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Jones: “History will judge us” on impeachment crisis

Brandon Moseley

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Last week, President Donald J. Trump (R) was polling better than Barack Obama at this point in his presidency and appeared likely to win re-election. Today, whether or not he will finish the third year of his presidency is in serious question. If the Democratic controlled U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach the President, the focus will switch to the U.S. Senate and more specifically on Democratic and Republican moderates, who would likely be the ones that decide the President’s fate. At the center of that storm would be U.S. Senate Doug Jones (D-Alabama) who along with Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Maine) is one of the most moderate and bipartisan members of the Senate today. On Thursday, Senator Jones made an impassioned speech on the Senate floor to his colleagues in Congress urging them, “To do the very best that we can in making sure that we analyze whatever is in front of us because history will judge us.”

“I hope that my colleagues, as we go forward… will remember their oath,” Senator Jones said. “We didn’t take oaths to support the President of the United States. We didn’t take an oath to support the Republican Party. We didn’t take an oath to support the Democratic Party. We took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“Our duties to this office are to our constituents, to do the very best that we can in making sure that we analyze whatever is in front of us, because history will judge us,” Jones said. “They will determine whether or not we acted with courage and conviction or whether we just simply tested the political winds, as some people are already doing. Ladies and gentlemen and colleagues, in the name of God, we have got to do our duty. We have to do our duty. We have to make sure that we fulfill our oaths, that we are not concerned about how many votes it might get us or how many votes it might lose. We have to fulfill that solemn obligation whether we know the outcome or not, whether we get pressure from a side or not, whether or not there are millions of dollars spent in TV and radio telling us to vote a certain way, in the name of God, we should do our duty and nothing less.”

“I have to admit I haven’t had a heck of a lot of sleep the last few nights and I don’t think anyone has,” Sen. Jones said. “If anyone has rested well the last few nights, it’s because they’re either not paying attention or they’re here for the wrong reason. We’re in some troubled times. The events of the past two weeks have been nothing short of stunning. They have been stunning in the speed in which they have unfolded. They have been stunning and disturbing and the allegations that have been made regarding the conduct of the President of the United States – allegations that go to the heart of national security. Allegations that go to the heart of whether or not the President is upholding his oath to the Constitution of the United States or abusing the power of the presidency.”

“My colleague and friend Senator Sasse from Nebraska used the term partisan tribalism in today’s world that is ‘insta-certain,’” Jones continued. “No matter you see, no matter what you read, it doesn’t matter because you are going to take a side. When we take sides, the American public immediately takes side and no one listens to the facts. We are called as senators, we are called as members of the House, we are called as members of this body to a much higher duty than that, a much higher duty. Our duty is to carefully analyze and review the facts. Facts – not mere allegation. Facts – not reports or leaks. Facts – not what some political talking head on the television says their opinion might be. Our duty is so much higher than that.”

President Trump has been accused with threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine, who is in an entrenched five year long war with Russian backed separatist militias, if President Volodymyr Zerensky did not reopen an investigation into how Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, acquired a substantial interest and a seat on the Board of Directors of a Ukrainian natural gas company.

“We have seen already what appears to be very disturbing facts,” Jones said. “We have seen a summary of a telephone call between the President of the United States and the President of Ukraine. Ukraine is a country dependent on countries like the United States. The balance of power between the United States and Ukraine is not balanced at all. We have so much more power and in that call, that summary of that call, the President of the United States noted that to the President of Ukraine. He said essentially, ‘You are dependent on us. No one else helps you. You can count on the United States of America and by the way, I need a favor. I need a favor. I need you to do me a personal political favor.’”

This is a very tricky situation politically for Senator Jones. Like Trump, he is on the 2020 election ballot so voters will get to judge both men. Jones is the only Democratic statewide officeholder in a very red state, where Donald Trump remains wildly popular with the voters. Jones has already endorsed Joe Biden for President and has vowed to support the Democratic nominee. If he votes that the President is “not guilty” would that be seen as politically pandering to pro-Trump voters, whom Jones needs to split their ticket? Would doing that alienate the out of state Democratic donors who overwhelmingly fund Jones’ re-election?

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Jones would likely face a great deal of criticism however he votes, and it is possible that the fate of the Trump presidency could hang on his vote.

Now the House may not impeach the President, in which case it would never get to Doug Jones and the Senate. It is also possible that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) will simply never schedule an impeachment trial so Jones and the rest of the Senate never vote. It is also possible that Pres. Trump will resign rather than let this play out. If the President is impeached and then found guilty and removed by the Senate or Trump resigns; Vice President Mike Pence (R) would take over as President and a new vice president would be appointed.

At this point everything is a possibility.

Jones already has six Republican opponents battling to be the GOP Senate nominee in 2020.

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Governor

Governor prohibits evictions, foreclosures during COVID-19 outbreak

Jessa Reid Bolling

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photo via Governors Office

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order on April 3 to suspend the enforcement of any evictions or foreclosures due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The protective order is set to last for the duration of the state of emergency that was declared on March 13.

The order instructs all law enforcement officers to cease enforcement of any order that would leave someone displaced from their residence.

“Because COVID-19 mitigation efforts require people to remain at their place of residence, I find that it would promote safety and protection of the civilian population to grant temporary relief from residential evictions and foreclosures,” the order reads. 

“To that end: All state, county, and local law enforcement officers are hereby directed to cease enforcement of any order that would result in the displacement of a person from his or her place of residence. 

“Nothing in this section shall be construed as relieving any individual of the obligation to pay rent, to make mortgage payments, or to comply with any other obligation that an individual may have under a rental agreement or mortgage.”

The protective order on evictions and foreclosures was issued the same day that Ivey issued a stay-at-home order which will require Alabamians to stay at home as much as possible — except for essential outings like grocery shopping and getting medical care.

The stay-at-home order goes into effect on April 4 at 5 p.m. and will expire on Tuesday, April 30, 2020, at 5 p.m. 

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Congress

Alabama may need 2,500 more ventilators. It’s having to compete to get them

Chip Brownlee

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Alabama may need 2,000 more ventilators than it has, and it’s being forced to compete with other states to get them on the private market.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday that the Alabama Department of Public Health is attempting to source its own ventilators as a number of hospitals in the state are already struggling and asking for more.

The state requested 500 ventilators from the federal government through the Department of Health and Human Services and the national strategic stockpile. It asked for 200 of them to be delivered urgently.

“HHS has indicated that they’re not going to fulfill that anytime soon because they’re still taking care of places like New York City,” Harris said in an interview with APR.

When Alabama nears an expected surge — say 72 hours before hospitals are expected to be overwhelmed with patients requiring life support — they may be able to make the extra ventilators available.

So Alabama, like a number of states, is being forced to try to source ventilators on its own through the private market, where hundreds of hospitals, all the other states and other countries are trying to do the same.

Harris said he signed a purchase order Thursday for 250 more ventilators.

“We’re waiting to see, and then there are others that we’re waiting to hear from,” Harris told APR. “We’re doing our best to try to source these in any way that we can.”

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“We’re attempting to source those ourselves, but as you know, all the states are looking to source their own and in some measure competing with each other,” he said a press conference Friday evening when Gov. Kay Ivey announced a shelter in place order.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said Thursday that Alabama will likely make additional requests, but there are only 10,000 ventilators in the national stockpile and in the U.S. Department of Defense surplus. And with every other state in the country also requesting these supplies, the federal government has said that states should not rely on the national stockpile to bolster their ventilator capacity.

By Friday, nearly 1,500 people were confirmed positive with the virus. At least 38 have died. Dire models from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington — models that influenced the state’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order — project that by mid-April, Alabama could have a massive shortage of ventilators and hospital beds.

“The timeline I think makes sense and the time when we’re expected to have a surge is the part that was most useful to us,” Harris said. “We’ve been trying very hard to get an order in place with regards to this surge that we expect to happen.”

The model estimates that Alabama could have a shortage of 20,000 hospital beds, 3,900 intensive care beds and more than 2,000 ventilators.

At least 3,500 ventilators would be needed at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in mid-April, according to the IHME model. Last month, Alabama Hospital Association President Donald Williamson said the state has a surge capacity of about 800.

The same model projects that about 5,500 people could die from COVID-19 in Alabama by August. However, the model is live and is regularly adjusted. Earlier this week, it suggested that 7,000 people could die by August.

Harris said the state, over the past couple of weeks, has added a few hundred additional ventilators to its capacity by converting anesthesia machines and veterinary ventilators for use on those infected with the coronavirus.

“Yet, even with adding all of those ventilators, going up by a few hundred units, which means to tell you that we’re still using around the same percent of all of our ventilators even though the number [of ventilators] is going up,” Harris said. “So we know that there are more patients on ventilators.”

The state health officer said some hospitals in the state are already struggling but others are cooperating to share resources.

“They are really working hard to make sure that they have what they need, and we’re trying very hard, along with the governor’s office, to make sure that Alabama has enough inventory,” Harris said.

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Courts

DOJ makes $14 million available to public safety agencies to respond to COVID-19

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town announced that the Department of Justice is making $850 million available to help public safety agencies respond to the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19, which has already killed over 6,000 Americans, including 32 Alabamians.

The Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program was authorized in the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Donald J. Trump (R). The program will allow eligible state, local and tribal governments to apply immediately for these critical funds. The department is moving quickly to make awards, with the goal of having funds available for drawdown within days of the award.

“Law enforcement are – and always have been very best among us. They continue to solidify that fact during this pandemic,” Town said. “It is important that our state and local partners have the resources they need to ensure public safety during this time. These additional resources will allow that to continue.”

Katherine T. Sullivan is the Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

“This is an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and an especially dangerous one for our front-line law enforcement officers, corrections officials, and public safety professionals,” said Sullivan. “We are grateful to the Congress for making these resources available and for the show of support this program represents.”

The solicitation was posted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and will remain open for at least 60 days. The program can be extended as necessary. OJP will fund successful applicants as a top priority on a rolling basis as applications are received. The funds may be used to hire personnel, pay overtime costs, cover protective equipment and supplies, address correctional inmates’ medical needs and defray expenses related to the distribution of resources to hard-hit areas, among other activities.

The grant funds may be applied retroactively to January 20, 2020, subject to federal supplanting rules.

Agencies that were eligible for the fiscal year 2019 State and Local Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program are candidates for this emergency funding. A complete list of eligible jurisdictions and their allocations can be found here.

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For more information about the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program click here.

As of press time, there were 1,270 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama. 32 Alabamians have already died. There have been deaths in Jefferson, Shelby, Mobile, Lee, Madison, Chambers, Washington, Baldwin, Jackson, Tallapoosa, Lauderdale, Marion, Etowah, and Baldwin Counties.

 

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Economy

Fifty major American companies join effort to fight the coronavirus

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, the White House announced that fifty major American firms have answered the White House’s call to join the national war on the coronavirus.

“The private sector is responding to President Trump’s call to step up and help combat the coronavirus,” the White House said Tuesday.

Many of the companies are shifting their focus and even assembly lines to deliver needed supplies to the doctors, hospitals, and first responders against the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Most did so voluntarily and were not coerced by government or threatened with the Defense Production Act.

Major corporations including: Facebook; Anheuser-Busch; Ford; Fiat Chrysler; Toyota; GE Healthcare; 3M; Jockey; Hanes; Ralph; Lauren; GE Healthcare; General Motors; and My Pillow have all stepped up and are contributing to the COVID-19 war effort.

. “While by no means comprehensive, these are some notable examples of the private sector stepping up,” said an administration official.

The National Sheriffs’ Association have cited: Home Depot, Grainger, and Staples as well as a half-dozen national restaurant chains for their help.

Their pleas for help have been “enthusiastically welcomed” by some top corporations, said National Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Thompson. “What they are doing is more than impressive. It’s heartening,” he said.

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My Pillow has dedicated 75 percent of its production to the effort making PPE.

President Trump has highlighted the role that our corporate partners are playing in the COVID-19 effort during his daily coronavirus task force press conferences.

“With our great president, vice president and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever,” said My Pillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell.

“Joining us this afternoon are CEOs of the great American companies that are fulfilling their patriotic duty by producing or donating medical equipment to help meet our most urgent needs,” Pres. Trump said on Monday. “What they’re doing is incredible. And these are great companies.”

Ford, 3M and GE Healthcare are making ventilators in a joint effort.

Toyota is using their facilities to produce face shields and collaborating with medical device companies to speed up manufacturing of vital medical devices.

General Motors is manufacturing respiratory masks and working with Ventec Life Systems to mass produce ventilators.

Fiat Chrysler is manufacturing and donating more than 1 million protective face masks a month.

Honeywell has doubled their production of N95 masks and intends to increase its capacity 500 percent over the next 90 days.

3M doubled their global output of N95 respirator masks and plans to make 100 million a month.

SpaceX is making hand sanitizer and face shields for local hospitals.

Lockheed Martin donated use of their corporate aircraft and vehicle fleet for medical supply delivery,

Boeing will print 3D face shields for healthcare workers and offer its Dreamlifter aircraft to help coronavirus response efforts.

Anheuser-Busch is working to produce hand sanitizer.

Bayer, Novartis, and Teva Pharmaceuticals donated millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine, an experimental treatment for COVID-19 that has shown some early promise.

·Johnson & Johnson has partnered with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to commit more than $1 billion to co-fund vaccine research, development, and clinical testing.

Procter & Gamble is ramping up its production capacity for hand sanitizer, and is working to produce face masks.

Medtronic is increasing its production of ventilators.

Panera Bread is partnering with USDA to serve meals to children throughout Ohio.

Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones said, “The private sector has the ability to move with incredible speed. Many companies already own the equipment that can produce various items and have tweaked processes to manufacture products our country needs. For example, clothing companies such as Ralph Lauren, Hanes, and Brooks Brothers are making gowns and masks. Ford and GE combined forces to produce ventilators. Alcoholic beverage companies repurposed what would be normally be discarded into hand sanitizers. All of these are examples of American workers’ willingness to step up at a critical time in United States and world history.”

(Original reporting by the Washington Examiner contributed to this report.)

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