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Tag: Justice Department

Committee to Vote Today on Advancing Merrick Garland for AG Confirmation

Judge Merrick Garland, via White House.

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote today on advancing Merrick Garland, President Biden’s pick for attorney general, to the full Senate for confirmation. 

Garland has bipartisan support and is expected to receive the committee’s approval for a full Senate vote. 

Garland testified before the committee last week during a two-day confirmation hearing. 

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school.  

FBI, DOJ Investigating How Gov. Cuomo’s Admin Handled Nursing Home Deaths

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo via City of New York.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI and Justice Department have launched an investigation into how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration handled nursing home residents who were infected with COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic.

Federal authorities are investigating whether Cuomo’s coronavirus task force manipulated data to downplay deaths in nursing homes, The Times Union of Albany first reported.

“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months,” Richard Azzopardi, spokesman for the governor, said. 

It wasn’t immediately clear whether any task force members have been interviewed yet. 

Cuomo had come under fierce criticism after requiring nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to accept people who had tested positive for COVID-19 and were in the hospital. The directive was later rescinded. 

The Cuomo administration previously reported 8,500 nursing home coronavirus-related deaths, but the true toll was closer 15,000. 

Biden Administration Plans to Remove Most of Trump’s U.S. Attorneys

court

By Steve Neavling

The Biden administration plans to soon remove nearly all of the U.S. attorneys appointed by President Trump, but will allow a couple of federal prosecutors to stay on so they can continue working on highly sensitive investigations.

One of the prosecutors who will remain is U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who is overseeing the investigation into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, The Washington Post reports. The other prosecutor is Michael R. Sherwin, who is handling the insurrection-related prosecutions.  

Trump made a similar purge during his first year as president. 

Some Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys have already stepped down or have announced they are planning to resign. 

Biden may begin asking dozens of federal prosecutors to resign as early as Tuesday. 

DOJ’s IG Investigating Whether Department Tried to Overturn Election

Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifying before Senate Judiciary Committee.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department’s inspector general said Monday he’s launching an investigation into whether any department officials “engaged in an improper attempt” to overturn the presidential election. 

The announcement follows news reports that former President Trump tried to get department officials to challenge election results.

“The inspector general is initiating an investigation into whether any former or current D.O.J. official engaged in an improper attempt to have D.O.J. seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election,” IG Michael Horowitz said in a statement, The New York Times reports

Before resigning in December, then-Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread election fraud, contradicting Trump’s repeated and false assertions that the election was stolen from him.

Biden to Nominate Merrick Garland as Attorney General

Judge Merrick Garland, via White House.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Merrick B. Garland, a widely respected federal judge, as attorney general.

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

With Democrats poised to take control of the U.S. Senate, Republican won’t be able to block his nomination to serve as attorney general.  

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school. 

DOJ to Announce New Charges in Connection with 1988 Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

Crashed Pan Am Flight 103/Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is expected to announce new criminal charges Monday against a former Libyan intelligence officer in connection with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

U.S. authorities are speaking with Libyan official to take Abu Agila Masud, an alleged bombmaker, into custody, CNN reports.

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the attack, which killed 270 people, most of whom were Americans, who were aboard a Pan Am Boeing 747 that was traveling from London to New York.  

The case is significant to Attorney General William Barr, who was attorney general in the 1990s when the U.S. first charged two Libyan men in the bombing. 

Barr spoke of the case at a memorial for the victims in 2019. 

“I must say that, to this day, I am not satisfied with our country’s overall response to the attack. I never thought that putting two Libyan intelligence officers on trial should be the sum and substance of our response,” Barr said at the Arlington Cemetery ceremony last year.

Judge Dismisses Flynn’s Case, But Was Not Happy About It

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the three-year-old criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, following  Trump’s pardon last month. 

But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan took a parting shot, saying the pardon doesn’t make Flynn innocent, The Washington Post reports.

“President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one,” Sullivan wrote. “Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot.”

“However,” Sullivan added, “the pardon ‘does not, standing alone, render [Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation.’ ”

Flynn was the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he later fired his attorneys and asked to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was entrapped by the FBI and Justice Department.

Sullivan also said he “likely” would have rejected the Justice Department’s efforts to dismiss the case, saying the federal government’s intervention was “dubious to say the least.”

Trump celebrated the dismissal on Twitter. 

“Thank you and congratulations to General Flynn,” Trump tweeted. “He and his incredible family have suffered greatly!”

Flynn responded, “You and your family & our entire nation have suffered greatly and it has to stop. The American people deserve far greater respect from the institutions of our own Government and the Media!”

Jones, Garland Emerge As Biden’s Top Picks for Attorney General

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden appears to have two leading contenders for attorney general: Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, The Associated Press reports, citing three people familiar with the matter.

But sources have emphasized that no final decision has been made, and the top picks could change. Sally Gates ,the former deputy attorney general, was long believed to be a top potential pick. 

Jones, who was defeated in the November election, has emerged as the top choice, according to NBC News.

President Clinton appointed Jones in 1997 to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. He emerged as champion for civil rights, successfully prosecuting two former KKK members for a 1963 bombing that killed four Black girls at a church in Birmingham. 

Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

His relationship with Biden dates back to at least 1998, when he helped Biden on his first presidential campaign in 1998. 

Garland, whom Obama nominated to fill a vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat in 2016, served as special assistant to Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti during the Carter administration from 1979 to 1981. Garland became U.S. attorney general in Washington D.C. in 1989 and then deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in 1993. 

In 1997, the Senate confirmed Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In 2013, he became the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit.