Shit, no wonder Lev Parnas is more scared of Bill Barr than the Russian mob.
Bill Barr's weaponization of the Justice Department is a wonderment to behold. The guy has been sitting on evidence that the American ambassador to Ukraine was being stalked inside our own embassy, and he's done fuck all about it for months. But somehow in that time he's found the resources to investigate a three-year-old leak allegation against former FBI Director James Comey based on a bunch of bullshit Trump tweets. Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gents!
The New York Times reports that the feds are in hot pursuit of the source for a pair of articles in The New York Times and The Washington Post back in the spring of 2017. Because that's a priority for the US Attorney's Office in DC right now! And they have all their little fingers and toes crossed that the culprit is a 6'7" former federal employee who features widely in the Commander in Tweet's morning dispatches from the White House crapper.
Imagineering new laws must be why they pay him the big bucks.
Lawrence Lessig has lost his damn mind.
The Harvard Law professor, who absolutely knows better, is suing the New York Times for what he calls "clickbait defamation," arguing in a lawsuit that "The consequences of this clickbaiting have been harmful to Lessig and his work."
Clickbait defamation, while surely a nifty phrase in the mind of Lessig, is most definitely not a thing. And this suit is dangerous, irresponsible, and very, very dumb.
That boy ain't right.
Yesterday, Michael Avenatti was arrested outside a California Bar hearing to initiate disbarment procedures against him. As we type, he's sitting in a courtroom explaining to a federal judge why his bail shouldn't be revoked just because he hid a million dollar payment from his creditors and put $717,000 of it in an account belonging to his ex-wife. His attorney just lobbed an accusation of misconduct at the prosecutor. Oh, and Jacob Wohl is there, too.
That's it, that's the tweet.
Just kidding. That's 2020, already on pace to surpass 2019 as the weirdest goddamn year on record. This is the tweet.
After Avenatti's arrest yesterday, the court unsealed a 51-page motion to revoke his bail. Whether Michael Avenatti's machinations to hide cash from his creditors make him "a danger to the community" as prosecutors suggest is unclear. Nor is it clear why the government waited until January to try to throw him back in jail, since the alleged financial fuckery seems to have taken place last May. What is clear, though, is that this guy is a reckless fool.
He's here to PEW PEW PEW some Constitution!
West Virginia's legislative session is less than a week old and things are already really stupid.
And I'm not even talking about making measles great again, outlawing almond milk, trying to steal counties from other states, or the fundamental American right to hunt coyotes with night vision goggles.
What I'm talking about today is a very special piece of legislation called the Firearms Freedom Act.
If you're new to West Virginia politics, it's time to take a swig of moonshine and huff a few sharpies, because we're goin' in!
Oh NOW Republicans are mad?
Utah GOP Senator Mike Lee is mad. He described Wednesday's briefing on the Qasem Soleimani killing as "probably the worst briefing I've seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I've served in the United States Senate." Enraged at getting the brush off from defense officials, Lee says that he and Rand Paul will now support Democrat Tim Kaine's Resolution to stop President Trump unilaterally bumbling us into a war with Iran.
Just lookit him come out of the SCIF all pissed off and sweaty after Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper tried to run the rope-a-dope on him!
And Rudy Giuliani's not even his lawyer!
Congratulations to Michael Flynn's nutbag lawyer Sidney Powell on a flawless victory! In December of 2018, federal prosecutors asked for zero jail time for her client. Then the former national security adviser fired his white shoe law firm, hired himself a fancy teevee lawyer who sells T-shirts on her website, and like magic the feds are now recommending he spend up to six months in the pokey. Well-played, everyone!
In December 2017, Gen. Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with the former Russian ambassador. He acknowledged his guilt twice, under oath, in open court. As part of the plea, Flynn gave up any right to further exculpatory evidence and promised to help the Justice Department prosecute his former colleague Bijan Rafiekian for unregistered lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government. So when it came time for him to be sentenced a year ago, prosecutors were willing to overlook all the sniveling bullshit in his pleading about being framed by the mean old FBI.
Judge Emmet Sullivan was not willing to overlook it, however. In fact, he was furious that Michael Flynn, a man who spent decades in the military and held one of the highest offices in the land, would come into his court and try to pull some shit about not knowing it's bad to lie to the FBI. His Honor made it very clear that Michael Flynn was going to spend a whole lotta time in the hoosegow if he didn't go back and cooperate a whole lot more with prosecutors. Crystal clear. Pellucid.
So what did Michael Flynn do?
Don't answer that if you're a weird bigot.
Over the weekend, more than 60 people of Iranian descent were detained by Customs and Border Protection at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington. The people detained were American citizens and green card holders, and included some very dangerous children and families.
Most of the people who were stopped were let into the country after being detained and questioned, though civil rights organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that others were denied entry entirely.
On Monday, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal held a press conference where six of the people who were detained over the weekend detailed their experiences.
"We were anxious": Iranian-American woman says family was held at U.S.-Canada border for 5 hours www.youtube.com
Looking at you, 'Judge' Jeanine.
"Judge" Jeanine Pirro, who believe it or not was actually a lawyer once upon a time, is saying even dumber shit than normal. (Or maybe it's the same?)
On Fox News this past weekend, Ms. Pirro decided to get mad at Mitch McConnell for not being far enough up Trump's asshole and just dismissing the impeachment case against Trump outright (not a thing) for violating his right to an impeachment speedy trial (not a thing) and passing the statute of limitations (not a thing).
So that's ... a real thing that this person who actually used to be a lawyer said.
But only the Nice Things, so we don't kill your soul before 2020 gets here.
2019 often seemed like a never-ending hellscape, particularly when it came to legal news. And, in a lot of ways, it was.
But Yr Wonkette can't let you go into 2020 all depressed, now can we?! So here are a few of our favorite things in law from the last year.
Letitia James is the New York Attorney General
And isn't she just lovely? From day one on the job, she has been a thorn in Donald Trump's side. James has filed a whole bunch of lawsuits against Trump and his cronies and just generally kicked ass and taken names since she was sworn in last January. And really, what more could we want from one person?
AG James's 2019 highlight reel includes:
But we're pretty sure they'll be back for a second round in state court.
On Friday, a federal judge declined to reinstate nearly 100,000 voters to Georgia's voting rolls after yet another voting roll purge by the Georgia Secretary of State's office.
Judge Steve Jones of the Northern District of Georgia ruled in Fair Fight Action v. Raffensperger that he could not step in and order Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to reinstate some 98,000 Georgia citizens to the state's voter rolls after he purged them earlier this month. The challenge, led by Stacey Abrams's voting rights organization, Fair Fight Action, had sought to ensure that people would not be unfairly denied their right to vote.
Yep, it's more bad judges, hooray!
Guess what? Once again, everything is shit.
Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed two more Trump nominees -- Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke -- to lifetime appointments on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Trump has now appointed 50 appellate court judges and 187 total federal judges in less than three years in office. Obama, by comparison, appointed 55 appellate judges over his eight years in the White House.
Let's learn more about these gaping human wounds!
World's shittiest witness this side of Lev Parnas says WHAT?
God may forgive Michael Cohen, but the Southern District of New York will not. Last night SDNY filed its response to Cohen's motion for a reduction of his sentence, and the president's former lawyer/fixer/pornstar-payer/bank of last resort is clearly on Santa's naughty list. Turns out, lying all the time and to everyone you meet makes you pretty much useless as a government witness. Go know!
Last week, Michael Cohen's lawyers filed multiple affidavits attesting to his voluminous cooperation with the government and howling in indignation that anyone might describe their client as lacking in credibility. How very dare you, sir, suggest that Michael Cohen, a man who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, is an unreliable witness!
In response, the feds filed a motion pointing out that they could have charged Cohen for perjury for all the times he swore under oath that he never nohow tried to get a job in the White House after the election, helpfully including the transcript of that testimony, a link to a television interview where he expressed his hope for a White House job, texts where he said he anticipated being named chief of staff, and a secretly recorded conversation where he affirmed same. The fact that it was just a STUPID LIE, which convinced no one, is immaterial. It still made Cohen totally useless as a government witness.
Extreme wanking motion.
Once again, everything is fucked.
Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch woke up, thought "Fuck impartiality," and appeared on "Fox & Friends," a TV show that primarily exists to rally Donald Trump's fans. Judges who are supposed to both be and appear impartial normally don't appear on cable networks, particularly cable networks that act as arms of political parties. But Gorsuch used his book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It, as an excuse to appear on Trump's favorite show.
As a Supreme Court justice, Gorsuch could easily appear on any news program and any network of his choice. The fact that he chose this show and this network only demonstrates the fact that he is not even trying to pretend to be unbiased.
Further evidence that Gorsuch doesn't care about appearing unbiased can be seen throughout the appearance:
Oh, pretty substantially sorry, we're guessing.
A year ago, Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, almost found himself in the hoosegow after trying to persuade Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that, notwithstanding his guilty plea, it was really the FBI's fault that he told them all those lies about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. A rational human being, when given the opportunity to avoid jail time by cooperating a whole lot more with the FBI, would not try that shit again with His Honor. But Michael Flynn is not a rational human being, and neither is Sidney "Emoji Warcrime" Powell, the batshit lawyer he hired after ditching his competent counsel at DC law firm Covington & Burling.
Before Powell had even entered her appearance as Flynn's lawyer, she sent a secret manifesto to the Justice Department urging Attorney General Bill Barr to "dismiss the prosecution of General Flynn in the interest of justice -- whether it be we ink a joint motion or sua sponte by the Department." And then, despite Judge Sullivan's very clear signal that Michael Flynn would not get the benefit of his plea agreement if he refused to take responsibility for his crimes, Powell immediately plastered the docket with accusatory briefs demanding that the FBI turn over every scrap and pixel in the Russia investigation, sure that the Justice Department was hiding the smoking gun which would exonerate her client.
Light A Candle, Knock On Wood, Turn Around Three Times, And Spit, Because SCOTUS Is Ruling On Trump's Tax Returns
And now, we wait.
Shit's goin' down.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court added another major issue to a docket already filled with blockbusters, granting cert in three cases about Donald Trump's desperate attempts to keep his tax returns from congressional committees, New York prosecutors, and the American people.
All of the cases are stayed pending a decision from the Supreme Court, meaning Trump's tax returns and other documents will remain secret for now.
But is a part 'designed and intended for use converting a weapon into a machinegun' actually turning it into a machine gun? And how many angels on the head of this pin?
Earlier this week in Cincinnati, lawyers for the Department of Justice and anti-gun-control nonprofit Gun Owners of America sparred over what makes a weapon a machine gun.
Newly manufactured automatic machine guns have been illegal in the United States since 1986. But, until earlier this year, civilians could legally possess devices bump stocks, which allow a user to mimic the firing motion of a fully automatic weapon.
Oddly enough, the Trump administration is on the right side of this one, defending the bump stock ban against challenges from people who care more about guns than gun violence.
On Wednesday, a conservative panel of the conservative Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Gun Owners of America v. Barr, a case challenging the ban on bump stocks. And right now, things aren't looking great for the future of the bump stock ban.
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