Federal Judge In Hawaii Enjoins Second Executive Order

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedDerrick_Kahala_WatsonLast night, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson issued a
temporary restraining order
that prevents the second immigration order of President Donald Trump from going into effect on Thursday.  The 43-page opinion is scathing and relies not only on the statements of President Trump but the recent statements of his chief aide Stephen Miller.  While I respectfully disagree with Judge Watson and view his decision as contrary to the weight of existing case law, the opinion again shows the perils of presidents and their aides speaking publicly about litigation.  Political facing saving comments can be case legal damaging comments.  Yet, I still believe that Judge Watson relied too much on campaign statements and television interviews to overcome the facial neutrality of the language of the executive order.

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Bad Return: MSNBC Publication Triggers A Wave Of Responses From Mockery To Criminal Allegations

imgresThe build up last night on MSNBC had my phone ringing off the hook.  Rachel Maddow proclaimed “we’ve got the Trump returns.”  It turned out to be just the 2005 filing. Well, not the 2005 filing, the first two pages.  Worse yet, it turned out to be an entirely predictable tax return for a wealthy businessman with tons of deductibles.  It seemed like the tax version of Al Capone’s safe with Geraldo Rivera.  What was particularly odd is that MSNBC was “all in” — even after seeing that there was little there.  Maddow led with a long list of things we want to know from Trump’s tax return.  But none of those things were in the return.  They lined  up experts who seemed a lot like the “weather center” reporters the night before covering the major snow storm in D.C.   Reporters literally showed a dusting on cars in parking lots and spoke breathlessly about the possible storm that never came.  The tax experts were left in the same curious position — discussing what might have been shown.  As a legal commentator, I bowed out.  It was like being called as a seismologists to discuss an earthquake that never happened.  It is certainly true that Trump and Melania paid is a rate of less than 4 percent on their personal income — $5.3 million. However, they paid an additional $31 million under the alternative minimum tax, or AMT.  They used every loophole and tactic to reduce payments but those loopholes were legal and used by many in his tax bracket.

Having said that, the White House and others went too far in raising allegations of criminal conduct by Maddow and MSNBC in reporting on the story. There was also a return to the mantra of the “dishonest media.”  There was nothing dishonest in publishing the return. It was clearly overplayed but it was not dishonest to cover the leak.

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Fire Me: U.S. Attorney In Manhattan Reportedly Refuses To Resign [UPDATED]

Bharara,_Preet_HeadshotThe United States Attorney for Manhattan, Preet Bharara, appears to believe that he is working for a different branch of government.  After Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked for the resignations of all U.S. Attorneys, a standard change of political appointees in a new Administration, Bharara reportedly indicated that President Donald Trump would have to fire him.  Just as with the bizarre conduct of Sally Yates as Acting Attorney General, Bharara has shown a curious understanding of this position and his obligations as a federal officer.  If these media reports are true, President Trump should immediately accommodate him and Bharara will have to explain to future employers how he justifies such an unfounded stance. [Update: Bharara has been fired]

I sincerely hope that the reports are not true or that Bharara quickly reconsiders and gets his letter of resignation in today.  This is not the way to close a successful career as U.S. Attorney.  In the end, I am not sure what the basis for refusing a letter of resignation is. Bharara seems a rebel without a cause.

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Impeachable Tweets: A Response To Professor Tribe

Sen. Al Franken Accuses Sessions Of Perjury

Sen. Al Franken

jeff_sessions_official_portraitWhile most Democratic senators have been somewhat circumspect in characterizing the testimony of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “inaccurate” or “misleading,” Minnesota Sen. Al Franken yesterday publicly accused Franken of perjury.  It is a weighty charge that I have previously said would be highly difficult to actually prosecute.

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