Trump Appointing Judges at Rapid Pace

A data analysis by the Los Angeles Times has found that President Trump is ranked sixth of 19 presidents for appointing the highest number of federal judges in their first year.

Reporter Kyle Kim explains that Trump’s Republican Party’s slim majority in the Senate is one reason he has been able to fast-track judges.

“Another reason is a little bit of political warfare. Republican senators blocked 36 judicial nominations in President Obama’s first five years, according to Politifact. The best-known nominee was Judge Merrick Garland, chosen to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia,” writes Kim.

Read the LA Times article.




Suit By 22 State Attorneys General Seeks to Block FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal

A group of 22 Democratic state attorneys general, including those from California and New York, filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of tough net neutrality rules for online traffic, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The AGs’ complaint argues that the vote last month by the Republican-controlled FCC was an “arbitrary and capricious” change to regulations, writes reporter Jim Puzzanghera.

“The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers, allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do and what we say online,” said New York Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman, who is leading the suit.

Read the LA Times article.



Corporations May Dodge Billions in U.S. Taxes Through New Loophole: Experts

Taxes - IRS - Internal Revenue ServiceReuters is reporting that a loophole in the new U.S. tax law could allow multinational corporations like Apple Inc to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes on profits stashed overseas, according to experts.

Reporter David Morgan explains that the loophole involves the tax rates — 15.5 percent or 8 percent — that companies must pay on $2.6 trillion in profits they are holding abroad.

Stephen Shay, a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, said the loophole clearly is the result of rushed legislation. He explained that a U.S. multinational could manipulate its foreign cash positions and potentially save  money by shifting profits to the lower rate from the higher one.

Read the Reuters article.



Webinar: Contractors and the New Era of Cyber Compliance

Washington Technology will present a complimentary webinar on Jan. 25, 2018, to discuss new compliance requirements for securing government data contractor networks. The webinar will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

Speakers for the one-hour event will be Ron Ross of NIST; Maria Proestou, CEO of Delta Resources; and Susan Cassidy, partner, Covington & Burling.

Government and industry experts will:

  • Offer advice and guidance on what contractors should be doing to ensure compliance.
  • Provide insights on best practices in areas such as training, risk management and planning for in the future.
  • Help to prepare attendees for meeting this requirement and maintaining compliance for their government customers.

Register for the webinar.



Former Indiana State Majority Leader Joins Barnes & Thornburg in DC

Former Indiana Senate Majority Leader Brandt Hershman has joined Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Washington, D.C., office as an of counsel attorney in the firm’s Government Services and Finance Department. Hershman will be an integral member of the Federal Relations Group.

Hershman, who served 17 years in the Indiana senate before recently announcing his resignation, is widely recognized for his experience in the areas of tax, energy, telecommunications and agriculture.

“It is an honor to join a firm of Barnes & Thornburg’s caliber and I look forward to working with the exceptional attorneys who are counseling clients on issues critical to their businesses, such as taxes, economic development and infrastructure” Hershman said.

Hershman, who represented constituents in Senate District 7, focused his efforts on tax reform and economic development during his tenure. He led the effort to usher in telecommunications deregulation legislation that has brought more than $5 billion of investment in infrastructure throughout Indiana.

“We are excited to welcome Brandt to Barnes & Thornburg,” said Karen McGee, managing partner of the Washington, D.C. office. “His experience in public service and background in tax policy, telecommunications, and other areas will be a tremendous asset to our clients as a member of our growing Washington, D.C.-based Federal Relations group. It will be a privilege to work with someone who has had a huge impact on public policy throughout his 17-year political career. We congratulate him on his service to Indiana and look forward to working with him.”

In addition to serving in the Indiana Senate, Hershman previously served as managing partner and general counsel for The DeNovo Group. He also served as executive director of the Program on Continuing Education for Public Officials at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

He also has served in several staff positions in the U.S. Congress and its members, including district operations director for the U.S. House of Representatives; press secretary for Buyer for Congress; and presidential writer in the Executive Office of the President in The White House.

A graduate of Purdue University, Hershman earned his law degree from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. He also earned two executive certificates, one in comparative tax policy and administration from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and one in finance and financial management services from Cornell University.

He is admitted to practice in the state of Indiana and before the U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana and the Indiana Supreme Court.



Trump Calls U.S. Court System ‘Unfair’ After DACA Ruling

Reuters is reporting that President Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted the U.S. court system as “broken and unfair” after a federal judge blocked his move to end the program protecting young immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents, commonly known as “Dreamers.”

He was responding to a Tuesday ruling by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco that DACA must remain in place while the litigation is resolved.

In a post on Twitter on Wednesday morning, Trump wrote, “It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts.”

Read the Reuters article.




Trump’s Effort to Stop Publication of Scathing Book is a Break in Precedent

Legal experts and historians said the decision by President Trump to threaten “imminent” legal action against a publishing house, a journalist and a former aide represented a remarkable break with recent precedent and could have a chilling effect on free-speech rights, according to Slate.

The threats did not appear to work, at least as far as the scathing book by Michael Wolff. His publisher announced Thursday that publication had been moved forward four days to Friday because of what they described as “unprecedented demand.”


“Though several presidents — including Jimmy Carter and Theodore Roosevelt — have sued for libel after leaving office, it is uncommon and potentially damaging for a current occupant of the Oval Office to try to use the powers of the presidency to take on personal and political rivals, Brinkley said.”

Read the Slate article.




The Supreme Court’s Travel Ban Off-Ramp

Refugees - immigrationA Ninth Circuit ruling on President Trump’s “travel ban” case offers the U.S. Supreme Court a clever way to reject the ban without limiting government power over immigration, writes Garrett Epps for The Atlantic.

The court does not question the statute that the administration relies on as the basis for the travel bans, but it denies that the bans conform to it.

Epps explains that “a travel ban is perfectly possible, and the administration is always free to ask Congress for one. Had it done so in January, Congress might have enacted one by now. The Supreme Court may be concerned that a decision against the government in this case may weaken the nation; the Ninth Circuit opinion suggests a way to avoid doing so—while still rejecting Trump’s demand for personal powers that ‘will not be questioned.’”

Read The Atlantic‘s article.




The Net Neutrality Lawsuits Are Coming. Here’s What They’re Likely to Say.

Because of the potentially far-reaching consequences of the FCC’s vote on net neutrality, consumer groups and some state attorneys general have vowed to sue the agency to overturn its decision, writes Brian Fung in an article for The Washington Post.

Some analysts told the reporter that the first suits could be mere weeks away.

“Opponents of the FCC are expected to make two broad categories of arguments, analysts say,” Fung writes. “One thrust is likely to target the FCC’s legal reasoning for undoing the net neutrality rules, and the other will concentrate on the decision-making process that led to the vote, which some critics claim had been ‘corrupted’.”

Read the Post article.



FBI’s Top Lawyer Said to Be Reassigned

The FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, is being reassigned — one of the first moves by new director Christopher A. Wray to assemble his own team of senior advisers as he tries to fend off accusations of politicization within the bureau, reports The Washington Post.


Baker told colleagues he will be taking on other duties at the FBI, according to people familiar with the matter. In recent months, Baker had been caught up in a strange interagency dispute that led to a leak probe and attracted the attention of senior lawmakers, but people familiar with the matter said the probe had recently ended with a decision not to charge anyone. The leak issue had not played a part in Baker’s reassignment, these people said.

The report says Baker was close to former FBI director James B. Comey, who asked Baker to be his general counsel.

Read the Post article.



Whistleblowers’ Lawsuit Leads to Massive Medical Fraud Settlement

What started seven years ago as a whistleblower lawsuit filed by two Charlotte-area doctors ended Tuesday with two emergency room physicians groups paying federal and state governments more than $33 million to avoid going to court, according to a report by The Charlotte Observer.

“The payments cap off longstanding allegations of a vast medical-fraud conspiracy between a major hospital chain and the physicians groups that bilked federal and state healthcare programs in North Carolina and five other states out of millions of dollars,” writes Michael Gordon.

He explains that prosecutors allege that EmCare physicians took kickbacks and other inducements from Health Management Associates, a now defunct chain of acute-care hospitals, to recommend that their patients be admitted to HMA hospitals rather than receive outpatient care. Then the doctors would order expensive and unnecessary tests, resulting in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to the hospitals.

Read the Observer article.



Alabama Senate Loss Will Rein in Trump’s Judicial Selections

Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in the Senate special election is likely to have an immediate effect on the Trump, predicts Jonathan R. Nash in The Hill.

Nash reports that two senators have voiced questions about the qualifications and temperament of some of Trump’s nomination to the courts.

With the Republicans Senate majority reduced to one, the opposition of two senators would leave Republicans without a majority to confirm judges.

In an opinion piece for The Hill, Nash, the Robert Howell Hall professor of law at Emory University School of Law, claims the overall quality of judicial nominees is good, but a few of the more recent nominees have generated controversy.

Read The Hill’s article.




Inside Trump’s Legal Team: Trying to Protect the President From Mueller’s ‘Killers

As lawyers for the world’s highest-profile client, John M. Dowd and Ty Cobb have come under scrutiny for their every move and utterance — and the criticism has been harsh, according to a report The Washington Post published on President Trump’s legal team’s representation in the Russia probe.

The report says that, when the president “frets that Mueller may be getting too close to him, they assure him he has done nothing wrong, urge him to resist attacking the special counsel and insist that the investigation is wrapping up — first, they said, by Thanksgiving, then by Christmas and now by early next year.”

The team is derided by some as being indiscreet, error-prone and outmatched, write .

They quote Alan Dershowitz, a criminal defense attorney and Harvard Law School professor: “These are not the kinds of things that one would expect from the most powerful man in America, who has a choice of anybody to be his defense counsel. Well — almost anybody.”

Read the Post‘s article.



Republicans Attack ABA Over ‘Not Qualified’ Judicial Nominee Ratings

Senate Republicans have declared war on the American Bar Association, according to a report from Politico.

For decades, the ABA has assessed judicial nominees and their fitness to serve on the bench. But now, reporters Seung Min Kim and John Bresnahan write, as the ABA has emerged as a major stumbling block in President Donald Trump’s effort to transform the courts, the GOP is accusing the nonpartisan group of holding a liberal slant and is seeking to sideline it.

“The ABA has deemed at least four of Trump’s judicial nominees ‘not qualified’ — a high number, although other administrations had the ABA evaluate candidates privately before they were nominated,” they write.

Republicans have responded by ratcheting up their attacks to try to discredit the century-old group.

Read the Politico article.



Fear Mounts Inside USDA over Trump’s General Counsel Pick

Politico is reporting that morale among many of the Agriculture Department’s legal staff has plummeted since Stephen Vaden, the Trump administration’s nominee to be USDA General Counsel, assumed leadership in March, say several agency attorneys from across the country.

“Vaden, who arrived at USDA in January as part of President Donald Trump’s beachhead team and was appointed principal deputy general counsel two months later, is enforcing workplace changes that have provoked unusually bitter labor negotiations, say the attorneys,” reports Catherine Boudreau. “He also has come under scrutiny for his past work defending state voter ID laws that critics say are discriminatory.

“There is a fair amount of fear right now,” said Jeffrey Streiffer, senior counsel at the USDA OGC’s regional office in San Francisco.

Read the Politico article.



Trump Lawyers Say Judge Lacks Jurisdiction for Defamation Lawsuit

U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyers told a New York state judge on Tuesday that under the U.S. Constitution she had no jurisdiction over the president and therefore urged her to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by a woman who has accused Trump of sexual harassment, reports Reuters.

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” contends that Trump’s denials of her accusations amounted to false and defamatory statements, according to reporter Jonathan Allen. She said she and her business have suffered harm because Trump branded her a liar.

Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz told the judge that “a state court may not exercise jurisdiction over the president of the United States while he or she is in office.”

But the lead lawyer for Zervos pointed out that there is no case holding that a federal official can’t be held to account in state court.

Read the Reuters article.




ITAR For Government Contractors

Thomas McVey, partner and chair of Williams Mullen’s International Practice Group, will lead a complimentary webinar on the latest International Traffic In Arms Regulations (ITAR) developments for government contracts executives.

The event will be Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

ITAR is an important area of regulation for government contractors, the firm says on its website. This includes firms in the defense, technical services, information technology, cyber-security, military training and DOD-funded R&D fields. These requirements often apply even if a company is not engaged in any exporting activities – often just performing activities in the U.S. can trigger ITAR obligations. The stakes are high – violations can result in criminal penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment.

The program will provide executives a clear overview of the law and an update on important recent developments.

Who Should Attend: CEOs, CFOs, COOs, in-house counsel, compliance personnel, operations directors and contracts administrators

Topic outline:
• How do I know if my company is subject to ITAR?
• Is my company required to register under ITAR
• Requirements for ITAR-controlled technical data and software
• Controls on defense services and Technical Assistance Agreements
• Requirements for dealing with foreign national employees and other foreign individuals
• Obligations of second- and third-tier suppliers; subcontractors and vendors
• Are we subject to ITAR if we only perform services for U.S. government agencies?
• Contracts with foreign military organizations
• How to develop an effective ITAR compliance program
• Requirements under DFARS §225.79 and 252.225-7048
• Recent data security requirements
• What to do if you discover a violation

Time has been allotted for a brief Q&A for the speakers to address questions from the audience.

Register for the webinar.



Ex-Akin Partner Guilty of Trying to Sell Secret U.S. Whistleblower Lawsuits

Reuters is reporting that a former partner at a major law firm in Washington pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges that he tried to sell copies of sealed whistleblower lawsuits against corporations that he obtained while working at the U.S. Justice Department.

Reporter Nate Raymond writes that Jeffrey Wertkin was working at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP when he was arrested in January trying to sell an undercover federal agent one of the lawsuits while wearing a wig as a disguise, according to court papers.

As a former employee of the Justice Department, he had access to lawsuits filed by whistleblowers against companies on the government’s behalf to recover taxpayer funds paid out based on fraudulent claims. Prosecutors said he copied several whistleblower complaints and then tried to sell them for a “consulting fee.”

Read the Reuters article.



Judge to Trump Firms: Save Records for AGs’ Emoluments Lawsuit

Twenty-three Trump businesses including his Mar-a-Lago Club must retain records after they receive subpoenas from the attorneys general in Maryland and the District of Columbia as part of a lawsuit accusing the president of profiting from his office, Bloomberg reports.

A U.S. district judge granted the Democratic officials’ request to serve so-called preservation subpoenas, which require the businesses to retain documents but not to immediately produce them, accordingn to reporter Andrew W. Harris.

The AGs claim that the president’s continued ownership of his business empire allows him to make money from foreign and domestic governments.

Read the Bloomberg article.



FCC Plan Would Give Internet Providers Power to Choose the Sites Customers See and Use

The Washington Post reports that federal regulators unveiled a plan Tuesday that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use, and at what cost.

Next month the Federal Communications Commission will vote on the proposal that could reshape the entire digital ecosystem: the undoing of the government’s net neutrality rules.

Reporter Brian Fung explains that Tuesday’s move hands a win to broadband companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

“The FCC’s proposal is largely opposed by Internet companies such as Google, which said Tuesday that the net neutrality rules help protect an open Internet,” Fung writes

Read the Post‘s report.