Nel's New Day

March 18, 2020

Barr Fixit Guy for Authoritarian DDT

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) named Bill Barr the U.S. Attorney General, he found a kindred spirit in authoritarianism. Barr hid information in the Mueller report, appointed someone to investigate the FBI for investigating DDT’s campaign, intervened in Roger J. Stone Jr’s sentencing to lower it, and picked an outside prosecutor to view the case against Michael Flynn. Barr also created a back door for DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani to deliver him “dirt” on Joe Biden and tried to bury the whistleblower complaint that initiated the impeachment inquiry. DDT was disappointed in former AG Jeff Sessions because, although a lying racist, the AG had a small core of ethical behavior. Sessions’ recusing himself from all things Russian crushed DDT, but he kept Sessions until he found the perfect fixit, his own Ray Cohn, for the former Department of Justice. The situations below are only the tip of the iceberg: with Barr as AG, justice is gone.  

Gabe Ortiz wrote the DOJ “doles out mercy and second chances to the undeserving, the rich, and the powerful, but none for the most vulnerable and for whom a decision quite literally means life or death.” In early March, Barr changed the definition of torture for asylum seekers using it as a basis for staying in the U.S. Because immigration courts are under the rule of DOJ, Barr can override decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals. He has used that right so many times immigration lawyers and judges call it abuse and a check on his judges if decisions don’t match DDT’s immigration agenda of destroying due process. Barr’s decision makes the definition of torture so narrow that every applicant is guaranteed failure. New immigration judges are hired to follow DDT’s anti-immigrant position. Their training is to follow DDT’s enforcement. Dana Leigh Marks, president emeritus of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said, “What’s happening now is that all the norms are breaking. All the wheels are coming off the car.” Barr could decide to use his personal definition of “justice” on far more people than immigrants.

Part of Barr’s job is to protect DDT, and he’s done it by dropping federal charges against two Russian shell companies as defendants in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian troll farm case. Two of the original 16 defendants accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election are no longer involved in the trial. The case exposes a big part of Russian influence operation in the U.S., using social media to spread disinformation and exploit social divisions. Barr’s excuse to drop charges was that the companies were using the case to access information from prosecutors about the government’s sources and investigation methods.

DDT declared a commitment to “safeguarding the American consumer” days before a study shows that DOJ prosecutions of white-collar criminals fell to an all time low in January. The 359 white-collar criminals prosecuted in January represented a drop of 25 percent from five years ago. At this rate, the number of prosecutions will be half those during the Obama administration. The study was reported in early March when DDT promised to prosecute “bad actors seeking to harm and exploit honest and hardworking people through deception and other nefarious tactics.” Last month, DDT pardoned high-profile white-collar criminals such as “junk bond king” Michael Milken and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Last September, a court filing revealed that Barr is still covering up for the Saudi government part in the 9/11 terror attacks that killed almost 3,000 people. He said that the “state secrets” privilege allows him to block the release of an FBI report about the relationships between some of the 19 hijackers and Saudi government officials. Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudi citizens. Eight days after the attack, at least 13 relatives of Osama bin Laden, one of them a #1 on Washington’s “most wanted” list and linked to a terrorist organization, left the U.S. on a chartered flight with bodyguards and associates.  Saudi, the world’s biggest purchaser of U.S. weapons, is central to the wars for regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

Like many people, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, first nominated by Ronald Reagan, ruled that Barr’s handling of Robert Mueller’s report indicates that the DOJ cannot be trusted to redact the document. In early March, Walton determined that his court will review the redactions to guarantee that the blacked-out portions don’t improperly hide information from the public. He criticized the Barr’s letter supposedly summarizing Mueller’s conclusions before Barr made portions of the report available to Congress. Walton suggested that Barr’s intent was to create a one-sided view of the report that differed from the report itself.

“[A] review of the redacted version of the Mueller Report by the Court results in the Court’s concurrence with Special Counsel Mueller’s assessment that Attorney General Barr distorted the findings in the Mueller Report.”

Walton declared two major representations of the report by Barr. He said Mueller did not establish DDT’s involvement in the 2016 Russian election interference although Mueller found several “links” between the campaign and Russia which he said were not a criminal conspiracy. And second, Barr omitted Mueller’s determination not to make a prosecutorial decision about whether DDT obstructed justice but listed extensive analysis and evidence about DDT’s commission of the crime of obstruction. Mueller had said that Congress or a prosecutor could perhaps try for his conduct.

Walton wrote that because of discrepancies between Barr’s public representation and Mueller’s findings, Barr may have “made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”

Walton also wrote:

“The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report. These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility. These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility.”

Last October, Walton told U.S. prosecutors to either charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe or drop their long-running investigation into whether he lied to investigators about a media disclosure. Walton said that such a long wait undermined the DOJ’s credibility with impression that the DOJ was hounding one of DDT’s enemies. In a February hearing, Walton stated that DDT’s repeated attacks on McCabe raised concerns about the investigation’s motives:

“I just think it’s a banana republic when we go down that road and we have those type of statements being made that are conceivably, even if not, influencing the ultimate decision. I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undue inappropriate pressure being brought to bear….

“I think as a government and as a society we’re going to pay a price at some point for this.”

McCabe wasn’t charged.

In an Atlantic article, journalist/attorney Peter M. Shane claimed that DDT is trying to put federal administrative adjudicators under his personal control. These thousands of federal employees don’t direct courtrooms but preside over trial-like disputes. Shane wrote:

“[They] preside over trial-like disputes, hear evidence and testimony, and make decisions that can deeply shape people’s lives, such as the granting of asylum and veterans benefits. These executive branch employees are administrative adjudicators.”

If DDT succeeds in dictating their rules governing how disputes with agencies are resolved, all of them must follow DDT’s whims, removing the descriptor “independent” from these agencies.

Barr is finally the subject of an ethics complaint to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) because of his allegedly prejudicial “inflammatory and disparaging” comments about the DOJ’s active probe into the FBI investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election. An earlier ethics complaint cites a pattern of bias by Barr to protect DDT at expense of carrying out DOJ mission to “ensure fair and impartial administration of justice.” Barr’s “failure to recuse resulted in” DOJ “mishandling” the whistleblower was the subject of another complaint last week.

DDT has support from another fixit guy—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). After ignoring the 400+ House bills to rapidly push through judges and other confirmations, McConnell is personally asking older judges to retire so that he can put in highly conservative and young unqualified judges, just like the others. He said they would have to retire by early fall, a couple of months before the election, to be replaced. This from the man who blocked President Obama’s nomination for a Supreme Court justice for almost ten months.

February 20, 2020

Barr, DDT: ‘Because I Can’

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 9:05 PM
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Today, the story about the attempt of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), with the help of his fixer AG Bill Barr, to interfere in the sentencing for Roger Stone, convicted of seven felonies including his participation in WikiLeaks release of emails favoring DDT, came to a head with Stone’s sentencing. After a federal judge lambasted Barr’s interference, she sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison, two years’ probation, $20,000 fine, and 250 hours of community service.  Suspension of these punishments until a ruling on Stone’s request for a new trial delays Stone’s serving his sentence. The judge claimed that “the truth still matters,” but Stone left court with a smirk on his face.

Barr had dropped the original request of seven to nine years sentence for Stone to one to two years, but the new prosecutor, John Crabb, said that Stone should have “a substantial period of incarceration.” Federal sentencing guidelines, followed before Stone, recommend a minimum term of almost six years. The situation became so heated that the judge held a broadcasted 12-minute telephone conference with all parties two days before the sentencing.

Facing accusations that Barr followed DDT’s orders instead of running the DOJ, Barr first said that he could not do his job because of DDT’s tweets and then leaked that he might resign. [Don’t believe it!]  Fewer than nine months before the presidential election, Barr’s call for pity resulted in accolades about his “integrity,” “dedication,” service to the “rule of law,” “transparency … without bending to political winds,” etc. from GOP senator.

Over 2,000 former DOJ officials, however, disagreed with the GOP senators, calling on Barr to resign, that he “flouted” the fundamental principle that “political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law.” They also claimed that Barr’s doing DDT’s directions caused damage to the DOJ.

The independent Federal Judges Association, a national association of over 1,000 federal judges, called an emergency meeting about DDT’s and the DOJ’s intervention in politically sensitive cases, claiming that the crisis could not wait until the group’s spring conference. The meeting was postponed with no reason given after the rumor that Barr might resign.

One of Barr’s former bosses, Donald Ayer, deputy AG under George H.W. Bush and a former U.S. Attorney, wrote in an Atlantic op-ed that Barr needed to resign:

“In chilling terms, Barr’s own words make clear his long-held belief in the need for a virtually autocratic executive who is not constrained by countervailing powers within our government under the constitutional system of checks and balances. Indeed, given our national faith and trust in a rule of law no one can subvert, it is not too strong to say that Bill Barr is un-American. And now, from his perch as attorney general, he is in the midst of a root-and-branch attack on the core principles that have guided our justice system, and especially our Department of Justice, since the 1970s.”

Barr’s actions in addition to intervening in the cases of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn:

  • “Public whitewashing of Robert Mueller’s report.”
  • Accusing the FBI of “spying” on the Trump campaign.
  • Working with DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the Ukraine scandal.
  • Initiating a “second, largely redundant investigation of the FBI Russia probe.”
  • Criticizing the separation of church and state doctrine to make all U.S. institutions be Judeo-Christian.
  • Persecuting Hillary Clinton.
  • Trying to hide the Ukrainian whistleblower report in violation of the law.
  • Ordering the DOJ to block New York prosecutors using state law to demand DDT’s tax returns.
  • Concealing a 2018 federal report about white supremacists being responsible for all race-based domestic terrorism events in that year.
  • Protecting George H.W. Bush by enabling him to pardon all the conspirators of the Iran-Contra Scandal.
  • Arguing that the president is above the law, including the use of military force without congressional authorization.

Over 30 years ago, Barr deposed Panama’s leader Manuel Noreiga and kidnapped him for trial in the U.S. He claimed a DOJ legal opinion permitted his actions, obfuscated the information to satisfy members of Congress, and then convinced the House subcommittee that the material was “confidential.”

Barr also followed DDT’s bidding by trying to block an indictment of a Turkish bank, Halkbank, after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked DDT for help. DDT told Erdogan that Barr and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would take care of the bank’s problems, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). DDT, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Mnuchin met with Turkey’s finance minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law last April. Barr told Halkbank officials how to make a deal, but they didn’t follow through. In October, New York’s U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman charged the bank with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses. Last year, former national security adviser John Bolton complained to Barr that DDT was doing personal favors for the “autocratic” leaders of Turkey and China.

After Fox commentator Andrew Napolitano said that Roger Stone should get a new trial, DDT tweeted that he might sue the “Mueller” prosecutors in Stone’s first trial. Defense lawyers demanded a new trial after DDT accused Tomeka Hart, the jury forewoman in Stone’s trial, of having “significant bias.” DDT claimed:

“If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place. BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL.”

Hart’s Facebook post stated that she spoke out about the case because “[i]t pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors.” In her post, Hart quoted another juror who write in an op-ed:

“We did not convict Stone based on his political beliefs or his expression of those beliefs. We did not convict him of being intemperate or acting boorishly. We convicted him of obstructing a congressional investigation, of lying in five specific ways during his sworn congressional testimony and of tampering with a witness in that investigation.”

Despite knowledge about Hart’s FB posts and her Democratic bid for Congress, Stone’s lawyers didn’t challenge her for the jury. A DOJ official anonymously reported that prosecutors, supported by Barr, opposed Stone’s request for a new trial.

DDT has now falsely declared himself the “chief law enforcement officer of the country” despite the fact that the Attorney General of the Department of Justice has that role. Perhaps, however, there’s no difference since the current AG does everything that DDT wants. If DDT could speak French, he might say, like Louis XIV, “L’état, c’est moi (The state, it is I: I myself am the nation).”

After DDT complained about the corruption in Ukraine, he pardoned or commuted the sentence of these corrupt criminals in the U.S., white men who could help him or whose supporters could help him. Recommendations came from the Fox network, celebrities, members of conservative media, wealthy donors, and political figures such as former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and DDT’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

*Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat and withheld state funding from children with cancer until the hospital CEO gave him campaign donations. DDT knew Blagojevich when he was a contestant on The Apprentice. Blagojevich describes himself as a “Trumpocrat” (aka summitting to DDT’s rule). [Sentence commuted.]

*Junk bond king Michael Milken, a wealthy financier with connections to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), political donors Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), pleaded guilty to six felony counts, including securities fraud, mail fraud, and aiding in the filing of a false tax return.

*Bernard Kerik, former New York police commissioner, pleaded guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials. Kerik is a frequent visitor to DDT’s Mar-a-Lago.

*Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. pleaded guilty in bribing former Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards for a riverboat casino license.

*David Safavian, a senior official in George W. Bush’s administration, obstructed a federal investigation as part of the scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

*Technology executive Ariel Friedler conspired to hack into the computer systems of two competitors to improve his company’s software development and sales strategy.

*Construction company executive Paul Pogue failed to pay almost $500,000 in taxes, but his brother donated over $200,000 to the Trump Victory Committee beginning in August 2019.

Julian Assange’s lawyer claimed under oath that DDT offered Assange a pardon if he would cover-up Russia’s role in the DNC hack.

As usual, DDT’s pardons bypass the traditional DOJ process. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Florida AG Pam Bondi, who illegally took campaign donations from DDT’s charitable foundation in exchange for dropping a lawsuit against DDT’s Trump University, are now in charge of the pardoning process. Last year the head of the DOJ pardon office quit because of DDT’s dependence on his personal connections or those of his political base for his decisions.

DDT gives pardons and commutations only to those who can personally and politically help him. People ponder if DDT is softening voters for pardons of Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and even Rudy Giuliani as New York prosecutors edge closer to Giuliani’s relationship with two men indicted in Ukraine’s extortion. Probably not Michael Cohen, but one never knows.

February 13, 2020

Barr, DDT Destroy the ‘Rule of Law’

Tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, is the one-year anniversary of AG Bill Barr’s confirmation, and he’s used his first year to exhibit an amazingly high level of corruption. Chris Smith wrote:

“Attorney General William Barr is on a trajectory to surpass [John] Mitchell, the previous AG corruption champion [for Nixon], who was convicted of conspiracy, perjury, and obstruction of justice, and went to prison for 19 months.”

Barr was immediately charging ahead with his falsehoods and then concealment of Robert Mueller’s investigation about Russian election interference and the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) last spring. He’s still saying “no collusion” to obfuscate Mueller’s position that collusion was not addressed in the investigation because it’s not a legal term. Barr’s comments were so egregious that the normally reticent Robert Mueller refuted them.

Now Barr is working on a cover-up for his obedience to DDT’s needs by claiming that “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody.” He also complained that DDT’s statements and tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.” Barr is welcome to quit his job if it’s “impossible.”

Barr’s subservience to DDT came to a head when Barr changed the prison sentence recommendation for DDT’s friend Roger Stone after DDT called the seven to nine years for seven felonies “horrible and very unfair.” Four career prosecutors quit the case, one of them resigning from DOJ, at DOJ’s new filing of three to four years. DDT then praised Barr for “taking charge” of the case. Three of the charges against Stone were obstructing Congress, witness intimidation, and lying—actions common to DDT. During the trial, Stone also posted an image an image of the judge’s name, her face, and the crosshairs of a gun sight near her head. Stone said he thought the gun sight was a “Celtic symbol.”  

On the same day that the DOJ filled a more lenient sentence request, Barr accused “progressive DAs” of having “fashioned for themselves a new role of judge-legislator-prosecutor,” that “these self-styled ‘social justice” reformers are refusing to enforce entire categories of law.” According to Barr, “these policies actually lead to greater criminality.” 

DDT also claims that he has absolute power to tell the DOJ who and how it prosecutes and called the sentencing a “horrible abberition (sic).” Not satisfied with attacking the prosecutors and the trial process, he also struck out against the judge in Stone’s case, implying she was biased:

“Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!”

Actually, it is not “the Judge” because another judge put Manafort into a VIP suite to protect him. Manafort was also found to be tampering with witnesses in his trial.  A lawsuit against Hillary Clinton connected to the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi (Libya) was dismissed after 11 hearings from the GOP-controlled House, one of them in which Clinton answered questions for almost 12 hours, could find no wrongdoing on her part. 

Minority Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Chief Justice John Roberts to clarify that DDT’s attacks on a judge “are unacceptable.”

Now free to do whatever he wishes after his impeachment acquittal, DDT went on a diatribe from the Oval Office:

“Where’s [James] Comey? What’s happening to [Andrew] McCabe? What’s happening to Lisa and — to Pete Strzok and Lisa Page? What’s happening with them? It was a whole setup, it was a disgrace for our country, and everyone knows it, too, everyone.”

Asked what lesson he learned from impeachment, DDT said, “That the Democrats are crooked — they’ve got a lot of crooked things going—that they’re vicious, that they shouldn’t have brought impeachment.” He also withdrew Jessie Liu’s nomination for undersecretary of the Treasury Department for terrorism and financial crimes because she oversaw cases involving DDT’s friends Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, and Stone. Once nominated, she lost her job as U.S. attorney for D.C., a top position overseeing economic sanctions. Liu had expected to stay in that position until confirmation, but Barr replaced her last week with his close adviser Timothy Shea, who then overruled the prosecutors in the Stone case by requesting a more lenient sentence.

Barr has a close associate in the office handling cases about Mueller’s investigation, Russian election interference, and Flynn and Stone who are yet to be sentenced. The same office has now filed a request recommending probation for Flynn instead of up to six months in prison. The DOJ’s new filing, effusively describing Flynn’s government service, reads as if it were written by the defense instead of the prosecution. Flynn may have violated the Logan Act against private citizens’ negotiating with foreign governments without proper authority to influence their actions when he met with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak after DDT’s election while President Obama was still in office to discuss sanctions against Russia. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable by up to three years in prison. Documents show that DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner also directed Flynn to contact foreign government officials and ask them to delay or vote against a UN resolution about Israel settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, in opposition to support from then President Obama and his administration favoring the resolution.

Some GOP senators who said DDT had “learned his lesson” now say that he should not speak out about pending sentences. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), one of the “lesson” senators, described the “chain of events”: “proceeding, a sentencing, a recommended sentence, the president weighs in and all of the sudden Justice comes back, says ‘change the deal.’” She said that “most people … would say ‘hmm, that just doesn’t look right.’ And I think they’re right.” Another “lesson” senator, Susan Collins (ME) said DDT “should not have gotten involved.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) agreed with the two women. All three senators voted against DDT’s impeachment conviction.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, a colleague of the attacked judge on the court in Washington, warned about the consequences of DDT’s attacks. In a speech, Friedman said that DDT “seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.” 

Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney in the Obama administration, said:

“If a president can meddle in a criminal case to help a friend, then there’s nothing that keeps him from meddling to harm someone he thinks is his enemy. That means that a president is fully above the law in the most dangerous kind of way. This is how democracies die.”

Vance doesn’t need to wait. Barr has already assigned the DOJ to “investigate” President Obama’s intelligence officials to accuse them of hiding evidence or manipulating analysis regarding Russia’s election interference in 2016. The team started with the premise that CIA director John O. Brennan was operating under a preconceived belief about Russia and tried to keep other agencies from information because they might discover he was wrong. 

Out of concern for the DOJ’s decision-making process, the New York City bar has requested “immediate investigations” in a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and chairs and ranking minority-party members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-GA), Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The reason for investigations comes from “serious questions about whether the Department of Justice is making prosecutorial decisions based not on neutral principles but in order to protect President Trump’s supporters and friends.” The letter alleges “improper influence” because the DOJ’s change in this appears “from all external circumstances to be an instance of President Trump and Attorney General [William P.] Barr acting in concert to protect Stone from punishment.”

In an op-ed, Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and current professor of constitutional law, wrote:

 “I have never experienced or even heard of a situation in which a career prosecutor had been ordered to withdraw a sentencing memorandum within the guidelines’ range. The original filing in the Stone case came from two career federal prosecutors and two special assistant U.S. attorneys.”

The DOJ said that changing sentencing requests is common for them, yet it couldn’t come up with an example. In an interview, Barr claimed that he told the prosecutors he was going to override the seven to nine years but they ignored him when they made the filing. It all smells: Barr says he’s overriding his own rule to follow the federal sentencing guidelines at the highest level, prosecutors don’t override the AG, and DDT doesn’t quietly sit back and let someone criticize him. It’s a cover up as protection for DDT’s friends.

DDT’s impeachment acquittal by GOP senators shredded the Constitution; now Barr and DDT are destroying the rule of law in the United States.

September 19, 2019

The Self-Appointed King Tries to Hide

Loose Lips Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had to be reminded that he was spreading classified information when he used his signature Sharpie to proud signed the wall replacement—that he called the “new” wall—at the southern border and said:

“One thing we haven’t mentioned is technology. They’re wired so that we will know if somebody’s trying to break through….   You won’t be able to touch it. You can fry an egg on that wall.”

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, acting head of the Army Corps, couldn’t even stop him with his recommendation, “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that” before DDT described the steel wall’s beams as heat conductors.

Breaking just hours later was news about an intelligence community whistleblower who described a “promise” that DDT made a foreign leader that “raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information.” A high authority, presumably DDT, has ordered the information kept even from congressional members who have legal access to the report. The term “new” means that the concern came after one last summer when DDT released a detailed photo of a failed Iranian launch that was possibly classified, his earlier release of highly classified information to Russian guests about a highly sensitive and valuable matter with Israel, and the discussion of North Korea ballistic missile tests in front of Mar-a-Lago guests and staff. He also refuses to give up his unsecured cellphone. Conservatives point out that presidents can declassify any information, but DDT is the first person in the Oval Office who lacks any filter on his mouth after complaining throughout his campaign about Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.

DDT’s response to the news about the whistleblower was “No problem!”—that people are always listening to his conversations with a foreign leader. He also stated that he was far too smart to “say something inappropriate” in that situation and he “would only do what is right.” The news isn’t “fake,” as he claimed: the whistleblower filed a complaint, the IG’s office examined the complaint, and he considered it credible and urgent enough that he contacted the Office of the Director of National Intelligence which illegally worked with the DOJ to circumvent legal process on congressional disclosure.

After the acting DNI and IG appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) reported that the complaint came from “more than one” event although the IG refused to give any other information about the complaint. The impression from the hearing is that the DOJ (aka AG Bill Barr) and DDT are trying to cover up the situation. The acting DNI will testify in open session on September 26, and both men will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week. From appearances, the DOJ (aka AG Bill Barr) and DDT are trying to cover up the situation.    

According to a source, the “promise” was made on a phone call. Reporters found conversations with three foreign leaders in the two months before the complaint filing:  Chinese President Xi Jinping (June 18), French President Emmanuel Macron (July 1), and Russian President Vladimir Putin (July 31). The call with Putin wasn’t recorded, but Russia announced it. Key events during that time of the event and coverup: Dan Coates, Director of National Intelligence, resigned (July 28); U.S. pulled out of INF treaty with Russia (August 2); John Huntsman, the Russian Ambassador, resigned (August 6); and Joseph Maguire named acting DNI (August 8). Maguire was the person who went to the DOJ and told to withhold the information.

Today the media also reported communication 18 days before the complaint was filed in August 12 between DDT and new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The readout of the call noted a focus on Ukraine’s ability to “complete investigations into corruption cases that have hampered Ukraine-US cooperation.” House Democrats were already investigating the call to check on the possibility that DDT and his attorney Rudy Giuliani were manipulating Ukraine to help DDT’s reelection campaign. Records related to efforts to blackmail the Ukrainian government into helping DDT’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort, in prison for illegal lobbying and financial fraud, and finding dirt on Democratic presidential candidate through his son’s activity in Ukraine while Hunter Biden was on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. DDT had also blocked financial aid for Ukraine that Congress had appropriated.

Giuliani has already pressured Zelensky to extend an investigation into Hunter Biden although previous inquiries had discovered no wrongdoing and advised DDT about how to deal with Zelensky. Last week, DDT released the $250 million to Ukraine after a bipartisan push.

In a letter written this week, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson disagreed with the basis of DDT’s suppression of the whistleblower’s complaint that the situation is out of the DNI’s jurisdiction because it doesn’t concern anyone in the intelligence community and that its release would violate DDT’s “privilege.” Atkinson wrote that the DNI and the DOJ are wrong, that the “disclosure not only falls within the DNI’s jurisdiction, but relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.” He continued that denial of permission to disclose the “general subject matter” of the complaint to Congress affects “the execution of two of my most important duties and responsibilities as the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community”—his responsibility toward the whistleblower and his duties to the congressional oversight committees.

While DDT declares himself above the law in not permitting congressional members to see a whistleblower complaint, his lawyers are making the same “above the law” claim in a lawsuit against New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance. New York had subpoenaed eight years of his state tax returns per a new state law, and lawyers declared that DDT cannot be criminally investigated while he is in office. With no legal backing, they argued that sitting presidents are immune from all criminal inquiries while in the White House. It’s their enormous responsibility and unique role that removes them from any legal action, especially from local prosecutors. Any “originalist” judge or justice who believes in following the words of the Constitution would laugh in the lawyers’ faces; those words aren’t in the Constitution.

The lawyers themselves probably are aware of their arguments’ ridiculousness, but they’re working hard to delay the release of DDT’s financial records. The request for DDT’s personal and corporate tax returns came from a search into the part that he and his family played in making hush payments to two women during his presidential campaign.

DDT has filed other lawsuits to keep his tax returns private since he promised to make public after his election. These include attempts by congressional Democrats, New York lawmakers, and California in a law requiring presidential primary candidates to release tax returns before being on the ballot. A judge ruled against California today, winning legal arguments were on narrower grounds.

During the Nixon and Clinton administrations, the DOJ barred federal prosecutors from charging a sitting president with a federal crime while in office, claiming that impeachment is the process for wrongdoing. The orders, however, do not deal with state prosecutors. During his time in the Oval Office, DDT has been investigated in federal criminal inquiries by special investigator Robert Mueller. As of May 13, 2019, federal, state, and congressional authorities had at least 29 investigations into DDT’s businesses, campaign, inauguration, and presidency. In May, Mueller said that the DOJ “explicitly permits” the investigation of presidents, but they cannot be charged with federal crimes. DDT’s lawyers claim that investigations against a sitting president are also unconstitutional and called the Manhattan DA “a county prosecutor.”

According to New York law, filing a false business record can be a felony if that the filing was made to commit or conceal another crime, such as tax violations or bank fraud. If Vance obtains DDT’s tax returns, they remain secret unless they are used as evidence in a criminal case.

Thus far, judges have not quashed any subpoenas for his tax returns, and today he obtained only a one-week delay.  The winners of the 2016 election are the lawyers. Being in court doesn’t seem “burdensome” for DDT because he spends a lot of time suing other people.

In another attempt to hide information from Congress, the White House refuses to reveal potentially disqualifying material in Darrell Issa’s FBI file for his director of U.S. Trade and Development Agency confirmation before the Senate. Issa has escaped convictions after his run-ins with the law. Only GOP and Democrat leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee were allowed to see the file, and Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) initially decided to schedule hearings without the agreement of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Over Menendez’ objections, the confirmation for Marshall Billingslea for the State Department’s human rights activities leader continued despite document gaps in his file while he worked on detainee torture policies for George W. Bush. Risch had asked the White House for Issa’s FBI file but receive no response.

DDT’s game is to succeed in his corruption through declaring himself king and hiding everything.

September 16, 2019

Kavanaugh on the Hot Seat Again

One year ago, the Senate defended and confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the nation’s highest court despite a credible witness who described his sexual assault when they were teenagers. A year later, the New York Times reported another of Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assaults at Yale that the Senate and FBI attempted to conceal at the confirmation hearings. At the hearings, Kavanaugh denied the woman’s description of how he forced his penis into her face and tried to get her to touch it. He said, “If that had happened, that would have been the talk of campus in our freshman dorm.”

Investigation reveals that Kavanaugh’s assault was “the talk of the campus.” Long before he became a federal judge, at least seven people, including the victim’s mother and two classmates, heard about his behavior. Two FBI agents who interviewed the victim, found her “credible,” but the GOP-controlled Senate did not give them authorization to investigate.

The FBI also failed to investigate another report from a classmate, Max Stier, who “saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” Stier told both senators and the FBI about Kavanaugh’s behavior during the vetting process, but no one followed up, in spite of 25 possible corroborating witnesses.

These credible witnesses were in addition to the account from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford published in the Washington Post:

“[Kavanaugh] pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.”

The NYT buried the story under “news analysis” that appeared to focus on the victim not fitting into Yale. The tweet from NYT Opinion claimed “having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun.” Even the follow-up deletion and “apology” about the “poorly phrased” statement didn’t salvage the disgusting former tweet that made sexual assault seem like the new normal.

The article was abstracted comes The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation, extensively researched by the authors Robin Pogrebin, Kavanaugh’s classmate at Yale, and Kate Kelly. Among much more information, the authors point out that all Kavanaugh’s achievements, including justice on the Supreme Court, resulted from the power given him by other men, starting with his parents paying for his education in a prestigious school. In the hearing, Kavanaugh surrounded himself by female family and friends to show how much they love him.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), one of the five top contenders for Democratic presidential nomination, said: “I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the US Senate and most importantly to the American people. He was put on the court through a sham process and his place on the court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached.”

Another candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) agreed that the confirmation process was a “sham.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will undoubtedly face more ire from DDT for saying:

“Nothing terrifies this corrupt president more than the idea of Congress upholding the rule of law. We must open impeachment inquiries against Trump and Kavanaugh immediately. It’s our constitutional duty.”

Last fall, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) wrote FBI Christopher Wray with a request for an “appropriate follow up” with one individual who had come to Coons with information about Kavanaugh. The letter, which identified Kavanaugh’s classmate at Yale University Max Stier, stated that “several individuals” contacted his office who had wanted to share information with federal authorities but said they had “difficulty reaching anyone who will collect their information.” DDT was in charge of the investigation’s scope and limited the number of witnesses to ten of all the people who had information about the Supreme Court justice nominee. A spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said the senator’s staff knew nothing about Stier’s information. Friends of the woman who was the subject of Stier’s information said that she didn’t remember it happening.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) may be the senator most hurt by a vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. In any close vote, she tends to support the GOP even if she has promised not to do so. Her vote for Kavanaugh gave him the 50 votes that he needed, and she claimed that it was after a “very thorough review.” As a Senate insider, she knew a year ago what the public is now learning, that the investigation was a sham without reasonable investigative steps. Agents interviewed none of the 12 people whose names were given to the FBI by one of the women alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. The investigators, given only one week, also ignored an allegation of another drunken misbehavior. When Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) asked for openness, the other GOP senators provided cover for their nominee. Meanwhile, DDT made repeated calls for the DOJ to strike back at accusers.

Up for re-election in 2020, Collins faces angry constituents. She said she is opposed to DDT stealing money from the military for his wall but cast the deciding vote against an amendment that would stop it, taking $200 million from construction at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She cast a vote for the tax cut benefiting the wealthy and big business with a lying excuse that it would help the poor and middle class, and she cast the deciding vote for a nominee who separated families. She also voted for three judges who refused to affirm the Supreme Court decision to desegregate public school students. Donations reflect her lack of popularity in her home state: the owners of Breitbart have donated more to her campaign in one quarter than all the money from Maine voters combined. Only 15 people have donated more than $200 to her, and the number of people donating less than that sum is small.

Over a month ago, the House Judiciary Committee requested records from the National Archives related to Brett Kavanagh while he worked for George W. Bush to understand his true position on Roe v. Wade. During his hearings for the Supreme Court and his appointment to a lower court, Kavanagh downplayed under oath his anti-abortion views, likely illegal representations and downright lies like the ones Collins believed. Republicans withheld 92 percent of these documents during the confirmation process. Already known are his lies about his knowledge regarding warrantless surveillance and torture during W’.s administration in 2006 and other information about Ken Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton, but these other records could show the extent of his falsehoods under oath. Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said the records are relevant because “in the coming year, the Supreme Court will again address important matters regarding civil rights, criminal justice, and immigration [and] may also review certain high-profile cases related to reproductive rights, the separation of powers, and the limits of executive authority.”

As might be expected, DDT was furious about the reporting, calling for Kavanaugh to sue people for “liable,” his term for libel. If Kavanaugh follows DDT’s directions, the discovery about his lying under oath could be extremely damaging. Using his belief that the DOJ is his fixer, DDT asked the DOJ to “rescue” Kavanaugh just as he argued that the DOJ shouldn’t bring federal charges against members of Congress to protect the GOP campaigning and directions to the DOJ to fire employees disloyal to DDT or prosecute his enemies.

The DOJ followed DDT’s directions by suing Omarosa Manigault Newman for financial disclosure violations after Omarosa had missed a disclosure report while ignoring Kavanaugh’s violations. He has never identified the “friends” who paid off his mortgage and the $60,000-$200,000 credit card debt, much of it for baseball tickets, so that he could be a “credible” nominee for the Supreme Court. The money should be counted as a financial gift to be publicly reported, and the benefactors may have cases before the Supreme Court.

Last week, AG Bill Barr started his fixing by giving an award to Kavanaugh’s fixers. The Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, the second highest honor from the DOJ, was awarded last year to the prosecutor who convicted Ahmed Abu Khattala, a ringleader of the Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four people from the U.S. This year Barr gave the award to the 100 DOJ lawyers who covered up for Kavanaugh to get him onto the Supreme Court allowing the perversion of law enforcement with politics. 

Those who have forgotten how evasive and unhinged Kavanaugh appeared at his confirmation hearing can refresh their memories by watching this clip from The Rachel Maddow Show. [Visual – Kavanaugh victim]

Kavanaugh consistently lied during confirmation hears for both federal judge and Supreme Court justice. These new reports add to this record of falsehoods.

Thanks to DDT, the DOJ, and GOP senators, the U.S. Supreme Court now has two men among its nine justices who are credibly accused of sexual assault.

September 3, 2019

Courts Still Help ‘We the People’

August may be a time for Congress and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to take a hiatus, but the courts keep chugging along. Here are a few highlights:

Voting:

Today, North Carolina’s state court ruled the GOP legislative gerrymandering unconstitutional and gave specific guidelines to the GOP state legislature in redrawing the lines within two weeks by September 18. Other gerrymandered states such as Wisconsin, Maryland, and Texas could follow the same directions.

Mississippi shows how bad gerrymandering can be. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling forcing the legislature to redraw the 102-mile-long state Senate District 22 spanning parts of six countries. The districting, done in 2012, diluted black voter strength to re-elect a Republican. Multiple voting machines in nine counties during last week’s Mississippi election switched votes and kept voters from their choices during a gubernatorial runoff race. The machines preferred Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves who won the runoff with 54 percent of the vote. At a Las Vegas convention, attendees as young as 11 were able to hack into voting machines, and at least ten states have made remote hacking easier by connecting computers to the internet. 

Paperless voting machines are another GOP way of controlling the vote, and a federal district court judge ordered Georgia to stop using paperless voting machines after 2019. For 2020, Georgia must either use paper ballots filled out with a pen and then fed into an optical scanner or voting machines that print a paper ballot record. Election officials must also fix errors in the state’s voter registration database and provide paper backups for the electronic poll books at each polling place, used to track whether a registered voter has cast a ballot or not when a voter shows up on Election Day. Employees of the firm that manufactured Georgia’s current paperless voting machines left them open to hacking by designing electronic ballots from their home offices rather than in a secure location. The ruling is the first to block use of paperless voting machines, also used in a dozen other states. Earlier this year, the state gave a $107 million contract for “ballot-marking devices,” machines that print a bar code and a text summary of individual votes. The bar code, which voters cannot read, is used for tallying votes, not the text summary. The lawsuit began when Brian Kemp, the Republican in charge of voting, was “elected” governor last year after evidence of security failings was destroyed. Like Kemp, his successor opposes paper ballots. 

The 7th Circuit Court supported a lower court in rejecting a 2017 Indiana law allowing election officials to cancel a voter’s registration without the voter’s confirmation. By using Interstate Crosscheck, faulty computer software checking a database of 24 states, the state got rid of Democratic registrations. The National Voter Registration Act requires that states cannot remove voters from rolls without a “reasonable effort.” The judge said that “the only way to know whether voters want to cancel their registration is to ask them.”

Ohio’s aggressive voter removal process has also been temporarily settled when the state agreed that all eligible voters removed through 2019 may cast provisional ballots in any local, state, special, or federal election through 2022 which are counted. Doing this will restore voters to the rolls. Ohio failed to provide proper notice to voters whose registration was in jeopardy and now must notify non-registered eligible voters of the settlement with the deadline for registering and tell boards of elections to use motor vehicle records to determine if voters still live where they registered. After the settlement, the Ohio Democratic Party sued to keep over 200,000 voters from being removed on September 6.

With Texas facing the possibility of turning purple, emails show that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) led the effort to purge thousands of voters from state election rolls although former Secretary of State David Whitley got the blame and resigned. A federal court stopped the purge of almost 100,000 people wrongfully identified as non-citizens. Texas tries to keep Texas voters white and GOP through restrictive voter ID laws, barriers to earlier voting, and difficulties in casting ballots, efforts overturned a half-dozen times in the past few years. Texas conservatives also hire people to sit outside driver license offices and register people after screening them with the question of whether they want “less government and less taxes” or “more government and more taxes.” Last year, Democrats flipped two congressional seats, and gained 12 in the Texas House and two in the Texas Senate.

Other:

In Maryland, a district court ruled that transgender military service members have legal standing to sue for their rights. DDT cannot block judicial review of his trans military ban.  

A U.S. district court judge in Michigan permitted a challenge to DDT’s Muslim Ban that bars immigration and travel from identified predominantly Muslim countries. The judge supported the claim of unconstitutional religious discrimination, writing that “the Plaintiffs present sufficient evidence that the Proclamation is unable to be explained by anything but animus towards Muslims.”

An Oklahoma judge ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped fuel the opioid epidemic through its marketing of powerful painkillers and ordered the company to pay $572.1 million in damages. The decision is the first in approximately 2,000 state and local lawsuits against health care companies pushing opioids. Oklahoma stated that J&J was “at the root of the crisis” and created a “public nuisance.” Earlier this year, the state settled claims against Purdue for $270 million and Teva for $85 million. The wealthy Sacklers family, who made their fortune from Purdue Pharma’s oxycontin, may keep most of their money by selling the company to avoid a federal $10 billion to $12 billion settlement.

A federal judge temporarily blocked a Missouri law banning abortions after eight weeks with no exceptions for rape and incest. Courts blocked similar laws in Mississippi and Kentucky earlier this year. A federal judge also blocked Ohio’s so-called “heartbeat law” that would ban abortions as early as six weeks before women know that they are pregnant.   

Taylor Dumpson, the first black woman to serve as student government president at American University in Washington, D.C., was awarded $725,000 from a massive “troll storm” against her by Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, and follower Brian Ade, who failed to appear in court. Anglin, who fled the U.S., has also been ordered to pay $14 million to Tanya Gersh, a Jewish Montana real estate agent who he harassed, and $4.1 million to Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah after falsely accusing him of involvement in the May 2017 terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Eight months ago, another defendant, Eugene (OR) actor and musician Evan McCarty, settled after an apology to Dumpson and publicly renouncing white supremacy, completing 200 hours of community service at a racial justice organization, and finishing “anti-hate” training.

A judge invalidated the Treasury Department’s permission to IRS to conceal the identity of donors who contributed over $5,000 to nonprofits during one year. The IRS violated the law by not having the required notice and comment period.

In Arizona, a state court of appeals ruled that people in the state have a constitutional right to online privacy from police who don’t have a warrant based on appearance of criminal activity because Internet users have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” for information about themselves furnished to internet providers based on the state constitution. The decision conflicts with federal court rulings that people give up privacy when they give information to third parties and are no longer protected against unreasonable search and seizure in the Fourth Amendment.

Despite federal attempts to open all public land to mining, drilling, and housing developments, a federal judge blocked construction of a huge open-pit copper mine in Arizona’s Coronado National Forest considered ancestral sacred burial sites for the Hopi, Tohono O’odham, and Pascua Yaqui tribes. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, former lobbyist for the copper company, wanted to give his friends this land as well as another place near the border for a 70,000-person housing development destroying the San Pedro, one of the Southwest’s last free-flowing rivers. The current project, near Benson, is back on after the federal government issued permits. People are waiting to see if the government will close a uranium mine near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon contaminating groundwater with radioactive waste.

The 11th Circuit Court ruled that feeding the homeless is “expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment” and sent a lawsuit back to a lower court to see if a city ordinance violates those rights. In 2014, after Fort Lauderdale (FL) required a permit to share food in public parks, police arrested a 90-year-old man (left) and two ministers who gave food to homeless people. 

A federal judge dismissed a $250-million libel lawsuit against the Washington Post filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann after he received negative media attention from his behavior in Washington, DC while attending a pro-life march. The filing called the reporting false and defamatory; the judge called it constitutionally protected. Sandmann’s dad, Ted, plans to appeal.

After New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose chokehold killed the unarmed Eric Garner in 2014 while other police officers watched, was exonerated last summer, outrage built, and a police administrative judge found Pantaleo guilty of violating a department ban on chokeholds. The tragedy was resolved with Pantaleo was fired and stripped of his pension benefits. Garner had cried out “I can’t breathe” eleven times until he stopped breathing. Garner had been accused of selling untaxed cigarettes.

One recent decision is questionable and could throw the nation into chaos. The 10th Circuit Court has ruled that representatives for the Electoral College are not required to vote in accord with the popular vote of their states. The lawsuit came after seven of the electors went “rogue” in the 2016 election. If that decision were left to stand, 538 individual people would be the only ones to vote for the president of the United States. The ruling covers six Western states unless it is overturned by an en banc decision or the Supreme Court. 

July 12, 2019

Acosta Gone, Barr Protects DDT

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta failed to survive the scandal surrounding the Acosta’s extremely light sentence for Jeffrey Epstein when he was a U.S. AG in Florida over a decade ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced Acosta’s “resignation” today, effective in a week. For DDT, it’s a win-win: he looks tough, and he can put in an acting secretary who will be far harder against labor than Acosta has been. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney wanted Acosta gone to get rid of more regulations.

DDT, the man who promised to “drain the swamp,” has the most Cabinet secretaries lost to corruption and other ethics concerns during the first term of any presidency, showing his nepotism, self-dealing, lax oversight, and choice of lobbyists who oppose the policies of their agencies. Ronald Reagan had some struggles: his EPA director Anne Gorsuch, a Supreme Court justice’s mother, was found in contempt of Congress for refusal to release records about Superfund money misuse, and his interior secretary James Watt mocked diversity in a U.S. chamber of Commerce speech and lied about his influence-peddling as a lobbyist. Acosta makes the fifth “resigned” Cabinet secretary from ethics issues, joining Tom Price (HHS), Scott Pruitt (EPA), David Shulkin (VA), and Ryan Zinke (Interior). DDT’s replacements for the four are all former lobbyists or corporate executives for the industries they now oversee. Other appointments have been withdrawn because of more ethics problems: Andy Puzder (Labor) for labor violations and spousal abuse; and Ronny Jackson (VA) for misconduct and mismanagement. Another remaining three Cabinet members—Ben Carson (HUD), Elaine Chao (Transportation), and David Bernhardt (Interior)—face ethical problems.  

Acosta’s replacement, deputy secretary Patrick Pizzella who was former lobbyist for overseas sweatshops, will add to DDT’s stable of ethically-challenged lobbyists in his Cabinet. In the late 1990s, he worked with Jack Abranoff, whose 21 convictions led to reforms in lobbying laws, for a Russian front group, the government of the Marshall Islands, and a trade association opposing a minimum wage in a U.S. commonwealth. 

The DOJ is still protecting DDT in the case of his friend, hedge fund billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, again arrested for sex trafficking after DDT’s Labor Secretary Alex Costa, then U.S. AG in Florida, let Epstein off in 2008. Or maybe DDT is protecting himself; in 2016, the BBC released a documentary accusing DDT of “predatory” behavior toward teenage girls, some underage, by model Barbara Pilling. In an earlier court filing, Epstein said, “I want to set up my modeling agency the same way Trump set up his modeling agency.” More support for Epstein has come from DDT’s DOJ. The involvement of AG Bill Barr to exonerate Epstein could indicate wrongdoing by DDT. More background on Epstein.

Barr’s recusal from the Epstein case didn’t last long. Originally recusing himself from the New York sex trafficking case because of his work at the law firm Kirkland and Ellis lawyer representing Epstein, Barr changed his mind and will only recuse himself from an investigation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s involvement in Epstein’s Florida plea deal. At least for now. He has said nothing about his family connection with Epstein. In 1973, Barr’s father hired Epstein, then 20 and without any college degree, to teach calculus and physics teacher at the prestigious Dalton School. Epstein went on to amass a fortune under the mentorship of a student’s father, Bear Stearns’ chairman Alan “Ace” Greenberg, and Barr’s father, Donald Barr, resigned a year later under pressure from the school’s board of trustees after Headmaster Barr morphed a “humanistic, progressive” school into one with “discipline and authoritarian rule.” The headmaster was irritated by the board’s hiring an outside committee to evaluate the school and its operation.

Epstein is surrounded by many of the rich and famous: Prince Andrew; Woody Allen; Mort Zuckerman, owner and publisher of the U.S. News and World Report who partnered with Epstein to develop the gossip publication Radar; Leslie Wexner, the chairman of Limited Brands which owns lingerie store Victoria’s Secret; Ken Starr, who led the impeachment of Bill Clinton and played a “significant part” in Epstein’s plea deal; and Larry Summers, former Harvard president and secretary of the treasury. Woody Allen’s play Manhattan, released a few years after Epstein left Dalton, is about an affair between a 17-year-old Dalton school student and an older man.

Questioning people wonder if DDT told Barr to unrecuse himself as he did with AG Jeff Sessions about the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton issues. Another reason for Barr to withdraw his recusal is DDT’s interest in using Bill Clinton’s ties to Epstein for campaign fodder, something that Barr can more easily do if he doesn’t recuse himself. DDT may have other involvements in the case against Epstein.

In Acosta’s secret arrangement with Epstein, victims were not notified about plea agreement, and an email from Jay Lefkowitz, Epstein, thanked Acosta for not telling them. In February 2019, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that the government’s agreement violated federal law, specifically the “Crime Victims’ Rights Act,” which could nullify the 2008 settlement. The judge also asked that Acosta apologize; he has not publicly commented on the case, even during his resignation comments.  

As Labor Secretary, Acosta drastically cut funding from his agency to fight sexual exploitation of children from $68 million to $18.5 million. He also tried to cover his support for Epstein by asking women to come forward, and 14 women have accused Epstein of sexual assault and sex trafficking since he was arrested on July 6. Federal prosecutors revealed that he paid $350,000 to two people days after a published investigation in a Miami newspaper last November to buy off possible witnesses, one of them a co-conspirator in the deal that Epstein made. Defense lawyers are trying to get Epstein released on bail with the claim that he has been law-abiding for 14 years.

Earlier when  Epstein pled not guilty, his defense lawyer Reid Weingarten asked for bail because there was no rape: “no violence, no coercion, no intimidation, no deception.” Answering the judge about the girls being under 18, Weingarten said that would make it “statutory rape” before he claimed he was having a “senior moment,” that lack of penetration would not constitute rape at all. He also complained that it was only “prostitution,” not “sex trafficking,” although girls were transported from Florida to New York. Epstein is staying in jail without bail until July 15.

Acosta’s slap on Epstein’s wrist may be used against Epstein in his upcoming prosecution. Juries usually cannot hear about a defendant’s prior convictions, but one exception to this rule is criminal cases involving “child molestation.” As part of his Florida agreement, Epstein pled guilty to a state charge of solicitation of minors to engage in prostitution. Prosecutors may be able to use the legal trove of documentary evidence found in his Manhattan apartment—notes, call records between Epstein and his accomplices with victims, and “an extraordinary volume of photographs of nude and partially nude young women or girls.”

The New Yorker Magazine reported that Epstein’s “business” might be a blackmail scheme implicating many of his friends. A billionaire hedge-fund manager said that he knew no one who had investigated in Epstein’s so-called hedge funds.

In another effort to protect DDT, Barr plans to investigate the FBI’s investigation of Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Barr presented this political question, throwing it out like red meat to DDT supporters:

“How did the bogus narrative begin that Trump was essentially in cahoots with Russia to interfere with the U.S. election?”

The FBI had credible evidence that led to suspicions and questions—no “bogus” and no “narrative.” From the Washington Post:

“This is a guy who sounds like he developed strong feelings long ago—before, even he has admitted, he was privy to all the information—that the collusion investigation was unfounded and launched for suspicious purposes. And his commentary to this day is consistently uncharitable to the law enforcement personnel who serve beneath him. We didn’t need another reason to question Bill Barr and the integrity of his work, but he’s given us one anyway.”

Afraid of special investigator Robert Mueller testifying before the House, Barr is smearing the process and encouraging special investigator Mueller to back out of his appearance on July 17. Barr has failed: Mueller postponed his appearance before the House committee for a week in order to allow more time for questioning.

DOJ investigators interviewed Christopher Steele, the former British spy who prepared the dossier that DDT’s supporters falsely claimed instigated the Robert Mueller probe, for 16 hours last month and found his testimony credible and surprising. Steele’s hiring by Fusion GPS developed out of a attempt, initially contracted by conservative political website The Washington Free Beacon, to obtain opposition research on DDT and other Republican presidential candidates to benefit candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). According to DOJ investigators—who were looking for dirt on Dems—Steele provided new and important information that fails to support Barr’s desire to smear the FBI.

DDT may further protect himself by getting rid of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, one of the few ethical official left in the administration, “sooner rather than later.” Although DDT can’t get rid of the office, he wants to “downsize” it. A possible replacement is Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to John Bolton. A rabid Islamophobe, Fleitz is president and CEO for the far-right, anti-Muslim “think tank,” the conspiratorial Center for Security Policy. Fleitz believes that mosques are responsible for over 80 percent of U.S. violence and subversion.

July 4, 2019

Will the Judicial Branch Protect Democracy?

July 4—the date that people in the United States celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. For the past 243 years, some people have tried to protect the nation from the erosion of democracy, a far more difficult task in the past two years as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) destroyed U.S. relationships with all countries except those run by autocrats and dictators. Setting himself up as the supreme ruler with no checks, DDT is enabled by congressional Republicans. Although the third branch of government, the judicial branch, has tried to protect democracy, DDT is loading lifetime judgeships with mostly young white men who follow his authoritarianism.

DDT’s latest move outside the law came from his determination to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. A week ago, the Supreme Court decision gave DDT two options: print the census without the question or go back to court to with a better reason and fewer lies to include the question. Over the weekend, DDT’s administration looked for ways to stall—with DDT even suggesting that the constitutionally mandated census might be delayed.

Four days later, the DOJ said it would not return to court, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (bottom left) announced that the census forms were sent to the printers without the question. Yet DDT tweeted that the question would be on the 2020 census, catching the attention of a judge. Yesterday, the judge convened a telephone conference with government and Maryland immigrant-rights groups lawyers to address DDT’s declaration that the government was “absolutely moving forward” with its citizenship question plan for the 2020 census, defying a Supreme Court ruling and contradicting the DOJ and Commerce Department statements. Josh Gardner, DOJ’s civil division lawyer, said he knew nothing about DDT’s position until he read the tweet. Assistant AG Jody Hunt told the judge that DOJ lawyers “have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision” to include the question. The DOJ also warned the New York court ruling opposing the question that it might again appeal the case to the now-recessed Supreme Court. 

Lawyers from the rights groups requested a court order requiring the government to agree that “there will be no further effort to inquire about citizenship status as part of the 2020 census.” They also asked the judge to compel the administration to “publicly counter any such misinformation that comes from government officials.”

The judge said that he might not be able to “enjoin the President of the United States from tweeting things” but ordered the DOJ to explain by tomorrow at 2:00 pm EST whether the government would still try to add the question to the 2020 census forms. DOJ lawyers asked if they could have until Monday. The judge said, “No.” Lawyers for the rights groups reminded the judge that DOJ lawyers previously insisted the printing process for census forms begin by last Monday. The Census Bureau already botched a contracting process when the Government Publishing Office awarded its single largest printing contract to a bankrupt company. 

On Independence Day, DDT’s latest ploy is to overturn the Supreme Court decision by ordering the citizenship question through an executive order.

Judges across the country are opposing DDT’s positions. A federal judge in Seattle blocked AG Bill Barr’s order [Barr: right of Ross] to keep thousands of migrants indefinitely detained while waiting for asylum case decisions. Denying migrants a bail hearing is unconstitutional, according to the judge; a bond hearing must be granted within seven days or migrants will be released. DHS has raised fees for asylum seekers, slowed the processing and forced over 13,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for movement on their legal cases. Barr’s order is one reason for the seriously overcrowded facilities.

DDT claims that living conditions in his detention camps are “better than where they came from,” but a report from his own DHS Inspector General tells of horrific conditions with filth and overcrowding at the migrant detention centers. People lie in cages on bare cement floors with nothing to do, and men are held for weeks in a room with standing room only—88 of them in a room designed for 40. Children have no access to showers, clothing changes, laundry facilities, and hot meals. 

A federal judge ordered lawyers representing detained migrants and US Customs and Border Protection to rapidly resolve allowing health experts to examine children and inspect detention facilities inside a Florida migrant facility. The order covers all CBP’s El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors. Children lack access to soap, clean water, toilets, toothbrushes, medical care, and adequate nutrition and sleep. With infants and pregnant women, they “are dirty, cold, hungry and sleep-deprived,” according to the court filing. Children are required to care for infants and toddlers, some of whom show signs of illness. John Kelly, former DHS director and DDT’s chief of staff, is on the board of the company owning the Florida facility.

A federal judge expanded a previous ruling to block DDT from taking billions of dollars in military funds for his southern border wall in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Texas. DDT claimed “national emergency”; the judge said that there was no new evidence for changing an earlier decision. He also stated that the wall would cause “irreparable harm” because it “will harm [the plaintiffs’] ability to recreate in and otherwise enjoy public land along the border.” A 2-1 vote in a 9th Circuit Court panel denied DDT’s request to halt the order blocking military funds for a border wall.

The 9th Circuit Court sent a decision against DDT’s transgender ban in the military back to federal judge, Marsha Pechman, ruling that she should have given the military’s judgment more deference. The Supreme Court lifted lower court injunctions blocking the ban from going into effect although it didn’t address the ban’s legality. Pechman was one of four federal judges ruling against the ban on the basis of the constitution’s equal protection guarantee. DDT’s used inaccurate figures in a claim of “tremendous medical costs”; no one in the military has cited DDT’s claim of “disruption” regarding transgender military members.

The 9th Circuit Court also vacated a unanimous three-judge panel decision allowing DDT’s gag rule on facilities serving low-income women seeking abortions. DDT’s orders prevented clinics receiving federal funds from making abortion referrals and sharing space with abortion providers. Injunctions against DDT’s declaration will continue in Oregon, Washington, and California as the issue works its way throughout the courts.

The 9th Circuit Court denied an appeal from three University of Oregon basketball players who were expelled from the school for rape allegations. They had originally sued in 2015 on the basis of gender discrimination; a federal court threw out their lawsuit.

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 2-1 that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act applying severe criminal penalties for violent acts motivated by race, religion, and other protected classifications applies to workplace assaults. A defendant lost his claim that the law didn’t apply to his punching a gay co-worker in the face.

A Montana district court blocked Canadian mining company Lucky Minerals Inc. from exploring for gold just north of Yellowstone National Park.

Scott Warren, an Arizona activist on trial for saving the lives of migrants in the desert, was acquitted by a hung jury. Federal prosecutors plan to seek a retrial for Warren, hoping to put him in prison for several years for giving food, water, clean clothes, and beds to migrants in the desert. 

A last-minute change in testimony exonerated Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher in the 2017 murder of a 15-year-old captive in Iraq. Given immunity, medic Corey Scott changed his previous statements and claimed he killed the boy after several Navy Seals testified they saw Gallagher stab the boy to death. Gallagher had texted a photo of himself posing with the body and the message, “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.” DDT had previously arranged for Gallagher’s release from confinement and suggested he would pardon him.

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that going on someone else’s land without their permission is trespassing. Two people sued a giant corporation for building roads and drilling a well without permission to get gas from adjacent lands.

For almost a decade, Republicans worked to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Some are now getting nervous about their re-elections of they succeed in the goal. With two conservative judges on a panel who might strike down the ACA, the GOP state AGS asked the 5th Circuit Court to delay oral arguments, but the court gave them one business day until July 9. The court will begin by deciding whether states and the House of Representatives have standing to defend the ACA.

House Democrats, led by the Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA), are suing the IRS and Treasury Department to gain access to DDT’s tax returns. Both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig consistently refused to obey the 1924 law requiring them to release DDT’s tax returns. One reason given for obtaining the tax returns is DDT’s incessant complaining about how unfair the audit process is. House members need to see his returns to evaluate his complaints.

This year, the Supreme Court couldn’t decide Carpenter v. Murphy; it is “restored to the calendar for reargument.” The question is whether Oklahoma can prosecute major crimes committed by Native Americans on reservation land for the Five Civilized Tribes, covering the eastern half of the state including Tulsa. Deciding for the defendant, Patrick Murphy, would threaten the validity of past convictions—something that didn’t bother conservative justices in other decisions this year—or replace past law regarding the dissolution of Native American reservations. States have something to look forward to next year because Oklahoma may not be alone in backlash to the decision.

June 29, 2019

Supreme Court Moves to Eliminate Democracy

The debates took up much of the media air last week, but the Supreme Court decisions are what will permanently change democracy in the United States. The two biggest one came out Thursday, the last day of the session so that the conservatives could quickly get out of town. Chief Justice John Roberts now has a one-two-three punch against voting with his three major decisions to suppress the vote. In the first, Citizens United, Roberts gave donors the right to give unlimited amounts of “dark money” to political candidates. His elimination of the almost 50-year-old Voters Rights Act made sure that states could keep minorities and the poor from voting in the states that were usually inclined to discriminate against these populations.

This Thursday, Roberts guaranteed that politicians can select their own voters instead of the constitutional position that voters should pick their candidates, and courts can’t stop gerrymandering even if it promises partisanship. Roberts’ swing vote in Rucho v. Common Cause blocking federal courts from preventing the most aggressive partisan gerrymandered districts that computers can create. In a circular pattern, Republicans pick districts so that the districts will pick Republicans.

The conservative majority used the excuse that some acts can violate he Constitution but are beyond the judiciary to determine any violations. Roberts’ reasoning that courts cannot require states to draw legislative maps somewhat proportional adversely twisted the definition of “proportional representation” for voting, meaning legislative representation should track electoral results. He allows states where Democrats win 54 percent of the vote to give Republicans 65 percent of the legislative seats, and he skipped the part of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits states from denying anyone “equal protection of the laws.” The First Amendment also prohibits viewpoint discrimination—aka gerrymandering. For elections, Roberts views the amendment narrowly while he uses it for unlimited expenditures to influence elections.

The swing vote in Department of Commerce v. New York, Roberts voted against the conservative four justices. The racist policy by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to rig the census by requiring all people in the U.S. to answer a question of their citizenship provided more voter suppression by shrinking districts with Latinx, designed to allocate congressional seats in a way that “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” The U.S. census is ordered for all “people” in the nation, not citizens or legal residents.

Experts testified that the citizenship question “could seriously jeopardize the accuracy of the census,” because “people who are undocumented immigrants may either avoid the census altogether or deliberately misreport themselves as legal residents.” Meanwhile, legal residents “may misunderstand or mistrust the census and fail or refuse to respond.” The Census Bureau “calculated in January 2018 that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census was likely to lead to a 5.1% differential decrease in self-response rates among noncitizen households.” The purpose of the census covers a lot of territory from determining the number of legislators, both state and federal, and the amount of federal funding for different areas.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about the question’s inception and reason and falsely claimed that it was necessary to help the DOJ enforce the remaining portion of the Voters Rights Act. Evidence, however, “showed that the Secretary was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while Commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the Attorney General himself to ask if DOJ would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.” This evidence suggests that “the Secretary had made up his mind to reinstate a citizenship question ‘well before’ receiving DOJ’s request, and did so for reasons unknown but unrelated to the VRA.”

Although Roberts voted that the question had to go back to state courts for another look, he denied that it should be removed because Ross didn’t follow a federal law requiring a three-year notice to Congress about “the subjects proposed to be included, and the types of information to be compiled.” The ruling did not state that the decision was “substantively invalid” but that “agencies must pursue their goals reasonably,” and “reasoned decisionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action.” Remanded back to the New York district court, the Supreme Court decision overturned a ruling that the question is “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act and upheld the constitutionality of a citizenship question under the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution. The ruling determined the question legal if the Commerce Department can come up with a good enough reason.

DDT is so furious about the citizenship question decision that he wants to (unconstitutionally) delay the census until he gets his way. Supposedly, census forms printing must be started next week to complete them in time, but Commerce Department could wait until October 31 to start printing the questionnaire if it can get “extraordinary resources” allocated by Congress.

In a filing last Monday, Maryland District Court Judge George Hazel stated the evidence “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose—diluting Hispanics’ political power—and Secretary Ross’s decision” to add a citizenship question with the argument that DDT violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Although the Supreme Court decision may stop the Maryland lawsuit, it can reappear if Ross returns with new reasons.

DDT’s court continues its pattern: conservative decisions are sweeping ones that change laws; liberal ones are narrow with little relief except in one specific situation.

In the census decision, Justice Clarence Thomas, on the court thanks to Joe Biden’s refusal to listen to women’s statements about Thomas’ sexual harassment, called Judge Jesse Furman a conspiracy theorist for challenging Ross’ lies. Earlier, Thomas had raged about sending a case back to Mississippi for a sixth time in Flowers v. Mississippi because, according to Thomas, prosecutors can strike minorities from a jury on the basis of their race. Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his position. Last February, Thomas announced he wants to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling sharply restricting public figures, including government officials, to sue for defamation and get rid of Gideon v. Wainwright, requiring states to provide public defenders for indigent defendants. Gorsuch agrees with that position too. To Thomas, abortion rights equals eugenics.

After another Supreme Court ruling last week, police no longer need a warrant to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of drinking while driving. Gone is the requirement of a person for an invasive procedure that overturns the 2013 Supreme Court ruling a violation of the Constitution for a nonconsensual blood draw without a warrant in a DUI case.

The 40-foot Christian cross will remain on a traffic median near Washington, D.C. according to six Christian and one Jewish Supreme Court justices. Catholic Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Christian crosses have “secular meaning.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, dissenting with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, read her disagreement from the bench. [I’m guessing that the Supreme Court would not consider a “secular” Jewish star of David or Islam crescent to replace the “secular” cross.]

The Supreme Court refused to hear a lower court ruling against Alabama’s 2015 abortion law banning “dilation and evacuation,” a common procedure during the second trimester. The high court’s inaction left the law struck down, but it won’t avoid abortion cases forever. Earlier this year, it left in place the requirement for disposing of aborted fetal remains through burial or cremation because of the “sanctity of life.” Nothing about miscarriages. The high court also refused to hear a case from two Kansas men convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers.

In Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court on Monday also reaffirmed a 170-year-old exception to the Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause, leaving an opportunity for states to prosecute DDT and his campaign officials for issues already prosecuted federally.

In one sane move, Roberts was the swing vote in Kisor v. Wilkie to not overturn a 75-year series of SCOTUS decisions permitting agencies’ reasonable interpretations of their own regulations.

The Supreme Court has started its docket for the upcoming year with a case determining what happens to 700,000 DREAMERS living in the United States because of DACA. Three appeals courts and a district judge have ruled that DDT had no rationale for his attempt to close a program that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Other cases include one from Bridget Kelly and Vill Baroni, convicted of participating in gridlock near the George Washington Bridge and a Montana ruling invalidating a state program offering tax credits for funding scholarships at private schools, including religious schools.

In a 5-4 decision exempting a public access television channel from constitutional requirements, Brett Kavanaugh wrote:

“It is sometimes said that the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.”

Although Kavanaugh didn’t cite his source, the false statement was tracked to the Ayn Randian Atlas Society, refuting Roberts’ common claim that the Supreme Court is not political. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clearly stated that blockades of Supreme Court nominees are only for Democratic presidents. He smirked while he told an audience that he would “fill it” if a vacancy on the high court appears next year. No longer should “the American people have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”

June 5, 2019

Court Decisions a Crap Shoot

Although the courts have ruled against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) 93 percent of the time for his orders, DDT’s percentage may improve if his appointed judges start hearing more of his cases. For example, a judge has ruled against a lawsuit from the House about DDT using funds to build his wall, ruling that courts are not the place to settle this dispute. The House had argued that the spending violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution and usurp congressional authority while the DOJ opposed the House with the argument that the case concerned whether the administration failed to appropriately execute a statute. Appointed by DDT, U.S. District Trevor N. McFadden wrote that courts take no part in political fights between other branches.

McFadden’s decision was opposite to the 2016 ruling that the GOP-led House could sue the Obama administration for allegedly spending on an Affordable Care Act program that Congress had not approved. Rosemarie Collyer, a George W Bush appointee, wrote, “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.” Republicans had praised the outcome as a necessary check on the White House’s authority in “protecting Congress’ power of the purse [for] the separation of powers.” That case was settled before an appeal was concluded. During a hearing last month, McFadden had already said that he doubted whether the House had legal standing as a single chamber to sue the president, despite DDT illegally shifting money from other programs to pay for his wall.

Previously McFadden refused to recuse himself from a legal case regarding BuzzFeed’s publication of the Steele dossier from Fusion GPS despite McFadden’s representation a firm owned by a Russian businessman claiming he was libeled by the dossier. McFadden was also top lawyer at the DOJ Criminal Division when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked for an investigation into Fusion and earlier served as a “vetter” on DDT’s transition team where he consistently heard negative arguments about the dossier’s accuracy. One of three DDT-appointed judges on Washington, D.C.’s district court, McFadden donated to DDT’s campaign.

Domestic terrorists won in court by using the U.S. Constitution’s free speech amendment. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, appointed by George W. Bush, threw out criminal charges against three members of a neo-Nazi organization Rise above Movement (RAM) who conspired through social media to assault their ideological opponents. The three men “publicly documented their assaults in order to recruit” other white men to join RAM. The U.S. has no laws against domestic terrorism as it does against international terrorist groups. Only gun and drug charges were brought against a domestic terrorist planning to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” and the first judge hearing the case gave the man bail. Convictions for heinous acts bring light sentences, sometimes only for time served. The judge ruled that the federal statute used to prosecute the three men was unconstitutional.

A federal judge conceded to the DOJ in not requiring the release transcripts of conversations between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, when he was Russian ambassador to the U.S. A federal judge had ordered the transcripts made public, but the DOJ refused. Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations while Barack Obama was president. Barr had redacted all this information in the Mueller report.

DDT did lose his request for the Supreme Court to fast track a request a case about DDT’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, postponing any response from the high court until next fall. Two different appeals courts have ruled against DDT’s ending the DACA program. Earlier justices refused DDT’s challenge to a ruling temporarily blocking officials from closing down the program. The House is considering a vote as soon as this week on the Dream Act which would include legal status to hundreds of thousands of past DACA recipients.

With seven Republicans, all the House Democrats passed a new bill, 237-187, that expands the decade-old Dream Act. The “Dream and Promise Act” would protect young migrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and give them a path to citizenship. Other migrants here temporarily from countries devastated by natural disasters and/or wars would also be shielded. Nine years ago, 36 conservative Dems voted the Dream Act with eight Republicans supporting it. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will almost surely not bring the bill to the floor so that Republicans can join DDT in complaining that Democrats are not passing any bills and instead focusing on investigations. Less than halfway through their first year, the House has passed half of its top priorities: democracy-reform, Equality At, Dream and Promise Act, Paycheck Fairness Act, and a bill addressing the climate crisis. Other passed bills lower prescription drug costs and expand the Violence against Women Act along with other healthcare bills. McConnell has ignored all of them and allowed only the passage of a disaster relief bill which House Republicans blocked for weeks. At least 153 bills passed in the House languish in the Senate. The other 15 bills are minor name changes, extensions, or expansions with one of them being payment to employees furloughed by their shutdown. DDT vetoed two bills.  

A judge kept Missouri from being the only state without a clinic performing abortions for the past 46 years—at least temporarily. Yesterday the court ruled that doctors who no longer work at the clinic are not required to comply with subpoenas about safety questions at the clinic. It already complies with gratuitous requirements such as transfer agreements with hospitals, inspections, and two pelvic exams for every woman wanting a surgical abortion. The court will continue to review state allegations about “failed abortions” and legal violations.

DDT is facing more problems about his Panama tower as Ithaca Capital Partners claims that he failed to pay Panamanian taxes equivalent failed to 12.5 percent of the management fees he took from the hotel. That failure plus other financial irregularities amount to “millions of dollars.” DDT’s projects in Canada, Mexico, India, Azerbaijan, Uruguay, and elsewhere are elsewhere in trouble. Although DDT claimed others developed real estate projects, information shows serious family involvement in projects, often with deceptive practices. With the failure of projects, DDT and his family lie about their lack of involvement and walk away with the money that they have already collected.

In a surprising move, Brett Kavanaugh voted with the four progressive Supreme Court justices to expand plaintiff’s fights to class-action lawsuits against big corporations. Consumers may move forward with a suit against Apple, accusing the company of acting as a monopoly. At this time, iPhone and iPad users may download apps, even those developed by third parties, only from the Apple portal while the corporation takes a cut of sales. The ruling concerns other tech giants such as Facebook and Google.

In another case, Kavanaugh went with conservatives in a decision that overturns a 40-year-old ruling and puts four decades of legal decisions into question. About a decision that “states retain their sovereign immunity from private suits brought in courts of other states,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote:

“To overrule a sound decision like [Nevada v. Hall] is to encourage litigants to seek to overrule other cases; it is to make it more difficult for lawyers to refrain from challenging settled law; and it is to cause the public to become increasingly uncertain about which cases the Court will overrule and which cases are here to stay.” 

Clarence Thomas prides himself on being a constitutionalist who follows the words of the document, but his opinion in this case refers only to the “history and structure” of the U.S. Constitution and fail to not support interstate sovereign immunity. Instead Thomas claims that the Constitution bestows “equal dignity and sovereignty” to states. To Thomas, that means that states are immune from private lawsuits brought in other states’ courts. Brett Kavanaugh declared the importance of precedent in his confirmation hearings, and John Roberts had claimed during his hearings that he would not be overturning settled law through the Supreme Court.

Earlier this spring,  Justice Neil Gorsuch maintained that using the death penalty to torture a person to death doesn’t violate the constitution’s Eighth Amendment opposition to “cruel and unusual punishment” as long as people don’t want to inflict pain. His majority opinion for Bucklew v. Precythe allowing the killing of Russell Bucklew in Missouri also asks death penalty defense attorneys to determine methods of killing their clients. Kavanaugh wrote a separate opinion suggesting that firing squads be used for execution because Bucklew could choke from vascular tumors with lethal doses of pentobarbital. Conservatives have already approved drugs for execution that gave inmates “the feeling of being burned alive.” Gorsuch’s opinion of the 5-4 majority in Bucklew destroys over a half-century of precedents and returns to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

With DDT in charge of forming the judicial system for generations to come, court decisions are a crap shoot.

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