Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Last Call For That Whole Saturday Night Massacre Thing, Con't

The immediate question I have is "Does Bill Barr do what Matt Whitaker wouldn't and end the Mueller probe?" He probably won't. 

CNN, today, answering my question in less than 24 hours:

Attorney General Bill Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, with plans for Barr to submit to Congress soon after a summary of Mueller's confidential report, according to people familiar with the plans. 
The preparations are the clearest indication yet that Mueller is nearly done with his almost two-year investigation. 
The precise timing of the announcement is subject to change. 
The scope and contours of what Barr will send to Congress remain unclear. Also unclear is how long it will take Justice officials to prepare what will be submitted to lawmakers. 
But with President Donald Trump soon to travel overseas for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Justice officials are mindful of not interfering with the White House's diplomatic efforts, which could impact the timing. 
The Justice Department and the special counsel's office declined to comment.

Two schools of thought on this.  One:

Folks, the Mueller report is about to be buried.  It will never see the light of day.  House Democrats will get whatever summary William Barr wants them to have and not a word more, and then the rest vanishes into the void.  They will no doubt subpoena the whole thing and it will get tied up in the courts for eternity.

If Robert Mueller has any of those contingency plans in place, he'd better have already been using them.  Trump was never going to let this come out.

It may be all up to the SDNY and NY state investigations now.

Two: Mueller is wrapping this up on his terms and next week is going to be very, very uncomfortable for Trump.

An adviser to President Trump said there is palpable concern among the president’s inner circle that the report might contain information about Trump and his team that is politically damaging, but not criminal conduct.

Even before he was confirmed by the Senate, Barr had preliminary discussions about the logistics surrounding the conclusion of Mueller’s inquiry, a second person said. At that time, though, Barr had not been briefed on the substance of Mueller’s investigation, so the conversations were limited.

CNN first reported Wednesday that Mueller could send a report to Barr as early as next week.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment, as did a Justice Department spokeswoman.

How detailed either Mueller’s report and the attorney general’s summary of the findings will be is unclear. Lawmakers have demanded that Mueller’s report be made public, but Barr has been noncommittal on that point, saying that he intends to be as forthcoming as the regulations and department practice allow. He has pointed, however, to Justice Department practices that insist on saying little or nothing about conduct that does not lead to criminal charges.

We'll know before the end of the month, I suspect.

A Supreme Victory For Once

In a massively important and unanimous Supreme Court ruling issued today by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the nine justices declared that the Constitution's 8th Amendment provisions on excessive fines applies directly to local and state governments and civil forfeiture.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Constitution’s prohibition on excessive fines applies to state and local governments, limiting their abilities to impose fines and seize property.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on just her second day back on the bench after undergoing cancer surgery in December, announced the decision for the court, saying that the 8th Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause protects against government retribution.

“For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” Ginsburg wrote. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies . . . Even absent a political motive, fines may be employed in a measure out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence.”

The court ruled in favor of Tyson Timbs of Marion, Ind., who had his $42,000 Land Rover seized after he was arrested for selling a couple hundred dollars’ worth of heroin.

He drew wide support from civil liberties organizations who want to limit civil forfeitures, which they say empower localities and law enforcement to seize property of someone suspected of a crime as a revenue stream.

Some justices, too, had become worried about the state and local efforts.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a recent opinion that civil forfeitures have “become widespread and highly profitable.”

“This system — where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use — has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses,” Thomas wrote, referring to reporting by The Washington Post and the New Yorker.

At oral argument, Timbs’s lawyer said the case was a simple matter of “constitutional housekeeping.”

The Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects against actions of the federal government. But the Supreme Court over time has applied it to state and local governments under the due-process clause of the 14th Amendment. In 2010, for instance, the court held that the Second Amendment applied to state and local government laws on gun control.

The Eighth Amendment states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Two of those commands — regarding bail and cruel and unusual punishments — have been deemed to apply to state and local governments. But until now, the ban on excessive fines had not been.

This may be the only unambiguously good news from this Supreme Court term.  Incorporation of the 8th Amendment's excessive fines prohibition has been long overdue, with cops using the lack of that clarity to seize property worth exponentially more than allowed for simple misdemeanors.  The defendant in this case lost his SUV over what was essentially a drug fine.

What Timbs v Indiana means is that states are going to have to rewrite their laws very quickly when it comes to maximum civil forfeiture penalties and fines.  Local governments have been using this loophole for years in order to collect billions from people.

As of today, now this practice is strictly unconstitutional.

Good for Justice Ginsburg for a ruling that will guide the country for decades to come.

Skinned Like Flynn, Con't

If you're wondering why the Trump regime is so completely obsessed with helping the Saudis in general and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sultan in particular, it's because right after Trump took office, Michael Flynn was pushing a plan to reward the Saudis for their money laundering operation into Trump's 2016 camping with something Tehran has wanted for decades: American nuclear technology.

Whistleblowers from within President Donald Trump's National Security Council have told a congressional committee that efforts by former national security adviser Michael Flynn to transfer sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia may have violated the law, and investigators fear Trump is still considering it, according to a new report obtained by NBC News.

The House Oversight Committee has formally opened an investigation into the matter, releasing an interim staff report that adds new details to previous public accounts of how Flynn sought to push through the nuclear proposal on behalf of a group he had once advised. Tom Barrack, a prominent Trump backer with business ties to the Middle East, also became involved in the project, the report says.

Just days after Trump's inauguration, backers of the project sent documents to Flynn for Trump to approve, including a draft Cabinet memo stating that the president had appointed Barrack as a special representative to implement the plan and directing agencies to support Barrack's efforts, the report says.

Career national security officials objected to the plan, citing what they deemed Flynn's conflict of interest, and also that the proposal sought to bypass a policy review that is required whenever nuclear technology is transferred to another country, the report says.

The proposal, which involved enlisting the U.S. nuclear power industry to build nuclear plants across the Middle East, was backed by a group of retired generals who formed a firm called IP3. Flynn described himself in financial disclosure filings as an "advisor" to a subsidiary of IP3, IronBridge Group Inc., from June 2016 to December 2016 — at the same time he was serving as Trump's national security adviser during the presidential campaign and the presidential transition, the report says.

The report quotes one senior Trump official as saying that the proposal was "not a business plan," but rather "a scheme for these generals to make some money," and added, "OK, you know we cannot do this."

Click here to read the House Oversight Committee report.

"The whistleblowers who came forward have expressed significant concerns about the potential procedural and legal violations connected with rushing through a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia," the report says.

"They have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes. They have also warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting."

My first question is "Is this John Bolton's Mustache's doing?"

It certainly doesn't want to give the Saudis nuclear technology, John Bolton's Mustache despises them and blames them for basically everything wrong in the Middle East.  It's hard to imagine after Bolton cleaned house when he got Flynn's job as National Security Adviser that anyone left would go running to the press about this without John Bolton's Mustache's tacit blessing, let alone without its knowledge.

On the other hand, there's no quicker way to goad Iran into immediately violating every nuclear sanction possible than for the Saudis to get nuclear technology, thus laying the groundwork for another decade plus of war in the Middle East.

On the gripping hand, John Bolton's Mustache is currently busy planning the US military invasion of Venezuela.

Lots of fun, right?

Still, giving nuclear tech to the Saudis now, after the whole Jamal Khashoggi murder came to light, is not going to go over well even with Senate Republicans.  We'll see.


Related Posts with Thumbnails