Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez (search) now says that memo on the potential political benefits of the Terri Schiavo case to the GOP came from his own office. Martinez says his legal counsel, Brian Darling (search), wrote it up without his knowledge.
And Martinez claims he accidentally passed it on to Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin on the Senate floor, thinking it was a different document related to the Schiavo case. Martinez says he had no idea he was involved until Harkin named him as the memo's source. He then launched an internal office investigation.
Martinez insists he hadn't seen the memo when he gave it to Harkin. And when FOX's Chris Wallace showed it to him two and a half weeks ago on "Fox News Sunday," Martinez said, "I've never seen [it] before today." Darling, meanwhile, has resigned.
Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe (search) — whom world leaders have accused of rigging last week's parliamentary elections — has defied a European Union travel ban and flown to Rome to pay his respects to Pope John Paul II. But at a mass earlier this week, Mugabe used the occasion to attack Western nations, insisting they're meddling in Zimbabwe's affairs, and saying, "It is sad to note in today's world there are people who want to dominate other people."
Mugabe was not arrested because the Italian government is obliged under treaties with the Vatican to admit people such as Mugabe for the pope's funeral. An archbishop and human rights advocate in Zimbabwe says Mugabe's trip is "shameless," adding, "That man will use any opportunity to fly to Europe to promote himself." Last week, Mugabe called the same archbishop a "half wit" and prayed for God to kill him.
The New York Times has reported that a committee at Columbia University (search) has "cleared" professors of allegations they promoted anti-semitism, and found only one instance in which a professor acted beyond "commonly accepted bounds," when he became angry at a student for defending Israel.
The Times then quotes that professor, denying the incident ever took place. But the Times never quotes any of the students who complained in the first place and it turns out that's because the Times struck a deal with Columbia officials: If they provided the committee's report ahead of its official release, the Times wouldn't seek comment from other interested parties. The Times now says its story was "incomplete ... [and] should not have appeared in that form."
Senatorial "Sneak Attack"?
New York Democratic Senators Charles Schumer (search) and Hillary Clinton (search) are accusing fellow Democrat Chris Dodd, of Connecticut, of a "sneak attack" against Lockheed Martin's new contract to build the next Marine One, which will be built in upstate New York. On the Senate floor Wednesday, Dodd insisted the contract should stay with Sikorsky Aircraft — the Connecticut-based company that has built the presidential helicopter since 1957. Dodd said it was a matter of "National Security," noting that Lockheed Martin will be using some foreign-made parts. The result of the dust-up was a hold-up of a spending bill.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report