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Tag: Justice Department

Justice Department May Weaken Police Reform Agreements

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide to determine if the consent decrees will sacrifice the Trump administration’s goals of establishing law and order.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the agreements between local police forces and the DOJ’s civil rights division will be reviewed by his top two deputies, the Washington Post reports. 

“The Attorney General and the new leadership in the Department are actively developing strategies to support the thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country that seek to prevent crime and protect the public,” Justice officials said in a memo. “The Department is working to ensure that those initiatives effectively dovetail with robust enforcement of federal laws designed to preserve and protect civil rights.”

The move comes after the Justice Department asked a federal judge to postpone a hearing on police reform agreements with the Baltimore Police Department for up to 90 days.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh opposed the extension request, saying the consent decree was a helpful tool in reforming the police department, Reuters reports. 

“Much has been done to begin the process of building faith between the police department and the community it seeks to serve. Any interruption in moving forward may have the effect of eroding the trust that we are working hard to establish,” she said. 

The agreement was reached in January following the death two years previously of Freddie Gray, a black man killed while in police custody.

The Justice Department wants to determine whether the consent decree inhibits the enforcement of law and order.

“The Department has determined that permitting it more time to examine the consent decree proposed in this case in light of these initiatives will help ensure that the best result is achieved for the people of the City,” they wrote, asking for a hearing set for Thursday to be postponed until June.

Senate Committee Approves Rosenstein As Deputy Attorney General

Rod Rosenstein, candidate for deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, candidate for deputy attorney general.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The nomination of Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general was approved Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, setting the stage for a full Senate vote.

Senators voted 19-1 in favor of Rosenstein. If the full Senate approves the nomination, Rosenstein will take the No. 2 spot at the Justice Department, the Hill reports. 

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, Rosenstein would be in control of the high-profile probe.

“He is on the American side, not on the Russian side, and I trust that he’ll hold true to that statement,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said.

Justice Department Threatens to Strip Federal Money from Sanctuary Cities

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department warned sanctuary cities and counties this week that they will not receive federal grants if the continue to fail to work with the crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

At a White House briefing, Attorney General Jeff sessions said the municipalities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities stand to lose a lot of federal funding, Time reports. 

“We intend to use all the lawful authority we have to make sure our state and local officials who are so important to law enforcement are in sync with the federal government,” Sessions said.

Time wrote:

There is a question about whether the federal government could withhold a wide array of federal funds from cities over their sanctuary status and still survive a legal challenge. Federalism experts say that case law has built up doctrines that help states maintain their resistance. One is the anti-commandeering principle, which suggests that the federal government cannot force state officials to enforce federal law. Other case law suggests that whatever funds the government is cutting need to be in some way related to the policy issue at stake — so the federal government would be on shaky ground withholding transportation funds in an attempt to force states to comply on an education issue, for example.

Other Stories of Interest

Ex-Deputy AG Sally Yates Says Trump Tried to Limit Her Testimony on Russia

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration has tried to limit former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates’ congressional testimony on possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Her lawyer, David O’Neil, said the Justice Department was claiming her actions as a deputy attorney general were “client confidences” and therefore should not be disclosed without written permission, Fortune reports.

“We believe that the Department’s position in this regard is overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the Department’s historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former senior officials,” O’Neil wrote in a March 23 letter to Justice Department official Samuel Ramer.

The White House denied any interference with Yates’ plans to testify.

“We have no problem with her testifying, plain and simple,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Yates said she still plans to testify but won’t reveal any classified information.

Kellyanne Conway’s Husband Poised to Land a Top DOJ Job

Kellyanne Conway

Kellyanne Conway

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s husband is expected to be nominated to lead the Justice Department civil division, a position that will enable him to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

White House officials are poised to make the announcement of the nomination of George Conway, a New York lawyer, in the next few days, people familiar with the matter told the Chicago Tribune. 

Conway has specialized in securities litigation and other corporate legal issues for the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

The Tribune wrote:

The Justice Department’s civil division is an important but mostly behind-the-scenes part of the government. Its lawyers are responsible for defending federal policies and agencies in court, and for pursuing alleged wrongdoing by corporations.

During the Obama administration, the civil division racked up tens of billions of dollars’ worth of financial penalties against major corporations. Some of those settlements resolved probes of international banks for their handling of residential mortgage-backed securities that contributed to the financial collapse of 2008. Other settlements stemmed from investigations into whether pharmaceutical companies sold billions of dollars of prescription drugs under false pretenses.

FBI One of Few Agencies to Benefit from Trump’s Proposed Budget

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is one of the few federal agencies that could benefit from President Trump’s proposed budget.

Under the budget proposal, Trump’s administration recommends a $61 million increase for the FBI and Justice Department to improve tracking terrorist communications and combat cybercriminals, FedScoop reports.

“The FBI would devote resources toward its world-class cadre of special agents and intelligence analysts, as well as invest $61 million more to fight terrorism and combat foreign intelligence and cyber threats and address public safety and national security risks that result from malicious actors’ use of encrypted products and services,” the budget blueprint states.

Trump’s proposed budget would increase the FBI’s overall funding by $249 million, or 3%.

Trump, Justice Department Pledge to Fight Orders Stopping Travel Ban

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department and President Trump criticized two judges’ decisions Wednesday to halt the revised travel ban by ruling it is discriminatory against Muslims.

The Justice Department contends Trump’s executive order “falls squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our nation’s security,” the Washington Post reports. 

It’s unclear what step the government will take next.

At a rally in Nashville on Wednesday, Trump lashed out at the court decisions, saying he would take the case to the Supreme Court. He event suggested returning to his original executive order, which was a more sweeping ban.

“Let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way,” Trump said. “The danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear.”

Federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii struck down the order on religious discrimination grounds, pointing to Trump’s statements during the campaign that he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

DOJ Expected to Announce Charges Against Yahoo Hackers with Russian Ties

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Four people with suspected ties to the Russian government are expected to be charged soon for alleged hacking attacks against Yahoo!, sources told ABC News. 

The Justice Department is expected to announce today charges against three people in Russia and one in Canada.

Federal authorities expected to arrest the Canadian, but detaining the Russian suspects may be more difficult because officials don’t have access to them yet.

Yahoo was breached in 2013 and 2014, affecting 1.5 billion user accounts.

The Justice Department is holding a press conference this morning.