Category Archives: legal news

Merrick Garland to preside over Trump appeal? Oh, the irony

The irony here is just too obvious and too rich to ignore.

Donald Trump’s legal team is going to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the president must obey congressional demands to turn over his financial records.

And just who is going to preside over the federal appeals court that will consider this case? None other than Judge Merrick Garland, the man who by all rights should be sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court instead of serving as chief of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is quite fascinating.

President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the high court after the sudden and shocking death of Justice Antonin Scalia in early 2016. Justice Scalia had been dead mere hours when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that President Obama would not get to fill the SCOTUS seat. Obama was in the final full year of his presidency and McConnell insisted that the next president be allowed to perform that constitutional duty.

In truth, Merrick Garland was a superb choice. He should have been given a hearing. He should have been confirmed by the Senate. He wasn’t because of McConnell’s partisan grandstanding.

Now the judge gets to preside over an appellate case filed by Donald Trump.

My hunch is this: Judge Garland is going to demonstrate for the entire world his impartiality, his legal judgment, his expertise and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution . . . and will show us precisely why he should be sitting on the United States Supreme Court.

Sen. Graham to Don Jr.: Go ahead, break the law

It looks as though the Twitter Universe is abuzz with demands that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham resign his public office. Why?

Well, the senator — who once served as a judge advocate lawyer for the U.S. Air Force — has invited Donald J. Trump Jr. to break the law.

He told Don Jr. that it’s all right with him — Sen. Graham — if the president’s oldest son wanted to ignore a subpoena to appear before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. Yes sir, there you have it.

Graham has said it’s OK for Don Jr. to ignore a duly constituted congressional committee’s order to do what it demands, which is to testify under oath about the ongoing matter involving Daddy Trump’s relationships with Russian government officials and business leaders.

You know what? I think I’m going to weigh in on that one, too.

Yeah, Graham ought to resign. He chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, for criminy sakes! Graham should not ever tell a potential witness to stiff a congressional committee chairman’s demand that he testify before the panel.

Graham has done an amazing pirouette regarding the Donald Trump. Back when he and Trump were competing for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Graham called Trump “unfit” for the presidency; he called him a liar and charlatan. Then he got beat for the nomination and now has sided with Trump, suggesting that the investigations into Trump’s dealings all are part of a campaign to destroy his presidency.

The only Graham hasn’t said, of course, is that he was wrong to say those nasty things about Trump back when they were political adversaries. That’s right. Graham is quiet on the quality of Donald Trump’s character.

Still, he is as wrong as he can possibly be to tell Donald Trump Jr. to break the law.

Sen. Graham needs to quit.

Barr on the hunt for clue to ‘witch hunt’?

Here we go again. U.S. Attorney General William Barr — reportedly/allegedly/supposedly acting on his volition — has hired a federal prosecutor to determine whether an illegal “spy” operation triggered the Robert Mueller probe into alleged collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russians who attacked our electoral system.

Do you believe with all your heart and soul that the AG acted on his own? Or that he will keep his mitts off the probe being conducted by the U.S. attorney from Connecticut? Or that this investigation will put the “witch hunt” diatribe from the president to rest?

Barr has given John Durham the task of determining whether illegal “spying” occurred during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. Other senior officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, have said they have seen no evidence of any such monkey business. That’s not good enough for Barr, who happens to be Wray’s boss. He wants Durham to scour the evidence and make an independent determination.

This assignment bothers me for two reasons.

One is that Donald Trump is involved. Given that I don’t trust him as far as I can toss his 239-pound body, I consider the president to be wholly non-credible on anything, on any issue. I don’t believe a word that flies out of his mouth. He yammers about the Mueller probe being a “witch hunt,” although the AG himself has said he doesn’t believe that to be the case.

The other reason is that Barr also has been acting and sounding more like the president’s personal lawyer than the nation’s chief law enforcer. He filed that four-page “summary” of Mueller’s findings, only to be criticized by Mueller for failing to provide the full context of what Mueller and his team concluded.

So now he has turned John Durham loose to look for determine what others have concluded already, that the Obama administration didn’t “spy” on Trump’s campaign.

Let’s wait for what the prosecutor learns.  I fear another tempest may be brewing.

Stand tall, Christopher Wray

FBI director Christopher Wray now finds himself in Donald Trump’s sights.

This is the fellow the president appointed to lead the FBI after firing his immediate predecessor, James Comey. Now it’s Director Wray who is receiving criticism from the president of the United States.

Why is that? Oh, let’s see. He declines to use the word “spying” when describing how the FBI conducts “intelligence-gathering” operations. Trump likes to use the words “spy” and “spying” when describing what he alleges occurred during the final months of the Obama administration, which he said involved illegal “spying” on the Trump presidential campaign.

Wray also has declined to endorse the idiocy promoted by Trump that suggests that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged “collusion” and “obstruction of justice” was an attempted “coup” by the FBI to “overthrow the president.”

No one has sought to launch a “coup” against Donald Trump. No one has sought to “overthrow” the president. That’s never happened. It won’t ever happen. We have this document called the U.S. Constitution that serves as a bulwark for this representative democracy that governs us.

Wray also has declared that Russia continues to interfere in our electoral process, just as it did during the 2016 presidential campaign. He smacks Trump squarely in the proverbial puss when he says what Trump continues to deny has occurred: that the Russians are supremely bad actors intent on sowing discord within this nation.

Christopher Wray is a seasoned professional. He runs the nation’s top law enforcement agency. He — just like Comey and Mueller, two former FBI directors — also possesses a first-class legal mind.

Donald Trump once again is attacking the agency led by someone he selected. He said over the weekend in yet another Twitter tidal wave that the FBI “has no leadership.”

Actually, the FBI does have competent leaders at the top of its chain of command. The lack of “leadership” exists inside the White House.

What? Lawyers shouldn’t be allowed to ask AG key questions?

U.S. Attorney General William Barr will be a no-show Thursday at the House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The AG doesn’t want to be quizzed by committee staff lawyers, which is what Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler had planned for his testimony.

Hey, wait a second!

Let’s recall the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. A woman had come forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both much younger. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducted the hearing, decided to punt on questioning the woman, Christine Ford, who testified before the panel.

Committee Republicans handed off the questioning of Ford to — are you ready for it? — staff lawyers!

So, what was good enough for an accuser testifying at that earlier hearing ought to be good enough for the attorney general. Isn’t that fair?

What’s more, Congress is entitled under Article I of the U.S. Constitution to set its own rules for the way it conducts its hearings. That decision doesn’t rest with those who testify before a congressional panel.

Thus, Attorney General William Barr is reaching way beyond his grasp in declaring he won’t appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

Trump once again speaks from ignorance of government

Donald Trump’s blunderbuss tendency has seized control of him once again. Who would’ve thunk that?

He said via Twitter that if the U.S. House of Representatives impeaches him he is heading immediately to the Supreme Court to get the justices to intervene on his behalf, to block an impeachment.

D’oh! Except for this little bit of information that Trump either ignores or does not know exists: The U.S. Constitution does not give the SCOTUS any authority to act.

The U.S. Constitution says the House shall have “sole authority” to impeach and that the U.S. Senate shall have “sole authority” to put the president on trial for the impeachable offenses brought by the House.

Get it? The high court cannot intervene in a political action by one of the other co-equal branches of government.

The only role the court plays involves only one of its justices. The chief justice would preside over a Senate trial. Chief Justice William Rehnquist fulfilled that role during President Clinton’s impeachment trial; Chief Justice John Roberts would get the call if the House impeaches Donald Trump.

So, with that we have seen yet another example of the president of the United States not knowing what he’s talking about.

Who knew?

AG releases a stunning report on POTUS

I am feeling the overwhelming need to give kudos to Attorney General William Barr.

Many Americans worried that when he said he would release a “redacted” version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Donald Trump’s campaign activities in 2016 regarding the Russian attack on our electoral system that he would try to shield the president.

There was some concern expressed, including by me, that Barr might be running too much interference for the president who appointed him to lead the Justice Department.

Based on the reaction to what Barr has released, I now believe many of those fears were misplaced.

Indeed, I’ve seen reports today about a “seething” Donald Trump who is taking aim at former White House counsel Don McGahn. Why? Because the Mueller report reveals that McGahn — as well as others within the administration — declined to follow Trump’s orders to fire Mueller while he was in the middle of his exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion with Russian hackers.

I am acutely aware that Barr could not possibly have redacted too much information from Mueller’s report without risking a serious reprisal from Mueller and his legal team. They know what is fair game and what should be kept secret.

Still, the public reaction, the media debate and the anger that Trump is exhibiting at what the nation and the world now know of his deception and dissembling lead me to believe Attorney General Barr has done what he pledged to do.

That he would be as transparent in the release of the Mueller findings as the law would allow him to be.

Say it isn’t happening, that Roy Moore is coming back

This can’t be happening. If it is, then someone needs to give me the strength to endure what looks like a long, arduous and utterly hideous campaign season.

Roy Moore, the man accused of sexual dalliances with underage girls while he was an adult, might be running for the U.S. Senate next year against the man who beat him for the seat in Alabama.

Oh, the humanity!

New public opinion polling say that Alabama Republicans favor Moore if he chooses to challenge Sen. Doug Jones, who is running for re-election.

The story is tawdry. Women came forward and accused Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, of sexual misconduct involving minor girls. It all happened a long time ago. Moore proclaimed his innocence. He got the belated backing of Donald Trump, who stood behind his fellow Republican.

Moore lost the race to Jones, who took the Senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions resigned to become attorney general in the Trump administration.

Hey, this is a big deal for all Americans. The Senate enacts laws that affect all Americans. I don’t want Roy Moore within spitting distance of Capitol Hill. Alabama judicial ethics officials suspended Moore twice from that state’s highest court.

Now he wants a chance to enact laws in the Senate? Please . . . no!

Release the findings sooner, not later

The reports out of Washington now tell us that Attorney General William Barr is going to release special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on collusion in “weeks, not months.”

That is a good thing. Although I would prefer the reports would have said “days, not weeks or months.”

I won’t join the chorus that sings the tune that Barr might be running interference for the guy who appointed him, Donald Trump. I still believe the attorney general is enough of a stand-up guy to do the right thing.

Mueller’s 22-month investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians ended with a determination that the campaign did not collude. It has sparked shouts of joy among Republicans and groans of dismay among Democrats.

We don’t yet know for ourselves what Mueller has determined. All we’ve seen and heard so far is Barr’s interpretation of what Mueller found. I want to see the real thing, as much of it as possible, with own eyes. I want to digest those findings for myself.

I want AG Barr to disprove fears of many critics that he’s a Trump toadie who is doing the president’s bidding. He did take an oath to defend the Constitution and did not swear any particular loyalty to the president of the United States.

As for any possible GOP resistance to releasing the findings to the public, I only can ask: If those findings shore up what we’ve been told already, that Donald Trump is in the clear, isn’t it in everyone’s best interest to see those findings as quickly as possible?

No collusion? OK, but let’s look a bit closer at obstruction

I get that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign did not collude — in the eyes of the special counsel — with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

The president is right to proclaim “complete exoneration” — on that point! I accept special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.

Is it too much to ask, nonetheless, for a more thorough look at the issue of whether Trump or his team obstructed justice? I think it’s a fair request.

Congressional Democrats are clamoring for more information on the obstruction matter. Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings takes note that Mueller did not “exonerate” the president on the obstruction of justice issue, even though Trump said he did. Well, Trump is known to, um, bend the truth a bit . . . you know?

Mueller reportedly found evidence on both sides of the fence. He learned there was evidence that the president did obstruct justice, but that it didn’t rise to the level of criminality. OK, let’s see what he found.

The attorney general hasn’t yet made that call. It is believed he’ll take his time deciding whether to release that portion of Mueller’s findings to Congress and to the public.

I am one of millions of Americans who wants to know what Mueller learned and on what basis he determined that he could not prosecute Donald Trump for obstructing the search for the truth regarding the Russian attack on our electoral system.