Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump’s Supreme Court pick, and his (in)famous mother


Trump’s Supreme Court pick, and his (in)famous mother

Jerry Adler 2 hours 50 minutes ago

Anne Gorsuch Burford in 1984. (Photo: Ed Maker/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Neil Gorsuch, nominated by President Trump to the Supreme Court, bears a name many Republicans would just as soon forget: that of his late mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, a controversial administrator of the Environmental Protection Administration under President Ronald Reagan, and the first Cabinet-level official to be cited for contempt of Congress.

Anne Gorsuch, who died in 2004, was a little-known Colorado state legislator when she was tapped by Reagan in 1981 to head the EPA. Together with her fellow Westerner, James Watt — Reagan’s pick for secretary of the interior — she personified the “Sagebrush Rebellion” of the 1970s and 1980s, an attempt by ranchers, farmers, miners and oil interests to overturn federal land-use and environmental regulations.

She did her part, cutting her agency’s budget by 22 percent, curtailing research and enforcement activities and scaling back regulations on air and water pollution. (Carbon dioxide and climate change, the most contentious issues facing the EPA today, weren’t yet on anyone’s agenda.) She even attempted to relax limits, imposed in the 1970s, on lead additives to gasoline, regulations that are credited now with preventing the poisoning of large numbers of children. A New York Times editorial in 1983 said she had taken one of the most effective government agencies and left it  “reeking of cynicism, mismanagement and decay.”

She lasted less than two years in the job, brought down by a series of congressional investigations — the House was controlled by Democrats then — into her management of the Superfund program to clean up toxic-waste sites. She refused to comply with subpoenas on the grounds of executive privilege, and evidence suggested that key documents had been shredded. In the ensuing showdown, she was cited for contempt of Congress. Months later she resigned, thrown under the bus, she contended, by an administration that lacked the spine to defend her.

In her 1986 book, “Are You Tough Enough?” Ms. Burford called the episode her “expensive mid-life education.

Above is from:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-supreme-court-pick-and-his-infamous-mother-012731939.html

Trump picks Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court vacancy

Dylan Stableford 3 hours ago


President Trump announced Tuesday night that Neil Gorsuch, a conservative federal judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, is his pick to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia died last February, and congressional Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland as Scalia’s replacement.

“When Justice Scalia passed away suddenly last February, I made a promise to the American people,” Trump said in announcing his choice inside the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. “If I were elected president, I would find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court.”

“I took the task of this nomination very seriously. I have selected an individual whose qualities define, really and I mean closely define, what we’re looking for,” Trump continued. “Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support.”

“This has been the most transparent and most important Supreme Court selection process in the history of our country, and I wanted the American people to have a voice in this nomination,” Trump added. “Judge Gorsuch has a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text. He will make an incredible justice as soon as the Senate confirms him.”

“As this process now moves to the Senate, I look forward to speaking with members from both sides of the aisle, from answering their questions to hearing their concerns,” Gorsuch said. “I consider the United States Senate the greatest deliberative body in the world. … It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work for the people’s representatives.”

Gorsuch, a Colorado native with an Ivy League pedigree, is seen as a relatively safe pick by legal observers, primarily because his “originalist” views on the Constitution are very much in line with those of Scalia.

“Both his pre-judicial résumé and his body of work as a judge make him a natural fit for an appointment to the Supreme Court by a Republican president,” SCOTUSblog notes. “He is relatively young, and his background is filled with sterling legal and academic credentials.”

The 49-year-old Gorsuch is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in about 25 years.

Gorsuch studied as an undergraduate at Columbia University, earned his law degree at Harvard as a classmate of Obama and obtained a doctorate in legal philosophy at Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.

He clerked for two U.S. Supreme Court justices — Byron White and Anthony Kennedy — before spending a decade as a partner at the law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C., where his specialties ranged “from antitrust to securities fraud, fiduciary duty to telecommunications,” according to his official bio.

In 2006, Gorsuch was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate in a unanimous voice vote.

Gorsuch is the son of Anne Burford, who was the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Ronald Reagan the first time the Republicans tried to dismantle it.

Burford, the first female head of the EPA, was forced to quit after she refused to turn over Superfund records to Congress.

President Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House to announce Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) President Trump introduces Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

He lives with his wife and two daughters in Boulder, Colo., where he is a visiting professor at the University of Colorado’s law school. He is also a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian group that promotes an “originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.”

Gorsuch was on the long list of potential Supreme Court nominees Trump released before the election.

According to the Washington Post, Gorsuch was a “natural” choice given his “family connection to Republican establishment politics,” his “glittery Ivy League résumé” and his Supreme Court clerkship.

Related: A law school review’s guide to some of Gorsuch’s key opinions

In an interview with the Denver Post, University of Denver law professor Justin Marceau called Gorsuch “a predictably socially conservative judge who tends to favor state power over federal power.”

Gorsuch wrote a 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” arguing against assisted-suicide laws.

Perhaps most importantly, Gorsuch is like Scalia in many ways.

“He is celebrated as a keen legal thinker and a particularly incisive legal writer, with a flair that matches — or at least evokes — that of the justice whose seat he would be nominated to fill,” SCOTUSblog commented. “In fact, some of the parallels can be downright eerie.”

Gorsuch’s opinions are exceptionally clear and routinely entertaining; he is an unusual pleasure to read, and it is always plain exactly what he thinks and why. Like Scalia, Gorsuch also seems to have a set of judicial/ideological commitments apart from his personal policy preferences that drive his decision-making. He is an ardent textualist (like Scalia); he believes criminal laws should be clear and interpreted in favor of defendants even if that hurts government prosecutions (like Scalia); he is skeptical of efforts to purge religious expression from public spaces (like Scalia); he is highly dubious of legislative history (like Scalia); and he is less than enamored of the dormant commerce clause (like Scalia).

If confirmed, Marceau said, we would see in Gorsuch “a judge who, while perhaps not as combative in personal style as Justice Scalia, is perhaps his intellectual equal.”

Two months after Scalia’s death, Gorsuch gave a speech at Case Western Reserve University School of Law honoring his legacy.

“Sometimes people are described as lions of their profession, and I have difficulty understanding exactly what that’s supposed to mean,” Gorsuch said. “Not so with Justice Scalia. He really was a lion of the law: docile in private life but a ferocious fighter when at work, with a roar that could echo for miles.”

Gorsuch reiterated his view of Scalia as a “lion” in his speech at the White House on Tuesday.

“A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands,” Gorsuch said. “I am so thankful tonight for my family, my friends and my faith. These are the things that keep me grounded at life’s peaks, and it sustains me in its valleys.”

Above is from:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-picks-neil-gorsuch-for-supreme-court-vacancy-010447668.html

Diplomats defy White House warning, criticize travel ban


MATTHEW LEE,Associated Press 5 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of American diplomats defied a White House warning on Tuesday, sending a memo to the State Department's leadership that criticizes President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. It is believed to be one of the most popularly supported statements of dissent in the department's history.

A State Department official said the cable was received just a day after White House spokesman Sean Spicer suggested those disagreeing with Trump's new policy should resign. The official did not have an exact number of signatories, but said more than 800 indicated they would sign after drafts of the cable circulated over the weekend. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and demanded anonymity.

The document argues that the executive order Trump signed last week runs counter to American values and will fuel anti-American sentiment around the world.

"A policy which closes our doors to over 200 million legitimate travelers in the hopes of preventing a small number of travelers who intend to harm Americans from using the visa system to enter the United States will not achieve its aim of making our country safer," the diplomats wrote in the so-called "dissent cable."

"This ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold," a draft of the cable said. The final version wasn't immediately available.

Dissent channel cables are a mechanism for U.S. diplomats to register disagreement internally about U.S. policies. It was established during the Vietnam War and was most recently used by diplomats to criticize the Obama administration's approach to Syria. In that case, former Secretary of State John Kerry met with signers of the cable to discuss their concerns.

Trump's secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson is still awaiting Senate confirmation and it was unclear how we would respond to the memo.

In response to reports of the cable Monday, Spicer said of the diplomats: "They should either get with the program or they can go."

He dismissed the criticism from what he called "career bureaucrats." While he later said Trump appreciates the work of public servants, Spicer said they should respect the desires of the American people and the importance Trump places on protecting the country.

"If somebody has a problem with that agenda, that does call into question whether they should continue in that post or not," Spicer said. "This is about the safety of America."

Signers of dissent cables are supposed to be protected from retribution from superiors.

The department, along with other agencies entrusted with implementing Trump's order, has been confused about the details, offering several contradictory instructions to embassies and consulates on how it plans to do so.

As word of the executive order began to circulate last week, diplomats at some embassies began to prioritize visa applications from citizens of countries they suspected might be affected, according to officials.

On Friday, before the order was signed, workers at one embassy dumped bins of hundreds of approved passports on the floor to pull those from the affected countries and affix visas in them, officials said. That effort stopped when the order was signed, they said.


Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this report.

Above is from:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/white-house-us-diplomats-clash-over-travel-order-083919520--politics.html

Caterpillar to move headquarters from Peoria to Chicago


Posted at 8:44 AM Updated at 8:57 AM

By Matt BudelGateHouse Media

PEORIA - Caterpillar Inc. has scrapped plans to build a new office complex in downtown Peoria and will move its global headquarters to the Chicago area by the end of the year.

The upper echelon of executives, including newly installed CEO Jim Umpleby, will begin relocating later this year, with up to 100 employees total moving by year's end. About 300 employees will work in the new office at an as yet undecided location once the transition is complete.

"I think our commitment and our ties to Peoria will still be very, very strong," Umpleby said in an exclusive interview with the (Peoria) Journal Star. "We'll have more employees in this area than any other place in the world. We intend to continue our deep philanthropic and civil involvement."

Umpleby continued: "So (Peoria) really will still be, in my view, the center of the universe for Caterpillar. That's not going to change."

The action about to be undertaken by Caterpillar, however, represents a stark reversal of official company words from years and decades past.

Studies for modernization of the company's global headquarters that began in 2012 focused almost exclusively on downtown Peoria and the surrounding region, according to accounts given by Caterpillar at the time.

Then, in February 2015, the company affirmed its intention to remain local and global when it unveiled plans for a sprawling campus to be built on the Chase Bank building block, across the street from the current headquarters.

Doug Oberhelman, who retired as CEO at the beginning of the year but remains the chairman of Caterpillar's Board of Directors through the end of March, said simply at the time: "Caterpillar will stay in Peoria. I repeat, we will stay in Peoria."

Much has changed since those plans first were set into motion - to Caterpillar's plans and bottom line.

The company indefinitely suspended planning for the new Peoria headquarters in the fall of 2015 after announcing a restructuring effort that called for up to 10,000 jobs to be cut and about 20 facilities around the world to be closed or consolidated.

The projection was low, and the plan evolved. Since the original announcement, 30 facilities have been affected and 16,000 Caterpillar employees have lost jobs.

The changes contributed to $2.3 billion in savings in 2016, but sales and revenue for last year still were more than 40 percent below peak levels of 2012. Umpleby said that decline is a fundamental reason the company's Board of Directors opted to move global headquarters to an area where the global marketplace is in easier reach.

"What we're really after here in terms of the location is access to flights and the ability to get to markets more quickly," Umpleby said. "One of the reasons we chose Chicago is it allows us that easier global access but it also is close to where we're going to still have the majority of our people. We have more people here than any other location in the world."

Umpleby stressed that Caterpillar intends to lease existing office space in the Chicago area, rather than build. And that space will not be a place where the company plans to move thousands of employees from Peoria.

Instead, those who will work in the Chicago area office will include the CEO, group presidents, a few vice presidents and some staff from the financial, legal and human resources departments, as well as support staff.

"The reason we're doing this is the management team has a singular focus, and the board, on helping Caterpillar grow again. That is what we're focused on," Umpleby said. "And that means making priority decisions with our resources. And we believe that it's a better use of our resources to invest in new products, services and solutions than to build an office building. That will allow us to compete, increase sales and grow the business."

Umpleby also acknowledged the civic magnitude of moving the global headquarters from the city where Caterpillar was founded in 1925 and eventually grew to be the world's largest manufacturer of earth moving equipment.

"I understand it is a big deal, and it is not a decision that we made lightly. As we step back and looked at what is most important, what's most important for us is to get Caterpillar growing again and for us to make the company successful," Umpleby said. "And I clearly recognize it will be disappointing, it will be tough. This is not easy. I clearly recognize that. But again I think it's the right thing for Caterpillar to do in the long term."

The company planned to call in city leaders to inform them of the move this morning before informing employees and notifying the public.

Matt Buedel: 309-686-3154; mbuedel@pjstar.com; @JournoBuedel

Above is from:  Caterpillar to move headquarters from Peoria to Chicago

Monday, January 30, 2017

Boone County sheriff has lengthy list of public safety needs


Posted by RVPEditor / In Belvidere Daily Republican, Public Meetings

By Bob Balgemann


Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest said the time for kicking the can down the road had come to an end.

That was done for 20 years and today, “there’s no place farther that we can kick it,” he said. “We’ve continued to cut. There are no more paper clips to cut. We’re strictly [at] personnel.”

Appearing before the county board Wednesday, Dec. 21, he provided a lengthy list of needs in public safety, from more deputies to building improvements.

The sheriff’s office is down seven deputies from 2008, he said.

“That’s a ridiculous number,” he said. “And that’s just where we were in 2008. We should have an additional 12 to 15 officers, according to most studies that have been done out there.”

At the jail, he said $325,000 was spent on overtime last year.

“It has never been properly staffed,” he said of that facility.

Then, he turned to some of the buildings in the public safety complex along Main Street, which he said were “falling apart.”

The jail, built 18 years ago, needs repairs.

The public safety building, built 40 years ago, is shared by sheriff’s deputies, Belvidere police, and the 9-1-1 dispatch center.

“We have pipes busting,” he said of that facility.

The courthouse is “embarrassing for our county,” he said. Six or seven buckets are moved around every time it rains. “Ceilings are falling down during the court process,” he added. “All citizens of Boone County should be embarrassed that this is how we run our operation. Clearly it comes down to finances.”

Despite such problems, the crime rate in the county has declined over the past 10 years. People move here because of the low crime rate. However, he cautioned that “once we lose control we will no longer live in paradise.”

Sheriff Ernest, in his first term, said he wanted people to know about those problem areas.

“They think there are cops everywhere,” he said. “We have four on the road. We have to be honest with the public.”

Concerning the upcoming referendum, he said of voters, “I think they will step up. I wish we didn’t have to do this, but I don’t see any other options at this point.”

Above is from:  http://rvpnews.com/?p=11870

Ten-year historic preservation plan being drafted for Belvidere


Posted by RVPEditor / In Belvidere Daily Republican, Public Meetings

By Bob Balgemann


The Chicago-based Lakota Group will prepare a 10-year historic preservation plan for the city.

The goal of the plan is to come up with a concept that will help the city integrate preservation as an economic development and planning tool for revitalizing downtown and other traditional neighborhoods in the community.

“We have never had a historic preservation plan completed for the city,” Becky Tobin, Belvidere’s finance and budget director, said. She also is chairperson of the Belvidere City Historic Preservation Commission.

“Since 70 percent of the project is being paid for with grant money, this was the perfect time to do one. Local stakeholders and residents will be involved in the process, to come up with short and long-term preservation planning goals that will help shape the city’s future,” Tobin said. “As business owners, homeowners, or developers come to Belvidere, we want to be able to show them the vision we have for our community, and this plan will enable to help us do that.”

The city’s committee of the whole recommended approval of the 10-year plan being created in a voice vote, with one dissenting, during its Monday, Jan. 9 meeting. City council approval was expected on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Lakota has 25 years of experience in urban design, planning, landscape architect, and historic preservation. Its work will cost an estimated $29,900, with 70 percent being financed by a federal Certified Local Government Grant that is being administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Commission. The city historic preservation commission will pay the balance of 30 percent.

The plan is to be completed within one year of the contract with Lakota being executed.

Kathy Miller, when she was interim planning director for the city and Boone County, provided further details about the proposed preservation plan.

As background, she said preservation of Belvidere’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods is a priority, as stated in the Boone County Comprehensive Plan of 2006.

The new plan will identify and assess the city’s resources and current preservation activities. Economic development through historic preservation is a goal as stated in the comprehensive plan.

Belvidere already has taken steps in that direction.

The city’s historic preservation commission annually recognizes property owners who have improved their historically significant homes and commercial buildings. Seven such awards were presented during a reception on Thursday, May 12, 2016.

Miller led a survey several years ago of two separate business districts in Belvidere, which led to them being named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Preservation proposals in the downtown will be among the strategies identified for implementation in the plan.

Belvidere has been cognizant of its historic assets for a long time.

The city has a historic district, consisting of 19 homes along West Hurlbut Street; 31 homes and buildings have been designated as Local Landmarks; and five buildings within the city have been placed on the National Register.

Currently, homes around the city’s courthouse are being surveyed as to their level of historic significance.

Above is from:  http://rvpnews.com/?p=11881

White House to Dissenting U.S. Diplomats: ‘Get With the Program’ or Leave




More than 100 signatures have been gathered for a so-called dissent cable circulating within the State Department opposing President Trump’s executive order banning entry visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Credit Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday warned State Department officials that they should leave their jobs if they did not agree with President Trump’s agenda, an extraordinary effort to stamp out a wave of internal dissent against Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on entry visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Career officials at the State Department are circulating a so-called dissent cable, which says that Mr. Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s doors to more than 200 million people to weed out a handful of would-be terrorists would not make the nation safer and might instead deepen the threat.

“These career bureaucrats have a problem with it?” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “They should either get with the program or they can go.”

Asked if he was suggesting that people resign, Mr. Spicer said, “If somebody has a problem with that agenda, that does call into question whether or not they should continue in that post.”


Mr. Spicer defended the visa ban, saying its effects had been grossly exaggerated and that it symbolized Mr. Trump’s overriding goal of protecting the safety of the nation. He displayed little patience for the “dissent channel,” which the State Department has long maintained as a way for its staff to register objections over administration policies.

It was the starkest confrontation yet between the new president, who is moving swiftly to upend years of government policies, and an entrenched bureaucracy, parts of which are openly hostile to Mr. Trump’s proposals or have struggled to enforce his executive orders, which have been announced with little warning and no input from the rank and file.

Mr. Trump’s visa ban has reverberated through multiple agencies: the Defense Department, which says it hurts the military’s partners in conflict zones like Iraq; the Department of Homeland Security, whose border control agents are struggling to enforce the directive; and the Justice Department, whose lawyers are charged with defending its legality.

But Mr. Spicer’s blunt warning posed a particularly difficult choice to the more than 100 State Department officials who signaled they would sign the memo. They can sign a final version, which would be put on the desk of Rex W. Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s designated secretary of state, on his first day in office. Or they can choose not to identify themselves, and instead rely on the leak of the letter to make their point.

Under State Department rules and whistle-blower laws, it is forbidden to retaliate against any employee who follows the procedures and submits a dissent memorandum. One of the signatories, in a text message, said State Department signatories were trying to figure out what to do.


The memorandum began to take shape late last week, as word of Mr. Trump’s executive order leaked out. The sponsors quickly gathered more than 100 signatures, an unusually large number, but a draft of the memo was still being refined over the weekend.

Last summer, 51 State Department officials signed one protesting President Barack Obama’s policy in Syria, which they asserted had been “overwhelmed” by the violence there. They handed the cable to Secretary of State John Kerry.

The State Department confirmed the existence of the memo on Monday, and it affirmed the right of its staff to dissent.

“This is an important process that the acting secretary, and the department as a whole, respect and value,” said a spokesman, Mark Toner.


Continue reading the main story

The speed with which the memo was assembled and the number of signers underscore the degree to which the State Department has become the center of the resistance to Mr. Trump’s order. More broadly, it represents objections to his efforts to cut back on American participation in international organizations and to issue ultimatums to allies.

Not surprisingly, the diplomats and Civil Service officers of the State Department are among the most internationally minded in the government; they have lived around the world and devoted their careers to building alliances and promoting American values abroad.

That was reflected in parts of the draft of the dissent memo circulating in the State Department. It warned that the executive order “will increase anti-American sentiment,” and that “instead of building bridges to these societies,” it would “send the message that we consider all nationals of these countries to be an unacceptable security risk.”

Among those whose views will be changed are “current and future leaders in these societies — including those for whom this may be a tipping point towards radicalization.” It also warned of an immediate humanitarian effect on those who come “to seek medical treatment for a child with a rare heart condition, to attend a parent’s funeral.”


“We do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe,” the memo concludes.

Overseas, Iraqi officials said they were surprised by the directive, which they learned about through the American news media; they had not been consulted first. Objections from Baghdad are notable because Iraq is a front-line partner in the campaign against the Islamic State.

And at the Pentagon, senior officials plan to send the White House a list of Iraqi citizens who have served with American forces with the recommendation that they be exempt. Officials said that the Iraqis who will be put on the Defense Department list have undergone a stringent form of vetting because

Above is from:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/us/politics/trump-immigration-ban-memo.html

Acting Attorney General Orders Justice Dept. Not to Defend Refugee Ban




Trump has fired the acting attorney general who ordered Justice Dept. not to defend president’s travel ban

President Trump defended his executive order on Twitter, writing that there is “nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country.” (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

By Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman January 30 at 9:28 PM

President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.

In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.

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Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.

Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

Sean Spicer's daily briefing on Trump's travel ban, annotated

Play Video2:44

White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed the media on Jan. 30, three days after President Trump signed an executive order halting the flow of refugees to the United States. (Video: Peter Stevenson/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote. She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, but the move nonetheless marks a stunning dissent to the president’s directive from someone who would be on the front lines of implementing it.

Also Monday, State Department diplomats circulated various drafts of a memo objecting to Trump’s order, which was issued Friday. The document is destined for what’s known as the department’s Dissent Channel, which was set up during the Vietnam War as a way for diplomats to signal to senior leadership their disagreement on foreign policy decisions. More than 100 diplomats have signed the memo, which argues that the immigration ban will not deter attacks on American soil but will generate ill will toward U.S. citizens.

What will happen next is unclear. A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who would normally defend the order under Yates’s authority can no longer do so. Yates will probably be replaced soon by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, who could be confirmed as early as Thursday or Friday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination Tuesday, and the entire Senate must wait one day before voting.

A spokeswoman for Sessions declined to comment. A White House spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

White House domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller said on MSNBC that Yates’s decision was “a further demonstration of how politicized our legal system has become.”

“It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized that you have people refusing to enforce our laws,” Miller said.

A Justice Department official familiar with the matter said Yates felt she was in an “impossible situation” and had been struggling with what to do about a measure she did not consider lawful. A Justice official confirmed over the weekend that the department’s office of legal counsel had been asked to review the measure to determine if it was “on its face lawful and properly drafted.”

In her memo, though, Yates said her role was broader. She wrote that an office of legal counsel review does “not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just,” nor does it “take account of statements made by an administration or its surrogates close in time to the issuance of an Executive Order that may bear on the order’s purpose.”

That could be a reference to Trump’s campaign trail comments about a “Muslim ban” or the recent assertion by Trump surrogate Rudolph W. Giuliani that the president had asked him “the right way to do it legally.”

Yates’s memo came as civil rights lawyers and others across the country increased the pressure on Trump on Monday to dial back the ban — filing or threatening to file legal challenges to the executive order as they worked to determine if people were still being improperly denied entry or detained.

The defiant legal conclusion from the country’s top law enforcement official will surely boost their arguments. Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who worked on one of the legal challenges, said, “It sends a very strong message that there’s something very wrong with the Muslim ban.”

Just days after stepping down from office, former president Barack Obama weighed in through a spokesman, seeming to back those demonstrating against Trump’s decree and declaring his opposition to “discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

Obama said that he was “heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country” — an apparent reference to protests at airports nationwide. He also disputed Trump’s claim that his ban was based on Obama administration decisions.

Separately, more than 100 former Cabinet secretaries and senior national security and military officials from the Obama, George W. Bush and other administrations called on the current and acting heads of the Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security to dial back enforcement of the order.

But George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration, said Yates’s memo was a “foolish, naked political move by what appears to be an ambitious holdover official” that would only create “unnecessary disorder.”

“She has to be asked to resign immediately,” Terwilliger said. “Look, the executive branch of our government is unitary. There’s only one boss, and that boss has spoken. If some subordinate official thinks that his direction is illegal, than the choice is to resign.”

Even as Yates issued her memo, civil rights advocates said they still had significant questions about how the executive order was being enforced and even who it might be affecting.

A lawsuit in Virginia claimed that dozens of people may have been forced to give up their green cards by Customs and Border Protection agents, though that figure could not immediately be substantiated. Lawyers in Los Angeles said they had received similar reports, though they were still exploring them.

Lawyers were also working to determine if anyone might still be in custody.

The ACLU’s Gelernt said that lawyers were “having trouble independently verifying anything because the government will not provide full access to all the detainees.” Of particular concern, he said, was that the government had not turned over a list of detainees, as it had been ordered to do by a federal judge in New York. He said lawyers might be back in federal court in the next day or so to forcibly get access to it.

The ACLU’s suit in New York is perhaps the most significant of a growing number of legal challenges to the order. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also filed a sweeping challenge Monday, alleging that the order is meant “to initiate the mass expulsion of immigrant and non-immigrant Muslims lawfully residing in the United States.” The lawsuit lists 27 plaintiffs, many of them lawful permanent residents and refugees who allege that Trump’s order will deny them citizenship or prevent them from traveling abroad and returning home. Lawyers with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed a similar challenge in Washington state.

Bob Ferguson, Washington state’s attorney general, said Monday that he, too, plans to file a federal lawsuit seeking an immediate halt to the order’s implementation — making him the first state official to do so. That lawsuit has the support of Microsoft and Amazon, two companies based in Washington state. (Amazon owner Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post in his personal capacity and has voiced Amazon’s opposition to the order personally).

The White House, meanwhile, continued to defend Trump’s executive order. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that one lawsuit “doesn’t make any sense” and sought to minimize the action as simply subjecting 109 people to more rigorous screening.

According to State Department statistics, about 90,000 people received nonimmigrant or immigrant visas in fiscal year 2015 from the seven countries affected by Trump’s executive order.

[Some international passengers entering the U.S. more easily, but members of Congress say they’re still not getting answers]

Ed O’Keefe, Rachel Weiner, Ellen Nakashima, Juliet Eilperin, John Wagner and Carol Morello contributed to this report.

Above is from:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/acting-attorney-general-an-obama-administration-holdover-wont-defend-trump-immigration-order/2017/01/30/a9846f02-e727-11e6-b82f-687d6e6a3e7c_story.html?utm_term=.e17f63529c43&wpisrc=al_alert-COMBO-politics%252Bnation


Acting Attorney General Orders Justice Dept. Not to Defend Refugee Ban




Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general, during a news conference in June. Credit Pete Marovich/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, ordered the Justice Department on Monday not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration in court.



OPEN Document

Document: Letter From Sally Yates

“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

The decision is largely symbolic — Mr. Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is likely to be confirmed soon — but it highlights the deep divide at the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government over Mr. Trump’s order.


Mr. Trump has the authority to fire Ms. Yates, but as the top Senate-confirmed official at the Justice Department, she is the only one authorized to sign foreign surveillance warrants, an essential function at the department.

“For as long as I am the acting attorney general, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so,” she wrote.

Above is from:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/us/politics/attorney-general-civil-rights-refugee.html?_r=0

Sunday, January 29, 2017

President Trump’s invitation to visit England maybe canceled


Calls to stop President Trump's state visit to UK

  • 5 hours ago

  • From the section UK


Calls are being made to cancel a proposed state visit to the UK by President Trump after he issued an executive order clamping down on immigration to the US.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it would be "totally wrong" for the visit to go ahead later this year.

A petition to stop it has over 800,000 signatures, way over the 100,000 needed for Parliament to consider a debate.

The visit was announced during PM May's trip to the US - no date has been set.

Downing Street was asked for a response to the calls to cancel. A spokesman said: "We extended the invite and it was accepted."

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment.

Speaking on ITV's Peston on Sunday, Mr Corbyn said: "I think we should make it very clear we are extremely upset about it, and I think it would be totally wrong for him to be coming here while that situation is going on.

"I think he has to be challenged on this. I am not happy with him coming here until that ban is lifted, quite honestly."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron backed the call. He said: "Any visit by President Trump to Britain should be on hold until his disgraceful ban comes to an end.

"Otherwise Theresa May would be placing the Queen in an impossible position of welcoming a man who is banning British citizens purely on grounds of their faith."

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Protesters have gathered at airports across the US to demonstrate against the executive order

Alex Salmond, the SNP's foreign affairs spokesman, said he thought the state visit was "a very bad idea".

Also appearing on Sky News' Sophy Ridge, he said: "You shouldn't be rushing into a headlong relationship with the President of the United States."

Mr Salmond said reports Mr Trump was reluctant to meet Prince Charles during the visit were "an indication of the sort of enormous difficulties you get into when you hold somebody tight who is unpredictable, who has a range of views you find unacceptable."

And Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the visit should not happen while the executive order was in place.

He told Sky News: "I am quite clear, this ban is cruel, this ban is shameful, while this ban is in place we should not be rolling out the red carpet for President Trump."

Graham Guest, who started the petition, said he wanted it to "put the spotlight" on Mr Trump.

He told the Press Association: "A state visit legitimises his presidency and he will use the photo opportunities and being seen with the Queen to get re-elected.

"The wording in the petition is quite precise as I actually say that he should come here as the head of government to do government-to-government business.

"At the end of the day he is still the president and we've just got to live with that. But there's no reason why he should get all the pomp and publicity of a state visit."

Former shadow cabinet member Chuka Umunna also backed the calls to cancel the trip.

"State visits happen at the instigation of governments and, of course, you have got a prime minister who you want to have a decent working relationship with a US president.

"But they need to understand, just as they will put America first, we will put British values first."

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said she hoped Mr Trump would reconsider his position on immigration "immediately".

"State visits are designed for both the host, and the head of state who is being hosted, to celebrate and entrench the friendships and shared values between their respective countries," she said.

"A state visit from the current president of the United States could not possibly occur in the best traditions of the enterprise while a cruel and divisive policy which discriminates against citizens of the host nation is in place."

Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, questioned the state visit on Twitter.

He wrote: "Am I alone in finding it impossible to bear that in pursuit of her deeply wrong-headed policies our PM is now forcing THAT MAN on our Queen?"

Conservative MP for Totnes, Sarah Wollaston, earlier tweeted that the US President should not be invited to address the Houses of Parliament, saying Westminster Hall "should be reserved for leaders who have made an outstanding positive difference in the world".

Above is from:  http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38788388

Rauner attending Koch brothers’ summit in California


Gov. Bruce Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner is drawing criticism for attending an annual summit hosted by the Koch brothers. | Sun-Times file photo

Tina Sfondeles

@TinaSfon | email

Gov. Bruce Rauner is among three Republican governors attending an annual summit in California hosted by billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch — a trip that’s drawn criticism from unions and some Democratic lawmakers over its timing.

The Koch brothers, the nation’s top conservative donors, have hosted gatherings of donors and politicians over the years, but usually in private. This year’s attendees include five Republican senators, three governors and two congressmen.


The governor’s office confirmed Rauner is attending the summit in Palm Springs, California, but said he’s there to discuss policy and the state’s achievements with criminal justice reform, not politics or fundraising. An administration aide added that Rauner is also meeting with people on the West Coast to recruit tech companies to come to Illinois.

But the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which is in a longstanding war with the governor amid the state’s budget impasse, on Sunday harshly criticized Rauner for what they called “huddling” with the Koch brothers as refugees are stranded and Illinois is in “crisis.”

“Actions speak louder than words. He’s not compassionate. He’s not willing to work together,” IFT President Dan Montgomery said in a statement. “In one of our darkest hours, he’s plotting with billionaires on how to make the rich richer.”

State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, who is considering a run for governor, also questioned why Rauner wasn’t at O’Hare International Airport on Saturday, where a President Trump executive order barring refugees and green card holders from seven Muslim-majority nations prompted 18 people to be detained.

Rauner’s staff said in a statement Sunday that the United States’ tradition of welcoming immigrants should be balanced with national security concerns, but they added the governor is “opposed to immigration bans that target any specific religion” and acknowledged “serious concerns” about Trump’s order.

“We urge swift resolution of these concerns through the courts to ensure we are a nation that is both secure and welcoming of immigrants and refugees,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly wrote.

With eye on 2018, Gov. Bruce Rauner says ‘Don’t blame me’

The Koch network, known as the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, plans to spend between $300 million and $400 million to influence politics and public policy over the next two years. Much of that money will be devoted to the organization’s nationwide grassroots organization to help educate voters and hold elected officials accountable.

The network is considered to be one of the most powerful in conservative politics, with an enormous budget and staff. The brothers largely back politicians and causes aligned with free-market views.

Rauner is seeking re-election next year but he is certainly not facing any financial hardships of his own. In December, Rauner contributed $50 million to his re-election campaign.

The Koch brothers are top contributors to the Republican Governors Association, which then contributes to candidates, including Rauner. Records show Rauner’s campaign committee received $8.75 million from the association beginning in March 2014.

“We’re just getting started,” billionaire industrialist Charles Koch said at the opening reception for the weekend conference, which attracted more than 550 donors, each willing to donate at least $100,000 each year to the various conservative political and policy groups backed by the Koch brothers.

Koch and many of his top donors refused to support Trump in the run-up to his election, raising questions about both his readiness for the job and his dedication to conservative principles. There were lingering signs of tensions as donors arrived Saturday.

Trump’s name was not mentioned by Koch — or the four other speakers — at the welcome reception. The group’s primary benefactor ignored the new administration and noted instead that his network successfully helped preserve the Republican majority in the Senate.

The Kochs and their supporters are focused on re-shaping the federal health care system and eliminating federal regulations. They sharply oppose, however, efforts by the Trump administration to interfere with free trade.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey are also attending the three-day summit.

Contributing: AP

Above is from:  http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/rauner-attending-koch-brothers-summit-in-california/

Saturday, January 28, 2017

‘Up Is Down’: Trump’s Unreality Show Echoes His Business Past


The New York Times logoThe New York Times

The New York Times



President Trump on Air Force One after a trip to Philadelphia on Thursday. As a businessman and candidate he often made fantastical or false claims, and in his first days as president he has issued a series of untruths.© Doug Mills/The New York Times President Trump on Air Force One after a trip to Philadelphia on Thursday. As a businessman and candidate he often made fantastical or false claims, and in his first days as president he has issued a series…

As a businessman, Donald J. Trump was a serial fabulist whose biggest-best boasts about everything he touched routinely crumbled under the slightest scrutiny. As a candidate, Mr. Trump was a magical realist who made fantastical claims punctuated by his favorite verbal tic: “Believe me.”

Yet even jaded connoisseurs of Oval Office dissembling were astonished over the past week by the torrent of bogus claims that gushed from President Trump during his first days in office.

“We’ve never seen anything this bizarre in our lifetimes, where up is down and down is up and everything is in question and nothing is real,” said Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity and the author of “935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity,” a book about presidential deception.

It was not just Mr. Trump’s debunked claim about how many people attended his inauguration, or his insistence (contradicted by his own Twitter posts) that he had not feuded with the intelligence community, or his audacious and evidence-free claim that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote only because millions of people voted for her illegally.

All week long, news organizations chased down one Trump tall tale after another. PolitiFact, a website devoted to checking the veracity of claims by public officials, published 12 “of the most misleading claims” Mr. Trump made during his first White House interview. The Chicago Tribune found that Mr. Trump was incorrect when he claimed two people were shot and killed in Chicago the very hour President Barack Obama was there delivering his farewell address. (There were no shootings, police records showed.) The Philadelphia Inquirer found that Mr. Trump was incorrect when he said the city’s murder rate was “terribly increasing.” (The murder rate has steadily declined over the last decade.) The indefatigable fact checkers at The Washington Post cataloged 24 false or misleading statements made by the president during his first seven days in office.

But for students of Mr. Trump’s long business career, there was much about President Trump’s truth-mangling ways that was familiar: the mystifying false statements about seemingly trivial details, the rewriting of history to airbrush unwanted facts, the branding as liars those who point out his untruths, the deft conversion of demonstrably false claims into a semantic mush of unverifiable “beliefs.”

Mr. Trump’s falsehoods have long been viewed as a reflexive extension of his vanity, or as his method of compensating for deep-seated insecurities. But throughout his business career, Mr. Trump’s most noteworthy deceptions often did double duty, serving not just his ego but also important strategic goals. Mr. Trump’s habitually inflated claims about his wealth, for example, fed his self-proclaimed image of a business genius even as they attracted lucrative licensing deals built around the Trump brand.

Stephen K. Bannon, center, Mr. Trump’s chief White House strategist, and Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, in Washington on the morning of the inauguration. On Wednesday, Mr. Bannon told The New York Times that the news media was “the opposition party.”© Hilary Swift for The New York Times Stephen K. Bannon, center, Mr. Trump’s chief White House strategist, and Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, in Washington on the morning of the inauguration. On Wednesday, Mr. Bannon told The New York…

Nearly 30 years ago, in his best-selling book “The Art of the Deal,” Mr. Trump memorably extolled the advantages of “truthful hyperbole,” which he described as “an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.” It is one thing when the hyperbole comes from a reality TV star exaggerating his ratings to a roomful of television critics. The stakes are infinitely higher when it comes from the leader of the free world, and this reality is provoking alarm from many across the political spectrum.

Steve Schmidt, who helped manage Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said in an interview that Mr. Trump’s cascade of falsehoods was “a direct assault on the very idea of representative democracy” in the United States. Mr. Schmidt said that when he heard Mr. Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway defend the Trump administration’s “alternative facts” on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday, he thought of George Orwell’s “1984,” in which the Ministry of Truth is emblazoned with three slogans: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”

“In a democratic government, there must be truth in order to hold elected officials accountable to their sovereign, which is the people,” Mr. Schmidt said. “All authoritarian societies are built on a foundation of lies and alternative facts, and what is true is what the leader believes, or what is best for the state.”

Mr. Lewis argued that the president’s untruths were a deliberate strategy to position the nation’s leading news organizations as the enemy of his administration. “Fact-checking becomes an act of war by the media,” he said.

Indeed, last Saturday, on Day 2 of his administration, Mr. Trump told hundreds of C.I.A. employees that he had “a running war with the media” and called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” The next day, his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, accused the news media of trying to “delegitimize” the new president and promised, “We are not going to sit around and let it happen.” By Wednesday, Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief White House strategist, was referring to the news media as “the opposition party” during an interview with The New York Times.

“It feels like this was part of the plan all along,” Mr. Lewis said.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who has written about Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, said in an interview that Mr. Trump’s brazen willingness to deny “objective reality” had, if nothing else, succeeded in diverting public attention from matters of more lasting consequence, like his flurry of executive orders. “I don’t know that he is doing it strategically,” she said, “but it certainly had the impact of a magician’s sleight of hand.”

Deception, dissembling, exaggeration — what Fortune magazine called his “astonishing ability to prevaricate” — has deep roots in Mr. Trump’s business career. In innumerable interviews over the years, Mr. Trump glibly inflated everything from the size of his speaking fees to the cost of his golf club memberships to the number of units he had sold in new Trump buildings. In project after project, he faced allegations of broken promises, deceit or outright fraud, from Trump University students who said they had been defrauded, to Trump condominium buyers who said they had been fleeced, to small-time contractors who said Mr. Trump had fabricated complaints about their work to avoid paying them.

In the early 1980s, a New York City housing court judge ruled that Mr. Trump had filed a “spurious” lawsuit to harass a tenant into vacating a Trump building. In the early 1990s, a federal judge ruled that despite Mr. Trump’s denials, there was “strong evidence” he and his subordinates had conspired to hire undocumented workers and deprive them of employment benefits. In the case of Trump University, Mr. Trump repeatedly claimed that he had “handpicked” each of the instructors who were hired to teach students the secrets of his real estate investing strategies. Yet during a deposition, Mr. Trump struggled to identify a single instructor, even after he was shown their photographs.

The price Mr. Trump paid for this record of prevarication was modest and manageable. His lawyers quietly settled cases when necessary, almost always after binding plaintiffs to secrecy. Some major banks and law firms quietly pulled back from doing or seeking business with the Trump Organization. Skeptical judges turned away his libel suit against a journalist who wrote a book calling into question the amount of his wealth. But usually, by the time the truth caught up, Mr. Trump had moved on to the next big thing.

Once he stepped into the political arena, however, fact-checking operations began cataloging his false statements in ways he never experienced during his years as a real estate developer and reality television star. PolitiFact, for example, has scrutinized 356 specific claims by Mr. Trump and found that more than two-thirds of the claims were “mostly false,” “false” or, in 62 cases, “Pants on Fire” false.

“Trump is a different kind of figure than we’ve ever seen before in our 10 years of fact-checking,” Bill Adair, the creator of PolitiFact and a journalism professor at Duke University, said in an interview. “No one has come close to Trump in the high percentage of falsehoods.”

Mr. Trump’s election alone is evidence he did not pay a high price for his plethora of false claims on the campaign trail. Nor are there many signs that his loyal base of supporters is troubled by the misstatements he has made in the first week of his presidency.

“There’s no question that the messages and the actions of the first week are deeply resonating with tens of millions of Americans,” Mr. Schmidt said. And even if some Republican leaders in Washington view the president’s behavior as “strange” or “worrisome,” he said, they are for now more focused on the tax cuts and deregulation they hope to achieve under his administration.

Mr. Trump has given conflicting signals about whether he understands the difference between fallacies uttered by the president of the United States and promotional puffery from a real estate developer boasting of his latest hotel or golf course. In Mr. Trump’s first interview as president, David Muir of ABC News asked, “Do you think that your words matter more now?”

“Yes, very much,” Mr. Trump said.

Yet then Mr. Muir asked, “Do you think that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country without presenting the evidence?”

“No, not at all,” he replied. “Not at all because many people feel the same way that I do.”

As if to prove the point, Mr. Trump then doubled down on his lie about millions of illegal votes. “Believe me, those were Hillary votes,” he said. “And if you look at it, they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me.”

For Ms. Goodwin, Mr. Trump’s week of reality distortions brought to mind Lincoln’s address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., on Jan. 27, 1838, where he made an appeal to Enlightenment values as the best antidote to what he called the “mobocratic spirit.” “Reason — cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason — must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense,” he said.

“He was worrying about authoritarian behavior,” Ms. Goodwin said.

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/%E2%80%98up-is-down%E2%80%99-trump%E2%80%99s-unreality-show-echoes-his-business-past/ar-AAmlWUm?ocid=spartanntp

Legal challenges mount for Trump’s travel ban from 7 Muslim countries


Liz Goodwin

Senior National Affairs Reporter

Yahoo NewsJanuary 28, 2017


Civil liberties groups are challenging Donald Trump’s executive order barring all immigration from seven majority-Muslim nations for 120 days, which the president signed Friday evening. Donald Trump also temporarily canceled admissions from the entire U.S. refugee program.

On Saturday morning, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that legal permanent residents of the United States with green cards are included in the ban, and will not be allowed to reenter the country. Later, the agency said they would decide on a “case-by-case” basis. As officials raced to understand the new executive order, U.S. green card holders from Iran and the six other countries were reportedly kicked off flights, sent back to their country of origin or detained at airports. (The banned countries are Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.)

Less than 24 hours after Trump signed the order, at least three lawsuits challenging the ban have been filed or are in the works. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court Saturday on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained at John F. Kennedy Airport on Friday night. The men were both granted visas before Trump’s order was signed, but were detained upon arriving in the United States, due to the order.

One of them, Hameed Darweesh, was released Saturday afternoon. He was granted a special immigrant visa for his service to the U.S. Army as a translator for 10 years in Iraq. “We know America is the land of freedom,” he said in a brief press conference after his release, adding that he was “grateful” to the country for accepting him.

The ACLU is going forward with its lawsuit on behalf of the other detained man. It seeks an immediate injunction barring the Trump administration from blocking immigrants based on his executive order, arguing that the order is illegal based on a a 1965 law banning discrimination in immigration based on national origin.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, aimed to end earlier quota systems that gave preference to immigrants from European nations. As David Bier of the libertarian Cato Institute argues, this law prevents immigrants from being discriminated against based upon “the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.” If Trump wants a ban on entry from these countries — even temporarily — he needs Congress to pass that law, Bier argues.

Trump is relying upon a 1952 law that allows president to “suspend the entry” of “any class of aliens” if they disadvantage the United States. But Bier and other legal scholars believe the 1965 law supersedes that right.

“The 1965 law is clear,” said legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine. “The law prohibits discrimination based on national origin. This is discrimination based on national origin.”

The ACLU is also considering crafting a new challenge arguing that the executive order violates the establishment clause of the Constitution, which prevents the government from favoring one religion over another.

“Donald Trump has made it very clear that this is designed to disfavor Muslims on the one hand and to favor Christians on the other,” David Cole, the legal director of the ACLU, told Yahoo News. “He told Christian Broadcast News that that was the whole purpose of it: to give priority to Christians.”

Trump told Christian Broadcast News on Friday that he would give Christians the “priority” in the refugee program.

“It’s black-letter establishment clause law that the government cannot take sides between religions,” Cole said. “The order on its face does that.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is also filing a lawsuit in federal court with 20 plaintiffs who argue that the intent of the executive order is “to ban people of the Islamic faith from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States” — a violation of the establishment clause.

The apparent inclusion of green-card holders from the seven countries in the ban is likely to present its own raft of lawsuits.

“They have at least a statutory right to reside in the United States permanently and to return to the United States,” Cole said. “To the extent that President Trump has sought to override that statutory right, yes, they might be another problem.”

About 500,000 people from these seven countries have received green cards over the past decade, ProPublica estimates.

Mana Yegani, an immigration lawyer in Houston, said she has been “up all night” fielding calls from family members and friends worried that their loved ones who hold green cards won’t be able to return to the country. One of her clients, a U.S. green card holder from Iran, works for Chevron in Houston and was due to arrive in the city at around 4 p.m.

“I’m waiting on standby to see what happens to him,” she said. “I’m very concerned.”

Above is from:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/legal-challenges-mount-for-trumps-travel-ban-from-7-muslim-countries-192009501.html

Illinois Attorney General's office: Move to stop state payroll has 'everyone unhappy'



Kim Geiger and Monique GarciaContact ReporterChicago Tribune

Privacy Policy

Attorney General Lisa Madigan's new attempt to stop state worker paychecks from going out on time came more than 10 months after Illinois' high court overruled what her office called the "sole legal basis" for salaries being paid during the historic budget impasse.

The move caught both Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the largest state worker union — usually foes in the ongoing power struggle at the Capitol — by surprise. And it came from an often-cautious state attorney general, who has stayed out of the daily grind of the budget fight, which is being waged on one side by her father, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general said Friday "now is the best time" to revisit the ruling, which has kept state government from shutting down during the 18-month budget stalemate. Madigan contends it also has allowed the politicians at the center of the fight to avoid the sense of urgency needed to foster a deal.

Rauner on Friday suggested that she was acting on political motivations to "create a crisis" and give Democrats the upper hand in budget negotiations. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees leader Roberta Lynch, in a letter to members, blasted the move as a "harmful and irresponsible legal maneuver."

Maura Possley, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said the uproar over the decision from multiple sides showed she didn't intend to help any one side.

"We filed this petition because of a lack of action by everyone involved, it seems to be making everyone unhappy," Possley said.

Attorney General Madigan's motion asked the court to lift its order and stop state salaries at the end of February in the absence of a budget. Possley said the idea was to try to spark action on the part of Rauner and lawmakers.

"Asking the court to impose a deadline for the governor and legislature to do their jobs will solve the crisis, not create it," she said. "The governor and legislature can resolve this situation at any time and they have had ample time to do that."

AG Madigan asks judge to lift order to pay state workers during impasse

AG Madigan asks judge to lift order to pay state workers during impasse

The action came as the state Senate went home Thursday after delaying plans to vote on sweeping legislation aimed at ending the budget standoff, and as AFSCME is scheduled to start voting Monday on whether to strike over lack of a new contract with the Rauner administration. The prospect of a halt in paychecks could change the calculus for workers as they weigh the wisdom of waging a first-of-its-kind strike.

The payroll issue dates back to the early days of the budget stalemate, in July 2015, when AFSCME and 12 other unions asked a downstate St. Clair County Circuit Court judge to require that the state keep payroll flowing for public employees despite a lack of a spending plan. The unions argued that failing to pay workers in full was a violation of their collective bargaining agreements and that a higher court had reached a similar conclusion in a different case related to back pay withheld from workers under former Gov. Pat Quinn.

The St. Clair County order contradicted an earlier ruling from a Cook County judge in which Madigan argued state workers should not be paid beyond the $7.25-per-hour federal minimum wage. At the time, she said the state should comply with federal labor laws when Illinois was without a budget.

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner greets attendees after he arrives for the Fueling America's Economic Growth 2017 Summit at Hotel Allegro in Chicago on Jan. 27, 2017. 

(Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

The Illinois Supreme Court later overturned the ruling in that back pay case, saying that the workers weren't entitled to pay lawmakers haven't approved. The ruling sparked speculation that the attorney general might go back to the St. Clair County judge and try to lift the order that had been keeping state workers paid during the budget war. But she stayed out of it until this week.

Last summer Rauner and Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly agreed to a stopgap spending measure that would keep other state government spending going through the end of the year. The idea was to get past the November election, which was preoccupying lawmakers tied up with their campaigns.

That temporary spending plan expired Jan. 1, returning the state to its awkward position of being able to pay state worker salaries while stiffing nonprofit service providers and starving universities and college students of cash and grants.

Madigan, in her Thursday court filing, contended she's trying to raise the pressure to get a budget in place, saying the judge's order "has allowed the legislative and executive branches to fail to fulfill their constitutional duties without facing the real threat of a government shutdown."

"With no possibility of a government shutdown to force action by the legislative and executive branches, the state has continued to operate without a budget to fund many services provided by vendors and grantees," Madigan's court paperwork read. "Those vendors and grantees and the many Illinoisans they serve are bearing the brunt of this egregious and untenable budget impasse. This situation does not usually happen for long on the federal level or in other states precisely because the possibility of a government shutdown eventually leads to the passage and enactment of a budget."

Rauner on Friday questioned Madigan for what he suggested was a "direct attempt to cause a crisis, to force a shutdown of the government, to force another stopgap spending plan, short-term, unbalanced, incomplete, as a step to force a tax hike without any changes to our broken system."

"I hope that's not what this is. I hope the attorney general will reconsider," Rauner said in a statement he delivered to reporters after speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in downtown Chicago. Rauner declined to answer questions from reporters.

AFSCME leader Lynch, in the letter to her members, vowed to go to court and try to keep paychecks moving.

"I want you to know that AFSCME is prepared to return to court in opposition to the Attorney General's motion and to pursue every available legal means to halt her action," she wrote. "The Attorney General is justifying her action by citing the urgent need for a resolution of the state budget stalemate. ... However, the need for a budget resolution can in no way justify the Attorney General's harmful and irresponsible legal maneuver."

Speaker Madigan's office, meanwhile, said there was no coordination between the speaker and the attorney general.

"It seems completely illogical," said Speaker Madigan spokesman Steve Brown. "The office of the attorney general acts on its own."

A spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton said the attorney general's move underscores the need for a budget resolution sooner rather than later.

"This would appear to add to that sense of urgency," said spokesman John Patterson.

The Chicago Tribune's Haley BeMiller contributed.


Above is from:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-bruce-rauner-chamber-speech-met-0128-20170127-story.html

Friday, January 27, 2017

Interesting BCJ articles








Above are from:  http://www.boonecountyjournal.com/news/2017/Boone-County-News-01-27-17.pdf

Russian Charged With Treason Worked in Office Linked to Election Hacking


5 / 18

The New York Times logoThe New York Times

The New York Times

By ANDREW E. KRAMER3 hrs ago


General View of the Headquarters of the Federal Security Service Building in Moscow© Chirikov/EPA/REX/Shutterstock/Rex Images General View of the Headquarters of the Federal Security Service Building in Moscow

MOSCOW — The authorities in Moscow are prosecuting at least one cybersecurity expert for treason, a prominent Russian criminal defense lawyer confirmed on Friday, while a Russian newspaper reported that the case is linked to hacking during the United States presidential election.

While surely touching a nerve in American politics, the developments in Moscow left a still muddled picture of what, exactly, a series of arrests by the security services here signifies.

But the virtually simultaneous appearance of at least four prominent news reports on the hacking and several related arrests, citing numerous anonymous sources, suggests that the normally opaque Russian government intends to reveal more information about the matter, though it is unclear why.

In the waning weeks of the Obama administration, American federal intelligence agencies released a report asserting the Russian government had hacked into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John D. Podesta, stealing and releasing to WikiLeaks emails intended to damage Mrs. Clinton and help President Trump win the election.

But the unclassified version of the report offered only thin corroborating information, many independent analysts have said. The treason arrests in Moscow hint at a possible human intelligence source in at least one hacking episode, the intrusion into state electoral boards in Arizona and Illinois.

The confirmation by the Russian lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, in written answers to questions from The New York Times, was the closest so far to a formal acknowledgment that the Russian government has detained suspected spies within the cyberbranch of its Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the main successor to the K.G.B.

Mr. Pavlov declined to identify his client or elaborate on the reason for the indictment for “betraying the state,” punishable by up to 20 years in a penal colony.

Kommersant, a Russian newspaper, first reported Wednesday on what the Russian news media are calling a purge of the cyberbranch of the F.S.B. that was conducted in early December.

It reported that the Directorate for Internal Security, the agency’s internal affairs bureau, arrested Sergei Mikhailov, a deputy director of the Center for Information Security, the agency’s cybersecurity arm, and Ruslan Stoyanov, a senior researcher at a prominent cybersecurity company, Kaspersky Lab.

Novaya Gazeta, a respected Russian opposition newspaper, reported Friday that the internal investigation led to two other arrests, and that all of the detentions were related to American investigations into Russian hacking during the election.

The newspaper’s report, based on unnamed sources, said the F.S.B. began the internal investigation after news media reports that a United States cybersecurity company, ThreatConnect, had linked the election hacking to a Siberian server company. That company, King Servers, was otherwise used largely for criminal and marginal cyberactivities, such as distributing pornography and counterfeit goods, by the admission of its owner.

The report said the investigation led to Mr. Mikhailov, a senior officer involved in tracking criminal cyberactivity in Russia.

Both Novaya Gazeta, an outlet for the liberal opposition, and Tsargrad, a hard-line nationalist publication, reported that the F.S.B. made a brutal show of his arrest.

Agents arrested Mr. Mikhailov with a theatrical touch, placing a bag over his head in the midst of a congress of senior intelligence agency officers in Moscow and leading him from the room, the two publications reported.

“The arrest was certainly colorful,” Tsargrad’s report said. “Mikhailov was led from the congress of F.S.B. colleagues with a bag on his head.”

Still, the fragmentary information about the arrests seemed, as is so often the case here, little more than shadows cast on a wall of real, unseen events taking place out of public view.

The hints suggested to some analysts that the Russian government may be signaling that it might, however indirectly through a treason trial, reveal details of election hacking, which have the potential of damaging the administration of Mr. Trump.

“They are suggesting it is true, and furthermore, they can prove as much,” Kenneth Geers, a former cyberanalyst with the Department of Defense and an authority on Russian signals intelligence tradecraft, said of the Russians possibly revealing details of their own operation.

“They could increase the pressure on Trump in the United States by suggesting he is an illegitimate president,” Mr. Geers said, by simply verifying parts of what United States intelligence has already asserted that Russia did. “That would seem to put tremendous pressure on the White House.”

Another, somewhat counterintuitive suggestion is that by documenting its role in the electoral hacks, the Kremlin could serve its foreign policy interests by underscoring the extent and power of its reach in the world. The Russian Foreign Ministry has denied any role in the hacking.

ThreatConnect, the cybersecurity company that released the report about King Servers, said its analysis was based on information published by the F.B.I.

The investigation into King Servers began after the hacking of state electoral board computers in Arizona and Illinois from June until August of last year. The F.B.I. published eight internet addresses used in those attacks.

ThreatConnect then identified six of the eight addresses as originating from servers in Dronten, the Netherlands, owned by King Servers and run by Vladimir M. Fomenko, a 26-year-old living in a remote town in Siberia near the border with Mongolia. In an interview in September, Mr. Fomenko denied any role in the electoral hacking, but conceded clients who had rented his servers may have used them for that purpose.

ThreatConnect declined to comment after the arrests in Moscow.

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/russian-charged-with-treason-worked-in-office-linked-to-election-hacking/ar-AAmjXsj?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartanntp

Deepening the sense of intrigue in Moscow, Tsargrad, the nationalist publication, and RBC, a respected business newspaper, identified on Friday a third suspect, Dmitry Dokuchayev. Described as a former hacker going by the pseudonym Forb who was recruited by the F.S.B., Mr. Dokuchayev had agreed to work in the Center for Information Security to avoid arrest for credit card fraud, a rampant crime in Russia.

RBC also reported an alternative theory about the entire counterintelligence investigation, saying it began after a hacking group, Shaltai Boltai, or Humpty Dumpty, stole the emails of a senior Russian official a year ago.

That investigation of email theft led to Mr. Dokuchayev, the former hacker turned F.S.B. employee, the newspaper said, in a version that would seem unrelated to the United States election hacking.

In a 2004 interview with Vedomosti newspaper, apparently before his reported recruitment by the F.S.B., Mr. Dokuchayev openly described himself as a hacker, believing that “information should be free” and calling his “crowning achievement” the hacking of an unspecified United States government website.