1 year ago

INTERVIEW: Yellowhammer’s Cliff Sims goes behind-the-scenes of Trump’s historic win


(Audio above: Yellowhammer Radio’s Scott Beason and Andrea Tice interview Trump advisor Cliff Sims, who is on leave of absence as Yellowhammer’s CEO.)

Americans across the country tuned into to their television sets Tuesday night and witnessed Donald Trump’s incredible upset victory. Dedicated viewers even had the chance to see Trump come out and deliver his final campaign speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning. But while many were watching their new President-elect from behind the barrier of a tv screen, few had as good a seat to witness history as Yellowhammer founder and CEO Cliff Sims.

Sims, who transformed Yellowhammer from his personal political blog into one of the most influential publications in Alabama, has been on a leave of absence from the company since September working as a top communications advisor for Trump. During his time with the campaign, Sims even hosted video news sessions on Trump’s Facebook page, which were seen by millions of users.

After the euphoria of victory, Sims called into Yellowhammer Radio this week to discuss his experiences with hosts Scott Beason and Andrea Tice. A lightly edited transcript of their conversation can be found below, and the full audio of the interview can be heard in the video above.

Scott:

So I guess you probably stayed up all night on Election Night. My wife swears she saw you on TV standing beside Senator Sessions.

Cliff:

I was by Senator Sessions a good bit last night. The coolest thing though was standing right next to Mr. Trump and watching the returns come in and hearing all the phone conversations with people calling him. He’s kind of superstitious, though. People were calling him and saying “congratulations,” but he would cut them off and say, “Oh, we’re not there yet.” He kept saying, “We’re two strokes up with one hole to go,” even when it was clear he was about to win. It was fascinating — a really cool experience. And I think it was a vindication of everything that Mr. Trump and Senator Sessions and others have been saying for months and years now — that there are a lot of people all over the country who are so frustrated with political process that they had kind of checked out and weren’t participating. And finally they felt they had a candidate on the ticket that was worth getting out and voting for. That’s why we just saw records in voter registration, records in voter turnout in a lot of places. I don’t know what these pollsters are going to do, but they probably need to find a new line of work.

Scott:

I like that Mr. Trump said that this was not all about him — that it was about a movement. I think the reason people were drawn to him was because he was saying the very things that regular Americans have been saying. I sent you a text before the election talking about the good job y’all have done up there. Trump stayed stayed very, very focused on talking about the issues and people finally said, “You know what? We’re going to give this a chance.” I can’t say enough about what he did and the job that y’all have done.

Cliff:

All the credit goes to him on that. It’s been ridiculous reading some of the news reports with people claiming, “Oh, the staff has taken away his Twitter account.” They were just completely making stuff up. But to your point about him making this not about himself but about this movement, I think it can really be summed up in the fact that Hillary Clinton’s slogan was “I’m with Her” and Donald Trump was all about “I’m with You, I’m with the voters and this is about us.” I thought that the tone that he struck in his victory speech was exactly what the country needed. He came out and said, “I’m ready to be the President of all Americans and let’s come together and get this country back on track.” Seventy percent of the voters in the exit poll said they thought the country was on the wrong track and they were ready for change. That’s really the storyline. People voted for a man, yes. They voted for a movement, yes. But really what they really voted for was change.

That’s what we’re seeing here in Trump Tower today — the transition team preparing to put people in place who are going to implement this change that we’ve all been so hungry for for so long.

(More after the image)

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Donald J. Trump, and communications advisor Cliff Sims watch returns come in on Election Night.
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Donald J. Trump, and communications advisor Cliff Sims watch returns come in on Election Night.
Andrea:

You know Cliff, I just want to come in here and say I really appreciated Trump’s acceptance speech. I thought it was really well done, I thought it was graceful. It was humble and he acknowledged it was not all about him, it was about the people and he did a great job.

Cliff:

A lot of these folks hire a ton of speechwriters and they just kind of read whatever is on the screen, but he has known this whole time what he has wanted to say… I think he’s already proven a lot of people wrong when they were constantly criticizing him for his temperament, saying, “Who knows what he’s going to do? He’s going to be the most divisive President in history.” It’s been pretty funny watching the media freak. But Andrea, I’m glad it came through that way because that’s really what he wanted in his heart, for people to really feel the way you did when you heard him speak.

Scott:

He came across as very genuine. My question to you is, do you believe that Donald Trump plans to do what he said he was going to do?

Cliff:

Yeah, I mean he’s been really explicit about “Here’s what I’m going to do in the first 100 days in office, here’s what I’m going to do on the first day in office.” One of the things that’s not getting talked about a lot right now is the importance of Republicans maintaining control of the Senate. It’s a slim majority, but it’s a majority none the less, and there’s a strong majority in the House. So voters were pretty clear last night about what they want and now they have a President who is a strong leader who will work closely with Congress to pass his policy priorities.

Scott:

Donald Trump has kind of broken the mold by winning states that Republicans weren’t ever supposed to ever win in again… I think there’s an opportunity here to break the stranglehold that the Democrats have had on minority populations.

Cliff:

How many Republicans would have gone to Detroit and delivered a speech about urban renewal mere weeks before election day and highlight things like school choice and making our communities safer? No matter what color you are, we all want a few core things. We need a job, we need to be able to put food on the table and provide for our families; we want the opportunity to give our children a better life and leave them a better country than we inherited; and we want safety and security. Mr. Trump went into these communities that both Republicans and Democrats have ignored and delivered a message that really resonated with them, and they voted for him on Election Day.

I’m about to have to run here at the Tower and jump into a meeting but I wanted to be sure to give you guys a call. I miss the whole Yellowhammer family and obviously appreciate Alabama’s support for the campaign. Senator Sessions was here a few minutes ago and said to make sure to tell everybody down there how much he appreciates Alabama’s support and we couldn’t be prouder to be representing Alabama up here.

Scott:

Hey Cliff, I’m not asking you but a caller just called in and asked what position you were taking with the Trump administration?

Cliff:

I look forward to being back in Alabama.

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1 hour ago

#FakeRacism — Alabama cops were justified in Waffle House arrest

They’re out here saying those white cops who arrested that black lady last weekend at the Waffle House in Saraland, Alabama were racists.

Reality Check: When a cop places you under arrest and you do anything other than passively comply, you may wish for him to say, “Oh, you don’t want to be arrested? My bad. I’ll just leave now.” But here’s what will actually happen, every time, and like Michael Jackson sang, “it don’t matter if you’re black or white.”

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“Outrage growing over black woman’s arrest … by white police officers,” read the headline on AL.com, followed by an article reporting that local protestors were then “confronted by white police officers and one black man was handcuffed.”

Are y’all as sick of these #FakeRacism stories as I am?

That ugly scene could have been avoided if that lady had followed the advice my father gave me years ago.

“Don’t argue with the cops, son,” he told me. “Whether you’re wrong or right, the police deal with criminals all day long and don’t need any lip from some kid.”

“So if they ever say ‘Get out of here,’ or ‘Sit on that curb and shut up,’ then do it without a word of backtalk,” he warned. “Or they might crack you upside the head with that baton they carry or you’ll spend the night in jail.”

A version of that advice called “The Talk” is given in the black community because of their experience with the law enforcement, especially in decades past.

I personally believe those days of systemic racism are gone, but the advice should remain — obey the law.

Or you might end up looking like a fool on Youtube for being arrested at a Waffle House … and it don’t matter if you’re black or white.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

2 hours ago

Judge tosses charge accusing ex-warden of leaking to blogger

An Alabama judge is dismissing criminal charges accusing a former jail warden of illegally leaking information to a blogger critical of a sheriff.

The Decatur Daily reports that a judge dismissed the charge of computer tampering at the request of former Morgan County jail warden Leon Bradley after several days of testimony.

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Bradley was fired in October by Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin. His lawyers claimed Franklin and three employees lied to get warrants and have Bradley arrested.

The blogger’s grandson testifies that Franklin threatened to arrest him and derail his plans to join the Army if he told anyone about being a confidential informant or didn’t provide information harming his grandmother.

Two law enforcement officers testify Franklin asked them to issue search warrants they believed unjustified.

Franklin denies wrongdoing.

(Copyright Associated Press 2018)

3 hours ago

Steve Marshall and Troy King most well-known, well-liked Republican candidates for Alabama attorney general, according to poll

New polling obtained by Yellowhammer News offers a peek into Alabama’s attorney general race, with the edges in the Republican primary bid at-the-moment being given to current Attorney General Steve Marshall and former Attorney General Troy King.

The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence, found that 24 percent of Republican primary voters have a favorable view of Marshall and 26 percent have a favorable view of King, while 5 percent have an unfavorable view of Marshall and 15 percent have an unfavorable view of King.

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The other two Republicans running, former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and Judge Chess Bedsole, have 13 and 8 percent favorability, respectively.

King has the highest name identification at 61 percent, with Marshall’s at 43 percent. Martin’s name identification is at 32 percent and Bedsole’s at 28 percent.

(WPA Intelligence)

Survey Methodology: WPA selected a random sample (n=500 Republican primary voters) of registered voters from the Alabama voter file using Proportionate Probability Sampling (PPS) who were contacted by phone April 15-17, 2018. The sample was stratified based on geography, age, and gender, and the study has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent in 95 out of 100 cases.

The primary election is on June 5, and the state-wide general election is November 6.

Rep. Byrne: A tax code that works

Each April, Americans across the country face great frustration and inconvenience in filing their taxes.

Fortunately, this Tax Day marked the last time Americans would file their taxes under the old tax code. Thanks to passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Americans will now have a simpler and fairer tax code. I was proud to work with President Trump to reform our tax code and make the process easier for taxpayers.

Starting next year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will bring Americans relief when filing their taxes under a more streamlined, straightforward tax code. However, making the overall filing process simpler and more convenient was just one of the many ways we worked to create a tax code that benefits and works for the American people.

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One of the most important reforms under the new tax code is the doubling of the standard deduction. This provision increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. Combined with new lower tax rates, almost every Alabamian should see a tax decrease.

Also important, the new tax code prioritizes American families by doubling the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. It is no secret that raising a family is not cheap; so, this increase provides additional support for families struggling to pay for childcare and other necessary expenses associated with parenting.

To provide even more support for families, the bill preserves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, as well as the Adoption Tax Credit. Even more, the bill makes improvements to saving options for education by allowing parents to use 529 accounts to save for elementary, secondary, and higher education.

Most people will not have to wait until the next tax season to see the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Already, many hardworking Alabamians are seeing more money in their paychecks each month. That means your hard-earned money is ending up back in your pockets, rather than the coffers of the federal government.

Tax reform has also helped spur overall economic growth. Our bill helps to level the playing field for American businesses, creating new job opportunities and finally causing wages to rise after years of stagnation.

Many businesses have also handed out bonuses and improved benefits to their workforce. Since passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I have had the pleasure of personally handing out bonus checks at multiple businesses in Southwest Alabama. Trust me, these workers were thrilled with the extra money.

We aren’t stopping now either. The House passed a package of bills last week to help cut down on identity theft and to hold criminals accountable for IRS scams. It is important that these crooks be punished for trying to defraud hardworking Americans, including our nation’s senior citizens.

Equally important, the House also passed bills to make the IRS more efficient, effective, and accountable. The IRS should be a customer-friendly organization that responds to the questions and concerns of the American people.

In the past four months, we have seen tremendous growth right here in Southwest Alabama because of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. From our small business owners handing out bonus checks to our single-income families taking home extra money in their paychecks, evidence shows that allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money is a huge boom for our economy.

As we bid farewell to an old, outdated tax code, Americans can rest easy knowing they have a simpler, fairer tax code to work with in the future.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

3 hours ago

Abortion is not a human right, says State Dept. official

The State Department released its Human Rights Report for 2017 on Friday, and State Department officials acknowledged it purposely left out a section on “women’s reproductive rights,” which had been included in previous reports during the Obama administration, noting that the administration does not consider abortion a human right under international law.

“When the State Department is talking about this represents our values as Americans, the removal of sections on women’s reproductive rights – why is that not included in values as Americans?” a reporter asked State Department officials.

“I’m going to explain why it was removed. It was introduced six years ago into the report. It hadn’t been there before,” Michael Kozak, ambassador for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said.

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“It’s one of the few terms that are used in the report that isn’t derived from an international treaty that has a definition or derived from U.S. law, where there’s a clear definition to the term, and in this case, the previous administration intended it to mean look at the availability of contraception, at the – whether the government tried to impose or coerce people in making decisions about reproduction,” Kozak said.

“In the statements that were made – this was derived from the Beijing Declaration that was done in the ‘90s. At that time, it was very clear and our delegation made a very clear statement that this has nothing to do with abortion. It doesn’t mean abortion,” he said.

Kozak said the use of the term “reproductive rights” means different things to people on both sides of the issue.

“Unfortunately, over the last few years, groups on both sides of that issue domestically have started to use the term, and both seem to think it does include abortion and then argue about it,” he said. “So our thought was let’s just not use a term that has the opposite meaning from the one we intend.

“We went back to the term that’s used in the U.S. statute that requires the Human Rights Report, which is coerced family planning, namely coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization,” Kozak said. “I might mention too, because I went back and looked at last year’s report, the question being asked was, ‘Were there obstacles opposed to getting contraception information and means?’

“The answer in virtually every country was no, there were no obstacles other than, in almost every country, including our own, the availability in rural areas is less than it is in urban areas. But we were taking a lot of space to explain that,” he said.

“So what we’ve done, we’ve kept that information in there. We’ve done it now by a hyperlink. We used to take that information from the WHO report and put it in. We said let’s just use a hyperlink, and then there’s actually more information available that way. So that’s the rationale behind that,” Kozak said.

“It’s not a diminishment of women’s rights or a desire to get away from it; it was to stop using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend,” he added.

A reporter later questioned whether Kozak was saying “there are no obstacles for women to get contraception in any country except for if there’s a remote issue.”

“I said with some exceptions, and the exceptions were and still are – and we’ve really gotten at it by flipping back to the original U.S. statutory language. It’s in places like China, where in order to enforce their two – now two-child policy, that there are reports of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization,” Kozak said.

The ambassador said North Korea also engages in forced abortion, although it’s usually used for political punishment. Also in the country of Belarus, women in state hospitals or who are institutionalized are forced to have abortions or if the woman or baby has disabilities.

“In North Korea, where the government also coerces or forces abortion – although sometimes that’s for political punishment rather than family planning, and we uncovered it,” Kozak said.

“So as we were digging through trying to reduce the bulk of some of this report, I found in the old country I served in, in Belarus, that it turns out that the doctors in the state hospitals, and particularly in the institutions there, if they have a woman who is pregnant and who is a woman with disabilities, the doctors insist on an abortion. Or if they believe the fetus has a disability, they’ll insist on an abortion. So we’ve called that out too,” he said.

“So it’s not – those were the cases, though, in the – under the previous formula where you would say there was a restriction on family planning, freedom of family planning. For most countries, it said, there isn’t any restriction except for the ones imposed by economics and rural-urban type thing,” Kozak said.

“So just to be clear just on that, so taking out the language about those cases therefore means that the U.S. doesn’t believe that the inability for women to get an abortion physically or by law is an abuse of human rights?” a reporter asked.

“Correct, under the previous administration and this one and the one before that. We have never taken the position that abortion was a right under – a human right under international law,” Kozak said.

“This is supposed to be internationally recognized human rights, and it’s an issue on which – some countries prohibit abortion. Some countries, like our own, pretty much no restriction on it, and we don’t say one of those is right and one of those is wrong. We don’t report on it because it’s not a human right,” he said.

“It’s an issue of great policy debate. You can have a good discussion, but there’s no internationally recognized standard as to what’s the right treatment, but the other, yes. The – it is internationally recognized that somebody shouldn’t coerce you to have an abortion or force you to be sterilized,” Kozak added.

(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)