Zachary Piaker  //  4/4/19  //  Daily Update


Members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team believe that their investigation conclusions were more troubling for President Trump than Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary letter to Congress made them appear. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee formally requested that the IRS turn over six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns. Jared Kushner has been identified as the senior White House official whose security clearance was denied last year because of concerns over foreign influence. Senate Republicans employed the “nuclear option” to change Senate rules in order to speed up confirmation times of executive branch and district court judge nominees. When the Supreme Court hears arguments concerning the Trump Administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the Census, it will not consider a crucial element of the case—whether the decision was motivated by racial animus, and therefore violated equal protection.

 

TRUMP: INVESTIGATIONS AND LITIGATION

Members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team believe that their investigation conclusions were more troubling for President Trump than Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary letter to Congress made them appear, report Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt, and Mark Mazzetti in the New York Times

The House Judiciary Committee voted to authorize subpoenas of the Justice Department to obtain Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report, Rachel Bade writes in the Washington Post.

  • President Trump may still try to block release of the report by asserting executive privilege, writes Timothy L. O’Brien in Bloomberg.
  • Tierney Sneed examines whether congressional Democrats can convince a judge to allow the release of grand jury materials related to the investigation in Talking Points Memo.

The House Intelligence Committee has sought documents from and an interview with a top contractor for the Trump Inaugural Committee (NYT, WSJ). 

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee formally requested that the IRS turn over six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns, Nicholas Fandos reports in the New York Times.

  • Read the chairman’s letter here.

President Trump’s accounting firm indicated it would turn over ten years worth of records related to Trump in response to a congressional subpoena, writes Rachel Bade in the Washington Post.

With the Special Counsel investigation concluding that it was unable to establish that members of the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government, it is worth revisiting the circumstances around the renewed FISA warrants of Carter Page, Julian Sanchez argues in Just Security.

 

DEMOCRACY

The country should consider constitutional amendments, including abolishing the Electoral College, E.J. Dionne argues in the Washington Post.

When the Supreme Court hears arguments concerning the Trump Administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the Census, it will not consider a crucial element of the case—whether the decision was motivated by racial animus, and therefore violated equal protection, argues Erin Hustings in SCOTUSBlog.

 

JUSTICE & SAFETY

Questions have been raised over the security of the Mar-a-Lago Club, which President Trump frequently travels to, after a Chinese woman holding a thumb drive with malware was arrested there, David A. Farenthold, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Ellen Nakashima write in the Washington Post.

Jared Kushner has been identified as the senior White House official whose security clearance was denied last year because of concerns over foreign influence, report Tom Hamburger, Rachel Bade, and Ashley Parker in the Washington Post. 

The American public is entitled to a transparent accounting of civilian harm from U.S. military and counterterrorism operations, Daniel R. Mahanty and Alex Moorehead argue in Just Security.

 

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

The Senate is moving ahead to confirm Barry Myers as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration despite severe conflicts of interest, Walter M. Shaub, Jr. and Gabe Lerza write in the Washington Post.

The Interior Department Inspector General is investigating whether Acting Secretary David Bernhardt violated his ethics pledge, reports Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post.

The FEC has been operating for months without an inspector general, reports Dave Levinthal with the Center for Public Integrity.

The EPA publicly released a list of gifts received by Scott Pruitt while he was EPA Administrator in response to a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, writes Nikhel Sus in CREW Blog.

  • Read the list of gifts here.

 

REGULATION

A coalition of states sued the Agriculture Department over its rollback of Obama-era nutritional standards for school lunches, report Erica L. Green and Sean Piccoli in the New York Times.

  • Read the complaint here.

 

CHECKS & BALANCES

Senate Republicans employed the “nuclear option” to change Senate rules in order to speed up confirmation times of executive branch and district court judge nominees, writes Glenn Thrush in the New York Times.

  • The move is another step towards making the Senate as partisan an institution as the House, Jonathan Bernstein argues in Bloomberg.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross refused to testify about his department’s budget request before a House Appropriations subcommittee (Reuters).

 

REMOVAL FROM OFFICE

The experience of Watergate contains several lessons as Congress considers moving down the road towards impeachment, writes Stephen Bates in Lawfare.

 

RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE

The Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference is best understood as a story of international white-collar crime, argues David Klion in Mother Jones.

Senators introduced bipartisan legislation to deter Russian election interference by threatening strong sanctions, Patricia Zengerle writes in Reuters.

 


Daily Update | May 23, 2019

5/23/19  //  Daily Update

President Trump cut a meeting with the Democratic leadership short, as a growing Democratic chorus calls for his impeachment. The federal judiciary continues to rule against the President’s attempts to shield his affairs from public scrutiny. His former and now-imprisoned personal counsel Michael Cohen remains under investigation. Momentum builds behind an effort to abolish the Electoral College by interstate compact.

Adam Smith

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | May 21, 2019

5/21/19  //  Daily Update

The White House instructed former counsel Donald McGahn to ignore a subpoena from House Democrats to testify on Tuesday morning, citing an OLC opinion. A federal judge in DC upheld a subpoena from House Democrats to accounting firm Mazars for President Trump’s financial records. ICE is detaining more than 52,000 immigrants in jails around the country, an apparent all-time record. Assisted reproductive technology may disrupt traditional ideas about maternity on which abortion law and discourse rests. President Trump said he currently sees no threatening actions from Iran, but that the U.S. “will have no choice” but to respond if that changes. The president’s stated preference for acting cabinet secretaries is bad governance and bad for national security. The EPA plans to change how it calculates the health risks of air pollution, resulting in fewer projected deaths from the rollback of the Clean Power Plan.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | May 20, 2019

5/20/19  //  Daily Update

The federal government’s ban on spending federal funds on abortions means that Medicaid recipients cannot access abortion, creating a burden on women of color and women living in poverty. A new rule proposed by the Trump administration would prohibit families from obtaining subsidized housing if any family member is undocumented. The Fourth Circuit found that the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious – and therefore unlawful – because it was not adequately explained and the administration did not address the impact of this decision on DACA-recipients’ reliance interests. The White House has released a new tool to solicit information from people who believe that their social media posts have been censored by politically biased social media companies.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School