legal matters
November 13, 2019

A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected President Trump's request to rehear a case involving his financial records being turned over to Congress.

Trump challenged a subpoena sent by the House Oversight and Reform Committee to the accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of his financial records. Trump's lawyers argued that the House committee does not have the legislative authority to ask for these documents, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against him last month, on a vote of 2 to 1. Trump then requested the full appellate court reconsider the case, but on Wednesday, that appeal was rejected, 8 to 3.

House Democrats sent the subpoena to Mazars earlier this year, saying lawmakers needed to look at Trump's records in order to determine whether he disclosed all of his assets and if they needed to revise laws regarding financial disclosures. Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said he will now appeal to the Supreme Court. Catherine Garcia

May 15, 2018

A judge in California on Tuesday overturned a 2016 state law that lets terminally ill adults obtain prescriptions for life-ending drugs if a doctor says they have only six months or so to live.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia said the law had been passed illegally, because lawmakers worked on it during a special legislative session called for other issues. He gave the state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, five days to appeal. In court papers, Becerra's office noted that under the law, doctors can refuse to prescribe or dispense the drugs, and terminally ill people have to be able to administer the drugs on their own.

Plaintiffs like the American Academy of Medical Ethics and the Life Legal Defense Foundation say the law does not have any safeguards against abuse, but Democratic state Sen. Bill Monning told The Associated Press that so far, there has been "not a single report of malfeasance or problems." The most recent statistics released by state health officials show that in the first six months after the law went into effect on June 9, 2016, 111 terminally ill people took the life-ending drugs. Catherine Garcia

May 14, 2018

A felony invasion of privacy charge against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was dropped on Monday after a judge ruled that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who had been prosecuting the case, could be called as a witness.

Gardner's office said the order leaves her with "no adequate means of proceeding with this trial," but prosecutors announced they will either name a special prosecutor or have one of Gardner's assistants refile the charge. Gardner's office also said that Greitens' lawyers named her as a possible defense witness in order to "distract people from the defendant's actions."


The dropped charge was in connection with Greitens allegedly taking a photo of a woman he was having an affair with while she was bound and blindfolded, and he still faces another charge of felony computer tampering stemming from his campaign's alleged use of a charity donor list, CNN reports. Greitens says he is innocent and the victim of a "political witch hunt."

Several top Republicans in the state have joined Democrats in calling on Greitens to step down, and a Missouri House committee said it is continuing its investigation into his campaign. On Friday, leaders of the Missouri House and Senate will meet at the start of a special legislative session to consider impeaching Greitens. Catherine Garcia

April 18, 2018

It's a small world, as proven by the network of lawyers apparently shared by President Trump and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

It came out in court on Monday that Hannity was the mysterious third client of Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, but that's not their only connection (Hannity says Cohen "never represented" him in any matter and he "never retained him"). A cease-and-desist letter sent to the Tulsa radio station KFAQ on May 25, 2017, obtained by The Atlantic, is signed by two people identified as "Counsel for Sean Hannity" — Victoria Toensing and Jay Sekulow.

Sekulow is now a member of Trump's legal team, focusing on the response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, but at the time he was not working for Trump. Toensing and her husband, Joseph diGenova — also identified on the cease-and-desist letter as being part of Hannity's counsel — were supposed to join Trump's legal team earlier this year, but "conflicts" prevented their hiring, Sekulow said in late March.

The letter was sent to KFAQ after a commentator named Debbie Schlussel, who accused Hannity of being "creepy" and asking her to go to his hotel room, appeared on one of the station's shows. Hannity called the allegations "100 percent false and a complete fabrication." Toensing told The Atlantic she was acting as his lawyer at the time, but wouldn't say if she still does legal work for him. "I've just learned in the press that anybody who is Sean Hannity's lawyer is going to be blasted," she said, adding, "I'm wondering what attorney-client privilege means to anybody."

All three of the lawyers have been guests on Hannity's show, and Fox News sent The Atlantic an example of Hannity saying on his show last May that Sekulow "had done legal work for me in the past." When asked for comment, Hannity said, "I don't have time for silly questions." Catherine Garcia

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