PRESENTED BY the Stop The HIT Coalition
Good morning! That was one heck of a trip around the Sun. Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, November 21.
1. Trump won’t punish Saudis.
- President Donald Trump will not push to punish Saudi Arabia for the killing of Saudi national and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
- He made it clear in a statement that the benefits of good relations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia outweigh the possibility its crown prince ordered the killing.
- The president condemned the brutal slaying of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as a “horrible crime … that our country does not condone.” But he rejected calls by many in Congress, including members of his own party, for a tougher response.
- He also questioned reports from U.S. intelligence agencies that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must have at least known about such an audacious and intricate plot.
- “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event,” the president said Tuesday. “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
- In many ways, the statement captured Trump’s view of the world and foreign policy, grounded in economic necessity. It began with the words “America First!” followed by “The world is a very dangerous place!”
- This morning the president is tweeting about gas prices being down, crediting and thanking Saudi Arabia.
- Read more about all that HERE.
2. Marshall names Morris to lead special prosecutions.
- Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has named federal prosecutor Clark Morris to lead the division that prosecutes public corruption and white collar crime cases.
- Marshall made the announcement Tuesday, a day after the departure of Matt Hart.
- Morris will oversee the special prosecutions division beginning Jan. 7.
- “I am delighted that Clark Morris has agreed to lead my public corruption unit,” Marshall said. “Public corruption continues to be a scourge on our great state, and I am confident that the people of Alabama will be well served by Clark in this role.”
- Morris is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Justice and has served as an assistant United States attorney in both the Middle and Northern Districts of Alabama. Morris has served as the first assistant in the U.S. attorney’s office in Montgomery since 2013.
- U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin spoke well of Morris and said her appointment will enhance efforts to combat crime.
- “Mrs. Morris has been an incredible asset to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and her absence will be a huge loss. However, her new position at the Attorney General’s Office creates an opportunity for a partnership that we have not seen in years. Her leadership and judgment will serve the State of Alabama well, they are lucky to have her.”
A Message from the Stop The HIT Coalition
- Sen. Doug Jones: Don’t let Alabama small businesses and middle-class families get sacked by the 2020 Health Insurance Tax.
- Absent immediate action, the 2020 Health Insurance Tax will begin penalizing hardworking Alabamians on January 1, 2020 by driving up their cost of care as much as $450.
- Sen. Jones can help score lower premiums for Alabama’s 765,000 small business employees by supporting bipartisan legislation (S. 3063) to block the HIT in 2020.
- Ask Sen. Jones to help take S. 3063 to the end zone and support legislation to stop the 2020 Health Insurance Tax.
3. Lawsuit challenges elected judges.
- A federal judge has finished hearing evidence in a trial challenging Alabama’s practice of electing appellate judges by statewide vote.
- Chief District Judge Keith Watkins said Monday that he will issue instructions in the next week for final briefs and oral arguments.
- The 2016 lawsuit contends the practice of at-large judicial elections dilutes the voting power of African-American citizens and results in all-white courts in a state where one in four people are African American.
- There have been only two African-American candidates elected to the state’s Supreme Court. The court has been all-white for 17 years.
- The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Alabama NAACP and four black voters.
- The final witness in the case was a political scientist who testified about racially polarized voting patterns in Alabama.
4. Mother: Opportunity Scholarship “life changing” for son.
- A lot has been written and said criticizing the Alabama Accountability Act, which allows Alabama residents and businesses tax credits for funding scholarships for students to escape failing schools.
- This morning, a mother of a recipient of one of those scholarships wants to be heard by way of a letter in support of the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund.
- Nyenya Webster says the scholarship has been “life changing” for her son, Carlos.
- And she wants the same opportunities for her younger son.
- Here’s an excerpt:
- Read her full letter HERE.
5. News Briefs.
- Health officials in the U.S. and Canada told people Tuesday to stop eating romaine lettuce because of a new E. coli outbreak.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it is working with officials in Canada on the outbreak, which has sickened 32 people in 11 states and 18 people in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
- The strain identified is different than the one linked to romaine earlier this year but appears similar to last year’s outbreak linked to leafy greens.
- FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency doesn’t have enough information to ask suppliers for a recall, but he suggested that supermarkets and restaurants should withdraw romaine until the source of the contamination can be identified. People are also being advised to throw out any romaine they have at home.
- Read more HERE.
- A federal lawsuit is challenging Alabama’s practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of people who can’t pay traffic tickets, arguing it violates the Fourteenth Amendment by “punishing persons simply because they are poor.”
- The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit on Monday in Montgomery federal court on behalf of three Alabama residents who had their licenses suspended.
- The lawsuit states that nearly 23,000 Alabamians have suspended licenses because of the nonpayment of tickets.
- Read the full story from Kim Chandler HERE.
- President Donald Trump has provided the special counsel with written answers to questions about his knowledge of Russian interference in the 2016 election, his lawyers said Tuesday, avoiding at least for now a potentially risky sit-down with prosecutors. It’s the first time he has directly cooperated with the long investigation.
- The step is a milestone in the negotiations between Trump’s attorneys and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team over whether and when the president might sit for an interview.
- The compromise outcome, nearly a year in the making, offers some benefit to both sides. Trump at least temporarily averts the threat of an in-person interview, which his lawyers have long resisted, while Mueller secures on-the-record statements whose accuracy the president will be expected to stand by for the duration of the investigation.
- Read more HERE.