Zachary Piaker  //  9/21/18  //  Daily Update


Dr. Christine Blasey Ford says she would agree to testify at a Senate hearing next week, but would not be prepared to do so on Monday. The Trump Administration plans to shift $260 million from program like cancer research and AIDS prevention to cover the cost of housing thousands of undocumented immigrant children in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Pentagon stopped announcing body counts of Taliban and Islamic State fighters killed in battle in Afghanistan, a practice which had begun in January. The Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has begun dismantling decades-old policies meant to improve racial disparities in youth incarceration. A number of Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin managed to build relationships with elements of the Trump campaign in 2016.

 

TRUMP: INVESTIGATIONS AND LITIGATION

Michael Cohen has participated in multiple interviews with Special Counsel Robert Mueller “on all aspects of Trump's dealings with Russia,” report George Stephanopoulos, Eliana Larramendia, and James Hill in ABC.  

 

IMMIGRATION

The Trump Administration plans to shift $260 million from program like cancer research and AIDS prevention to cover the cost of housing thousands of undocumented immigrant children in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tal Kopan reports in CNN.

 

DEMOCRACY

Despite the Supreme Court’s recent denial of a stay in Crossroads v. CREW, which required greater disclosure of the sources of “dark money” in politics, the immediate impact is likely to be limited, given that the FEC won’t have time to promulgate a new rule in time for the 2018 elections, writes Rick Hasen in Election Law Blog.

 

JUSTICE & SAFETY

President Trump lacks the legal authority to follow through on most of the threats John Bolton recently leveled at the International Criminal Court, argues Marty Lederman in Just Security.

The Pentagon stopped announcing body counts of Taliban and Islamic State fighters killed in battle in Afghanistan, a practice which had begun in January, Thomas Gibbons-Neff writes in the New York Times.

The Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has begun dismantling decades-old policies meant to improve racial disparities in youth incarceration, Eli Hager reports in the Marshall Project.

The White House announced a new policy authorizing offensive cyber operations in an effort to deter cyber attacks by foreign adversaries, writes Ellen Nakashima in the Washington Post.

A Government Accountability Office report revealed that the Defense Department has still not developed a plan evaluate its biological security practices three years after a military laboratory accidentally shipped live anthrax specimens around the world (NYT).

 

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Under Secretary Carson, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has repeatedly hired, promoted, and awarded raises to political operatives with no housing policy experience, Tracy Jan reports in the Washington Post.

 

REGULATION

Congressional disapproval of agency guidance documents or interpretations under the Congressional Review Act will likely have no impact, argue Keith Bradley and Larisa Vaysman in The Regulatory Review. 

Several advocacy organizations are suing to stop the Trump Administration’s rollback of Affordable Care Act regulations that prevented the sale of “junk plans” in the health insurance marketplace, Carmel Shachar writes in Bill of Health. 

In recent weeks, the Trump Administration has taken two significant steps to roll back Obama-era regulations that reduced waste and greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas operations, Julia Stein writes in Legal Planet.

 

RULE OF LAW 

More than a dozen legal scholars and Justice Department alumni sent a letter to President Trump’s lawyers arguing that Trump has no valid legal basis for claiming immunity from the Special Counsel’s obstruction of justice investigation, or from a subpoena soliciting information relating to this investigation.

  • Here you can find a longer White Paper explaining in greater detail the constitutional limits on the president’s power to resist a Special Counsel subpoena for corrupt or narrowly personal reasons.

President Trump’s order to declassify documents related to electronic surveillance of Carter Page demonstrates that “there is nothing he will not do and no person or institution he will not target in the name of self-preservation,” Cindy Otis writes in USA Today.

 

CHECKS & BALANCES 

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford says she would agree to testify at a Senate hearing next week, but would not be prepared to do so on Monday (WaPo).

  • A credible allegation of sexual assault is enough standing alone to disqualify Brett Kavanaugh from serving on the Supreme Court, argues Kate Shaw in the New York Times.
  • If Democrats win the House in November, they should consider impeaching a Justice Kavanaugh in order to conduct a full investigation, Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr.writes in the New York Times.
  • Jeannie Suk Gersen sketches out what a serious investigation of the allegations against Kavanaugh would look like in the New Yorker.

 

RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE

The public has learned a tremendous amount about the Russian election interference campaign through the last two years’ of reporting, but rarely has it been gathered together in one place, write Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti in the New York Times.

The Treasury Department announced new sanctions against dozens of Russian individuals in retaliation for interference in the 2016 election, Matthew Choi writes in Politico.

A number of Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin managed to build relationships with elements of the Trump campaign in 2016, Simon Shuster writes in Time.

 


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

Daily Update | October 16, 2018

10/16/18  //  Daily Update

The “Watergate Road Map” will be largely unsealed after a lawsuit, improving public understanding a potential report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. With the midterms less than a month away, federal agencies have not yet finalized plans for countering foreign interference in the 2018 election. The Department of Homeland Security has noted an increasing number of attempts to hack US election systems in the leadup to the midterms, but all attacks have been unsuccessful. Despite his ongoing rhetorical conflicts with President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has reshaped the military. The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation that would require the agency to use only publicly available data in cost-benefit analysis is a boon for transparency and scientific rigor.

Daily Update | October 15, 2018

10/15/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump Administration is considering instituting a new family separation policy at the border. West Virginia plans to allow overseas and military voters to cast ballots remotely using a smartphone app, stoking concerns among cybersecurity and election integrity advocates. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s family has received millions of dollars in no-bid and other federal contracts “based on a dubious claim of Native American identity by McCarthy’s brother-in-law.” Jared Kushner appears to have paid almost no federal income taxes over the past decade, taking advantage of preferential provisions in the tax code that advantage real-estate developers. The Senate confirmed fifteen federal judicial nominees as part of a deal to allow senators to spend the remainder of the midterm election season campaigning. The EPA disbanded two outside expert panels tasked with advising the agency on limiting harmful emissions of soot and smog-forming pollutants.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School