Day: January 19, 2019

Wild week over Brexit leaves British politics in crisis mode

Anti-Brexit activist Steve Bray stands holding placards outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on January 16, 2019. Amid a crumbling Parliament, Britain’s Brexit factions are still deadlocked, with competing plans and no clear majority for any of them.

In the Commons chamber, Prime Minister Theresa May suffered the biggest defeat in Parliament’s history over her European Union divorce deal, narrowly survived a no-confidence vote the next day and was left scrambling for a workable new Brexit plan.

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By The Wall of Law January 19, 2019 Off

The Latest: Another migrant group smuggled to New Mexico

SAN LUIS, Ariz. — The Latest on groups of immigrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

U.S. authorities say 115 migrants smuggled to a border crossing in New Mexico are the second large group of Central Americans encountered by agents at the remote port of entry in as many days.

The U.S. Border Patrol said in a statement Friday that the latest group of migrants arrived at Antelope Wells on Thursday and were mostly families and unaccompanied children. Fifteen families requested medical attention soon after being taken into custody.

On Wednesday, nearly 250 immigrants were taken into custody at the same crossing after turning themselves in to authorities.

In December, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal and her father were among 160 migrants picked up by agents in the same stretch of desert. She became ill on a bus ride to the nearest Border Patrol station and died at a Texas hospital.


2:30 p.m.

The Border Patrol says it arrested a group of 376 Central Americans in southwest Arizona, the vast majority of them families who used short holes dug under a barrier to cross the border.

The agency said Friday that the group dug under a steel barrier in seven spots about 10 miles (16 kilometres) east of a border crossing in San Luis and made no effort to elude authorities before they were arrested.

The group included 176 children.

The unusually large group was almost entirely from Guatemala. They were taken to Yuma after entering the country on Monday.

Border Patrol spokesman Jose Garibay says there is no concrete under that section of barrier, allowing people to dig short cross-border holes.

The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law January 19, 2019 Off

Prosecutor, 73, found guilty of obstruction in ex’s cases

PITTSBURGH — A jury on Friday found a 73-year-old Pennsylvania prosecutor guilty of obstructing justice and misusing the power of his office by improperly intervening in criminal cases involving a 41-year-old woman who the prosecution says was his girlfriend.

Mercer County District Attorney Miles Karson was found guilty on 10 charges, including obstruction of government functions, officially oppressing an arrest or search warrant, and hindering prosecution.

Karson was accused of asking the woman’s probation officer to not put her in jail after she acknowledged using heroin. He also allegedly tried to get a judge to release her on bond instead of jailing her in criminal cases by claiming to be a family friend when he was actually her boyfriend.

Karson, a Republican, was elected in 2015 in the largely rural county 60 miles (96.6 kilometres) north of Pittsburgh that borders Ohio.

He took the witness stand on Wednesday, insisting he was just trying to help her and didn’t break the law, and denying the two had a romantic relationship.

Since he was charged by the state Attorney General’s office in 2017, Karson had been silent on the accusations made against him, aside from a blanket denial of wrongdoing, until Wednesday’s testimony, The Tribune Review reported.

Karson broke down in tears at one point after describing his military service in Vietnam, career as a lawyer and his two-decade battle with metastatic prostate cancer.

Karson lost his composure when his defence lawyer, Alexander Lindsay, started asking about the woman, Tonya Bulboff.

“Part of the problem of not having testosterone is sometimes you turn into a blubbering fool,” Karson explained to the jury. He said he was committed to “making her better.”

When Karson was charged in 2017, Bulboff was in state prison on a check-forgery case. She was released in June.

Bulboff testified for the prosecution that she and Karson had an “intimate” but not sexual relationship, the Sharon Herald reported

Karson remains Mercer County’s top law enforcement official.

After the verdict, prosecutors told Senior Common Pleas Judge H. William White that they are concerned about justice for the residents of Mercer County with Karson still in office, according to the Herald.

Neither the judge nor the attorney general’s office has the power to order Karson out of office.

Lindsay said he has not yet discussed with Karson the possibility of him staying in office.

The judge said sentencing will be scheduled within 30 days.

The Associated Press

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A timeline of the Chicago police shooting of Laquan McDonald

CHICAGO — Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on Friday to six years and nine months in prison in the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times, including after the 17-year-old was on the ground. A jury convicted him in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each bullet he fired.

Some key moments in the case:


Oct. 20: Van Dyke fatally shoots McDonald after responding to a call about a teenager breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard. Other officers back Van Dyke’s claim that McDonald, who had a small knife with its blade folded, posed a threat to Van Dyke’s life.


April 15: The Chicago City Council approves a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family.

Nov. 24: Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announces that she is charging Van Dyke with first-degree murder. Hours later, the city responds to a judge’s order and releases dashcam video of the shooting that shows McDonald veering away from officers. The footage contradicts the accounts of Van Dyke and other officers on the scene that he lunged at them with the knife. The video’s release sparks days of protests.

Dec. 1: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fires police Superintendent Garry McCarthy after a public outcry over the handling of the McDonald case.

Dec. 7: The U.S. Department of Justice announces that its civil rights division will investigate the police force, looking for patterns of racial disparity in its use of force.

Dec. 9: Emanuel apologizes for McDonald’s killing in a speech before the City Council. He says Chicago’s police force needs “complete and total reform.”

Dec. 16: A grand jury indicts Van Dyke on charges of first-degree murder and official misconduct.


Feb. 16: The city of Chicago says it will release videos of police shootings and in-custody deaths within 60 days, after being criticized for refusing to release the McDonald shooting video for more than a year.

March 16: Alvarez loses the Democratic primary to challenger Kim Foxx, who goes on to become the first African-American woman to lead the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

April 12: A task force established by Emanuel to look into police practices in the wake of the McDonald shooting says the department must acknowledge its racist past and overhaul its handling of excessive force allegations. It also recommends abolishing the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates officer misconduct.

April 21: Emanuel announces changes to how police shootings and misconduct cases are handled, but draws criticism for stopping short of abolishing the Independent Police Review Authority.

May 13: Emanuel announces that he is abolishing the Independent Police Review Authority and replacing it with the Civilian Police Investigative Agency, which will have more independence and resources.

June 3: Chicago releases hundreds of videos that offer startling glimpses into violent encounters involving police, including the fatal shooting of a robbery suspect speeding toward officers in a van and an incident in which an officer slammed his night stick against a man’s head at a party.

Aug. 18: Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says seven Chicago police officers should be fired for filing false reports in the McDonald shooting.

Oct. 7: Johnson releases details of a proposed new policy that would require officers to use the least amount of force necessary and emphasizes the “sanctity of life.”

Nov. 16: A special prosecutor says a grand jury has been impaneled to hear evidence into a possible coverup by Chicago police officers in the McDonald shooting.


Jan. 13: The Justice Department announces the findings of its civil rights investigation. It says the Chicago Police Department has violated the constitutional rights of residents for years — permitting racial bias against blacks, using excessive force and killing people who didn’t pose a threat. It concludes that the pattern was attributable to “systemic deficiencies” within the department and the city, including insufficient training and a failure to hold bad officers accountable for misconduct.

March 23: A grand jury adds 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm to the first-degree murder charges against Van Dyke in the McDonald shooting.

May 17: The Police Department releases a new use of force policy that requires its officers to undergo de-escalation training and imposes stricter rules on when they can fire their weapons at fleeing suspects.

June 3: Media reports say the city of Chicago and the Justice Department have negotiated a draft agreement that calls for an independent monitor to oversee changes for the police force, which is the nation’s second largest. But it is unclear whether there will be court oversight at some stage in the future.

June 14: Leading community groups, including a Black Lives Matter organization, file a class-action lawsuit against Chicago in a bid to bypass or scuttle a draft agreement between the city and the Justice Department that seeks to reform the police without federal court oversight.

June 27: Three Chicago police officers are indicted on felony charges that they conspired to cover up Van Dyke’s actions in the killing of McDonald.

Aug. 28: The city of Chicago changes course and says it wants to carry out far-reaching reforms of its police under strict federal court supervision, abandoning a draft deal on reforms with President Donald Trump’s administration that envisioned no court role.

Nov. 14: The grand jury that indicted three Chicago police officers on charges that they conspired to cover up what happened when Van Dyke fatally shot McDonald disbands without indicting anyone else in the department.

Dec. 11: The Chicago Police Department says all patrol officers are now equipped with body cameras.


March 20: The American Civil Liberties Union and several community organizations say that they have reached an agreement to provide input into changes being proposed for the Chicago Police Department.

Sept. 13: Lawyers finish choosing 12 jurors and five alternates for Van Dyke’s murder trial. Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, meanwhile, unveil an updated plan to reform the city’s police, saying it will ensure permanent, far-reaching changes within a 12,000-officer department that has a long history of committing serious civil rights abuses. The more than 200-page document is submitted to U.S. District Judge Robert Dow for his consideration.

Sept. 17: Testimony begins in Van Dyke’s trial. He is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.

Oct. 4: Jury begins deliberations after being told that they can consider the lesser charge of second-degree murder if they do not find Van Dyke guilty of first-degree murder.

Oct. 5: Van Dyke is found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery.

Nov. 27: The bench trial of ex-Officer Joseph Walsh, former Detective David March and Officer Thomas Gaffney begins. They are charged with lying to protect Van Dyke from criminal prosecution after he fatally shot McDonald.

Dec. 6: After hearing a week’s worth of testimony, Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson says she will analyze the evidence before delivering her verdict to the three.

Jan. 17: Stephenson acquits Walsh, March and Gaffney of trying to cover up the shooting death of McDonald.

Jan. 18: Van Dyke is sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for the shooting death of McDonald.


For the AP’s complete coverage of the Jason Van Dyke case:

The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law January 19, 2019 Off

Trump Russia Probe

Trump Russia Probe

WASHINGTON — Democrats are vowing to investigate whether President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate project, calling that possibility a “concern of the greatest magnitude.” Trump’s current lawyer said the allegations sparking the inquiry are “categorically false.”

Any evidence that Trump directed a witness to lie to investigators would place him in the greatest political and legal jeopardy yet and confront him with allegations of the sort that led to the departure of one president and the impeachment of another.

At issue is a report by BuzzFeed News that Trump told Cohen to lie about negotiations over the Moscow project during the 2016 campaign. The Associated Press has not independently confirmed the report.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement Friday that “any suggestion — from any source — that the President counselled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false.”

The report comes as House Democrats have promised a thorough look into Trump’s ties to Russia, and as special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and contacts with the Trump campaign.

Though his supporters have said Trump cannot be investigated for actions the Constitution permits him to take, even the president’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, said at his confirmation hearing this week that a president or anyone else who instructs a witness to lie or change his testimony commits illegal obstruction of justice.

BuzzFeed, citing two unidentified law enforcement officials, said Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress and that Cohen regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Trump Tower project in Moscow — even as Trump said he had no business dealings with Russia. BuzzFeed said Cohen told Mueller that Trump personally instructed him to lie about the timing of the project in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.

BuzzFeed said Mueller’s investigators learned about Trump’s directive “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.” The report says Cohen then acknowledged Trump’s instructions when he was interviewed by the Mueller team.

On Twitter, Trump charged that Cohen is “Lying to reduce his jail time!” even though Cohen has already been sentenced.

Giuliani noted that Cohen had pleaded guilty to lying and quoted federal prosecutors in New York who chastised him for a “pattern of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time.” Mueller’s team, however, has called him a credible witness.

“Today’s claims are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation,” Giuliani said.

Two Democratic committee chairmen in the House said they will open inquiries.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said “we will do what’s necessary to find out” if the report was true. He said the allegation that Trump directed Cohen to lie in his 2017 testimony to Congress “in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date.”

Calling the allegations a “counterintelligence concern of the greatest magnitude,” Schiff said his committee had already been working to secure witness testimony and documents related to the Moscow Trump Tower deal.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, said directing a subordinate to lie to Congress would be a federal crime. He said his committee’s job “is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.”

Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress to cover up that he was negotiating the Trump Tower project in Moscow on Trump’s behalf during the heat of his presidential campaign. The charge was brought by Mueller and was the result of Cohen’s co-operation with that probe.

He was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to conceal his boss’ alleged sexual affairs, telling a judge that he agreed time and again to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds” out of “blind loyalty.”

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News Channel that taking the BuzzFeed story seriously was “absolutely ludicrous,” but he repeatedly refused to deny the central allegation that Trump directed Cohen to lie.

An adviser to Cohen, Lanny Davis, declined to comment on the substance of the article, saying that he and Cohen wouldn’t answer questions out of respect for Mueller.

Though some limits of executive power are untested, there is historical precedent for a president to face consequences over similar allegations.

One of the articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton, for instance, accused him of coaching a witness to give false testimony. Richard Nixon faced similar allegations before ultimately leaving the White House.

Though Congress could use the allegation as a basis for impeachment proceedings, Justice Department legal opinions do not allow for criminal charges against a sitting president. Barr said this week that he saw no reason to change that policy.

Cohen is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee Feb. 7, where he will probably be questioned about the report.

Though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has discouraged any talk of impeachment in the early days of her new majority, some senior Democrats said that if the BuzzFeed report is confirmed, Trump’s actions could rise to that level.

“If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached,” tweeted Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, a member of the House intelligence panel.

California Rep. Ted Lieu, a member of the Judiciary committee, tweeted that it’s time for that panel “to start holding hearings to establish a record of whether @POTUS committed high crimes.”

Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, also a member of the Judiciary committee, tweeted that if Trump directed Cohen to lie, “that is obstruction of justice. Period. Full stop.”

A Senate Democrat, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, tweeted that “we need to know this ASAP” if Mueller does have multiple sources confirming that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress.

“Mueller shouldn’t end his inquiry, but it’s about time for him to show Congress his cards before it’s too late for us to act,” Murphy tweeted.

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