Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Kavanaugh hearing: Trump’s Supreme Court nominee won’t say whether presidents have to respond to subpoenas

Live Coverage from CBS News
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Kavanaugh hearing: Trump’s Supreme Court nominee won’t say whether presidents have to respond to subpoenas
Seung Min Kim, Ann Marimow, Elise Viebeck Wednesday, 9/5/2018
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Quoted Excerpts
10:33 a.m.: Kavanaugh won’t say whether presidents have to respond to subpoenas, calling it a 'hypothetical' question
Feinstein questioned Kavanaugh about his views on investigations involving a sitting president. In the 1990s, Kavanaugh was a member of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s team investigating President Bill Clinton. After subsequently serving in the Bush White House in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Kavanaugh said he came to believe that sitting presidents should not be distracted by criminal investigations or civil lawsuits.
Kavanaugh emphasized Wednesday that he had not taken a position on constitutional issues regarding presidential investigations. “They were ideas for Congress to consider. They were not my constitutional views,” Kavanagh said of his writing in a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article.
Feinstein also pressed Kavanaugh about whether a sitting president can be required to respond to a subpoena. The judge praised the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that forced President Richard M. Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes as a prime example of judicial independence. He declined, however, to answer the senator’s specific question.
“I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question,” he said.
9:49 a.m.: Kavanaugh says ‘no one is above the law’ in response to question about executive power
.....Grassley asked Kavanaugh whether he would have any trouble ruling against the man who appointed him as Democrats have suggested.
“No one is above the law,” the judge responded.
9:36 a.m.: Hearing gets underway
.....The first protesters’ voices could be heard at 9:37 a.m. as they were hauled out of the room.
8:24 a.m.: Grassley pushes back against Democrats
Grassley (R-Iowa) pushed back Wednesday morning on demands by Democrats to get access to more documents from Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s tenure in the George W. Bush White House.
“It’s irrelevant to his being a judge,” Grassley said during an interview on “CBS This Morning.”
Grassley said that senior Democrats have said in the past that “the best judge of whether a candidate should be on the Supreme Court are the cases they’ve already heard on lower courts” — and that the same standard should be applied to Kavanaugh.
On Tuesday, Grassley’s opening remarks were delayed for nearly an hour and a half as Democratic senators sought to cut off the hearings, raising an uproar over a last-minute document dump sent to the Judiciary Committee late Monday encompassing more than 42,000 pages from Kavanaugh’s tenure in the White House.
Grassley said the theatrics that played out on national television were not typical of the committee he chairs.
“We work in a more collegial way than what you’re seeing on television,” he said.
8:20 a.m.: What to watch for in today’s hearing
* Democrats will try to corner Kavanaugh on how he would rule on cases involving abortion access and the Affordable Care Act.
* Republicans will push back on Democrats’ attempts to squeeze specifics out of Kavanaugh by citing the example of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said in her confirmation hearing that she would give “no hints” as to how she would rule on future cases.
* Democrats will raise questions regarding Kavanaugh’s testimony more than a decade ago about the controversial detainee policies of the Bush administration.
Read more here.
Read more coverage on Brett Kavanaugh:
[Issues for Brett Kavanaugh: the president who chose him and the Supreme Court he would change]
[The story behind the withheld documents of the Kavanaugh hearing]
[Read more at PowerPost]  Link To Power Post
Robert Barnes, Michael Kranish and John Wagner contributed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

No, the Trump Tower meeting was not 'totally legal'

My Opinion: It appears that Donald Trump is also guilty of different collusions.

No, the Trump Tower meeting was not 'totally legal'
Tuesday, AUGUST 07, 2018 | 4:00 AM
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Quoted Excerpts
So let’s do that. Meeting with a foreign power to get assistance with a presidential campaign is not totally legal; special counsel Robert S. Mueller III almost certainly could indict Donald Trump Jr. today for what is publicly known about the meeting; and the president should be deeply concerned about his own liability.

Mueller’s February indictment of the Internet Research Agency, and associated Russian entities and individuals, charged a conspiracy to influence the election to damage Hillary Clinton, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and support Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump — let’s call it an electioneering conspiracy. The indictment charged violations of 18 U.S. Code § 371 — conspiracy to commit an offense against, or to defraud United States. Under the “defraud clause,” as precedent and the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual make clear, the statute criminalizes “any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government,” even if the object of the conspiracy is not a criminal offense. According to Mueller’s indictment, the conspiracy sought to defraud the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice — the agencies charged with preventing foreign nationals from making contributions, donations or expenditures (which can include not just money, but any “thing of value”) that would influence U.S. elections. Conspiracy law, it’s important to note, punishes the act of agreeing to a forbidden goal regardless of whether that goal is achieved. So long as the government can establish that targets agreed to pursue the conspiratorial objective, they may be prosecuted as co-conspirators. Conspirators need only agree to help bring about the object of a conspiracy even if they are not aware of all the details of the conspiracy itself. For example, in “chain-conspiracies” usually involving narcotics, lower-level buyers and sellers are included in larger distribution conspiracy so long as they have some understanding of the existence of the larger plot. The Trump Tower meeting clearly fits established definitions of “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” In early June, Trump Jr. received an email explaining that a Russian government official wanted to provide his father’s campaign with incriminating documents and information about Clinton as part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump." Trump Jr. replied, "if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” The June 9 meeting was confirmed two days earlier, on June 7. That night, Trump announced that he would “give a major speech” in the next week to discuss “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” On the face of it, Trump Jr. was approached by a foreign government seeking to influence an American election. Trump Jr. welcomed the possibility of influence, and candidate Trump’s actions, while circumstantial, indicate that he intended to make use of that information. It is irrelevant, in conspiracy law, that Trump Jr. found the information ultimately worthless, or as Trump said, that “it went nowhere.” Michael Cohen’s allegations last week must have deeply terrified the president and those looking out for his legal interests. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and “fixer,” reportedly is willing to tell Mueller that he was in the room when Trump heard about and approved the June 9 meeting. That would potentially place the president at the center of the decision to join the electioneering conspiracy. Trump’s later documented effort to dictate a false statement about the meeting looks like an attempt to cover up his culpability. A prosecutor and jury are entitled to view a cover-up as evidence of participation in the conspiracy. More than one year after telling the world that the June 2016 meeting was about adoptions, Trump and his eldest son stand stripped of their false cover. There is no more denying that the meeting sought to enlist the help of a hostile power to swing the election Trump’s way. The effort and the false statements about it were plainly deplorable. Whether they also were illegal turns on questions of law that Trump cannot obfuscate or control. They are what they are. Mueller already has laid the legal predicate for the Trumps’ guilt. Trump is at last playing in a legit game, and his hand is weak.

Harry Litman, a former deputy assistant attorney general, teaches constitutional law at UC San Diego. David Lieberman, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general, is a lawyer with the Whistleblower Law Collaborative.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Trump says presidency is ‘more work than previous life’ and ‘thought it would be easier’

Trump says presidency is ‘more work than previous life’ and ‘thought it would be easier’ BY JESSA SCHROEDER 
Friday, April 28, 2017, 3:24 AM
Quoted Excerpts
“I thought it would be easier,” Trump said in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters that covered a variety of topics, such as his longing for life prior to the presidency as a business mogul and the possibility of a government shutdown.
The former billionaire tycoon conceded that he thought the presidency would be a much simpler task than that of his former work in real estate.
"I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life,” he said.
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