The Wire

  • Fairhope firefighter facing new child sex crime allegations

    Excerpt from WKRG:

    A volunteer Fairhope firefighter, already facing child sex crime charges in Northwest Florida, is now also facing charges in Baldwin County

    Aaron Timony Green — seen smiling in his latest booking photo — was booked into the Baldwin County Corrections Center Tuesday morning on charges of child sex abuse and sodomy.

    According to Daphne Police, Green was arrested Monday, and the alleged abuse happened in November 2017.

    Police say the alleged victim was under 12.

  • Birmingham council passes $436 million budget

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the $436 million fiscal year 2019 operating budget.

    The budget is $8 million larger than last year’s budget, due to increased revenue from use and occupational taxes. According to the mayor’s office, 133 vacant jobs were cut from the budget, saving the city $4.7 million.

    Despite the larger budget, Mayor Randall Woodfin said there still wasn’t enough money for street paving or additional funding for Birmingham City Schools.

  • Martha Roby Honors Montgomery Native in 10th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game Tomorrow

    Excerpt from a Rep. Martha Roby news release:

    U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) will play in the 10th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game tomorrow, June 20, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    This beloved tradition began in 2009 after Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was diagnosed with breast cancer. Each year, female members of Congress face members of the Washington, D.C., press corps to raise funds and awareness for the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), an organization that addresses a variety of issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Each year, the players honor real women who are battling cancer. This year, Representative Roby will be playing for Courtney Pruitt, a Montgomery native and recent Alabama Christian Academy graduate who is currently undergoing intense treatment to fight leukemia. Courtney is the daughter of Representative Roby’s dear friend and Montgomery City Councilman Glen Pruitt.

    “This year marks the tenth consecutive year female members from both sides of the aisle have come together for the Congressional Women’s Softball Game to support young women battling cancer,” Representative Roby said. “I’m proud to be involved in this great event again this year, and I truly believe it demonstrates what we can accomplish when we put our differences aside to rally for a worthy cause. I am honored to play for my dear friend’s daughter Courtney as she continues to courageously battle this disease.”

2 days ago

The Pauline passage doesn’t address the justice of penalties for breaking laws

(TIME/YouTube)

Scholars and pundits have made their thoughts well-known on the Trump Administration’s biblical arguments for “zero-tolerence” immigration enforcement.

Here I offer one more targeted to the structure of the argument that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made last Thursday.

For review, here are his words, which have enticed the most responders.

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Sessions shapes up his parameters as “to discuss some concerns raised by our church friends about separation of families.”

He continues: “Illegal entry into the United States is a crime, it should be and must be, if we’re going to have a legal system and any limits whatsoever. People who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. If you violate the law, you subject yourself to prosecution.”

Sessions then invokes St. Paul, whose instructions to the church in Rome he summarizes as to “obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”

Here is my primary observation:

The Romans 13 passage is far too broad to address the justness of separating families. St. Paul’s guidance does perhaps provide a defense for the prosecution of illegal immigrants but certainly does not imply that should one break a secular law, any consequence is permissible, simply because a secular authority sanctioned it.

Truly, Paul speaks nothing of the justice of such consequences in this passage. As a result, the only piece of the immigration enforcement puzzle given any measure of justification by St. Paul is the notion that those who have entered illegally have broken a law.

In short, Sessions ventures from making a case for the justness of separating the children from their parents to making a much broader case that laws ought to be applied because God gave secular authority to enlist them.

Sessions’s use of the Pauline passage would not be completely useless for making a broad case for immigration enforcement but considering his starting point, the passage simply does not extend to imply what he implies which is that the result of prosecution, namely the separation of families, is just.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 days ago

Immigration debate: ‘There is no room for them at the inn’ is a better Bible verse to reference

(W.Miller from Pixabay)

Americans have been told for decades that we need to have a complete and total separation of religion and government, including ignoring your religious beliefs during policy making when it comes to abortion and gay marriage. But when “children are being ripped away from their parents” at the border, the American media and Democrats have found the Bible to be a useful tool for bashing Christians.

Christian leaders were outraged, Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded by referencing his own Bible verse about following the law, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders agreed. Liberals and their media saw an opportunity, and an MSNBC host started quoting the Bible on-air.

The King James Bible has another verse that we can quote out of context for this immigration debate if we are so inclined:

Luke 2:7: “…there was no room for them in the inn.”

Why this matters:

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If Americans, their politicians, and the media, were serious about this debate it would be about how illegal immigrants impact our society.

We’d talk about the crime some of them bring and the resources that they consume.

We’d talk about the impact on wages and the employment market.

We’d talk about how a person making minimum wage can‘t afford an apartment on their own.

But this isn’t about any of that.

It is about fighting President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, and Donald Trump’s presidency in general. They want more immigrants because they view that as the future of their political power.

This isn’t about reason or even morality, it is about emotional manipulation.

TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

3 days ago

Nancy Pelosi calls all people of faith ‘hypocrites’ for not railing against immigration policy

(W. Hernadez/YouTube)

Nancy Pelosi called Attorney General Jeff Sessions and “all people of faith in our country” hypocrites for not demanding a stop to immigration policy enforcement.

Pelosi lambasted Sessions for quoting the Bible and chastised people of faith for not calling for a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. She also criticized him for not demanding an end to the separation of children from families of illegal immigrants during the prosecution of adults.

Pelosi’s comments came in light of President Donald Trump’s stated refusal on Friday to sign an immigration bill that House Republicans were finalizing.

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“The very hypocrisy of the Attorney General to quote the Bible, the hypocrisy of all people of faith in our country not to clamor for what the administration is doing to end — whether it’s to deprive the dreamers of the respect they deserve or whether its taking babies away from their mothers and fathers,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi then claimed that her interest in politics stemmed from her “concern about children” and her experience as a mother of five. Pelosi has also made statements in the past in support of Planned Parenthood and late term abortions.

She then called the Trump administration hypocrites and urged “right thinking” Republicans to bring an end to what she called the “un-American activities that is being put forth by the President of the United States, by the Republicans in congress, and by this Attorney General.”

“For this administration to pose as people of faith and pose as people who care about family and children is of a height of hypocrisy that knows no bounds,” Pelosi said.

House leadership also refused to debate the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2018, to the chagrin of some Catholic leaders. The bill would have protected DACA recipients from deportation and provided a pathway for those among them who meet certain qualifications to gain citizenship, but would also increase border security.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

1 month ago

Alabama Sen. Shelby on the Mueller probe: ‘Not a big fan’ of special prosecutors; Rosenstein ‘a real liberal prosecutor’

(Senator R. Shelby/Flickr)

Saturday at the Mid-Alabama Republican Club at Vestavia Hills Public Library, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) fielded questions about the Department of Justice’s special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Shelby was asked if he would call for an end of the “witch-hunt on President Trump,” referring to the Mueller probe.

“I like a lot of the things President Trump is doing,” Shelby replied. “I supported him. I flew down to Huntsville with him — spent an hour and a half with him. I’ve never done that before with any president. I like a lot of his policies, supported a lot of his policies, and plan to support. I think he’s doing some good things. Let’s look at Korea right now. Now, that’s all in flux. But if they can make some kind of agreement that’s meaningful and substantively there, he might be the best one to do it, and the new secretary of state.”

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“If they do that, my God — I saw a CNN poll that said he had an approval of 52 percent,” he continued. “That’s unusual. The media, the Democrats, the left don’t realize and don’t want to realize they lost the election. You know this,  and that’s part of the problem. A lot of it is fanned by, you know, by different people than the media. I think that at this point in time — you got a special counsel and special prosecutor out there. I haven’t seen anything out there that involved Trump, directly involved in any Russian influence of our election, that most of it has been on the periphery of people that did things that work on the campaign. I don’t see it tied to him that has anything to do with the campaign that I know of yet.”

“But I’m not a big fan of special prosecutors,” he added. “I have voted not to have special prosecutors. That all came about because Senator Sessions recused himself. Then he appointed a deputy who happened to be — let’s be honest, a real liberal prosecutor. And then he appointed Mueller. I don’t know how it’s going to wind up, but the sooner, the better.”

Shelby took a follow-up question on the topic, which pertained to Trump being responsible for the actions of his staff during the campaign.

“I got a staff,” he replied. “I can’t be responsible for everything they do. Are you kidding me?”

Watch Shelby’s entire presentation (courtesy of the Greater Birmingham Republican Women):

Senator Richard Shelby

Posted by Greater Birmingham Republican Women on Saturday, May 12, 2018

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 month ago

Mo Brooks, 17 US House colleagues call on AG Sessions to end Mueller probe on July 5

(Screenshot/YouTube)

On Wednesday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and 16 other members of the House of Representatives issued a letter calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election by July 5.

In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Brooks explained how he and those other members hoped Sessions would proceed in handling the Mueller investigation.

“Two years is more than enough time for a competent and thorough prosecutor, backed up by the resources of the FBI and Department of Justice, to do this job,” Brooks said. “Mueller’s inability to finish the special counsel investigation in a timely manner is damaging America. For emphasis, the alleged Russian Interference and Trump Collusion investigations have taken on the character of an endless political persecution that not only harms Americans’ trust in the justice system but also severely damages and distracts from the ability of a duly elected president to fulfill his duties to the American people.”

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Brooks explained he was asking for the July 5 given that it marked two years after the start of the FBI investigation and added that until then, Sessions should limit the scope of Mueller’s effort to that involving alleged Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

See letter below:




@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 month ago

House intel Chair Nunes plans to hold AG Sessions in contempt for ignoring subpoena

(Fox News/YouTube)

The House intelligence Committee has ended its probe into Russian collusion, and it is now investigating what Chairman Devin Nunes calls “FISA abuse and other matters.”

In a phone call to “Fox & Friends” on Sunday morning, Nunes said as part of that FISA investigation, he sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions two weeks ago, and “per usual, it was ignored. Not acknowledged — completely ignored,” Nunes said.

“So last week we sent a subpoena. And then on Thursday we discovered that they are not going to comply with our subpoena of very important information that we need. The only thing left that we can do is, we have to move quickly to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt. And that’s what I’m going to press for this week.”

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Nunes said the information his committee is seeking is classified.

“And this is the problem with a lot of this investigation. Look, because of the way they conducted the investigation, most of this information is classified. But because this is so important, I’m not going to take any excuse to say, oh, we’re harming national security. How many times have we heard that argument throughout this entire investigation?

“You know, we’ve had to take people to court to get the information. You know, we shouldn’t have had to take Fusion GPS to court in order to find out that the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign had paid for dirty dossier. Remember, the dirt that was used to get the FISA warrant on the Trump campaign?

“We shouldn’t have had to do that, and so we’re just not going to take this nonsense of every time we peel something back; every time we need information, we get ignored, we get stalled, we get stonewalled. And then, lo and behold, we get accused of, we’re going to destroy the nation’s ability to keep it secure.”

Nunes said the next step is to go to court this week in attempt to enforce the subpoena.

“So we’ve been in discussions over the weekend with our general counsel for the United States Congress. Now remember, we did this with Lois Learner and we did this also with Attorney General Holder. But I think this is going to be a much different case, where I can’t imagine that the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is going to defend not providing pertinent documents, very important documents, to Congress.”

Nunes said he doesn’t even know if Sessions is aware of the committee’s latest request for classified information.

“I think we need to talk to the attorney general, make sure he understands the significance of this request. I have already talked to the director of the FBI that we need this request. So this just can’t continue where we don’t get information in a timely manner. And like I said, everything we’ve tried to get they tried to stop us from getting.”

In an interview with Fox News in February, Nunes expressed concern about secret courts granting secret warrants, based on opposition research, to spy on American citizens:

“I think the American people understand that the FBI should not go to secret courts using information that was paid for by the Democrats to open up investigations to get warrants on people of the other political party. That’s the type of stuff that happens in the banana republic,” Nunes said at the time.

Later in February, Nunes sent a questionnaire to current and former administration officials, asking them “ten simple questions” relating to the Steele dossier, an opposition research document paid for by the Democrat Party and the Clinton campaign.

The questions included this one: “When did you first become aware that the Steele dossier was used to obtain a FISA order on Carter Page?”

Two weeks ago, Nunes said the FBI began its investigation into alleged Trump-Russia coordination without any official intelligence communication.

“We now know there was no official intelligence that was used to start this investigation,” Nunes told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on April 22. Nunes said “major irregularities” at the Obama State Department — information funneled through unofficial channels — may have prompted the FBI’s probe.

(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)

2 months ago

Will blue lightning strike Alabama twice?

(W.Miller/YHN)

The Primaries are quietly easing up on Alabama. Aside from perhaps a few local races, there doesn’t seem to be any hotly contested battles to grab the state’s attention. There are unlikely to be any Congressional changes and apparently no shake-ups in the few open state legislative seats. With an incumbent governor running for reelection, even that looks like a yawner at the moment, so the status quo looks safely intact. Or is it?

And who is happy with the status quo? For all the conservative talking, there ain’t much conservative walking. While Alabama has enjoyed some economic success, it is still hamstrung by woefully inadequate infrastructure, a flat broken budget process, and state government badly in need of reform. A few folks were indicted, some convicted, and others removed, but the culture of corruption remains tacitly ingrained.

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Governor Kay Ivey deserves a mountain of credit for restoring normalcy and stability to a licentious, loony, lying governor’s office. Her single greatest accomplishment was getting the governor off the front pages and out of the tabloids. Scandal weary Alabamians were exceedingly grateful and relieved some modicum of decorum and dignity was returned to the governor’s office.

A career politician with a life long record of public service, Governor Ivey should be commended for being in the right place at the right time to right the ship of state. However, she’s not a reformer or visionary; she’s a place holder. And we needed a place holder at the time. But according to Montgomery insiders, she is a place holder for a recycled Bob Riley staff and now the default guardian of the status quo.

Other than rightly calling for a special election for Senator Jeff Sessions’ seat, she has not rocked the boat, so it seems she is skating to reelection. Or is she? While the Republicans gingerly treat her like Aunt Bea and the media sidesteps any serious scrutiny, does anyone think the Democrats will be as deferential in the general election? Or that the press will not turn on her like rabid hyenas if they smell Republican blood?

Not that old at 73, she is obviously frail in her rare public appearances. There is still lingering doubt about her health from an episode a few years ago when she had to be hospitalized in Colorado. Many suspected a stroke, but her campaign vehemently denies it as only altitude sickness. Nevertheless she still appears very scripted and stilted when speaking publically. Her handlers move her about carefully and yet there are rumors of embarrassing public incidents.

There is also ample gossip about her legendary imbibing and even tales of sordid lifestyle choices. The point here is not to repeat nasty chitchat, but highlight that Ivey is a vulnerable candidate not undergoing proper vetting in the Republican primary. Whether any of it’s true, you can bet Democrats will pounce on her.

Oh but in deep red Alabama, Republicans are a sure thing, right? Ask Roy Moore. Certainly always controversial, Moore ran a flawed campaign in the general election and was beset by unforeseen accusations. Every weakness was fully exploited by Democrats to narrowly and unexpectedly win a US Senate seat in Alabama!

While Alabamians are dutifully waiting for college football to resume, Democrats are gleefully awaiting Governor Ivey in the fall. They are gearing up to replay a Doug Jones upset. If Governor Ivey wins the Republican nomination, blue lightening will strike Alabama twice. We will have a Democrat governor on the heels of a Democrat US Senator. Dynamic and young, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox looks poised for the win.

Republicans need to take off the kid gloves and the media must give voters an opportunity to properly vet Ivey in the primary. Is she healthy enough to serve another four years or are we looking at another default governor moving up from the Lieutenant Governor’s office? Her health is important, but there is a larger issue. Alabama needs vigorous visionary leadership to reform the state apparatus and move us beyond the stale status quo. Any of the other Republican candidates offer that and more. Let’s have a real Republican primary before Democrats scuttle the ship Ivey righted.

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Pete Riehm is the host of Common Sense Radio heard 8pm every Thursday on FMTalk106.5 or streaming at fmtalk1065.com. Email him at peteriehm@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @PeteRiehm or visit http://peteriehm.com.

2 months ago

Sessions: Pardons granted by Bill Clinton were ‘stunning, shocking and unacceptable on the merits’

(DOD)

Democrats, panicked that President Trump might pardon former associates who now find themselves in legal trouble, pressed Attorney General Jeff Sessions on that issue at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

“The President of the United States clearly has the constitutional power to pardon,” Sessions said; and the president may do so without going through the Justice Department’s pardon attorney.

“And it’s been done very frequently in history,” Sessions told Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

Van Hollen said he wasn’t disputing the president’s pardon power, but he did want assurances from Sessions that it would be “an inappropriate use of that power” for Presidennt Trump to grant pardons without input from the pardon attorney.

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Van Hollen said in eight years of the Obama administration, he couldn’t think of one pardon that didn’t go through the pardon attorney. “And I don’t think there was a single pardon during the presidency of George W. Bush that did not go through the…Pardon Office,” the senator said.

Sessions reminded Van Hollen that “a number” of pardons granted by President Bill Clinton did not go through the pardon attorney; and some of Clinton’s pardons “were stunning, shocking and unacceptable on the merits,” Sessions said.

President Bill Clinton, on the eve of his departure from the White House, pardoned fugitive financier Marc Rich, the ex-husband of a major Clinton donor.

Here’s part of the Van Hollen-Sessions exchange:

Sessions: It’s clearly within the power of the president to execute pardons without the pardon attorney. If you’re doing a lot of pardons and you want to have a lot of cases and you want to have them reviewed by independent force, the pardon attorney provides a real asset through a chief executive before executing a — a pardon.

Van Hollen: Did (Trump’s) pardon of Sheriff Joseph Arpaio go through the pardon attorney office?

Sessions: I don’t believe it did.

Van Hollen: Did (Trump’s) pardon of Scooter Libby go through that office?

Sessions: I don’t believe it did.

Van Hollen: OK. But do you agree with what you said earlier (at a previous congressional hearing), that that is the appropriate course of action for a pardon? I’m not asking you what the president’s authority is. I’m asking you what you think the appropriate course of action is to make sure that the public has confidence in the integrity of the process?

Sessions: There are opportunities that the pardon attorney can be utilized very effectively, and it has been over time. But I don’t think it’s in any way required that any president seek the opinion of a pardon attorney.

Van Hollen: It’s — it’s not a requirement, I’m just — you’re — I’m quoting from a statement you made saying it was abuse of process in a particular case made by President Clinton…

Sessions: Well, I would just say that pardons President Clinton made were stunning, shocking and unacceptable on the merits.

Sessions noted that former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in his 80s and had been convicted of a misdemeanor. “And Mr. Libby is well-known, the circumstances of that case.”

“They contributed greatly to America,” Sessions added.

Later in the hearing, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) also raised the issue of presidential pardons.

“Has the president or anyone in the administration discussed with you the possibility of President Trump pardoning Michael Cohen?” Coons asked Sessions.

“I am not able to reveal the contents of any communications I might have with the president of the United States or his top staff,” Sessions replied.

“Given the previous conversation you had with Senator Van Hollen, it’s my hope that if President Trump proceeded to pardon Michael Cohen in violation of longstanding policy and did not consult with a pardon attorney, did not consult with DOJ, that you would express strong objection to that and would consider resigning if that step were taken,” Coons said. “Hopefully, it would not come to that.”

Michael Cohen, a long-time friend and attorney to Donald Trump, reportedly plans to plead the Fifth Amendment in a civil lawsuit filed by porn star Stormy Daniels. He is also the target of a criminal investigation by the FBI.

(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)

2 months ago

Sessions backs legislation mandating ‘cooperative relationship’ between states, ICE agents

(U.S. ICE/Flickr)

“We’re a nation of laws, and we’re not following our laws on immigration,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. “Is there anything that we can do about sanctuary cities, in terms of legislation, that would help you?” the senator asked the AG.

“Absolutely,” Sessions replied. “For example, I think we could authorize explicitly…legislation that mandates a cooperative relationship with state and local areas.”

Sessions condemned the “ideological open-borders, radical policy” whre a city or county refuses to honor ICE requests to detain illegal aliens who have committed crimes:

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“And that means the ICE officers have to go out in the community, place themselves and maybe neighbors at risk to try to apprehend, sometimes dangerous, criminals. And I cannot agree to that. I cannot accept having our officers placed at that kind of risk. And it’s an important matter; it’s not a little matter,” Sessions said.

“And I think these cities need to re-evaluate what they’re saying. I don’t think they know what they’re saying. I don’t think they understand the implications of their refusal to cooperate with brother and sister law officers like our ICE officers. We cooperate with them.”

Sessions said the partnership between state and federal law enforcement officers has contributed to a 30-year decline in crime. He said the erosion of that partnership in sanctuary cities “is the biggest breach of that relationship I’ve seen in my 40 years of law enforcement.”

“If a person can cross the border on Monday and end up in San Francisco on Wednesday, hauling dope and gets arrested with cocaine or heroin, why would not the city want the ICE, after they’ve served their time, to take them out of the country like the law contemplates? I find, like you, that’s amazing.”

On the same day Sessions testified, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat running for re-election, issued a “cease and desist” notice to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The tactics deployed by ICE agents “have become increasingly reckless and reflect a serious disregard for the rule of law,” Cuomo wrote to the head of ICE, giving him several examples of recent immigration raids that “raise significant legal and public safety concerns.”

Cuomo also issued an executive order prohibiting ICE arrests in state facilities and prohibiting state agencies from inquiring about immigration status.

(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)

2 months ago

Bizarro World: NYT reminds us that Alabama’s Jeff Sessions is a consistent conservative

(Wikicommons)

The president has repeatedly insulted Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, calling him “weak” “disgraceful” and an “idiot” along with mockingly nicknaming him Mr. Magoo.

To add injury to insults, many fair-weather conservatives have echoed these jeers or said nothing, failing to defend a man who has faithfully defended us and our values for decades.

Oh well, at least the Gray Lady took a moment today to remind us that Sessions remains faithful to our movement and his word:

Key excerpts from the New York Times:

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— “While the president rails against him in Washington, Mr. Sessions travels the country diligently pushing the conservative Trump agenda. As a former federal prosecutor who has a firm grasp of the tools of his office and the letter of the law, Mr. Sessions, 71, is the creator and chief enforcer of the tough immigration and criminal justice goals that helped propel Mr. Trump into office.”

— “And unlike several other members of the Trump cabinet, Mr. Sessions has not sullied the administration with headlines over first-class jet travel, exorbitant office furnishings, lobbyist-furnished housing — or all of the above. When he is in Washington, Mr. Sessions has a turkey sandwich from the Justice Department cafeteria (base price: $5.29) for lunch, which he eats at his desk. When his team works late, he hands out granola bars, which his wife buys in bulk at Costco.”

— “It was Mr. Sessions who announced Mr. Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama executive order shielding from deportation immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. He is suing the state of California over its sanctuary laws: “It cannot be, as it seems to be today, that someone who illegally crosses the border here on a Monday and ends up in San Francisco on Wednesday can never be deported,” Mr. Sessions said in Las Cruces. “Even if they were hauling dope to San Francisco and they got arrested, they can’t be deported. Now, how illogical and insane, really, is that?’”

And he’s doing much, much more to advance the conservative agenda and restore a sense of law and order in our nation.

So, next time you see a tweet insulting this honorable man, remember this: Jeff Sessions is a strong conservative, an ethical leader, and a good man.

And conservatives should be as loyal to him as he’s been to us.

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

2 months ago

Alabama: Pipe bomber asks court to block planned execution

(Alabama Department of Corrections)

A convicted package bomber has asked a court to block his scheduled execution this week, arguing that Alabama has no right to carry out the death penalty while he is also serving a federal sentence.

Walter Leroy Moody, Jr., is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection Thursday for the bombing death of U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Vance in 1989. The judge died when he opened a package bomb that Moody sent to his home.

Moody is the oldest inmate on Alabama’s death row at age 83. He was first convicted in federal court in 1991 and sentenced to seven life sentences plus 400 years. In 1996, he was convicted in state court of capital murder and a judge sentenced him to the death.

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In a court filing Monday, the Justice Department lawyers wrote that Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the U.S. will give Alabama full custody of Moody so the state can execute him.

Attorneys for Moody last week asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay his execution as the court considers Moody’s appeal, arguing that the state cannot put him to death while he is serving federal sentence. Moody is being housed in a state prison.

“Those federal sentences are still being served, albeit in the physical custody of the State of Alabama. Attorney General Sessions has no authority to interrupt Mr. Moody’s federal sentences,” lawyers for Moody wrote.

Attorneys for the Department of Justice wrote in an earlier court filing that “Moody has no personal right to serve his federal and state sentences in any particular order and may not interject himself into a determination that is the sole province of the United States and Alabama.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 months ago

‘Online brothel’ Backpage.com CEO pleads guilty, will testify against others

(TX Office of Attorney General)

The chief executive of Backpage.com pleaded guilty to state and federal charges including conspiracy and money laundering, and agreed to testify in ongoing prosecutions against others at the website that authorities have dubbed a lucrative nationwide “online brothel,” authorities said.

“For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “But this illegality stops right now.”

Backpage brought in a half-billion dollars since it began in 2004, mostly though prominent risque advertising for escorts and massages, among other services and some goods for sale, according to federal prosecutors. Authorities allege the site was often used to traffic underage victims, while company officials said they tried to scrub the site of such ads.

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Chief Executive Officer Carl Ferrer will serve no more than five years in prison under a California agreement in which he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering in California. Also Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the company pleaded guilty to human trafficking.

And a federal judge in Phoenix unsealed an April 5 plea deal revealing that Ferrer pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and Backpage.com pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy.

Under his plea agreement, Ferrer agreed to make the company’s data available to law enforcement as investigations and prosecutions continue. The guilty pleas are the latest in a cascade of developments in the last week against the company founded by the former owners of the Village Voice in New York City, Michael Lacey, 69, and James Larkin, 68.

The company founders were among Backpage officials indicted by a federal grand jury in Arizona. Attorneys for the company and Lacey, Larkin and Ferrer did not respond to multiple telephone and email messages from The Associated Press.

The U.S. Justice Department also seized and shut down the website, and Ferrer’s federal plea deal requires him to help the government seize all the company’s assets.

Ferrer could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine in the federal case in Arizona, while Backpage.com could face a maximum fine of $500,000 for its money laundering conspiracy plea in the Arizona case.

The federal plea deal says any prison sentence Ferrer would face would run concurrent with his 5-year terms in Texas and California.

“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and it is happening in our own backyard,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement announcing the plea deal. He called Ferrer’s plea “a game-changer in combatting human trafficking in California, indeed worldwide.”

Larkin and Lacey remain jailed in Arizona while awaiting hearings on whether they should be released after pleading not guilty to federal charges alleging they helped publish ads for sexual services.

Five employees of the site also were arrested and pleaded not guilty, but Lacey and Larkin are the only ones in jail.

Lacey and Larkin also earlier pleaded not guilty in California after Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Larry Brown last year allowed the state to continue with money laundering charges. The state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, alleges that Backpage’s operators illegally funneled nearly $45 million through multiple companies and created websites to get around banks that refused to process their transactions.

But Brown threw out pimping conspiracy and other state charges against Backpage’s operators. Brown ruled that the charges are barred by a federal law protecting free speech that grants immunity to websites posting content from others.

President Donald Trump this week signed a law making it easier to prosecute website operators in the future.

Texas state agents raided the Dallas headquarters of Backpage and arrested Ferrer on a California warrant after he arrived at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport on a flight from Amsterdam on Oct. 6, 2016. The Dutch-owned company is incorporated in Delaware, but its principal place of business is in Dallas.

Paxon called Thursday’s pleas “a significant victory in the fight against human trafficking in Texas and around the world.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 months ago

Sessions to address immigration at border sheriffs’ meeting

(US DOJ/Facebook)

As thousands of National Guard troops deploy to the Mexico border, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to bring his firm stance on immigration enforcement to New Mexico where a group of Southwest border sheriffs are meeting Wednesday.

Sessions will speak in Las Cruces at the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition Annual Spring Meeting with the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition, which is made up of 31 sheriff’s departments from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Their counties are located within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Immigrant rights activists promised to protest Sessions’ visit on Wednesday, as they rejected his past characterization of the border region during a 2017 visit to El Paso, Texas, as “ground zero” in the Trump administration’s fight against cartels, and human traffickers.

“He treated our home like a war zone, referring to it as ‘ground zero,'” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso. “He was wrong then, and he is wrong now.”

El Paso is some 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Las Cruces.

Sessions’ trip to Las Cruces, a city about an hour north of the border, comes as construction begins nearby on 20 miles (32 kilometers) of steel fencing that officials say is a part of President Donald Trump’s promised wall.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have described the new, heightened barrier as a structure that will be harder to get over, under and through than the old post and rail barriers that line the stretch of sprawling desert west of the Santa Teresa port of entry.

Sessions has issued an order directing federal prosecutors to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, citing a “crisis” on the border.

A 37 percent increase in illegal border crossings in March brought more than 50,000 immigrants into the United States, which was triple the number of reported illegal border crossings in the same period last year. It was still far lower, however, than the surges during the last years of the Obama administration and prior decades.

The attorney general’s “zero-tolerance” for border-crossing prosecutions calls for taking action against people who are caught illegally entering the United States for the first time. In the past, such offenses have been treated as misdemeanors.

He also recently set quotas for immigration judges to reduce enormous court backlogs, saying they must complete 700 cases a year to earn a satisfactory grade. The quotas take effect Oct. 1.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 months ago

Failed US Senate candidate Roy Moore countersues Alabama accuser

(R. Moore/ FB, TODAY/YouTube)

Former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore is countersuing a woman who said he sexually touched her when she was 14 and he was 32.

Attorneys for Moore filed the defamation counterclaim Monday against Leigh Corfman — who has an ongoing defamation lawsuit against Moore — denying the accusations of misconduct raised by Corfman in an interview with the Washington Post. Corfman is among several women who say Moore romantically or sexually pursued them decades ago when they were in their teens and he was in his 30s.

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“Leigh Corfman knowingly, willingly and maliciously made statements she knew to be false to the Washington Post with the intention and knowledge that such statements would damage the reputation of Mr. Moore,” attorneys for Moore wrote.

The accusations of sexual misconduct became an issue in the 2017 race in Alabama to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

In the court filing, Moore’s attorneys blamed the election loss on the misconduct accusations. Moore’s attorneys said the accusations damaged his reputation, “leading to the loss of the Senate race.”

“This is and has been a political attempt to smear the good name and reputation of Judge Roy Moore and we will not let their injustice continue,” Moore’s attorney, Melissa Isaak, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Corfman filed a defamation lawsuit against Moore and his campaign in January, a month after the election, saying Moore and his campaign defamed her and made false statements, calling her a liar and immoral, as they denied the claims in the midst of the election.

“Our client has been repeatedly called a liar — including in this court filing by Roy Moore,” Corfman’s attorney, Neil Roman wrote in an emailed statement. “As we have said all along, Ms. Corfman’s focus is on holding those who say that she lied accountable, and we look forward to the discovery process in our case against Mr. Moore and his campaign committee and defending our client in court.”

Corfman and her mother have said that Moore approached her in 1979 she waited outside a custody hearing at the Etowah County courthouse. Corfman said she later arranged to meet Moore and that he took her to his home and initiated the encounter.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

3 months ago

Sessions to address black law enforcement group in Alabama

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

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.

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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)

6 months ago

Not the final Talley

(Brett Talley/Facebook)
(Brett Talley/Facebook)

 

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.

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7 months ago

Quin Hillyer: Alabama’s attorney general race may become a ‘Chess’ match

Chess Bedsole (Chess Bedsole for Attorney General)
Chess Bedsole (Chess Bedsole for Attorney General)

 

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.

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7 months ago

Quin Hillyer: Sessions puts a stop to Department of Justice’s bullish abuse of power

(US DOJ/Facebook)
(U.S. Department of Justice/Facebook)

 

 

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.

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7 months ago

Roy Moore and the law of unintended political consequences

(Jeff Sessions Gage Skimore/Flickr, Roy Moore (Facebook), Elizabeth Warren (US Department of Labor/Wikicommons)
Jeff Sessions (Gage Skimore/Flickr), Roy Moore (Facebook), Elizabeth Warren (US Department of Labor/Wikicommons)

 

 

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.

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

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7 months ago

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.

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.

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7 months ago

Sessions: DOJ will investigate Clinton, Comey ‘without political influence’

(WikiCommons & Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
(WikiCommons & Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

 

 

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)

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7 months ago

Sessions: ‘I have no reason to doubt these young women’

(Judge Roy Moore for U.S. Senate/Facebook & WikiCommons)
(Judge Roy Moore for U.S. Senate/Facebook & WikiCommons)

 

 

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.

Brendan Kirby is a senior political reporter for LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He is also the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

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7 months ago

Asset forfeiture: inherently abusive, and awful in Alabama

(W.Miller/YHN)
Graphic: Walker Miller / Yellowhammer News

 

 

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.

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.

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8 months ago

Sessions Goes All In Against MS-13 For Increased String of Terror

Photo: Pinterest
Photo: Pinterest

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.”

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