Daily Update | May 25, 2018
President Trump cancelled his June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The FBI is working to halt a “massive, sophisticated” Russian hacking network. Civil rights groups issued searing criticism of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s claim that the law permits schools to report undocumented students to immigration enforcement. The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review froze the appeal in the 9/11 case, United States v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, et al., because it currently lacks a quorum. President Trump signed into law rollbacks of some Dodd-Frank regulations. The DOJ is opening a criminal investigation into bitcoin trading and potential price manipulation. Former President Obama called for stricter regulation of technology firms’ use of user data.
Daily Update | May 24, 2018
A federal judge ruled that President Trump’s decision to block Twitter users based on their political views constitutes a violation of the First Amendment. Moderate House Republicans demand a vote on immigration. President Trump says he will cancel a proposed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un unless the North Korean regime first accepts a list of unspecified demands. The FBI admits overstating the number of locked smartphones it has been unable to access because of encryption. The EPA bars reporters from a national summit on toxic chemicals. The White House sets a meeting for Republican congressional leaders regarding an F.B.I. informant who contacted members of the Trump campaign during the Russia investigation.
Daily Update | May 23, 2018
By demanding that DOJ open an investigation into the FBI’s scrutiny of his campaign contacts with Russia, President Trump came closer to breaching an established restraint on executive power. The administration’s decision to hold migrant children on U.S. military bases while their parents await trial for illegal entry into the U.S. raises many concerns about traumatic effects on children. President Trump’s proposal for new abortion restrictions on federal family planning money would bar doctors from informing a woman where she could go to receive an abortion, unless she said she had already decided to end her pregnancy. President Trump is making the recruitment of intelligence sources even more difficult. The EPA booted reporters from a meeting about toxic chemicals.
Daily Update | May 22, 2018
The White House affirmed President Trump’s use of the word ‘animal’ to describe undocumented immigrants, issuing a press release that referred to MS-13 as ‘animals’ 13 times. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced a suspension of the threat to place tariffs on Chinese imports. As the U.S. pours upwards of $2.8 trillion into counterterrorism efforts, the government has no clear, government-wide definition of counterterrorism or activities that should be funded as such. Michael Cohen helped a donor to President Trump’s campaign secure an investment from a Qatar fund. President Trump refuses to use a secure cell phone. The Volcker Rule might be on its way out.
Daily Update | May 21, 2018
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would withdraw a computer assessment tool that provides local communities with data to help gauge and combat neighborhood segregation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive limiting immigration judges’ use of administrative closure, which “could put hundreds of thousands of deportation cases that are essentially closed back on federal court dockets.” The Department of Health and Human Services proposed rules that would force organizations like Planned Parenthood to choose between ceasing abortion services or losing some government funding. Three months before the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. met secretly with Erik Prince, former head of the private security firm, Blackwater; George Nader, an emissary for the Saudi and Emirati governments; and Joel Zamel, an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation, in an encounter that has come under the scrutiny of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Daily Update | May 18, 2018
North Korea renewed its criticisms of the United States and South Korea, and again threatened that it would call off the planned summit if American military exercises did not end. With oversight of ICE’s policy of locking migrants in prisons almost nonexistent, an effective American immigration policy should not employ imprisonment so lightly. Gina Haspel was confirmed by the Senate as first female CIA director, despite concerns about her involvement with a widely criticized torture program. Three states appeal to the Fifth Circuit attempting to salvage an Obama-era financial protection rule requiring retirement advisers to act in the best interest of clients. The U.S. Sentencing Commission released a new research report on federal offenders’ criminal histories that shows most federal offenders in custody have a prior offense.
Daily Update | May 17, 2018
New evidence reveals that President Trump did reimburse Michael Cohen for the payment made to Stormy Daniels during the election. President Trump called some undocumented immigrants “animals” at a roundtable on California’s sanctuary state policy. Google is offering American political groups free cyber protection in the wake of Russian attempts to interfere with democratic elections. The White House is conducting searches for staffers’ unauthorized cell phones in an effort to reduce leaks to the press. In hearings, lawmakers raise national security concerns in response to President Trump’s Twitter pledge to aid Chinese company, ZTE. According to recently filed financial disclosures, President Trump has earned $59 million over the past three years operating a skating rink and other attractions in New York City.
Daily Update | May 16, 2018
U.S. Border Patrol has consistently undercounted the number of deaths of migrants on American soil. North Korea suggests that it may back out of the summit with the United States in response to joint South Korea–U.S. military exercises. The White House announced plans to eliminate the top cyber policy advisor position. In a memorial event for law enforcement officials killed in the line of duty, President Trump stated that a “dangerous anti-police prejudice” is growing in the United States. The Trump Organization has brought on a Chinese state-owned company as a partner for a real estate development project in Indonesia, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest after the Trump administration expressed support for ZTE, a Chinese electronics company under US sanctions.
Daily Update | May 15, 2018
As the United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers killed dozens of Palestinians demonstrating the embassy’s move. Justice Department prosecutions under the Foreign Agents Registration act signal that the Administration is using an expanded interpretation of the law. The White House intervened to prevent the release of an EPA study into the safety of drinking water. The Trump administration’s proposed use of emergency powers under various federal statutes to support the coal industry may set a precedent benefiting renewable energy producers under future administrations. Millions accepted a fake news story about a Supreme Court ruling on Sharia law, demonstrating the speed and danger of fake news on the internet.
Daily Update | May 14, 2018
The United States is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies if they don’t stop dealing with Iran. The Senate Intelligence Committee has invited James Comey and three former top intelligence officials to a closed-door hearing as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. DACA opponents have brought a new lawsuit targeting those already protected by the program. The Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era guidance protecting the safety of trans prisoners ignores medical expertise and defies common sense. The Education Department is unwinding a special team that had investigated abuses by for-profit colleges, including schools where top hires of education secretary Betsy Devos had worked. There is a growing national movement empowering formerly incarcerated people to vote if they are eligible and pushing to restore their rights if they are not.
Daily Update | May 11, 2018
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moved to loosen regulations that restrict religious colleges and universities from receiving federal aid. AT&T paid Michael Cohen to provide advice on the Time Warner merger. Following news of the Novartis and AT&T payments, Public Citizen sent a complaint to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether Michael Cohen violated lobbying laws. The appeal of net neutrality rules will take effect on June 11. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released copies of 3,500 Facebooks ads purchased by a Russian firm with Kremlin ties.
Daily Update | May 10, 2018
The Treasury Department’s Inspector General is investigating whether the information about the allegation of a payment from Victor Vekselberg to Michael Cohen was leaked. The Department of Homeland Security has drafted regulations that would change the rules, and erode protections, for minors in immigration detention. President Trump suggested revoking press credentials over “negative” coverage. Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is folding the student loan unit into the office of Financial Education. The Russian company Concord Management and Consulting LLC entered a not-guilty plea in the Mueller prosecution.
Daily Update | May 9, 2018
President Trump pulls out of nuclear deal with Iran and reinstates economic sanctions. U.S. Embassy cables reveal that the Trump administration ignored warnings from senior diplomats that expelling immigrants with temporary protected status would cause destabilization and increase illegal immigration. The Michigan Legislature’s proposed Medicaid work requirements discriminate against black urban residents in violation of federal civil rights law. A firm tied to a Russian oligarch and several other firms with business before the Trump administration made payments totaling more than $1 million to the same company used by Michael Cohen to pay Stormy Daniels.
Daily Update | May 8, 2018
President Trump attacks Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, says “there is no” obstruction of justice: “[I]t’s called fighting back.” The Trump Administration is implementing a “zero tolerance” policy on migrants trying to enter the United States illegally, who will now be sent to detention centers awaiting trial while their children are separated from them and taken into custody. A set of travel documents show EPA officials taking “extreme” measures to insulate Scott Pruitt from the public eye. President Trump says he will have an announcement on the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday. An increase in impeachment talk has made it more difficult to use the power against presidents whose actions merit it.
Daily Update | May 7, 2018
The Solicitor General made an erroneous factual representation to the Supreme Court during travel ban oral argument. Gina Haspel, nominated to head the CIA, sought to withdraw her nomination over questions about her role in the agency’s torture program. President Trump, speaking to the NRA, suggested that civilians with guns would have stopped the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. The French government and survivors of the attacks condemned the remarks. President Trump’s legal team has taken a combative tone with special counsel prosecutors, which is likely to further delay the outcome of the probe. The rise of a permanent impeachment campaign over the past two decades has made it much harder to impeach a corrupt president, even when we may truly need to do so.