Daily Update | October 19, 2018

10/19/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump finally stated that he believed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was dead. Emmet T. Flood has been named White House Counsel on a temporary basis. President Trump threatened closure of the Southern border if Mexico did not stop the ‘caravan’ of migrants headed from Guatemala to the United States. DHS is considering withdrawing from the Flores Agreement, a 21-year-old court-supervised settlement agreement that provides strict conditions for the detention of immigrant children. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board finally released a report that shows a gaping hole in privacy protections from U.S. surveillance. The Heritage Foundation’s training program for judicial clerks raised ethical questions and concerns regarding the duties of the clerks to the judges they will serve. The Inspector General concluded that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke violated the Department’s policy on travel.

Hanna St. Marie

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 18, 2018

10/18/18  //  Daily Update

White House Counsel Donald McGahn resigned his post. The number of migrant families crossing the border reached record levels in the last three months, leading President Trump to call for a reinstatement of the family separation policy. The U.S. received $100 million in Syrian stabilization support from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, raising questions about the timing of the transfer in light of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Trump administration plans to withdraw from the 144-year-old Universal Postal Union Treaty, which allows Chinese companies to ship small packages to the U.S. at a heavily discounted rate. The White House revealed its Unified Agenda, proposing additional deregulation and predicting a decrease between $120 and $340 billion in regulatory costs by the end of fiscal year 2019. A senior Treasury Department employee was charged with leaking confidential financial reports, some of which related to the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School

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

Daily Update | October 12, 2018

10/12/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump has continued to claim that Democrats’ Medicare for All proposal would cause an economic tailspin parallel to the economic troubles that have arisen in Venezuela. The Trump Administration’s stance on immigrant applicants who are likely to receive public benefits will have an especially negative effect on poor, disabled immigrants. In contrast to President Trump’s comments on Monday endorsing stop-and-frisk policing, past discussions have denounced stop-and-frisk as racist and ineffective. The EEOC has been sued over the enforcement of LGBT protections without religious exemption. President Trump is considering candidates to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is widely predicted to step down later this year. However, it may be difficult to get a new Attorney General through the confirmation process.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 11, 2018

10/11/18  //  Daily Update

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the White House put limits on the FBI’s investigation into accusations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but defended the investigation as consistent with prior similar investigations. In a lawsuit over material obtained illegally from the DNC and published by Wikileaks, the Trump campaign is arguing that it had a First Amendment to publish the material. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg halted the depositions of two Trump administration officials in a lawsuit over the 2020 Census before they were scheduled to take place this week. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and FBI Director Christopher Wray said that China is trying to influence American public opinion ahead of the midterm elections, but that there have been no attempts to attack election infrastructure. In a first, a Chinese spy was extradited to the United States and charged with economic espionage.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 9, 2018

10/9/18  //  Daily Update

Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court on Saturday, in a remarkably close vote in the Senate. President Trump says that he does not plan to remove Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying “I actually have a good relationship other than there’s been no collusion.” A Trump campaign official sought information on how to create fake social-media profiles and use social-media manipulation to help win the 2016 presidential election. Changes on the DOJ website show a shift towards a punitive approach toward juveniles. New DOJ indictments against Russian officials show the connection between international sports and the Russian government’s strategic objectives in asserting national power.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 4, 2018

10/4/18  //  Daily Update

In the final hours of the FBI investigation into accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, criticism of the probe’s limited scope continued to grow. Reporting indicates that only six witnesses were interviewed and that other witnesses who wished to speak to the FBI were rebuffed or ignored. Following a New York Times report on the Trump family’s tax history, New York State tax officials have opened an investigation into the matter. Following an ICJ ruling ordering the U.S. to allow humanitarian trade with Iran, the Trump administration announced that it will terminate the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran. Three new DHS reports about Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs suggest that they are targeting minority populations and expanding in scope under the Trump administration. DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos said she will balance the rights of accusers and the accused in setting new rules governing sexual assault allegations on university campuses.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 3, 2018

10/3/18  //  Daily Update

The White House authorized the FBI to expand the investigation into Brett Kavanaugh. The agency will finish its investigation on Wednesday. President Trump received approximately $413 million dollars from his father through dubious tax claims and outright fraud. On a random inspection, DHS found dismal conditions--including nooses in cell rooms--in an immigration prison. The Trump Administration will deny visas to diplomat’s same-sex partners. The renegotiated NAFTA requires any party country to notify the others of impending trade deals with China. The DOJ’s suit against Facebook attempting to remove the Messenger App’s encryption has potentially vast stakes for privacy. The Senate Intelligence Committee will not finish its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election this year.

Zak Lutz

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | October 2, 2018

10/2/18  //  Daily Update

Confusion over the limits of the FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh has stoked only more fighting among Judiciary Committee members. The FBI interviewed Mark Judge. Former FBI Director James Comey said he’d be willing to testify before Congress, but only if the testimony is public. DOJ officials said they would sue to prevent California’s net neutrality law. Immigration case quotas went into effect yesterday, requiring each immigration judge to process at least 700 cases per year. Self-driving taxis will exist this year, but in the absence of any significant government regulation. The Federal Banking Agencies issued a regulation that reduced identification requirements for high-quality loans.

Zak Lutz

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | September 28, 2018

9/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump expressed happiness over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. The Trump Administration claimed it was constitutional to prevent young immigrants from accessing abortion services. TSA administration officials retaliated against whistleblowers by reassigning them, according to a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The SEC is suing Elon Musk for securities fraud after he tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private earlier this year. Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein will now meet with President Trump next week to discuss his job. The EPA will eliminate its Office of Science Advisor.

Zak Lutz

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | September 27, 2018

9/27/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump Administration pushed the Judiciary Committee to have a quick vote on Brett Kavanaugh. President Trump questioned the validity of Brett Kavanaugh’s second accuser. DOJ and the Department of Education launched investigations into whether Yale discriminates against Asian-Americans in admissions. Rod Rosenstein can protect Robert Mueller’s investigation, even if he’s fired, by changing special counsel regulations. The FEC should follow through with its ongoing deliberations and close the PAC loophole that allows PACs to pay for candidates personal expenses. The Department of Justice revised its manual regarding disclosures of foreign influence operations. President Trump accused China of attempting to interfere with the November elections.

Zak Lutz

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | September 26, 2018

9/26/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump publicly criticized Democrats and the women accusing his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct. In a speech to the United Nations, President Trump defended his hard-line trade policies. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say whether President Donald Trump has confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The Trump administration is proposing a new rule that would make it harder for immigrants with disabilities and their families to get a visa or obtain permanent residency. A lesbian woman who was denied survivor’s benefits after her partner of 27 years died is now suing the Social Security Administration for discrimination.

Abigail DeHart

Michigan Law School

Hanna St. Marie

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | September 25, 2018

9/25/18  //  Daily Update

Rod Rosenstein will meet with President Trump on Thursday, with his job potentially hanging in the balance. The Special council is inquiring into relationships between the Trump family and the family of a well-known Russian oligarch. A federal immigration judge is criticizing new DOJ policies requiring the number of cases judge must hear per year. Two district courts have extended the ACA’s prohibition on sex discrimination to transgender individuals. North Dakota’s voter ID law will officially be in effect in this year’s mid-term elections, after a Federal Appeals Court put a hold on a lower court ruling enjoining the law. The CIA is refocusing its efforts on foreign powers and away from terrorism. Violent crime fell in the United States last year, according to the FBI, halting a two year rise. The Trump administration imposed new tariffs on China. The Department of Transportation rescinded an Obama era rule requiring trains carrying crude oil to use improved brake technology. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to allow importation of a critically endangered black rhinoceros killed during a trophy hunt.

Matthew Lunny Duffy

Columbia Law School