Helen Klein Murillo, Derek Reinbold  //  5/11/17  //  Daily Update

Details continue to emerge about President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. Amidst the furor, President Trump met with the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador, excluding American journalists while granting access to Russian media. Reports surface that Comey had sought additional resources for the FBI’s Russia inquiry shortly before being fired. A journalist was arrested for questioning Secretary Tom Price about the American Health Care Act.



More details emerge about President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey (Politico, NYT, WaPo, WSJ).

  • Comey had sought additional resources for the FBI’s Russia investigation prior to being fired (NYT, Wapo).
  • At Take Care, Niko Bowie argues that the firing was legal and demonstrates why an executive branch investigation is insufficient.
  • Joshua Matz explains that firing Comey undermined one of the government’s central arguments in the revised travel ban case (Take Care).
  • Also at Take Care, Zachary Price argues that the firing threatens the critical norm of apolitical law enforcement.
  • And Ian Samuel observes that congressional Republicans, the only actors immediately capable of policing the President, haven’t shown much interest (Take Care).
  • Marty Lederman highlighted a significant “omission” in Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s memo -- an affirmative recommendation to fire Comey (Just Security).
  • Ryan Goodman considered suggestions Comey’s firing may constitute obstruction of justice (Just Security).
  • Helen Murillo discussed the statutory elements of obstruction of justice and viable enforcement mechanisms (Lawfare).
  • Bobby Chesney reviewed a president’s power to appoint and remove the FBI Director (Lawfare).
  • Julian Sanchez offered thoughts on what the firing means for the Russia investigation going forward (Just Security).
  • Ken Gude argued that Rosenstein’s reputation now depends on his appointing a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation (Just Security).
  • Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck discussed the firing on a special edition of the National Security Law Podcast (Lawfare).
  • Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic examined whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s involvement in firing Comey violated his recusal pledge (Lawfare).
  • Bob Bauer argued that the manner in which Comey was fired has serious implications for the rule of law (Lawfare).
  • Anthony Romero of the ACLU called for a special prosecutor and the creation of a select committee to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia (ACLU).
  • At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick argued that the legality of the President’s decision is less important than whether the decision was “normal versus insane.”



The Muslim ban is, in fact, a Muslim ban, argues Robin Schulman (ACLU).

Disturbing videos emerged depicting ICE agents making arrests in and around a Denver courthouse (ImmigrationProf Blog).



Critics of anti-discrimination laws regarding public accommodations misunderstand the core purpose of those laws, argues Charlie Gerstein at Take Care.

Praveen Fernandes called the decision not to collect LGBT census data “missed opportunities for improving the lives of LGBT Americans and their families” (NYT).

President Trump’s judicial nominations indicate conservatives may take aim at abortion rights, argues Jessica Mason Pieklo (Rewire).

The American Health Care Act (“AHCA”) is especially harmful to people with disabilities, argue Vania Leveille and Susan Mizner (ACLU).



A reporter in West Virginia was arrested after persistently questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about the AHCA (NYT, The Hill).

  • The ACLU called the arrest an assault on the First Amendment, saying “[w]e need journalists to be able to challenge and question public officials”.
  • Debra Cassens Weiss also reported on the incident (ABA Journal).
  • Sharona Coutts spoke with the reporter, who claims that the charges alleged in the criminal complaint against him are trumped up (Rewire).

The resignation of the Director of the Census Bureau raises questions about the upcoming 2020 census, notes Clare Foran at The Atlantic.

  • Jordan Weissmann called the Director’s unexplained resignation “disturbing” (Slate).



The Senate unexpectedly retained an Obama-era rule requiring companies to limit methane emissions on federal lands (Ars Technica).

Leaving the Paris Climate Change Agreement would have a significant impact on the world, writes Lucas Isakowitz at Fusion.

  • President Trump met with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the climate agreement (The Hill).
  • France’s new President, Emmanuel Macron, threw his support behind the agreement (ClimateWire).

Many of President Trump’s objections to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 are likely unconstitutional, concluded Sam Wice at Notice and Comment.

Friday marks the start of the comment period for the Interior Department’s review of a number of National Monuments, noted Eric Biber at Legal Planet.

A rule aimed at protecting consumers using prepaid cards appears likely to survive a Congressional Review Act challenge, writes Jeff Sovern at Public Citizen.



The Department of Homeland Security will announce a ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in the cabin on flights from Europe (Daily Beast).

  • At Lawfare, Paul Rosenzweig notes the absence of any logical limit to the ban and suggests it might be expanded further.

The FBI clarified testimony by Director Comey regarding the handling of emails by Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin (NYT).

Senators are urging the Trump Administration to develop a comprehensive cyber deterrence and defense strategy (The Hill).

Chelsea Manning is set to be released from prison next week, an early release resulting from President Obama’s commutation of her sentence (NPR).

  • The ACLU posted a timeline of her case.



President Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities is either a “superfluous nullity” or a fundamental violation of federalism, argues George Will (WaPo).



Federal prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas seeking records from associates of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (CNN).

  • Alex Whiting analyzed the significance of issuing grand jury subpoenas (Just Security).

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (“SSCI”) subpoenaed documents from Flynn after he refused to comply with requests two weeks ago (NPR).

  • SSCI Chairman Richard Burr’s press release regarding the subpoena is here.
  • Philip Bobbitt suggests that President Trump may have instructed Flynn to speak with the Russian ambassador about sanctions and to lie about their discussion (Lawfare).

President Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (NYT).

  • Intelligence officials criticized special access given to a Russian photographer during the visit (WaPo).
  • U.S. journalists were barred from the meeting (Politico).


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