Donald Trump

State Sen. Doug Overbey nominated as U.S. attorney for East Tennessee

State Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, was nominated Friday by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Overbey was one of six U.S. attorney nominations announced today by the president. He’s the fourth Republican state senator who now seems likely to be leaving the legislature next year. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has been nominated as a federal judge by Trump, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron has announced he will run for Rutherford County mayor rather than seek reelection and Sen. Mae Beavers is running for governor rather than seek reelection.

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Trump’s latest choice for U.S. Army secretary: Lobbyist who once worked for Bill Frist and Fred Thompson

President Donald Trump’s third proposed nominee as U.S. Army Secretary, is Mark Esper, Raytheon Inc.’s vice president of government relations and previously employed by two of Tennessee’s former U.S. senators, reports Politico.

A Gulf War veteran, Esper is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a 1986 graduate of West Point. He has worked for Raytheon, one of the “big five” defense contractors, since 2010… Esper is a veteran of both Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. He has been the policy director for the House Armed Services Committee as well as director of national security affairs for then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

He was also a deputy assistant secretary of Defense during the George W. Bush administration and was the national policy director for the late Sen. Fred Thompson’s 2008 presidential bid.

… Trump’s first pick for the Army post, billionaire New York financier Vincent Viola, withdrew in February amid difficulty untangling his complex finances. The second pick, Tennessee Republican state Sen. Mark Green, withdrew amid mounting opposition over controversial statements he’d made about LGBT rights and Muslims.

On Corker-Trump relations (‘parent confronting unruly toddler?’

Michael Collins takes a look at the relationship between Sen. Bob Corker and President Donald Trump. Excerpt:

Sometimes a defender. Occasionally a scold. It’s the role that Corker, the Senate’s foreign policy leader, has played as Trump’s adviser and confidante, his dinner companion and golf partner.

The relationship between the detail-oriented southerner and the shoot-from-the-hip Manhattanite has remained steady despite Trump’s rollercoaster presidency. And through it all, Corker said, one thing has been consistent.

Trump listens.

“That, to me, I think, would be the greatest surprise to people in Tennessee, whether they are Republican or Democrat, is that this administration — when you talk with them on the phone and you share something with them or you meet with them, they actually take your input into account and think about it,” Corker said. “And you can see the direct effect.”

Corker talks to Trump and his team often.

“I can’t remember calling over to talk to the president and not being immediately put through and having a conversation with him,” he said. “I can call him at 10 o’clock at night, and he’ll get on the phone. Or I can call him early in the morning, and he’ll get on the phone.”

Corker’s public scoldings of Trump, often followed by public praise, seem intended to instill a sense of discipline in the president and his White House, Patrick said.

“Like any parent confronting an unruly toddler, he’s using a mixture of encouragement and criticism,” (Stewart) Patrick (a foreign policy analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations) said.

U.S. House committee bucks Trump budget plan, provides $130M to Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission, targeted for elimination in President Donald Trump’s March budget blueprint,  instead would receive $130 million in new funding for the coming year under a proposal winning approval of a key U.S. House committee, reports the Johnson City Press.

A representative from the Appalachian Regional Commission said the funding allocated by the House Appropriations Committee is in step with the amount the agency would typically receive from the federal government.

Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., led 13 Republican representatives in writing a letter to the chairman and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water to urge them to fund the commission.

“The ARC is not a typical federal agency,” the letter read. “It is a true commission.”

… “We understand the budgetary constraints the subcommittee is facing,” the representatives said in the letter. “We believe this is an important partnership with the states that should be maintained and supported with robust funding.”

… “I will continue working to ensure adequate funding for ARC is included in FY18,” Roe said in a statement emailed to the Press

U.S. Senate confirms Bill Hagerty as U.S. ambassador to Japan

The U.S. Senate voted 82-12 today to confirm President Trump’s nomination of William “Bill” Hagerty, formerly commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, both praised Hagerty in Senate floor speeches. Here’s text of their remarks, as provided by their communications staff:

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Trump nominates four as TN judges — including Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris

President Donald Trump today submitted nominees to fill four vacant federal judgeship in Tennessee. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is one of them.

Norris promptly issued a statement saying he feels honored by the nomination and appreciates the president’s “confidence in me…. This is just the first step under the Constitution, and I look forward to the Senate confirmation process. In the meantime, I will continue to serve the citizens of the 32nd District who elected me to the Senate and my Senate colleagues who elected me as their Leader.”

Trump announced a total of 11 judicial nominees in the same press release. Here are the statements therein on the Tennesseans — Norris, William L “Chip” Campbell Jr., Thomas Lee Robinson Parker and Eli J. Richardson:

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Poll finds more Tennesseans trust Trump than Haslam, Alexander or Corker

A poll conducted by the Office of Consumer Research at Middle Tennessee State University’s Jones College of Business reports that the surveyed Tennesseans trust President Donald Trump a bit more than Gov. Bill Haslam.

Overall, Trump had the trust of 38 percent of those polled and Haslam 35 percent. Both were well ahead of U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (27 percent) and Bob Corker (28 percent). But the two senators were, in turn, well ahead of the U.S. Congress overall (18 percent). There are also some interesting findings on trust of media outlets.

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Blackburn bashes Trump for ‘inappropriate and pointless’ tweets

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, usually a staunch supporter of President Trump, has denounced as “inappropriate and pointless” recent Trump tweets bashing two TV show hosts. Several other Republicans have done the same.

Blackburn’s comment came in a Facebook Post, HERE, that was also distributed to media and published in the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle HERE. Michael Collins provides some excerpts:

The Brentwood Republican lamented that civil debate over policy disagreements has taken a back seat to “thin-skin and knee-jerk reactions to hyper-partisan comments and, unfortunately, unfounded character attacks.”

“In this era of 24/7 worldwide news, the president of the United States represents each and every one of us on the world stage,” Blackburn wrote. “We are right to expect a higher level of civility, graciousness and diplomacy from our president. We expect the individual who holds the office and the title to rise above the hubris and noise of the day.”

“While the president is human and fallible like the rest of us, this current trend needs to stop,” Blackburn continued. “This week’s tweets were a step too far, regardless of what personal exchanges or insults had been hurled.”

Politico has a lengthy report on other Republican critics of the tweets. An excerpt:

In a two-part tweet, Trump said he “heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore).” He then went on to hit (host Mika) Brzezinski: “how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came … to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

… “Obviously, I don’t see that as an appropriate comment,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday during his weekly press conference, adding, “Look, what we’re trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate, and this obviously doesn’t help do that.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went further, tweeting, “Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.”

Hargett says state law prevents him from turning over requested voter data to Trump commission

A commission set up by President Trump’s administration has asked all 50 states for a list providing the names of all registered voters along with voter information including address, date of birth, political party, the last four digits of their social security number and voter history.

Tennessee is one of at least 27 states – according to a CNN survey – that had publicly declined the request as of Friday. In an email sent to media Friday, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who oversees Tennessee’s election system, said:

“Although I appreciate the commission’s mission to address election-related issues, like voter fraud, Tennessee state law does not allow my office to release the voter information requested to the federal commission.”

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Slatery signs onto letter threatening lawsuit against Trump administration over ‘Dreamers’

Attorneys general from Texas and nine other Republican-led states – Tennessee’s Herbert Slatery is one of them — threatened Thursday to sue the Trump administration over a program that grants deportation relief and access to work permits to nearly 788,000 “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants brought to the country at a young age, reports Politico.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the states urged the administration to rescind the June 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during President Barack Obama’s first term.

The letter called on the federal government to phase out DACA by ceasing to accept new enrollees or to renew existing applications — a decision that would leave many Dreamers subject to deportation.

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