the Kurdish-controlled north. Turkey is trying to get the U.S. to do more to combat anti-Turkish Kurdish guerillas who use northern Iraq as a rear base to attack targets in Turkey. Rice’s trip is a prelude to a visit by Turkey’s prime minister to the White House on Monday. “Our expectations of the United States are very high,” said Turkey’s foreign minister. “We want action.”
Pfizer, the maker of the cholesterol-reducing drug Lipitor, is pulling out all the stops—including some questionable science—to stop patients from moving to generics, the NYT reports. “The Lipitor battle has become a test of the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to defend name brands, even as insurers, patients and doctors seek to whittle the nation’s $270 billion annual prescription drug bill by using generic alternatives whenever possible.”
The Post has a front-page feature on new frontiers of technology that allow Christian missionaries to spread the Bible to otherwise inaccessible areas or populations, like solar-powered audio players that read the Bible aloud in obscure languages and recorded reading classes that use the Bible as a literacy tool.
Also in the papers: The Journal profiles a typical Moscow family whose rising fortune helps explain President Vladimir Putin’s enormous popularity in Russia. The Post looks at a Blackwater-affiliated private intelligence company. Attitudes toward abortion are changing in Mexico after Mexico City legalized it earlier this year, the LAT reports. Big Sugar’s tentacles reach farther than you would have expected, the Post finds. Television writers are going on strike as of Monday, the LAT reports.
Finally, the Journal gives us what we need to appropriately judge the presidential candidates. According to voice experts consulted by the paper: “Among the Republicans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s and television actor [Fred] Thompson’s baritones win on authority, but lose on energy. On the Democratic side, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s voices convey caring. But Mrs. Clinton can sound shrill and Mr. Obama can lack forcefulness.”