Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on a novel way that President Donald Trump could use the Whitaker appointment to achieve what he has long sought: freezing or even ending the Mueller investigation. As strange as it may seem, it could actually work if played correctly by the White House. The White House could theoretically get a court to enjoin the Mueller investigation and keep Mueller frozen in amber until Trump’s final year when impeachment would practically impossible.
During the election, the potential of Rep. Nancy Pelosi being made speaker was a constant drag on close races with many members and candidates assuring voters that they will not support her return to the office. Despite those assurances (and many of the Democratic leadership remaining silent on Pelosi), the Democratic establishment is now pushing to put Pelosi right back into the chair. Obviously, when all voters (including Republicans and independents) are considered, the opposition to Pelosi is overwhelming. None of matters (including to the media which barely mentioned the opposition and does little on the many polls showing the position of voters).
This is despite a new Gallup poll showing that 56 percent of Democratic voters are opposed to the move as well as past polls saying that Pelosi and the establishment are driving younger voters away from the party. The reason is simple: the Democratic members do not view these elections about the party and certainly not the voters. It is about them and Pelosi can deliver key positions and benefits to them for support. This is precisely why I have been long critical (here and here) of both party establishments and how voters continue to be played like chumps in this duopoly of power in our country. Continue reading “Fifty-Six Percent Of Democratic Voters Do Not Want Pelosi To Be Speaker . . . Democratic Members Move To Make Pelosi Speaker”
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the selection of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General. While I believe that Whitaker meets the criteria under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, I have great reservations about that Act’s constitutionality in allowing unconfirmed individuals to serve in this position, as discussed in my prior column. However, I do not believe that prior commentary as an attorney requires recusal under Justice Department rules. Whitaker is about to establish a legacy as either a political stooge or principled lawyer.
I have previously criticized the White House for suspending the access of CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. While I believe that Acosta was wrong in refusing to yield the mike at a former press conference, the White House should restore his access. That, however, does not mean that the suspension would be viewed as an actionable legal case. CNN is reportedly considering such a lawsuit and Floyd Abrams, a constitutional law expert, is quoted as saying that CNN would have a “really strong lawsuit” against the White House. I am not so confident despite my agreement with CNN on the merits of the action. Continue reading “CNN Reportedly Considering Lawsuit Over Acosta Access”
Below is my column in USA Today on the sacking of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the implications for the Trump Administration. The most worrisome thing about the forced resignation is that Trump still does not understand that Sessions not only took the only ethical course in recusing himself, but the best course for the Administration.
The National Constitution Center and the Old Parkland Debate Series has announced that a debate will be held on November 12th between George Washington Professor Jonathan Turley and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on impeachment. The debate will occur a week after the 2018 midterm elections and many have called for the impeachment of both President Donald Trump and Judge Brett Kavanaugh following a Democratic takeover of the United States House of Representatives. The debate question is: Resolved, the framers designed impeachment as a political, rather than a legal process. Toobin will argue that the Framers intended impeachment to be a political judgment while Turley will argue that the Framers intended more of a legal judgment. Turley was the last lead counsel in an impeachment trial in the Senate and Toobin previously worked for Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh.
I have been highly critical of President Donald Trump’s treatment of the media and his personal attacks on journalists. A chilling example is his response to CNN’s Abby Phillip when she merely (and reasonably) asked if Trump wanted to “rein in” Mueller with his appointment of Matt Whitaker. It was not just a relevant question but the one most asked by journalists of all of the networks from Fox to CNN to BBC. Yet, Trump called it a “stupid” question and then attacked Phillip’s overall performance. Continue reading “Trump Attacks Reporter For Merely Asking About Reining In Mueller”
In torts, we discuss the common law rule that
words alone do not constitute assault.” That is a good thing for Joseph L. Binford, 37, in the criminal law context. When Binford was confronted Tuesday night at Dickerson Park Zoo in Sprinfield, Missouri, he immediately commanded the zoo cheetahs to eat the zookeeper. They declined. Continue reading “Missouri Man Commands Cheetahs To Eat Zookeeper”
Yesterday, I addressed arguments that the appointment of Matt Whitaker as Acting Attorney General violates federal law. The arguments based on the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, in my view, are unpersuasive. As I noted, however, there remains a different and more fundamental question of whether the Act itself is unconstitutional by allowing an official without Senate confirmation to assume, even temporarily, the office of a “principal officer.” If standing can be found to challenge the Act on that basis, the constitutional arguments are compelling. The constitutional question could be difficult to litigate if a nomination is made in January. However, these constitutional concerns again raise the logic of firing Jeff Sessions immediately after the election as opposed to having him serve until the confirmation of his successor. Nevertheless, this is an issue that is somewhat untested in the courts and challengers would need to establish standing as well as raise a “ripe” issue to argue that Whitaker is lawful under the Act but the Act is unconstitutional under Article II.
Some 144 Turkish mosques in the Netherlands are demanding that Twitter bar any tweets from conservative politician Geert Wilders due to what they alleged are hateful and disparaging comments. As many on this blog know, I hold to a robust view of free speech protections. I tend to oppose censorship through both governmental and private means. This is no exception. It has nothing to do with Wilders’ views. I remain committed to the view that the best way of dealing with bad speech is good speech — not the censorship or criminalization of case. Continue reading “Mosques Demand Twitter Bar Any Tweets By Geert Wilders”
The family of Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser is alleging that the jouranalist was tortured to death by the Saudi government just as the government is dealing with an investigation into the murder of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate. Continue reading “Did The Saudis Just Kill Another Journalist?”
In a major escalation of President Donald Trump’s war with the media, the White House today suspended the access of CNN’s Jim Acosta from the White House “until further notice.” I have been highly critical of the President’s attacks on the media and, as many might expect, I am equally critical of this move. I felt Acosta was out of line in refusing to give up the mike at the press conference this week. However, he did not manhandle a female aide as suggested by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and the appropriate response would be to make it clear to CNN that its reporters are not allowed to defiantly retain a mike or yell over the President in such conferences. Continue reading “White House Suspends Access For CNN’s Jim Acosta”
Today I have two columns in USA Today and The Hill on the sacking of Jeff Sessions and appointment of Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General. The Hill column challenges arguments that Whitaker must recuse himself. However, this morning some members and commentators have declared that Whitaker cannot serve as an Acting Attorney General under federal law. I have to disagree. While not getting into the merits of the selection, it seems clear to me that, under 5 U.S.C. 3345, that Whitaker does indeed qualify. (This of course does not address the long-standing debate over the constitutionality of such laws. A challenge can be made under the Appointment Clause of the Constitution, mandating that a “principal officer” in the federal government may not be appointed without Senate confirmation).
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the mutual threats from Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump to use investigations in a tit-for-tat struggle with the new Congress. In his press conference after the election, Trump said that he is prepared to adopt the same “war-like” stance and “They can play that game, but we can play it better.”
This promises to be long and intense two years, but there does not appear to be much hope for actually addressing some of the important issues that divide this country.
In an annual tradition, yesterday saw the appearance of visiting canine academic Luna to my torts class to teach (and demonstrate) elements of animal liability in torts. Shown here with a few of our students, Professor Luna was met with great acclaim and copious treats. Continue reading “Professor Luna Teaches Animal Liability At GW”