Donald Trump

Lynn’s QAnon posts raise concerns with campaign donor

Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) hugs a colleague at GOP caucus meeting on July 24, 2019, in Nashville while Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), right, looks on.. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State House Finance Chair Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) tells the Associated Press she doesn’t support QAnon conspiracy theories even through she posted the group’s slogan on her social media accounts.

A spokeswoman for Brown-Forman, the corporate parent of Jack Daniel’s, told the AP’s Michael Kunzelman it wouldn’t have donated to Lynn had the company known of her QAnon postings.

“Now that our awareness is raised, we will reevaluate our criteria for giving to help identify affiliations like this in the future,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Conway said in a statement.

Other corporate donors like Amazon and Walmart didn’t respond to the AP’s request for comment.

The AP describes QAnon as being based on “the baseless belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals.” QAnon has been linked to killings and attempted kidnappings..

According to the AP account:

“This is the United States of America, and I am absolutely free to tweet or retweet anything I want,” she said. “I don’t understand why this is even an issue. Believe me, I am not in the inside of some QAnon movement.”

But in October 2019, Lynn retweeted posts by QAnon-promoting accounts with tens of thousands of followers. One of the posts she retweeted praised Trump and included the hashtag #TheGreatAwakening, a phrase commonly invoked by QAnon followers.

[…]

In April, Lynn updated her Facebook page with a cover photo that included a flag with stars forming a “Q” above the abbreviation “WWG1WGA,” which stands for the QAnon slogan “Where we go one, we go all.” In May and June, Lynn punctuated several tweets with the same abbreviation.

And when a leading QAnon supporter nicknamed “Praying Medic” tweeted the message, “Is it time to Q the Trump rallies?” Lynn responded, “It is time!” in a May 31 tweet of her own. 

Lynn said she viewed “Where we go one, we go all” as a “very unifying slogan” and didn’t know it was a QAnon motto. However, a handful of Facebook users who replied to her updated cover photo in April commented on the QAnon connection. The flag is no longer her cover photo but could still be seen in the feed on her page on Friday. 

Read the full story here.

Alexander supports effort to promptly vote on Ginsburg replacement

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) attend a Tennessee Titans event in Nashville on Dec. 13, 2019 (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)


U.S. Sen Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) wants to promptly take up the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nomination to succeed the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg even though he was among Republicans who argued against taking up Democratic President Barack Obama’s nomination to fill a high court vacancy in 2016.

“No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican President’s Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year,” Alexander said. “The Constitution gives senators the power to do it. The voters who elected them expect it. Going back to George Washington, the Senate has confirmed many nominees to the Supreme Court during a presidential election year. It has refused to confirm several when the President and Senate majority were of different parties. Senator McConnell is only doing what Democrat leaders have said they would do if the shoe were on the other foot.” 

“I have voted to confirm Justices Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh based upon their intelligence, character and temperament. I will apply the same standard when I consider President Trump’s nomination to replace Justice Ginsburg,” he said.

Here’s what Alexander said in 2016:

Tennessee reaction to passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday was met with condolences from across the country and within Tennessee.

While most delivered laudatory commentary about Ginsburg’s trailblazing career, Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Bill Hagerty wasted little time in calling on President Donald Trump to quickly nominate a conservative replacement on the nation’s highest court. Senate Republicans in 2016 famously refused to take up then-President Barack Obama’s nomination to succeed deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, who had died in February of that year, because of the upcoming election.

Here is some reaction from Tennessee officials:

President Donald Trump can — and should — nominate a constitutionalist to fill this Supreme Court vacancy; the future of our nation for generations to come depends on it.” 

— Republican U.S. Senate nominee Bill Hagerty of Nashville.

Justice Ginsburg was a smart, talented trailblazer who paved the way for women in the judiciary. She worked hard to achieve prominence on her own merit, and I thank her for her service to our country. 

— U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood)

She made a major difference in the lives of all Americans, but particularly in the lives of the young women who just want a chance to compete on a level playing field and pursue their dreams.

— U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis)

Justice Ginsburg brought decency, intelligence and principle to the Supreme Court. Her life inspired many Americans, especially young women. Her service to our country deserves great respect.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville)

The Nashville Post’s Stephen Elliott dug out some comments from Alexander dating back to political fight over the 2016 Supreme Court vacancy:

Letting the mask slip: Lee defends lack of face covering for Trump boat rally

(Image credit: Bill Hagerty campaign)

While Gov. Bill Lee has declined to issue a statewide mask mandate, he has been a prominent proponent of using face coverings to help stem the spread of COVID-19. But the governor was put on the defensive by a photo posted to social media by Bill Hagerty showing the Republican U.S. Senate nominee living it up at a Trump boat rally with Lee, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Janice Bowling.

“There are circumstances where I don’t wear a mask because I don’t feel I’m at risk in that situation,” Lee said. “But, yeah, I felt safe. And when I don’t, I wear a mask.”

The Lee administration is spending more than $4 million through the end of the year on its “Face It” multimedia ad campaign to urge mask usage.

“I think Tennesseans need to know, and they hear me every day and they see me in masks every day,” the governor said at a press conference this week. “They watch what we say and what we do. I think it’s really important that I think it’s very serious.”

About 3,000 people attended the 400-boat rally, according to the The Herald Chronicle.

Blackburn to speak at Republican presidential convention

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn is speaking at the Republican presidential convention this week. She is scheduled to appear on Wednesday, the penultimate day of the event to nominate President Donald Trump to a second term.

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) speaks at a Tennessee Titans event in Nashville on Dec. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Blackburn also spoke at the 2016 presidential convention when Trump was first nominated. Here’s an excerpt of her comments that year:

Some of our greatest leaders have been people who have worked in the real world…. Leadership is not about lines on a resume. Gender, race, zip code, pedigree, lineage, hurt feelings are not qualifiers for leadership.

Blackburn isn’t the only Tennessee politician making a repeat appearance at a presidential convention this year. State Sen. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis spoke at the Democratic nomination festivities last week after doing the same in 2016.

Trump lauds Hagerty in phone call with supporters

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty speaks at Nashville event on Dec. 3, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

President Donald Trump reiterated his support for former Ambassador Bill Hagerty in the Republican primary to succeed U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) in a Wednesday evening phone call with supporters.

Billed as a tele-town hall, the event lasted about five minutes and did not involve any questions. Trump predicted a Hagerty win and did not mention his chief GOP rival, Manny Sethi

According to Jonathan Mattise of the AP:

The president showered Hagerty with praise, calling him a “stalwart defender of our conservative values” on topics ranging from gun rights to abortion opposition.

He said Hagerty was one of Trumps “strongest supporters in 2016,” praised his work on the presidential transition team and said hes still “legendary over there” in Japan.

“He’s a Trump conservative. He’s a friend of mine. He’s a great guy,” Trump said of Hagerty during the fiveminute call. “Tennessee is one of my favorite places. I really appreciate all of your support.”

Trump says he’s firing TVA chairman over executive pay, outsourcing

President Donald Trump said he’s firing the chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority over the compensation package of the public utility’s CEO and moves to outsource IT jobs.

The Associated Press reports Trump told reporters at the White House he was removing the authority’s chair of the board and another member of the board, while threatening to remove other directors if they keep hiring foreign labor.

“Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board. If you betray American workers, then you will hear two simple words ‘you’re fired,” Trump said.

The TVA chairman is James “Skip” Thompson of Decatur, Ala., one of four directors Trump appointed in his first year in office.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) in April pushed back against Trump’s attacks on TVA and Lyash.

“Attacking TVA doesn’t do one thing to solve the pandemic and has no place in federal COVID-19 response legislation. TVA does not receive one dollar in federal taxpayer subsidies or federal appropriations,” Alexander said.

The outsourcing of IT jobs became the subject of a TV ad campaign by the U.S. Tech Workers evidently seen by the president, who recently tweeted about the spot.

“Another one of many Fake T.V. ads, this one about the Tennessee Valley Authority, which for years has paid its top executive a ridiculous FORTUNE. Not run by the U.S., but I have long been fighting that crazy ‘salary’ & its policies,” Trump said in the tweet.

The leading Republican candidates for the Senate were quick to praise the president for his moves, though they focused on differing elements. Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi, who has spoken out against TVA compensation since this spring released the following statement:

President Trump was right to take action on the Tennessee Valley Authority. Our public utilities do not need overpaid bureaucrats and executives. I am grateful to see the President take these steps because it will hopefully help TVA move in the right direction- towards transparency and accountability.

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty appeared more interested in the foreign workers element:

President Donald Trump is right, we can’t outsource American jobs at a time when our unemployment rate is higher than ever […] Our power grid is an integral component of our nation’s infrastructure and there are significant national security concerns associated with outsourcing any aspect of software or IT management to firms that may be foreign-owned, staffed or otherwise impacted. We need to put the American worker and our national security first.

Tenn. abortion ban in effect for less than an hour before it is halted

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A federal judge on Monday granted an temporary restraining order against enforcing Tennessee’s sweeping abortion ban less than an hour after Gov. Bill Lee signed it into law.

U.S. District Judge Chip Campbell, an appointee President Donald Trump, found  “plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong or substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their claims that the restrictions …  are unconstitutional under current law.”

“Like the Seventh, Eighth, and Fifth Circuits, this Court is bound by the Supreme Court holdings prohibiting undue burdens on the availability of pre-viability abortions,” he wrote in the ruling.

Read the order here.

The bill seeking to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected passed in a last-minute deal between the House and Senate the night the General Assembly adjourned for the year.  If any part of the bill was found to be unconstitutional, the law seeks to impose successive abortion bans eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 weeks of gestation. That “ladder” approach didn’t appear to keep most of the law from being enjoined.

 

Alexander opposes Trump move on WHO

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

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is speaking out against President Donald Trump’s move to withdraw the United States’ membership in the World Health Organization.

Alexander (R-Maryville) is the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Pension, and Labor Committee. Here’s what he said on the WHO decision:

I disagree with the president’s decision. Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States. If the administration has specific recommendations for reforms of the WHO, it should submit those recommendations to Congress, and we can work together to make those happen.

While critics tend to label the retiring senator a moderate, FiveThirtyEight.com rates him among one of the more likely members to vote with the president at 90.3% of the time. Tennessee’ junior senator, Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood, votes with Trump 91.9% of the time, according the site. Here’s where some senators rate in relation

  • Cruz (R-Texas): 92.4%
  • Blackburn (R-Tenn.): 91.9%
  • Scott (R-Fla.): 91.9%
  • Rubio (R-Fla.): 90.8%
  • Alexander (R-Tenn.): 90.3%
  • Cotton (R-Ark.): 87.7%
  • Graham (R-S..C.): 87.1%
  • Romney (R-Utah): 81.1%
  • Paul (R-Ky.): 69.6%

Trump taps Haslam as Wilson Center chair

Then-Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at an event at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville on Aug. 28, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

President Donald Trump is appointing former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as the chairman of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Center was founded in 1968 and describes itself as “the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community.”

Haslam served as governor from 2011 to 2019.

Wilson Center board members are appointed to six-year terms. Haslam will succeed fellow former Republican Gov. Scott Walker as chair.

Walker took over following the death of businessman and GOP fundraiser Fred Malek last year. Malek was the finance chair of the Republican Governors Association from 2008 until his death. Haslam was elected chairman of the RGA in 2015 and 2018.