Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Trump asking justices to bar demands for his tax and other financial records

The Associated Press reports: President Donald Trump is hoping to persuade a Supreme Court with two of his appointees to keep his tax and other financial records from being turned over to lawmakers and a New York district attorney. The justices are hearing arguments by telephone Tuesday in a pivotal legal fight that could affect the presidential campaign, even with the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting economic fallout. Rulings against

Justice Dept. lawyer: ‘It’s deeply disheartening to see politics infect Justice. It’s everywhere now under Barr’

Politico reports: Asked if he was doing Trump’s bidding [by dismissing charges against Michael Flynn], Barr said: “I’m doing the law’s bidding.” The proclamation rang hollow to numerous Justice Department employees. “There seems to be a different set of rules for political appointees,” said one longtime DOJ official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I was surprised. I didn’t think it would end like this — and this quickly.” The

The attorney general is supposed to work for the American people, but Bill Barr is Trump’s personal fixer

In an editorial, the New York Times says: It can be hard to recall, since so many members of President Trump’s inner circle have been indicted, convicted of federal crimes and even sent to prison, but the first felon to emerge from this administration was Michael Flynn. Mr. Flynn, who served less than a month as the national security adviser before resigning in disgrace, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to

Trump is inciting the violent overthrow of government

Mary McCord writes: President Trump incited insurrection Friday against the duly elected governors of the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia. Just a day after issuing guidance for re-opening America that clearly deferred decision-making to state officials — as it must under our Constitutional order — the president undercut his own guidance by calling for criminal acts against the governors for not opening fast enough. Trump tweeted, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” followed

Trump inspector general firings take aim at rule of law

Noah Feldman writes: In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump is taking ever bolder steps to gut the government structures designed to ensure the rule of law in the United States. In the last week alone, he’s fired two prominent inspectors general: the intelligence community inspector general who received the whistleblower complaint that sparked Trump’s impeachment; and the Defense Department inspector general who had just been named

Trump suggests he can gag inspector general for stimulus bailout program

The New York Times reports: When President Trump signed the $2 trillion economic stabilization package on Friday to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, he undercut a crucial safeguard that Democrats insisted upon as a condition of agreeing to include a $500 billion corporate bailout fund. In a signing statement released hours after Mr. Trump signed the bill in a televised ceremony in the Oval Office, the president suggested he had

DOJ seeks new emergency powers such as indefinite detention amid coronavirus pandemic

Politico reports: The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States. Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted.

Senators sold stocks before coronavirus sank the markets

USA Today reports: Senators are facing backlash for selling in some cases millions of dollars in personal stocks shortly before the coronavirus pandemic sent markets into a freefall earlier this month. Based on publicly available financial transaction disclosures, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., all appear to have sold stock earlier this year. The question is whether the senators

Senate Intelligence Chair dumped up to $1.6 million of stock after reassuring public about coronavirus preparedness

By Robert Faturechi and Derek Willis, ProPublica, March 19, 2020 Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 29 separate transactions. As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina

The inhumane conditions inside America’s jails and prisons now pose a threat to everyone

Amanda Klonsky writes: If you think a cruise ship is a dangerous place to be during a pandemic, consider America’s jails and prisons. The new coronavirus spreads at its quickest in closed environments. And places like nursing homes in affected areas have begun to take precautions at the behest of families and experts. As this new disease spreads, it has become equally important for all of us to ask what

McConnell has a request for veteran federal judges: Please quit

The New York Times reports: Running out of federal court vacancies to fill, Senate Republicans have been quietly making overtures to sitting Republican-nominated judges who are eligible to retire to urge them to step aside so they can be replaced while the party still holds the Senate and the White House. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has used his position as majority leader to build a judicial confirmation

Could the 2020 election be postponed? Only with great difficulty

Alexander Burns writes: The date of the general election is set by federal law and has been fixed since 1845. It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts. To call that unlikely would be an understatement. And even if all of that happened, there would not be much

‘Assault on democracy’: A sitting federal judge takes on John Roberts, Trump and Republicans

The Washington Post reports: Lynn S. Adelman, a U.S. district judge in Milwaukee, has riled conservatives by publishing a blistering critique of the Supreme Court’s record under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., focusing on a string of decisions that he argues have fostered “economic inequality,” “undermined democracy” and “increased the political power of corporations and wealthy individuals” at the expense of ordinary Americans. Adelman also criticized President Trump, who

Trump is counting on the Supreme Court to rescue him

David Frum writes: Sometime before June 29, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court will either plunge the United States into the severest constitutional crisis of the Trump years—or save Americans from that crisis. Three different committees of Congress, as well as New York State prosecutors, have issued subpoenas to President Donald Trump’s accountants and bankers for his tax and business records. Trump has sued to stop the accountants and bankers from

Federal judge calls Barr’s handling of Mueller report ‘distorted’ and ‘misleading’

The New York Times reports: A federal judge on Thursday sharply criticized Attorney General William P. Barr’s handling of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, saying that Mr. Barr put forward a “distorted” and “misleading” account of its findings and lacked credibility on the topic. Mr. Barr could not be trusted, Judge Reggie B. Walton said, citing “inconsistencies” between the attorney general’s statements about the report

Why Trump made a baseless attack on Supreme Court justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor

George T. Conway III writes: President Trump is treating the judiciary the way he treats the media. But the harm created by these attacks could be far greater. In 2016, CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Trump off camera why he persisted in going after journalists. In one of those sporadic moments in which he reveals the raw truth, Trump replied, according to Stahl, “I do it to discredit