Monthly Archives: April 2019

Not (Quite) a Slam-Dunk?

Michael Stern argues that maybe the Trump Family suit against the Family firms’ accountants might not be a clear slam dunk. But then, in an update, he mostly walks that back.

Previously: Bad Claims is the New Trump Litigation Strategy and Other Views on Bad Claims.

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Other Views on Bad Claims

I asked why the Trump Family is making so many bad legal claims all of a sudden, and gave some guesses.  Other people have noticed the trend too, and have their own theories:

Digby says “Barr’s outrageous behavior and the White House attempts to stonewall all forms of oversight are pushing the Democrats toward impeachment, whether they want it or not.”

No word though on whether the strategy to trigger impeachment might be due to a political calculation that it would actually help Trump get re-elected.  I don’t actually buy that, but I can see why it would seem like a way out an increasingly tight political box.  Hey, it worked for President Clinton, didn’t it?

Paul Waldman says the goal is “Delay, delay, delay,” noting a suit I didn’t even mention, the subpoena-blocking lawsuit against his accountants.

I also forgot to mention Trump told all officials in the many departments to refuse to testify [beware video starts automatically]; presumably they’ll try to block the ensuing subpoenas too.  So this is clearly a centrally coordinated strategy, such as it is.

Some other online comment, Jonathan Chait, on the anti-subpoena strategy, “The first thing to understand about this legal theory is that it is not a legal theory. … Trump’s opposition to congressional oversight appears to be an extension of his business strategy of threatening counterparties with expensive, time-consuming lawsuits in order to shirk his obligations. … [T]he courts might take long enough processing the “arguments” that Trump can keep his scandals bottled up until after the election. []Trump’s extreme litigiousness is a natural extension of his general lack of shame.”

And Ian Millhouser at ThinkProgress, “Here’s a pro tip for lawyers: if you are going to ask a court to fundamentally alter the balance of power between the legislative branch and the judiciary, it’s a good idea to accurately describe any Supreme Court cases you rely upon. It’s a bad idea to tell the court that a case that absolutely eviscerates your legal argument is the best thing you have going for you.” That said, after a full-bore takedown of the Trump v. Deutsche Bank case, he ends with this warning, “There is always a risk, no matter how clear the law may be, that this Supreme Court will ignore it.”

Meanwhile, however, stuff like DHS Asserting Broad, Unconstitutional Authority to Search Travelers’ Phones and Laptops is, sadly, just business as usual.

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Bad Claims is the New Trump Litigation Strategy

Post-Mueller, the Trump Family1 has embarked on a novel litigation strategy: bringing really bad claims. Making terrible legal arguments is nothing new for the Trumps, but generally they’ve made those arguments as defendants, often while defending very amateurish and inept attempts to overturn Obama-era regulations. And almost universally, those lost.

Now, however, we see the Trump Family is moving on to offense2, and it’s not pretty: Treasury is setting up to argue it can ignore a quite clear statute requiring the IRS send Congress tax returns. Attorney General Barr, to his shame (if he has any), claims he can dictate to Congressional committees the terms of his appearances. Trump Family companies are suing Democratic House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to block a subpoenas on his finances and suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent them from complying with subpoenas.

What all these cases have in common is that the legal theories on which they are based are tenuous to non-existent.

What gives? These could simply be Hail Mary passes by the guilty: try this because you have nothing better.  Or they could be plays to delay bad news, maybe even run out the clock until the next election with appeals. Or, worst of all, they could be a cynical calculation that some or all of them might find favor before an increasingly stacked judiciary, and a very pro-Trump Supreme Court.  Or, why not, it could be all of the above.

All of these are bad answers.


  1. I have decided that from now on I will use the Mafia term while blogging, rather than call it an Administration. []
  2. In the legal sense; in every other sense they’ve been there for quite some time. []
Posted in Law: Administrative Law, Law: Constitutional Law, Law: Ethics, Law: Everything Else, Law: The Supremes, The Scandals | Comments Off on Bad Claims is the New Trump Litigation Strategy

It Adds Up

Video collects life’s minor annoyances in one and a half minutes:

I think I’ve had all but five in the last year alone.

Missing, however, is dealing with banks. Or maybe that’s a major annoyance?

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Coral Gables Falls Prey to Dark Money

The guy supported by the mysterious group that seems to have falsified return addresses on the false and misleading mailers they sent voters, well that guy, Jorge Fors Jr., won the Coral Gables Commission run-off by 173 votes in a race with 26% turnout.

There are four groups you could blame for this:

First, low-information voters who got bamboozled (not all of Fors’s supporters of course, but enough to swing the result). I don’t in fact blame them. Not having to be well informed is a luxury of prosperity and good times. Pity it tends to be self-limiting….

Second, the Florida legislature, which has written campaign rules that it designed to be abused. Filing deadlines are arranged so that dark money groups don’t have to file much or anything in the way of disclosure until after the election, so we can’t tell who is paying for hit jobs on candidates. Even when disclosures are filed, the rules (intentionally) leave open ways to obfuscate the source of funds. I sure do blame them.

And third, of course, whoever it was who paid for and designed the hit mailers on Cabrera that I am sure swing more than 87 votes.

Last, but far from least, I blame the worthies of the Coral Gables establishment who don’t want to have their elections fall at the same time as any other race. That depresses turnout and keeps the election nice and clubby, just they way they want it. I blame the current Mayor, who chaired the most recent Charter Revision Committee, and rejected suggestions to move the date, even though being on the county ballot would save the City significant money. Supporters of the off-year-election status quo argued (1) that if the City were on the county ballot, our election would appear right at the end, and there would be ballot fatigue — but I bet votes cast would still be well over 26%! And they also argued, but very very quietly, (2) that if we had City elections on the main ballot then — horror of horrors! — more students would vote. And we can’t have that riff-raff deciding elections, now can we?

We should run Coral Gables City elections like we do for judges: have the non-partisan races on the day of the primary, and any run-off on the day of the general election. Leaving races to off years as we do not only wastes taxpayer money paying for the election machinery (twice in this case), it also suppresses the vote. But again, in the eyes of our city worthies, that’s a feature not a bug.

But one guy you shouldn’t blame is Ralph Cabrera. He worked hard; indeed he came by my neighborhood at least twice. He didn’t go low in this race. He should look in the mirror in the morning and feel good about that.

Posted in Coral Gables | 1 Comment

Coral Gables Commission Run-Off: Please Vote Cabrera

We have a run-off on Tuesday April 23rd (i.e., tomorrow if you are reading this Monday night) between the two top vote getters in Group 4.  Sadly, the incumbent Mayor beat Jeannett Slesnick by 123 votes — even fewer than last time.

I wrote previously about why you should vote for Ralph Cabrera, and there’s more where that came from. If you live in Coral Gables it’s important you take a few minutes and vote in this run-off. We really Do Not want some unknown party to buy this election for Jorge Fors. 

Since the election there have been two more sleazy mailers from a shadowy source making false charges against Cabrera. The sordid business is documented, and speculated about, at Political Cortadito’s Secretly funded PAC attacks Ralph Cabrera with mystery mailers, lies.

It’s weird and sad that dark money has come to a small city like Coral Gables, but these are the times we live in. Please don’t let the bad guys win this.

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