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Tag: Justice Department

Former DOJ Officials Worry about Constitutional Crisis If Trump Removes Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former Justice Department officials are speaking out about President Trump’s incessant public battle with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

They DOJ veterans are concerned Trump may fire Sessions without any accountability, The Hill reports

“There is a whole constitutional common law — the rules of the road — and it is vital,” said Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general. “It is based on examples of what people can and can’t do, but Trump shows every indication of disregarding it with impunity — and so far he has been able to. It’s kind of terrifying.” 

If Trump removes Sessions, would it create a constitutional crisis?

“I would hope so,” said Peter Zeidenberg, who spent 17 years as a DOJ prosecutor.

“That is the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that Republicans in Congress shrug their shoulders. You would, in effect, have the president being permitted by Congress to quash an investigation simply because he doesn’t like it. I can’t imagine anything more serious than that.”

Lengel: Trump’s Statements Are Indicators of Tough Times Ahead for Jeff Sessions and Christopher Wray

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Heading up a major law enforcement agency like the Justice Department or FBI is never easy. It’s a major headache. There’s always a crisis around the corner.

Keeping your job and doing it with integrity has only been more challenging under the Trump administration. Don’t count on Jeff Sessions sticking around as Attorney General for all too long, and expect Christopher Wray to face endless ethical dilemmas dealing with President Donald Trump after his confirmation as FBI director.

The president’s remarks to the New York Times give a pretty clear indication of tumultuous times ahead for the two.

Trump tells  the paper that he would never have hired Sessions had he known he was going to recuse himself in the probe into Russia.

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said.

Everyone, perhaps except Trump, realizes Sessions had no choice considering he was in the the inner circle of the Trump campaign in 2016, and he met with Russian officials. It was a no-brainer for Sessions, and frankly, had he not, he would have been under great pressure on the Hill and from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to recuse himself.

Then there’s the comment about the FBI director.

“The FBI person really reports to the president of the United States,” Trump said in what clearly is an untrue statement. Sure, the FBI director can brief the president on a regular basis, but he doesn’t answer to the president, at least not in the way Trump thinks.

The FBI’s website states, “Within the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI is responsible to the attorney general, and it reports its findings to U.S. Attorneys across the country. The FBI’s intelligence activities are overseen by the Director of National Intelligence.”

Trump won’t have a very hard time pushing Sessions out. That seems to be a certainty.

But considering he’s already fired one FBI director, Trump will have a tough time firing a second one without catching hell from Congress and the American people.

These are challenging and complicated times for law enforcement.

What isn’t complicated is doing the right thing and not bending to pressures from the White House.

President Nixon tried undermining the justice system, and we know justice prevailed.

State Department Billed Taxpayers $15,000 for Rooms at Trump Hotel

U.S. Department of State headquarters in Washington D.C.

U.S. Department of State headquarters in Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump and his family continue to profit from using the president’s property for non-political events.

The State Department shelled out more than $15,000 on 19 rooms at the new Trump hotel in Vancouver, where the family held a grand opening of the tower in late February, the Washington Post reports.

The Post, under a Freedom of Information Act request, obtained a heavily redacted invoice from the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver.

The State Department, which provides security and logistical assistance,  has declined to comment.

Government officials have complained that Trump is using tax dollars for protection at the president at one of his private companies.

Smoking Gun Email Shows Trump Jr. Knew Russia Was Helping Get Dad Elected

Donald Trump Jr., via Wikipedia

Donald Trump Jr., via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A damning email obtained by federal investigators revealed that Donald Trump Jr. was informed that the Russian government had compromising information about Hillary Clinton that was intended sabotage her election chances.

The email, reviewed by the New York Times, contradicts Trump Jr.’s original assertions that he was meeting with a Russian lawyer to talk about adoptions. 

This paragraph is particularly damaging to the president’s son.:

“Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.”

The e-mail could play a key role in the ongoing probe by the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are trying to determine whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the presidential election.

Trump Jr.’s lawyer insisted his client did nothing wrong and will cooperate with investigators.

“In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia,” he told The Times in an email on Monday. “Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”

DOJ Corporate Crime Watchdog Quits Over Trump Administration’s Conduct

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A top Justice Department official who served as the corporate compliance watchdog has resigned because she said President Trump’s administration is violating the same government ethics laws that she’s expected to enforce on other businesses.

Hui Chen resigned in June, saying she can’t force companies to comply when Trump’s administration is doing the same thing.

She recently broke her silence in a LinkedIn post, first revealed by International Business Times

“Trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to was creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome,” Chen wrote. “To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic. Even as I engaged in those questioning and evaluations, on my mind were the numerous lawsuits pending against the President of the United States for everything from violations of the Constitution to conflict of interest, the ongoing investigations of potentially treasonous conducts, and the investigators and prosecutors fired for their pursuits of principles and facts. Those are conducts I would not tolerate seeing in a company, yet I worked under an administration that engaged in exactly those conduct. I wanted no more part in it.”

Chen joined the Justice Department in 2015 to help the agency enforce criminal laws against corporations.

Trump’s Pick to Head DOJ Civil Rights Division Spurs Criticism

Eric Dreiband was nominated to

Eric Dreiband was nominated to head DOJ Civil Rights Division.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division has drawn criticism because he previously defended major corporations and others against discrimination lawsuits.

Eric Dreiband, who served as general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under George W. Bush, defended companies accused of discrimination based on age, pregnancy and religion, CNN reports. 

The labor attorney for Jones Day would undermine “fundamental civil rights priorities,” the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said last week.

“Dreiband has devoted most of his career to defending corporations in employment discrimination cases and advocating for weaker antidiscrimination protections in the workplace,” the statement said. “He also has a troubling lack of experience, having done no significant work in other issue areas central to the Division’s mission, including urgent priorities like voting rights and policing reform.”

Danita Gupta, who held the same position under President Barack Obama, wrote in a statement: “Whoever leads the ‘crown jewel’ of the Justice Department must have deep relationships with stakeholders and marginalized communities, and have a deep, abiding faith in our nation’s civil rights laws. They must respect the laws that touch everyone, rights that people have literally died for. They must respect the role of what has been called the conscience of the federal government. In all those regards, Eric Dreiband is woefully unqualified to lead the Civil Rights Division.”

The White House fought back Friday.

“The White House judges nominees on the merits of their character and not on the clients they once represented as counsel,” White House spokeswoman Kelly Love told CNN. “Mr. Dreiband is highly qualified to run the civil rights division, and we are privileged to have his service.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI, Justice Department Offer Starkly Different Positions on Trump’s Budget Cuts

Photo via FBI

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Top officials for the FBI and Justice Department are at odds over the impact of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe offered Congress starkly different positions on whether Trump’s spending reductions would hurt FBI operations, Politico reports.

McCabe told the House Appropriations subcommittee that “every program” in the bureau would be adversely affected and would force the reduction of employees, including agents.

“It will certainly impact us in many ways. It is a broad and deep reduction that will touch every program. it will touch headquarters. It will touch our field offices,” McCabe told a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday. “It is a reduction that is not possible to take entirely against vacancies. It’s a reduction that will touch every description of employee within the FBI. We will lose agent positions. We will lose analyst positions and, of course, professional staff.”

Rosenstein seemed to suggest McCabe was exaggerating and that the spending cuts would not impact national security or violent crime.

“I believe that if you look at the budget, we are not cutting the critical areas — violent crime, terrorism, the areas that you’ve raised are areas where there will be no cuts, cybercrime, all those areas,” Rosenstein said at a parallel Senate hearing, under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “And so the effort in this budget, as I understand it, is to reduce only in areas that are not critical to those operations.”

According to Rosenstein, the number of FBI agents would increase by 150 to 12,484.

But according to the FBI’s website, the bureau has about 13,500 agents.

Report Suggests Justice Department Mishandled Sexual Misconduct Cases

justice-dept-photo-with-woman-and-court1By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has mishandled sexual harassment and misconduct cases because of sloppy management, according to the department’s Office of Inspector General.

“We identified significant weaknesses in the Civil Division’s tracking, reporting, and investigating of the 11 sexual harassment and misconduct allegations that we reviewed” during fiscal 2011-2016, the report said, “as well as inconsistencies among penalties imposed for substantiated allegations.”

The report, revealed by the Washington Post, suggests that the Justice Department acted like the Catholic Church did when a suspected pedophile priest was reassigned to a new parish: The offenders were “flushed” to other offices.

In another case, a male attorney accused of spying on two female lawyers who were pumping breast milk was absolved by his male supervisor.

“The investigation into the allegation consisted of the male attorney’s supervisor speaking with him,” according to the report. “Thereafter, his supervisor accepted the male attorney’s explanation of the incident as an honest mistake and imposed on him an informal disciplinary action of oral counseling.”

The treatment of attorneys suspected of sexual misconduct left many women with the impression that the accused were lightly punished or even rewarded.

“What is alarming about the Civil Division and what rings true for the entire labor force is the lack of accountability for individuals committing acts of sexual misconduct due to the absence of punitive procedures,” said Wanda Killingsworth, president of Federally Employed Women. “Without any internal system to protect employees from sexual harassment the fight to effectively combat workplace sexual harassment is directly inhibited and the current report on the Department of Justice just proves that lack of awareness is a breeding ground for abuse.” The division’s cases, she added, “are not unique to any single agency, but nonetheless present in many sectors of the workforce.”