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

Daily Update | November 19, 2018

11/19/18  //  Daily Update

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.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | November 16, 2018

11/16/18  //  Daily Update

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.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School

Daily Update | November 15, 2018

11/15/18  //  Daily Update

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.

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School

Abigail DeHart

Michigan Law School

Daily Update | November 14, 2018

11/14/18  //  Daily Update

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.

Abigail DeHart

Michigan Law School

Tuesday | November 13, 2018

11/13/18  //  Daily Update

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.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School