The Latest: Alabama lawmakers appeal impeachment ruling

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Posted: Apr 07, 2017 8:35 PM
The Latest: Alabama lawmakers appeal impeachment ruling

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on the scandal involving Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

Alabama lawmakers are filing an emergency appeal to the state Supreme Court in an effort to move forward with impeachment hearings against Gov. Robert Bentley.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Jones says the notice of appeal was filed Friday. The committee is seeking to overturn a judge's order that halted impeachment hearings that has been set to begin Monday.

Jones says the committee will meet Monday to discuss the next steps.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin on Friday said he was temporarily blocking the hearings to give the governor more time to respond to the accusations against him.

Bentley has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce. Bentley has acknowledged making personal mistakes but maintained he did nothing illegal or to merit his removal from office.

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6 p.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's lawyer praised a judge's decision to halt impeachment proceedings.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin on Friday said he was blocking the proceedings to give the governor more time to respond to allegations that he misused state resources.

The governor has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce.

The House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to being impeachment hearings Monday. The special counsel for the committee said they will likely appeal.

Bentley attorney Ross Garber said the rule of law applies, "even in impeachments." He Garber also criticized the release of the special counsel's report. He said it appears to be an "amalgam of hearsay, rumor and innuendo."

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5:10 p.m.

An Alabama judge has temporarily stopped impeachment proceedings against Gov. Robert Bentley.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin on Friday said he was granting the governor's request for a temporary restraining order. Griffin was initially appointed to the bench by Bentley before being elected.

Special Counsel Jack Sharman said lawmakers planned to appeal. He said it was unprecedented for the judicial branch to block a legislative proceeding.

The House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to begin impeachment hearings Monday. The governor asked for a 10-day delay while his attorneys argue the process is unfair.

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4:30 p.m.

A special counsel's impeachment report says Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley directed a state law enforcement officer to "advance his personal interests" and "encouraged an atmosphere of intimidation" to try to keep his romantic relationship with a staffer from becoming public.

Special Counsel Jack Sharman released the 131-page report Friday as Bentley's lawyers were in court to try to block its release.

Sharman wrote that Bentley's relationship with Rebekah Caldwell Mason was well-known within his inner circle. He wrote that Bentley's loyalties shifted from the state to himself as he tried to keep the relationship quiet.

Sharman also wrote that Bentley obstructed the legislative investigation by refusing to cooperate and redacting text messages and other material requested by the committee. Sharman says Bentley directed law enforcement staffers to try to uncover who had recorded conversations of him and Mason.

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3:30 p.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's lawyers headed back to court after a new judge was assigned to hear his request to block impeachment proceedings.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Roman Shaul stepped aside from the case Friday.

Lawyers for Bentley and the Alabama lawmakers rushed back to the courthouse Friday afternoon for another proceeding before Circuit Judge Greg Griffin.

Bentley is seeking a temporary restraining order to block Friday's scheduled release of a report compiled by the special counsel in the impeachment probe. The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled impeachment hearings to begin Monday.

The governor has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce.

Bentley said Friday that he had been humiliated. But he maintained he did nothing illegal and had no intentions of resigning.

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2:20 p.m.

Another high-ranking Alabama Republican is urging Gov. Robert Bentley to step down before lawmakers begin impeachment hearings next week.

Republican House Speaker Mac McCutcheon on Friday said that the spectacle has been an embarrassment to the state. McCutcheon says he is hopeful that Bentley would "do the right thing and step down immediately. "

The Republican leader of the Alabama Senate has also urged Bentley to resign, saying he is not being an effective leader for the state.

Bentley has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce. Earlier this week, the state Ethics Commission found probable cause that the Republican governor broke state ethics and campaign finance laws and referred the case to a prosecutor's office.

Bentley says he has been humiliated by the embarrassing details, but is assuring voters he has done nothing illegal.

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12:30 p.m.

The special counsel in an impeachment probe of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is moving forward with the release of an investigatory report.

Special Counsel Jack Sharman plans to release a 100-page report Friday afternoon that includes thousands of pages of exhibits. The report will be given to the House Judiciary Committee as the committee weighs whether to recommend impeaching Bentley.

The governor's attorneys rushed to court to try to block the report hours ahead of its scheduled release. But Montgomery County Circuit Judge Roman Shaul said his inclination "at this point would not be to restrain this report."

Bentley has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce. Bentley said Monday that he had been humiliated as "embarrassing details" of his personal life were made public over the last year. Bentley said he's been told that will happen again.

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11:50 a.m.

The special counsel in an impeachment probe of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley urged a judge to let lawmakers move forward with hearings and the release of his investigative report.

Jack Sharman told Montgomery County Circuit Judge Roman Shaul on Friday that Bentley's request to block the report and hearings is unconstitutional.

Bentley has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce. Bentley has acknowledged making personal mistakes but maintains he did nothing illegal.

Sharman says the court doesn't have a right to interfere with the hearing process at this point.

Sharman had planned to release the investigative findings on Friday with a lengthy report that has 3,000 pages of exhibits. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin impeachment hearings Monday.

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9:40 a.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's lawyers are in court in an attempt to block the release of a potentially embarrassing report related to a sex scandal and efforts to impeach him.

The governor's lawyers on Friday asked a judge to temporarily block the release of an investigative report by the special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee. The report is supposed to be released Friday and the committee is scheduled to begin impeachment hearings Monday.

Attorney David Byrne told the judge that the governor is not being treated fairly in the quickly moving process.

Bentley has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce. Bentley has acknowledged making personal mistakes but maintained he did nothing illegal.

Earlier this week, the state Ethics Commission found probable cause that the Republican governor broke state ethics and campaign finance laws and referred the case to a prosecutor's office.

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9:20 a.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the release of a potentially embarrassing report related to a sex scandal that has led to an effort to impeach him.

In the lawsuit, Bentley calls the impeachment process "fundamentally unfair" and asks a court to block the release of the report by the Judiciary Committee's special counsel.

Online court records show the governor's office filed the lawsuit moments before he spoke against the House Judiciary Committee on Friday morning.

Earlier this week, the state Ethics Commission found probable cause that the Republican governor broke state ethics and campaign finance laws, accusations Bentley denies.

Bentley has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce. Bentley has acknowledged making personal mistakes but maintained he did nothing illegal or to merit his removal from office.

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8:55 a.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley vowed again Friday he won't resign even as his political troubles mounted and lawmakers said they would move forward with impeachment hearings because of a sex scandal.

The 74-year-old governor hastily called a news conference in which he told constituents he knew he had let them down.

Earlier this week, the state Ethics Commission found probable cause that the Republican governor broke state ethics and campaign finance laws, accusations Bentley denies.

Bentley has been engulfed in scandal since recordings surfaced in 2016 of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce. Bentley has acknowledged making personal mistakes but maintained he did nothing illegal or to merit his removal from office.