State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) will air his first TV ad in his campaign for governor next week. An advance look at the commercial, which focuses on term limits, a flat tax and cutting spending, can be seen here:
Sessions to address black law enforcement group in Alabama
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be in his home state of Alabama this week to address a black law enforcement group that is sometimes at odds with the Trump administration.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Birmingham says Sessions will speak to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives on Friday.
The group has been critical of President Donald Trump for his disparaging comments about immigrants from Africa and Haiti. It has also criticized Trump’s move to let police agencies obtain surplus military equipment.
The organization opposed Trump’s pardon of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio (ahr-PY’-oh) and noted Sessions’ past opposition to clemency.
Sessions will speak at a meeting that includes numerous large-city police chiefs and Justice Department officials.
Sessions was a U.S. senator from Alabama before joining the administration.
(Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)
Not the final Talley
For young Alabama lawyer Brett Talley, his withdrawal from consideration for a federal judgeship should not be the last word on his promising career.
With the right combination of graciousness and gumption, Talley can rise above this setback — just as a then-40-year-old judicial nominee named Jeff Sessions did when his nomination was derailed in 1986.
When I wrote two weeks ago that Talley probably ought to withdraw, I was merely urging him to recognize political reality. In the year of or immediately after the Charlottesville riots, no nominee of President Trump could possibly be confirmed once it surfaced that the nominee tried to split hairs about the Ku Klux Klan. In the year of or immediately after so many national controversies involving Alabama figures (Sessions, Luther Strange, Roy Moore), no Alabama nominee with so many small strikes against him could earn Senate approval.
Talley would have been horrendously vilified in floor debate, with no chance to defend himself and no real hope of winning.
Now, though, Talley should break the senseless tradition whereby judicial nominees speak for themselves only during their confirmation hearings, including the forswearing of comment if their nominations fail. Instead, he should use the occasion to make a public statement, even hold a press conference, that helps clear the air and reintroduces himself to a broader audience.
Before I elaborate, please allow this digression. In the 1980s I watched quite closely as three of the men I admire most, including my father, all were publicly named (at different times) as the choice of President Reagan for a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judgeship, only to see unfair, sub-rosa politics lead to their withdrawals. As I particularly witnessed in my father’s case, the experience is incredibly painful, and feels quite embarrassing even if no shame has been merited. So I get it. I get that the first reaction to one’s own withdrawal is to just crawl into one’s own shell for a while.
In this case, however, Talley can change the script — not for this particular judicial opportunity, but for his future.
Imagine if Talley conducted a press conference in which, with wistfulness rather than anger, he expressed regret for the miscues that made his confirmation infeasible. He could recount his otherwise distinguished record, describe a deep reverence for the law and for our constitutional system, and explain just how personally invasive and demanding the nomination process has become. Without whining or making excuses, he could elucidate the reality that the advent of social media has made it a monumental task to produce every scrap of public communication someone has ever engaged in.
Crucially, of course, he should explain the circumstances and thought processes — or lack of thought — that led him, under a thinly veiled pseudonym, to write an online comment defending the “original” KKK and one of its leaders, former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Historically dubious at very best, the claim that even the earliest Klan had honorable intentions is toxic in almost any modern public forum.
Yet surely Talley can explain what he meant, in a way understandable by the public even if not acceptable for confirmation purposes by a majority of senators. And surely, if somehow his original distinction — no matter how ham-handed — had been intended to highlight the dangers of bad racial intentions, then he could also give examples of some efforts of his own to bridge racial divides or combat racial injustices.
Again, when combined with other small question marks in his record, none of these explanations could have secured him confirmation from a narrowly divided Senate. But they certainly could humanize him, demonstrate graciousness and judicial temperament, and make him a sympathetic (and even admirable) figure — thus aiding any of his future professional or public endeavors.
As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, Talley appears to be a brilliant attorney with plenty of “exemplary” experience. And, to repeat: “In and of itself, one truly stupid [blog] post shouldn’t ruin a man’s career. But at age 36, Talley has plenty of time to continue to build his resume, put youthful folly behind him – and reassure people that his emotions involving racial issues aren’t indicative of bias or bigotry. The withdrawal of Talley’s nomination would not say that he is a bad lawyer or bad man.”
A public statement or press conference could begin the process of driving home those points, and set Brett Talley up for a brighter future.
Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.
Quin Hillyer: Alabama’s attorney general race may become a ‘Chess’ match
Alabama faces a barn-burner of a Republican primary for state attorney general next year, with at least four highly qualified candidates. The one perhaps the least well known to the general public is, oddly enough, the one who has almost certainly spent the most quality time with the biggest state and national Republican luminaries.
Meet Chess Bedsole, with whom I sat down for an hour-long interview on November 30.
(Note: Earlier this year I separately visited, off the record, with two other AG candidates, Alice Martin and incumbent Steve Marshall, but I was not writing for Yellowhammer then. I’ll circle back to them soon for on-the-record reports.)
First, understand that I never even attempted to ask Bedsole about policy or his campaign. That will come another time. Instead, I spent the whole hour learning his background, and listening to his remarkable political stories.
As a Mobile native just out of law school (and with a tax degree) in 1998, Bedsole found himself offered jobs by two of the all-time titans of the Senate: moderate Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, who chaired the Senate Finance Committee, and conservative Republican stalwart Jesse Helms of North Carolina, offering (in contrast to Moynihan’s nice offer) an absurdly low starting salary. The Moynihan post was much more of a plum job, but Bedsole, a conservative, chose Helms instead.
“I found Helms was a genuine gentleman, always going at his job with sort of a servant’s heart,” Bedsole said of the senator who in his younger days had been considered a conservative firebrand. “You could tell when he had decided he liked you: He started out just calling a new staffer ‘Fella,’ but you knew he was fond of you when he eventually started referring to you as ‘Son’.”
Helms rather quickly made Bedsole a chief legislative negotiator – but that job was interrupted by the Bush vs. Gore presidential recount in 2000. Bedsole, wanting to help, took temporary leave from Helm’s office and arrived in Florida as the youngest lawyer on Bush’s recount team, but found himself overseeing operations in Broward County – which soon, by luck, became ground zero for the fight. He impressed the right people, and somehow, with no prior ties to Bush-world, ended up (once Bush had been declared the victor) reviewing outgoing president Bill Clinton’s executive orders (seeing which ones might be revoked or reworked) for the presidential transition team. He reported to Scooter Libby, who of course was incoming Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.
Transition over, Bedsole returned to Helms’ staff – but by early 2002, returned home for family reasons, expecting to work in a Mobile law firm. Instead, he somehow found himself running Jo Bonner’s successful campaign for Congress. And then, since he was a legal recount expert, he was suddenly dispatched – at the urging of Jeff Sessions, no less – to take charge of the Republican side of the Baldwin County recount in the tight and contested governor’s race between Bob Riley and Don Siegelman.
Riley won, of course, but Bedsole – despite a meeting with just him and the Riley family, probing his interest for something more permanent – wanted to go into private practice rather than government, and moved to Birmingham to do it (and eventually to get married).
Government kept calling, though. While still in private practice doing complex business litigation, Bedsole somehow was persuaded to accept an appointment as a municipal criminal judge in Blount County. There, by his account, he started cracking down on worse offenders, rather than letting them skate – including with the help (secured via Sessions) of a federal Drug Enforcement Agency task force) – but also spearheading new programs to divert youthful non-violent offenders in to work and rehab programs.
And Sessions kept calling. At Sessions’ urging, Bedsole found himself in Trump Tower in the fall of 2015, meeting the billionaire himself – and suddenly became Alabama’s state director for the Trump campaign, and then one of Trump’s chief national delegate hunters.
And then, once the nomination was secured, he was assigned, directly by Trump Central, to be the Trump major domo assignee to V-P nominee Mike Pence’s traveling team, working directly with Pence (and usually in the seat right next to him) as they flew around the country campaigning.
Now he’s running for AG.
So, to review the employers, direct superiors, or major sponsors/mentors for Bedsole’s high-level jobs: Jesse Helms, Scooter Libby, Jo Bonner, Bob Riley, Jeff Sessions, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump. Other than that, it sounds like a pretty boring existence, eh?
This, above, is just the Cliff’s Notes version of Bedsole’s résumé. Listening to him elaborate on these political adventures is a political junkie’s dream. (Alas, this column doesn’t have room for some of the war tales.)
Clearly, Chess Bedsole is not to be taken lightly. He impresses.
Again, his competitors in the Republican primary also impress. In particular, I’ve watched the career of Alice Martin for 17 years now, and she’s a no-nonsense legal star. This is gonna be a heckuva race, one in which Alabama voters for once should be thoroughly pleased with their options.
Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.
Quin Hillyer: Sessions puts a stop to Department of Justice’s bullish abuse of power
Yes, Jeff Sessions really is making a difference at the Justice Department, as a new order curbing the department’s own power makes clear.
The other day, a friend said to me that he figured Sessions really would be better off accepting a write-in bid for his old Senate seat because “he’s not really doing anything as Attorney General anyway. I haven’t seen any big successes there.”
I beg to differ. I’ve covered the Department of Justice (DoJ) quite closely for more than 20 years, and have seen that much of what gets done there – especially the bad stuff – occurs mostly behind the scenes. Under Barack Obama, DoJ became a cesspool of radical-left politics, with all sorts of skullduggery going on not just at the top levels, but at the middle levels of the bureaucracy.
Sessions is steadily cleaning out the stables. What he is doing doesn’t always make the headlines, but it does make a difference. A big one.
Yes, occasionally he may be going in the wrong direction, as I noted in my column a few weeks back on asset forfeiture. But on the vast majority of issues Sessions is not just a breath, but a gale, of fresh air. The latest example – of many examples, which future columns will also highlight – involves the aforementioned order against the DoJ’s own prior misuses of power.
Sessions announced late last week that he is ending the practice of having DoJ achieve what he called “regulation by guidance.” This was a pernicious practice by which DoJ, under the guise of supposedly explaining existing law, would send a “guidance” letter “advising” various entities of what amounted to new policies or legal theories the department would pursue, even if no law or regulation had actually changed.
For one controversial example, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch in May 2016 issued a guidance letter that effectively required public schools to permit transgender students to use the bathrooms that correspond with their newly chosen “gender identity,” not the actual sex organs with which they were born. Her letter carried the implicit threat that schools failing to comply with the “guidance” could lose federal funding.
Eliminating this “guidance” practice is a big deal. It was a way for DoJ to bully large institutions or segments of society into adopting leftist cultural policies without Congress or even official bureaucratic rule-makers having changed a single word of applicable federal law. When DoJ effectively threatens to sue an entity if it doesn’t accept the new “guidance,” that’s enough of a threat to force compliance in most cases – without a single democratic/representative process having been undertaken.
Sessions’ new memo explicitly re-limits guidance memos to standard attempts to explain existing interpretations of law into plain English, while specifically saying that “guidance documents should not be used for the purpose of coercing persons or entities” into actions favored by some ideological cabal at DoJ.
“Guidance documents should not use mandatory language such as ‘shall,’ ‘must,’ ‘required’ or ‘requirement’ to direct parties outside government to take or refrain from taking action,” Sessions wrote – except, of course, for merely restating already existing, clear statutory language.
This new order, effectively withdrawing one of his department’s own (improper) powers, is an example of the kind of careful and, frankly, humble approaches that Sessions is taking. Just like judges, prosecutors and DoJ should be applying laws that actually exist through republican processes, not deciding on their own what they want the laws to be.
Good for Sessions. He’s limiting Justice for the broader cause of justice. Good for all of us. This returns power to the people and our elected representatives – exactly where it belongs.
Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.
Roy Moore and the law of unintended political consequences
Roy Stewart Moore was an obscure state judge in Etowah County in 1995 and probably would have stayed that way if not for an assist from an unlikely source — the American Civil Liberties Union.
Moore’s courtroom display of a wooden plaque of the Ten Commandments sparked a complaint by an attorney representing a murder defendant. That attracted the attention of critics who also objected to the judge’s practice of opening court sessions with a prayer. That, in turn, drew the attention of the ACLU.
The local branch of the venerable civil rights organization sent Moore a letter in 1993 threatening to sue if he did not cease the prayers. In typical Moore fashion, he ignored the threat, and the ACLU followed through with its threat in 1995, challenging both the prayers and the Ten Commandments display.
Then-Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price allowed the plaque to remain but ordered Moore to halt the pre-session prayer. In a reaction that would become familiar to Alabamians, Moore vowed to defy the order. Price then issued a new order requiring Moore to take down the plaque, as well.
The Alabama Supreme Court temporarily blocked Price’s order from taking effect and then later dismissed the lawsuit on technical grounds. But by then, Moore was a household name in Alabama and a hero to Christian conservatives. He parlayed that into a successful run for chief justice of the state high court two years later.
ACLU leaders probably would say today that the fight was worth it, that principle demanded a legal challenge to practices they consider unconstitutional. One wonders, however, if that judgment is the same in the privacy of their thoughts.
Without the ACLU and the ensuring national spotlight, there likely would not have been a successful campaign for the Supreme Court — a run aided by Moore’s universal name recognitions in primary and general elections against opponents most voters likely could not have picked out of a lineup.
Moore could not have ignited a controversy over a 5,280-pound granite Ten Commandments monument he erected in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. No turmoil over his defiance of a federal court order to remove it. No fight to remove him from office. No comeback nine years later, or controversy over the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalization of gay marriage and his efforts to undermine that ruling.
And, of course, Moore almost certainly would not be the Republican nominee for the Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, dogged by allegations of sexual abuse from nearly four decades ago.
Instead, he may well have been in his final term as a circuit judge — unable to run again because of the state’s mandatory retirement age for judges — a jurist unknown outside of Etowah County.
In effect, the ACLU created Roy Moore.
Jeff Sessions and Ted Kennedy
Moore is far from the only beneficiary of the law of unintended political consequences. The aforementioned Sessions turned the most bitter chapter of his professional life — a humiliating defeat for a federal judgeship in his hometown of Mobile — into a political career culminating with his appointment to his dream job as America’s top law enforcement official.
In that role, he wields enormous power over everything from which crimes to prioritize for federal prosecution to setting drug policy to enforcing civil rights laws, immigration and voting rights.
Progressives vehemently oppose Sessions on almost all of those issues, but in a way, they have only themselves to blame. Perhaps no senator played a more important role in killing Sessions’ judicial nomination than Ted Kennedy, who caricatured the nominee as a racist during the judicial confirmation hearing.
“Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past,” he said before casting a “no” vote in the Judiciary Committee in 1986. “It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a U.S. federal judge.”
The Massachusetts senator added that Sessions was “a disgrace to the Justice Department.”
Perhaps the left believes denying Sessions a seat on the federal bench was worth it. But had Kennedy and company just let the nomination go through, Sessions almost certainly never would have run for Alabama attorney general or won a seat in the U.S. Senate. He would not have become President Donald Trump’s most important supporter and adviser. And he would not be setting law enforcement priorities for the nation today.
Maybe at some point Sessions would have won an appointment to an appeals court judgeship. More likely, he would have served out his career in relative anonymity, and at age 70, likely would be a semi-retired “senior” U.S. district judge today.
Elizabeth Warren and Republican obstructionism
Democrats have no monopoly on suffering a backlash after what seemed like a good idea at the time.
When former President Barack Obama was looking for someone to head the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren seemed like a natural. Her scholarship had formed the basis of the agency, established by the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 in response to the financial collapse that triggered the Great Recession.
Obama had appointed Warren assistant to the president and special advisory to the treasury to help set up the bureau.
But Republicans intensely opposed Warren, and Obama never even tried to nominate her. Republicans pressed for changes to the agency before supporting any director.
“We’re waiting for that dialogue, and hope we hear from you,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) told then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at a Senate Banking Committee hearing at the time. “Short of that, I think the nominee is not going anywhere.”
Instead of Warren, Republicans ended up with former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as director of the bureau. Based on Cordray’s record, it is hard to imagine conservatives being unhappier with Warren’s tenure had she gotten the job.
Locked out of the position, Warren instead ran for the Senate in her home state of Massachusetts, defeating Republican incumbent Scott Brown. She went on to become a liberal icon, thorn in the side of the Republican agenda and a potential presidential contender.
Had Republicans just let Obama have his original choice to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren might still be in the job. Cordray, himself, only announced on Wednesday that he would step down.
Who knows? Brown might even still be in the Senate.
Quin Hillyer: GOP should try weird ‘Shelby Strategem’ to resolve Roy Moore mess
Weird messes sometimes require weird remedies.
The Republican Party, state and national, is in a huge, weird mess because of the ongoing situation involving Judge Roy Moore. Because of the nature of the allegations, the timing of the allegations, and the complicated interplay between state law, state party rules, and Senate rules, there is absolutely no good solution for Republicans or, frankly, for Moore.
It’s like a Rubik’s Cube with a manufacturing mistake that put the wrong colors on the wrong squares so that it’s impossible to “solve.”
But after puzzling out numerous options, I think the least bad idea is an ingenious bit of political jiu-jitsu I saw on Twitter. (Alas, it was a ReTweet of a ReTweet, or something like that, and I don’t remember whose idea it was originally, or I would credit him/her.) The short version is that a write-in campaign should be organized… for current U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.
What? Come again? The immediate response is to ask how it would help to write in a current senator’s name for an open Senate seat.
Well, I said it was jiu-jitsu.
But, without explaining in detail the rules/law interplay mentioned above, or explaining why all sorts of other suggested options seem to be even worse ideas than this one (please do follow the links to understand at least a bit more about it all), here’s how and why the Shelby idea, at least theoretically, could work in practical application.
The assumption underlying the idea is that it will be nearly impossible for any write-in effort to succeed, but that the only way it can is if there is a consensus write-in candidate who enjoys near-universal name-identification and widespread approval. Frankly, only two people in Alabama fit that bill – and there is no way that one of them, Jeff Sessions, would or should take a demotion back to his old Senate seat from his perch as Attorney General.
That leaves Shelby. And even Shelby couldn’t possibly win a write-in if Moore refuses to suspend his own campaign.
Moore isn’t likely to do so. But let’s just hypothesize that he would. The play could be this: Sessions and President Trump, along maybe with somebody Moore might admire (Franklin Graham, maybe?) could together call Moore and say that even if Moore wins – which is now at least slightly unlikely, and with his odds still dropping rather than rising – he faces so much antipathy in the Senate and such a damaged reputation nationally that his presence in the Senate would absolutely do more harm than good to the cause of a godly republic to which he has devoted his career. The best way to advance his cause is to temporarily disassociate himself from it, and the best way to recover his reputation is if he does so while not in the context of a political campaign or office.
The trio of interlocutors would of course promise to publicly thank Moore for his years of service and remind the public that not just law but simple fairness requires that an accused man with a years-long reputation for personal probity enjoy at least some original benefit of the doubt.
If Moore, miracle of miracles, agrees to publicly withdraw and asks Alabamans not to vote for him despite seeing his name on the ballot, and instead asks voters to write in Shelby’s name, then that would be the only way to avoid splitting the right-leaning vote enough so that Democrat Doug Jones isn’t elected.
Wait!, you say. This still doesn’t explain the Shelby part of it!
How can Alabamans elect somebody to the Senate who already holds the state’s other Senate seat? And why would Shelby do so?
Well, of course he couldn’t hold both seats. The deal would be this: Shelby would publicly announce that if he wins a plurality of the votes in a write-in campaign, he would resign his current Senate seat one minute before the election results are certified, and instead serve out the remainder of the term to which Sessions originally was elected.
That would in turn open up the remainder of Shelby’s current term – which runs through 2022. Governor Kay Ivey could then appoint somebody (other than Luther Strange) to fill the Shelby seat through 2018. The remaining four years of the term would be filled by election during the regularly scheduled federal elections of 2018…for which, if Moore wants, he himself could run.
But Moore would do so only after having time to clear his name, and without in effect holding the state party hostage to the nomination he won before the allegations surfaced. The state party has stood by him, institutionally, for many years, and is doing so still, while under pressure; he could show reciprocity, and earn some sympathy, if he took the party off the hook in this 2017 race and left open his own options for 2018.
(Frankly, it would be better for all if Moore doesn’t run in 2018, but he would be free to do so.)
The person making the biggest sacrifice, of a sort, would be Shelby. In effect, he would be trading away the final two years of the term to which he was elected in 2016.
But how important are those last two years to a man who already is 83 years old and whose decision is merely whether to retire (or run for sure re-election) at age 86 instead of 88? Are those two years’ worth the damage he thinks it will do to his state and nation for either a damaged Moore or a liberal Jones to take what was the Sessions seat? He already has been in Congress since 1978, and on the public payroll in one role or another since 1963. He has served his state and country well – and could serve it even better by trading two last guaranteed years in office, in his late 80s, for the good of his state, party, and country.
So, to recap: 1) Moore withdraws, and endorses Shelby. 2) Shelby says he will accept write-in results if he wins. 3) If write-in is successful, Shelby resigns current seat and assumes the “Sessions” seat. 4) Ivey appoints someone eminently respectable to serve a single year in what was Shelby’s seat. 5) The election for the final four years of what had been Shelby’s term would occur during an already-scheduled November slot, so it would cost the state no more money. 6) The reputation of absolutely everybody involved would rise, because all would be seen as making magnanimous moves for the good of the state.
But nobody, absolutely nobody, could say it is a “dirty trick” (like delaying the current election would be) or of questionable legality (like pretending that if Luther Strange resigns right now, it would allow cancellation of the already-called special election). Instead, it would leave the final choices, at every step, up to the voters of Alabama.
The Shelby Stratagem would be a weird solution, to be sure. But it might just work. It’s worth a try.
Sessions: DOJ will investigate Clinton, Comey ‘without political influence’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Congress this week that the Justice Department will move “correctly and properly” on a Republican request to investigate matters associated with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told Sessions that Republicans, “on multiple occasions,” have asked the Justice Department to investigate Clinton’s mishandling of classified information as well as Comey’s decision not to prosecute Clinton.
Goodlatte noted that he received a letter from Sessions on Monday, stating that “senior federal prosecutors will review our letters and make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, require further resources, or merit the appointment of a special counsel.”
“Do I have your assurance that these matters will proceed fairly and expeditiously?” Goodlatte asked Sessions.
“Yes, you can, Mr. Chairman, and you can be sure that they will be done without political influence, and they will be done correctly and properly,” Sessions replied.
Sessions also was asked if the Justice Department inspector-general will be allowed to brief the committee on his findings into some of those same Republican concerns.
“I will do my best to comply with that,” Sessions said.
(By Susan Jones, Courtesy of CNSNews.com)
Sessions: ‘I have no reason to doubt these young women’
Of all the national Republicans expressing doubts about Roy Moore’s defense of allegations of child sexual abuse, perhaps the most stinging came Tuesday from the man who held the Senate seat he hopes to claim.
Jeff Sessions, whose resignation to become U.S. attorney general triggered the special election in which Moore is running in as the Republican nominee, addressed the issue during testimony Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee.
“I have no reason to doubt these young women,” Sessions said in response to a question from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).
Sessions said ethics advisers at the Department of Justice have recommended he not get involved in the race, which will conclude with voting on Dec. 12.
Lee urged Sessions to open a federal inquiry into the allegations made by a woman who told The Washington Post last week that Moore molested her in 1979 when she was 14 and accusations by another woman Monday who said at a news conference that Moore tried to force her to have sexual relations when she was 16.
Sessions declined to make a specific commitment but added, “We will do our duty.”
Representatives from the Moore campaign did not respond to calls seeking comment. But Moore took a shot at Republican leaders on Twitter: “Alabamians will not be fooled by this #InsideHitJob. Mitch McConnell’s days as Majority Leader are coming to an end very soon. The fight has just begun.”
A lawyer for Moore and his wife on Tuesday sent a letter to Alabama Media Group, publisher of Al.com and its three newspapers, demanding a retraction for “false reports and/or careless reporting that has adversely affected” their reputation.
Tuesday brought a new round of calls by prominent Republicans for Moore to abandon his campaign for the Senate.
“Number one, these allegations are credible,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “Number two, if he cares about the values that he claims to care about, then he should step aside.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also reiterated his calls for Moore to drop out. He said he spoke with President Donald Trump on Friday about the issue while the president was in Vietnam. He said he also talked to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Saturday and Vice President Mike Pence on Monday.
“Roy Moore should step aside. The women who’ve come forward are entirely credible,” he said. “He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate, and we’ve looked at all the options to prevent that from happening.”
Those options include expelling Moore should he win the race against Democrat Doug Jones. But that would be messy, with a likely hearing to examine the evidence followed by a vote that would require two-thirds of the Senate.
The procedure has not been used since the Civil War.
The Alabama Republican Party’s steering committee also reportedly is mulling whether to withdraw its certification of Moore as the nominee. But it would not change the ballot. Secretary of State John Merrill has said it is too late to remove Moore’s name.
Asset forfeiture: inherently abusive, and awful in Alabama
On one of the few issues on which Attorney General Jeff Sessions is dead wrong, his home state of Alabama allows and even encourages the wrong to reach epic proportions.
The issue is “civil asset forfeiture,” the practice in which law-enforcement agencies seize property of those accused of a crime – and then, in practice make it very difficult for the owner to regain his own property even if never found guilty of the crime.
Sessions, going against major trends among conservative opinion leaders, strongly supports asset forfeiture as a “key tool that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, take back ill-gotten gains, and prevent new crimes from being committed.”
He issued an order earlier this year re-expanding the use of asset forfeiture by federal agents, while supposedly strengthening safeguards against abuse of the practice.
Yet, as several recent articles at al.com have shown, those abuses can be mind-boggling, especially in Alabama. One town uses a “speed trap” not just to generate outlandish fines but also to seize property in addition to the fines – and then almost never return it. In another instance, police seized computers from a repair shop under what apparently was a false tip that the shop was a front for a computer theft ring, but the shop owner has been unable so far to recover his (or his customers’) items. (Read the articles here and here.)
As the most recent story reported, “laws in Alabama allow law enforcement to keep 100 percent of proceeds from civil asset forfeiture, according to a report from the Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Va. law firm and legal think tank. In Alabama, there is no requirement to collect or record information on those that the assets were taken from.”
There will be much more to say on this subject in the future, but for now let it be known that these practices will be coming under increasing, well-merited scrutiny, especially in abusive instances such as those reported by al.com. There are plenty of legal theorists who believe that asset forfeiture as widely practiced is a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. I would argue even farther, that when the abuses are as great as the ones in the “speed trap” story, the conduct of the police or city officials themselves may qualify as criminal. They should be punished accordingly.
Again, this topic bears journalistic treatment both more in-depth and more nuanced than today’s column provides. But let this be known: No matter how strongly conservatives do and should support tough-minded law enforcement, conservatives also believe in individual rights, especially property rights. Sheriffs or police chiefs out there who think this conservative state makes them immune to criticism and possibly sanction should think again.
Meanwhile, legislators in this coming year’s session should make reform of asset-forfeiture laws and policies a major priority. A public storm is gathering against abusive officials at every level of government. Legislators who pay no attention to the tempest might just get wind-blown right out of office.
Sessions Goes All In Against MS-13 For Increased String of Terror
According to a report by Fox News, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared that the Justice Department is not in a reactive posture against the MS-13 street gang. Instead, Sessions says, the U.S. is going on the offensive to banish the notorious gang, “just like we took Al Capone off the streets.” The former Alabama Senator turned Attorney General said, we “will use whatever laws we have” to get them off the street.
To give teeth to his declaration, Sessions has directed prosecutors to pursue every legal option, including the enforcement of racketeering, gun and tax laws. Moreover, DoJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces has made MS-13—also known as La Mara Salvatrucha—a top priority.
Addressing the issue on a recent stop in Philadelphia, Sessions said of MS-13: “They leave misery, devastation, and death in their wake. They threaten entire governments. They must be and will be stopped.”
According to the Fox report, Ms-13 is suspected of committing several high-profile murders in New York, Maryland, and Virginia. The gang’s also allegedly beat and two teenage girls in Long Island, and then hacked them to death. The girls just two of the 22 victims DoJ believes to have been murdered on Long Island alone since January 2016.
With a motto of “kill, rape, control,” Sessions President said Ms-13 will be proactively pursued with “renewed vigor and a sharpened focus.”
Sessions Announces First-Ever Indictments Of Chinese Opiate Manufacturers
In a press release from the Justice Department, federal grand juries in the Southern District of Mississippi and the District of North Dakota have returned indictments against two Chinese nationals and their North American-based traffickers and distributors. The indictments are for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and other opiate substances in the United States.
The Chinese nationals are the first manufacturers and distributors of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). CPOT designations are those who have “command and control” elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.
As the media advisory noted, “On Sept. 7, Xiaobing Yan, 40, of China, was indicted in the Southern District of Mississippi on two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances. Yan, a distributor of a multitude of illegal drugs, used different names and company identities over a period of at least six years and operated websites selling acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl analogues directly to U.S. customers in multiple cities across the country. Yan also operated at least two chemical plants in China that were capable of producing ton quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Yan monitored legislation and law enforcement activities in the United States and China, modifying the chemical structure of the fentanyl analogues he produced to evade prosecution in the United States. Over the course of the investigation, federal agents identified more than 100 distributors of synthetic opioids involved with Yan’s manufacturing and distribution networks. Federal investigations of the distributors are ongoing in 10 judicial districts, and investigators have traced illegal proceeds of the distribution network. In addition, law enforcement agents intercepted packages mailed from Yan’s Internet pharmaceutical companies, seizing multiple kilograms of suspected acetyl fentanyl, potentially enough for thousands of lethal doses.”
The news release went on to talk about other indictments in North Dakota and New Jersey.
One of Sessions’ top lieutenants, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, said:
“Zhang and Yan are the first Chinese nationals designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). CPOTs are among the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world. The defendants allegedly shipped massive quantities of deadly fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to communities throughout the United States, mostly purchased on the Internet and sent through the mail. The chemicals allegedly killed and injured people in several states, and surely caused misery to many thousands of people. Under the leadership of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, we are taking back our communities by pursuing suppliers of deadly drugs wherever they are located.”
If convicted, Yan faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and three years of supervised release.
Sessions Gives Last-Chance Ultimatum: Sanctuary Cities Will Not Be Tolerated
Alabama’s Jeff Sessions and his U.S. Justice Department have responded to seven municipalities for potentially violating federal law. Specifically, Sessions says that their “sanctuary city” policies—those that defy the federal law to give sanctuary to illegal aliens—will no longer be tolerated.
The jurisdictions under DOJ’s scrutiny are:
- Cook County, Illinois
- Chicago, Illinois
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- New York, New York
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In a statement earlier today, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:
“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law…I urge all jurisdictions found to be out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents. We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373 but to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens.”
Extremely Low Voter Turnout In Alabama’s Senate Run-off
As many pundits noted before last night’s election, Luther Strange needed a large turnout to win the runoff vote against Roy Moore in the Republican primary. Despite visits from President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, that didn’t happen and Roy Moore’s core base of ardent supporters more than carried the day.
While today’s news cycle has no shortage of speculation over why Moore won and why Strange lost, one thing is abundantly clear, the vast majority of Alabama’s voters didn’t bother to show up.
According to information on the Alabama Secretary of State’s website, only 14.39% of registered voters cast a ballot yesterday. That’s more than three percentage points lower than the meager 17.95% who turned out in the primary. Yes, runoff votes usually attract less attention, as do off-year elections and special elections.
Still, last night’s dismal turnout is particularly intriguing in light of the fact that the whole nation seemed hyper-focused on this race. Whether or not low voter turnout delivered the victory to Roy Moore is unclear, but what does seem obvious as the smoke clears today is that the media and a very small minority of engaged citizens cared far more about this race than most Alabama voters.
Sessions To Defy Political Correctness, Declare Free Speech Under Attack
According to excerpts obtained in advance by Fox News, Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to take aim at political correctness on college campuses during a speech at the Georgetown University Law Center on Tuesday. Sessions plans to declare that free speech is “under attack,” following the recent clashes of protesters at Berkley and other campuses in response to conservative speakers.
“Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack,” Sessions plans to say. “Whereas the American University was once the center of academic freedom – a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas – it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.”
Sessions’ remarks come at a divisive time on college campuses. At Berkley, mass protest erupted surrounding the conservative speakers who were set to lead the campus’s “Free Speech Week.” These speakers included Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, and Steve Bannon.
In the prepared remarks, Sessions intends to question who decides what is “offensive” and “acceptable.” He plans to highlight what he believes is the goal of the college education: “the search for truth, not the imposition of truth by a government censor.” Sessions warns that our culture is increasingly shutting down free speech and berating those who actually let it happen.
“This has allowed a cottage industry of protestors to crop up who understand school administrators will capitulate to their demands and are now routinely shutting down speeches and debates across the country in an effort to silence voices that are insufficiently orthodox on their pet issues,” he says in the excerpts.
Sessions has remained fairly neutral in the campus free speech debate up until this point. It is unclear if his remarks will signify any focus by his Department of Justice on similar First Amendment issues. However, it is clear Sessions plans to give a scathing review of state of America’s college campuses. “The right of free speech does not exist to protect the speech we all want to agree on. It exists to protect the very speech that we don’t want to hear,” Sessions plans to say.
Sessions Confident in the DOJ’s Ability to Fight Opioid Epidemic
Attorney General Jeff Sessions took the podium at an American Conservation Union Foundation and Cardinal Institute event in West Virginia to speak on the Justice Department’s fight against the nation’s impending opioid epidemic. Sessions told the crowd that the nation is fighting the worst epidemic it has seen in its history, but he believes that the Department of Justice is taking necessary steps to tackle the core problems of the issue.
“I believe the department’s new resources will reduce prescription abuse and save lives,” Sessions said. “I believe this is a war we can win.” According to ABC 33/40, he announced that his department has created an opioid fraud and abuse detection unit tasked with examining data and investigating for signs of healthcare fraud. He said that the unit will be able to determine the physicians who are writing excessive prescriptions, how many patients have died within 60 days of receiving the prescription, the average age of those receiving prescriptions, and the pharmacies writing the prescriptions.
“Fraudsters lie, but these numbers don’t,” the attorney general said.
Sessions has assigned 12 experienced prosecutors to investigate opioid abuse hotspots around the country. He mentioned the recent prosecution of a West Virginia doctor who wrote 400 prescriptions in a day without seeing the 270 patients he wrote the prescriptions for.
The opioid epidemic has been devastating across the nation, including in Alabama. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 33,091 opioid related deaths in the United States in 2015, including 736 in Alabama. Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. Many Alabama lawmakers have taken up the fight against this epidemic alongside Sessions, including Alabama’s own Attorney General Steve Marshall.
Sessions hopes that a crackdown on opioid abuse will not only benefit the nation socially, but economically as well. “Our country is advanced by having more Americans drug free and ready to work,” he said.
“Never Again”: Alabama Remembers 9/11
Sixteen years ago today, the unthinkable happened. For the first time since the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, America was attacked. On that fateful morning of September 11, 2001, Americans all over the country sat glued to their televisions, watching the atrocities unfold before them.
We will never forget those who were taken from us, those extraordinary heroes who saved so many lives, and the first responders who risked their lives to save countless others. Today, Alabamians remember those precious lives who were lost to such horrific acts of terrorism. Some of the state’s biggest leaders took to social media in remembrance of 9/11.
In addition to his post to Twitter, Senator Luther Strange also released a statement emphasizing the significance of that fateful day and the impact it had on the course of American history.
“The shock and pain of the 9/11 attacks are as vivid today as they were sixteen years ago, and each of us remembers where we were at that moment when the world changed. For America, it marks a time of collective mourning, national unity, and strengthened resolve. For a generation of brave men and women in uniform, it began a chapter of uncommon bravery and sacrifice in the face of senseless terrorism. Today, and every day, let us hold close the memory of those who fell in that first battle of the war against terror, and together resolve: never again.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also addressed the Department of Justice in remembrance of 9/11. According to The Hill, Sessions thanked law enforcement for their willingness to continually put themselves in harm’s way to protect American citizens. He acknowledged that the nation has come a long way since then, “but more can be done.”
“The first and most important job of any government is to protect the safety and the rights of its citizens. The first civil right is to be alive. If we fail at this task, then every other government initiative loses importance. Everything depends upon this: that we protect the American people from enemies and those who violate the law.”
Sessions concluded by saying, “We will never yield our freedom.”
It is imperative that we never forget the events of September 11, 2001. In the political climate of our day, we should never forget the resilience of the American spirit. The ability we have to come to gather out of mutual affection and love for one another is unprecedented. As the unthinkable occurred on that fateful morning, we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in our mutual love for freedom. And we will never yield that freedom.
Sessions Announces End To Obama Program that Shielded Illegal Immigrants
This morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end to an Obama-era program that shielded close to a million illegal immigrants from deportation and entitled them to Social Security benefits.
The program is called DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which Obama formed by executive fiat, completely bypassed the United States Congress, granting amnesty to certain illegal immigrants who arrived here as children.
Specifically, DACA provided legal status for this population of illegal immigrants in two-year terms, providing them with work authorization and other benefits, including participation in the United States Social Security program. In other words, DACA has entitled some “800,000 mostly-adult illegal aliens” (per DOJ) jobs here in the U.S.
In today’s announcement to do away with the program, the Mr. Sessions said:
The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.
We inherited from our Founders—and have advanced—an unsurpassed legal heritage, which is the foundation of our freedom, safety, and prosperity.
As the Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld.
No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed.
Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty, and human suffering.
To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.
Therefore, the nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we admit each year and that means all can not be accepted.
This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them.
Sessions went on to explain that the courts have found DACA “inconsistent with the Constitution’s separation of powers” adding that Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Duke “has chosen, appropriately, to initiate a wind-down process.
Ending DACA, Sessions said, “will enable DHS to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act—should it so choose. We firmly believe this is the responsible path. Simply put, if we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach.”
Sessions also reinforced President Trump’s commitment to sensible immigration policies that protect American citizens and their livelihood:
We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and, if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our Founders in a way that advances the interest of the nation. That is what the President has promised to do and has delivered to the American people. Under President Trump’s leadership, this administration has made great progress in the last few months toward establishing a lawful and constitutional immigration system. This makes us safer and more secure.
Sessions’ Justice Department Stands Strong on Texas Immigration Law
The state of Texas recently passed a new law meant to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. This Texas law came in the wake of increasing numbers of large urban areas across America becoming “sanctuary cities” based on their refusal to comply with federal immigration law. However, earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia issued a preliminary injunction preventing implementation of the new Texas law.
The law, SB 4, gives local Texas police the authority to inquire into a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops and holds police chiefs accountable should they fail to enforce federal immigration laws.
In his option, Judge Garcia held that SB 4 ran afoul of other federal laws, a position that’s disputed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In a written statement by AG Paxton, he said, “Texas has the sovereign authority and responsibility to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens. We’re confident SB 4 will ultimately be upheld as constitutional and lawful.”
The Justice Department has yet to issue a formal opinion on the merits of Judge Garcia’s ruling, but Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley supported the Texas measure in a written statement, saying:
“The Texas legislature should be commended for finding ways to increase cooperation with federal immigration authorities. When jurisdiction work to keep criminal aliens off their streets, it shows a commitment to the rule of law and to reducing violent crime, including violent crime stemming from illegal immigration.”
Texas Democrats are touting this temporary court ruling as a victory, however. As of now, the state of Texas has yet to appeal the decision, but such an appeal is probable.
Senate Confirms New U.S Attorney for Alabama’s Norther District
Madison County Senior Prosecutor Jay Town has been confirmed by the Senate to serve as U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s Northern District.
In his short career, Town has been a driving force in the legal profession. One of his largest accomplishments before his appointment came from his push to streamline Alabama’s death penalty appeals process, which was adopted by the Alabama legislature.
In a statement to WHNT New 19, Town said, “ I am humbled and honored to continue to serve the great people of Alabama as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District. I am grateful for the special trust and confidence shown to me by President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, Senator Shelby, and all of those who supported me through this process. I inherit a very capable office and look forward to joining them in doing great things.”
Jay Town has worked for the Madison County District Attorney’s office since 2005. His role as U.S. Attorney General will give him jurisdiction over 31 Alabama counties, including Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Florence, and Scottsboro.
Sessions Announces Leaks Crackdown, Including Media Subpoenas
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and top intelligence officials held a press conference today outlining the steps the Department of Justice is taking to stop the flood of leaks coming from inside the United States government.
Sessions said that officials are already tracking down and prosecuting suspected sources of the leaks. Four leakers have already been prosecuted by the Justice Department. However, Sessions also announced that his office is “reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas.” This announcement comes after Sessions consulted top FBI officials, investigators, and prosecutors. He did not elaborate on what steps may be taken towards the media, but stated:
“We respect the important role that the press plays, and we’ll give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance the press’s role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in the intelligence community, the armed forces and all law-abiding Americans.”
Sessions is taking a hard stand against what he calls a “culture of leaks” that has surrounded the government since President Trump took office. He ensured that any leakers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law saying, “The Department of Justice is open for business, and I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don’t do it.”
Jeff Sessions Has Potential To Be Among Nation’s Greatest Attorneys General
by Rep. Will Ainsworth
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “statesman” as “a wise, skillful, and respected political leader.”
Throughout its history, Alabama has produced scores of politicians, but our true statesmen have been few and far between.
Jeff Sessions is a statesman.
Throughout his public service career as a U.S. attorney, Alabama’s attorney general, a U.S. senator, and, now, as our nation’s attorney general, Sessions has served with integrity, determination, effectiveness, and a genial and gentlemanly nature that earned him respect from friend and foe alike.
In those various roles, each more prominent than the last, Sessions left a lasting mark.
While a U.S. attorney serving under President Ronald Reagan, Sessions filed civil rights charges against Ku Klux Klan members who murdered a 20-year-old African-American man in Mobile. And, at the urging of African-American voters who were tired of the criminal abuse that they alleged commonly occurred in elections, he sought to stop absentee ballot fraud that was prevalent in Alabama’s Black Belt region.
Elected as Alabama’s attorney general in 1994, he defended state law and worked to preserve local funding for local school districts at a time when liberal activists pushed for a Robin Hood allocation model.
In 1996, voters chose him to succeed Howell Heflin in the U.S. Senate, and this is perhaps where Session left his brightest and most indelible mark to date. Shortly after taking office, Sessions began highlighting the issue of illegal immigration which, until that time, had largely gone unnoticed.
Sessions pushed for laws and policies that sought to plug the holes in our southern border and stop the flow of illegal immigrants that continually funneled into the United States. While liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans worked to create a path to citizenship and legitimize those who break our laws with their simple presence, Sessions was a voice of common sense resolve and an advocate for immigration enforcement.
As a result, left-wing groups seeking to shield illegal aliens and liberal columnists who view the world through a Socialist prism hurled tremendous invective and false accusations of intolerance at Sessions, who rightly maintained his hard-line, law-and-order stance despite the attacks.
It can be argued that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was built on the solid foundation that Sessions laid for him as a senator. Many of the issues that Trump promoted and espoused on the campaign trail, including the construction of an impenetrable border wall, were the same ones that Sessions had previously advocated in numerous speeches on the Senate floor.
That is likely why Sessions surprised many in Washington and brought a new and higher level of legitimacy to the Trump crusade by becoming the first U.S. senator to endorse his candidacy while attending a rally in Huntsville.
From that point forward, Sessions was never far from Trump’s side as he offered valuable advice and counsel. Many of the most significant hiring announcements in the Trump campaign, and later in the White House transition period, involved current and former members of Sessions’ staff or other allies he suggested.
Reportedly offered his choice of any cabinet post after Trump’s victory shocked the fake news media and dissolved many Clinton supporters in tears, Sessions asked to serve as attorney general, a role with which he was already familiar and one in which he would cast a large shadow.
Since taking leadership of the Justice Department, Sessions has kickstarted initiatives to combat the opioid crisis and stop the scourge of drugs that destroys lives and tears families apart. He has drawn a line in the sand against so-called “sanctuary cities” who work to shield illegals from the laws they ignore. And he has declared war against the violent and dangerous “Mara Salva-trucha” international gang, better known as MS-13, whose footprint reaches even into portions of rural Alabama.
I strongly support President Trump and his agenda. In fact, if he asked for volunteers to start building his border wall tomorrow, I would be stacking bricks in Texas by sundown.
At the same time, I strongly support and stand beside Jeff Sessions, who remains a committed and trusted member of the president’s team and has the potential to be considered among the greatest attorneys general in our nation’s history.
The rest of the country is beginning to learn what we in Alabama have known for quite some time – Jeff Sessions is no politician, but, rather, he is a statesman to his core.
About the Author: Will Ainsworth, a small business owner in Guntersville, Alabama, represents portions of Marshall, DeKalb, and Blount counties in the Alabama House of Representatives. He is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2018 election cycle.
Key Endorsements Follow Senate Candidates into the Primary
Just 12 days away from the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, key endorsements have lined up for all three front runners. As key political figures and organizations line up to give their support, candidates are scrambling to prove that they are the clear choice for the American people. Here’s all you need to know about who’s supporting who:
Brooks has enjoyed the support of several influential conservatives throughout the state and nation in recent days. Several prominent conservative commentators have announced that they are endorsing Brooks for senate, including Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Ann Coulter. Brooks’ relationship with Hannity goes back to his time hosting radio in Huntsville. Conservative state representatives have also come to Brooks’ side as the election nears. At an event on Wednesday, seven Alabama delegates expressed their support for the Congressman. The delegates included Ed Henry and Bradley Williams.
Strange has been backed by multiple influential organizations since the beginning of his campaign. He’s received the vocal endorsement of two very important conservative organizations, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and the National Right to Life. In a release posted on their website, NRA chairman Chris W. Cox praised Strange saying, “Throughout his career, Sen. Strange has shown tremendous leadership in protecting our fundamental right to self-defense. As a champion for gun owners in Alabama and across the country, Sen. Strange is the right person to succeed Jeff Sessions as U.S. senator.” The National Right to Life is a prominent pro-life advocacy group which has backed Strange as a candidate committed to defending the rights of an unborn child.
While he hasn’t had the big-name supporters that Brooks and Strange have enjoyed, Moore has received several key endorsements by groups across the state. The Coalition of African-American Pastors gave Moore its support in early June when Rev. William Owens took to Twitter to support Moore’s candidacy. More recently, Moore has been backed by the Alabama Republican Assembly. According to Alabama Today, the ALRA stated, “while there are several good candidates that are running for this position and who would serve Alabama well in the Senate, the Republican Assembly voted overwhelmingly for Judge Moore because of his demonstrable commitment to conservative principles and a willingness to stand up against an out of control Federal Judiciary.” Moore has also been endorsed by conservative actor and writer, Chuck Norris. According to WKRG, the “Walker, Texas Ranger” actor stated, “Judge Roy Moore is the real deal… The Washington establishment knows they won’t be able to count on him, but Alabama voters can.” This recent endorsement brings some name recognition to Moore’s supporters that he has been lacking in recent weeks.
While endorsements are a useful tool in highly contested elections where candidates agree on many of the issues, as is the case in this Republican primary, voters will have the opportunity to endorse their favorite candidate on August 15.
Kelly Offers Assurances that Jeff Sessions’ Job Is Safe
As reported by The Associated Press, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions will apparently keep his job as the U.S. Attorney General, despite the President’s recent flurry of attacks.
Late Wednesday night, newly appointed Chief of Staff John Kelly phoned Sessions, according to sources close to the administration. Among several topics discussed, the primary purpose of the call centered around Sessions’ tenure at the Justice Department, with Kelly reportedly assuring Sessions that his job is safe. During the conversation, Kelly reportedly stressed that the White House remained “supportive” of Sessions and wanted him to “continue his job.”
Until now many have speculated that Sessions’ time as AG might be coming to an end. Just last week the President launched a series of blistering attacks toward Sessions for his refusal to recuse himself from the Russian investigation. Going so far as to use twitter to call him “beleaguered” and “weak.”
Trump’s public assault on Sessions did not go over well with many of Sessions’ old Senate colleagues. Upon hearing the news, many Senator’s took to the camera and denounced the President’s move to publicly humiliate the Attorney General, who was the first Senator to support Trump. In fact, many attribute much of the President’s success in winning the Presidency to Jeff Sessions. As we reported last week. Lindsey Graham said the President would have “holy hell to pay” if he fired Sessions.
Kelly’s call to Sessions appears to be the first in many steps the new Chief of Staff is taking to the right the ship at the White House after a stormy past few weeks.
Kelly has been a member of the administration since day one, serving as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security before being named Chief of Staff. He’s a retired United States Marine Corps General and the former commander of the U.S. Southern Command, dealing with treats in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Many pundits believe Kelly brings a level of maturity to the Chief of Staff role that it sorely needs and that the President respects—and one that’s less about politics and more about wise governance.
While it’s unclear whether Kelly will prove to be Trump’s magic bullet, the recent ceasefire with Sessions should help alleviate some of the pressure facing Trump.
Mo Brooks Chooses Jeff Sessions Over Donald Trump – Suggests All Candidates Drop Out For Sessions
As Yellowhammer has previously reported, a critical component of Alabama’s Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate is who’s with Donald Trump and who’s not. Trump’s recent criticisms of Attorney General Jeff Sessions have perhaps clouded those waters, but allegiance to the President is still no small matter to the 1.3 million Alabama voters who supported him last November.
Luther Strange’s campaign has particularly focused on Congressman Mo Brooks’ view of Donald Trump. A PAC supporting Strange has run ads of audio clips where Brooks criticized Trump during the presidential primary saying, “I don’t think you can trust Donald Trump with anything he says…”
In our article two weeks ago, Brooks said the context of his Trump criticisms was his primary campaign support for Ted Cruz, and since Cruz dropped out last fall, he’s been in the President’s corner. Today, Brooks was on 93.1 in Montgomery being interviewed by Baron Coleman, when Coleman invited Brooks to shore up that support for Trump, and it seems that Brooks took a different tack.
Coleman started by citing the Brooks’ quote about not trusting Trump, and asked him, “Do you still believe that?” Brooks’ answer cited his career as a litigator and elected official, saying he lives in a “trust but verify atmosphere…” noting “there are some things that President Trump has said that has not turned out to be in fact what he does…” In other words, Brooks did not recant.
Coleman also said, “What I heard this morning in the first ten minutes of the interview, were you sort of regret making comments about Donald Trump, but you sort of feel justified…he’s hurt your feelings about a friend of yours (Sessions). To this Brooks replied,
I have never taken back any of the words or comments I made during the 2016 election. Let’s be real clear about that. You’ll never find any place where I said; I take that back. What I have said is people need to understand it’s in the context of me as chairman for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in the State of Alabama, where I was also one of his chief spokesman around the country….my comments were made in that context.
Brooks further characterized Trump in the interview, stating “The reservations I expressed in the Republican primary, I think a good number of them are coming to fruition,” citing the border wall, but focusing on Trump’s criticism of Sessions. As Brooks said, “I really find disconcerting President Trump’s public and personal attacks on a man I know to be of highest character—Jeff Sessions.”
Some listeners called the show with angry reactions to Brooks for his criticism of Trump.
Not long after the interview, Brooks’ campaign issued a news release further stating his support of Sessions and making it clear that if forced to choose between the two, that he stands with Sessions over Trump. In that release, he doubles down on Trump for the publically criticizing the Attorney General from Alabama:
I cannot remain silent about the treatment Jeff Sessions is receiving from President Trump. If the President has reservations about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that is okay. No two people agree all the time. But President Trump should raise his reservations with Attorney General Sessions privately, man to man, one on one, not publicly scorn a great man like this.
I support President Trump’s policies, but this public waterboarding of one of the greatest people Alabama has ever produced is inappropriate and insulting to the people of Alabama who know Jeff Sessions so well and elected him so often by overwhelming margins.
Perhaps even more noteworthy, Brooks said he would withdraw from the Senate race if all his opponents agree to do the same, allowing Sessions to return to his old seat, in the event Sessions steps down as Attorney General.
I offer to withdraw completely from the race for Senate if my other GOP opponents in this race will concur on the terms and conditions set forth in the accompanying “Resolution Reinstating Jeff Sessions as United States Senator”.
If all Republican candidates collectively agree to simultaneously withdraw from this race, then we clear the way for the Republican Party of Alabama to nominate Jeff Sessions to be the Republican nominee for the December 12, 2017 general election. He can return to the Senate where he has served us so well. President can then appoint whomever he wants as Attorney General.
Brooks concludes saying,
I have signed this resolution, and I call on my opponents, Luther Strange, Roy Moore, and the rest of the field to join me.
I recognize that President Trump is popular in Alabama. My closest friends and political advisers have told me to not side with Jeff Sessions, that it will cost me politically to do so. My response is simple: I don’t care. If this costs me politically, that’s fine but I am going to do the right thing for Alabama and America.
I stand with Jeff Sessions.
Brooks’ proposal for everyone to drop out to make way for Sessions drew sharp responses.
Alabama’s senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby told Roll Call, “Jeff Sessions is the attorney general right now,” adding, “The primary is in two weeks. I talked to Sessions yesterday. He likes the job he’s got. Maybe the polls aren’t doing well for Brooks.”
Luther Strange said, “This is what a candidate does when he learns he’s plummeted to a distant third and is desperate to get attention. Shame on Congressman Brooks for his lack of faith in President Trump’s and Attorney General Sessions’ commitment to work together to make America great again.” Candidate Trip Pittman also criticized Brooks’ proposal, saying, “I’ve always completed everything I started. If Congressman Brooks wants out, he still has a good job he can go back to.”
Below are excerpts from Brooks’ interview with Baron Coleman: