Eve Levin,  //  6/19/17  //  Daily Update

President Trump announced a new policy toward Cuba Friday that leaves in place many Obama-era changes but prohibits any commercial dealings with the Cuban military, and somewhat limits the freedom of U.S. citizens to travel to the island. The President appeared to publicly acknowledge he is under investigation in a Friday Twitter rant directed against Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Meanwhile, rumors have surfaced that President Trump may attempt to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. 



President Trump will not immediately halt the “Dreamers” program, also known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), contrary to his campaign promises (NYTimes).

  • However, the U.S. government will deport immigrant parents of American citizens and lawful permanent residents who were protected under President Obama’s DAPA plan (Lyle Denniston Law News).
  • Josh Blackman comments that as a result of the cancellation of DAPA, U.S. v. Texas should come to an end.

Evangelicals are urging President Trump to reconsider policies that have led to arrests of Christian Iraqi immigrants (WaPo).

  • The ACLU has filed suit to stop the deportation of 114 Iraqi nationals (Religion Clause).
  • The ACLU complaint can be found here and the ACLU press release here.

Sanctuary cities can protect undocumented immigrants from data mining by DHS Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, writes Ali Winter (The Intercept).

At Take Care, Corey Brettschneider comments on President Trump’s petition for the Supreme Court to lift the orders preventing implementation of the travel ban.

  • Courts’ lack of deference to President Trump’s immigration-related executive orders is not unprecedented, argues  Deborah Perlstein (Balkinization).
  • Take Care provides a guide to its analyses of the travel ban.



President Trump announced a new policy toward Cuba Friday that leaves in place many Obama-era changes but prohibits any commercial dealings with the Cuban military, and somewhat limits the freedom of U.S. citizens to travel to the island (NYTWaPo).

  • The relevant White House memo can be found here.
  • Nick Miroff writes that the change in policy will hurt Cuba’s emerging private sector (WaPo).
  • Sen. Leahy writes for The Hill that rolling back interaction with Cuba leaves a vacuum for Russia to fill.
  • Felicia Schwartz notes that President Trump’s emphasis on the importance of human rights in Cuba is distinctively different from messaging to other countries (WSJ).



The Trump administration is rolling back civil rights enforcement at the Department of Justice, report Jessica Huseman and Anni Waldman (ABA Journal).



President Trump plans to unveil an “America First” plan that will curb steel imports in the name of national security, going against the past 70 years of American trade policy (WSJ).



Professor Seth Barrett Tillman filed an amicus brief in support of the government in the CREW Emoluments Clause suit on Friday.

  • The brief is here.
  • Josh Blackman, who prepared the brief, summarizes it at his blog.

Trump Administration officials in the DOJ and FTC may face conflicts of interest in overseeing the massive Whole Foods-Amazon merger, writes Lee Fang at the Intercept.



FOIA disclosures this week revealed that EPA head Scott Pruitt met with several fossil fuel and energy executives in his first weeks in office (The Hill).

  • At Politico, Alex Guillen explains the “radical idea” behind Pruitt’s vision for the EPA.

Agencies have turned their focus to repealing rather than promulgating regulations under the Trump Administration, observes Lydia Wheeler at The Hill.

The Treasury’s first report on reforming regulations under Dodd-Frank means “we can start counting down to the next crisis now,” writes the New York Times Editorial Board.

Combatting hunger and poverty domestically and abroad is how President Trump can put “America first,” opines Quardricos Bernard Driskell at The Hill.

HHS Secretary Tom Price’s “listening session” this week included several doctors with histories of anti-choice advocacy, note Ally Boguhn and Christine Grimaldi at Rewire.

Four congressional Democrats are urging the Government Accountability Office to investigate HHS for pushing anti-Obamacare “propaganda.” (Rewire).

  • Their letter is here.

Here’s a guide to writing a good comment in support of net neutrality, courtesy of former FCC official Gigi Sohn (Ars Technica).

The President’s opioid crisis taskforce is unlikely to recognize one proven way to reduce opioid addiction: increased access to medical marijuana, argues Paul Armentano at The Hill.

The Army Corps of Engineers must partially reconsider the environmental impact of the Dakota Access pipeline, a D.C. district court held this week (Religion Clause).

  • The 91-page opinion is here.

The Department of Education announced it would postpone the effective date of the Obama-era “borrower defense” final rule “until further notice” (Consumer Finance Monitor).

The Treasury Department recommended changes to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) this week, outlined by Barbara Mishkin at Consumer Finance Monitor.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray responded in a letter to House criticism charging that the CFPB had not adequately policed Wells Fargo (Consumer Law & Policy Blog).

  • The letter is here.

The DOJ will not defend the position of the National Labor Relations Board before the Supreme Court in NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA, reversing its prior position (Reuters).

  • Here is the Administration’s amicus brief.

The Trump Administration already has the legal tools it needs to crack down on agency misspending, writes the Project on Government Oversight.



The Center for Public Integrity is suing the Federal Election Commission, challenging its refusal to release emails between agency officials and the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Here is the complaint.



At Lawfare, John Bies provides this primer on executive privilege and congressional oversight.

An Office of Legal Counsel opinion limiting congressional oversight of the Executive Branch is a “troubling new twist” to a longstanding policy, writes the Project on Government Oversight.

“Polemicists and bomb-throwers, performance artist lawyers who have spent their intellectual lives staking out absurd and often abhorrent legal positions”: Dahlia Litwick considers the President’s judicial nominees at Slate.

  • George Zornick at The Nation agrees, in this piece titled: “Trump Is Appointing Racist Fake-News Purveyors to the Federal Bench.”

Here are four questions Senator Ron Wyden should ask Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats about incidental collection under Section 702, courtesy of Anne Boustead at Lawfare.

  • Senator Wyden criticized Director Coats for failing to respond to his questions at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s June 7 open hearing (The Hill).
  • Congress can reform Section 702’s most controversial features without sacrificing its security value, argues Jake Laperruque at Lawfare.



Why were the then-President-Elect’s critics so sure he would do something impeachable? And does that prove the now-President right? Neil Buchanan argues it doesn’t at Dorf on Law.

“Impeaching Trump Is a Heavy Lift”: Jonathan Rauch charts the hypothetical road to impeachment at Lawfare.



President Trump appeared to publicly acknowledge he is under investigation in a Friday Twitter rant directed against Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (NYT).

  • The President’s lawyer later walked back that acknowledgement, denying that the President is being investigated (NYTWSJ).
  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters there “was never any collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians” (Politico).
  • The President added John Dowd, a veteran Washington defense lawyer and former prosecutor, to his legal team this week (NYT).
  • At Politico, Eliana Johnson, Josh Dawsey, and Josh Gerstein profile Mark Corallo, the spokesman for the President’s legal team.

Reports indicate Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has privately discussed his possible recusal from the special counsel’s Russia probe (ABC NewsNYT).

  • The Democratic National Committee issued a statement Friday calling on Rosenstein to recuse himself (NYT).
  • At Lawfare, Jack Goldsmith and Benjamin Wittes consider what happens next if he does.
  • “Expect mutual demolition” in the imminent “dogfight” between President Trump and the DOJ, warns Eric Posner.  
  • Marty Lederman doubts that Rosenstein will recuse himself (Lawfare).
  • At Politico, Philip Shenon profiles Rachel Brand, the Justice Department’s No. 3, who would take over oversight of the investigation if Rosenstein were to recuse himself.
  • Rosenstein himself recently warned the American public to be “skeptical about anonymous allegations” in the news (NYT).

Rumors have surfaced that President Trump may attempt to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein said she is “growing increasingly concerned” at the possibility (The Hill).
  • President Trump’s tweets signal he is dangerously close to his own Saturday Night Massacre, warns Jed Shugerman (Shugerblog).
  • Mueller must “rise above his Comey loyalties,” argues the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.
  • If President Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller, what happens next? Jed Shugerman considers at Shugerblog.

The Trump transition team’s general counsel directed the team to preserve documents and other materials related to the Russia investigation, reports the New York Times.

  • Nicholas Confessore and Barry Meier profile Rick Gates, a protégé of Paul Manafort who is among the individuals directed to preserve the documents (NYT).

Vice President Pence has hired criminal defense lawyer Richard Cullen, godfather to one of James Comey’s daughters, in connection with the pending Russia investigations. (NYTWaPo).

  • How can a former governor who disclosed a negative net worth just last year pay for the lawyer? With donors, explains Rebecca Ballhaus at the Wall Street Journal.

The President’s apparent indifference to Russian interference in the election should be front-page news, argues the New York Times Editorial board.

  • The President’s silence on Russian interference is a powerful political tool for Democrats, notes Cory Bennett at Politico.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a public hearing this Wednesday on Russian interference in the election (The HillWSJ)

The New York Times and CNN filed suit this week against the government seeking the release of notes taken by James Comey after his meetings with the President (NYT).

  • “Michael T. Flynn was a man seething and thwarted”: so begins this New York Times profile of the former National Security Advisor.


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 | December 23, 2019

12/23/19  //  Daily Update

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seek to leverage uncertainties in the rules for impeachment to their advantage. White House officials indicated that President Trump threatened to veto a recent spending bill if it included language requiring release of military aid to Ukraine early next year. The DHS OIG said that it found “no misconduct” by department officials in the deaths of two migrant children who died in Border Patrol custody last year. And the FISA court ordered the Justice Department to review all cases that former FBI official Kevin Clinesmith worked on.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 20, 2019

12/20/19  //  Daily Update

Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated the House will be “ready” to move forward with the next steps once the Senate has agreed on ground rules, but the House may withhold from sending the articles to the Senate until after the new year. Commentary continues about the Fifth Circuit's mixed decision on the status of the ACA.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 19, 2019

12/19/19  //  Daily Update

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump. Some Democrats urge House leaders to withhold the articles to delay a trial in the Senate. Meanwhile, the Fifth Circuit issues an inconclusive decision about the future of the ACA, and DHS and DOJ proposed a new rulemaking to amend the list of crimes that bar relief for asylum seekers.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School