Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

A sobering warning from Natasha Betrand in The Atlantic that there's a definite reason why Donald Trump wants Brett Kavanaugh confirmed on the Supreme Court as the new term begins October 1: he would almost certainly be the deciding vote in an upcoming SCOTUS 5-4 case decision that could give Trump pardon power over state crimes as well as federal ones.

A key Republican senator has quietly weighed in on an upcoming Supreme Court case that could have important consequences for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The Utah lawmaker Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed a 44-page amicus brief earlier this month in Gamble v. United States, a case that will consider whether the dual-sovereignty doctrine should be put to rest. The 150-year-old exception to the Fifth Amendment’s double-jeopardy clause allows state and federal courts to prosecute the same person for the same criminal offense. According to the brief he filed on September 11, Hatch believes the doctrine should be overturned. “The extensive federalization of criminal law has rendered ineffective the federalist underpinnings of the dual sovereignty doctrine,” his brief reads. “And its persistence impairs full realization of the Double Jeopardy Clause’s liberty protections.”

Within the context of the Mueller probe, legal observers have seen the dual-sovereignty doctrine as a check on President Donald Trump’s power: It could discourage him from trying to shut down the Mueller investigation or pardon anyone caught up in the probe, because the pardon wouldn’t be applied to state charges. Under settled law, if Trump were to pardon his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, for example—he was convicted last month in federal court on eight counts of tax and bank fraud—both New York and Virginia state prosecutors could still charge him for any crimes that violated their respective laws. (Both states have a double-jeopardy law that bars secondary state prosecutions for committing “the same act,” but there are important exceptions, as the Fordham University School of Law professor Jed Shugerman has noted.) If the dual-sovereignty doctrine were tossed, as Hatch wants, then Trump’s pardon could theoretically protect Manafort from state action.

If Trump were to shut down the investigation or pardon his associates, “the escape hatch, then, is for cases to be farmed out or picked up by state-level attorneys general, who cannot be shut down by Trump and who generally—but with some existing limits—can charge state crimes even after a federal pardon,” explained Elie Honig, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey. “If Hatch gets his way, however, a federal pardon would essentially block a subsequent state-level prosecution.”

A spokesman for the senator denied that his brief was inspired by the Mueller investigation, noting that Hatch has “worked for years to address the problem of overcriminalization in our federal code” and wants the Court “to reconsider the rationale” for the doctrine “in light of the rapid expansion of both the scope and substance of modern federal criminal law.”

But while Hatch has earned his bona fides in the arena of criminal-justice reform, the timing of his filing is nevertheless significant. For months, the Gamble case has been analyzed through the lens of the Mueller investigation, and Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to replace the retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, could be on the bench by the time the Court reconvenes this fall. The justices decided to hear the case one day after Kennedy announced his retirement.

In other words, this case was hand-selected to send to the Supreme Court, and Kennedy's retirement the last obstacle Trump needed gone in order to install the SCOTUS vote that would assure his federal pardons would mean that state charges could not be brought on the same crimes.

Trump could then pardon everyone involved, including himself, and then be insulated from state charges.  All of it would go away, investigation, charges, or not.

This is what Kavanaugh has to be on the court to do.  This was the plan all along.  Mueller may lower the boom on Trump, but the means are in place for him to escape completely from any sort of justice, along with all his co-conspirators.

A Republic, if you can keep it...

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Across the river in Ohio, things are looking a lot better for Democrats then they were two years ago when Trump won the state by 8 points, as Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown looks to be on the path to easy reelection and in better news, Dem Richard Cordray has tied up the Governor's race with Mike DeWine.

"Two years have made a big difference in the outlook of Ohio voters," Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

"Donald Trump won the state by more than eight points. But, now, a majority want more Democrats in Congress as a check on his agenda."

Both Cordray and DeWine get support from 47 percent of likely voters; six percent say they're undecided.

Among registered voters, it's the same tie at 47 percent each. That's a tightening from NBC/Marist's last poll in June, which showed DeWine up with registered voters, 46 percent to 42 percent.

When candidates from the Green Party and Libertarian Party added to ballot, Cordray and DeWine both pull 44 percent.

The two gubernatorial hopefuls have similar favorability ratings among likely voters, with Cordray having lower negatives. Forty-four percent of likely voters view him favorably, compared to 28 percent who view him unfavorably (+16) .For Dewine, he's viewed favorably by 47 percent of likely voters and negatively by 36 percent (+11). Twenty-eight percent of likely voters aren't sure how to rate Cordray, while 17 percent are unsure about DeWine.

In the Senate race, Brown holds a 13-point lead over Renacci among both likely and registered voters, 52 percent to 39 percent, unchanged from June's NBC/Marist poll.

Brown's lead comes thanks to a 29-point advantage with likely independent voters and a 49-point lead among likely moderates. Renacci trails with every demographic breakdown — income bracket, education level, race, and age group — except for his 4-point advantage with likely male voters. Brown holds a 29-point lead with likely female voters.

These results sit against the backdrop of relatively stable approval numbers for Trump among all Ohio adults. Forty-three percent approve of Trump's job as president, compared to 49 percent who disapprove. In June, 40 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved of his job performance.

What a difference two years of Trump makes.  In early 2017, Brown was considered among the most vulnerable Democrats in the midterms, and Mike DeWine was considered a shoo-in to continue John Kasich's GOP policies.

Now Brown has a double-digit lead, and Cordray has tied the race up with six weeks to go. Suddenly, Trump isn't so hot in a state getting pummeled by tariffs on farmers and automotive parts makers.

And in the House, Republicans are already starting to pull the plug on losing campaigns in order to try to save the competitive races they can.

Republicans are performing critical triage to their midterm spending strategy as they seek to hold on to their House majority in a difficult midterm year.

The House GOP’s campaign arm pulled the plug on its remaining ad buys last week for the Pittsburgh media market, where Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) is desperately fighting to hang on to his seat in a race against Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.).

It’s grim news for Rothfus, who has largely been seen as a dead man walking since redistricting left him with a Democratic-leaning district and a difficult opponent in Lamb.

For the GOP, it’s likely a sign of things to come as the party seeks to target its money toward the races most likely to save its majority. Democrats need 23 seats to take back control of the House, and the GOP is defending dozens of seats that are seen as vulnerable.

“It’s a giant chessboard,” said one longtime GOP operative. “There’s obviously limited resources, and you need to make tough decisions. This is sort of an art form as opposed to a science.”

It's a giant chessboard, but with Trump tied around their necks, the game is now sink or swim, and they're drowning.

The Whole Saturday Night Massacre Thing, Con't

The Village media is desperately trying to redeem themselves after Monday's Rod Rosenstein "is he fired or isn't he" fiasco, and frankly they're not doing a very good job of it if this is the best they can do.

Rod J. Rosenstein’s departure seemed so certain this week that his boss’s chief of staff told colleagues that he had been tapped by the White House to take over as second-in-command of the Justice Department, while another official would supervise the special counsel probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, people familiar with the matter said.

But by Monday afternoon, the succession plan had been scrapped. Rosenstein, who told the White House he was willing to quit if President Trump wouldn’t disparage him, would remain the deputy attorney general in advance of a high-stakes meeting on Thursday to discuss the future of his employment. The other officials, too, would go back to work, facing the prospect that in just days they could be leading the department through a historic crisis.

Inside the Justice Department on Tuesday, officials still struggled to understand the events that nearly produced a seismic upheaval in their leadership ranks — until it didn’t — and they braced for a potential repeat of that chaos later in the week.

Some officials said that Matt Whitaker, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff, had told people he would be taking over for Rosenstein — an indication that the deputy attorney general’s departure was all but certain — and were surprised when it was announced that Rosenstein would remain in his job. Sessions began telling people on Sunday that Rosenstein might be in trouble, according to people familiar with the matter. Others said they learned all the developments from news reports that evolved throughout the day.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

While it remained possible that Rosenstein could still resign or be fired imminently, people inside and outside the department said it seemed increasingly more likely that Rosenstein would stay in the job until after November’s elections and then depart, probably along with the attorney general. Two White House officials said Tuesday that Trump is unlikely to fire Rosenstein until after the midterms.

Forcing out the deputy attorney general in the next month could motivate Trump’s detractors to turn out for elections in which dozens of congressional seats are in play and Republicans are fearful they are at risk of losing control of the House. And those who have observed Trump and Rosenstein together or have been told of their interactions said the president seemed to hold Rosenstein in somewhat higher regard than he did Sessions.

“For all of the president’s bluster, I’m not sure he doesn’t have at least some grudging respect for Rod,” said James M. Trusty, a friend of Rosenstein and former Justice Department official who works in private practice at Ifrah Law.

 Breaking all this down,this is where the Washington Post is on Rosenstein:

1) We're just telling you what our sources told us, so it's not our fault if they burned us.

2) We're still carrying water for them because we need access to the White House.

3) Somebody talked Trump out of firing Rosenstein at the last minute, but we're not telling you who.

4) We don't know when Rosenstein is going to be fired, or who will replace him overseeing the Mueller investigation.

5) He's probably going to survive until after the election, but then all bets are off.

We'll see what happens on Thursday, but Rosenstein's days seem as numbered as Jeff Sessions's are, and that doesn't bode well for the Mueller investigation to ever be allowed to be completed.


Related Posts with Thumbnails