Daily Update | November 30, 2018
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.
Daily Update | November 29, 2018
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
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.
Daily Update | November 27, 2018
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.
Daily Update | November 21, 2018
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.
Daily Update | November 19, 2018
In an interview, President Trump said that he was not likely to sit for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A typo in newly unsealed court documents indicates that the DOJ is indeed planning to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The CIA concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued new regulations to govern campus sexual assault cases, which will now face notice and comment. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a discovery dispute in the litigation over the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. In the wake of its loss against Jim Acosta and CNN, the White House is drafting new rules for reporter behavior, with threats to return to court if they are violated.
Daily Update | November 16, 2018
New data from USCIS shows that denials of legal immigration applications have increased by 37 percent under the Trump administration. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to recuse himself from oversight of the Mueller investigation. In a new report on police use of force, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called for the Trump administration to increase oversight of local police departments. Hours after Saudi Arabia announced it will seek the death penalty for five people accused of killing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration announced sanctions against 17 people accused of involvement in the killing.
Daily Update | November 15, 2018
Betsy DeVos, Secretary of the Department of Education, is expected to release new Title IX rules regulating how universities must handle sexual assault and harassment allegations. President Trump’s recent asylum policy is in violation of a Congressional statute, which states that anyone can apply for asylum at a designated port of arrival. The DOJ argued that President Trump has “broad discretion" to limit reporter access to White House buildings and events. The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum explaining that the president has the legal authority to appoint a non-Senate-confirmed individual as acting attorney general.
Daily Update | November 14, 2018
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker consulted with ethics officials about possibly recusing himself from overseeing the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation. The State of Maryland asked a federal court judge to declare that the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was illegal. President Trump’s threat to restrict birthright citizenship has troubling historical precedent in the United States. CNN sued President Trump and several of his aides, seeking the immediate restoration of chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta's access to the White House. President Trump told advisors he is preparing to remove Kirstjen Nielsen as DHS secretary.
Tuesday | November 13, 2018
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.
Daily Update | November 12, 2018
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.
Daily Update | November 9, 2018
After months of investigation, the Special Counsel’s team has begun writing its final report. Were he not to recuse himself, there are several things the acting Attorney General, Matt Whitaker, could legally do to slow down or stop the Special Counsel investigation. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court temporary order, blocking the Trump Administration from ending the DACA program. The Trump Administration has been using videoconferencing to conduct some of the immigration hearings for detained migrant children, which some argue obscures these hearings from the public and poses due process concerns. The HHS Department finalized a rule that will allow certain employers to deny contraception coverage to employees based on moral and religious grounds.
Daily Update | November 8, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at President Trump’s request; Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ Chief of Staff, was named Acting Attorney General. The ACLU called for the DOJ to investigate Border Patrol for voter intimidation. Government officials acknowledged the spread of Election Day misinformation on social media site. Motel 6 agreed to pay a $9 million settlement after it worked with ICE agents to arrest guests. In October, three new credible allegations of corruption were raised against the Trump Administration, involving Secretary Zinke’s property dealings, President Trump’s business dealings in Saudi Arabia, and intervention on behalf of Republican donor Sheldon Adelson in Japan.
Daily Update | November 7, 2018
The Department of Homeland Security announced that there have not yet been any attempts by foreign powers to breach American voting systems in the midterm elections. The Justice Department has switched its focus for voting-law enforcement from areas with many African-American voters to areas with many Latinx voters. This shift reflects racialized worries about voter fraud that have been expressed by President Trump. However, it could also allow for better protection of voting rights in these areas. The United States imposed a second round of sanctions against Iran on Monday amid turbulence in American relations with Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Daily Update | November 6, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a plan for the deployment of federal personnel to polling sites on Election Day. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to step into the legal fights over its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DOJ official, John Gore, who drafted the controversial request for citizenship question on 2020 Census testified that adding the question is "not necessary" for enforcing the Voting Rights Act.