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Gonzales Speaks To University of Alabama Law Students (Part II)

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney General under President George W. Bush addressed students, faculty and the public at the University of Alabama’s School of Law.  Judge Alberto Gonzales was brought in by the Alabama Republican Party and was hosted by the University of Alabama Law School.

Gonzales said, “History is being made every day there,” talking about the White House.

Gonzales said that that the White House legal staff made their recommendations based on their best understanding of the law at the time; but sometimes the courts disagreed with the White House interpretation of the law.  Gonzales said that it was hard to walk in to tell the President that your advice was rejected by the courts; but Bush was a “good client.”  He would accept the loss without anger and say, ‘that is what the courts are for.’  Gonzales said that he had many experiences as White House Counsel including actually being in the Operations Room at the beginning of the start of the Iraq War.

In 2004 U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft resigned in 2004 and Pres. Bush appointed Gonzales to replace Ashcroft as AG.  Gonzales would remain in the role of the nation’s top lawyer until August 2007.  Gonzales said that the two greatest legacies of the Bush administration are the War on Terror and Bush’s two appointments to the Supreme Court: Justices Alito and Roberts.  Gonzales said that the War on Terror is not over with yet and how it is viewed by history will be determined by what comes about in its aftermath.  Will Democracy take hold in the Middle East?  What happens next?  Gonzales said that he was very involved in both of those two major areas of the administration.

UA student Joseph Seigelman asked Judge Gonzales several questions about the prosecution of his father, former Alabama Governor Don Seigelman (D).  Joseph Seigelman asked if it was appropriate for the spouse of U.S. Attorney for North Alabama that prosecuted Gov. Seigelman to be involved in the Bob Riley campaign.  Former AG Gonzales said, “I am not going to interject myself into that decision.  That kind of charge would go to the Office of Professional Responsibility” not the Attorney General himself.  Gonzales said, “Nobody ever lobbied me or asked me to get involved,” in the Seigelman investigation.  Gonzales said that the U.S. Department of Justice has 105,000 employees and of those only 400 are political appointees.  “Its dangerous for a US Attorney to make a decision on personal grounds.  It did not happen in this case.”  AG Gonzales said, “I made the decision I thought was appropriate.  I let the career professionals make the decision,” (to prosecute Governor Seigelman).

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AG Gonzales did complain about the Politicization of the office Attorney General.  “Do I think there is a political bias? Yes I do.”  Gonzales said that the people who were criticizing him were Democrats and the people who are investigating AG Holder are Republicans.  Gonzales said that when there is a real issue that is fine; but 97% of the criticism that he and the Bush administration got for the firing of the Clinton appointed U.S. attorneys was just political.  AG Gonzales said, “When there is so much at stake people fight and sometimes they fight dirty.”

One student asked about the Sen. Ted Stevens (R) from Alaska prosecution where a Justice Department Internal Probe threw out the case before sentencing because it found gross prosecutorial misconduct.  Sen. Stevens narrowly lost reelection following the guilty verdict, but before the sentencing.  AG Gonzales said that he was shocked and was angry about the revelations of prosecutorial misconduct.  Gonzales said that whenever the department lost a major case or a judge suggested the Departments attorneys acted inappropriately, “I called the head of the criminal divisions.”  Gonzales said he was, “I had the same reaction,” as the public about the case.  He said he was shocked, disappointed, and surprised by the findings.  (The Stevens indictment and trial occurred in 2008, over a year after Gonzales left the Department of Justice).

Gonzales said, “As the Attorney General you are not going to weigh in on every prosecution.” Gonzales said as AG you are involved in looking at so many situations that you really can’t do more than ask the Deputy Attorney General to look at the details of a situation and hope that the appropriate people looked into it.

Judge Gonzales told that young law students: “As you get older that question you ask more and more is: Are you going to make a difference?  Make time out in your career for public service.  It is going to make you a better person and a better lawyer.  We need good people.”  Gonzales admitted that being in the arena comes with a price.  “I have been there. I have been knocked down. I have been bloodied.”

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‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ asked Judge Gonzales  about renewed calls from President Barack Obama, Senator Diane Feinstein, and former Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens calling for new restrictions on Americans’ right to bear arms.  Jude Gonzales said, “I support Gun rights.  Now do people have rights to own a bazooka or a tank? No they don’t.  There is room for some regulation of the sorts of weapons that people can own.  The constitution does protect the right of citizens to own certain weapons.”

‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ asked Judge Gonzales: President Bush and Senator McCain both proposed immigration reforms which would have legalized more illegal aliens while stiffening border security.  Those efforts were defeated in the Congress by more border hawkish elements in the Republican party led by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) from Colorado.  Did extremism by certain Republicans drive a wedge between Hispanic voters and the Republican Party leading to electoral disasters like the electionns of 2006 and 2008 where Republican lost control of both Houses of Congress and the presidency?   AG Gonzales said, “No there were lots of reasons for the defeats of 2006 and 2008 and part of that is the economy.”  Judge Gonzales said that he was concerned that Republicans rhetoric is driving Hispanic voters away.  Republicans need to be aware of their rhetoric and what they say.  Gonzales said, “Even American citizens in the Hispanic community have friends and know people who are illegal aliens.”

Judge Gonzales said that he was not intimately familiar with Alabama’s immigration law; but that we did not need a “piecemeal immigration policy” set by 50 different states.  Gonzales said, “Obviously when states take action it is in response to cries of people.”  Gonzales said the reason why states take action is because of a, ”Failed immigration policy at the federal level.”

Gonzales said that there was a lot of support for giving children who were brought to this country illegally through no fault of their own some sort of pathway to legal residency.  That issue had been driving the immigration reform debate. When President Obama gave those young people legal residency by executive order it took pressure off the issue, making immigration reform actually more difficult.   “I support the objective but not the method.”  Gonzales said that he was not optimistic about comprehensive immigration reform passing any time soon.  Gonzales said, “We need to know who is in this Country and why.”

Judge Gonzales said, “I am in favor of voter id laws.  How can you live in this society without a photo id?  If somebody told me I couldn’t vote because I didn’t have a photo id, I would get a photo id.  As a former Secretary of State I believe in the sanctity of the vote.”

Since January, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been the Chair of Law at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Judge Gonzales also addressed students and faculty at the Cumberland Law School at Samford University in Birmingham earlier on Tuesday.

 

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Governor

Governor meets with VIP

Brandon Moseley

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Gov. Kay Ivey and fourth grade student Cate McGriff. Photo Credit: Governor's office.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey invited a special guest to meet with her in the Governor’s office on Friday.

Fourth grade student Cate McGriff met with Governor Ivey Friday afternoon. The discussion was described as wide-ranging and productive. The governor and McGriff covered everything from school to their love of dogs.

Gov. Ivey asked Miss. McGriff what her favorite subject in school is.

McGriff replied that it was math. She also told the governor that she wanted to attend Auburn University just like Gov. Ivey did.

Ivey asked Cate what she wanted to be when she grows up, after she attends Auburn.

McGriff said that she wanted to be an engineer.

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Ivey advised her to keep working hard on her math.

Ivey shared that when she was a young intern for Governor Lurleen Wallace, the only other woman to serve as Governor in Alabama history, she had the opportunity to sit behind the governor’s desk. Ivey then asked Cate if she wanted to sit behind the desk, and they recreated the governor’s own photo behind Governor Wallace’s desk.

Cate and Governor Ivey both were wearing their red power suits and Auburn masks.

McGriff was joined by her parents and two siblings, Claire and Sam.

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The McGriff family frequently tune in to the governor’s regular COVID press conferences. Cate also was given the chance to stand behind the lectern in the Old House Chamber.

Governors frequently meet with very important people including: Presidents, CEOs, congressmen, Senators, scientists, University presidents, state legislators, county commissioners, economic developers, and fourth graders.

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Health

CDC issues Halloween guidance

Brandon Moseley

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Today is Halloween. Many people are celebrating this year’s holiday at home as a nuclear family due to the coronavirus global pandemic. If you are going to still trick or treat this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance on trick or treating.

“Traditional Halloween activities are fun, but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or influenza,” the CDC warned. “Plan alternate ways to participate in Halloween.”

To make trick-or-treating safer: avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters, give out treats outdoors, if possible, set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take, wash your hands before handling treats, wear a mask or cloth face covering.

The CDC has also issued guidance on proper mask wearing. Make your cloth mask part of your costume. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult. Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of two or anyone who has trouble breathing.

Remember to always stay at least six feet away from others who do not live with you. Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.

Don’t let excitement about the holiday distract you from proper COVID-19 procedures. Wash your hands. Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Parents should supervise young children using hand sanitizer. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

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Other suggestions for enjoying Halloween activities during the global COVID-19 pandemic include: decorating and carving pumpkins, decorate your home for Halloween, and you can walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. You could also visit an orchard, forest, or corn maze. You can also go on an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Visit a pumpkin patch or orchard. Whatever you do or wherever you go be sure to remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after touching frequently touched surfaces, pumpkins, or apples.

The CDC also suggested that you can hide Halloween treats in and around your house and hold a Halloween treat hunt with household members. The CDC suggested that you can hold an outdoor costume parade or contest so everyone can show off their costumes. Another suggestion is that you host an outdoor Halloween movie night with friends or neighbors or an indoor movie night with just your household members.

 

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Elections

Etowah County Republicans rally for Trump

Brandon Moseley

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The Etowah County Republican Party and the Trump campaign will be holding a Celebrate America rally and prayer meeting on Sunday in anticipation of Tuesday’s general election.

“We the People plan to peacefully assemble at our town square Tomorrow, November 1st at 2:00 PM to rally around President Trump and pray for our nation, our first responders, and for our President,” organizers said.

Remarks will be made by special guest Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville.

Singer songwriters Camille and Haley will perform.

Pastors Mark Gidley, Joey Jones and Bruce Word will be speaking.

“Bring your friends and family as we pray, celebrate and rally for America!” organizers said. “Our outdoor program and rally will be an amazing hour that you will not want to miss! Please mark your calendars and please share.”

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Patriotic attire, American flags, and Trump flags are welcome. The event will be in the Rainbow City Town hall parking lot.

Robert Aderholt is in his twelfth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District is where Trump had his greatest margin of victory in the entire country in 2016.

President Trump and Congressman Aderholt both face Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s general election.

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News

Jones says Senate race a choice between “substance and leadership, and nothing”

“One of the great disappointments in this campaign is that Alabama is not really getting choices between substance and substance,” Jones said.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones speaks at a rally in Anniston. (EDDIE BURKHALTER/APR)

Speaking outside the Calhoun County Democratic Party headquarters in Anniston on Friday, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, told a group of supporters that Alabamians haven’t gotten a look at what his Republican opponent might do if he wins the Nov. 3 election. 

“One of the great disappointments in this campaign is that Alabama is not really getting choices between substance and substance,” Jones said. “They’re getting a choice between substance and leadership, and nothing — nothing. We have not heard anything from Tommy Tuberville about what he really wants to do.” 

While Jones has held numerous interviews with the media, and regular web briefings over the summer and in recent weeks, Tuberville’s campaign seems to prefer the safety of keeping Tuberville from making possible gaffs or damaging statements in interviews. 

Tuberville hasn’t agreed to interviews with traditional media outlets, or to debate Jones, and instead has focused on conservative talk radio spots, speaking to smaller Republican groups and at private parties.

Tuberville’s campaign has ignored or denied our numerous attempts to interview Tuberville, including another request on Friday. He also declined to attend a student forum held at Auburn University on Wednesday, which Jones attended. The forum was sponsored by the Auburn College Republicans and College Democrats.

“If you ever hear something Tommy Tuberville says, it is just simply this: ‘Build a wall. No amnesty. Drain the swamp.’ That ain’t him. That’s Donald Trump,” Jones said. “He cannot think for himself. He doesn’t think for himself.” 

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Jones spoke of his record of working to help veterans through legislation. And he referred to Tuberville’s nonprofit for veterans and reporting that indicates, through tax records, that less than a third of the money raised for Tuberville’s charity went to help veterans. 

“I don’t just create charities and send only pennies on the dollar. I do things for the veterans of this state and this country,” Jones said. 

Jones also made a case for Alabamians to remember the contributions past Democrats made in the state. Jones said it was Democratic Sen. John Sparkman who helped build Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal. 

“It was a Democrat, Lester Hill, who built the rural hospitals around here that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and Tommy Tuberville are trying to destroy,” Jones said. “It was Howell Heflin who built up agriculture in this state. Those are the Democrats. It was Franklin Rosevelt that put electricity in this state. We’re going to do the same thing for broadband. People forget those things. They forget those things because we’ve let other people define us with lies.”

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Jones plans to visit Jefferson County on Saturday, then on to the Black Belt and Mobile on Sunday with another stop in Birmingham on Monday afternoon. 

“The goal is to get everybody out. That’s the thing if we want to continue to ensure Alabama moves forward — moves forward and not backwards, to continue to have somebody, if I do say so myself, somebody that’s just not going to damn embarrass us,” Jones said.

Supporters of Democratic Sen. Doug Jones rally in Anniston on Oct. 30, 2020. (EDDIE BURKHALTER/APR)

“We’ve had too much of that in Alabama,” Jones said, “and I bet you it won’t be a year that Tommy Tuberville would be an embarrassment to this state because he doesn’t know the issues. He doesn’t know what to do, and he’s dang sure not going to know what to do when Donald Trump is not president of the United States.” 

Jones encouraged supporters to be skeptical of recent polling. One such recent poll, by Auburn University at Montgomery, puts Tuberville ahead of Jones by 12 percentage points, 54 to 42.1. An internal poll by Tuberville’s campaign puts Tuberville ahead by 15 percentage points, while an internal poll from the Jones camp put Jones ahead by one percentage point. 

“Don’t listen to these polling folks that come in, and they don’t know Alabama, and they don’t know what they’re doing. We’re tracking this race, and I can tell you, everything has been moving in our direction the last two months,” Jones said. 

People standing along roadsides holding his signs and showing support, Jones said, is “the energy we’ve got out there. That’s what you can’t poll.”

Ellen Bass of Anniston, standing outside the Calhoun County Democratic Party headquarters just after Jones spoke, told APR that she has numerous Republican friends who are voting for Jones.

“My hat’s off to them because they’re coming out,” Bass said. “They recognize that he is a better candidate.”

Ciara Smith, 21, newly elected to the Anniston City Council, told APR outside the headquarters building that Jones is the better candidate.

“I think that he’s educated. I think that he speaks with passion and heart,” Smith said. “And he knows what he’s talking about, which is important, and which is more than we can say about the other candidate.”

Speaking to APR after his speech to supporters, Jones said that he feels very good about the state of his campaign.

“Everything we’re seeing is moving in our direction,” Jones said. “And the more he stays hidden, the better it is for us.”

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