Lark Turner // 2/11/18 //
On this week’s Versus Trump, Charlie Gerstein and Easha Anand discussed the Russia investigation, the Nunes memo, and whether President Trump will be interviewed by the Special Counsel (Take Care).
Despite discussions at a unity retreat in West Virginia, Republican lawmakers were unable to reach consensus on their strategy for DACA (The Hill).
Increasing numbers of states and localities are resisting cooperation with federal immigration agents, according to the American Immigration Council.
A draft of a report from the Department of Homeland Security called for long-term surveillance of some Muslim immigrants (The Hill).
President Trump is not expected to extend a March 5th deadline for when legal protections and work permits for DACA recipients begin to expire (WaPo).
President Trump plans to establish a National Vetting Center for immigrants and visitors (The Hill).
ICE officials are reportedly looking into the agency joining the Intelligence Community. Allowing this would be a mistake, putting our civil liberties at risk, writes Matthew Feeney at Cato @ Liberty.
A Rhode Island woman appeared for an immigration interview and ended up in ICE detention; a federal judge has stayed her deportation pending review of the petition challenging her detention (ACLU).
Conservative politicians rushed to make political hay out of the death of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez, blaming his death on an attack, but an FBI investigation uncovered no evidence of an attack, writes Alex Nowrasteh for Cato @ Liberty.
A California judge ruled that a bakery can continue to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples (Bakersfield Californian).
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Howard Nielson Jr., who is nominated to the federal District Court in Utah, over accusations of anti-LGBT bias (Washington Times).
Calls for arrest or prosecutions in our national political discourse have a damaging effect on our democracy, argues Joshua Geltzer at Just Security.
President Trump attacked Democratic lawmakers who did not applaud during the State of the Union, calling their behavior “Un-American” and “treasonous” (WaPo).
State courts have an important role to play in congressional districting and the US Supreme Court was correct to stay out of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, writes Vikram David Amar for Verdict.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder is leading the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which intends to pour millions of dollars into all-GOP states to attack gerrymandering (NYTimes).
The extraordinary role played by very few wealthy donors may be the most important element of the post-Citizens United era, writes Bob Biersack for OpenSecrets.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Records suggest President Trump personally profited from Trump from America, the nonprofit presidential transition organization (Center for Public Integrity).
The President should be sued in his personal, not official capacity, in the Emoluments Clause litigation, write Josh Blackman and Seth Tillman at The Volokh Conspiracy.
President Trump nominated Emory Rounds for head of the Office of Government Ethics. Rounds is that office’s current associate counsel (Politico).
JUSTICE & SAFETY
The Trump Administration’s inaction enables ISIS’s success in internet recruitment and message, and needs to be countered with deliberate disruption practices, argues Michael Smith at Lawfare.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reported that the U.S. may restrict oil sales to Venezuela, in an attempt to pressure the government to resolve political and economic crisis (The Hill).
President Trump’s comments about Latin American countries as sources of illegal drugs may undercut the aims of Secretary of State Tillerson’s trip (WSJ).
North Korea’s foreign ministry spokesman called President Trump’s State of the Union address “the height of Trump-style arrogance, arbitrariness and self-conceit” (The Hill).
The Trump Administration released a new Nuclear Posture Review on Friday, in which it announces a need to modernize weaponry in response to Russia’s efforts, sparking a “new kind of nuclear arms race” (NYT).
In a surprise move, Secretary Mattis fired the top official overseeing the trials of the five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks and other alleged war criminals held at Guantánamo (Miami Herald).
President Trump’s recent rhetoric suggests we may see a bipartisan effort to push through a criminal-justice reform bill in Congress this year (New Republic).
A Trump Administration plan to move oversight of drug prevention programs to the Justice Department is drawing protest from state and local law enforcement officials (NYT).
During an intelligence hearing, Secretary Mattis suggested plans for new U.S. nuclear weapons could be used as a bargaining chip with the Russians (WaPo).
Attorney General Jeff Session yesterday gave an extended speech outlining his law-and-order approach to his job (Sentencing Law and Policy).
Mandatory minimums distort our courts, writes Jeffrey Bellin at The Marshall Project, recounting the story of Joseph Tigano’s seven-year wait for a trial.
Facing stiff resistance from diplomats and lawmakers, Secretary of State Tillerson is scaling back his plans to restructure the State Department (Politico).
Governors in capital cases seem to give weight to capital jurors who call for a commutation, writes Douglas Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy, detailing a recent reprieve issued by Ohio Governor John Kasich.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) asked for comments about bump stocks—which the Las Vegas gunman used to massacre almost 60 people—and received more than 36,000 responses. The ATF has not yet proposed any specific regulations (The Hill).
RULE OF LAW
As the Trump White House seeks to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of violating federal records laws, White House lawyers have warned staff not to use encrypted messaging apps for official government business (WaPo).
Military parades are about ego and power, so of course President Trump wants one, writes Ishaan Tharor for the Washington Post.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has had to act as a check on an impulsive president; the question is how long that role can persist (WaPo).
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has taken another hit to his credibility after he defended Rob Porter, an aide accused of domestic violence (WaPo).
The Trump Administration will withdraw its nomination of climate change skeptic Kathleen Hartnett White to lead the Council on Environmental Quality (NYT).
A top EU official warned that any U.S. tariffs on European exporters would be matched in kind on American exporters (The Hill).
A consent order negotiated between the Federal Reserve and Wells Fargo prevented the bank from growing and emphasized the responsibility of directors (NYT).
The Labor Department’s Office of the Inspector General is launching an investigation into the Department’s proposed rulemaking on tip pooling (The Hill).
The CFPB under White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney is pulling back from some of its previous interpretations of consumer protection laws (LA Times).
President Trump has not yet decided whether to support a treaty amendment that seeks to phase out certain greenhouse gases (The Hill).
The President’s recent tweet on health care demonstrates his inconsistent positions on health care policy (Take Care).
Ten states and a coalition of environmental groups sued the Trump Administration for delaying enforcement of an EPA rule meant to protect waterways (The Hill).
The Trump Administration is attempting to change regulations without engaging in a serious analysis of the costs and benefits involved, which might spell legal trouble for the underlying regulations (Bloomberg).
The Trump Administration is considering adding new work requirements and increasing rent for people living in federally subsidized housing (The Hill).
The White House advised government agencies to prepare for a government shutdown as Congress struggled to pass a budget before a midnight deadline (WaPo).
The Office of Special Counsel warned federal agencies that non-disclosure agreements, insider threat programs, and employee monitoring programs may violate whistleblower protections (POGO).
More than 30 senators are asking the CFPB for details about the agency’s investigation into Equifax’s 2017 data breach following reports that the agency has been dragging its feet (The Hill).
Marvin Goodfriend, President Trump’s pick for a Federal Reserve Board seat, faces a tough route to Senate confirmation after several Republican Senators signalled their opposition (The Hill).
The Trump administration has taken bold steps in rolling back climate policies, but it has had eight major setbacks, writes Dan Farber for LegalPlanet.
The recent boom in cryptocurrencies has sent federal officials scrambling (The Hill).
Anti-union challengers are on the verge of Supreme Court victory, writes Richard Wolf for USA Today.
The Department of Homeland Security is falling short in managing contractors who waste or abuse taxpayer resources, writes Neil Gordon at POGO.
CHECKS & BALANCES
President Trump’s overwhelmingly male appointments across the executive and judicial branches have closed the door for women and will have long-term consequences, write Leah Litman and Helen Marie Berg at Take Care.
AG Sessions has been silent as President Trump has attacked the Department of Justice, risking its independence and morale (NYT).
A federal court has dismissed a credit union’s lawsuit challenging President Trump’s appointment of Mick Mulvaney as Acting Director of the CFPB (Consumer Finance Monitor).
A new article on congressional limitations on jurisdiction stripping reminds us that it may be a good time to find limits to the power of political actors to undercut judicial checks on their power (Take Care).
The Nunes memo’s biggest casualty is congressional oversight, argues Patrick Eddington at The Hill.
The United States Supreme Court remains “ludicrously opposed to cameras” in the courtroom, writes Jeffrey Toobin for the New Yorker, highlighting the effect of cameras in the Larry Nassar trial.
REMOVAL FROM OFFICE
There are problems with the constitutional arguments against indictment of a president, argues Bob Bauer at Lawfare.
At this stage, it is not necessary or helpful to seek to “lock up” President Trump, writes Jed Shugerman at his blog, commenting on the question of whether a federal prosecutor can indict a sitting president.
President Trump’s lawyers want him to refuse an interview in the Mueller inquiry, which could set up a prolonged court fight (NYT).
A FOIA request revealed the FBI’s real reaction to the firing of Director Comey, contradicting the White House’s version of events (Lawfare).
Congress can protect Mueller by passing legislation that grants the special counsel for-cause protection against firing by the president, writes Eric Posner at the New York Times.
The New York Times has asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to unseal documents related to the wiretapping of Carter Page (NYT).
FISC could be uniquely positioned to resolve the Nunes memo controversy by stating whether or not it views any of memo’s information on Steele as having any material impact on the validity of its prior orders (Lawfare).
Russian hackers successfully penetrated voter registration systems in several states prior to the 2016 election, said Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security (NBC News).
David Laufman, a Justice Department official who helped oversee the probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Hillary Clinton’s email server, stepped down, citing personal reasons amid stepped-up attacks from the Trump administration and allies (WaPo).
Russian hackers are also targeting employees of major defense contractors working on sensitive US military programs (The Hill).
Text messages between two FBI employees show that President Obama wanted an update on Russia, not the Clinton probe as a GOP Senator had suggested (WSJ).
There are really big questions waiting for answers in the Trump-Russia investigation, writes Kate Brannen at Just Security, running through the investigation’s “known unknowns.”
Latin America needs to prepare now for Russian election meddling, write Tim Mauerer and Agustin Rossi for Lawfare.