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Journal Archives

"Congress, your ball. Your duty."

Posted by babylonsister | Wed May 29, 2019, 06:18 PM (3 replies)

Benjamin Wittes: Mueller Bows Out: What Does Congress Do Now?


Mueller Bows Out: What Does Congress Do Now?
By Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 1:18 PM


Mueller is not showing up. But he has given Congress a highly-detailed guide—one might even call it a “road map”—to whom it need to hear from and what questions they need to be asked.

Boiling all of this down, what emerges are a few simple guidepost principles for effective post-Mueller congressional oversight:

First, don’t focus on piercing the redactions in the report. Take the deal the Justice Department is offering and check out the almost-wholly-unredacted version on offer.

Second, focus instead on highlighting the presidential conduct described in the unredacted sections. Congress’s specific role right now is in holding live hearings which put flesh on the dry narrative bones of the Mueller report.

Third, focus litigation efforts—as the House is already doing—on obliterating the president’s claims that he gets to second-guess the legitimacy of Congress’s legislative purpose and then on establishing that there is no principle of testimonial immunity for White House aides.

Fourth, defer executive privilege litigation to the extent necessary by agreeing to limit questioning of White House aides to matters specifically covered by the Mueller report. Litigate later, if need be, over additional testimony from these witnesses.

Proceeding in accordance with these principles would give coherence to congressional investigative efforts. It would avoid getting bogged down in the quicksand in which Trump has sought to mire these efforts. And it would help as well to establish answers to some legal questions about Congress’s oversight powers about which lack of clarity currently is empowering Trump’s abuses.

It’s a shame that Mueller is not showing up. But Congress can make do without him.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed May 29, 2019, 02:47 PM (1 replies)

Joan Walsh: Robert Mueller Just Told Congress To Do Its Damn Job


Robert Mueller Just Told Congress To Do Its Damn Job
Mueller came as close as possible to saying that he would have indicted Trump for obstruction of justice, if Justice Department policy allowed him to do so.
By Joan Walsh
Today 12:32 pm

Independent Counsel Robert Mueller finally faced the cameras Wednesday morning. In his quiet way, Mueller’s message could not be any louder: He couldn’t indict the president, but he suggested Congress should investigate the many instances of likely obstruction of justice by President Trump outlined in his 445-page report – and that Congress has the power to find a president guilty of “wrongdoing.”

Mueller came as close as possible to saying that he would have indicted Trump for obstruction of justice, if Justice Department policy allowed him to do so. “Charging the president with a crime was not an option we could consider,” he said. But then he delivered the most important information in his 10-minute statement: “If we had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not.”

Respected intelligence analyst Marcy Wheeler tweeted immediately: “Shorter Mueller: That was an impeachment referral, damnit, now act on it.” 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren both used the same “impeachment referral” language. May all the 2020 Democrats join in, and soon.


It took me an hour to recognize this possibly interesting point: Mueller said: “When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.” Not “If a subject.” Maybe that doesn’t matter. But…well, the word “if” was certainly available.

Mueller closed by making two very powerful points. For one, he thanked the lawyers and FBI agents who worked on his investigation, praising them for being “fair and independent” and for acting with “the highest integrity.” At a time when Attorney General William Barr – who Mueller took pains not to criticize – wants to investigate these investigators, Mueller made a strong stand on behalf of their professionalism and decency.

Second, Mueller chose to end his statement with the finding the president apparently will not accept: “There were multiple, systematic attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.” He clearly doesn’t believe American leaders are taking that seriously enough, and I agree with him.

This is a bad day for Donald Trump. But it’s also a tough day for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and any other Democratic leader who is trying to slow-walk an impeachment inquiry. In the long relay of justice, Robert Mueller just handed you the baton. Run with it. Today.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed May 29, 2019, 02:04 PM (8 replies)

Scott Warren Provided Food & Water to Migrants in Arizona; He Now Faces Up to 20 Years in Prison


Scott Warren Provided Food & Water to Migrants in Arizona; He Now Faces Up to 20 Years in Prison
StoryMay 29, 2019

An Arizona humanitarian aid volunteer goes to trial today for providing water, food, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. If convicted, Scott Warren could spend up to 20 years in prison. Warren, an activist with the Tucson-based No More Deaths, is charged with three felony counts of allegedly “harboring” undocumented immigrants. For years, No More Deaths and other humanitarian aid groups in southern Arizona have left water and food in the harsh Sonoran Desert, where the temperature often reaches three digits during summer, to help refugees and migrants survive the deadly journey across the U.S. border. Warren was arrested on January 17, 2018, just hours after No More Deaths released a report detailing how U.S. Border Patrol agents had intentionally destroyed more than 3,000 gallons of water left out for migrants crossing the border. The group also published a video showing border agents dumping out jugs of water in the desert. Hours after the report was published, authorities raided the Barn, a No More Deaths aid camp in Ajo, where they found two migrants who had sought temporary refuge. We speak with Scott Warren and his fellow No More Deaths volunteer and activist Catherine Gaffney in Tucson.

Interview follows...

Posted by babylonsister | Wed May 29, 2019, 01:39 PM (1 replies)

Shorter Mueller: Just Impeach This Guy Already


Shorter Mueller: Just Impeach This Guy Already
In a rare public appearance, Robert Mueller made it clear that the only reason he didn’t charge Trump with a crime is because the DOJ wouldn’t let him.
by Bess Levin
May 29, 2019 11:56 am

When William Barr released his four-page summary of the special counsel’s report, he took it upon himself to clear Donald Trump of obstructing justice, despite the fact that Robert Mueller himself had done no such thing. In fact, Mueller found numerous instances of obstruction that, were his hands not tied by Justice Department guidelines that say you can’t indict the president, could have resulted in Trump being charged with a crime. Barr has repeatedly attempted to obfuscate that essential point in his defense of the president. So on Wednesday, Mueller himself went on the record, speaking publicly for the first time since being appointed as special counsel, to make things crystal clear for everyone who didn’t actually read the report.

Addressing reporters, Mueller effectively objected to the Attorney General’s description of his findings, specifically Barr’s characterization of the report as exonerating Trump on obstruction. “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller said Wednesday. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.” In other words, it’s very possible Trump committed a crime. Mueller went on to note that it was the Justice Department’s legal guidance, which prohibits the indictment of a sitting president, that prevented him from accusing Trump as such. He went on to shame the president, though not by name, noting that “When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

Perhaps most important, Mueller suggested that if Trump is to be held to account, it must be Congress that takes up the case. “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” he said. In other words: Congress, do your job and impeach.
Mueller’s presser will presumably further strain his relationship with Barr, with whom he was apparently the best of friends before this whole Russia business blew up. Last month, while defending his handling of the report, Barr called a letter Mueller sent him “snitty,” adding, “I said, ‘Bob, what’s with the letter, you know? Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call me if there is an issue.’” The Attorney General reportedly knew what Mueller’s presser would entail, and will presumably respond, in his characteristically smarmy fashion, in short order.

Meanwhile, at the White House, our nations’s foremost legal scholar has weighed in:
Posted by babylonsister | Wed May 29, 2019, 01:06 PM (3 replies)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks out with eye towards future of Roe v. Wade

Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks out with eye towards future of Roe v. Wade
By Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst & Supreme Court biographer
Updated 4:05 AM ET, Wed May 29, 2019

Washington (CNN)The 86-year-old Supreme Court justice who this year became a three-time cancer survivor will be heard.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned on Tuesday about a threat to abortion rights and demonstrated that she is not going quietly on any abortion-related compromise. Ginsburg, in fact, has shown in recent weeks that she is not going quietly on much.

In addition to her partial dissent in the Indiana abortion dispute, Ginsburg on Tuesday wrote separately -- again, alone -- to protest a majority decision that she asserted uses a "thin case to state a rule that will leave press members and others exercising First Amendment rights with little protection against police suppression of their speech."

Just a few weeks earlier, Ginsburg signed on with fellow liberals to a dissenting opinion in an arbitration case but then separately took up her pen "to emphasize once again how treacherously the Court has strayed from the principle that 'arbitration is a matter of consent, not coercion.'"

As the nine justices now enter the final weeks of their annual term with the newly solidified 5-4 conservative majority, Ginsburg appears ready to take her shots, even if it means breaking with fellow liberals and writing alone.

In the abortion case, as she traded taunts with conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, she also revealed impatience for his many references to the "mother" who would choose to end a pregnancy.

Wrote Ginsburg, a prominent woman's rights lawyer before becoming a judge, "A woman who exercises her constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy is not a 'mother.'"


Posted by babylonsister | Wed May 29, 2019, 06:39 AM (11 replies)

Comey Goes Off on Trump's 'Treason' Claims in New Op-Ed: 'The President is a Liar'


Comey Goes Off on Trump’s ‘Treason’ Claims in New Op-Ed: ‘The President is a Liar’
Josh Feldman
2 hrs ago
Video by MSNBC

Former FBI Director James Comey penned another op-ed today blasting President Donald Trump, this time going off on his “dumb lies” about the Russia probe.

He says he can’t just ignore Trump “when the president is a liar who doesn’t care what damage he does to vital institutions.”

“We must call out his lies that the FBI was corrupt and committed treason, that we spied on the Trump campaign, and tried to defeat Donald Trump. We must constantly return to the stubborn facts,” he writes.

Comey defends the FBI’s actions in conducting the investigation and even mockingly comments “Worst deep-state conspiracy ever”:

If we were “deep state” Clinton loyalists bent on stopping him, why would we keep it secret? Why wouldn’t the much-maligned FBI supervisor Peter Strzok — the alleged kingpin of the “treasonous” plot to stop Trump — tell anyone? He was one of the very few people who knew what we were investigating.

We investigated. We didn’t gather information about the campaign’s strategy. We didn’t “spy” on anyone’s campaign. We investigated to see whether it was true that Americans associated with the campaign had taken the Russians up on any offer of help.

Comey ends by expressing confidence that the investigations will show “the work was done appropriately and focused only on discerning the truth of very serious allegations” and that there’s a reason “non-fringe media” isn’t spending time on “dumb lies.”
Posted by babylonsister | Tue May 28, 2019, 09:21 PM (12 replies)

Trump administration separates newborns from some migrant mothers in detention

Trump administration separates newborns from some migrant mothers in detention
Joan McCarter
Daily Kos Staff
Tuesday May 28, 2019 · 2:35 PM EDT

Pregnant migrants in U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) custody at the Texas border have had their newborns taken from them and put into foster care, Rewire.News investigative reporter Tina Vasquez has found. The newborns, who qualify as U.S. citizens since they were born in the U.S., have been handed over to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

The mothers can't be reunited with their infants until they are released from federal custody and have to be able to access legal help. Reporters "learned that women who find their way to advocacy organizations appear to be reuniting with their newborns, but Rewire.News was unable to verify what happens to the children of women who do not have access to legal help."

One OB-GYN who delivers babies of migrants talked to Vasquez using the pseudonym Dr. Shelly. "I don't know if they lose their babies for good," she said. "But I do know the process is torturous for them." She said one woman "cried for 72 hours straight" and was held in the hospital for five days for psychological treatment. "I was worried she was going to hurt herself when they took her back to the detention center," the doctor said. "Luckily in her case, they were eventually able to locate an aunt-in-law, her uncle's wife, who lived in Chicago. But this wasn't a blood relative, and it wasn't someone she'd ever met before." She recounted that a colleague "dashed back and forth between the waiting room and the patient’s room, taking photos of the aunt-in-law and the patient so they would have some idea of what each other looked like," because the migrant was in custody and wasn't allowed visitors.

Hospital workers went to great lengths, Dr. Shelly said, to try to help this woman in the event she was deported without her child. "When the nurses still thought the baby was going into foster care, they tried to help [the patient] memorize the name of the hospital," she said. "They were saying, 'We have your fingerprints, we have your baby's footprints. You have a legal right to your baby.' In case she got deported without her baby, the nurses wanted her to know the hospital where she gave birth and understand that we had the records to prove this was her baby."

The USMS coldly responded to Rewire.News with the comments, "Child placement and care is the responsibility of the prisoner" and "Under no circumstances may the newborn child be returned to the detention facility with the prisoner, except in accordance with the detention facility’s visiting policy, if any." If the mother doesn't have family in the U.S., the baby is seized and put into foster care. "It is the responsibility of the prisoner to notify the court, the [USMS], the hospital, and the attending physician, in writing, of her placement decision as well as the financial responsibility arrangements she has made for her child's care," the USMS said.

The state is denying that this happens. "The process or scenario you describe does not exist," Patrick Crimmins, Texas DFPS’ media relations manager, told Vasquez, continuing, "Migrants do not place newborns with DFPS. Children are only removed into the conservatorship of the State of Texas following an investigation into abuse or neglect, and a confirmed finding of abuse or neglect. Any removal also has to be approved by a judge." That directly conflicts with what the medical professionals and advocates for migrants see happening. Taylor Levy, legal coordinator of the El Paso non-profit Annunciation House, says she has seen "multiple cases" of this happening. "Migrants in criminal custody who have babies who are U.S. citizens are placed with DFPS if the mother is taken back to criminal custody, and the mother has no one with lawful status to agree to take in the baby."


Posted by babylonsister | Tue May 28, 2019, 08:46 PM (11 replies)

It Mattered That He Showed Up: On Pete Buttigieg's "Shortest Way Home"


It Mattered That He Showed Up: On Pete Buttigieg’s “Shortest Way Home”
By Harrison Hill
MAY 28, 2019


Having just barely “attained to the Age of thirty five Years,” the threshold mandated in the Constitution, Buttigieg has now turned his ambitions to the White House. The results have been promising: a May 9 Monmouth poll puts Buttigieg third in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, behind only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Nationally, too, Mayor Pete is building momentum — as of last week, Quinnipiac had him ahead of party stars like Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke. Everything can and will change, but it’s a credit to Buttigieg’s vision, intelligence, and thoughtfulness — and, certainly, his status as a white male — that he’s emerged, with such speed, from near-total obscurity to something like viability.

Does such a rise indicate Buttigieg has what it takes to unseat the aged cretin currently squatting in the Oval? I hesitate to guess. But whatever happens in 2020, Buttigieg appears poised to make a substantial contribution to American politics and public life — a fact evident not just from his galvanizing interviews and appearances, but also from his new memoir, Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future. The book is clearly intended as a campaign document, and contains all the humanizing anecdotes and professional backstory typical of a political memoir. But Shortest Way Home is more than just a stump speech with a dust jacket. It’s a vivid and surprisingly lyrical portrait of a city and a man in transition — and an intellectual performance in which Buttigieg succeeds in making his play at the presidency seem entirely, thrillingly appropriate.


It matters that he’s gay, that he showed up. I imagine I speak for many other gay men when I try to communicate just how much this means to me, how deeply moving it is to see a television anchor, speaking of Buttigieg, use a phrase like “his husband” — all without batting an eye. There’s a revolution in those two words, and that they just might apply to a major-party nominee — a president — qualifies as a miracle.

Of course, Buttigieg remains a long shot. But for now I choose to linger in the possibility, in the hope, that he and his husband — his husband! — might yet go to the White House. That they, and we, might yet win.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue May 28, 2019, 06:50 PM (5 replies)

Trump Demotes Giuliani And Hires More Lawyers For Fight With Congress

Posted on Tue, May 28th, 2019 by Reuters
Trump Demotes Giuliani And Hires More Lawyers For Fight With Congress
By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is restructuring his legal team with lawyers more at home in a courtroom than a television studio as he shifts from dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to battling Democratic-led investigations in the U.S. Congress.

The long-time leaders of Trump’s team – Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani – remain in place. But other attorneys, known for their litigation skills, are taking on larger roles on the team: William Consovoy, Patrick Strawbridge, Marc Mukasey and Stefan Passantino.


Trump is defying congressional investigations into his administration, his family, his business interests and his finances, calling them “presidential harassment.” His administration has ignored subpoenas, refused to let current and former aides testify and declined to hand over documents in the aftermath of the April release of a redacted version of Mueller’s report that detailed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election to boost Trump’s candidacy.

The Trump Organization, the president’s company, has its own lawyers in the subpoena fights. They include Mukasey, a criminal defense lawyer in Manhattan and former Giuliani law partner whose father Michael Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general from 2007 to 2009 under Republican President George W. Bush, and Passantino, a former lawyer in Trump’s White House who is now at a law firm.

Consovoy and Strawbridge both served as clerks in 2008 for Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices. The firm Consovoy McCarthy, with offices in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia, and in Boston, is known for arguing against affirmative action policies that benefit racial minority groups that have faced discrimination and for battling women’s healthcare and abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

The firm also is defending Trump in a lawsuit by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia accusing him of violating a U.S. Constitution anti-corruption provision, called the emoluments clause, barring U.S. officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments. The suit cites Trump’s refusal to disentangle himself from his businesses including a Washington hotel blocks from the White House.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue May 28, 2019, 04:12 PM (10 replies)
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