Daily Update | December 18, 2018

12/18/18  //  Daily Update

Two business associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn were indicted for conspiring to serve as unregistered foreign agents of Turkey and lying to federal investigators. Congressional Republicans continue to attempt to convince President Trump not to shut down the government if there is no funding allocated for a border wall. Democrats in Michigan have turned to Governor Rick Snyder in hopes of blocking Republican legislation that would strip significant authority from the Democratic Secretary of State and Attorney General. An official statement from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sharply criticized the United States Senate for claiming that crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was at least partially responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi. The Senate Intelligence Committee released two reports on Russian social media activity during the 2016 election. Russian disinformation teams targeted special counsel Robert Mueller with claims that he was corrupt and had ties to extremist groups.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 17, 2018

12/17/18  //  Daily Update

A federal district judge in Texas struck down the Affordable Care Act after the Trump administration declined to defend the law. Nearly every organization that President Trump has led in the past decade is under criminal investigation. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned after allegations of financial misconduct. Two years after its publication, many of the claims in the Steele dossier have been confirmed by other investigations. Kim Jong-un publicly warned that increased sanctions from the United States could end any chance of North Korean denuclearization. The Trump administration has aggressively sought to expedite high-profile cases to the Supreme Court in the hopes of securing victories from its conservative majority. A new report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee reveals that Russian government support for President Trump on social media was more widespread than previously known.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 14, 2018

12/14/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump claimed he “never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” and publicly criticized his former attorney following Cohen’s sentence to three years in jail. A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after being taken into Border Patrol custody a week ago according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The United States Senate voted 56 to 41 to withdraw American military assistance to Saudi Arabia in Yemen, going against President Trump’s defense of the nation following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed two requests at the Supreme Court asking it to stay injunctions from three lower courts on the Trump administration’s ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military. National security advisor John Bolton outlined a new strategy for the The Trump administration in Africa aimed primarily at opposing China. Maria Butina pled guilty to conspiracy to act as a foreign agent, and agreed to cooperate with with federal prosecutors going forward.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 13, 2018

12/13/18  //  Daily Update

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former attorney, is sentenced to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress to protect the "dirty deeds" of President Trump. Former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, has asked a federal judge to spare him from prison time. The Trump administration has filed a request asking the Supreme Court to block a district court order preventing the government from enforcing a ban barring immigrants who cross the border illegally from seeking asylum. The Trump administration plans to call out China for stealing American trade secrets and is expected to impose sanctions on hackers working for a Chinese intelligence service. The Senate passed legislation to reverse a Trump administration policy limiting donor disclosure requirements for political nonprofits.

Hilary Robin Rosenthal

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | December 10, 2018

12/10/18  //  Daily Update

In a series of court filings on Friday, federal prosecutors recommended a four-year prison sentence for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Former FBI Director James Comey testified privately before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is expected to leave the administration by the end of the year. Lawyer and former Attorney General William Barr was nominated to be Attorney General. A federal appeals court refused to stay a lower court’s ruling blocking the Trump administration’s ban on asylum for migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. According to new data from the State Department, the administration’s policies have significantly reduced the admissions of Muslims and residents of Muslim-majority countries. The Trump administration wants to open negotiations on a peace deal in Afghanistan by April.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | December 7, 2018

12/7/18  //  Daily Update

Congress passed a short-term spending bill to fund the government through December 21st, but it does not include funding for the border wall. The Census Bureau plans to conduct the first ever field test of a census question to test the effects of the controversial citizenship question. The arrests in Canada of two officials associated with the Chinese tech giant, Huawei, at the direction of the United States have intensified already divisive trade negotiations between the United States and China. The Senate confirmed Kathy Kraninger’s nomination as the Director of the CFPB. William Barr, a Republican attorney who served as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, appears to be President Trump’s top choice for Attorney General. The Russian Embassy criticized the United States’ treatment of Maria Butina, a Russian official charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, and demanded her release.

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School

Daily Update | December 6, 2018

12/6/18  //  Daily Update

DOJ prosecutors have begun interviewing witnesses about two Washington lobbying firms linked to Paul Manafort. Domestic law enforcement agencies have become increasingly militarized over the years, but the Trump Administration is accelerating this militarization. The DOJ filed a memorandum in the litigation over the release of the Carter Page FISA, arguing it should not be assumed that President Trump’s Twitter statements concerning the matter are accurate or based on the President’s knowledge of the situation. After President Trump was elected in 2016, Saudi lobbyists reserved rooms for an estimated 500 nights at President Trump’s D.C. hotel to house the veterans in an unorthodox campaign they funded. President Trump’s Executive Order closing the federal government on Wednesday December 5th “as a mark of respect” for the passing of President George H.W. Bush violates the text of an 1893 statute.

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan 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 | December 4, 2018

12/4/18  //  Daily Update

The U.S. Department of Education is reopening hundreds of complaints after being sued over changes to its handling of disability discrimination. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ financial disclosure report fails to document how or when she divested from twenty-four assets. President Trump’s legal team requested that Stormy Daniels pay $340,000 in legal fees after her defamation suit against the president failed earlier this year. The Trump administration keeps pushing back on its own climate change report. President Trump’s top economic advisors pushed back on his claim that China agreed to eliminate tariffs on U.S. auto imports.

Abigail DeHart

Michigan Law School

Daily Update | December 3, 2018

12/3/18  //  Daily Update

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will be sentenced on March 5, but additional charges or a presidential pardon are still possible. Former FBI Director James Comey agreed to testify before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Friday, ending a legal effort to quash a subpoena. Just a day after the ceremonial signing of a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, President Trump said he would withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA. In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit, President Trump agreed to delay the imposition of new tariffs and President Xi agreed to increase Chinese purchases of American products. In the coming days, the Trump administration will push to finalize its “Remain in Mexico” plan, by which asylum seekers will have to wait outside the United States while their claims are processed. A federal judge in D.C. denied the Trump administration’s request for a stay on its preliminary injunction against the administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | November 30, 2018

11/30/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress related to his involvement in real estate deals in Russia on behalf of Donald Trump. President Trump said that a presidential pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is "not off the table." President Trump and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen have defended the firing of tear gas across the border into Mexico, but it might not be legal. The Trump Administration released an official set of examples to help states roll back key elements of the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Education’s proposed new Title IX regulation protects schools, not students, in cases of sexual violence.

Abigail DeHart

Michigan Law School

Daily Update | November 29, 2018

11/29/18  //  Daily Update

Attorneys for Paul Manafort allegedly briefed President Trump’s attorneys on Manafort’s discussions with the Special Counsel after Manafort agreed to cooperate. Targets of the Special Counsel investigation are rejecting proposed plea deals, likely due to President Trump’s efforts to undermine the investigation. The Trump administration is now using the Office of Refugee Resettlement to support its aggressive immigration enforcement efforts. The Trump administration’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric against Iran may be a precursor to an effort to secure support for multilateral action against Iran, or it may be a precursor to unilateral military action. Affordable Care Act signups have dropped significantly despite minimal premium increases in most states, suggesting that the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the law by not promoting the enrollment period are successful.

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

Daily Update | November 27, 2018

11/27/18  //  Daily Update

Special Counsel Mueller reported that Paul Manafort lied to the FBI. The Customs and Border Protection Agency used tear gas on migrants trying to cross the Southern border and closed a major border crossing station. The DOJ is seeking early Supreme Court review of the transgender military policy. Democrats have filed a host of suits over the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General. An inability to fill key national security positions threatens our safety. Russian cybersecurity attacks have increased since the election. Commentators have speculated whether President Trump’s attacks on “Obama judges,” Chief Justice Roberts’ response, Minority Leader Schumer’s interjection, and President Trump’s further response will lead to interbranch conflict or create a constitutional problem.

Zak Lutz

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | November 21, 2018

11/21/18  //  Daily Update

A federal judge has blocked the Trump Administration from denying asylum claims. Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, and the federal government’s Female Genital Mutilation statute were both struck down as unconstitutional. A federal court ruled that cable companies do not have a First Amendment right to discriminate against minority-run TV channels. A Ninth Circuit panel held that Los Angeles residents did not adequately show race was the main factor in the last round of redistricting. House Democrats intend to investigate the Department of Justice’s decision not to defend Obamacare. Democrats seek to block acting Attorney General Whitaker from exercising the powers of head of the Justice Department.The Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine has warned of a potential Russian cyberattack, as attackers suspected of working for the Russian government infected dozens of organizations posing as a US State Department official.

Matthew Lunny Duffy

Columbia Law School