Jacob Miller  //  2/21/19  //  Daily Update


Justice Department officials believe that Robert Mueller will potentially finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by next week. President Trump announced that the United States would not re-admit Hoda Muthana, a student who traveled to Syria to try to join the Islamic State, but has apologized and wishes to return to the United States. The Supreme Court on ruled 9-0 that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment in Timbs v. Indiana. The Environmental Protection Agency has begun to lay out a new plan to change Obama-era rules and make regulation of mercury and air toxins substantially more difficult. Members of Congress have grown concerned that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats may soon be removed from his position by President Trump.

  

TRUMP: INVESTIGATIONS & LITIGATION

Michael Cohen will testify before the House Oversight Committee on February 27, 2019 (Politico, WSJ, WaPo).

Congress should question Michael Cohen even as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, but Congress should tread very carefully and take proper safeguards when doing so, writes Elise Bean for Just Security.

Justice Department norms of independence, as well as former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker himself, should be praised for encouraging non-interference with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, especially in light of comments encouraging intervention from President Trump, writes Jack Goldsmith for Lawfare.

Justice Department officials believe that Robert Mueller will potentially finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by next week (WaPo, LATimes)

 

IMMIGRATION

Protect Democracy announced it filed a lawsuit on behalf of the County of El Paso, Texas and the Border Network for Human Rights against President Trump’s use of emergency powers with a legal team that includes former Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson and Professor Laurence Tribe.

American Civil Liberties Union Director Anthony Romero announced that the organization will bring suit against President Trump claiming illegal use of emergency powers to build some of a border wall (USA Today).

The legal challenges to President Trump’s attempted use of emergency power to build some of a border wall may lead to Courts stopping the action on Constitutional or “merely” legal grounds, and although either rationale would halt the action, each may have different political implications, writes Michael C. Dorf for Dorf on Law.

President Trump announced that the United States would not re-admit Hoda Muthana, a student who traveled to Syria to try to join the Islamic State, but has apologized and wishes to return to the United States (NYT).

Hoda Muthana has a right to return to the United States if she is in fact a United States citizen, argues Steve Vladeck for Just Security.

 

CIVIL RIGHTS 

The Supreme Court on ruled 9-0 that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment in Timbs v. Indiana (NYT, WaPo, LATimes, WSJ).

  • Read the opinion here

The Supreme Court’s decision in Timbs left open the question of what “excessive” means in the civil forfeiture context, which will be critical to the case’s ultimate impact, writes Ilya Somin for The Volokh Conspiracy.

 

DEMOCRACY

Senate Republicans are preparing to use the “nuclear option” to reduce debate times on executive branch and judicial nominees substantially (NYT).

 

JUSTICE & SAFETY

President Trump’s attempts to negotiate new trade deals with China have largely been unproductive in addressing key structural issues, in spite of the Trump administration’s rhetoric, write Rachel Brown and Preston Lim for Lawfare.

 

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Current Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator Bill Wehrum’s former lobbying firm received millions of dollars from coal companies to lobby against the Obama Administration’s air regulations (Politico).

 

REGULATION

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said publicly that the FCC’s annual broadband assessment shows access has improved throughout the United States due to policies implemented during his time with the Trump administration (Ars Technica).

The Environmental Protection Agency has begun to lay out a new plan to change Obama-era rules and make regulation of mercury and air toxins substantially more difficult, argues Michael Lemov for The Hill.

The Trump administration’s talks with California lawmakers over fuel-economy standards have broken down and failed to produce important compromises (LATimes).

 

RULE OF LAW 

Members of Congress have grown concerned that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats may soon be removed from his position by President Trump (WaPo).

 


Daily Update | March 21, 2019

3/21/19  //  Daily Update

Until a recent D.C. Circuit decision becomes final, District Judge Kollar-Kotelly says her injunction barring the Administration from introducing limits on the service of transgender individuals in the military remains in place. Eighteen states have considered legislation this year that would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to post their tax returns in order to appear on a ballot. Senator Marco Rubio plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to limit the number of Supreme Court justices to nine. Analysis continues of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow ICE to detain migrants with criminal records long after their release from custody. Despite a variety of inquiries from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the White House has refused to hand over any requested documents or produce any witnesses.

Hetali Lodaya

Michigan Law School

Daily Update | March 20, 2019

3/20/19  //  Daily Update

White House lawyers want an opportunity to claim executive privilege and review Robert Mueller's report before it reaches lawmakers and the public. Search warrants obtained in the New York case against President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen were unsealed. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard argument in an anti-corruption case against President Trump regarding his violations of the Constitution's emoluments clauses. The Supreme Court’s latest opinion adds to a string of decisions with sweeping views of ICE’s power to confine migrants. Federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration 63 times over the past two years.

Abigail DeHart

Michigan Law School

Daily Update | March 19, 2019

3/19/19  //  Daily Update

If the federal appeals court allows the Emoluments Clauses challenge against President Trump to move forward, he may be forced to disclose financial information related to his businesses. In addition to reviewing the statutory issues concerning the 2020 census citizenship question, the Supreme Court will also review the constitutional issue. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declared that the United States is not prepared to handle foreign cyber attacks but is taking steps to identify and combat these threats. The Department of Defense produced a fact sheet listing all military projects from which funding could potentially be diverted to build the southern border wall. Democratic congressional leaders requested the FBI open an investigation into Chinese American executive, Li Yang, for misusing her personal ties to President Trump.

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School