Bob Corker

TNJ interview: Haslam discusses Cyntoia Brown decision

Gov. Bill Haslam announces on Nov. 13, 2018, that Amazon will locate its East Coast logistics hub in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in an interview with The Tennessee Journal on Monday discussed how he came to the decision to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who will be released from prison after serving 15 years in August. Brown was sentenced to life in prison for a murder committed as a 16-year-old in 2004, after she had run away from home. She has said she acted in self-defense in shooting the man after she was forced into prostitution. Haslam said celebrity attention to the case led to his office receiving 100,000 calls from Brown’s supporters.

TNJ: How did you arrive at this decision?

Haslam: We have a lot of pardon and clemency requests in front of us, that’s really what I’m spending the majority of my last two weeks doing. So we wanted to be thorough on it. And No. 2, I think the thing that was so unusual about this was that, because it got such an extraordinary amount of publicity, we wanted to make certain we didn’t treat it any better or worse than any other case. We ended up getting 100,000 phone calls, which I think is the most that we’ve gotten on any issue. But while obviously that’s how democracy works, you don’t want to make decisions based on how many phone calls you get. So we wanted to set all that aside and say, what’s the right thing to do in this case? And in this case, it meant talking to everybody from her lawyers, to people who had been involved with her while she was in prison, to counselors who knew her, to try to make certain we were making the best decision.

TNJ: You had various options, you could have said she could have served 15, 20, 25 years or whatever amount of time.

Haslam: We thought about it a lot, and the governor does have incredible powers. You could say, I want her to be out in 15 minutes, or anything. I think you start out with, what’s the right thing to do, and what’s the best thing in her situation. For us, it was 15 years. A lot of people said, if that had happened today, she would have gotten 2nd degree, which would have been 15 to 25 years. And so that was one of the motivations of saying 15 years with 10 years’ probation.

TNJ: With all the celebrity attention, did that make it uncomfortable?

Haslam: There was so many cases that need that kind of review. But so many people follow Kim Kardashian, that if she tweets out ‘call the governor,’ we’re going to get a lot of phone calls. Or if it’s Rihanna, or Snoop Dogg, or whoever. For us it meant an added level of, let’s make certain we’re doing the right thing. And not penalizing because we had all these people calling us — we literally had people who couldn’t call here to get their TennCare dealt with because our phone lines were so full. So you don’t want to penalize her for that, but nor do you want to treat her any more special because 100,000 people called.

TNJ: Do you think there will be a political price to pay if you decide to run for the U.S. Senate in 2020?

Haslam: I honestly don’t know. Obviously there’s a lot of people who think it’s the greatest thing ever and some people who will be upset. I think you’ve got to shove all that aside. It’s part of why, when Corker’s seat came up, I said it’s just not right. Because I didn’t want to spend my last year-and-a-half as governor running for the Senate, and you couldn’t help but let things affect you. And that’s really why I said on this one, I’m not going to spend a lot of time thinking about it until we get out of here.

Sen. Lamar Alexander won’t run again in 2020

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) attends an event at the state Capitol in Nashville on Dec. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a former governor and two-time presidential candidate, won’t seek re-election in 2020.

The decision will likely set off a mad scramble among Republicans seeking to succeed him in the Senate. Alexander’s planned departure follows a decision by Tennessee junior senator Bob Corker not to run again this year.

Corker released the following statement about Alexander’s decision:

One of the highlights of my time in the Senate has been working with Lamar Alexander. I often tell him he is the legislator of the decade because of the effective way he has worked across the aisle to pass legislation that directly affects the lives of so many throughout our state and around the country. As one of the finest statesmen our state has ever seen, Lamar will leave behind a remarkable legacy. I know he will press through the next two years with great vigor, and I look forward to all he will accomplish on behalf of Tennesseans as he completes his service in Washington.

Here’s what Gov. Bill Haslam had to say:

It is almost impossible to measure the impact of Lamar Alexander’s commitment to Tennessee.  His time as governor paved the way for the economic position we enjoy today as a leading state for business, and his educational reforms were ahead of his time.  As a senator, he has distinguished himself as a national leader, while always reminding everyone that our founders designed our government for most of the power to be delegated to the states.  No one has served our state longer as a governor and senator, and few, if any, have served it better than Lamar.

 

Corker trying, again, to set up congressional block to Trump tariffs

Republican Sen. Bob Corker is making a new push to allow Congress to block President Donald Trump’s tariffs on U.S. allies, though GOP leaders may stop it in its tracks once again, reports Politico.

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Corker’s latest Trump critique: ‘Ready, fire, aim’ policy on immigration

Tennessee’s Sen. Bob Corker says that the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that forced many families to be separated at the U.S border was implemented in a “ready, fire, aim way” and is not a “realistic” way to enforce immigration laws, reports CBS News.

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Alexander and Corker: Stop separating parents and children detained at U.S. border

Statements from U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee on the Trump administration policy of separating children detained at the U.S./Mexico border from their parents, as reported by the Times Free Press:

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Angry Corker blames tariff amendment rejection on Republicans afraid to ‘poke the bear’ (President Trump)

Sen. Bob Corker chastised his fellow Republicans on Tuesday for failing to allow a vote on his proposal giving Congress the chance to accept or reject tariffs imposed by the president, reports USA Today.

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Bredesen: ‘I greatly admire’ Corker and Alexander efforts against Trump tariffs

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen tells The Leaf Chronicle that Hemlock Semiconductor shuttered its $1.2 billion plant in Clarksville – launched while he was governor – because of a dispute between China and the United States over tariffs. The comment was a prelude to declaring his support for efforts by Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander to require congressional approval of President Trump’s proposed new tariffs.

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Corker spurns Trump request; files bipartisan tariffs legislation with Alexander as co-sponsor

Sen. Bob Corker introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday that would give Congress new authority to check the president’s trade moves, going forward with the legislation despite a personal appeal from President Trump to back off, reports the Washington Post.

Corker’s bill would require congressional approval when the president enacts tariffs under the auspices of national security, as Trump did last week in imposing levies on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The legislation, which Corker released with a total of nine Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, is the most forceful congressional response to date to Trump’s protectionist trade agenda. For the first time, at least some Republicans are uniting behind a concrete plan to force the president to change course on trade, after months of pleas and appeals achieved little.

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Corker’s push for tariff legislation reported picking up steam

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker outlined his proposal to give Congress authority to block tariffs during a meeting with fellow Republican senators Tuesday and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he may allow a vote on it, reports Politico.

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Corker working to block Trump tariffs with Bredesen’s blessing; Blackburn ‘still trying to work through this’

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he and others are “crafting” legislation requiring congressional authority over levying tariffs in response to President Donald Trump’s imposition of stiff steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union, according to the Times Free Press. Phil Bredesen, the Democrat running to replace him, has embraced the idea. Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn has not, though she’s concerned about the tariffs and “still trying to work through this.”

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