Author: Carrie Johnson

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Supervises Mueller Probe But He’s Also A Witness

NPR Enlarge this image Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks at a news conference in October at the Justice Department. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images To the many mysteries swirling around the investigation of Russian election interference and the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, add this one: why Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein continues to supervise the investigation. Rosenstein is the Justice Department official who pulled the trigger and named special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the probe in May, only days after President Trump fired his FBI director under questionable circumstances. But...

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After A Day Of Legal Shock And Awe, What’s Next For The Mueller Investigation?

NPR Enlarge this image Special counsel Robert Mueller, left, arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2017, in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images Five months into his mandate, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller III unleashed a legal version of “shock and awe” on Monday with criminal charges against Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and a guilty plea by a foreign policy aide. Mueller made no public comment about the charges or the next steps in an investigation that’s irritating the...

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Breaching The ‘Wall’: Is The White House Encroaching On DOJ Independence?

NPR Enlarge this image Jeff Sessions is sworn is as attorney general on Feb. 9. There are questions now about the Justice Department’s independence. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images The deputy attorney general strode onto the stage last week in a seventh-floor conference room at the Justice Department to announce criminal charges against two Chinese men who used the Internet to sell deadly synthetic drugs. “These cases reflect a new and disturbing facet of the opioid crisis in America,” Rod Rosenstein, the second-in-command at Justice, told reporters who gathered for what was billed as...

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Democrats To Attorney General Sessions: Don’t Duck Our Questions

NPR Enlarge this image Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about immigration in Falls Church, Va., last week. Sait Serkan Gurbuz/AP hide caption toggle caption Sait Serkan Gurbuz/AP Attorney General Jeff Sessions will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing Wednesday. There’s a lot to discuss. In eight months as the nation’s top federal law enforcement official, Sessions has presided over a series of Justice Department reversals — from police oversight and voting rights litigation to protections for the LGBT community. And then there’s the matter of his contacts with Russians during last year’s presidential campaign, where...

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Mueller Turns Up The Heat With Unusual Search Warrant In Russia Probe

NPR Special counsel Robert Mueller (left) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21. Alex Wong/Getty Images Federal prosecutors have lots of ways to intensify pressure on the people they’re investigating, from early morning FBI raids to leaning on relatives of those under government scrutiny. But even by those measures, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year’s presidential election is moving with unusual speed and assertiveness, according to half a dozen legal experts following the probe. Consider disclosures that FBI agents executed a search warrant last...

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Who Is Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s First Pick For The Supreme Court?

Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals makes a point while delivering prepared remarks before a group of attorneys last Friday at a luncheon in a legal firm in lower downtown Denver. David Zalubowski/AP President Trump has selected federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill a Supreme Court seat that has sat vacant for nearly a year, setting up a blockbuster confirmation hearing that could put the new White House’s domestic political agenda on trial in the U.S. Senate. The selection fulfills an early campaign promise by Trump to nominate a solidly conservative judge with a record of strictly interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Gorsuch, 49, sailed through an earlier confirmation process for a spot on the federal appeals court in Denver. Only weeks after his nomination in 2006, the Senate confirmed him by voice vote. The American Bar Association rated him as “unanimously well qualified” at the time. Gorsuch has a sterling legal pedigree. He clerked for two Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He also served as a clerk on the second most important appeals court in the country, in Washington D.C., for conservative Judge David Sentelle. Like Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he is in line to replace, Gorsuch has cultivated a reputation as a memorable and clear author of legal opinions. He also considers himself to be an originalist. Lawyers...

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Justice Department Won’t Defend Trump’s Immigration Order

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, pictured at an urelated press conference in June 2016, says Department of Justice lawyers won’t defend President Trump’s executive order as long as she remains in place at the Justice Department. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has instructed Justice Department lawyers not to defend President Trump’s executive order restricting travel and immigration from many Muslim-majority countries, telling them is not convinced it is lawful. Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration until Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is confirmed by the Senate, which is expected to happen week. But in the interim, Yates made clear she has doubts about the legality of Trump’s decision to block travelers from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia for 90 days; to suspend new refugee admissions; and to ban the acceptance of Syrian refugees indefinitely. Yates wrote in a letter to lawyers currently handling cases filed to block the ban that the department will not defend cases currently pending across the country as long as she is in charge: My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in...

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5 Questions About The Law And Trump’s Immigration Order

EnAnadolu Agency/Getty Images President Trump’s executive order on immigration late Friday ignited nationwide protests — and a slew of legal challenges. At least four federal judges across the country have blocked part of the order and temporarily ensured refugees and travelers who reached U.S. soil would not be deported. Here’s an explanation of what happened so far and what could come next. 1. Who is covered by the executive order? The order suspended new refugee admissions for 120 days. It capped the total number of refugees allowed into the country this year at 50,000, far lower than the Obama administration has allotted. And travelers from seven countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia — are barred for 90 days. Border patrol agents and lawyers said the order and statements by top White House officials have not made clear how green card holders, or lawful permanent residents, are to be treated. 2. What have the federal courts ruled so far? The American Civil Liberties Union sued in Brooklyn over the detention of two Iraqi clients at JFK airport. Late Saturday, Judge Ann Donnelly issued a temporary restraining order barring the deportation of as many as 200 people. Judge Donnelly cited “irreparable harm” they would face, and she demanded that the Trump administration provide a list of all affected refugees and travelers. Later, a federal judge in suburban...

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