Trump Threatens Comey With Jail Time in Unhinged Tirade

President Donald Trump spent Sunday morning railing against former FBI Director James Comey, whose highly anticipated book will be released Tuesday. In a series of unhinged tweets, the president described Comey, whom he fired last year, as “not smart”; the “worst” FBI chief in history; a “self serving” liar; and a “slimeball.” He even threatened Comey with jail time.

Trump kicked off his tirade by referencing reports that Comey discloses in his book that Hillary Clinton’s lead in 2016 election polling may have influenced Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email server.

Whatever one thinks of this troubling admission from Comey, it’s worth noting that what Comey actually wrote, according to early reports, is that he may have treated Clinton more harshly because of his assumption that she’d win.

Comey made a similar statement to ABC News in an interview clip released Saturday, saying that his decision to disclose the reopening of the email investigation “must have been” influenced by his belief that Clinton would win.

Trump went on to call “Slippery James Comey” the “WORST FBI Director in history, by far” and insist that the notes Comey took documenting his conversations with Trump are “FAKE.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Pardons Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s Former Chief of Staff

President Donald Trump pardoned I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Friday, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted in 2005 of perjury and obstruction of justice after a leak that disclosed a CIA agent’s name.

“I don’t know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly,” Trump said in a statement from the White House. “Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

ABC News and The Washington Post both reported this week that Trump had been considering the pardon for a few months, but there was no clear timeline for when it might happen.

The chief prosecutor in Libby’s case, Patrick Fitzgerald, also happens to be friends with former FBI Director James Comey.

Libby was charged in 2005 with lying to the FBI, perjury and obstruction of justice following an investigation into who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative at the time, to various journalists. Libby, according to prosecutors, lied about where he learned of her identity and what he discussed with reporters.

He pleaded not guilty but resigned from his position and was disbarred until 2016. He was also sentenced in 2007 to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000 for his role in the leak case.

President George W. Bush refused to grant a pardon to Libby, despite Cheney pushing for it, although the former president did commute Libby’s 30-month prison sentence.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage eventually admitted in 2006 that he was the one who inadvertently revealed Plame’s identity.

Trump’s most controversial pardon to date was that of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio last August. Arpaio had been convicted of criminal contempt for violating a federal judge’s order to stop detaining individuals the sheriff believed were in the country illegally. Arpaio had a long history of discrimination and unlawful policing toward Hispanics. He’s now running for Senate.

[Huffington Post]

Trump lashes out, cites ‘massive conflicts of interest’ in Russia probe

President Trump unloaded on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in a Monday morning tweet, calling the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election a “witch hunt” filled with “massive conflicts of interest.”

That tweet follows a weekend in which the president vented his frustration with Mueller, singling out the special counsel for criticism by name for the first time and raising questions about whether he is preparing to fire him.

There have been conflicting signals coming from Trump’s legal team about whether a Mueller firing is imminent, although the White House has consistently said it is working with the special counsel in hopes of bringing the investigation to a swift conclusion.

On Sunday, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, to end the investigation.

“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by [Andrew] McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd said.

But Ty Cobb, Trump’s White House attorney in charge of dealing with Mueller, sought to squash the budding questions over whether a firing was imminent.

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” Cobb said in a statement.

Trump over the weekend also lashed out at the FBI and the Department of Justice in a searing string of tweets that escalated his feud with law enforcement officials.

The president’s Monday tweet about a conflicts of interest could be an effort to lay the groundwork for a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the separate investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified material and into Trump campaign officials.

The Justice Department must have evidence of a crime and a conflict of interest to launch a second special counsel.

Late Friday night, Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe just days before he was set to retire with full pension benefits.

The FBI’s personnel office had recommended McCabe be fired, but some Republicans have said the firing appeared malicious in light of McCabe’s intent to retire.

The FBI inspector general will release a report soon that is expected to be critical of McCabe’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server.

[The Hill]

Reality

NBC News wrote that one tweet contained at least five inaccuracies or distortions.

  1. The probe started after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had testified before Congress two months earlier that his agency had been investigating allegations that Trump’s 2016 campaign might have contacts with Russian entities. Mueller was appointed as special counsel by the No. 2 official in Trump’s Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein.
  2. While Trump said there “was no crime,” the Mueller probe has charged 19 different individuals with crimes, including Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) and 13 Russian nationals. In addition, five individuals have pleaded guilty, including Trump’s former national security adviser (Michael Flynn), a former top Trump campaign and transition official (Rick Gates) and a former Trump foreign-policy adviser (George Papadopoulos).
  3. Although Trump says there was “no collusion,” that’s not exactly what Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee concluded. “What we said … is that we found no evidence of it,” Rep. Michael Conaway said on “Meet the Press” yesterday, explaining that saying “no evidence of collusion” is different than saying there was “no collusion.” Conaway also admitted that Democrats on the committee have a different opinion on collusion. “The collusion issue, we found no evidence of it. The Democrats think they have. They’ve not shared that with us,” he said.
  4. While Trump said that the Russian investigation was based on “a fake dossier,” both Democrats and Republicans have admitted the original inquiry began with George Papadopoulos’ conversation with an Australian diplomat that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. “The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok,” February’s memo by Rep. Devin Nunes’ staff said.
  5. And although Trump says the FISA wiretap of former Trump adviser Carter Page was surveillance of his campaign, the FISA court order to begin surveillance on Page took place after Page LEFT THE CAMPAIGN, the Washington Post writes.

And the Washington Post detailed every member of the Mueller team’s publicly available voter registration information showing that 13 of the 17 members of Mueller’s team have previously registered as Democrats, while four had no affiliation or their affiliation could not be found.

Nine of the 17 made political donations to Democrats, their contributions totaling more than $57,000. The majority came from one person, who also contributed to Republicans. Six donated to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 race.

Kellyanne Conway found to have violated Hatch Act

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) informed the Trump administration Tuesday.

Appearing in her official capacity, Conway endorsed and advocated against political candidates, the watchdog said, referring its findings to President Trump “for appropriate disciplinary action.”

The violations occurred during two television appearances in 2017, one on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” and one on CNN’s “New Day.”

“While the Hatch Act allows federal employees to express their views about candidates and political issues as private citizens, it restricts employees from using their official government positions for partisan political purposes, including by trying to influence partisan elections,” OSC says in its report.

“Ms. Conway’s statements during the ‘Fox & Friends’ and ‘New Day’ interviews impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.”

The report goes on to state that Conway received “significant training” on the Hatch Act and possible violations. OSC says it gave Conway, a former GOP pollster who served as Trump’s campaign manager, the opportunity to respond as part of its report, but she did not.

The White House rejected the report’s findings, saying “Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate” in a statement provided to reporters.

“In fact, Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act — as she twice declined to respond to the host’s specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gildley said.

Ahead of December’s special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate, Conway made remarks critical of then-candidate Doug Jones in his race against former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

During her initial Fox appearance, Conway blasted Jones as “weak on crime” and “weak on borders,” before declining to specifically endorse Moore when asked.

“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” Conway said in November.

“So, vote Roy Moore?” host Brian Kilmeade interjected.

“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Conway responded.

In her CNN appearance in December, Conway went further, saying that Trump “doesn’t want a liberal Democrat representing Alabama” in the Senate.

“The only endorsement that matters in this race is President Trump’s,” Conway said the week before the vote. “And he came out questioning the ideology and the vote of Doug Jones. He’ll be a reliable vote for tax hikes. He’ll be a reliable vote against border security. He’ll be a reliable vote against national security and keeping [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS in retreat. He’ll be the reliable vote against the Second Amendment and against life.”

At the time, former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub called the comments a “slam dunk” violation of the Hatch Act.

“The willfulness of Conway’s violation and her openly expressed disdain for efforts to hold her accountable for complying with ethics requirements make clear that anything less than removal from the federal service or a lengthy unpaid suspension will not deter future misconduct on her part,” Shaub said.

Shaub filed two complaints with OSC over the interviews.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah defended Conway last year after initial criticism.

“Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way,” Shah said in a statement.

“She was speaking about issues and her support for the president’s agenda. This election is for the people of Alabama to decide,” he added.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) demanded the president issue “swift and serious” punishment for the violations.

“The President must take swift and serious disciplinary action against Ms. Conway. Anything else sets a terrible example,” Cummings said in a statement.

Hatch Act violations committed by White House staff are typically handled directly by the president. Consequences for violating the law range from an official reprimand to a civil penalty of up to $1,000. Other penalties include suspension, termination or even debarment from federal employment for up to five years.

[The Hill]

Update

The White House said on Tuesday that counselor Kellyanne Conway did not violate the Hatch Act after the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) told the Trump administration she was found in violation.

“Kellyanne Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate. She simply expressed the president’s obvious position that he have people in the House and Senate, who support his agenda,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Trump’s Plan to Solve the Opioid Crisis Might Involve Executing Drug Dealers

While signing a bill that aims to combat the opioid crisis last month, President Trump hinted that he’d come up with the solution to the complex problem, but couldn’t talk about it.

“There is an answer. I think I actually know the answer, but I’m not sure the country is ready for it yet,” Trump said. “Does anybody know what I mean? I think so.”

No one knew what he meant. “Yeah, I wondered about that,” said Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who was at the signing. “I didn’t follow up and ask.”

Many dismissed the comment as more of Trump’s regular, incoherent ramblings. However, now it seems the president may actually have a secret plan to fight the opioid epidemic, beyond hiring a 24-year-old ingenue as his deputy drug czar and an ad campaign that was supposed to launch during the Super Bowl but didn’t come together in time. Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports that he’s been telling friends for months that drug dealers should face the death penalty, citing policies in Singapore and the Philippines.

“He says that a lot,” said a source. “He says, ‘When I ask the prime minister of Singapore do they have a drug problem [the prime minister replies,] ‘No. Death penalty’.”

Trump is reportedly convinced that the key to ending America’s drug problems is making dealers fear for their lives and kids fear that even trying drugs will kill them — but he’s also acknowledged that the U.S. probably won’t pass a law mandating that all drug dealers be executed.

Kellyanne Conway, who is leading the administration’s anti-drug efforts, told Swan that Trump’s plan is more nuanced. “The president makes a distinction between those that are languishing in prison for low-level drug offenses and the kingpins hauling thousands of lethal doses of fentanyl into communities, that are responsible for many casualties in a single weekend,” she said.

In lieu of mass executions, the White House may push to toughen drug-sentencing laws. Per Axios:

Trump may back legislation requiring a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl. Currently, you have to deal forty grams to trigger the mandatory five-year sentence. (The DEA estimates that as little as two milligrams is enough to kill people.)

Singapore has some of the strictest drug laws in the world. Police can perform random drug tests and those who test positive can face years-long sentences. Those caught with more than a few grams of certain drugs are presumed to be trafficking, and in higher quantities offenders are sentenced to death. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte instituted a brutal crackdown on both drug dealers and drug users in 2016. While the government claims that fewer than 4,000 suspects have been killed, Human Rights Watch puts the number at more than 12,000.

Trump has made it clear that unlike his predecessor, he has a cosy relationship with Duterte. He invited him to visit the White House, ignored questions about human-rights abuses during their first meeting in the Philippines, and congratulated him for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” during a phone call. It was assumed that this was all part of Trump’s general admiration for authoritarian leaders, but perhaps he’s been taking more specific policy inspiration.

[New York Magazine]

Reality

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted.” The general principles the United States Supreme Court relied on to decide whether or not a particular punishment was cruel and unusual were determined by Justice William Brennan.[4] In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, “There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’.”

  • The “essential predicate” is “that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity,” especially torture.
  • “A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.” (Furman v. Georgia temporarily suspended capital punishment for this reason.)
  • “A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society.”
  • “A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary.”

And he added: “The function of these principles, after all, is simply to provide means by which a court can determine whether a challenged punishment comports with human dignity. They are, therefore, interrelated, and, in most cases, it will be their convergence that will justify the conclusion that a punishment is “cruel and unusual.” The test, then, will ordinarily be a cumulative one: if a punishment is unusually severe, if there is a strong probability that it is inflicted arbitrarily, if it is substantially rejected by contemporary society, and if there is no reason to believe that it serves any penal purpose more effectively than some less severe punishment, then the continued infliction of that punishment violates the command of the Clause that the State may not inflict inhuman and uncivilized punishments upon those convicted of crimes.”

Continuing, he wrote that he expected that no state would pass a law obviously violating any one of these principles, so court decisions regarding the Eighth Amendment would involve a “cumulative” analysis of the implication of each of the four principles. In this way the United States Supreme Court “set the standard that a punishment would be cruel and unusual [,if] it was too severe for the crime, [if] it was arbitrary, if it offended society’s sense of justice, or if it was not more effective than a less severe penalty.”

Trump Says Florida Students Should Have Done More To Prevent Deadly Shooting

President Donald Trump on Thursday responded to the massacre at a South Florida high school by suggesting students and the surrounding community could have done more to prevent the attack.

At least 17 people were killed and 15 injured after a troubled former student opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, police said. Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been expelled from the school the previous year for “disciplinary reasons,” and many of his former classmates told media on Wednesday that he displayed problematic behavior.

“Honestly a lot of people were saying it was going to be him,” one student told CBS Miami. “We actually, a lot of kids threw jokes around like that, saying that he’s the one to shoot up the school, but it turns out everyone predicted it. It’s crazy.”

A former teacher, Jim Gard, told the Miami Herald that Cruz reportedly wasn’t allowed to carry a backpack on the school campus, and that “there were problems with him last year threatening students.”

Contrary to Trump’s tweet, it does appear that authorities were aware of Cruz’s behavior before the attack. A former neighbor told The New York Times that Cruz’s late mother called the police on her two sons on multiple occasions, though she stressed that she didn’t think the boys were violent. Broward County Mayor Beam Furr told CNN that Cruz had been treated at a mental health clinic in the past and  was somewhat on officials’ radar.

“It wasn’t like there wasn’t concern for him,” Furr said.

Trump’s tweet failed to acknowledge the role that Florida’s lax gun laws played in the shooting. Barring institutionalization, it’s extremely difficult to keep someone with a history of mental illness from buying a gun in Florida. The accused killer legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle used in the slaughter, his family’s attorney said.
The president also ignored the fact that he actually made it easier for people with mental health issues to buy guns by revoking an Obama-era gun regulation last year.

[Huffington Post]

Jeff Sessions strays from prepared remarks to praise ‘Anglo-American heritage’ of sheriffs

Update

Jeff Sessions was using a legal technical term “Anglo-American” law, which is a reference to the legal tradition of common law that the American sheriff’s system shares with England.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions strayed from his prepared remarks to comment on the “Anglo-American” historical origins of the sheriff.

Sessions spoke Monday to a the National Sheriffs Association, which represents about 20,000 law enforcement officials across the U.S., but video recordings show an apparent improvisation from the prepared remarks distributed ahead of time to reporters, according to Splinter News.

“The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement,” Sessions said. “We must never erode this historic office.”

The remarks quickly raised eyebrows on social media, where commenters perceived the reference as racist in light of the attorney general’s racially problematic history.

The sheriff indeed originated in medieval England, and the name derives from Anglo-Saxon words for the guardian, or reeve, of a county, or shire.

English colonists brought the tradition to America and elected their own sheriffs in the 1600s, and various right-wing fringe movements promote the legal fallacy that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the United States.

[RawStory]

Media

Trump pushes for stronger border in wake of Colts’ Edwin Jackson killing

President Donald Trump urged for tougher border security Tuesday after Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson was reportedly killed by an undocumented immigrant in a vehicle collision.

“So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson,” he tweeted. “This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!”

Prior to the president’s tweets, however, Chad Bouchez, Jackson’s roommate, said during a CBS interview, that Jackson would not want his death politicized. “He would not want that,” Bouchez said. “I don’t think Edwin would have judged anyone on where they were from or anything else. ”

The man accused of hitting Jackson and his Uber driver with his vehicle in Indianapolis on Sunday had been deported twice, according to Indiana State Police. Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, might have entered the U.S. on or around July 1, 2004, according to an email Monday from Nicole Alberico, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to CNN, an ICE statement said the accused also has other “misdemeanor criminal convictions and arrests in California and Indiana.”

News reports say prosecutors have not formally charged Orrego-Savala but authorities said they are working on potential criminal charges.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) shared the president’s sentiments, according to a Washington Times report Monday.

“The loss of life at the hands of illegal immigrant criminals should make all Hoosiers sad and ultimately angry,” Rokita said. “We must do more to get these dangerous illegal immigrant criminals off of our streets, and guarantee this never happens again by building a wall, ending sanctuary cities, and stopping illegal immigration once and for all.”

The second-year linebacker was loved by the Colts organization, according to the team’s statement on Sunday.

“We admired his outgoing personality, competitive spirit and hard-working mentality,” the statement said. “He was well-respected among all with whom he crossed paths, and he will be greatly missed in our locker room and throughout our entire organization.”

After pushing for Democrats to get “tougher” on border control, Trump sent his condolences to Jackson’s family.

“My prayers and best wishes are with the family of Edwin Jackson, a wonderful young man whose life was so senselessly taken. @Colts,” he tweeted.

The president had previously criticized the “disgraceful” verdict in the 2015 case of Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco. As a result, Trump called for the building of a border wall after the verdict was delivered in the trial in December.

[Politico]

Reality

This was a sad and tragic event by an illegal immigrant, but it is *A* sad and tragic event, meaning this is just one instance. Policy needs to reflect data, which unequivocally shows that immigrants (both legal and illegal) commit crimes at far lower rates than the native population.

Second, Orrego-Savala was driving without a license and intoxicated, so we could make just as strong, if not stronger, of an argument against drunk driving as one could about illegal immigration being the primary factor of death.

Sessions Made What Might be His Most Racially Discriminatory Decision Yet and Barely Anyone Noticed

In an extraordinary move that is not getting nearly enough attention, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a Justice Department letter that warned state courts about the unlawful practice of forcing low income defendants to pay fines or face jail. Courts across the country were (and many still are) enforcing these type of fees in order to generate revenue. When people fail to pay the fees typically imposed for minor traffic infractions or city code violations, courts will issue arrest warrants, send people to jail or take away their driving licenses.  The problem with all that? In America, we don’t believe in debtor’s prisons. Oh, and the practice is unconstitutional. That means illegal. The U.S. outlawed debtor’s prisons in 1833. In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled that jailing indigent debtors was illegal under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause

“The idea that the Department of Justice doesn’t care about the United States Constitution in courts is so wrong, and really unfortunate. It is a message that should not be sent, and has practical implications,” the Honorable Lisa Foster, who served as the Director of the Office for Access to Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice said to Law&Crime.  Foster authored the “Dear Colleague” letter that was sent out in March 2016, and was rescinded by Sessions on Thursday.

Maybe the worst part of all about this decision? The fines and fees disproportionately impact minorities who can’t afford to pay fines right away and often find themselves in jail. It’s not just me saying this, there is study after study proving this.

Imagine getting pulled over for failing to stop at a stop sign. You get a $100 ticket. You can’t pay it right away, so your license gets suspended. Then you have to drive to work to support your family but get pulled over and thrown in jail for having a suspended license. Don’t believe me? The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 alleging that the small town of Alexander City, Alabama (population 15,000) was running a “modern-day debtor’s prison” where poor people who couldn’t pay city fines were forced to sit in jail instead. 

The stories go on and on.

Now to be clear, the “Dear Colleague” that was sent last year under the Obama administration was not some kind of earth shattering, super left-wing mandate. The letter was literally just guidance notifying local judges, prosecutors, attorneys and advocates about the law. It was a letter that state municpalities had asked for. Here are some examples of what the letter instructed:

 (1)Courts must not incarcerate a person for nonpayment of fines or fees without first
conducting an indigency determination and establishing that the failure to pay was
willful;
(2) Courts must consider alternatives to incarceration for indigent defendants unable to
pay fines and fees;
(3) Courts must not condition access to a judicial hearing on the prepayment of fines or
fees;
(4) Courts must provide meaningful notice and, in appropriate cases, counsel, when
enforcing fines and fees

The DOJ attorneys go on to cite very well-established Supreme Court opinions like Bearden v. Georgia (1983) to back up their guidelines.  The SCOTUS opinion found that the due process and equal protection principles of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit “punishing a person for his poverty.”  In fact, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held tha tthe government can’t jail someone for failure to pay a fine.  The strange thing about all of this is that until Attorney General Sessions came along, this was a pretty non-partisan issue. Both Republicans and Democrats agreed there was a problem here.

In fact, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which is a well-known conservative non-profit organization for state legislators, was also opposed to these type of excessive fees and fines. In their resolution against the practice they wrote: “excessive criminal justice financial obligations can contribute to unnecessary incarceration as some studies have found 20 percent of those in local jails are incarcerated because of failure to pay a fine or fee, which can make it even harder for the person to obtain employment and add to the burden on taxpayers.”

The initial “Dear Colleague” letter, which has now been rescinded, was in response, in part, to the DOJ’s Ferguson Report which found that police were unfairly targeting minorities, and saddling residents with fines. For example, a Ferguson woman parked her car illegally in 2007, and somehow ended up having to pay $1,000 and serve 6 days in jail. That’s insane.

“It is tragic for the Department of Justice to retreat from concerns about and constitutional commitments to equal and fair treatment,” Judith Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School, said in an email to Law&Crime.

“I think it shocking and unfortunate,” Judge Foster said.

[Law and Crime]

Trump rips the FBI before speech at its training academy

President Trump on Friday tore into the FBI just hours before speaking at the agency’s training academy.

“It’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI. But we’re going to rebuild the FBI; it’ll be bigger and better than ever,” Trump told reporters.

The president doubled down on his criticism of the nation’s top law enforcement agency before leaving the White House for the FBI’s campus in Quantico, Va., where he spoke to law enforcement leaders graduating from a training program.

Trump said revelations about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and text messages from a top agent that were critical of him were “really, really disgraceful.”

“You have a lot of very angry people who are seeing it,” the president said. “It’s a very sad thing to watch, I will tell you that.”

The president has long been suspicious of the FBI and intelligence agencies, but the timing of his criticism was remarkable.

Roughly an hour after Trump spoke at the White House, he appeared on stage at the academy with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the graduation ceremony.

During the speech, the president cast himself as a defender of law enforcement and lauded the bravery of police officers and FBI agents.

“These are great, great people. These are really heroes for all of us,” he said.

“The president of the United States has your back 100 percent,” Trump added. “I will fight for you and I will never, ever let you down. Ever.”

Trump’s comments come as special counsel Robert Mueller is working through his investigation into Russia’s election interference and whether the Trump campaign had any ties to it.

The president repeated his insistence his campaign staff had nothing to do with Russia’s election-related activities.

“Let’s put it this way: there is absolutely no collusion. That’s been proven,” Trump said.

“I didn’t make a phone call to Russia,” he added. “Even Democrats admit there was no collusion.”

Trump did speak about his Thursday phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which Trump said he tried to persuade Putin to do more to counter North Korea.

Trump thanked Putin for praising the performance of the U.S. economy this year.

The president and his allies are increasingly questioning the FBI’s integrity as they attack the Russia probe.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have slammed former FBI Director James Comey for revising a draft document detailing the agency’s findings in the Clinton email probe in a way that appeared to lessen its severity.

They have also zeroed in on text messages sent by top FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was a senior official on the Clinton probe and the Russia investigation. He was reassigned from Mueller’s investigation after private texts were discovered of him criticizing Trump.

“The level of anger at what they’ve been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad,” Trump said.

Strzok also sent text messages criticizing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former attorney general Eric Holder and Chelsea Clinton, among others.

Earlier Friday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News that “the president is absolutely supportive of and has full faith and confidence in the rank-and-file members of the DOJ and also the FBI” but is upset with its some of its leaders.

Trump spoke to state and local law enforcement officials graduating from a program that is designed to improve standards and cooperation with federal authorities.

[The Hill]

Media

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