By Robert A. Vella
Today, we’ll take a look at the partisan fight over disaster aid which erupted because President Trump wants to continue screwing Puerto Rico (they’re not white enough for him, I suspect), the judge’s reason to keep secret the name of a foreign corporation investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a ruling in Michigan which allows the residents of Flint to sue former governor Rick Snyder over its water contamination crisis, court filings by two Republican state attorneys general in support of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), a big feud brewing inside the U.S. Supreme Court over religious bias in capital punishment cases, more details about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s ideological allegiance with Trump, and a new report on rising temperatures in Canada caused by climate change.
Hours after the Senate voted down a disaster relief package that Democrats argued didn’t include enough money to help storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, President Trump took to Twitter on Monday night to lash out at the opposition party and the island’s leaders.
Trump, who has reportedly said in private that he doesn’t want “another single dollar” going to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, again complained about funding for the island and called San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a frequent critic, “crazed and incompetent.”
Trump’s late-night outburst suggests there won’t be an easy resolution to the political dispute holding up federal money for those deluged in Midwestern floods and hit by other recent natural calamities. Although disaster relief is traditionally bipartisan, Trump’s reluctance to pay more toward Puerto Rico’s recovery has opened a gulf between the parties.
A federal judge has turned down a request to force the naming of a foreign-government-owned company that fought special counsel Robert Mueller’s team all the way to the Supreme Court.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell on Monday rejected a bid by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to unseal court records showing the name of the firm that unsuccessfully argued it should not have to comply with a grand jury subpoena issued at Mueller’s request last July.
At a hearing last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Goodhand told Howell that the grand jury investigation is “continuing robustly.” He did not elaborate.
Howell said that underscores the need to keep some details of the dispute private.
Flint can sue
FLINT, Mich. – A judge says former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder can be sued by residents in the Flint water scandal, reversing a decision from last summer.
Residents claim Snyder violated their right to bodily integrity by repeatedly doing nothing as Flint used corrosive water that released lead from old pipes. Judge Judith Levy says a right to bodily integrity is a “fundamental interest” protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Levy says members of Snyder’s administration had warned that switching Flint to the Flint River “could lead to a potential disaster.” The city was under state management in 2014 and 2015. Snyder’s Department of Environmental Quality failed to require corrosion control.
AGs back ACA
Republican attorneys general in Ohio and Montana are opposing a federal judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be thrown out, breaking with the Trump administration’s recent decision to support the ruling.
In a brief filed in federal appeals court Monday, the attorneys general argue a federal judge erred in concluding that Obamacare must be struck down because law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and cannot be severed from the rest of the law. Though the two attorneys general oppose the requirement to purchase coverage, they say they rest of the law should be allowed to stand, and they warn there could be negative consequences for millions of their residents if the judge’s decision is upheld.
A controversial execution of a Muslim inmate in Alabama appears to have set off a rare public debate between Supreme Court justices over how the death penalty is enforced.
Despite Chief Justice John Roberts’ oft-stated goal of keeping the Supreme Court above the kinds of conflicts that have crippled the political branches of government, there are times when internal debates between the justices — and even some sniping — will seep out.
The justices are still bitterly divided over the execution of Domineque Ray, who claimed his religious rights were violated because he could not have an imam with him in the execution chamber, in February — so much so that they continued to litigate the case in an unrelated opinion issued on Monday.
Along with a third death penalty case involving the request for a Buddhist spiritual adviser last week, the issue clearly has the justices riled up. That’s likely to only intensify now that the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh has solidified the conservative bent of the court.
Four months ago, shortly after President Donald Trump‘s Twitter account sent out an image suggesting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be prosecuted and imprisoned for appointing special counsel Robert Mueller, the president took the rare step of telling Rosenstein it was a mistake, according to a former Justice Department official informed of the conversation.
As described by the former official, the mea culpa came in a private phone call, within days of Trump retweeting the meme that showed Rosenstein, Mueller and several Obama-era officials behind bars.
As a Trump nominee and long-time Republican, Rosenstein wasn’t just overseeing Mueller — he was also in charge of carrying out Trump’s political agenda at the Justice Department, organizing federal efforts to fight terrorism, illegal immigration and gang violence.
“[Rosenstein] was able to develop a good rapport with the president on things outside of the Mueller investigation,” Prior said.
Canada is experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with the effects most pronounced in the country’s north, according to a new government report cited by local media Monday.
Average temperatures have risen by 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.1 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1948, or about double the global average of 0.8 degrees Celsius, and “will warm further in the future, driven by human influence,” according to a report by Environment and Climate Change Canada, which will be made public Tuesday.
In northern Canada, approaching the Arctic Circle, temperatures rose on average by 2.3 degrees Celsius over the same period.