In what Attorney General Bill Barr has called a “significant escalation,” the Justice Department is filing actions against sanctuary cities over what is alleged as interference with federal enforcement of immigration laws and removals. As discussed yesterday, both parties seems to be going “all in” on immigration from sharply opposing positions.
Somebody is really, really wrong. The Democratic presidential candidates have doubled down on the party’s opposition to the Trump immigration policies while supporting sanctuary cities, noncooperation with ICE on detainers and other issues. In the meantime, the Trump Administration is prevailing in litigation over his travel ban orders and it is now expanding the nations subject to the executive order. Both parties seem to believe that they have the voters on their side, including a new showdown in New York where Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the “Green Light Law” allowing undocumented persons to get driver’s licenses. That has set off a major confrontation with Homeland Security which is vowing to suspend enrollment in the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP).
Below is my column with the BBC on the impeachment verdict and its aftermath. A new Hill/HarrisX poll shows President Donald Trump at a record high of popularity — finding the same 49 percent level of the earlier Gallup poll. In other words, people heard what they wanted to hear in the trial — and most heard nothing at all by tuning it all out. Indeed, as discussed below, it ultimately did not seem to matter what anyone actually said as opposed to what people wanted to hear.
Below is my column in the Washington Post on the vote of Mitt Romney and how his independence is a virtue celebrated selectively by the political establishment and the media. One thing that should unite everyone is the inexcusable attack on Romney’s reference to his faith by President Trump. Romney grew emotional on the Senate floor when he dismissed the “unimaginable” attacks as paling in comparison to what he would lose by violating an oath to God. Trump responded at the National Prayer Breakfast by declaring.” “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” The one thing that I never thought would be questioned is the faith of Mitt Romney, who not only is widely known as a deeply religious Mormon but has been discussed as a possible head of the Mormon Church. I have never been a fan of Romney’s policies, particularly his environmental policies (which are in line with Trump). However, I have never heard anyone suggest that Mitt Romney’s faith is anything but genuine and heartfelt. I have no problem with Trump attacking the merits of his decision but the attack on his motivation is well beyond the pale.
I recently disagreed with North Carolina Law Professor and CNN Legal Analyst Michael Gerhardt, who declared that the entire Trump defense team would face bar charges for their defense of the President. No such bar charges have been filed but the Miami-Dade Democratic Party has filed a frivolous bar complaint against Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz(R) for his role in the storming a secure congressional facility during the closed-door hearings held in the impeachment inquiry. The complaint in my view is utterly without merit and would create a dangerous precedent for bar associations to use their authority to regulate or punish the actions of lawyers in the capacity as members of Congress.
President Donald Trump has moved against two of the most prominent witnesses at his impeachment hearings in the House with the removal of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine policy officer on the National Security Counsel. There is no question that the President has a right to remove them and Vindman is not being “fired” but rather being transferred to a Defense Department post. Both ignored instructions from the White House not to appear in Congress. Yet, the timing smacks of retaliation against witnesses and the White House has not offered a full explanation of the action. Previously, a Pentagon official pledged that no retaliation against Vindman would be tolerated, but that might not include a transfer. What is particularly concerning is the removal of the twin brother of Vindman who did not testify and merely went with his brother as emotional support at the hearing.
I have previously written about my fundamental disagreement with the aspects of the emoluments challenges filed by various academics. We discussed the prior denial of the challenge by the Fourth Circuit. Now, the D.C. Circuit has issued a unanimous rejection of the challenge. It is a major victory for the Trump Administration and again raises the questions over the coverage of these claims, which largely omitted discussion of the considerable barriers facing these filings. It is a rejection of the challenge brought by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) and 215 other members of Congress.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the controversial conduct of Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the State of the Union this week. Pelosi broke with tradition on three points: changing the greeting for the President, making demonstrations of criticism from the Speaker’s chair, and ripping up the address in protest. I previously called upon Pelosi to apologize and commit to maintaining decades of tradition for the Speaker to be neutral in the State of the Union to represent the House as a whole — Republicans and Democrats. Pelosi yesterday however doubled down and declared her protests to be perfectly appropriate and liberating. Her declaration of being “liberated” is itself both confirmatory and chilling. She liberated herself from traditions of neutrality that extends back centuries to the English Parliament.
Now liberating from rules and tradition, Pelosi is free to convert the Speakership into a more partisan role at the SOTU, including the use of the position to mock, troll, or taunt a president addressing both houses. I have joined others in criticizing Trump’s failure to shake the hand of Pelosi and his highly inappropriate comments yesterday questioning Pelosi’s and Romney’s faith. However, that does not give Pelosi license to violate this important and unbroken tradition as Speaker at the State of the Union. Indeed, the silence of Democratic members in the face of Pelosi shattering decades of tradition is equally shocking. In remaining silent, Democrats of both houses have lost any moral high ground.
As I have discussed, the conduct of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during the State of the Union was reprehensible and she should either promise to comply with the traditions of the House or step down as speaker. She committed three major transgressions against those traditions in changing the greeting to the President, making critical faces behind the back of the President during the address, and then ripping up the address while still in the Speaker’s chair. That last act has led some to allege that she also violated 18 U.S.C. §2071 in the destruction of an official document. That claim is dubious and should not take away from the more serious question of Pelosi violating her duty to remain a neutral representative of the whole house and not just a partisan member or worse a political troll.
We recently discussed the highly inappropriate conduct of Speaker Nancy Pelosi in changing the traditional greeting of a president at the State of the Union, engaging in facial demonstrations of disapproval behind the President during the address, and ripping up the address in protest of the president from the Speaker’s chair. The outrageous conduct shattered decades of tradition of Speakers remaining neutral as representatives of the entire House, not just their own party. CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter, however, sees no pressing issue of principle or propriety. The only most pressing question for Stelter was whether it worked and he praised Pelosi for stealing the media attention at any cost. He is not alone in the coverage. This purely consequentialist view of the issues is precisely why we are living through this age of rage. The measure of Pelosi’s shocking conduct is simply whether it worked to dominate the coverage.
With the exception of one vote on one article of impeachment (by Sen. Mitt Romney), the acquittal of President Donald Trump went as predicted with a party-line vote. Notably, however, the vast majority of senators, including a significant number of Republican senators, expressly rejected the core defense offered by Professor Alan Dershowitz in their statements –rejecting the position that impeachable offenses must be based on criminal allegations and does not include allegations of abuse of power. What we did not see, as discussed in this column in The Washington Post, was a bipartisan rejection of Article II.
This morning I have a column in the Hill newspaper on my reaction to the disgraceful conduct of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and various Democratic members at the State of the Union address last night. As I tweeted during the address, her conduct tore up more than a speech, but decades of tradition and left any semblance of civility in tatters on the House floor.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the continued effort to ignore the obvious and catastrophic decision of the House leadership to rush the impeachment vote by Christmas rather than complete the record against President Donald Trump. This denial continues despite the fact that, after saying that they had no time to seek witnesses or favorable court orders, the House leadership then waited a month before released the articles of impeachment. Clearly, the record would have been stronger if the House waited and sought to compel witnesses. It also would have kept control of the record and the case. I encouraged them to vote in March or April, which would have given them plenty of time to secure additional testimony and certainly a number of favorable court orders. However, recognizing this obvious blunder would take away from the narrative that the case failed only because the Republicans were protecting Trump in the Senate.