Guiliani Joins Trump’s Legal Team

On Thursday, former New York mayor and famed prosecutor Rudi Giuliani joined President Trump’s legal team, in the hopes of bring an end to the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Guiliani said that he would like to negotiate a solution that would conclude the probe because he thinks that it would be in the best interests of the country. He also mentioned that he has high regard for both President Trump and Robert Mueller.

Jay Sekulow, who is a lawyer working on Trump’s legal team, confirmed that the mayor and former presidential candidate had joined them. John Down, who previously led Trump’s legal team in regards to the investigation, resigned a month ago. Sekulow further said that two other attorneys had joined the president’s legal team: Marty Raskin and Jane Serene Raskin.

Since Dowd left the Trump team, the team has had trouble retaining lawyers to work on the probe. In March, Ted Olson — who was the solicitor general for President George W. Bush — said that many well known Washington attorneys were steering clear of what he called both the “turmoil” and the “chaos” that he characterized as the current state of the White House.

But President Trump has denied that this is the truth. In a series of tweets, the president said that there were many lawyers who wanted to join his legal team. He further said that the problem was not that there was a shortage of lawyers, but that he was hesitant to add attorneys at this point of the investigation who were unfamiliar with the investigation.

Trump told his followers that top law firms and numerous lawyers want to represent him. He further termed the idea that he cannot find lawyers “fake news.” He said that no lawyer ever turns down what he called “fame and fortune.” Though he did admit that some attorneys were conflicted about joining his legal team. He further tweeted that he was happy with his current legal team.

DOJ Releases Comey Memos

Thursday saw the release of former FBI Director James Comey’s infamous memos detailing his interactions with President Trump. The memos, which came with redaction, include discussions on the infamous dossier built by Christopher Steele detailing potentially compromising information Russian might have on the President.

While the memos give no previously undisclosed information on the meetings, they do paint a picture of an FBI director’s increasing discomfort with a President unaware of the usual customs in Washington. A common theme throughout the memos is the President’s lack of knowledge for using established communication channels between the Administration and the Justice Department such as when he asked the FBI Director to privately discuss the oncoming investigation into National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a move that left the meeting open to questions of inappropriate influence.

The memos also detail the infamous “loyalty” meeting between Comey and the President where the latter had asked for loyalty from the former. The FBI Director then said the President could expect honesty from him which the President then interpreted as “honest loyalty” which Comey acknowledged in the memo that the two might have had different ideas of what that term would have meant but decided that clarification of the term wouldn’t have been productive.

In regards to the Steele dossier, the memos describe the conversation between the two in which the President brought up the dossier’s most salacious detail– a reported encounter involving Russian prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. The President had asked the FBI Director if he could disprove the claim, saying he didn’t want First Lady Melania Trump to wonder about its validity. The President disputed that the incident had happened but mentioned that Russian President had bizarrely claimed that Russia has “the most beautiful hookers in the world.”

The release of the memos coincide with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s desire to subpoena for them. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd has insisted that the memos were scrubbed for any information that might adversely affect the ongoing investigation.

Appeals Lawyer Decides That Attorney That Was Unaware Of His Suspension Cannot Resume Practice

An attorney that claims he was unaware of a 2010 ruling that resulted in his own suspension will remain on suspension for the immediate future due to a decision made by the New York court of appeals.

The Attorney Grievance Committee reported to the court that attorney M. Scott Vayer continued practicing law despite the fact that he had been suspended in 2010. The Grievance Committee asserts that Vayer should face a disbarment or long-term suspension for unauthorized practice.

Vayer explains that he was not made aware that he had been suspended until a year ago when a colleague brought the matter to his attention.

Vayer did acknowledge that he did not take the necessary steps to renew his registration and had in fact not met any continuing education requirement since 2001.

Vayer says that the reason he did not know about his suspension in 2010 because he had no subscription to the New York Law Journal which posted a notice of the suspension for five consecutive days. Vayer also moved both his home and office in the fall of the same year which could provide the explanation of why he did not receive notice by mail of his suspension.

Vayer has taken the steps to bring his continuing education requirements up to date and has also made current his once delinquent registration fees as of June 2017.

The appeals court has ruled that he suspension will be upheld in the interim while the Attorney Grievance Committee continues its investigation.

The committee has characterized it as “incredible” that Vayer could believe that he possessed a valid license to practice law in the state of New York after neglecting to renew his registration and complete CLE requirements for 17 years.

M. Scott Vayer did not resond to requests for comments made by email or phone.

San Francisco Bans Fur Sales

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco unanimously passed a ban against the sale of fur in the city. All that remains for the ordinance to become law is for San Francisco mayor Mike Farrell to sign it, which he is expected to do.

If enacted, San Francisco will become the largest city in the United States to ban fur sales. Such bans already exist in smaller municipalities, such as West Hollywood and Berkeley, which are both in California as well.

The ban would become effective as of the first of next year, though it would not apply to either charities or second-hand shops. But it would apply to sales made online, whether such sales were made by businesses or individuals. Shops within the city limits that have inventories of fur would have until January of 2020 to liquidate such inventory.

Katy Tang, who is the city supervisor who sponsored the bill, hailed the passing of the bill. She also spoke out against the cruelty she believes occurs at fur farms. She said that these farms were violent places where animals are poisoned, electrocuted, gassed and injured for the sole purpose of producing clothing. She further said that it would not be right for San Francisco to continue allowing the sale of these products, and that the city should be an example for others, not just in this country but across the world.

Tang also posted on social media how many famous fashion designers have recently decided to cease making clothing products from fur. The list of designers include Versace, Michael Kors, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Giorgio Armani and Stella McCartney.

Many animal rights organizations expressed support for the ban. They include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society and Direct Action Everywhere. Wayne Hsiung, who is the co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere praised Tang for helping create a more humane world for animals, and he said that it would help spearhead similar laws.

House Passes Omnibus Spending Bill

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an omnibus spending bill. The bill, which contained 2,232 pages, was passed only 17 hours after it was introduced on the House floor, and it prevents a government shutdown by providing funding until October of this year.

For many months, Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating the bill. While they had been negotiating, Congress passed 5 continuing resolutions to keep the government operating until the bill could be completed. It passed by a vote of 265-167, with 111 Democrats joining the 145 Republicans who supported the bill. 77 Democrats and 90 Republicans voted against the bill.

The $1.3 trillion bill increases non-defense spending this fiscal year by $63 billion, while it increases defense spending by $80 billion. It also provides a 1.9% raise for civilian federal workers, while giving members of the armed services a raise of 2.4%.

The bill further provides significant resources for border protection as well, in the amount of $1.6 billion. This includes $445 million for levee fencing, $445 million for replacing existing fencing, $251 million for secondary fencing and $196 million for “primary pedestrian fencing.” However, the bill specifically prohibits the Trump administration from creating a border wall based upon prototypes that were designed last year.

The bill also provides funding for various forms of infrastructure projects. Among these is a rail project for the New York area called the New York-New Jersey Gateway program. The president had wanted funding for this project to be contingent on funding the border wall, but lawmakers in the New York area were able to get the funding without any such contingency.

Also contained in the legislation was a fix to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and a correction to the recently passed tax law that gave farm cooperatives a larger tax benefit than other forms of agricultural corporations. In exchange for the latter, Democrats received an expansion of a housing credit for low-income families.

DC Lawyer Promises To Represent Trump Officials Who Break Nondisclosure Agreements

A top Washington, DC attorney has promised to defend any official in the Trump Administration who is willing to break the non-disclosure agreements they were required to sign before entering the government, and he is willing to do so free of charge.

Mark Zaid, who is a lawyer who specializes in cases involving government workers and their free speech rights, made the offer in response to a report that indicated that all Trump officials had signed non-disclosure agreements that forbid them from talking about their work within the Trump administration, both while they are on the job, and forever thereafter.

According to the report, any infraction of the non-disclosure agreements would be subject to a fine of $10 million. The agreements supposedly cover conveying information both to members of the media and to other government employees. It also prevents officials from conveying information even under the guise of fiction.

One of the founding partners of a nonprofit law firm called Whistleblower Aid, Zaid said that legally government officials could only be prevented from disclosing classified information after their government service was completed. Other civil rights and free speech experts concur with Zaid, and believe that the non-disclosure agreements in question are unconstitutional, which means that they cannot be enforced by law.

Ben Wizner, who works for the American Civil Rights Union (ACLU), said that the speech of public employees cannot be suppressed by private agreements. Heidi Kitrosser, who is a law professor at the University of Minnesota, agreed with him, saying that the agreements clearly violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Mark Fenster, who is a law professor at the University of Florida, added that public employees cannot sign away their right to speak.

Many of these experts further noted that officials in the Trump Administration do not actually work for the president, but for the United States. Therefore, only the government itself could enforce the agreements, which is highly unlikely to happen.

Wisconsin Judge Orders Special Elections

On Thursday, a Wisconsin judge ordered Governor Scott Walker to schedule special elections for a pair of legislative seats that the governor has refused to schedule since the end of last year.

Due to Walker’s refusal to schedule the elections, Democrats in the state had sued the governor. They also indicated that governor was delaying the elections because he was afraid that Republicans would lose them.

Josann Reynolds, who is a Dane County Circuit Court Judge and an appointee of Governor Walker, told the governor that he must schedule an election within the week. Though the governor is expected to appeal the order. Amy Hasenberg, who is the governor’s spokesperson, said that the governor was presently conferring with state attorneys to determine what actions they will take next.

The two seats in dispute concern one in the state senate and another in the state assembly. They both became vacant in December of last year when both office holders took positions in the Walker administration. The governor has insisted that the two seats should not be filled in special elections, but that they instead should be filled during the normal November 2018 elections. The winners of those elections would then be seated in January of next year.

The governor stated that he had no legal obligation to hold special elections, and that by not holding them he was actually saving the taxpayers money. But Democrats believe that he was more motivated by the fact that a Democrat won a special legislative election this past January in a heavily Republican district that overwhelmingly supported President Trump in 2016. Governor Walker himself called the outcome of that election a wake up call.

According to Wisconsin law, if a seat vacancy occurs before May 1 during an election election year, a special election must be called. But Walker believes that this does not apply in this case because the vacancies occurred last year, which was not an election year.

Facebook Could Face an Avalanche of Lawsuits

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has not only eroded confidence in the world’s most popular social network; it has also opened a can of worms that could keep Facebook’s legal team busy for years.

In California, four civil lawsuits were filed against Facebook during the last week of March; furthermore, attorneys representing Cook County in Illinois filed a lawsuit on behalf of Chicago residents whose protections under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act were allegedly ignored when the social network gave data access to Cambridge Analytica.

Although the various lawsuits piling up against Facebook present a diversity of civil complaints, a common theme in the filings is that the social network failed t to protect user data in accordance to its Terms of Service.

Meanwhile, agents from the Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom executed a search warrant at the corporate offices of Cambridge Analytica in London. Legal analysts believe that the raid could produce documents that United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller will probably find of interest as they may relate to the ongoing investigation into the political campaign that elected President Donald Trump. The work of Cambridge Analytica is believed to have been instrumental in the election of Donald Trump as well as in the Brexit referendum.

The legal issues that Facebook will likely face in the next few months were caused by an app developed by Cambridge Analytica under the guise of academic research. A Russian American developer created a Facebook app that essentially consists of a fun quiz; what users did not know is that their social media data was being harvested along with the data of individuals within their social circles. The data was later cross-referenced with consumer data records to create voter profiles that could be targeted with false news reports.

In the Cook County lawsuit, Facebook could face fines as high as $10,000 per each individual violation of the aforementioned Illinois state law. Similar lawsuits by state attorney generals across the U.S. could be forthcoming.

John Dowd, Trump’s Lead Lawyer, Resigns

The New York Times is reporting that Trump’s lead lawyer resigned today. Just last week, Trump claimed in a tweet that he is very happy with his legal team. The President lashed out at the report that Trump was looking for different legal talent. Regardless, changing lawyers in the middle of any litigation or controversy is 1) a sign of being on the losing end, and 2) a catalyst for even more loss.

Thousands of hours are involved in litigation. Beyond what the public sees in any legal fight, lawyers spend days, weeks and months researching, brainstorming, and writing. The lawyers supporting any potential criminal defendant are numerous. Typically, each attorney is tasked with the procedural and substantive law for a particular subset of the total case. For instance, one lawyer might be responsible for determining whether jurisdiction could be an issue in the case. While this research and information belongs to the client, the knowledge and strategy involved in all of that work remains with the lawyer and his or her team. So, when you no longer have that lawyer’s expertise and strategic framing, as a client…not a good thing.

Furthermore, and even more importantly, the other side of any litigation relishes picking off an opponent’s legal team. If litigation is war, then each and every step in the process is a battle to the end. So, when the other side starts losing lawyers – for whatever reason – one side looks to be winning the legal fight. Lawyers also spend time attempting to dislodge opposing parties from their legal team. Citing conflicts of interest or other ethical missteps, lawyers will typically have teams devoted to the single task of researching the law on conflicts and bar rules.

So, overall, lawyers resigning is not a good thing. It is doubtful that the recent news of Trump’s lead attorney, Dowd, will be a benefit for the President’s legal fight against special counsel Mueller. The only possible good news would be if Trump hired a much better lawyer to replace Dowd. Since learning that Ted Olson, one of the country’s finest litigators, turned Trump down, it seems that Trump is losing his legal entanglement.

Tax Law Includes Big Change for Family Law

The U.S. Congress and President Trump just passed an overhaul of U.S. tax law. There are big changes across a variety of taxes, deductions and exemptions. The law was hotly debated, and it remains controversial.

One of the changes that impacts family law in a big way is the change in the way alimony payments are taxed. Until now, the person who paid alimony or spousal support to an ex-spouse could deduct that amount from their income. The person who received alimony had to pay taxes on the amount that they received.

The new tax law reverses that. Now, you have to pay taxes on alimony that you pay. You don’t have to pay taxes on alimony that you receive. The new rule applies throughout the United States. Each state may determine their own laws for how much alimony to pay or receive. However, taxation rules set by the federal government apply throughout the country.

Supporters of the new law say that more taxes overall will be collected by the government. They say that payers have higher tax rates, so the government will collect more net taxes. They say the changes won’t make a difference in divorce figures, because most people don’t make a decision about whether to file for divorce based on how the government taxes alimony. Opponents say that alimony payers may fight paying alimony if they know that they have to pay taxes on what they pay. They say that it’s hard enough for divorcing couples to resolve their disputes without penalizing an alimony payer with taxes.

The change makes alimony tax rules mirror child support laws. Child support recipients don’t pay taxes on the amounts they receive. Instead, the person who pays child support pays the taxes on the amounts that they pay. Now, alimony laws work the same way.