Why Democrats Should Fear a Senate Trial

lindsey-graham-kavanaugh-protester-via-benny-johnson-cropped-e1538952820625-620x435

In the next few weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives may vote to approve articles of impeachment.

The governmental activity that the public has been witnessing over the past few weeks regarding the potential impeachment of the 45th president would be transferred over to the U.S. Senate, which unlike the House of Representatives is under Republican control.

If the Democrats actually pull off a vote to impeach the president, they just may find themselves ruing the day. The politically charged impeachment drama could play out in the following manner:

Republicans in the Senate would make the case that the House articles of impeachment are the product of a highly flawed process. They would point out that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff kicked off the hearings in a shroud of secrecy. Curiously, only information favorable to the Democrats was allowed to leak out.

Senate Republicans would also note that the chairman ran a series of closed-door depositions, a.k.a. “auditions,” followed by open televised testimony sessions that posed as committee hearings.

Much of the above mentioned was in flagrant violation of constitutional norms and is easily recognizable as an assault on due process.

GOP senators would highlight that Schiff’s rabidly partisan proceedings were devoid of fairness. Ranking Republican members on the committee were blocked from calling witnesses. Ukraine interference in the 2016 election was off the table, as were former Vice President Joe Biden, the business dealings of Biden’s son, the corrupt Ukraine energy company Biden’s son worked for, and of course, the identity and origin of the so-called whistleblower.

With the above described sham circumstances in mind, the Senate could reasonably dismiss the articles of impeachment and skip the trial altogether. But interestingly, the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have both weighed in, indicating their preferences to have a full Senate trial.

A Senate impeachment trial would involve each side having the right to call witnesses and perform cross-examinations. The House members, known as impeachment managers during the course of the trial, would present the prosecution case. The president would have the right to mount a defense with his own attorneys. The Constitution requires a two-thirds super majority to convict and remove a sitting president.

Should a Senate trial take place, it would have some unfortunate fallout for Democratic presidential candidates in that it would pull a number of them off the campaign trail at a most inopportune time. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Michael Bennet would be compelled to stop campaigning mere weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

McConnell recently alluded to this aspect of an impeachment trial, saying, “How long it goes on really just depends on how long the Senate wants to spend on it. I will say I’m pretty sure how it’s likely to end. If it were today, I don’t think there’s any question it would not lead to a removal. So the question is how long the Senate wants to take. How long do the presidential candidates want to be here on the floor of the Senate instead of Iowa and New Hampshire?”

When the Senate starts its impeachment preparation, not only do the proceedings occur in a forum in which the GOP holds a majority, key committees are also chaired by supporters of the president. The Senate Republicans will be able to bring forth evidence on issues and topics that the left and the mainstream media have routinely dismissed out of hand.

Democrats may already be experiencing high anxiety over the recent communications of GOP Senate leaders. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, requesting documents related to communications between former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and Biden.

Graham also sought documents pertaining to a meeting between Biden’s son’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry. Additionally, Graham has said he will insist that the Senate call the so-called whistleblower to testify.

It is legitimate as well as relevant for the Senate to explore, as they likely would, the former vice president’s apparent role in placing pressure on the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor by the name of Viktor Shokin, who had been investigating the natural gas company, Burisma. Burisma paid huge amounts of money to Biden’s son, who by all appearances was an energy neophyte, for his membership on the company’s board of directors.

The telephone conversation between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which ostensibly prompted the impeachment inquiry, involved a reference to prosecutor Shokin, making the facts concerning Burisma and Biden highly relevant to legitimate U.S. concerns over corruption in the Ukraine.

Additionally, the Senate would likely look into Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election by calling as a witness former DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa to determine whether, with the assistance of Ukrainian officials, she was improperly engaging in opposition research on the Trump campaign.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson and Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley have already written a letter to the head of the National Archives and Records Administration, seeking to obtain records of meetings between Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives, and DNC officials.

The Johnson-Grassley letter specifically references a meeting in 2016 in which U.S. officials “brought up investigations relating to Burisma Holdings.” The letter also makes reference to officials in that meeting who asked that the Ukraine government “drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over.”

According to the letter, White House records will indicate that Chalupa was present in “numerous meetings at the White House, including one event with then President Obama.”

Senators Johnson and Grassley have also sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, seeking information on Chalupa. The letter states, based on reports, that “it appears that the DOJ and FBI have in their possession material relevant to our Committees’ ongoing investigation into collusive actions Chalupa and the DNC took to use foreign government sources to undermine the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.”

Should an impeachment trial take place, President Trump has indicated that he intends to bring in to testify both Schiff and the so-called whistleblower. Findings from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into election-related controversies of 2016 would also likely become available should a Senate trial occur.

A witness list that includes Schiff, Biden, Biden’s son, Burisma board member Devon Archer, Chalupa, Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr, and the so-called whistleblower, among myriad others, is the stuff of Democrat nightmares.

A little something for Dems to ponder before they take that all-important vote: Be careful what you wish for.

High Court Lets Anti-Christian Ruling Stand

ap_19236607035722-f8c39ac5d7bc85671f711e6587d7fa86f4e349d5-s800-c85

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on a profoundly significant case involving the religious rights of all Americans, and more specifically, the rights of our nation’s schoolchildren, which are safeguarded and secured by the all-important words contained in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The High Court declined to review an appeal submitted on behalf of a public high school student and a Christian, Caleigh Wood, who refused to compromise her religious beliefs by participating in a class assignment that was overtly anti-Christian in nature.

What conflicted with young Caleigh’s deeply held tenets of faith was a Muslim conversion prayer, which was part and parcel of the curricular assignment of a required course.

“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” This statement happens to be the Islamic conversion creed, i.e., the declaration that an individual professes when converting to the Islam faith. It is also the prayer that a practicing Muslim recites during the Muslim “call to prayer” practice.

Caleigh had enrolled in the above described course because it was a mandatory requirement that had to be completed before she would be allowed to graduate from high school.

In an attempt to abide by the school’s conditions with regard to the academic coursework and still not violate her own personal religious conscience, Caleigh offered to complete an alternative assignment.

However, the school refused to provide her any options that were non-violative of her Christian beliefs, despite the fact that the educational institution could have easily done so. Instead Caleigh was informed that if she did not participate in the Islamic conversion prayer she would be given a failing grade.

The eleventh-grade student was additionally compelled to view pro-Islamic material in the form of PowerPoint slides. One of the slides contained the following caption: “Most Muslim’s [sic] faith is stronger than the average Christian.” The lesson also included the following description regarding gender roles within the faith context: “Men are the managers of the affairs of women” and consequently “righteous women are therefore obedient.”

The approach taken within the class to the Christian faith stood in stark contrast with the one taken with regard to the Islamic faith. Islamic principles were presented under the auspices of “fact”; however, Christian principles were not afforded the same designation.

Regarding the comparison statement on strength of faith, Jack Tuttle, content specialist for the public schools in the county, testified that in his assessment the comparison reference was “inappropriate,” adding that he would have advised that it not be used in schools.

After Caleigh filed a lawsuit that pinpointed the violations of her Christian convictions, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judge in the case proceeded to ignore legal precedent, essentially sanctioning the promotion of the religion of Islam in public schools.

However, requiring a student to say a prayer, whether contrary or not to a student’s personally held beliefs, is a blatant violation of constitutional principles and precedents.

The U.S. Supreme Court should have weighed in on the Fourth Circuit’s decision. In failing to do so, the High Court permitted a lower court to ignore precedent as well as a citizen’s concerns about having to recite a prayer of a different faith, and additionally having to write such, which was a clear violation of religious conscience. The presence of government coercion in this case is patently clear, since the religious activities in question were part of a required course and no alternative accommodations were provided.

The Fourth Circuit’s opinion flies in the face of the legal mandate that public schools must not disparage a student’s faith and/or require students to engage in prayer or religious exercises contrary to personally held religious convictions. Public schools are constitutionally bound to remain neutral in their approach to faith-related subjects.

The Supreme Court has historically provided greater constitutional protection with regard to freedom of conscience as it pertains to the nation’s younger demographic. This is partially due to the fact that public school attendance is statutorily compelled, and the school administration wields considerable power.

To this end, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the opening of legislative sessions with prayer, yet declared unconstitutional the opening of school sessions with prayer. Similarly, the High Court has upheld the legality of creche and menorah displays, while noting that it would be a different result if the displays arose in a school setting.

The High Court precedent requires lower courts to apply a heightened standard for coercion in the public school context. Unfortunately, the Fourth Circuit egregiously cast this heightened standard aside.

The refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Caleigh’s case not only allows the lower court ruling to stand, but it leaves the existing double standard in place, which is likely to wreak further havoc on our cherished First Amendment.

The Impending Flow of Vape Related Lawsuits

teen-nicotine-addiction-1300x731

In the 1980s a host of lawsuits emerged, which alleged cigarette manufacturers knew their products were addictive and caused lung cancer, but failed to warn consumers about the inherent dangers.

History may be in the process of repeating itself, this time amid a controversy that surrounds a modernized smoking-related device.

Several plaintiffs have already filed lawsuits against the largest e-cigarette corporate target, alleging that the company’s products create medical problems for consumers and additionally create addiction issues, particularly for teen users.

Like so many others before him, one Chicago teenager recently sued an e-cigarette company as well as a retailer over his own e-cigarette usage.

In papers filed by young user Adam Hergenreder, manufacturer Juul Labs Inc. is named as a defendant, along with a Waukegan gas station that allegedly sold products illegally to the teen. In Hergenreder’s state (Illinois), tobacco products are only allowed to be sold to those who are 21 years of age or older.

Juul is the leading manufacturer of e-cigarette devices and e-liquid flavors. It controls nearly three-quarters of the American vape market, which is a massive market in and of itself, and the company’s value is said to be in the tens of billions of dollars range.

After having difficulty breathing and experiencing tremors, among other symptoms, Hergenreder was hospitalized with severe lung damage. The young man claims he started his vape activity at age 16 to “fit in” with his friends. He also claims he was unaware that the e-cigarettes contained nicotine. Believing that the products were safe, Hergenreder engaged in vaping multiple times a day.

Juul is alleged in the lawsuit to have used deceptive marketing tactics, which targeted adolescents. It is further alleged that use of its product ultimately created a serious and dangerous addiction for the individual partaking, because of the amount of concentrated nicotine and other harmful substances that are purportedly contained in the product.

Juul has had a significant online and social media presence, which it has used in its advertising campaign to make e-cigarettes appear trendy and hip, thereby appealing to young people.

In a January 2019 study, researchers at Stanford University analyzed Juul’s marketing approach, including its website, social media platforms, hashtags, and campaign emails. Researchers found that Juul’s advertising imagery in its first six months on the market was manifestly youth oriented. Results indicated that the product’s presence on Instagram created online communities of young people who would post videos of vape related activity.

Hergenreder’s case is part of a response to a growing health concern related to the vape merchandiser. The states of Illinois and Indiana have both had individuals lose their lives as a result of vape related illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control indicates that it has received reports of six deaths and over 450 possible cases of e-cigarette related lung illnesses.

Consequently, in addition to civil lawsuits, Juul is facing mounting scrutiny by local, state, and federal officials, much like the tobacco companies experienced in the 1980s and 1990s. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York recently banned flavored e-cigarettes. And from the Oval Office, President Trump told reporters that he was planning to take action after a sixth person recently died from a vape related lung illness.

Noting the seriousness of the issue, President Trump indicated that “some very strong rules and regulations” were forthcoming.

Shortly thereafter, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced a plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes at least until a formal review had been conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Juul has responded with a statement that it has an “aggressive action plan to combat underage use.” The company stated that it is seeking to “preserve the opportunity to eliminate combustible cigarettes, the deadliest legal consumer product known to man.”

Juul shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts as of last fall in response to complaints, and has also pulled flavored products from brick-and-mortar retail locations.

The FDA has been unable thus far to identify a single source as the cause of e-cigarette related illnesses; however, theories suggest that illnesses may be related to vitamin E acetate (found in THC) or the combined effects of nicotine, flavorings, and solvents.

Although Juul claims in advertising that its products are a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, for teenagers e-cigarettes appear to be a gateway product to conventional cigarettes. A 2015 study at the University of California, San Francisco, and a 2017 Canadian study at the University of Waterloo both found that teenage vape users were more likely than their non-using counterparts to begin smoking traditional cigarettes after having experienced the sustained use of e-cigarettes.

In the 1980s tobacco companies defended against lawsuits, many times successfully, by asserting that smokers knowingly assumed the risks when they began smoking, including the risk of cancer.

In the 1990s, after documents were leaked that showed tobacco companies were aware of the addictive nature of tobacco, plaintiffs began to be successful in obtaining favorable verdicts and settlements.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the e-cigarette industry will be treated in the same manner as the tobacco industry, or perhaps even more harshly.

Jeffrey Epstein Case Cloaked in Mystery

screen-shot-2015-01-03-at-5.23.51-pm-e1420298532896

The mystery entangling the main protagonist in the Jeffrey Epstein drama is no doubt more vast and intricate than mainstream media sources would have us believe.

Allegations against the multi-millionaire are monstrous. Scores of sexual abuse offenses involving young women are alleged to have taken place between the years 2002 and 2005.

The evidence gathered by the Palm Beach police, which began in 2005, was reportedly massive in quantity. However, Democrat prosecutor Barry Krischner inexplicably came up with a single count with which to file criminal charges against Epstein, that of soliciting prostitution. Kirschner offered Epstein what appeared to be an outrageous deal involving zero jail time.

One couldn’t help but notice that Epstein was known to be a friend and mega-donor to big-name Democrats, which included the likes of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry.

According to his own lawyers, Epstein was part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative. Former President Clinton was reportedly a 26-time passenger on Epstein’s private plane, which was known as the “Lolita Express.” Allegedly, also along with the former president during a 2002 trip to Africa were passenger-actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker.

Local police chief Michael Reiter was reportedly outraged at the time and sought help with the state case from federal prosecutors. The then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alex Acosta, initiated a federal investigation that culminated with Epstein entering into a 2008 deal in which he pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges, registered as a sex offender, and paid restitution to three dozen victims that were identified by the FBI. He was sent to prison.

Epstein’s jail time, though, was handled by Democrat officials, who apparently saw to it that he would enjoy the luxury of his own private wing and would additionally have the ability to spend his days at his home during the 13-month sentence. He was also given a subsequent year of house arrest in Palm Beach, Florida.

Epstein’s victims subsequently filed a lawsuit under the federal Crime Victims Rights Act. The court determined that federal prosecutors handling the Epstein sexual abuse case had violated the rights of his victims by keeping secret the deal that they had reached with him.

Adding to the controversy over how the case was handled is an underreported statement that Acosta made, which carried with it the implication that interference with the disposition of Epstein’s case may have taken place, and the interference may have emanated from a government source.

As reported by the Daily Beast, Acosta indicated that he had been told Epstein “belonged to intelligence,” that the matter was “above his [Acosta’s] pay grade,” and that he was to “leave it alone.”

Epstein reportedly entered the financial business world, taking a job for a period of time with investment bank Bear Stearns and subsequently leaving the firm in 1981. According to the Miami Herald, Epstein was a “key federal witness in the criminal prosecution of two prominent executives with Bear Stearns.” The executives were later acquitted.

Reports dealing with Epstein characterize him as a billionaire and a money manager. Interestingly, the man doesn’t appear to be either. He has not been ranked or listed on the Forbes 400 list. According to Forbes, “…there is scant proof he holds a ten-figure fortune.”

The manner by which Epstein became wealthy is an enigma. His fortune reportedly comes from his money management firm, The Financial Trust Co., which is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, the Wall Street trading desks don’t know of Epstein’s transactions, nor do his dealings appear in business trade publications as would be expected.

Little to no information regarding a client list or other records has thus far been made public by The Financial Trust Co. One known former Epstein client is retail billionaire Leslie Wexner, who reportedly stopped doing business with Epstein more than 10 years ago.

According to reports, Epstein employed no portfolio managers or analysts. Instead he purportedly handled by himself investment decisions involving tens of billions of dollars.

Epstein seemed to be able to rub elbows with the rich and famous even after he bore the stigma of registered sex offender. One might think that after the #MeToo scandals in which Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and Les Moonves became embroiled, the highly recognizable level-three registered sex offender would be persona non grata at entertainment industry events.

Not so. In late 2010 Epstein held a dinner party for Great Britain’s Prince Andrew at his New York 71st Street mansion, with guests that included Chelsea Handler, Katie Couric, Woody Allen, Charlie Rose, and George Stephanopoulos. In 2011 Epstein attended a “billionaire’s dinner” along with Silicon Valley celebrity CEOs Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. And in 2016 Epstein was in attendance at the celebrity filled premiere of the Warner Bros. film “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Epstein’s is a saga that involves some of the nation’s most wealthy and powerful, those individuals whose status affords them the opportunity to hobnob in elite circles that stretch from East Coast to Left and beyond.

Details involving the case are still in the process of unfolding and probably will be for a long time to come. So, too, will its foul nature, drama, and mystery.

Democrats Launch Preemptive Strike on Barr

william-barr-1

The Democratic Party and its willing allies in the mainstream media have a new target in their political sights: Attorney General William Barr.

Attorney General Barr is the latest recipient of the poisonous politics in which Democrats of the extreme partisan kind are engaging. Interestingly, what appears to be lurking in the shadows of the political drama is a kind of raw fear on the part of Democrats.

A tactic from the military handbook, known as the “preemptive strike,” involves attacking one’s enemy before the enemy has had a chance to attack first. In this manner, the opposing side’s capabilities are inhibited or eliminated.

Democrats are going on the attack against Attorney General Barr with the goal of destroying the man’s reputation. They are doing so in order to interfere with the efforts of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in unearthing potentially damaging facts relating to the government’s investigation of President Trump.

Senate Democrats know, although some feign otherwise, that the attorney general is a fair-minded and competent legal professional.

The new head of the DOJ has plainly stated that with the Mueller investigation having been completed, he intends to delve into issues that may impact the image and reputation of various public officials, including some in the previous administration. This may prove to be potentially problematic, especially for Democrat candidates who are running in upcoming elections.

Attorney General Barr has let the Senate Judiciary Committee know that he is looking into the origins of the investigation into Trump and any possible criminal leaks to the media by FBI and/or DOJ officials. Additionally, the question of whether the Christopher Steele dossier was a form of Russian disinformation will be examined.

The Steele dossier was reportedly the basis for applications submitted in order to persuade the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to issue warrants against a Trump associate, Carter Page.

Steele was hired to create the dossier by an entity called Fusion GPS, which is an opposition research firm that was paid in part by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, using the Perkins Coie law firm as a cutout.

The attorney general has already started probing the manner in which the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign and administration was conducted. He has indicated a desire to determine the facts surrounding the alleged spying on Donald Trump before, during, and after the 2016 presidential election. He has also indicated that he will look into the numerous leaks to the press that occurred, and the origin of the Steele dossier and its use in the FISA courts.

Fear may have set into certain Democrat members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when the attorney general informed them that he was working closely with Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice Michael Horowitz to investigate the investigators who initiated and conducted the investigation at the DOJ and FBI into so-called Trump-Russia collusion.

For more than a year Inspector General Horowitz has been looking into the process by which FISA court surveillance warrants were obtained to spy on Trump associate Carter Page. Horowitz commenced the FISA abuse probe after having received requests from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and members of Congress.

Attorney General Barr said, “I talked to Mike Horowitz a few weeks ago about it. It’s focused on the FISA, basis for the FISA and handling of the FISA applications. But by necessity, it looks back a little earlier than that. The people helping me with my review will be working very closely with Mr. Horowitz.”

According to Attorney General Barr, Horowitz’s report could be released at the end of June 2019, and any criminal referrals produced will be placed into the hands of the attorney general.

Democrats are no doubt aware that if the immense investigative and intelligence powers possessed by the federal government were used on American citizens without a proper predicate, the communication thereof to the public will significantly jeopardize their party’s ability to win elections and maintain power.

United States Attorney for the District of Utah John Huber has reportedly been tasked with looking into the way in which the FBI handled allegations of Hillary Clinton’s role in the sale of U.S. uranium rights to an entity known as Uranium One. He has also been charged with the responsibility of examining the way in which FISA warrants were obtained to surveil Carter Page. According to various media reports, Huber is close to submitting his findings.

Democrats realize that Huber will be reporting his findings to Attorney General Barr.

The attorney general may have caused certain Senate Democrats to experience further anxiety when he told them that more wrongdoing than previously reported may have taken place by those who were conducting a counterintelligence investigation of President Trump and other individuals connected with him.

“Many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant and a FISA warrant. I would like to find out whether that is, in fact, true. It strikes me as a fairly anemic effort if that was the counterintelligence effort to stop the threat as it is being represented,” Attorney General Barr said.

The attorney general also indicated that he is working closely with the FBI to go where Democrats never thought he would.

With some of the spying details about to be revealed, the Democrat strategy is to preemptively undermine the credibility of the head of the DOJ, Attorney General Barr.

To this end, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, was particularly outrageous in her rhetoric during Attorney General Barr’s testimony before Congress, saying, “Mr. Barr, now the American people know that you are no different from Rudy Giuliani or Kellyanne Conway or any of the other people who sacrificed their once decent reputation for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office.”

Calls for the attorney general to resign came spewing out of the mouths of Democrat presidential hopefuls, including Senators Kamala Harris, D-Calif, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Cory Booker, D-N.J.

Other Democrats issued demands for the attorney general’s resignation, disbarment, and/or impeachment.

When Attorney General Barr used the term “spying” in his public testimony, it sent Democrats and their mainstream media cronies into a tailspin. They subsequently showed their true colors, launching a barrage of attacks against him.

But despite their unsavory tactics, the attorney general is proving himself to be unflappable, both in his public testimony and beyond. It highly unlikely that he will be distracted by partisan politicians who in private are more than likely scared out of their wits.

Trump Weathers the Democrat Subpoena Storm

donaldtrumpmgn4

President Donald Trump is experienced in the art of litigation.

As a successful real estate entrepreneur, he was able to acquire the skills necessary to maneuver the legal playing field in the rough and tumble Manhattan marketplace.

The president has now made a strategic decision to litigate rather than comply with the attempt by Democrats to use their oversight powers to keep a discredited narrative alive.

Recently, a significant change took place in the legal approach that the Trump White House adopted.

For the past two years President Trump’s administration fully cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. More than a million documents were produced, officials were allowed to freely testify, and executive privilege was not exercised.

However, following the release of the Mueller report, the administration has decided to take a different legal approach with respect to what appears to be an unnecessary use of congressional investigative powers.

The president has recently indicated his opposition to having White House personnel submit to the subpoenas peppering Pennsylvania Avenue from overzealous congressional Democrats.

By challenging the Democrats’ efforts to perpetually investigate rather than fulfilling their congressional duties, President Trump increases the likelihood of the Democratically controlled House to be perceived as a “do-nothing” chamber.

White House attorneys are objecting to Democrat subpoenas, which probably means that protracted legal battles will ensue.

The Trump Organization has filed a lawsuit against House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., seeking to block a subpoena for the president’s years-old financial records.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin allowed a deadline to pass, which was given by the Democrat House to turn over the president’s tax returns.

The White House instructed its former personnel security director Carl Kline not to testify before Congress about the process by which the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner obtained their security clearances. The House has since held Kline in contempt.

Personal counsel of the president Rudy Giuliani pointed out to Politico that the president’s position on the House subpoenas is justified, when considering the partisan political motives of congressional Democrats.

“I think it’s exactly the right legal strategy, Giuliani said. “I doubt there’s anybody in America that thinks this has some legitimate governmental purpose.”

“This is like a judge saying I’m going to hang you, but I’ll give you a trial first,” Giuliani added.

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., fully supports the president’s policy of not complying with what Graham rightly referred to as “a complete partisan thing now.”

With the Muller investigation wrapped up, the Russia-collusion narrative debunked, and an obstruction of justice charge eliminated, Graham accurately compared Democrats to filmmaker Oliver Stone attempting to come up with a plot line for a film dealing the Kennedy assassination.

“I think Congress is going crazy here,” Graham told The Associated Press.

One of the things that has been driving many of the Democrats in Congress insane is the prospect of bringing in former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify. Because the Trump administration has indicated that it may use executive privilege to prevent Congress from subpoenaing McGahn, the media have been invoking the specter of former President Richard Nixon in an attempt to portray the invocation of the constitutional privilege as an illicit act.

The president is legally empowered to resist subpoenas originating from the legislative branch that are designed to obtain information or testimony relating to the executive function. The Supreme Court has viewed this presidential privilege as a part of the separation of powers doctrine, derived from the president’s ability to carry out the duties held by the commander in chief under the Constitution.

The privilege to prevent staffers from testifying and/or withhold documents arises because of the unique need to protect the confidentiality of the advice that assists presidential judgments.

Despite the stilted coverage of most of the media, prior presidents have engaged in similar battles. Former President George W. Bush clashed with Congress after his administration attempted to block testimony from top aides over the firing of several federal prosecutors.

Former President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege to withhold documents related to the gun-trafficking scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious, which resulted in the House holding then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.

The Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon held that when executive privilege is at issue, “…coequal branches of the Government are set on a collision course.” The judicial branch is therefore forced to deal with “the difficult task of balancing the need for information in a judicial proceeding and the Executive’s Article II prerogatives.” Such a proceeding “pushes to the fore difficult questions of separation of powers and checks and balances.” The court concluded that “constitutional confrontation between the two branches are likely to be avoided whenever possible.”

Consequently, when dealing with confrontations between the executive and legislative branches, the courts have avoided direct intervention.

In such legal proceedings, the wheels of justice move even more slowly than usual and are likely to slog through the court system eventually making their way up to the High Court.

The bottom-line result will be that the president’s legal battles with Congress are likely to last beyond the 2020 presidential election, thus denying the investigation-obsessed Democrats both their narrative and their pound of flesh.

Hollywood Writers Go to War with Talent Agents

1513300629694

Two Hollywood institutions, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Association of Talent Agents (ATA), are now in an all out battle with one another. Consequently, the way in which business is conducted in the entertainment world may never be the same.

A dispute between the two organizations arose over the 43 year-old Artists’ Managers Basic Agreement (AMBA), a pact between the WGA and the ATA, which regulates the terms of how agents represent writers.

The WGA by-laws stipulate that an agency must sign the AMBA in order to represent one of its members.

Questions about the AMBA arose after a survey of WGA members found that Hollywood writers felt as if the major agencies’ practice of “packaging” was a detriment to their careers.

Packaging refers to an activity in which agents engage whereby there is a combining together of creative clients to benefit film studios, producers, and television networks.

Talent agencies used to rely primarily on a 10 percent commission rate as a revenue source. However, the practice of packaging provided a means in which larger agencies would be able to earn substantial additional revenue.

So-called packaging fees are charged separately and comprise an additional revenue source that is over and above the 10 percent commission; this additional amount of income is earned in exchange for bringing to a particular entertainment project a group of artists, e.g., writers, directors, and actors.

Additionally, the three biggest agencies, William Morris Endeavor (WME), Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and United Talent Agency (UTA), have spawned affiliate companies that participate in the ownership of content.

Writers contend that agents who package and gain an ownership stake have a conflict of interest, and they further assert that this conflict has caused writers’ earnings to decline.

The pursuit of packaging revenue places agents in a position of seeking deals that produce lucrative packaging fees rather than pushing for their clients to receive greater compensation.

When an agency owns and/or produces content, it places the agent in the dubious position of being an employer who is supposed to be representing the interests of an employee. This is a textbook case of a conflict of interest.

The growth of revenue streams for large talent agencies has attracted private equity investors and has even spurred some of the larger agencies to reportedly pursue the idea of going public. This has added more pressure as well as additional incentive to continue packaging and content ownership.

The agents that engage in such practices have actually made things worse through a lack of transparency, which has bred mistrust with their clients. Creators often had no knowledge that the content they had created was being packaged, with their agency generating a substantial amount of additional revenue off of their work. The agencies have acknowledged this error and have indicated that in the future they will be transparent.

The problem is that the damage has been done. Because the WGA and the ATA have come to an impasse in their negotiations, a tough-minded new talent agent code of conduct has been implemented by the writers union to end packaging and content ownership by agencies. The new code disallows any agent who represents a WGA member from receiving packaging fees and/or from working with agency-affiliated production companies.

WGA members have been instructed to disassociate from agents who do not comply with the new code of conduct. To this end, the union has provided members a DocuSign link with which they can send formal termination letters to agents.

These letters are now being sent out. Krista Vernoff, the showrunner on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” wrote an article for the Hollywood Reporter, which is titled “Why I Left My Agent, Despite the Sales Pitch.”

A sizable number of writers have taken to Twitter to announce their solidarity with the union by changing their profile pictures to icons that say “I Stand With the WGA.”

More than 800 writers have signed a statement of support and indicated that they “will only be represented as writers by agencies franchised by the Guild.” Most of the notable showrunners and TV creators that agencies desire to package have been visibly in support of the union.

The union has decided to play hardball with a new database for showrunners, where position openings are posted and writers may directly apply for work. It has put forth a plan for writers to be represented by managers and lawyers, as opposed to agents, although the ATA contends that the plan violates the law in California and New York.

Reportedly, the union has already drafted a lawsuit against the ATA and its member agencies, which would bring the battle to a courtroom on the East Coast or the West. The lawsuit will likely claim a breach of fiduciary duty by the agents who accepted fees from studios and allegedly failed to negotiate in good faith on behalf of their clients’ interests.

The outcome of this conflict will likely result in an entertainment industry realignment, whereby writers are represented by smaller agencies that agree to collect commissions, minus the packaging or content participation.

In a letter to members, the WGA described the significance of the big agencies firing in the following manner: “We know that, together, we are about to enter uncharted waters.”