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Schuette defends himself on judge’s ‘posturing’ jab

Detroit News staff

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday defended himself after a federal judge accused him of “superficial posturing” in a lawsuit seeking widespread bottled water delivery in Flint, arguing he was attempting to fight for city residents “and frankly with very good posture.”


U.S. District Judge David Lawson on Monday denied Schuette’s request to file a legal brief supporting plaintiffs in the case, noting lawyers in the Attorney General’s Office have already appeared in court on behalf of state defendants, including Gov. Rick Snyder.

Lawson, an appointee of Democratic President Bill Clinton, said the Republican attorney general had created a “troubling ethical issue” that could delay resolution in the case and questioned who he was purporting to represent, opining “it may be himself.”

Schuette said he was surprised by the ruling from Lawson, who “kind of lashed out at me in a personal way.” The type brief he sought to file is “rarely controversial,” and his would have supported an earlier order Lawson made in the case requiring bottled water delivery.

Lawson’s harsh rejection fueled critics who have accused the attorney general of using the Flint water crisis for personal gain ahead of a potential run for governor in 2018. Lonnie Scott of liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan said Schuette was trying “to gain cheap political points off the backs of Flint families” by playing both sides of the case.

But Schuette, who insists a “firewall” in his office helps maintain a healthy separation between his Flint investigatory team and state defense attorneys, said Tuesday he filed the brief in an attempt to stand up for Flint families, which he plans to continue to do.

He repeated some variation of that line no less than eight times in the seven-minute, 36-second interview.

“I’m going to continue to fight for the families of Flint, and that’s what they want,” Schuette said. “Because if you’re a young woman that is pregnant or has a newborn infant, you wouldn’t wash your child in that water right now.”

Thirteen-year-old Hailey Dirschell of Coldwater poses with White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway in Washington, D.C

Teen returns from D.C. inspired

Thirteen-year-old Hailey Dirschell of Coldwater traveled to Washington, D.C., for President Donald Trump’s inauguration last week and returned home determined to run for public office one day.

The seventh-grader learned about the inauguration in social studies class and got tickets from the office of Republican Rep. Tim Walberg of Tipton.

After inauguration, she rubbed elbows with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and wife, Sue, at the Michigan State Society’s black-tie gala. She went with her parents, Erin and Sheila, to the party at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

While trying to get a cab, Dirschell and her parents ran into White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump’s campaign manager.

“She said I was really pretty and that I should run for president one day,” Hailey recalled. “I said, ‘Definitely. I’ll totally give you a call.’ ”

Lawrence joins transit committee

Congressional leaders have made more committee assignments that will help members of Michigan’s delegation.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, has been appointed to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation and Highway and Transit subcommittee. Lawrence will also sit on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Government Operations subcommittee.

Freshman Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, will join Lawrence on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mitchell will also sit on the committees on Education and the Workforce, and Oversight and Government Reform.

Freshman Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, got picked for the House Budget as well as Natural Resources committees, in addition to his position on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting, Melissa Nann Burke, Keith Laing and Richard Burr