Derek Reinbold  //  6/18/17  //  Topic Update

Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee (WSJNYTWaPoJust Security).

  • He denied having additional undisclosed meetings with the Russians and defended his earlier false testimony that he never had any as an “honest mistake”; defended his role in former FBI Director Jim Comey’s firing against charges that it violated Sessions’s recusal from matters involving the Trump campaign and that it served as a pretext for President Trump’s decision; and refused to answer questions about a wide range of conversations he had with the president.  
  • Analysts examine Sessions’ use of executive privilege--or lack thereof (WaPoLA TimesSlate)
  • Dan Froomkin notes that analysts should pay attention to how Sessions defines his recusal (ACS blog).
  • Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein refused to answer questions about the scope of Sessions’ recusal (The Hill).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, in response to James Comey’s testimony (NYTWaPo).

  • President Trump has also reportedly said that he is “100 percent” willing to testify about his conversations with Comey (NYTWSJABA Journal).
  • But at Verdict Justia, John Dean writes that President Trump is far from ready to deal with his mounting legal problems.
  • President Trump’s best defense to obstruction of justice charges may just be to plead ignorance, writes Paul Rosenzweig (Lawfare).
  • At The Atlantic, Adam Serwer analyzes an incompetence defense for President Trump.
  • At Dorf on Law, Neil H. Buchanan writes that Republicans acted as expected in defending the President during Comey’s testimony.
  • Karen J. Greenberg argues that Comey’s testimony demonstrated that President Trump cares more about himself than his country (WaPo).

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has recruited Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben to assist with his investigation (National Law JournalWaPo).

  • At Just Security, Alex Whiting outlines the next steps in Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.
  • Dan Froomkin writes that Mueller will face tough choices if he finds that President Trump did violate the law (ACS Blog).
  • In response to Alan Dershowitz’s claim that the President cannot commit obstruction of justice, Eric Posner writes that this conclusion seems mistaken (Eric Posner).
  • As a follow up, Posner and Daniel Hemel write that the major issue for an obstruction charge will come down to the President’s intent (Eric Posner).
  • Rick Pildees agrees with Eric Posner, arguing that the Supreme Court has decisively rejected Dershowitz’s view (Lawfare).

President Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz will reportedly file a complaint over Comey’s "leaked" memo, reports Debra Cassens Weiss (ABA Journal)

  • At Just Security, Julian Sanchez attempts to parse out the response to Comey’s testimony from Kasowitz.
  • At Lawfare, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes write that Kasowitz’s bad lawyering is doing a disservice to his client.
  • Rebecca R. Ruiz and Sharon LaFraniere discuss the differences between Kasowitz’s role as a personal lawyer and President Trump’s relationships with White House attorneys (NYT).

President Trump’s lawyer may be blurring the line between the President’s public and private interests, report Rebecca R. Ruiz and Sharon LaFraniere (NYT).

  • At Lawfare, Paul Rosenzweig notes that Kasowitz does not seem familiar with criminal investigations and may even need ethics counsel of his own.
  • Also at Lawfare, Bob Bauer writes that Kasowitz’s actions suggest an institutional breakdown of norms underlying the rule of law.
  • Following up on previous posts, Eric Posner and Daniel Hemel consider the line between presidential obstruction of justice and legitimate use of executive power (Eric Posner).

There is no law prohibiting someone from revealing a conversation with the President to a third partynotes Peter M. Shane at Take Care.

  • Accordingly, claims by President Trump’s lawyer that Comey violated executive privilege are just wrong, argues Steve Vladeck (WaPo).
  • At Just Security, Vladeck provides further analysis on the ridiculousness of the claims.
  • Jed Shugerman similarly writes that arguments that Comey violated any laws in revealing his memos are “remarkably weak” (Shugerblog).
  • Timothy Edgar and Susan Hennessey also conclude that Comey did nothing wrong (Lawfare).
  • Matt Zapotosky argues that while Comey may be a “leaker”, that doesn’t make him a criminal (WaPo).
  • At Vox, Sean Illing reports the unanimous views of 10 legal scholars on the legality of Comey’s memo leak.
  • At Dorf on Law, Michael Dorf notes that in light of Comey’s testimony, one might want to wear a wire when meeting with President Trump.  

 Republican Senator Susan Collins has called on President Trump to turn over any Comey tapes (WaPo).

Russian cyberattacks on the U.S. electoral system before November are wider than previously known and included breaches in 39 states (Bloomberg Politics).

President Trump can’t lawfully fire Robert Mueller, argue Jack GoldsmithMarty Lederman, and Peter Shane.

The Senate reached a bipartisan agreement to limit President Trump’s ability to lift sanctions without giving Congress a chance to weigh in and to impose new sanctions (The Hill).

  • Rex Tillerson opposed the deal (Politico).

James Comey’s friend, Columbia law professor Daniel Richman, turned over his memos to the FBI, sidestepping requests to deliver them to congressional committees (Politico).

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible obstruction of justice by President Trump (NPRThe HillWaPo).

The Senate Intelligence Committee has announced plans to investigate the circumstances of President Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey (ABA Journal).

Former FBI director James Comey’s Senate testimony is indicative of the need for strong whistleblower protections, argues Jason Zuckerman at ACS Blog.

In Vox, Dara Lind argues that the Trump administration’s relationship to Russian interference is still scandalous even if no clear evidence of collusion is found, because the administration has behaved unethically in attempting to prevent the truth of Russian interference from being discovered.  

President Trump will likely be impeached if Democrats win back the House of Representatives in 2018, writes Jonah Goldberg in National Review.

Representative Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts introduced legislation to create a response center to combat Russian cyber attacks (The Hill).

Updates | The Week of February 19, 2018

2/25/18  //  Daily Update

Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a new charge against Paul Manafort while Richard Gates pled guilty. Meanwhile, President Trump's proposal to arm teachers drew controversy in Washington.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Updates | The Week of February 5, 2018

2/11/18  //  Daily Update

The Nunes memo set off aftershocks; agencies scrambled to implement the Trump Administration's policies to mixed effect; and Congress passes a budget after a brief overnight shutdown.

Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump attempted to fire Special Counsel Mueller in June 2017 over his obstruction of justice probe, but refrained after White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.