Jacob Miller, Ian Eppler  //  2/13/18  //  Daily Update


President Trump released his budget proposal, which includes a substantial increase in military spending and additional infrastructure funding but cuts other domestic programs such as Medicare. The Human Rights Campaign released a statement calling the Trump administration’s proposed budget ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ for its cuts to programs critical to the safety of LGBTQ people. Attorney General Jeff Sessions deviated from prepared remarks to the National Sheriffs Association to emphasize the ‘Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.’ Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand left her job due to frustration at the slow pace of nominations for Department of Justice positions and concern that she would be expected to supervise the Mueller investigation if President Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

 

IMMIGRATION

The Senate voted 97-1 to begin a week of open debate around potential immigration legislation with the deadline for replacing DACA less than a month away (NYTimes, WaPo, LATimes, Politico).

Failing to pass legislation replacing DACA would horribly hurt 700,000 people for essentially no reason, argues Donald E. Graham in the Washington Post.

 

CIVIL RIGHTS

The Human Rights Campaign released a statement calling the Trump administration’s proposed budget ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ for its cuts to programs critical to the safety of LGBTQ people.

  • Read the statement here.

The Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services worked with the conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom in drafting its Planned Parenthood policy (Politico).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions deviated from prepared remarks to the National Sheriffs Association to emphasize the ‘Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement’ (CNN).

 

DEMOCRACY

Republican advantages for Congressional races are decreasing with reversals of gerrymandering and incumbents retiring, writes Nate Cohn for the New York Times.

 

JUSTICE & SAFETY

President Trump’s proposed budget would raise defense spending to $716 billion for 2019, a 13 percent increase (WaPo, LATimes).

The Trump administration faces new questions over its vetting for security clearance amid Rob Porter being accused of domestic abuse (Politico, NYTimes).

President Trump rarely condemns flagrant human rights abuses overseas, except as a political strategy to gain support for oppressive policies, argues Princeton professor Gary Bass for the New York Times.

  

REGULATION

President Trump released his budget proposal, which includes a substantial increase in military spending and additional infrastructure funding but cuts other domestic programs such as Medicare and substantially increases the deficit (NYTimes, Politico, WaPo, WSJ)

  • The budget proposal would slash food stamps, housing assistance, and other programs for low-income Americans (WaPo).
  • Much of the burden of new development would be placed on local governments under the infrastructure proposal (WSJ).
  • The infrastructure proposal would underfund transit projects in blue states (Politico).
  • The budget proposal would terminate the student loan forgiveness program (CNBC).
  • Economists expressed skepticism of the infrastructure proposal (Politico).
  • The infrastructure proposal inappropriately focuses on new construction rather than repairing existing elements, argues Randal O’Toole at Cato@Liberty.
  • There would be a 23% cut to the EPA’s budget (WaPo).
  • Environmental impact reviews would be accelerated under the infrastructure proposal (The Hill).
  • The infrastructure proposal would sell off several publicly owned assets, including Washington’s Reagan National and Dulles Airports (Politico, WaPo).
  • The budget proposal reduces Department of Education funding and creates funding for school voucher programs (Cato@Liberty).

President Trump’s nominee to oversee the 2020 census withdrew from consideration (The Hill).

Unlike past Environmental Protection Agency administrators, Scott Pruitt has traveled extensively in first class, claiming alleged security needs (WaPo).

 

RULE OF LAW

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand left her job due to frustration at the slow pace of nominations for Department of Justice positions and concern that she would be expected to supervise the Mueller investigation if President Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (NBC).

  • Brand’s departure indicates that President Trump may be succeeding in his efforts to politicize the Department of Justice, argues Julian Sanchez at Just Security.

The contempt for judicial decisionmaking shown by the Trump administration and other Republican figures threatens the rule of law, writes Garrett Epps in the Atlantic.

  • But the judicial response to President Trump may threaten the role of the judiciary, contends Josh Blackman at Lawfare.

 

RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE 

The Trump administration will agree to the release of a memo prepared by Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee that rebuts claims in the “Nunes memo” once proper redactions are made, claimed President Trump’s legislative affairs director (Politico).

Even if President Trump invokes his Fifth Amendment rights, the Special Counsel could grant him immunity and compel him to testify, notes Alex Whiting at Just Security.

President Trump’s budget proposal anticipates that the Special Counsel investigation will continue into 2019 (Politico).

Recently released emails reveal that the Obama administration was concerned about sharing information regarding Russia with the incoming Trump administration (Politico).

The Department of Homeland Security disputed reports that Russian hackers had accessed voter rolls prior to the 2016 election (The Hill).

The debate over the Nunes memo and the Democratic response indicate the need for the House and Senate to revise their rules to allow for disclosure of information without presidential approval to avoid breaching the separation of powers, argues Patrick Eddington at Cato@Liberty.

 

And that's our update today! Thanks for reading. We cover a lot of ground, so our updates are inevitably a partial selection of relevant legal commentary.  

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Daily Update | August 14, 2018

8/14/18  //  Daily Update

The District of Columbia rejects Russian company’s bid to dismiss charges brought by Robert Mueller. Omarosa Manigault Newman, former aide to President Trump, releases a recording of her firing made in the White House Situation Room. President Trump appears to admit that White House aids sign nondisclosure agreements. FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who criticized President Trump in texts, is fired. Rudy Giuliani says President Trump’s lawyers are prepared to counter Robert Mueller. The prosecution called its final witness in Paul Manafort’s trial. A rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, is greatly outnumbered by counter-protesters.

Roshaan Wasim

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | August 13, 2018

8/13/18  //  Daily Update

Testimony in Paul Manafort’s trial asserted that the CEO of Federal Savings Bank, which lent Manafort $16 million, wanted Manafort to get him a Cabinet-level position. A federal judge threatened to hold DOJ officials -- even Jeff Sessions -- when a mother and child were deported in the middle of their suit against the DOJ. GEO Group, a private prison that contracts to provide immigration detention centers, has threatened to sue protesters for defamation and tortious interference. The torture of a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist, including waterboarding, is described in detail in cables that CIA Director Gina Haspel sent to agency headquarters in late 2002. Hacking competitions show that manipulating the U.S. elections systems is easy -- even within the capability of budding adolescent hackers. Financial trails suggest that Peter Smith, a Republican operative, may have paid Russian hackers in his quest to obtain Hillary Clinton’s missing e-mails.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | August 10, 2018

8/10/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump’s legal team have made a counteroffer to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s proposed terms for an interview between Mr. Mueller and President Trump. The proposed terms would allow questioning on Russian collusion, but would limit inquiries regarding obstruction of justice. The National Association of Immigration Judges filed a labor grievance on Wednesday, accusing the Department of Justice of undermining their autonomy by reassigning cases in order to maximize deportations. The Senate Judiciary Committee released the first set of documents from Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House. Foreign lobbyists and their agents have spent over $530 million influencing US policy and public opinion since January, 2017.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School