Monday, April 24, 2017

Donald Trump joked that Nikki Haley "could easily be replaced" on United Nations

"Does everybody like Nikki?"

Posted by Sam Spence on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 2:31 PM

A few weeks after the New York Times noted that Nikki Haley "has no intention of being sidelined" as a cabinet member, President Donald Trump jokingly dangled her job in front of her during a lunch meeting Monday, saying Haley "could easily be replaced."

During lighthearted remarks while dining with the United Nations Security Council, Trump seemed to stumble into a bizarrely serious throwaway line after praising the former governor and asking if everyone present was familiar with her.

"Now does everybody like Nikki? … Otherwise she could easily be replaced. No, we won't do that. We won't do that, I promise."

Russia, China, France, the U.K., and the U.S. are permanent members of the Security Council, which maintain veto power over the 15-member group's initiatives. Trump has discounted the role of the international body in the past and said today that he still views the U.N. as an 'underperformer.'

For her part, Haley has seemed to be throwing herself into her new role as United Nations ambassador, a job she took after turning down an offer to become Trump's secretary of state. Most recently she's been on the front line of negotiations to pressure North Korea to stop its nuclear program. But Haley insists that she "can't imagine" running for president.

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The Agenda: Chs. tries to minimize horse spooks; Roof now on federal death row; New Orleans dismantles Confederate monuments

NOLA crews shield identities while taking down monuments

Posted by Sam Spence on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 12:12 PM

  • Flickr user pocketwiley

For S.C. beach towns, fighting beach erosion is a never-ending battle. Source: P&C

In New Orleans, workers donned flak jackets and helmets to conceal their identities while dismantling a Confederate monument overnight, one of four set to be removed amid controversy. Source: NYT, Gambit

Emanuel AME killer Dylann Roof, who was obsessed with the Confederate flag, is now a resident of the death row in the U.S. Penitentiary in Indiana where he will likely live the rest of his life until he's executed.

Charleston officials are trying to prevent scenarios where working horses downtown are in close proximity to heavy machinery and other situations which can cause the horses to spook. Source: P&C

In Columbia, a career government watchdog is suing Gov. Henry McMaster, saying that his free speech and voting rights are being violated because his local senator, John Courson, remains suspended and inactive from the state Senate without a replacement appointed by McMaster. Daniel Island state Rep. Jim Merrill has also been suspended since December. Source: P&C

Richard Quinn and Associates is not saying how much it was paid by the non-profit Conservative Leadership Project, a group whose stated mission is promoting and discussing "the rule of law" and other policy issues. The group's public face is Attorney General Alan Wilson, who stepped away from an ongoing ethics investigation of the Statehouse, citing a conflict of interest. Source: P&C

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Charleston’s March for Science rallies around coastal issues and ongoing research

Science, not silence

Posted by Dustin Waters on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 12:03 PM

Charleston's March for Science drew hundreds of dedicated demonstrators for the Earth Day event - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Charleston's March for Science drew hundreds of dedicated demonstrators for the Earth Day event
Hundreds marched across downtown Charleston this weekend in support of science, joining international demonstrations calling for continued research funding and efforts to better understand and protect the planet.

"Science hits everybody in their own way. It’s not limited to fields. Everybody is involved in science, and I believe all these people realize that no matter what they do, science touches them," said Paige Mangan, a co-organizer for the March for Science Charleston. "Hopefully our local legislators will get an idea of how we feel as a community. We’re in an area that needs a lot of conservation. We have a lot of local organizations that help protect our land."

Converging on Liberty Square, marchers chanted "Science, not silence" as they made their way across downtown Charleston. Mayor John Tecklenburg addressed the crowd, calling for continued efforts to address the persistent threat of sea-level rise to coastal communities and opposing drilling for resources off the South Carolina coast.

"[Charleston City] Councilman Mike Seekings and the other mayors along the coast of South Carolina joined me last year in asking the Obama administration not to allow offshore drilling off the coast of South Carolina," said Tecklenburg. "Like many other things, that decision may be reversed in the very near future. So we ask you to contact your congressmen and your senators and let them know how you feel about this issue."

The mayor was joined by Councilman Seekings, who spoke to marchers not only as a city official, but as the son and grandson of engineers, and the husband of a biologist. Seekings echoed Tecklenburg’s sentiments as they related to sea-level rise and the increasing amount of flooding facing the Charleston community.

"The most important issue we have today is that the sea is coming at us. We have a complicated relationship with the sea. We have to address it. We are addressing it," said Seekings. "The fact that you are here today is so heartening for us who want to make things happen now. Science, Earth Day, the city of Charleston all fit together."

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Former and current attorneys for Michael Slager challenge SLED tactics leading up to his arrest

Slager’s former lawyer claims investigators lied about video evidence

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 5:57 PM

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager stands alongside attorneys for the defense and prosecution in a Charleston courtroom on Nov. 3, 2016 - GRACE BEAHM/POST & COURIER
  • Grace Beahm/Post & Courier
  • Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager stands alongside attorneys for the defense and prosecution in a Charleston courtroom on Nov. 3, 2016
Allegations that state investigators mislead Michael Slager and his former attorney in the days following the shooting of Walter Scott were the focus of a federal hearing Friday.

Attorney David Aylor, who briefly represented Slager in 2015, took the stand to claim that SLED agents lied to him regarding the existence of video of the former North Charleston officer opening fire on Scott following a routine traffic stop. Slager’s current defense team is now asking that statements made by the former officer will be declared off limits in his upcoming federal trial on the grounds that he and his former attorney were not informed about the existence of the video when he spoke to investigators. Slager currently awaits trial for allegedly lying to investigators and federal civil rights violations for the April 4, 2015, shooting death of Walter Scott.

Immediately following Scott’s death, Slager contacted the Police Benevolent Association which paired the officer with local criminal defense attorney David Aylor. While Slager said his memory of the struggle with Scott was foggy, he ultimately told investigators that Scott seized his Taser and was attempting to use it against him. By the time Slager and his former attorney were able to meet with SLED agents working on the case, eyewitness footage contradicting portions of Slager’s account of the shooting had already been handed over to investigators. Aylor claims that he questioned lead investigator Angela Peterson about the possible existence of video evidence or eyewitnesses before advising Slager to provide a statement.

“What she did was lie to me. She lied straight to my face,” Aylor said in court Friday, taking an aggressive tone as he was questioned by prosecutors. “It’s not about keeping it from me ... It’s about misleading me.”

Just hours after his initial meeting with SLED agents on April 7, 2015, Aylor was contacted by Peterson, who informed him that a video of the shooting had emerged. Returning to his office to meet with Slager and Peterson, Aylor said he received a news alert on his phone notifying him that the video had been released to news outlets. After watching the video that shows Slager open fire on Scott as he fled — the first shot ringing out with Scott approximately 17 feet away — Aylor ended the meeting and told agents that Slager would provide no further statements.

It was soon after this meeting that Slager was taken into custody and Aylor stepped down as his attorney. When asked if the revelation of the video and the discrepancies in Slager’s account of the shooting were what caused Aylor to remove himself from the case, the attorney responded that multiple factors contributed to his decision.

“It’s like any relationship. It’s complicated,” Aylor said.

Attorneys for the United States told the court that Aylor had rebuffed their early attempts to discuss the meeting between Slager and SLED agents. While Aylor attested in court Friday that he was certain that he questioned Peterson regarding any video evidence before advising Slager to speak with investigators, the attorney was not confident in his ability to recall in detail what exactly was said during the almost two-hour meeting. When asked if he encountered any public or professional blowback for his handling of the Slager case, Aylor assured prosecutors that he is no stranger to criticism from other attorneys “because they are jealous.”

While U.S. District Judge David Norton has yet to decide if Slager’s comments to SLED will be up for discussion when his federal trial begins on May 15, Norton did settle a handful of pending matters related to the trial.

The defense’s argument that dueling state and federal prosecutions violated Slager’s protection against double jeopardy was dismissed by Norton who told the defense “If you want to change the law, you’re going to have to get someone else to do it for you.”

Lead defense attorney Andy Savage continued his call for more details on what accommodations and considerations were given by state prosecutors to shooting eyewitness Feidin Santana. Savage contends that Santana provided false statements regarding travel expenses and reimbursements while testify during Slager’s state murder trial that ended with a hung jury.

“Santana is lying about being this wonderful person who was donating his time and money,” Savage told the court.

Prosecutors agreed to provide Norton with the full schedule of state reimbursements given to witnesses and allow the judge to determine what, if any payments may be material to the defense’s case. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who is serving as lead prosecutor in Slager’s upcoming state retrial, stood by Santana’s testimony presented in court last fall.

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The Agenda: McMaster and Quinns paid $1 million by USC; Georgetown steel mill could have a buyer; No action on roads

McMaster paid personally $544k for fundraising work

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 12:09 PM

Gov. Henry McMaster during President Donald Trump's visit to Boeing South Carolina last month - CITY OF NORTH CHARLESTON
  • City of North Charleston
  • Gov. Henry McMaster during President Donald Trump's visit to Boeing South Carolina last month

The Post and Courier reports that Gov. Henry McMaster and Richard Quinn and Associates firm were paid a combined $1 million to do work for USC for four years starting in 2011. McMaster says he was hired to "raise money for the law school," but the now-governor also "was pivotal," P&C reporter Andy Shain says, to the school winning $10 million in funding from the state legislature. The other firm involved is reportedly the subject of an ongoing state ethics investigation. Source: P&C

A choice quote from the report: "McMaster told The Post and Courier he was pleased with his efforts."

McMaster's critics say the governor is doing too much campaigning and not enough governing. Source: The State

Campaigning in CharlestonM yesterday, McMaster called on help from local Republicans to help kill efforts to raise taxes to pay for roads. Source: P&C

As Georgetown seeks to redevelop its waterfront, with eyes toward demolishing its landmark eyesore steel mill, the company that closed it in 2015 says it is about to finalize a deal to sell it, opening up the possibility that it could be restarted. Source: P&C

After state lawmakers gathered in the Statehouse lobby this week to pressure the state Senate to take action, the Senate adjourned yesterday for the week without taking action. Source: P&C, Greenville News

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