A DECADE AFTER THE “GEORGETOWN 3” PUBLISHED “REFUGEE ROULETTE” THE PROBLEM OF GROSS DISPARITIES IN ASYLUM ADJUDICATION PERSIST – NEW TRAC STUDY!

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Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Greetings. Very recent data from the Immigration Courts, current through September 2017, reveals that the outcome for asylum seekers continues to depend on the identity of the immigration judge assigned to hear the case. In the San Francisco as well as the Newark Immigration Courts, for example, the odds of being granted asylum during FY 2012 – FY 2017 ranged between a high of 90 percent down to a low of only 3 percent depending upon which immigration judge the asylum seeker was assigned.

The two courts with the largest number of asylum cases, New York and Los Angeles, also had sizable judge-to-judge differences in asylum outcomes. In the New York Immigration Court judge denial rates ranged from a low of 3.0 percent up to a high of 58.5 percent. The disparity in asylum denial rates among the judges on the Los Angeles court ranged from a low of 29.4 percent denied to a high of 97.5 percent.

Immigration judge-to-judge decision disparities have long existed and are well documented. Despite widespread concern about this problem, between 2010 and 2016 judge-to-judge decision disparities actually increased. This year’s report, updated through FY 2017, shows that disparity levels had become more extreme on both the Newark and San Francisco courts. Judge-to-judge differences for the Chicago Immigration Court also increased. The Los Angeles and San Diego courts saw modest improvement.

To view results for the complete list of courts see the full report at:

http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/490/

To view a particular judge’s report, go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/judgereports/

In addition, many of TRAC’s free query tools – which track the court’s overall backlog, new DHS filings, court dispositions and much more – have now been updated through October 2017. For an index to the full list of TRAC’s immigration tools go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/imm/tools/

If you want to be sure to receive notifications whenever updated data become available, sign up at:

http://tracfed.syr.edu/cgi-bin/tracuser.pl?pub=1&list=imm

or follow us on Twitter @tracreports or like us on Facebook:

http://facebook.com/tracreports

TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the U.S. federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/cgi-bin/sponsor/sponsor.pl

David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Syracuse University
Suite 360, Newhouse II
Syracuse, NY 13244-2100
315-443-3563

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The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse is a nonpartisan joint research center of the Whitman School of Management (http://whitman.syr.edu) and the Newhouse School of Public Communications (http://newhouse.syr.edu) at Syracuse University. If you know someone who would like to sign up to receive occasional email announcements and press releases, they may go to http://trac.syr.edu and click on the E-mail Alerts link at the bottom of the page. If you do not wish to receive future email announcements and wish to be removed from our list, please send an email to trac@syr.edu with REMOVE as the subject.

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More than a decade ago, three universally respected “scholar litigators,” my good friends and Georgetown Law colleagues Professors Andy Schoenholtz, Phil Schrag, and Jaya Ramirez-Nogales (now at Temple Law) exposed this problem. While there have been some attempts to address it, and results actually appeared to be improving for a time, the problem persists.

Whatever the solution is, I’m sure of what it isn’t: running more cases through the Immigration Court System faster, hiring more Immigration Judges without giving them sufficient training, a weak Appellate Board that won’t speak up for the rights of asylum seekers, and putting “production quotas” on Immigration Judges. 

Haste makes waste” so-called “solutions” only make things worse. Promoting quality decision-making is a more nuanced and painstaking process.

I have no doubt that this system still denies asylum and other forms of legal protection in far too many cases. A more realistic and appropriately generous approach to asylum would force the DHS to grant more of these cases at the Asylum Office and would shorten hearing times for certain types of “clearly grantable” cases.

PWS

11-20-17

 

 

“LET THE HAITIANS STAY” — IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

The NY Times Editorial Board writes:

“The Temporary Protected Status program provides the sort of assistance the United States should be proud to extend to foreigners fleeing civil unrest, violence or natural disasters. Enacted by Congress in 1990, it currently offers safe and legal harbor to 437,000 people from 10 countries. Many stay for a long time, their status regularly extended because of continued turmoil in their homelands.

That, alas, is a far cry from the spirit of the Trump administration. But even President Trump’s bombastic pledges to throw up a Mexican border wall, expel illegal immigrants and bar entry to Muslims are different from expelling people who, though they may have entered the United States illegally, have been allowed to stay legally, often for many years, with solid jobs and large families, while their homelands remain unsettled or dangerous.

On Thanksgiving, of all days, the Department of Homeland Security is to announce whether it will extend the temporary protected status that was granted to about 50,000 Haitians when their country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Their stay has been regularly extended, but in May, John Kelly, then secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, gave them only six more months, explicitly to get ready to go home. Unless their status is extended this week, they must leave by Jan. 22.

By any reasonable measure, Haiti is not ready to take them back. The destitute country has never fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake or the cholera epidemic that followed. Last year, Hurricane Matthew added even more suffering. The country does not have the resources to absorb 50,000 people, and the money they have sent back is a critical source of income for their relatives and homeland.

Every member of Congress who represents South Florida, where most of these Haitians live, is in favor of extending their status. One of them, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is among the congressional members of both parties who have proposed legislation that would allow these immigrants to eventually apply for permanent residency, which is not possible under current rules.”

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Read the full editorial at the link.

Haitians seem to have gotten the “short end” of US immigration, refugee, and humanitarian policies over the years.

Let’s take a look at the latest Country Report on Human Rights issued by the US State Department:

“The most serious impediments to human rights involved weak democratic governance in the country worsened by the lack of an elected and functioning government; insufficient respect for the rule of law, exacerbated by a deficient judicial system; and chronic widespread corruption. Other human rights problems included significant but isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of use of force against suspects and protesters; severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; chronic prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient, unreliable, and inconsistent judiciary; governmental confiscation of private property without due process. There was also rape, violence, and societal discrimination against women; child abuse; allegations of social marginalization of vulnerable populations; and trafficking in persons. Violence, including gender-based violence, and crime within the remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camps remained a problem. Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.”

Sound like a place where 50,000 additional refugees can be safely returned and reintegrated? Preposterous!

No, the only thing that has changed here is the political motivation of the Administration; TPS — some of the most successful, efficient, and cost effective migration programs the US has ever run — has become a target of the xenophobic, White Nationalist, restrictionist wing of the GOP.

Allowing 50,000 Haitians already residing here to remain costs the US nothing — in fact their continued presence is good for the US economy and our international image. Not to mention that many of the Haitian TPS holders have relatives with legal status in the US.

On the other hand, pulling TPS and removing these individuals could have catastrophic consequences for the individuals involved, their families, and their US communities. And, it’s likely to overwhelm Haiti, a country that has already proved unable to take care of its existing population.

Anywhere but the Trump Administration, extending TPS for Haitians and others while looking for a long-term solution that would give them some type of permanent status in the US would be a “no brainer.” But, in the Trump Administration immigration and refugee policies appear to be driven largely by a policy of “no brains” — just unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, diminishing our international humanitarian standing, and playing to the xenophobia, racism, and hate of the White Nationalists.

PWS

11-20-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Sessions Gives Congress The “Scarface Treatment” Again — Then He Jokes About Russia — Will Mueller Eventually Wipe The Smirk Off Gonzo’s Face?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-a-strangely-selective-memory.html

Eric Levitz writes in NY Maggie:

“Jeff Sessions’s memory works in mysterious ways. He has “no clear recollection” of the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos offered to set up a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — but the attorney general does remember shooting down the campaign aide’s unseemly suggestion.

Or, so Sessions tells the House Judiciary Committee.

In October, Sessions testified to the Senate that he did not have any “continuing exchange of information” with Russian operatives — and that he wasn’t “aware of anyone else [on the Trump campaign] that did.” Weeks later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed

“Papadopoulos’s confession to the crime of lying to the FBI. In that written statement, the former Trump campaign national security adviser claimed that he had told Sessions about “connections” he had that “could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin” in March of last year. In his testimony before Congress Tuesday, Sessions tried to account for this apparent discrepancy.

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions explained. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

Later, Sessions said more firmly, “At the meeting, I pushed back.”

So, the attorney general has no clear memory of the meeting, but has a vivid recollection of behaving admirably during it.

This isn’t the first time that Sessions’s memories of last year have failed him. In January, the attorney general testified to the Senate that he had not “been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.” Months later, the Washington Post revealed that Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States multiple times during the 2016 campaign. Sessions responded to these revelations by insisting that he’d met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as U.S. senator (not as a Trump surrogate), and that they did not discuss the 2016 election. Sessions later conceded that it was “possible” that Trump’s positions on U.S.-Russia relations came up in his discussions with Kislyak.

Some Democrats have suggested that Sessions’s multiple false statements to Congress this year were conscious lies. The former senator responded to such charges with indignation Tuesday.

“My answers have not changed,” Sessions said. “I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today … I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”

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Meanwhile, speaking to a friendly audience over at the Heritage Foundation, Gonzo treated the Russia investigation as a joke. Mary Papenfuss reports for HuffPost:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lawyers rolling in the aisles with a surprising string of Russian quips at the start of a speech he gave Friday.

Sessions was the keynote speaker at the National Lawyers Convention at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel hosted by the conservative Federalist Society.

He thanked the applauding crowd for welcoming him. Then, smiling mischievously, he added: “But I just was thinking, you know, I should ― I want to ask you. Is  Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started ― any Russians?” As the laughs grew louder, he continued: “Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia?” The audience roared.

The jarring jokes came just three days after Sessions was pressed in Congress on apparent discrepancies in his previous testimony about Trump associates’ meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., met with several members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the Republican National Convention, Kislyak and some Trump associates have revealed. Kislyak was widely believed a top spy recruiter.

Kislyak has said he discussed Trump’s policy positions during the campaign with Sessions, an early Trump supporter who was an Alabama senator at the time, The Washington Post reported.

But during his confirmation hearings to become attorney general ― before the Post report ― Sessions said he “never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.”

Sessions later recused himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Critics were stunned by Sessions’ attitude in the lawyers’ speech.

Sessions “still doesn’t get it” — he’s “in trouble,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told Wolf Blitzer later on CNN.

“He’s not in trouble where he happened to be in places where there are Russians,” said Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who grilled Sessions this week. “He is in trouble because he had a nearly hour-long meeting with Ambassador Kislyak — also a spy — and then he failed to disclose the existence of that meeting under oath to the U.S. Senate. That’s why Jeff Sessions is in trouble.”

Blitzer noted that Kislyak “now says he spoke with so many Trump officials it would take him more than 20 minutes to name them all.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sessions-russian-lawyers_us_5a0fb5dee4b045cf43718e96?ncid=APPLENEWS00001

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PWS
11-19-17

NBC NEWS: JOSÉ ANTONIO VARGAS — “The myth of the ‘acceptable immigrant’ is tearing families apart!”

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/myth-acceptable-immigrant-tearing-families-apart-

Vargas writes:

“In the story of our country, the Trump administration’s dismantling of the DACA program is a national tragedy that will be a source of confusion for generations to come. The program was one of the few compromises that the Obama administration made in attempt to right unjust, inhumane and outdated immigration laws. Our own history tells us that laws are fluid and change over time; they do not dictate morality, but are dictated by morality (or the lack thereof). It wasn’t until the 20th century, for example, that we saw women first granted the right to vote and the abolishment of Jim Crow laws.

The pervasive rhetoric around immigrants who received DACA and their families is predicated on an underlying judgement that their mere presence in this country is a crime. It is not: Being in the U.S. without authorization is a civil offense.

Yet if a crime has been committed, someone must be responsible, right? If you qualify for DACA, it means that you were under a certain age when you came here, so you were too young to have committed a “crime.” You are a “good,” “acceptable,” “assimilated” one. But your parents are not. America will accept you — provisionally — but you must condemn the actions of your family members who brought you here.

“Divide and conquer.”

No wall has yet been built, no border yet drawn, no law yet written that overpowers the love of parents for their children. Let us celebrate and give thanks to the resilience of immigrant families who, despite all possible obstacles, find ways to survive, even thrive. Our laws and various languages may separate them, but united they stand.

Jose Antonio Vargas is a journalist and filmmaker, and the CEO of Define American. In 2010, Vargas revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant. He has produced and directed his autobiographical documentary, “Documented,” broadcasted by CNN, and MTV’s White People.“

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One of the most offensive things that Sessions consistently does is to undervalue the contributions of immigrants, both documented and undocumented. This was particularly true in his slandering of “Dreamers.” They are America’s youth; we’re fortunate to have them!

The closely related idea of GOP White Nationalist restrictionists that “chain migration” is bad is equally insulting and totally wrong. Family immigration has contributed as much to America as has so-called “employment-based” immigration. Undocumented migrants have also contributed to our success, particularly our economic success.

Our real problem is with White Nationalists and restrictionists who insist on overly restrictive immigration policies that are unenforceable, expensive, corrosive, and against our national interests.

PWS

11-19-17

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: FRANK RICH @ NY MAGGIE THINKS GONZO COULD FOLLOW JOHN MITCHELL’S FOOTSTEPS ALL THE WAY TO JAIL: “He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar.” — I Think It’s Time for Senator Al Franken (D-MN) To Step Down!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/frank-rich-the-gop-cant-handle-moore-problems.html

Rich writes:

“Last month, Jeff Sessions testified that he was not aware of anyone in the Trump campaign who had been in contact with Russia. Though press accounts have appeared to prove him wrong, yesterday he told the House Judiciary Committee that he “had no recollection” of the meeting, and has “always told the truth.” Will he face consequences for changing his story?

The second most-scandal-ridden presidency in American history, Richard Nixon’s, also had an attorney general, John Mitchell, who had played a major role in his boss’s presidential campaign. He ended up in prison. Sessions seems determined to head to the same destination. He has been repeatedly caught lying to Congress about his and others’ contacts with the Russians, and his only defense has been to strike a sanctimonious tone of self-martyrdom, to repeat or enhance the original lies, and to accuse his inquisitors of rank injustice. He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar. It was especially choice to hear him testify last week that he had completely forgotten about attending a meeting with Trump where George Papadopoulos talked about his Russian connections; he just couldn’t stop himself from embroidering the lie further by adding he did remember a single aspect of it after all — a supposedly exculpatory moment when he pushed back on Papadopoulos’s suggestion of a Trump-Putin meeting. This stuff is not going to go over well with the special counsel.

The most unexpected twist in last week’s hearing, by the way, came when Sessions, for the moment at least, firmly shut down Trump’s idea of appointing a new special counsel to investigate the Clintons. What brought that on? A cynic might ask if he is already trying to butter up the jury pool in Washington.”

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Read Rich’s full column, where he also covers Ayatollah Roy, Ivanka, and Donnie Jr., at the link.

As I have noted before, as a former trial and appellate judge, I find Gonzo totally incredible by the standards applied to witnesses in immigration cases. I also find his bristling self-righteous indignation that anyone would dare call him on his obvious lack of candor to be disgusting hypocrisy, even by Gonzo standards. But, testifying incredibly, even under oath, does not necessarily amount to perjury under the law.

I have no particular desire to see Gonzo end his career in jail. But, there are plenty of reasons why he should no longer be the Attorney General of the U.S. Right wing talk radio would be a good fit for him.

Gonzo might also benefit from the good fortune to have one of his chief Senate critics/accusers Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in some pretty “deep doodo” himself. Indeed, given that the woman who raised Franken’s past sexual harassment has pictures, witnesses, and Franken himself doesn’t deny or attempt to justify the incident, why would he put her, himself, the Senate, the Democratic Party, and the country through a useless investigation? What is there to “investigate?” We know what happened; in light of it, Franken needs to do the right thing and step down. This isn’t SNL. And, the Democrats can’t afford a major sexual scandal in the Senate right now.

PWS

11-16-17

 

 

TAL KOPAN AT CNN: ADMINISTRATION DOUBLES DOWN ON “SANCTUARY CITIES” POLICY AS ANOTHER FEDERAL COURT REJECTS IT!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/15/politics/sanctuary-cities-trump-administration-fight/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)The Trump administration on Wednesday launched a new volley against jurisdictions it considers to be so-called sanctuary cities — even as a federal judge put the brakes on a similar attempt earlier in the day.

The Justice Department sent out letters to 29 cities, counties and states Wednesday afternoon warning them they may not be complying with an obscure law required to receive federal law enforcement grants.
The individualized letters point to specific policies in those jurisdictions DOJ says may be problematic, according to copies obtained by CNN. The Justice Department is giving the jurisdictions until December 8 to respond — it has not yet moved to reject funding applications or claw back grant money that was previously issued.
The move came the same day that a federal judge in ongoing litigation over sanctuary cities in Pennsylvania dealt the administration the latest blow to its efforts to punish sanctuary cities, barring the Justice Department from taking the grant funds away from the city of Philadelphia over the compliance issue. Federal judges have already twice limited the administration on its efforts to block funds.
At the center of both disputes is the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants program, which gives local jurisdictions millions of dollars yearly to support law enforcement.
close dialog

The term sanctuary city loosely refers to jurisdictions that in some way do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The stated reasons vary, from protecting undocumented immigrants to preserving law enforcement’s ability to gain the trust and cooperation of communities. Some jurisdictions have also been barred by the courts from complying with certain federal requests.”
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Read Tal’s complete article at the above link.
Doubling down on failed and divisive policies (that according to TRAC have little practical effect on DHS removals) is probably not going to accomplish much!
PWS
11-16-17

RICHARD WOLFFE IN THE GUARDIAN: TRUMP FAMILY, SESSIONS, OTHER AIDES AFFLICTED WITH DEBILITATING CASES OF “MOSCOW MEMORY!”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/14/trump-administration-moscow-memory?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Sadly this sickness may have started inside the Trump family. Jeff Sessions is just a hapless victim of some brain-corroding virus
For so many people who are close to Donald Trump, Russia is the Bermuda Triangle of their memory.

Conversations and meetings seem to pass through this mysterious quadrant of their brains and simply disappear. Even when the wreckage is found on some server or other, they profess ignorance, confusion or innocence. And sometimes all three at once.

On Tuesday the synapses inside the skull of attorney general Jeff Sessions magically reconnected around a March 2016 campaign meeting in which he heard Trump’s point man on Russian policy discuss how the candidate could get together with one Vladimir Putin.

 

This is kind of awkward since Sessions had sworn, like the honorable southern gentleman that he is, that there were no absolutely no such contacts with the Russians, no siree.

Fortunately for the former senator, his amnesia has recovered enough to remember that he pooh-poohed the idea of a Trump-Putin meeting. Somehow he could remember none of the other sordid details of what normal people would call collusion.

Donald Trump Jr communicated with WikiLeaks during final stages of election
“I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports,” Sessions told the House judiciary committee, before he recalled only the details of the meeting that made him look good.

Sadly this sickness may have started inside the Trump family itself, in which case Sessions is just a hapless victim of some brain-corroding virus. After all, Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son, shows repeated symptoms of Moscow Memory.

It is only five long months since we learned about the slick-haired son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer. Luckily his father was on hand to draft a press statement saying the meeting was no big deal: just a casual chat about Russian adoptions.

But then there were all those leaked emails from Trump Jr himself in which he set up the “adoptions” meeting. “I love it,” he wrote, when offered a Russian government trove of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary”.

Once the emails were public, Trump Jr denounced the leaks and claimed he was being wonderfully transparent after all.

This makes the latest leaks – involving WikiLeaks, no less – all the more conclusive in diagnosing this Putin-induced amnesia. It also makes them more exquisitely ironic.

As reported by the Atlantic, in the final stages of last year’s presidential election, our forgetful protagonist was coordinating campaign efforts and tweets with WikiLeaks.”

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Read the rest of Wolffe’s op-ed at the link.

Good thing Mrs. Sessions accompanies him to these hearings. Otherwise, I doubt that Ol’ Gonzo could find the hearing room or his way back home. How does he even know what day it is or remember his name?

PWS

11-15-17

JRUBE@WASHPOST: GONZO HAS “THE WORLD’S WORST MEMORY!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/14/has-jeff-sessions-got-the-worlds-worst-memory-or-what/

Rubin writes:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s defense for apparently misleading Congress about his knowledge of campaign contacts with Russians is that he has a bad memory. No, honestly. The man who now oversees the entire Justice Department might have heard about contacts with Russia, but no alarms went off, nothing was seared into memory and no action was taken. Even if you believe Sessions, his testimony is damning.

. . . .

It may be that Sessions is struggling to deflect pressure for him to investigate Clinton. However, that would simply be evidence of the president’s total lawlessness and would suggest that Sessions is not being candid when he denies pressure to investigate Clinton. The proper response to outside pressure to use the Justice Department as a political weapon against political opponents should be: Forget it. If that pressure continues, a responsible attorney general would either quit or force the president to fire him (as acting attorney general Sally Yates did when she refused to litigate the travel ban).

Finally, if Sessions’s memory is so poor, one wonders how he can reliably answer questions that the special counsel will no doubt ask about the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey and Russian collusion. An attorney general who remembers nothing might escape implicating the president or others — but it also suggests he should never have been given the job.”

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Read the entire op-ed at the link.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

PWS

11-15-17

THE HILL: N. RAPPAPORT SAYS THAT EXPEDITED REMOVAL IS THE ANSWER TO IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOGS – I DISAGREE!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/360139-our-immigration-courts-are-drowning-expedited-removal-can-bring-relief

Nolan writes:

“Trump has acknowledged that the immigration court’s enormous backlog cripples his ability to remove illegal immigrants in a timely manner, but his plan to deal with the backlog isn’t going to work.

This chart from the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) FY2016 Statistics Yearbook shows that the immigration judges (IJs) have not been making any progress on reducing the backlog.

At a recent Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on the backlog, Judge Larry Burman said, “I cannot give you a merits hearing on my docket unless I take another case off. My docket is full through 2020, and I was instructed by my assistant chief immigration judge not to set any cases past 2020.”

By the end of September 2016, the backlog was up to 516,031 cases. A year later, it had grown to 629,051.

. . . .

If Trump relies on hiring more IJs to deal with the backlog crisis, his enforcement program will be a dismal failure.

His only viable alternative is to reduce the size of the immigration court’s docket, which he can do by promulgating regulations making IJ hearings unavailable to aliens whose cases can be handled in expedited removal proceedings.

He seems to have had this in mind when he directed DHS to use expedited removal proceedings to the full extent authorized by law, which would include most of the undocumented aliens in the United States who were not lawfully admitted, unless they can establish that they have been here for two years.

In expedited removal proceedings, which are conducted by immigration officers, aliens can be deported without IJ hearings unless they have a credible fear of persecution. If they establish a credible fear of persecution, they are entitled to an asylum hearing before an IJ.

But would the courts stop him?”

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Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article.

Expedited removal is the wrong solution to the Immigration Court backlog!

  • As I have noted in recent blogs, recent studies show that Immigration Court hearings area already falling substantially short of providing real due process because of lack of available counsel and overuse of immigration detention. Expedited removal would aggravate that problem tenfold.
  • Expedited removal couldn’t begin to solve the current backlog problems because the vast majority of the estimated 11 million individuals already here have been here for more than two years and can prove it, most from Government records. Indeed, I’d wager that the vast majority of individuals in Removal Proceedings in U.S. Immigration Court have had their cases pending for two or more years.
  • The problems in Immigration Court were caused by “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” by the last three Administrations emanating from undue political influence from the Department of Justice, DHS, and the White House. Only an independent Immigration Court that places control of the dockets in individual Immigration Judges, where it belongs, can address those problems.
  • The answer to hiring problems resulting from poor management and political hiring from the DOJ is certainly not to “get rid of” any existing U.S. Immigration Judges. Whether the hiring was done properly or not, there is no reason to believe that any of the currently sitting local U.S. Immigration Judges did anything wrong or participated in the hiring process other than by applying for the jobs. The system needs all the experienced judges it currently has.
  • The problem of inconsistency will only be solved by having an independent BIA that acts in the manner of an independent appellate court, cracking down on those judges who are not correctly applying legal standards. That’s how all other court systems address consistency issues — through precedent and independent appellate review. Numerous examples have been documented of Immigration Judges in courts like Atlanta, Stewart, and Charlotte, to name three of the most notorious ones, improperly denying asylum claims and mistreating asylum applicants. The BIA has failed to function in a proper, independent manner ever since the “Ashcroft Purge.” The only way to get it doing its job is by creating true judicial independence.
  • “Haste makes waste” is never the right solution! It’s been done in the past and each time has resulted in increased backlogs and, more importantly, serious lapses in due process.
  • The docket does need to be trimmed. The Obama Administration was at least starting the process by a more widespread use of prosecutorial discretion or “PD” as in all other major law enforcement prosecutorial offices. Most of the individuals currently in the country without status are assets to the country, who have built up substantial equities, and do not belong in removal proceedings. No system can function with the type of unregulated, irrational, “gonzo” enforcement this Administration is pursuing.
  • The reasonable solution is to do what is necessary to build a well-functioning system that provides due process efficiently, as it is supposed to do. The elements are reasonable access to lawyers for everyone in proceedings, reducing expensive, wasteful, and fundamentally unfair use of detention, better merit hiring and training procedures for Immigration Judges, modern technology, better use of prosecutorial discretion by the DHS, legislation to grant legal status to law-abiding productive individuals currently present in the US without status, and a truly independent judicial system that can develop in the way judicial systems are supposed to — without political meddling and without more “haste makes waste” schemes like “expedited removal!”

PWS

11-14-17

SESSIONS DEFENDS FAULTY MEMORY, BUT “AYATOLLAH ROY” – NOT SO MUCH!

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-sessions-russia-hearing-20171114-story.html

Joseph Tanfani and Cathleen Decker report for the LA Times:

“Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions repeatedly denied Tuesday that he deliberately misled or lied to Congress about the Trump campaign’s multiple contacts with Russia, saying he forgot that two aides told him about their meetings with Russian government officials during the 2016 race.

In an often-contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions sparred for more than five hours with Democrats, who faulted him for changing his story each time he has testified under oath before Congress, and some Republicans, who pushed him to appoint a second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton.

Sessions grew visibly angry at times, insisting again and again that he “always told the truth” as he recalled it, even as he confirmed for the first time that an aide offered to help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last March. Sessions said he “pushed back” against the offer.

“In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory,” he said.

“But I will not accept, and reject accusations, that I have ever lied,” he added. “That is a lie.”

The nationally-televised hearing was the latest sign of how last year’s bitter presidential campaign has yet to recede. Harsh questions about the Democratic nominee’s alleged misdeeds collided with national security concerns of whether President Trump’s current or former aides helped Russia meddle in an American election — the focus of a special counsel investigation led by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

Sessions held firm against Republicans who pressed him to swiftly appoint another special counsel to focus on Clinton. Senior prosecutors at the Justice Department were reviewing the record and it would “be done without political influence,” he said.

After Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) laid out a long list of allegations that he said indicated wrongdoing, Sessions responded sharply. “I would say ‘looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel,” he said.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the House committee’s top Democrat, said the allegations against Clinton — which chiefly involve her use of a private email server as secretary of State, fundraising for the Clinton Foundation, and an Obama administration decision in 2010 to approve sales of uranium to a Russian company — have been “carefully examined and completely debunked” and said the threat of jailing political opponents after an election is something that would happen in “a banana republic.”

The often testy back-and-forth on Russia largely echoed Sessions’ three previous appearances on Capitol Hill this year, creating more heat than light as lawmakers confronted Sessions with his previous statements and other evidence that contradicted his claims, and the attorney general insisting he did “not recall” dozens of times in response.

“I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting, and who said what when,” he said.

He blamed his faulty memory on the political and organizational maelstrom of Trump’s insurgent presidential campaign. The four-term senator from Alabama joined Trump’s side early on and became his top foreign policy advisor.

“It was a brilliant campaign in many ways,” he said. “But it was a form of chaos every day from Day One. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply.”

. . . .

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) challenged Sessions to explain an FBI report made public in October that said “black identity extremists” were intent on killing law enforcement officers. She said all the groups named were from decades ago, and asked him if any such groups existed today. He said he did not know of any.

He said he was aware of no similar report on white extremist groups, such as the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Later, he said he did not have a senior staff member who is African American, and said Trump has appointed just one African American as a U.S. attorney.

Sessions also declined to defend Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in the special election to decide Sessions’ old Senate seat in Alabama. Moore now faces charges of being a serial predator of teenage girls, with five women coming forward to describe their encounters.

“I have no reason to doubt these young women,” he said of Moore’s accusers, adding that he would consider whether the Justice Department should open an investigation. “We would do our duty,” he said. He said he has followed advice from the department’s ethics lawyers and avoided any involvement in the campaign.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Doesn’t seem that unreasonable to expect a former Senator and a guy who got himself appointed and confirmed to the highest legal job in the country to remember key events that happened less than two years ago.

Sessions should contrast his performance with the way some U.S. Immigration Judges exercising his delegated authority treat memory lapses by barely literate individuals trying to go back into traumatic events that happened a decade or more ago. Would that our U.S. Immigration Courts were all as forgiving of others as Sessions is of himself. Perhaps, he needs to ease up a bit on the “gonzo enforcement” push and act more like a human being. Not a bad idea for someone seeking better and more sympathetic treatment for himself.

PWS

11-14-17

9TH CIRCUIT TRIMS BACK TRAVEL BAN 3.0 INJUNCTION!

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-travel-ban-20171113-story.html

Jaweed Kaleem reports for the LA Times:

“A federal appeals court Monday partially revived President Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries, allowing it to go into effect against people without a “bona fide” connection in the U.S., such as close family members.

The decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals means that the federal government can start blocking travel into the U.S. by most nationals of Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia and Chad who lack family in the country.

The order partially reversed one from Honolulu-based federal judge Derrick K. Watson, who blocked nearly the entire ban on the grounds that it “plainly discriminates based on nationality.” Watson ruled on a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii.

The 9th Circuit decision is a temporary measure before judges hear arguments Dec. 6 over the government’s appeal of Watson’s ruling. A panel of three judges — Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould and Richard A. Paez — is considering the appeal. All were appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Trump signed his newest travel ban on Sept. 24 to indefinitely halt travel from most citizens of the six countries, but Hawaii- and Maryland-based federal judges issued orders stopping it just as it was about to go into effect in October.

Trump’s travel order also applied to North Koreans and certain Venezuelan government officials and their families, but judges allowed bans on those nationals to continue.

The 9th Circuit decision is a win for the Trump administration, which has struggled since January in three attempts to push similar travel bans that immigration advocates and federal judges have largely described as illegal.”

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Read the full article at the link.

Some good news for the Administration. But, less than a complete victory. And, the merits of the appeal remain to be decided. Stay tuned!

PWS

11-14-17

JOE PATRICE @ ABOVE THE LAW: WE NOW HAVE “SCIENTIFIC PROOF” THAT IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ARE “INCREDIBLY USEFUL” — IN FACT, THEY ARE ESSENTIAL TO DUE PROCESS — So, Why Are Sessions & His Minions Smearing Lawyers & Trying To Railroad More Migrants Through The System Without Fair Hearings?

We Have Scientific Proof That Lawyers Are Incredibly Useful

Patrice writes:

“So instead of fighting whether or not the feds can order cops to bust up the local Motel 6, cities can just hire some lawyers.

This is the lie of every talking head that praises building a wall but adds, with all faux sincerity, that they have “no problem with legal immigrants.” Almost half of the people shuttled through assembly line deportation hearings actually fit within legal immigration protections, but the complexity of the system — not to mention language barriers — make them victims of the bureaucracy.

If that projection is correct, NYIFUP cases result in immigrant victories 48 percent of the time. As Oren Root, director of the Vera Institute’s Center for Immigration and Justice, puts it, that means that of every 12 immigrants who are winning at Varick Street right now, 11 would have been deported without a lawyer.

That finding challenges a widely held assumption about immigration court: that most immigrants who go through it don’t qualify for the types of protection that Congress has laid out for particularly compelling cases. The Vera finding implies that, in fact, many immigrants do deserve relief as Congress and the executive branch have established it — but that hundreds of thousands of them have been deported without getting the chance to pursue those claims.

New York’s program has inspired 12 more cities to adopt the program. It’s put up or shut up time for the Department of Justice — if they’re really committed to proving some undocumented migrant is in violation of the law, then stand up and make that case in court.

Against a real attorney.

Unless they’re chicken.”

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

Read the complete article at the link. I have previously reported on the VOX News Article and the Vera study.

I think Patrice has hit the nail on the head. Sessions, Miller, Bannon and the White Nationalist crowd are biased bullies picking on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Like all bullies, they have absolutely no desire to compete fairly on a level playing field.

The Vera report confirms what many of us involved in the field have been saying for years: a significant portion of those going through Immigration Court, probably 50% or more are entitled to be in the US. Without lawyers, such individuals have little or no chance of making and succeeding on claims that would allow them to stay. Since at least one-third of individuals (and a much higher percentage of detained individuals) are unrepresented, we are unlawfully removing tens of thousands of individuals each year, in violation of due process. And nothing aggravates this unfairness more than unnecessary detention (in other words, the majority of immigration detention which involves individuals who are not criminals, security threats, or threats to abscond if they are represented and understand the system).

A competent and conscientious Attoyney General would work cooperatively with private bar groups, NGOs, and localities to solve the representation crisis and drastically reduce the use of expensive and inhumane immigration detention. But, Sessions is moving in exactly the opposite direction, in violation of constitutional principles of due process, practical efficiency, and basic human decency.

PWS

11-13-17

EUGENE ROBINSON IN WASHPOST: “The Clown Goes Abroad!”🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-clown-goes-abroad/2017/11/13/854b7186-c8b7-11e7-8321-481fd63f174d_story.html

“We are running a terribly unwise experiment: What happens when you replace U.S. presidential leadership with the slapstick antics of a clown?

On Saturday, President Trump issued the following statement: “Why would Kim Jong Un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!”

There is a natural tendency to become inured to Trump’s gushing stream of nonsense. Resist the urge. Read that statement again. The president of the United States, in the midst of a trip to Asia, taunted the nuclear-armed dictator of North Korea in a manner most sixth-graders would consider juvenile.

There was a time when the world looked to the U.S. president to speak clearly in defense of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. I refer to the entirety of modern U.S. history before January, when Trump assumed the high office he now dishonors.

His Asia tour has been at times a disaster, at times a farce. What was the most shameful moment? Perhaps when he announced that he has a “great relationship” with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has encouraged police and vigilantes to fight the trade in illegal drugs by assassinating suspected traffickers without the bother of arrests or trials. At least 7,000 and perhaps as many as 13,000 people have been slain.

The White House claimed that human rights came up “briefly” in a private meeting between the two leaders, but Duterte said it didn’t come up at all. In fact, during a gala dinner, the buffoonish Duterte serenaded Trump with a Philippine ballad that includes the lyric, “You are the love I’ve been waiting for.”

The spectacle was simply appalling. One might argue, however, that Trump’s kowtowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin was even worse.

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the Russian government directed a multipronged campaign to meddle in the 2016 election, with the aim of helping Trump win. Putin denies having committed this hostile act, and Trump, for some reason, takes the former KGB officer at his word.”

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Read the rest of,the story at the link.

What about the clowns 🤡 who voted to make this idiot the Clown-in-Chief 🤡 over the objections of the majority of us?

PWS

11-13-17

 

O CANADA: TRUMP POLICIES AID CANADIAN LOBSTERMEN AT THE EXPENSE OF MAINE! — CANADA BRACES FOR INFLUX OF “TPSers” FLEEING US!

Ana Swanson reports in the NY Times:

“When Americans think about lobster, Maine often comes to mind. But Nova Scotia has emerged as a fierce competitor in exporting lobsters, particularly to Europe. Last year, American lobstermen sold only slightly more to Europe than their Canadian counterparts.
That balance could soon shift given the Canadian-European trade pact, which eliminated an 8 percent European tariff on live lobster when it went into effect in September. Tariffs on frozen and processed Canadian lobster will be phased out in the next three to five years as part of the agreement.
The elimination of European tariffs is “the single most challenging issue” for the American lobster industry, said Annie Tselikis, the executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, which represents companies that buy lobster from Maine fishermen. “This trade agreement does give Canada a huge leg up in the European marketplace,” she said.
Ms. Tselikis said the pact was encouraging American companies to invest in new facilities in Canada to qualify for the lower European tariff.
“If the argument is you’re not going to develop this trade policy because you’re worried about outsourcing jobs — well, here we are, potentially outsourcing jobs due to an absence of trade policy,” she said.”

Read the complete article here:

Meanwhile, Alan Freeman reports in the Washington Post that the Trump Administration might be on the verge of  driving tens of thousands of American residents with useful job skills over our Northern Border:

“OTTAWA — In late October, starkly worded warning signs began appearing on the Canadian border with New York state and Vermont aimed at discouraging would-be asylum seekers fleeing the United States.

“Stop. It is illegal to cross the border here or any place other than a Port of Entry. You will be arrested and detained if you cross here.”

“Not everyone is eligible to make an asylum claim,” reads a second sign. “Claiming asylum is not a free ticket into Canada.”

As the Trump administration signals that it may soon remove the Temporary Protected Status designation from more than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians, threatening them with deportation, Canadian officials are bracing for a new wave of asylum seekers flooding over the border.

Already this week, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced she was lifting protected status for 2,500 Nicaraguans, effective January 2019. And while she extended the same protection for 57,000 Hondurans until July 2018, she warned that protection may end at that time.

A new sign posted by Canadian authorities at the border between Canada and the United States. (Canada Border Services Agency)
The U.S. government decided to protect both groups from deportation following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and the measures were repeatedly renewed until this year. Duke said the original conditions justifying that protection “no longer exist.” Canada and its immigrant-friendly policies may be seen as a viable alternative for those reluctant to return to their countries of origin.

. . . .

Just last week, the government published a three-year plan aimed at accepting almost 1 million immigrants as permanent residents, with a clear bias toward economic migrants, who will make up 58 percent of the total. The balance will be shared between family and refugee classes.

 

Public reaction to the plan, which will see intake grow steadily from 300,000 in 2017 to 310,000 in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, has been generally positive with many of the critics, including the government’s own council of economic advisers, saying Canada should be accepting even more immigrants.

Canada has an increasingly diverse population, with visible minorities making up 22.3 percent of the population in 2016, according to recently released census figures, compared with just 4.7 percent in 1981. By 2036, visible minorities are expected to make up 33 percent of the population.

“Canada is probably the best country in the world to be an immigrant because we give immigrants a chance to climb the ladder to success,” said Kareem El-Assal, senior research manager at the Conference Board of Canada, a think tank, where he specializes in immigration.

Assal said Canada’s immigration system works in part because the Canadian government helps newcomers integrate through language, skills and job training at a cost of almost a billion dollars a year. Furthermore, immigrants benefit from Canada’s universal health-care system and its good public education and reasonably priced universities.

Public opinion surveys continue to show that Canadians are pro-migration. A survey by the Environics Institute last spring showed that 72 percent of respondents agreed that “overall, migration has a positive impact on the economy.” Yet in the same survey, 54 percent said that “too many immigrants do not accept Canadian values.”

As for those border warning signs, Fortin, the union leader, says that asylum seekers are reading them and then crossing the border anyway.

“It doesn’t seem to have a very big dissuasive effect,” he said.”

Here’s a link to the complete article:https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/canada-fears-a-huge-rush-of-asylum-seekers-if-their-us-protected-status-is-lifted/2017/11/12/9464645c-c4b1-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html

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Maine needs all the economic help it can get. And, I had lots of successful “TPSers” pass through my courtroom in Arlington. Good folks, industrious with useful job skills in the types of positions that we need but most Americans don’t want to do: child care, home health care, roofing, drywalling, cleaning, washing, making beds, waiting on tables, brewing coffee, making sandwiches, landscaping, pouring concrete, building things, meat processing, running convenience stores, etc. And, the vast majority had kids who were US citizens or in the DACA program. Our loss is likely to be Canada’s gain. The concept that there are lots of Native-born Americans out there (at a time of effectively full employment) waiting to take these jobs is a restrictionist fairy tale. But, if and when these folks leave, Americans who depend on them for essential services (like child care and Home improve,wants, for example, or restaurant and hotel owners) are going to find themselves out of luck.

So far, overall incompetence has saved us from the full adverse effects of Trump’s “Make America (Not So) Great” policies. But, if they ever do go into full effect, it will be bad for most Americans, including those gullible enough to have voted for Trump.

PWS

11-13-17

GONZO’S WORLD: NPR: Questions Continue To Mount As Sessions’s Involvement In Russia Issues During Campaign Becomes Increasingly Apparent —But House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte Intends To Throw Gonzo A “Lifeline” By Attempting To Change Focus To Largely Irrelevant Hillary Questions!

https://www.npr.org/2017/11/12/563102541/the-russia-investigations-sessions-under-pressure-more-questions-for-trump-aides

Philip Ewing reports for NPR:

“Last week in the Russia investigations: More pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, more details about Russia’s personal outreach to Trump campaign aides and more questions about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians last year

More questions for Jeff Sessions
The bad news for Attorney General Jeff Sessions: He is due back on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to talk about the Russia imbroglio, this time before the House Judiciary Committee.

The good news for Sessions: He’ll be before the House Judiciary Committee.

The Alternative ‘Russia Scandal’
THE TWO-WAY
The Alternative ‘Russia Scandal’
Its chairman, retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., wants to talk Russia all right — about the Russian acquisition of the Canadian mining company Uranium One in 2010, which has become the basis for a parallel narrative of “Russian collusion” that Republicans say is the real scandal here.

House Republicans Launch New Investigations Into Clinton Email Probe, Uranium Deal
POLITICS
House Republicans Launch New Investigations Into Clinton Email Probe, Uranium Deal
Goodlatte and other House committee chairmen have vowed to investigate the role that Hillary Clinton played in that deal — including allegations of graft involving Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation — as well as the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state.

So the stage could be set for a Benghazi-like dual-track hearing: When Republicans have the floor, they can throw Sessions a lifeline with questions about what they call the venality of the Clintons and the Justice Department under his predecessor. When Democrats are up, they can focus on what critics have called his inconsistent statements about the ties between Trump campaign aides and Russians.

Fellow travelers
Sessions has said that he wasn’t aware of any contacts between people in the campaign and Russians trying to influence the election. In the past few weeks, however, two former junior foreign policy aides — George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, of whom more anon — have said they told their bosses, including Sessions, about their Russian connections.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his dealings with Russians, which included meetings and contacts that involved offers of dirt on Clinton and “off the record” discussions with top Russians. Page told the House Intelligence Committee that he wasn’t aware of any influence campaign, but he did acknowledge many in-person contacts with Russians on his trips to Moscow last year.

Sessions has already recused himself from the DOJ Russia probe because, he said, it would be improper for him to superintend the investigation of a campaign in which he took part. But Democrats say there’s even more to this — Sessions hasn’t been truthful to Congress, they complain, and he owes more answers.”

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Read the full report at the link.

Gonzo is a poor excuse for an Attorney General. But, he is pretty good at obscuring and distorting facts and selective memory failure.

Given that the House GOP has less than zero interest in getting to the bottom of the Russian effort to interfere with American Democracy (“hey,  as long as it benefits us who cares”), this appearance should be a breeze. Except that Gonzo keeps forgetting that there are other folks out there who can undermine his claims of ignorance. And testifying before Congress under oath presents different issues from spreading false White Nationalist anti-immigrant propaganda during press conferences and in speeches.  At some point, if the GOP loses its congressional majority, his testimony and his ever-changing recollections could come back to hunt him.

What would “honest” testimony look like?

“Yes, I was well aware that some individuals associated with the campaign were trying to promote closer cooperation with President Putin and the Russians and to “dig up dirt” on Secretary Clinton. Indeed, I ordered that such contacts should cease and that nobody should ever mention them again because I knew how damaging they could be and that they were of questionable legality. However, one or more of these individuals continued to have a dialogue with the Russians and reported it back to me. I also met with the Russian Ambassador on several occasions and might have discussed campaign issues with him.”

Now, that testimony might have provoked a quite different response than the misleading “no knowledge of any contacts” testimony erroneously provided during the Senate Confirmation Hearings.

PWS

1-12-17