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Carolina-Canada Connections

December 1, 2017

Carolina-Canada Connections — Vol. 9, No. 23

A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada

Top of the News

  • The Dow and S&P 500 both hit all-time highs yesterday and the unemployment rate dropped to the lowest it has been in 17 years and now Republicans who control both Houses of Congress and the White House might finally pass comprehensive tax reform.   According to various published reports, Republicans have the votes they need in the Senate to pass the tax package after getting commitments from Senators such as John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins who defeated GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Republican leaders were also scrambling to win over Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and McCain’s colleague in Arizona, Senator Jeff Flake, who have been in a bitter and public war of words with President Donald Trump and have expressed concerned about budget deficits generated by tax cuts. A mechanism designed to win their votes was ruled unworkable under Senate rules yesterday.  A vote on the tax measure is expected sometime late today.  For now, Democrats stand lockstep against it.
     
  • Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has been charged in the special counsel's Russia investigation with making false statements to the FBI and pleaded guilty at a hearing this morning. It’s a one-count charge and relates to Flynn’s interactions with the Russian ambassador in late December -- specifically discussions about sanctions and other matters he apparently claimed never happened. Flynn was interviewed by the FBI days after Trump's inauguration and was forced to resign in February just 24 days into the new administration when White House officials said he had misled them about whether he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. According to ABC News, “Flynn is prepared to testify...against President Trump, against members of the Trump family, and others in the White House.” 
     
  • Former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), called him an “icon in our country” Sunday just hours before Democrat Congressman John Conyers – the longest serving member of the House – announced he was stepping down from his post atop the House Judiciary Committee amid accusations of sexual harassment.  Yesterday, in the face of mounting allegations, Pelosi said Conyers should resign from Congress.  Several other Democratic members and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) are also on the record now saying Conyers should resign.   Conyers, a Michigan lawmaker, has held his seat since 1965 and is considered a hero of the civil rights movement.  He’s a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. CNN reported earlier this week that several members of the Congressional Black Caucus are in talks with Conyers to get him to resign to protect his civil rights legacy.  Meanwhile, Democrat Senator Al Franken of Minnesota held a press conference on Monday to address the mounting accusations of sexual harassment leveled against him as late as yesterday.  Franken said then he won’t step down and said by apologizing, he’s taking responsibility for his actions – though he denies remembering the actions in which he’s apologizing. He said it’s too soon to decide whether he will run for reelection.  Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) said he will not be running for his congressional seat again after a sexually explicit photograph of him and now, a sexually suggestive Facebook message, were made public.   
     
  • NBC’s “Today” show star Matt Lauer is the latest mainstream media figure to be facing accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior.  The shock announcement came Wednesday morning that Lauer had been fired from the network where he was  arguably the biggest personality for more than two decades.  It was Lauer who got the reaction from then-first Lady Hillary Clinton blaming a “vast right-wing” conspiracy for former President Bill Clinton’s involvement with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.   While NBC worked to take ownership of the Lauer story by firing him before the allegations became public, a number of news sources including The New York Times and Variety reported they had been investigating Lauer and NBC knew about the allegations against their star.  Also fired this week was Garrison Keillor, the former host of “A Prairie Home Companion.”  Keillor said Wednesday he has been dismissed by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of improper sexual behavior.  NPR confirmed that its Chief News Editor has likewise left the company following allegations of sexual harassment filed against him by at least three female journalists and CNN fired a senior producer on Jake Tapper's "State of the Union" show after an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations made against him. All of this comes on the heels of CBS firing icon Charlie Rose last week in the face of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.   He joins Mark Halperin and the New York Times lead political reporter Glenn Thrush as well as Fox host Bill O’Reilly and a host of other media figures who have all been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct. 
     
  • A bureaucrat from the Obama administration lost her bid to retain control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) this week.  Last week President Trump appointed his person – White House budget director Mick Mulvaney – to temporarily lead the CFPB.  But an Obama holdover, Leann English, refused to step aside after outgoing Democrat Director Richard Cordray named English his successor and sued in federal court. While both sides argued the law is on their side over who gets to name the bureau’s chief, the CFPB’s top lawyer backed the Trump administration by writing a memo that says the President has authority to appoint Mulvaney acting director. On Tuesday a federal judge agreed that yes, the sitting President has the right to name the interim director of an agency which falls under the executive branch of government. Mulvaney had instructed CFPB staff to ignore instruction from English and had assumed the acting leadership post at CFPB on Monday.   

Doin’ DC

It’s December so that means David Wilkins is in DC.  (Every month means the same thing, but the whole “D” alliteration sounds good. Just sayin’…)

At any rate, Wilkins was back in DC for a whole slew of client meetings that included the aforementioned Mick Mulvaney.  He also paid a visit to our ol’ pal John Melle with the USTR, as well as a number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  

A CAPPtivating visit!  It was great to host the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’  Tim McMillan, Rob Dutton, Mark Fitzgerald and Kory Zwack. 

Bragging Rights, Baby!

You’re reading it here so well-versed CCC readers already have your first clue:  Clemson must have won last Saturday. 

Excellent deduction!

Well, there’s more.  Wilkins’ beloved Clemson Tigers destroyed their in-state rivals in the annual grudge match, besting the South Carolina Gamecocks on their home turf and in front of a national audience, 34-10.  The always heated game that (at least temporarily, we hope?) divides even the most solid South Carolina families and friends was made even more intense with Carolina breaking into the national rankings (#24) against the #3 ranked Tigers.  It was expected to be a competitive game with USC giving Clemson a run for its money.  Turns out it wasn’t and they didn’t.  Enough said about that.

But other things happened as well.  Perennial (read: annoying) #1 Alabama LOST to Auburn (read: YES!) and now Clemson (the current reigning National College Football Champions, lest you forget) are – wait for it – ranked #1 in the country, again.  That’s right, the defending national champions end the 2017 regular season where they finished off last year – in the top spot!  Sweet!

So, all in all, this is a good week for your former US ambassador and Clemson football fanatic!   But you’re only as happy as your last win or something like that – so David and Susan Wilkins are headed up to Charlotte, NC where tomorrow night, Clemson will face the #7 ranked Miami Hurricanes and is looking to clinch a third consecutive ACC title as well as a spot in the College Football Playoff.

As always, stay tuned.  If you read it here next week, there’s your clue something good happened!

They Said What?

  • “No illness, no scandal, no firing just, I’ve said what I had to say. I think even this dim-witted world of American political TV reporting, which is still calculating how to get Trump’s idiot supporters to watch their networks and still waiting for Trump to pivot, even it can carry this the rest of the way. So I am retiring from political commentary in all media venues,” – outspoken leftist political commentator Keith Olbermann announcing his retirement from his YouTube show 'The Resistance' for GQ magazine, confident, he says, of President Trump’s pending impeachment. 
     
  • “I texted him this morning and said, ‘I adore you and no person is perfect in this world.’ What we need now is forgiveness and mercy for one another,” – NBC “Today” show host Kathie Lee Gifford sharing with her audience Wednesday morning her thoughts on Matt Lauer shortly after the network announced he was fired for allegedly sexually inappropriate behavior. 
     
  • “Nancy Pelosi did not elect the congressman, and she sure as hell won’t be the one to tell the congressman to leave,” – Congressman Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed on calls for Conyers to resign from Congress. 
     
  • “Christmas comes early! Finally, good news from @CNN,” – White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders Twitter reply to CNN when the network announced it would not attend the White House Christmas party in protest, it claims, of President Trump’s “continued attacks on freedom of the press.” 
     
  • “A lot was going on. I saw a lot of water bottles and everything. Just them throwing a lot of stuff.  I was a little disappointed because I tried to take a drink of one of the waters, and one of the refs stopped me. I was a little thirsty and I was tired, but the ref wouldn’t let me get a sip of water,” – Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (no relation to your former US ambassador to Canada) poking fun at some Gamecock fans who threw water bottles and other trash at Clemson players during the Clemson-USC game last Saturday night.