Nel's New Day

June 28, 2018

Lower Courts May Save Nation

The good news about losing a conservative Supreme Court justice, perhaps replaced by a super-conservative nominee from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), is that the nation’s highest court hears only 1-2 percent of the appeals. Below are some victories from lower courts, despite conservative judges, a few losses, and upcoming cases.

The biggest win for the past week is the mandate that immigration stop separating children and parents and reunite families within the next month—children under six years old in 14 days and all children over five within 30 days. How the government does this is problematic because they have no idea who the parents of the kidnapped children are. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. are also suing the government to reunite the families.

The Supreme Court may have avoided decisions on gerrymandering, but a panel of judges in a district court have ruled that racial discrimination against blacks was the predominant factor in drawing all 11 U.S. House districts in Virginia. The judges ordered the map to be withdrawn by October in time for the November election.

Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign manager, is losing in court big time. After, a federal judge sent Paul Manafort to jail after he allegedly tampered with witnesses while on house arrest, he lost his appeal to get his money-laundering charge dropped. The judge refuted his attempts to minimize lobbying for a foreign entity in the U.S. because he just failed to register when she pointed out that the law requires the public to know if someone is advancing “the interests of a foreign government or principal with the United States.”

Despite his doubts about Mueller’s motivation in investigating Manafort, another judge, one appointed by Reagan, ruled that Manafort’s prosecution on bank and tax fraud charges can go forward on July 25. The judge also found that the Manafort investigation is within the realm of potential collusion between DDT officials and Russia and that the deputy attorney general approved the inquiry. Manafort is accused of not paying taxes on illegally hidden millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts before he lied about his income and debt to get millions in new loans on real estate bought with his illegal income.

The National Enquirer’s publisher has been subpoenaed for records about the magazine’s $150,000 payment to Karen McDougal for a story about her affair with DDT that it refused to publish. The subpoena comes from an investigation into DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen for alleged wire fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

Cohen is in more trouble because of the evidence that the National Enquirer vetted articles and images about DDT with Cohen before these were published. More than a media ethics question, the issue deals with alleged hush-money payments to DDT’s accusers and witnesses of his scandals, such as a doorman, Dino Sajudin, who spoke about DDT’s illegitimate child in the 1980s.

Resigning as deputy finance chair of the RNC, Cohen said he’s thinking about cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. Wolf Blitzer said that Cohen feels “let down” and “isolated” by DDT, and Cohen also blasted DDT’s separation of migrant children from their parents. A Manhattan federal judge has also ruled that Cohen was a client instead of an attorney and that only eight—under 0.003 percent—of the almost 300,000 emails, texts, and documents would be exempted because they deal with a client.

Life got worse for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a gubernatorial candidate, after a U.S. district judge censured him for “repeated and flagrant violations” of court procedures and ordered the former professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to take remedial classes in the form of six hours of continuing law education.

Despite the judicial ruling to stop a Kansas law, Kobach has ordered county clerks to continue demanding documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration. There is no timeline because “the word “‘immediately’ is kind of open to interpretation,” according to Kobach’s spokeswoman. The judge wrote that the law violated both the Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act.

Kobach unsuccessfully sought a governor’s pardon for a corporate campaign donor, Ryan Bader, whose crime, police said, involved threatening a cab driver by putting a gun to his head. Bader wants the pardon so that he can again guy and carry a gun. He claimed that the event was a mistake in his youth (he was 26 years old) and didn’t remember anything about it because he was drunk.

In yet another loss for Kobach, a judge ruled that commission documents must be given to a commissioner who sued over its lack of transparency. The judge commented “that Mr. Kobach’s reputation for candor to the tribunal and compliance with its orders is less than sterling.”

J. Christian Adams, a commissioner on DDT’s defunct voter fraud investigation led by Kobach, appeared before a federal judge to defend his falsehoods about the large number of non-citizens registering and voting in Virginia. The charge in the suit is that Adams defamed the character of registered voters by accusing them of illegal action. Adams’ report “Aliens Invasion,” unsupported by evidence, claims “1046 aliens who registered to vote illegally” and that “Each of the aliens we have discovered to have registered or voted has likely committed a felony.” His “Aliens Invasion II” falsely accuses the DOJ of doing “nothing about the felonies committed by 433 suspected aliens registered in Prince William County alone.”

The suspect accused in killing Heather Heyer and injuring several others in the Charlottesville (VA) white supremacist march last summer by intentionally striking them with a car has been indicted on 30 counts which include hate crimes resulting in death and bodily injury. The indicted man also faces state charges of first-degree murder and other crimes.

White supremacists plan to celebrate their rally when they killed a woman, injured others, and generally beat up people. The National Park Service has approved an initial request for its anniversary “Unite the Right” rally across from the White House on August 11-12. Charlottesville has already denied an application for its city in “Emancipation Park”, but the organizer is suing.  What can go wrong?

Indiana is being sued for restricting women’s access to abortions. The state’s new law also bans telemedicine. Students at the University of Notre Dame are suing the Indiana school and DDT after the university used religious objections to drop coverages for some types of birth control.

After civil rights groups sued Boston Public Schools for giving student information to ICE, its superintendent, Tommy Chang, has resigned with no reason. Federal law bans schools from asking students about their immigration status, but the lawsuit accuses the district of having a “school to deportation pipeline,” stating without evidence that a student was involved in a gang and giving that allegation to law enforcement, including ICE.

A possible lawsuit in waiting occurred after North Carolina’s General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto of a “sore loser” bill that the state Board of Elections plans to enact retroactively. The new law states that candidates who lose in a primary cannot run in a general election with another party’s backing, specifically addressing three state candidates now represented by the conservative Constitution Party. Republicans fear that this candidate will split the conservative vote, helping the Democrat to win in the fall general election. The Constitution party selected its candidates and presented the names to the Board of Elections two days before the successful vote on the law. The U.S. Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws, ones trying to make an act illegal that was legal when committed.

The General Assembly also restructured judicial election districts in four counties, forcing ten candidates already in the races to either withdraw or refile, with the GOP hopes that new judges would support GOP ideology.  The new law requires that ballots post the political affiliations of the candidates beside their names.

One loss for the people came when a judge tossed out a case against Big Oil that would have required them to pay for costs in adapting to climate change. The judge seemed sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ charge that oil companies have done great damage, but he decided for the companies because it would open out a number of other lawsuits that might put fossil fuel producers out of business. The plaintiffs’ lawyer was pleased “that these companies can no longer deny [climate change] is real and valid.”

Supreme Court rulings are coming back to haunt the rights of people. When Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion allowing unlimited donations to superpacs, it was with the provision that they stay separate from candidates’ campaigns. Now the FEC is okaying coordination allowing candidates to guide allied groups toward messaging by selective public statements about their campaign needs. The fake veil has been shredded.

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June 18, 2018

Courts Feature DDT’s Problems

Today’s post is about recent legal decisions and lawsuit filings, but I’ll begin with the separation of children from their families at the Mexico border.

  • A letter to the editor complained about Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for not doing his job because he tried to visit to incarceration facilities for these children. This is part of his job.
  • NPR, which now gets large donations from far-right contributors such as the Koch brothers, allowed statements that children are better off being separated from their parents with no one explaining the physical and emotional damage of the separations.
  • Yesterday DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Today she backed down at a White House briefing but supported the lies of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) by blaming Democrats and adding other lies of her own.

People watching nothing but conservative media such as Fox are spared horrific tapes of the cries of abducted children separated from their parents. A six-year-old girl kept repeating her aunt’s telephone number and pleading for someone to call her. When the call was finally made, the aunt in El Salvador could do nothing because she and her daughter cannot get asylum in the U.S. because the DOJ no longer accepts people fleeing from gangs and domestic violence. The six-year-old’s mother will probably be deported without her daughter.

As bad as things are for DDT, the courts are pursuing him. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and the Donald J. Trump foundation because DDT’s charity allegedly engaged in “illegal conduct” by raising over $2.8 million to influence the presidential election in DDT’s campaign. The suit calls for dissolving the foundation, repaying the $2.8 million along with other penalties, a 10-year ban on DDT serving as director of a New York nonprofit, and a one-year ban on his serving on a nonprofit board for each of his children. Prison could also be a possibility. Underwood also sent referral letters to the IRS and FEC, listing potential law violations for more investigation and legal action.

Summer Zervos’ defamation civil suit for DDT accusation that his sexual assault victims are liars can continue, according to New York’s Supreme Court. Zervos’ lawyer said that they look forward to the “discovery process,” which could reveal information that DDT is hiding.

Rudy Giuliani tried to defame Stormy Daniels because of her profession as an adult film star, saying that she cannot be trusted. In return, Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted his 500,000+ followers in a search for Giuliani’s porn-watching habits.

An Emoluments Clause lawsuit against DDT for taking gifts from state and foreign governments, a case with no direct precedent, should be decided by the end of July. DDT’s legal team claims that DDT cannot be sued, that his proceeds are not emoluments, and that he has donated his profits to the Treasury. DDT has no evidence for his statement that he made only $151,470. In another emoluments case, 200 congressional Democrats state that DDT has to ask Congress for the right to receive emoluments. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington failed its first round in an emoluments claim for having no standing, but the group is appealing. Any case that manages a requirement of discovery is victorious because DDT has thus far hidden his financial records.

A federal judge in Seattle refused to stay an earlier injunction halting DDT’s transgender military ban while the government is appealing because the government has no new arguments. The judge is one of four issuing preliminary injunctions against Trump’s transgender military ban.

The day after the official end of net neutrality in the United States, an action allowing more profit-making to internet servers, a George W. Bush-appointed judge approved the $85.4 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner with no conditions. The owners of DirecTV, U-verse, AT&T mobile and broadband, Cricket wireless, etc. will now possess HBO, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers Studios, a stake in Hulu, etc. The judge ruled that the merger did not violate antitrust laws because of the consumer welfare standard that examines only consumer costs. Monopolies are now legal; for example, ultra-conservative Sinclair Publishing can move into almost all the local markets across the nation. Comcast entered a bidding war with Disney for Fox TV and movie assets. T-Mobile, which partners with Netflix, has a deal to buy Sprint. Leon’s ruling also leaves Aetna open to join with CVS, and other health corporations can merge.

In another permit for a huge merger earlier this year, the German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer can buy agricultural giant Monsanto, creating the world’s biggest pesticides and seeds monopoly.  After the $66 billion purchase, just three megacorporations–Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, and Syngenta-ChemChina–will control 61 percent of global seeds and pesticides production, worrying farmers about prices with no competition. Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have trapped farmers into dependence and reliance on chemicals.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not decide on two gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. The non-decision gave Wisconsin to the Republicans and Maryland to Democrats. For Wisconsin, the high court’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that challenges must come from each district by voters with standing because the court’s role is only for “individual rights.” The case was sent back to a lower court to determine whether plaintiffs existed in all districts. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch wanted to end the Wisconsin case. An unsigned opinion stated that the Maryland case is at a preliminary stage but that the lower court was not wrong in refusing to order the congressional maps redrawn. The next Supreme Court decision about gerrymandering could come from North Carolina where the GOP controls 10 of 13 congressional districts.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly struck down Minnesota’s ban on political apparel in polling places with the 7-2 ruling that the law was too broad. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that a state may prohibit some apparel, but it must have a “reasonable” line. An example is the California law that defines political information.

Last week, a 4-4 split on the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy recused himself left in place a lower court decision supporting the salmon rights of 21 Northwest Native American tribes who sued Washington state for the replacement of almost 1,000 culverts. The decision, that the state cannot impede the salmon that tribes have a right to fish, could affect development, construction, and farming practices in the Northwest by engaging tribes in decision-making.  Tribes may also look at other treaty rights outside fishing and hunting, such as the preservation of national parks and opposition to pipelines.

Healthcare specialist Mark Horton’s lawsuit against St. Louis-based Midwest Geriatric Management, now pending in the 8th Circuit Court, comes from the company’s pulling his job offer after it discovered he is gay. Major companies such as Microsoft and Airbnb joined EEOC to support Horton’s case; conservative states oppose it. The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Civil Right Act protects LGBTQ workers.

A federal judge in Missouri this week upheld a state law restricting access to medication to induce abortions as the case awaits trial.

A California appeals court reinstated the state’s right-to-die law until a lawsuit goes to court. A lower court had blocked the law on the grounds that the legislature could not pass the law during a special session limited to other issues. Oregon was the first to pass a death-with-dignity law in 1997 before it was joined by Washington, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, and Washington D.C.

Kentucky is suing Walgreens for allegedly aggravating the opioid crisis as both distributor and dispenser in filling huge quantities of prescription narcotic pain medication. This is the sixth opioid-related lawsuit filed by Kentucky. Other states are doing the same—Florida, Delaware, and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Massachusetts is also suing Purdue Pharma and 16 of the OxyContin maker’s executives for misleading doctors and patients about the risks of opioids. Alabama filed a suit against the company four months ago.

A federal judge blocked Indiana from immediately purging registered voters with personal records elsewhere on the faulty Crosschecks computer program.

A question about citizenship abruptly added to the 2020 census with no vetting has brought lawsuits from over two dozen states and cities in opposition. The subsequent release of 1,320 internal memos, emails, and other documents sheds light on this decision. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the cost of the last-minute addition would be insignificant, but John Abowd, the Census Bureau’s chief scientist, conservatively estimates the expense at $27.5 million. The question came from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known for his work to disenfranchise progressive voter. He objected to undocumented immigrants being used to determine the number of congressional seats, despite the fact that this constitutional practice has been used since the first census in 1790.

Earlier this year, Kobach was fined $1,000 for misleading the court about documents in a folder he took to a meeting with DDT soon after the presidential election. Kobach said he paid the fee “out of his own pocket,” but he used a state credit card issued to Craig McCullah, deputy assistant secretary of state under Kobach, for the payment. McCullah, in Ukraine deployed with the Oklahoma Army National Guard when the payment was made, was not told about it. Kobach was also found to have disobeyed orders to notify thousands of Kansans that they were legally registered to vote in 2016. He is running for governor of Kansas.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry was suspended from the bench for 32 counts of lying and using his public office for personal gain. Those seem to be actions reserved for the president of the United States.

June 16, 2018

Court, Staff Problems for DDT

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) turned 72 this past week, trying to get out of lawsuits and scandals through a series of lies. Yet the information about his corrupt associates continues. More documents from DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen have been uncovered, including 731 pages of messages that he sent on such apps as WhatsApp and Signal that allow the content of the texts to remain encrypted. While getting data from a second phone, the FBI took 315 megabytes of data from one of his Blackberry phones. In addition, investigators reconstructed 16 pages of Cohen’s shredded documents. Yesterday was the deadline for Cohen to review hundreds of thousands of documents seized in the April raid of his office and home, and his lawyers disappeared yesterday, making him more likely to cooperate with the Russian investigation. The reason for the loss may be a fee dispute; Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said that Cohen’s bills could be as much as $500,000 per week. DDT’s campaign fund paid about $228,000 by the end of April, but it may have stopped because experts considered this to be potentially illegal.

Cohen is expecting to be arrested, and DDT is separating himself from his former friend. An opening gambit is DDT’s comment that anyone will lie to stay out of prison, insinuating that Cohen will take that tack. Leaks about Cohen’s legal problems may come from him in a signal to DDT that he will need a pardon. The pardon, however, would take away from using Fifth Amendment if he is called on to testify against someone else—like DDT. Meanwhile, however, Cohen fails in his search for a buyer for his expensive Trump building apartment and lawyers.

Cohen also failed in court to get a gag order on Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti to prevent him from speaking publicly about the lawsuit. Although Cohen had proclaimed “irreparable injury” to get the order, the judge regarded his request to be frivolous, “a complete joke and baseless” because Cohen “can’t deal with the truth, the facts, and the law.”

After several pundits said that Paul Manafort, former DDT campaign manager, should take a toothbrush with him to court, a judge ordered him to jail for tampering with witnesses while out on bail and waiting for trial on charges of federal conspiracy and money laundering. DDT again tried to minimize any relationship with Manafort and refused to talk about pardoning him. Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, pled guilty to lying to Mueller’s investigators and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

A judge did rule has that Robert Mueller’s office must reveal names of alleged foreign agents who worked with former DDT campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

DDT’s charitable foundation is in legal trouble for its “political coordination” with his presidential campaign, among other issues, but a major problem could be “a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance” from DDT via video in Kiev. Two weeks after DDT’s election, his foundation stated in a tax form that it may have been illegally benefited by the donation.

George Conway, husband of DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, has come out with strong support of Robert Mueller’s legal authority in the Russia investigation in his essay “The Terrible Arguments against the Constitutionality of the Mueller Investigation.” A graduate of Harvard and Yale and a Republican, George Conway is an attorney who served as a clerk in the 2nd Circuit Court.

The DOJ has found several meetings between the NRA and elite Russians during the presidential campaign in its investigation about whether lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the organization. Influential Russians hosted NRA representatives in Moscow while the Kremlin hacked Democrat emails and put viral fake news on U.S. social media accounts to smear Hillary Clinton. Donating or using foreign money in U.S. election campaigns is a crime. The NRA, DDT’s biggest financial supporter, spent over $30 million, perhaps as much as $70 million, on his candidacy and has attempted to hide its expenditures and donors.

Russia also influenced the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU, and at least two of the British actors in this collusion also provided support for DDT’s campaign. Emails show that British businessman Arron Banks, the largest donor in UK history during the campaign for UK’s departure from the EU who denied Russian involvement, had several meetings with Russians during Brexit. Banks also admitted that he gave phone numbers for these Russians to people on DDT’s transition team. The defense of “witch hunt” is now becoming popular with Brexit supporter Banks.

DDT’s staff are still causing him trouble. DDT bragged about how “everybody wants to work in the White House,” but so few people want to work for him that officials are begging for employee candidates at a conservative job fair.

Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, plans to leave this summer. His leadership of DDT’s legislative agenda has not always been successful, and DDT has frequently criticized him while he goes out on his own to make his own unsuccessful deals. An example this past week is DDT’s claim that he wouldn’t sign the more moderate immigration bill to go before the House this coming week before declaring that he would sign either one of the bills that was passed. Two other communications staffers left the White House this week—Steven Cheung, director of strategic response, and Cliff Simms, now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s senior adviser. At least 18 of DDT’s 31 assistants—including six replacements—left their posts.

Another imminent high profile departure may be Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Asked about the possibility, DDT said that “at a certain point everyone sort of leaves, you have to leave.” Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah may also resign by the end of the year.

Three DOJ lawyers refused to support AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to not support the Affordable Care Act, but senior career Justice Department official Joel McElvain flat-out resigned. GOP Congress failed to repeal the law so Sessions will try to kill the ACA by not defending the law of the United States.

At the beginning of June, Rudy Guiliani yelled at his son for making out with his wife at the theater. Now 32-year-old Andrew Giuliani lost access to the White House without an escort despite his $77,000 a year job in the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs. Chief of staff John Kelly and others also won’t promote Andrew because he “subverts the chain of command” and has other workplace issues. Rudy Giuliani disappeared from media for over a week after his denigrating comments about Stormy Daniels appearance. Maybe because his current wife, Judith Nathan, went to the media about his affairs, one of them with married New Hampshire hospital administrator Maria Rosa Ryan.

Some jobs in the White House are vital, for example taping together documents that DDT regularly tears up in his ignorance of the law. Former records management analyst Solomon Lartey and Reginald Young Jr., each making over $60,000 a year, have been fired for no reasons from their positions to repair notes and memos that DDT tears up for preservation according to the Presidential Records Act. Other workers are still taping papers back together again.

Another important government job responsibility is to keep track of DDT’s loyalists—and a black list of those who seem less than loyal. Mari Stull, former food lobbyist and wine blogger and currently senior adviser at the State Department, maintains a list of government officials and employees of international organizations and agencies, examining social media for political disagreement and past support of any of President Obama’s policies. Included are people who work for such agencies as the World Health Organization and the United Nations. People on the black list are kept out of meetings, and her actions are causing three assistant secretaries of state—Molly Phee, Erin Barclay, and Nerissa Cook—to quit or change agencies.

DDT may manage one nomination this coming week, Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Interim director Mick Mulvaney has already eliminated the “protection” part of the agency, so Kraninger’s lack of experience in finance, banking, and consumer issues is irrelevant. She will, however, follow Mulvaney’s leadership of no government and regulations while promoting business interests.

Little climate news hits the mainstream media these days, but WashPo has reported that the melting Antarctica’s ice sheet is annually dumping 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean which raises sea levels one-half millimeter a year, tripling in the last decade. There goes Miami—and a lot more East Coast homes.

May 28, 2018

Rights’ Relief from Courts – Sometimes

Democracy from people often comes from court decisions. After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suspended democratic action by blocking any discussion for President Obama’s nominee for a Supreme Court Justice, SCOTUS moved away from people’s rights with Neil Gorsuch’s nomination by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Fortunately, the Supreme Court makes fewer than 100 decisions per year while courts across the nation can rule on constitutional rights in thousands of cases.

Recently, five Supreme Court justices removed rights from workers when five justices determined that employees must settle disputes through individual arbitration behind closed doors rather than through class action in open court. The decision worsens an earlier ruling allowing corporations to avoid class-action lawsuits from consumers. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg read part of her dissent from the bench:

“The court today holds enforceable these arm-twisted, take-it-or-leave-it contracts — including the provisions requiring employees to litigate wage and hours claims only one-by-one. Federal labor law does not countenance such isolation of employees. Trying to arbitrate such claims individually would be too expensive to be worth it, and “the risks of employer retaliation would likely dissuade most workers from seeking redress alone.”

Federal labor law permits employees to work together in improving their conditions and fight low wages, harassment, and discrimination, but the court states that companies can use arbitration clauses, forced on employees if they want the job, to ban joining together in legal actions. Employees must now fight individually against violations of minimum-wage laws, refusal to pay overtime, and requirements to work off the clock. Few private attorneys will take cases for so little money.

The day after this Supreme Court ruling, the National Labor Relations Board delivered an opposing position, that employees have the right to organize, bargain collectively and “engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” According to the Board’s interpretation of Section 8, an employment agreement requiring employees to resolve disputes by arbitration or on an individual basis is an unfair labor practice. The question now will be what opinions supersede others.

In a Supreme Court’s decision that states can legally bet on college and professional sports, Justice Samuel Alito said that each state has the right to act on its own if Congress does not regulate sports gambling. Next year, the Supreme Court will hear a case on when federal law trumps state law.

After churches in Morris County (New Jersey) received almost $5 million for repairs, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution forbids using public money for religious purposes. A year ago, the Supreme Court allowed taxpayer monies to be used for repair of a church’s playground in Missouri, but the ruling did not address houses of worship. The case may go to the Supreme Court.

A federal court in California ruled Friday against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in deciding that the agency violated privacy laws by using the Social Security Administration to analyze loan forgiveness for students defrauded by Corinthian Colleges. The court ordered debt collection from defrauded students to stop after DeVos stated that only part of federal loans would be forgiven. DeVos is supporting other for-profit colleges. She appointed the dean of DeVry to head a team to investigate these schools, including DeVry. She has also frozen protections for students and reduced loan forgiveness relief for students defrauded by these schools.

Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, fought for years to use the bathroom in high school, and a federal judge ruled the school officials of Gloucester County (VA) violated his constitutional rights for stopping him from using the bathroom matching his gender identity after the 4th Circuit Court sent the case back to the lower court.

Judge Orlando Garcia, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, ruled that the state must comply with the federal National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”) (or “motor voter” law) and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Construction on the final 18 miles of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in St. James (LA), located in an area called Cancer Alley, has been halted after a judge ruled that state regulators violated guidelines in issuing a coastal use permit. Town residents would have no way to evacuate after an explosion or other pipeline failure emergency, a fact not considered in the state’s permit. The company building the pipeline faces a legal challenge for its U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permit through the Atchafalaya Basin, a National Heritage Area and massive river swamp. The 5th Circuit Court began to hear this case the beginning of May, but pipeline builders are already cutting down old growth cypress trees.

DDT cannot block people from his Twitter account, according to a federal judge who wrote:

“The President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President.”

DDT can mute people’s accounts so that he doesn’t have to look at their comments.

Another DDT sign came down when a New York State judge ruled that the name “Trump Place” can be removed from a high-rise condo. The bad news is that the condo cannot change its name, and the sign will stay until two-thirds majority of the condo association agrees to remove the signs. DDT’s name has already been removed from three Manhattan buildings and hotels in New York, Toronto, and Panama.

A New York appeals court refused to allow DDT to stay a defamation case by Summer Zervos regarding her claim that DDT sexually assaulted her. At this time, DDT can be deposed in the case, and lawyers can proceed with pretrial discovery, including demands for documents. In addition, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said he’s vetting two more women on their claims that DDT gave them large hush-money payments. Zervos will subpoena documents from the Trump Organization about DDT’s alleged mistreatment of women, recordings from the archives of the president’s former reality show, and surveillance footage from the hotel in which Zervos says she was attacked.

The third federal judge has ruled against DDT over cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. The judge wrote that ending grants two years early was “arbitrary” and “capricious.” The 73 organizations receiving grants will have to follow DHS’ new requirements to focus on abstinence programs for continued funding while the eight suing organizations will not.

White supremacist Jacob Scott Goodwin has been found guilty of malicious wounding, nine months after he battered a young black man in a Charlottesville (VA) garage before his victim, 20-year-old DeAndre Harris was attacked by other white supremacists who broke his arm and injured his spine. Other attackers are awaiting trial. At the same event, another white supremacist deliberately drove into a crowd, killed Heather Heyer, and injured more than another dozen people. Two days after Goodwin’s guilt was established, white supremacist Alex Michael Ramos was found guilty of “malicious wounding” in the same attack. Both men face 20 years in prison. Two other men face trials for the assault.

Muslim-American Yonas Fikre is suing the government for putting him on its no-fly list to blackmail him into being an FBI informant to provide information about his place of worship, Portland’s largest Sunni mosque. His lawyer, Brandon Mayfield, has asked a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court to continue the suit that had been dismissed after the government removed Fikre’s name from the list stopping him from returning to his home in the U.S. Judges were irritated by the DOJ sudden offer to stop the appeal by promising that Fikre won’t be put back on the list for the same reasons as in 2010. They asked why the DOJ does not think that Fikre deserves declaratory relief after his marriage was destroyed and his business was disrupted. Mayfield has been awarded a $2 million settlement after the FBI wrongly arrested him as a suspect in the 2004 Madrid train bombings and subjected him to the same unconstitutional actions as the government did to Fikre.

Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, is the next cabinet member to be sued. A rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration established in 2015 mandated assessment of local segregation patterns, barriers to fair housing, and planning to correct the problems. Carson called desegregation efforts “failed socialist experiments” and suspended the rule. The lawsuit asserts that Carson did not provide for public notice or comment opportunity. Carson said that the process was too burdensome. In addition, the lawsuit claims that HUD violated its duty to guarantee that federal funds promote fair housing—for example, giving millions in HUD grants to white suburbs in Westchester County that refuses affordable housing.

The next branch to be covered is the legislature.

April 28, 2018

DDT’s Swinging Door, Legal Issues Continue

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:07 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The people in the world of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep coming and going.

Mike Pompeo, confirmed as Secretary of State with a vote of 57-42, lost votes from eight of the 14 Democrats who voted to approve him for CIA Director. Tillerson’s hiring freeze in the State Department left Pompeo several openings—eight of nine staff positions, 60 ambassadorships, and ten of 22 assistant secretary positions—leaving the Senate busy with many more confirmation hearings. He will be headed to Brussels for a NATO meeting with foreign ministers tomorrow, help DDT determine whether to close the Iran deal by May 12, and get the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, overwhelmingly condemned by the UN, open on May 14. Newly elected Doug Jones (D-AL) joined five Democrats running this year in red states.

It’s a guarantee that Pompeo will continue to eliminate reproductive rights from the annual report on human rights practices throughout the world. The 2017 report, used for decision-making, skipped such areas as “the ability of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children.” It was replaced with “coercion in population control.” Asked about the omission, State Department officials replied, “There’s still a long section on women.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), head of the so-called religious freedom party, finally forced someone out of his job in the House–Chaplain Patrick Conroy. Two possible reasons are that Conroy favored the Democrats and that conservatives were upset because Conroy asked a Muslim to give an opening prayer. A third reason might be that Conroy wasn’t conservative enough: Ryan has assigned two evangelical representatives, both pastors, to find a replacement who must be elected by the House members.

After months of postponement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Grenell, a gay Republican, has been confirmed as ambassador to Germany with mostly GOP support. The GOP Log Cabin Republicans blasted Democrats for opposing a gay man for this position, despite gay ambassadors nominated by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Among the Democratic argument against the former Fox contributor and aide to John Bolton is his derogatory tweets about prominent women such as comparing Rachel Maddow to Justin Bieber. He claims that he finds his comments to be “funny”; the question is whether he will try out his “humor” on Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel while he is a “diplomat” there—or continue to scold the nation for not bombing Syria.

Dr. Ronny Jackson, DDT’s White House doctor, has withdrawn from his nomination as VA Secretary after a number of concerns about his professional ethics. The last straw, even beyond his nickname as the “Candyman” for his distribution of prescription drugs to unauthorized patients, may have been the report that he was drunk when he “wrecked a government vehicle.” (Allegations against Jackson by colleagues and former colleagues.) Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is to be commended for bringing up concerns about Jackson before a difficult re-election campaign in a red state, especially because DDT is going after him. Jackson is DDT’s 24th failed nominee in 15 months. Half the top aides who arrived at the White House with DDT are gone, usually in painful ways. Paul Waldman asked, “Is there a single Trump aide or official who will leave the service of this president with their reputation enhanced, or at least not diminished?”

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), who had declared he wouldn’t run for re-election, walked off the job to avoid the House Ethics probe into his secret settlement to a staffer accusing him of harassment. Gov. Tom Wolf will need to determine whether to hold special elections for his position and the one that Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) is leaving before the end of his term.

Brand new NASA director Jim Bridenstine tweets that he’s “committed to lunar exploration” with “an expanded lunar surface campaign,” but NASA canceled its only lunar rover currently in development. Nobody seems to know why.

On the legal side, bars can legally refuse service to people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice ruling. The plaintiffs tried to justify their lawsuit by claiming religious discrimination because they had been “paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11.” The judge ruled that supporting DDT is not a form of religion. The bar owner said that he was asked to leave because he was “verbally abusive to our staff.” Only in MAGA world. (And no, this really happened!)

Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen has been postponed for 90 days. The judge said that the lawsuit might endanger Cohen’s constitutional rights if it proceeds while he is under criminal investigation.

Activists who shut off valves on the Enbridge oil pipelines may argue their case of “necessity defense” in court. A judge had approved the request last year, but prosecution had appealed. Testimony will include the serious danger of global warming. Last month, 13 protesters arguing the same defense after arrested for blocking construction by sitting in hopes dug for a pipeline were not responsible for civil disobedience.

Seattle is vacating every misdemeanor cannabis conviction for 542 people from the past 30 years after Washington state legalized recreational cannabis. Philadelphia is also stopping crimination prosecutions for cannabis possession to focus on solving homicides.

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has filed an official complaint against Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and director of the Office of Management and Budget. In a speech to banking industry executives, he encouraged them to pay for lobbying efforts to persuade Congress to alter its funding source for the CFPB so that Congress and the banking industry take control of the agency. Mulvaney told the audience that he met only with lobbyists who contributed to his campaign. Eight years ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion of Citizens United allowing almost unlimited donations to campaigns that “there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate.” Mulvaney proves Kennedy wrong. POGO maintains Mulvaney’s speech violates federal anti-lobbying laws dating back to 1919 preventing executive officials from urging people to contact Congress in support of or opposition to pending legislation.

POGO is just one of the groups fighting back against DDT’s and the Republicans’ authoritarian behavior. Max Boot writes:

“If there is any silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over our democracy, it is that Trump’s outrageous behavior is provoking opposition from a growing number of good-government groups. Both the center-left and ­center-right are mobilizing and—best of all—they are cooperating, because they realize that their policy differences fade into insignificance at a time when our core institutions and norms are under assault.”

He follows that statement by listing several of these organizations including a new one, Renew Democracy Initiative. Help for those who want another way to join the resistance!

A dark decision from the judiciary comes from a three-judge 5th Circuit panel reversing a lower court ruling that a voter photo ID law from 2011 intentionally discriminated against black and Hispanic voters. Plaintiffs had argued that the requirement constituted a poll tax because of its expenditures, but the defense maintained that the law had been fixed because voters could vote without the ID with an alternative and swore to a “reasonable impediment,” that could include transportation, disability or illness. Dissenting Judge James Graves Jr. wrote, “A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog.” The decision might keep Texas from federally-mandated preclearance according to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but the Supreme Court is hearing another Texas election problem in gerrymandering.

Most of the news after the Supreme Court decision on Sessions v. Dimaya focused on DDT’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, voting with the progressive justices. Another issue, however, deals with the cases that have been held back until the Supreme Court makes its ruling. Most of the time, this “relist,” as they are called, amounts to very few, but in the Dimaya case, the number is at least 42. Details here.

DDT was so pleased with his disastrous monolog on Fox & Friends that he’ll do it “once a month and as news breaks,” according to his counselor Kellyanne Conway. Steve Doocy (left) had the fastest reaction time to look pleased at the announcement.

An Oxford University study shows that DDT supporters read and share more “junk” news from sites containing “propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan and conspiratorial political information” than any other group. Ninety-six percent of DDT supporters had “strong connections to one of 10 groups” identified in this area, and 91 percent of “hard conservatives” shared “junk” information on Facebook. The results are not a surprise, but they do explain the difficulty in having reasonable conversations with DDT supporters.

DDT skipped tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner for the second time since he was inaugurated. Parts of it were hilarious, including comedian Michelle Wolf. Last year, DDT went to Pennsylvania for love from his followers; this year he was in Michigan. In addition to attacking the usual people, DDT called for a government shutdown in September if he doesn’t get his border wall. What a patriot!

April 25, 2018

Even Gorsuch Opposes DDT

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:36 PM
Tags:

Legal decisions and new lawsuits continue to pile up against Dictator Donald Trump and the GOP:

The most amazing decision of last week came from the Supreme Court when Neil Gorsuch, DDT’s pet appointment after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused President Obama’s appointment for 11 months, sided with the four “liberal” justices to strike down a law that allowed the government to deport some immigrants who commit serious crimes. The majority ruled that the term “crime of violence” is so vague that it is unconstitutional. DDT complained that Gorsuch is too liberal.

In another deportation decision, a George W. Bush appointed federal judge for D.C. ruled that DACA protections must remain in place with the government accepting new applications because the decision to terminate the program is based on the “virtually unexplained” grounds that the program was “unlawful.” DHS has 90 days to come up with better reasoning. This week’s decision protecting DACA is the third one against DDT’s attempt to eliminate DACA and the first to require new applications.

Another astonishing ruling came from a federal judge in Kansas who ruled that the state Secretary of State Kris Kobach is in contempt of court because he failed to follow her orders to register voters who had registered at the DMV but failed to present proof of citizenship. She said that he had not complied with a 2016 preliminary injunction blocking the state law mandating that people provide proof of citizenship at voter registration, holding up registration for about 18,000. Kobach is blaming everyone else for not carrying through the orders.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that Indiana’s abortion ban, signed by former Gov. Mike Pence, is unconstitutional according to a Supreme Court decision that states cannot prohibit women’s decision before viability. The law prevented women from having abortions based on gender, race, or disability; North Dakota, Louisiana, and Ohio have the same law. At least a dozen states and the federal government have failed to pass similar laws, and other laws are pending in Kansas and North Carolina despite no research to support that gender selection is a reason for abortion.

The 6th Circuit Court three-judge panel, two of them appointed by GOP president, unanimously upheld the lower court decision that Ohio Gov. John Kasich and GOP lawmakers acted unconstitutionally to end $1.5 million state funding for Planned Parenthood. The next anti-abortion law to go to court might be a new Arizona law requiring doctors to ask women why they want abortions and reporting their answers to the state’s Department of Health Services.

Three GOP-appointed judges on a 7th Circuit Court panel unanimously ruled against the DOJ’s attempt to keep federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities”—decrying the term itself and writing that the administration wrongly sought to use “the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement.” The judges also found that the DOJ tried to take over authority to give or take federal funds, a right reserved for Congress, and that Chicago isn’t interfering in “lawful pursuit of [the government’s] civil immigration activities.”

A federal judge in Los Angeles also ruled that the DOJ cannot take public safety, policing grants from so-called “sanctuary cities.” The “permanent, nationwide ban against” DOJ follows similar victories in San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that Exxon Mobil must release documents about what it knew regarding related to a state investigation into whether the company misled investors and consumers about the link between fossil fuels and climate change. Exxon Mobil is also appealing the dismissal of its lawsuit against the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts to the 2nd Circuit Court. The oil companies had alleged that the accusation of fraud against them was based on politics.

A federal court in Seattle found that a lawsuit against DDT for its discriminatory ban against transgender people openly serving in the military can move forward because of the ban’s constitutional violations. Transgender military members are now protected by four separate court injunctions. Army Secretary Mark Esper and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley testified to the Senate that they had no knowledge of problems regarding unit cohesion stated in a DOJ report justifying DDT’s ban.

Karen McDougal has been released from her contract to keep her from talking about her affair with DDT just days after DDT’s “fixer,” Michael Cohen, was served with a search warrant for many of his papers.

A GOP recall effort attempting to swing the Nevada senate to Republican by getting rid of two Democratic senators has failed because the petitions lack enough signatures. The Democrats may attempt to strengthen state laws requiring that recalls have a legitimate reason such as official wrongdoing.

Pending Cases:

Former Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio isn’t in prison because DDT pardoned him, but Arpaio had to admit guilt to his crime in order to get the pardon. Now Arpaio is running for U.S. Senate, and the DOJ won’t defend a judge’s refusal to vacate his case and wipe his criminal record from appeal. The 9th Circuit Court has appointed a private attorney to fill the role that the DOJ rejected, to defend the court’s decision and give the court the chance to decide if DDT’s pardon is constitutional. Opposition to the pardon states that it “infringes on the constitutional rights of private litigants and the power of courts to uphold the Constitution, and so is outside the President’s constitutional authority.”

The Washington DC Court of Appeals heard arguments last week that included whether Mick Mulvaney can be both director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Filings:

The DNC is suing the Russian government, the DDT campaign, and WikiLeaks alleging a conspiracy among them to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and help DDT in hacking the DNC computer networks and disseminating stolen information.

Over five years after a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people, 20 of them small children, parents of two dead children are suing Alex Jones for claiming that they are “crisis actors” and that the shootings were faked. The lawsuits join two earlier ones against Jones for defamation, one by a man recording the deadly car attack at Charlottesville (VA) during a white supremacist march and the other a 24-year-old falsely identified by Jones’ Infowars as the gunman who killed 17 people in Florida on Valentine’s Day this year. Jones is claiming to be the victim, saying that he never said that the shooting deaths were faked and that he was just playing “devil’s advocate” when he called the tragedy a “hoax.” Faced with lawsuits, he says it isn’t a hoax.

The NAACP has sued the Census Bureau for its lack of 2020 Census preparation which will result in a drastic undercount of people of color and violation of the U.S. Constitution. Several other groups are suing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for his addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census with no validity or research.

Colorado counties are suing Exxon and Suncor, demanding that the two oil companies help pay for climate change impacts, including that from the emission of tons of carbon dioxide. The governmental entities are the first noncoastal U.S. communities taking legal action against the fossil fuel industry. The courts are important in slowing pollution because the EPA is allowing more mercury, benzene, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in the air without public input requirements.

Hundreds of workers who cleaned up the biggest coal ash spill in the U.S. from a coal power plant (Kingston, TN) are suing Jacobs Engineering, hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 2008 after a billion gallons of coal ash inundated a residential community and contaminated two rivers. An earlier lawsuit had been filed on behalf of 53 dead and sick workers; the new lawsuit added another 180 dead or dying workers. Jacobs refused to allow workers to wear protective gear, even dust masks, to avoid alarming the public, and the EPA signed off on the “safety” plan.

In Florida, New York, and Illinois, the Trump Organization has filed nine lawsuits since DDT’s inauguration to lower property taxes under the premise that the company’s property is worth far less than DDT has claimed in his presidential financial disclosures. DDT is the first president who has used the courts to deny communities funds for roads, schools, and police departments. For example, DDT’s company is claiming that a golf course in Ossining (NY) is worth only $1.4 million about the purchase price and renovations are almost $50 million.

Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is working with lawyers to sue DDT for defamation and wrongful termination as well as other possible civil claims. McCabe’s lawyer is also accusing McCabe’s opponents, including DDT, of “continuing slander.”

New York AG Eric Schneiderman is working to change state law so that he can bring criminal charges against DDT’s aides who are pardoned to allow Muller’s investigation to proceed unimpeded. Presidents have no ability to pardon offenses or commute sentences at the state level. The double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution preventing prosecution of the same offense twice is covered only for federal prosecution. New York prosecuted Leona Helmsley for tax cheating after she had been prosecuted on the federal level. Several DDT aides—including Rick Gates and Michael Flynn—have pled guilty, and New York is investigating Cohen.

In a legal first, the personal lawyer for the man inaugurated in 2017 has said he will invoke the 5th Amendment to not incriminate himself in the Stormy Daniels case. Evidently Michael Cohen thinks he’s guilty of something which will openly catch DDT in a crime. DDT may be on Fox & Friends tomorrow to talk about Cohen.

 

March 31, 2018

Census on Front Burner, Legal Decisions Helping People

The worst event in the past week may be the decision to add a question to the census about immigration status. Republicans have eliminated any questions about LGBTQ people, but they plan to add a question that intimidates people to cut down the number of votes for their own purposes. The question hasn’t been asked since 1950 and will start an immense legal and political war. Twelve states are already suing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to stop the interrogatory question.

The Constitution requires a count of “the whole number of persons in each State” and says nothing about citizens. The SCOTUS ruling in Evenwel v. Abbott (2016) unanimously stated that legislative maps should be on total population, not the number of citizens.

Commerce Secretary is already lying about the necessity for “more effective enforcement” of the Voting Rights Act, but it’s already asked on the longer American Community Survey which is used to enforce civil rights laws. The census determines the drawing of congressional districts, the number of electoral votes, and the allocation of $675 billion from 300 programs in federal funding to states and localities. Undercounts deny federal resources and representation to Latino populations and shift power to white, Republican regions. An undercount of just one percent, for example, could cause Texas to lose $300 million in federal monies for children’s insurance and Medicaid.

Common Cause is suing Cambridge Analytica for using foreign workers to orchestrate U.S. elections. A 2014 C.A. report described its management of the campaign for GOP candidate Art Robinson in his campaign against Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) in violation of the law.

A federal lawsuit in Utah is contesting the state’s decision to prevent a U.S. citizen from Samoa from running for office. The plaintiffs maintain that the 14th Amendment confers citizenship on people born on U.S. soil, whether state, territory, of the District of Columbia.

Three men, DDT supporters, are on trial in Kansas for plotting to bomb a Muslim apartment building to start a holy war. They hoped to slaughter Muslims to inspire other to follow their lead. Despite the political purpose of the plans, the judge refused the claim, and the defense lawyers are attacking the FBI with the claim that FBI entrapment unfairly persuaded the three men to have the terrorist plot. DDT has been silent about the terrorism.

Environmental groups are suing the EPA for removing a policy imposing limits on hazardous air pollutants from factories, plants, and other major polluters.

DOJ’s Solicitor General Noel Francisco has asked to defend Texas gerrymandering maps found by a lower court to be discriminatory. The case goes to the Supreme Court on April 24.

The day after Stormy Daniels’ interview aired on 60 Minutes, she filed a defamation lawsuit against DDT’s personal attorney Michael Cohen for accusing her of lying about an affair with DDT. Demanding a jury trial, the suit also contains the argument that DDT’s non-disclosure agreement is not valid because Cohen’s payment of $130,000 violated federal law and DDT didn’t sign the agreement. A judge has refused to allow a deposition of DDT.

The Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices.

Legal Decisions:

A federal judge on Friday evening temporarily blocked DDT from stopping abortions for unaccompanied immigrant teenagers who are or will be in federal custody because it violates the girls’ constitutional rights. HHS are not permitted to obstruct access to abortion, counseling, medical appointments, or other pregnancy-related care.

A federal judge refused to permit an ExxonMobil lawsuit intended to stop New York and Massachusetts’ probe into the company’s misleading investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.

A federal judge refused to allow a conservative group to purge voter lists of eligible voters.

An appellate judge told Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) that he had to hold an election for empty legislative seats in the third ruling this week, and he gave up. Walker attacked Eric Holder and other Democrats on Twitter but set up the special elections for June 12 to fill seats vacated last year.

Washington, D.C. and Maryland may proceed with a lawsuit against DDT, according to a federal judge. The case alleges that DDT’s business dealings violate the constitutional ban on “emoluments,” payments to the president from states and foreign governments.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris told government officials they must consider climate change in mapping out infrastructure and land use in the Wyoming/Montana Powder River Basin that produces 40 percent of the nation’s coal. He told the BLM that they had to work with environmental groups for future development in the area.

A federal judge cited DDT’s “racially charged language” when he ruled that a lawsuit to protect DACA participants may continue. Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis pointed out that DDT’s many “racial slurs” and “epithets” created a “plausible inference” that his ending DACA violated the constitutional equal protection clause.

Firings/Appointments:

This week saw the disappearance of another Cabinet member. Two days after DDT said he wasn’t firing VA Secretary David Shulkin, he did. Pete Hegseth, Fox & Friends co-host, will have to wait for a DDT appointment; DDT says that he has picked Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, his personal physician who said glowing things about DDT, as the replacement for acting secretary. The media is now revealing that Hegseth has a tremendous amount of baggage that could keep him from confirmed.

Shulkin is not going quietly. He wrote an op-ed for the New York Times and has appeared on various television programs about how DDT surrounded him with staffers working to privatize the VA in opposition to the positions of veterans advocacy groups and lawmakers concerned about the influence of the Koch brothers and other far-right people to destroy public healthcare. Shulkin pointed out that private health care can’t even take care of its own clients now, let alone the number of patients and their specialized needs coming from veterans dumped onto the system.

The VA Secretary was ostensibly fired because of his travel expenses, a claim made invalid by the inordinate costs of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt. Pruitt paid $40,000 cost to take seven aides staff and an undisclosed number of protective staff to Morocco about the nation’s interest in importing liquified nitrogen gas. The Department of Energy and that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are in charge of LNG exports, not the EPA. Last June, Pruitt’s expenses to the G7 environmental summit were $120,000. While there, Pruitt attending one meeting and left early. For much of his first year in Washington, Pruitt lived in a condo owned by co-owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist which includes LNG exports. He paid about $1,000 a month in the fifth most expensive city in the country and in an area where rentals go for about $5,000 a month.

William Charles “Chad” McIntosh, DDT’s pick to head the EPA office of International and Tribal Affairs, comes from the Ford Motor Company where he failed to stop an industrial spill contaminating groundwater with a carcinogen chemical in a Michigan suburb. McIntosh may be deposed in a lawsuit. He also has a background in rolling back Michigan’s environmental protections.

Hope Hicks may be gone from the White House, but DDT now has Caroline Sunshine (left). The 22-year-old Disney Channel star from Shake It Up is a press assistant. (Remember when DDT said that Stormy Daniels, below, wasn’t his type?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christine Harbin, another anti-clean energy fighter, has been appointed as senior adviser for external affairs in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, primarily dealing with the electricity grid. She worked for the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity since 2012 and, before that, for the Koch-funded ALEC, always in a position to support pollution.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) failed to keep Matthew Masterson on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission despite his cyber abilities to fight Russian meddling in elections, but he’s now been hired for the DHS cyber wing to work on election security. State election officials have praised his ability and leadership.

People are beginning to notice the environment: 59 percent rate quality of environment negatively, 40 percent positively; 61 percent say quality of the environment getting worse, 33 percent say better.

DDT is wasting money by doing away with regulations. In the past decade, the government made from $287 billion to $911 billion each year from regulations while spending from $78 billion and $115 billion to implement them. DDT’s goal is to eliminate 75 percent of the regulations that keep people safe. For years, I’ve asked a Republican friend which regulations she wants to get rid of; she never has had an answer.

Note from yesterday’s post on Laura Ingraham: the conservative host is taking a break from her Fox program, “The Ingraham Angle.” Thus far, at least 16 large companies have dropped their advertising after her attack on the Parkland (FL) survivor, leaving only IBM on Friday night.Now North Carolina Rep. Beverly Boswell (R) used her Facebook page to accuse student protesters at the Washington, D.C. rally of wanting to “murder” gun owners.

March 27, 2018

Conservatism on Trial

Lawyers continue to earn salaries from the outrageous edicts of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and GOP laws. Some of the ones from just last week:

Decisions:

Women may legally bare their breasts in public, according to a federal ruling on a 2015 Fort Collins (CO) law preventing female bare breasts in public except for breastfeeding and girls under the age of ten. Fort Collins said that male and female breasts are different and the law is to prevent disrupting order. The group Free the Nipple won’t disband because Fort Collins isn’t giving up.

For the second time, the Supreme Court rejected a GOP request to stop a Pennsylvania court mandate for redrawing the state’s congressional map in a way that removes some of the massive GOP gerrymandered advantage. State legislators considered impeaching the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of redrawing the map, but the Chief Justice, a GOP appointee, may have embarrassed them out of the idea.

Two class-action lawsuits over contaminated water in Flint (MI) can go to trial, according to the Supreme Court. Federal Judge John C. O’Meara earlier ruled that the federal Safe Drinking Water keeps the cases out of his jurisdiction, but the 6th Circuit Court reversed O’Meara’s dismissal and allows plaintiffs to seek monetary damages.

A unanimous SCOTUS ruling sent a case back to the 5th Circuit Court after it ruled that indigent prisoners must expect success to get funding for investigating a case. SCOTUS disagreed. In Ayestas v. Davis, the petitioner, sentenced to death for his part in a 1995 murder during a robbery, claimed ineffective trial and post-conviction counsel.

A federal judge temporarily blocked a new law in Mississippi banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the strictest limit in the nation that violates the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker (R) refused to hold special elections for empty legislative seats in violation of state law after a Democrat upset in a January special election. A circuit court judge appointed by Walker told him that he will hold the elections. Walker had erroneously claimed that he didn’t need to hold elections because they didn’t occur in an election year. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald plans to get GOP legislators to overturn the judge’s ruling and called on the state Supreme Court to discipline the judge for “politicizing” her ruling.

A federal judge slapped down the Federal Election Commission (FEC)—again—for wrongly dismissing a 2012 complaint against the conservative American Action Network (AAN) that failed to register as a political committee and report the millions of dollars it spent for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2010 campaign.

New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer G. Schecter ruled that a sexual harassment defamation lawsuit against DDT by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos can proceed. Schecter used the court precedent in a lawsuit against Bill Clinton—that “a sitting president is not immune from being sued in federal courts for unofficial acts”—as the basis for her decision. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal also filed a lawsuit against owner of the National Enquirer, American Media, to be released from her contract to keep quiet about an affair with DDT.

The Supreme Court refused to roll back the ability of federal agencies to interpret their regulations. Under DDT, agencies are pushing abstinence-only regulations affecting women’s reproductive rights, net neutrality, and otherwise burdening people in the U.S. with religious and business-oriented advantages. Even so, ultra-conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch disagreed with the majority.

Ongoing trials:

The “anti-trust trial of the century” has started in the government’s fight against AT&T’s desired $85 billion merger with Time Warner. The merger’s lawyer claimed that they would never charge people more or block any content.

Filings:

Consumer groups are suing DDT for its elimination of standards for treatment of animals if the meat is designated “certified organic.” The Department of Agriculture claims that it lacks the authority and that the regulation would be costly despite the agency’s economic analysis of only minor costs.

Civil rights groups are suing DDT for document about the decision blocking a rule requiring companies with over 100 employees to track wages based on race and gender.

Environmentalist and animal welfare groups are suing DDT on his new stand allowing people to bring elephant trophies into the U.S. after he described big-game trophy hunting as a “horror show.” The new suit is an amendment to an ongoing case against Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s lifting the ban last year on lion trophies from Zimbabwe. Zinke’s International Wildlife Conservation Council is composed of “celebrity hunting guides, representatives from rifle and bow manufacturers, and well-heeled trophy collectors,” according to AP. One board member, Peter Horn, co-owns a private New York hunting preserve with DDT’s big-game hunting sons, Eric and Donald Jr.

 

 

Pending:

The strangest case comes from a 1990s capital murder case involving two Native Americans that could restore tribal sovereignty to almost half of Oklahoma for the first time in a century. Patrick Murphy, death-row inmate and member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, claimed that the state cannot try him for the murder of another tribal member on land that was part of the Creek Nation’s reservation. In the late 19th century, Congress took courts, governments, and laws from the Creek Nation and forced them to change tribal lands into privately-owned allotments for the tribe’s members before selling surplus land to white settlers.

Last summer, however, a three-judge panel in the 10th Circuit Court ruled that Congress had never specifically abolished the Creek Nation’s reservation which left it intact. The panel ruled that Royal v. Murphy had to be tried in federal court like other major crimes between Native Americans. In effect, the ruling returned the territory to the tribe and opened the door to other Oklahoma tribes, including the other four of the Five Civilized Tribes. They were all moved from southeastern U.S. on the Trail of Tears that killed over 4,000 people and promised the Oklahoma land in perpetuity. The land for just the Creek Nation comprises 4,600 square miles with 750,000 inhabitants including most of Tulsa. The five tribes together would take over 40 percent of Oklahoma.

Changing the land to reservation would restrict state criminal jurisdiction to minor offenses such as traffic violations. Federal and tribal courts would be in control of all other crimes. State taxation would also be impacted, and oil companies are concerned. Murphy has a lot at stake in this case: federal government bans the death penalty for crimes on tribal land.

In Solem v. Bartlett (1984), the Supreme Court ruled that each reservations keeps its original boundaries unless Congress specifically changes the borders or completely abolishes the reservation. The 10th Circuit ruled that this had not happened “and if it never did, that post–Civil War reservation is still intact.” [Above map showing 1866 boundaries of the Creek Nation.] That ruling stays unless the Supreme Court decides to take the case.

During March, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the man determined to disenfranchise every Democratic voter, took up eight days in court to defend his state law that requires prospective voters to prove their citizenship before they can register. He tried to present new information after the deadline, tried to testify to a document that he couldn’t find, and couldn’t phrase questions for cross examination or impeach a witness. Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in “gamesmanship” and skirting her orders. Calling the 11 illegal voters of 1.8 million on the voter rolls the “tip of the iceberg,” Kobach kept 35,000 people from voting. Kobach stands accused of violating federal law by refusing to register these legitimate voters who signed up to vote through driver’s license offices.

The question of the trial is whether widespread voter fraud is credible, and Kobach had to admit it isn’t. On the first day of his trial, he said that federal databases cannot identify noncitizens—although that was the mission of DDT’s now-disbanded federal commission he headed up to find illegal voters. His witnesses confessed that their research is unreliable because it isn’t subject to peer review and suffers from flawed methodology. The “expert” who testified that noncitizen voting didn’t change the outcome of the popular vote, in opposition to Kobach’s claim about three million noncitizens voting in 2016, and testified that he identified potential noncitizens in Kansas by how “foreign-sounding” a name was. Another “expert” disclosed that his belief in Kansas voter fraud was entirely based on a list of about 30 voters that Kobach’s office gave him and he used incomplete information which could make it appear that more noncitizens tried to vote than those who existed. He, too, could not name any election swayed by noncitizens. Kobach’s legal opponent, Dale Ho (also a “foreign-sounding” name, concluded, “The iceberg, on close inspection your honor, is more of an ice cube.”

Koback’s latest attempt to remove Democratic voters was to tell DDT that the census should ask about everyone’s immigration status. May Kobach be brought down by creatures that he considered much smaller than himself. May he become afraid.

 

March 17, 2018

Inside DDT’s TV Echo Chamber

Andrew McCabe was fired yesterday, an action that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) sees as a vindication against the man he insulted since the firing of former FBI director James Comey. Legal recourse may not obtain McCabe’s pension which would have started tomorrow on his 50th birthday. Yet McCabe may have a case if he didn’t get due process, and any lawsuit against the firing would show the long trail of DDT’s vicious statements about McCabe, including his description about McCabe’s firing as “a great day for democracy.” Soon after his firing yesterday, McCabe released this statement, including his assertion that he was fired to hide DDT’s obstruction of justice.

The firing took place on Friday night, a time used to hide news, but the tactic failed. A tweet from DDT claimed that the firing was about the FBI, but McCabe wrote that it concerned DDT’s “ongoing war on … the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day.” DDT’s lawyer John Dowd proved DDT’s intention when he followed up the firing with demands that DOJ close down Mueller’s investigation into the Russian scandal. Dowd first told The Daily Beast that he was speaking for DDT but later backed down on that claim.

Mueller supposedly gave questions for DDT to his lawyers as a start to an interview with DDT.

Two sources report that McCabe kept extensive memos about his interactions with DDT that special investigator Robert Mueller may find useful in pursuing obstruction of justice in DDT’s interactions with top law enforcement officials. Mueller has already interviewed McCabe and is reviewing Comey’s memos. Comey also warned DDT of a public relations nightmare when Comey’s book comes out later this month.

One way for McCabe to get his full retirement is to work for another 26 hours. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) offered McCabe a job to work on election security, and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) is considering asking McCabe to work for him.

Before McCabe’s firing, the media was talking about how long H.R. McMaster would last as national security adviser. DDT says he’s keeping McMaster, but he said the same thing about former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who was fired by tweet earlier this week. Fox network contributor John Bolton has been mentioned as McMaster’s replacement. Johns Hopkins senior fellow David Rothkopf wrote that Bolton’s mustache is more qualified for the position than he is. The former U.S. ambassador to the UN is known as the hawk behind the Iraq War, an enemy of the UN, and a hawkish foe of the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea. Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer, called Bolton “the most dangerous man we had in the entire eight years of the Bush administration” and “an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war.” DDT likes his men clean-shaven: Bolton could lose either the facial hair or the job.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is on the way out, and Pete Hegseth, co-host of Fox and Friends Weekendmay be the replacement. His positions include replacing the health-care system with much greater “private care,” and his past includes directing the Koch brothers’ Vets for Freedom and Concerned Veterans for America. Even congressional Republicans worry about his extreme views on “reforming” the VA, and Hegseth has alienated some GOP senators he needs for confirmation, calling Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Johnny Isakson (R-GA) a “swamp creature ‘Republican.’”

Heather Nauert, another co-host of “Fox and Friends,” was promoted from spokesperson for the State Department to acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, replacing Steve Goldstein who DDT fired for telling the truth about how Tillerson learned about his firing from DDT’s tweet about his replacement. The new acting Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, got the job the day after he vigorously defended DDT on Sunday talk shows.

DDT has appointed CNBC analyst and former host Larry Kudlow to replace former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn as his chief economic adviser on Wednesday. Dana Milbank wrote that Kudlow may have been more “wrong about the economy than anyone alive.” At the end of 2007, Kudlow wrote for the National Review that “the resilient U.S. economy continues moving ahead” and “there’s no recession coming.” With no training in economics, Kudlow decided in early 2008 that the stock market might “have a mild correction. Maybe not.” He promised that it will rebound within a few months. As housing collapsed in summer of 2008, he said “an awful lot of very good new news.” That was just before stocks lost almost half their value, and the government had to bail out banks and businesses in a serious recession. Kudlow decried Bill Clinton’s tax increases that led to a booming economy, praised George W. Bush’s tax cuts that led to a massive deficit, and promised that Bush’s wars could be good for the economy. Now he predicts a five-percent annual growth from DDT’s tax “cuts.”

Kudlow matches DDT and his Cabinet members in being a climate change denier, another negative for an economic adviser.

DDT is moving from generals to media personalities. Stormy Daniels might replace Chief of Staff John Kelly.

In two legal decisions, DDT batted .500.

DDT can’t ignore pollution rules, according to a federal judge in northern California. Sixteen state attorneys general jointed a coalition of environmental groups to force EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt’s meeting the deadline for governing ozone from burning fossil fuels that damages lungs. Pruitt’s past inaction broke the law; he has until April 30 to comply. This decision makes the ninth legal victory for California’s AG Xavier Becerra against DDT.

The 5th Circuit Court ruled against retirees and for financial advisers when, by a vote of 2-1, vacated the fiduciary rule requiring broker dealers to consider the client’s best interests instead of personal commissions or fees in their advice. The ruling questioned the regulation’s validity because the 10th Circuit had already upheld the regulation. Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, encouraged a repeal and said that the ruling “threatens the Labor Department’s very ability to protect retirement investors now and in the future.”

The ACLU is suing the federal government for separating immigrant families seeking asylum. The case follows a “screaming and crying” seven-year-old girl who was taken from her Congolese mother and put into a Chicago facility. The woman was released in San Diego, but the girl is still 2,000 miles away. The class action lawsuit also concerns a Brazilian woman separated from her 14-year-old son as they sought asylum. The woman was put into a west Texas detention center, and the son was sent to a Chicago facility. The government said it deliberately separates parents and their children to keep them from coming to the U.S. Different government agencies detain adults and children.

The Senate has sent sent a bill to the House that will save the beleaguered banks—the ones that just got a 35-percent tax cut ($249 billion over the next ten years) after profits at record levels in 2016 and the third quarter of 2017. The bill, supported by some Democrats, would revise Dodd-Frank requirements by raising the size of banks subject to regulations from assets of $50 billion to $250 billion. It would also exempt “small” banks with assets of less than $100 billion from oversight requirements and exempt them from some requirements for loans, mortgages, and trading. Voters in favor of the bill ignored the financial crisis just ten years ago when banks such as Countrywide Financial, one of the biggest subprime mortgage lenders, failed. Its assets were about $210 billion.

Small banks are also exempt from the Volcker rule, allowing them to make the kinds of speculative investments that also led to the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession. Lenders can return to “nontraditional underwriting practices” that led to the disaster. The limit of mortgages before reporting, raised from 50 to 500, will greatly increase the problem of racial and gender bias in lending. The bill’s elimination of escrow requirements for banks under $10 billion, up from $2 billion, takes away vital borrower protection. A loophole in the bill gives foreign megabanks such as Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank the ability to shelter U.S. holdings in subsidiaries under $250 billion, but the GOP insisted on leaving it in.

Passing the bill means that 25 of the 38 biggest banks would be exempt from necessary rules to keep the banks solvent. They hold $3.5 trillion in assets, one-sixth of all the assets in the U.S. banking sector, and took $47 billion the bailout ten years ago.

Fortunately, a partisan power struggle may keep the bill from passing the House. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) threatened to freeze the bank bill unless senators make changes, and Senate Democrats refuse to amend it. They had already compromised, several of them because they are up for re-election in November in DDT-dominated states. The House wants the easing of requirements for mergers and acquisitions brokers and independent investors. Bless those intransigent Republican representatives!

March 10, 2018

DDT: More Week 59 – People, Lawsuits

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:07 PM
Tags: , , ,

The swamp continues to fill as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appoints people, several of whom then resign, and faces lawsuits for his unconstitutional policies.

Appointments:

Peter Wright, DDT’s appointee as assistant administrator of  the EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management to oversee chemical spills from Superfund sites, is a top lawyer with Dow Chemical, the company linked to almost ten percent of these 1,340 toxic places. Former appointee, Michael Dourson, withdrew his name because of his many chemical company clients. Last year, EPA secretary Scott Pruitt appointed Albert Kelly, banned for life from the banking industry for violating federal banking laws, as adviser on the Superfund program.  Scott Pruitt also refused to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, produced by Dow’s subsidiary, despite it risk to children and farm workers.

John Gibbs, DDT’s appointee for HUD senior adviser in community planning and development division to spur economic development, had spread the false rumor of Hillary Clinton as a “Satanist” during 2016 when he accused her and campaign chairman John Podesta of consuming bodily fluids. His lies spread into #pizzagate that caused a man to shoot his gun in an innocent pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Matt Baker, a new appointee in the Department of HHS, proposed a registry for strippers when he was a Pennsylvania state representative. It would list name, stage name, address, phone number, date of birth, place of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, criminal background information and their photo ID.

Gordon Giampietro, nominated to the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin, failed to reveal “an online post describing the Civil Rights Act as an “intrusion into private business” and diversity as code for “relaxed standards.” DDT’s judicial nominees have received an average of 23 “no” votes during confirmations, compared to the average of six opposing votes for President Obama, two for George W. Bush, and one for Bill Clinton.

John Konkus’ day job is the EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs who vets “the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually.” By night, the Republican is permitted to be consultant for unnamed private-sector clients with secret identities. Patrick Davis, another DDT political appointee, works by day as senior adviser for public engagement in the Denver EPA regional office and by night as sales director for Telephone Town Hall Meeting providing robocalls to political campaigns and advocacy groups.

Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, because she “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election.” Special counsel Henry Kerner assigned DDT the job of “appropriate disciplinary action.”

Resignations:

Gary Cohn, DDT’s economic adviser, abandoned the White House ship after DDT insisted on steel/aluminum tariffs. On his departure, Cohn, a top executive at Goldman Sachs, claims to have accomplished what he wanted, basically enormous cuts for rich people and big corporations. The departures of Rob Porter and Cohn leave no high-ranking White House official to oppose DDT’s beloved tariffs; DDT cancelled a meeting with companies using steel and aluminum. Farmers are especially unhappy with a looming trade war, as this message from the Nebraska Farm Bureau shows. Some of the many people who departed the White House like” ships leaving the rats.”

Tony Tooke resigned as chief of the U.S. Forest Service after reports of sexual misconduct and a culture of racial and gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliations in the agency. Tooke was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, cousin of Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) who signed on to a bill that would discriminate against LGBTQ people.

Lawsuits:

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that 21 young people, mostly teenagers, can continue its lawsuit against the government for not addressing climate change despite DDT’s attempt to keep out of court. Without Supreme Court interference, a federal judge must decide which government officials can be questioned, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly CEO of Exxon Mobil and head of a petroleum industry trade group. [Photo from AE Marling]

A federal court ruled that Idaho must allow transgender people to amend their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender identity, leaving only three states—Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee—that prevent transgender people from updating their birth certificates. A federal appeals court also decided in favor of Aimee Stephens, fired for transitioning to male, after her boss asserted “religious beliefs.” The federal appeals court ruled, “Tolerating Stephens’ understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.”

Kansas cannot remove Medicaid payments for breast exams, birth control, and other non-abortion services from Planned Parenthood. The 10th Circuit Court stated that states cannot terminate providers if “that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the healthcare it provides.”

Anthony Borges, the Parkland (FL) shooting victim who blocked a classroom door to keep the gunman from entering, is suing the school and county for not keeping him safe to pay for his huge medical bills. DDT also said that he would have run into the school to save the young people, but he can’t even stand up to the NRA that is now suing Florida for a slight restriction in gun laws.

Stormy Daniels, the porn queen paid to conceal her affair with DDT, is suing him with the claim that her nondisclosure agreement is invalid because DDT didn’t sign it. The suit also asserts that the $130,000 that she was paid was intended to influence the election. Two other complaints state that her payment violated election law because it was not reported as in-kind campaign donation after DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohn said he had paid the money himself. Her accusations include that she signed because of “intimidation and coercive tactics.” Cohen paid Daniels through a LLC created for that purpose. DDT is also in the middle of the Stormy Daniels mess after his lawyer complained that DDT had not reimbursed him the $130,000 for the payment to Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) to shut her up.

Not only does the lawsuit give additional information about DDT’s problems with Daniels but it also puts him in a lose-lose situation. He either argues says that he paid hush money to an “adult film” star or backs off so that she can say whatever she wants. In a press conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended DDT by saying that DDT had “won” its arbitration agreement, ostensibly admitting his involvement in the payment. DDT is furious with his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for telling the truth about the arbitration agreement. Details about Daniels’ statements here.

Although some people think that DDT’s personal life should stay private, he can be blackmailed to keep this information secret. Withholding information from the public violates federal law because voters have the right to knowledge about attempts to influence elections. A payment of $130,000 by DDT’s lawyer is far over the $2,700 campaign contribution cap. Complaints about this payment and another one to hush up another story about DDT’s affairs will be investigated by the FEC only if all four members—two Republicans, one Democrat, and one independent—decide to pursue the issue.

Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, has removed anti-discrimination language from his agency’s mission statement so that he can keep LGBTQ people and minorities out of low-income housing. The change is “to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration.” People for the American Way (PFAW) is suing for the release of HUD and DOJ documents with anti-LGBTQ plans.

DDT’s deadline for the end of DACA came with no legislation to continue it, and Maryland federal Judge Roger Titus ruled that DACA can legally end the program. Two other injunctions against its termination are still in effect with the ruling that DDT must provide legal reasons for this action.

Federal Judge William Alsup ruled that people can sue greenhouse-gas emitters in federal court in Oakland and San Francisco lawsuits against oil companies for climate change, rising sea levels, and waterfront damage. In 2011, the Supreme Court decided that Congress and EPA, not courts, police emissions, but that case concerned a U.S. electric utility, not international corporations.

Several states are suing after FCC chair Ajit Pai overturned net neutrality, and Washington passed a law preventing internet service providers from blocking and slowing down content online or charging more for faster delivery to benefit broadband companies and partner websites. Despite Pai’s ruling that no state can oversee internet services, two dozen other states have introduced similar bills, and other governors have signed executive actions prohibiting internet service providers with state contracts from blocking or slowing data on their lines.

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who wants to stop Democrats from voting, went to trial last week protecting his state law requiring people to prove citizenship when they register to vote. Plaintiffs claim that the law violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), allowing registrants at the DMV to ask people for minimum information. One in seven Kansas voters were blocked from voting between 2013 and 2016 until the law was put on hold in 2016. Kobach claims to have found five people who may have broken the law of the state’s 1.8 million registered voters. Kobach is running for governor this year.

During the trial, the judge reprimanded Kobach when he tried to testify to a document that he couldn’t find. She also had to explain to him how to phrase questions in cross examination, present new exhibits, and impeach a witness. On the first day his trial, he said that federal databases cannot identify noncitizens—although that was the mission of DDT’s now-disbanded federal commission he headed up to find illegal voters. More insanity from Kobach’s trial

DDT’s name came off the Trump-branded hotel in Panama City after the majority owner won his lawsuit to dump DDT’s company as its manager. Since Inauguration Day, two other hotels in Toronto and Manhattan’s SoHo have done the same, and other DDT properties are struggling.

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