Justice Department

Everyday, Easy Cowardice (Palmetto Virtue Edition)

#rapeculture | #WhatTheyVotedFor

House Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC04) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, 6 January 2016, before the start of the committee's closed-door hearing. The House committee is looking into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya and is interviewing former CIA director David Petraeus as the investigation enters its third calendar year, and a presidential election year. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

The report from Griffin Connolly, for Roll Call, might not be surprising—

Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will not initiate an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump, he signaled in a letter Tuesday.

—but it seems worth pointing out that Republicans are not even trying. Nor is this a new phenomenon; it just seems especially relevant.

(more…)

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Inward Focus (Split Canyon Distraction Mix)

[#resist]

Protesters demonstrate on 16 September 2017 in Tunis against parliament passing an amnesty law for officials accused of corruption under toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)

There is nearly a joke waiting here—

Hundreds of Tunisians protested on Saturday in the streets of the capital against a widely contested new law that grants officials from the former regime involved in corruption amnesty from prosecution.

Tunisia’s parliament on Wednesday approved a law protecting officials accused of graft during the rule of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, triggering angry protests by the opposition and activists.

Waving flags and banners saying “No to forgiveness”, “Resisting against mafia rule”, around 1,500 people marched through the capital’s central Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the company of opposition leaders.

After months of protests, the law was amended from an original draft which would have also granted amnesty to corrupt businessmen. Now they will be liable to prosecution for crimes committed during Ben Ali’s 24-year rule.

(Reuters)

—because it should not be quite so easy for Americans to empathize so proximally.    (more…)

The Trump Hole (Emergent)

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz delivers a statement to the press in Washington, D.C., 8 June 2017. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP)

The sitcom pace of benchmark headlines sometimes means the effort of retort requires falling behind the story. Or, you know, there is a professional class, and say what we will about that. More directly, Steve Benen makes a certain point about the life and times of the Trump administration:

Kasowitz’s plan to go after Comey by way of the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s office is itself more troubling than Comey’s actions. First, the IG’s office isn’t equipped to launch investigations into private citizens. And second, as Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyer in the Bush/Cheney administration, noted this morning, trying to get the Justice Department to target a material witness—in this case, the former director of the FBI—only adds to the concerns about Team Trump trying to obstruct justice.

(more…)

Sense and Sensibility in #DimensionTrump

#incompetence | #WhatTheyVotedFor

#PutiTrump: Protest image of Vladimir Putin, artist unknown. Donald Trump in detail of photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for msnbc, 2016.

This is just another example:

Graham and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley have both said they will hold up hearings for Rod Rosenstein, Trump’s nominee to serve as deputy attorney general, unless they get more information from the FBI. Given Sessions’ recusal, Rosenstein would take over responsibility for any probes touching the Trump campaign and Russia’s election meddling if he’s confirmed.

“It’s just too bad that we have to go to this length,” Grassley said.

(Pace)

Remember, when a Republican tells you government does not or cannot work, remember this is a warning, a threat, a thesis to be proved; underlying it all is a notion that government should not work.

(more…)

Good News, Everyone! (Justice Before Profit)

This is very nearly confusing. That is to say, sometimes we forget to pay attention, but, really, why am I so genuinely surprised?

Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., 28 June 2016. (Photo: J. David Ake/AP Photo)The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing―and ultimately ending―our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

(Zapotosky and Harlan)

No, really, I didn’t see this coming. Perhaps that is the problem; this is the sort of thing I should have at least noticed along the way.

____________________

Image note: Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., 28 June 2016. (Photo: J. David Ake/AP Photo)

Zapotosky, Matt and Chico Harlan. “Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons”. The Washington Post. 18 August 2016.

How We Do It (Freedom Forfeit Fried)

United States Department of Justice

So, you know, irony doesn’t really do any good for the people who have been hurt―

The Department of Justice announced this week that it’s suspending a controversial program that allows local police departments to keep a large portion of assets seized from citizens under federal law and funnel it into their own coffers.

The “equitable-sharing” program gives police the option of prosecuting asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize―even if the people they took from are never charged with a crime.

The DOJ is suspending payments under this program due to budget cuts included in the recent spending bill.

(Ingraham)

―but for the rest of us, that’s gotta be worth something. There are some days when we take what we can get, and if budget constraints will accomplish what justice cannot, well, what else do we expect? This is your federal government. These are your United States of America.

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Ingraham, Christopher. “The Justice Department just shut down a huge asset forfeiture program”. The Washington Post. 23 December 2015.

An American Moment

“After considering the text of Title VII, the relevant Supreme Court case law interpreting the statute, and the developing jurisprudence in this area, I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Oh, yes. Our America still has its good days.

Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed delivers the news, and while it might seem like a small thing compared to yesterday’s breathtaking tales from Washington and Havana, this really is one of those important things.

And while it is true that the last two years of a second-term presidency often include some of the maneuvers that president should have started with six years before, what, really, does this administration have left on the list of reasons to not do certain things? Maybe if they pile on enough over the next year and some months, and just keep pouring on through the election cycle, Democrats will actually get up and aim for more daring goals than holding the line against whatever has become of the Republican Party.

But, you know, for the moment, yes, it is perfectly acceptable to pause and say, “Wow! Why didn’t I see that one coming?”

And we would also take a moment to say, Thank you, Mr. Holder.

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Holder, Eric. “Treatment of Transgender Employment Discrimination Claims Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”. United States Department of Justice. 15 December 2014.

Geidner, Chris. “Justice Department Will Now Support Transgender Discrimination Claims In Litigation”. BuzzFeed. 18 December 2014.

Sad: Wasted Opportunities

The headline, from Reuters:

    Top Republican sees bumpy Kagan court confirmation

And the lede:

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan will face tough questions at a Senate confirmation hearing because she has never been a judge and has no record of judicial opinions, a top Republican senator said on Sunday.

As if this is news.

With judicial appointments in general, the question is no longer whether or not the opposition will obstruct, but, rather, how they go about doing it. To the administration’s favor in the coming confirmation fight for Elena Kagan is her one great merit throughout—she is very good at appeasing conservatives. (more…)