Yeah the OLC also said that torture was legal...and look at how well that turned out. (The current head of the OLC, incidentally (Steve Engel), worked as a Deputy Assistant AG in the OLC that created the torture memos. So.)
Also full disclosure (since the Twitter super-sleuths will probably find a pic of Engel at my wedding): We were classmates at YLS and he's actually a good friend. I still think he's dead wrong on pretty much most things legal. (He's fun at karaoke, though!)
2. First, this case concerns whether the President had the authority to appoint a vice consul to Siam (now Thailand), for a temporary period of time, in an emergency situation. The "emergency" in that case had to do with a very specific set of circumstances, namely:
3. That the consul-general (principal officer) had taken ill and had to leave immediately, AND that the vice-consul (second-in-command) was not "qualified" (I assume meaning that he had not been Senate confirmed) AND was in the United States and not in the country.
One thing that House Democrats can do immediately in January is request a statistical "snapshot" of the Mueller investigation as of Nov. 7, 2018. That would include details on inv techniques like # of subpoenas issued, FISAs, search warrants, etc. (DOJ keeps stats on these) 1/
They can then ask for the same snapshot at various points thereafter, which will tell them something. For ex, if there were 3 running FISAs on 11/8/18, but none as of 1/1/19, you know something happened. It's a way to track the inv until it comes to its conclusion. 2/
Some tapering off could be a result of an investigation simply winding down. But major, abrupt changes would likely signal something else. And it would form a basis on which to ask questions in hearings later, even if the AG doesn't want to release the final report. END
STEP DOWN FROM THE LEDGE (FOR NOW) THREAD. (Warning: This might be a SPOOL). OK, here are my thoughts on Whitaker taking over the Mueller investigation and why I think we need to see how things unfold before losing it. To be clear, I do NOT think this is an ideal situation. BUT:
2. First, Whitaker has spoken and written publicly on the Mueller investigation. This clearly creates an appearance of a conflict of interest. He must consult with the ethics people as his former boss did and, if it is warranted, recuse. Period. But assuming he does not:
3. First, as a commentator/pundit, you're expected to have an opinion on a given issue. But as discussed in the context of Strzok, et al., keep in mind that there is a very strong culture in DOJ to not let these views infect decisions. As a former USA, Whitaker knows this culture
Nunes, who *has not held a town hall with his constituents since before the LAST election* has received more than half of his $11m fundraising from outside CA (even as he’s criticized his opponent for getting outside $) npr.org/2018/10/29/660…
Class day! For my Twitter auditors, today we'll be discussing Tocqueville's Democracy in America (Vol II, Part II, Ch. 1-8) and Robert Putnam's book, Bowling Alone. Specifically, we're going to discuss the formation of "social capital" in our current climate 1/
I highly recommend Putnam's book in its entirety, but this page has a useful summary of the concepts of "bonding" and "bridging" and why they are important for the health of American society 2/ beyondintractability.org/bksum/putnam-b…
And we'll discuss how these concepts tie into Tocqueville's observations about America in the early 19th century and the contrast today. I especially want the class to think about how the current quote applies today, with regard to our public officials: 3/
It's class day! For those of you sort-of-following-along, today we are discussing cognitive biases and their role in the psychology of propaganda. I will be spending most of the class today discussing this fascinating and thought-provoking article dartmouth.edu/~nyhan/nature-…
And, of course, having them watch RT's (Russia Today -- which has been designated by DOJ as an official propaganda arm of the Russian government) "interpretation" of the confrontation above. (Oh, we'll also be touching on logical fallacies today.)
LINT. I keep hearing from retired Bu folks who did/do background checks that they aren't cumulative – meaning they don't start from scratch each time. That means only the first check of the 6 would have even been in the ballpark of catching K's high school/college behavior.
2. In addition, background check questions specifically ask about alcohol use/abuse (remember the third "A" in CARLA F. BAD). So that check is the one which would contain "derogatory" information on that front, if there was any.
3. I'm not sure who the consumer/custodian is of that first check (when K worked for Starr), but that could at least shed some light on his drinking habits then. (Of course these are expanding references from ppl K would have initially suggested for interviews, so who knows).
LINT. I don't know NF. But even if he cannot be counted on, there are a few things that tilt in favor of Mueller. First, as I noted today on CNN, any attempts by the person supervising the SC to block Mueller from taking investigative steps would be required to report to Congress
2. The SC regs also have the criteria that need to be met for him to so this: the investigative steps have to be "so inappropriate or unwarranted under departmental practices that it should not be pursued." Also the regs state that the SC's views should be given "great weight."
3. Second, the fact that so much time has passed since the investigation started makes it much harder for the SC's views not to prevail. At this point, Mueller has amassed a LOT of evidence on a number of fronts, including from cooperating witnesses.
Good points made by commenters that this letter has not been vetted/verified. It says it's from someone who signed the Hilton-Arms letter of support for Dr. Ford (and was apparently Mark Judge's prom date). If she goes on the record, then this (IMO) is very powerful.
The retired FBI agent with whom I spoke (who does background checks) said that backgrounds for presidential appointees only go back 10 years or back to age 18. So anything outside of that scope would (presumably?) need a request from the WH.
I am assuming that the rationale behind this policy is 1) that "youthful indiscretions" (as a minor) are likely to be things like recreational drug use, public urination, etc. that would waste time and resources and 2) that serious offenses would have been adjudicated and sealed.
For 2) the person who is the subject of the background check would be required to report on their SF-86. But if it was never investigated, it wouldn't surface in a "have you ever been arrested, etc." and 3d parties would also not be asked to provide info on the subject as minor.
LINT. I explained last night on @CuomoPrimeTime why declassifying the FISA application at this point in time is not about transparency, and also harms our national security.
2. Remember that the Carter Page FISA is *one* investigative tool used in *one* case. That is to say, the "Russia investigation" is comprised of dozens of cases on both the criminal and counterintelligence side...why the singular focus on this one?
3. The Page FISA covered the time period beginning October 2016. This is critical because that was when the momentum of the campaign shifted, as a result of the Wikileaks dumps and Comey's letter to Congress. Russia suddenly saw that Trump could actually win.
For the record (if you have been reading my last few tweets), I am a total Anglophile (I'd live in London if I could) -- my grandfather worked on the British railways and passed on to me his love of British literature. But man, hearing Brits complain about immigration is...rich.
BTW, while we're on the topic, posting this old gem (pun intended) from @iamjohnoliver 🇮🇳🇬🇧😂
And I also have to reminisce about my "Twilight of the Raj" party for the (short lived) premiere of PBS's "Indian Summers." Guests were advised that they could steal all the jewels they wanted but would be kicked out before midnight.
Sorry but...what kind of #$&! is this, @nytimes? I'm no fan of the President, but how do you publish an anonymous op-ed that furthers the "fake news" narrative and is lame, trite, and literally adds nothing, substantively, to the conversation?? #FAILnytimes.com/2018/09/05/opi…
Reminds me of a time when, at @YaleLawSch, we had something called "The Wall." It was a physical wall, upon which students could post anything they wanted -- from grievances about the hummus in the Dining Hall (which was terrible) to commentaries on political events.
There was ONE RULE about The Wall. Anything you posted had to include your name. This was to encourage transparency, honest debate, and the willingness to have the courage to state your views.
LINT. Guys, going to go through this one more time in the hope that it sticks. As the name implies, FISA is a statute that codified the process by which the Executive Branch can gather *foreign intelligence* via electronic surveillance within the United States.
2. It came on the heels of a Supreme Court case that left open the possibility, but did not define the parameters of, a "foreign intelligence exception" to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement.
3. Congress created a process which is similar to its criminal analog, Title III wiretaps. However, since the reason you would choose a FISA, rather than a Title III, is because you are gathering *foreign intelligence*, NOT evidence if a crime, the prob cause stds are different.
2. The gist is that the Trump Campaign used the Foundation – supposedly a charity – as its campaign slush fund and to enrich the Trump Org. This is a no-no, because charities are tax exempt, since the idea is that they are being, you know, charitable.
3. Weiselberg, along with Trump and the Trump kids, are on the board of the Foundation (though Weiselberg testified in a deposition that he had no idea he was on the board, since it never met). But he signed the tax forms, and knows how the money was spent.
Mueller's charge is to investigate links or coordination bw Trump campaign and Russia. These crimes are outside that ambit. By placing them in SDNY, Mueller ensures that non-Russia related crimes by Trump (like campaign finance) are investigated while he remains w/i his mandate.
Moreover, if Cohen knows about criminal activity by Trump Org, he can give that to SDNY and Mueller doesn't have to be accused of crossing "red lines." Meanwhile, he still gets benefit of any knowledge Cohen has about Russia (as Lanny Davis is alluding Cohen can offer).
And, of course, SDNY investigation(s) survive any crazycakes moves by Trump to fire Mueller – SDNY already has shown that they are going to operate independently of WH. So win-win for Mueller all around.
THREAD. My favorite part of today was talking to my waiter at lunch in NYC. He recognized me and told me I was doing a good job. He then got a sad look on his face, shook his head, and said, "That man is tearing apart our country."
2. Hearing his accent, and seeing that he was an older gentleman, I asked where he was from and when he came here. He told me that his family immigrated here from Ireland in 1982. He then asked, "What are we going to do? Is anything going to happen to him?"
3. I told him that I didn't know what was going to happen, but that the most important thing that anyone could do is vote. He told me that his father died in 1973 at the age of 48, having never voted. He said it was because he wasn't a "householder" (? not sure what he meant)
While POTUS proceeds to confess to collusion on Twitter, I'll re-up this @just_security piece I wrote about Rinat Akhmetshin, the former Soviet intel officer at the Trump Tower mtg...from whom we haven't heard boo in a year 1/ justsecurity.org/43272/rinat-ak…
If Mueller has used his leverage over Rinat as I describe (and he should, since USCIS is very concerned about naturalization fraud these days), then he has a very good idea of *exactly* what happened at that meeting.
Addendum: Senator Grassley homed in on the same issue, and requested more information on Akhmetshin from Secretaries Kelly and (then) Tillerson -- unclear whether they responded judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/…
THREAD. Some quick notes on the relevance of the "Manhattan Madam," who Mueller is interested in having testify before a grand jury. Her relevance appears to be linked to info revealed in the recent indictment of 12 GRU officers for hacking. cnn.com/2018/08/03/pol…
2. On page 16, the indictment notes that Gucciger 2.0, the online persona used by Russian intelligence, "wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump" justice.gov/file/1080281/d…
3. The indictment states that Guccifer 2.0 has some exchanges in which it offered some of the stolen information and also solicited feedback on the meaning of some of the data therein. This was in August and September of 2016.
LINT. On my way up to the studio tonight to debate Dersh, I was reflecting on my Fed Crim Law class I took at @YaleLawSch with Professor Abe Goldstein. I looked up his bio, and thought it might interest @JesseBWatters, who apparently thinks he can assess the value of immigrants
@YaleLawSch@JesseBWatters 2. I pulled up Professor Goldstein's obituary (he passed away in 2005) from the Yale Law Report. He was the fourth child of Ukrainian immigrants, fruit and vegetable pushcart owners who only spoke Yiddish at home.
3. He served in the army as a demolition specialist and counterintelligence expert, and attended Yale Law School under the G.I. Bill. What he had to say about attending Yale: