Adnan Syed, Subject Of ‘Serial’ Podcast, Will Get A New Trial Thursday, Jun 30 2016 

Months after he was granted a new hearing because of new evidence, Adnan Syed, whose 2000 murder conviction was a key focus of the hit podcast Serial, has been granted a new trial, according to his attorneys.

Announcing the news Thursday, attorney Justin Brown tweeted in all-caps: “WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!!”

The order for a new trial that was issued by Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Martin Welch also denies two requests for post-conviction relief. One of those requests centered on a trial attorney’s “failure to contact a potential alibi witness”; the other was based on “withholding potentially exculpatory evidence related to the reliability of cell tower location evidence.”

As we reported when Syed was granted a hearing last fall:

“More than 15 years after he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Adnan Syed has been granted a hearing to let his lawyers present a possible alibi and questions about cellphone data. Attorneys for Syed, the key figure in the popular podcast Serial, also want to probe ‘alleged prosecutorial misconduct.’

“The new development comes months after the Maryland Court of Special Appeals granted Syed’s request for a review of his case, giving new momentum to his efforts to appeal his 2000 conviction in the murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee in January of 1999. Lee’s body had been found in a city park, one month after she disappeared. She had been strangled.

“Now 35, Syed is serving a life prison term over Lee’s death. Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Martin Welch granted the request for a hearing Friday, ordering that it be scheduled sometime in the next 10 days.”

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Federal Judge Blocks Indiana Abortion Law Thursday, Jun 30 2016 

A federal judge has blocked a new Indiana law that bans abortions sought because of a fetus’s genetic abnormalities.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt released a ruling Thursday that grants the preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. The law was to set to take effect Friday.

Pratt said the state doesn’t have the authority to limit a woman’s reasons for ending a pregnancy. She said the Indiana law would go against U.S. Supreme Court rulings that states may not prohibit a woman from seeking an abortion before fetal viability.

Indiana and North Dakota are the only states with laws banning abortions that are sought due to fetal genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, or because of the race, sex or ancestry of a fetus. The Indiana law also requires that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued the state in April, saying the law is unconstitutional and violates women’s privacy rights. Pratt heard arguments June 14.

An attorney for Indiana argued before Pratt earlier this month that the state has an interest in “preventing discrimination” against fetuses with genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.

Governor, House Speaker Bicker Over Veto Protocol In Lawsuit Thursday, Jun 30 2016 

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo is suing Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, saying the governor didn’t properly deliver vetoes to the Secretary of State at the end of this year’s legislative session.

At stake in the lawsuit is Bevin’s line-item vetoes to the state budget, which could be reversed if Stumbo is successful.

Bevin’s office says the vetoes were delivered to House Clerk Jean Burgin’s office, who Bevin’s attorney says promised to properly deliver the documents to the Secretary of State’s office, as required by law.

The documents never wound up in the Secretary of State’s office, though copies of them were delivered — a move that Bevin’s office says was necessary because Burgin’s office was locked at the end of the day on April 27, the last day vetoes could be filed.

Steve Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, accused Stumbo of obstructing the proper delivery of the vetoes, saying he had “unclean hands.”

“The House Clerk had been instructed by House leadership not to take those veto messages to the Secretary of State, to lock the office and not come back,” Pitt said.

The vetoes include provisions to expanded free preschool from 160 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, $7.5 million for indigent care in Jefferson County, $9.4 million for community college scholarships and the framework for a free community college program.

In a court filing, Speaker Stumbo said that even if Burgin told Bevin’s office she would deliver the vetoes, she had no legal obligation to do so.

“The Chief Clerk of the House, indeed the House of Representatives itself, simply has no post-adjournment role with regard to vetoes and no duty to assist the Governor in his attempts to void or otherwise erode the laws duly created by the legislature at the request of the electorate,” Stumbo’s court memo said.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd refused to rule on whether Burgin would have to testify in a lawsuit.

New U of L Trustees Are Also Political Givers Thursday, Jun 30 2016 

The 10 people who Gov. Matt Bevin named to the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday have been successful in business, law and medicine. Most of them share something else in common: They’ve donated to political campaigns in Kentucky in the recent past.

Here’s whose campaigns they supported during the most recent election cycle (except where noted), according to data from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance:

John H. Schnatter of Louisville — founder of Papa John’s 

Of the group, Schnatter donated the largest amount to Republican Bevin’s campaign by far: $50,000 to Bevin’s inauguration fund in 2015 and $2,000 to Bevin’s campaign during last year’s primary and general election. He also gave $1,000 to support Hal Heiner’s bid for the Republican nomination for governor. In 2011, Schnatter donated to Democrat Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign against Republican David Williams.

Sandra Frazier of Louisville — CEO of Tandem Public Relations and a director of Brown-Forman 

Frazier contributed $1,000 each to Republican gubernatorial candidates James Comer and Hal Heiner last year. She gave $2,000 to Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’ re-election campaign for secretary of state and $2,000 to Democrat Andy Beshear’s campaign for attorney general.

Nitin Sahney of Prospect — President and CEO of Omnicare 

No current information. Sahney gave $500 to Mayor Greg Fischer’s mayoral campaign in 2010.

Bonita K. Black of Crestwood — attorney at Steptoe & Johnson 

Black donated $1,000 to Bevin’s campaign for governor.

Douglas Cobb of Prospect — partner at Chrysalis Ventures, founder of Greater Louisville Inc. 

Cobb contributed $1,000 to Bevin’s gubernatorial primary opponent, Republican Hal Heiner.

Ulysses Lee Bridgeman Jr. of Louisville — restaurateur and owner of more than 100 Wendy’s franchises

Bridgeman donated $1,000 to Republican Bevin’s campaign for governor but also contributed $2,000 to Democrat Jack Conway’s campaign and $1,000 to Democrat Andy Beshear’s bid to become attorney general.

Dale J. Boden of Louisville — president of B F Capital 

Boden donated $1,000 to Democrat Jack Conway’s gubernatorial campaign and $1,500 to Democrat Andy Beshear’s campaign for attorney general.

Diane B. Medley of Ekron, Kentucky — partner of Mountjoy Chilton Medley CPA firm 

Medley contributed $1,000 to Bevin’s primary opponent Hal Heiner and $1,500 to Jack Conway’s campaign for governor.

J. David Grissom of Louisville — chairman and co-founder of Mayfair Capital 

No current information but he’s donated to Crit Luallen in the past.

Ronald L. Wright, MD, of Prospect —  OB/GYN at WomanCare 

No info on KREF.

So, Is U of L’s President Ramsey Actually Resigning? Thursday, Jun 30 2016 

Within hours of Gov. Matt Bevin’s June 17 announcement that he would dissolve the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees and that university President James Ramsey would resign, theories began to arise that the embattled head of U of L would not actually leave.

In a letter released by Bevin that day, Ramsey wrote that he would “immediately” submit his resignation to the new board once it had been legally constituted.

On Wednesday afternoon, hours after Bevin announced his picks for the new board, Ramsey finally confirmed when he would submit his resignation: at the first meeting of the new board.

It’s not clear when that meeting might happen. It’s also not clear whether the new board would accept Ramsey’s resignation. And it’s still miles away from clear whether a “legal restructure” — the parlance lifted from Ramsey’s letter to Bevin — of the U of L board has actually occurred.

With uncertainty the only constant at U of L in recent weeks, it looks like Ramsey’s seemingly imminent departure isn’t so imminent after all.

“Our legal challenge is not about who will or will not serve on a board of trustees,” said Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “It is to prevent Gov. Matt Bevin from asserting ‘absolute authority’ to control the board and the university by simply dissolving the board anytime he disagrees with it. Such power would threaten the independence and possibly the accreditation of the university.”

Beshear is currently suing Bevin over his makeovers of the U of L board and that of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which manages pensions for state workers.

Joe Dunman, a Louisville attorney who has followed the case and the issues it has raised, said Bevin seems to be on questionable legal ground.

“I would say that the new board does not appear to be consistent with the statute that governs the composition of the U of L Board of Trustees,” he said in an email Wednesday. “That law requires the governor to appoint 17 members (along with three chosen by the university from the staff, faculty and student body).”

Dunman also points out that state law doesn’t offer a governor any option aside from “cause” to remove individual board members.

“The law does not include any option for the governor to fire everyone at his discretion and then appoint new members and start from scratch,” Dunman said.

Bevin’s administration has argued it has the authority to do just that under a different provision in state law that allows governors to reorganize boards and commissions temporarily while the General Assembly is in recess.

At this point, a court will decide who’s right. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd held the first hearing in the case last week.

Meanwhile, on campus, U of L doesn’t have a budget in place as the new fiscal year looms on Friday, and administrators are expected to rely on a temporary spending plan. And some faculty members are calling Bevin’s actions illegal, saying they threaten the university’s academic reputation.

“Not only do I believe the governor’s actions to be illegal, but the removal of the legally appointed trustees and replacing them with these individuals presents a threat to the university’s accreditation and to academic freedom, of both U of L and all public universities in Kentucky,” said David Owen, chair of the philosophy department.

University of Louisville

For Ramsey, the legal uncertainty will almost certainly prolong his tenure at U of L, where he’s been president for 14 years.

In his letter to Bevin, Ramsey left himself plenty of wiggle room — perhaps to outlast the inevitable legal challenges to Bevin’s restructuring of the board, or maybe to outwit the group of former trustees who’d attempted to force a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

In any event, Dunman said, Ramsey didn’t make any promises to get out immediately.

“So, should the legal process take months or years, conceivably Ramsey’s continued presence would not be contrary to the terms in his letter,” he said.

Ramsey has said he doesn’t expect to be at U of L past next school year. He issued a brief written statement Wednesday in response to Bevin’s announcement of the new board.

“We appreciate Gov. Bevin’s appointment of the new board,” Ramsey said. “I have met with the three interim board members as well as the faculty, student and staff representatives, and I plan to meet with the additional board members soon. I look forward to working with this new board as we move the university forward.”

It was that last line that prompted a new round of speculation Wednesday about whether Ramsey still actually intends to step down — and if so, when.

Bevin’s Medicaid Proposal Criticized At Frankfort Forum Wednesday, Jun 29 2016 

A public hearing on Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal to change the state’s Medicaid system drew mostly backlash from a packed crowd in Frankfort on Wednesday.

Bevin wants to require most Medicaid recipients to pay monthly premiums, eliminate vision and dental coverage from the program and create an incentive system that would allow people to volunteer or get job training in exchange for more benefits.

Harriette Seiler, a Louisville resident, said Bevin’s plan for Kentuckians to put “skin in the game” will “scrape a pound of flesh” from the most vulnerable people.

“The sick and the poor and the unemployed are not naughty children who need to be incentivized or scolded or humiliated by constantly having to prove how poor they are in order to sign up for care,” Seiler said.

Bevin and other state officials have been meeting with representatives from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department in anticipation of applying for an 1115 waiver, which allows states to change their Medicaid programs.

Kentucky is one of 26 states that has a fully-expanded Medicaid program, which makes people up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line eligible for Medicaid. There are six additional states that have expanded Medicaid but have received a waiver as an alternative to the traditional program.

Bevin’s proposal would require most beneficiaries to pay premiums ranging between $1 and $15 per month and lock out those who don’t pay. Recipients would be able to get benefits again once they take a health literacy class and pay back the amount they owe.

Adam Meier, Bevin’s deputy chief of staff, said the program is designed to help people transition to private insurance.

“This whole plan is really to help teach people how to be engaged in their health, in their insurance plan, to teach them how commercial coverage works and the basic elements of those programs,” Meier said.

If Bevin’s waiver goes into effect, state officials predict about 86,000 fewer people will be on Medicaid and the state will save about $331 million over the next five years.

Nancy Galvagni, senior vice president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, applauded the program, saying Kentucky’s current Medicaid system is not sustainable.

“Since most health costs are related to unhealthy lifestyle choices, we really think that in the long-term the only way to really lower the Medicaid program cost is to incentivize individuals to make different choices about their lifestyle and their use of healthcare services,” Galvagni said.

Medicaid covers about 1.3 million Kentuckians, about 30 percent of the state’s population. Since 2014 when the Medicaid expansion took effect, more than 440,000 people have enrolled in the expanded program.

Elizabeth Partin, a nurse practitioner representing the Kentucky Nurses Association, asked state officials to consider putting some form of vision and dental coverage into the waiver proposal.

“I don’t think that one annual eye exam or one annual dental exam is going to break the bank either way,” Partin said. “And it may help to improve people’s health.”

Bevin’s official plan is posted on the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services website. Officials said they intend to submit the waiver to the federal government on Aug. 1, with hopes of getting approval sometime in September and rolling out the program in the spring.

Here Are The Members of U of L’s New Board Of Trustees Wednesday, Jun 29 2016 

Less than two weeks after he announced he would dissolve and reconstitute the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees, Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday received nominees for the positions. And on Wednesday, his announced his choices.

The governor’s Postsecondary Education Nominating Committee offered 30 candidates to fill 10 positions. The governor’s office did not release the names to the public, although WFPL has sought the list through an open records request.

On Wednesday, the governor’s office released the names of his 10 appointees to the board. They are characterized by people at the highest levels of business and entrepreneurship in and around Louisville.

Here they are:

  • J. David Grissom of Louisville — chairman and co-founder of Mayfair Capital (term expires June 29, 2022)
  • John H. Schnatter of Louisville — founder of Papa John’s (term expires June 29, 2021)
  • Sandra Frazier of Louisville — CEO of Tandem Public Relations and a director of Brown-Forman (term expires June 29, 2020)
  • Nitin Sahney of Prospect — President and CEO of Omnicare (term expires June 29, 2020)
  • Bonita K. Black of Crestwood — attorney at Steptoe & Johnson (term expires June 29, 2019)
  • Douglas Cobb of Prospect — partner at Chrysalis Ventures, founder of Greater Louisville Inc. (term expires June 29, 2019)
  • Ulysses Lee Bridgeman Jr. of Louisville — restaurateur and owner of more than 100 Wendy’s franchises (term expires June 29, 2018).
  • Ronald L. Wright, MD, of Prospect —  OB/GYN at Woman Care (term expires June 29, 2018)
  • Dale J. Boden of Louisville — president of BF Capital (term expires June 29, 2017)
  • Diane B. Medley of Ekron, Kentucky — partner of Mountjoy Chilton Medley CPA firm (term expires June 29, 2017)

Three of the 10 appointees are African-American, according to the governor’s office. In January, Bevin withdrew a motion from former Gov. Steve Beshear that would have dismissed a lawsuit accusing Beshear of breaking state law when he did not appoint a single African-American to the board last year. Beshear passed over three black candidates for the U of L board last year, leaving it without a governor-appointed African-American member for the first time in 45 years.

“Today marks the dawning of a new day for the University of Louisville,” Bevin said in a statement. “With gratitude for those who have served in the past, we now look eagerly to the future. These newly appointed board members embody the professional experience, leadership skills and core values needed to more efficiently and effectively oversee, govern and manage the affairs of the university.”

Bevin announced on June 17 he was abolishing the university’s board and replacing all 17 of its appointed members with a new 10-person board, saying protracted battles between a group of trustees and U of L President James Ramsey had rendered the board ineffective. Bevin also announced that day that Ramsey had agreed to submit his resignation to the new board.

“We appreciate Gov. Bevin’s appointment of the new board,” Ramsey said in a written statement Wednesday. “I have met with the three interim board members as well as the faculty, student and staff representatives and I plan to meet with the additional board members soon. I look forward to working with this new board as we move the university forward.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear filed suit against Bevin last week, saying the governor overstepped his authority in dissolving the U of L board and that of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which manages pensions for state workers. Beshear said Bevin had made the moves not to increase efficiency but to “assert control.”

“Our legal challenge is not about who will or will not serve on a board of trustees,” Beshear said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon. “It is to prevent Gov. Matt Bevin from asserting ‘absolute authority’ to control the board and the university by simply dissolving the board anytime he disagrees with it. Such power would threaten the independence and possibly the accreditation of the university.”

Kentucky law allows a governor to remove members of state-appointed boards for cause. Bevin’s administration has argued it also has the authority to reorganize boards and commissions via executive order while the General Assembly is out of session.

Steve Pitt, general counsel for the Bevin administration, told Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shephard at a hearing last week that legislators could return to Frankfort and simply vote down the orders to assert their control over the process. He also declined to hear a motion from Beshear to temporarily block Bevin’s reorganization of the U of L board as the legal process plays out.

The finance committee of the U of L Board of Trustees failed to approve a budget before Bevin’s action. That budget is likely to include a tuition increase and may include other cuts to university operations.

This story has been updated. 

As Bevin Changes Medicaid In Kentucky, A Mixed Response Wednesday, Jun 29 2016 

If Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal to change the state’s Medicaid system is approved, about 86,000 fewer people will be enrolled in the program by July 2021, according to his administration. That will save the state money, as he’s said, but it’s also raising concerns about lost coverage.

The plan would require most beneficiaries to pay premiums ranging between $1 and $15 per month and lock out those who don’t pay. Recipients would be able to get benefits again once they take a health literacy class and pay back the amount they owe.

During an interview on WLSK in Lebanon Tuesday morning, Bevin said the proposed program would give recipients “dignity.”

“There’s no dignity involved in being a ward of the state, in being completely dependent on the government and on your fellow neighbors, and have no expectation of you or any opportunity to give back,” Bevin said. “I think this is a win-win.”

The new program would provide incentives for Medicaid recipients to volunteer, participate in smoking cessation programs or participate in job search and training by adding credit to an account that allows them to purchase more benefits.

“It encourages them to be a part of the fabric of their communities,” Bevin said. “That’s healthy, frankly. That engagement is one of the things that leads to better and healthier outcomes.”

Bevin’s waiver proposal estimates the plan would save the state $300 million between the 2017 and 2021 fiscal years. Over the same period, the administration has said there would be 214,000 fewer “member months” — or a month in which someone is signed up for Medicaid — covered in the 2017 fiscal year, increasing to some 1 million fewer “member months” in 2021.

As the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy pointed out, dividing the “member months” numbers by 12 yields the estimated number of recipients enrolled in Medicaid each year: 17,833 fewer people in 2017 and 85,917 fewer in 2021.

Judith Solomon, vice president for policy at the liberal-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said that even the small premiums in Bevin’s proposal would push people off the Medicaid rolls.

“When you do the math of who we’re talking about, and when you just have a month-to-month income, it leads to a lot of challenges,” Solomon said.

After individuals have been on Medicaid for two years, Bevin’s plan would gradually increase the cost of coverage for those who have incomes greater than 100 percent of the federal poverty line. The plan says the cost-sharing “discourages Medicaid dependency by preparing individuals for the costs associated with commercial or marketplace coverage” via an insurance exchange.

Solomon said the plan does nothing to help individuals find employment or jobs with higher wages.

“I don’t think there’s anything in this waiver that makes me think that the reason you’re covering fewer people is because they magically obtained coverage in the employer market or somewhere else,” she said.

Bevin Finds Support 

Bevin campaigned on scaling back the state’s expanded Medicaid program, which made eligible people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. The initiative, which was implemented by an executive order from former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, has added more than 400,000 people to the state’s Medicaid rolls.

Bevin’s plan to scale back the number of people using the program and tinker with the benefits has drawn praise from hospital administrators and Republican leaders in the state.

Russell Cox, president of Norton Healthcare in Louisville, said the company was encouraged by Bevin’s plan to seek the waiver.

“Through this process, Medicaid expansion in Kentucky should be preserved and strengthened while improving patient care and being good stewards of the commonwealth’s resources,” Cox said.

The Kentucky Hospital Association has also been supportive of Bevin’s plan.

Left unchanged, expanded Medicaid is expected to cost Kentucky taxpayers an extra $1.2 billion for fiscal years 2017 through 2021.

Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a Republican from Winchester, said requiring “personal responsibility” from Medicaid recipients was the only way to continue the Medicaid expansion.

“The plan gives Medicaid enrollees the incentives, dignity and confidence to transition from dependence to independence,” Alvarado said. “This proposal appears to be a more commonsense approach that I believe will make our Medicaid system more affordable and, consequently, sustainable for the future.”

Bevin’s administration has instituted a 30-day comment period on the official plan, which is posted on the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services website. Officials said they intend to submit the waiver to the federal government on Aug. 1, with hopes of getting approval sometime in September.

There are several possible points of contention between Bevin’s proposed Medicaid overhaul and what the federal government has allowed states to do in the past. Previous proposals to require people to work in order to be eligible for Medicaid have failed, and states aren’t allowed to impose premiums if they prevent low-income people from accessing coverage, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

SCOTUS Ruling Opens Door For Challenges To State Abortion Laws Tuesday, Jun 28 2016 

Kentucky’s restrictions on women seeking abortions and providers could be challenged now that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion law for putting an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to the procedure.

State law requires women to have “informed consent” meetings with a doctor 24 hours before the procedure and also requires abortion clinics to have a “transfer agreement” with an ambulance service to take patients to a hospital in case of a medical emergency.

Elizabeth Nash, an associate with the abortion rights group Guttmacher Institute, said the ruling opens the door for people to challenge abortion laws if they limit access.

“When there is evidence that shows the harms to women in accessing services, either because the restriction makes it more difficult to access abortion or because the clinic shuts down, then those burdens can be weighed against any sort of potential benefit the law may have,” she said.

The state legislature recently passed a law that revamped Kentucky’s “informed consent” policy — women are now required to have an in-person or video conference meeting with a doctor 24 hours prior to the procedure. Previously abortion-seekers could have the meeting over the phone.

Nash said that Kentucky’s informed consent policy is unique because of the video conference requirement, but said the state would still have trouble proving that the policy improved women’s health in a measurable way.

“You balance the harms to all of these women versus an absence of data on the other side,” Nash said.

Kentucky has three abortion clinics — two in Louisville and one in Lexington — though only one clinic currently offers the procedure.

The two others are wrapped up in lawsuits brought on by Gov. Matt Bevin, who is suing the organizations for allegedly performing abortions without a license.

In its lawsuit against Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, the Bevin administration said that the organization had an outdated transfer agreement in place.

Nicole Huberfeld, a law professor at the University of Kentucky, said that Monday’s ruling won’t directly affect the lawsuit, but in the future, transfer agreements might be challenged as what she called “TRAP” laws –Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers.

“I see this law as being a slightly looser standard, but it still fits under the umbrella of TRAP laws and so I think it’s safe to say that TRAP laws are on the chopping block now,” Huberfeld said.

Lawmakers proposed several abortion restrictions during this year’s General Assembly. One bill would have required abortion-seekers to view or hear a description of a sonogram image of the fetus. Another modeled after the now-defunct Texas law would have required abortion providers to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center.

Huberfeld said despite the ruling, lawmakers will continue to propose abortion laws — though they’ll be different in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

“We’ll just see newer, different, more creative forms of trying to restrict access to abortion,” Huberfeld said.

Obama Cautions Against ‘Hysteria’ Over ‘Brexit’ Vote Tuesday, Jun 28 2016 

President Obama is warning against financial and international “hysteria” in the wake of last week’s vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

“I think that the best way to think about this is, a pause button has been pressed on the project of full European integration,” Obama said of the so-called “Brexit” decision in a wide-ranging interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.

“I would not overstate it,” the president continued. “There’s been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow NATO’s gone, the trans-Atlantic alliance is dissolving, and every country is rushing off to its own corner. That’s not what’s happening.”

After the vote last week by one of the U.S.’s most important allies, Obama said he respected the country’s decision, which he said “speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges that are raised by globalization.”

Obama, like many world leaders, had opposed such a move. Following the surprising decision by Britain, stocks fell domestically and internationally.

While the president had remained restrained in his immediate response to the Brexit, Vice President Joe Biden was more blunt. Speaking in Ireland on Friday, Biden warned against the “reactionary politicians and demagogues peddling xenophobia, nationalism, and isolationist.”

Many have drawn comparisons to the U.K.’s decision in the wake of concerns about terrorism and immigration to the same sentiment fueling the rise of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in the United States as well.

But speaking to NPR’s Inskeep, Obama said that the vote was largely a reaction to a rapidly growing EU “that was probably moving faster and without as much consensus as it should have.”

“I think this will be a moment when all of Europe says, ‘Let’s take a breath and let’s figure out how do we maintain some of our national identities, how do we preserve the benefits of integration and how do we deal with some of the frustrations that our own voters are feeling,’ ” the president predicted.

Ultimately, Obama said he didn’t “anticipate that there is going to be major cataclysmic changes as a consequence of this.”

“Keep in mind that Norway is not a member of the European Union, but Norway is one of our closest allies,” Obama added. “They align themselves on almost every issue with Europe and us. They are a place that is continually supporting the kinds of initiatives internationally that we support, and, if over the course of what is going to be at least a two year negotiation between England and Europe, Great Britain ends up being affiliated to Europe like Norway is, the average person is not going to notice a big change.”

Even if the Brexit decision was fueled by populist anger, Obama argued that supporting Trump was not the way to register such frustration.

“Mr. Trump embodies global elites and has taken full advantage of it his entire life,” the president said. “So, he’s hardly a spokesperson — a legitimate spokesperson for a populist surge of working class people on either side of the Atlantic.”

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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