By Michele Gilman, Venable Professor of Law, University of Baltimore. Sen. Chuck Grassley recently seemed to suggest some poor people spend all their money on "booze or women or movies." AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall Republicans continue to use long-debunked myths about the poor as they defend lower taxes for the rich and deep cuts to the social safety net to pay for them.
'Bad news for Trump': Experts say DOJ's refusal to defend Mo Brooks in riot lawsuit sends a clear message
The Department of Justice's refusal to defend Republican Congressman Mo Brooks, in a lawsuit alleging he incited the Jan. 6 insurrection, spells trouble for co-defendant Donald Trump, according to experts.
Donald Ayer, who served as a a senior DOJ official in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, told Reuters: "The government's filing sends a clear message. No leader in our government is acting within the scope of his employment when he acts to subvert the free and fair election by getting people to go up and riot and interfere. The leaders who perpetrated these travesties are personally responsible for their actions."
Anne Tindall, an attorney with the advocacy group Protect Democracy, agreed the DOJ's decision is "bad news for Trump," because his official role was "even more limited" than Brooks'.
"Brooks has a role in the certification," Tindall said. "He has a vote in Congress. DOJ concluded that the conduct at issue in the litigation is not sufficiently related to his vote. Here Trump has no role at all."
In its letter to a judge Tuesday, the DOJ declined to grant Brooks immunity under the Westfall Act, which shields federal employees from being sued for their words or actions in the course of their employment. The DOJ letter was in response to a lawsuit filed by Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell. Trump also faces two separate lawsuits — one filed by two U.S. Capitol police officers, and one filed by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson — related to his role in inciting the insurrection.
Despite the DOJ's letter, Trump attorney Jesse Binnall insisted in a statement that his client has immunity: "The Supreme Court has been clear that presidents cannot be sued for actions that are related to their duties of office. Addressing Americans about congressional action is a quintessential presidential duty."
Media leaks reported to CIA at alarming rate during Trump era -- especially when Mike Pompeo led spy agency
The Trump administration reported substantially more media leaks to the Justice Department and intelligence agencies than previous administrations, according to newly released data.
The Intercept obtained new data that shows Donald Trump's administration referred far more leaks -- called "crime reports" -- to the CIA, National Security Agency and Justice Department than previous presidential administrations as part of his relentless campaign against whistleblowers.
"A former CIA official pointed to the sheer frequency of leaks directly related to the Russia investigation," the website reported. "Media leaks about the Russia investigation were so commonplace that the former CIA official, upon being notified of one such leak in spring of 2017, recalled a senior CIA counterintelligence manager remarking, 'Well, that's another referral.'"
The CIA accounted for more than 64 percent of all referrals, primarily about the Russia probe, while the NSA accounted for just 15 percent.
The referrals spiked to 120 in 2017, when Trump ally Mike Pompeo led the CIA, and many reports involved leaks that had occurred months or even years before during the Obama administration."More than twice as many leak referrals were sent to the Justice Department during the first three years of the Trump administration than in any other three-year period in the last decade-and-a-half," the website reported.
Donald Trump supporters calling themselves an "election integrity committee" are going door to door in Pennsylvania and demanding to know whom residents voted for in the November election.
York County president commissioner Julie Wheeler, a Republican, said she received numerous calls about alleged voter intimidation by members of the so-called committee, and has referred the matter to law enforcement, the York Dispatch reported Thursday. Wheeler added that the committee has no affiliation with county government.
County officials are currently weighing whether to comply with a "forensic audit" of the 2020 election spearheaded by GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano, based on the former president's false claims of widespread fraud.
Chad Baker, chair of the Democratic Party of York County, said members of the "election integrity committee" appear to be targeting Democrats.
"There is an intimidation factor, and that's what their intent is," Baker said. "The timing of this doesn't seem suspect given the recent request of the audit by Sen. Mastriano."
Cyber Ninjas, the private firm conducting a partisan audit of election results in Arizona, reportedly planned to use similar door-knocking tactics earlier this year, prompting a letter from the Department of Justice.
"This description of the proposed work of the audit raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters," the DOJ's Civil Rights Division wrote in a May 5 letter to Cyber Ninjas.
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