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Entrance fees to visit federal public lands are waived today

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The United States Department of Interior has designated Wednesday as a fee-free day for public lands to commemorate the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act, which is aimed at addressing the historically underfunded, multi-billion-dollar deferred maintenance backlog at national parks and public lands. In celebration of this achievement, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced that entrance fees paid by visitors coming to lands managed by the department will be waived on Aug. 5.

Bernhardt also announced that Aug. 4 will be designated “Great American Outdoors Day,” a fee-free day each year moving forward to commemorate the signing of the act.

“President Trump has just enacted the most consequential dedicated funding for national parks, wildlife refuges, public recreation facilities and American Indian school infrastructure in U.S. history,” Bernhardt said. “I’ve designated August 4th as Great American Outdoors Day and waived entrance fees to celebrate the passage of this historic conservation law.”

Entrance fees will be waived at all fee collecting public lands at the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The department holds fee-free days throughout the year to encourage visitation and appreciation for America’s public lands. On fee-free days, site-specific standard amenity and day-use fees at recreation sites and areas will be waived for the specified dates. Other fees, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use and use of special areas will remain in effect.

There are other remaining fee-free days in 2020.

For the National Park Service, Aug. 5 is Great American Outdoors Act Commemoration, Aug. 25 is National Park Service Birthday, Sept. 26 is National Public Lands Day and Nov. 11 is Veterans Day.

For the Bureau of Land Management, Aug. 5 is Great American Outdoors Act Commemoration, Sept. 26 is National Public Lands Day and Nov. 11 is Veterans Day.

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For U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands, Aug. 5 is Great American Outdoors Act Commemoration, Sept. 26 is National Public Lands Day, Oct. 11 is First Sunday of National Wildlife Refuge Week and Nov. 11 is Veterans Day.

On March 3, President Trump called on Congress to send him a bill that fully and permanently funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund and restored our National Parks. The president noted that it would be historic for America’s beautiful public lands when he signed such a bill into law. The Trump Administration worked with Congress to secure the passage of this landmark conservation legislation, which will use revenues from energy development to provide up to $1.9 billion a year for five years in the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to provide needed maintenance for critical facilities and infrastructure in our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas and American Indian schools. It will also use royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $900 million a year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country.

“We’re here today to celebrate the passage of truly landmark legislation that will preserve America’s majestic natural wonders, priceless historic treasures — and that’s exactly what they are — grand national monuments, and glorious national parks,” Pres. Trump said. “This is a very big deal. And from an environmental standpoint and from just the beauty of our country standpoint, there hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect.”

Last year, the NPS welcomed 327 million visitors who generated an economic impact of more than $41 billion and supported more than 340,000 jobs. The increasing popularity of our public lands has resulted in our national parks needing upgrades and improvements for more than 5,500 miles of paved roads, 17,000 miles of trails and 24,000 buildings. This legislation provides a long-term solution to this significant issue for the benefit of the American people and the betterment of our public lands.

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Approximately 67 million visitors annually come to BLM-managed lands, supporting approximately 48,000 jobs nationwide and contributing almost $7 billion to the U.S. economy. BLM-managed public lands offer a wide array of recreational opportunities including hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating, rafting, off-highway vehicle driving, rock climbing and more.

FWS welcomes approximately 54 million people to refuges each year. Their spending generates $3.2 billion in sales to local economies, employing more than 41,000 people and providing $1.1 billion in employment income.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with over nine years at Alabama Political Reporter. During that time he has written 8,297 articles for APR. 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

SPLC responds to arrest of man carrying Confederate flag inside U.S. Capitol

Kevin Seefried and his son, Hunter, face multiple charges connected with their alleged part in the deadly Capitol riot.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Widely shared images of a white man carrying a Confederate flag across the floor of the U.S. Capitol during last week’s deadly attempted insurrection is a jarring reminder of the treasonous acts that killed more than 750,000 Americans during the Civil War, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

“Just as defeated Confederate soldiers were forced to surrender the Civil War and end their inhumane treatment of Black people, the rioter who brazenly carried a Confederate flag into the Capitol has been forced to surrender to federal authorities,” said Lecia Brooks, chief of staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a statement Friday following the arrests of Kevin Seefried, 51, and his 23-year-old son Hunter.

Seefried, the Baltimore man allegedly seen in those photographs carrying the Confederate flag, and his son are charged with entering a restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Hunter is also charged with destroying government property.

“Incited by the President’s disinformation campaign, the rioter’s decision to brazenly roam the halls of Congress clinging to this painful symbol of white supremacy was a jarring display of boundless white privilege,” Brooks’s statement reads. “Despite the revisionist history promoted by enthusiasts, his disgraceful display is proof that the Confederate flag clearly represents hate, not heritage.”

Brooks added:

 “Over 750,000 American lives were lost because of the Confederacy’s treasonous acts. We cannot allow more blood to be shed for efforts to split our Union. January’s immoral coup attempt is an embarrassment to the United States, and we call on the federal government to prosecute these insurrectionists to the fullest extent of the law.”

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An affidavit detailing the charges states that videos taken during the riot show both Seefrieds enter the Capitol building through a broken window, that Hunter helped break, at about 2:13 p.m.

Both men on Jan. 12 voluntarily talked with FBI agents and admitted to their part in the riots, according to court records. 

The elder Seefreid told the FBI agent that he traveled to the rally to hear Trump speak and that he and his son joined the march and were “led by an individual with a bull horn.” 

There were numerous pro-Trump attendees at the rally and march to the Capitol who had bull horns, according to multiple videos taken that day, but at the front of one of the largest groups of marchers with a bull horn was far-right radio personality Alex Jones, who was walking next to Ali Alexander, organizer of the Stop the Steal movement. 

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Alexander in three separate videos has said he planned the rally, meant to put pressure on Congress voting inside the Capitol that day, with Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, and Arizona U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs. Alexander is now in hiding, according to The Daily Beast

Congressman Brooks’s spokesman told APR on Tuesday that Brooks does not remember communicating with Alexander. 

“Congressman Brooks has no recollection of ever communicating in any way with whoever Ali Alexander is. Congressman Brooks has not in any way, shape or form coordinated with Ali Alexander on the January 6th ‘Save America’ rally,” the statement from the congressman’s spokesman reads. 

Jones and Alexander can be seen leading the march in a video taken and posted to Twitter by freelance journalist Raven Geary. 

“This is history happening. We’re not giving into globalists. We’ll never surrender,” Jones yells into his bullhorn as they marched toward the Capitol. 

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Congress

Tuberville says Trump admitted to “mistake” over deadly Capitol riot. He hasn’t

Trump has not admitted to any responsibility in the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.

Eddie Burkhalter

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In this July 14, 2020, file photo, Republican U.S. Senate candidate and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville speaks at a campaign event in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, in his first media appearance in Alabama as a senator on Wednesday, was asked his thoughts about the possibility of impeaching President Donald Trump, which happened later that day. He said Trump admitted to making a “mistake” and that it was time to move on. 

Trump has not admitted to any responsibility in the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week that left at least five dead, including a Capitol police officer and a woman who was shot by police while attempting to climb through a broken window inside the Capitol. Two others, including an Alabama man, died from “medical emergencies” while on Capitol grounds during the riot. 

“He made a mistake. He said he made a mistake. That’s not, to me, not an impeachable offense,” Tuberville told reporters outside of St. Vincent’s Hospital in downtown Birmingham, according to WSFA. “He’s got one week to go from today. We’ll have a new president in President Biden. We need to go on with life. I mean, to me, you know, when you understand you made mistakes and admitted. You forgive. You go on.” 

Questions to a Tuberville staffer on Thursday regarding Tuberville’s comments Wednesday were received, but APR had not received responses as of Thursday evening. 

Trump was impeached for a second time — a first in U.S. history for any president — on Wednesday. With 10 Republicans joining Democrats in voting to impeach a Republican president, it was the most bipartisan impeachment in American history.

“Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” Trump tweeted in December. The House cited that and similar remarks in charging Trump with inciting an insurrection.

In the moments before the riot last week, Trump told the crowd of supporters assembled near the Capitol: “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen.”

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“If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said to the crowd. Toward the end of his speech, Trump encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. 

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” Trump said. “You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” Trump said. 

Instead of walking to the Capitol with his supporters, Trump returned to the White House where he watched the violence unfold on live television from the West Wing, according to The Washington Post

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Senators and members of the House, including Tuberville and Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, were bunkered down inside the Capitol as rioters broke into the building, smashing windows, beating police officers and threatening others to stand aside and let them enter further into the building, where the lawmakers were being protected by police. 

Despite attempts by some to get Trump to call off his supporters, Trump wasn’t reachable for a time as he watched the violence unfold on television, according to The Washington Post. 

“It took him a while to appreciate the gravity of the situation,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, to the newspaper. Graham, also being protected at the time inside the Capitol, called Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, but couldn’t get through to the president. 

“The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen,” Graham told the newspaper. 

At 1:26 p.m. local time, the day of the attack, Trump supporters broke into the Capitol, according to a timeline of events by The Wire. Vice President Mike Pence is escorted out of the Senate chamber at 2:22 p.m. and a short time later Trump tweets an attack on Pence for not intervening on Trump’s behalf as Electoral College votes were being certified. (Pence has — rightfully — said he did not have the legal authority to so.)

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” Trump tweeted as his supporters continued the siege. 

At 2:38 p.m. Trump tweets: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” 

Nearly 45 minutes later, Trump tweets again: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” 

Shortly after 2 p.m. Trump mistakenly called Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, while trying to reach Tuberville, according to CNN. Lee handed his cellphone to Tuberville. Both men were in a temporary holding room, having been evacuated from the Senate floor, according to CNN. 

“Tuberville spoke with Trump for less than 10 minutes, with the President trying to convince him to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in a futile effort to block Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win, according to a source familiar with the call,” CNN reported. “The call was cut off because senators were asked to move to a secure location.” 

President-elect Joe Biden in a video posted at 4:06 p.m., more than two hours after the siege began, pleaded with Trump to call for peace. At 4:17 p.m., Trump released a video to Twitter in which he continued to allege the election was stolen from him. 

“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. … So go home. We love you, you’re very special…I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace,” Trump said. 

A second call to Lee at 7 p.m. came from Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, according to a recording of the voicemail. Giuliani believed he was also calling Tuberville. 

“I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you,” Giuliani said, according to the recording. “I know they’re reconvening at 8 tonight, but it … the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

Speaking Tuesday at a section of the border wall with Mexico in Texas, Trump took no responsibility for the violence at the Capitol.

“People thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” Trump said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, speaking on the House floor before his vote against impeachment, said Trump was responsible for the violence.

“The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said.

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, spoke before her vote about being on the House floor when rioters broke into the Capitol.  

“I rise today to support impeachment. I do so with a heavy heart and a lasting and searing memory of being in this gallery, the people’s House, right up there, fearing for my life,” Sewell said, pointing to where she and other representatives hid from rioters during the siege. “And why? Because the President of the United States incited others to be violent. A mob of insurgency, in this House. It’s unacceptable, it led to the killing of five Americans.  Blood is on this house. We must do something about it. I ask we move from ‘stopping the steal’ to to healing, but healing requires accountability, and everyone must be accountable.” 

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The Alabama politicians who supported overturning the election

We’re compiling a list of lawmakers and elected officials who supported Rep. Mo Brooks’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results.

Staff

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Alabama lawmakers and elected officials who publicly supported Rep. Mo Brooks’s effort to overturn the election results.

President Donald Trump was not alone in his attempts to undermine a free and fair election over the last several weeks, as a number of Republicans at both the federal and state levels knowingly aided the president.

The most obvious ways in which these officials supported the president were through challenges to the Electoral College votes of some states and by way of lawsuits filed by these same lawmakers. Alabama lawmakers supported both, with numerous elected officials voicing public support of these actions and the state’s attorney general officially making Alabama a party to one of the election challenge lawsuits.

What follows is a listing of elected Alabama officials who played a role in these decisions or who voiced public support for them.

See more here.

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Alabama man arrested near Capitol had notes, cache of weapons, records show

Among the names on the handwritten notes in Coffman’s truck was Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indiana.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama man Lonnie Coffman’s truck, found by police parked blocks from the U.S. Capitol last week loaded with firearms, ammunition, a crossbow, smoke canisters and 11 Molotov cocktails.

Alabama man Lonnie Coffman’s truck, found by police parked blocks from the U.S. Capitol last week loaded with firearms, ammunition, a crossbow, smoke canisters and 11 Molotov cocktails also had handwritten notes with the names of a Democratic lawmaker, a federal appeals court judge and conservative commentators, denoting some as “bad guys” and some as “good guys,” according to court records unsealed Tuesday. 

Coffman, 70, of Falkville, was arrested last week attempting to return to his truck after the deadly riots, which left at least five dead, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.

While securing a perimeter around the blocks in the area of the National Republican Club and the Democratic National Committee Headquarters, where police found two pipe bombs, police saw the handle of a firearm in the seat of a red GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck with Alabama license plates, according to an affidavit signed by Lawrence Anyaso, special agent with the U.S. Capitol Police. 

According to a court filing in support of pretrial detention, in the truck, police found a handgun, assault rifle, shotgun and “several large-capacity ammunition feeding devices,” hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a crossbow, several machetes, smoke devices, a stun gun and 11 mason jars, which were later determined to contain homemade napalm. Coffman had two pistols on him when police arrested him while returning to his truck, according to court records. 

“The search of the defendant’s pickup truck contained concerning handwritten messages that raise alarm in the context of the January 6 rioting and criminal infringement on our nation’s democratic process,” the court filing states. “One was a handwritten note with words purportedly attributed to Abraham Lincoln – ‘We The People Are The Rightful Masters Of Both The Congress And The Courts, Not To Overthrow The Constitution But To Overthrow The Men Who Pervert The Constitution.'”

“The note also contained information about elected representatives (describing one as purportedly Muslim) and describing a judge as a ‘bad guy.’ Another set of handwritten messages were found on the back of a magazine, and contained purported contact information for ‘Conservative Talk Show Host Mark Levin,’ ‘Shaun [sic] Hannity,’ and ‘Senator Ted Cruz,’” the filing reads. 

Police found Molotov cocktails, guns and dozens of rounds of ammunition in Coffman’s truck. (VIA COURT RECORDS)

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Coffman told police that he had been living out of his truck in the D.C. area for roughly a week. 

“The defendant has a concerning history and characteristics that raise grave risk that he would endanger the community and flee if released,” acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin wrote to the court, requesting Coffman be held until trial. 

Coffman was indicted on Jan. 8 by a District of Columbia grand jury on 17 separate weapons charges. Coffman has no social media presence, and no state or federal criminal record, a search of those records revealed. Coffman’s ex-wife told WAAY 31 that she didn’t have anything to say about his arrest, but said,  “Yes, he voted for Trump.”

On one of the handwritten notes found in Coffman’s truck was the entry “Rep. Carson, D-Indiana (one of two muslims in House of Reps).”

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Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indiana, addressed his name being among the names on those lists in a statement Tuesday:

“It is extremely disturbing to learn from press reports that I was one of several individuals identified in a list of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ targeted for attacks. The indicted terrorist had the means and opportunity to carry out his plans to violently attack, injure and destroy government officials and related offices in our Nation’s Capitol. These were not idle threats. These were planned and organized measures to take my life, my colleagues’ lives and try to destroy our government.

Everyone who supported these attacks must be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible,” Carson said.

“No American should ever be targeted for violence or death because they are Black, or Muslim, or because of their race or creed,” Carson said. “We must get all the facts about these attacks, including those complicit in their planning and execution, and we must work together to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

Police found molotov cocktails, guns, smoke canisters and dozens of rounds of ammunition in Coffman’s truck. (VIA COURT RECORDS)

Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin in a briefing with reporters Tuesday said there are already more than 170 open cases on individuals suspected in the Capitol attack, and said he expects that number to grow. 

“We’re looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” Sherwin said.

Asked what intelligence the FBI received prior to the attack, and what was shared with Capitol Police, Sherwin said they had “a lot of intelligence information” and that it was all accessible to Capitol police.

“We’re looking at and treating this just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation. We’re looking at everything. Money. Travel records,” Sherwin said.

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