Russiagate Open Thread: Jeff Sessions Must Really Love His Racism

(Jack Ohman via

… because his Lord & Master Donald J. Trump has done everything short of calling a press conference to witness him taking a dump on Jeff’s desk, and yet the Malevolent Leprechaun still won’t walk away from a criminal conspiracy that at best is going to soil his reputation for all time.

The New York Times this week reported on one of these conversations— which occurred at Mar-a-Lago in March 2017 — and said Robert Mueller is investigating it. But Trump’s other direct conversations with Sessions about the subject have not been previously reported.

A source with knowledge of the conversations said they occurred throughout last year, until fairly late in the year — not just in the short period after Sessions recused himself last March…

Trump told Sessions he’d be a “hero” to conservatives if he did the “right thing” and took back control over the Russia investigation, according to two sources with knowledge of their conversations.

Trump also told Sessions he’d be a hero if he investigated Hillary Clinton, according to one of the sources…

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti opines:

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Felon Fellow Feeling Open Thread: One Part of His Job Trump Actually Enjoys

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Immigration Open Thread: 1500 “Missing” Children

Yes, it’s really bad, but it’s more complicated than the first statements that came out over the weekend. Per the Washington Post:

There’s been an avalanche of grim news centered on young immigrants apprehended at the border with Mexico. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union published a report documenting abusive encounters between young people and border agents during the administration of President Barack Obama. Last month, the government admitted it had lost track of more than a thousand children who had been placed with sponsors after being caught crossing the border alone.

In recent days, though, attention has been focused on a new crisis for immigrant children. Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new policy in which families arriving at the border would be forcibly broken up, with children and parents separated from one another and detained separately. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explored the practical ramifications of the policy: children as young as 1½, too young to form complete sentences, much less care for themselves, torn away from their parents and sent to government detention facilities.

It’s a policy specifically meant to serve as a deterrent to future immigrants, as White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly made clear in an interview with NPR a few weeks ago. Sessions tried to argue that it was meant to prevent trafficking and abuse, but Kelly’s insistence that it was a deterrent matches reporting that indicates President Trump himself authorized the change to limit a recent increase in the number of families seeking entry to the United States…

The organization Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) has for a decade been supporting minors who are detained after entering the country. Its president, Wendy Young, spoke with The Washington Post by phone on Friday to explain how Trump’s policy shift affects young immigrants — and how it fits into his broader shift in how the country deals with immigrants.

Her organization provides pro bono legal services to immigrants who arrive at the border without a parent — unaccompanied children, in the parlance — once they leave federal detention facilities to join family members already in the country…
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Repub Venality Open Thread: Go Away, Smarmy Dubya Minion

KellyAnne Conway’s husband (a lawyer) rebuts…

Little toad refuses to quit, comes back for another round…

Repub Venality Open Thread: Jefferson Davis Beauregard III Lives Out His Authoritarian Dreams

If “rule of law” meant anything other than “people with power should have a free hand to do what they like to people without power”, the rule-of-law people would be screaming themselves blue over this. As if we needed any further proof they’re acting in bad faith…

Sessions has stepped into the immigration system in an unprecedented manner: giving himself and his office the ability to review, and rewrite, cases that could set precedents for a large share of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants with pending immigration court cases, not to mention all those who are arrested and put into the deportation process in future.

He’s doing this by taking cases from the Board of Immigration Appeals — the Justice Department agency that serves as a quasi-appellate body for immigration court cases — and referring them to himself to issue a decision instead.

Sessions isn’t giving lawyers much information about what he’s planning. But he’s set himself up, if he wants, to make it radically harder for immigration judges to push cases off their docket to be resolved elsewhere or paused indefinitely — and to close the best opportunity that tens of thousands of asylum seekers, including most Central Americans, have to stay in the United States. And he might be gearing up to extend his involvement even further, by giving himself the authority to review a much bigger swath of rulings issued in the immigration court system…

Immigration courts aren’t part of the judicial branch; they’re under the authority of the Department of Justice. Their judges are supposed to have some degree of independence, and some judges are certainly harsher on immigrants and asylum seekers than others. But their decisions are guided by precedent from the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is basically the appellate court of the immigration system and which also answers to the DOJ and the attorney general.

If the attorney general doesn’t like that precedent, he has the power to change it — by referring a case to himself after the Board of Immigration Appeals has reviewed it, issuing a new ruling, and telling the immigration courts to abide by the precedent that ruling sets in future…

In theory, Sessions’s office is supposed to make its decision based on amicus briefs from outside parties, as well as the immigrant’s lawyer and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prosecutor. But advocates and lawyers’ groups say they can’t file a good brief if they don’t know what, exactly, the cases Sessions is getting involved in actually are — and Sessions is withholding that information.

In one of the cases Sessions has referred to himself, the DOJ refused to provide a copy of the decision that Sessions is reviewing or any information about where the case came from and who the immigrant’s lawyer was. In another case, congressional staff happened to find the decision under review on a DOJ website days before the deadline for amicus briefs.

That opacity makes it basically impossible to know whether Sessions is planning to issue relatively narrow rulings or very broad ones. In the case in which the decision under review was discovered by congressional staffers, both the immigrant’s lawyer and the Department of Homeland Security (serving as the prosecution) asked Sessions’s office to clarify the specific legal question at hand in the review — in other words, to give them a hint of the scope of the potential precedent being set. They were denied…

Sessions and the Trump administration claim they’re trying to restore efficiency to a backlogged court system that poses the biggest obstacle to the large-scale swift deportation of border-crossing families and to unauthorized immigrants living in the US. But lawyers are convinced that Sessions’s diktats, if they’re as broad as feared, would just gum up the works further.

“If the attorney general were seriously concerned about the backlog, as opposed to a desire for quick deportations, he would be focused on transferring as many cases away from” immigration judges as possible, attorney Jeremy McKinney told Vox — not forcing them to keep cases on their docket that they would rather close, or that could be rendered moot by other decisions. It’s “not smart docket control.”

And Sessions isn’t simply planning to issue these rulings and walk away. His office is planning to give itself even wider power over the immigration court system. A notice published as part of the department’s spring 2018 regulatory agenda says, “The Department of Justice (DOJ) proposes to change the circumstances in which the Attorney General may refer cases to himself for review. Such case types will include those pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) but not yet decided and certain immigration judge decisions regardless of whether those decisions have been appealed to the BIA.”

In other words, even when a DOJ judge makes a ruling in an immigrant’s favor and ICE prosecutors don’t try to appeal the ruling, the attorney general’s office could sweep in and overrule the judge…

If the Attorney General believes this is an improvement over the current system, why is he so determined to keep the mechanisms secret?

I personally suspect Mr. Sessions’ ambitions have something to do with last weekend’s flurry of reports about “President” Trump screaming at Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen. If the blond chick can’t throw enough brown people out of “our country” fast enough, Judge Jeff assures Lord Smallgloves, then by Christianist Jeebus he’ll roll up his sleeves and git ‘er done. It’s not as if Trump calling him nasty names has deterred his zeal for enforcing the “Just Us” of Justice in the past…

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III Remains A Staunch Bigot

(Drew Sheneman via

Newly appointed U.S. District Attorney Doug Overbey introduced Sessions Tuesday morning in a law enforcement conference held inside the Gatlinburg Convention Center…

The nation’s top law enforcement official encouraged the officers, spoke quickly about the opioid crisis and railed on the policies of the “fuzzy-headed left” and illegal immigration in a 25-minute speech.

As he has in other stops recently, Sessions promised to continue being strict on immigration by adding 35 prosecutors and 18 immigration judges to border states to deal with backlogs of immigrant cases.

He used the event to praise the officers who came from across the Southeast. He said the room was filled with “some of the best people in America.”…

Sessions also spoke about the increasing threat of fentanyl, the deadly drug often used with heroin.

“Drug use, addiction, overdose deaths have surged, as you know,” he said. “So we have to work resolutely to stop these trends. We must reverse them. That must be our goal. We know how. We’ve proven what works. Science proves what works … we share good practices at conferences like these.”…

The ever-solicitious NYTimes, last month:

Mr. Sessions has taken more abuse from President Trump than any other member of his high-churn cabinet because he recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Over 14 months in office, Mr. Sessions has gone from, in Mr. Trump’s words, “a great protector of the people” to “weak,” “disgraceful” and an “idiot.”

But Mr. Sessions is in many ways the best attorney general Mr. Trump might have hoped for. While the president rails against him in Washington, Mr. Sessions travels the country diligently pushing the conservative Trump agenda. As a former federal prosecutor who has a firm grasp of the tools of his office and the letter of the law, Mr. Sessions, 71, is the creator and chief enforcer of the tough immigration and criminal justice goals that helped propel Mr. Trump into office.
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Open Thread: Inside A New York Minute

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