A Russian national admitted in federal court this week that he tried to recruit a Tesla employee to install a malicious software into the company’s computer network with the goal of extorting the electric car giant. Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, repeatedly tried to persuade an employee at Tesla’s electric battery plant in Nevada to participate in the hacking scheme, offering to pay the worker $1 million in Bitcoin to transmit the malware, federal authorities said. Once the software was installed, Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators would use it to steal data from the Tesla’s network and then ext...
Originally published by The 19th
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in a case that could end almost 50 years of guaranteed abortion rights. Audio from the arguments will be streamed on the Supreme Court’s website, beginning at 10 a.m.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization examines the constitutionality of a law from Mississippi that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law has been blocked by lower courts and has not taken effect.
Mississippi’s law appears to directly violate several decades of legal precedent on abortion rights. In 1973, the Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that the Constitution guaranteed the right to an abortion up until a fetus can live independently outside the womb, a stage known as “fetal viability” that typically occurs around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
That decision was affirmed in a 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which allowed for states to restrict abortion access as long as those laws did not impose an “undue burden” for people looking to end a pregnancy. Such an “undue burden” could involve a requirement that abortions be performed in ambulatory surgical centers — a stipulation that has been shown to have little medical benefit but that has resulted in clinics closing down, making it functionally impossible for many people to get an abortion.
The court has heard cases on specific types of abortion laws, weighing in on whether different types of restrictions and regulations violate that “undue burden” standard.
But this case poses a different kind of question. It’s an outright challenge to the core protections established in 1973. In its legal filings, the state of Mississippi has argued that the court should overturn Roe v. Wade entirely and allow states to individually determine whether abortion remains legal or not.
Such a ruling could spell the end of national abortion rights — resulting in a patchwork system across the country, where someone’s ability to access an abortion easily depends entirely on where they live.
Both anti-abortion and abortion rights advocates believe that the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, may be receptive to Mississippi’s arguments. Three members — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — were appointed by former President Donald Trump, who vowed to fill the court with justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
All three justices voted earlier this fall to allow Texas’ six-week abortion ban to take effect. In the court’s most recent abortion case, June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch both dissented from the majority opinion that struck down Louisiana’s abortion restrictions. In her confirmation hearings, abortion rights advocates emphasized Barrett’s historical skepticism toward Roe v. Wade.
A decision on the case is expected at the end of the court’s term next summer.
The case could have stakes beyond abortion rights. A separate brief filed by Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, argues that overturning Roe v. Wade could also pave the way to undoing two separate landmark court decisions: a 2003 case known as Lawrence v. Texas that said states could not criminalize sexual conduct between two people of the same sex, and the 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, which found a constitutional right to LGBTQ+ marriage.
The brief argues that Roe v. Wade’s abortion rights guarantee is a “court-invented right” without constitutional basis and claims that there is no legal basis for the rights protected in Lawrence or Obergefell either.
“Lawrence and Obergefell, while far less hazardous to human life, are as lawless as Roe,” the brief argues.
But it’s not clear how the court’s justices will receive those arguments, or whether they will be a subject of discussion in Wednesday’s hearing.
A decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would have monumental impact. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 18 states have laws on the books that would ban abortion entirely in the event that Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.
Entire regions of the country — particularly the South and the Midwest — would likely become abortion deserts. States like Illinois, California, Colorado and Kansas could become havens for the procedure, with people traveling hundreds of miles to access care.
In Mississippi, where Jackson Women’s Health is the only abortion-providing clinic, the next closest places to seek an abortion would be Florida, Illinois and North Carolina.
The court could find another way to uphold Mississippi’s law without giving states full authority to ban abortions completely. But such a decision would still require somehow undoing Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of abortion rights up until fetal viability — suggesting that more pre-viability abortion bans may stand legal scrutiny and allowing states to enact and enforce greater restrictions.
Meanwhile, the court is still weighing arguments in two other abortion cases, examining whether either abortion providers or the federal government have the right to challenge a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That law, which has been in effect since September 1, has offered a cursory preview of the potential impact of overturning Roe v. Wade.
The court heard arguments in those cases on November 1. It has not yet issued a decision in either.
Federal prosecutors subpoenaed financial records for multiple organizations launched by controversial pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell following the 2020 election, The Washington Post reports.
"The grand jury subpoena, issued in September by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, sought communications and other records related to fundraising and accounting by groups including Defending the Republic, a Texas-based organization claiming 501(c) 4 nonprofit status, and a PAC by the same name, according to the documents and a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the probe," the newspaper reported. "The subpoena reviewed by The Post was signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston, who is also handling politically charged matters related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including contempt of Congress charges brought against former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon for refusing to testify in front of the House committee investigating the pro-Trump riot."
Prosecutors sought records going back to Nov. 1, 2020.
"Her fantastical claims formed the basis of lawsuits she filed on behalf of voters and Trump electors challenging the results in multiple states. The lawsuits failed to convince judges, who dismissed each as groundless," the newspaper noted. "In the meantime, Powell was soliciting contributions from Trump supporters to help fund her efforts. She began asking for donations as early as Nov. 10, 2020, a week after the election, telling viewers of the 'Lou Dobbs Tonight' show on Fox Business that she had started a website called 'defendingtherepublic.org' where they could donate."
The organization spent $550,000 on the controversial audit of the votes in Maricopa County, Arizona.
NEWS- Federal prosecutors have demanded financial and other records related to Sidney Powell's fundraising groups as part of a criminal investigation.\n\nScoop with @emmersbrown @PostRozhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/30/sidney-powell-defend-the-republic-criminal-probe/\u00a0\u2026— Isaac Stanley-Becker (@Isaac Stanley-Becker) 1638294852
Trump trying to 'run out the clock' with privilege claims to 'cover up potentially criminal conduct': Legal experts
Donald Trump and his allies are trying to "run out the clock" on the Jan. 6 insurrection by claiming executive privilege, and investigators are concerned the courts might let them get away with stalling.
Steve Bannon has already been indicted on contempt charges for refusing to comply with a House select committee subpoena, and investigators are especially interested in speaking to former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark about his conversations with the former president, reported the Washington Post.
“I’m very interested in what kind of plans he was advancing to thwart the presidential election and who he had talked to about those plans,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the committee.
Clark had a unique vantage point on those efforts to undermine a free and fair election, according to legal experts, and could provide evidence that Trump took part in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States, in addition to seditious conspiracy or attempted coercion of government employees into carrying out political activity.
The former Justice Department official might be able to "clearly implicate Trump in any number of conspiratorial crimes,” said former prosecutor Glenn Kirschner, adding that the former president was claiming executive privilege to “cover up potentially criminal conduct.”
President Joe Biden has declined Trump's requests for executive privilege, but the former president is arguing in court that his position allows him to invoke it even after leaving office, which could take months and months to resolve.
“Their goal is obviously to run out the clock before the American people get the truth,” Raskin said. “We’re in a race against the clock here.”
But Raskin said the committee would continue its work while the matter got resolved -- although a court could deal a devastating blow to their work by siding with the twice-impeached one-term president.
“We believe that categorical defiance of congressional subpoenas are a major threat to the rule of law,” Raskin said. “We will not tolerate people simply declaring themselves above the law.”