Update | The Week of November 27, 2017
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian Ambassador. Jared Kushner met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to discuss possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
Updates | The Week of November 20, 2017
Special Counsel Robert Mueller plans to review documents regarding AG Sessions recusal decision, as well as interview congressional aides, foreign intermediaries, and other campaign officials. Russian interference raises difficult questions regarding whether the meddling was actually illegal and what rights foreign actors have in American elections.
Updates | The Week of November 13, 2017
The House passes its version of a tax bill that would dramatically alter the tax code as President Trump faces trouble over the diversity of his federal judicial nominees and the fitness of his appointees to office, some of whom have alleged conflicts of interest.
Versus Trump: Updates, Y'all!
You want updates, so we've got updates! On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, Jason and Easha revisit several important cases and news items that we've previously mentioned so that you have the latest information on them. Listen now!
Updates | The Week of October 30, 2017
Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign, and his colleague Rick Gates, were indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, also pleaded guilty on charges of making false statements to the FBI regarding contacts with Russian nationals.
Versus Trump: The First Shoe (with guest David Sklansky)
On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, Jason, Charlie, and special guest David Sklansky discuss the first shoe to drop from the Mueller investigation: the indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos. Listen now!
Updates | The Week of October 23, 2017
President Trump pledged more than $400,000 of his own money to cover his aides' legal costs in the Russia probes. Reports surfaced this week that the Steele Dossier was financed in part by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. A bipartisan bill would impose more stringent political advertising requirements online.
Pence and Obstruction of Justice
Exploring Vice President Pence’s potential criminal jeopardy for conspiring to obstruct justice, aiding the obstruction of justice, and 'misprision of a felony' in concealing the obstruction of justice.
Versus Trump: "What About Congress? + Steven Wu"
On a new episode of Versus Trump, Take Care's podcast, Easha, Jason, and Charlie discuss Congress's role and powers in investigations of the Executive. Then, Jason talks with Steven Wu, a Deputy Solicitor General in the Office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, about the case against Trump University, the active role of states in recent years, and other issues in which New York is adverse to the President. Listen now!
It Was Legal for the President to Fire Comey. That’s the Problem.
It’s already too late in the day to trust the executive branch to police itself. That lack of trust should extend to a special prosecutor, independent counsel, or whatever other nice terms you want to call it. At this point, only Congress can credibly investigate the President.
Trump Jr. and Citizens United
In a perfect world, federal election law would distinguish between foreign governments involving themselves in U.S. elections and foreign nationals doing so. Unfortunately, we don't live in that perfect world because of the Supreme Court.
President Trump Shouldn't Be Impeached If He Hasn't Committed a Crime
It would be a grave mistake to call for President Trump's impeachment if he hasn't committed a crime. In an era of tit-for-tat partisanship, lowering the impeachment standard to “anything Congress thinks is wrong” is a recipe for dysfunctional government, one in which the House of one party could perpetually threaten to impeach the White House of another.
The Comey Firing in (Comparative) Context
President Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey prompted two immediate questions: Is the firing legal, and is this a constitutional crisis? But are these even the right questions to pose?
As long as the Deputy Attorney General is writing memos making recommendations to the President, it is time to make a recommendation for the appointment of a special counsel.
Yes, Hope is a Sufficient Basis for Obstruction of Justice
I reviewed all federal circuit courts of appeals cases, federal district court cases, and state supreme court cases for obstruction of justice cases involving a defendant’s use of language similar to “I hope” or “I’m hoping.” The results are in line with what we would expect if “hope” verbiage is uncontroversially and generally understood as implying direction.
Nunes Recuses. Sort Of. Now What?
Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Devin Nunes will step aside from the committee’s Russia investigation. Sort of. What does this mean -- and what comes next?
Why Trump Can’t (Lawfully) Fire Mueller
There’s been a great deal of noise from some of the President’s confidants over the past 48 hours suggesting that he might (try to) remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump, Pardons, and Guilt
By Mark Osler: Pardons by Trump would be a significant departure from what the pardon power has meant. Clemency is for the guilty, not the innocent.
Trump’s Advisors Need to Step Up, Or Step Out
Astounding revelations have erased any reasonable doubt that the President’s shortcomings endanger global security. The time has come to focus on Executive Branch officials who have a duty to guide and, if necessary, constrain Trump. They need to step up, or step out.
Why Trump’s Firing of Comey is Terrifying
Our country has a very strong, very important norm of apolitical law enforcement. But this norm, ironically, is enforced mostly by politics, not law—and Trump’s action has risked doing it irreparable damage. Going forward, here's what to watch at the state and federal levels.
Comey Counterarguments: The Trees, the Forest, and the Firing.
I’ve been reading the arguments that Comey’s written testimony does not show obstruction of justice. Ultimately, these arguments focus on the trees to obscure the forest, and at the end of that forest is the decisive event of obstruction: Trump firing Comey.
Why Impeachment Must Remain A Priority
The appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller must not lead progressives to put the thought of impeaching President Trump on a back-burner.
Ten Questions for a New FBI Director
By Allison Murphy: Given President Trump’s documented and acknowledged efforts to interfere with the independence of the FBI, the Senate should presume that could continue under a new FBI Director. It is therefore incumbent upon Senators to ensure that any Trump nominee for FBI Director commits to certain baseline aspects of independence and impartiality before any new nominee is confirmed. Here are 10 questions that require answers.
The Audacity of The President’s "Hope"
Senator Risch asked Jim Comey whether a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome. We hope he finds our research instructive.
Why Firing Comey Guts DOJ's Main Defense of the Muslim Ban
Sometimes, when an emissary of the President asks courts to “trust us,” things the President does elsewhere can fatally undermine judicial confidence in the President’s respect for rule of law values. We’ve seen it before and we’re about to see it again.
Treason and Cyberwarfare
By Carlton Larson: There are two forms of treason recognized under the United States Constitution: (1) levying war against the United States; and (2) adhering to our enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Each raises slightly different issues with respect to cyberwarfare.
Versus Trump: The Collusion Lawsuit
On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, Charlie and Easha discuss a newly-filed lawsuit brought by private plaintiffs who allege that Trump's campaign and Trump advisor Roger Stone conspired with Russians to disclose private information about the plaintiffs. Listen now!
The One Question Worth Asking
Here's the most important question to ask about indictments, pardons and self-pardons, and obstruction of justice.
Why Hasn’t Rod Rosenstein Recused Himself From the Russiagate Probe?
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should recuse himself from the probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and the President’s apparent attempt to obstruct the FBI’s inquiry. Rosenstein himself played a key role in the events at the center of the controversy, and his continued involvement casts a shadow over the ongoing investigation.
How Might Congress Reinforce NATO?
President Trump's overseas trip has cast doubt on longstanding consensus features of U.S. foreign policy, particularly our commitment to NATO. Here are some ways Congress might respond.
Russia and 'Enemies' under the Treason Clause
By Carlton Larson: If we use “treason” in a loose, rhetorical sense, it is plausible to claim that Trump, Jr., Kushner, Manafort and others committed treason by knowingly meeting with a Russian operative for the purpose of obtaining dirt on Hillary Clinton. But the argument fails as a legal matter.
Remarks at the Boston March for Truth
"Whether the structural safeguards the Framers inscribed in the Constitution are up to the task of constraining Trump’s authoritarian tendencies are anybody’s guess. In the end, only the force of public opinion, especially as expressed in elections, can save American democracy."
What If There’s a Fake Tape?
Many are speculating about whether President Trump recorded his conversations with fired FBI Director Jim Comey, and Wikileaks has even offered a reward for any Trump-Comey recordings. But new technology allows creation of fake recordings with real people's voices. Now is a good time to start thinking about this technology's implications for our democracy and legal system.
First Tragedy, Now Farce
Those who forget history are indeed doomed to repeat it. But when history repeats, it often shifts in the repetition: first acts come as tragedy and then return as farce. By many measures, Nixon was a tragic figure. Trump, by contrast, is pure farce. And unlike tragedies, farces don’t end with a flash of recognition—a moment of self-awareness like King Lear’s on the heath. Farces just keep going until someone cries "enough!"
Updates | The Week of June 12, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Special counsel Robert Mueller is recruiting a team of star lawyers. President Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz will reportedly file a complaint over former FBI Director James Comey's "leaked" memo.
Updates | The Week of July 31, 2017
Special Counsel Robert Mueller empaneled a grand jury in relation to the Russia probe. Two sets of Senators introduced legislation to limit the President's ability to fire Mueller. Vladimir Putin expelled 755 American diplomats and staff.
Updates | The Week of September 11, 2017
Trump's decision to end DACA spurs a flurry of legal challenges; his election fraud commission gets into more trouble; and the Supreme Court stays the Ninth Circuit's latest trvel ban ruling.
Updates | The Week of April 17, 2017
Devin Nunes has been replaced on the House Intelligence Committee. More information comes out regarding Russia's interference in the 2016 election, including its relationship with Carter Page and its efforts to undermine American confidence in democracy.
Updates | The Week of May 8, 2017
Federal prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas seeking records of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified that she warned the Trump Administration that Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia.
Updates | The Week of October 16
Congressional investigators are focusing efforts on connections between Russia and social media in the lead up to the 2016 election. President George W. Bush gave a speech, seen as criticizing President Trump, warning of the effects of Russia's intervention.
Updates | The Week of September 4, 2017
The President orders an end to DACA and has Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce the change; Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer undergoes more scrutiny; Trump's 16 nominations to the federal judiciary spur challenges and concern.
Updates | The Week of July 24, 2017
Jared Kushner met privately with congressional committees to answer questions about his interactions with Russian officials, as both the Senate and House approved a bill expanding sanctions on Russia and limiting the president's ability to rescind them.
Updates | The Week of July 10, 2017
The New York Times revealed that Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with a Russian government-linked attorney during the campaign who promised them negative material on Hillary Clinton. The revelations sparked substantial commentary regarding liability under criminal or campaign finance laws.
Updates | The Week of May 1, 2017
The FBI's investigation of Russian Interference in the 2016 Election continues and Director James Comey spoke out on his pre-election disclosures. Michael Flynn's Russian connections continue to haunt the White House.
Updates | The Week of April 3, 2017
President Trump levelled accusations against the Obama administration of improper surveillance activity, claiming that former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice committed a crime by seeking to "unmask" the identities of Trump associates whose communications were intercepted incidentally by U.S. intelligence agencies. Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Devin Nunes announced that he will step aside from the committee’s Russia investigation.
Updates | The Week of September 25, 2017
Investigations continue into the role of social media platforms in Russia's attempts to influence the presidential election. President Trump called the numerous Russia investigations a "hoax."
Updates | The Week of September 18, 2017
Facebook turned over extensive records of Russia-linked advertisements to both congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. Mueller is seeking documents from the White House, and his team is rigorously investigating Paul Manafort's past. President Trump's lawyers clashed over how best to manage the Russia inquiries.
Updates | The Week of July 17, 2017
Special Counsel Mueller's probe has expanded and numerous previously undisclosed meetings between members of the Trump campaign and Russians have come to light.
Updates | The Week of August 28, 2017
Trump's pardon of former sheriff Joe Arpaio sets off a firestorm; another battle over Trump's immigration ban is heard by the Ninth Circuit; and investigators and journalists turn up more evidence of Trump's business dealings with Russia.
Updates | The Week of April 10, 2017
The FBI received a FISA warrant to monitor a Trump foreign policy advisor during the 2016 campaign, and British intelligence agencies intercepted communications between Russian officials and Trump associates. President Trump's new aggressive posture towards Russia raises questions.
Updates | The Week of May 29, 2017
The special counsel investigation got off to a running start this week. Congressional investigations continued with the issuing of multiple subpoenas. Attention turned to President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, while questions continued to swirl around Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s campaign contacts with Russian officials. Vladimir Putin hinted at Russian interference in the election.
Updates | The Week of June 19, 2017
Rumors abound about whether the President will fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller and if Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein will recuse himself from the Russia Investigation. Members of the presidential cabinet retained private legal counsel, but the President continues to contradict his own lawyers.
Updates | The Week of October 2, 2017
Leaked emails revealed that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort attempted to use his position to solicit money from a Russian oligarch with ties to the Russian government. Special Counsel Mueller asked his team to research the boundaries of the pardon power. Facebook turned over thousands of Russian ad buys from the 2016 election.
Updates | The Week of August 14, 2017
Special Counsel Mueller may make grand jury findings public, but there is still debate over whether the president can be indicted and the timing of any criminal sanctions.
Updates | The Week of March 20, 2017
Facing mounting evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia, including testimony by FBI Director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee, President Trump's allies sought to deflect attention by denouncing leaks and the intelligence community.
The Story Thus Far: National Security
From Guantanamo Bay to wiretapping to foreign intrigue, these have been a busy two months for the Trump Administration. Here are some useful analyses of the story thus far.
Updates | The Week of April 24, 2017
This week, the Pentagon's top watchdog initiated an investigation into whether Michael Flynn failed to obtain proper approval to receive money from Russian and Turkish groups. The House Intelligence Committee will continue its Russia investigation with new leadership and an updated witness list.
Updates | The Week of August 21, 2017
This week saw developments in Congressional investigations into Russian interference, with Congressional testimony from the founder of the research firm behind the controversial dossier on President Trump. Meanwhile, Special Counsel Mueller continued to examine the meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and individuals associated with the Russian government.
Updates | The Week of March 27, 2017
Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has offered to provide testimony to the congressional investigations into Russia, in exchange for immunity. The House Intelligence Committee's investigation into potential collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia is mired in controversy.