legal-affairs

Analysis: 2017 Has Been Nutty for K Street, but 2018 Could Be Insane
Campaign season is soon to kick into high gear

As 2017 draws to a close, the unpredictable nature of the first year of the Trump administration could very well bleed into next year as the midterm elections heat up. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lobbyists have — almost — survived a genuinely bonkers year.

The Trump era ushered in a maelstrom of unpredictable policy fights along with scandals that have ripped into K Street. Think it can’t get any stranger? Just wait until campaign season kicks into high gear in 2018.

Trump Says Gillibrand ‘Would Do Anything’ for Campaign Donations
Gillibrand fires back: ‘You cannot silence me’

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing the White House last week. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Updated at 9:45 a.m. | President Donald Trump on Tuesday alleged that Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand “would do anything” for his campaign contributions before he ran for president. 

In a morning tweet, the president dubbed the New York Democrat a “lightweight” and dubbed her “disloyal” to the Clintons, whom he tweeted “USED!” her.

Corrine Brown Petitions to Stay Out of Prison During Appeal
Former congresswoman sentenced earlier this month to five years on fraud conviction

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown walks out of the federal courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida, last week after being sentenced to five years in prison on fraud and conspiracy charges. (Bob Mack/Florida Times-Union via AP)

Former Florida Rep. Corrine Brown is seeking to stay out of prison while she appeals her convictions on fraud and conspiracy charges.

The disgraced Florida Democrat was sentenced to five years in prison earlier this month and was given until Jan. 8 to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Trump Poised to Set Record for Appeals Court Judges
Three more nominees set to be confirmed this week

Appellate nominee Steve Grasz, who is set to be confirmed by the Senate this week, was , nominee to be U.S. circuit judge for the Eighth Circuit, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing in Dirksen Building on November 1, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans are set to confirm three more of President Donald Trump’s appeals court picks this week, a push that will help set a record for the most such appointments in a president’s first year in office.

The Senate is expected to confirm Steve Grasz for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, and James Ho and Don Willett for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, over the objections of Democrats who question whether they can be unbiased.

Collins Pushed Business Partner’s Brother for Judgeship
New York Republican previously supported boosting tax credit his partner used

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:11 p.m.| New York Rep. Chris Collins is pushing for the brother of his business partner to be nominated for the federal bench.

Collins invested between $3.5 and $14 million in the business of Nick Sinatra, a developer in Buffalo, the Buffalo News reported. Nick Sinatra’s brother is John Sinatra Jr., who Collins is pushing for a federal judgeship.

Brady Aide Pleads Guilty in Payoff Scheme
Agreed to cooperate with federal investigation into Pennsylvania Democrat

An aide to Rep. Robert Brady pleaded guilty to a scheme to pay off a primary opponent to drop out of the race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A strategist for Rep. Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania admitted his role in covering up a $90,000 payment to a Democratic primary opponent to drop out of the race. 

Donald “D.A.” Jones pleaded guilty to charges of lying to federal agents and agreed to cooperate in the investigation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

‘Open Season’ on Immigrants as Discretion Fades
Will Trump’s new DHS pick follow ‘arrest-them-all’ playbook?

Immigrant families stand in line to get bus tickets in 2016 in McAllen, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

The recent arrest and detention of an undocumented 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy is the clearest evidence yet that President Donald Trump isn’t focused solely on “bad hombres,” immigrant advocates say.

Arrests of undocumented criminals are up under Trump, a testament to his promise to crack down on dangerous immigrants. But arrests of undocumented people without any convictions have also skyrocketed, raising questions about how the administration is using what it says are limited resources to keep the country safe.

Opinion: Why a DACA Fix Next Year Would Come Too Late
It takes months for the government to ramp up a new program

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, right, here with Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, broke with his party this fall when he announced he wouldn’t support any bill funding the government beyond Dec. 31 until the DACA issue is resolved. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Congress speeds toward its year-end pileup of “must pass” legislation, a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, remains in the balance. President Donald Trump insists it should not be tied to the annual appropriations scramble. But many Democrats — and a few Republicans — are calling for the issue to be addressed this year, with some threatening to withhold their votes to fund the government if legislation for so-called Dreamers is not attached.

Beyond the political posturing and jockeying for leverage, there is a pragmatic reason why any fix, if that is what both parties really want, should happen this year: it takes months for the government to ramp up a new program.

Trump’s Tweets Again Spark Courtroom Questions on Travel Ban
“Do we just ignore reality?” one judge asked

President Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets came up in court Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos last week, just as two appeals courts prepared to hear arguments on challenges to the latest version of his travel ban. 

The tweets were bound to come up in court — and they did in a big way Friday, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit grilled a Justice Department attorney on whether the tweets taint the restrictions on immigration from eight countries, including six that are majority-Muslim. 

Can Presidents Obstruct Justice? Republicans and Democrats Say Yes
Durbin: ‘Desperate statement’ suggests ‘they expect to lose on the merits’

Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, left, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham confer before a hearing in 2015. Both senior Judiciary Committee members say there is ample precedent showing a president can obstruct justice, despite a claim to the contrary by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican and Democratic lawmakers say an assertion by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer that a sitting president cannot obstruct justice is dubious, warning the White House there is ample precedent to the contrary.

The members were reacting to Trump lawyer John Dowd’s legal argument in a recent interview with Axios that “the president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [Article II of the Constitution] and has every right to express his view of any case.”