Daily Update | August 30, 2018

8/30/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump Administration is challenging the citizenship of thousands of Hispanic Americans living along the U.S. border. It appears likely that ICE has wrongfully detained thousands of U.S. citizens. Education Secretary is preparing to release new rules to protect students accused of sexual harassment or assault. The Fourth Circuit once again rules that North Carolina’s congressional map is unconstitutional, setting up a new battle at the Supreme Court this fall. The U.S. Embassy in South Africa released information contradicting President Trump’s claims regarding happenings in the country.

Matthew Lunny Duffy

Columbia Law School

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | August 29, 2018

8/29/18  //  Daily Update

Paul Manafort’s defense team was unable to reach a deal with prosecutors regarding his upcoming trial. President Trump hosted a dinner with evangelical leaders and touted his efforts to limit both funding for abortion providers and LGBT+ rights. House Democrats pushed Betsy DeVos to clarify that federal school funding cannot go towards purchasing firearms. Instagram today announced a new policy for combating fake news, and at Facebook, more than 100 employees accused the company of an intolerant liberal culture. A new provision in the National Defense Authorization Act may improve how the government deals with civilian casualties in a handful of ways. The State Department decided not to roll back foreign aid funds, as it had previously considered, after bipartisan resistance.

Zak Lutz

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | August 28, 2018

8/28/18  //  Daily Update

A little-watched case could prevent Robert Mueller from releasing grand jury information or even presenting that information to Congress. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington agreed to block the printing of 3D-printed guns until the case, filed by 19 states against the Trump Administration, is resolved. Yesterday, the Second Circuit heard arguments in United States v. Hasbajrami, a case about whether the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act constitutionally allows mass data collection. The DEA’s prohibitionist approach to drug policy has made the opioid crisis worse by unintentionally forcing doctors to make larger initial prescriptions. The Trump Administration announced a preliminary agreement with Mexico--but not with Canada--for a renegotiated NAFTA. Seth Frotman, the student loan ombudsman at the CFPB, resigned, claiming that the Trump Administration is harming students. The Trump Administration announced six new federal judge nominations.

Zak Lutz

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | August 27, 2018

8/27/18  //  Daily Update

Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, received immunity as part of the federal investigation into campaign finance violations by the Trump campaign. In a series of tweets and statements, President Trump attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and suggested that he investigate the “other side.” Sessions responded with a statement declaring that the Justice Department would not be influenced by political considerations. In response to a formal complaint of discrimination from HUD, Facebook will remove more than 5,000 targeting categories for advertisers. President Trump canceled a trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing a lack of progress in negotiations. A federal district judge blocked several provisions of an executive order by President Trump that purported to curtail the collective bargaining rights of federal employees and limit civil service protections.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | August 24, 2018

8/24/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump may be considering pardoning Paul Manafort after Manafort was convicted of multiple counts of bank and tax fraud. The publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators investigating illegal payments made by Michael Cohen in exchange for immunity. Many of the nation’s CEOs are complaining that new homeland security regulations around skilled workers are causing a drag on the economy. A federal court in Texas may be preparing to require the Trump Administration to halt DACA renewals, creating further uncertainty around the fate of “Dreamers” ahead of President Trump’s six-month deadline. The attempted hack of the DNC’s servers this week wound up being a false alarm. A bill to improve information sharing around cyber threats to U.S. elections was unexpectedly delayed in the Senate. The D.C. Circuit invalidated Trump Administration rules around the disposal of coal-ash for not being strict enough. Democrats are calling for the halt to the Kavanaugh nomination after the Cohen plea deal and Manafort convictions.

Take Care

Daily Update | August 23, 2018

8/23/18  //  Daily Update

In the wake of his convictions on multiple counts of bank and tax fraud, Paul Manafort must decide whether to cooperate with federal investigators ahead of his trial in the District of Columbia. Facing a barrage of court challenges, the Army reinstated dozens of immigrant reservists who sought citizenship through enlistment. The DNC detected an attempted hack into its voter database and alerted the FBI. The federal government under the Trump Administration has been using the Americans with Disabilities Act to shut down polling locations in locations with large minority populations. The Trump Administration is remaking the federal judiciary, thanks to years of preparation by conservative legal groups. Michael Cohen’s guilty plea has sparked new calls for impeachment, but is unlikely to lead to criminal charges being leveled against President Trump.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | August 22, 2018

8/22/18  //  Daily Update

Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, plead guilty to multiple charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations, including the arrangement of illegal payments to two women at the direction of Trump himself. Paul Manafort was found guilty on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted illegally using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for personal expenditures and filing false campaign finance reports. A federal judge heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia to block an agreement reached between DOJ and a private company that would allow it to post 3D-printed gun files online. The Trump Administration announced new sanctions against Russia for defying international sanctions against North Korea.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | August 21, 2018

8/21/18  //  Daily Update

Writing to state and local leaders, President Trump criticized the “Abolish ICE” movement. The Trump Administration has left unfilled thirteen inspector general positions that serve as watchdogs for federal agencies. President Trump criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not firing Bruce Ohr, a civil servant who the President has indicated might have his security clearance revoked. The Trump Administration is expected to announce a new proposal to replace the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh sought to ask President Clinton graphic questions during the Kenneth Starr’s investigation in 1998.

Daily Update | August 20, 2018

8/20/18  //  Daily Update

The jury in the trial of Paul Manafort adjourned on Friday with no verdict and will resume deliberations on Monday. White House Counsel Donald McGahn has cooperated extensively with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Earlier this month, the DOL quietly issued a directive expanding the right of businesses with a federal contract to raise a “religious exemption” if they’re accused of discrimination. The DOJ filed a statement of interest in support of housing groups that have accused Facebook of violating fair housing laws. The tax law championed by President Trump has lead to a cash windfall for Republican campaigns. President Trump plans to revoke the security clearances of more current and former government officials who have criticized him, including former DOJ official Bruce Ohr. The DOJ is investigating whether GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy tried to sell his influence on the Trump administration to foreign officials.

Nicandro Iannacci

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | August 17, 2018

8/17/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump Administration does not track migrant children who come to the United States alone. Pentagon reporters say that they are being punished for publishing critical articles. After President Trump called the media the “Opposition Party,” the Senate passed a resolution with unanimous consent affirming that the “press is not the enemy of the people.” The Trump Administration has formed a team, led by the State Department, to promote its pressure policies against Iran. The Trump Administration may pull back $3 billion in foreign aid that Congress has approved. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday said that White House counsel Don McGahn called him about the Sinclair-Tribune merger in July, as the deal was imploding due to opposition from regulators.

Jacqueline Sahlberg

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | August 16, 2018

8/16/18  //  Daily Update

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allegedly coordinated with ICE to alert the agency when certain immigrants eligible for deportation showed up for visa interviews. President Trump stripped Ex-C.I.A. Director John Brennan’s Security Clearance. The Trump Administration has sought to “censor, misrepresent, and otherwise stifle science” over 150 times, with over three-quarters of the attacks aimed at climate science. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly investigated cyberattacks on a Democratic candidate seeking to challenge an incumbent Republican Representative. President Trump has reversed an Obama-era memorandum that governed U.S. cyberattacks and is seeking to relax the rules. A Hatch Act violation may have occurred when the Treasury Department retweeted President Trump’s celebration of the election “Red Wave.”

Jacqueline Sahlberg

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | August 15, 2018

8/15/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump campaign has filed a suit to compel arbitration with Omarosa Manigault Newman based on a 2016 confidentiality agreement. Over 100 legal scholars signed an open letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that explained how case quotas for immigration judges threatens due process. An eleven-year-old student successfully hacked into and changed the voting results on a model of the Florida’s election website, revealing concerns with election security. The Boston Globe is spearheading a coordinated series of editorials across national newspapers that will decry the Trump Administration’s continued criticisms of the press.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country will boycott U.S.-produced electronics as retaliation for the American role in the declining Turkish currency.

Daily Update | August 14, 2018

8/14/18  //  Daily Update

The District of Columbia rejects Russian company’s bid to dismiss charges brought by Robert Mueller. Omarosa Manigault Newman, former aide to President Trump, releases a recording of her firing made in the White House Situation Room. President Trump appears to admit that White House aids sign nondisclosure agreements. FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who criticized President Trump in texts, is fired. Rudy Giuliani says President Trump’s lawyers are prepared to counter Robert Mueller. The prosecution called its final witness in Paul Manafort’s trial. A rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, is greatly outnumbered by counter-protesters.

Roshaan Wasim

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | August 13, 2018

8/13/18  //  Daily Update

Testimony in Paul Manafort’s trial asserted that the CEO of Federal Savings Bank, which lent Manafort $16 million, wanted Manafort to get him a Cabinet-level position. A federal judge threatened to hold DOJ officials -- even Jeff Sessions -- when a mother and child were deported in the middle of their suit against the DOJ. GEO Group, a private prison that contracts to provide immigration detention centers, has threatened to sue protesters for defamation and tortious interference. The torture of a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist, including waterboarding, is described in detail in cables that CIA Director Gina Haspel sent to agency headquarters in late 2002. Hacking competitions show that manipulating the U.S. elections systems is easy -- even within the capability of budding adolescent hackers. Financial trails suggest that Peter Smith, a Republican operative, may have paid Russian hackers in his quest to obtain Hillary Clinton’s missing e-mails.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | August 10, 2018

8/10/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump’s legal team have made a counteroffer to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s proposed terms for an interview between Mr. Mueller and President Trump. The proposed terms would allow questioning on Russian collusion, but would limit inquiries regarding obstruction of justice. The National Association of Immigration Judges filed a labor grievance on Wednesday, accusing the Department of Justice of undermining their autonomy by reassigning cases in order to maximize deportations. The Senate Judiciary Committee released the first set of documents from Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House. Foreign lobbyists and their agents have spent over $530 million influencing US policy and public opinion since January, 2017.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School