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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    A day after remarks by the acting White House Chief of Staff forced officials to scramble and walk back his statement that the U.S. did engage in a quid pro quo to get Ukraine to investigate a GOP election conspiracy theory, President Donald Trump had little to say about the situation on Friday, as some cracks in his support began to appear in GOP circles on Capitol Hill. Asked about the Thursday briefing by Mick Mulvaney, the President offered up only five words for reporters, before immediately moving on to other topics. 'I think he clarified it,' Mr. Trump said of Mulvaney, who basically confirmed the story of an intelligence community whistleblower, by acknowledging that military aid to Ukraine was held back, as the U.S. pressed Ukraine to investigate evidence-free claims that a Democratic Party computer server had been hidden in Ukraine by a U.S. internet security firm. “That's why we held up the money,” Mulvaney said in the White House Briefing Room. Mulvaney later accused the press of deliberately mischaracterizing his words. Even with his later walk back, Mulvaney's confirmation that military aid to Ukraine had been delayed on purpose - along with the plan for the President to host the G7 Summit at his own golf resort in Florida - was too much for some Republicans. On conservative talk radio, Mulvaney was blistered as well. 'I don't even think he knows what he's talking about,' Sean Hannity said on his Friday radio program. 'I just think he's dumb.' Meanwhile Democrats said Mulvaney had confirmed why there needed to be an investigation. “This is about the president systematically abusing the power and resources of his office,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
  • After clearly acknowledging to reporters on Thursday that President Donald Trump had withheld military aid for Ukraine partly in hopes of spurring an investigation into a 2016 GOP election conspiracy theory, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tried a few hours later to erase those comments, drawing fire from Democrats in Congress. 'That's why we held up the money,' Mulvaney said in an afternoon briefing at the White House, telling reporters that President Trump had made clear he wanted Ukraine to find the DNC computer server - which had been hacked by Russian Intelligence in 2016 - as the President believes it was somehow moved and hidden in Ukraine. 'Did (Trump) also mention to me the corruption related to the DNC server?' Mulvaney asked.   “Absolutely, no question about that.” The remarks put Mulvaney fully on board with an evidence-free allegation pushed by some Republicans - and embraced by President Trump - which says the hacked DNC server was taken from Democratic Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., and hidden in Ukraine by the computer security firm CrowdStrike. A few hours later, Mulvaney put out a written statement in which he said the press was twisting his words, as he tried to back away from his statement that President Trump wanted aid to Ukraine linked to 2016 investigations by that country's government. “There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server,' Mulvaney said in a written statement issued by the White House, hours after the Mulvaney said the exact opposite about what the President wanted from Ukraine. 'Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump,' Mulvaney said - though Mulvaney's words were very clear in the White House Briefing Room about the President wanting Ukraine to investigate. 'The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that (the President) was worried about,' Mulvaney said. During his briefing, Mulvaney scoffed at reporters who questioned whether the President was trying to get something from the Ukrainian leader by withholding aid money. 'Get over it,' Mulvaney said at one point. After Mulvaney tried to take back his words - which were broadcast live on all the cable news networks - Democrats said it was obvious that the only mistake Mulvaney had made, was the mistake of telling the truth. 'Mick Mulvaney needs to testify,' said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI). 'Mick Mulvaney has confirmed what we knew all along,' said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).  'There is no doubt anymore,' said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA). 'The President’s top advisor says withholding foreign aid in exchange for political favors is 'absolutely appropriate.'' 'We condition aid to advance the national interest,' said Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ). 'Never the partisan interest of the president.' In his July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, the President clearly mentioned the DNC server and CrowdStrike. 'The server, they say Ukraine has it,' Mr. Trump said, according to a document released by the White House. Mulvaney's remarks came at a briefing where the White House announced that the U.S. would host the G7 summit at President Trump's Doral golf resort in Florida. Democrats said both the G7 Summit decision and the Ukraine investigation could well become part of impeachment charges against Mr. Trump.
  • Brushing aside questions about the ethics of hosting the G-7 summit at one of President Donald Trump's own  golf properties, the White House announced Thursday that the 2020 meeting of the G-7 will take place at the President's Doral resort in Miami, Florida. “Doral was by far and away - far and away - the best physical facility for this meeting,” said Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Pressed repeatedly by reporters in a rare Q&A in the White House Briefing Room, Mulvaney gave the back of the hand to any ethical concerns. Democrats in Congress said the decision just screamed self-dealing by the President. “This is corruption in the open,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA). “Corruption in plain sight is still corruption,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). “Unbelievably brazen. Taxpayer and foreign money funneled right to his own club as a result of a decision he is making as President,” tweeted Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). “This is just open corruption,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). “Congress should block any taxpayer money from going to G7 while it's at Trump's resort,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). “This is a textbook case of unconstitutional conduct,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). “By holding G7 summit at his own resort, the President is using his office to enrich himself,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL). “This is corruption, plain and simple,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is running for President. Outside ethics watchdog groups chimed in immediately. “By treating the G7 summit like a commercial for his businesses, inviting foreign governments to line his pockets and hold their next meeting at his Doral, FL golf course next year, he mocks the Constitution he swore to uphold,” said Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra.
  • Capitol Hill on Thursday was mourning the unexpected death of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, as lawmakers in both parties saluted the veteran Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who died early this morning at a hospice facility in his home town of Baltimore. Cummings had risen to the forefront of Congress in recent months as part of Democratic Party efforts in the U.S. House to investigate President Donald Trump and his administration. “When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to show that I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny,” Cummings said last month about his support for the impeachment of President Trump. 'The Congress and the nation have lost one of the great ones,' said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). 'This is a heartbreaking loss for Baltimore, Congress, and our entire country,' said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL). 'Elijah Cummings was a good friend and a powerful advocate for what he believed,' said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). First elected to Congress in 1996, Cummings had in recent years become the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, sparring first with Republican investigations of the Obama Administration, and then taking the lead on investigations of President Trump and his administration. “The news that our friend and colleague Elijah Cummings has passed away marks a sad day for the members of the United States Congress, the people of Baltimore, and the entire nation,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). In a statement released by aides to Cummings, his staff gave few details on his health troubles, saying that Cummings had died around 2:30 am on Thursday, in a hospice care facility, where the Maryland Democrat had been treated for 'longstanding health challenges.'  It had been obvious to reporters in recent months that Cummings was facing some sort of health challenge, as he was using a wheelchair in the halls of Congress, and then a walker to make his way on to the floor of the House. But in interviews with reporters in the Speaker's Lobby just off the House floor, his voice still seemed strong, and gave no hint of immediate medical troubles. 'We're going to uphold the rule of law,' Cummings told me and other reporters in mid-May, as he outlined efforts to get information from the White House, which were routinely stonewalled by the Trump Administration. Cummings had returned after Labor Day, but had missed most votes after mid-September. Earlier this year, Cummings had drawn the ire of President Trump over investigations of the White House, as Mr. Trump called the Maryland Democrat a racist. “His loss will be felt across our country,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlihan (D-PA). Throughout the Mueller investigation - and other probes of the Trump Administration, Cummings had repeatedly urged voters to consider the totality of the situation involving President Trump, as he openly expressed concern about damage to the underpinnings of the federal government. “We are going to uphold the rule of law,” Cummings told a group of reporters in May. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are in search of the truth,” Cummings said.
  • Angered by the outbreak of violence and a Turkish military invasion in areas of northern Syria held by U.S. forces until just last week, members of both parties joined in the House on Wednesday to deliver a clear rebuke of President Trump as lawmakers easily approved a resolution denouncing the policy change. 'This is one of those rare moments in Congress where we see both sides coming together,' said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), as the House voted 354-60 for the resolution. The plan decried 'an abrupt withdrawal of United States military personnel from certain parts of Northeast Syria,' saying the resulting change 'is beneficial to adversaries of the United States government, including Syria, Iran, and Russia.' 'President Trump's decision to pull hastily out of Syria has caused a humanitarian disaster, endangers our Kurdish allies, and could cause the resurgence of ISIS,' said Rep. David Trone (D-MD). 'The President has demonstrated complete disregard for the harmful implications that his erratic decision-making will have on our troops,' tweeted Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO). Even among GOP lawmakers who don't like these type of overseas deployments for the U.S. military, there was the overwhelming sense that the President had hastily decided to withdraw, leaving a vacuum which only benefits Russia and its Syrian allies, along with the Islamic State. After the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lumped additional criticism on the White House, when a briefing for lawmakers on the situation in Syria was scrapped. 'I am deeply concerned that the White House has canceled an all-Member classified briefing on the dangerous situation the President has caused in Syria, denying the Congress its right to be informed as it makes decisions about our national security,' Pelosi said. In the Senate it was much the same, as lawmakers in both parties spent much of Wednesday expressing their outrage over the President's decision, baffled that he would unravel years of work with a minimal number of U.S. troops to hem in Syria and the Islamic State - while partnering with Kurdish forces in the region. 'Withdrawal of U.S. troops gave Turkey a green light to go into Syria,' said Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT). At the White House, the President denied that he had given Turkish leaders the green light - but a White House statement issued when Mr. Trump's withdrawal was announced clearly stated that the U.S. expected Turkey to move forces into Northern Syria. 'I want to get out of the Middle East,' the President said on Wednesday. Not long after the vote, members of both parties met with President Trump about Syria - as the meeting quickly turned sour, with Democrats raising objections to the President's moves in withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, and the President pushing back. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats left the meeting, and told reporters that Mr. Trump had a 'meltdown.' Republican leaders and the White House denied that version of events.
  • Again endorsing the efforts by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to seek out corruption in Ukraine involving the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump on Wednesday again pressed a conspiracy theory that a DNC computer server hacked by Russia somehow is now in the hands of a company in Ukraine. 'The server - they say - is held by a company whose primary ownership individual is from Ukraine,' the President told reporters in the Oval Office.  Mr. Trump has been pushing the idea that a company brought in by the Democratic National Committee to examine evidence of hacks by Russian intelligence - Crowdstrike - had ties to Ukraine, darkly hinting that Ukraine, and not Russia, may have been behind the DNC hacks in 2016. 'I think it's very important to see the server,' the President said again on Wednesday, even though there is no evidence to support the idea that the DNC server is in Ukraine. During a July phone call with the leader of Ukraine, President Trump made a specific request that Ukraine help track down the DNC server. 'I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike,' the President said according to notes released by the White House.  'I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it,' the transcript states. 'I would like you to get to the bottom of it,' the President is quoted as telling the Ukraine President in that July 25 call. A former top national security aide to President Trump, Thomas Bossert, has sharply criticized the President and top aides in recent weeks for pushing the idea that the DNC server is in Ukraine. 'It's not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked,' Bossert told ABC News in late September. In an interview, Bossert blamed Giuliani and other aides for continuing to talk to the President about the unproven Ukraine involvement in the 2016 hacking, which U.S. Intelligence and the Mueller probe has pinned on Russia. 'I am deeply frustrated with what (Giuliani) and the legal team are doing, in repeating that debunked theory to the President,' Bossert said. 'Let me repeat again, that theory has no validity,' Bossert added.
  • Buoyed by the decisions of a series of witnesses to ignore requests by the Trump Administration not to testify before Congress, House Democratic leaders said Tuesday evening that they would push ahead with their impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, seeing no need to hold an official vote now to authorize a formal probe. 'They can't defend the President, so they're going to process,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.  'There's no requirement that we have a vote,' Pelosi pointed out accurately about the rules of the House - though Congress in the past has held such votes to officially launch such an investigation. 'What a SCAM,' said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), as Republicans complained bitterly about closed door depositions, and their inability to control the narrative about the investigation - a reminder that elections do matter, as Democrats are able to run this probe simply because they won control of the House in 2018. Democrats emerged from a closed door meeting in no hurry to have a vote on the House floor, as some lawmakers worried that voters would not be able to divine the difference between launching an investigation, and actually casting a vote on impeachment. Coming out of a closed door meeting, House Democrats were a loose group, not feeling any pressure to force a vote - arguing it would be a meaningless exercise. 'It seems to me that every day they get more information,' said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), who said there should be no rush to any vote. 'I don't think it matters at this point,' said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). 'An inquiry is ongoing.' There were some Democrats who were still withholding judgment. 'I'm not talking, I'm not saying anything,' said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who has steadfastly refused to take a position on the impeachment of President Trump. Republicans denounced the effort. 'They know they cannot win at the ballot box with these out of touch ideas, so they are trying to impeach,' said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). Republicans have focused mainly on the closed door aspect of depositions, arguing they undermine the credibility of the impeachment investigation. But GOP lawmakers routinely used closed door questioning during their own investigations of the Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and with controversies like Uranium One - where GOP lawmakers interviewed a man who supposedly held bombshell evidence about wrongdoing involving Hillary Clinton. The Q&A was done in secret; no transcript was ever relased. And the GOP never issued any details of what was said to lawmakers.
  • On a day when another Trump Administration official refused to follow the directive of the President to not cooperate with a U.S. House impeachment investigation, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer told Democrats that he would heed Mr. Trump's call, and refuse to turn over documents and other information to Congress. 'Mr. Giuliani will not participate because this appears to be an unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate 'impeachment inquiry,'' wrote Giuliani's own counsel, John Sale. Those words echoed a missive from the White House last week, in which the President's White House Counsel declared that the Executive Branch would not cooperate with the House impeachment investigation. 'In addition, the subpoena is overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry,' the Giuliani letter continued, as Democrats look for more information on what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine in recent months. Democrats had asked for 'text messages, phone records, and other communications' about his work in Ukraine in a September 30 letter which set Monday as the deadline to produce information. 'He’s solely focused on obstructing the Impeachment Inquiry,' tweeted Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) about President Trump. 'The White House has engaged in stonewalling and outright defiance of Congressional prerogatives,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. Republicans meanwhile complained that Democrats were running an unfair investigation, echoing attacks from the White House. 'The American people are not participants in this process,' said Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), as Republicans said a series of closed door depositions should be made public. As lawmakers in Congress returned from a two week break, some Republicans were reminded of their past statements about figures who refused to honor subpoenas during investigations. Meanwhile, as questioning continued behind closed doors for another State Department witness, an interesting break was developing in this investigation - while high profile witnesses like Giuliani were defying subpoenas, former Trump Administration and State Department officials were not. On Tuesday, George Kent, a State Department official who specializes in Ukraine policy was answering questions, even though he had been directed not to answer any. Wednesday is expected to bring testimony from a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Michael McKinley abruptly resigned from his State Department post earlier this month.
  • After dominating the national news in three previous debates, a dozen Democrats will gather just outside Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday evening for their party's fourth Presidential debate, coming at a time when the news focus has shifted away from the Democratic field, crowded out by controversy involving President Donald Trump, and a possible impeachment bid by Democrats in the U.S. House. 'This month was supposed to be all about the 2020 Democrats,' wrote Amy Walter, a veteran political analyst with the Cook Political Report.  'Thanks to impeachment drama, however, this month is all about Trump and Congress,' Walter wrote. Here are some story lines to look for tonight: 1. Joe Biden. His son. Impeachment. President Trump. Biden has been in the spotlight in recent weeks a lot as President Trump has repeatedly attacked him - and Biden's son Hunter. Does that get brought up during tonight's debate? Does Biden bring it up on his own? Do others bring it up in a negative way to attack the former Vice President? 2. This time - 12 candidates are on stage. I'll call it the Democratic Dozen. After complaints about a debate stage with 10 people, this debate will have a dozen Democrats, which may make it more choppy in terms of who gets to talk, and for how long. Let's be honest - trying to balance the time for ten candidates didn't work out that well in the first three debates. Twelve will mean some candidates might disappear for a time during this three hour event. Yes, I said three hours. 3. Bernie Sanders had a heart attack. It's still sort of difficult to believe that one of the major Democratic Party candidates had a heart attack, and has been sidelined for the past two weeks - and it's not making that big of an impact on the race. Sanders spent several days in the hospital in Las Vegas, and has now been back at his home in Vermont, meaning the 78 year old Sanders will have been off the campaign trail for the past 14 days. Sanders has talked about slowing his schedule - his first campaign event won't be until a 'Bernie's Back' rally in New York City on Saturday. As with Biden and impeachment, we'll see how Sanders addresses his health issues tonight; he remains a big player in the Democratic race. 4. What kind of audience will this debate get? Since this debate has been overshadowed by other news in recent weeks, we will have to see just how many people tune in for the Democratic Dozen. The September debate had to deal with a Thursday night NFL game, but this time Democrats will be doing a debate at the same time as the playoffs for Major League Baseball are underway. Ironically, the home team in Washington is playing on Tuesday night, which means some of the politically involved class of people in D.C. might not be watching every single debate question tonight from Westerville, Ohio. 5. Gabbard, Steyer are the new debate faces. Getting enough polls and donations to qualify for the October debate, Tulsi Gabbard returns to the debate stage after missing the September debate. Meanwhile, billionaire Tom Steyer makes his first debate, after not qualifying for the first three. Gabbard had been making noise about boycotting this debate, claiming that the Democratic Party hierarchy was not playing fair. As for Steyer, not only has he qualified for this debate, but he will also be on stage in November for the fifth debate, which will be in Georgia.  For Gabbard, this may be her final debate, unless she finds a way to take a dramatic step forward. 6. Looking ahead to November. The field may well shrink for the November debate, as at this point just eight Democrats have qualified with the necessary poll numbers and campaign donors. On the outside looking in are Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Tulsi Gabbard, and Julian Castro. Klobuchar and O'Rourke need three more polls to qualify. Gabbard and Castro have no polls as yet for November. Already qualified for November are Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, Steyer, Booker and Yang. Remember - the start of the 2020 race isn't far away. Iowa is on February 3. New Hampshire - Feb. 11 Nevada - February 22 South Carolina on February 29
  • With bipartisan condemnation of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw a small group of U.S. soldiers from Syria, Congress returns to Capitol Hill on Tuesday with members of both parties denouncing the President, and lawmakers willing to approve sanctions on Turkey to slow its move into Syria. 'I thought you were going to defeat ISIS, that is why people voted for you,' Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tweeted to President Trump, as Republicans from all corners of the country have denounced the President. 'I urge the President to reverse his decision of removing our troops, and to send a strong message to Turkey,' said Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL). 'President Trump is a populist who wants to put America first and to the detriment of our allies and friends, people we’ve been associated with for decades,' said Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), who denounced Mr. Trump's decision last week, during an interview with KMOX Radio in St. Louis. 'I called my chief of staff in D.C., I said pull my name off the I-support-Donald-Trump-list,' Shimkus added. 'President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria is having sickening and predictable consequences,' said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). Members of both parties say they want to quickly approve economic sanctions against Turkey, as a way to try to force the Turks to stop their push into Syria, and halt attacks on groups which had allied with the U.S. military. 'I will be working across party lines in a bicameral fashion to draft sanctions and move quickly,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who tweeted on Monday that he already spoken with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  'The Speaker indicated to me that time was of the essence,' Graham said. But both parties said the President had started this crisis, by giving the green light to the Turks to move troops into Syria, while the U.S. pulled back, as Democrats were also livid. 'The President’s actions in Syria have made the world less safe,' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). 'Donald Trump sold out our allies to appease authoritarian dictators, and paved the way for an onslaught of war crimes against the Kurds,' said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).  'The Turkish attacks against the Kurds are attacks against humanity, and our President is sitting back and watching,' said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). 'Our enemies - ISIS - are escaping while our partners - Kurdish & Syrian opposition forces - are dying,' tweeted Rep. Chrissy Houlihan (D-PA). 'We are seeing the results of our betrayal of U.S. partners, namely the Syrian Kurds, who were critical to the international fight against ISIS,' said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who worked at both the CIA and Pentagon.

Local News

  • On Friday afternoon a train collided with a tractor-trailer in Winder at the May Street and Broad Street intersection. The Winder Police Department is asking that motorists avoid the area as they work to clear the roadway.
  • A Hartwell man faces vehicular homicide charges after slamming head-on into a car driven by a University of Georgia student and then leaving the scene, Athens police said. The student, identified as 20-year-old junior Drury Anderson Shierling, was killed about 6 a.m. Wednesday on Timothy Road when the other driver took a curve too fast and crossed into his lane, according to a crash report. The driver who caused the wreck, identified by police as 51-year-old Edward Lee Stowers, was traveling north from the Inner Loop to Timothy Road when his rented 2018 Ford Fusion crossed the raised median and entered the southbound lanes, authorities said. After striking the UGA student, Stowers allegedly got out of his vehicle, flagged down another driver and asked for a ride to a nearby gas station, according to the report. He was arrested after the witness called 911 and told police where he was. Shierling, who was from Leesburg, studied business and real estate, a university spokeswoman said.  Another passenger in the students car was injured in the wreck and taken to a hospital, the Athens Banner-Herald reported.  Stowers is charged with vehicular homicide, hit-and-run resulting in death, traveling too fast for conditions, failure to maintain lane and driving with a suspended license. He remains held without bond at the Athens-Clarke County jail, records show.  In other news: 
  • The Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee is proud to announce Dinner & Conversation with the U.S. Senate Candidates to be held on Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 11, at the Cotton Press in Athens, Georgia. On the cusp of one of the most important election-cycles in Georgia history, attendees will get the unique opportunity to hear from Sarah Riggs Amico, Jon Ossoff, Mayor Ted Terry, and Mayor Teresa Tomlinson about their vision for Georgia and the United States.   Dinner & Conversation with the U.S. Senate Candidates will begin at 6:15pm (doors at 5:45pm) on Monday, November 11 at the Cotton Press. Attendees will be treated to a delicious family-style dinner as they hear conversations between candidates and our special guests. After hearing from all 4 candidates and finishing apple pie for dessert, attendees will be invited to mingle with the candidates and continue the conversations in a less formal way at our meet-and-greet.   “This is the first, and possibly only, time that Athenians and the people of northeast Georgia will be able to see all of the Senatorial candidates in one location,'' says Denise Ricks, Chair of the Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee. “It is an opportunity to witness a one on one, in depth conversation with each candidate and have them answer submitted questions. We know voters want to hear where the candidates stand on healthcare, foreign policy, education, and the environment. This is your chance to hear about those issues and to get answers to your questions!”   The 2020 elections will decide the Presidency, not one but both U.S. Senate seats for Georgia, along with every Georgia Congressional, State House, and State Senate seat.    'Make no mistake, the stakes of the 2020 elections are enormous” says Georgia State Representative and Democratic Caucus Leader Bob Trammell. “ Elections have consequences, and the election before redistricting has consequences for the next decade. We can not afford for anyone to sit out democracy in 2020. All hands on deck.' 
  • Hall County state Senator Butch Miller says he is looking at legislation that would protect students from sexual assaults at the hands of teachers. The Republican from Gainesville is pitching a bill he says would clarify existing law on cases in which students are victimized by teachers, coaches, and principals at schools in Georgia.  The next session of the Georgia Legislature begins in January.    From the Ga Senate press office… Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) recently announced legislation aimed at further protecting students from sexual assault by those entrusted with their care. “When legislation we pass doesn’t go far enough to protect our most vulnerable citizens like students in our schools, we must address necessary changes as soon as possible,” said Sen. Miller. “This legislation will fix an oversight in our existing law and will add necessary protections for victims of sexual assault by ensuring their perpetrators can be brought to justice. I hope we can get this legislation passed and to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible during the 2020 Legislative Session.”  Under the current Georgia Code definition for improper sexual contact by employee or agent, sexual assault of a student occurs when the victim is “enrolled as a student at the school.” This specific language was used by the Northeastern Judicial Circuit to send back a case to the state court regarding a coach who was charged with felony sexual assault. According to the decision by the circuit, the felony sexual assault charge did not apply since the accused coach “was not a teacher at the school where the student attended.”  The legislation announced by Sen. Miller will address this issue by revising Georgia code and adding “within the school district” to the existing “enrolled as a student at the school” language. School district will be defined as “any area, county, independent, or local school district.” 
  • The annual Oconee County Fall Festival is scheduled for Saturday. It’s set to take place at Rocket Field in Watkinsville, starting at 9am and lasting through 4pm. From Facebook… The Oconee Chamber Fall Festival started in 1974 and today is known as a premiere Arts & Crafts festival. It is held annually on the 3rd Saturday in October in Historic Downtown Watkinsville. With over 200 booth spaces and 20,000+/- visitors in attendance, this one day outdoor festival is the largest arts & crafts venue in the area.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia football coach Kirby Smart is keeping one eye on the weather report and another on Kentucky game film with Saturday night's Homecoming Game fast approaching. The No. 10-ranked Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 SEC) play host to the Wildcats (3-3, 1-3) at 6 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN) looking to shake off a historic upset loss to South Carolina last week. RELATED: Georgia QB legend Eric Zeier shares fixes for offense 'Every player was sick about the performance, just like the coaches,' Smart said Thursday night on his radio show. 'I've always said sometimes the worst thing you can do is play bad and win, because you don't learn the things you need to learn.' No doubt, Georgia's offense sputtered against Power 5 competition the first half of the season, even as the Bulldogs were building a 5-0 record and rising to No. 3 in the ranks. The Bulldogs' offensive objectives and fixes have been well-documented this week as concerns about a wet-weather game have risen. Smart, known for his detailed-oriented nature, typically likes for Georgia to get wet weather work in practices whenever possible. 'I'm concerned about the weather conditions, because you never know what they will be, it's not a variable you can control,' Smart said. 'I like going in the rain once every two or three weeks, but if it's lighting, I can't. 'But we have wet ball drill and we do it once every two weeks, it's on a rolling schedule, so even if you've gone two or three weeks without a wet practice,' he said. 'We spray the ball down, and make the quarterbacks and receivers catch it, throw it, exchange it, (and) kickers, holders, snappers everybody has to. We were doing it (Thursday), spraying it down, making it as hard as possible' The current forecast for Saturday's kickoff (as of Friday) reflected a 100-percent chance of rain in Athens at 6 p.m., with the likelihood of precipitation not tapering off until 9 p.m. Georgia-Kentucky Game Week 7 Georgia players to watch under center 3 keys for a happy homecoming vs. Kentucky Promising Nolan Smith grows, expands role Receivers must step up, beat press coverage Closer look: How Georgia's offense adds up Cover 4: How do Bulldogs get back on track D'Andre Swift says We know how good we can be' Big Ben Cleveland says challenge to go out and prove something' The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart concerned about the weather conditions' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Atlanta Braves star first baseman, Freddie Freeman underwent arthroscopic right elbow surgery. Freeman had three fragmented loose bodies cleaned out of his elbow joint, as well as multiple bone spur formations that had developed in his elbow. After putting together an MVP-caliber regular season, Freeman looked like a different player in the playoffs and now it all makes sense. During the NLDS, Freeman was asked about his elbow and told reporters that his elbow was not bothering him. However, fans knew something was not right with the all-star first baseman, who arguably played his worst five-game stretch of his career in the NLDS. Freeman’s -0.46 win probability added (WPA), was the lowest mark for a Braves batter during the NLDS. Freeman’s NLDS stats .200/.273/.400 .673 ops 1 run 4 hit 1 double 1 home run 1 rbi 1 bb 6 strikeouts
  • ATHENS Georgia legend Eric Zeier has played and seen a lot of football as the SEC's former all-time leading passer and current Bulldogs radio color analyst. Zeier is as measured with his opinions as he once was his passes, so his thoughts on fixing the Bulldogs are sure to resonate in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. The No. 10-ranked Georgia football program plays host to Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN) looking to get back on track after a shocking 20-17 upset at the hands of unranked South Carolina last week. 'I think we'll get back to who we want to be and who we are this week,' Zeier said on Kirby Smart's coach's show on Thursday night. 'We want to be a big, bruising team that plays great defense, that's able to control the ball on offense. In the critical moments of games we are typically balanced last week we got out of that a little bit.' Zeier suggests versatile and explosive playmaker James Cook could be part of the solution, and he's surprised the Bulldogs didn't look more to him last Saturday. 'South Carolina has been able to get after quarterbacks, we've seen that, (so) I thought we were going to try to get the football out of Jake's hands, utilize the quick game,' Zeier said. 'I was a little surprised we didn't get James Cook more involved in the football game.' Zeier said 'the blueprint is out right now, on how to attack us on the offensive side of the football,' and that 'you've got defenses that are selling all out against the run.' Indeed, Jake Fromm attempted a career-high 51 passes in the loss to the Gamecocks with a career-high three interceptions. Fromm who had not been intercepted in the first five games, also was sacked three times and fumbled away a center exchange. It was not all on Fromm, but Zeier did not give his fellow quarterback a pass. 'It was probably the one time I've seen Jake Fromm miss reads, where we had guys running open, and all of the sudden if you hit that, if the correct read is made and you complete the pass on the seam or going outside, now all he sudden, you look like a genius when you're calling plays,' said Zeier, who finished his career between the hedges in 1994 with 67 UGA records and 18 SEC marks. 'When you miss a couple of reads, make a couple of bad throws, you drop a couple of passes, all those things add up to a bad game all the way around.' Zeier said Fromm had his challenges on account of the Georgia receivers not creating separation. 'We are not creating space, so the windows that we're having to throw the football into, in many cases it looks like an NFL game, where you've got elite defensive backs where your window is extremely small,' Zeier said. 'How do you help receivers get off the jam? Get them in motion, get them moving, so you don't allow a defensive back to come up and get in your face where that first step you've got a problem,' Zeier said. 'You can also utilize slot receivers to get down the seam in quick fashion, get mismatches, get James Cook on the outside as opposed to having a receiver, force defenses into different looks than they are accustomed to, create mismatches with your alignment, and then get movements going and motions going to try to loosen up what defenses are trying to do.' Zeier indicated the forecast for rain at Saturday night's game against Kentucky should not concern Georgia fans, nor should they be worried the South Carolina loss was the start of a new trend. 'Rainy weather, with the way we can go play football, shouldn't be a problem,' Zeier stated. 'I have not one doubt in my mind; that (loss) will galvanize us as a football team and drive us to the level of excellence we have played under Kirby Smart since he's been here.' Georgia-Kentucky Game Week 7 Georgia players to watch under center 3 keys for a happy homecoming vs. Kentucky Promising Nolan Smith grows, expands role Receivers must step up, beat press coverage Closer look: How Georgia's offense adds up Cover 4: How do Bulldogs get back on track D'Andre Swift says We know how good we can be' Big Ben Cleveland says challenge to go out and prove something' The post Georgia legend Eric Zeier shares fixes for offense, key player to get involved appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football coach Kirby Smart used the phrase 'step up' quite a bit this week. The 20-17 overtime loss to South Carolina certainly wasn't acceptable, and nothing less than a convincing win over Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN) will satisfy. RELATED: 5 questions with Kentucky football columnist Here are seven players to watch that all into the 'Step Up' category if the Bulldogs are to evolve into the championship contender they were projected to be: QB Jake Fromm It starts with the quarterback. Fromm is under pressure to bounce back from the worst outing of his career, a performance that brought his talent into question. Heavy rain is forecasted, so it's not likely Fromm will get a chance to prove he can win a game when he throws more than 30 passes (UGA is 0-5 in such games). Fromm will, however, get a chance to show he can pull a teetering offense back together. The junior captain needs tothrow his tight ends and receivers open after an uncharacteristically spotty performance last Saturday. Fromm missed a handful of reads and was not as accurate as he had been the first five games of the season. Center Trey Hill Hill was the weakest link last Saturday on the rotating front line once known as the 'Great Wall.' The mere mention of the nickname draws snickers from opposing fanbases and makes even the most loyal Georgia fans wince. The fact is, UGA's projected starting line played just one game together, at Vanderbilt, before injuries led to bodies shifting in and out and a breakdown in continuity. Hill has remained a constant in the lineup. The sophomore was exposed by South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, and his low, slow shotgun snaps appeared to throw off Fromm's timing. RB D'Andre Swift Swift isn't a big talker, but he made sure to get the message out for everyone to hear that he's not going to accept results like last Saturday's against South Carolina. Smart said Swift had developed into more of a vocal leader, and that was obvious by the fact he came out and publicly took accountability on behalf of the entire offense. A straight shooter, Swift has been honest about his intent to turn pro after this season. It's clear he doesn't plan on the Bulldogs going out with a whimper his final season in Athens. Swift bowed up last Saturday and showed he could handle short-yardage situations. RB James Cook Will Georgia get this exciting playmaker involved this week? Or will Cook go back to being a decoy and/or end around specialist? It's baffling OC James Coley hasn't gotten Cook more touches, but game flow has apparently dictated the ball go to other perimeter threats. Cook would be an easy quick throw into the slot, his ability to make yardage in space superior to any of the receivers. Smart said opponents have schemed to prevent Cook from touching the ball. Good plan; part of the reason the Bulldogs are lacking explosive plays is because explosive players like Cook aren't touching the ball enough. Safety J.R. Reed The Bulldogs need playmakers in the secondary, and Reed's production does not yet match his preseason All-American accolades. Reed is second on the team with 31 tackles behind linebacker Monty Rice, but he has just one interception and three pass break-ups through six games. The senior's talent and savvy is unquestionable. But Reed has yet to show he can play with the level of enthusiasm necessary to ignite teammates and raise the level of play around him. Punter Jake Camarda Can this sophomore punter put two solid games back-to-back? Can Camarda handle a slick ball and snaps in inclement weather? Camarda has been shaky in big moments this season, but he's apparently the best option Georgia has on the roster. The Kentucky game will give him an opportunity to win back some trust and gain much-needed confidence and momentum heading into a pivotal November stretch. Receivers Impossible to name just one with what has happened. Who will step up? Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers? Tyler Simmons? Demetris Robertson? George Pickens? Dominick Blaylock? Maybe all of the above, but whoever lines up at that receiver position needs to show reliable hands and an ability to make yards after the catch. Georgia receivers haven't helped Fromm out much in that capacity, unable to get much separation from coverage, they are often tackled immediately and don't break tackles. Smart said on his coaches show the receivers group has shown the most improvement since the start of this season. But he also said they had the furthest to go. Georgia-Kentucky Game Week 3 keys for a happy homecoming vs. Kentucky Promising Nolan Smith grows, expands role Receivers must step up, beat press coverage Kirby Smart breaks down Georgia offense, keeps it simple Closer look: How Georgia's offense adds up Cover 4: How do Bulldogs get back on track D'Andre Swift says We know how good we can be' Big Ben Cleveland says challenge to go out and prove something' The post 7 Georgia football players to watch against Kentucky, starts under center appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Tom Crean is like any other basketball coach when it comes to stressing fundamentals and going back to basics. But this year's Georgia team is taking it to another level. These Bulldogs, lacking height but filled with athleticism, are aiming to be interchangeable to the extent that UGA doesn't list positions. 'B' for basketball player is the descriptive for each. Crean's message is that he plans to have interchangeable parts from the opening tip this season. The Georgia men's team, predicted to finish ninth in the SEC at the league's media days earlier this week, opens at 7 p.m. on Friday at Stegeman Coliseum against Division ll Valdosta State. Admission is free. RELATED: Anthony Antman' Edwards already making history Crean anticipates a high scoring contest, though he's concerned it could get sloppy. 'We've worked hard on our ball handling and driving, but I'm hugely afraid that with a team like this in Valdosta State, that was fifth in the country in Division II last year in points efficiency, that it could be a track meet,' Crean said on Thursday. 'We just don't want it to be turnover fest.' Georgia returns five players from last season, but 10 of the players are new, including nine freshmen. Freshman Anthony 'Antman' Edwards is the most notable newcomer. He's a projected lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and was widely considered the top prospect in the 2019 signing class. Edwards told media following the Stegmania fan event last Friday that he was working at point guard duties, among many other things. Anthony Edwards Crean explained how the Bulldogs are working to have a versatile team that can change positions on the floor without breaking stride. 'We try to put them in different situations, we have what we call our leopard offense,' Crean said. ' We're a spot team, we're not, You're the 5 man, you're the 2 man,' It's You're in the 2 spot, you're in the 5 spot.' 'The point guard is a little different, but other than that it's spot oriented. We're trying to teach guys a lot of different places to be.' So long as the Bulldogs end up on the right side of the scoreboard, the momentum figures to grow. Georgia set attendance records last season despite a 10-21 mark. UGA has already sold out its season-ticket allotment (5,750) with another 2,000 designated for students unavailable to the general public in the 10.523-seat arena. Georgia coach Tom Crean The post WATCH: Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean ready for track meet' exhibition game appeared first on DawgNation.