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Tag: jeff sessions

Justice Department Vows to Crackdown on Leakers

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some critics have said President Donald Trump has often been more obsessed with leaks than the substance involving possible improprieties.

Now, the  the Justice Department is responding, vowing to aggressively prosecute government officials who leak classified information, the Daily Beast reports.

 

“As the Attorney General has said, the Department of Justice takes unlawful leaks very seriously and those that engage in such activity should be held accountable,” an official told The Daily Beast.

 

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, The Canary in the Coal Mine, Already Gasping for Air

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a former U.S. Attorney from Baltimore, is the canary in the coal mine for the Justice Department. In very short time, in that role, he’s already gasping for breath, having been put smack in the middle of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The phrase “canary in the coal mine” refers to caged canaries miners would carry down into the mine tunnels. If dangerous gases collected, the gases would kill the canaries before killing the miners. In this case, the dangerous gases could be the dubious demands by President Donald Trump that could compromise the Justice Department, and ultimately kill the canary’s government career.

Skeptics of the Trump administration have always expected that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would play politics and try to please his boss, the president.  But Rosenstein, a career prosecutor who has worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has a reputation as a straight shooter. The expectation is that he’ll stand up and say no if Trump tries to compromise the department. If Trump pushes too far and won’t back off, everyone assumes he’ll get fired or quit.

But very quickly, he’s already gasping for air.

Rosenstein authored a letter for the president detailing how Comey acted inappropriately during the Hillary Clinton email probe and implied he should be fired, but never said it outright. Trump then shot off a letter to Comey, saying he was going by the recommendation of Rosenstein and Sessions to fire him. Skeptics found it hard to swallow that Trump had concerns for Clinton.

Yellow canary - Serinus canaria on its perch in front of a white background

Rosenstein apparently felt duped, or at least that’s how it’s being portrayed in the press.

The Washington Post reported that Rosenstein threatened to “resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation, said the person close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

People will be closely observing, paying close attention to see if  the chirping continues to come from Rosenstein’s new office at Justice, or whether at some point, it’s silenced.

 

Justice Department Declines to Charge Baton Rouge Cops in Alton Sterling’s Death

Alton Sterling

Alton Sterling

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is expected to announce today that it has closed the investigation into the death of Alton Sterling and won’t prosecutor Baton Rouge officers for possible wrongdoing in a case that sparked unrest across the city.

Sterling’s family told the Washington Post on Tuesday that the Justice Department had not informed them of its decision. 

“We have not heard nor received an update and are unaware of any charges that may or may not be filed,” said Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the Sterling family’s attorneys. “We have not received word, nor has the family been given any notice of upcoming updates regarding this case.”

Many civil rights advocates have been nervous about the direction of the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has already questioned the oversight of police departments.

The Justice Department has declined to comment.

The Washington Post wrote:

By the police account, officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake saw Sterling, 37, outside a convenience store in July after it was reported that a man had threatened someone there with a gun. Sterling, who was selling CDs outside the store, fit the description of that man, according to a search warrant affidavit in the case.

A video of the shooting shows Sterling lying on his back with two officers on top of him. One of the officers appears to yell, “He’s got a gun!” and then shots ring out. A detective wrote in the search warrant affidavit that officers had observed the butt of a gun in Sterling’s front pants pocket. At issue in the investigation was whether Sterling was reaching for the weapon, as officers claimed, when he was shot and killed.

AG Jeff Sessions Warns against ‘Harmful Federal Intrusion’ of Local Police

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Attorney General Jeff Sessions
USA Today

Violent crime is surging in American cities. To combat this wave of violence and protect our communities, we need proactive policing. Yet in some cities, such policing is diminishing — with predictably dire results.

In Chicago, arrests have fallen 36% since 2014 to the lowest level in at least 16 years. Last year, they fell in every major crime category, and they fell in every single district in the city. To put that in perspective, out of more than 500 non-fatal shootings in early 2016, only seven resulted in any sort of arrest. That’s 1%. Not surprisingly, as arrest rates plummeted in those years, the murder rate nearly doubled. Meanwhile in Baltimore, while arrests have fallen 45% in the past two years, homicides have risen 78%, and shootings have more than doubled.

Yet amid this plague of violence, too much focus has been placed on a small number of police who are bad actors rather than on criminals. And too many people believe the solution is to impose consent decrees that discourage the proactive policing that keeps our cities safe.

The Department of Justice agrees with the need to rebuild public confidence in law enforcement through common-sense reforms, such as de-escalation training, and we will punish any police conduct that violates civil rights. But such reforms must promote public safety and avoid harmful federal intrusion in the daily work of local police.

To read more click here.

President Trump’s Administration at Odds Over Marijuana

marijuana-istockBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s administration has no consistent position on marijuana.

After Attorney General Jeff Session said marijuana is “only slightly less awful than heroin, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that pot “is not a factor in the drug war.”

Kelly said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that his agency is focusing on cocaine, meth, heroin and other opiates, which resulted 52,000 deaths in American in 2015. 

“It’s a massive problem. 52,000 Americans. You can’t put a price on human misery,” Kelly said. “The cost to the United States is over $250 billion a year.”

But “the solution is not arresting a lot of users,” the secretary added. “The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill. And then rehabilitation. And then law enforcement. And then getting at the poppy fields and the coca fields in the south.”

Other Stories of Interest

AG Sessions Pledges ‘New Era’ of Stiffer Penalties for Some Illegal Immigrants

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged to crackdown on illegal immigration by ushering in “a new era” of stiffer criminal charges. 

Sessions also said he plans to end the Obama-era “catch and release” practices as the Justice Department is given a more active role in the fight against illegal immigration, the Washington Times reports. 

Sessions wants to file felony charges against repeat offenders and others who have criminal convictions on their records.

“For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era,” Mr. Sessions said during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona. “The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our laws, and the catch and release policies of the past are over.”

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. 

Jones: Jeff Sessions Shows No Respect for Black Lives After Consent Decree Review

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

Solomon Jones
Philadelphia Inquirer

After the recent actions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, even the few black voters who supported Donald Trump despite his bigoted campaign rhetoric must now admit the obvious. A vote for Trump was a vote for racist policies.

Sessions’ decision to order a broad review of federal agreements with dozens of law-enforcement agencies is nothing short of an attack on black and brown people. After all, those agreements were necessitated by systemic police abuses targeting minority communities. Attempting to pull out of those agreements – most of which have already been approved in federal court – delivers an indisputable message: Black lives don’t matter to the Trump administration.

And make no mistake. This is about black lives.

That truth is not lost on activists who’ve long fought systemic police abuses targeting blacks. Few of them are surprised that Sessions – who once was denied a federal judgeship based largely on allegations of racism – is the man leading the charge.

“Jeff Sessions’ entire career in the justice system is rooted in racism and anti-blackness,” Asa Khalif, who leads Pennsylvania Black Lives Matter, told me. “If there was ever a time to rally and stand together as black people, it’s now.”

Given that Trump thanked black people for not voting after his surprising Electoral College victory, I think Khalif is right. We must stand together, because the examination of police departments across the country were spurred by high-profile police killings of unarmed African Americans. The same black people featured prominently in Justice Department reports that meticulously documented patterns of systemic police abuse.

The Obama administration compiled one such report following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died after suffering a spinal injury in a police van when officers failed to properly restrain him with seat belts. Based on interviews, documents and an extensive review of six years of data, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division concluded that the Baltimore Police Department engaged in an ongoing pattern of discrimination against African Americans.

The report minced no words in laying out the truth.

“BPD’s targeted policing of certain Baltimore neighborhoods with minimal oversight or accountability disproportionately harms African-American residents,” the report said. “Racially disparate impact is present at every stage of BPD’s enforcement actions, from the initial decision to stop individuals on Baltimore streets to searches, arrests and uses of force. These racial disparities, along with evidence suggesting intentional discrimination, erode the community trust that is critical to effective policing.”

To read more click here.