Hello all. I have coffee. The sun is out. There is some big news happening. Let’s get into it.
Normally we’d get to the local stuff first and then make our way, after a nice news warmup that keeps us from straining something, to the big, shocking national stories. But heck, let’s just start with the wildest story right off the bat, shall we?
The cloud of controversy around President Donald Trump is thickening, but his supporters here in Ohio are sticking with him, saying they don’t believe the allegations being leveled against the president or don’t find them all that important.
First, Trump fired FBI director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into ties between the president’s campaign and the Russian government. Then came revelations that Trump may have revealed secret intelligence information on ISIS to Russian diplomats during a meeting in the Oval Office closed to U.S. press. Then, further revelations showed that the intelligence in question may have come from Israel, one of the U.S.’s most sensitive and cautious allies, and that other allies that provide important intelligence reports on terrorism are now hesitant to do so.
And then yesterday evening, The New York Times published reports that Trump asked former FBI director Comey to drop an investigation into Trump’s former advisor Michael Flynn, according to a memo authored by Comey before Trump fired him earlier this month. At least, that’s what two sources close to Comey say.
But supporters of the president in Ohio — which Trump won by 8 points back in November — say that all of that is “fake news” and that investigators should instead be looking into illegal leaks to the press.
• At least one prominent Ohio Republican is more critical of the president. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who ran against Trump in the GOP presidential primary and has long been a critic of The Donald, says that his advisors need to keep a tighter leash on Trump, and that if Trump refuses to take corrections and stop making mistakes, high-ranking members of his administration should resign. Kasich says the latest revelations about Trump don’t rise to the level of Watergate — the scandal that led to the impeachment of President Richard Nixon — but that they are “a serious situation.”
• Ok. Phew. Let’s move on to non-Trump news for a minute, shall we? First off, Cincinnati City Council members Yvette Simpson, Wendell Young and Chris Seelbach will host a public information session on flooding from recent heavy rains tonight at Westwood Elementary School from 6 to 8 p.m. Heavy rains last month hit that neighborhood especially hard, causing flooding and property damage. City officials say help is available to residents, who can find out more at the meeting this evening.
• Cincinnati Police Union President Dan Hils says the department’s new radios, manufactured by Motorola, are putting lives in danger because they don’t function properly. Hils has taken to social media to put pressure on the company to fix the situation. Hils says the radios are often inaudible during critical moments, and that a noise reduction feature can make it impossible to hear officers in loud situations. Motorola began replacing microphones and reprograming radios after problems first cropped up last July. A limited test run of the new programing is continuing, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac says, after which all the radios on the force will be reprogrammed.
• The Cincinnati Enquirer is suing to obtain evidence in a federal lawsuit involving the IRS brought by tea party groups who claim the agency's Cincinnati-based office discriminated against them. That evidence has been sealed — past and present IRS employees say they’ve received death threats related to the accusations of bias by the IRS and that the information revealed as part of the case could make their identities public. But lawyers for the tea party groups, who say their applications for tax-exempt status were unfairly delayed or denied because they’re conservatives, say the evidence should be public. A Senate investigation found that the IRS did use inappropriate criteria in filtering out groups who primarily engage in political activity and thus aren’t eligible for tax exemption. However, that investigation also found that the IRS also applied extra scrutiny to liberal groups and didn’t seem to exercise any political bias.
• The University of Cincinnati broke ground this week on its new, 225,000 square-foot,$120 million facility for the university’s Carl H. Lindner Jr. College of Business. Henning Larsen Architects designed the building and is working with Cincinnati’s KZF Design and Turner Construction Co. on the project.
• No surprise here — Ohio is one of the top states for breweries. At least, depending on how you measure that. The Buckeye State is ranked 12th in the nation when it comes to breweries, with the 12th-most in the country, according to a study by data firm Datafiniti. But the state is 26th per capita when it comes to breweries, however, a somewhat less outstanding showing. No Ohio cities — including Cincinnati — made the top 20 on the list of cities and towns. Womp womp.