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Morning Reads: Jeff Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General; Democrats Meet to Figure Out a Message

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Jeff Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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Jeff Sessions confirmed –> The Alabama US senator who in 1986 was deemed too racist to be a Reagan-appointed federal judge was confirmed as attorney general yesterday. The vote was 52 to 47, with one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, breaking ranks and voting aye. “Many senators broke into applause after the vote over one of its own members being elevated to the Cabinet. But they were almost all Republicans,” Ben Jacobs writes for The Guardian. “A handful of Democrats, including Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Bill Nelson of Florida, gave a few polite claps.”

Next up? Tom Price –> The Georgia congressman who, as USA Today reports, “sold health care company stocks often enough as a member of Congress to warrant probes by both federal securities regulators and the House ethics committee.” He’ll be up for a vote to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that oversees Obamacare. Price “also invested in more health care companies that could benefit from legislation he introduced than previously reported.”

West Virginia’s Joe Manchin says he won’t vote for Price, Axios reports, making it likely that he will be confirmed on a strict party-line vote.

“Emergency response” to DAPL –> Protesters in cities across America denounced the Army Corps of Engineers decision to move forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline as quickly as possible. The Standing Rock Sioux, meanwhile, vowed to take their fight back to court. “Lawyers for the tribe say they will argue in court that an environmental impact statement, mandated by the Army Corps under Obama, was wrongfully terminated,” Alleen Brown reports for The Intercept. “They will likely request a restraining order while the legal battle ensues. Pipeline company lawyers have said that it would take at minimum 83 days for oil to flow from the date that an easement is granted.”

Strategy session –> Democrats are meeting in Baltimore to plan a new strategy for regaining power. However, rather than embracing an ideological message to rally supporters and attract new ones, the party has decided to focus squarely on opposing Trump. So, Heather Caygle reports for Politico:

“Democratic aides say they will eventually shift to a positive economic message that Rust Belt Democrats can run on. But for now, aides say, the focus is on slaying the giant and proving to the voters who sent Trump into the White House why his policies will fail. House Democrats’ strategy is basically this: They’ll publicly goad Trump on subjects he’s clearly sensitive about, like insinuating he’s being blackmailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin; and on other issues, like Obamacare and tax reform, they’ll get out of the way and let Trump and House Republicans fall on their face.”

“Demoralizing” –> That was Judge Neil Gorsuch’s description of Trump’s attack on judges. Speaking to Connecticut US Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Gorsuch also said that Trump’s behavior was “disheartening.” Blumenthal told The Hill, “If he wants the American people to believe that he is truly independent, Judge Gorsuch must tell them in no uncertain terms that President Trump’s attacks are not just disappointing — they are abhorrent and destructive to our constitutional system — and he must condemn them publicly.”

Donald Trump responded characteristically in the alternative Twitter world this morning — questioning the senator’s credibility with attacks on Blumenthal’s military record. But a Gorsuch spokesman confirmed the nominee’s remarks.

Trump isn’t popular, but some of his policies are –> According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, Trump’s support is continuing to slip, but 55 percent of Americans are on board with the Muslim ban.

In a piece for Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi reflects on polls like these:

“Despite near-unanimous condemnation by the international community and massive demonstrations, polls showed that more Americans than not supported whatever it was Trump was doing with the borders. This gets to the heart of a chilling truth that much of educated America has yet to face about the Trump era. Amid all the howling about Trump’s deceptions, the far more upsetting story is the mandate behind them — not so much the death of truth in politics, but the irrelevance of it. Donald Trump is proving that if you connect with America’s anger and paranoia, you can get by quite easily without facts.”

Throwback Thursday –> The Associated Press reports, “Mississippi lawmakers are advancing a proposal to add firing squad, electrocution and gas chamber as execution methods in case a court blocks the use of lethal injection drugs.”

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.



We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.