“It’s ideologue meets grifter”: How Bill Barr made Trumpism possible

“In any other administration, the firing of a US attorney who had been conducting investigations of the president’s allies would be scandalous. But this is not a typical administration and this is not a typical Department of Justice. Under Barr, the DOJ has become a political instrument for the president. Whether it’s misleading the public about the Mueller report or using tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters so that Trump could stage a photo op, or trying to fire Berman, Barr has repeatedly sacrificed the dignity of his office in order to please his boss.”

“He believes the president should be more powerful than Congress and the courts. In his mind, that’s the only thing that can keep the country safe when it is threatened by war, natural disaster, or economic collapse.”

“it’s funny watching interviews with him. He’s very measured in how he speaks, but what he is saying is very far right and deeply conservative across the board. And his actions are extraordinary, at times unprecedented, for an attorney general, from dispatching National Guard troops from multiple states all over DC, to setting up a command bunker where he oversaw all of that, to removing prosecutors and pushing for lower sentences for the president’s allies. He speaks carefully but his actions are anything but measured.”

Why conservative Chief Justice Roberts just struck down an anti-abortion law

“Ultimately, Roberts concludes that the principle of stare decisis — the doctrine that courts should generally be bound by their prior decisions — compels him to strike down Louisiana’s law. “The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law,” Roberts concludes.

As a practical matter, that means the constitutional right to an abortion is likely to survive for at least another year or two. But Roberts also signals that he’s open to a lawsuit challenging this right on other grounds.

The takeaway from Roberts’s opinion isn’t that the right to an abortion is safe. It’s that Roberts is reluctant to bend the Court’s ordinary procedures to hand abortion opponents a victory in this particular case.”

Pompeo says U.S. ready to team up on China, but E.U. eyes a post-Trump world

“At the start of Trump’s presidency, EU leaders harbored hopes that the combative president would team up with them to address an array of issues with China, particularly related to trade disputes, on which Beijing had long refused to give any ground. Instead, Trump lumped the EU, and especially Germany, together with China as trade rivals who had taken advantage of the U.S., and even slapped punitive tariffs on EU steel and aluminum products that prompted swift retaliation from Brussels.

And even as Pompeo said he was excited about the new dialogue over China, he reiterated some areas of sharp disagreement between Washington and European allies, including over Trump’s surprise decision to reduce the U.S. military presence in Germany, which Trump has linked to his political disagreements with Berlin, including Germany’s slow increases in military spending and its continued support of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

Pompeo in his speech tried to insist that Trump’s decision was based on a careful “strategic review” of military deployment levels and needs — a point that has been flatly refuted by current and former U.S. military officials.

Given the deep lack of trust, it seems unlikely that much progress will be made discussing China or anything else between now and the November election in the U.S. EU leaders at the moment are intensely focused on debating their new long-term budget and a European Commission proposal for an ambitious economic recovery fund.”

The Supreme Court’s big decision on the CFPB and the “unitary executive,” explained

“the justices largely focused on the question of whether the president may remove the CFPB’s sitting director at will.

A majority of the Court agreed that a president may remove the CFPB director. In the short term, that decision could benefit presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who will be able to remove Trump’s CFPB director right away if Biden becomes president. In the long term, however, the decision could potentially empower the president to manipulate the political process.”

“So the immediate upshot of Seila Law is that the CFPB survives this attempt to strike it down in its entirety, and Democrats gain the power to remove Trump’s CFPB director if Biden is sworn in next year. But it is unlikely that we will know the full significance of Seila Law until the Court hears a new case testing its meaning.”

“Most independent agencies — including the Fed and the FCC — are led by a multi-member board.

The CFPB is unusual, though not entirely unique, in that it is led by a single director who could not be removed at will by the president. This unusual leadership structure, according to Roberts’s majority opinion, is not allowed. According to Roberts, the Constitution “scrupulously avoids concentrating power in the hands of any single individual.””

“there are very good reasons why we do not want some agencies to be fully subject to presidential authority. If the president can threaten to fire Fed governors or FCC commissioners, those agencies might try to influence the result of an election in illegitimate ways.

And while much of Roberts’s decision focused on the CFPB’s single-director structure, it is far from clear, after Seila Law, whether multi-member agencies like the FCC or the Fed may remain independent.”

Why Alabamians Turned on Jeff Sessions

“Trump has spent years pillorying Sessions, the first U.S. senator to endorse his presidential run, for Sessions’ 2017 decision as attorney general to recuse himself from overseeing the FBI probe into potential connections between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign. In angry barrages before and after Sessions resigned in November 2018, the president has called him “scared stiff,” “slime,” “a disaster” and “not mentally qualified” to be the country’s top prosecutor. (Sessions’ campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this article, nor did Tuberville’s.) Choosing Sessions as attorney general, Trump said in a 2019 interview, was the “biggest mistake” of his presidency—a decision many Republicans, including in Alabama, believe built up momentum not only for the Mueller investigation but also for Trump’s impeachment.

“Recusing himself from his duties and helping the Democrats—that was enough,” says Jasper resident Johnny Burnette, who supported Sessions in prior campaigns but says he now plans to vote for Tuberville. “I like Jeff, but he messed up.”

Flowers, who switched from a Democrat to Republican in the early 1990s, told me he attended a Rotary Club meeting soon after Trump first started attacking Sessions. “People were vitriolic,” he recalls. “It was ugly, mean-spirited.”

“This constant drubbing from the president … painted a picture of [Sessions] being untrustworthy and weak,” adds Robert Blanton, chair of the department of political science and public administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “He has been unable to emerge from the shadow of Trump’s criticisms.”

Sessions’ old school politics of gentility and his staunch conservative track record—which worked for him here for decades—may not be able to withstand that onslaught.”

Trump’s bet on a vaccine could come at a cost

“The pursuit of a vaccine across federal health agencies has also forced tradeoffs. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, for example, has halted a push for lung treatments to fight the coronavirus, potentially putting a treatment option on the back burner.

The danger of going all in on a vaccine may be that President Donald Trump is pinning hopes on a miracle shot while there’s considerable reason to believe that the outbreak could stretch on for years.

“There’s no guarantee that a vaccine is going to work,” said Luciana Borio, who served as the FDA’s acting top scientist and worked on White House pandemic preparedness efforts earlier in the Trump administration. “And even if it does, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be the right product for most people, or that people will want to take it, or that the virus won’t mutate.”

Vaccines are notoriously difficult to make; the vaccine for mumps, the fastest ever developed, took four years. Many take far longer, and more still fail in animal or human testing and never reach the market. Public health experts say the U.S. government is making a risky bet by focusing so much of its pandemic response on the hope that a shot will end the coronavirus’ devastating march.”

Trump to impose foreign worker restrictions through end of year

“The order extends restrictions originally enacted in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, which blocked most people from receiving a permanent residency visa, or green card. The new order also temporarily freezes H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, a program popular with the U.S. tech industry, and other temporary work visas.

A senior administration official said it exempts farmworkers and live-in child care providers called au pairs, but final text of the order included restrictions on au pairs, interns, trainees, teachers and camp counselors.”

“Trump also “dramatically” narrowed the types of medical workers who can enter the U.S. to only those working on Covid-19 care or research, the official said.”

“The Trump administration is arguing the immigration restrictions are necessary to protect American jobs during a period of historic unemployment, the result of the country’s lockdown this spring to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.”

“Business interests, however, lobbied hard against the restrictions, arguing they will cause more, not less, economic pain across the country.”