January 10, 2020

The Army has rejected a request from Maj. Matt Golsteyn, the soldier charged with murder who was pardoned by President Trump in November, that he be reinstated in the elite Green Berets.

In 2018, Golsteyn was charged was murder, accused of killing a man in Afghanistan in 2010. Golsteyn said the man was a suspected Taliban bomb maker who was killed during an ambush. He admitted to the killing while taking a polygraph exam for a position with the CIA. His trial was set to begin in December, but Trump intervened in November, giving him clemency.

After his pardon, Golsteyn asked that his Special Forces tab be restored, but the Army notified his lawyer last month that his request had been denied. The decision was reaffirmed on Thursday, NBC News reports, and this could lead to a showdown between the Defense Department and Trump. Catherine Garcia

December 10, 2019

Bill Cosby's appeal of his sexual assault conviction has just been rejected.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court on Tuesday rejected Cosby's appeal to overturn his conviction, The Associated Press reports. Multiple arguments from Cosby's lawyers were rejected, including their objection to the judge allowing five women to testify during his retrial when only one testified in the first trial. The Superior Court found this was permissible for establishing a pattern of behavior.

Cosby, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women, was sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years in prison on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. He can now appeal to the state Supreme Court, and his spokesperson in a statement Tuesday said he plans to do so.

"We're not shocked because it shows the world that this isn't about justice, but this is a political scheme to destroy America's Dad, however they will not stop us and we will prevail in the State Supreme Court," Cosby's spokesperson said, adding that Cosby "remains hopeful and he stands behind his innocence."

Constand on Tuesday told AP, "This decision is a reminder that no one is above the law." Brendan Morrow

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

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