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Daily News Digest – May 31, 2018

Good morning! This is your Daily News for Thursday, May 31, 2018.

1. Saving Sessions.

If you follow President Trump on Twitter, or have generally been awake at all for the last 24 hours, you probably know that the commander-in-chief is once again ripping into Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly.

He said he “wishes” he didn’t pick Sessions for AG and quoted a comment saying the Sessions recusal on the Russia investigation was an “unforced betrayal.”

So, why won’t Trump just fire him and spare us all the passive aggressive Jr. High drama? Let’s get into it…

The reasons

  • Firing Sessions wouldn’t just LOOK bad for the Russia investigation, it could actually BE bad legally for Trump. When the question of obstruction of justice is looming, firing the AG for not putting his thumb on the scales might not be smart. Also, Sessions is currently a WITNESS in the investigation thanks to this episode in Mar a lago.
  • It could further divide the Republican Party in an election year in which they already need all the help they can get.
  • The Senate won’t confirm a new AG. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has said he won’t even hold hearings on an AG nominee if Sessions is fired.

What’s next

  • Two of the reasons not to fire Sessions could be taken off the table by the end of the year: the Mueller probe and the political fallout.
  • So, it’s easy to see why many believe that Sessions will be gone by early 2019.
  • But, that third reason – difficulty confirming a new AG – might not go away.
  • And, if the Russia investigation concludes with no evidence Trump did anything wrong, wouldn’t the cause of the president’s consternation also be removed?
  • Why then get rid of the one who, by most accounts, is doing the most to implement your policy agenda?
  • And replace him with whom? Rudy Giuliani? Scott Pruitt? Tough sells in the Senate.

Read more 

2. Arming school administrators.

  • Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced the “Alabama Sentry Program” that will allow some trained school administrators to arm themselves to potentially respond to violent threats.
  • With the approval of the local school board and Sheriff’s office, administrators (not teachers) could apply to become “sentries,” and then be trained by state law enforcement to protect students in the event of a school shooting.
  • The program will be carried out under existing law by the Alabama Department of Education and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). It is voluntary and only applies to schools that do no currently have a school resource officer.
  • Ivey did not rule out the possibility of calling a special legislative session to address funding and other security issues, but said she wanted to first get all the recommendations from her SAFE Council.
  • This is a big deal because, with the stroke of a pen, Ivey has taken care of one of the most pressing and complicated issues of the 2018 legislative session.
  • The school safety issue isn’t going away completely. But, the sticky questions of how/whether rural school districts without the funds for resource officers could/should arm campus personnel has been answered.
  • Read my full story on the matter HERE.
  • Also read Mike Cason’s story HERE.

3. Jim (not Jo) Bonner censured.

  • “Andy Griffith with a foul mouth.”
  • That’s how Public Service Commission candidate Jim Bonner described himself in his latest interview.
  • It was in response to the Alabama Republican Party’s decision to publicly condemn Bonner and his string of offensive, crazy town comments and social media posts. Read that full story HERE.
  • What kind of comments/posts? Nazi valentines, pregnant girl scouts, lots of body part stuff in general, royal wedding orangutans, go down the list.
  • If you want to hear Bonner explain all these offensive posts to Scott Beason and his attentive radio audience, that interview is online HERE.
  • The ALGOP’s decision is all well and good, but what if the guy wins anyway? Remember that it’s his familiar sounding name that has him polling within the margin of error, according to Brent Buchanan.

4. Montgomery Schools officially on notice re: accreditation.

  • The Montgomery Public School System hasn’t officially lost its accreditation, but it will if it doesn’t get its act together.
  • The accrediting agency Advance Ed delivered its report showing all manner of breakdowns in leadership and communication from the School Board and administration.
  • Read Andrew Yawn’s story in The Montgomery Advertiser HERE.
  • Basically, without serious changes, one of the state’s largest school systems will lose its accreditation by the end of the year.
  • That’s driving many voters to seek their own changes at the polls here in a few days.
  • The Expect More from Montgomery Schools coalition has released its endorsements for the Republican and Democratic primaries and it’s clear they want this to be a “throw them all out” kind of election.
  • Read their candidate endorsements HERE. 

5. News briefs.

New Ads

  • Attorney General candidate Chess Bedsole released a new ad describing how he told Gov. Bentley he wasn’t interested in the AG appiointment.
  • Congressman Robert Aderholt has a new spot reminding voters of his strong record on Agriculture (he chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture).
  • Both those ads are on the updated rundown HERE.

Too Heavy on the Trump?

  • If there’s one common denominator in most GOP ads this cycle, it’s their intent to tie the candidate to President Trump.

  • The question of whether or not this is actually a good strategy has bugged me for weeks, which is why I was eager to read Jeff Poor’s latest analysis on the subject at YellowHammer News. You can read his full take HERE.

Democrats debate

  • Democratic candidates for governor had their final debate of the primary season last night at Boys State in Tuscaloosa.
  • Unlike previous debates where things got contentious, this one was described as having “no fireworks.”
  • Read the full story HERE.

Senate Race Profiled

  • One of the most watched legislative races this year is the Senate District 25 race where Montgomery’s Dick Brewbaker is retiring.
  • Ronda Walker and Will Barfoot are squaring off on the GOP side and David Sadler will be the Democratic nominee.
  • Brian Lyman has a profile of the race taking a look at the candidates’ positions and personalities that is worth your time this morning. Read it HERE.

Lethal injection

  • Remember that botched lethal injection months ago? A federal judge has ordered the state to release information about the execution to media outlets inquiring about how things went awry. That full story HERE.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Updated: Candidates air TV ads.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey announces new program to allow some school administrators to carry weapons.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ALGOP condemns PSC candidate Jim Bonner.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – No fireworks in Democrats’ final debate for governor.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama ordered to release details of lethal injections.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tuscaloosa man arrested on child sex abuse charges.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Saving Sessions: inside the GOP effort to protect the AG.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Source: FBI’s McCabe wrote memo on Comey’s firing.  

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump plans to go ahead with EU tariffs on steel, aluminum.

AL.COM – Anti-Semitic, offensive comments get candidate blackballed by Alabama GOP.

AL.COM – Ivey announces Alabama schools will arm administrators.

AL.COM – Who is Alice Marie Johnson? Kim Kardashian West meets with Trump about Alabama prisoner.

AL.COM – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey tops $4 million mark in campaign fundraising.

AL.COM – Jefferson County, Bessemer to consider incentives to lure Amazon.

AL.COM – Trump endorses Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks for re-election.

AL.COM – Retired generals back Clayton Hinchman against Rep. Mo Brooks.

AL.COM – Trump tweets he wishes he picked someone other than Sessions for AG.

AL.COM  – Rudy Giuliani doubts Trump will fire Jeff Sessions.

AL.COM – Jailed for smearing ketchup on what may be Alabama’s worst, yet still protected, monument.

AL.COM – In Baldwin County, school tax issues remain hot politics.

AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald:  Are politicians’ ‘Alabama Values’ really Alabama’s values?

AL.COM – BBVA Compass gets high marks for fair pay.

DECATUR DAILY – Senator whose district includes Lawrence has GOP challenger.

DECATUR DAILY – Declining debates, questions, Ivey staying above fray of campaign.

FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – 2 Dems compete to challenge Aderholt.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – No fireworks in Democrats’ final debate for governor.

GADSDEN TIMES – Alabama enjoys record tourism spending in 2017.

ANNISTON STAR – Some leaders support confronting Calhoun County’s troubling racial past with monument.

ANNISTON STAR – A needed political trend in Alabama.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Voting access, options, the priority for secretary of state challengers.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Ag commissioner: Four hope to lead farming, food safety.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Democratic, GOP candidates in Senate District 25 agree on much.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Martha Roby presents her record while campaigning.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Supreme Court colleagues vie for chief justice job.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Alabama ordered to release details on lethal injection.

DOTHAN EAGLE – A return to decency.

WASHINGTON POST – Virginia General Assembly approves Medicaid expansion to 400,000 low-income residents.

WASHINGTON POST – Trey Gowdy separates himself from his weakling Republican colleagues.

WASHINGTON POST – CHIP, CHIMPs and Trump’s budget-rescission request: a guide to the debate.

WASHINGTON POST – Federal Reserve votes to ease rule aimed at preventing big banks from making risky financial bets.

NEW YORK TIMES – 58 Years Later, Alabama Apologizes for Expelling Black Students After Lunch Counter Sit-In

NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Responds to Fury Over ‘Roseanne,’

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