Good morning and welcome to February! Didn’t January just seem go on forever? Don’t worry, this month promises to be a shorter one. Here is your Alabama Daily News digest for Thursday, February 1, 2018.
1. Things are about to get real…
Fasten your seatbelt for an intense few days of developments surrounding a three-way struggle between the House Intelligence Committee, the Department of Justice / FBI, and the White House.
It looks like that MEMO everyone is talking about will be de-classified today, and may well be released.
What is this all about?
- The House Intelligence Committee prepared a memo based on its review of classified documents that may show FBI officials using questionable material to build the case for a secret surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign aide.
- Remember the whole thing about Trump Tower being bugged? When federal investigators became suspicious that Trump campaign official Carter Page was working with Russian nationals to influence the 2016 election, they sought a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to check it out.
- Many believe the FBI used the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” in making their case to the FISA court. That would be embarrassing for the FBI because the Trump dossier is highly questionable and was partially funded by Democrats and the Clinton campaign. It fuels the narrative Team Trump and many Republicans are trying to build that the “deep state” has been out to get Trump from the beginning and can’t be trusted.
Tension with Justice
- The Department of Justice told the committee last week it would be reckless to release this classified information without allowing DOJ and FBI officials to review it and make sure no sensitive, compromising information was in it.
- DOJ/FBI now have reviewed the memo and are saying they “have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
- Some read that and think DOJ doesn’t want an embarrasing document getting out. I read that and think there’s a lot more to the story…
Be careful what you wish for
- What “material omissions” could DOJ be referring to? If it is true that the FBI used the Trump dossier to get a FISA warrant, how likely is it that the dossier was the ONLY evidence used?
- There was probably a lot more evidence needed – and probably not the kind that shows Trump in a positive light.
- The #ReleaseTheMemo frenzy has been effective in casting doubt onto any Russia related investigation. But if it results in more damaging information being dredged up on Trump, the whole plan could backfire.
- With things finally going so well for President Trump and Congressional Republicans right now, the last thing they need is for this to blow up in their face.
Good reading on the subject
- Fox News national security correspondent Catherine Heritage’s story about DOJ’s recent review of the documents.
- A well-developed breakdown of the situation from NPR.
- “Five questions the Nunes memo better answer” by Asha Rangappa.
2. Scary ride for Alabama Congressmen
- A train carrying Republican Members of Congress to their annual retreat hit a garbage truck at a Virginia road crossing, killing the truck driver and injuring several others.
- It was a scary moment for Members of Alabama’s Congressional Delegation who were on the train.
- Reps. Martha Roby, Bradley Byrne, Robert Adherholt and Gary Palmer confirmed via twitter that they were on the train and unharmed. They also asked for prayers for those who hurt.
- Members of Congress who are physicians administered CPR and other emergency medical treatment to those who were injured before ambulances arrived.
3. Committee day in the State House
- The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved a bill from Rep. Ken Johnson seeking to patch up legal potholes that could threaten Alabama’s industry recruiting down the road.
- Sen. Clyde Chambliss’ Anti-Voyering bill passed through the Judiciary Committee. It outlaws and defines penalties for cell phone “upskirting,” and yes that means what you think it means.
- Also making it through committee was Rep. Victor Gaston’s constitutional amendment allowing the governor to legislative vacancies by appointing someone to complete the term. Some interesting arguments here on both sides.
- A bill allowing local authorities more tools to get control of dangerous dogs is making its way through both chambers.
- Rep. Lynn Greer’s bill extending the “stand your ground” law to churches passed through committee. There are questions as to why the current law wouldn’t apply to churches. Read Brian Lyman’s story for the back-and-forth.
The no-drama session continues for now.
The Senate will bear down on a Special Order Calendar that includes:
- Sen. Gerald Dial’s bill revising definitions and creating a new committee for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
- Sen. Clyde Chambliss’ bill require state agency heads to certify in-state travel for state employees.
- Sen. Paul Bussman’s bill requiring local water authorities to notify the state when they change the level of fluoride in the water.
- Sen. Trip Pittman’s bill to crack down on abandoned or derelict vessels. You can’t just leave your wrecked boat lying there in Mobile Bay!
The House is expected to be on Sunset bills today before moving to its own Special Order calendar. That agenda includes:
- Two House GOP “Flag, Family, Country” Agenda bills: Legislation calling for the death penalty or life in prison without parole for murder of a parent or guardian in the presence of a child; and legislation increasing the penalties for acts of domestic violence committed against a parent or guardian in the presence of a child.
- Rep. Pebblin Warren’s bill requiring health and safety standards at church day care facilities.
4. Thank you!
- The Alabama Daily News turns one month old today and I can’t thank you enough for reading.
- Daily News Digest subscriptions have grown by an average of about 55 per day – all organically. That’s exciting and far exceeds my expectations.
- More fun things are coming over the next several weeks and months, not just for the morning digest, but online at www.ALDailyNews.com.
- If you have helpful feedback, story ideas, news tips, or smart remarks, please email me at todd@ALDailyNews.com.
- Please also email me if you or your organization are interested in advertising and/or branded content opportunities. You’re going to want to get in on the ground floor of this thing!
- Thanks again for reading!
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Anti-voyeurism bill clears Senate committee.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Governor could fill some legislative vacancies under proposed amendment.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – House committee Oks Stand Your Ground for Alabama churches.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Huntsville ready to deliver an important piece for aerospace launches.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Editor Pepper Bryars: Alabama’s conservatives should support bills limiting special elections.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Human trafficking bill passes Alabama State Senate.
AL.COM – President Trump’s approval rating in Alabama and every other state, ranked.
AL.COM – Senate rejects 20-week abortion ban; GOP criticizes Jones vote.
AL.COM – Bill applies felony charge to owners of dogs that maim or kill.
AL.COM – Alabama Department of Public Health investigating 54 flu-related deaths.
AL.COM – Cancer-causing radon found in east Alabama town’s well water, researcher says.
AL.COM – Bill to criminalize secretly photographing private parts advances.
AL.COM – Will Anthony Ray Hinton get compensation? Alabama lawmakers debate $1.5 million for freed Death Row inmate.
AL.COM – Ivey thanks Trump for SOTU shoutout: ‘Alabama is indeed open for business’.
AL.COM – 5 Alabama GOP congressmen unharmed in train collision.
AL.COM – Alabama Senate moves to toughen fentanyl penalties amid spike in overdoses.
AL.COM – High-performance auto tuning company Dinan moving to Opelika.
AL.COM – All Mercedes-Benz vehicles to have electric versions by 2022.
AL.COM – Contributor Gary Profit: Alabama veterans deserve easier access to their prescriptions.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Columnist Josh Moon: The daycare bill, part II: It’s all about the money.
DECATUR DAILY – Shuttering of clubs raises concerns for kids in high-poverty areas.
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – With possible budget cuts, Aliceville prison workers fear for safety.
GADSDEN TIMES – The Gadsden Times: Legislature should pass bills to protect kids.
ANNISTON STAR – Universities, charities, wary of potential GOP tax overhaul’s effect on donations.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Journalism award is rescinded over spanking allegations.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Profitable Daimler warns about heavy spending on new tech.
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Wronged twice.
WASHINGTON POST – With FBI statement on memo, Christopher Wray could now be in the president’s crosshairs.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Dana Milbank: Democrats’ behavior at the State of the Union was embarrassing.
WASHINGTON POST – Federal government will be unable to pay all bills sooner than expected, due to new tax law.
WASHINGTON POST – U.S. democracy is in grave danger, a new Economist report warns.
WASHINGTON POST – As Amazon headquarters race heats up, concerns about a subsidy war grow.