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2 months ago

Three former Republican U.S. attorneys general applaud Sessions’ job performance

In an op-ed in the Washington Post published Wednesday night, three former United States attorneys general praised now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying, “We salute him for a job well done.”

William P. Barr was attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, Edwin Meese III was attorney general from 1985 to 1988 under President Ronald Reagan and Michael B. Mukasey was U.S. attorney general from 2007 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. The three men noted that they all served in Republican administrations, yet are “from different backgrounds, with different perspectives and who took different actions while in office.”

They wrote, “But we share the view that Jeff Sessions, who resigned at President Trump’s request on Wednesday, has been an outstanding attorney general.”

The former attorneys general then outlined that they have known Sessions for years and have thought highly of his record of public service since he was a U.S. Attorney, adding that both his “unexcelled” experience and temperament made him an ideal nominee for attorney general. For them, Sessions’ job performance over the past 21 months has lived up to these lofty expectations “[b]y any measure.”

They then detail how the Justice Department (DOJ) and nation’s law enforcement was suffering from low morale at the end of the Obama Administration’s tenure, calling it the “Ferguson effect.”

“Steep declines in the rate of violent crime from 1992 to 2014 were reversed in the last administration’s final two years, with violent crime generally up 7 percent, assault 10 percent, rape nearly 11 percent and murder 21 percent. Opioid abuse skyrocketed. Many people were concerned that the hard-won progress of earlier years would be lost,” the attorneys general wrote.

They then explain in detail how “Sessions made sure that didn’t happen.”

Excerpt from the op-ed as follows:

He reinstituted the charging practices that had been used against drug dealers before 2008. He leveraged the power of big data to locate those who were stealing taxpayer dollars and flooding the streets with opioids and other painkillers.

During his tenure, the Justice Department broke several long-standing law enforcement records. In 2017, the department prosecuted the highest number of violent offenders since 1991, when it started to track that category of prosecutions during the time that one of us (William P. Barr) was attorney general. Then, in 2018, the department broke the record again, prosecuting more violent crime defendants than ever by a 15 percent margin.

In 2017, the department prosecuted the most firearm defendants in 10 years, since another of us (Michael B. Mukasey) was attorney general, and in 2018 prosecuted the most firearm defendants ever, surpassing the prior mark by 17 percent.

Sessions set four goals for his tenure: to reduce the rates of murder, violent crime generally, opioid prescription fraud and drug overdose deaths. He achieved all four.

He attacked the rampant illegality that riddled our immigration system, breaking the record for prosecution of illegal-entry cases and increasing by 38 percent the prosecution of deported immigrants who reentered the country illegally.

Such numbers are impressive, but just as impressive has been the refocusing of the department’s efforts under Sessions’s leadership to protect the liberties of Americans.

In statements of interest in four cases, the Justice Department served notice that it would act to fulfill Sessions’s commitment to promote and defend “Americans’ first freedom” — the freedom of speech — at public universities, by opposing efforts to impose unconstitutional limitations on speech and speakers who allegedly offended the sensibilities of some on campus.

In October 2017, he issued a memorandum to all executive departments containing guidance for protecting religious expression, and oversaw the department’s participation in cases protecting the right of a religious institution to advertise on public transportation facilities, the rights of vendors not to participate in activities that would violate their religious beliefs and the right not to have the religious beliefs of business owners burdened by a mandate to provide funding for contraceptives.

To help restore the rule of law, Sessions has opposed sweeping nationwide injunctions by federal district courts; forbidden settlements in which the Justice Department has directed payments from settling defendants to third parties so as to circumvent the appropriation authority of Congress; withdrawn policies that expanded statutory protections based on gender identity that Congress had not provided for in law; and rescinded guidance documents previously issued by the Justice Department that were outdated, inconsistent with existing law or otherwise improper.

He has acted to protect our national security through such diverse steps as cracking down on leaks through the National Insider Threat Task Force; establishing the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team to combat the threat from Hezbollah narcoterrorism; and supporting reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to permit the intelligence community, under robust oversight by all three branches of government, to collect vital information about international terrorists and other foreign intelligence targets.

And, in addition to all of his specific policy achievements, often behind the scenes, the attorneys general applauded Sessions for the professional and dignified manner in which he conducted himself and represented the nation’s law enforcement community.

“Throughout, Jeff Sessions has set an example of personal grace and dignity under enormous pressure. He has remained humble and of good cheer, on good days and bad, and focused on fulfilling the mandate of the administration in which he has served. He has acted always out of concern not for his personal legacy but rather for the legacy of the Justice Department and the rule of law. We salute him for a job well done,” they concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

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“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

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Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

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

9 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

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This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

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“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

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The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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