In recent months, a political bribery scandal has gripped Alabama involving the state's largest coal company and the powerful, politically connected law firm it retained to fend off a federal effort to clean up a badly polluted North Birmingham neighborhood--an undertaking that could result in major financial liability for the company. The controversy has already ensnared one state lawmaker, and it has cast attention on the actions of other Alabama politicians, including the one ultimately responsible for overseeing the bribery case and potential environmental litigation: Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But his ties to Drummond and Balch extend beyond the usual political contributions. Last year, according to documents obtained by Mother Jones and the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, Sessions intervened to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency action at issue in the bribery case, and he did so just weeks after conferring with Balch lawyers. Sessions could potentially be a witness for the prosecution in the case his agency has been overseeing. And that would pose a serious conflict of interest. Yet Sessions, who filled a key Justice Department position with a Balch lawyer and who was prepped for his confirmation hearing by an attorney at the firm, has so far taken no steps to recuse himself.
Trump on Tuesday gave Republican Roy Moore a near endorsement in Alabama's Senate race, saying Moore "totally denies" allegations of sexual misconduct with teens. Trump then called Democrat Doug Jones soft on crime, border security and the military. "We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones. I've looked at his record. It's terrible on the military," Trump told reporters.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference Mar. 2 at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas. Sessions continued to push his tough-on-crime agenda to law enforcement officials in Richmond, where one such effort had its origins. Sessions credited that program, known as Project Exile, for slowing the murder rate through aggressive prosecution of gun offenses under federal laws, instead of the weaker state statutes. Conviction on a federal gun charge carries a minimum, mandatory prison sentence of five years, bond is less available and defendants are sent out of state to serve their sentences. Sessions' tough on crime talk could lead to fuller prisons "I will promote that nationwide," he said, calling the effort "a very discreet effective policy against violent crime."
This story is being co-published with the Appeal, a nonprofit criminal justice news outlet. On the evening of Nov. 30, 2015, Adarius Montrells Sims of Birmingham, Alabama, was driving his gold Grand Am home. Tired after hanging out all night, he fell asleep at the wheel. The car crashed, and medics found Sims unconscious. After the crash, a police officer peering into the wreck spotted a .40-caliber Police ran Sims' name and saw he had two prior marijuana possession convictions, a record that made that gun illegal in Alabama.
FILE: Attorney General Jeff Sessions has spoken out against MS-13 and promised a new push to combat the violent gang. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday promised an all-out assault on the brutal MS-13 street gang "just like we took Al Capone off the streets." Sessions said the gang's members are suspected in a series of killings in New York City's suburbs and the U.S. "will use whatever laws we have" to get them off the street. The new designation directs prosecutors to pursue all legal avenues, including racketeering, gun and tax laws, to target the gang, said Sessions, a Republican former U.S. senator from Alabama. Sessions designated the gang with Central American ties as a "priority" for the Department of Justice's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, which has historically focused on drug trafficking and money laundering.