Wednesday Top Headline Summary
Washington Post sued, Justice Thomas on libel, Jeff Rosen to DOJ, California bullet rain, Space Force, and more.
It’s about time to rein in civil asset forfeiture: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled unanimously that states must adhere to the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines, a decision that will likely limit the ability of states to impose certain fees and seize property. In delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the Eighth Amendment guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority, and that it extends to fines.” (The Hill)
“Attorneys representing the Kentucky high school student involved in a confrontation that went viral on social media last month announced Tuesday that they were suing The Washington Post for $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages,” Fox News reports. The suit fairly argues that the outlet exploited “its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles … to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the president.”
Speaking of libel, “Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark 1964 ruling that made it harder for public figures to sue for defamation, a precedent that has served as powerful protection for the news media,” according to Reuters. Thomas suggested that New York Times Co. v. Sullivan et al. “were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.”
With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein soon departing, Transportation Department Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen has been nominated to replace him, USA Today reports. “The nomination of Jeffrey Rosen … had been rumored since Attorney General William Barr took office earlier this month.” In fact, “Rosen worked for more than 30 years at the same law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where Barr served as of counsel before his nomination as attorney general.”
Biting the bullet: “The federal government announced its intention Tuesday to cancel nearly $1 billion in pending funding for the state’s long-planned, high-speed train. In a letter to California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian P. Kelly on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation outlined the government’s reasons for pulling funding. The state has not come up with its own promised funding, will miss a 2022 completion target and has recently reconfigured the project outside the bounds of a federal pact for funding, railroad chief Ronald L. Batory wrote. The federal department will ‘de-obligate’ $928,620,000 in promised cash, but California will be given a chance to argue its case, Batory said in the letter. He also said the Trump administration is ‘exploring all available legal options’ to recover $2.5 billion in past federal grants for the project.” (NBC News)
According to Townhall, “President Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 4 on Tuesday to try and get his Space Force off the ground flying. The measure would create the Space Force as an armed service within the Air Force, a slightly different approach than his original plan.” Instead of being an entity that’s “separate but equal,” the Space Force now will at least initially be under the Air Force canopy, though “turning it into the 6th branch of the armed services is still Trump’s long-term goal.” The program is still awaiting Congress’s consent.
“The FBI is working with the U.S. Postal Service to determine whether Empire actor Jussie Smollett sent himself a threatening letter in the days before the "hate crime” he is now under investigation for allegedly staging… The two Nigerian brothers who told Chicago Police last week that Smollett paid them to stage a racially motivated attack on him have also told the authorities that Smollett sent himself the threatening letter that arrived on the Empire set on January 22, just seven days before they claim they conducted the hoax attack.“ (National Review)
Via CNSNews.com: "Because of previous news reports and now the revelations of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe that he ordered a counterintelligence investigation of President Trump in May 2017, and that his FBI team, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, discussed secretly wire-recording the president and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, the government watchdog Judicial Watch is suing the Justice Department. The purpose of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit … is to obtain ‘all written and audio/visual records of any FBI/DOJ discussions regarding the 25th Amendment and plans to secretly record President Trump in the Oval Office,’ stated the organization in a press release.”
According to The Hill, “House Democrats are digging into the Trump administration’s dealings with Saudi Arabia, making its plan to sell nuclear technology to the kingdom the subject of the first major investigation by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.” However, “Republicans … said Democrats released the interim report without their input, accusing the majority of partisanship.”
“An extensive New York Times story published Tuesday purports to take you ‘inside’ President Trump’s ‘Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him.’ But save yourself the precious time and read Trump’s tweets instead,” says the Washington Examiner. The news out of the lengthy piece is an allegation that Trump late last year asked then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker if it was possible to appoint U.S. Attorney General for Southern New York Geoffrey Berman, a White House ally, to lead the district’s investigation into Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in November to charges of perjury, tax evasion, and campaign finance violations. The Times reported that Whitaker ‘knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge, since Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation’ and admitted that ‘there is no evidence that he took any direct steps to intervene in the Manhattan investigation.’ That’s the extent of news in the story.“
Humor: It’s 2019, and gay people are still being forced to attack themselves in the streets (The Babylon Bee)
Policy: Independent Women’s Forum president Carrie Lukas lays out the reasons for why Elizabeth Warren’s child-care plan "would heavily subsidize parents’ least favorite care option — day care — while doing nothing to make all the others more affordable.”
Policy: Investor’s Business Daily says, “Now that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has said he’ll leave the Justice Department in mid-March, it’s time to take stock of the damage Rosenstein and others in the Deep State did by quietly plotting to remove President Trump from office. This bureaucratic coup attempt has no parallel in modern U.S. history.”
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
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