GOP state senators fled Oregon this week after Democratic Gov. Kate Brown threatened to have state troopers round up the legislators and force them to return for a vote on capping greenhouse gas emissions. The Republicans had avoided the legislative chamber to block the quorum needed for a vote on the climate bill, saying it would result in a 22-cent tax on every gallon of gas. When Brown threatened to deploy the police, GOP State Sen. Brian Boquist retorted, “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.” Amid the impasse, threats from a far-right militia briefly forced a shutdown of the statehouse. Boquist’s Republican colleagues were still hiding out in Montana, Washington, and Idaho later in the week when Democrats announced they didn’t have enough votes for the proposal after all.
The Supreme Court overturned the conviction and death sentence of a Mississippi man tried six times for a 1996 quadruple murder, saying the prosecutor wrongly kept African-Americans off the jury. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a 7-2 majority opinion that Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans acted with “discriminatory intent” in striking 41 of 42 prospective black jurors over Curtis Flowers’ six trials. A 1986 precedent, Batson v. Kentucky, bars prosecutors from striking jurors based on their race. Evans’ “relentless, determined effort” to remove black jurors, Kavanaugh wrote, strongly suggests his desire to “try Flowers before a jury with as few black jurors as possible, and ideally before an all-white jury.” In a dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas criticized the Batson decision, and noted that this week’s ruling leaves the state “free to convict Curtis Flowers again,” raising the possibility that Flowers would be tried a seventh time on the charge of executing four people in a Winona furniture store.
South Bend, Ind.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg faced furious constituents at a South Bend town hall this week after a police officer killed a black man. Buttigieg, the surging Democratic presidential candidate, returned to the polarized city after the shooting. Sgt. Ryan O’Neill responded to reports of car burglaries on June 16 and approached Eric Logan, 53. Prosecutors say Logan threatened O’Neill with a knife—but there is no video evidence of the encounter because O’Neill didn’t turn on his body camera before firing two shots. The largely black town hall audience repeatedly shouted at the mayor, with one woman yelling, “We don’t trust you!” Buttigieg, somber and at one point tearful, said he would have an independent prosecutor investigate. The South Bend mayor has confronted racial tensions since he took office seven years ago. “We have taken a lot of steps,” he said, “but they clearly haven’t been enough.”
In his own words
House Democrats this week persuaded Robert Mueller to testify in a public session of Congress. The former special counsel agreed to appear on July 17 in back-to-back hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. It’s a victory for Democrats, who’ve pleaded with Mueller to answer questions on national TV about his 448-page report. While Mueller will be asked about Russian interference and a letter he sent Attorney General William Barr about Barr’s mischaracterizations of the report, he’s unlikely to address directly whether he thinks there is sufficient evidence to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Republicans, too, have questions for Mueller, particularly about alleged bias among his investigators. “Mueller has not been subject to cross-examination,” Meadows said. “He will be now.”
A pickup truck veered across the center line of a highway last week and killed seven motorcyclists, injuring three others. The slain bikers, five men and two women ages 42 to 62, were members of Jarheads MC, a New England motorcycle club for Marine Corps veterans and close friends. They collided with the Dodge truck, which was towing a trailer. Neurologist Beatrice Engstrand, who was staying near the crash site, responded to a scene resembling “a war zone,” with 20-foot flames, wrecked vehicles, and people desperately administering aid, including to one man missing part of his skull. The truck driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, pleaded not guilty to seven counts of negligent homicide. Employed by a transportation company in West Springfield, Mass., Zhukovskyy had his license suspended after a 2013 arrest, and was arrested again on drunk driving charges just last month.
Trump bank probe
New York City
The FBI is investigating Deutsche Bank’s decision to not file suspicious-activity reports involving President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, The New York Times reported last week. That is part of a broad probe examining Deutsche Bank’s compliance with anti-money-laundering laws and other regulations. FBI agents recently contacted the lawyer for Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank compliance officer who revealed last month that she had flagged suspect transactions in 2016 involving Kushner’s family company; bank managers decided against filing the report she prepared. The Frankfurt-based bank has already paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for assisting with Russian money-laundering schemes. Deutsche Bank lent Trump more than $2 billion over two decades, despite a history of defaults that dissuaded other banks from working with the Trump organization. ■