Former Trump campaign aide Carter Page on Friday has filed a $75 million lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and former high-ranking officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, and Andrew McCabe. The complaint includes eight claims that range from violations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Federal Tort Claims Act, a Bivens claim, and Privacy Act. It is very well written, but it will be challenging given the discretionary authority of justice officials in some of these actions. For full disclosure, I previously discussed Page’s case with both Page and his counsel (particularly after a column on his case). I have been a critic of his targeting for years and have spoken with Page on the investigation. I view Page as a victim of an abusive federal investigation and ideally he should be afforded relief for his treatment. Federal case law however presents barriers for people in his position. If he were to prevail, it could create important precedent protecting citizens and civil liberties for the future.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
I’ll go out on a limb and make a proposal, based mostly on anecdotal observations I have made during my adult life of both politicians and elected officials–there is a difference–and what these individuals have often gotten us into. I have come to the conclusion that among the various cultivars of politics, the two positions that for me have consistently remained the most benevolently virtuous, and least damaging to ordinary people, are not the high-profile, ostentatious seats in various houses of parliament, legislatures, or a presidency. They are often the more behind-the-scenes, yet foundationally necessary public service elected officials often known as Water District and Sewer District Commissioners.
They might not be the most well-known, which in itself is an admirable quality, but they serve for me as a model of how we would be as a society better off if politicians adopted the approach of these commissioners and not that of petty tyrants or worse that seem to be attracted to politics.
The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a surprising blow to pandemic restrictions on house of worship in a late night order barring the enforcement of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Oct. 6 “Cluster Initiative” limiting attendance at religious services. Five justices (including newly installed Justice Amy Coney Barrett) blocked the limits while allowing the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to hear the merits in the case. Notably, Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the liberal justices but only because he felt that the order was not needed since the plaintiffs were not currently subject to the most severe limits. Continue reading “The Supreme Court Bars Cuomo’s Pandemic Limits On Houses of Worship”
The Third Circuit has issued an opinion that has received little attention over the right to bear arms, but it should. The decision in Folajtar v. The Attorney General of the United States may be one of the most perfectly tailored case for major Supreme Court decision. Indeed, the only thing lacking from the 2-1 decision is a mailing label directly to Justice Amy Coney Barrett. In ruling that a non-violent tax conviction can result in the denial of gun ownership, the panel presents a clean case to further define the contours of the individual rights recognized in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). It is also an opportunity that any new justice would relish: after being the lone dissenter on a similar case, Barrett could be the critical vote (and even the author) on the opinion changing the area in line with her prior position.
There is an interesting fight brewing in Kentucky between Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Gov. Andy Beshear. Cameron has filed in support of a challenge to Beshear’s latest executive order closing religious schools to combat the pandemic. Beshear has correctly cited a major victory recently before the Kentucky Supreme Court — an unanimous decision in favor of his authority to issue pandemic orders. However, Cameron is seeking a higher standard of review by focusing on religious schools that could change the result. Continue reading “Kentucky Attorney Files Challenge To Kentucky Governor’s Closure OF Religious Schools”
We have been discussing the use of the criminal code by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) to threaten people who post videos on alleged voter fraud or legislators who raise such objections in the state. These threats are coercive and abusive, particularly when targeting opponents of your party who are challenging the victory of your candidate for president. Yet, as shown by a congressman seeking to disbar dozens of Trump lawyers, such threats are popular in today’s rage-filled politics. So, Nessel continued her threats of prosecution on Monday in warning that a former state senator could be prosecuted for alleging possible voter fraud at a meeting of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers. So, raising voting fraud at the board overseeing voting is now a possible basis for prosecution in Michigan. Continue reading “Michigan Attorney General Resumes Threats Of Criminal Prosecution Against Those Alleging Voter Fraud”
Below is my column in The Hill on the possibility of contesting electoral certifications by key states. With the adverse ruling in Pennsylvania, the Trump legal team is still pledging new evidence of massive fraud as certifications are completed. The options for the team seem more and more reduced to the ultimate constitutional trick shot in engineering a fight on the floor of Congress.
Here is the column:
We have been discussing the campaign of harassment and threats against Republican lawyers to get them to drop election challenges. New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell expanded that campaign this week with a malicious and frivolous demand for New York and other states to disbar roughly two dozen lawyers for representing Trump, the Republican party, or the Trump campaign in the litigation. While Democratic members and the media discuss attacks on democracy and the rule of law, they appear to have little problem with campaigns to threaten and harass both lawyers and legislators for raising questions about the election.
We have been discussing the embarrassing failure of the media to ask President-elect Joe Biden any difficult questions throughout the campaign and creating a type of protective journalistic cocoon around him. That pattern has continued after the election with pre-selected reporters asking laughingly soft ball questions to Biden while continuing a virtual blackout on such stories as the Hunter Biden influence peddling controversy. Then something bizarre happened yesterday. A reporter actually asked Biden a real question. CBS News reporter Bo Erickson asked Biden about whether he would support the CDC rather than the teacher’s union on closing schools. Biden’s response was a personal attack on the reporter. This is simply not done and will not be tolerated. After all, think of the chaos: the entire press corps would be expected to ask questions and Biden would be expected to answer them. Continue reading “Say It Ain’t So, Joe: CBS Reporter Draws Ire Of Biden For Asking Substantive Question”
On Saturday, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann dismissed the challenge filed by the Trump campaign to stop the certification of the vote in Pennsylvania. The court acknowledged that vote negation may have occurred due to different “curing” rules, but balked at the legal and logical basis for blocking certification of the state electoral votes to remedy to such claims. The scathing order described the argument of Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani as a “Frankenstein monster” composed of disparate parts of different legal claims. Notably, the court did find that the “Individual Plaintiffs have adequately pled that their votes were denied.” However, that island of support is lost in a vast ocean of countervailing and caustic findings by the court. Continue reading “Uncured: Federal Judge Dismisses Trump Challenge In Pennsylvania”
We have been discussing the campaign of The Lincoln Project and others to harass and abuse lawyers who represent the Trump campaign or other parties bringing election challenges. Similar campaigns have targeted election officials who object to counting irregularities. Now, the Michigan Attorney General and others are suggesting that Republicans who oppose certification or even meet with President Donald Trump on the issue could be criminally investigated or charged. Once again, the media is silent on this clearly abusive use of the criminal code target members of the opposing party in their raising objections under state law.
We recently discussed the Politico poll showing that a majority of people were now calling for President Donald Trump to concede the election while a plurality supported such an immediate concession. We discussed that the number calling for concession would likely continue to increase and a new Hill-Harris poll would seem to support that view. Some sixty-one percent in the poll believe Trump should give a concession speech. At a minimum, some of us have called for President Trump to call for “ascertaining” the election for Biden so that a transition can proceed unimpeded. That would not concede the election, but it would be the responsible course of action. It is long overdue. Some of us called for ascertainment over two weeks ago. Continue reading “Hill-Harris Poll: Sixty-One Percent Of Voters Now Support A Trump Concession Speech”
The press conference held by the Trump legal team was not for the faint of heart. The team alleged a global, Communist-backed conspiracy to “inject” and “change” votes through the use of the Dominion computer system. It was exhausting and breathtaking. I was critical of the press conference as being long on heated rhetoric and short on hard evidence. Dominion issued a statement categorically denying the allegations. The question is whether Dominion itself will now sue. The company denied the allegations but I often measure such denials by whether anyone actually sues. Dominion could do so and force the Trump team to reveal the evidence supporting their allegations or face potentially significant liability. These are not just colorful but criminal allegations against named companies and by implication corporate officials and political allies.
I have been highly critical of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her misrepresentation of a state supreme court ruling that she violated the state constitution in her pandemic orders, a false account echoed by NBC’s Chuck Todd. However, the move today to impeach Whitmer is wrong for many of the same reasons raised in my testimony against the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Whitmer did violate the Constitution, as have other public officials in other states. However, this was a legal dispute on the scope of her discretion that was resolved by the state courts. We cannot have impeachment as a type of “no confidence” vote on chief executives.
Just as you thought that the 2020 election could not get more bizarre, the controversy in Wayne County over the certification of the election took a new turn on Wednesday after two Republicans — Monica Palmer and William C. Hartmann, on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers sought to rescind their votes to certify. They claim that they were coerced by threats against them and their families by Democratic voters. The threats against Palmer and Hartmann are all-too-familiar in an election where Democratic members are calling for blacklists and others denounce any questioning of the Biden victory as akin to “Holocaust denial.” The Lincoln Project has led a national effort to harass any lawyers who represent Republicans or the Trump campaign. While it will be difficult to rescind such a vote, the silence in the media and from Democratic leaders on this harassment is chilling. Indeed, Democratic leaders have joined in the personal attacks. Continue reading “Two Republican Michigan Officials Attempt To Rescind Certifications Of Election Results”