Daily Update | February 25, 2019
Michael Cohen provided information to federal prosecutors about irregularities with the Trump Organization and inaugural committee. An IRS employee was charged with illegally leaking Michael Cohen’s banking records and providing them to Michael Avenatti. A bipartisan group of fifty-eight former senior national security officials issued a statement saying there is no factual basis for President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the border. A new lawsuit is seeking to require the federal government to recognize Hoda Muthana—an American-born woman who joined the Islamic State as an “ISIS bride” and now seeks to return—as an American citizen and allow her reentry into the country. The Trump Administration’s attempt to deny citizenship to the children of binational same-sex couples received a setback when a federal court ruled that such children are U.S. citizens under the relevant federal statutes. A federal judge ruled that an all-male military draft is unconstitutional.
Daily Update | February 22, 2019
President Trump should not rely on the Supreme Court to uphold his declaration of national emergency just because it saved the Muslim travel ban. A criminal complaint released on Thursday alleges that an IRS employee unlawfully disclosed confidential reports about President Trump’s former attorney, Michal Cohen. The FEC’s chair, Ellen Weintraub, has instructed FEC lawyers not to defend the FEC in non-enforcement suits in an effort to break the gridlock at the FEC and create more robust campaign-finance enforcement. Relentless discussion of impeachment may harm our democracy and inflame partisan dysfunction. The Trump Administration has cut off talks with the state of California about fuel-efficiency standards, citing the California Air Resource Board’s lack of cooperation with the Trump Administration. The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force should not be used to justify United States air strikes in Iran.
Daily Update | February 21, 2019
Justice Department officials believe that Robert Mueller will potentially finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by next week. President Trump announced that the United States would not re-admit Hoda Muthana, a student who traveled to Syria to try to join the Islamic State, but has apologized and wishes to return to the United States. The Supreme Court on ruled 9-0 that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment in Timbs v. Indiana. The Environmental Protection Agency has begun to lay out a new plan to change Obama-era rules and make regulation of mercury and air toxins substantially more difficult. Members of Congress have grown concerned that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats may soon be removed from his position by President Trump.
Daily Update | February 20, 2019
President Trump denied asking former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to put a U.S. attorney who would be sympathetic to President Trump in charge of the investigation into payments to a woman President Trump allegedly had an affair with. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that a Texas man may not be executed due to his having an intellectual disability, reversing a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision. Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered a hearing on Roger Stone’s bail status after he posted an image on Instagram which appeared to show the judge’s head next to the crosshairs of a gun. President Trump signed an order to create a military branch under Air Force control that would primarily deal with threats in space, which he has referred to as a “space force.” The House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a report discussing allegations from whistleblowers that Michael Flynn and other members of the Trump administration were part of an effort to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
Daily Update | February 19, 2019
Sixteen states sue to challenge the President’s authority to declare a national emergency to build the border wall. A lawsuit was filed by multiple civil rights organizations challenging the administration’s policy of sending asylum seekers back to Mexico while their cases are considered. The budget bill passed last week pushes back against some Trump Administration policies, but overall continues to expand the federal government’s immigration prison regime. President Trump stopped cost-sharing payments under the ACA, and Congress may end up liable to insurers for over $12 billion in missed payments. The First Circuit says the board appointed to oversee Puerto Rico’s finances was illegally constituted, and President Trump may have to appoint a new one.
Daily Update | February 18, 2019
Trump has declared a national emergency to fund the border wall. As a border wall becomes more likely, asylum seekers at the border are giving up hope. The Court will review the census citizenship question dispute this term. The Special Counsel's office filed its sentencing memo in Paul Manafort's case. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed a former employee of the data firm Cambridge Analytica. A district court ordered the Trump administration to halt the imminent discharge of HIV-positive airmen.
Daily Update | February 15, 2019
President Trump is expected to sign Congress’ budget as well as declare a national emergency to obtain the remaining funds necessary for the construction of a southern border wall. A group of civil liberties organizations filed a lawsuit against the administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols policy, arguing it violates US immigration laws, the APA, and international human rights law. The Senate confirmed the nomination of William Barr as attorney general along partisan lines. If Congress tries to access the July 2018 Helsinki meeting notes, President Trump may be able to claim executive privilege, but that privilege is not absolute.
Daily Update | February 14, 2019
William Barr remains non-commital on whether the Mueller report will be made public. The district court judge rules that Paul Manafort lied while under the plea deal cooperation agreement. As the budget deal nears completion, Trump makes it clear that he wants to avoid a shutdown. The Supreme Court is likely to act on the census citizenship question this week. The ACLU argues that New Hampshire is unfairly targeting young voters to remove them from rolls ahead of 2021 election.
Daily Update | February 13, 2019
Earthjustice released a report that highlights how the Trump administration's planned migrant detention center for unaccompanied children is slated to be placed on top of a former landfill which could have damaging effects on children’s health. The EPA rejected a ban on toxic chemicals that are known to cause serious health threats. The new head of the CFPB proposed getting rid of rules that have served to protect Americans from a predatory industry.
Daily Update | February 12, 2019
Lawyers for the Trump Foundation argued that the New York attorney general's lawsuit against the organization should not move forward because of political bias. The House Veterans Affairs Committee opened an investigation into the role of three members of President Trump's Florida country club Mar-a-Lago in a digital health record contract and other VA business. The FBI’s International Human Rights Unit, a unit that handles war crimes, may be shut down. Even though Inspectors General play a key role as internal agency watchdogs that help promote accountability, there are 12 IG vacancies across federal agencies.
Daily Update | February 11, 2019
Paul Manafort continued political work for Ukraine months after his indictment, and may have lied in the hopes of getting a pardon. The Supreme Court blocks a Louisiana abortion law from going into effect. Georgia voters suing for paper ballots win their appeal to the 11th Circuit. SCOTUS vacates a stay of execution for a man who wanted a Muslim chaplain at his side. 2018 was a record-low year for EPA enforcement. The legal challenge to Trump’s executive order requiring a “two-for-one” elimination of regulations continues to discovery. DHS unveils a new “Remain in Mexico” plan.
Daily Update | February 8, 2019
After earlier saying he would not testify before Congress unless the subpoena threat were removed, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he would testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Federal investigators have given David Pecker, chief of the National Enquirer’s publisher, immunity to cooperate with the investigators. The HHS Office of Population Affairs removed content about birth control and related medicine from its Title X website. The FEC adjusted the individual contribution limit to $2,800 per person for the next election cycle. DOJ awarded $8.3 million to the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. President Trump is likely to sign an executive order banning Chinese telecom equipment next week. The Trump Administration relaxed rules for gun exports. The CFPB proposed new regulations on payday loan lenders that would rescind “ability-to-repay” provisions.
Daily Update | February 7, 2019
DOJ and DHS issued a report finding no evidence of foreign interference in the 2016 elections. Democrats are starting a series of investigations into the Trump administration. Federal prosecutors have looked into a foreign flow of money in Paul Manafort’s firms. The Supreme Court will review a certiorari petition about gun carry license policies and another about California’s ban on new pistol models. DOJ unsealed two “sweeping” indictments of Huawei, and opened an investigation into the Jeffrey Epstein sex offender case. T-Mobile executives hoping for approval of a merger booked more than 52 nights at Trump Hotel. The Education Department’s proposed regulation on Title IX harassment could transform campus harassment procedural protections.
Daily Update | February 6, 2019
New York federal prosecutors delivered a subpoena to Trump’s inaugural committee, requesting an array of documents related to the committee’s donations and spending. Two years later, President Trump’s Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement hotline is still being criticized as racist and anti-immigrant. The Trump Administration concluded there is no evidence that a foreign entity materially impacted US election systems during the 2018 election. Trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union are likely doomed as each side has made propositions the other finds unacceptable. President Trump will nominate senior Treasury Department official and World Bank critic, David Malpass, as President of the World Bank.
Daily Update | February 5, 2019
Prosecutors in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York plan to subpoena President Trump’s inaugural committee. Rinat Akhmetshin—a Russian-born lobbyist and former Soviet military officer who attended the a Trump Tower meeting with senior Trump campaign officials in June 2016—received a series of suspicious payments in 2016. The Trump Organization has fired at least eighteen undocumented workers from five golf courses over the past two months, in part of a purge apparently set in motion after a series of media reports about the clubs’ employment of workers without legal status. Republican congressional leaders are increasingly concerned with the vast number of executive branch positions currently unfilled by a permanent officeholder. As we learn more about the process that led to the Trump Administration’s travel ban, its roots in anti-Muslim animus become clearer, as do the parallels between the Supreme Court’s decisions in Trump v. Hawaii and Korematsu.