Daily Update | April 25, 2019

4/25/19  //  Daily Update

Deutsche Bank has begun providing documents to the New York State Attorney General in response to a subpoena for records related to loans made to President Trump and the Trump Organization. ICE detention facilities routinely violate the religious rights of non-Christian detainees. The Supreme Court appears poised to hand the Trump Administration a victory in the litigation challenging the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census. The Trump Administration has worked to water down a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at “highlighting the harm of sexual violence in war, the needs of survivors, and the validity of accountability for such harm.” The Mueller report shows President Trump repeatedly directing subordinates to open criminal investigations of political rivals.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | April 23, 2019

4/23/19  //  Daily Update

The Supreme Court granted certiorari on a trio of cases that will decide whether Title VII protects LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination. President Trump and the Trump Organization sued the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in an effort to prevent the committee from subpoenaing the company’s financial records. The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to former White House Counsel Don McGahn as part of its investigation into obstruction of justice by President Trump. Mississippi’s arguments in defense of its ban on abortions at or after 15 weeks of pregnancy underscore how aggressively some states are seeking to evade constitutional precedent on abortion jurisprudence without overturning it.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | April 4, 2019

4/4/19  //  Daily Update

Members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team believe that their investigation conclusions were more troubling for President Trump than Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary letter to Congress made them appear. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee formally requested that the IRS turn over six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns. Jared Kushner has been identified as the senior White House official whose security clearance was denied last year because of concerns over foreign influence. Senate Republicans employed the “nuclear option” to change Senate rules in order to speed up confirmation times of executive branch and district court judge nominees. When the Supreme Court hears arguments concerning the Trump Administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the Census, it will not consider a crucial element of the case—whether the decision was motivated by racial animus, and therefore violated equal protection.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | April 1, 2019

4/1/19  //  Daily Update

Attorney General Bill Barr told Congress that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference would be made public by mid-April. Even as the Mueller investigation concludes, New York state investigations into the Trump Organization are just kicking into high gear. President Trump directed the State Department to cut off foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as a response to migrant caravans emerging from those countries. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has charged Facebook with engaging in discriminatory advertising practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Seema Verma, the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has spent millions of dollars of public funds on Republican communications consultants during her tenure. A federal judge blocked President Trump’s executive order lifting an Obama-era rule prohibiting gas drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic coast.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

What’s Next for the Presidential Transition?

2/26/19  //  Commentary

Congress must take steps to ensure that any 2020 transition is an improvement over Trump's transition in 2016

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | February 25, 2019

2/25/19  //  Daily Update

Michael Cohen provided information to federal prosecutors about irregularities with the Trump Organization and inaugural committee. An IRS employee was charged with illegally leaking Michael Cohen’s banking records and providing them to Michael Avenatti. A bipartisan group of fifty-eight former senior national security officials issued a statement saying there is no factual basis for President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the border. A new lawsuit is seeking to require the federal government to recognize Hoda Muthana—an American-born woman who joined the Islamic State as an “ISIS bride” and now seeks to return—as an American citizen and allow her reentry into the country. The Trump Administration’s attempt to deny citizenship to the children of binational same-sex couples received a setback when a federal court ruled that such children are U.S. citizens under the relevant federal statutes. A federal judge ruled that an all-male military draft is unconstitutional.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | February 5, 2019

2/5/19  //  Daily Update

Prosecutors in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York plan to subpoena President Trump’s inaugural committee. Rinat Akhmetshin—a Russian-born lobbyist and former Soviet military officer who attended the a Trump Tower meeting with senior Trump campaign officials in June 2016—received a series of suspicious payments in 2016. The Trump Organization has fired at least eighteen undocumented workers from five golf courses over the past two months, in part of a purge apparently set in motion after a series of media reports about the clubs’ employment of workers without legal status. Republican congressional leaders are increasingly concerned with the vast number of executive branch positions currently unfilled by a permanent officeholder. As we learn more about the process that led to the Trump Administration’s travel ban, its roots in anti-Muslim animus become clearer, as do the parallels between the Supreme Court’s decisions in Trump v. Hawaii and Korematsu.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | January 30, 2019

1/30/19  //  Daily Update

Roger Stone, a longtime advisor to President Trump, pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction, witness tampering, and making false statements. The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that federal law, rather than state law, must be used to determine the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. A planned Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation vote on the nomination of William Barr to be Attorney General has been postponed amidst concerns raised by several Democrats. By the end of this fiscal year, the “Muslim ban” will have prevented approximately 15,000 spouses and adopted minor children of U.S. citizens from reuniting. Concerned with the possibility that the Supreme Court may chip away at Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in the coming months and years, New York enacted legislation to strengthen reproductive health protections in the state.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | January 25, 2019

1/25/19  //  Daily Update

The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Michael Cohen to compel testimony about his role in the proposed Trump Organization tower in Moscow. Jerome Corsi, a witness and subject of intense scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, has been collecting $15,000 per-month payments from Infowars in an arrangement set up by Roger Stone. The Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would allow federally funded foster-care agencies to discriminate against non-Christians and same-sex couples. If the federal courts run out of money over the course of the government shutdown, the Supreme Court will continue to perform its essential functions, although precisely how it will do so remains unclear. The Navy is denying civil claims by approximately 4,500 plaintiffs, totaling $963 billion in damages, stemming from exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | December 5, 2018

12/5/18  //  Daily Update

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, citing his substantial assistance in several ongoing investigations, recommends that Michael Flynn serve no jail time in a sentencing memo. The Attorneys General of Maryland and the District of Columbia began issuing subpoenas for financial records and other documents from President Trump’s business entities as part of the litigation challenging his ongoing business entanglements as a violation of the Emoluments Clause. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a portion of a federal law that made it a crime to encourage foreigners to enter the United States illegally. State elections officials in North Carolina are investigating claims of fraud in a U.S. House race, including allegations that a contractor for the Republican candidate falsified or improperly destroyed hundreds of absentee ballots. Republican legislators in Wisconsin and Michigan are planning to strip incoming Democratic statewide officials of various official powers during the lame-duck period.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | November 28, 2018

11/28/18  //  Daily Update

Paul Manafort secretly met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on three occasions, most recently in spring 2016. The Special Counsel has obtained emails between Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone that anticipated Wikileaks’ release of emails stolen from the Clinton campaign months before it happened. The White House is preventing CIA Director Gina Haspel from testifying before a U.S. Senate committee about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. What was announced as a temporary shelter for hundreds of migrant children in the desert in Texas has expanded to a detention camp holding thousands of teenagers. The Government Accountability Office will investigate whether a group of private citizens with no government roles connected to President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida have had inappropriate influence over the Department of Veterans Affairs. A U.S. Geological Survey report found that drilling for fossil fuels on federally owned land is responsible for nearly one quarter of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Tuesday | November 13, 2018

11/13/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump Administration has routinely circumvented the normal litigation process by repeatedly seeking Supreme Court intervention in ongoing cases with emergency petitions. The ongoing recounts in Florida and unsubstantiated Republican claims of fraud offer a terrifying preview of the next phase of the voting wars. A series of IT glitches in the VA has caused tens of thousands of veterans to have their GI Bill benefit payments delayed or go missing entirely. Top congressional Democrats are seeking answers from the Justice Department about whether Acting Attorney General Whitaker received ethics advice from career officials about whether to recuse from overseeing the Special Counsel’s investigation. The Senate Judiciary Committee has revealed incontrovertible evidence that members of the Intelligence Community illegally surveilled government whistleblowers.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | November 12, 2018

11/12/18  //  Daily Update

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has gathered evidence that Donald Trump played a central role in planning and authorizing hush-money payments to women that violated federal campaign finance law. President Trump issued a proclamation that will prevent anyone who entered the country without authorization outside of official border crossings from being able to bring asylum claims. The deployment of thousands of active-duty soldiers to the border may end up costing approximately $200 million and undermine morale. A record number of migrants traveling in families was apprehended at the southern border last month. The White House is concerned that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be vulnerable to congressional investigations once Democrats retake the House.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 22, 2018

10/22/18  //  Daily Update

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is aggressively investigating whether Roger Stone had advance knowledge that hacked and stolen emails would be published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. A federal judge ordered that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort be sentenced in February for financial crimes he was convicted of in August. The Trump Administration is considering redefining “sex” under Title IX as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth. Georgia’s “exact match” law could disenfranchise nearly 1 million eligible voters. The Trump Administration is planning to announce the U.S. will withdraw from the the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a thirty-year-old arms control measure with Russia. The Justice Department charged a Russian woman with helping lead an elaborate campaign of “information warfare” to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

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