ON SATURDAY, “COURTSIDE” & SLATE’S JEREMY STAHL GAVE YOU THE “REAL LOWDOWN” ON AAG RACHEL BRAND’S “FLIGHT FROM JUSTICE!” — Two Days Later, NBC News Confirms What We Already Said!

Here’s a link to the prior blog on immigrationcourtside.com:

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-26R

Here’s the NBC report by one of my favorite Washington reporters, Julia Edwards Ainsley:

http://nbcnews.to/2CfKuHi

Julia reports:

“WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s No. 3 attorney had been unhappy with her job for months before the department announced her departure on Friday, according to multiple sources close to Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.

Brand grew frustrated by vacancies at the department and feared she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation, the sources said.

She will be leaving the Justice Department in the coming weeks to take a position with Walmart as the company’s executive vice president of global governance and corporate secretary, a job change that had been in the works for some time, the sources said.

Sources: Brand left DOJ over fear of overseeing Russia probe 3:40

As far back as last fall, Brand had expressed to friends that she felt overwhelmed and unsupported in her job, especially as many key positions under her jurisdiction had still not been filled with permanent, Senate-confirmed officials.

Four of the 13 divisions overseen by the associate attorney general remain unfilled, including the civil rights division and the civil division, over one year into the Trump administration.

While Brand has largely stayed out of the spotlight, public criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by President Donald Trump worried Brand that Rosenstein’s job could be in danger.

Should Rosenstein be fired, Brand would be next in line to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, thrusting her into a political spotlight that Brand told friends she did not want to enter.

The Justice Department pushed back on NBC’s report.

“It is clear these anonymous sources have never met Rachel Brand let alone know her thinking. All of this is false and frankly ridiculous,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores.

Brand has had a long legal career that has spanned several administrations, including under Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush.

In announcing her departure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions described Brand as “a lawyer’s lawyer,” noting that she graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked at the Supreme Court.

In the same statement, Brand said, “I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish over my time here.”

****************************************

Undoubtedly, the DOJ under Trump and Sessions has made some great strides in attacking the rule of law, undermining social justice, mal-administering the Immigration Courts, eroding the credibility of DOJ attorneys in court, and generally diminishing the quality and fairness of the justice system in the United States.

While those might give Rachel “bragging rights” over at Wal-Mart or in right-wing legal circles, I don’t see that they are anything to “write home about.”  Hopefully, at some point in the future, having served as a politico in the Trump/Sessions DOJ will become a “career killer” for any future Government appointments.

But, in today’s topsy-turvy legal-political climate, it’s still a shrewd “self-preservation” move on Brand’s part. And, she’s somewhat less likely to be stomping on anyone’s civil rights over at Wal-Mart (although you never know when an opportunity to dump on the civil rights of the  LGBTQ community, African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, women, the poor, or to promote religious intelerance might present itself in a corporate setting).

Looking forward to more DOJ reporting from the super-talented Julia! I’ve missed her on the “immigration beat!”

PWS

02-12-18

 

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: DOJ #3 RACHEL BRAND FLEES SINKING SHIP TO SAVE CAREER – FINDS REFUGE AT WALMART – No, It’s Not Normal For The Associate AG To Leave After 9 Months! – But, Who Ever Said The Trump/GONZO DOJ Is “Normal?”

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/rachel-brand-is-leaving-doj-are-we-headed-for-a-massacre.html

“In a surprise move, Rachel Brand is stepping down as the No. 3 official at the Department of Justice, the New York Timesreported on Friday. Brand was next in line to oversee the special counsel’s Russia inquiry after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Brand’s departure could have enormous consequences for Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and President Donald Trump.

The New York Times has reported that Trump considered firing Rosenstein and Mueller over the summer, a situation that would have been reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre and the firing of Watergate investigator Archibald Cox. Trump will now get to hand-pick a replacement for Brand, who would step in to take over the investigation should he or she be confirmed by the Senate and should Rosenstein go. It’s also been noted that Rosenstein may ultimately have to recuse himself from the investigation; in that case, he wouldn’t even have to be fired for the Trump selection to take control of the investigation into Trump.

Last March, Trump issued an executive order modifying the line of succession for an acting attorney general, the person who would be in control of Mueller’s inquiry since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. According to that order, under normal procedures, a potential replacement for either Brand or Rosenstein to oversee the Russia inquiry would need Senate confirmation.

Fordham Law professor and occasional Slate contributor Jed Shugerman has laid out the potential orders of succession at the current moment. According to the vacancy statutes, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would be designated by Jeff Sessions as acting attorney general if Rosenstein were to depart, and he’d be followed by the assistant attorneys general. The next in line after that would typically be the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, a position which is being vacated by Dana Boente. Since Boente is leaving that job, it would go to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon Jr.

It’s worth noting that the executive order says Trump “retains discretion, to the extent permitted by law” to go around this line of succession to select an acting attorney general on his own. But doing so in an effort to squelch an investigation into himself, his allies, and his family would conceivably be such a transparent effort to subvert the rule of law as to be a political liability even within the Republican Party.

Rosenstein has been personally attacked by Trump. He has come under additional fire recentlyfrom critics of the Russia investigation, who have been using a concocted and false narrative from a recently declassified talking points memo to go after the FBI, Mueller, and Rosenstein. When Trump was asked by reporters if he still had confidence in Rosenstein last week, he responded “you figure that one out.”

Brand is reportedly leaving to become the head of global corporate governance at Walmart. The move feels possibly odd for someone who has served in three presidential administrations, cultivated a reputation as a devoted public servant, and who has only been in her current job less than one year.

Politico’s Eliana Johnson reported that someone close to Brand and the administration said she was leaving “because she is very smart, accomplished, and talented, and wants to protect her career.”

Brand worked in the George W. Bush administration and has been considered a rising conservative legal star for more than a decade. It seems very possible that staying in that DOJ position might have ultimately left her facing a very difficult situation career-wise. In a world where Rosenstein was fired and Brand was placed in charge of the Mueller probe, she might have to choose between obeying a Trump order that might upend the rule of law and being fired by Trump. As congressional and mainstream Republicans have moved closer towards Trump’s apparent anti-Mueller, anti-rule of law position, such martyrdom does not sound like it would help her future in the GOP.

Either decision might have done long-term damage to Brand’s future career prospects in any branch of government.

Brand’s move, however, preemptively abdicates that possible decision, quite possibly leaving it to a Trump-approved successor. As Elie Mystal, the executive editor at Above the Law, wrotefollowing the news, it seems as though we might be rolling towards a “slow moving Saturday Night Massacre.”

******************************************

Gee, Jeremy, I’m only a retired Immigration Judge (and 35 year vet of the DOJ), but I don’t view this a much of a “surprise.”

Brand has a reputation as as a smart lawyer, perhaps the smartest of the “Sessions crew.” As opposed to someone like the buffoonish racist White Nationalist xenophobe Stevie Miller or the often incoherently bias spewing Sessions himself, Brand was a low-key “doer.” She actually did a “bang up job” of implementing the Sessions alt right, anti-civil rights, anti-due process, anti-minority, anti-civil-liberties, anti-diversity, homophobic agenda at the DOJ.

She obviously sees “Armageddon” coming to the realm of “Gonzo Apocalypto” and wants to get out before she is left in the “lose-lose” position (that both Trump & Sessions have a penchant for creating) of having to become “Trump’s patsy” in the Russia investigation or maintaining her integrity, getting fired, and getting on Trump’s “S-list.”

This way, she can get out of the way of the “train wreck,” make some real money, and preserve her reputation in both right-wing legal circles and with Trump. That sets her up as a possible Cabinet appointee in a future, somewhat saner GOP Administration, or even to be a Trump nominee for a Federal Judgeship.

Smart, Rachel!

PWS

02-10-18

NIGHT SHIFT W/ TAL @ CNN – “CLARIFYING” THE UNCLEAR STATUS OF DACA IF CONGRESS PUNTS AGAIN – “It’s Complicated!” — PLUS “BONUS COVERAGE” OF OTHER IMMIGRATION “HOT NEWS” BY TAL & HER CNN COLLEAGUES!

“Intrepid 24-7-365” Immigration Reporter Tal Kopan and her wonderful CNN colleagues provide up to the minute coverage of the latest developments. Thanks, Tal, for all that you and your colleagues do!

Despite fight in Congress over immigration, the DACA deadline is up in the air

By Tal Kopan, CNN

When President Donald Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, he created a March 5 deadline for protections to end, designed to give Congress time to act to save the program.

But while lawmakers have continued to use the March 5 date as a target, court action and the realities of the program have made any deadline murky and unclear.

As a result, there currently is no date that the protections will actually run out for the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients, young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children — but there remains a large amount of uncertainty about whether they could disappear at any time.

Trump himself mentioned the March 5 deadline in a tweet Monday.

“Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”

The original plan proposed by Trump in September was that the Department of Homeland Security would phase out DACA by letting the two-year protections and work permits issued under the program expire without the option to renew them. But the administration allowed anyone with permits that expired before March 5 a one-month window to apply for a renewal, which would reset their two-year clock.

However, 20,000 of the 150,000 eligible to renew didn’t. They were either rejected, unable to pull together the paperwork and $500 fee, or unwilling to trust the government with their personal data and enroll again. Further complicating things, some of those rejections were later reopened after DHS acknowledged that thousands may have had their applications lost in the mail or delivered on time but rejected as late.

Then, in January, a federal court judge issued an order stopping the President’s plan to phase out DACA, and DHS has since resumed processing applications for renewals for all the recipients who had protections in September.

But the administration has also aggressively sought to have the judge’s ruling overturned by a higher court, including the Supreme Court, only adding uncertainty to the situation. If a court were to overturn the judge’s ruling, it could have several outcomes, including letting renewals processed in the interim stand, invalidating all of those renewals or even ending the whole program immediately.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/06/politics/daca-deadline-march/index.html

************************************

McConnell holds all the cards on next week’s immigration debate, and he’s not tipping his hand

By Tal Kopan and Lauren Fox, CNN

In a week the Senate is supposed to debate and vote on major immigration legislation for the first time in years — and only one person might know what it will look like: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“That, you’d have to check with the leader on,” said Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, Monday about the process as he left a GOP Senate leadership meeting.

“You’ll have to ask him,” echoed fellow leadership member Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. “He’ll have to decide what he wants to do.”

“Sen. McConnell hasn’t announced his intention,” Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters.

Lawmakers of both parties told reporters Monday repeatedly they had no idea what the legislation or the process they’d be voting on likely next week would look like.

McConnell promised to turn to immigration on the Senate floor after February 8, the next date that government funding runs out, if broad agreement couldn’t be reached in that time. The promise, which he made on the Senate floor, was instrumental in ending a brief government shutdown last month, with senators of both parties pointing to the pledge for a “fair” floor debate as a major breakthrough.

The reality is, though, that McConnell has a lot of discretion as to how such a vote could go — and as of now, he has not given many clues.

Even in a meeting with White House chief of staff John Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House legislative director Marc Short, a source said McConnell “wouldn’t indicate what he’s going to do.”

“Total poker face,” the administration official said. “He’s not going to tip his hand.”

But the group came for the meeting, the official said, to “make sure he hears from the administration.”

On Monday, lawmakers expressed hope that such a deal could come together before the Thursday funding deadline, but wouldn’t call it likely. That tees up a vote next week with an uncertain end.

“Probably if nothing is agreed on this week, which I would not be optimistic will happen, then Mitch’ll call up some bill next week and let everyone get their votes on their amendments and see where it goes,” Thune said. “My assumption is that in the end, something will pass. But I guess we’ll see.”

McConnell’s choices will be instrumental in deciding how the debate goes, lawmakers and experts say, and he has a number of options on how to proceed, from the base bill, to the amendment process.

“There’s a lot of different conversations that continue, I don’t think anyone has narrowed it down to one, two or even three paths at this point,” Gardner said.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving GOP senator, was the only lawmaker who seemed to know how the debate would look.

“I have a pretty good sense. I’ve been through it a hundred times,” he said, laughing. Asked if that meant a mess, he added, still chuckling: “It’s always a mess.”

Plenty more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/05/politics/senate-immigration-debate-no-clarity/index.html

********************************

Bonus story: Latest on the drunk driving crash that is shaping up to be a new flashpoint in the immigration debate:

http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/06/politics/colts-drunk-driving-crash-undocumented-immigrant/index.html

Trump: ‘Disgraceful that a person illegally in our country’ killed Colts player in crash

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that it was “disgraceful” that an NFL player was killed by a man who police believe is an undocumented immigrant in a suspected drunk driving accident over the weekend.

“So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!” Trump tweeted.
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and another man were struck and killed in a suspected drunken driving accident early Sunday morning. Indiana State Police say the man they believe hit them is an undocumented immigrant who has been deported twice.
“My prayers and best wishes are with the family of Edwin Jackson, a wonderful young man whose life was so senselessly taken. @Colts,” Trump said in a second tweet Tuesday morning.
The crash occurred when Jackson and the other man were struck on the shoulder of Interstate 70 in Indianapolis.

 

Read the complete report from Tal and Meagan at the above link.

***************************************

There’s always something “shaking” in the “hot button” world of 21st Century Immigration.

PWS

02-06-18

GONZO’S WORLD: SOMEBODY’S GOT TO DO TRUMP’S “DIRTY WORK” AT JUSTICE — GONZO WELCOMES THE CHANCE – “CHATTER ON THE STREET” SAYS HE’S BEEN TERRIFIC AT IMPLEMENTING RACIST, WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA AND “DECONSTRUCTING” JUSTICE IN AMERICA! – Damage To Rights Of American Blacks, Latinos, Gays, and Other “Targeted Groups” Could Be Long Lasting!

“Dirty Work” by Steely Dan.

Check it out here:

http://www.metrolyrics.com/dirty-work-lyrics-steely-dan.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/23/its-looking-more-and-more-like-jeff-sessions-is-doing-trumps-political-dirty-work/?utm_term=.20948af9517b

Aaron Blake reports for the Washington Post:

“The defining moment of Jeff Sessions’s time as attorney general has been when he recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation. That quickly led to the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is now extensively probing President Trump. And by all accounts, it seriously strained Sessions’s relationship with Trump, who thinks Sessions should be protecting him and doing his bidding.

But there are increasing signs that Sessions has indeed done plenty of Trump’s bidding behind closed doors. And he’s done it on some dicey and very politically tinged issues — so much so that he made Trump’s second FBI director deeply uncomfortable with the whole thing.

The Post’s Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker report that Sessions has pressured FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to get rid of his deputy Andrew McCabe, a holdover from James B. Comey’s FBI and favorite target for Republicans alleging bias in federal law enforcement. Some have reported that Wray even threatened to resign; The Post is reporting that he did not explicitly do so.

Here’s the meat of it all:

Sessions, Republican lawmakers and some members of the Trump administration have argued for weeks that Wray should conduct some kind of housecleaning by demoting or reassigning senior aides to his predecessor, Comey, according to people familiar with the matter. These people added that Sessions himself is under tremendous political pressure from conservative lawmakers and White House officials who have complained that the bureaucracy of federal law enforcement is biased against the president.

Trump has made no secret of his distaste for McCabe, even tweeting about it repeatedly after McCabe announced last month that he would soon retire, when he becomes eligible for full pension benefits. Trump’s tweets date back to the summer and have focused on McCabe’s wife’s run for the Virginia state legislature as a Democrat and ties to Hillary Clinton.

. . . .

In other words, Trump has publicly stated his preference for Sessions to try to get rid of McCabe, and he has suggested Wray do it as well. Now we find out Sessions did indeed attempt it, and Wray resisted it.

But it’s only the latest evidence that Sessions and his Justice Department are taking specific actions that Trump has publicly urged, even as they, in some cases, risk looking like they are in service to Trump’s political goals.

The New York Times reported recently that a Sessions aide went to Capitol Hill last year seeking derogatory information about Comey at a time when Trump clearly had his eyes on firing Comey. (A Justice Department spokesman has denied this occurred.) There are also reports that the Justice Department is considering a revival of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, which Trump has repeatedly called for. And back in August, Sessions announced a ramped-up effort to root out leakers in the federal government — just days after Trump tweeted that Sessions had taken “a VERY weak position” on the issue.

(Remarkably, Trump actually hit Sessions for his weak positions on both leakers and Clinton’s emails in the same tweet. The Justice Department now appears to be addressing both.)

The Post’s Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky even reported last month that Sessions has engaged in an all-out campaign to regain Trump’s faith by pointing to things the Justice Department has done in service of Trump’s agenda. That’s a pretty remarkable state of affairs.

Some of these things are issues on which Sessions has clearly sided with Trump, especially the dangers of leakers. So it’s perhaps no surprise Sessions would pursue them. But the fact that Trump called for these actions before Sessions was reported to have taken them sure makes it look like he’s taking direction from Trump — or at least succumbing to pressure that Trump and others have brought to bear.

Sessions has also, notably, resisted that pressure at times. During congressional testimony in November, he very publicly shunned a Republican lawmaker’s conspiracy theory — one to which Trump has also alluded — about how the federal government may have colluded with Democrats to spy on Trump’s campaign. Sessions said the issue didn’t rise to the level of appointing a special counsel.

But the picture of what Sessions is doing behind the scenes is increasingly suggesting that Trump’s very public hints that his attorney general should do this or that have often resulted in those specific actions. And especially when it comes to things such as trying to force out McCabe or reportedly dig up dirt on Comey, it sure makes it look like Sessions is using his authorities to try to address Trump’s political aims.

And for an attorney general who leads the federal law enforcement that is currently investigating the president and his team, that’s a perception problem, at best.”

*******************************************

Read Blake’s full article, complete with “Tweet Texts,” at the link.

Meanwhile “chatter” surrounding the DOJ credits Sessions for doing a “bang up” job of implementing his racist, White Nationalist agenda at Justice. Basically, according to some, he’s very effectively shifting the Government’s resources, focus, and litigating capacity to insuring  that no element of White privilege or far-Right religious intolerance goes unprotected.

At the same time, he’s using basically bogus or at least highly misleading “statistics” to “rev up” racist fervor against immigrant, primarily Latino communities and Democratic local officials who won’t go along with his program of attempting to draw false connections between immigrants and crime and terrorism. Meanwhile, he essentially has consigned the rights of African-Americans, Latinos, Immigrants, Migrants, Women who seek abortions, and the LGBTQ community to the “trash-bin of Justice.” Many who care about the future of racial equality and social justice in America are concerned that this type of “deep damage” to our justice system can’t easily be undone or repaired, even after Sessions and his “wrecking crew” finally depart the “Halls of Injustice.”

Reportedly, Sessions has been ably assisted in his campaign “to take the justice out of Justice” by Associate Attorney General Rachel B. Brand, the “number three” person at Justice. Brand, a former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy under Bush II, DOJ “vet,” and apparent “true believer” in the Radical Right, maintains a much “lower profile” than the ever controversial Sessions. But, apparently she and those under her excel at undoing and “deconstructing” all of the “social justice” achievements of the Obama Administration.

Following the “Watergate Disaster” in the 1970, where the Nixon Administration’s blatant politicization of the DOJ became a national scandal, succeeding Administrations, in my view, more or less “backed off” of obvious political partisanship at the DOJ. But, as Watergate becomes a “mere tiny image in the rearview mirror,” that “tradition of restraint” has gradually eroded. Sounds to me like the “Watergate Era” has basically returned to the DOJ. This time, and quite sadly for our Constitutional system of Government and the U.S. Justice System, there is some doubt as to whether it will ever depart again.

PWS

01-28-18

 

 

 

ADMINISTRATION BIDS TO “JACK” U.S. COURT SYSTEM BY BYPASSING 9TH CIRCUIT AND GOING DIRECTLY TO SUPREMES FOR “RELIEF” FROM DACA REINSTATEMENT ORDER!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/trump-administration-appeals-judges-order-that-daca-must-remain-for-now/2018/01/16/41a8c960-f6e8-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_daca-appeal-315pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.9e1d11e8d91c

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

“The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would take the “rare step” of asking the Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s ruling and clear the way for the Trump administration to dismantle a program that provides work permits to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since childhood.

The Trump administration said it has appealed the judge’s injunction — which said the Obama-era program must continue while a legal challenge to ending it is pending — to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

But the Justice Department will also petition the Supreme Court later this week to intervene in the case, an unusual action that would allow the government to bypass the 9th Circuit altogether in its bid to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March.

“It defies both law and common sense” that a “single district court in San Francisco” had halted the administration’s plans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.”

*****************************************

Read the complete article at the link.

The Supremes seem to have “enabled” the Trump Administration by giving them a highly questionable “early victory” in dissolving the lower court injunction in the “Travel Ban 3.0 Case” without making the Administration go through the normal appellate process. Obviously, Trump & Sessions have taken that as an open invitation to short-circuit the justice system by appealing to the Supremes at will.

Hard to see what the real rush is here, given that the Dreamers have been here for years, aren’t going anywhere, and the Administration won’t even begin the real phase-out of the program until March.

PWS

01-16-18

GONZO’S WORLD: PERVERSION @ JUSTICE: IN THE NAME OF TRUMP & WHITE NATIONALISM, HE’S TRASHED THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, THE RULE OF LAW, THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES, GAYS, IMMIGRANTS, WOMEN, & OTHERS, AND OVERALL HUMAN COMPASSION & DECENCY– BUT, SESSIONS’S ONE NOTABLE INSTANCE OF ACTING ETHICALLY AND LAWFULLY IS UNFORGIVABLE IN TRUMP’S EYES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sessions-tries-to-impress-trump-with-moves-at-justice-it-hasnt-worked/2018/01/10/e2053d84-f478-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html?utm_term=.c7613a002b16

Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to find his way back into President Trump’s good graces.

For months, Sessions has asked senior White House aides to make sure the president knows what he is doing at the Justice Department, two White House advisers said, and has told allies he hopes policy decisions that garner news coverage will please Trump. ­Sessions’s team at Justice has crafted a public campaign to highlight the work it is doing to advance the president’s agenda. The department has also begun looking into matters that Trump has publicly complained are not being pursued.

Top Trump advisers, including White House counsel Donald McGahn and counselor Kellyanne Conway and former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have at times joined the effort and pressed Trump to give his attorney general a second chance. They note that his department has helped reduce illegal border crossings and carried out a number of the president’s initiatives, such as cracking down on leaks and targeting the MS-13 street gang.

But Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers and gave up a safe Senate seat to join the administration, has, by all accounts, been unable to repair his relationship with the president. Trump has dismissed praise of Sessions, according to four White House officials and advisers, as he continues to rage about the Russia investigationand Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump campaign.

“He’s one of the most active Cabinet secretaries there is,” one White House official said. “He’s done a fine job. Does it wash away the sin of recusal? I don’t think so.”

. . . .

At the Justice Department, officials have tried to publicly tout their successes, hopeful that political allies and the president, a frequent television viewer, will take notice. They have done work that — in their view — should appeal to the president and his base, such as settling lawsuits with tea party groups, issuing guidance on religious liberty, cracking down on illegal immigration and rolling back various Obama-era guidances, including one advising courts to be wary of imposing heavy fines on those who can’t afford them.

“We’re trying to get our successes out in the ether,” one department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics with the White House.

The official said Justice has communicated with some conservative constituencies, like law enforcement groups, and was recently heartened when the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement praising Sessions’s decision to make it easier for U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, advisers said.

“It’s that kind of stuff that you figure will lead to this tipping point where the audience of one says, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive,’ ” the official said.

But the official acknowledged that the department can’t seem to overcome the president’s frustration over Sessions’s recusal, and even some publicizing of successes can lead to mixed results. The department has allowed its top spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, to make television appearances, but while half of the interview will be about work officials want to promote, the conversation often turns to the Russia investigation, which is not helpful to Sessions, if Trump is watching.

. . . .

One department official said Sessions had no real option under federal regulations but to recuse himself. Even a number of top White House lawyers and aides argued to Trump that Sessions needed to step aside.

. . . .

Sessions is widely disliked among liberals, who say his policies are rolling back decades of social and civil rights progress. But among conservatives and those on the far right, Sessions is a strong spot in the administration.

A few months ago, Leonard Leo, a legal adviser to Trump, said the president asked him about Sessions. Leo said he told the president he was impressed by the department, particularly its “religious liberty” guidance and the performance of the solicitor general’s office. Leo said Trump largely listened to his assessment.

“For conservatives going into the Trump administration, the question was whether the department’s morale could be restored and whether there would be a greater sensitivity to respect for the rule of law in the department,” Leo said in an interview. “I think Attorney General Sessions has done a good job of creating the right atmosphere in the department.”

*****************************************

Read the complete article at the link.

Poor Gonzo! Here he thought that a heavy dose of White Nationalism, racism, voter suppression, xenophobia, and scoffing at Constitutional rights like abortion at the DOJ would overcome a single unavoidable act of acting ethically and following the law. Boy, was he wrong! What Trump really wanted was a complete toady dedicated to protecting Trump, his family, and a few of his friends from the natural consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Gonzo should have taken Mike Pence’s class in “Toadyism 101” before accepting the job!

PWS

01-12-18

 

9th Blasts Trump Again In (Mostly Symbolic) Rejection Of Travel Ban 3.0 – Expect The Supremes Eventually To Hand a Victory To Trump On This One!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-third-travel-ban-appeals-court_us_5a3da390e4b06d1621b461cc

 

Dan Levine reports for Reuters:

“Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday said President Donald Trump’s hotly contested travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries should not be applied to people with strong U.S. ties.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers several West Coast states, also said its ruling would be put on hold pending a decision on the latest version of the travel ban from the Trump administration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since taking office in January, Trump has been struggling to enact a ban that passes court muster.

A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit narrowed a previous injunction from a lower federal court to those people “with a credible bona fide relationship with the United States.”

It also said that while the U.S. president has broad powers to regulate the entry of immigrants into the United States, those powers are not without limits.

“We conclude that the President’s issuance of the Proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority,” the panel said.

The ban targets people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the United States. The Republican president has said the travel ban is needed to protect the United States from terrorism.

The state of Hawaii, however, challenged it in court, and a Honolulu federal judge said it exceeded Trump’s powers under immigration law.

Trump’s ban also covers people from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela, but the lower courts had already allowed those provisions to go into effect.

The same three judge 9th Circuit panel, which limited a previous version of Trump’s ban, heard arguments earlier this month. Some of the judges appeared more cautious toward the idea of blocking the president’s policy.

Trump issued his first travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries in January, which caused chaos at airports and mass protests.

He issued a revised one in March after the first was blocked by federal courts.

That expired in September after a long court fight, and was replaced with the current version.

The ban has some exceptions. Certain people from each targeted country can still apply for a visa for tourism, business or education purposes, and any applicant can ask for an individual waiver.

U.S. Justice Department officials were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Tom Brown)”

*************************************

I think the result here is largely a symbolic protest against Trump by the 9th Circuit. The court stayed it’s own order, pending inevitable Supreme Court review; therefore, the ruling changes nothing.

But, in reality, although going through the motions of pressing the lower courts to rule, it appears that the  majority of the Supremes have already decided Travel Ban 3.0 in favor of the Trump Administration. Otherwise, the Supreme’s recent decision to stay the lower court injunctions pending review would fall somewhere between inexplicable to indefensible on the scale of judicial conduct. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented from the lifting of the stay. Therefore, I would expect a “split decision,” with the Administration’s margin of victory to be in the range of 5-4 to 7-2.

 

PWS

12-24-17

CLOWN COURT (And I’m NOT Talking About The US Immigration Court This Time)! 🤡🤡🤡— TRUMP’S “PARADE OF UNQUALIFIEDS” TURNS SENATE CONFIRMATION PROCESS INTO “GONG SHOW” REVIVAL!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-senate-is-rushing-through-trumps-judicial-nominees-these-embarrassments-prove-it/2017/12/17/9123f6a4-e1da-11e7-8679-a9728984779c_story.html

From the Post Editorial Board:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP has confirmed 12 nominees to judgeships on the federal courts of appeals — more than any other modern president achieved during his first year. Yet while Republicans may pride themselves on this record, a string of recent embarrassments shows that the Senate is rushing too quickly through Mr. Trump’s choices.

The White House announced last week that it would not be moving forward with two nominees for district court posts, Brett Talley of Alabama and Jeff Mateer of Texas. Mr. Talley and Mr. Mateer faced resistance from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) — though both senators voted in support of Mr. Talley’s nomination before the committee.

The case of Mr. Mateer, who referred to transgender children as “Satan’s plan,” is the less concerning of the two. Before Mr. Mateer went far in the confirmation process, questions arose over whether he had failed to disclose his hateful comments. By the time Mr. Trump withdrew his support, Mr. Mateer had yet to even file the paperwork required for his committee hearing.

Mr. Talley, on the other hand, is a case study of how the confirmation process has broken down. Unanimously rated “not qualified” to be a judge by the American Bar Association, he has never tried a case or filed a motion in federal court. His hobbies have included ghost-hunting and right-wing political blogging. Yet he won the support of every Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Grassley, Mr. Kennedy and even Mr. Talley’s home-state Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) balked only when it surfaced that the nominee had failed to disclose both his wife’s work with White House Counsel Don McGahn and a number of his contentious Internet comments — including one defending “the first KKK.”

We are glad that these senators raised concerns about Mr. Talley’s nomination and that the White House heeded their warnings. But it should not have taken these revelations about Mr. Talley’s lack of candor to make clear his lack of qualification for a lifetime appointment to the bench. Going forward, the committee must take Mr. Talley’s nomination as a reminder of its responsibility to vet nominees thoroughly and carefully instead of rubber-stamping the president’s selections.

Republicans may already have learned their lesson, as we saw when Mr. Kennedy aggressively quizzed Matthew Spencer Petersen on his courtroom knowledge during Mr. Petersen’s confirmation hearing for a position on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The nominee proved unable to answer even basic legal questions. Mr. Petersen, currently chair of the Federal Election Commission, may well be an excellent election lawyer. But he is clearly unqualified to be a federal judge.

We hope that Mr. Kennedy continues to hold nominees to the high professional standard appropriate for a lifetime appointment — and that his Republican colleagues, including Mr. Grassley, share that commitment. The committee can start by calling back Thomas Farr, the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, to explain discrepancies regarding his knowledge of a voter-suppression effort by then-Sen. Jesse Helms’s 1990 campaign.“

Here’s how the latest chapter in the saga eventually played out:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-judicial-nominee-who-struggled-to-answer-basic-questions-pulls-out/2017/12/18/eadf1326-e424-11e7-833f-155031558ff4_story.html

December 18 at 7:11 PM

Matthew Petersen, a nominee to the federal judiciary, has withdrawn from consideration days after a video clip showed him unable to answer basic questions about legal procedure, the White House confirmed Monday.

Petersen, nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the third Trump judicial pick to withdraw in the past week amid criticism from Democrats and others about their qualifications.

White House spokesman Raj Shah confirmed that Trump had accepted Petersen’s withdrawal but declined to comment further.

The video of Petersen that went viral Thursday captured five minutes of pointed questioning by Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) at Petersen’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee the day before.

It was posted on Twitter by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who wrote that it showed Kennedy asking Peter­sen “basic questions of law & he can’t answer a single one.”

As of Friday, the White House was standing by Petersen, with a spokesman saying that he was qualified and that “the President’s opponents” were “trying to distract from the record-setting success the President has had on judicial nominations.”

Petersen, a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, has been a member of the Federal Election Commission since 2008 but has no trial experience. His tenure on the FEC overlapped with that of now-White House counsel Don McGahn for about five years.

“While I am honored to have been nominated for this position, it has become clear to me over the past few days that my nomination has become a distraction — and that is not fair to you or your Administration,” Petersen wrote to Trump in a letter dated Saturday. “I had hoped my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television. However, I am no stranger to political realities, and I do not wish to be a continued distraction from the important work of your administration and the Senate.”

Until last week, Trump’s record of getting judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate stood out as a bright spot for a president who has struggled for big wins on Capitol Hill. The Senate has confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, 12 circuit court judges and six district court judges.

Early last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told the White House to “reconsider” the nominations of two nominees, Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley, both of whom were reported to have endorsed positions or groups that embrace discrimination. A day later, both nominations were pulled.

Democratic senators had also questioned the qualifications of Talley, Trump’s nominee for a U.S. district court seat in Alabama, and Mateer, who was nominated to serve on the bench in the Eastern District of Texas.

During Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, Kennedy started by asking Petersen and four other nominees who appeared with him, “Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom?”

******************************************

Read the complete article at the link.

Who’s the real loser here? Well, it goes without saying that as with virtually every piece of the “Trump Agenda” the American people are the real losers. Handing out lifetime judicial appointments to unqualified political hacks — that’s exactly what happens in the Third World Dictatorships and Banana Republics that I used to hear about on a regular basis on my asylum docket. Sad to think that we are becoming one of “them.”

Beyond that, Chairman “Chuckles the Clown” Grassley is the other big loser. Sure, this batch was cut off. But, that Trump would dare send folks like this up for confirmation means that he firmly believes that “Chuckles” and his GOP stooges would affirm a piece of rotten horse meat if that’s what Trump sent them. In other words, he believes that “Chuckles” is weak and intimidated and ultimately will do Trump’s bidding.

And, Trump might be right about that. Witness that very few GOP legislators consistently are willing to stand up to Trump when it counts. Even those who are somewhat critical, eventually fold their tents and “go along to get along” as demonstrated by the tax bill and the spineless performances of alleged “heros” like Senator Susan Collins, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Senator Marco Rubio. Even Jeff Flake, as he departs the scene, appears willing to screw America to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Although I wasn’t the first, I certainly recognized Trump’s “Beclowning” of America early on. Never heard of a country governed by a Clown (even a dangerous and dishonest one) being a major positive force in world history. Wake up before it’s too late!

JUST SAY NO to more Clowns in Government! And, that absolutely “starts at the top!” 🤡

PWS

12-18-17

BATTLE OF THE PUNDITS: RAPPAPORT V. LITHWICK – NOLAN SAYS “If the Supreme Court allows the courts to continue to do this to Trump, they will interfere with any national security decision he makes that impacts a country with a large Muslim population, regardless of the circumstances.” – DAHLIA SAYS “Thousands of people will be harmed for no reason other than Donald Trump dislikes Muslim countries and crafted a nearly legal theory to achieve his ban after two abject failures.” – YOU DECIDE!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/363473-with-travel-ban-scotus-can-correct-lower-courts-anti-trump-bias

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“According to Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, the lower U.S. courts have created a “Trump exception” to settled law on presidential powers with their travel ban decisions. They have ignored the Supreme Court’s admonition that courts may not “look behind” a “facially legitimate” reason for an executive order, which in these cases was a national security interest in stricter vetting.

Trump appealed to the Supreme Court, but his case became moot when he replaced the temporary travel ban with a permanent program with the Presidential Proclamation he issued on September 24, 2017, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.”

When fourth and ninth circuit courts enjoined implementation of his proclamation, he went back to the Supreme Court. On December 4, 2017, the Court ordered stays of the fourth circuit and the ninth circuit injunctions.

The Court did not state its basis for granting Trump’s stay request in either decision, but stays are not granted for meritless cases. I expect Trump to prevail on the merits of his case.

. . . .

He [Judge Derick Watson of the USDC in Hawaii] goes on to say that nevertheless “any reasonable, objective observer would conclude … that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, ‘secondary to a religious objective’ of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims.” This “assessment rests on the specific historical record,” which “focuses on the president’s statements about a ‘Muslim ban,’” including on the campaign trail.

If the Supreme Court allows the courts to continue to do this to Trump, they will interfere with any national security decision he makes that impacts a country with a large Muslim population, regardless of the circumstances.”

Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article! I note that Nolan’s article is also posted on SCOTUSDaily. Here’s the link:

SCOTUSDaily pdf

********************************************

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/the-new-travel-is-an-abomination-why-have-we-stopped-caring.html

Meanwhile, Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate:

“Way, way back in February, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in State of Washington v. Trump, the first iteration of the first appeal of the first attempt at Donald Trump’s travel ban. This version was a hastily executed implementation of the president’s promise to create a Muslim ban, signed on Jan. 27, just a week after Trump took office.

America was riveted, listening eagerly to arguments broadcast without images and parsing—or trying to parse—complicated appellate questions about standing, and justiciability, and religious animus. As the court ultimately found—before this first version was pulled from commission and replaced with a new one—Trump’s ban trampled over all sorts of due process rights.

Almost a year later, a different panel of the 9th Circuit heard on Wednesday a different oral argument, about a third iteration of a Trump executive order limiting immigration from some majority-Muslim countries. This one, though, was offered without the glare of national media and by seemingly worn-out advocates. More than anything, the argument was reminiscent of one of those old-timey dance marathons, in which weary partners pushed one another around a high school gymnasium in the futile hope that anything might still matter.

Wednesday’s effort made the second argument about the very same issuesfrom May seem positively zippy (May? Remember May??). But here we are in December, and the travel ban has been sanitized and then sanitized again. The current version, announced in September, targets 150 million travelers from Muslim-majority countries Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as the non–Muslim majority outlier North Korea along with some Venezuelan government officials. It was promptly blocked by judges before it went into effect, and on Monday the Supreme Court allowed it to go forward for the time being, warning the appeals courts that they had better rule quickly.So here in December, it is now being defended by seemingly competent counsel, despite the fact that—if one noticed such things anymore—the president was tweeting Muslim revenge porn only a week ago.

. . . .

We should all possibly care about travel ban 3.0 and its cretinous defenders a whole lot more than we apparently do, simply because it’s permanent, it’s nearly as bad as the original, and the Supreme Court appears inclined to tolerate it. Thousands of people will be harmed for no reason other than Donald Trump dislikes Muslim countries and crafted a nearly legal theory to achieve his ban after two abject failures.

A fortiori, for the record, means an argument made with greater reason or more convincing force. Who knew that something so grotesquely cynical and cruel as this travel ban could become a fortiori, just from sheer wariness, repetition, and fatigue?”

Read the rest of Dahlia’s article over at Slate at the above link.

***************************************

Clearly, “different strokes for different folks!” But, we all have a stake in this one way or the other!

Interestingly, Nolan and Dahlia appear to agree on one thing: the Supremes (or at least a majority of them, excluding Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg who dissented from the dissolution of the stay) have signaled that they are ready to “greenlight” Trump’s “Travel Ban 3.0.” In other words, if Trump is exceeding “political and societal norms” (which many of us think he is) ultimately it will be up to the political branches of Government and the voters, not the courts, to rein him in.

PWS

12-07-17

BIG TRUMP WIN: SUPREMES GEEENLIGHT TRUMP’S HIT ON MUSLIMS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-allows-full-enforcement-of-trump-travel-ban-while-legal-challenges-continue/2017/12/04/486549c0-d5fc-11e7-a986-d0a9770d9a3e_story.html

Robert Barnes reports in the WashPost:

“The Supreme Court on Monday granted President Trump’s request that his revised travel ban be enforced fully while legal challenges to it proceed in lower courts.

The justices approved a request from the president’s lawyers to lift restrictions on the order — which bans most travelers from eight nations, most with Muslim majorities — that had been imposed by lower courts.

The court gave no reason for its decision, but said it expected lower court review of the executive orders to proceed quickly. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have kept in place partial stays on the order.

Judges in two judicial circuits — the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco — had cast doubt on Trump’s third executive order banning almost all travel from certain countries.

Oral arguments are scheduled for soon in both federal appeals court cases on whether the ban exceeds the president’s broad powers on immigration.

The latest iteration — the third ban that Trump has ordered — blocks various people from eight countries — Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. Six of the countries have Muslim majorities.”

***********************

Read the complete article at the link.

Yeah, I know that this technically isn’t a “decision on the merits.” But that’s what we call “legal BS.”

The majority of Supremes are clearly signaling that they expect the lower courts to rule in Trump’s favor. If they don’t get the message, the Supreme majority will cream them “on the merits.” If there were a realistic chance of the plaintiffs prevailing, the Supremes wouldn’t have lifted the injunction imposed below.

Nolan and others who said that “Travel Ban 3.0” was a “slam dunk” winner for the Trumpsters were correct. It’s basically “open season” on Muslims, refugees, and others on the Administration’s “hit parade.” Any change will have to come at the ballot box!

PWS

12-04-17

 

 

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: ADMINISTRATION OF SCOFFLAWS – TRUMP & SESSIONS CONTINUE TO CLOG COURTS WITH FRIVOLOUS ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAWSUITS ON PREVIOUSLY REJECTED THEORIES!

https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/trump-and-sessions-keep-trying-institute-anti-immigrant-policies

Ruthie Epstein reports for ACLU online:

“They just can’t win.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been trying illegally to strong-arm law enforcement agencies across the country into colluding with the Department of Homeland Security’s mass deportation agenda. But the courts have blocked them every step of the way.

President Trump took his first shot across the bow just a few days after inauguration. A single provision buried in Executive Order 13768 threatened to cut off all federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities. The provision was broad and undefined. It appeared to target jurisdictions that have adopted a range of lawful and sensible law-enforcement policies.

A federal court in California quickly put the executive order’s provision on hold. And last Monday, after months of hearings, the court permanently blocked the unconstitutional provision, ruling that it violated separation of powers, the Constitution’s Spending Clause, and the Tenth Amendment. The court also ruled that the provision was unconstitutionally vague. The judge in the case wrote that “[f]ederal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.” The government has appealed this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but for the time being, the president cannot carry out his threat.

Attorney General Sessions tried another way to coerce local governments into adopting anti-immigrant policies. His strategy was to attach new conditions to existing federal law enforcement grants. In July, he announced that recipients of Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funds, which support a wide range of local programs including indigent defense, crime prevention, and drug treatment, would henceforth be required to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to enter jails to interrogate inmates and provide 48 hours’ notice of an inmate’s release date if ICE requests it.In September, a federal court in Chicago blocked these conditions nationwide, ruling that the Justice Department had no authority to impose new requirements on the grant money – that’s the job of Congress. Again, the Trump administration has appealed to the Seventh Circuit. Earlier this month, a federal court in Philadelphia also ruled that these new conditions are illegal.Not to be discouraged, Sessions tried the same tactic with a different pot of Justice Department money. In September, he announced that applicants for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office grants would receive preferential consideration if they cooperated with ICE’s interrogation and notification demands. Last week, the Justice Department announced more than $98 million in COPS grants to hire 802 new full-time law enforcement officers across the country — and claimed that 80 percent of the grantees had agreed to cooperate with the feds on immigration enforcement. COPS funds are intended to help build trust between communities and law enforcement. Instead, Sessions is trying to incentivize police departments to do the exact opposite – discouraging immigrants from contacting the police if they are victims or witnesses to a crime, for fear that they or their family members might be detained and deported.

And sometimes Sessions resorts to naked threats. Since August, the Justice Department has sent at least two rounds of letters to states and local jurisdictions it deems to have insufficient immigration policies. The letters are impressive in their desperation, proposing a new and expansive interpretation of federal law that would strip Byrne JAG funds from almost any local law enforcement agency that limits entanglement with federal immigration enforcement. They are meant to frighten cities and states into agreeing to dedicate government personnel and taxpayer dollars to help the federal government advance its harsh vision of immigration enforcement — but, as its repeated losses in courts confirm, the Justice Department’s legal footing is weak.

With these letters, the administration continues its campaign to harass cities and states that support immigrant communities and advance public safety by focusing their efforts locally and leaving federal immigration enforcement to the feds. The law, however, is clear: Trump and Sessions cannot force state and local governments to do their bidding, no matter how hard they try.”

***************************************
Although Gonzo sanctimoniously and disingenuously pontificates about the “rule of law” and lobs restrictionist-inspired grenades about “dirty immigration lawyers,” in fact Gonzo and Trump are the one engaging in gross abuses of the  U.S. legal system in support of an illegal, racist, White Nationalist Agenda.
Because of the rules giving wide latitude to those in political positions, it’s doubtful that either one of these anti-American zealots will ever be held fully liable for his actions. But, their misguided campaign can be thwarted if enough of us who believe in the Constitution and representative government  “Just Say No” to their antics.
PWS
11-27-17

GONZO’S WORLD: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A DIVERSE “NATION OF IMMIGRANTS” ANOINTS A COMMITTED XENOPHOBE AS ITS CHIEF LAW OFFICER? – Gonzo Is Deconstructing Our System Of Justice, One Day At A Time!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/while-eyes-are-on-russia-sessions-dramatically-reshapes-the-justice-department/2017/11/24/dd52d66a-b8dd-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.6b27aa9221e3

“For more than five hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sat in a hearing room on Capitol Hill this month, fending off inquiries on Washington’s two favorite topics: President Trump and Russia.

But legislators spent little time asking Sessions about the dramatic and controversial changes in policy he has made since taking over the top law enforcement job in the United States nine months ago.

From his crackdown on illegal immigration to his reversal of Obama administration policies on criminal justice and policing, Sessions is methodically reshaping the Justice Department to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views — moves drawing comparatively less public scrutiny than the ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.

Sessions has implemented a new charging and sentencing policy that calls for prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible, even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory minimum penalties. He has defended the president’s travel ban and tried to strip funding from cities with policies he considers too friendly toward undocumented immigrants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 14. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Sessions has even adjusted the department’s legal stances in cases involving voting rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in a way that advocates warn might disenfranchise poor minorities and give certain religious people a license to discriminate.

Supporters and critics say the attorney general has been among the most effective of the Cabinet secretaries — implementing Trump’s conservative policy agenda even as the president publicly and privately toys with firing him over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia case.

. . . .

In meetings with top Justice Department officials about terrorist suspects, Sessions often has a particular question: Where is the person from? When officials tell him a suspect was born and lives in the United States, he typically has a follow-up: To what country does his family trace its lineage?

While there are reasons to want to know that information, some officials familiar with the inquiries said the questions struck them as revealing that Sessions harbors an innate suspicion about people from certain ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement, “The Attorney General asks lots of relevant questions in these classified briefings.”

Sessions, unlike past attorneys general, has been especially aggressive on immigration. He served as the public face of the administration’s rolling back of a program that granted a reprieve from deportation to people who had come here without documentation as children, and he directed federal prosecutors to make illegal-immigration cases a higher priority. The attorney general has long held the view that the United States should even reduce the number of those immigrating here legally.

In an interview with Breitbart News in 2015, then-Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke favorably of a 1924 law that excluded all immigrants from Asia and set strict caps on others.

“When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said. “We then assimilated through 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”

Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the Obama administration who now works as chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said Sessions seems to harbor an “unwillingness to recognize the history of this country is rooted in immigration.”

“On issue after issue, it’s very easy to see what his worldview is of what this country is and who belongs in this country,” she said, adding that his view is “distinctly anti-immigrant.”

Those on the other side of the aisle, however, say they welcome the changes Sessions has made at the Justice Department.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for moderating levels of immigration, said she would give the attorney general an “A-plus” for his work in the area, especially for his crackdown on “sanctuary cities,” his push to hire more immigration judges and his focus on the MS-13 gang.

“He was able to hit the ground running because he has so much expertise already in immigration enforcement and related public safety issues and the constitutional issues, so he’s accomplished a lot in a very short time,” Vaughan said.”

****************************************

Read the compete article, which deals with much more than immigration, at the link.

Immigrants, refugees, immigration advocates, and career civil servants involved in immigration at the DOJ seems to be “star-crossed.” After decades of relative indifference to the importance of immigration, an Attorney General finally shows up  who makes it his highest priority.

Only problem is that he’s a committed xenophobe and White Nationalist whose largely false and exaggerated narrative on immigration comes right from the alt-right restrictionist playbook and harks back to the Jim Crow era of the American South — only this time with Hispanics and Muslims as the primary targets.

In any “normal” American business, obsession with tracing back lineage of someone’s family would be prima facie evidence of prohibited “national origins discrimination.” But, for Gonzo, it’s just another day at the office.

Notwithstanding his less than stellar performances before Congress and that he’s fallen off Trump’s “A-Team” (notwithstanding probably doing more to deconstruct the Constitution and “Good Government” than any other cabinet officer), he’s unlikely to be going anywhere soon. So the damage will continue to add up for the foreseeable future. It’s not like Senator Liz Warren and others didn’t try to warn America about this dude!

Meanwhile, perhaps not to be outdone, over at the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is proceeding to deconstruct the Career Foreign Service and reduce the Stated Department and our Diplomatic Corps to “administrative roadkill.” You can read about that debacle in this NY Times article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/us/politics/state-department-tillerson.html

PWS

11-26-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: “MINISTRY OF INJUSTICE” — How Gonzo Is Successfully Draining Justice From The Department Of Justice

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/jeff-sessions-slowly-surely-undoing-america-s-criminal-justice-progress-ncna823126

James Braxton Peterson reports for NBC News:

“The Russia investigation may be undercutting Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ credibility, but it has not undermined his efforts to take the U.S. Justice Department back in time.

The time Sessions wants to go back to features an unforgiving system of mass incarceration that disproportionately targets people of color in a legal structure too often stacked against them.

To do this, the attorney general has issued a slew of policy rollbacks — unfortunate for a Justice Department that was only incrementally making progress toward equal justice under President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

In this sense, Sessions’ Justice Department might be the most effective unit of the Trump administration. If Trumpism’s goal is, at least in, part to destroy the progress achieved under the Obama administration, Sessions’ scorecard so far outstrips his GOP colleagues in the Cabinet and former colleagues in the Senate.

In March, for example, the nation’s top law enforcement officer visited St. Louis, next-door to Ferguson, ground zero for the Black Lives Matter movement. Sessions was in St. Louis talking about crime initiatives but also seeming to criticize one of the most useful tools for documenting police brutality: civilian cell phone videos. The choice of venue could not have been a coincidence. By focusing on “targeted police killings,” he deflected attention from the challenges now confronting law enforcement.

In fact, Sessions has had little to say on how the Justice Department might address matters of police brutality, much less on the matter of Black Lives Mattering. Instead, he has mostly showcased President Donald Trump’s belief that strong policing and incarceration are key to maintaining law and civil order.

. . . .

It is as if Sessions’ Justice Department is operating on a set of alternative facts. Because the statistics are well known: Whites and blacks use and sell drugs at roughly the same rates, and African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population. Yet law enforcement records are remarkably different for each demographic. According to Human Rights Watch: “Black adults are more than two-and-a-half times as likely as white adults to be arrested for drug possession. In 2014, Black adults accounted for just 14 percent of those who used drugs in the previous year but close to a third of those arrested for drug possession.” In many states, a felony conviction also means losing the right to vote.

It is as if Sessions’ Justice Department is operating on a set of alternative facts.

Sessions looks eager to re-open the “war on drugs” — or, more appropriately, the war on poor people who use drugs. No available metric on this decades-long war shows any significant success in limiting access to drugs in the United States or in reducing addiction to controlled substances.

What the “war on drugs” has been good at is: stigmatizing poor people afflicted with the disease of addiction; profiling black and brown folks and arresting them at rates exponentially greater than their white counterparts; and creating revenue streams for the Prison Industrial Complex.

. . . .

Sessions’ success will be key if Trump wants to make good on his law-and-order promises.

Sadly, it is working. The Justice Department is slowly transforming into an injustice department right before our eyes.

Mass incarceration, its impact on families and communities and the often racially biased ways in which its policies operate is still one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. It’s a shame that, in the era of Trump, we are unable to effectively address the challenges we face.

James Braxton Peterson is the author of three books, including “Prison Industrial Complex for Beginners.”

****************************

Read Peterson’s full article at the link.

Peterson doesn’t even get into Gonzo’s brazen attacks on justice for Latinos, immigrants, Dreamers, refugees, LGBTQ individuals, so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” lawyers, reporters, Federal Judges, critics of the Administration, forensic science, private property, or users of legalized marijuana. And, he only mentions in passing Gonzo’s disingenuous statements on Russia and his lackadaisical handling of the real threats Russia poses to our national security. Grim as Peterson’s article is, it actually substantially understates the true carnage that Gonzo is inflicting on our Constitution and our system of justice. It could turn out to be irreparable!

Senator Liz Warren was right!

PWS

11-24-17

GONZO’S WORLD: His Own Credibility Has Become A Bad Joke — But, Under Gonzo The DOJ & The SG’s Office Rapidly Losing Credibility & Respect From The Federal Courts!

https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/sites/nationallawjournal/2017/11/09/justice-department-faces-questions-for-supreme-court-attack-on-aclu-ethics/

Marcia Coyle reports for the National Law Journal:

“The U.S. Justice Department’s request that the Supreme Court consider sanctions against lawyers who advocated for an immigrant teenager at the center of an abortion case has raised questions about the government’s motivation and threatened to jeopardize the reputation of the solicitor’s office before the justices. Former Justice Department attorneys called the government’s action in the Supreme Court “extraordinary” and said they had no memory of a similar Supreme Court petition.”

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You’ll need a full subscription to the NLJ to get beyond what I’ve quoted above. But, you get the idea.

And remember, you read first in some of my earlier blogs in immigrationcourtside.com about the DOJ’s and SG’s likely loss of years of hard earned respect and credibility by arguing the relatively “law free” politicized “Gonzo” positions forced on them by Sessions and the rest of the White Nationalist Trumpsters. Remember, the pro bono lawyers being smeared by Sessions’s DOJ were fighting to vindicate a migrant teenager‘s clear constitutional rights against an attempt by Government officials to substitute their own personal opinions for the constitutional rules and to misrepresent their true intentions (use delay and obfuscation tondefeat constitutional rights) in doing so. Sounds like it’s Sessions and his group whose law licenses should be re-examined.

The public and to some extent the media might have allowed the “Trump/Sessions Crowd” to “normalize” the presentation of lies, misrepresentations, intentional omissions, distortions, and political screeds as “facts” or “legal arguments.” But, most Article III Courts don’t like being played for fools, particularly by the USDOJ which traditionally has been expected to meet higher standards of integrity, fairness, and responsibility to accurately inform the tribunals before which they appear.

Ironically, although Gonzo tried to tag immigration lawyers fighting to preserve their clients’ statutory and constitutional rights as “dirty,” that tag is much more likely to stick to Gonzo and some of the ethically challenged DOJ lawyers doing his bidding. Not to mention that the DOJ is wasting the time of the Supremes with its basically frivolous request, intended largely as political grandstanding to satisfy Gonzo’s anti-abortion, anti-US Constitution political backers.

PWS

11-10-17

WASHPOST: TRUMP’S ANTI-IMMIGRANT WHITE NATIONALIST HYSTERIA & UNJUSTIFIED ATTACKS ON OTHERS DIMINISHES OUR COUNTRY AND MAKES US LESS SAFE!

Three Editorials in today’s Washington Post emphasize the extremely counterproductive nature of Trump’s response to the NY terrorist attack.

First, on his inappropriate attempt to blame immigrants for the incident:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-response-to-the-new-york-attack-was-downright-dispiriting/2017/11/01/00558930-bf43-11e7-8444-a0d4f04b89eb_story.html?utm_term=.133a8ef49c1b

“IN LOWER MANHATTAN on Tuesday, not far from the memorial to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, eight people were killed and 12 injured when a man espousing fidelity to the Islamic State drove a rented pickup down a busy bike path along the Hudson River. “It was gruesome. It was grisly. It was surreal,” one witness said of bicyclists and pedestrians being mowed down. The attack on innocent people enjoying a fine autumn day was a chilling reminder of the persistent threat posed to the United States by Islamist extremists — and their ingenuity in finding ways to commit murder.

Some small comfort can be taken in the fact that in the 16 years since the fall of the twin towers, improvements in protecting the homeland and fighting terrorism abroad have lessened the terrorists’ strength to strike and improved our ability to respond. The quick actions of police and other first responders during Tuesday’s tragedy should be applauded. So must the resilience and strength of the people of New York City, who made clear they will not be cowed by fear.

Far less inspiring — indeed, downright dispiriting — was the reaction of President Trump. In a series of tweets that apparently were informed (a word we use loosely) by his viewing of “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump went on a harangue about immigration and attacked Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). On Wednesday, Mr. Trump signaled he might upend the judicial process by declaring the suspected attacker an enemy combatant to be shipped off to the Guantanamo Bay prison; federal terrorism charges filed against him later in the day likely would foreclose that from happening. Note that the White House wouldn’t discuss gun control after last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, on the grounds that it would politicize a tragedy, but it had no problem launching partisan attacks following a terrorist strike that ought to unify all Americans. Note also, as The Post’s Philip Bump pointed out, that Mr. Trump is quick to jump to conclusions when there are incidents involving immigrants but is far more circumspect when nonimmigrants are involved.

What’s really needed from the Trump administration is not blame-shifting but a serious attempt to investigate and learn from this latest attack. Were others involved or aware of the alleged plans dating back a year that went into the attack? Are authorities right in their initial assessment that the suspect became “radicalized domestically” while living in the United States? Were signals missed when he appeared on the radar of law enforcement in connection with the investigations of other suspects? The 29-year-old, authorities said, allegedly “followed almost exactly to a T” instructions that the Islamic State has put out on its social-media channels on how to carry out attacks. So what can be done to detect and deter other would-be followers?

Among those killed Tuesday were five Argentines who were part of a group of school friends who traveled to New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. It was their dream trip to a city known for being open and generous and diverse. Those are the traits that make America great; to undermine them in response to Tuesday’s attack only plays into the hands of terrorists.”

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Second, the Editorial Board responds to Trump’s attempt to blame Senator Chuck Schumer of New York for the attack:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/for-trump-new-yorks-tragedy-means-a-new-attack-on-immigration/2017/11/01/8ffa0940-bf38-11e7-97d9-bdab5a0ab381_story.html?utm_term=.ead2a22ecd7d

“PRESIDENT TRUMP, ever prone to seek out scapegoats, fastened on a new target in the wake of the terrorist attack in New York: the state’s senior Democratic senator, along with a 27-year-old visa program that offers applicants from dozens of countries a shot at immigrating to the United States.

Mr. Trump singled out Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who, in 1990, sponsored the diversity visa program, through which the alleged attacker in New York, Sayfullo Saipov, is reported to have immigrated to the United States from his native Uzbekistan. In a tweet, the president derided the program as “a Chuck Schumer beauty.”

Never mind that Mr. Schumer’s legislation establishing the program attracted bipartisan support; or that it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican; or even that Mr. Schumer himself unsuccessfully bargained to end the program, in 2013, in return for a bill granting legal residence to millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Neither the facts nor the normal political imperative to avoid partisanship in the wake of a terrorist attack appeared to move Mr. Trump.

His tweet made it appear that his overriding interest in an assault allegedly backed by the Islamic State is to use it to assail immigration — in this instance, a legal program whose beneficiaries represent a speck in the overall number of immigrants. Managed by the State Department since 1995, the program now grants up to 50,000 visas annually, via a random lottery, to citizens of dozens of countries who would otherwise be mostly overlooked in the annual influx of green-card recipients. In recent years, many of the winners have been from Africa and Eastern Europe.

Having reaped political advantage as a candidate in vilifying illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has set his sights in office on legal migrants, including refugees, from a handful of mostly Muslim countries, whom he’d like Americans to see as an undifferentiated mass of potentially violent interlopers. Gradually, he is chipping away at what was once a national consensus that immigrants are a critical source of vitality, invention and international appeal.

Like almost any immigration program, the diversity visa lottery is imperfect and susceptible to abuse. The fortunate winners, who represent less than 1 percent of those who have applied annually in recent years, are not uniformly equipped to thrive in this country; many lack an education beyond high school. As Mr. Saipov may turn out to prove, even the extensive vetting required of all who immigrate through the program does not provide an ironclad guarantee that it is impervious to applicants who might seek to harm the United States.

The lottery program might be improved. Still, the fact that more than 11 million people applied for it in fiscal 2016 reflects the magnetic appeal the United States continues to exert around the world. Satisfying a small fraction of that demand, through the lottery or some other legal means, is a powerful tool of public diplomacy in countries whose citizens might otherwise have no hope of coming here.”

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Third, Jennifer Rubin (“JRUBE”) comments on Trump’s “mindless,” totally inappropriate, attack on our justice system (in other words, on our Constitution):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/02/trumps-mindless-insult-to-the-american-judicial-system/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6be7fbcdabb0

“Asked about the suspect Wednesday, President Trump called him an “animal.” Prompted to say whether he thought Saipov should be sent to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Trump said, sure, he’d consider it. Later, at Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said flatly that the White House considered the suspect an “enemy combatant.”

The president also said yesterday that the American justice system (presumably including his own Justice Department) is a “joke” and a “laughingstock.” He further opined, “We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” Trump said. (Terrorists are subject to the death penalty, so it’s unclear what he had in mind.) “They’ll go through court for years … We need quick justice, and we need strong justice,” he said.

Thankfully, the Justice Department, like the Pentagon, has learned when to ignore Trump. On Wednesday, Saipov was charged in federal court. By Thursday morning, Trump was backing off his support for sending Saipov to Guantanamo. Once again, the ignorant president shot from the hip and had to creep back to reality.

Just how harmful were Trump’s statements? It is reprehensible for the president to defame our justice system, which is not a “joke” nor a “laughingstock” but the envy of the world. Moreover, in the terrorist context, it has proved remarkably efficient in trying and convicting terrorists, and then handing out maximum punishments. The surviving Boston Marathon bombing defendant was convicted in just this way and sentenced to death.

. . . .

Based on today’s tweet, we were right to assume that neither Trump nor Sanders had any idea what he/she was talking about (always a good assumption). We will watch with pride as American justice takes its course — and with horror as Trump continues to wreck havoc from the Oval Office.”

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Having spent a professional lifetime working on immigration and refugee issues, I can confirm that Trump and his GOP “restrictionist cronies” like Sessions, Miller, and Bannon have managed to transform what used to be “a national consensus that immigrants [and particularly refugees] are a critical source of vitality, invention and international appeal” into a highly partisan and racially-charged attack on the national origins and futures of some of our most productive citizens and residents — those who far more than Trump or his cronies are likely to help us in building a better, safer future for all Americans.

Having worked on all sides of our U.S. Justice System, served as an administrative judge on the trial and appellate levels for more than 21 years, listened to and/or read thousands of accounts of what made people leave their “home countries,” and studied in detail the reasons why some failing countries are “senders” of talented migrants and others, like the U.S., are fortunate enough to be on the “receiving” end, I can say unequivocally that the fairness of our justice system and the overall honsety and integrity of civil servants in the U.S. Government are the primary differences between the “sending” and “receiving” countries, like ours.

As I have observed before, Trump and his cronies are launching what is basically a “Third-World autocratic attack” on our Constitution and our democratic institutions. If they succeed, the immigration “problem” might eventually be “solved” because nobody will want to come here any more. How many people risked their lives trying to get into the former Soviet Union?
Donald Trump, his cronies, and his enablers are and will remain a much greater threat to our safety and Constitutional institutions than any foreign terrorist could ever be. We ignore his dangerous and fundamentally un-American rants at our own peril!
PWS
11-02-17