AG Barr speaks at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention

Attorney General William Barr will deliver the Barbara K Olson Lecture at the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention.

Federal judge compels Secretary of Commerce Ross to be deposed in suit against citizenship question

While Ross has testified about the question before Congress and wanted to avoid a deposition in this lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman wrote in an order Friday “the question is not a close one: Secretary Ross must sit for a deposition because, among other things, his intent and credibility are directly at issue in these cases.”

.. government officials should only be called to testify in exceptional circumstances, since they have “greater duties and time constraints than other witnesses.” Thus, the 2nd Circuit ruled, such officials should only be deposed if they have first-hand knowledge or if other sources cannot provide the same information.

Furman said this case meets both of those standards. The heart of the issue is Ross’s own intention in adding the question to the census.

To avoid imposing too much of a burden on Ross, Furman limited the deposition to four hours.

.. evidence found by the attorneys general that suggests Ross took a strong interest in getting the citizenship question added himself, repeatedly raising the topic despite objections from experts within the Census Bureau.

The Answer to Whether Trump Obstructed Justice Now Seems Clear

Most white-collar prosecutions turn on the issue of criminal intent. These cases involve behavior that would, in ordinary circumstances, be totally legal—if not for the intent of the defendant.

.. It’s only criminal to sell stock if you had improper knowledge of the status of the company.

.. The President clearly had the right to fire Comey, but he did not have the right to do so with improper intent.

.. McGahn’s threat to resign shows that he saw these purported reasons as pretexts.

  1. .. The golf-dues matter was obviously trivial
  2. .. the law firm’s representation of Kushner, which did not involve Mueller at all, could only have biased the special counsel in favor of the President’s family
  3. .. and Trump’s willingness to interview Mueller for the F.B.I. position showed how much the President trusted Mueller, not that he believed the former F.B.I. director harbored any animosity toward him.

.. McGahn recognized the key fact—that Trump wanted to fire Mueller for the wrong reasons. Trump wanted to fire Mueller because his investigation was threatening to him.

.. Trump and his advisers have offered various tortured rationalizations for the firing of Comey—initially, for example, on the ground that Comey had been unfair to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. Trump himself came clean in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt and in a meeting with Russia’s foreign minister.

In both, Trump acknowledged that he fired Comey to stall or stop the Russia investigation—that is, the investigation of Trump himself and his campaign.

The latest Russia revelations lay the groundwork for a conspiracy case

Collusion is usually defined as a secret agreement to do something improper. In the criminal-law world, we call that conspiracy. If unlawful collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals did take place, criminal conspiracy would be one of the most likely charges.

A conspiracy is a partnership in crime. The federal conspiracy statute prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States, which includes conspiracies to impede the lawful functions of the federal government — such as administering a presidential election.

.. The meeting helps establish a few critical facts. The first is simply that contacts between Russians and campaign officials did take place. If you are seeking to prove a criminal partnership, evidence that the alleged partners had private meetings establishes the opportunity to reach an agreement.

.. The crucial new detail about this meeting is that campaign members now admit it took place after they were told that Veselnitskaya was offering compromising information about Clinton.

.. This fact is significant regardless of what happened at the meeting. Proving a defendant’s state of mind is key in any criminal case. This meeting provides critical evidence about the state of mind of Trump representatives: They were willing to hear what a Russian individual had to offer about their opponent.

.. The first line of defense against a conspiracy allegation typically would be: “That’s ridiculous — I’d never agree to meet with someone from Russia under those circumstances.” That line of defense appears to be gone.

.. Lies or conflicting explanations can be important circumstantial evidence of criminal intent. They may indicate that the truth is something more nefarious that someone does not want to be discovered.

.. We know now that Trump campaign officials were, at the very least, willing to entertain the idea of accepting help from Russian nationals in a U.S. presidential election.

Should the President’s Words Matter in Court?

reliance on Donald Trump’s own words as candidate, president-elect and president. The court leaned particularly heavily on his now-famous campaign statement that he was “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

The government’s lawyers argued that those words had no bearing on the order’s lawfulness, but the court disagreed. The president’s words, the court found, led to only one conclusion: The order was driven by “religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination,” not a genuine national-security need

.. But there is an exception to this rule: namely, when presidential speech supplies evidence of intent or purpose of established legal relevance — for example, when assessing a claim of religious discrimination

.. The Supreme Court, for example, acted properly in disregarding President Barack Obama’s statement that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was “absolutely not a tax increase.”

Trump’s Talk About Muslims Led Acting Attorney General to Defy Ban

As Republicans seethed over President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration in early 2015, Senator Jeff Sessions sharply questioned Sally Q. Yates about whether she had the independent streak needed to be the Justice Department’s second in command.

.. “If the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?” Mr. Sessions asked during a confirmation hearing for Ms. Yates.

.. President Trump’s own words convinced her that his executive order on immigration was intended to single out Muslims, senior officials said. Hours after she refused to defend that order, Mr. Trump fired her.

.. The Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department had reviewed the order and signed off on its legality. But Ms. Yates and her staff lawyers believed that the department had to consider the intent of the order, which she said appeared intended to single out people based on religion.

“We have comments from the president about what this is supposed to do,” Ms Yates said in one meeting on Monday, according to two people involved in the discussions. She later added, “The intent was clear from the face of it.”

.. Mr. Trump had campaigned on a promise to single out Muslims for immigration restrictions. One of his advisers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, said in an interview that Mr. Trump wanted a Muslim ban but needed “the right way to do it legally.” Mr. Trump said in a later interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christian refugees would be given priority for entry visas to the United States.

.. Ms. Yates considered resigning, the officials said, but concluded that doing so would leave the decision to whomever succeeded her, even if in a temporary capacity.

.. Mr. Sessions, an immigration hard-liner, argued that the Justice Department should have refused to support Mr. Obama’s executive action liberalizing immigration policy.

Ms. Yates promised that she would stand up to the president, if necessary.

.. Last year, Ms. Yates and Ms. Lynch earned the ire of Democrats — including many in the department — for not intervening and prohibiting the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, from sending a letter to Congress in the final days of the presidential campaign.