The Washington Post is facing intense criticism over a headline on the sexual assault allegation against former Vice President Joe Biden by former Senate aide Tara Reade. Various witnesses have come forward to support Reade by saying that she told them of the assault in the 1990s and a new clip has emerged on CNN of Reade’s mother raising the controversy on Larry King Live in 1993. The Washington Post, which had exhaustive and hard-hitting coverage of the allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, crafted one of the most convoluted headlines humanly possible: “Developments in allegations against Biden amplify efforts to question his behavior.” Unlike the Kavanaugh stories, the headline focused the story on efforts to discredit Biden as opposed to the assault allegation by Reade.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been under fire for his suggestion that states declare bankruptcy rather than seek federal bailouts. McConnell’s view is that many states like Illinois were near bankruptcy in years before the pandemic because of irresponsible union contracts that agreed to crippling pension plans. There are good-faith reasons to question the proposal as voiced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as reasons to advocate the bankruptcy approach, including a concern of how such declarations will impact loan money rates etc. However, the President of the Illinois Senate Don Harmon just gave McConnell a massive boost by demanding a $40,6 bailout, including a $10 billion pension bailout. I have previously criticized my home state for these contracts that were cavalierly accepted by politicians over the years with little concern for the ballooning debt.
Below is my column in USA Today on the pledge of President Donald Trump that he would adjourn Congress under a never used and rarely discussed power of Article II. While Trump pledged to do so a week ago, there has been no mention of the invocation since that time.
“If the House will not agree to that adjournment, I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both Chambers of Congress. The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony, pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It is a scam. What they do. It’s a scam and everybody knows it, and it’s been that way for a long time, and perhaps it’s never done before. It’s never been done before. Nobody’s even sure if it has, but we’re going to do it.”
He later added:
“[Congressional leaders] know. They’ve been warned and they are being warned right now. If they don’t approve it, then we’re going to go this route, and we’ll probably be challenged in court and we’ll see who wins, but when the court hears that we aren’t getting people approved . . . for two and a half years for an important position that we need because of this crisis. We needed these people before, but now we really need these people.”
Below is my column in the Washington Post on President Donald Trump’s assertions of “absolute” and “total” power over the states. While he appeared to dial back on the rhetoric in the last two days, President Trump again yesterday said that he could have issued orders shutting down every state but decided to let the governors do it. There remains a fundamental misconception of the President’s authority in our system of federalism.
There has been considerable coverage of a letter from retired Hawaiian judge James Dannenberg who resigned from the Supreme Court Bar in protest over what he views as a court become little more than an “’errand boy’ for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.” While I appreciate Dannenberg’s deep-seated and good-faith concerns over the direction of the Court’s jurisprudence, this letter is wildly off base. Indeed, the letter appears to denounce the Court for being “results-oriented” because it does not reach the results that he prefers. While the conservative justices as chastised for voting in bloc, he has no such qualms about the liberal justices voting as a bloc in the same cases. One is viewed as ideological while the other is viewed as . . . well . . . right.
We have previously discussed President Donald Trump’s firing of the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson — a move that many of us criticized (particularly after Trump made it clear that the firing was due to the fact that Atkinson informed Congress of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint). Yesterday, Trump unfairly attacked the Inspector General who authored a critical report on shortages in hospitals dealing with the outbreak. Trump appointed Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm but attacked her as a deep state hater despite a record of service to both Republican and Democratic Administrations. Now Trump has removed Glenn Fine — the acting Pentagon watchdog — to lead the group charged with monitoring the coronavirus relief effort. Fine is highly respected and appointed by a panel of inspectors general. All of these moves are unwarranted and dangerous attacks on our system of Inspectors General that should be condemned by both parties.
Few per curiam opinions have generated as much heat from both dissenting justices as well as the media. The decision of the Supreme Court to reverse the decision of a district court judge on extending the voting for the Wisconsin election this week has generated breathless headlines and comparisons to the Bush v. Gore decision in the 2000 elections. Such hyperbolic language aside, the decision was actually quite narrow and well-supported. Moreover, the dissent is chastising the majority for denying relief that the Wisconsin Democrats never requested from the District Court in their original preliminary injunction motion.
Below is my column in the Hill on how the calls for a “national quarantine” ignore both the historical and legal foundations for such orders. While the President can reduce travel at transportation hubs and certainly call for a national quarantine as “an aspirational” matter, the legal authority to enforce a national quarantine is far from obvious.
The FBI has reportedly begun an investigation into the stock sales of Sen. Richard Burr before the crisis over the coronavirus. As I discussed in my recent column, such prosecutions are exceptionally difficult to bring by design. Like ethics investigations, these investigations often serve to simply “clear” a politician who is allowed under lax ethical rules to trade in areas of their legislative and committee work. The only real reform is not investigations but either a ban on stock ownership or, more appropriately, a requirement of a blind trust (with criminal penalties for steering trades). Moreover, if he were to be charged, I would likely be the first to object to a prosecution for trades that Congress has kept lawful for decades despite some of our calls for reform. [This article was updated]
The controversial speech of Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., on the floor of the House of Representatives shows how members can fuel rather than fight hysteria and panic. The incredible scene was played out as the very task force members who she referenced are trying to rebut some alarmist predictions and estimates. Much of the nation is sheltering in place. We get it. However, Rep. Stevens seems intent on elevating not the discussion but the volume of the national discourse.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the baffling reluctance of Congress and the Supreme Court to allow for remote or distance technology as an alternative to physical sessions. Democracy at a distance is better than no democracy at all in times of emergency. President Donald Trump was asked about Congress allowing remote voting given the various Senators who are now in quarantine. He thought that it was a good idea but that there may be constitutional barriers. The greatest barriers, particularly for the Supreme Court, remain cultural not constitutional.