Did Henry Kissinger Push Nixon To Assault Daniel Ellsberg?

An 18-page investigation memorandum has been obtained by NBC News that raises some disturbing questions about the Nixon White House and specifically the role of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  The memo details the campaign of political violence by Nixon aides.  The memo references a plot to have Daniel Ellsberg beaten up by surrogates of the Nixon Administration.  Kissinger has been cited as one of those pushing Nixon to deal with Ellsberg.


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High School Cut Student President’s Mike When He Calls For Greater Student Rights At Graduation

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 9.49.06 PMWe have previously discussed the erosion of free speech rights in high schools as well as the expansion of discipline for students for discussions and postings outside of school.  That conflict was vividly shown in Pennsylvania where Peter Butera was speaking to the graduating class of his high school when he criticized the lack of power in student government.  The response from Principal Jon Pollard was swift.  Butera’s mike was cut off and he was escorted stage.

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“Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair”: The Trial Of the Weird Sisters To Be Held Tonight

440px-Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_019-1I have the honor of participating this year in the special program benefiting the widely respected Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.   Since 1994, the Mock Trial Series has been held to bring Supreme Court justices and members of the bar to join in a fun night in which Shakespeare figures are tried by leading members of the bar. This year, the three Weird Sisters from Macbeth will be in the dock.   The bench will consist of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Judge David S. Tatel, Judge Sri Srinivasan, and Judge Patricia A. Millett, United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  The court marshal will be  Pamela Talkin, of the Supreme Court of the United States.  As the jurists deliberate the fate of the three sisters, I will take the stage with attorney Abbe Lowell to discuss the recent conviction of Michele Parker for encouraging the suicide of Conrad Roy III.

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Report: NSA Deputy Wrote Memo Detailing Trump’s Effort To Get Agency To Exonerate His Campaign In Russia Investigation

Admiral_Michael_S._Rogers,_USNdonald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedAnother day, another leak.  The Wall Street Journal is reporting that it has seen a memo written by Rick Ledgett, the former deputy director of the NSA, detailing a phone call in which U.S. President Donald Trump NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to state publicly that there is no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia.  It is the latest high-level official reporting a concerted effort by Trump to dispel allegations of collusion.  While the Special Counsel is reportedly seeking to interview Ledgett, I still remain skeptical of the current facts being used as the basis for an obstruction case.  As I previously discussed, Robert Mueller has hired at least one senior lawyer known for his unsuccessful effort to expand the scope of obstruction.  However, this memo does not necessarily change the narrative on both sides of the controversy.  There remains an obvious defense to a conventional obstruction claim – assuming the definition of the crime is not stretched beyond recognition to change the meaning of “corruptly influence.”

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New Lawsuits Could Determine Not Only The Legal Status Of The Comey Memos But The Legality of Comey’s Actions

200px-Cnn.svg440px-Comey-FBI-PortraitLast week, CNN filed a lawsuit seeking the famous Comey memos from the FBI, which is discussed in the column below in The Hill newspaper.  The lawsuit could produce an official characterization of the status of the memos as either personal or FBI information.  After this column was posted, Judicial Watch also filed a lawsuit seeking the memos which it maintained were the property of the FBI.  The lawsuit states “Upon learning that records have been unlawfully removed from the FBI, you then are required to initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of records.”  These lawsuits could prove vindicating or implicating for Comey. [Update: other news organizations have added additional lawsuits]

Here is the column:

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Both Sessions and the Senators Were Right in the Fight Over Executive Privilege

jeff_sessions_official_portraitDemocrats are clamoring for the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week in the wake of his testimony before the Senate.  I fail to see the good-faith basis for these calls, particularly after his testimony.  Sessions shot down the claims of a third meeting with Russians that was the subject of breathless media reports for days.  He also did an excellent job in explaining the steps that he took in recusing himself, including declining to play any role in the Russian investigation long before his formal recusal.  He was also on good ground in declining to discuss conversations with the President in the Oval Office.  Despite the shock expressed by Democratic Senators, he is in a long line of cabinet members declining to disclose such presidential communications.  Nevertheless, the Democrats were right that you should have a formal invocation of executive privilege before declining to answer questions from Congress.  However, as discussed in the column below, that is not uncommon.

Yet, the Administration had just gone through a controversial hearing with top intelligence officials refusing to answer such questions and clearly knew that these questions were coming.  What did not make sense in the testimony of National Security Agency director Adm. Mike Rogers and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats was their refusal to answer on the ground that it would be “inappropriate.”  That makes no sense in isolation without an indication that the questions will be reviewed and addressed by White House counsel in whether executive privilege will be invoked.  The same problem arose with the testimony of Sessions (which was magnified by the fact that the White House has been pummeled over the earlier hearing).

The White House should have simply invoked the privilege with regard to presidential communications in the Oval Office in advance while stating an intention to try to answer as many of the questions of the Committee as possible within those long-standing constitutional confines.  It is not unheard of to decline to answer questions pending review but Sessions did not promise to have questions reviewed.  If he does not secure an invocation (or permission to disclose), he would simply be refusing to answer questions of Congress which constitutes contempt of Congress.  This is not necessary. The White House Counsel should have sent a letter in advance of the hearing either invoking or waiving privilege.  Alternatively, he needs to send a letter to address the outstanding questions.  Congress has a right to have its questions answered unless the White House claims privilege.  Even with an invocation, Congress can overcome the privilege with a proper showing to a court.  The process requires a firm answer from the White House on the basis for refusing to answer questions and it cannot be a categorical denial based on unease or discomfort.

Here is the column in the Hill Newspaper.

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Chris Christie Supported By Only 15 Percent of Voters — The Lowest Popularity Rate in History

Chris_Christie_April_2015_(cropped)New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is close to reaching a statistical zero for support.  According to a new poll, Christie is supported by only 15 percent of voters.  Given the error rate of standard polls, Christie is rapidly reducing his support to his immediate family.  This is the lowest approval rating “for any governor in any state surveyed by Quinnipiac University in more than 20 years.”

This includes a now 81 percent disapproval rating.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Eighty-one percent disapproval.

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