Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Trump's "Monday Night Massacre" -- welcome to the constitutional crisis By the Wayne Madsen Report

January 31-February 1, 2017 -- Trump's "Monday Night Massacre" -- welcome to the constitutional crisis By the Wayne Madsen Report
The firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates by President Trump on the evening of January 30 reminded many seasoned Washington politicos of President Nixon's firing of three top Justice Department officials during the Watergate scandal in October 1973. Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. After Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus refused to fire Cox, Nixon fired them both. Only Solicitor General Robert Bork was willing to carry Nixon's hatchet.

Yates, a career Justice Department prosecutor, was fired by Trump after she refused to order U.S. attorneys around the country to defend Trump's ban on valid U.S. visa holders entering the United States. In a letter to Justice Department attorneys, Yates wrote; "[F]or as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order." In a tweet, Trump falsely accused Yates of being an "Obama AG" when, in fact, she is a nonpolitical career Justice Department civil service official filling in during an administration transition vacancy.

Yates was filling the job of acting Attorney General while Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions awaits Senate confirmation. Yates was placed in the job because she, as a Justice Department official confirmed for her job by the Senate, was one of the few in the department authorized to sign Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The firing of Yates came after a sixth federal judge, Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, ordered the Department of Homeland Security to immediately return to the United States an Iranian national who possessed a valid U.S. visa and was deported from Los Angeles to Dubai. The Trump White House continues to insist that Trump's executive order, which bans visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations, overrides judicial orders. That decision by Trump also has placed the country into a constitutional crisis. Trump's point man on the visa ban, lawyer Stephen Miller, believes that the Trump order is not a "ban on Muslims" when, in fact, they are the target of the order as revealed by former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Trump insider. Miller, who is Jewish, is a defender of the hate politics espoused by neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer. Miller and Spencer were colleagues at Duke University where they were both members of the Duke Conservative Union.

There are reports that Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who is also Jewish, is furious over the roles now being played by Miller and political counselor Steve Bannon in crafting extremist policies being signed out by Trump as executive orders. Miller, Bannon, and Trump all insisted that the visa ban order not be cleared with anyone outside or even inside the White House. The Department of Homeland Security and its secretary, John Kelly, was among those not briefed about Trump's order beforehand. In a continuation of the Monday Night Massacre, Trump fired acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Daniel Ragsdale and replaced him with Thomas Homan, a Trump sycophant and a former New York City police official under Giuliani. Even the White House Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of Management and Budget were not briefed on the executive order nor were they even asked if it was legal and within budget and regulatory constraints.

During Yates's Senate confirmation hearing to be deputy Attorney General, Senator Sessions, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressed her on saying "no" to the president if he asked her to carry out an unlawful or improper order. Of course, Sessions was then referring to President Obama, but Yates made it clear that the Attorney General had an obligation to uphold the law no matter what the president ordered.

Trump's Monday Night Massacre may have also resulted in three Justice Department U.S. Attorneys being passed over

Trump decided on Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, to succeed Yates. Boente said he would carry out Trump's visa and immigration ban order. However, Trump passed over three other U.S. Attorneys designated to succeed Yates in the event of a vacancy. In a transition order signed by President Obama, succession was to have been passed from Yates to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing Phillips, then U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois Zachary Fardon, and lastly, Eileen Decker, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. It is not known whether the three attorneys were asked to replace Yates and carry out Trump's order and they turned the White House down or whether they were merely passed over in order to select Boente.

DOJ succession order does not include US Attorney Boente, chosen by Trump to succeed Yates as acting AG

January 31 is a significant date in light of Trump's increasingly-unconstitutional power grabs. January 31, 1933 was the day that the German Reichstag made Adolf Hitler the German chancellor.