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Tag: editorial

LA Times: Truth Or Consequence Time for AG Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

On Tuesday, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee need to pin Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions down about his role in the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and other matters that remain murky.

On May 9, Sessions wrote a letter to President Trump urging Comey’s dismissal “based on my evaluation, and for the reasons expressed by the deputy attorney general in the attached memorandum.” The memo he referred to by Deputy Atty. Gen Rod Rosenstein faulted Comey for the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Yet Trump later said that “I was going to fire [Comey] regardless of [the Justice Department’s] recommendation” and that he had “this Russia thing” on his mind when he made the decision. Did Sessions, who has recused himself from any investigation connected to last year’s election campaigns, know this when he wrote his letter to Trump? Did he assign Rosenstein to write the memo used to justify Comey’s dismissal?

Sacramento Bee: Why California Can’t Trust President Trump on Immigration

ice-agentsBy Editorial Board
Sacramento Bee

If there’s one constant in the chaotic administration of Donald Trump, it’s that there’s always a reason to doubt what the president and his surrogates say about immigration policy.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement proved that just last week, when it released data showing that arrests of undocumented immigrants without criminal records were up a whopping 156 percent from last year. That’s 10,845 people whose immigration violations were the only marks on their record.

And that’s what happened after ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan promised, even during a visit to Sacramento, that his agency would focus on immigrants with criminal records.

It’s no wonder then that Sacramento, San Francisco and so many other cities in California have declared themselves so-called sanctuary cities, refusing to cooperate with federal authorities as the feds expedite deportations of people who haven’t committed serious crimes.

California isn’t a sanctuary state yet. But with its hateful rhetoric, confusing policies, secretive raids and deliberate deceptions, the Trump administration is giving the Legislature every reason to take that step.

The trickery from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week certainly didn’t help. On Monday, he issued a policy memo to clarify parts of an executive order that would punish sanctuary cities by denying them millions of dollars in federal funding.

Now, only jurisdictions that “willfully refuse to comply” with immigration authorities will be considered sanctuary cities. The penalty would be that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security would deny them grants. Still, it’s questionable whether any of that will come to pass for Sacramento or any other sanctuary city.

To read more click here. 

Guardian: Trump Seems Primed to Return the FBI to the Hoover Era

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

By Editorial Board
The Guardian

The country is still reeling after the bombshell report that Donald Trump asked the former FBI director James Comey to shut down the bureau’s investigation into Michael Flynn. Did the president fire Comey to slow down the FBI Russia investigation? Did Trump obstruct justice?

These questions are getting the attention that they deserve. But the focus on Comey’s firing is obscuring the issue of who Trump will hire to replace him – and the threat that this appointment poses to Americans’ civil liberties and civil rights.

Recently, the journalist Ashley Feinberg uncovered Comey’s personal Twitter account; he had used the pseudonym “Reinhold Niebuhr”. Tellingly, the real Niebuhr was a theologian, public intellectual, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient targeted for FBI surveillance because of his lawful opposition to the Vietnam war.

Niebuhr wasn’t alone. The FBI has a long history of abusing its power to serve political ends. In the early 20th century, J Edgar Hoover created his Radical Alien Division to conduct dragnet surveillance of American immigrants. It surveilled Marcus Garvey to collect evidence used in his deportation to Jamaica. It wiretapped Dr Martin Luther King Jr during the civil rights era. At President Dwight Eisenhower’s direction, Hoover compiled a “list of homosexuals” to root out gay people working for the government.

Comey had serious flaws. But he understood the past misdeeds of the FBI. He kept a copy of the original order to wiretap King on his desk and required new FBI agents and analysts to visit King’s memorial on the National Mall. As Comey put it in 2015, he tried to “to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them”.

Trump, on the other hand, seems anxious to return to the Hoover era.

NYT: Trump’s Firing of Comey Jeopardizes Investigation of Russia

Former FBI Director James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Editorial Board
New York Times

The American people — not to mention the credibility of the world’s oldest democracy — require a thorough, impartial investigation into the extent of Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump and, crucially, whether high-ranking members of Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded in that effort.

By firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey, late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation into what could be one of the biggest political scandals in the country’s history.

The explanation for this shocking move — that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency — is impossible to take at face value. Certainly Mr. Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated misstepsin that case, but just as certainly, that’s not the reason Mr. Trump fired him.

Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for Mr. Comey when, in the final days of the presidential campaign, he informed Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails. “He brought back his reputation,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “It took a lot of guts.”

With congressional Republicans continuing to resist any serious investigation, Mr. Comey’s inquiry was the only aggressive effort to get to the bottom of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign. So far, the scandal has engulfed Paul Manafort, one of Mr. Trump’s campaign managers; Roger Stone, a longtime confidant; Carter Page, one of the campaign’s early foreign-policy advisers; Michael Flynn, who was forced out as national security adviser; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself in March from the Russia inquiry after failing to disclose during his confirmation hearings that he had met twice during the campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

To read more click here. 

National Review: Trump’s Immigration Enforcement Is More Important Than a Wall

Border fence along Mexico and the U.S.

Border fence along Mexico and the U.S.

By Editorial Board
National Review

A head of a potential government-shutdown battle, President Trump is reportedly willing to forgo a congressional down payment on a “big, beautiful wall” on America’s southern border. Despite his insistence on the wall’s importance to his immigration-enforcement agenda, the president is apparently open to postponing negotiations on funding until September, when Congress will take up the 2018 budget.

The maximalist version of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall was always a quixotic enterprise. From Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, Calif., the U.S.–Mexico border stretches nearly 2,000 miles, often across rugged, harsh terrain — including Texas’s Big Bend National Park and Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Building a single, monolithic wall is not feasible for much of this territory, as Trump himself acknowledges at times. The proposed route of a wall also cuts through privately owned land, raising serious legal questions. Nevertheless, more barriers in select places are welcome. We have repeatedly suggested as much and, the fulsome rhetoric of the president notwithstanding, this is the goal of the Department of Homeland Security.

But, as we have also suggested, physical barriers along the southern border ought to be just one element of a larger immigration-enforcement agenda. So far, President Trump has used his executive power fairly effectively toward this end, signing off on a series of orders that roll back some of President Obama’s worst overreaches, and directing executive-branch agencies to aggressively enforce laws rendered toothless by his predecessor. He has encouraged Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol to hire. Last week, he signaled an interest in ending the well-documented abuse in the H-1B visa program, which employers have used to undercut American workers in high-skilled jobs.

These and other policies, and their (usually) clear promulgation, are already having an effect on the flow of illegal immigration into the U.S. DHS reports that border apprehensions of parents and children decreased 93 percent — from 16,000 to just over 1,100 — from December 2016 to March 2017. DHS secretary John Kelly suggests that news of the new administration’s tougher line on illegal immigration is discouraging many would-be illegal immigrants from taking the risk of crossing the border.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Boulder Editorial: Justice Department Undermines Police Reforms in Numerous Cities

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Editorial Board
Boulder Daily Camera

More than a dozen cities, including Ferguson, Mo., have spent arduous months hammering out consent decrees with the U.S. Justice Department to institute much-needed police and judicial reforms aimed in large part at reducing enforcement disparities that unfairly target poor and minority communities. The cooperation of local police departments was key in reaching these agreements, which makes them partners in fixing what’s wrong.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions now proposes meddling with a cooperative formula that’s working. Last week, he ordered a review of Justice Department consent decrees and other interventions, threatening to reverse progress designed to halt the unequal application of justice around the country.

Sessions’ unfortunate decision could undermine a lot of hard work in the 25 cities whose police departments — including Ferguson’s — worked with the Obama administration’s Justice Department. In 14 cases, consent decrees were reached with federal judges serving as monitors.

These agreements are not anti-police; they are pro-Constitution. We suspect that Sessions is motivated in no small part by President Donald Trump’s drive to halt the questioning of police actions such as those in which officers are captured on video shooting or fatally restraining unarmed civilians. The White House has posted a pledge that this “will be a law and order administration,” committed to ending the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America.”

 To read more click here. 

Federal Incentives for Seizing Assets Encourages ‘Policing for Profit’

frozen-cash2By Editorial Board
Sentinel & Enterprise

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan have introduced legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement agencies seize the property and assets of individuals with minimal due process.

The practice has encouraged “policing for profit,” distorting the mission of police agencies toward revenue generation to the detriment of the property rights of Americans. Paul’s and Walberg’s bill should unite those concerned with upholding constitutional rights and justice more broadly.

The FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, previously introduced by Paul in 2014, seeks to shore up the rights of Americans facing civil asset forfeiture proceedings and curb the perverse profit incentives that underline the practice.

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” said Paul. “The FAIR Act will protect Americans’ Fifth Amendment rights from being infringed upon by ensuring that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process.”

Under current practices, federal agencies, often in partnership with state and local police departments, may seize a person’s cash, home or vehicle simply upon the suspicion that such assets were connected to criminal activity. One need not even be charged or convicted of a crime to have personal assets permanently seized.

All the government needs to do is meet the relatively low standard of a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in court — while innocent owners have the burden of trying to prove their innocence and bearing the costs of legally opposing government authorities.

This has created a situation where the federal government has seized billions of dollars in assets under questionable circumstances. According to the Institute for Justice, from 2001 to 2014, the forfeiture funds of the Department of Justice and Treasury Department took in nearly $29 billion. This provides financial incentive to both federal agencies and state and local partners, who get a cut of the money through “equitable sharing,” to increasingly focus on cases with revenue-generating potential.

To read more click here.  

Sun Sentinel: Trump Should Welcome FBI Investigation into Russian Interference

Donald TrumpBy Editorial Board
Sun Sentinel

If he’s got nothing to hide, President Trump should welcome the fact that the FBI is investigating possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump should be the first one saying “Bring it on” after FBI Director James Comey said Monday he’s been authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation because of the extreme public interest in the case.

Ever since Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, there have been questions and rumors about links between members of Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. The public deserves answers, and the president should also want to finally clear the air on an issue that has dogged his campaign for months. There has been enough speculation, and Trump should be pushing for facts and information to be made public.

Instead, what we got from Trump on Monday were early morning tweets slamming the idea that there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The tweets came before Comey appeared in front of a House panel and confirmed for the first time the FBI is investigating possible Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

“. . . there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia,” Trump tweeted at 6:35 Monday morning. “This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!”

Trump tried to put the attention on leaked classified information, rather than the information itself.

“The real story the Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information,” Trump tweeted at 7:02 a.m. “Must find leaker NOW.”

About two hours later, Trump asked in a tweet, “What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians?”

Trump’s propensity for deflection won’t be successful now. The world knows the FBI is investigating, and facts are needed — not tweets, and not speculation.

To read more click here.