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Tag: constitution

Comey: How a Trump Presidency Shows the Constitutional System is Working

FBI Director James Comey, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey sees a silver lining in a Trump presidency.

“I think our country is being stress-tested now. And I actually believe our current president has illuminated things for us that we were taking for granted,” Comey told University of Chicago law students Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune first reported.

“I think he is accomplishing, without intending to, a shrinking of the presidency, which I think is … closer to the design of the founders, and the energizing of the Congress and the courts that hasn’t happened in a couple of decades,” Comey said.

The former FBI director said over the weekend that he supports the impeachment inquiry, saying, “If the news accounts are accurate, the president engaged in a shocking abuse of power.”

While Comey didn’t mention the impeachment at the University of Chicago, he said truth is the “touchstone” of American values.

“I see good things happening as a result of what he’s doing,” Comes said. “I see people say we have a constitutional crisis. No. I don’t think so. I see the design working. It’s a nerve-wracking stress, but I see it working.”

Watchdog: Trump’s Intervention in FBI Headquarters Violates Emoluments Clauses of Constitution

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s bold decision to intervene in a plan to move the FBI headquarters, which is across the street from his hotel, may be a violation of the Emoluments Clauses of the constitution.

NBC News reports that it’s “the strongest evidence yet that the president of the United States is tampering with American security to avoid disadvantaging his businesses.” 

TickletheWire.com previously reported that administration officials, under “direction from the White House,” plotted to end a long-planned project to relocate the FBI to a new suburban campus.

“We cannot have the most powerful person in the world making national and domestic security decisions based on how his business might be impacted,?” wrote Noah Bookbinder and Norman Eisen of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has already filed multiple lawsuits challenging the president’s “flagrant violation of the Emoluments Clause.”

Since 2005, the federal government has been planning to move the FBI out of its cramped, squalid headquarters to the suburbs. But doing so would put the current space up for sale to a possible hotel competitor.

“Were the bureau to relocate, its old space would be sold off to developers to cover some of the cost of the relocation, Bookbinder and Eisen wrote. “And that sale and redevelopment could mean competition for President Trump’s hotel or the restaurants inside of it, and correspondingly less money flowing into his presidential pockets.”

Judge Limits DOJ Warrant Seeking Data from Anti-Trump Site

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge drastically scaled back a Justice Department warrant seeking digital data about visitors to an anti-Trump website that helped organize protests against the president.

Superior Court Chief Judge Robert E. Morin ruled that the Los Angeles web host may redact information that identifies site visitors because of constitutional rights to privacy, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

The Justice Department cannot force the disclosure of identifying information unless there is evidence of criminal activity.

“While the government has the right to execute its warrant, it does not have the right to rummage through the information contained on DreamHost’s website and discover the identity of, or access communications by, individuals not participating in alleged criminal activity, particularly those persons who were engaging in protected 1st Amendment activities,” Morin wrote.

In July, the Justice Department filed a search warrant for information on the 1.3 million visits to the website, disruptj20.org.

Times of Trenton: Trump’s Justice Department Erodes Constitutional Rights

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Editorial Board
Times of Trenton

“It tears at the fabric of our great nation and does not move us forward; it takes us backwards.”

With these terse words, more than 60 members of Congress – including half a dozen from New Jersey – summed up their dismay over a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice that does an enormous injustice to members of the LGBTQ community.

In a no-holds-barred letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the lawmakers expressed deep disappointment concerning a friend-of-the-court brief the department filed late last month in the case of Zarda v. Altitude Express.

In the brief, the nation’s top law-enforcement body claims that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect lesbians, gays or bisexual people from discrimination.

Not so fast, the letter writers argue. Not only is the Justice Department’s action contrary to existing law, they say forcefully, but it also violates the country’s basic ideals of liberty and justice for all.

The original lawsuit under review stems from 2010, when a skydiving instructor named Donald Zarda charged that a former employer, Altitude Express, Inc., violated the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against him because of his sexual orientation.

Justice Department Demands IP Addresses of Visitors to Anti-Trump Site

department-of-justice-logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has issued a warrant for records from a website used to organized protests against President Trump’s inauguration, but the web-hosting and domain registration company is putting up a fight.

DreamHost said the Justice Department filed a motion to force the company to release 1.3 million visitors’ IP addresses from disruptjj20.org, a website organized by a group of activists “building the framework needed for mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump.”

In a blogpost by DreamHost, the web hosting provider said the Justice Department’s request is unconstitutional and is seeking additional contact information, content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website. 

“Chris Ghazarian, our General Counsel, has taken issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution,” the blogpost reads.

It adds: “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

The Justice Department declined to respond to several news organizations’ requests for information.

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Killed Mexican Teen Has Constitutional Protections

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether a Mexican teenager is permitted to sue the Border Patrol agent who shot him.

“This raises fundamental questions about the reach of protection under the Constitution,” Deepak Gupta, a lawyer working on behalf of the teenager’s family,”  told the Dallas Morning News.  “It’s hard to understate how fundamental it is.”

In the summer of 2010, Sergio Hernandez, then 15, was allegedly throwing rocks at Border Patrol officers along the border between El Paso and Juarez.

Agent Jesus Mesa Jr. fired at Hernandez, killing him.

The central question in the court case: Does a Mexican have constitutional protections against the use of deadly force by federal officers – a protection afforded to Americans?

A Border Patrol lawyer says Hernandez does not have constitutional protections.

“To say he did would create a very litigious border,” Ortega said. “We’d be, in effect, expanding the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the United States into sovereign areas.”

Justice Department: DEA Paid Informants Millions of Dollars without Proper Oversight

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is under fire for spending millions of dollars on confidential informants without proper oversight and using sources in a way that potentially violates the Constitution, the Justice Department inspector general has found.

The 65-page report lists serious missteps in the handling of confidential informants and recommended better policies and procedures, the Washington Post reports. 

Inspector General Michael Horowitz found a lack of oversight that led to fraud and abuse. One example showed that the DEA paid a source more than $469,000, even though he had previously been “deactivated” for lying in court and depositions.

The investigation found that the DEA used more than 18,000 informants between October 2010 and September 2015, and half were paid about $237 million.

The Washington Post wrote:

The sources ranged from criminals providing information on their associates to airline, train and parcel-service employees providing tips on suspected drug traffickers’ movements.

The work, for all involved, can be lucrative. The inspector general found one airline employee who received more than $600,000 in less than four years, and a parcel employee who received more than $1 million in five years.

The inspector general found, though, that more money did not always come with more oversight. The DEA’s Intelligence Division, for example, paid $25 million to eight sources over a five-year period and “did not independently validate the credibility of these sources, or the accuracy of the information they provide,” according to the inspector general. The Intelligence Division, according to the report, generally relied on “DEA field offices’ risk assessments and determinations that confidential sources are reliable.”

Federal Judges Dismiss Cases After FBI Hosted Child Pornography Site

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s child pornography sting “Operation Pacifier” was successful at locating and identifying abusers, but it has come under attack by federal judges across the country.

Agents took over the “dark web” site, The Playpen, for two weeks, when 48,000 images and 200 videos of sexual abuse were posted or swapped. The FBI arrested more than 180 people in the U.S.

But the Knoxville New Sentinel reports that at least seven federal judges ruled that the FBI’s takeover of the site was illegal and violated federal rules of criminal procedure.

The judges cited constitutional violations.