Yesterday, we did our first live blogging on a hearing with former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. There was a lot of broken china after the hearing was over. Indeed, the most interesting aspect was that some of the greatest damage for the Democratic narrative occurred during ill-considered questions from Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., HI) who elicited a series of answers supporting the Trump Administration and the purpose of further hearings. Rosenstein ultimately supported the need for further investigations into FBI misconduct, supported the Durham investigation, categorically dismissed claims that Trump committed obstruction of justice, and most importantly stated that he would not have signed off on the continued surveillance under the FISA for Carter Page if he knew the truth about claims of Russian collusion. That was just a few of the highlights. He also dismissed objections from former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the “1000 prosecutors” who were so widely cited as claiming that there was clear criminal conduct by Trump.
Below is my column in The Los Angeles Times on President Donald Trump’s declaration that Antifa would be designated as a terrorist organization. I have explained that such a designation would ordinarily be made for “foreign terrorist organizations” by the State Department. It is also unnecessary. As I wrote recently, there is a case in New York that could be the perfect framing prosecution for treating rioting as domestic terrorism.
Ironically, Antifa is a vehemently anti-free speech organization and it could achieve that purpose if it is declared a terrorist organization. Such a designation of the entire movement could prove highly damaging to free speech in this country.
Here is the column:
The New York Times is under fire today for publishing the opinion of Sen. Tom Cotton (R, Ark.) on the use of troops to quell the unrest following the death of George Floyd. Journalists and opinion writers have insisted that such views should not be even published because they disagree with it. I have strongly opposed the suggested use of federal troops on both legal and non-legal grounds. It would be an unnecessary escalation of the tensions and curtail the exercise of important free speech activities. However, this view is shared by many and the use of troops has occurred previously in our history. The call for effective censorship of opposing views from journalists is a chilling example of how much ground has been lost in the protection of free speech values. Continue reading “New York Times Reporters and Writers Condemn Paper For Publishing Cotton Editorial”
In Chicago, a man wearing a Joker mask set fire to a police SUV in broad daylight. The problem is that Timothy O’Donnell has a prominent tattoo on his neck reading “Pretty.” That was one of the ways that police were able to identity him for arrest. The case however highlights the expansive claim of federal jurisdiction being used by the Justice Department.
I have been tweeting on the hearing of former Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. I will continue to update on the blog as newsworthy points are raised. Update: the hearing is now over but further analysis is available here.
There has been much talk — and anger — over the reports that the Trump Administration has asserted the right to “take over” the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. The Washington Post is quoting D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham as saying that the mayor “disagrees that the president has the authority to take over the police department. She believes it is a legal question to do that without her consent.” If so, she is mistaken. It is not a “take over” but it does not require the mayor’s consent. President Donald Trump can demand the deployment of D.C. police and the mayor is bound by law to accede to the request.
Yesterday I wrote about the curious effort by some in politics and the media to portray “Russians” or “White Supremacists” as driving the rioting in various cities. The role of anarchists and Antifa members was obvious — and reinforced by arrests reported in various cities. This gold encrusted arrestee is Matthew Lee Rupert, 28, who was arrested in Chicago trying to pass out explosives — allegedly much like the two attorneys arrested in New York. The evidence includes a videotape on which Rupert states “we came to riot.”
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the new disclosures in the prosecution of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Yesterday, the attorney hired by Judge Emmet Sullivan responded on his behalf to defend his controversial orders in the case to invite third parties to argue the merits of the motion to dismiss as well as raising his option to substitute his own criminal charge of perjury against Flynn. The Justice Department responded with a 45-page filing to a three-judge appeals court panel.
The attention will now focus on the appearance tomorrow of former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the Senate. For me, the most pertinent question is why this investigation continued past December and seemed to become to a search for a crime rather than the investigation of any crime or collusion with Russia.
We have been discussed the arrests associated with two attacks on New York police officers using Molotov cocktails. However, two radical young lawyers may have handed the Trump Administration the perfect case to frame as domestic terrorism in the wake of the controversy over President Donald Trump declaring that he would designate Antifa a terrorist organization. I criticized such a designation as legally unfounded and constitutionally dangerous. However, as we discussed yesterday, Colinford Mattis, 32, and Urooj Rahman, 31, may have supplied an alternative avenue in using ample federal laws to prosecute attacks as domestic terrorism without the need of any formal designation. The two defendants are expected to be released on bail today.
I have written for years on the crackdown on free speech in France, Germany, and England though hate speech laws and speech regulations. As many on this blog know, I am unabashedly against limits on free speech and have opposed most public and private forms of censorship for decades. This often means that, like everyone in the free speech community, I find myself opposing actions against some of the most obnoxious, juvenile, or hateful people in our society. That is the case with this story. Three British teenagers have been arrested for a Snapchat video mocking the death of George Floyd. It was a deeply offensive and stupid act, but the question remains whether society is criminalizing a wider and wider scope of speech.
While many have condemned Antifa and similar groups for destroying Minneapolis and other cities, Minneapolis city council member for Ward 5 (and son of the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison) Jeremiah Ellison tweeted Sunday that he is not among them. Indeed, he is declaring his support for Antifa. Some of us have long opposed Antifa as a vehemently anti-free speech group. Ellison does not seem to include free speech among his priorities for voters in Ward 5. While most Democratic members have correctly condemned Antifa attacks, Ellison is one of those who continue to support the controversial group.
Below is my column in USA Today on the fight between Trump and Twitter. As discussed below, this is a fight not for free speech but who will control free speech. Democrats want speech controls through private companies while the Administration wants speech controls through government agencies. The choice is between Little Brother and Big Brother.
Here is the column:
Yesterday we discussed the four arrests associated with two attacks on New York police officers using Molotov cocktails. It is now being reported that one of the defendants arrested, Colinford Mattis, 32, is a furloughed Pryor Cashman associate. Mattis is a graduate of New York University and Princeton University. He was reportedly arrested with a second attorney in the attack. Mattis is accused of driving a van and passenger Urooj Rahman, 31, threw a Molotov cocktail. Rahman is reportedly a human rights lawyer but also recently lost her job. Update: The FBI now says that the two defendants sought to pass out Molotov cocktails.
Below is my column on the Twitter controversy and censorship of social media. President Donald Trump has continued to tweet on cracking down on the riots as well as controversy over his tweets on Twitter. Like former Vice President Joe Biden, he is now calling for the outright elimination of Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. While supported by many liberal members and commentators, Twitter continues to build a case against itself — and ultimately free speech on the Internet.
Here is the column:
Kellie Chauvin, the wife of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, has announced that she is filing for divorce after 10 years of marriage. In her statement, she expresses sympathy for the family of George Floyd. There is no evidence that this is a tactic to shield assets from the inevitable civil lawsuit against the estate of Chauvin. However, it is a question that often comes up with clients that I dealt with on both civil and criminal cases. When faced with potential of civil liability, some clients raise the possibility of shielding their assets by transferring them or seeking a divorce. Such maneuvers often do not work for a variety of legal and practical reasons.