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

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

Daily Update | September 24, 2018

9/24/18  //  Daily Update

Former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland reversed her statement to Special Counsel Mueller about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, now saying that Flynn may have spoken to her about discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential transition. The White House and its allies are divided over the possibility of firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. DOE announced it will “rethink anything and everything” related to its approach to special education, with more deference paid to local decision-making. A federal judge in New York ordered Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to be deposed as part of a lawsuit challenging the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The New York Times sued the FCC over its refusal to release records that the Times thinks might shed light on Russian interference in the net neutrality repeal proceeding.

Abigail DeHart

Michigan Law School

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | September 21, 2018

9/21/18  //  Daily Update

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford says she would agree to testify at a Senate hearing next week, but would not be prepared to do so on Monday. The Trump Administration plans to shift $260 million from program like cancer research and AIDS prevention to cover the cost of housing thousands of undocumented immigrant children in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Pentagon stopped announcing body counts of Taliban and Islamic State fighters killed in battle in Afghanistan, a practice which had begun in January. The Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has begun dismantling decades-old policies meant to improve racial disparities in youth incarceration. A number of Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin managed to build relationships with elements of the Trump campaign in 2016.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | September 20, 2018

9/20/18  //  Daily Update

As election day nears, many states and counties are beefing up their plans to deal with cyberattacks on election infrastructure. Undocumented immigrant families affected by Hurricane Florence are wondering whether seeking government resources like shelter, food, or other aid would put them at greater risk. State Department officials are facing backlash over the decision to drastically limit the number of refugees who will be permitted to settle in the U.S. The Office of Inspector General criticized the Bureau of Prisons’ management of female prisoners. Terrorism is down worldwide, but the State Department says that Iran maintains a ‘near-global reach’ as the leading state sponsor of terrorism. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un committed to some concrete steps towards denuclearization, but fell short of what American officials have demanded.

Daily Update | September 19, 2018

9/19/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump’s order for the Justice Department to declassify certain materials related to the investigation and surveillance of his former campaign advisor, Carter Page, is a self-interested effort at “obfuscation, concealment, deception, and the weaponizing of the oversight process.” Mike Pompeo announced that the Administration will cap its refugee resettlement for the coming fiscal year at 30,000, the lowest number in history. Administration officials urged Congress to amend a decades-old court ruling that limits the amount of time migrant children can be detained. FEMA Chief William Long has been suspended and is facing a possible criminal investigation related to his use of government vehicles. More evidence has arisen showing that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied to Congress in testifying that DOJ initially approached him about adding the citizenship question to the census.

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School