By Robert A. Vella
This weekend’s news roundup includes a plea deal being negotiated for one of Rudy Giuliani’s indicted Ukraine business associates (Lev Parnas), the Trump administration’s welcoming of a Russian diplomat to Washington, D.C., three federal court rulings (two from the Supreme Court, and one from an appellate court), the GOP governor of Arizona (Doug Ducey) defying President Trump on immigrant refugees, and a longtime Republican congressman (Duncan Hunter) resigning his seat after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and after being formally disciplined by the House Ethics Committee.
Lev Parnas’ plea deal
Talks about a potential plea deal are under way between federal prosecutors and an attorney for Lev Parnas, a Rudy Giuliani associate indicted for making illegal campaign donations who helped Trump lawyer Giuliani’s search for dirt in Ukraine on Joe Biden, says an attorney familiar with the investigation
The talks appear to be in early stages, but the lawyer familiar with the investigation and ex-prosecutors say that pressure mounted on Parnas to cut a deal after prosecutors revealed on Monday that he and his business associate Igor Fruman, who was also indicted for making illegal campaign donations, are “likely” to face additional charges.
If Parnas strikes a deal it could put further legal pressure on Giuliani, who is facing a growing number of legal woes, including some relating to his international consulting business as part of an investigation of alleged crimes that include money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The Russians are coming
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to travel to Washington next week for his first visit to the United States since his controversial Oval Office meeting with President Trump in 2017, diplomats familiar with the trip said.
Lavrov is poised to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has largely kept the Russian diplomat at arm’s length during his tenure, leaving much of the Russia portfolio up to former national security adviser John Bolton and diplomats in special envoy positions.
It is unclear if Lavrov will meet with Trump.
The White House declined to comment on the visit.
The Supreme Court on Friday granted President Trump‘s emergency request to temporarily block a congressional subpoena for his financial records from Deutsche Bank.
The court’s order came just hours after the president’s legal team asked for a temporary stay of an appellate court decision ordering Deutsche Bank to comply with subpoenas from the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees for a broad range of documents concerning Trump’s finances and his businesses.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who oversees the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, issued an administrative stay of that court’s decision that will be in effect until Dec. 13 while the court deliberates on whether to grant a longer stay and to give Trump’s lawyers time to prepare a formal appeal.
A series of federal executions that were set to begin on Monday will remain on hold, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
The court’s order is a loss for the Trump administration, which announced last July that it would reinstate the federal death penalty after a nearly two-decade lapse.
The Supreme Court denied the government’s request to wipe away a lower court opinion that held inmates were likely to succeed in their argument that the new protocol conflicted with federal law.
A federal appeals court says the Trump administration’s decision to deny legal status and work permits to noncitizens who accept public benefits, like food stamps or Medicaid, appears to be within the government’s legal authority to prefer immigrants who are self-sufficient and should be allowed to take effect while being challenged in court.
The ruling late Thursday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, suspending injunctions issued in October by judges in Oakland and Washington state, has no immediate effect, because judges in New York and Maryland have issued separate orders blocking the administration’s rule. But the 2-1 ruling, divided along ideological lines, could be a preview of future deliberations in the Supreme Court.
The administration’s rule, announced in August, reinterprets a federal law first enacted in 1882 that denies legal residency to immigrants who are a “public charge” or are likely to become one.
GOP governor defies Trump on refugees
In a letter sent Friday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ducey said refugees would continue to be welcomed in Arizona.
“Throughout our nation’s history, the United States has been a refuge for individuals fleeing religious and political persecution in their homeland, and Arizona has historically been one of the most welcoming states in terms of the number of refugees resettled here,” Ducey, a Republican, said in the letter.
Refugee advocates applauded Ducey’s decision to continue allowing refugees to resettle in Arizona.