Trump’s Brazen Move to Stop Mueller’s Russia Investigation

Jeff Sessions is out as Attorney General. At the request of John Kelly, he submitted this resignation letter. The most interesting sentence is the first, which states, “At your request, I am submitting my resignation.” How is that different than being fired? In any event, there’s no reason to feel badly about Sessions’ exit. Goodbye and good riddance to him.

But what about Trump’s appointment of Sessions’ Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, to temporarily take Sessions’ place as Acting Attorney General, a move intended to transfer oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation from Rod Rosenstein to Whitaker? Is Whitaker’s appointment legal? [More…]

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“Kavanaughed”: Who Will Agree to Run for Public Office After This Charade?

It is hard enough to find qualified, smart people to run for office as it is.  I’d bet hundreds if not thousands of well qualified people  refused to run for office or judgeships in the 70’s to 90’s due to worry about whether they could pass the FBI’s background checks and polygraph on drug use. No one cares about drug use now, it’s ubiquitous and a fact of life, in large part due to our government’s backwards policies on drug laws. Now the issue is disqualification due to 35-year old groping and indecent exposure allegations dating back to high school and freshman year in college.  People are so worked up about it, they are ready to bring out the firing squad. Even though the target of their socially or politically motivated hatred towards their perceived and now-outed offender hasn’t been charged with a crime, convicted of a crime and there’s been no confirmation a crime ever happened.

In other words, people now think it’s just fine to assume the male is guilty of whatever accusation is hurled his way. Why? Because other women chose to suffer in silence at the perceived indignities they suffered way back when and see this as a chance to get even? There’s a big difference between taking accusations seriously  and assuming the accusation is true. The former calls for an investigation. Nothing justifies the latter prior to a hearing before a neutral and detached magistrate or tribunal. That’s the law in America. [More…] Read More

Norway Open Thread

(From Lillyhammer, with Steve Van Zandt)

So, who’s been to Norway? Not me.

Donald Trump exposed himself today as the vulgar, insensitive man we all knew he was.

He has single-handedly ruined the image of America around the globe in the last year. How many generations will it take to recover, assuming America is still here.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome, especially site suggestions.

Sen. Al Franken Gets A Groping Allegation of His Own

Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles reporter has issued a statement detailing a pretty disgusting encounter with Al Franken in 2006. Franken was not a Senator at the time. The story ends with a photo of him grabbing her breasts while she’s asleep on the military plane home from Afghanistan.

The alleged incident occurred during her 9th ISO Tour to entertain the troops. (Her father was a Vietnam vet and her husband (then her boyfriend) is an Air Force Pilot.

Franken had written some skits for the show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.

You can read the rest at the link.

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Mexico Touts Arrests of El Chapo’s Tunnel Team

Mexico’s Attorney General this week announced the arrest of six people (and a few more with arrest warrants who are not yet caught) who helped Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escape from Altiplano prison in July. She didn’t name them but their names are available on Mexican news sites. (More here and here.)

Several were arrested in July and August — in other words, not all are new arrests, just newly disclosed arrests. So who are they? See below: Read More

Tuesday Open Thread

Here’s an open thread. All topics welcome.

It is really cold here:

Forecasters say temperatures in Denver will top out at 4 degrees on Tuesday before dropping to as low as minus 9 at night with a wind chill of minus 15. A 70 percent chance of snow remains until this evening through which about an inch is expected to fall.

The keyless entry system in my Jeep went haywire yesterday. As I was pulling it into my garage it flashed a message saying there was no key activated and the engine shut down. (At least I had finished parking it.) I can start the engine with the key fob but I keep getting that message. Jeep says I have to take it in. Not what I want to do when it’s 4 degrees out, the roads are slick ice and the jeep dealer is 15 miles away. What if the engine shuts down on the way to the dealer?

I think I’ll just stay home, test my new Spanish learning program, play with WordPress some more and maybe get some work done.

Mexico AG: Unhappy with Zambada-Niebla Deal, No Plan to Extradite El Chapo

Murillo Karam, Attorney General for Mexico, gave an interview today to Radio Fórmula during which he expressed displeasure with DOJ‘s recent plea deal with Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, son of Sinaloa co-leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia. (The details of Zambada-Niebla’s plea agreement are here.)

He also said Mexico presently has no intention of extraditing Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the U.S. (“no tenemos ninguna intensión de mandarlo a Estados Unidos.”) He added that Mexico still hasn’t received a formal extradition request for Chapo’s extradition. [More…]

He also said Mexico presently has no intention of extraditing Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the U.S. (“no tenemos ninguna intensión de mandarlo a Estados Unidos.”) He added that Mexico still hasn’t received a formal extradition request for Chapo’s extradition. Read More

George Zimmerman Lawyers Seek Sanctions Against Prosecutor

There are lots of new developments in the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case. Before I get to them, some readers will remember that about 10 days ago, I wrote about the newly released ABC recording of a portion of Benjamin Crump’s March 19, 2012 interview with Witness 8 and said I would follow-up with analysis.

My analysis turned out to be more than 10 typewritten pages and difficult to convert into a blog post with accessible links. I posted it earlier today, in pdf format, since it is far too lengthy for a blog post.

Although it was written before the defense filed a 58 page motion asking Judge Nelson to reconsider her denial of its request to depose Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump, and this week's Motions for Sanctions against the State, I think it is still relevant and also provides some context, especially for those who haven't followed all the goings on with Witness 8, the woman who says she was on the phone with Trayvon minutes before the shooting.

Now on to the recent developments:

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Bill Introduced to Provide Some Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Relief

jails220

I think the biggest problem in our criminal justice system for the past 25 years has been rigid mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Today, Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rand Paul introduced the bi-partisan Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013. According to Sen. Leahy:

The bipartisan Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 expands the so-called “safety valve” that allows judges to impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum in qualifying drug cases to all federal crimes. By giving judges this greater flexibility, they will not be forced to administer needlessly long sentences for certain offenders, which is a significant factor in the ever-increasing Federal prison population and the spiraling costs that steer more and more of the justice budget toward keeping people in prison, rather than investing in programs that keep our communities safe.

Currently a “safety valve” provision allows low-level drug offenders to avoid mandatory minimum penalties if certain conditions are met. The bill we introduce today would extend that safety valve to all Federal crimes subject to mandatory minimum penalties, allowing a judge to impose a sentence other than a statutorily designated mandatory sentence in cases in which key factors are present. The judge would be required to provide notice to the parties and to state in writing the reasons justifying the alternative sentence.

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