Another Hillary defector

Robert Novak

3/4/2007 12:01:00 AM - Robert Novak

Greg Craig, a Washington super-lawyer with close ties to the Clintons, is supporting Sen. Barack Obama for president.

Craig was a White House special counsel defending President Bill Clinton in the Senate impeachment trial. A partner in the Williams & Connolly law firm founded by the legendary Edward Bennett Williams, Craig served as an adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

In confirming to this column his presidential preference, Craig called Obama unique and added: "I've never seen anyone who has made the impact on people and on me." He said he was impressed with Obama when he first met him at the home of investment banker Vernon Jordan, an intimate friend and supporter of the Clintons.

MCCAIN'S WHEREABOUTS

While the other Republican presidential candidates were attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington beginning Thursday, Sen. John McCain was launching a nationwide fund-raising campaign.

McCain was at a Salt Lake City lunch Thursday and a Phoenix reception Friday. His money-raising schedule calls for subsequent stops in Grand Rapids, Mich., Detroit, New York City, Charlotte, N.C., Sacramento, Calif., La Jolla, Calif., Irvine, Calif., Riverside, Calif., Beverly Hills, Calif., San Francisco and Philadelphia.

A footnote: McCain's campaign staff did not mention these fund-raising commitments when it turned down CPAC's invitation. It said the senator's conservative record was known to everybody without him going to CPAC, but this decision was made only after heated debate within the McCain campaign.

PROBING GONZALES

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has indicated he is too busy to answer letters from Democratic congressional leaders about his firing seven U.S. attorneys involved in probes of public corruption, though a lower-level Justice Department official rejected their proposals.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, House Democratic Caucus chairman, had written Gonzales two letters suggesting that he name Carol Lam, fired as U.S. attorney in San Diego, as an outside counsel to continue her pursuit of the Duke Cunningham case. Asked by Melissa Charbonneau of the Christian Broadcasting Network about this column's report that Gonzales did not respond, Gonzales said: "I think that the American people lose if I spend all my time worrying about congressional requests for information, if I spend all my time responding to subpoenas."

Richard A. Hertling, the acting Justice Department lobbyist, responded Wednesday, 22 days after Emanuel's letter. He contended "the Justice Department would not ever seek the resignation of a U.S. attorney if doing so would jeopardize a public corruption case" and rejected naming Lam as a special prosecutor.

DODD'S BUCKS

The long shot Democratic presidential campaign by Christopher J. Dodd, the new Banking Committee chairman, solicited banking industry executives and lobbyists -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- for a fund-raising reception Wednesday.

Melanie Wong, an experienced Democratic fund-raiser who identified herself as Dodd's "mid-Atlantic regional finance director," sent the invitations. They addressed lobbyists by their first names, even those she had never met and who had never contributed to Dodd.

The evening event was held at Washington's luxurious Madison Hotel to find individual fund-raisers. A "Team of 46" will consist of supporters who pledge to raise $46,000 for Dodd.

BILL CLINTON'S PHOTO

The non-profit Clinton Foundation denied conservative writer R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. permission to use in his new book a photograph taken last year of the Clinton-baiting editor of the American Spectator with the former president at Clinton's 60th birthday party in Toronto.

In the prologue of "The Clinton Crackup," Tyrrell describes how he managed to get an invitation to the lavish celebration Sept. 9. According to Tyrrell, Clinton did not recognize him despite confrontation between them at the Jockey Club restaurant in Washington in 1995. The Washington Post described the president going "ballistic" against Tyrrell.

When Tyrrell asked permission to use the photograph in his new anti-Clinton book, Canadian photographer Anil Mungal responded on Feb. 2: "I regret to report that the Clinton Foundation has not granted permission to release the photo."