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Monthly Archives: September 2019
Posted: September 30, 2019 at 9:46 am
The Trump Administration increasingly appears as the Fifth Amendment administration. Despite a statutory obligation to turn over an intelligence whistleblower report to the Congressional Intelligence Committees, it refuses to do so. And despite a statutory obligation to turn over the president's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, it refuses to do so.
President Trump refused Special Counsel Robert Muller's request for an interview, instead sending responses to his questionnaire that omitted many answers. His administration has blocked Congressional subpoenas for numerous administration officials and others, like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who refuse to comply with subpoenas.
Why the obstruction? Because the administration has things to hide. As the Fifth Amendment formula goes: "I refuse to answer on the grounds that it might tend to incriminate me." This is how Trump and his administration increasingly appear. But the Fifth Amendment gives this right only to an individual who may not "be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." But they are an administration, not criminal defendants (not yet, anyway). Our representatives, or the public, have every right to answers.
Larry Koenigsberg, Eugene
See the original post here:
The Fifth Amendment administration - Opinion - The Register-Guard
Posted: at 9:46 am
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights rather than testify before the House Intelligence Committee, Flynns lawyer Sidney Powell said in a letter Monday, according to The Washington Examiner.
Powell, who replaced Flynns previous attorneys in June, wrote that Flynn refuses to be paraded, harassed or disparaged by Committee Chair Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffLawyers express concern for whistleblower's safety Schiff says he plans to subpoena Giuliani for documents Trump demands to meet whistleblower, warns of 'Big Consequences' MORE (D-Calif.), according to the Times.
Powell has previously accused federal prosecutors of withholding evidence favorable to Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynns sentencing on the false statements charges was previously delayed to allow him to continue cooperating in the investigation into a former business partners foreign lobbying.
District Judge Emmet Sullivan, an Obama appointee, has proposed a Dec. 18 sentencing date for Flynn, while Powell has pushed for more time before sentencing, saying she needs additional time to seek a court order for the supposed exculpatory material. Powell said in early September that Flynn has no plans to withdraw from his plea deal.
The Hill has reached out to Schiffs office for comment.
Easley lawyer accused of ethical violations that targeted veterans and bilked investors – Greenville News
Posted: at 9:46 am
Easley lawyer Candy Kern-Fullercommitted egregious ethical violationsas the "central banker" of ascheme involving the illegal sale of military benefits, according to an attorney for the state of Arizona and a retired law professor at the University of South Carolina.
NEW: Easley attorney agrees to end 'civil conspiracy' of buying and selling veterans' benefits
The 51-year-old founder of Upstate Law Group and her cohorts profited by defrauding financially distressed veterans and unwitting investorsacross the country, her accusers say.
As part of a continuing investigation, The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail obtained and revieweda1,139-page transcript that was filed last week from an August hearing in Phoenix. Kern-Fuller invoked her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent 164 times during the hearing before the Arizona Corporation Commission.
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"Facts show that she participated in illegal activity that was so egregious it could lead a reasonable person to conclude she operated or managed a criminal enterprise," retired professor John Freeman stated in a report submitted to the commission.
The Greenville Newscalled Kern-Fuller twice on Thursday and sent an email seeking comment. She did not respond.
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Freeman, who taughtcorporate law, securities lawand legal ethics for more than 30 years, testified as an expert witness during the six-day hearing.
The Arizona Corporation Commissionoversees corporations, securities and utilities in Arizona. The proceedings wererelated to enforcement actionsthat the commission is considering against Kern-Fuller, her firm,three other individuals and two companies that allegedly sold $371,191 in military benefits to Arizona investors in 2017.
The commission seeks a cease-and-desist orderandunspecified restitution.
According to investigators, the arrangements matched veterans seeking lump-sum payments with investors seeking safe returns.Kern-Fuller, whom Freeman described as the "central banker,"and others coordinating the transactions collected fees and commissions. It's not clear how much they earned.
Candy Kern-Fuller.(Photo: File photo)
Freeman said at the hearing that Kern-Fuller didn't acknowledgeconflicts of interest stemming from her involvement withinvestors and veterans. He also said that she provided investors with inadequate risk disclosures thathe described as "gibberish" and a "travesty."
Jamie Burgess, a staff attorney for the commission's securities division, saidKern-Fuller failed to let investors know that thecompanies involved in thetransactions had been barred from doing businessin eight states. She also neglected to mention that it is illegal to buy and sell veterans' disability benefits and pensions, he said.
"The investment documents failed to disclose this is the elephant in the room that federal law prohibits these transactions," Burgess said.
And the paperwork provided to investors was "highly deceptive, misleadingand fraudulent," Burgess said.
Kern-Fuller's attorneyRobert Zelmssaid at the hearing, "This is not a legal malpractice case; this isnot an ethics case... Upstate Law Group, Candy Kern-Fuller did not create these products and transactions that are in question; they did not promote them; they did not market them; they did not sell them. They were involved in the preparation of the closing documents."
An expert witness for Kern-Fuller, William Higgins an attorney whoserveson professional-responsibility and ethics-advisory committees for the South Carolina Bar said, "I fear that Professor Freeman and his report was frankly designed to just make Ms. Kern-Fuller and Upstate Law Group look bad."
A ruling in the case is expected to come next year.
Burgess said Kern-Fuller and her law firm are part of a larger enterprise that includes Arkansas businessman Andrew Gamber and at least two other companies.
In April, the Arizona Corporation Commission issued a cease-and-desist orderthat requires Gamber, 39, BAIC Inc. and SoBell Corp. to repay nearly $2.7 million from 53 transactions involving military benefits completed from 2013 to 2015 in the state.
Dozens of the transactions fell apart when veterans stopped making monthly payments from their military pensionsas arranged.
The involvement of veterans was part of what attracted many investors in the first place, records show.
In her testimony, investor Carolyn Blythe Strong said her father was in the U.S. Coast Guard and served during World War II.
"And so, for me, I have a really soft spot in my heart for veterans... and helping them, particularly with their retirement, was a plus to me," she said.
Other investors who lost money included a retired nurse who was forced to take a minimum-wagejob and a retired Arizona state judge.
"Instead of modest, steady, safe retirement income, the investors got wreckage," Burgess said. "They have lost large portions of their life savings."
- Gabe Cavallaro, Mike Ellis,Ariel Gilreath,Conor Hughes,Nikie Mayo, Anna Mitchell and Haley Walters contributed to this report.
Coming soon:A 12-month investigation by The Greenville News details through court documents and exclusive interviews how investment brokers specifically targeted often-vulnerable veterans by offering cash in exchange for military benefits, often leaving both the veterans and investors in worse financial straits.
Billion-dollar 'Ponzi scheme': Marshals capture Scott Kohn, accused in Greenville of preying on veterans and investors
Ridiculous: Former prosecutor laughs off Giulianis latest defense of Trump and advises him to lawyer up – AlterNet
Posted: at 9:46 am
Appearing on MSNBC early on Sunday morning, former prosecutor Glenn Kirschner laughed off Rudy Giulianis latest defense of Donald Trumps attempt to blackmail Ukraine for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, calling his reasoning ridiculous and warning the former New York City mayor he better consider pleading the 5th Amendment if he is called before Congress.
Referring to Giulianis appearance on Fox News on Saturday night where the former New York mayor claimed the president had a constitutional duty to pursue claims of criminality in the case of Biden, Kirschner all but rolled his eyes.
I have never heard an argument before that if the president hadnt committed this crime, he would have committed a crime, Kirschner explained to laughter.
Think about how ridiculous that reasoning is, he continued. Let me tell you this, if Rudy Giuliani has any sort of lingering law abidingness or legal reasoning left in his head, when he hits the Congressional witness stand he sure better invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which I predict any lawyer he retains will advise him to do because he is in hot water.
then let us make a small request. AlterNet is increasing its original reporting, edited by The Nations Joshua Holland, with a focus on 2020 election coverage. Weve also launched a weekly podcast, Weve Got Issues, focusing on the issues, not Donald Trumps tweets. Unlike other news outlets, weve decided to make our AlterNet 2020 coverage free to all. But we need your ongoing support to continue what we do.
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Danville man guilty in 2017 double slaying; by waiving right to jury trial, 30-year-old avoids possible death penalty – GoDanRiver.com
Posted: at 9:46 am
In what was scheduled to be a two-week jury trial, a 30-year-old Danville man avoided a possible death penalty by permitting a Danville judge to preside over a double homicide case Monday.
In a trial lasting about six hours, Danville Circuit Court Judge James J. Reynolds found Dana Miguel Keith guilty in the 2017 shooting deaths of Breai Martonia Edmunds, 21, and 20-year-old Damarcus Daron Whitehead.
Keith, 30, was convicted Monday on three counts of capital murder, four counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony and two counts of robbery in connection to the slayings. The three capital counts encompass one for two or more people and two counts of capital murder in a robbery.
Edmunds and Whitehead were found dead inside a car at the intersection of Arnett Boulevard and Glendale Avenue on the evening of June 1, 2017. Keith was arrested by police in October 2017.
Two weeks originally were set aside for a jury trial on the capital charges, which could have included the possibility of the death penalty.
He waived the right to jury, and we waived death, Danville Commonwealths Attorney Michael Newman said.
The commonwealths decision to waive the death penalty was not a plea deal, said Bo Palmore, an assistant commonwealth attorney at the Danville office.
Its just a way to expedite things, he said Tuesday.
During the trial, details emerged surrounding the events before the deadly shootings. According to the commonwealth attorneys office, Keith, Edmunds and Whitehead were all at a party at Woodside Apartments. Keith left with a group to pick up beer at a nearby Sunrise gas station on North Main Street, according to a summary of evidence. Afterward, Keith was dropped back off at Woodside with two others.
The commonwealth also discovered Keith had a personal grudge against Whitehead.
A witness testified that Mr. Keith did not like the male victim, Palmore said. All four witnesses in the car testified that Keith said he was going to get Mr. Whitehead.
During the trial, the commonwealth presented 19 witnesses and 14 exhibits of evidence. The defense presented nothing, including Keith.
Mr. Keith exercised his fifth amendment right not to testify, said Marvin Lee Smallwood Jr., a local attorney on Keiths defense team.
After Whitehead was shot, his gold chain was snatched from his neck, the commonwealth contented. Edmunds iPhone 7 was taken out of her pocketbook along with her gold necklace. Danville police later found these items at the home of one of Keiths associates.
Of the 19 witnesses brought by the commonwealth, two claimed they heard Keith confess to the shooting deaths, according to the Danville Commonwealths Attorney Office. One individual testified Keith killed Edmunds because she was a witness. Some of the witnesses in the car with Keith also testified he attempted to obtain a gun before he was dropped off at Woodside.
The commonwealth presented video evidence from both the apartment and the gas station. In addition, they produced evidence showing an iPhone and gold chains stolen from the victims were in possession of an associate of Keiths.
Keith is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 29.
Avent is a reporter with the Danville Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 797-7983.
Avent is a reporter with the Danville Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 797-7983.
Posted: at 9:46 am
SALEM The lawyer for a Peabody man accused of double murder acknowledged on Monday that his client committed the murders, but said he should be convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter rather than the first-degree charges he his facing.
Wes Doughty is charged with the brutal killings of Mark Greenlaw and Jennifer O'Connor inside a home at 19 Farm Ave. in Peabody in February 2017.On the first day of Doughty's murder trial at Salem Superior Court, defense lawyer John Apruzzese did not claim that his client was innocent.
Instead, he suggested that Doughty committed the murders due to a tangle of relationships among a cast of drug-addled characters who lived and hung out at the notorious "crack house" on Farm Avenue, and was high when he did it.
Apruzzese said Doughty was angry at Greenlaw for failing to take care of a man at the house that Doughty referred to as "Dad," and said another man encouraged Doughty to confront Greenlaw because of a conflict over a woman.
"Essentially this is a case about relationships," Apruzzese told jurors in his opening statement.
But in her opening statement, prosecutor Kate MacDougall said Doughty and another man, Michael Hebb, were upset that Greenlaw had moved into the house and could potentially move in on their crack-dealing business. Hebb was also angry because Greenlaw had an affair with Hebb's girlfriend, Tina Cummiskey, according to MacDougall.
On the day of the murders, MacDougall said, Cummiskey was upstairs in the house and overheard Doughty and Hebb "making some kind of plan."
"Wes said, 'When you see me on the surveillance cameras outside between the two lions, you'll know it's going to happen,'" MacDougall told the jurors.
"What happened next was the defendant, Wes Doughty, fired a single blast from a shotgun into the face of Mark Greenlaw," MacDougall said. "Mark Greenlaw died almost immediately inside the kitchen at 19 Farm Ave."
MacDougall saidCummiskey then heard the screams of O'Connor. MacDougall said Doughty brought O'Connor into a bedroom and "repeatedly slit and slashed her throat while she begged for help" and returned upstairs "covered with blood."
As MacDougall described the scene, a person in the courtroom audience gasped.
MacDougall said Doughty and Hebb wrapped the bodies in carpets and stacked them in the basement, surrounded by cans of kerosene and oil, with the intention of burning down the house and all of the evidence.
Cummiskey eventually fled the house in her stocking feet. She flagged down a car on Farm Avenue and literally jumped into the car through the passenger side window, stunning the driver, Anne Mailo of Peabody.
"She was screaming at me to get her out of there," Mailo testified.
Another witness, Dale Girard of Danvers, testified that she went to the house after midnight unaware that the murders had taken place. Girard said she was a good friend of David Moise, who rented the home, and a regular visitor to the house.
Girard testified that Doughty was taking a shower upstairs when she arrived. When he came out of the shower, he pointed a gun in her face and yelled, "What are you doing here? Are the cops out there?," she said.
A SWAT team later responded to the house, but by that time Doughty and Hebb had fled through the woods out back. Hebb was arrested in Middleton two days later. He was convicted of being an accessory after the fact to O'Connor's death, and of attempted arson, and is serving a six- to seven-year prison term. He has asserted his Fifth Amendment right not to testify at Doughty's trial.
Doughty was eventually captured in South Carolina. He is also charged with carjacking and kidnapping when he was on the run. On Monday, he sat in court next to his lawyers wearing a black suit jacket and blue shirt, taking notes on a yellow legal pad.
In her opening statement, MacDougall painted a picture of 19 Farm Ave. as a dilapidated "crack compound" where several people addicted to crack cocaine came to buy and use drugs. Moise, who was in his 60s and disabled, would sit in a wheelchair with a White Russian drink in one hand and a gun in his lap"day and night," she said.
Girard testified that Moise, who has since died, was quick to anger and would throw objects at people, or even shoot his gun into the wall. Asked what she would do when Moise got into one of his moods, Girard replied, "Duck."
Despite his behavior,Moise inspired a "strange loyalty" among the visitors to Farm Avenue.People would take turns caring for him, including carrying him to his car to take him to dinner and changing his diapers, she said.
MacDougall said that O'Connor and Greenlaw, who were engaged, both led troubled lives, including battling addiction. She described O'Connor, 40, who grew up in Beverly, as "blonde, pretty, even a cheerleader." Greenlaw, 37, who grew up in Salem and Peabody, was trained as a carpenter and had a son who was 18 when Greenlaw died.
"I expect in the evidence in this case you won't actually hear much about them," MacDougall said. "You see, the truth is that Mark and even to a greater extent Jennifer were very peripheral to the nonsensical and twisted reasons that led to their murders."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.
Posted: at 9:46 am
Jacqueline Hart Gibson, Black Hawk. The regular meeting of the Black Hawk City Council commenced on August 14, 2019, at 3 p.m., when Finance Director Lance Hillis rang the bell. Hillis incorrectly assumed that he had escaped any announcements that he was celebrating his birthday that day, as the meeting at 211 Church Street continued in the usual way.
Following the call to order, roll call, the pledge of allegiance and disclosures revealing no conflicts of interest, two new employees were introduced to the city council. All members of the council were in attendance.
Officer Kevin Sager joined the Black Hawk Police Department in June 2019. Officer Sager works on patrol in Black Hawk from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. He has worked in law enforcement for 25 years and was educated at CSU and Red Rocks Community College. He began his career at Jefferson County Sheriffs Office as a reserve deputy sheriff and detention specialist. Upon leaving Jefferson County, Officer Sager continued his career at Westminster Police Department, where he remained for 11 years. Previously, he worked as a criminal investigator for the First Judicial District Attorneys Office for Jefferson and Gilpin Counties. He reports that he comes to Black Hawk motivated to return to the work he loves; serving the community as an officer in uniform.
Officer Sager has been married to his wife for 25 years and they have two sons. He reports that he enjoys spending time with his family, everything to do with aviation, golf, travel and attending all of his sons school activities.
Black Hawk also welcomed Communications Officer Kylie Vigil, who began working with Black Hawk Police Department in April 2019. Officer Vigil earned her bachelors degree in Spanish and Biology at CU and had planned to attend medical school. However, upon discovering a passion for criminal justice, she took a position as a correctional officer at Denver Womens Correctional Facility.
Officer Vigil enjoys hiking, social gatherings and checking adventures off her bucket list, such as riding a floatplane over Prince of Wales Island in Alaska and zip lining through the Costa Rican rainforests.
After the council had met and welcomed the two newest Black Hawk officers, opportunity for public comment was announced. No members of the community signed up or revealed themselves as present for comments. With these announcements, the meeting continued and the minutes from the July 24, 2019 regular meeting and urban renewal meeting were both approved.
In public hearings CB16, a bill for an ordinance amending article XVIII of Chapter 6 of the Black Hawk Municipal code regarding marijuana establishments, passed unanimously. CB17, an ordinance setting ballot questions for a November 5, 2019 special election to be conducted as an independent polling place election pursuant to the Colorado Municipal election code, also passed unanimously. Resolution 50-2019, conditionally approving a certificate of architectural compatibility for an amendment to the comprehensive sign plan for the Isle of Capris/Eldorado Casino, passed unanimously.
In action items, resolution 51-2019 approving the agreement for the complete demolition of 500 and 531 Chase Street with Grapes & Sons Excavation in a total amount not to exceed $54,400, passed unanimously.
Resolution 52-2019 amending resolution 100-2014 to reflect the placement of a granite monument as the Veterans Memorial Plaque at Dory Hill Cemetery, passed unanimously.
Resolution 53-2019 setting forth the fees that may be charged for open records requests under the Colorado Open Records Act, C.R.S. 24-72 200. 1, passed unanimously.
Resolution 54-2019 approving the first amendment to the subdivision/site improvement agreement between the City of Black Hawk, Colorado and JIJE, LLC, passed unanimously.
Finally, resolution 55-2019 approving the fifth amendment to subdivision/site improvement agreement between the City of Black Hawk, Colorado and JIJE, LLC, was approved unanimously.
The city manager stated he did not have anything to report this week and the city attorney called an executive closed session immediately following the close of the council meeting. However, prior to adjourning the meeting, Mayor Spellman took a moment to wish Finance Director Lance Hillis, who was less than an hour and a half away from ending the work-day free from mention of his birthday, a very happy birthday. The meeting adjourned positively, with well wishes to Hillis and smiles around the room.
(Originally published in the August 22, 2019, print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)
Originally posted here:
BHCC welcomes two new officers - The Mountain -Ear
Posted: at 9:46 am
Its happening: On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump following reports last week that Trump attempted to bully Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating former vice president and Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Bidens son.
But the process for impeaching a president is neither quick nor easy. And its potentially riskyPelosi has agonized over what would happen if the House didnt have enough votes to start an impeachment inquirywhich is why the speaker and other House leaders have refused to move forward with impeachment proceedings despite a growing consensus among the House Democratic Caucus. Pelosis statement on Tuesday suggests weve reached a tipping point on the issue for House Democrats.
The impeachment of a president has only happened twiceto Andrew Johnson in the aftermath of the Civil War, and Bill Clinton for lying about and trying to cover up his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (Articles of impeachment were brought up against Richard Nixon in 1974 in response to the Watergate scandal, but he resigned before he was formally impeached.)
And with the 2020 election not far away, we are wading into relatively uncharted territory. So what happens next? What would the impeachment process look like? What would it take to actually have Trump removed from office? And what does this mean for all the ongoing House investigations into the many Trump scandals?
To get a better sense of what could be in store, I spoke with Michael Conway, anattorney who served as counsel for the US House Judiciary Committee in the impeachment inquiry of Nixon in 1974.
What is needed for the impeachment inquiry to begin? Will there be a vote?
Theres disagreement about whether you need a vote of the entire House. But, historically, the answer to that is yes. And thats both in the Nixon impeachment and the Clinton impeachment. In the Nixon impeachment, the House voted 410-4 to start an impeachment inquiry, which I think underscores the fact that it was less politicized, but it also underscores the fact that starting an impeachment inquiry is not the equivalent of voting for impeachment. In fact, many Republicans who supported President Nixon voted to start an impeachment inquiry. And I think thats going to be a continuing issue. But the traditional test has been a vote of the House. And if they did that theyd be on much more solid ground.
How have impeachment inquiries typically gone in the past? What was the process like when you served on the House impeachment inquiry committee for Nixon?
Traditionally, its gone to the House Judiciary Committee, but theres no absolute requirement to do that. The House Judiciary Committee has done a little bit of this. For example, in Nixons case, the Committee set up a brand new independent inquiry staff, headed by John Doar as special counselthats the staff I served oninstead of using their already pre-existing staff members. And part of that was because the Judiciary Committee has a lot of responsibilities in addition to impeachment. And so setting aside a group whose sole function was to investigate the grounds for impeachment was what happened there.
And in that case, the Committee got reports from our staff over time, but essentially the staff did an investigationin large part based upon what the Senate Committee had done before and what the Grand Jury had sent usand then presented the evidence to the Committee.
And how did the House decide on the articles of impeachment based on the reports you sent the Committee? How would it work for this impeachment inquiry?
The Committee heard a few witnesses, but not a tremendous number and not in public sessions, and then the Committee debated the articles of impeachment, which were actually rewritten once the evidence came in. In other words, every article that is authored by congressmen right now dont have to be the articles voted on, the articles voted on can be conformed to whatever the evidence happens to be. So that would be the process that has worked before. Now, theres no requirement to follow that process, but thats the template.
Listen to Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn explain what happens next, in this special impeachment edition of the Mother Jones Podcast:
What additional powers do House Democrats get by declaring a formal inquiry? Would they finally get access to some of those long-sought after documents, like Trumps tax returns? Or witnesses who havent agreed to testify on obstruction, or other inquiries?
Yes, to a larger extent. A witness can always plead the Fifth Amendment, but for political reasons people dont always want to do that. For example, Grand Jury material is typically secret, but there are few exceptions to when the court can release them. In the Nixon impeachment, the Grand Jury sent us the report and sent us some White House tapes that they had obtained. The judge, [former District judge John] Sirica, ruled that he had the authority to do that. That went up on appeal to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. And this is a critical point: It ruled that he had the authority to do that.
In April of this year, the DC Circuit, in a 2-1 vote where a historian was trying to obtain Grand Jury material, ruled that the court lacked the authority to release the Grand Jury material. And when the dissenting judge said, Well, what about the Haldeman Case? He said, Well thats an impeachment. And so, the fact that its a formal impeachment would very much strengthen the Committee to get Grand Jury material, the same thing for compelling witnesses to testify overruling executive privilege and so forth. So, that would be an important legal step forward to strengthen the Committees ability to get information.
That could take a long time, though, right? And the Democrats seem to want to move quickly on this.
It takes a long time for the court, yeah. For example, the hearing on the Grand Jury release isnt scheduled until Halloween. So I dont think there would be a ruling on thateven if the Judge had it all certain, even if the Judge ruled on the actual day of the hearingyoure talking about five or six weeks from now. But Congress has the ability to hold people in contempt. They dont have to go to court. Congress itself has the power to compel, and if theyre stonewalled by the White House that actually is considered an interference with the investigation, which is in itself an impeachable offense. When President Nixon refused to comply with subpoenas and so forth, he was obstructing an impeachment investigation, which then becomes an impeachable offense. And its also a criminal offense.
There are already investigations into Trumps obstruction of justice, so would those hearings be rolled into an impeachment investigation?
It could be. Ill give you a historical example: In Nixons case, there were five articles of impeachment that were presented to the Committee for vote. Three were adopted and two were rejected. One of the rejected ones was about illegal bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The other one was whether Nixon violated the emoluments clause and committed tax fraud. But the problem that the Committees have from a public opinion point of view is being sufficiently focused so that it doesnt look like its a cafeteria-style impeachment; one of these and one of those. They need to focus and the Ukraine thing may be what becomes that focus.
Even with the House officially opening an impeachment inquiry and, lets say the House ends up voting for impeachment, would this all be moot if Mitch McConnell refused to hold a trial?
He cant refuse. If the House voted impeachment and set the resolutions, the Senate is supposed to set aside all other business and consider the impeachment. Thats what happened in Clintons case. Of course in Nixons case, he resigned before even the full House vote, before the Committee voted. Now, they can certainly vote down the impeachment, but there is no ability like there was with the judicial nominations to simply not call it up for consideration. It has to be called up.
If the Senate votes down impeachment, then its dead in the water?
Yes. But there have been lots of impeachments where the Senate has acquitted peopleBill Clinton is the example that comes to mind. Historically, the Secretary of War back in the 1870s was impeached. He resigned and then the Senate had the trial. They ended up acquitting him, but they had the impeachment. And, of course, the fact that hes not actually removed from office doesnt mean that the public isnt then better informed about what the charges were presented against them. Same thing with Bill Clinton. Now, Bill Clinton was not convicted, but certainly the public got a better educational message about what was alleged to have happened. So, theres a value in educating the public even if the Senate doesnt vote to remove him. An impeachment is a charge, the trial is the center, the trial itself would be must-see TV, thats for sure.
What would Chief Justice John Roberts role actually be when hes presiding over an impeachment trial? Is it largely ceremonial, or does he make actual decisions that matter?
He would preside over the Senate trial, but when Chief Justice Rehnquist presided over the Clinton trial, he viewed himself as being largely ceremonial. For example, in a trial, a judge can rule whether evidence is admissible or not. But in the Senate, if there were some objection to admissibility of evidence, the Senate would vote on the objection. So, the judge in an impeachment trial doesnt have the normal authority that a judge has in presiding over a regular trial and making rulings. The judge is simply the person whos presiding over the proceeding but doesnt really have the authority to make rulings in the proceedings.
What is the Department of Justices role in impeachment? What will William Barr do?
Nothing. They have no role. An impeachment is strictly a Congressional prerogative. If theres a trial in the Senate, the House then elects the prosecutors, who could beand typically have beenalso House members, but they can be assisted by attorneys representing them. In the Nixon impeachment inquiry, and also in conformity with the rules that were adopted recently by the House Judiciary Committee, the presidents personal lawyer can participate and defend. In our circumstance, James St. Clair was Nixons personal lawyer, he was able to present evidence to the Committee, make arguments to the Judiciary Committee and so forth. So, its not as if the president is defenseless, but the Justice Department has no role whatsoever.
Could Beto O’Rourke really take your guns? If government attempts a buyback, here’s how it would work – The Dallas Morning News
Posted: at 9:46 am
WASHINGTON Following two mass shootings in Texas in August, some Democrats have ramped up demands for a ban on assault-style weapons, including federal confiscation.
Few advocates on either side of the debate over gun violence and Second Amendment rights see mandatory buybacks becoming law in the foreseeable future.
Only a handful of 2020 Democratic candidates have embraced the idea, most notably Beto O'Rourke. The former El Paso congressman's hometown was the site of one of those rampages, and he declared memorably at a presidential debate in Houston that "Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."
Given the legal obstacles and political resistance, many of his rivals for the nomination view the idea as counterproductive, as do many gun control advocates, not to mention Republicans.
How exactly could the government collect the 15 million to 20 million assault-style firearms lawfully owned by Americans?
We tried to find out.
Thats a tricky question, because theres no single definition of an assault weapon, and the U.S. government doesnt track gun ownership with a national registry.
One of the most cited estimates, from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, puts the number of assault-style weapons in the United States at 15 to 20 million. But weapons used by law enforcement account for about half of that.
In 2013, a few months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., left 26 people dead, all but six of them children, Sen. Ted Cruz accused Democrats of vaguely trying to ban scary-looking guns. He noted that minor modifications that had little effect on a guns capabilities could determine whether it was legal or not under their proposals.
A current proposal from Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., that enjoys broad support from House Democrats would ban any semi-automatic firearm with a detachable magazine and at least one other feature such as a second grip for better aim, a rack to mount additional accessories or different types of muzzles. The bill, which is what O'Rourke would rely on for his buyback plan, also would ban rifles with a fixed magazine that holds more than 10 rounds, and more than 200 specific models of weapons.
Congress used a slightly narrower definition in the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired after a decade.
Semi-automatic weapons with a fixed magazine that held more than 10 rounds remained legal, for instance. The 1994 ban applied to certain specified guns, and guns with a detachable magazine and at least two other features such as a second grip, a rack to mount additional accessories or different types of barrels and suppressors.
ORourke hasnt said exactly how much owners should be compensated. He would establish a commission, using market values as a benchmark, and would fund the program through a tax on gun manufacturers.
Local and statewide voluntary buybacks around the country have used $200 gift cards for handguns, rifles and other firearms. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who recently dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, proposed looking at the previous years market price for each weapon, and paying the owner the median value.
The average asking price for assault weapons is $800, according to The Trace.
If there are 10 million civilian-owned assault weapons, and theyre all turned in under that approach, the cost to U.S. taxpayers would be $8 billion.
Congress would have to ban ownership of particular weapons, and that law would have to survive a certain veto from President Donald Trump.
Under Swalwells bill, the only pending legislation of this sort, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would have three months to publish prices the government will pay, and a year to execute the program.
Confiscated weapons and accessorieswould be destroyed, unless they are evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation. And if owners dont fully comply? Up to five years in prison could await anyone caught with an illegal assault weapon.
In Texas, Houston-area state Rep. Briscoe Cain warned O'Rourke with a veiled threat of violence that he would refuse any effort to seize his AR-15. O'Rourke says he believes that mostlaw-abiding Americans would comply with federal law, and fines unspecified await those who don't.
A mandatory buyback has never been attempted.
Even when bans have been enacted, like the 1994 assault weapons ban, existing guns were grandfathered. Only importation and new manufacturing were halted.
Voluntary buybacks have taken place for decades, though never at the federal level.
A Baltimore program in 1974 is believed to be the first in the country. Police collected 13,500 guns at the cost of $660,000. Voluntary gun buybacks have taken place since then in California, Washington state, Massachusetts and elsewhere.
Such programs rarely get the most dangerous firearms off the streets, said Michael Scott, the director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. And because the programs are localized, he noted, weapons can easily flow back into cities from surrounding areas.
Australia implemented a mandatory buyback in 1996 after banning semi-automatic rifles and pump shotguns and rifles following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, which left 35 people dead.
The countrys constitution delegates gun control to Australian states. Just 12 days after the Port Arthur massacre, the states all agreed to uniform standards for an assault weapon ban and buyback, called the National Firearms Agreement.
Gun owners were paid market value, and the national government funded the buyback through a 2% tax.
New Zealand is the latest country to try a mandatory gun buyback, following attacks by a white supremacist last March at two mosques in Christchurch that left 51 people dead.
Less than a month later, parliament voted 119-1 to ban semiautomatic weapons and implement the buyback.
New Zealand set aside about $129 million and is paying 25% to 95% of market value, depending on the condition of each gun turned in. The six-month program runs through Dec. 20.
Neither country guarantees its citizens the right to own a firearm. In both countries, gun ownership is treated as a privilege rather than a constitutionally protected right as in the United States.
Neither tracked most gun sales before the bans went into effect, making it difficult to know how many civilian-owned firearms were in circulation.
Australia collected more than 650,000 guns, or an estimated20% of thefirearms privately owned by just over 18 million Australians at the time, according to a Harvard study. The country has seen a steep decline in homicides and suicides involving guns, and in mass shootings, since the ban and buyback.
According to Philip Alpers, founder of a group that studies gun violence worldwide and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Sydney, the 650,000 firearms turned in represented more than 80% of the newly-banned assault weapons.
And most Australians were happy to comply following the shock of the Port Arthur massacre, he said.
And it is almost impossible to get a banned firearm in Australia now. Being an island nation makes smuggling harder and amplifies the effect of a mandatory buyback.
You would have to have serious criminal, black market connections to get your hands on one of those weapons, Alpers said.
In New Zealand, a country of 4.8 million people, residents owned more than 100,000 assault weapons before the ban, according to GunPolicy.org. With two months left in the buyback program, more than 15,000 banned firearms and 64,000 parts have been collected, costing more than $20 million.
With no national gun registry, its difficult to gauge the level of compliance.
The Mongrel Mob and other gangs said after the massacre that they would refuse to turn in their weapons, according to New Zealand news outlet Stuff.
On the other hand, hundreds of assault weapons were voluntarily surrendered to the government before the ban even passed.
The legality of a mandatory buyback in the U.S. is arguable.
Gun rights advocates and some legal scholars say it would violate the Second Amendment and another constitutional provision, in the Fifth Amendment, that protects private property from seizure without due process and compensation.
Others, O'Rourke included, argue that the right to bear arms isnt unlimited. Civilians arent allowed to own nuclear weapons, for instance.
On the political side, a mandatory assault weapon buyback has substantial but mixed support.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found 52% of Americans in favor and 44% opposed, with a stark partisan divide: 74% of Democrats support confiscation, versus 33% of Republicans.
In the Democratic-controlled House, just three lawmakers have signed onto Swalwells bill creating a mandatory buyback program.
America doesnt have a prayer of doing what Australia did, Alpers said. What happened in Australia amounts to confiscation of private property under the threat of jail time. Thats not the American way."
Read more from the original source:
Could Beto O'Rourke really take your guns? If government attempts a buyback, here's how it would work - The Dallas Morning News
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