A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Weekly Washington Wrap
- President-elect Trump’s Cabinet nominees began their Senate confirmation hearings this week. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the nominee for Attorney General went through two days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Notably, fellow Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), testified against Sessions’ nomination at the hearing. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and faced tough questions on Russia, Iran, climate change and Exxon’s activities. Tillerson’s harshest questions, in particular on Russia and other countries, came from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao [Transportation], General James Mattis (ret.) [Defense] General John Kelly (ret.) [Homeland Security], Dr. Ben Carson [Housing and Urban Development], and Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) [CIA Director] will all also appeared before Senate Committees.
- The Senate took the first steps this week towards repealing Obamacare. In a late night “vote-a-rama” stretching into the early morning hours, the Senate passed a budget resolution which will serve as the vehicle to repeal Obamacare through a legislative process known as reconciliation. The resolution passed on a 51-48 vote, with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) voting against the resolution due to concerns over not having a replacement plan in place. Paul was the only Senator to break ranks with their party. One amendment voted on during the vote-a-rama from Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was aimed at lowering prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada. The amendment failed on a 46-52 vote.
- It was announced this week that President-elect Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will serve as a Senior Advisor to the President. Kushner is expected to focus on trade issues as well as issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East. Also this week, Trump announced that Dr. David Shulkin is his nominee to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin currently serves as Under Secretary for Health at the VA, and was appointed to that position by President Obama.
- President-elect Trump held a press conference this week where he detailed his plans for the future of his business empire. Trump’s adult sons will run the business and Trump’s company will not enter into new foreign deals. An ethics advisor will be appointed who will approve new domestic deals in writing and the new president will not be involved in the business.
- President Obama gave a lengthy farewell address in Chicago this week. He looked back at his eight years in office, and offered a tribute to First Lady Michelle Obama.
Wilkins Award Dinner
Faithful Carolina-Canada Connections readers know that if it’s January, it’s time for the Wilkins Legislative and Civic Awards Dinner hosted by the Riley Institute at Furman University.
For 12 years on now, the big Wilkins dinner has been held on the first night of the South Carolina legislative session in Columbia and attracts big wigs from the political and business communities who come together to celebrate citizenship, public service and bipartisan governing.
Named in honor of your former US ambassador to Canada who was the longtime speaker of the South Carolina House, each year one South Carolina legislator and one South Carolina civic leader are named a Wilkins Award winner in recognition of their leadership, courage, vision, and integrity.
This year’s two outstanding winners are Representative Rita Allison and businessman Hayne Hipp.
Representative Rita Allison, Secretary Dick Riley and David Wilkins at Tuesday’s Wilkins Award Dinner.
Wilkins served with Representative Allison in the SC House where she remains a champion for education issues. Hayne Hipp is the former CEO of The Liberty Corporation and founder of the Liberty Fellows and is well known for his philanthropic efforts.
Waz Up in Washington
With the big doings and changes in DC these days, that’s where you will more likely than not find David Wilkins. He was up there last week for a number of meetings and of course, he and Susan Wilkins will be in town next week for all the Inauguration activities.
Team Wilkins will also be on hand with all the news from the big Inaugural events so keep it posted here for all the pics and details!
Clemson WINS IT ALL!
For 8 years in this space, from season to season, we (read: David Wilkins) have been regaling you with updates about Wilkins’ beloved Clemson Tigers football team. There have been a few lows, but mostly new highs, as every year the team under Coach Dabo Swinney (promoted to head coach in 2008) has set and exceeded lofty goals. During that time, big ball games have been won and marque teams like Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma have been defeated.
But on Monday night, the Tigers reached the “top of the mountain” and won it all – the National Championship – beating perennial powerhouse the University of Alabama 35-31. The winning touchdown came in the last second of the game and was especially sweet because it was a rare rematch of last year’s title game when Alabama squeaked out a win against the Tigers.
David and Susan Wilkins as well as their sons James and Robert were all on hand in Tampa for the stomach churning, exciting, down-to-the-wire Clemson win.
And it simply rocked!
Coach Dabo Swinney accepts the National Championship trophy in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
It’s Clemson’s first national title since 1981. A number of the team’s star players are destined for the NFL including two-time Heisman trophy finalist, quarterback Deshaun Watson.
And with that storybook ending football fans, that’s all we have to say about the Clemson Tigers till spring practice starts in earnest!
They Said What?
- “There is serious reason to doubt the allegations,” – Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith, in a memo to his own staff, debunking the truthfulness of a series of scurrilous memos Buzzfeed nonetheless opted to print on Donald Trump despite having no evidence to back them up.
- “It's irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the internet. I can understand why President-Elect Donald Trump would be upset about that. I would be upset about it too. It's why we did not publish it and why we did not detail any specifics from it because it was uncorroborated and that's not what we do. We are in the business of sussing out what is true and what is false,” – CNN’s Jake Tapper on the Buzzfeed decision and why CNN is more responsible than Buzzfeed because it reported that the unverified documents exist and not specifically on their contents.
- “…there is in this whole world no sight less rhetorically compelling than that of successful people with fun and rewarding jobs, and a decent income, complaining that they're victims of the unglamorous folks who labor at all the strenuously boring work required to make their lives nice. Even I, who have one of those jobs, am rolling my eyes and saying “Good heavens, suck it up.” The only people who don’t recoil from this sort of vacuous self-pity are those similarly situated in elite liberal institutions — but since those folks already hate Trump, you haven’t actually changed anything,” – Bloomberg View’s Megan McArdle in her column, “Hey, Hollywood, Smugness Isn't a Political Strategy” regarding Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe’s political rant.
- “Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?” – Florida Senator Marco Rubio question to Trump nominee for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing this week.
- “It’s indescribable. You can’t make it up man. Only God can do this. Take a guy like me from Pelham, go to Alabama, win a National Championship, come to Clemson and have a chance to win a National Championship against the best team in the country up until the last second of this game…” – an emotional Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney after Monday’s exciting national championship game that saw Clemson defeat the heavily favored University of Alabama after narrowly losing to the powerhouse last year.
If you are interested in the possibility of having Ambassador Wilkins speak at an event, please contact Christy Cox at Christy.Cox@nelsonmullins.com or call 803.255.9470.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.