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Thursday News: VA GOP Escalates Judge Fight; Donald Trump Defines National GOP Policy Agenda

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Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, August 20. Also check out the interview with Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, who explains how the entire Judge Roush situation went down. To put it mildly, Republican “leadership” – particularly Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment and Speaker Bill Howell – don’t come off looking very good here (and, amazing, right-wing radio host John Fredericks agrees). Saslaw also asserts that what’s driving Republicans is jealousy and hatred of Gov. McAuliffe, the success he’s had bringing business to Virginia, and the media attention he gets for doing so.

*Act Two of the Trump Epic (“We’re now in a categorically different phase. Trump is now defining the GOP policy agenda. And that makes him far more than a top candidate or even a nominee.”)

*Family Values Activist Josh Duggar Had a Paid Ashley Madison Account

*Jeb Bush getting squeezed on both sides in N.H.

*The GOP jumps on the immigration bandwagon (“The Republican Right’s mission won’t really be done until it tears down the Statue of Liberty. A beacon to immigrants, tired and poor, the single greatest emblem of American exceptionalism – what a waste of prime real estate! Imagine the profits if another Trump Tower rose in its place.”)

*These 8 Democrats Are AIPAC’s Best Chances of Killing the Iran Deal (Mark Warner is one who’s still publicly on the fence for whatever reason…)

*The Republican Primary Candidates’ Daylong School-Choice Lovefest

*Investigations Prove the Planned Parenthood “Sting” Videos Were a Bust (“Completed probes in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota have spent thousands in taxpayer money, but turned up no evidence that Planned Parenthood is trafficking in the sale of fetal tissue.”)

*The death of birthright citizenship: How Donald Trump is taking a fringe idea into the mainstream

*Gilmore unconcerned by low polling numbers (They’re not just “low,” they’re basically zero.)

*Warner says new economy demands new policies

*Our view: Why are Virginia court clerks withholding public records?

*Va. Republicans escalate fight with McAuliffe over Supreme Court judge

*Maureen McDonnell to appeals court: You can clear me and not my husband

*Virginia Beach makes wise investment in its past

*Ahead of next year’s mayoral election, ODU calls timeout on Norfolk sheriff

*The FBI brings fresh eyes to the McKenna case

*Jared Fogle offered Richmond prostitutes ‘finder’s fee’ for sex with minors, feds say

*Ex-Fairfax officer who killed unarmed man denied bail, faints in courtroom (“Judge Stephen C. Shannon said he would not grant bail to Torres because of the circumstances of the shooting and the concerns about Torres’s mental state at the time of the incident.”)

*Loudoun commuter bus drivers hold ‘unsanctioned sickout’; routes cancelled

*Stephen Strasburg, Jayson Werth lead Nationals past Rockies (Wow, two in a row…can we make it three?)

*D.C. area forecast: Heavy rain possible today, especially late; drier air Friday into the weekend

  • Some key quotes:

    Saslaw: “I can tell you for a fact that George Allen never consulted me, and I’m pretty darn sure given the relationship at the time, he didn’t consult Cranwell when he appointed Cynthia Kinser. And Tim Kaine never, I want to repeat, never, consulted me or anyone else when he made judge appointments. I don’t know where they get this, that ‘he didn’t call us.'”

    Fredericks (host): “I want to inform my audience also that Dave Albo is a Republican legislator, House of Delegates member from Fairfax County, and Dave is a pretty serious guy. I mean he’s not one of these guys that throws bombs or anything. He’s a pretty serious House of Delegates member. Dave Albo, Republican, sits on the committee, wrote a letter on Judge Roush’s behalf.”

    Saslaw:  “What I believe is driving this thing, John, more than anything else, is there in the leadership: Senator Norment, Bill Howell, Kirk Cox. The intense dislike of the governor. There’s a lot of jealousy in there. This guy is highly successful, he’s brought in more investment to this state in his first eighteen months than the two previous governors did in their first two-and-a-half years. And these guys resent this, and they resent the publicity that he gets, and they decided they were gonna go after him and they picked a petty reason like ‘he didn’t call us.'”

    Saslaw: “Let me tell you this, [RPV  Chairman John Whitbeck] must have just arrived from Mars. Um, is he aware that the Republicans, who run the show, who run the show, never drew up any redistricting plan?”

    Full transcript:

    Fredericks: I’ll tell you what… I told this to Senator Petersen yesterday. I said, uh, well, you better get your bookbags out, because the Republicans just got schooled. This is why we call you the Godfather. You ran rings around your republican Senate caucus colleagues yesterday in the special session. Tell us what went down.

    Saslaw: Well, you know, first off, the governor tried to get something going with redistricting. The Republicans were not interested in that, and they claimed they were going to submit a map by September 1st, but why you would wait till then… because we started working on one I guess back in early July, or mid-July, and it got, you know, they wouldn’t agree to meet. Then, parallel to that, you had the thing with the judge, with Jane Roush, and let me tell you, I’m not an attorney, so when we have a Fairfax judgeship, I talk to Dave Albo and I talk to Chap, and whatever they agree on that’s what I go along with because that’s their profession and they know the players. In this case I called a third party, a very prominent attorney and judge in the Mid-Atlantic region, and he also had great words to say about Jane Roush.

    So, the governor meantime had a woman — his aide — called numerous times, I was told to Senator Norment, and you know I like Tommy but he’s not real good at returning phone calls sometimes, and he didn’t get back. Albo was the one that recommended, the guy who was appointed by the Speaker to be chair to the courts of justice, was the one who recommended Jane Roush to the governor! So we had to assume that, he was fully cognizant of what was going on.

    Now let me tell you, let me correct one thing about how governors traditionally consult with the general assembly on these types of appointments. I can tell you for a fact that George Allen never consulted me, and I’m pretty darn sure given the relationship at the time, he didn’t consult Cranwell when he appointed Cynthia Kinser. And Tim Kaine never, I want to repeat, never, consulted me or anyone else when he made judge appointments. I don’t know where they get this, that “he didn’t call us.” And let’s say that he didn’t call, okay? That’s a reason to reject a judge of this woman’s qualifications? Are you kidding me?

    So, immediately, I talked with John Watkins, who was pretty dismayed at what they were about to do, and I talked with him and I said, “This is gonna touch off a war that has no end.” And let me tell you, what I believe is driving this thing, John, more than anything else, is there in the leadership- Senator Norment, Bill Howell, Kirk Cox. The intense dislike of the governor. There’s a lot of jealousy in there. This guy is highly successful, he’s brought in more investment to this state in his first eighteen months than the two previous governors did in their first two-and-a-half years. And these guys resent this, and they resent the publicity that he gets, and they decided they were gonna go after him and they picked a petty reason like “he didn’t call us.” Well, excuse me, I didn’t get called by anybody!

    Fredericks

    :
    Well it seems, it seems a little odd, Senator, and I want to inform my readers. Judge Roush certainly seemed to be qualified, no question about that, and I have a lot of respect for your colleague Chap Petersen. But I wanna inform my audience also that Dave Albo is a Republican legislator, House of Delegates member from Fairfax County, and Dave is a pretty serious guy. I mean he’s not one of these guys that throws bombs or anything. He’s a pretty serious House of Delegates member. Dave Albo, Republican, sits on the committee, wrote a letter on Judge Roush’s behalf, so she came to the governor-

    Saslaw: He chairs! He chairs the committee.

    Fredericks: Yeah, he’s the judiciary chair, writes a letter on behalf of Judge Roush, sent it to McAuliffe along with Chap Petersen. You would think, I mean if I’m the governor, and I’m not, you know, I mean I criticize McAuliffe where I think he goes off the rails, but if I’m the governor and I’m sitting there and I get a letter from the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Dave Albo, I mean, one has to assume that he picked up the phone and talked to Speaker Howell, right? I mean, wouldn’t that be a conclusion that-

    Saslaw: And I, I think he did, and Jane Roush called the Speaker.

    Fredericks: And what did the Speaker say?

    Saslaw: He voiced no objection to her as far as I know. I can talk to Bill about this, but as far as I know, and from I can read in the papers, he voiced no objection to her over the phone.

    Fredericks: Well, and the other thing is, normally… we haven’t talked to Judge Roush- she’s in a difficult position. But normally, when a judge takes an interim appointment like this, and they give up their judgeship they have to take it, normally they would talk to the powers to be to be sure that this is something that is going to go through. Because obviously you don’t want to give up the judgeship you have, take another judgeship, go down, and now you’re out of a job. And so one would assume that she did her due diligence, she’s a pretty intelligent woman, and again, this isn’t any slight at all to Judge Alston- I think he would have been a fabulous choice as well- but it seems to me, when you get Dave Albo involved, there was credibility to Judge Roush that I was kind of shocked when the Republicans decided to attempt to oust her.

    Saslaw: Well, by the way, she called Senator Norment twice. Now, Jeff Ryder, I think that’s how it’s pronounced. Jeff was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that Senator Norment did not remember the first call, and ignored the second call. That was a quote from Jeff Ryder. She made an attempt to get in touch with Tommy, but never made a connection, and she tried twice. And I remember her telling me she tried to call him.

    Fredericks: Well, you gotta return phone calls obviously, but the second thing is, Senator Watkins, who was disturbed by this whole thing from day 1, we had who we think is going to be your Senate colleague after November… we had Delegate Scott Surrovell on on Monday at 6:15 a.m. and he told our listeners right on the phone that Watkins was going to go with Roush. So, obviously, if Scott Surrovell knew that, you would think that the Republican Caucus knew that. And if he didn’t go with Alston, then you knew that Lieutenant Governor Northam was going to break the tie, so it really seemed to me that you guys just outmaneuvered the Republicans, or they were mistaken about what exactly went down here, right?

    Saslaw: Well they may have thought they could turn John Watkins, but I knew that wasn’t gonna happen. And what you’re seeing is an unfortunate exodus of people who are interested in trying to make things work. And that vacuum is being filled unfortunately by some people who really aren’t much interested in that. And when you take a look at the retirements of John Watkins, of Walter Stosch, Jeff McWaters, these were guys who were trying to make things work. And I got a feeling that, based on what I know, that the frustration is ultimately driving a lot of these good people out. Toddy Puller, she’s leaving for health reasons, but it’s unfortunate that you’re seeing this. I mean you take a look at what’s happening here, that Saxby retired, the U.S. Senator from Georgia, Cole from Wisconsin, these were guys who were trying to make things work and they weren’t getting anywhere. And I mean, sooner or later those things got to get turned around. Things used to work in this country; thirty, forty, fifty years ago. But they’re not working now, and this can’t go on indefinitely or we’re going to have a nightmare on our hands.

    Fredericks: Well, look, I thought that we were very critical of the bravado that Governor McAuliffe took on in the first session and when he was elected and we thought he didn’t go through normal channels and so a lot of things backfired on him. But certainly in the 2015 session, I mean we got a budget passed, it was pretty nondescript, I thought Governor McAuliffe learned from his 2014 deal and you know he’s been on our show several times. He’s certainly the most enthusiastic sales executive that Virginia’s ever had and he believes in what he’s doing so I’m going to defend him on this. Because you know if I’m the governor and I’m getting a letter from Dave Albo, who is the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House that’s got a supermajority, I’m going to assume that I’ve got clearance. I mean I’ve just got to make that assumption. I mean anybody would!

    Saslaw: And like I say, Governor Kaine, contrary to that story that was printed in The Virginia Pilot today, Kaine did not consult with us that I can ever remember on any judicial appointments and I know when that supreme court appointment was made by George Allen concerning Cynthia Kinser, who turned out to be an excellent supreme court justice, he didn’t consult us. He made the appointment. And by the way, I don’t think she was a judge at all prior to that. She had an outstanding reputation, similar to what Jane Roush has, but he didn’t call us, and quite frankly- I didn’t expect to get a call!

    Fredericks: Well, I’ll tell you what. I’ve got the Senator on my show on Friday, I’m live at the AFP conference in Columbus, I’m going to ask him that question point blank.

    And this just out from the Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, John Whitbeck, he says- and I want to get you to respond to this, Senator- he says, “The Senate Democrats, with the explicit backing of Governor McAuliffe, attempted to adjourn session on the first day rather than do their work on a court ordered redistricting plan. This is an embarrassment to Virginia. It is truly unfortunate that McAuliffe has borrowed shutdown tactics from D.C. and attempted to bring them to Richmond.” He says, “I applaud our Republican House and Senate leaders for staying committed to the legislative process and fulfilling their responsibilities as elected officials.” Finally saying, “The governor needs to spend less time fundraising for Hillary Clinton and more time actually governing Virginia.” So, he’s criticizing your shutdown tactics when you adjourned. How do you respond to that and what was behind that?

    Saslaw: Well, first off, and let me tell you this, this guy must have just arrived from Mars. Um, is he aware that the Republicans, who run the show, who run the show, never drew up any redistricting plan? That, I mean that, in itself, was absurd. The second thing is, if he knew a damn thing about government, and he doesn’t, he would know that the Chair of the Privileges and Elections Committee, Senator Vogel, she’s got two bills in there, both by Democrats. They can work on those bills, committees are absolutely one hundred percent free to meet when we’re not in session and get work done. And if they report out a bill that is agreeable to everybody, the governor can make a decision based on what he sees there, but quite frankly- they didn’t draw up a bill. And they were going to come back and file one and give the governor essentially, they said by September 1st, and give him about a couple hours to look at the bill with no public comment on the bill.

    I don’t know what this guy Whitbeck is talking about but he doesn’t know a thing about Virginia government.

    Frederick: So, what do you think the Republican’s objective was in getting this out at the final hour here and staying in session, obviously you stay in session you spend a lot of money, but what was their objective?

    Saslaw: You know what, their objective was- they had two objectives. Number one was to make sure nothing happened that day, and two was to get rid of Jane Roush. Those were the two objectives. They didn’t have any objective with respect to redistricting other than to let nothing happen- listen, they could’ve drawn up a bill, they knew what the complaints were, what the federal judge had found wrong with that thing- they could’ve corrected that. I know that because I heard back chatter.

    Fredericks: So they chose not do that. So then what drove, Senator, your decision to adjourn? Obviously… there’s no doubt that your decision to adjourn and getting Ralph Northam to break the tie on that definitely was a shocker to the Republican leadership. I don’t think they expected that to happen.

    Saslaw: Well, it shouldn’t have been. They should have been able to figure out that we were gonna do that, and the reason was: why stay in session, why put up this charade that you’re actually working to get something done when you knew that we weren’t?

    John, I talked to a boatload of Republicans, I talked to a boatload of Democrats. There was not a one of them, not a one of them, who didn’t think that ultimately this would have to be drawn by a three-judge panel. I mean every single one I talked to, not a person there thought that we could draw up a plan that everybody would agree to and get signed by the governor. And the governor, I think, made the right decision, in saying look- ‘what’s that sense of going on? I may as well tell the judges that realistically there’s no way we’re going to reach an agreement, and let that panel start drawing up a congressional redistricting.’ Now, I would prefer us to do it. You know that saying, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t?”

    Fredericks: Yes.

    Saslaw: I’m a firm believer in that. Okay. We should have done that. But they expressed no interest to me in getting that done. And the fact that they never drew a bill, House or Senate, tells me that. Let me tell you, I’ll go back to the original premise. There is an intense hatred by the leadership, by the Republicans of this Governor, and it is forcing them to make bad decisions. And some of this is being driven by their base. Remember, this is the crowd, every last one of them, this is the crowd that in January of 2012, put in a bill that forced women to undergo a transvaginal examination – that is a huge thing – when every OBGYN in this state said, “What are you doing?” And the only reason it came out because even McDonnell, pro-life as he was, said he would not sign that bill. I don’t know who is advising these people, but they need to get a new set of advisors.

  • clark

    don’t see endorsements like this often esp. at the state legislature level, nice job Mike Hamlar! Running in Senate District 19 (all of Floyd & Salem, and part of Bedford, Carroll, Franklin, Montgomery, Roanoke & Wythe Counties)

    “Mike grew up in a home with high standards that included an expectation for exemplary achievement.  Righteousness, justice, equality, respect and faithfulness were obvious cornerstones of his family and he clearly displayed these characteristics when we first met.  I have known Mike since he was a senior in high school and he has always been a man of character, discipline and integrity.  He is a serious person with uncommon power of conviction, clarity, moral and ethical strength.  I am honored to endorse his candidacy to become the next State Senator for the 19th District in the state of Virginia.”

    Jim Caldwell

    Head Coach

    Detroit Lions

  • Of course, this is the same party which consistently refers to human beings seeking a better life as “illegals,” so what else would you expect? Gack.