Daily Update | October 30, 2018

10/30/18  //  Daily Update

A lawsuit accused President Trump and his company of inducing people to invest in sham businesses. The Department of Defense will send at least 5,200 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to a group of migrants moving through Central America. President Trump will travel to Pittsburgh following the mass shooting at a synogogue. Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the alleged Pittsburgh shooter. Angela Merkel will not run again for party leader or chancellor of Germany. President Trump has interviewed Neomi Rao, director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, to fill the DC Circuit vacancy left by Judge Brett Kavanaugh. U.S. government agencies are attempting to prevent Russian interference with the 2018 election on social media by identifying and aggressively confronting Russian agents.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | October 29, 2018

10/29/18  //  Daily Update

Over 700,000 immigrants face a backlog on applications to become U.S. citizens under the Trump administration, with the process that used to take six months now taking over two years. Harvard’s Institute of Politics Survey suggests Americans under 30 will vote in higher numbers in the 2018 election than they have in previous years. House Republicans' change of the rules in 2015 to allow them to issue subpoenas as the majority party without consulting the minority party may backfire in 2018 if Democrats use it to investigate President Trump. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro has been elected the next President of Brazil. President Trump’s promotion of the idea of “America First” has left a number of world leaders less willing to work with the United States at the United Nations.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | October 26, 2018

10/26/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump’s allies say FBI officials should be investigated over Russia probe. At the Supreme Court, the DOJ argues in favor of businesses being able to discriminate against transgender employees. President Trump to order 800 army troops to help secure the border with Mexico. CIA Director Gina Haspel has listened to audio of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing. Manhattan judge questions Trump Foundation over campaign ties. President Trump proposes to lower drug prices by basing them on other countries’ costs. A federal judge orders Georgia to give voters the chance to fix absentee ballots. Typhoon Yutu destroys U.S. territories in the Western Pacific.

Roshaan Wasim

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 25, 2018

10/25/18  //  Daily Update

Pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and Maxine Waters, as well as CNN. The migrant caravan headed to the United States from Honduras is creating a political firestorm before the midterms. Amazon met with ICE officials to market its facial recognition software. The GAO has issued its report on the family separation policy. Officials are preparing for false claims of election interference that might affect the public’s confidence in the electoral process. Chinese and Russian spies are listening to President Trump’s phone calls. Two new reports demonstrate how black Americans are targeted by Russian disinformation.

Hanna St. Marie

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 24, 2018

10/24/18  //  Daily Update

The DOJ is planning to propose a change to immigration proceedings that would allow the Attorney General to rule on cases before they are heard by the Board of Immigration Appeals. TSA’s proposal to use facial recognition surveillance technology at airports “is not good news for privacy and civil liberties” as it could easily spread to other government agencies. Taking its first step to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced that the US will revoke the visas of the men accused of the murder. The Administration’s new practice of asking the partisan affiliation of judicial candidates to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals has some concerned judges are being selected based on partisanship rather than qualifications. The US Cyber Command has begun its first cyber operation against Russian election interference by informing Russian operatives their activities have been identified and are being tracked.

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School

Daily Update | October 23, 2018

10/23/18  //  Daily Update

The Special Counsel has acquired audio recordings related to Roger Stone’s contacts with Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. In an unusual move, Paul Manafort has allegedly retained a joint defense agreement with President Trump, despite pleading guilty cooperating with the Special Counsel investigation. The Department of Health and Human Services announced new regulations that would allow states to opt out of many Affordable Care Act insurance requirements. Brian Johnson, a longtime Republican political operative and critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has played a leading role in reshaping the agency as acting deputy director.

Abigail DeHart

Michigan Law School

Daily Update | October 22, 2018

10/22/18  //  Daily Update

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is aggressively investigating whether Roger Stone had advance knowledge that hacked and stolen emails would be published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. A federal judge ordered that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort be sentenced in February for financial crimes he was convicted of in August. The Trump Administration is considering redefining “sex” under Title IX as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth. Georgia’s “exact match” law could disenfranchise nearly 1 million eligible voters. The Trump Administration is planning to announce the U.S. will withdraw from the the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a thirty-year-old arms control measure with Russia. The Justice Department charged a Russian woman with helping lead an elaborate campaign of “information warfare” to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 19, 2018

10/19/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump finally stated that he believed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was dead. Emmet T. Flood has been named White House Counsel on a temporary basis. President Trump threatened closure of the Southern border if Mexico did not stop the ‘caravan’ of migrants headed from Guatemala to the United States. DHS is considering withdrawing from the Flores Agreement, a 21-year-old court-supervised settlement agreement that provides strict conditions for the detention of immigrant children. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board finally released a report that shows a gaping hole in privacy protections from U.S. surveillance. The Heritage Foundation’s training program for judicial clerks raised ethical questions and concerns regarding the duties of the clerks to the judges they will serve. The Inspector General concluded that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke violated the Department’s policy on travel.

Hanna St. Marie

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | October 18, 2018

10/18/18  //  Daily Update

White House Counsel Donald McGahn resigned his post. The number of migrant families crossing the border reached record levels in the last three months, leading President Trump to call for a reinstatement of the family separation policy. The U.S. received $100 million in Syrian stabilization support from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, raising questions about the timing of the transfer in light of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Trump administration plans to withdraw from the 144-year-old Universal Postal Union Treaty, which allows Chinese companies to ship small packages to the U.S. at a heavily discounted rate. The White House revealed its Unified Agenda, proposing additional deregulation and predicting a decrease between $120 and $340 billion in regulatory costs by the end of fiscal year 2019. A senior Treasury Department employee was charged with leaking confidential financial reports, some of which related to the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School

Daily Update | October 17, 2018

10/17/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump administration has falsely and dangerously connected immigration to terrorism in promoting policies. President Trump threatened to cut aid to Honduras unless a group of migrants fleeing violence are stopped and returned to the country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was sent to Saudi Arabia to speak with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid ongoing concerns over the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Rejecting an industry challenge, a D.C. Circuit Court judge allowed an Obama-era student loan protection for graduates of for-profit colleges to go into effect. DHS’s intelligence assessment reported that the volume of attempted cyber-attacks on election systems in 2018 has been growing, but some argue this may reflect improved reporting and sharing between governments, rather than an “uptick in activity.” President Trump criticized Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, for raising interest rates too fast, referring to the bank as his “biggest threat.”

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Mackenzie Walz

University of Michigan Law School

Daily Update | October 16, 2018

10/16/18  //  Daily Update

The “Watergate Road Map” will be largely unsealed after a lawsuit, improving public understanding a potential report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. With the midterms less than a month away, federal agencies have not yet finalized plans for countering foreign interference in the 2018 election. The Department of Homeland Security has noted an increasing number of attempts to hack US election systems in the leadup to the midterms, but all attacks have been unsuccessful. Despite his ongoing rhetorical conflicts with President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has reshaped the military. The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation that would require the agency to use only publicly available data in cost-benefit analysis is a boon for transparency and scientific rigor.

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