Byrne: The consequences of impeachment

In the summer of 1973, as a student intern in Washington far from my home in Mobile, I got a firsthand view as the Senate held its Watergate hearings. For a young person, it was an amazing introduction to politics, and I was fascinated by what I saw.

I followed the subsequent impeachment proceedings in 1974 carefully. Unfortunately, as the facts came out, it was clear President Nixon couldn’t continue in office.

During the Clinton impeachment drama, I was a busy father, attorney and part-time state school board member. I could not pay as close attention, but I still watched everything unfold with great interest.

Clinton was, and is, a perjurer and abused his office by having sexual relations with a young intern – literally in his office in the White House.

Even so, I worried that the Republicans were overreaching with impeachment, and the voters told us we were.

After the House impeached Clinton and he was acquitted by the Senate, Republicans lost seats in the House and Newt Gingrich was forced to resign as speaker.

Fast forward to November 2016 and Donald Trump’s election as president.

Since Day 1 of his presidency, factions in our nation have called Donald Trump an illegitimate president. Many Democrats in elected office have publicly called for his impeachment for over two and a half years.

They’ve tried almost every trick in the book to manufacture something worthy of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” our Constitution requires for impeachment.

Look no further than Adam Schiff’s recent statement before the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff used his position as chairman of the committee to describe to a captive American audience a completely fabricated phone conversation between President Trump and the president of Ukraine.

This is the same Adam Schiff who spent months on cable news networks promising some vague bombshell in the Mueller Report. By now, all his credibility is in shambles.

I was proud to co-sponsor a resolution to condemn and censure Schiff for his blatant attempt to mislead the public through lies and deception. The American people deserve better.

The Ukrainian deal is just the latest impeachment flavor of the week after earlier attempts fell flat.

As with all the manufactured scandals from Russia to Justice Kavanaugh, Schiff and his allies in the national news media do not give the full truth in order to keep scandal in the headlines.

With regards to the President’s phone call to President Zelensky of Ukraine, the Department of Justice reviewed all the evidence in August, found no evidence of a federal crime, and closed their case. What do Democrats in the House think they will find that our nation’s criminal division could not?

The national news media won’t tell you that because it weakens the impeachment narrative. They are complicit with efforts to impeach at all costs.

We must stand up during tough times like these.

This process we are following now is unprecedented, bad for the country, and, ultimately for the Democrats, bad politics. The substantive basis for the present line of the impeachment “inquiry” is ludicrous.

Today, I have a much closer seat for impeachment than I did as a student in 1973. I have followed it as closely as anyone.

Next year, voters will have the opportunity to repudiate the Democrats for their baseless impeachment efforts. Speaker Pelosi, Schiff, the Squad and other Democrats would be wise to pay attention to history.

If not, and Democrats continue their impeachment crusade, Speaker Pelosi might be looking for another job as President Trump is sworn in for his second term.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

58 mins ago

Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear retiring; Kim Boswell appointed as successor

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that Lynn Beshear will retire as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) effective December 16.

Beshear was appointed by Ivey to this position in July 2017, shortly after the governor took office.

Yellowhammer News earlier this year named Beshear a 2020 Woman of Impact.

“When Lynn was appointed, I knew that she would approach her role always thinking of what is best for the people of Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement.

“She has created a collaborative team approach within the Alabama Department of Mental Health to solve intricate problems regarding delivery of services for mental illness, substance abuse disorder and intellectual disability. I am truly grateful for her service to our state and wish her best in her next chapter,” she continued.

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While leading ADMH, Beshear has spearheaded several initiatives to increase access of services for Alabamians with mental illness, while navigating complexities of delivery by the department and community providers.

“It is been an honor to serve as the Commissioner of the department,” Beshear commented. “I am stepping into the next chapter of my life proud of the accomplishments of the department and am incredibly honored to have worked with such dedicated individuals who are committed to improving the lives of others. I profoundly thank Governor Ivey for her trust in me these last three years and have no doubt the department will continue to change the lives of the people of Alabama for the better.”

Ivey’s office in a release outlined that under Beshear’s leadership, ADMH launched Stepping Up Alabama, which uses the national model to reduce the numbers of jailed individuals with mental illness. Alabama is the only state to expand the goal to include ER’s and substance use disorder. It is anticipated that a case management component of Stepping Up will be in place in all 67 counties by the end of the Fiscal Year 2022.

Additionally, three mental health crisis centers were recently announced as crisis diversion centers, with the goal of individuals receiving “the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Expansion of school-based mental health, hiring a housing coordinator for individuals’ stabilization plan, and expansion of early childhood services and autism services are examples of ADMH’s expansion of services during Beshear’s tenure.

The governor on Monday also announced she is appointing Kim Boswell to be the new ADMH commissioner effective December 16.

Boswell reportedly has more than 36 years of experience working with individuals with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and developmental disabilities.

She currently serves as chief of staff for Beshear and has been both associate commissioner for Administration as well as director of Human Resources for the department. During her career, Boswell has worked as a planner to improve human service delivery systems, a Program Evaluator, a School to Work Transition Coordinator, and has also served as the State Office Administrator for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.

“I’m pleased to announce Kim Boswell as Commissioner for the Alabama Department of Mental Health,” Ivey stated. “She has spent the entirety of her professional career devoted to helping struggling individuals and I appreciate her willingness to serve in this new capacity. Her background as a mental health provider as well as administrator makes her uniquely qualified.”

The governor’s office noted that Kim Boswell is of no relation to ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Report: Democratic-aligned group tried to register dead Alabama woman to vote in Georgia

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday said his office is investigating four different voter registration groups for potential wrongdoing ahead of the state’s crucial January 5 U.S. Senate runoffs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Raffensperger, a Republican, held a press conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta to outline these investigations.

The theme of the alleged actions by all four groups under investigation pertains to attempting to register people who do not currently reside in Georgia to vote in the Peach State’s runoffs.

One of the groups was founded by Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who lost the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018; she has still not conceded that election. Her group allegedly solicited individuals residing in New York City to register to vote in Georgia.

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Another group, Vote Forward, is alleged to have attempted to register a dead Alabama woman to vote in the upcoming runoff.

Vote Forward is a 501(c)(4) aligned with Democratic groups and left-leaning causes.

The group’s other prominent Alabama tie?

On Vote Forward’s website, the organization cites its voter registration and turnout efforts in the Yellowhammer State as being effective in helping U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) win his 2017 special election bid.

In fact, the website says, “The project began as an experiment conducted by Scott Forman in Alabama in 2017. Encouraged by the success of that test, Scott and a small group of friends and fellow Opower alumni built this platform…”

On Monday, Raffensperger stressed that Vote Forward and the three other named groups “have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting.”

“If they do so, they will be held responsible,” he added.

The outcome of Georgia’s runoffs is of paramount importance for Alabama, as U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will lose the chairmanship of the powerful Committee on Appropriations if Republicans do not win these two races.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has launched a nationwide Georgia Battleground Fund leadership team to aid fundraising in their effort to hold the Senate majority. Led by Karl Rove as national finance chairman, this also includes state chairs and a distinguished team of national and honorary co-chairs.

Katie Boyd Britt — current president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and former chief of staff to Shelby — is the Alabama state chair for this effort.

“America’s fate rests on the outcome of these Georgia races,” stated Rove. “Democrats have not been shy about what they’ll do if Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi run Congress, so it’s imperative every freedom loving American go all in for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler so they’re victorious. I’m honored to work with so many great Republican leaders from all 50 states and D.C. to ensure these two Senators have the resources to protect the last line of defense against the Democrats’ left-wing agenda.”

RELATED: Republican organizer leading team of volunteers to aid Senate races in Georgia

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Alabama sets state record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Alabama recorded its largest yet number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Monday as the state’s coronavirus statistics continue to reach alarming levels.

There were 1,717 individuals in the hospital with COVID in Alabama on Monday, eclipsing the previous record of 1,613 set on August 6.

UAB Hospital, the state’s biggest and most prominent medical facility, is currently treating 125 coronavirus patients, a new high for the facility.

“125 patients means 125 patients receiving in-hospital, bed-specific care. These are patients who are either very sick, unable to get better, or potentially unable to survive without medical attention and care,” UAB explained about their hospitalized patients in a press release.

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Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab (BamaTracker)
(UAB/Contributed)

UAB’s numbers include any patient admitted to the hospital with a diagnosed case of COVID-19.

The hospital’s numbers appear to indicate a worrying spike in the Birmingham metropolitan area. UAB was treating just 79 coronavirus patients on Thursday.

Overall, Alabama’s count of new coronavirus cases remains about as high as it has ever been. On average, 1,733 new cases have been added each day over the last week.

Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab (BamaTracker)

Yellowhammer News is using statewide coronavirus numbers from BamaTracker in this piece. BamaTracker is a website that collects and displays coronavirus data published by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Additionally, Yellowhammer is counting new cases as those confirmed by a chemical test performed in a laboratory. When adding results from rapid tests and other methods classified by ADPH as “probable” positives, Alabama’s seven-day average rises to 2,206.

Past trends in coronavirus data show that a spike in hospitalizations follows a spike in new cases by 2-3 weeks. A corresponding increase in deaths follows the increase in hospitalizations by around one month.

All but three of Alabama’s 67 counties reported a new COVID-19 case on Monday, indicating continued widespread transmission across the state.

Of all COVID-19 tests administered in Alabama over the last 14 days, 26.1% came back positive, the highest rate the state has suffered during the pandemic.

In recent days, for every eight tests administered, one was positive, per BamaTracker’s calculations.

Approximately 13 coronavirus deaths were reported in Alabama each day over the last week. The state’s death toll now stands at 3,246, with another 332 listed as “probable” but not yet confirmed by ADPH.

Doctors continue to recommend wearing face masks, staying at least six feet apart from others, and washing hands frequently as the best ways to slow the spread of the virus.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 hours ago

Alabama’s state Christmas tree to be delivered on Tuesday

Alabama’s official Christmas tree will be delivered to the State Capitol on Tuesday, the governor’s office said.

This year’s tree, donated by Robbins Taylor, Sr., is an Eastern Red Cedar arriving from Letohatchee in Lowndes County.

The tree stands about 35 feet tall and will be displayed on the front steps of the State Capitol building in Montgomery.

Following its delivery, the tree will be decorated throughout the week with lights and other adornments before the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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5 hours ago

Four tips to keep seniors safe from scams

This holiday season, we have a suggestion: Check on your parents. Or grandparents. And make sure everything is OK.

Holidays are about family time, but 2020 is decidedly different. Social distancing will be the norm. Unfortunately, scammers don’t follow the rules. And that puts seniors at even more risk.

Cold, hard numbers bear that out. According to Protecting Older Consumers 2019-2020: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), adults 60 and over are more likely to be victims of fraud – and less likely to report cases to authorities. The FTC points out that the risk gets worse as people age. The FTC also reports that adults age 80 and older suffer the biggest losses, with a median reported loss of $1,600.

It gets worse. Adults aged 60+ are six times more likely to be the victims of tech support scams; they are three times more likely to report losses due to prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams; and this demographic is twice as likely as young adults to report financial losses due to impostor fraud.

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“Always keep in mind, these people are trying to bait you in to giving them information,” said Jon Kucharski, fraud strategy manager at Regions. “The best strategy is to ignore them. For example, if you respond, ‘You’ve got the wrong guy,’ to an unsolicited text message, the person on the other end knows they’ve a got a live phone number. These people are making a lot of money because people respond.”

You can protect grandparents – and yourself – by recognizing these four signs of potential fraud:

  1. Scammers pretending to be from known organizations – With new technology, numbers can look official on Caller ID. But the IRS, Social Security and Medicare aren’t going to call you and ask for personal information. And a tech company won’t offer to fix the problem they “just discovered” remotely on your computer.
  2. Scammers calling with a problem, or a prize waiting for you – Again, the government isn’t going to call out of the blue. Nor will a legitimate official tell you to send money to get a loved out of a legal scrape you knew nothing about. A sweepstakes company won’t call you saying you’re the grand prize winner, and only need to pay a nominal fee to receive your jackpot.
  3. Scammers pressuring you to act immediately – They may tell you if you don’t send money or act right now, they’ll have you arrested or sued. The threats don’t end there. They could threaten to take away your business license or deport you. And in one of the latest technology scams, they’ll threaten to take over your computer if you don’t respond.
  4. Scammers insisting you pay in a specific way – To get out of trouble, you can send a money transfer or a gift card. Or they’ll insist they’ll send a check for you to deposit. In return, you send them money.

Jeff Taylor, Regions’ head of commercial fraud forensics, points out that there are obvious reasons why scammers exploit seniors more effectively.

“Seniors are targeted because they’re available and they’re at home,” Taylor said. “In some cases, they may have hearing impairments and may not understand all they’re hearing. And many are not as technologically savvy.”

Despite all these scams, stopping fraudsters is simple. Share these tips with your parents, grandparents – in fact, anyone you care about:

  1. Block unwanted phone calls and filter unsolicited texts – They can’t get to you if you don’t respond. And if you see an unfamiliar number, don’t answer.
  2. Don’t give out personal or financial information to someone you don’t know – Legitimate organizations, including banks, won’t ask you for that information in a phone call, text or email. If you really think the call was legit, look up the organization, find a real phone number and make the call yourself to confirm.
  3. Take a deep breath – No matter how urgent the matter is according to the person on the other line, don’t act immediately. Someone reaching out for legitimate purposes will give you ample time to fix the problem.
  4. Stop and talk to someone you trust – That’s what family and friends are for. Tell them what happened and, together, decide if you are being scammed.

Learn the scams and steps to take – and keep – loved ones safe. If all else fails, report fraud and help others avoid the same fate at this website: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov.

Stay on top of fraud prevention with the new resource page from Regions at www.regions.com/fraudprevention.

The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/stopfraud, or speak with your banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.

(Courtesy of Regions Bank)