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August 15, 2019

Two Democratic lawmakers with plans to visit Israel in the coming days may not be allowed to do so.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), two members of the "squad" that President Trump has feuded with, have a trip to Israel scheduled for Aug. 18 through Aug. 22nd. But CNN cites a government official as saying "there is a possibility that Israel will not allow the visit in its current proposed format."

This reported decision would be over the two lawmakers' support for the boycott of Israel movement of BDS, or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, which Tlaib and Omar voted against a condemnation of. Israel has implemented a law blocking travel visas to foreign nationals who support a boycott.

Congressional Democrats have now "quietly braced for a new public fight" with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should entry to the two lawmakers be denied, reports The Washington Post, adding that it's unclear whether the decision will be followed through on after Wednesday backlash. The Post points out that Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said just last month that Israel would not deny any U.S. lawmakers entry due to its "respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America."

Were Israel to deny Tlaib and Omar entry, it seems Trump would be pleased, as Axios recently reported that the president has told his advisers he thinks the two lawmakers should be prevented from visiting the country, and his "private views have reached the top level of the Israeli government." The White House denied issuing a directive to Israel. Brendan Morrow

July 31, 2019

The inspector general of the intelligence community notified four top Senate Democrats on Wednesday that he cannot launch an investigation into how the White House handled security clearances for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as only President Trump can make such a request.

In his letter, obtained by NBC News, Michael Atkinson told Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that the "authority over access to classified information ultimately rests with the president of the United States. It is well-established that the president of the United States has broad latitude concerning the process through which security clearances are granted, transferred, or revoked, as well as broad flexibility in determining whom to choose as his advisers and to what extent those advisers may gain access to information, including national security information."

The senators quickly fired off a letter to Trump, asking him to request the investigation, as "public reporting has raised serious concerns about irregularities and questionable decisions related to eligibility determinations for [White House] personnel access to classified information."

Multiple outlets have reported that Kushner's security clearance application was rejected by specialists in the White House's personnel security office and intelligence officials, over concerns raised by his background check, but they were overruled. He's not the only one who has top-secret clearance and shouldn't, a whistleblower told the House Oversight Committee earlier this year; she testified that despite warnings about criminal conduct, foreign ties, and drug use, 25 people received clearances or access to national security information over the previous year. Catherine Garcia

July 18, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein won't be released to the scene of his alleged crimes.

As the multimillionaire faces charges for allegedly running a sex ring involving dozens of minor girls, Epstein's lawyers proposed a bail package that would allow him to wait for his trial in his Manhattan townhouse. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman dismissed what he called an "irretrievably inadequate" package Thursday, saying he posed a "danger to the community" if he returned home, NBC News reports.

Epstein has been accused of sexual abusing girls both in his Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, properties, and faces sexual abuse charges that carry a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison. He recently pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his lawyers then proposed a $77 million bail package that would let Epstein stay in his townhouse guarded by private security. The package would also require he deregister his vehicles and private jet.

But on Thursday, Berman still decided that prosecutors displayed "clear and convincing evidence" that Epstein remained a flight risk. Berman also cited Epstein's failure to comply with a 1980 plea deal that required him to check in with the New York Police Department and mentioned that he "considered" the recent testimonies of two of Epstein's alleged victims in making his decision. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 21, 2018

The Supreme Court has ruled against restoring President Trump's asylum restrictions.

The court in a 5-4 decision Friday decided not to lift a temporary restraining order that prevents the Trump administration from enforcing its asylum restrictions, The New York Times reports. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's four liberals in rebuffing Trump.

Trump in November signed a proclamation denying asylum claims made by those who enter the United States outside of official ports of entry, but Judge Jon S. Tigar of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco subsequently issued a restraining order, saying Trump can't "rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden."

The Trump administration then asked the Supreme Court to overturn this injunction, but his administration's request has been denied. The president had attacked the judge who issued the restraining order as an "Obama judge," which earned a rare rebuke from Roberts, who said there are no "Obama judges" and that the "independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for." Brendan Morrow

December 20, 2018

A New York judge on Thursday ruled that the sexual assault case against producer Harvey Weinstein can move forward, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Weinstein was arrested in May on six criminal charges over the alleged sexual assault of three women. He pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer has since fought for the case to be dismissed. One woman's charges were dropped in October due to emails that were not shared with a grand jury, per BuzzFeed News, but the other five charges from two women were not dismissed Thursday. Weinstein's lawyer had also alleged misconduct on the part of New York police in his attempt to have the case dismissed, NPR reports.

Outside of this case, Weinstein has been publicly accused of sexual harassment or assault by more than 80 women since last year.

Weinstein's lawyer after the verdict said that he is still confident that he will be "completely exonerated" when the case goes to trial, CBS News reports. A pretrial hearing has been set for March 7. Brendan Morrow

August 4, 2018

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw on Friday rejected the Trump administration's Thursday proposal that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) do the legwork to locate migrant parents who were deported from the United States without their children.

"For every parent that is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration," said Sabraw, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush. "I have to say it was disappointing in that there was not a plan proposed."

The whereabouts of about 500 parents who were separated from their children at the border remains unknown. Sabraw indicated he will issue an additional order soon to compel the administration to appoint someone to head up the reunification process and provide additional updates on the effort. Bonnie Kristian

July 18, 2018

On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court pulled a measure to split up the state from the November ballot.

Proposition 9 was sponsored by venture capitalist Tim Draper, and called for the division of California into three states: California, Northern California, and Southern California. A conservation group sued, arguing the measure would abolish the state constitution, which cannot be done as a ballot initiative. The court ruled that "significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition's validity" and the "potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election."

The court agreed to rule on the measure's constitutionality at a later date, but University of Illinois law school dean Vikram Amar told the Los Angeles Times "they would not have removed it from the ballot unless it was their considered judgment that it is very likely not a valid measure that can go to the voters."
 Catherine Garcia

July 2, 2018

The mayor of Annapolis, Maryland, said on Monday he's "disappointed" that President Trump rejected his request to lower U.S. flags in memory of the five Capital Gazette newspaper employees shot and killed last week.

"Is there a cutoff for tragedy?" Mayor Gavin Buckley asked. "This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It's just as important as any other tragedy." After other mass shootings, including the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Trump has ordered flags lowered.

Buckley put in his request to the White House over the weekend, and told The Baltimore Sun he wanted to keep national attention on what happened in his town. He also said he was going to lower flags in Annapolis anyway, but his wife urged him not to do it. "At this point in time, it would start to polarize people and I don't want to make people angry," he said. On Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered the Maryland flag lowered in the state until Monday evening. Catherine Garcia

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