Category Archives: Courts

Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation, and more

I picked a bad time to take a vacation to visit family. Shit hit the fan this week in Washington.

On Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and destroyed the Trump administration’s false narrative about its handling of Gen. Michael Flynn lying about his foreign contacts. The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin has a good summary of the testimony. Sally Yates just threw the White House under the bus.

The Trump administration’s response for ignoring Yates’ warnings that Flynn was lying and not firing him for 18 days only after the Washington Post reported the story? “Baghdad Sean” Spicer claimed that Yates was a Democratic partisan and “painted her as essentially a double agent.” Sean Spicer says Sally Yates was a ‘strong supporter’ of Hillary Clinton. His evidence: Rumors. “The White House dismissed warnings about Michael Flynn from both President Obama and Yates, the former acting attorney general, because they were viewed as opponents with axes to grind.”

This no doubt is the same attitude that led the Trump administration’s disregard for President Obama’s personal warning to Donald Trump not to hire Gen. Michael Flynn. The “partisanship” in handling Gen. Flynn was a one-way street on the part of Team Trump, ignoring genuine concerns for U.S. national security.

CNN reports that federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election. CNN exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI’s Russia investigation:

The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

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While you were sleeping, AZ legislature passes Ducey’s immoral budget

After a marathon session of back room deals and arm twisting among Tea-Publican legislators — to the exclusion of the Democratic minority who represent over 40% of Arizonans — Arizona’s Tea-Publican controlled legislature approved a budget in the wee hours of Friday morning when only a handful of reporters were left watching their dirty deed. This is how one-party autocracy works in Arizona.

“A budget is a moral document.” Ducey’s budget is immoral.

The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona lawmakers pass $9.8 billion budget:

Arizona lawmakers passed a $9.8 billion budget early Friday that provides 2 percent pay hikes for public-school teachers, a modest income-tax cut for residents and $1 billion in extra bonding authority for the state’s public universities.

The final spending plan for fiscal 2018 featured key elements Republican Gov. Doug Ducey outlined in January, as lawmakers began their work. But it also underwent significant changes at the hands of Republicans in the House and Senate. No Democrats voted for the budget.

“Arizona has passed a budget that prioritizes education, boosts teacher pay, and invests in our universities — all without raising taxes on hardworking Arizonans,” Ducey said in a statement minutes after the budget won final approval at 3:55 a.m. “For the first time in a decade, we are making significant and lasting investments to grow our state.”

Ducey won’t receive the budget bills until Monday, when the Senate is scheduled to send the final documents to his office. He is expected to sign them.

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The other show drops: Lawsuit against our lawless Tea-Publican legislature for unconstitutionally underfunding capital needs of school districts

I first posted about this pending lawsuit back in February 2015 and I have occasionally posted updates about its status.  Background: Update) Our lawless Tea-Publican legislature faces another lawsuit for its failure to fund public education:

Meanwhile, an earlier case in which our lawless Arizona legislature shortchanged our public schools, in which the Arizona Supreme Court held that the statutory financing scheme for public education violated the Arizona Constitution, Article XI, § 1, Roosevelt Elem. School Dist. No. 66  v. Bishop (No. CV-93-0168 1994), is now the basis for yet another lawsuit against our lawless Tea-Publican legislature.

A public interest advocacy group is planning a lawsuit alleging that the state has unconstitutionally underfunded building maintenance and soft capital for school districts, which could force the state restore hundreds of millions of dollars of budget cuts made in recent years.

The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest plans to sue on behalf of several school districts and taxpayers, said attorney Tim Hogan. The Glendale Elementary School District’s governing board in December [2014] voted to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff, and Hogan said he plans to bring in several other school districts, along with property taxpayers from districts that have approved bonds to make up for funding shortfalls.

“It will allege that the current system is unconstitutional because it doesn’t provide any dedicated capital funding to school districts sufficient to ensure that they meet the state’s minimum standards,” Hogan said of the lawsuit. “School buildings have to be renovated. They have to be repaired. They have to be maintained. And all of that requires significant dollars.”

In its landmark ruling in Roosevelt Elementary School District No. 66 v. Bishop, the Arizona Supreme Court concluded that the state had violated a provision in the Arizona Constitution requiring the state to establish and maintain a “general and uniform” public school system. As part of its settlement in the case, which led to the creation of the Arizona School Facilities Board, the state agreed to provide funding for building renewal, which covers all aspects of building upkeep and maintenance, and soft capital expenditures such as textbooks and computers.

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Arizona’s lawless Tea-Publican legislature and public education

I have made these constitutional arguments about public education in Arizona for years, but it’s nice to see The Republic’s Linda Valdez write an opinion that contextualizes the constitutional arguments in the current debate over public education in Arizona.

Well done,  Linda! Who cares what Arizona’s Constitution says about education? Not Republicans:

There must have been a vote to change the state Constitution. Right?

Why else would Arizona’s schools be so poorly funded? Why else would our state be barreling down the road to a two-tier, have-and-have-not school system?

How else could the conservative officeholders of Arizona – who vow to uphold the state Constitution – so blithely flout the spirit and text of that document?

So there must have been a vote. And we all missed it.

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Follow the Money: The Trump swamp overflows

I posted the other day, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: Michael Flynn violated the law. The committee held another press conference today regarding new information provided by the Department of Defense, and it’s not looking good for ol’ Mikey. “Lock him up!”

The Huffington Post reports Pentagon Warned Michael Flynn Against Accepting Foreign Money In 2014; He Didn’t Listen:

President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, failed to heed warnings from the Pentagon about accepting foreign funds for a trip to Russia in 2015, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced Thursday.

The Department of Defense has sent classified documents to committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), said ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) at a news conference on Thursday. One of them, which is being prepared for public release, is a letter from the Defense Intelligence Agency to Flynn.

“This letter explicitly warned General Flynn, as he entered retirement, that the Constitution prohibited him from accepting any foreign government payments without advance permission,” Cummings said. “DIA did not locate any records of Lieutenant General Flynn seeking permission or approval for the receipt of money from a foreign source.”

But Flynn did accept the funds from Kremlin-backed news agency RT and failed to disclose them when he applied for a security clearance last year, Cummings and Chaffetz said Tuesday. He may have broken federal law.

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Shutdown Watch: A stopgap deal to avert a government shutdown?

House Tea-Publicans introduced a stop-gap spending bill late Wednesday night to allow negotiations on a spending agreement to continue through May 5 without the threat of a government shutdown. House Republicans introduce stop-gap spending bill to continue budget talks:

The short-term spending measure, which would extend current funding levels beyond the end of this week, comes as negotiators are nearing an agreement on a budget to increase military spending and border security and keep the government open through the end of September. The decision to begin work on a very short extension comes as no surprise, the final steps of a spending deal could drag on beyond the current April 28 deadline and congressional leaders are eager to minimize the threat of a shutdown, according to aides familiar with the talks.

“I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). “It is time that this essential work is completed so that critical programs and activities — including national defense — are properly and adequately funded for the year.”

White House officials notified lawmakers earlier in the day that President Trump abandoned a threat to end subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act, a concession to Democrats that is expected to clear the way for a bipartisan budget agreement. Trump had threatened to cut off the subsidies in an attempt to force Democrats to pay for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, a fight that became less serious after Republicans withdrew their border wall request this week.

“It is good that once again the president seems to be backing off his threat to hold health care and government funding hostage,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “Like the withdrawal of money for the wall, this decision brings us closer to a bipartisan agreement to fund the government and is good news for the American people.”

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