SonnyWatch: Opposition mounts against Perdue as ag chief

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue arrives at Trump Tower in New York City on Nov. 30, 2016. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue arrives at Trump Tower in New York City on Nov. 30, 2016. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Opposition to former Gov. Sonny Perdue is mounting as President-elect Donald Trump continues to debate who is agriculture secretary will be.

With Senate confirmation hearings already underway, Trump has yet to decide who will lead the sprawling $140 billion agriculture department. What that means for Perdue – once considered the front-runner for the post – remains uncertain. But his opponents are using the vacuum to pressure Trump to go another direction.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a giant in the agriculture community, took to Twitter to vouch for his pick for ag chief: The state’s agriculture commissioner, Bill Northey.

Trump has locked up most of his top administration picks and all but two of his secretary-level Cabinet appointments. Only the agriculture job and the head of the Veterans Affairs departments remain vacant.

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President Barack Obama’s Harvard Law Review article gives a shout-out to Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice overhaul:

During my time in office, we have seen many states make important strides on a host of issues — from sentencing reform to policing reform to expanding alternatives to incarceration for addiction and mental illness. These include states such as Oklahoma, Georgia, and Texas in which Republican governors and legislatures have been vocal proponents of promising and important reforms. Given that the vast majority of Americans who interact with the justice system do so at the state and local levels, it is critical that this kind of bipartisan leadership continues and that states continue to demonstrate ways that others (including, at times, the federal government) can strive to achieve better outcomes.

(A side note: He also gave the Insider blog a hat-tip in his footnotes.)

The law review’s current president said he is the first sitting president to publish a work of “legal scholarship” while in office.

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis is staying mum on what exactly he’ll say when he testifies at U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing later today.

The civil rights icon and longtime Atlanta Democratic Congressman wouldn’t divulge Tuesday whether he plans to come against Session’s nomination for attorney general. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who will be testifying alongside Lewis, already said he’d break with decades of Senate custom to do so.

One thing we do know is that Lewis’ appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to thrust the subjects of civil rights and race back into the spotlight as Republican senators look to speed ahead on Sessions’ confirmation.

Lewis isn’t the only Georgia Democrat to take the witness stand in the Senate on Wednesday. We reported last night that former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn will introduce ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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Speaking of Sessions, an impassioned letter the late Coretta Scott King wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 against the then-federal judge nominee has gone “missing,” according to Buzzfeed:

The letter would become a key part of the case against Sessions, who would ultimately be defeated when his home state senator, the late Howell Heflin, shocked the Senate and voted against the confirmation.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond never put the letter into the congressional record, and its contents are largely unknown.

… Although senators and their staff on the committee have seen the letter, it remains unreleased.

Read their take here.


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