Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
“If President Donald Trump knew for months that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI, is he guilty of obstructing justice? His lawyer doesn’t think so. F
John Dowd reportedly told The Washington Post this weekend that Trump likely knew about Flynn’s erroneous reporting of his conversations with the Russians as early as January, months before he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.
But Dowd has shot down any speculation that his client obstructed justice, saying Trump is president and therefore above the law.
The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd told Axios in an interview published Monday.
It’s a claim reminiscent of one made in 1977, when former President Richard Nixon said the presidents can essentially behave as they wish.
“Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal,” Nixon said at the time, in a TV interview with David Frost.
Trump raised questions on Saturday about the timeline of his knowledge, tweeting, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies.” Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI the day before.
The implication that Trump had known his former national security adviser had lied to the FBI set off alarm bells. The White House had previously said Flynn was fired over false statements he provided to Vice President Mike Pence.
. . . .
Dowd said he actually drafted the tweet about Flynn being fired, but “did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”
“I’m out of the tweeting business,” Dowd told ABC News. “I did not mean to break news.”
Trump and Comey met a few weeks after the president found out about Flynn, according to the Post. It was during that meeting that Comey has said that the president asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn.
That led to speculation that Trump fired Comey to punish him for not giving up on his probe, which may also constitute obstruction of justice.
. . . .
The question over whether a president is constitutionally capable of obstructing justice has no clear answer, according to legal scholars.
“The claim that the president can commit such a crime faces a powerful objection rooted in the Constitution,” two University of Chicago Law School professors, Daniel Jacob Hemel and Eric Posner, explained in a California Law Review article from July.
“Obstruction of justice laws are normally applied to private citizens — people who bribe jurors, hide evidence from the police, or lie to investigators,” they wrote. “The president’s control over law enforcement is sometimes regarded as a near-sacred principle in our constitutional system.”
Yet this conflicts with the constitutional principle that no person can be above the law. That’s why, according to Hemel and Posner, Congress holds the ultimate key to impeachment.
The impeachment charges for both Nixon and former President Bill Clinton involved obstruction of justice. However, Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, and the Senate vote on Clinton’s impeachment resulted in a 50-50 tie. A two-thirds vote from the Senate is needed for a conviction.”
Not very surprising that Trump holds himself above the law. We’ve elected a would-be Dictator who thinks that he rules a nation of morons who can’t figure out what he and his minions are up to! And not a very smart or talented Dictator at that! At least this should resolve the BS about Sessions and the Trumpsters promoting the “Rule Of Law.”
And, if John Dowd even knows how to “Tweet” . . . .
“ABC’s Brian Ross says that Michael Flynn—the former national security adviser who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation—is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump has directly denied having any knowledge that anyone involved with his campaign was in contact at any point with Russian officials.
Mike Pence would certainly be a truly horrible President. And, probably far more effective than Trump at pushing his far-right religious/social agenda down the throats of Americans.
But, at least, he 1) appears to be basically honest, although misguided; 2) is pretty predictable; 3) probably could conduct meetings with foreign leaders without putting his foot in his mouth and making America look totally foolish; 4) has never been accused of sexual misconduct; 5) isn’t known for tweeting; 6) although having retrograde views on race, gender, and immigration, does not pander quite as directly to the White Nationalist and extremist hate groups as does Trump (although he might well turn out to be a “willing enabler” of hate groups, I actually don’t see him retweeting bogus materials from known hate groups to intentionally divide America and the world); 7) generally speaks in complete, relatively coherent sentences; 8) doesn’t appear to have any immediate extended family or business ties who intend to corruptly profit from his Presidency.
It’s not a great prospect, but far better than what we have now. Just an indication of how low we have fallen as a nation.
Here is some more in depth analysis from ABC News of the Flynn plea and why despite the predictably pathetic attempts at deflection by the White House, this can’t be good news for Trump!
WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser has been charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government, an extraordinary development in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Michael Flynn is scheduled to appear in federal court in D.C. at 10:30 a.m., where he’s expected to plead guilty to one count of making a false statement to FBI agents.
. . . .
In a criminal information filing from Mueller’s team, the government alleges that Flynn “willfully and knowingly made materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements” in an interview with FBI agents on Jan. 24. It alleges he falsely told the FBI that he did not ask the Russian ambassador to refrain from retaliating to sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia in late December. Flynn also allegedly lied about asking the Russian ambassador on Dec. 22 to delay or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.
Citing sources familiar with the investigation, NBC News reported in early November that Mueller’s team had enough evidence to charge Flynn, as well as his son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked closely with him during Trump’s campaign and transition.
The report sparked speculation that investigators were trying to flip Flynn, a top target of the multiple probes into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia last year, and could reach an agreement for him to become a cooperating witness.
The New York Times reported later that month that Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, was no longer sharing information with Trump’s legal team, further raising the possibility that Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller’s probe. Kelner later met with the investigators, according to ABC News.
Flynn’s indictment follows Mueller’s team charging Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former aide Rick Gates with 12 counts, including allegations of conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges and are scheduled to face a federal trial in May.
In October, the investigators also reached a plea agreement with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who lied to the FBI about being offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Papadopoulos also reportedly suggested a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last year.
But those indictments involved only Trump campaign officials. Flynn is the first former administration official to be charged, making it more difficult for the White House to distance the president from Mueller’s probe.
After Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey amid his investigation into the campaign, Comey testified that Trump had requested that he end the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.
Flynn, who stepped down as Trump’s national security adviser in February after lying to administration officials about the extent of his communications with Russian officials, had long faced scrutiny from the multiple investigations into Trump’s campaign.
Of particular interest was Flynn’s history of suspicious business dealings and financial ties to Russia, as well as his concealing that he worked as a foreign lobbyist for the Turkish government while advising Trump’s campaign.
In the fall of 2016, a businessman with close ties to Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid Flynn more than $500,000 to conduct research aimed at discrediting the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. Flynn failed to disclose the work until March, after he had already stepped down as national security adviser.
Mueller’s team has reportedly investigated Flynn’s lobbying firm and its dealings with Turkey.
Flynn also hid multiple contacts with Russia during Trump’s transition, including discussing sanctions with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
He also attended a meeting with Kislyak to discuss creating a backchannel with Putin. Also in attendance was Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now a senior White House adviser and also reportedly a subject of Mueller’s probe.
White House officials have repeatedly denied any collusion between Trump’s team and Russia, often by downplaying suspected officials’ involvement in the campaign or the administration. In March, then-press secretary Sean Spicer diminished Flynn as just “a volunteer.”
What kind of Administration hires a criminal to be so-called “National Security Advisor?” An Administration that poses a “clear and present danger” to the national security of our country! And, it’s not that Gen. Flynn wasn’t a well-established slimy character even before embarking on his criminal enterprise!
Will “Jerry the K” be next? Stay tuned! No wonder Gonzo has “lawyered up!”
“Washington (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding his candor about Russia and the Trump campaign amid revelations that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year.
According to court filings unsealed this week, Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos suggested at a March 2016 meeting that he could use his connections to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump with the then-GOP candidate’s national security team. An Instagram picture on Trump’s account shows Sessions attended the meeting at which Papadopoulos made the suggestion.
But Sessions, who was a top surrogate for Trump during the campaign, did not disclose these discussions despite a persistent set of questions from Democrats and some Republicans about Russia during multiple hearings on Capitol Hill. The new information is renewing attention to how forthcoming Sessions has been with Congress.
There is interest from Democrats on both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees for Sessions to formally clarify his remarks made before both committees given what’s now known about his interactions with Papadopoulos, a Senate aide told CNN. The source said the request for clarification could take several forms, such as having Sessions testify again or submitting a clarification in writing, but that has not yet been determined.
(1) The term “rape” in section 101(a)(43)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(A) (2012), encompasses an act of vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse, or digital or mechanical penetration, no matter how slight. Perez-Gonzalez v. Holder, 667 F.3d 622 (5th Cir. 2012), not followed.
(2) The term “rape” also requires that the underlying sexual act be committed without consent, which may be shown by a statutory requirement that the victim’s ability to appraise the nature of the conduct was substantially impaired and the offender had a culpable mental state as to such impairment.
PANEL: Appellate Immigration Judges PAULEY, MALPHRUS, and MULLANE
DECISION BY: Judge Pauley
Perhaps not surprisingly, the BIA chose not to follow the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Perez-Gonzalez v. Holder, 667 F.3d 622 (5th Cir. 2012) which offered a rape definition slightly more favorable to respondents. The Fifth Circuit generally is known as an very conservative, pro-Government body, hardly the Ninth Circuit or even the Seventh Circuit. But, then, what do Article III Judges know about criminal law and statutory construction?
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled Thursday that the pardon wasn’t a reason to erase Arpaio’s guilty verdict.
“The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial record-keeping,” she wrote. “The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt. The President issued the pardon. Defendant accepted. The pardon undoubtedly spared defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, revise the historical facts of this case.”
Read the rest of the story at the above link.
You can lie to your heart’s content, but you can’t rewrite history, as Joe and the rest of his racist/White Nationalist cronies in the Trump Administration are finding out.
“The woman on the other end of the line said her husband had been beating her for years, even while she was pregnant.
She was in danger and wanted help, but was in the country illegally — and was convinced she would be deported if she called authorities. Fearful her husband would gain custody of her children, she wanted nothing to do with the legal system.
It is a story that Jocelyn Maya, program supervisor at the domestic violence shelter Su Casa in Long Beach, has heard often this year.
In the first six months of 2017, reports of domestic violence have declined among Latino residents in some of California’s largest cities, a retreat that crisis professionals say is driven by a fear that interacting with police or entering a courthouse could make immigrants easy targets for deportation.
President Trump’s aggressive stance on illegal immigration, executive orders greatly expanding the number of people who can be targeted for deportation and news reports of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agents making arrests at courthouses have contributed to the downturn, according to civil liberties and immigrant rights advocates.
In Los Angeles, Latinos reported 3.5% fewer instances of spousal abuse in the first six months of the year compared with 2016, while reporting among non-Latino victims was virtually unchanged, records show. That pattern extends beyond Los Angeles to cities such as San Francisco and San Diego, which recorded even steeper declines of 18% and 13%, respectively.
Domestic violence is traditionally an under-reported crime. Some police officials and advocates now say immigrants without legal status also may become targets for other crimes because of their reluctance to contact law enforcement.
The Long Beach abuse victim, fearing she had no other recourse, sent her oldest children back to Mexico to live with relatives.
“We’re supposed to be that assurance that they don’t have. That safety net,” Maya said. “But it’s getting harder for us to have a positive word for them and say: ‘It’s going to be OK. You can go into a courtroom. You can call the police.’ ”
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Marino Gonzalez said he addresses such apprehension frequently as he patrols the streets of East L.A. — even though his department doesn’t question people about their immigration status.
“They’re afraid of us. And the reason they’re afraid of us is because they think we’re going to deport them. They don’t know that we don’t deport them; we don’t ask for their immigration status,” he said. “They just gotta go based on what they see on social media and what they hear from other people.”
On a warm afternoon, Gonzalez pulled his cruiser to a stop near a row of apartments in Cudahy, ahead of a community meeting in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood. There was a lone woman waiting for Gonzalez and a few other deputies, offering lemonade to passersby.
Gonzalez spoke calmly to the assembly of several dozen people sipping from Styrofoam cups.
“We’re not here to ask you where you’re from,” he said in Spanish, drawing thankful nods.
Gonzalez, who came to the U.S. from Mexico as a child, said he knows why people are scared, but hopes face-to-face conversations will persuade more victims to come forward.
“The community here, they don’t know, and they won’t know, unless we reach out,” he said.
ICE officials also said they do not target crime victims for deportation and, in fact, often extend visas to those who report violent crime and sexual abuse.
Officials in the agency’s Los Angeles office declined to be interviewed. ICE issued a statement dismissing links between immigration enforcement and a decline in crime reporting among immigrants as “speculative and irresponsible.”
The drop in reporting could result from an overall decrease in domestic violence crimes, the agency said. But police statistics reviewed by The Times suggest that statement is inaccurate. The decline in domestic violence reports among Latinos in several cities is far steeper than overall declines in reporting of those crimes.
In Los Angeles and San Diego, reporting of domestic violence crimes remained unchanged among non-Latinos. The decline among Latinos in San Diego was more than double the overall citywide decrease, records show. In San Francisco, the reporting decline among Latinos was nearly triple the citywide decrease.
The pattern extends outside California.
In April, Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said the number of Latino victims reporting sexual assault had dropped 42% in his city. In Denver, at least nine women abandoned pursuit of restraining orders against their abusers after immigration enforcement agents were filmed making an arrest in a city courthouse earlier this year, according to City Atty. Kristi Bronson.
Claude Arnold, who oversaw ICE operations in Southern California from 2010 to 2015, said misconceptions about the agency may be driving the downswing. Crime victims are far more likely to receive a visa application than a removal order by reporting an attack, he said.
“ICE still has a policy that we don’t pursue removal proceedings against victims or witnesses of crime, and I haven’t seen any documented instances where that actually happened,” he said. “To a great degree, we facilitate those people having legal status in the U.S.”
Nationwide, the number of arrests made by ICE agents for violations of immigration law surged by 37% in the first half of 2017. In Southern California, those arrests increased by 4.5%.
Arnold said some immigrants’ rights activists have helped facilitate a climate of fear by spreading inaccurate information about ICE sweeps that either didn’t happen, or were in line with the Obama administration’s policies.
But professionals who deal with domestic violence victims say the perception of hardcore enforcement tactics under Trump has led to widespread panic.
Adam Dodge, legal director at an Orange County domestic violence shelter called Laura’s House, said that before February, nearly half of the center’s client base were immigrants in the country illegally. That month, ICE agents in Texas entered a courthouse to arrest a woman without legal status who was seeking a restraining order against an abuser.
“We went from half our clients being undocumented, to zero undocumented clients,” he said.
A video recording earlier this year of a father being arrested by ICE agents moments after dropping his daughter off at a Lincoln Heights school had a similar effect on abuse victims in neighboring Boyle Heights, said Rebeca Melendez, director of wellness programs for the East L.A. Women’s Center.
“They instilled the ultimate fear into our community,” she said. “They know they can trust us, but they are not trusting very many people past us.”
Even when victims come forward, defense attorneys sometimes use the specter of ICE as a weapon against them, to the frustration of prosecutors.
In the Bay Area, a Daly City man was facing battery charges earlier this year after flashing a knife and striking the mother of his girlfriend, according to court records. The man’s defense attorney raised the fact that the victim was in the country illegally during pretrial hearings, although a judge eventually ruled that evidence was irrelevant and inadmissible at trial, records show.
The case ended in a hung jury. But when prosecutors sought a retrial, the victim said she would not cooperate, in part, because her immigration status was raised during the trial, said Max Szabo, a spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney’s office.
San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon said the case was one of several where his prosecutors felt defense attorneys sought to leverage heightened fears of deportation against victims. He believes that tactic, combined with ICE’s expanded priorities and presence in courthouses, is driving down domestic violence reporting among immigrants in the city’s sprawling Latino and Asian communities.
Gascon described the situation as a “replay” of the fear he saw in the immigrant community while he was the police chief in Mesa, Ariz., during notorious Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s crusade against people without legal status, which led to accusations of racial profiling.
Stephanie Penrod, managing attorney for the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland, also said the number of immigrants without legal status willing to seek aid from law enforcement has dwindled.
Abusers frequently will threaten to call immigration enforcement agents on their victims, a threat Penrod believes has more teeth now given ICE’s increased presence in courthouses.
“The biggest difference for us now is those threats are legitimate,” she said. “Previously we used to advise them we couldn’t prevent an abuser from calling ICE, but that it was unlikely ICE would do anything.”
If the problem persists, Gascon fears the consequences could be deadly.
“The level of violence increases,” he said. “It could, in some cases, lead to severe injury or homicide.”
ICE, of course, denies this is happening. But, as shown by this article, the denials simply are refuted by the facts (as shown in the above charts) and by the officers and social services agencies who actually deal with the community. We simply can’t trust any statement on immigration emanating from the Trump Administration. They lack credibility. Something that is going to be a long term problem for ICE once immigration enforcement is finally “normalized.” Once lost, trust is unlikely to be regained any time soon. “Gonzo” enforcement does long-term irreparable damage. That’s why so many communities are resisting the Trump Administration program.
“California lawmakers on Saturday passed a “sanctuary state” bill to protect immigrants without legal residency in the U.S., part of a broader push by Democrats to counter expanded deportation orders under the Trump administration.
The legislation by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the most far-reaching of its kind in the country, would limit state and local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities, and prevent officers from questioning and holding people on immigration violations.
After passionate debate in both houses of the Legislature, staunch opposition from Republican sheriffs and threats from Trump administration officials against sanctuary cities, Senate Bill 54 was approved Saturday with a 27-11 vote along party lines. But the bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown drastically scaled back the version first introduced, the result of tough negotiations between Brown and De León in the final weeks of the legislative session.
On the Senate floor minutes before 2 a.m. on Saturday, De León said the changes were reasonable, and reflected a powerful compromise between law enforcement officials and advocates.
“These amendments do not mean to erode the core mission of this measure, which is to protect hardworking families that have contributed greatly to our culture and the economy,” he said. “This is a measure that reflects the values of who we are as a great state.”
It’s a wrap for the California Legislature for 2017. Here’s what lawmakers accomplished
Officially dubbed the “California Values Act,” the legislation initially would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from using any resources to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents, unless they had violent or serious criminal convictions.
After talks with Brown, amendments to the bill made this week would allow federal immigration authorities to keep working with state corrections officials and to continue entering county jails to question immigrants. The legislation would also permit police and sheriffs to share information and transfer people to immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of 800 outlined in a previous law, the California Trust Act.
Some immigrant rights advocates who were previously disappointed with the list of offenses under the Trust Act, were dismayed to see the same exceptions applied in the so-called sanctuary state bill. The list includes many violent and serious crimes, as well as some nonviolent charges and “wobblers,” offenses that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, which advocates said has the potential to ensnare people who do not pose a danger to the public.
But immigrant rights groups did not withdraw their support for Senate Bill 54 and also won some concessions. Under the additions to the bill, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would have to develop new standards to protect people held on immigration violations, and to allow immigrant inmates to receive credits toward their sentences serviced if they undergo rehabilitation and educational programs while incarcerated.”
Read the full article at the link.
While termed a “Sanctuary State” law, I think that is a misnomer. I’d call it more of a “Smart Immigration Enforcement” law.
The bill provides for a wide scope of cooperation, access, and information sharing aimed at getting dangerous migrants off the streets. At the same time, the bill does limit ICE’s notorious “bait and switch” tactic.
That’s when ICE puts out lots of hyperbole about “removing criminals” and “making communities safer,” while actually using state authorities to assist them in “sacking up” lots of so-called “collaterals” — generally law abiding productive members of the community who are among the millions residing in the United States without status. It’s the latter rather random use of Federal Immigration Enforcement authority that actually hurts communities, sows unnecessary fear, wastes resources, and makes communities less safe for everyone, regardless of status.
It appears that Gov. Brown took a proactive role in achieving this balance, since Republicans evidently were more anxious to pontificate than negotiate. Also, if, Trump and Sessions were truly interested in making America safer, it seems like negotiating deals with the locals that addressed the common need to remove criminals without creating unnecessary barriers between the police and otherwise law abiding members of the community without status would have made more sense than threats and public shaming. It’s also significant that although they had reservations about the compromise version, leaders of the immigrant community strongly supported the revised bill.
I’m sure that this new law will quickly end up in court.
“WASHINGTON — Shortly after learning in May that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate links between his campaign associates and Russia, President Trump berated Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an Oval Office meeting and said he should resign, according to current and former administration officials and others briefed on the matter.
The president blamed the appointment of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation — a move Mr. Trump believes was the moment his administration effectively lost control over the inquiry. Accusing Mr. Sessions of “disloyalty,” Mr. Trump unleashed a string of insults on his attorney general.
Ashen and emotional, Mr. Sessions told the president he would quit and sent a resignation letter to the White House, according to four people who were told details of the meeting. Mr. Sessions would later tell associates that the demeaning way the president addressed him was the most humiliating experience in decades of public life.
The Oval Office meeting, details of which have not previously been reported, shows the intensity of Mr. Trump’s emotions as the Russia investigation gained steam and how he appeared to immediately see Mr. Mueller’s appointment as a looming problem for his administration. It also illustrates the depth of antipathy Mr. Trump has had for Mr. Sessions — one of his earliest campaign supporters — and how the president interprets “disloyalty” within his circle of advisers.
Mr. Trump ended up rejecting Mr. Sessions’s May resignation letter after senior members of his administration argued that dismissing the attorney general would only create more problems for a president who had already fired an F.B.I. director and a national security adviser. Mr. Trump once again, in July, told aides he wanted to remove Mr. Sessions, but for a second time didn’t take action.
. . . .
The president relented, and eventually returned the resignation letter to Mr. Sessions — with a handwritten response on it.
For Mr. Sessions, the aggressiveness with which Mr. Trump has sought his removal was a blow. The son of a general store owner in a small town in Alabama, Mr. Sessions had long wanted to be the nation’s top federal law enforcement official or to serve in another top law enforcement or judicial post. He earned a reputation in the Senate as someone tough on immigration, and was the first senator to back Mr. Trump in the presidential campaign.
But their relationship began to deteriorate little more than a month after Mr. Trump was sworn in as president, after Mr. Sessions’s announcement that he was recusing himself from the Russia inquiry caught Mr. Trump by surprise.
The president spent months stewing about the recusal. In a July 19 interview with The Times, Mr. Trump said he never would have appointed Mr. Sessions to be attorney general if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump called the decision “very unfair to the president.”
Days after the Times interview, Mr. Trump told aides he wanted to replace Mr. Sessions. Some of the president’s aides, not sure if Mr. Trump really wanted the attorney general gone or was just working through his anger, were able to delay the firing until the president’s anger passed.
But Mr. Trump continued his public attacks in the days that followed, including taking to Twitter to call him “weak” — a word that is among the harshest criticisms in Mr. Trump’s arsenal.
Administration officials and some of Mr. Trump’s outside advisers have puzzled at Mr. Sessions’s decision to stay on. But people close to Mr. Sessions said that he did not leave because he had a chance to have an impact on what he sees as a defining issue of his career: curtailing legal and illegal immigration.
In recent weeks, he has spearheaded the effort to undo what he believed to be the Obama administration’s dangerously lenient immigration policies, including the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program.
Mr. Sessions had no illusions about converting Mr. Trump to his side of the argument — Mr. Trump remains deeply ambivalent — and he had no illusions about repairing a damaged relationship he had once regarded as a friendship. But he told people he felt he had successfully pushed the president toward ending the Obama immigration policy, and thought it had given him increased leverage in the West Wing.
The president agreed to terminate the program, and on Sept. 5 Mr. Sessions stood alone at a lectern — a moment that seemed to be a significant victory for the attorney general.
But his satisfaction was fleeting. Mr. Trump quickly undercut Mr. Sessions in a tweet by saying he would reconsider whether or not to end the program, leading the attorney general to tell allies that he was frustrated that the president had muddled months of work leading to the announcement of the new policy.
On Wednesday evening, Democrats announced they had reached a deal with the president to quickly extend protections for young undocumented immigrants.
On Thursday morning, taking a vastly different position from the one Mr. Sessions had announced, the president tweeted about the need for protections for people brought here “through no fault of their own.”
I’m not in favor of publicly humiliating any human being, even Jeff Sessions. But, my sympathy is tempered by Sessions’s willingness to lie and humiliate migrants, Hispanics, African Americans, and members of the LGBTQ community, among others, in pursuit of his obscene White Nationalist agenda. In other words, to pick on the most vulnerable members of our society, rather than using the laws to protect them and advance the cause of justice, including social justice (a concept that Sessions has never grasped).
Trump’s reasons for firing Sessions were unethical and wrong. But, Sessions is already the worst and least qualified Attorney General in modern history. When he finally departs the Department of Justice, of his own volition or otherwise, it will be a relief to all Americans who believe in the Constitution and a diverse, humane, inclusive society. The only question is whether the damage that Sessions is doing at Justice and to the Department’s credibility can ever be repaired after the debacle of his tenure finally ends.
Laryea v. Sessions, 5th Cir., 09-12-17 (unpublished — sadly)
DAVIS, GRAVES, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.
“Here, examining the record of conviction, Laryea was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, which does not involve flight using a vehicle. We hold that fleeing from a police officer, without more, does not rise to the level of moral turpitude because it is not “inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.”21 Therefore, we find that the conduct involved in Laryea’s offense, “intentionally flee[ing] from a person he knows is a peace officer
attempting lawfully to arrest or detain him,” is not a CIMT.”
The standard for crimes involving moral turpitude seems to me to be completely subjective and highly arbitrary. Hard to see how it passes constitutional muster, but it has, over many years. Interestingly, it appears that this Respondent was able to file his own petition for review. I wonder if he had “informal help.”
“At his swearing-in as the nation’s top law enforcement official in February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions picked up a thread that had run throughout Donald Trump’s campaign for president: America is experiencing an alarming crime wave.
“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said. “I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”
Preliminary analysis of crime data from the nation’s 30 largest cities released by the Brennan Center for Justice on Wednesday suggests that it isn’t. According to the center’s overview of crime and murder data, 2017 is on pace to have the second-lowest violent crime rate of any year since 1990.
The overall crime rate is projected to drop by 1.8 percent to the second-lowest point since 1990.
The violent crime rate is projected to fall by 0.6 percent, also to the second-lowest point in over 25 years. (The lowest rate was in 2014.) “This result,” the report’s authors write, “is driven primarily by stabilization in Chicago and declines in Washington, D.C., two large cities that experienced increases in violence in recent years.”
The murder rate is projected to be down 2.5 percent, on-par with the rate in 2009.
Explore the center’s data for each of the country’s largest cities.
While there was indeed a national uptick in violent crime and murder during 2015 and 2016, one of the underrecognized drivers of those shifts was the sharp increase in killings in two cities, Chicago and Baltimore, which combined made up more than half of the increase in murders in large cities from 2014 to 2017. This year, the number of murders in Chicago alone is expected to drop 2.4 percent. But it’s declines in New York, Houston and Detroit that are driving the overall decrease.
Inimai Chettiar, director of the justice program at the center, told The Post that the analysis suggested two things.
“First, the long-term trend toward safer cities isn’t going anywhere,” Chettiar said over email. “The evidence conclusively shows there is currently no national crime wave. Second, short-term fluctuations in crime are often driven by local factors.”
There are several cities that reinforce that point. The murder rate in Charlotte, doubled over the first half of 2017, for example, even as it fell sharply in other places.
Chettiar addressed Sessions’s concerns directly.
“Our data leads us to believe that the upticks in 2015 and 2016 were likely short-term fluctuations,” she wrote, noting that “not enough research has been done to identify the exact catalyst.”
What’s most important from where the world meets Washington
The center, which is a part of the New York University School of Law, shared its report with Ronal Serpas, a former New Orleans police superintendent who now co-chairs an organization focused on reducing incarceration rates.
“In contrast to what we have been hearing from the president and attorney general, this new data from police departments shows that all measures of crime and murder are in decline this year,” Serpas said in a statement provided to The Post. “It’s irresponsible to incite public panic based on falsehoods, and it makes our police officers’ jobs harder.” Both Serpas and Chettiar noted that in places where violent crime had increased the Trump administration’s focus was best placed on that crime — as opposed to immigration violations, for example.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stands waiting during a meeting with the Fraternal Order of Police in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in March. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
As the Trump campaign and then the Trump presidency cited localized increases as examples of the crime threat that Trump pledged to solve, independent observers frequently noted that, despite the uptick in crime in recent years, overall levels were still near recent lows following the sharp drop of the last 20 years. The Brennan Center’s analysis suggests that this trend will continue, leading the administration to a no-doubt vexing problem:
I’ve noted many times before that Session’s disingenuous, xenophobic, White Nationalist focus on immigration enforcement actually makes the country less safe from crime.This report confirms that.
Moreover, with his “morbid fixation” on spreading a false narrative on immigration, Sessions has abandoned the real law enforcement functions of the DOJ, particularly in the areas of civil rights, voting rights, police brutality, prison reform, protection of the LGBTQ community, right-wing hate groups, domestic violence, and effectively combatting gangs, drug cartels, and human traffickers. As I’ve noted before, the latter three groups have been energized and empowered by Sessions’s focus on janitors, maids, gardeners, Dreamers and other “collaterals” — even dissing legal immigrants ands implicitly U.S. citizens of ethnic and immigrant heritage — rather than working on nuanced solutions to real law enforcement problems. By sowing unnecessary fear, mistrust, and terror among law-abiding productive members of migrant communities, he has basically “green-lighted” them as targets for crime, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and gang recruitment. Ironically, this is a scenario I heard many times from individuals seeking refuge from third world countries: “I can’t go to the police because they won’t help and might even abuse or arrest me with impunity.”
Sessions is destroying the hard work of of community policing in ethnic communities in many cities throughout the U.S. One reason that many jurisdictions abandoned the “Safe Communities” program pushed by the Obama Administration is because they found it was a misnomer: busting undocumented workers and minor offenders actually did not make communities “safer.” Rather than learning from history, Sessions is doubling down on past failures. “Irresponsible” might be too kind a word to describe the Trump-Sessions White Nationalist legal agenda.
Washington’s new ruling class is not governing with compassion, common sense, measured research, knowledge of history or the future. Theirs is a doctrine of fake fears. And these same people also have a problem with things we should actually be afraid of.
Let me explain.
Fake Fear: The “bad hombres” President Donald Trump talked about during the campaign last year begot this week’s DACA repeal thing. Trump wants us to be afraid of these immigrants, and he’s ready to trash the lives of more than 800,000 Americans looking for a path to legal residency by killing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The truth is that these immigrants, brought here as children by their parents, “have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans of the same age and education level,” according to a report issued last week by the nonpartisan CATO Institute.
Real Fear: Hurricanes. You know them — from Katrina to Harvey to Irma — millions of people and billions of dollars tell you hurricanes devastate lives, cities and industries.
But Trump refuses to fear them. Earlier this year, he proposed a budget that slashed about $667 million for the disaster preparedness programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That budget also proposed $6 billion in cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes and hospitals.
The fake fear administration also killed a post-Katrina rule requiring building projects eligible for federal funding to take such measures as elevating structures in flood zones away from the reach of rising water before they get government cash. And they did this just in time for hurricane season.
But hey, the $108 billion in damage and the 1,800 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina must not mean much when it your moral compass is fake fear.
Fake fear: The apparent crime wave that Attorney General Jeff Sessions keeps warning Americans about.
“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said in February. “I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”
But the facts say otherwise.
This year is on pace to have the second-lowest violent crime rate of any year since 1990, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice this week that analyzed statistics from the nation’s 30 largest cities.
Real fear: Though we’ve seen more and more horrifying videos of civilians being shot by police officers, we still have little comprehensive data that shows how often this happens and how agencies can prevent these tragedies.
“What we really need to know is how many times police shoot people, not just how many of those people die,” David A. Klinger, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who studies police use of force, told The Washington Post earlier this summer.
This is a real fear for real people. This is true whether you’re a black man, such as beloved cafeteria worker Philando Castile, who was doing nothing wrong when he was killed in Minnesota last year by a nervous police officer. And it’s true if you’re a white woman, like nurse Alex Wubbels, who was seen in a viral video last week being roughed up and arrested by a Utah detective for simply doing her job. The fake fear people seem to have little interest in addressing this problem.
The FBI’s weak, self-reporting system that has been the only way to track this was called “embarrassing and ridiculous” by fired FBI director James B. Comey.
Fake fear: Muslims in America. Trump’s attempts at a travel ban, fulfilling his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” have reinforced a growing and misplaced Islamophobia throughout our country. We’ve seen the fake-fear sentiment in workplaces, in small-town councils trying to mess with mosques that have been peaceful and unnoticed for years, and I even saw it one of my sons’ sports teams this summer.
The truth is, from 2008 to 2016, right-wing extremists carried out twice as many terrorist attacks on U.S. soil than Islamist extremists, according to a recent report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.
Real Fear: White supremacists in America. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint intelligence bulletin that said white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”
They issued this statement just a couple months before the protests in Charlottesville, where an avowed Nazi sympathizer was arrested after a car drove into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. There is no mistaking that was real.
We deserve real care and real concern from our leaders when it comes to real fears. There’s no shortage of them.
Let’s start by calling out #FakeFears when we see them. Washington is full of those these days, too.
Dvorak succinctly captures what White Nationalist governance and propaganda is all about: fear, loathing, lies. Too cowardly to address real problems because that might offend the “White Nationalist base” that put and keeps them in power.
“The Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has effectively blocked the Drug Enforcement Administration from taking action on more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana to use in research, one of a number of areas in which the anti-drug agency is at odds with the Trump administration, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.
A year ago, the DEA began accepting applications to grow more marijuana for research, and as of this month it had 25 proposals to consider. But DEA officials said they need the Justice Department’s approval to move forward. So far, the department has not been willing to provide it.
“They’re sitting on it,” said one law enforcement official familiar with the matter. “They just will not act on these things.”
As a result, said one senior DEA official, “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.’’
DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said the agency “has always been in favor of enhanced research for controlled substances such as marijuana.’’
. . . .
The standoff is the latest example of the nation’s premier narcotics enforcement agency finding itself in disagreement with the new administration. While President Trump and Sessions have vowed a crackdown on drugs and violent crime, DEA officials have publicly and privately questioned some of the administration’s statements and goals.
Late last month, acting DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg wrote in an email to staff members that Trump had “condoned police misconduct” in remarking to officers on Long Island that they need not protect suspects’ heads when putting them into police vehicles. The acting administrator said he was writing his employees “because we have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong.” After public criticism, White House officials said the president was joking.
DEA officials say Sessions and his Justice Department have pressed the agency for action specifically on MS-13 despite warnings from Rosenberg and others at the DEA that the gang, which draws Central American teenagers for most of its recruits, is not one of the biggest players when it comes to distributing and selling narcotics.
Mexican cartels, DEA officials have warned, will use any gang to sell their drugs, and DEA leaders have directed those in their field offices to focus on the biggest threat in their particular geographic area. In many parts of the country, MS-13 simply does not pose a major criminal or drug-dealing threat compared with other groups, these officials said.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they could face professional consequences for candidly describing the internal disputes.
“Mexican cartels, Mexican transnational organizations are the greatest criminal threat to the United States,” Payne, the DEA spokesman, said. “There’s no other group currently positioned to challenge them. Whenever drug investigations that we do involve MS-13, we respond, but right now the No. 1 drug threat in the U.S. is the Mexican cartels.’’
. . . .”
Read the complete article at the link.
Just another example of how Sessions’s personal and political agenda has little to do with effective law enforcement. Wonder how long these folks in DEA will be around before Sessions orders a “purge” and installs his minions?
“We grant Lozano-Arredondo’s petition and remand to the BIA. We hold, first, that petit theft under Idaho law does not qualify categorically as a crime involving moral turpitude. We also hold that under the modified categorical approach, the record of conviction is inconclusive. Because the effect of that inconclusive record presents an open legal question now pending before another panel of this court, our analysis ends there. On remand, once this burden of proof question is resolved, the BIA should determine whether Lozano- Arredondo’s conviction qualifies as a crime involving moral turpitude under the modified categorical approach, unless the case is resolved on other grounds.
Second, we hold the BIA erred by deciding at Chevron step one that an “offense under” § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) does not include the within-five-years element. Because the BIA “erroneously contends that Congress’ intent has been clearly
24 LOZANO-ARREDONDO V. SESSIONS
expressed and has rested on that ground, we remand to require the agency to consider the question afresh.” Delgado, 648 F.3d at 1103–04 n.12 (quoting Negusie, 555 U.S. at 523) (internal quotation marks omitted); see INS v. Ventura, 537 U.S. 12, 16–17 (2002). In light of this holding and the explanations we have given, the BIA must reconsider its interpretation of the phrase “offense under” in § 1229b(b)(1)(C).”
PANEL: Circuit Judges William A. Fletcher, Raymond C. Fisher and N. Randy Smith
Com’ on Man! This case has been around the system since 2005 — 12 years! The conviction is now two decades old. The case depends on two legal questions.
The 9th Circuit should answer the legal questions and either 1) affirm the BIA’s final order of removal, or 2) remand the case to the BIA to apply the law that has been determined by the 9th Circuit to the facts of this case. The court’s prose is impenetrable; the court’s rationale, based on Chevron, is irrational.
It’s time for Chevron to go and for Article III Courts to do their job of deciding legal questions rather than bogging down the system with infinite delays through needless remands to have the BIA pass on difficult legal questions. That’s the Article III Courts’ Constitutional function; they have been avoiding it for years under the Supreme’s judge-made facade of Chevron and Brand X.
(Yes, I know the 9th Circuit is only following Chevron, as they are bound to do. This is something the Supremes need to address, sooner rather than later. The result in this case is pure legal obfuscation.)
Oh yeah, while we’re at it, if there is an “open legal question” before another panel of the 9th Circuit, why remand the case to the BIA which can’t resolve that? Why not send this case to the “other panel” or ask your colleagues on the other panel if they could expedite their consideration of this issue?
Emanuel wants a federal judge to block the Trump administration from enforcing its new policy, which would affect not just Chicago, but other major U.S. cities like New York and San Francisco. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ funding decision also would affect Cook County, which also holds sanctuary status and operates the largest single-site jail in the country.
The Justice Department quickly fired back in an emailed response that notes last year more people were killed in Chicago than New York and Los Angeles combined. “It’s especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago’s law enforcement at greater risk,” the response stated.
Trump has long maintained that illegal immigration fuels crime, an assertion that critics say is not backed by statistics that show immigrants in the country without the required permission are less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens and legal residents. And Emanuel in a rare Sunday news conference maintained Trump’s policy would damage efforts to tamp down crime, because people in the city without documentation would then be afraid to cooperate with police.”
Uh, cutting funding for law enforcement to make cities safer doesn’t make much sense either. And, I have no doubt that if Sessions were really interested in getting criminals off the streets, he and Emanuel could reach some type of working agreement. But, what Sessions and the DOJ are really after is to cause more “collateral damage.” To date, the “gonzo” increased enforcement efforts promoted by Trump, Sessions, Kelly, and some within ICE have netted about 70% “collaterals” — folks without any serious criminal record. So, either ICE is particularly incompetent at targeting criminals, or the whole beefed up interior enforcement program is just a smokescreen for more arbitrary enforcement by DHS. I think that’s why Emmanuel and others are concerned about the Trump Administrations “punish sanctuary cities” initiatives.