Powell Protector

Posted May 17, 2004 at 6:38pm

Emily Miller — a top press aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell and a former press secretary to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) — got more attention than she bargained for when she tried to cut off a “Meet the Press” interview with Powell.

As NBC’s Tim Russert was wrapping up his talk with Powell, the camera

[IMGCAP(1)] suddenly turned away from the secretary and onto a bunch of trees. That prompted a tense exchange between Miller, who was off camera, and Powell, with Powell finally snapping at Miller to “get out of the way.” Powell finished the interview, but Russert complained on the show about Miller’s interference, and media watchdogs piled on as well. Miller defended herself, saying the interview with NBC had already run over its allotted time as other networks waited to speak to Powell.

HOH doesn’t want to rehash Sunday’s incident too much here, but it reminded us of another press spat involving Miller that occurred way back in mid-2001, when she still worked for DeLay.

Peter Perl was writing a long profile on Tom and Christine DeLay for The Washington Post Magazine. After interviewing DeLay’s sister, Tena DeLay Neislar, about a rift within the extended DeLay clan — the first such interview DeLay’s sister had given to a reporter on her famous sibling — Perl felt Miller’s wrath.

As Perl put it at the time, “The next evening, I got a phone call at home from DeLay’s press secretary, Emily Miller, who burst into a scathing tirade. “You lied! … You betrayed him! You twisted his words! … We don’t know you. You don’t exist. … You are dead to us. …

“I grabbed for a pencil to take notes, but she was speaking faster than I could transcribe. I was being shunned and cut off, with a sort of biblical finality. It was also the only time that Miller neglected to specify that her comments were for my background information, not for publication.”

Some things just get better with time.

“Stormin’ Norman” in ’04? A group of citizens fed up with both Democrats and Republicans has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to open a committee to draft retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf for president in 2004.

Steve Brown, a Vietnam-era veteran and owner of Adams Recreational Vehicles in Santa Barbara, Calif., is the national chairman of the “Committee to Draft Schwarzkopf.”

Brown said discussions about drafting Schwarzkopf for the White House began about three months ago during a meeting of the Elks Club that he attended.

“A bunch of us were just sitting around discussing the basic situation and we were just unhappy with everything in general,” said Brown, referring to the Iraq war and other challenges facing the United States. “As we mulled over the fact that we wanted to make a statement, his name just kind of dropped from one of the people in the discussion. As a person who was well respected, had no agenda, was beholden to no one. That’s what we went for.” Brown is also very concerned about military veterans, who he said have been neglected by the federal government for too long.

Brown, who “has been a Democrat,” said he has never met or spoken with Schwarzkopf, who spent 35 years in the Army and gained international fame for directing military operations for the United States and its allies during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

“There are people in our group, and those that want to join with us apparently have spoken to him or gotten to him,” said Brown. “I’m not in the know on that at this point. There are others that are handling that for me that know people in those circles or travel in those circles. I’m not a politically sophisticated person.”

Brown said he was chosen as national chairman of the “draft Schwarzkopf” push because “I was standing there at that moment and said, ‘Fine.’”

Brown said the committee hasn’t raised any money yet but may do so at some point, and is encouraging supporters to follow Brown’s lead in writing to Schwarzkopf to urge him to make a bid for the White House this November.

Schwarzkopf, has been keeping a low profile in recent weeks after double-knee replacement surgery, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Not Just Hanging Around. D.C. firefighters came to the rescue of a Capitol Hill window washer Monday afternoon after his safety harness malfunctioned, stranding him on the side of the Rayburn House Office Building.

According to the Capitol Police, Osvan Ravarro had just begun his descent down the southeast side of Rayburn when his safety equipment jammed, leaving him hovering just below the structure’s roof.

The Capitol Police Department received a call about the situation at 12:50 p.m., said spokeswoman Sgt. Contricia Sellers-Ford. Officers called in the D.C. Fire Department after deeming the law-enforcement agency “not equipped or trained to handle the situation.”

Firefighters arrived about 30 minutes later, and retrieved Ravarro, a contract employee under the Architect of the Capitol’s office. AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki stressed the worker was using proper equipment. Although Ravarro did not have any apparent injuries, he was taken to George Washington University Hospital and later released.

“He is safe on the ground,” Malecki said.

That Didn’t Take Long. William Daley, the former Commerce secretary and chairman of former Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 run for the White House, has landed at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. after resigning from SBC Communications Inc. on Friday.

Daley will be Midwest chairman for J.P Morgan Chase, which is in the process of merging with Bank One, which means he’ll oversee issues dealing with big clients from that area of the country. He will also sit on the board of the combined J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank One.

Daley resigned on Friday from his post as president of SBC. The telecom giant brought Daley aboard in late 2001 to iron out problems the company had with state and federal regulators.

Clinton-King Part Deux. The phone rang at about 6:30 a.m. Monday morning at the home of Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), and he and his wife assumed it must be their daughter, who was supposed to be coming over. Nope.

For the second time in two weeks, it was former President Bill Clinton calling King to check some facts for his soon-to-be-released book.

Actually, yesterday’s call started with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) asking King if he would go over some facts on Clinton’s 1998 impeachment by the House and trial by the Senate. King assumed that someone from publisher Alfred A. Knopf would come on the line, but it turned out to be the former commander in chief himself.

“He was talking like it was 12 noon,” said King of Clinton. “He was ready to go.”

King said he and Clinton talked for about 10 minutes, and the former president read him excerpts from his memoir, entitled “My Life,” which is due to be released soon. “That was good because I was still half asleep,” King joked.

In the the six-term lawmaker’s view, Clinton is getting ready to reclaim the public stage in a big way.

“He was as enthusiastic as the old days,” said the New York Republican, who was one of just four Members from his party to vote against all four articles of impeachment facing Clinton.

Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.