Did CNN’s Stelter Shatter The Sandmann Confidentiality Agreement?

SUNY-Binghamton Sued After Activists Assault College Republicans And Block Speak By Economist


State_University_of_New_York_at_Binghamton_SealThe State University of New York-Binghamton is the defendant in a new lawsuit over its failure to protect College Republicans and a leading conservative economist in public events last year. The Binghamton University College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) is suing Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose; Chief of Binghamton University Police Department John Pelletier, the College Progressives, and Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) for the denial of First and Fourteenth Amendment violations.

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Willful Blindness: New Damaging Information On The Russian Investigation Is Promptly Unseen By The Media

Pandora_-_John_William_WaterhouseBelow is my column in The Hill on the recent disclosure of a document showing that the FBI used an agent to gather information for Crossfire Hurricane during campaign briefings of Trump during 2016.  The document directly contradicted the long-standing denial that the investigation to Russian collusion was ever used to gather intelligence on Trump or his campaign.  At the same time, the credibility of the Steele Dossier was further undermined this weekend with the release of new information that Steele misrepresented the sources and information used as the basis for this report, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.  The source for the most alarming allegations was revealed as Igor Danchenko, 42, as confirmed to The New York Times,  He was not the “Russian-based” source claimed by Steele and the FBI learned that Steele took third-hard rumors and presented them as hard intelligence in the report used to help justify the Russian collusion investigation. This source was used in the last two renewal applications to the FISA court as a “truthful and cooperative” and “Russian-based,” according to the Justice Department Inspector General report found. So it turns out that the primary “source” of Steele’s dossier was “not a well-connected current or former Russian official, but a non-Russian-based contract employee of Steele’s firm.”

None of this has made any difference to the coverage.  On ABC Sunday, George Stephanopoulos had Chris Christie as a guest but his involvement in the very meeting discussed in the document did not merit a single question from the host.  In the meantime, Democratic leaders, who once mocked the idea of any investigation of Trump or targeting of the campaign, now say that it really doesn’t matter. Rep. Eric Swalwell says that it was actually “the right thing to do.” 

Here is the column: Continue reading “Willful Blindness: New Damaging Information On The Russian Investigation Is Promptly Unseen By The Media”

“They Were Right To Do It”: Swalwell Praises FBI For Using Campaign Briefing To Investigate Trump [Updated]

440px-Eric_Swalwell_114th_official_photoAs I discussed in a column this weekend, Democratic members have spent years mocking allegations that there was any spying or surveillance of Trump or his campaign by the FBI. That was just a conspiracy theory. Now however there is proof that the FBI used a briefing in August 2016 of then candidate Trump to gather information for “Crossfire Hurricane,” the Russia investigation. It turns out that it did not really matter after all and Rep. Eric Swalwell did not miss a step. He simply declared that such targeting of the opposing party and its leading presidential candidate was the right thing to do. That’s it. A conspiracy theory suddenly becomes a commendable act. Continue reading ““They Were Right To Do It”: Swalwell Praises FBI For Using Campaign Briefing To Investigate Trump [Updated]”

No, Pelosi’s “Stormtrooper”Attack On Federal Officers Is Not Libel

440px-Ken_Cuccinelli_official_photoLike many, I have criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi for calling federal officers in places like Portland “stormtroopers.”  It is highly offensive on a myriad of different levels and serves to fuel attacks on federal officers who have suffered significant levels of injuries in the rioting.  However, the recent statement from Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, on the possibility of libel lawsuits is unsustainable under current tort law.

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The Washington Post Settles With Nicholas Sandmann

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The Washington Post settled a lawsuit filed by the family of a teenager Nicholas Sandmann who was falsely labeled a racist who aggressively attacked an elderly Native American activist during a visit to the Lincoln Memorial with his high school class. The false account of the incident was widely circulated in the media. He was attacked on networks like MSNBC and CNN as well as in newspapers like the Post. He sued the Washington Post for $250 million but the settlement terms were not disclosed.

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Federal Judge Blocks New Seattle Law Prohibiting Use Of Pepper Spray and Certain Anti-Riot Weapons

James_L._RobartU.S. District Judge James Robart issued an order Friday night that blocked a Seattle law  prohibiting police from using pepper spray and other anti-riot weapons. While described by the court as “very temporary,” it is also very dubious from a constitutional standpoint. I do not see the authority of a federal judge to stop the City of Seattle from determining what gear and devices may be used by its own officers, particularly in response to the federal government objecting to the state policy.  The court in my view does not have the authority to make such a policy decision, even on a “very temporary” basis.  Update: A different federal judge issued a more credible ruling in rejecting the demand of the Oregon Attorney General to put limits on the federal officers.  The Oregon Attorney General’s filing was long on rhetoric and short on the law.

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Philly Police Officer Charged With Multiple Counts Of Assault

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Philadelphia police officer Richard Nicoletti, 35, has been charged with three counts of simple assault after a video showed him spraying peaceful, kneeling protesters with pepper spray during recent protests.  The case could present some challenging elements for prosecutors, but I was particularly appalled to see Nicoletti pull down the goggles of one protester to spray her in the face.  Such a close saturation of pepper spray is in my view excessive and unwarranted, particularly when none of these protesters were threatening officers.  Continue reading “Philly Police Officer Charged With Multiple Counts Of Assault”

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot Removes Columbus Statue in Chicago After Days Of Violent Protests

Bring_In_The_Light_(Lori_Lightfoot)Growing up in Chicago, the giant Christopher Columbus statue was a well-known feature in Grant Park. It is now gone. Mayor Lori Lightfoot moved to end the violent protests through an act of surrender. She unilaterally ordered the removal of statue.  Problem solved? No, the problem was mob action to remove the statue and Mayor Lightfoot just yielded to violence which left many police officers injured in its wake as well as a number of protesters. Indeed, before the removal, Lightfoot’s own home was targeted after she spoke with President Donald Trump about the use of federal officers to deal with the crime surge in the city. The protesters were demanding the defunding of the Chicago Police Department. My concern is that this was an act that confirmed that rioting and violence can prevail. In the end, it was not the statue but the rule of law that was at issue in Grant Park. Both were lost in the dead of night.

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Suspect In Florida Triple Murder Had A Record of 230 Felony Charges And Was Out On Bond For Prior Assault

230 felony charges and was awaiting trial on a violent assault with a crowbar that left a man with a broken arm. That record included 15 convictions and two prison stints. Even as a criminal defense attorney, I am surprised that Wiggins was released on that earlier assault given his record and the violent element of that crime. Continue reading “Suspect In Florida Triple Murder Had A Record of 230 Felony Charges And Was Out On Bond For Prior Assault”

Penn Professor Faces Calls For His Removal After Questioning An Anti-Racism Statement [UPDATED]

download-10We have been discussing efforts to fire professors who voice dissenting views of the basis or demands of recent protests including an effort to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago as well as a leading linguistics professor at Harvard.  It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms.  Now, an effort has been launched to fire University of Pennsylvania Professor Carlin Romano and to kick him off a prestigious literary group because Romano questioned the language of a proposed statement on racism in the publishing industry and even spotted an embarrassing typo.
Update: After posting the original blog, Professor Romano sent me a kind note. He then in true form (given his original email on the proposal) noted a long list of typos in my column. (Many on this blog routinely point out such typos, which are something of an embarrassing signature for me. I usually get up around 5 am to write blogs before caffeine fully takes hold). I thought it was hilarious and asked if I could mention his edits. He gracefully agreed and then pointed out two more typos. I still do not think that he should be fired.

Could The Lee Case Be The First Felony-Murder Case Linked To The Protests?

download-5download-6Two months after a pawn shop was looted and burned in the Minneapolis, a charred body with “thermal injuries” was found in the ruins.  Montez Terrill Lee, 25, was videotaped torching the building and later celebrating the arson.  The question is whether his case may now be the first felony-murder charge to come out of the protests.  If the victim is confirmed as dying as a result of the arson allegedly set by Lee, it could be the first such case with the potential of the death penalty.

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Oklahoma Teens Charged With Terrorism For Breaking Windows During Protests

download-9We have previously discussed my reservations about the use of federal charges of arson and other crimes to prosecute individuals accused of rioting offenses in the recent protests. The concern was the federalization of local offenses.  Now, however, I have concerns about state charges out of Oklahoma.  Teenagers are facing terrorism charges after allegedly helping to break in the windows of an Oklahoma City bail bonds business in late May. I have long raised concerns about the broadening of terrorism laws and this is an example of why I still hold such concerns. As the Justice Department explores possible terrorism charges, the Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater appears to be adopting an exceptionally broad interpretation of that crime. Among those charged was Malachai Davis, 18, who was shown breaking the window of the CJ Bail Bond building using what appeared to be brass knuckles.  That charge has a tragic irony because, according to his attorney, Davis’ father died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

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Was This Michigan Teacher Fired After Tweeting Support For Trump and Reopening Schools?

download-3We recently discussed a Vermont principal who was told that she would have to retire after expressing her opinion of Black Lives Matter on her personal Facebook page. Now, a popular social studies teacher and baseball coach at Walled Lake Western High School in Michigan has been fired after tweeting his support for President Donald Trump and reopening the schools.  For free speech advocates, the firing of Justin Kucera, 28, raises concerns that he might be another teacher terminated for expressing unpopular views outside of the school.  The District denies that it fired Kucera over his support for Trump but that means that someone is lying: either Kucera or the District.  For his part, Kucera said that it was the tweets that were raised by the District, not some other ground for termination. Continue reading “Was This Michigan Teacher Fired After Tweeting Support For Trump and Reopening Schools?”

Starbucks Employee Criminally Charged For Spitting Into Coffee Of Police Officer

download-4Kevin Trejo, 21, of Westwood, New Jersey has been arrested for the disgusting alleged act of spitting into the coffee of a police officer at Starbucks.  What is interesting is the array of the charges fired against the now former barista.  In an interview on Fox, Park Ridge, New Jersey Lt. James Babcock  said that they confirmed that the act occurred and that they were told that Trejo had done it repeatedly with officers. Babcock said that Trejo claimed to have only done it once.

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Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks