PRESENTED BY THE POARCH CREEK INDIANS
Good morning. In case you haven’t heard, 13 people were killed at a California bar shooting last night . Here’s the rest of your Daily News for Thursday, November 8.
1. Sessions out.
- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly resigned Wednesday after being asked to by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, on behalf of the president.
- This has been coming for some time, maybe even 18 months, ever since President Trump voiced displeasure with Sessions’ recusing himself from the investigation into Russian influence in the election.
- Sessions’ Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker will take over as acting AG, which a lot of people are freaking out about vis-à-vie the Meuller investigation, but as Ashe Rangappa explains, the sky isn’t falling just yet.
- Thus ends a long, strange journey for Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions that began in a 2005 Senate hearing over the United Nations building. Or does it?
- All that in the full story from Washington HERE.
- Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd and a fellow DOJ official delivered Sessions letter of resignation to the White House. It was somber, professional, and the sort of peaceful transfer of power that Americans should expect and appreciate from their leaders, he said. Sessions’ letter speaks for itself.
- There was a significant outpouring of support from law enforcement and Department of Justice attorneys and staff at an “all hands” meeting in the Attorney General’s conference room and a send off at the Department.
- Sessions gave a “rousing” speech to his DOJ staff about the need to protect the rule of law and to protect the integrity of the department. The speech’s message and tone was described to me by those who were there as “important” and “very significant.”
- He then exited the building to emotional applause and handshakes from deputies and other staff.
- Twitter was blowing up yesterday with speculation that Sessions could come home and seek his old Senate seat in the 2020 election.
- I was highly skeptical of such talk. I still am to a degree, but after talking with a few folks close to Sessions, I can solidly report that this door is at least open.
- One source put it at “a greater than 50 percent chance” that he runs.
- Why would he? Sessions loved the Senate and was good at it. It’d be a chance to support the Trump agenda he believes in and finish out his career on his own terms.
- Why wouldn’t he? It’s no guarantee he’d get his seniority back. That’s a lesson former Sen. Frank Lautenberg learned. Yet, I sense that Sen. Richard Shelby would love to have his old buddy back, and could help smooth the way with details like that.
- If he ran, Sessions would be a lock to win. He’d clear the field, which would be a bummer for folks like Bradley Byrne and Gary Palmer and Del Marsh who have thought about running.
- What does “greater than 50 percent chance” of running mean? It means he’ll go home, take some time off, breathe a little, and then figure out what’s next.
- And, if he hurries home, he could even take in a little more tailgating.
2. What’s next: Legislature.
- Wasting no time, the Senate GOP Caucus met in the State Capitol Wednesday.
- They unanimously re-elected Sen. Greg Reed of Jasper as Majority Leader. Reed has broad support within the caucus, partly because he appeals to both the fiscal and social conservatives. He and Sen. President Pro Tem Del Marsh led the effort to hold and grow the majority, so, winner winner chicken dinner.
- As great as it will be for Marsh and Reed to have one more caucus member, the group could also get along better this term. Some senators who were perpetual flies in the ointment for the Senate GOP are gone now, so you could see a more united front on key issues like infrastructure.
- House Speaker Mac McCutcheon officially named former Rep. Mark Tuggle as his chief of staff Wednesday.
- I reported on this interesting move back in August, but it’s now a done deal.
- One fun thing McCutcheon and Tuggle have going for them? Having added to the House GOP caucus with FIVE new seats, they not only get more votes on the floor, but also in committee.
- Representation on committees is determined by the ratio in the full House. So, the Speaker will get to appoint more GOP Caucus members to different committees, allowing him to spread the goodies around and make it harder for the opposition to stymie legislation.
- The Legislature’s organizational session is scheduled to begin January 8. That’s when they officially elect leadership, set committees, and get the new folks up to speed.
- The Inauguration is January 14. Tell your brothers and sisters.
- The Regular Session will gavel in on March 5.
A Message from The Poarch Creek Indians
- Being a Tribe and a distinct group of people requires moving forward, and in so doing, helping Alabama move forward on this land we all call home.
- That’s the message of the Poarch Creek Indians’ new advertising campaign that launches this week.
- Poarch’s 2018 campaign includes two much-anticipated commercials, “Land” and “Craft” — real stories about real people in the place they call home.
- The spots use iconic cinematography to send hopeful messages about tradition and home, and the power we all have as communities to positively impact the wellbeing of our neighbors.
- Everyone that you meet on screen and in voiceover is Poarch Creek. All scenes and locations are authentic to the Tribe.
- Click here to watch the first spot, “Land.”
3. What’s next: Congress.
- It looks like Tester won Montana and McSally won Arizona. So, when you add in Mississippi’s upcoming special election, the Senate GOP Majority should stand at 54.
- That’s a big deal, particularly when it comes to confirming judges and other nominees.
- President Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aren’t finished reshaping the federal bench, and their path just got less resistant.
- In the last two years, the Senate cleared 53 District Court judges, 29 Circuit Court judges, and 2 Supreme Court justices.
- More than 40 nominations await Senate approval, and that list could grow this week.
- Some believe Justice Clarence Thomas could retire in the next year or so, allowing Trump to preserve the seat for conservatives for decades. (BTW, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg broke three ribs in a fall yesterday and is healing in the hospital.)
- McConnell said confirming judges is his “top priority” in a divided Congress.
- They are still counting votes in some places, but it looks like the breakdown in the House will be 229 Democrats to 206 – an 11-seat majority.
- Go inside “How the House Fell” with Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns.
- Nancy Pelosi fully expects to be elected House Speaker. There are dissenters in her caucus, but she has the support of President Trump!
- Expect an aggressive oversight agenda – hearings, subpoenas and what not – all to see what’s under Trump’s rug (tax returns, profits from family business, etc).
- Expect Democrats to exact their pound of flesh on things like spending deals and taxes.
- Only a handful of Republicans have ever served in the minority before, and it’s a lot different. Their job will be to slow down the Democrats’ legislative train and help the Trump Administration dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge various attacks.
- One potential silver lining for House Republicans is the return of Congressional earmarks.
- Earmarks are line items in appropriations bills directing the government to spend funds on certain projects.
- Earmarking funds was banned under the John Boehner/Paul Ryan speakerships because the the abuses that used to occur.
- But banning earmarks left spending decisions up to executive branch officials who may or may not like states like Alabama.
- Many Republicans, including Alabama’s Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt and Martha Roby, have advocated bringing back a reformed earmark process that avoids abuses but allows Congress to direct spending like it says they are supposed to do in the Constitution.
- Pelosi and the Democrats are probably game, and that could mean good things for Alabama given our state’s clout on the Appropriations Committees.
- Aderholt and Roby are both appropriators. And, of course, Sen. Richard Shelby chairs the full committee in the Senate.
- Might not need a majority to make it rain.
4. News Briefs.
- Democrat Mark Pettway was elected Tuesday as Jefferson County sheriff on a platform that included additional police body cameras and criminal justice reform.
- Democrat Danny Carr won the district attorney’s office after suggesting that first-time marijuana possession be treated more like a traffic offense than a serious crime.
- Jefferson County is almost evenly split racially in its population and both candidates beat white Republican incumbents.
- Read more about the two candidates and their campaigns HERE.
- A photo of Anthony Hinton went viral on election day because it was the first time in 30 years that he was allowed to vote in Alabama.
- Hinton was a former inmate on death row before he was freed of all charges for being wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit with the help of the Equal Justice Initiative.
- As of Wednesday night, the photo has been liked 37,000 times and retweeted over 9,000 times.
- Equal Justice Initiative spokeswoman Tania Cordes said Hinton was first in line at his polling place, arriving before the doors opened Tuesday.
- Read more about Hinton HERE.
- Morgan and Cullman County voters overwhelmingly voted on a measure that would prohibit sheriffs from pocketing whatever profits they can generate from feeding prisoners as cheaply as possible.
- A Morgan County sheriff has already been jailed after a federal judge found him guilty of not feeding his prisoners properly and pocketing the money.
- The measure was strictly local and won’t affect other counties in Alabama.
- Gov. Ivey has already moved to make the practice illegal in the state, but some advocacy groups said the controversial practice will not stop unless lawmakers change state law.
- You can read more about it HERE.
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