ACSBlog

  • July 28, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Ambassador (ret.) Keith Harper

    *This article was first published on Just Security

    It emerged late last week that President Trump has reportedly queried his lawyers regarding the nature and scope of his authority to pardon individuals including himself.  Over the weekend, Trump tweeted a “nothing to see here” message while asserting his pardon power was “complete,” presumably meaning absolute.

    While not limitless, the authority of the President to pardon is undeniably substantial. The President cannot pardon for prospective crimes or violations of state criminal law. There is a strong argument that he cannot pardon himself and certainly cannot insulate himself or others from the conviction of impeachment, as expressly stated in the Constitution.  But other than these and perhaps other narrow limitations, a President’s pardon powers is vast.  Indeed, the President’s power to pardon others including his family members for past federal crimes, even without evidence of specific criminal investigation or prosecution, is arguably plenary in nature.

  • July 28, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Barbara McQuade, Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

    President Trump recently said that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, would be crossing a “red line” if he were to investigate Trump’s finances. Does Mueller have legal authority to probe Trump’s finances? Absolutely. In fact, Mueller would be failing his assignment if he did not. 

    In May, Deputy Attorney General Rod. J. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as Special Counsel. Rosenstein did so as the Acting Attorney General, following the recusal of Jeff Sessions in any matters relating to the 2016 presidential campaign.  President Trump has expressed his anger with Sessions for his recusal decision.

  • July 28, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Anne Marie Lofaso, Arthur B. Hodges Professor of Law, West Virginia University College of Law

    *This is part of ACSblog's Symposium on Regulatory Rollback

    Labor law is no stranger to polarization. The National Labor Relations Board – that New Deal federal agency established by Congress to enforce the National Labor Relations Act (the principal federal law to regulate relations between unions and private-sector employers) – has long been a prime battleground for political polarization. Starting with the Eisenhower Administration’s confirmation of Guy Otto Farmerlawyer for the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association (a multiemployer bargaining association formed in 1950 to represent coal operators in negotiations with the United Mine Workers) – to serve as Chairman in the mid-1950s, the Board has oscillated among (mostly) reasonable policy choices within the interstices and ambiguities of the NLRA’s statutory language.

    Last month, President Trump nominated Marvin Kaplan, a Kansan with extensive government (but no labor-litigation) experience, and William J. Emanuel, a Partner in the Los Angeles office of Littler Mendelson, to fill two vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board. On July 13, 2017, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held confirmation hearings.  Their confirmation would return a pro-business, Republican-backed majority to the Board for the first time since the relatively halcyon days of George W. Bush’s presidency.

  • July 27, 2017
    Guest Post

    By ACS President Caroline Fredrickson

    “The Events of recent weeks have eerily reminded me of those Watergate days,” stated William D. Ruckelshaus, who resigned as President Nixon’s Deputy Attorney General after refusing to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

    Ruckelshaus joins a growing chorus of Republican advice-givers concerned about Trump’s reported desire to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His opinion piece in today’s New York Times (“A ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ Veteran Offers Trump Some Advice) tracks a comparison of Nixon and Trump created by the ACS.

  • July 27, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Renato Mariotti, Partner, Thompson Coburn LLP

    Ever since word surfaced last week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is examining financial transactions involving President Trump’s businesses and associates, the Trump legal team has leveled charges that Mueller has strayed “beyond the mandate of the Special Counsel.” There is no reason to believe that Mueller has done so.

    As a starting point, it is worth noting that Mueller’s mandate is extraordinarily broad. He is not only empowered to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” but he is also permitted to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

    That means that if Mueller’s team uncovers evidence of a crime that is related in any way to the crimes they are investigating, that is within the scope of his investigation. For instance, an individual could have structured a cash transaction to hide money payments to a hacker who obtained emails or to an American in exchange for assistance, an entity could have laundered money used to aid in coordination efforts, or evidence of a financial crime could have been used by the Russian government to blackmail an American into cooperating with them.