The Supreme Court issued an extraordinarily disappointing 5-3 decision on Monday in Utah v. Strieff, a Fourth Amendment case about police searches. Yet …
So it’s come to this. Now Donald Trump seems to have come up with a new excuse as to why Hillary Clinton won the last debate: she had an unfair advantage. The Republican presidential candidate pretty much accused his opponent on Saturday of having taken drugs before the last debate and said it was only fair for the two of them to do drug tests prior to the third presidential debate. “I think she’s actually getting pumped up, she’s getting pumped up, you understand, she’s getting pumped up for Wednesday night,” Trump said.
Security experts claims that a preponderance of evidence (but no smoking gun) points to secret communication between Trump organization and Russians. An email server that was setup for mass email was now receiving strangely small loads of traffic and communicating in secretive fashion and designed to obscure its own existence. Furthermore the Trump campaign had ordered its campaign to rewrite its position on Ukraine, maneuvering GOP toward a policy preferred by Russia.
Buried in the last paragraph of a Guardian story about British intelligence alerting the U.S. to contact between Trump advisers and Russian officials is this sort-of bombshell: One source suggested the official [American] investigation was making progress. “They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion,” the source said. “This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material.”
On Thursday night, Arkansas executed Ledell Lee—the state’s first execution in 12 years. Lee’s final plea to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected by a 5–4 vote. Justice Neil Gorsuch cast the deciding vote allowing Lee to die. It was his first recorded vote cast as a justice of the court. Lee insisted upon his innocence from the day of his arrest through the night of his execution. He implored Arkansas to let him take a DNA test and compare the results to DNA collected at the scene of the murder he allegedly committed, but the state refused.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been sending some chilling signals lately about how she plans to deal with America’s $1.3 trillion student debt burden. On at least two separate ocassions now, her department has scrapped Obama-era reforms that were designed to protect borrowers from being gouged or misled by the companies responsible for collecting their loans. All told, DeVos seems less interested in protecting former students than in protecting the predators that have fleeced them for profit.
Donald Trump announced Friday that he is appointing an opponent of abortion, science, contraception, same-sex marriage, and common sense to the Department of Health and Human Services. Charmaine Yoest, who was until recently president of the radical anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, will serve as the agency’s assistant secretary for public affairs.
The U.S. is failing at both symbolism and action. We are the only country led by someone who does not think climate change poses a real threat, and our problems go beyond the president. Our Republican-led Congress prevented the Paris Agreement from asking countries to make stronger initial pledges in the first place: World leaders knew the American Republicans would never ratify a binding agreement, so they settled for the softer one. More recently, 22 Republicans in Congress have written a letter to Trump imploring him to withdraw even from that. Attorneys general from 10 Republican-led states have done the same. We were never going to lead the way on climate change, even under Obama, because we are held hostage by a GOP that refuses to acknowledge the reality of the threat.
Former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who led several high-profile corruption cases until President Donald Trump fired him in March, said there is “absolutely” enough evidence to launch an obstruction of justice case against President Trump for his firing of FBI chief James Comey. “No one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction," Bharara said. “[But] there's no basis to say there's no obstruction.”
Whether or not the president’s actions ultimately rise to “obstruction” according to Mueller’s investigation, however, it’s clear these are serious allegations that suggest a kind of lawlessness in the White House, from a president with little regard for the norms that govern conduct in the Oval Office. Trump’s alleged demand for Comey’s personal loyalty—in a government where officials pledge allegiance to the Constitution, not the president—would itself be a profound attack on the rule of law. In an ideal world, or at least a more functional one, lawmakers on both sides would see and treat this as a crisis that demands resolution, lest it corrode American democracy.