Helen Klein Murillo, Derek Reinbold  //  5/12/17  //  Daily Update

The fallout continues over President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey. Trump contradicted his own staff, saying that he decided to fire Comey before meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz requested that the Department of Justice Investigator General investigate the firing. And Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified before Congress, contradicting Administration claims regarding the importance of the Russian-interference investigation and Comey's support in the FBI. Meanwhile, Trump signed an executive order creating a Presidential commission on election integrity, to be lead by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.


President Trump contradicted his communications staff today when he said that he had made the decision to fire James Comey before meeting with Attorney General Sessions and Deputy AG Rosenstein on Monday (WaPo).

  • Clips of the NBC News interview are available here.
  • On Take Care, Aziz Huq posits that whether the action is legal or whether we are in a constitutional crisis may not be the relevant questions to ask to assess democratic decline.
  • ICYMI: Here is all of Take Care’s ongoing coverage of the Comey firing.
  • Steve Vladeck highlights the coming crisis over Comey’s successor, noting that the names floated so far raise concerns about independence from the White House (Just Security).
  • Paul Rosenzweig argues that Rosenstein’s memorandum was strangely inadequate and offered an outline of what a more adequate memorandum from Rosenstein might have entailed (Lawfare).
  • Kate Brannen offers a Q&A on the Comey firing, Russia investigation, and more (Just Security).
  • Eric Posner pens a “very reluctant” defense of the firing (Eric Posner).
  • Michael Gerson writes that the president’s pick for the next FBI director could trigger a constitutional crisis (WaPo).
  • David Stewart analogizes the firing to President Andrew Johnson’s firing of Edwin Stanton, a move that led to Johnson’s impeachment in the House of Representatives (WaPo).
  • The New York Times editorial board pens an open letter to Deputy AG Rosenstein, arguing that he bears significant burden for safeguarding American democracy and must appoint a special counsel to lead the Russia investigation.


Chairman of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform Jason Chaffetz requested an investigation into the episode by DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz (Politico).

  • You can read Chaffetz’s letter here.
  • Daphna Renan and David Pozen argue that by circumventing the IG’s ongoing investigation into Comey’s conduct during the 2016 campaign, the process by which Comey was fired raises similar professional concerns to those leveled against Comey (Lawfare).
  • Jack Goldsmith and Helen Murillo highlight key questions now that Horowitz and his Comey investigation are about to take center stage (Lawfare).

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified before Congress today, contradicting key White House claims (NYT, WaPo).

  • The Washington Post has the full transcript here.
  • On Lawfare, Quinta Jurecic liveblogged the hearing and then offered highlights of the testimony.
  • One of the key White House claims McCabe refuted was that Comey had lost support at the FBI, an assertion the White House has offered no evidence for, explains Kate Brannen (Just Security).


Ninth Circuit oral arguments in the revised travel ban case will be streamed live on C-SPAN on May 15 (ImmigrationProf Blog).

The Trump Administration announced last week that it would not stay the deportations of immigrants for whom private immigration bills had been introduced by members of Congress, denying Congressional representatives the ability to weigh in on the fairness of a deportation (ImmigrationProf Blog).

The California legislature is considering a bill to protect data from ICE (Electronic Frontier Foundation).

A recent report suggests some may be leaving behind lawful temporary statuses in the United States to migrant to Canada due to fear caused by the Administration’s rhetoric (ImmigrationProf Blog).


Yesterday, CREW added another hotel owner plaintiff to its complaint alleging that President Trump has violated the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution, writes Joshua Matz for Take Care.


If President Trump wants to live up to his campaign promises on jobs, he has to focus on education for students with disabilities, argues Eve Hill on Take Care.

With his executive order on religious liberty, President Trump is seeking to accomplish “with a wink and a nod” selective nonenforcement of electioneering restrictions against churches and other religious organizations, writes Linda Greenhouse for the New York Times.

President Trump’s executive order on religious liberty advances his discriminatory agenda, argues Auditi Guha (Rewire).


President Trump signed an executive order creating a presidential commission on “election integrity” based on his false claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election (NYT, AP, WaPo).

  • Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a proponent of strict voter identification laws, has been tapped to head the initiative (CNN).
  • Kris Kobach will make the commission a voter-suppression/vote rigging commission, fomenting anti-immigrant and racist fears, writes Jed Shugerman on Take Care.
  • Tomas Lopez and Jennifer Clark offer a detailed history of Kris Kobach’s anti-voting history at The Brennan Center.
  • “This is not a good day for those who believe we should have a system where all eligible voters, but only eligible voters, can easily cast a ballot that will be fairly and accurately counted,” writes Rick Hasen on Election Law Blog.
  • Secretary Kobach’s presence on the commission raises concerns about vote suppression, writes Ari Berman in The Nation.
  • In response, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover information the Trump administration is using as the basis for its voter fraud claims.
  • The Brennan Center collected statements critical of the order made by state election officials from across the country, and issued a statement of its own labelling the commission “a sham and a distraction.”
  • The executive order is nothing more than a demand to investigate baseless voter fraud allegations, argues Ally Boguhn (Rewire).


As the period for Congressional Review Act repeal ran out today, the CFPB’s Obama-era rule designed to protect users of prepaid cards survives, notes Allison Zieve at Public Citizen.

The Trump Administration is offering states an extension, delaying a 2014 regulation that outlines criteria for programs provided through Medicaid home and community-based services waivers (Disability Scoop).

  • With federal threats looming, states should protect and improve Medicaid family planning services, argues a new Guttmacher Institute policy brief.

The American Health Care Act will most harm vulnerable populations, millions of whom may lose health insurance (Rewire).

  • Erin Kotecki Vest offers a personal perspective on how the law is likely to affect chronically ill people (Rewire).
  • Thomas Esdall argues that Trump’s support of the AHCA shows that “when push comes to shove he is neither willing nor prepared to stand up for his working class voters” (NYT).

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed an agreement recognizing the Paris Climate Change Accord, but he said President Trump is not rushing to decide whether to leave or weaken U.S. commitments (Reuters).


President Trump signed an executive order on cybersecurity today (WaPo, The Hill).

  • At Lawfare, Helen Murillo summarizes the order.
  • Meanwhile, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper expressed doubt that the order would come with sufficient authorities and resources to be meaningful (The Hill).

The drugs used for executions can cause immense pain, which is particularly troubling given the recent executions in Arkansas, argues David Waisel, a professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School (WaPo).

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