As evidence of law breaking by Donald Trump continues to emerge, commentators are speculating about whether a sitting president can be indicted. The Department of Justice has twice opined in the negative — during both the Nixon and Clinton administrations. But nothing in the Constitution would prevent Trump from being criminally indicted while he occupies the Oval Office.
Trump is apparently implicated in at least three federal criminal investigations. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is examining violations of campaign finance laws in connection with Trump Tower Moscow. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have documented campaign finance violations stemming from hush money paid to Trump’s alleged paramours in order to influence the presidential election. And the New York US attorney’s office is analyzing whether Trump’s inaugural committee received illegal payments for presidential access and policy influence.Read more
US tax dollars are supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which has already claimed the lives of some 85,000 children, and 12 million more people are likely on the brink of starvation. As Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, “the starvation does not seem to be an accidental byproduct of war, but rather a weapon in it.”
The United States has long been a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, and both the Obama and Trump administrations have provided considerable military support to the Saudi war in Yemen.
But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has finally spurred both Democrats and Republicans to take steps to end US military involvement in Yemen.
On November 28, the Senate voted 63-to-37 to advance a resolution that would direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen. However, S. J. Res. 54 carves out an exception for continued US-supported military measures against “al Qaeda or associated forces” that could be twisted to rationalize nearly any military assistance Donald Trump provides to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.Read more
After forcing Jeff Sessions to resign as attorney general on November 7, President Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, even though Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was next in line for the job. As a result, Whitaker assumed the functions of attorney general.
Whitaker’s appointment was an illegal and blatant end run around the Attorney General Succession Act and the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. Whitaker must be removed and Rosenstein should be appointed acting attorney general.
Trump’s firing of Sessions and replacement with Whitaker appears to be an effort to terminate or dilute special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump election campaign. Infuriated after Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel, Trump had been champing at the bit to replace Sessions with an attorney general who would have his back. As acting attorney general, Whitaker will assume authority over the Mueller probe.Read more
Donald Trump’s decision to send thousands of troops to the US-Mexican border to intercept migrants who intend to apply for asylum is not just a bald-faced political stunt — it is also illegal.
Passed in 1878 to end the use of federal troops in overseeing elections in the post–Civil War South, the Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of the military to enforce domestic US laws, including immigration laws. For this reason, Trump’s decision to deploy the military to the border to enforce US immigration law against thousands of desperate migrants from Central America — who have undertaken the perilous journey over 1,000 miles through Mexico to the US border in order to apply for asylum — is an unlawful order.Read more
The day after the midterm elections, Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointed Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. Whitaker, who has criticized the Mueller probe in the past, could fire Robert Mueller or defang his investigation.
Although Sessions was faithfully carrying out Trump’s draconian agenda on civil rights, immigration and policing, the president had Sessions in his sights since the latter recused himself from the Russia investigation in March 2017. Sessions’s recusal resulted from his failure to disclose at his confirmation hearing that he met with Russian officials when he was a Trump campaign adviser in 2016. The recusal paved the way for the appointment of Mueller as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017.
Champing at the bit to fire Sessions, Trump was convinced by his advisers to wait until after the midterms to avoid harming GOP candidates.
Sessions’s recusal infuriated Trump because it resulted in Rosenstein appointing Mueller as special counsel. Mueller has been methodically following his mandate to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
So far, Mueller’s probe has produced criminal charges against 32 individuals, including 26 Russians, and four close Trump aides have entered guilty pleas.Read more
In less than two years as president, Donald Trump has already put two radical right-wing justices on the Supreme Court, cementing a conservative majority on the Court for decades. He has also placed 29 right-wing judges on the federal circuit courts of appeals with more in the works by the end of the year. These judicial appointments threaten to endanger our rights for years to come.
We are painfully aware of how Trump and his GOP congressional leadership stole a Supreme Court appointment from Barack Obama and installed Neil Gorsuch, who has delivered conservative decisions as expected. And millions of us watched horrified as Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, laid bare his right-wing bona fides as he lied under oath about a number of things and rallied conservatives in defense of rape culture.
Kavanaugh, who joined the high court on October 9, has not yet had the opportunity to rule on a case. But he showed his true colors during oral argument in Nielsen v. Preap, a case involving the right to a hearing for immigrants with criminal records before being imprisoned during the pendency of their deportation proceedings. Kavanaugh, who whined about being deprived of due process when he was accused of sexual assault, appears poised to vote with his fellow right-wing justices and deny immigrants who have already served their time any due process at all.
There is widespread focus on Trump’s two Supreme Court nominees. But there is less public awareness of how Trump has been systematically packing the federal circuit courts of appeals with conservative judges who are already slashing the rights of workers, immigrants, women, LGBTQ people, consumers, voters, the environment, people accused of crime and whistleblowers.Read more
The alleged torture, murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, widely believed to have been carried out on orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, may put a crimp in Donald Trump’s plans to escalate his aggression against Iran.
Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel are unified in their hatred of Iran, albeit with different motives. Iran has been in the crosshairs of the United States since the 1979 Iranian Revolution overthrew the vicious, US-installed puppet Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi; indeed, in 2002, George W. Bush initiated Iran into his “axis of evil.” Saudi Arabia, home to the two holiest Muslim sites, sees Shiite Iran as a rival for regional hegemony. And Israel considers Iran an “existential threat.”
“Trump administration officials and outside experts said that possible repercussions on an elaborate plan to squeeze the Iranians have dominated internal discussions about the fallout over what happened to Mr. Khashoggi,” David Sanger reported in The New York Times.Read more
The alleged torture, dismemberment and killing of Saudi citizen and US permanent resident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul has triggered justifiable outrage throughout the United States and around the world. But amid the outcry over Khashoggi’s death, many media and public figures still fail to acknowledge the war crimes Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen with US assistance.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had written critically about the Saudi government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Post reported that Mohammed had recently attempted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia in an operation resembling an extrajudicial “rendition,” where a person is forcibly removed from one country and taken to another for interrogation. Bloomberg reported that the United States knew the Saudis planned to seize Khashoggi because US intelligence services had intercepted communications between Saudi officials discussing the plan. According to Turkish sources, participants in Khashoggi’s killing and dismemberment were Saudi operatives.Read more
After Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, Trump and the GOP leadership mounted a full-court press to ram through his confirmation before October 1, the first day of the Court’s new term.
Why the rush?
In part they want Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court before the November 6 midterm elections. If the Democrats achieve a majority in the Senate, there may not be sufficient votes to confirm him.
But the hurry to get Kavanaugh confirmed has more to do with the cases on the Supreme Court’s docket: Republicans are hoping to ensure the outcome of several hot-button cases, including those involving double jeopardy, immigration, age discrimination and the Endangered Species Act. Moreover, there is the possibility that the Supreme Court could also decide to take up additional cases affecting gerrymandering, gay and transgender rights, and the separation of church and state.Read more
Judge Brett Kavanaugh learned a lesson from his weak appearance on Fox News last week. Testifying at the September 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on sexual assault allegations leveled against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh became belligerent and aggressive. Displaying outrage at the process, he portrayed himself as the victim and painted a conspiracy against him by the Democrats, the Clintons and left-wing opposition groups.Read more