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 | October 19, 2018

10/19/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump finally stated that he believed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was dead. Emmet T. Flood has been named White House Counsel on a temporary basis. President Trump threatened closure of the Southern border if Mexico did not stop the ‘caravan’ of migrants headed from Guatemala to the United States. DHS is considering withdrawing from the Flores Agreement, a 21-year-old court-supervised settlement agreement that provides strict conditions for the detention of immigrant children. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board finally released a report that shows a gaping hole in privacy protections from U.S. surveillance. The Heritage Foundation’s training program for judicial clerks raised ethical questions and concerns regarding the duties of the clerks to the judges they will serve. The Inspector General concluded that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke violated the Department’s policy on travel.

Hanna St. Marie

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 18, 2018

10/18/18  //  Daily Update

White House Counsel Donald McGahn resigned his post. The number of migrant families crossing the border reached record levels in the last three months, leading President Trump to call for a reinstatement of the family separation policy. The U.S. received $100 million in Syrian stabilization support from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, raising questions about the timing of the transfer in light of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Trump administration plans to withdraw from the 144-year-old Universal Postal Union Treaty, which allows Chinese companies to ship small packages to the U.S. at a heavily discounted rate. The White House revealed its Unified Agenda, proposing additional deregulation and predicting a decrease between $120 and $340 billion in regulatory costs by the end of fiscal year 2019. A senior Treasury Department employee was charged with leaking confidential financial reports, some of which related to the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School

Daily Update | October 17, 2018

10/17/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump administration has falsely and dangerously connected immigration to terrorism in promoting policies. President Trump threatened to cut aid to Honduras unless a group of migrants fleeing violence are stopped and returned to the country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was sent to Saudi Arabia to speak with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid ongoing concerns over the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Rejecting an industry challenge, a D.C. Circuit Court judge allowed an Obama-era student loan protection for graduates of for-profit colleges to go into effect. DHS’s intelligence assessment reported that the volume of attempted cyber-attacks on election systems in 2018 has been growing, but some argue this may reflect improved reporting and sharing between governments, rather than an “uptick in activity.” President Trump criticized Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, for raising interest rates too fast, referring to the bank as his “biggest threat.”

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School