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Sewell votes to condemn Trump’s abandonment of Kurdish allies

Brandon Moseley

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via Office of U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell

Wednesday, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-Selma) voted in favor of a bicameral, bipartisan resolution condemning President Donald J. Trump’s (R) decision to abruptly withdraw American troops from northern Syria.

“The President’s decision to abandon our Kurdish partners is a capitulation to Turkey and Russia and a grave betrayal of one our strongest allies in the Middle East,” Representative Sewell said. “His reckless order means that, already, Russia has moved to occupy American bases there, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds of ISIS fighters and supporters have escaped. President Trump’s decision not only puts at risk the stability of the region, U.S. forces and gains against ISIS, but also weakens American partnerships around the world.”

The bipartisan resolution passes with the overwhelming support of both political parties on a 354 to 60 vote. 225 Democrats voted in favor of the nonbinding resolution. Republicans voted for the resolution 129 in favor to 60 opposed.

On Friday, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) expressed his concerns about the President’s abrupt change in foreign policy.

“I joined the Rick & Bubba Show to discuss President Trump’s recent decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria,” Palmer said on social media. “I think it unwise to pull back from an area the U.S. has taken control of in the past, and I have serious concerns about abandoning our Kurdish allies.”

Reps. Palmer, Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), and Mike Rogers (R-Saks) all voted in favor of the resolution.

The President’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria was opposed by his National Security Advisor John Bolton. Bolton was fired by the President for his opposition to the policy. As Bolton predicted, Turkey has invaded Syria, Kurds have been massacred, and the region is now facing a wider war as a result of the decision.

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Trump has announced sanctions against Turkey, a NATO ally.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) met with President Trump at the White House.

“I strongly support President Trump’s decision to initiate executive order sanctions against Turkish officials and economy for Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria,” Graham said in a statement. “Turkey is attacking the Kurdish forces that supported us the most in destroying the ISIS Caliphate.”

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“At the President’s invitation today, I joined him and his team for phone calls with key leaders in this conflict,” Graham continued. “President Trump made it clear to President Erdogan this incursion is widely unpopular in the United States, greatly destabilizing to the region, is putting in jeopardy our successes against ISIS, and will eventually benefit Iran.”

“The President made it clear to Turkish officials that any attack on Kobani, a Kurdish enclave near the Turkish border, would be an international outrage that could not stand,” Graham added. “President Trump is trying to end the bloodshed through a negotiations deal addressing Turkey’s concerns about certain Kurdish elements near their border. At the same time, he wants to make sure our Kurdish allies are not abandoned. President Trump gave Turkey the ability to undo the strategic damage they have already caused in a win-win fashion. I hope they will accept his outreach. Until there is a ceasefire and an end to the bloodshed, sanctions must continue and increase over time.

“Equally important, President Trump reached out to General Mazloum, the leader of Kurdish forces that led the main assaults against the ISIS Caliphate in Syria,” said Graham. “President Trump assured General Mazloum that he would do everything possible to stop the Turkish incursion and seek a negotiated settlement beneficial to all parties. President Trump was very firm in highlighting the need that thousands of ISIS prisoners in the custody of Kurdish forces cannot and should not be released. President Trump has also put great pressure on our European allies to deal with the ISIS prison population, a step I completely support.”

“Finally, I would urge my Republican and Democratic colleagues to continue to speak out against Turkey’s incursion into Syria and support President Trump’s efforts to impose crippling sanctions against Turkey,” Graham concluded. “In the meantime, I think it would be wise to allow the Administration an opportunity to meet with Turkey and other interested parties to see if we can find an end to the bloodshed with a sustainable solution regarding ISIS and other U.S. national security concerns.”

The strong bipartisan vote puts pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to bring the resolution up on the Senate floor. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Todd Young (R-Indiana) are sponsoring the senate measure.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell is the Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Subcommittee on Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support and is serving in her fifth term representing the Seventh Congressional District.

(Original reporting by Fox News, the Daily KOS, and NC Policy Watch 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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