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Byrne says it’s important for Mueller investigation to conclude

Brandon Moseley

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The Mueller probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians had a setback on Friday when a federal judge questioned if special prosecutor Robert Mueller had exceeded his authority in the investigation.

“It’s unlikely you’re going to persuade me the special counsel has unfettered power to do whatever he wants,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Michael Dreeben, a deputy solicitor general assigned to the investigation.

“This is a big deal,” Congressman Bradley Byrne said on social media commenting on the exchange. “Mueller does not have the unlimited scope that he seems to think he has. As we approach the one year anniversary of the Special Counsel’s appointment, I believe it is important for this investigation to conclude and let our country move forward.”

Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been indicted on tax fraud and bank fraud charges related to his previous work for a pro-Russian president of Ukraine.

Ellis questioned whether Mueller exceeded his authority in filing the charges against Manafort. Ellis said the indictment appeared to be a way for Mueller to leverage Manafort into providing information about Trump.

“The vernacular is to sing,” he said.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” the judge said. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead to Mr. Trump.”

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Manafort’s attorney have asked the judge to dismiss the charges against him.

He also has been faces charged in Washington of conspiring to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation. Responsibility then fell on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein made the decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special prosecutor.

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The president has been highly critical of both Rosenstein and Mueller.  The investigation has not produced any charges against the president and little concrete evidence that collusion ever occurred, but there is a suggestion that perhaps the investigation is morphing into an investigation into obstruction of the investigation.

Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

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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National

Alabama Democratic Party Chair Chris England applauds Biden’s VP pick

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People. (VIA GAGE SKIDMORE/FLIKR)

Alabama’s Democrat Party Chair, Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, on Wednesday applauded former Vice President Joe Biden’s pick of Sen. Kamala Harris for his 2020 running mate. 

“Joe Biden made the right choice by selecting Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate and I could not be more excited. No one has a more impressive political resume. First as a prosecutor, later as California’s Attorney General, and now as a Senator, Kamala Harris has stood up for justice and fought for what is right. She beat the big banks and cracked down on mortgage fraud, fought big oil to protect the environment, and prosecuted companies that stole worker wages and put worker safety at risk. This is the type of leadership we need,” England said in a statement. 

“This presidential election is perhaps the most consequential of our lifetime. Now more than ever, people who value democracy and fairness must come together to put America on the right path. I think we are going to make history this November. Not only are we going to restore the soul of our country, but we are also going to elect the first-ever Black female Vice President. The Alabama Democratic Party is all in for Biden and Harris. It is an exciting time to be a Democrat, especially in Alabama,” England continued. 

The California senator was the first Black woman to be elected as the state’s attorney general in 2010. She was elected to Congress in 2016, and serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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National

SEC moving forward with football even as PAC 12, Big 10 postpone season

Brandon Moseley

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Bryant-Denny Stadium during an Alabama football game.

The Big 10 and PAC 12 conference presidents both voted to postpone all fall sports including football to the spring. The decision follows similar decisions by the Ivey League, SWAC (which includes Alabama State and Alabama A&M), University of Connecticut, MAC, and Mountain West. Four of the ten Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences will not be playing this fall including two of the Power Five conferences.

Despite this, the Southeastern Conference, which includes both the University of Alabama and Auburn University, announced that they are moving forward with the football season.

“I look forward to learning more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 leadership to take these actions today,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement Tuesday evening. “I remain comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes.”

“We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day,” Sankey said.

The PAC 12 and Big 10 conferences made the decision based on advice from the conferences’ medical advisory boards. The fatality rate of COVID-19 among college-age people is minuscule, but college students can and do get COVID-19. One side effect of surviving COVID-19 is myocarditis, a heart inflammation. Myocarditis is a weakening of the tissue between the chambers of the heart. It is treatable but irreversible. Once those tissues are weakened, they will remain weakened causing a number of health challenges for victims over the course of the remainder of their lives. It can lead to premature death.

Reports suggest that at least five Big 10 athletes have been diagnosed with myocarditis after surviving a bout with COVID-19.

Sankey told Dan Patrick that the conference has “been given the green light” from their medical advisory board. The ACC and Big 12 are also moving forward with plans to play football this fall.

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SEC teams will open their fall camps on Aug. 17. The SEC has already reduced the season to ten conference-only games and moved back the start of the season from Sept. 5 to Sept. 26. The move gives the conference more time to make a decision.

The conference is under political pressure from fans, players, coaches and even President Donald Trump to play football this season.

“We Must Do Everything Possible to Have Football this Year,” said former Montgomery Quarterback Club President and the father of three former college football players Perry O. Hooper Jr. “We need College football this fall, period. It would be a terrible disservice to these young student/athletes who have worked so hard for so many years to throw in the towel without trying. This is not the American way.”

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Trump said, “Canceling the college football season would be a tragic mistake.”

“The SEC has it right. Start the schedule in late September with a conference only schedule with a set of protocols in place to be monitored by the SEC office,” Hooper said. “The College football hierarchy must listen to the players, the vast majority want to play.”

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence stated, “We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes players being safe and taking all the right precautions to try to avoid contracting COVID because the season/teammates’ safety is on the line. Without the season, as we have seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions.”

The Big 10 presidents voted to postpone fall sports to the spring, but the PAC 12 presidents went even further and voted to suspend all sports until at least Jan. 1, 2021. This move impacts winter sports including basketball. College basketball players already lost the 2020 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision by the PAC 12 and Big 10 conferences leave the college football postseason in shambles. There can be no playoffs without two of the Big Five conferences and with at least four of the ten major college conferences not playing, it will be impossible to find enough teams with winning records to fill half the bowl spots. It is not at all certain that any of the bowls will actually be played.

At least 167,671 Americans have already died from the COVID-19 global pandemic, and 2,756,157 have recovered from their bought with the novel coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2. Now we are learning that some of those COVID survivors are facing debilitating conditions moving forward including heart conditions and loss of lung function.

 

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Elections

Alabama GOP chair says Harris “drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left”

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People. (VIA GAGE SKIDMORE/FLIKR)

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan released a statement critical of presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s choice of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, as his running mate in the Nov. 3 general election. Biden announced the pick to supporters via text message.

“Joe Biden’s VP pick drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left,” Lathan charged. “Kamala Harris was the first proud co-sponsor Bernie’s Medicare for All government healthcare takeover. She’s applauded efforts to defund the police and even led the charge to block meaningful police reform in the Senate. She even wants to use the federal government to ban plastic straws and to control what we eat – a move that would devastate the U.S. dairy and beef industries – all in the name of ‘climate change.’”

“We look forward to the clear contrast in policies in the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence and Senator Harris,” Lathan concluded. “It will be a true mirror of the obtuse plans the Democrats want for our nation. This ticket does not represent the values of the American people. They will see through all bogus attempts by the Democrats who will pretend to move to the center. They will fail, as their policies have, and America will vote to re-elect President Trump on November 3rd.”

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel similarly blasted the decision.

“A hiding, diminished, & incoherent Biden didn’t just select a VP candidate, he chose the person who will actually be in charge if he were somehow able to win,” McDaniel said. “Harris’ radical policies may be popular among liberals, but they are well outside the mainstream for most Americans.”

“Kamala Harris’ extreme positions, from raising taxes to abolishing private health insurance to comparing law enforcement officials to the KKK, show that the left-wing mob is controlling Joe Biden’s candidacy, just like they would control him as president,” McDaniel concluded.

Harris is a U.S. senator, a former prosecutor, former 2020 presidential candidate and former California attorney general. Her father is an immigrant from Jamaica and her mother is an immigrant from India. She identifies as Black and is the first non-White woman to be on a major party presidential ticket.

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Harris is the fourth woman to appear on a major party presidential ticket. The previous nominees — 1984 Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — all lost in the general election.

Current Vice President Mike Pence is expected to return as Trump’s running mate.

Biden is expected to make a joint appearance with Harris on Wednesday in Delaware.

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Polls taken prior to the Harris pick show Biden with a significant lead in polling, both nationally and in several key swing states. Alabama is expected to support Trump by a large margin.

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Courts

Judge dismisses lawsuit against statewide face mask order

Eddie Burkhalter

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Gov. Kay Ivey held a Coronavirus update press conference Wednesday, July 15, 2020 in Montgomery, Ala. (VIA GOVERNORS OFFICE/HAL YEAGER)

A Montgomery judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit alleging Gov. Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order was illegally adopted. 

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Debbie Mathis, a real estate agent, retired sheriff’s Deputies Larry Lewis and Barry Munza, which alleged that the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 does not give the governor the ability to order Alabamians to wear face masks. 

Ivey’s order, which went into effect July 16, requires the wearing of face masks when within 6 feet of those outside of their own household when indoors or outside when in gatherings of 10 or more people, with exceptions. The lawsuit was filed against Ivey, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and the Alabama State Board of Health. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in the defendants’ motion to dismiss wrote, that the plaintiffs lacked standing to file the lawsuit and the defendants are immune to such lawsuits as accorded by the Alabama Constitution of 1901. 

In a court filing supporting the motion to dismiss, Marshall wrote that “COVID-19 has threatened to overwhelm the State’s healthcare system with a large number of patients in need of Intensive Care Unit (“ICU”) capacity.” 

“On July 15, 2020, with the State’s ICU bed capacity at 87 percent, Governor Ivey issued an emergency proclamation to implement State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris’s recommendation that masks or facial coverings be worn under certain circumstances,” Marshall wrote. 

Despite the plaintiff’s allegations that the order was illegal, Marshall wrote in the filing that Ivey and Dr. Harris had the authority to issue such an order. 

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The judge agreed and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs’ attorney said after the ruling that he planned to appeal the judge’s decision, according to Al.com.

 

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