New Jersey Couple and Homeless Man Charged In Hoax That Raised $400,000 on GoFundMe

Triple-Mugs.jpgOne of the year’s most bizarre stories just got even more so.  You may recall the lawsuit of a homeless man against a New Jersey couple who raised $400,000 off a heart-warming story of how Johnny Bobbitt supposedly gave Kate McClure his last $20 when she was stranded on a road in Philadelphia.  Kate McClure and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico then went public with the GoFundMe effort — only to be accused by Bobbitt of using the money for themselves.  Police now say it was all a cynical hoax on the public.  If so, this could prove a case of “when thieves fall out, honest men come by their own.”  Donors will be given back their money.

Continue reading “New Jersey Couple and Homeless Man Charged In Hoax That Raised $400,000 on GoFundMe”

“Everybody Must Get Stone”: Mueller Moves Closer To The Possible Indictment Of Trump Confidant

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the next possible wave of indictments and specifically the targeting of Roger Stone.  This includes possible charges of false statements and more recent indications that Mueller is mulling witness tampering charges.  As Mueller prepares what may be his final set of indictments, there remains the absence of a direct U.S. figure connecting Trump to any collusion with Russia.  With Stone and former associate Jerome Corsi expecting indictments, there is a reasonable question of whether Mueller has truly run down a major figure or whether he is merely shooting the wounded at this point in his investigation.

Here is the column: Continue reading ““Everybody Must Get Stone”: Mueller Moves Closer To The Possible Indictment Of Trump Confidant”

OLC Declares Whitaker Appointment As Constitutional

Matthew_G._Whitaker_official_photoThe Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel is issued an opinion that states that the appointment of  Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general is in fact constitutional.  I previously wrote that I believe that the federal Vacancies Reform Act does allow for the appointment. However, I have long viewed the Act itself as constitutionally questionable in its provision for a non-confirmed individual taking over an agency.  Moreover, I recently wrote how this move could present a novel way to undermine the position of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  One fact revealed in the OLC memo is that, despite media suggestions that Whitaker was an impulsive move by President Trump, there was a request for review of legality of a Whitaker appointment before Sessions was pushed to resign. Continue reading “OLC Declares Whitaker Appointment As Constitutional”

CNN Files Challenge To Suspension Of Acosta’s Press Access

A couple of days ago, we discussed the prospect of CNN suing the Trump Administration over the suspension of CNN’s Jim Acosta’s press credentials after a flair up in a former press conference with President Donald Trump and the refusal of Acosta to surrender the microphone.  CNN has now filed its  lawsuit and it is basically the claims that we anticipated with one addition: a claim that the move violated the Administrative Procedure Act.  As I have said from the outset, I strongly oppose the move by the White House, even though I feel that Acosta went too far in the press conference.  However, I still remain a bit more cautious than many commentators on what is being described as a slam dunk of a case. Continue reading “CNN Files Challenge To Suspension Of Acosta’s Press Access”

Turley To Speak On Thursday At National Press Club On Presidential Removal Under The 25th Amendment

pj_site_2I have the pleasure of speaking at the National Press Club on Thursday about the use of the 25th Amendment to remove an American President.  In light of my debate on Monday in Dallas on the standard of impeachment with CNN’s Jeff Toobin, there certainly does seem a theme, or at least a focus, in these events after the midterm elections.  Organized as a a National Press Club Headliners event featured an impressive array of panelists.  The event is entitled “Presidential Jeopardy: Impeachment, Indictment and the 25th Amendment” and will be held on Thursday, November 15, 2018, 10:00-11:00 a.m. at the Bloomberg Room of The National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW, 13th Floor Continue reading “Turley To Speak On Thursday At National Press Club On Presidential Removal Under The 25th Amendment”

The Prestige: How Trump Could Pull Off The Ultimate Trick in Shutting Down The Mueller Investigation

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on a novel way that President Donald Trump could use the Whitaker appointment to achieve what he has long sought: freezing or even ending the Mueller investigation.  As strange as it may seem, it could actually work if played correctly by the White House.  The White House could theoretically get a court to enjoin the Mueller investigation and keep Mueller frozen in amber until Trump’s final year when impeachment would practically impossible.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The Prestige: How Trump Could Pull Off The Ultimate Trick in Shutting Down The Mueller Investigation”

Fifty-Six Percent Of Democratic Voters Do Not Want Pelosi To Be Speaker . . . Democratic Members Move To Make Pelosi Speaker

During the election, the potential of Rep. Nancy Pelosi being made speaker was a constant drag on close races with many members and candidates assuring voters that they will not support her return to the office.  Despite those assurances (and many of the Democratic leadership remaining silent on Pelosi), the Democratic establishment is now pushing to put Pelosi right back into the chair. Obviously, when all voters (including Republicans and independents) are considered, the opposition to Pelosi is overwhelming.  None of matters (including to the media which barely mentioned the opposition and does little on the many polls showing the position of voters).

This is despite a new Gallup poll showing that 56 percent of Democratic voters are opposed to the move as well as past polls saying that Pelosi and the establishment are driving younger voters away from the party.  The reason is simple: the Democratic members do not view these elections about the party and certainly not the voters.  It is about them and Pelosi can deliver key positions and benefits to them for support.  This is precisely why I have been long critical (here and here) of both party establishments and how voters continue to be played like chumps in this duopoly of power in our country. Continue reading “Fifty-Six Percent Of Democratic Voters Do Not Want Pelosi To Be Speaker . . . Democratic Members Move To Make Pelosi Speaker”

Stooge or Savior? Whitaker’s Actions Will Define Him And His Office

Matthew_G._Whitaker_official_photoBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the selection of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General. While I believe that Whitaker meets the criteria under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, I have great reservations about that Act’s constitutionality in allowing unconfirmed individuals to serve in this position, as discussed in my prior column.  However, I do not believe that prior commentary as an attorney requires recusal under Justice Department rules.  Whitaker is about to establish a legacy as either a political stooge or principled lawyer.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Stooge or Savior? Whitaker’s Actions Will Define Him And His Office”

CNN Reportedly Considering Lawsuit Over Acosta Access

200px-Cnn.svgI have previously criticized the White House for suspending the access of CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta.  While I believe that Acosta was wrong in refusing to yield the mike at a former press conference, the White House should restore his access.  That, however, does not mean that the suspension would be viewed as an actionable legal case.  CNN is reportedly considering such a lawsuit and Floyd Abrams, a constitutional law expert, is quoted as saying that CNN would have a “really strong lawsuit” against the White House.  I am not so confident despite my agreement with CNN on the merits of the action.  My concern is how a court would craft the standard for such review in having a right to a press pass.  Moreover, whatever due process claim can be raised, the burden is likely to be modest. Continue reading “CNN Reportedly Considering Lawsuit Over Acosta Access”

“More Sinned Against Than Sinning”: The Sacking of Sessions Leaves a Dangerous Delusion for Trump

jeff_sessions_official_portraitBelow is my column in USA Today on the sacking of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the implications for the Trump Administration.  The most worrisome thing about the forced resignation is that Trump still does not understand that Sessions not only took the only ethical course in recusing himself, but the best course for the Administration.

Here is the column: Continue reading ““More Sinned Against Than Sinning”: The Sacking of Sessions Leaves a Dangerous Delusion for Trump”

Turley To Debate Toobin On Impeachment in Dallas On Monday

maxresdefaultturley-captureThe National Constitution Center and the Old Parkland Debate Series has announced that a debate will be held on November 12th between George Washington Professor Jonathan Turley and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on impeachment.  The debate will occur a week after the 2018 midterm elections and many have called for the impeachment of both President Donald Trump and Judge Brett Kavanaugh following a Democratic takeover of the United States House of Representatives.  The debate question is: Resolved, the framers designed impeachment as a political, rather than a legal process.  Toobin will argue that the Framers intended impeachment to be a political judgment while Turley will argue that the Framers intended more of a legal judgment. Turley was the last lead counsel in an impeachment trial in the Senate and Toobin previously worked for Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh.

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Trump Attacks Reporter For Merely Asking About Reining In Mueller

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_cropped200px-Cnn.svgI have been highly critical of President Donald Trump’s treatment of the media and his personal attacks on journalists.  A chilling example is his response to CNN’s Abby Phillip when she merely (and reasonably) asked if Trump wanted to “rein in” Mueller with his appointment of Matt Whitaker. It was not just a relevant question but the one most asked by journalists of all of the networks from Fox to CNN to BBC.  Yet, Trump called it a “stupid” question and then attacked Phillip’s overall performance. Continue reading “Trump Attacks Reporter For Merely Asking About Reining In Mueller”

Missouri Man Commands Cheetahs To Eat Zookeeper

In torts, we discuss the common law rule that
words alone do not constitute assault.”  That is a good thing for Joseph L. Binford, 37,  in the criminal law context.  When Binford was confronted Tuesday night at  Dickerson Park Zoo in Sprinfield, Missouri, he immediately commanded the zoo cheetahs to eat the zookeeper.  They declined. Continue reading “Missouri Man Commands Cheetahs To Eat Zookeeper”

Is The Whitaker Appointment (and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act) Constitutional?

Yesterday, I addressed arguments that the appointment of Matt Whitaker as Acting Attorney General violates federal law.  The arguments based on the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, in my view, are unpersuasive. As I noted, however, there remains a different and more fundamental question of whether the Act itself is unconstitutional by allowing an official without Senate confirmation to assume, even temporarily, the office of a “principal officer.”  If standing can be found to challenge the Act on that basis, the constitutional  arguments are compelling.  The constitutional question could be difficult to litigate if a nomination is made in January.  However, these constitutional concerns again raise the logic of firing Jeff Sessions immediately after the election as opposed to having him serve until the confirmation of his successor. Nevertheless, this is an issue that is somewhat untested in the courts and challengers would need to establish standing as well as raise a “ripe” issue to argue that Whitaker is lawful under the Act but the Act is unconstitutional under Article II.

Continue reading “Is The Whitaker Appointment (and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act) Constitutional?”