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Mueller delivers his report

Brandon Moseley

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday. The report ends the lengthy investigation into allegations that President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wiki-Leaks to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Numerous media reports claim that Mueller will not seek any additional indictments. On Saturday, Barr was at the Department of Justice reading the full report, which is reportedly over 500 pages long.

On Sunday, Barr told Congress that Mueller has not uncovered any evidence that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government to interfere with the election..

“This sideshow is finally over,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, in a statement. “As I expected all along, there are no indictments or charges related to President Trump or his administration. The whole exercise was a waste of time and money. I just hope Democrats will now accept that they lost the 2016 election and let’s move on.”

Former Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr told Fox News that there is no public evidence that we know of regarding collusion.

If the early media reports are true, then Trump will not be indicted, and neither will his son-in-law Jared Kushner nor any member of his family. It is too early to know if the president has been vindicated by the Mueller investigation or if Mueller simply did not have enough evidence to bring any indictments.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow appeared to be tearful on air announcing the news that Mueller is not expected to recommend additional indictments.

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Fellow MSNBC host Christopher Mathews angrily said, “How can they let Trump off the hook?”

Saturday, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan denounced the media for their “slanted coverage.”

“With the Mueller Report complete proving no Russian collusion involving the Trump campaign, it is now time to take a hard look at this entire dark chapter of our nation’s histor,” Lathan said. “The malfeasance of the national media has undermined their credibility. Their obvious slanted coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign and the first two years of the Trump Administration is simply ‘deplorable.’ No president, regardless of their political affiliation, should ever be subjected to such prejudicial accusations by the media in an attempt to destroy a presidency. To do so is an affront to the American people who make these decisions and to our nation’s democracy.”

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“Any national media outlet that participates in a mission of ‘seek and destroy’ to sink a president hurts themselves while using ‘freedom of the press’ as a tool to twist facts, perpetuate rumors and stack headlines,” Lathan said. “America rejects being spoken down to by the national media and DC elite. Trust is broken and needs to be repaired.”

Trump has publicly denounced Robert Mueller and the investigation, but he never fired Mueller and the lack of any indictment recommendations for obstruction of justice, would indicate that the White House did not interfere with the investigation, which cost the taxpayers over $30 million.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has said he will subpoena Robert Mueller.

Democrats are holding an emergency conference call on Saturday afternoon to determine how to proceed. Some Democrats had suggested that they would impeach the president. The failure of the Mueller report to recommend indicting the president makes that a much less likely possibility now.

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York still has an open investigation into Trump, including investigations into the Trump inauguration committee, purported payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels and the Trump Foundation. There are as many as a dozen federal investigations into matters associated with the Mueller investigation.

The House passed a resolution calling for the Mueller report to be made public.

Barr has said he wants to be as transparent as possible. Parts of the report could be classified for national security, and parts could be classified to protect sources that gave evidence on the condition of anonymity.

Barr could begin briefing members of Congress on the report as early as this weekend.

Mueller is a former director of the FBI. He was appointed as Special Counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein days after Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. Comey has since admitted to leaking material to the press in order to get a special counsel appointed to investigate the president. Rosenstein became in charge of the Russia investigation after then Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. Rosenstein resigned earlier this month after former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told CBS News’s 60 Minutes that Rosenstein discussed removing Trump with him in 2017. Sessions eventually fired McCabe, and Trump fired Sessions in November.

Much of the evidence of misconduct by the president appears to be based on a special report commissioned by the Hillary Clinton campaign and prepared by former British Intelligence agent Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS. The Steele Dossier was used by Comey and the FBI to get a FISA warrant to begin eavesdropping on the Trump campaign and Trump transition team.

The special counsel investigation has taken 675 days, during which time it has dominated mainstream media headlines. Thirty-seven people have been indicted or have pled guilty to various law violations, including lying to the Mueller investigation, but no one has been indicted or convicted of espionage, treason or for conspiring with Russian intelligence as the president’s critics have suggested.

Lathan is ready to move on.

“Now let’s keep making America great again,” Lathan said. “Celebrating Alabama’s new unemployment rate of 3.7 percent – the lowest ever recorded in our great state’s history.”

Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. Byrne is a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones.

Original reporting by Fox News, the Federalist Papers, MSNBC and the Washington Post contributed to this report.

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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Congress

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne announces new chief of staff

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, on Friday announced that Seth Morrow will serve as his chief of staff.

“As we enter the last half of 2020, my office remains busy assisting constituents and advancing our legislative priorities. I know Seth shares my focus on finishing out my term in Congress strong, and he is well prepared to move into the Chief of Staff role,” Byrne said in a statement. “My staff and I will continue working hard every day to fight for the people of Southwest Alabama and advance our conservative agenda.”

Morrow is a native of Guntersville and has worked for Byrne since June 2014, serving as deputy chief of staff and communications director. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity, and I’m committed to ensuring our office maintains our first class service to the people of Southwest Alabama. Congressman Byrne has always had the hardest working team on Capitol Hill, and I know we will keep that tradition going,” Morrow said in a statement.

Morrow replaces Chad Carlough, who has held the position of Byrne’s chief of staff since March 2017. 

“Chad has very ably led our Congressional team over the last few years, and I join the people of Southwest Alabama in thanking him for his dedicated service to our state and our country,” Byrne said. 

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Congress

Voting rights activist calls for federal Department of Democracy

LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.

Micah Danney

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(VIA BLACK VOTERS MATTER)

The co-founder of an organization that is working to mobilize Black voters in Alabama and elsewhere used the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act on Thursday to call for a new federal agency to protect voting rights nationwide.

LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.

“The Voting Rights Act should be reinstated, but only as a temporary measure. I want and deserve better, as do more than 300 million of my fellow Americans,” Brown said.

The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the law in a 5-4 ruling in 2013, eliminating federal oversight that required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to get approval before they changed voting rules.

“To ensure that the Voter’s Bill of Rights is enforced, we need a federal agency at the cabinet level, just like the Department of Defense,” Brown said. “A Department of Democracy would actively look at the patchwork of election systems across the 50 states and territories. With federal oversight, our nation can finally fix the lack of state accountability that currently prevails for failure to ensure our democratic right to vote.”

She cited excessively long lines, poll site closings and voter ID laws in the recent primaries in Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas as voter suppression techniques that disproportionately affect Black and other communities of color.

Brown said that the July 17 passing of Rep. John Lewis, who was nearly killed marching for voting rights in Selma in 1965, has amplified calls for the Voting Rights Act to be strengthened. That’s the right direction, she said, but it isn’t enough.

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“History happens in cycles, and we are in a particularly intense one. We have been fighting for the soul of democracy, kicking and screaming and marching and protesting its erosion for decades,” Brown said.

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Congress

Negotiations on a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill appear to have broken down

Brandon Moseley

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The United States Capitol Building (STOCK PHOTO)

Both parties in Congress and the White House hoped to have agreement on a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill, but those hopes appear to have been dashed after a Thursday night meeting at the White House.

The Washington Post reports that the White House and Democrats failed to reach an agreement late Thursday night on the fifth virus relief bill. White House officials and Democratic leaders ended a three-hour negotiation with no agreement and both sides far apart on basic issues.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has insisted on a $3.4 trillion package. The White House wants a $1 trillion relief package.

“We’re still a considerable amount apart,” said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after emerging from the meeting with Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Trump was called into the meeting several times, but they were unable to resolve key issues.

Pelosi said that the meeting was “consequential,” but blamed Republicans for the breakdown in negotiations.

“They didn’t take the virus seriously in the beginning, they’re not taking the consequences of the virus seriously at this time, and that’s why it’s hard to come to terms,” Pelosi said.

Mnuchin said that if the administration decides that further negotiations are futile, Trump would move ahead unilaterally with executive orders to address things like unemployment aid. Schumer said Democrats were “very disappointed” in how the meeting went and that any White House executive orders could be challenged in court.

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Pelosi claimed that Meadows pounded the table at one point. Meadows denies the allegation.

“We are very far apart,” Pelosi said. “It’s most unfortunate.”

Over 30 million unemployed Americans will see their unemployment checks dramatically cut next week without an extension of benefits. Trump has suggested that he could increase the benefits through unilateral executive action. Critics suggest that would be unconstitutional.

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Democrats want about $1 trillion in aid for cities and states, but Trump has dismissed that demand as a “bailout” for mismanaged states and has agreed to just $150 billion in aid for states.

Meadows said that the White House has agreed to go above $1 trillion, but that Democrats still have refused to go below $3.4 trillion. Democrats are also pushing for more money for food stamps, child care and the U.S. Postal Service as part of the plan. All of this would be paid with more deficit spending.

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Corruption

Arrest warrant issued for Rep. Will Dismukes for felony theft

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, has been accused of theft of property, a Class B felony. (WSFA)

An arrest warrant has been issued for Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, for felony theft from a business where he worked, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said Thursday.

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018, Bailey said during a press conference.

Bailey said the charge is a Class B felony and levied when a person steals in excess of $2,500 and that “I will tell you that the alleged amount is a lot more than that.” 

“The warrant has just been signed, his attorney has been notified and we are giving him until late this afternoon to turn himself in,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the employer contacted the district attorney’s office with a complaint about the theft on May 20, and after reviewing bank records and interviewing witnesses, the decision was made to charge Dismukes with the theft. 

WSFA reported Thursday that the theft occurred at Dismukes’ former employer, Weiss Commercial Flooring Inc. in East Montgomery. Bailey did not provide any more specifics on the charge but said the employer signed the arrest warrant after countless hours of investigation on the part of the DA’s office.

While the charge stems from a complaint filed months ago, Dismukes been in the headlines recently and faced a torrent of calls for his resignation in recent weeks after posting to Facebook an image of himself attending a birthday celebration for the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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The event was hosted by an individual with close ties to the League of the South, a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In response, Dismukes stepped down from his post as a pastor at an Autauga County Baptist church but defiantly refused to step down from the Legislature.

If convicted of the felony, Dismukes would be immediately removed from his seat in the Alabama House, to which he was elected in 2018.

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In June, the Alabama Democratic Party called for his resignation over previous social media posts glorifying the Confederacy.

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