ACSBlog

  • July 27, 2017

     

    By 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.

  • July 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by John H. Blume, Samuel F. Leibowitz Professor of Trial Techniques; Director of Clinical, Advocacy and Skills Programs; Director, Cornell Death Penalty Project, Cornell Law School

    The Sixth Amendment provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” The right to counsel encompasses the right to an attorney -- a qualified attorney. Not, for instance, one who has been disbarred and prohibited from practicing law. 

    And yet, that’s exactly what happened to TaiChin Preyor, who is scheduled for execution in Texas on July 27. Mr. Preyor was convicted and sentenced to death in 2005 for a murder in San Antonio. Mr. Preyor’s trial counsel, however, did not properly investigate known red flags regarding his background, including the violence and sexual abuse Mr. Preyor experienced as a child. These formative experiences are not an excuse, but this mitigation evidence, and other critical details about Mr. Preyor’s childhood, could have persuaded at least one juror to vote for a life sentence, rather than death.

  • July 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Andrew Wright, Associate Professor, Savannah Law School

    Last Friday, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump has consulted his lawyers about granting pardons in the Russia investigation, including the possibility of a self-pardon. That would stand in stark contrast to the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) determination that a president cannot pardon himself. In 1974 under Richard Nixon, OLC stated: “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself.”

    Over the weekend, the pardon debate continued. President Donald Trump claimed in a Saturday morning tweet that he has “complete power to pardon” his associates and, perhaps, himself.  A week earlier, on ABC’s This Week, Trump’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow, had refused to rule out the possibility that the president would pardon his associates, or even himself, in the Russia investigation. Sekulow walked back his previous statement on July 23, stating that “pardons are not on the table,” despite the Post reporting. Interestingly, he asserted that the idea of a presidential self-pardon is an open question that should be resolved in court.

  • July 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Dan Froomkin and Victoria Bassetti, Brennan Center Contributor

    Donald Trump's contempt for women assumes many forms. His selection of nominees to serve as U.S. attorneys around the country has proven to be one of them: Of the 29 people he has nominated for U.S. attorney positions, 28 are men.

    Fully 25 are white men. There's one Asian-American woman, one African-American man, one Asian-American man and one Native American man.