Friday, August 7, 2020

Last Call For Legally Bland

The good news is that House Democrats can enforce subpoenas against former Trump White House officials like former WH Legal Counsel Don McGahn.  The bad news, McGahn also gets to challenge that subpoena in court, and is doing so.

House Democrats can sue to force President Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn to comply with a congressional subpoena, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

In a 7-2 decision, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed Congress’s oversight powers and said the House has a long-standing right to force government officials to testify and produce documents. The ruling came in one of a set of historic clashes between the White House and Democratic lawmakers.
The “effective functioning of the Legislative Branch critically depends on the legislative prerogative to obtain information, and constitutional structure and historical practice support judicial enforcement of congressional subpoenas when necessary,” Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote for the majority.

The decision is a legal victory for House Democrats, but the ruling does not mean that McGahn will immediately appear on Capitol Hill. The court sent the case back to the initial three-judge panel, which had ruled against the House, to consider McGahn’s other challenges to the subpoena. The timeline makes it unlikely that the case will be resolved before Congress adjourns in January and the subpoena expires.
The opinion also cleared the way for a second House lawsuit, finding that lawmakers are not barred from going to court to challenge the Trump administration to block the diversion of billions of dollars to build the president’s signature southern border wall. 
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose panel issued the subpoena, said the decision in the McGahn case “strikes a blow against the wall of impunity that President Trump has tried to build for himself.”

He pointed to a pair of Supreme Court decisions in July rejecting the president’s claims of sweeping immunity from investigations by a state prosecutor and Congress.

“No one—not even the President—is above the law,” Nadler said in a statement.

In response to the rulings, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said, “While we strongly disagree with the standing ruling in McGahn, the en banc court properly recognized that we have additional threshold grounds for dismissal of both cases, and we intend to vigorously press those arguments before the panels hearing those cases.”

In other words, the clock will run out before this even gets to the Supreme Court, and I suspect in any future deliberations where the House or Senate of the opposite party of the White House issues subpoenas, they can be run out within the two years of any Congress with this process.

Should Trump win in November, or if Biden wins and the GOP still controls the Senate (both I figure are about 25% chances), we will see this fight play out again in 2021 and 2022.

Householder Of Cards, Con't

The massive bribery scandal in Ohio against former State House Speaker Larry Householder has crossed state lines into Kentucky, as Republican attorney Eric Lycan is being named as the money man behind the multi-billion dollar racket.

An attorney who has served as general counsel for Republican committees and candidates in Kentucky is mentioned in a massive political bribery case in Ohio.

Eric Lycan is affiliated with a political dark money group that is accused by federal prosecutors of serving as a corporate slush fund for indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.

Lycan incorporated Generation Now as a political 501(c)(4) group in 2017 and serves as its treasurer. It is accused by the FBI of illegally funneling $60 million from FirstEnergy Corp. affiliates to assist the campaigns of political allies of Householder, so that he could pass a $1 billion bailout of two aging Ohio nuclear plants and block an anti-bailout voter referendum.

An FBI affidavit detailing the scheme referred to Lycan as "the attorney" and describes two other unnamed political committees funneling money to campaigns that were incorporated by Lycan: The Growth & Opportunity PAC and the Coalition for Growth & Opportunity. He served as treasurer for both groups.

Lycan served as the general counsel of the Republican Party of Kentucky from 2016 until April 2019 and has served for almost three years as the general counsel of the Republican majority leadership of Kentucky’s House of Representatives.

He also previously served as counsel for the 2014 campaign of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, chairing its Lawyers for Team Mitch group for attorneys supporting his reelection.
Lycan has also served as treasurer of or incorporated several political committees and groups in Kentucky such as Kentucky Rise PAC, a federal super PAC that in 2014 contributed more than $35,000 to a slew of Republican state House candidates and the House Republican Caucus Campaign Committee in the party's attempt to win back the majority in that chamber.

Lycan did not return an email seeking comment on the indictment and Generation Now.

And this all connects back to Mitch McConnell, who has been the country's biggest advocate for exactly the type of dark money groups that fueled the Householder scandal.

This one's got legs, folks.  A lot of people are going down, and not all of them are in Ohio.

Tales Of The Trump Depression, Con't

A par of researchers took a granular look at unemployment by Census tract and found that millions of Americans -- nearly all of them Black and Latino -- live in neighborhoods where unemployment in the Trump Depression is above 30%.

The economic damage from the coronavirus is most visible in areas like Midtown Manhattan, where lunch spots have closed, businesses have gone dark and once-crowded sidewalks have emptied.

But some of the worst economic pain lies in other neighborhoods, in the places where workers who’ve endured the broadest job losses live. In corners of the Bronx, South Los Angeles or the South Side of Chicago, unemployment is concentrated to a breathtaking degree. And that means that other problems still to come — a wave of evictions, deepening poverty, more childhood hunger — will be geographically concentrated, too.
Data estimating neighborhood-level unemployment rates suggests that as many as one in three workers in these areas are jobless, deeply widening economic disparities within cities.

In New York City, it’s as if parts of the Bronx were experiencing the Great Depression while the Upper East Side faced only modest drops in employment, according to Yair Ghitza and Mark Steitz, analysts who have estimated unemployment at the census tract level based on national economic statistics over the last six months.

The federal government doesn’t report unemployment data down to the neighborhood level, so the two researchers modeled these fine-grained statistics in a way that makes them consistent with state and national surveys. Through June, they found most neighborhoods in the Bronx had unemployment rates in excess of 20 percent, while most neighborhoods south of 95th Street in Manhattan had rates less than half that.

“What’s salient and visible right now is the businesses that are shuttered, and the office buildings that are empty,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, a professor of urban policy and planning at N.Y.U. “What we’re not quite seeing at least the physical manifestations of yet is the really just stark decline in incomes in so many neighborhoods around the city, and in a lot of working-class neighborhoods.”

“We will see them,” she predicted, warning that concentrated distress in these neighborhoods could also have long-term consequences for the children growing up there.

Mr. Ghitza, the chief scientist at Catalist, a Democratic data firm, and Mr. Steitz, a principal at TSD Communications, have tried to solve a large multiplication problem in modeling neighborhood-level unemployment. Official government statistics estimate, for example, the share of residents in a given census tract who are women, the share who are African-American, and the share who work in food service. Using such data, Mr. Ghitza and Mr. Steitz created an educated guess of the number of Black female food-service workers in each tract, then matched those demographics to national monthly unemployment statistics on the occupations and demographic groups most severely affected in this downturn.

The approach makes it possible to gauge employment differences at a finer level of geography than what the government reports. But these estimates also come with much wider room for error than official statistics, and the researchers warn that the results should be viewed alongside other data as policymakers try to understand an economy in free fall.

The resulting maps capture the flip side of recent analyses of private-sector data showing where restaurants have cut hours or where stores have closed their doors. Those business closings have been clustered, too, often in downtown districts where office workers no longer come in, or in wealthy neighborhoods where residents have sharply reduced their spending (or where they have left town altogether).

These maps reflect, instead, where the workers who once staffed those restaurants, bars, hotels and offices commuted home at night.

The maps also highlight how the distinct nature of the coronavirus economic shock has divided cities into neighborhoods where most people can work from home and neighborhoods where most can’t. And because the latter group is disproportionately made up of Black and Hispanic workers, those lines also largely follow patterns of racial segregation, as in Chicago.

It's very possible that these numbers get worse now that unemployment aid has lapsed thanks to the GOP. We're still very much a consumer economy, and if businesses aren't getting any business because people don't have money to spend, they go under and take jobs with them.

It's bad, absolutely bad now.  It's going to be catastrophic in a few months unless we fundamentally change the way aid works in this country.  We could lose a third of small businesses, lose 20% of existing jobs permanently.  We could see average unemployment hit 20% or more and it's awful enough at 14% now.

Another 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. More than 50 million unemployment claims have been filed in the last four months.

We'll see what Mitch McConnell and the GOP surrenders on this week, but if there's no bill and the Senate goes on vacation until after Labor Day, our economic situation may crumble.
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