CNN’s legal analyst Asha Rangappa is calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Bill Barr. Rangappa claims that Barr “tried to bamboozle the country” in the recent controversy over the replacement of Geoffrey Berman, who until Saturday had been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She further states that there is no ability for the Inspector General to investigate any improper conduct despite evidence that “Barr was attempting to obstruct justice by removing [Berman]. There is no such evidence and the call for impeachment shows a continuing misconstruction of the history and standard for impeachment.
On Saturday, federal district court judge Royce Lamberth denied a motion to enjoin the release of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book in a 10-page order. The book, titled “The Room Where it Happened,” is already in circulation with reporters literally standing outside of the courthouse reading from it. As argued in the column before the decision, Lamberth rejected the injunction. However, he lambasted Bolton for his failure to complete the classification review that he agreed to as part of his taking the position with President Donald Trump. There are already possibly classified subjects being teased out of the book by the media. Lamberth decried the fact that Bolton has “gambled with national security” and said that his actions “raise grave national security concerns” but “the damage is done.” Perhaps it is done for the release but the damage to Bolton may only be beginning. As Lamberth noted, he now faces civil and criminal liability, which are discussed in the column.
Here is the column: Continue reading “Bolton’s Win Could Cost Him More Than Just Profits”
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court had blocked the Trump Administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as an “arbitrary and capricious” change. Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the four liberal judges, ruled that Trump’s decision violated the Administrative Procedure Act. It was another self-inflicted wound due to a poorly executed policy change in this area. The ruling is based on procedural failures, not the merits or the underlying authority.
Last year, in columns and testimony, I chastised the Democrats for the shortest investigation on the narrowest grounds with the thinnest record of any presidential impeachment in history. The insistence of impeaching by Christmas doomed any chances of a compelling impeachment case. It appears now that one person agrees with that assessment: former National Security Adviser John Bolton. I referenced Bolton and his upcoming book as one of the reason why a little more time could vastly improve and expand the House case. Bolton said that he simply wanted a court to refer the privilege claim, which could have been accomplished easily in the time wasted by the House (including the long delay in sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate). In response, the Democratic leadership is lashing out at Bolton for refusing to come forward despite his offer to do so after a federal judge heard the privilege claim.
We have yet another teacher suspended or put on leave for merely expressing her opinion of Black Lives Matter on her personal Facebook page. After Tiffany Riley wrote that she does not agree with the BLM, the Mount Ascutney School Board held an emergency meeting to declare that it is “uniformly appalled” by the exercise of free speech and Superintendent David Baker assured the public that they would be working on “mutually agreed upon severance package.” The case magnifies concerns over the free speech rights of teachers on social media or in their private lives. As a public employee, Riley could seek judicial relief rather than a severance package under the First Amendment.
Berkeley is up in arms this week because of a letter sent by someone claiming to be an anonymous professor of history at U.C. Berkeley. The writer, who identifies as a person of color, objects to a loss of free speech and academic freedom in the school adopting an institutional position on Black Lives Matter. The writer objects to the silencing of academics who do not support BLM for reasons entirely separate from the protection of black lives. I was sent this letter when it started to be circulated and I did not discuss it because I have no idea if this is an actual member of the Berkeley faculty though Kentucky State University Assistant Professor of Political Science Wilfred Reilley has recently vouched for the identity. However, it is the response of the Berkeley faculty that I believe is notable and concerning. The faculty denounced the letter and said that there is “no evidence” that such a person teaches on the faculty. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly impossible for any academic to criticize BLM or aspects of the protests. However, what concerns me is that Berkeley’s response notably does not even bother to state the pretense of tolerance for opposing views. The condemnation would seem to reaffirm rather than redress the concerns over academic freedom and free speech for dissenting faculty members.
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton has pledged to release his new tell-all book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” regardless of the lack of pre-publication approval from the Administration. This includes an ABC special this weekend to kick off his release. The move is extremely risky and the law is not on the side of Bolton who could conceivably not only lose his profits but his freedom over such a dispute.
Below is my column in the Hill on the controversy over the creation of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, better known as Chaz. Well, it was Chaz. “The autonomous zone formerly known as CHAZ” is now the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). As W.C. Fields said “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” The problem is that Chief Best said no one is answering their calls. Chief Carmen Best stated today that the name had apparently changed but that they have yet to identify people who will speak for CHAZ or CHOP. She also noted that there appears to be widely different demands. That presents a serious barrier to a resolution.
RIP CHAZ. All Hail CHOP, but the question of leadership remains. Here is the column:
I have previously stated my personal and legal view of protests during the national anthem by athletes. I do not believe that professional athletes have a constitutional right to protest during games, any more than other employees. However, we now have the flip side of that question after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) announced that he plans to introduce legislation that would force U.S. Soccer players to stand for the national anthem. The announcement came after the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted to repeal the rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem. Such a law would be unconstitutional.
We recently discussed the “Joker” case in Chicago where Timothy O’Donnell was arrested for arson after his tattoos were identified by police after he burned a police vehicle. Now, a Tacoma woman, Margaret Aislinn Channon, 25, has been arrested for burning five vehicles in part due to her equally recognizable ink. There is one other similarity. They are both not only charged with arson, but charged in federal court. I continue to be uneasy over the broad federal jurisdictional claims underlying charges that traditionally are matters for state and local prosecutors.
Retired federal judge John Gleeson was recently appointed by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to argue against dismissal of the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and to advise him on whether the court should substitute its own charge of charge for Flynn for now claiming innocence. I have been highly critical of Sullivan’s orders and particularly the importation of third parties to make arguments that neither party supports in a criminal case. Now Gleeson has filed a brief that confirms the worst fears that many of us had about his appointment. Gleeson assails what he called “a trumped-up accusation of government misconduct.” The ultimate position advocated in Gleeson’s arguments would be a nightmare for criminal defendants, criminal defense counsel and civil libertarians. Indeed, as discussed below, Gleeson was previously reversed as a judge for usurping the authority of prosecutors.
Gleeson actually makes the Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderland” look like an ACLU lawyer. After all she just called for “Sentence First–Verdict Afterward” Gleeson is dispensing with any need for verdict on perjury, just the sentence. However, since these arguments are viewed as inimical to the Trump Administration, many seem blind to the chilling implications.
It seems that University of Chicago professors are much in the news this week. We recently discussed the controversy of posting by University of Chicago Professor Brian Leiter saying that military leaders should “depose” President Donald Trump and jail him. Now another Chicago professor is under fire. Notably, while no one called for Leiter to be fired for wistfully discussing a military coup, there is a chorus of writers and academics calling for the canning of Harald Uhlig, the senior editor of the prestigious the Journal of Political Economy. Uhlig is also the Bruce Allen and Barbara Ritzenthaler Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago. The reason is that Uhlig had the audacity to criticize Black Lives Matters and the movement to Defund The Police. Joining this effort is New York Times’ Paul Krugman, who is striking out at someone for giving his opposing view — an intolerant position that now appears to be official policy at the New York Times. It is all part of the new order where writers call for censorship, academics call for removing academic freedoms, artists call for art removal, and politicians call for dismantling police.
I will be speaking today at the CogX Conference today in England organized by the government’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI). Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I will be speaking virtually on facial recognition technology and privacy rights. That is a loss for me given the fact that London is one of my favorite places on Earth. (Postings will be delayed today due to the speech).
Below is an updated version of my column in The Hill newspaper on how the discussion of reforms following the killing of George Floyd has been increasingly overtaken by the most radical elements in politics and commentary. The atmosphere is strikingly similar for those familiar with history and specifically the course of the French Revolution. That image of reformists becoming reactionaries was particularly evident in New York Mayor Bill de Blasio being booed by a crowd calling for his resignation and the same response to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey when he refused to commit to defunding and dismantling the police department. In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the square near the White House to be named “Black Lives Matter” Square with giant letters painted on the street. BLM however denounced it as a meaningless stunt and activists added ‘Defund the Police.” Bowser refused to answer multiple questions on whether she would remove the added words. To do so is to risk a scene like the ones in Minneapolis and New York.
As writers, editors, and politicians yield to extreme measures, they might want to consider the fate of those who sought to ride the radical wave of the French Revolution.
We have often discussed how advocating for free speech often places us in troubling company. Those who are targeted for arrest are often the loudest and most obnoxious among us. Ace Burns is one of those people. Burns, 34, whose real name is Israel Burns,, is the self-proclaimed leader of the “FTP movement (which he defined in various ways including “Fire To Property”). Burns was taken into the police station after alluding to the possibility that the Diamond District in New York would be burned to the ground. It is a prototypical violent speech cases and, as many on this blog will not be surprised to read, I believe it raises a serious concern for free speech.