Trump versus judges, courts and attorneys

If it hadn’t been clear in the past it is becoming more obvious now – Donald Trump thinks that judges and courts should be acting in his interests regardless of the laws. And it seems that his Attorney General William Barr is on trump’s side rather than the side of the law.

Two Supreme Court jugdments have gone against Trump in the last week, and his reaction is to criticise the judges and promote new ‘conservative’ judges – he really means judges who will ignore the law and do what he wants.

And Barr is also stepping in, trying to dump a New York US Attorney who has investigated associates of Trump.

Politico:  After week of Supreme Court defeats, Trump says he’ll release new shortlist of potential justices

President Donald Trump on Thursday pledged to unveil a new list of potential Supreme Court nominees ahead of November’s general election, reprising a campaign tactic that helped him shore up conservative support during his 2016 White House run.

The announcement came hours after the high court dealt the president his second major defeat this week, rejecting his administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program’s protections for roughly 650,000 immigrants — most of whom entered the U.S. illegally as children more than a decade ago.

Since assuming office, Trump has routinely touted his presidency’s rapid rate of judicial confirmations — including the hard-won installations of Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the high court — to energize his base in public remarks and at political rallies.

But the fruits of those efforts to remake the federal judiciary were not evident earlier this week, after Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts sided Monday with the Supreme Court’s Democratic appointees in a landmark anti-discrimination case.

What he means is vote for him to get judges who will favour Trump over the laws of the US.

Do you get the impression that Trump doesn’t like it when the Supreme Court doesn’t do whatever he wants?

Yeah, right. Trump has always acted in what he thinks are his own best interests.

And he seems to have an ally in Attorney General Barr. Fox News: Trump nominates SEC Chairman Jay Clayton to replace Geoffrey Berman as US attorney in New York

President Trump nominated the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, to replace Geoffrey Berman as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, late Friday night in what appears to be political shakeup.

It is sometimes hard to separate politics and justice in the US, especially with Trump in charge.

“For the past three years, Jay has been an extraordinarily successful SEC Chairman, overseeing efforts to modernize regulation of the capital markets, protect Main Street investors, enhance American competitiveness, and address challenges ranging from cybersecurity issues to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.

Shortly after the announcement by the Department of Justice, ABC News reported via Twitter that Berman was fired after declining other positions within the department.

Berman responded:

He has no choice but to ‘step down’ if dumped. But this could be a contentious dumping.

Jerry Nadler heads the House Judiciary Committtee.

Lindsey Graham, Republican Chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, is also not jumping in on trump’s behalf.

Fox News: Graham says he won’t advance Trump nominee for SDNY prosecutor without Schumer, Gillibrand consent

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Saturday he will not take up President Trump’s nomination for a new U.S. attorney for Manhattan unless New York’s Democratic senators sign off.

Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will honor the “blue slip” tradition and require the consent of home state senators to proceed — in this case, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Graham’s statement signals an uphill climb for Trump to get a new Senate-confirmed federal prosecutor in one of the nation’s most high-profile districts.

Graham’s committee is the first stop for Senate confirmation of the nominee.

Graham said in a statement:

“According to Attorney General Barr, the Trump Administration intends to nominate Mr. Jay Clayton to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, I have not been contacted by the Administration in this regard. However, I know Mr. Clayton and believe him to be a fine man and accomplished lawyer.”

“As to processing U.S. Attorney nominations, it has always been the policy of the Judiciary Committee to receive blue slips from the home state senators before proceeding to the nomination. As chairman, I have honored that policy and will continue to do so.”

A statement from Gillibrand:

“I will not be complicit in helping President Trump and Attorney General Barr fire a U.S. attorney who is reportedly investigating corruption in this administration. Jay Clayton should withdraw his name from consideration immediately and remove himself from this sham. President Trump cannot be allowed to desecrate our nominations process further.”

Maybe the political and judicial systems are a bit stronger at standing up to Trump than he would like.


Meanwhile conflicting claims about the Bolton book.

Trump claims that Bolton’s book is fake and lies, but that he is publishing classified information.  But:

More from Fox News:  Judge allows Bolton book to be released, but says he ‘gambled’ with national security

A federal judge on Saturday allowed the forthcoming publication of John Bolton’s memoir to go ahead next week despite concerns it contains classified information – but tore into the former national security adviser for having “gambled” with national security.

“Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability,” Judge Royce Lamberth said in a ruling.  “But these facts do not control the motion before the Court. The government has failed to establish that an injunction will prevent irreparable harm.”

Another failed court action.

But Bolton’s team has claimed that the administration is just trying to suppress embarrassing information about President Trump’s conduct.

“We are grateful that the Court  has vindicated the strong First Amendment protections against censorship and prior restraint of publication,” Adam Rothberg, Simon & Schuster’s senior vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement. “We are very pleased that the public will now have the opportunity to read Ambassador Bolton’s account of his time as National Security Advisor.”

It’s hard to see anything exposing the US to harm more than Trump.

But Trump sees this failure as a win.

 

US Attorney General: Divide Between African Americans, Police ‘Must Change’

A shift to attempting to address the unrest in the US precipitated by the killing of George Floyd, and acknowledging problems with the US police forces and black Americans in particular.

RCP – Barr: Divide Between African Americans, Police ‘Must Change’

Attorney General William Barr sought on Thursday to quell tensions over the death of George Floyd in police custody, acknowledging a divide between many black Americans and the police and promising to spare no resource as the Justice Department investigates whether a federal civil rights crime was committed.

“While the vast majority of police officers do their job bravely and righteously, it is undeniable that many African Americans lack confidence in our American criminal justice system,” Barr said at a news conference. “This must change. Our constitution mandates equal protection of the laws and nothing less is acceptable.”

Barr’s comments appeared to contrast with prior statements he’s made condemning protests against the police and what he’s described as a “disturbing pattern of cynicism and disrespect shown toward law enforcement.” But he insisted Thursday that his views have been consistent and that the overwhelming majority of police officers “try conscientiously to use appropriate and reasonable force.”

“I believe that police chiefs and law enforcement officials and leaders around the country are committed to ensuring that racism plays no part in law enforcement, and that everyone receives equal protection of the laws,” Barr said.

I don’t think it is anywhere near a universal commitment.

Most of the protesters have been peaceful and tried to discourage violence.

The most attention is given to the worst examples and excesses, that’s just how media coverage works and there’s no easy solution to that – they would be condemned for not showing the worst. Media have also shown examples of cooperation and empathy between police and protesters.

Trump, Barr and others lay some of the blame for the unrest on left-wing extremist groups, including antifa, and other “anarchists.” Short for anti-fascists, antifa is an umbrella term for far-left-leaning militant groups that resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations. He also said “foreign actors” appeared to be trying to “play all sides” to further incite violence in the U.S.

“We have seen evidence that antifa and other similar extremist groups as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions have been involving in instigating and participating in violent activity,” Barr said.

A senior Justice Department official said there have been “multiple instances” where people who have been arrested at demonstrations around the U.S. have identified themselves to law enforcement as members of antifa, the official said.

Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that three Nevada men with ties to a loose movement of right-wing extremists advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government had been arrested on terrorism-related charges in what authorities described as a conspiracy to spark violence during recent protests in Las Vegas.

Anarchists and extremists and those who like to incite and cause trouble will inevitably try to take advantage of protests and unrest.

Trump has claimed he has done more for black America since Abraham Lincoln, but that is just typical self-inflating nonsense.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany earlier had sidestepped questions about whether Trump believes there’s a systemic bias in American law enforcement against African Americans.

But pressed about whether Trump believes there is a larger problem of racial bias in law enforcement, McEnany only acknowledged that Trump “believes there are some examples of injustices.”

Trump has performed poorly over the Floyd death and Black Lives matters protests. RCP polling averages show he has not just reversed gains in approval he got over Covid but has quickly lost support over the last two weeks.

.More trying to divert blame to others. I don’t know how he thinks he will “bring in a different group” in a democracy.

 

Business Insider: Trump suggests George Floyd is ‘looking down’ from heaven and appreciating the ‘great day in terms of equality’ after an unexpectedly strong jobs report was announced

In a freewheeling Friday-morning press conference in the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump touted a strong May jobs report and said he hoped George Floyd, who was killed by the Minneapolis police 10 days ago, was “looking down” from heaven and saying this “is a great thing that’s happening for our country.”

The economy added 2.5 million jobs in May, bringing the unemployment rate down to 13.3% from 14.7% in April.

That’s a surprising turnaround, but the economy has a lot to weather yet.

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. It’s a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. It is a great, great day in terms of equality,” Trump said.

It is premature to be claiming economic victory after Covid – 25,000 new cases in the US so far today and another thousand deaths.

I don’t think that if George Floyd could see what has happened since his death he would see anything great happening.

A major problem in the US (apart from Trump) is that there are many different police forces managed and employed by various cities and states, with top police officials elected. It will be very difficult to improve police behaviour across the country.

Law School statement on free speech

Free speech has been topical issue in New Zealand, with controversies at Massey and Auckland universities in past months. lso internationally.

From a statement on free speech from the Dean of the Notre Dame Law School in Indiana, USA ahead of a speaking engagement by William Barr, Attorney General of the United States:

Freedom of speech matters. As Frederick Douglass once said, “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker”.

Just as speakers are free to speech, protesters are free to protest. They must do so in a place and manner that respects the rights of speakers to speak and listeners to listen…

Notre Dame Law School will neither endorse nor condemn invited speakers. An institution of higher education must be place where controversial ideas and points of view are expressed, heard and discussed.

This is such a place.

The full announcement:

But where politics (and political appointees) are involved it provoked the ‘only free speech that I like’ brigade. Tweets in response condemned both Barr and Notre Dame Law School. Like:

Winston Smith @2plus2isSTILL4

The invitation brings shame to your institution. It is a statement that you do actually accord respect to a man who has disgraced himself and his office.

Tessa Sainz  @tessasainz

So being a traitor to this country and party to unprecedented corruption is a “controversial point of view” the University deems worthy of discussion? Does @NotreDame gain anything from Barr’s corruption? I’m guessing there’s a lot of financial reasons behind this decision

KB851  @KB8511 (Lawyer and College Faculty)

So now Notre Dame joins Florida in completely screwing this up People are smart They get there is a difference between a conservative voice and allowing trump jr or Barr to do NOTHING but lie You are dead wrong ND as are you, my alma mater, Florida

I am ashamed

Megan Schweppenheiser  @schweppenheiser

There is still time to boycott. Who would want to listen to that liar and gadlighter who is complicit in bringing down our democracy? Don’t go. Non-violent protest. Bring whistles. Stand up for the rule of law and ethics! Don’t give him a platform!

There were more bitter political opponents.

But there were also a smattering of supportive tweets:

Mary Miskimon  @MaryEM106

The only reason Bill Barr is controversial is because students disagree with his boss. That’s not controversial; that’s diverse thought, and it’s what we do here in America. It’s sad that ND has to explain to the students it admitted (presumably bright).

Joseph Rio  @josephwrio

It’s utterly amazing that Dean Cole has to issue such a common-sense statement. But judging by the replies on this thread by people who evidently believe they have been blessed with revealed truth, it was absolutely necessary. Difference of opinion is not evil.

Politically and on free speech issues the USA is a badly divided country.


American Conservative on Barr’s speech at Notre Dame – Bill Barr: Religious Liberty Warrior

Last week, US Attorney General William Barr gave an extraordinary speech about religious liberty at Notre Dame Law School. I have not been able to locate a transcript, and only found time to watch it this morning. Here’s a video of the entire thing. The speech itself begins at about the four-minute mark.

The AG begins by talking about the capacity for self-government, meaning not the form of administration of a liberal democracy, but the ability of individuals to master their own passions, and subject them to reason. Can we handle freedom? That, says Barr, is a question that preoccupied the Founders.

No society can exist without the capacity to restrain vice, he goes on to say. If you depend only on the government to do this, you get tyranny. (This, by the way, is what’s happening in China; many Chinese actually support the tyrannical Social Credit System, because communism destroyed civil society and social trust.) But, says Barr, licentiousness is another form of tyranny. People enslaved by their own appetites make community life impossible. (This, I would say, is what we are more endangered by in America today … and it will ultimately call forth tyranny, Chinese-style.)

Barr offers this quotation from Edmund Burke:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves.”

Why is religion a public good? Because, says Barr, it “trains people to want what is good.” It helps to frame a society’s moral culture, and instills moral discipline. No secular creed has emerged that can do what religion does, he says. And by casting religion out, we are dismantling the foundation of our public morality.

“What we call ‘values’ today are nothing more than mere sentimentality, drawing on the vapor trails of Christianity,” says the AG.

Barr took the gloves off, saying that religion is not jumping to its death; it’s being pushed.

“This is not decay,” he said. “This is organized destruction.”

He named secularists in academia, media, and elsewhere as figures who are not neutral at all, but have rather inculcated a kind of religiosity in their own project of destroying religion. They conduct their own inquisitions and excommunications for heresy.

Here’s a link to AG Barr’s entire speech. 

‘Constitutional crisis’ over Mueller report

Controversies over the Mueller report and the Trump administration continue in the US.

The vote was 24-16 in favour of holding Barr in contempt.

Reuters Explainer: Can Trump use executive privilege to withhold full Mueller report?

The White House on Wednesday invoked executive privilege to block the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russia report as a U.S. House panel met to vote on holding the U.S. attorney general in contempt of Congress for withholding the document.

The White House’s move escalated a constitutional clash between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Republican President Donald Trump over its powers to investigate him, his administration, his family and his business interests.

Trump is stonewalling Congress on multiple probes, blasting the investigations as “presidential harassment.” In an unusual move, he is even suing to stop the release of some materials that lawmakers want.

There are so few court decisions on executive privilege that it is hard to be certain if Trump can withhold the unredacted report and underlying evidence, said Ross Garber, a lawyer in Washington who focuses on political investigations.

But to prevail in court the White House will eventually need to be more specific about which documents are protected by executive privilege and why, Garber said.

In a letter to Trump on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr encouraged the president to make a “preliminary, protective assertion of executive privilege designed to ensure your ability to make a final assertion, if necessary, over some or all of the subpoenaed materials.”

Some legal experts have argued that Trump long ago forfeited, or waived, his right to make an executive privilege claim over conversations described by witnesses in Mueller’s investigation and related documents.

Meanwhile:

Democrats versus Barr versus Mueller are not fading away

The Mueller investigation led to the Barr letter which was followed by the release of most of the Mueller report was followed by the release of a Mueller letter to Barr, and now Barr has been questioned in the US senate. And the controversies continue, predictably with many angles being taken by media and politicians.

Washington Examiner: 5 takeaways from the Barr hearing

1. Tension between Attorney General William Barr and Robert Mueller

Barr revealed a split with the special counsel over the pursuit of evidence that President Trump tried to obstruct the probe. Mueller did not draw any conclusion on obstruction, despite gathering the evidence.

“The investigation carried on for a while as additional episodes were looked into,” Barr told the panel. “So my question was, why were those investigated if, at the end of the day, you weren’t going to reach a decision on them?”

Later in the hearing Barr dismissed a March 27 letter from Mueller complaining about Barr’s four-page memo to Congress about the report. “The letter’s a bit snitty and I think it was written by one of his staff people,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

2. Barr didn’t review Mueller’s evidence.

Under questioning from Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a former prosecutor who is running for president, Barr acknowledged neither he nor Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reviewed the trove of evidencegathered by the Mueller team before he cleared Trump of any wrongdoing.

The Mueller report did not clear Trump of any wrongdoing, but Barr’s letter summarising the findings of the investigation were taken by Trump and others as doing that.

3. Barr is probing leaks to media.

Under questioning from Republicans on the panel, Barr said he is investigating Department of Justice leaks to the media regarding the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

4. Barr is examining the justification for surveillance warrants into Trump campaign.

Barr said he is investigating the basis for the Justice Department’s decision to secretly surveil the Trump campaign beginning in October 2016. Barr said he is working with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to determine if a surveillance warrant was properly obtained by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court the month before the election.

5. Senate Judiciary (probably) won’t call Mueller to testify.

Democrats are eager to hear testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller, they said Wednesday. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., doesn’t plan to invite him.

“I’m not going to do any more,” Graham said after Barr’s day-long hearing. “Enough already, it’s over.”

But it appears to be far from over.

RealClear Politics – Pelosi: Attorney General Barr Committed A Crime; “He Lied To Congress”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused Attorney General William Barr of criminally lying to Congress about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and Mueller’s letter relating to how Barr has characterized its findings.

“What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America is not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That’s a crime,” the Speaker told reporters.

Asked again about the accusation, Pelosi said: “He lied to Congress. If anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law.”

Asked whether Barr should go to jail, the speaker said: “There’s a process involved here.”

There’s something for everyone to cherry pick from.

US Attorney General’s letter to Congress on Mueller report

The US Attorney General William Barr’s summary letter to Congress on the Mueller investigation has been released.

“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in it’s election interference activities”.

Mueller handed responsibility on whether to proceed on possible obstruction of justice to the Attorney General.

The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”.

 

Click to access AG%20March%2024%202019%20Letter%20to%20House%20and%20Senate%20Judiciary%20Committees.pdf