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Weekend Digest- January 26, 2020

1. Trump’s lawyers begin defense

Pat Cipollone

  • President Donald Trump’s lawyers plunged into his impeachment trial defense Saturday by accusing Democrats of striving to overturn the 2016 election, arguing that investigations of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine have not been a fact-finding mission but a politically motivated effort to drive him from the White House.
  • “They’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone told senators. “And we can’t allow that to happen.”
  • The Trump legal team’s arguments in the rare Saturday session were aimed at rebutting allegations that the president abused his power when he asked Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and then obstructed Congress as it tried to investigate.
  • The lawyers are mounting a wide-ranging, aggressive defense asserting an expansive view of presidential powers and portraying Trump as besieged by political opponents determined to ensure he won’t be reelected this November.
  • “They’re asking you to tear up all the ballots across this country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people,” Cipollone said.
  • Read the full report of yesterday’s events HERE.


2. Jeff Sessions stresses Trump loyalty

  • Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, giving a recent campaign speech to a suburban Republican club, recalled his 2016 decision to endorse then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a time when many party members were uncertain about the bellicose outsider.
  • “’Jeff, are you sure?’” he said, recalling questions he got at the time. “But let me ask you: Was I right?” Sessions asked the Mid Alabama Republican Club, which responded with loud applause and cheers.
  • Sessions is emphasizing his loyalty to Trump’s agenda and his record in office as he seeks to reclaim the Alabama Senate seat he held for 20 years before being tapped as the president’s first attorney general, a position he was forced to resign when his recusal from the Russia inquiry prompted blistering public criticism from Trump.
  • The former four-term U.S. senator — and the first to endorse Trump 2016 — faces a competitive primary that will test how much Trump’s censure has damaged his support in deeply red Alabama.
  • Read the first of Kim Chandler’s Senate race profile stories on Sessions HERE.


3. Paying college athletes – Where does Alabama?

  • This weekend’s Senior Bowl in Mobile saw some of the top college athletes from around the country come to showcase their talents in front of NFL coaches in the hopes of earning a professional paycheck.
  • With the evolution of the game over the last several years, there is more and more conversation about allowing players to receive some form of compensation while still in school.
  • Last fall, California passed a bill last year that enables college athletes to be compensated for the use of their image or likeness. Similar legislation is under consideration by state legislatures in Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.
  • The NCAA Board of Governors on Oct. 29 unanimously approved a measure that would allow student-athletes to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.” The board asked each of the associations’s three divisions to make rules changes no later than January 2021.
  • Here in Alabama, opinions are mixed, including among those who played college football themselves.
  • “I don’t know what the formula is, but I support some form of compensation,” Rep. Jeremy Gray, D-Opelika, said. He played cornerback at North Carolina State and even spent some time in the professional ranks. “Whether that’s licensing their image or receiving a stipend, I think the essence of an athlete getting paid is okay.”
  • Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, who played wide receiver at the University of Alabama believes the government should stay out of the matter.
  • “It’s called amateur sports for a reason,” Allen said.
  • Read the full story from Will Whatley HERE.


4. Opioid victims can begin filing claims

  • State and local governments have been leading the legal fight against the opioid industry, seeking payouts to help them deal with the fallout from the nation’s addiction crisis. Average Americans are about to get their shot.
  • On Friday, the federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy case of Purdue Pharma set a June 30 deadline to file a claim against the company. That includes governments, entities such as hospitals and, for the first time, individuals who have personal injury claims.
  • It’s not clear how much money might be at stake. Purdue reached an agreement with some states and local governments that could be worth more than $10 billion over time as part of its bankruptcy filing. But Judge Robert Drain emphasized during the hearing in White Plains, New York, that no final settlement is in place.
  • The ad campaign promoting the filing deadline is intended to reach 95% of U.S. adults, with ads in newspapers, movie theaters and on Facebook. Billboards will promote the deadline in four hard-hit states: Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.
  • You can read more about it HERE.


5. Dana Hall McCain: The Refugee Question

  • Last September, the Trump Administration announced it would allow states to decide for themselves whether or not to accept international refugees.
  • Since then, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his state won’t accept any new refugees and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee saying his state would. Both are Republicans.
  • In a new op-ed, Dana Hall McCain of the Alabama Policy Institute argues that Alabama should follow Tennessee’s lead and accept refugees who are fleeing dangerous countries.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Alabama is a very red state largely because Alabama is a very Evangelical Christian state. We are bent toward conservatism because of our deeply held convictions about the value of human life, the necessity of religious liberty, and our distrust of big government. 
“But it’s those same core beliefs about the value of human life and the right to practice our faith as we see fit that should combust in the people of Alabama and set fire to a yearning to minister to women and children in crisis. 
“It’s that same gut-level desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to the ‘least of these’ that should have us crawling over one another trying to get to our nearest NGO to help with resettlement efforts.
“To welcome refugees is not to risk ourselves. It is simply to give a tiny portion of our abundance of safety, economic opportunity and liberty to those who have none.”
  • Read her full op-ed HERE.



ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump lawyers argue Democrats just want to overturn election
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Jeff Sessions stresses Trump loyalty in Alabama Senate race
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS– Opioid victims can begin filing claims against Purdue Pharma
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Paying college athletes trending- Where does Alabama stand?
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dana Hall McCain: The Refugee Question
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Paroles, prisons seek more money in 2021
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Department of Mental Health seeks 3 crisis centers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Literacy education, mental health services big requests in 2021 budget
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 24, 2020
AL.COM – Inaugural Democratic women’s conference aims to move the party forward
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: The lasting legacy of Doug Barnes
AL.COM – Sen. Doug Jones renews call for witnesses in impeachment trial
AL.COM – Elizabeth Warren sends video message to Alabama Democratic women
AL.COM – Alabama maintains record low unemployment through end of 2019
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: There’s a better way to honor John Lewis than renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: Alabama Finance Security questioned
TIMES DAILY – ‘We’ve failed.’ Lawmakers to look at mental health funding, treatment
TIMES DAILY – Alabama Department of Mental Health seeks 3 crisis centers
TIMES DAILY – The Times Daily: Meeting the challenge of a changing workforce
ANNISTON STAR – Columnist Phillip Tutor: Sen. Marsh and Anniston’s fight to survive
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Vanzetta McPherson: On the brink of death – words and grace.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Times Daily: Fly Dothan. Here’s why
WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s lawyers begin their defense in impeachment trial as Republicans rally around the president
WASHINGTON POST – Biden and Sanders are breaking away from the pack of candidates among Democrats nationwide, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Francis Fukuyama: Why red and blue America can’t hear each other anymore
WASHINGTON POST – Trump should apologize for minimizing troops’ injuries, VFW says
WASHINGTON POST – U.S. refuses to return American diplomat’s wife to Britain to face charges of killing a teen in collision
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Michelle Singletary: FICO credit score changes could punish people who struggle to manage debts.
NEW YORK TIMES – Which Democrats Are Leading the 2020 Presidential Race?
NEW YORK TIMES – Columnist Nicholas Kristof: What if It Were Obama on Trial?
NEW YORK TIMES – Religious School Choice Case May Yield Landmark Supreme Court Decision

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