By Tracy Bloom
Judging George: George W. Bush evidently doesn’t feel the need to champion his reputation anymore. In an interview with USA Today that was published over the weekend, Bush said his presidential library, which will open this week, will be “a place to lay out facts” and not to explain the policies and choices he made during his eight years in the White House. “There’s no need to defend myself,” Bush said. “I did what I did and ultimately history will judge.” Interestingly enough, an exhibit in the library called “decision points theater” will allow visitors to assess the verdicts Bush came to during four critical events in his presidency: the Iraq War, the 2007 troop surge there, Hurricane Katrina and the financial meltdown. (Read more)
Data Dogfight: Karl Rove, a former top adviser to George W. Bush, is waging a battle against operatives linked to the billionaire Koch brothers over the control of Republican voter data and, by extension, the future of the party itself. The fight between the dueling conservative factions is a direct response to the party’s 2012 election losses. Republicans didn’t have an answer to the data system Democrats had in place for the election, something that cost the GOP dearly in close races, according to Politico. Rove has already begun soliciting donations for a data project expected to cost at least $15 million, while a voter database program connected to Charles and David Koch has been partnering with an established political data company. To possibly further complicate matters, the Republican National Committee is pushing a data management system of its own. (Read more)
Flake Out: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told the mother of one of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting victims that he supported strengthening background checks just days before he voted against the bipartisan Senate compromise that would have done just that. The amendment failed to reach the 60 votes it needed in the Senate to pass, falling six short. In a letter to the mother he wrote ahead of the vote, Flake said he was “truly sorry” for her son’s death. He went on to assure her that “strengthening background checks is something we agree on.” Later, after he voted against the gun reform measure, he said it was because it “would expand background checks far beyond commercial sales to include almost all private transfers—including between friends and neighbors.” Mark Kelly, husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, weighed in on Flake’s explanation, saying that “it appears he hasn’t read the bill.” (Read more)
Assault on Guns: One Republican who is pushing for expanded background checks is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. His proposal also includes a ban on .50 caliber Barrett rifles and would require parental consent in order for minors to purchase violent video games. “Ensuring there are common-sense safety measures when purchasing guns is not enough,” Christie said at a news conference Monday. “We must address the many different contributing factors.” (Read more)
Postal Disservice: The attorney for Kevin Curtis, the man suspected of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, suggested Monday that someone else sent them after investigators found no evidence of the toxin at the suspect’s home. “We understand ... evidence made it look like Kevin did this,” Christi R. McCoy said. “The family understands they (the government) had to move quickly, but now we believe they should be satisfied there is no criminal threat from Kevin Curtis.” McCoy floated the possibility that the letters could have been sent by J. Everett Dutschke, a martial arts instructor who had a long-running email feud with Curtis. Dutschke denied any involvement. (Read more)
Video of the Day: Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has been criticized by some for linking the debate over immigration reform to the Boston Marathon bombings. On Monday, he got into a heated confrontation with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing when Schumer pointed to “colleagues” who wanted to use last week’s attacks as an “excuse” to delay immigration reform legislation. Schumer never uttered Grassley’s name, but the Iowa lawmaker felt compelled to defend himself anyway.