Emanuel Was Director Of Freddie Mac During Scandal

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New Obama Chief of Staff, Others on Board, Missed “Red Flags” of Alleged Fraud Scheme

President-elect Barack Obama’s newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot “red flags,” according to government reports reviewed by ABCNews.com.

President-elect Barack Obama's newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot "red flags," according to government reports reviewed by ABCNews.com.

President-elect Barack Obama's newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot "red flags," according to government reports reviewed by ABCNews.com.

According to a complaint later filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Freddie Mac, known formally as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, misreported profits by billions of dollars in order to deceive investors between the years 2000 and 2002.

Emanuel was not named in the SEC complaint but the entire board was later accused by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) of having “failed in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention.”

In a statement to ABCNews.com, a spokesperson said Emanuel served on the board for “13 months-a relatively short period of time.”

The spokesperson said that while on the board, Emanuel “believed that Freddie Mac needed to address concerns raised by Congressional critics.”

Freddie Mac agreed to pay a $50 million penalty in 2007 to settle the SEC complaint and four top executives of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation were charged with negligent conduct and, like the company, agreed to settle the case without admitting or denying the allegations.

The actions by Freddie Mac are cited by some economists as the beginning of the country’s economic meltdown.

The federal government this year was forced to take over Freddie Mac and a sister federal mortgage agency, Fannie Mae, pledging at least $200 billion in public funds.

Freddie Mac records have been subpoenaed by the Justice Department as part of its investigation of the suspect accounting procedures.

Emanuel was named to the Freddie Mac board by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and resigned his position when he ran for Congress in May, 2001.

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No Criminal Charges Against Spitzer in Prostitution Case

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Federal prosecutors said today they will not bring criminal charges against former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer for his involvement as “client # 9” of an international prostitution service.

The federal investigation of a New York prostitution ring was triggered by Eliot Spitzer's suspicious money transfers, initially leading agents to believe Spitzer was hiding bribes, according to federal officials.

The federal investigation of a New York prostitution ring was triggered by Eliot Spitzer's suspicious money transfers, initially leading agents to believe Spitzer was hiding bribes, according to federal officials.

Spitzer resigned as Governor March 12 after it was revealed he paid for a prostitute, Ashlee Dupree, through the Emperors Club VIP prostitution service in New York.

The Governor’s sex scandal was front page news around the world, as he announced his shame and resignation with his wife, Silda, standing by his side. She remains married to Spitzer and they have been seen walking hand-in-hand in their Upper East Side Manhattan neighborhood.

“I appreciate the impartiality and thoroughness of the investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and I acknowledge and accept responsibility for the conduct it disclosed,” Spitzer said in a statement today. “I resigned my position as Governor because I recognized that conduct was unworthy of an elected official.”

A lawyer for Dupree, Don Buchwald, said, “Ashley is pleased that this matter is behind her.”

The FBI opened its investigation when banks reportedly became suspicious of Spitzer’s wire transfers of money, which initially appeared to be bribe or payoff money. Agents later determined the money was going to the prostitution service through a London account.

Prosecutors had considered bringing charges connected to money laundering, or “structured withdrawals” to hide illegal movement of funds.

Spitzer paid for the young woman to travel to Washington, D.C. where he met her at the Mayflower Hotel, which might have violated laws relating to moving women across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.

“After a thorough investigation, this office has uncovered no evidence of misuse of public or campaign funds,” said U.S. attorney Michael J. Garcia.

“In addition we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to bring charges against Mr. Spitzer for any offense related to the withdraw of funds for, and his payment to, the Emperors’ Club VIP.”

“I once again apologize for my actions,” said Spitzer’s statement, “and for the pain and disappointment those actions caused my family and the many people who supported me during my career in public life.”

The convicted owner of a second prostitution service who says she provided women for Spitzer, Kristin Davis, was outraged at the decision. “It’s completely unfair,” she said.

“As governor he should be held to the highest standard,” said Davis. “He went after numerous people for the same laws that he broke and they end up spending jail time and losing their life’s savings.”

Known as the “Manhattan Madam,” Davis served three months in jail and forfeited almost $1 million in profits after pleading guilty to running a New York prostitution service that catered to businessmen.

The federal prosecutor said Spitzer acknowledged “he was a client of, and made payments to the Emperors Club VIP” but that the decision was in keeping with Justice Department policy “and the longstanding practices of this office” not to bring criminal charges against the customers of prostitution services.

Given “Mr. Spitzer’s acceptance of responsibility for his conduct, we have concluded that the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges in this matter,” the prosecutor said.

IgniteCAST.com Video – Obama’s Victory Speech

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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

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(CNN) — Barack Obama told supporters that “change has come to America” as he claimed victory in a historic presidential election.

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“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there,” Obama said in Chicago, Illinois, before an estimated crowd of up to 240,000 people.

With Obama’s projected win, he will become the first African-American to win the White House.

Obama had an overwhelming victory over Sen. John McCain, who pledged Tuesday night to help Obama lead. Video Watch Obama pay tribute to McCain »

“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” McCain said.

McCain called Obama to congratulate him, and Obama told the Arizona senator he was eager to sit down and talk about how the two of them can work together.

President Bush also called Obama to offer his congratulations.

Bush told Obama he was about to begin one of the great journeys of his life, and invited him to visit the White House as soon as it could be arranged, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Obama will be working with a heavily Democratic Congress. Democrats picked up Senate seats in New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia, among others.

“While the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress,” Obama said. Video Watch more on the balance of power »

Flanked by American flags, Obama told the roaring crowd, “This is your victory.”

“To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn — I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too,” he said. Video Watch Obama tell voters ‘all things are possible’ »

Supporters in Chicago cheering, “Yes, we can” were met with cries of “Yes, we did.”

More than 1,000 people gathered outside of the White House, chanting “Obama, Obama!”

Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former rival for the Democratic nomination, said in a statement that “we are celebrating an historic victory for the American people.” iReport.com: Share your Election Day reaction with CNN

“This was a long and hard fought campaign but the result was well worth the wait. Together, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress, we will chart a better course to build a new economy and rebuild our leadership in the world.”

Sen. Ted Kennedy said Americans “spoke loud and clear” in electing Obama.

“They understood his vision of a fairer and more just America and embraced it. They heard his call for a new generation of Americans to participate in government and were inspired. They believed that change is possible and voted to be part of America’s future,” the Massachusetts senator said in a statement.

As results came in Tuesday night, Obama picked up early wins in Pennsylvania and Ohio — states considered must-wins for McCain.

Obama also won Virginia, a state that has not voted for a Democratic president since 1964.

Going into the election, national polls showed Obama with an 8-point lead.

Voters expressed excitement and pride in their country after casting their ballots in the historic election. Poll workers reported high turnout across many parts of the country, and some voters waited hours to cast their ballots.

Tuesday marks the end of the longest presidential campaign season in U.S. history — 21 months.

Obama, 47, will now begin his transition to the White House. He will be sworn in at the 44th president on January 20, 2009.

IgniteCAST.com Video – John McCain’s concession speech

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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

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John McCain addresses the 7,000 supporters who had crammed into the Biltmore Hotel and congratulates Barack Obama on his election victory.

“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences,” he said. “No doubt those differences remain. But these are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight that I will help him lead us through the many challenges that we may face.”

“I urge all Americans to join me in not just congratulating him, but in offering our next president our goodwill and encouragement in finding ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises to settle our differences, to help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world and leave our children and grandchildren in a stronger better country than we inherited.”

Watch the whole speech here

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Long lines form early as voters finally decide

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By NEDRA PICKLER and BETH FOUHY –

CHICAGO (AP) — Long lines have formed as polls open in Eastern states. John McCain is counting on a narrow path to an upset victory today while Barack Obama pinned his hopes for becoming the nation’s first black president on a ground organization designed to swell precincts with voters across the country.

“I think these battleground states have now closed up, almost all of them, and I believe there’s a good scenario where we can win,” McCain told CBS’ “The Early Show” in an interview broadcast as the day’s first voters stood in early-morning lines.

“Look, I know I’m still the underdog, I understand that,” the Arizona senator said. “You can’t imagine, you can’t imagine the excitement of an individual to be this close to the most important position in the world, and I’ll enjoy it, enjoy it. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he was confident that new voters and young voters would fuel an enormous turnout to benefit the Illinois senator.

“We just want to make sure people turn out,” Plouffe told “Today” on NBC. “We think we have enough votes around the country.”

Standing in line in one of the battleground states, Ahmed Bowling of Alexandria, Va., said the election “will mark a significant change in the lives of all Americans, and so we do have to come out as early as possible to cast our votes.”

In Brooklyn, N.Y., 49-year-old Venus Kevin said the line at her precinct was “already down the block and around the corner” when she arrived shortly before 6 a.m. EST.

“Obama is the man,” said Kevin, who is black. “His message and his vision has reached a lot of people, not just African-Americans.”

The contest pitted the 47-year-old Obama, a first-term Illinois senator who rocketed to stardom on the power of his oratory and a call for change, against the 72-year-old McCain, a 26-year lawmaker whose mettle was tested during 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“I’m feeling kind of fired up. I’m feeling like I’m ready to go,” Obama told nearly 100,000 people gathered for his final rally Monday night in Virginia.

“At this defining moment in history, Virginia, you can give this country the change it needs,” Obama said to voters in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in 44 years.

The Illinois senator’s final day of campaigning was bittersweet: He was mourning the loss of his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him. She died of cancer Sunday night, never to see the results of the historic election.

McCain completed a cross-country trek through seven battleground states before arriving at home in Phoenix early Tuesday morning.

“This momentum, this enthusiasm convinces me we’re going to win tomorrow,” McCain told a raucous evening rally in Henderson, Nev. It was the fifth campaign stop in an 18-hour odyssey that took him across three time zones.

Obama planned a quick campaign stop in Indiana on Election Day before a massive outdoor rally in front of the skyline in his adopted hometown of Chicago. The day’s forecast was for an unseasonably warm 70 degrees.

McCain planned events in Colorado and New Mexico, then a party at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.

Obama urged his supporters to resist overconfidence. “Even if it rains tomorrow, you can’t let that stop you. You’ve got to wait in line. You’ve got to vote,” he said.

Beth Fouhy reported from Phoenix.

Listen to Quebec comedy duo prank call as Nicolas Sarkozy with Sarah Palin (Audio)

Sarah Palin - Canadian Radio Prank Call

Sarah Palin - Canadian Radio Prank Call

A Quebec comedy duo notorious for pulling prank calls on celebrities have struck again. This time, comedian Marc Antoine Audette and Sebastian Trudel Audette, known as the Masked Avengers, tricked Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin into believing that she was speaking to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Click here to watch it.

The duo kept Palin on the line for several minutes and discussed politics and hunting, even making a jab at the current Vice-President’s infamous 2006 incident where he shot a friend in the face.

Throughout the interview Audette drops hints that he’s not who he claims to be. He names popular French singer Johnny Hallyday as his advisor on U.S. affairs and Quebec singer Stef Carse was named as Canada’s Prime Minister.

“We have such great respect for you [Sarkozy], John and I,” she gushed.

Later in the interview, Audette, jokes that he and Palin shared an interest in common, hunting.

“We should try hunting by helicopter like you did, I never did that,” Audette said.

Click here to watch it.


“We could have a lot of fun together while we’re getting work done. Kill two birds with one stone,” Palin replied.

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Palin also went on to praise Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni. “I look forward to working with you and getting to meet you personally, and your beautiful wife, oh my goodness,” she says.

“You’ve added a lot of energy to your country with that beautiful family of yours.”

Audette responded by joking that Sarkozy’s wife, singer and model Carla Bruni, wrote a song about her.

When Audette said that he saw Palin as President one day, Palin’s response was a diplomatic, “maybe in eight years.”

At the end of the interview, Audette tips his hand and tells Palin that the call is a hoax. “Oh, have we been pranked,” Palin says as she hands the phone to an aide who quickly ended the call.

The call will be airing on Montreal radio station CKOI on Monday, the day before Americans go to the polls.

The Palin campaign has also responded to the prank (from Politico):

“Gov. Palin was mildly amused to learn that she had joined the ranks of heads of state, including President Sarkozy, and other celebrities in being targeted by these pranksters. C’est la vie.”

Click here to watch it.

Will Ferrell, Tina Fey Unite as Bush and Palin on SNL

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On Saturday Night Live’s final Thursday night election show of the season, SNL once again brought out the guest star power. After Saturday night’s show with Sarah Palin, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg, SNL looked to finally run out of famous pairings and impressionists. But for the last SNL Thursday special,

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin - Will Ferrell as GWB

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin - Will Ferrell as GWB

the show ended the run by pairing it’s two most famous impressions of the last eight years- Will Ferrell’s George Bush and Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin.

Ferrell returned to SNL as Bush, under the premise of Bush coming out of his “bummer free zone” to give a prime time, super hyped endorsement to John McCain and Sarah Palin. Whether John McCain wanted it or not.

Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin wanted it as she appeared with Ferrell’s Bush, uniting the two famous SNL caricatures as well as Palin and Bush themselves, who are already linked negatively by their critics. To Palin’s credit, Fey’s version at least knew that the Vice President was less powerful than the President, unlike Ferrell’s Bush.

Darrell Hammond also played John McCain, who was literally hunted down by Todd Palin in Alaska and dragged to the Oval Office. There, Bush gave his super damaging endorsement while Fey’s Palin winked and posed and McCain tried desperately to leave.

Ferrell likely got more laughs as Bush in the sketch than he did in his last few movies combined. SNL certainly missed having Ferrell play Bush over the years. Since Ferrell left, Chris Parnell, Hammond, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis have tried and mostly failed to play Bush over the years on Saturday Night Live. None of them could match up to Ferrell.

That may provide a preview of what SNL will be in for once Tina Fey departs as Sarah Palin. However, the show still has two more Saturday night shows and one more after election night for Fey to come back a few more times.