“NO COLLUSION – RIGGED WITCH HUNT!”
WHAT IS A SPECIAL COUNSEL?
An independent prosecutor appointed by the Department of Justice to lead an investigation separate from the usual chain of command.
In March 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign.
In May 2017, the Deputy Attorney General appointed Robert Mueller, the former FBI Director (2001 – 2013), as Special Counsel to oversee the Trump-Russia investigation.
The Order Appointing Mueller As Special Counsel Allows Investigation Into Any:
- links / coordination between the Russian gov’t and 2016 Trump campaign associates;
- matters that arise directly from the investigation; &
- crimes intended to interfere with the investigation.
“I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was …. the charges were legitimate, but the prosecution tried to make the case about the Russian collusion ….. I think that they used Manafort to try to get the dirt on Trump.”
Since the Special Counsel's investigation began in May 2017, 26 Russian nationals, 4 former Trump aides, 1 California man and 1 Dutch lawyer have been charged. The case against Michael Cohen reportedly arose at of a referral from the Special Counsel.
WHO KEEPS OUR NATION’S TOP SECRETS?
4+ million Americans have security clearances.
President Trump revoked 1.
Why some say stripping former CIA Dir. John Brennan of his clearance is an attack on free speech, while others say it had to be done.
Who Keeps Clearance?
- Who: Former federal employees who had on the job security clearances.
- Why: In case a need arises when he or she can be of use to the current administration.
- How long: Clearance continues (with periodic reviews) as long as person avoids sharing classified info, getting into debt, & traveling to certain parts of the world, etc.
- Current *Security Clearance* system deemed “high risk” by gov’t watchdog.
- Too many people have security clearances (est. 1.4M at “top secret” level) & continual reviews of their eligibility are inconsistent.
- Evaluations take too long. More than 700,000 people waiting for security clearance, according to most recent estimates.
Why Revoke Brennan?
“Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the Internet and television — about this administration.
John Brennan’s Response:
Click: His Criticism
“This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.”
The topic of revoking security clearances came up several weeks ago when some, like Brennan criticized the President's meeting with Vladimir Putin. Is Brennan sowing "division & chaos" or exercising free speech? Does social media change the equation?
Pres. Trump’s Pick for the Supreme Court:
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH
Pres. Trump nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy’s former law clerk to fill his seat.
Brett Kavanaugh: The Man
- 53-year-old Catholic
- Lead author of the “Starr Report”, which led to the impeachment of Pres. Bill Clinton
- Part of the legal team that helped George W. Bush secure the White House in 2000
- Met his wife at the White House one day before 9/11 when was associate counsel for Pres. Bush
- Ran the Boston Marathon twice
Kavanaugh: The Jurist
- “Washington insider” with strong conservative credentials
- Served as a judge for 12 years on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals
- Authored over 300 opinions, including a ruling against the Affordable Care Act on the basis of religious liberty
- Hired by Obama nominee & “liberal” Justice Elena Kagan to teach at Harvard Law School
Good Example of What’s To Come
During the 2006 confirmation hearing following his appointment to the D.C. Circuit of Appeals, Sen. Schumer grilled Kavanaugh over his involvement in Pres. Clinton’s impeachment and his take on Roe v. Wade.
So Now What?
Republicans control the Senate by a 50-49 majority due to Sen. John McCain’s prolonged absence, limiting the impact of any efforts by the Democrats to thwart Trump’s nominee.
Kavanaugh served as a law clerk for Justice Kennedy alongside Pres. Trump's 2017 Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Justice Kennedy was appointed by a republican president (Reagan) but was the court's "swing" vote not wedded to one ideology.
“Keep Families Together”
The President takes action on immigration as lawmakers struggle to find compromise. But even as Pres. Trump signed the order, he predicted a legal battle ahead – a similar battle confronted by the Obama Admin.
What We Know:
- Trump’s exec order will not change “zero tolerance” policy – govt will charge all who cross the border illegally.
- However, it ends separations by keeping families together in detention centers, run with the help of Dept of Defense.
- It does leave room to separate children from family, but only if it’s in the child’s best interests.
Legal Trouble Ahead?
- A 1997 court order & related decisions said immigrants under 18 cannot be detained for longer than 20 days.
- Trump’s executive order is written ordering AG Sessions to go before a federal judge to “modify” this agreement to allow more time for “criminal proceedings.”
- TBD what L.A.-based Federal Judge Dolly Gee will rule.
Past As Precedent?
“A federal judge, Dolly M. Gee, scuttled the Obama team’s efforts to jail families together in 2015 when she ruled that doing so violated the agreement and said migrant children couldn’t be held more than 20 days.”
Pres. Trump & Kim Jong Un Sign A Historic Blueprint for Peace
“The past does not have to define the future. Yesterday’s conflict does not have to be tomorrow’s war. And as history has proven over and over again, adversaries can indeed become friends…. Peace is always worth the effort…. Anyone can make war, but only the most courageous can make peace.”
What It Says:
“Chairman Kim and I just signed a joint statement in which he reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to complete denuclearizaton of the Korean Peninsula. We also agreed to vigorous negotiations to implement the agreement as soon as possible. And he wants to do that.”
What It Doesn’t Say:
- Pres. Trump did NOT agree to pull U.S. troops out of SK.
- Pres. Trump did NOT agree to lift sanctions.
- NK’s human rights violations discussed; NO promises made.
“We will be stopping the war games … unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”
“Our unprecedented meeting, the first between an American president and a leader of North Korea, proves that real change is indeed possible. My meeting with Chairman Kim was honest, direct and productive…. We’re prepared to start a new history and we’re ready to write new chapter between our two nations.”
“I think without Otto, this would not have happened…. Otto did not die in vain. He had a lot to do with us being here today.”
The joint statement signed by Pres. Trump & Kim Jong Un is short on details. Pres. Trump said there wasn't enough time, but that more will be worked out in the future, and admitted that "if you don't get the ball over the goal line, it doesn't mean enough." Read it here:
A RIGHT TO TRY
“… thousands of terminally ill Americans will finally have the help, the hope, and the fighting chance … that they will be cured, that they will be helped, that they’ll be able to be with their families for a long time.”
The ‘Right To Try’ Law
- Allows terminally ill patients in the 12 states w/o a ‘Right to Try law’ to sidestep the FDA.
- Now, patients can reach out to directly to drug manufacturers in order to participate in clinical trials & access experimental drugs.
- Drug must pass FDA approval phase #1.
- Eliminates existing FDA application requirements.
Why Does This Matter?
Current State: FDA Trials
- Extremely co$tly.
- Multi-stage process lasts 3-7 years on average, but some take even longer.
- On average, a new cancer drug spends 14 years being studied and undergoing clinical trials BEFORE it gets approved.
Something To Consider
“Right to Try” does NOT guarantee ACCESS or AFFORDABILITY
- Insurance companies are NOT required to cover experimental treatments.
- Drug manufacturers are NOT mandated to undergo clinical trials OR provide experimental drugs OR produce large enough amt of drugs to ensure availability.
Under its Expanded Access (Compassionate Use) program, the FDA already authorizes over 99% of expanded access requests it receives. But for some, it's still not fast enough. Read more about the program here:
Military Spouse Appreciation Day
“Your love, resilience, and courage uplifts our heroes and, indeed, our nation. … America owes a debt of gratitude to our military spouses. We can never repay you for all that you do. …but we can & we will give you the opportunities you deserve.”
America’s 690,000 military spouses (at least 90% of whom are women) face unique obstacles finding & keeping jobs due to:
- rural base assignments
- unpredictable schedules
- limited childcare options
- frequent moves (every 2-3 years on average)
- occupational licensing regimes that vary by state
As result of the employment difficulties they encounter, military spouses are LESS likely than their civilian counterparts to participate in the labor market.
The unemployment rate among military spouses is estimated to be AT LEAST 4X HIGHER than the national average, which was 3.9% in April.
On May 9, Pres. Trump signed an executive order addressing the labor market disadvantages facing military spouses and directing federal agencies to improve their military spouse employment & recruitment efforts.
“… flying back are three, what they were calling ‘hostages.’ We call them ‘fine people.’ Three really fine people.”
- Kim Dong Chul, South Korean-born U.S. citizen. Former VA resident. Convicted of espionage. Ran a trade/hotel company near North Korea’s border with Russia.
- Kim Hak Song & Tony Kim both worked at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, or PUST (privately funded university with $$ from Christian groups).
Something To Consider:
“We are happy they’ve returned, but North Korea shouldn’t gain by taking Americans and then releasing them.”
“It represents something. It represents something very important to this country. People never thought a thing like this could happen and it can. People never thought you were going to have a situation where we’re having serious & positive communication with North Korea and we are. What happens? Who knows? We have a chance at something really great for the world.”
Reminder: Otto Warmbier, an American student, the last American released from North Korea returned to the U.S. with severe brain damage and died days later. That was almost a year ago. See a list of other Americans held overseas:
“Attorney–client privilege is dead!”
President Trump via Twitter, April 10, 2018
Does the federal raid on Michael Cohen (Trump’s personal lawyer) signify the end of one of our nation’s most sacred legal principles?
What is the Attorney-Client Privilege?
- Allows a client to avoid testifying about, or otherwise disclosing, confidential communications with their lawyer relating to legal advice (ex: not financial advice).
- Also means the attorney *usually* cannot be required to disclose.
- Meant to encourage clients to communicate freely with their attorneys.
Is the Attorney-Client Privilege Dead? Nope.
BOTTOM LINE: The attorney-client privilege is alive and well, as are its exceptions, including the crime-fraud exception.
The privilege does NOT apply to communications in furtherance of an ongoing or (intended) future crime or fraud.
What does this mean for Cohen &/or Pres. Trump?
Cohen has not been charged with a crime & the raid is not proof of one.
The raid, which required multiple levels of authorization by high-level federal officials, IS proof that law enforcement authorities convinced a judge there was probable cause to believe the search would produce evidence of a particular crime.
NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos says the fact the FBI opted to execute the raid on Cohen without notice, as opposed to allowing him to produce documents in response to a subpoena suggests something important. Read his article:
“THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED!”
President Trump via Twitter March 28, 2018
(But can it?)
- Pres. Trump reacting to a NYT op-ed by former Supreme Court Justice who said he supports the repeal the 2nd Amendment.
- This fueled further fear by some Americans that gun confiscation and/or repeal of the 2nd Amendment is the true intention of “gun control” movement.
There’s endless debate as to what the 2A *actually* means, how it should be applied today, and why it was included in the Bill of Rights, but here’s what it says:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Amendment Repeal 101
2 Possibilities: Both Tough
Option 1: Requires approval of a new by two-thirds of the House & Senate AND ratification (approval) by three-fourths of the 50 states.
Option 2: Requires two-thirds of states’ legislatures to hold Constitutional Convention where amendments must be approved by three-fourths of the 50 states.
In our nation's history, only ONE amendment has ever been repealed. In 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the making, transportation and sale of alcohol, and put an end to Prohibition.
Hitting Close To Home
President Trump takes on Amazon.
More than 6 out of 10 American households have an Amazon “Prime” Membership.
But is this part of a bigger deal that no one is watching?
“Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country…not a level playing field!”
Post Office Problem$
- U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is bleeding money (lost $2.7B last yr, $63B since 2007), mostly due to pension & health care costs.
- Pkg delivery a source of revenue, but not enough to cover losses.
- USPS has “deal” with Amazon but we don’t know the specifics (USPS is independently operated and makes deals with retailers outside of gov’t oversight).
“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!”
Is Amazon A Tax Cheat?
- One of largest U.S. companies, but pays nearly $0 in fed’l taxes (by using tax breaks & credits)
- Amazon paid $957M in income taxes in 2017.
- Amazon *used* to not collect sales tax (arguably hurting state/local govt), but has since ’17.
- Amazon uses USPS to deliver pkgs because it’s cheaper. Period.
Fox Business Anchor & Harvard Business School Grad, Melissa Francis, says the tweets on Amazon are all part of the President's plan to negotiate Amazon DOWN on a completely separate government contract. She says this is a pattern...
Gov’t Shutdown Looms
Lingering Battle Over Immigration
“The Democrats do not want to help DACA. Would be so easy to make a deal!”
- Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals.
- DACA status can be granted to those who came into America illegally as children – essentially “defers” illegal status & allows eligibility for work permits.
- Pres. Trump: Offered citizenship for DACA recipients in State of the Union speech as part of broader immigration reform.
What’s The Drama?
- White House: Wants $$ for border wall (a campaign promise) A.S.A.P – $$ must come from Congress. Hence, back-and-forth now ahead of spending bill.
- Report: Dems want more illegal immigrants eligible for a pathway to citizenship – a non-starter for GOP who didn’t like Trump’s offer of citizenship for DACA recipients to begin with.
- Immigration Reform *could* be part of broader $pending bill to fund govt through September but it can also be separate. It’s NOT a need – but a want – for some.
- Congress has until Friday night to pass a spending bill or the gov’t shuts down – for the 3rd time this year.
- Potentially last big legislative fight before mid-term elections in Nov.
Immigration reform isn't the only issue of debate. P.S. In 1977, the government shut down 3x under President Carter. in 2018, the government has shut down 2x. Let's see if we make the history books: