Podcast: President Trump’s deepening legal troubles

President Trump’s legal issues continue to mount, including whether he violated campaign finance laws when he allegedly directed his attorney, Micheal Cohen, to pay hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels. In this podcast from NPR, Steve Inskeep talks to Trump supporter Chris Buskirk, who runs the conservative publication American Greatness, about the president possibly being linked to campaign finance violations.

Video: Toobin says Trump should be nervous after Flynn’s sentencing recommendation

Robert MuellerCNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says Robert Mueller’s recommendation that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn serve no prison time in exchange for his cooperation should send a signal to President Trump. And that signal is that it’s time to be nervous about the investigation. Mueller says Flynn provided “substantial” assistance to his investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. You can read the heavily-redacted sentencing recommendation document here. 

Toobin: Cohen’s guilty plea has legal perils for Trump

Michael CohenNow that President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, what kind of legal trouble does that mean for the president? Writing in The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin outlines how Cohen’s plea explains a lot about Trump’s fawning over Russian leader Vladimir Putin. As with so many things, Toobin says it comes down to money, particularly how Trump kept seeking permission to build a Trump Tower in Moscow well into 2016. Read more about Toobin’s analysis at The New Yorker.

CNN also has commentary from Toobin, in which he discusses the possibility that Trump may not even finish his first term.

The press and the president

CNN has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for revoking the press credentials of Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent. The Washington Post lays out CNN’s legal argument, and points out that the lawsuit is causing the White House to change its tune on why it revoked Acosta’s press pass. An article at Slate supports CNN’s claim, and states that they believe the news organization will win its lawsuit. Politico has posted its own take on the lawsuit, titled “Donald Trump and Jim Acosta: A love story.”

Here’s a copy of the altered video of the incident that was retweeted by Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders alongside unedited C-SPAN video. The video is provided by The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the American Bar Association has posted an ABA Legal Fact Check on the lawsuit:

“With CNN challenging the suspension of the White House media pass for one of its reporters, the American Bar Association posted today a new ABA Legal Fact Check exploring the history and case law of the conflict between the White House and the media over credentials.

A half century ago, the Secret Service periodically denied media credentials for niche or alternative media. This led to federal lower court rulings in the 1970s that tested whether the White House had the authority to deny a “hard pass” for a reporter and on what grounds. While the cases never reached the U.S. Supreme Court, lower court judges cited both First and Fifth Amendment grounds in ruling for reporters and against the Secret Service. CNN’s lawyers cited similar First and Fifth Amendment grounds in arguing on behalf of its reporter.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. For coverage of other timely issues in the news, these prior ABA Legal Fact Checks might be helpful:

  • Click here on the legal history of U.S. birthright citizenship.
  • Click here on what legally constitutes the crime of treason.
  • Click here on whether White House confidentiality agreements can be enforced.
  • Click here for an ABA Legal Fact Check on under what circumstances, if any, would a president be above the law.
  • Click here for an ABA Legal Fact Check on the authority of a president to issue pardons.

The URL for the site is www.abalegalfactcheck.com. Follow us on Twitter @ABAFactCheck.”

National Civil Rights Group Condemns Justice Department’s Election Monitoring Plan

votingThe Justice Department “Has Been and Remains Silent on Widespread Voter Suppression”  

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement in response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s latest announcement regarding plans for the deployment of federal personnel to polling sites on Election Day:

“In stark contrast to how federal personnel have been deployed in the past, Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not have his eyes set on voter suppression and last minute intimidation but is instead using this moment to further promote a false narrative about voter fraud,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “At every turn, this Justice Department has failed to take action to enforce the Voting Rights Act and protect the interests of minority voters.”

Clarke continued, “As the record makes clear, this Justice Department has been and continues to remain silent on voter suppression efforts unfolding in Georgia and elsewhere. In fact, the silence from this Justice Department in the face of the significant threats and obstacles that minority voters have faced has been deafening. In abandoning this work, they have left minority voters increasingly vulnerable. We will be watching the actions of the Justice Department’s personnel with great skepticism tomorrow, and given Sessions’ focus on fraud, will be vigilant for any federally-driven attempt to intimidate voters at the polls. We urge voters who require trusted help to also contact our non-partisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE with any complaints regarding voting through Election Day.”

This statement follows a recent October 30, 2018 announcement by DOJ outlining its commitment to prosecuting ballot fraud. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law leads Election Protection, the nation’s largest and longest-running, non-partisan voter protection program anchored by the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline. The Lawyers’ Committee will be monitoring elections and providing support to voters through Election Day.

Podcast: Election law and gerrymandering

votingWith the midterm elections coming in November, a lot of attention is being paid to election law. In this edition of the Planet Lex podcast from Legal Talk Network, host Jim Speta talks to law school professor Michael Kang about a wide range of topics in election law, from partisan gerrymandering to the effects of voter ID laws. Also discussed are how different political parties have used redistricting to their advantage, the urban/rural divide and the role state courts play in elections.

Podcast: How the legal community is reacting to the Senate vote on Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh protest picAt this point, more than 1,700 law professors have signed a petition saying Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh lacks the temperament and judicial restraint necessary to sit on the high court. Kavanaugh’s nomination has not only divided the country; it has also divided the legal community. NPR has more on how members of the legal profession are reacting to the Senate’s vote on whether to confirm Kavanaugh.

Video: CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin criticizes Trump comments on the ‘poor plight of white men’

Supreme CourtCNN analyst and author Jeffrey Toobin says Donald Trump, Jr.’s comments about the “poor plight of white men” is “garbage.

“If you sexually assault someone in high school, your life should be ruined,” Toobin added. “You life should be pursued. I mean the idea that this is somehow unjust—remember, this all started with accusations of sexual assault. How about the lives of the women who were sexually assaulted in high school?”

Meanwhile, President Trump told reporters Tuesday that “It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of.” According to CNN, Trump added that “women are doing great.”

The Trumps’ comments come as the controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues to agitate people on both sides.

Video: Ford’s lawyer explains why she wants an FBI investigation of Kavanaugh

FBI sealThe attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, says she wants the FBI to investigate the charges before she’ll testify to Congress. She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Ford has been forced into hiding because of death threats made against her since her name was revealed.

The trouble with Kavanaugh

Supreme CourtPresident Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has reached a barrier that may not be surmountable: A college professor is accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her while they were teenagers. Some analyses at The Week offer insight into the GOP’s dilemma. Scott Lemieux wonders why Republicans are adamantly standing by the troubled nominee. His argument is that the GOP could easily find someone else on The Federalist Society’s Top 25 list to replace Kavanaugh and have them approved before the midterm election. Meanwhile, David Faris writes that The American judiciary is in serious trouble, and accuses Republicans of abusing their power:  

The GOP’s abuse of its power of judicial appointments is so widespread at this point as to feel commonplace, and it goes far beyond the behavior of Vichy Republicans in Congress. Party elites at all levels are acting like bank robbers feverishly stuffing stacks into sacks even as they hear the sirens approaching in the distance.

Ryan Cooper says Kavanaugh’s nomination reveals “the utter moral corruption of American conservatism.  And at Salon, Bob Brigham says former RNC Chairman Michael Steele claims Republicans have been privately discussing ways to remove Kavanaugh’s nomination. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews says the Kavanaugh nomination is really all about Trump.