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Briefs (right)

Miers Could Be Next
In White House Shake-Up

By Elisabeth Bumiller and Jim Rutenberg

Joshua B. Bolten, the new White House chief of staff, has raised the possibility of moving Harriet E. Miers from her job as President Bush’s counsel as part of the continuing shake-up of the West Wing, an influential Republican with close ties to Bolten said Thursday.

The Republican, who was granted anonymity to talk openly about sensitive internal White House deliberations, said Bolten had floated the idea among confidantes, but that it was unclear whether he would follow through or if the move would be acceptable to Bush, who has a longtime personal bond with Miers.

“It’s a reflection of Josh’s thinking,” the Republican said. “It’s not a prediction that he’s going to get it done.”

A senior White House official denied that Bolten was considering such a step. “It’s not the case,” said the official, who was granted anonymity to get around the administration’s policy of not commenting on personnel matters.

The shakeup continued on another front, with Republicans saying that Tony Snow, a commentator for Fox News and a former speechwriter for Bush’s father, was in active negotiations for the job of White House press secretary. He would replace Scott McClellan, who announced Wednesday that he was resigning, as the new public face of the White House.

JP Morgan to Pay $425 Million
To Settle IPO Suit

By Eric Dash and Jenny Anderson

JP Morgan Chase said Thursday that it would pay $425 million to settle its part of a class-action lawsuit that contends that dozens of banks cheated investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars from initial public offerings during the 1990s market boom.

JP Morgan is the first to settle of the 55 investment banks named as defendants, and its agreement may prompt other Wall Street firms to follow. Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs are among largest investment houses involved in the case.

But with only a small fraction of the overall damages at stake, JP Morgan’s eagerness to settle early on may reflect the lessons learned last year from paying $2 billion, the most of any bank, as the last to resolve a class action stemming from the collapse of WorldCom.

“It’s probably safe to say JP Morgan learned a lesson from the WorldCom settlement which encouraged them to settle the IPO litigation early on,” said Robert Heim, a former enforcement lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission who now works for Meyers & Heim.

The size and timing of Thursday’s announcement seemed to catch some securities lawyers and other big banks by surprise, and it could set the stage for a multibillion total settlement.