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By Allan Smith

The White House has beefed up its legal team in recent weeks, hiring 17 additional lawyers to help prevent President Donald Trump’s discussions with top advisers from being obtained House Democrats or revealed to special counsel Robert Mueller, The Washington Post reported.

The White House plan is to assert Trump’s executive privilege on both fronts. That strategy is being led by new White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and aides said the goal is to preserve a legal protection that past presidents have invoked.

But with Democrats planning to go as far as subpoenaing the administration for information, such a strategy could quickly inflame tensions between the two sides and may lead to lengthy legal battles.

Some Democrats have already pledged to subpoena a copy of Mueller’s full report should the White House seek to to block any portions of it from being made public.

If the White House moves to use executive privilege to keep parts of the report private, the special counsel’s rules allow for the attorney general to make a final determination on what can be shared with Congress and the public.

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Trump’s attorney general nominee, William Barr, gets underway. Barr had been critical of the Mueller probe — which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials — in a memo he authored and provided to the Justice Department last year.

Barr was specifically critical of Mueller probing Trump having possibly obstructed justice regarding the Russia investigation. As The Post reported, Democrats are concerned about the possibility of the White House invoking executive privilege to block portions of the Mueller report dealing with obstruction from being made public.

Though little is known about Mueller’s report, what it will encompass, and how lengthy it will be, NBC News reported last month that it could be submitted as soon as February, legal sources said. However, unforeseen developments could lengthen the timeline.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. NBC has not independently confirmed the hiring of additional lawyers.



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Politics

Gun rights groups try last-ditch move to stop Trump ban on rapid-fire bump stocks

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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — Owners of bump stocks — attachments that allow rifles to be fired rapidly — are hoping a federal appeals court will relieve them of the legal duty to destroy the devices by Monday.

The Trump administration ordered a ban on bump stocks after they figured prominently in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 58 people and wounded 500 others. A police investigation revealed that Stephen Paddock, who carried out the massacre, had 22 semi-automatic rifles with him in his hotel room overlooking an outdoor concert that he attacked, and 14 of the weapons were equipped with bump stocks.

Under a federal rule that took effect in December, owners must destroy their bump stocks, which are usually made of plastic, by Monday or risk prosecution for a felony. The rule suggests smashing them with a hammer, cutting them apart with a saw, or turning them over to a local ATF office. It applies to individual owners, dealers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

Federal authorities estimate that half a million of them have been sold in the U.S.

The devices are attached to a rifle in place of the normal stock, the end piece that sit next to a user’s shoulder. Once in place, the bump stock absorbs the weapon’s recoil and alters the relationship between the trigger finger and the weapon.

Without a bump stock, the rifle remains stationary, and the trigger finger must be moved to fire each round. With a bump stock, after the trigger is pulled once, the recoil begins moving the trigger against the finger, which remains stationary, resulting in rapid firing like a fully automatic rifle.

For that reason, the Trump administration concluded that bump stocks violate a federal law that bans machineguns, defined as weapons that automatically fire more than one shot “with a single function of the trigger.”

Gun rights groups sued, arguing that bump stocks are intended to be used with AR-15 style rifles which are mechanically incapable of firing more than once with a single function of the trigger, because it must be released and moved again to allow the weapon to fire. They say the words of the statute — single function of the trigger — refer to the movement of the trigger itself, not whether the trigger is pulled by a finger or actuated by a bump stock.

“The government is just wrong to focus to focus on the behavior of the person rather than the function of the trigger,” said Erik Jaffee, representing the gun owners. “Function of the trigger means the trigger, not the shooter.”

The Justice Department told the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., on Friday that the courts have interpreted the phrase “single function of the trigger” to mean “single pull of the trigger.” A bump stock, government lawyers argued, allows a rifle to fire automatically once the trigger is pulled once, and that qualifies it as a machinegun.

An ATF spokeswoman said some owners have already turned in their bump stocks. But gun owner groups said others were waiting to see whether the appeals court agrees to put the rule on hold.

The court did not indicate when it might rule.



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‘I will TELEPATHICALLY stop you!’ Uri Geller sends Theresa May BIZARRE Brexit warning

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PARANORMAL spoon bender Uri Geller has written a bizarre open letter to Theresa May, telling the Prime Minister he “loves” her but “will stop you telepathically” from carrying out Brexit.

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Rep. Steve King slammed as ‘white supremacist’ for remarks about Katrina victims

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/ Source: Associated Press

By Dartunorro Clark

WASHINGTON — GOP Rep. Steve King is under fire after he told constituents at a town hall that victims of Hurricane Katrina pleaded for help from the government in contrast to residents of his home state of Iowa who “take care of each other.”

“Here’s what FEMA tells me: We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody’s looking around saying, ‘Who’s gonna help me, who’s gonna help me?’ When FEMA responds to problems in Iowa, they’re just always gratified when they come and see how Iowans take care of each other,” the Iowa lawmaker told a town hall meeting in Charter Oak, Iowa, on Thursday.

King said he visited New Orleans, which is a majority black city, multiple times after the deadly 2005 storm. More than 1,800 people, mostly black, died from the disaster; however, government officials have noted that the true death toll could be much higher.

Recent spring flooding in the Midwest has devastated towns and rural communities across the region and has been blamed for three deaths.

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., whose district includes New Orleans, said in a tweet on Thursday that the remarks are more evidence that King is a “white supremacist.”

“My heart goes out to all Iowans. Though it unsettles me that @SteveKingIA would dare compare them to the countless victims of Katrina, many of whom lost their lives. When people show you who they are, believe them. Steve King is a white supremacist and I won’t stand for it,” Richmond said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, also blasted King in a tweet on Thursday, calling his comments “disgusting and disheartening.”

“These comments are disgusting and disheartening. When communities are affected by disasters, we come together to help each other, not tear each other down,” he said.

King was one of 11 members of Congress to vote against a bill to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 because he said the $51.8 billion aid package was too expensive. He called it a “good” and “principled” vote, according to HuffPost.

King’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

King has been under fire from his party for remarks about race. In January, GOP voted unanimously to remove King from all committees amid the uproar over his comments about white nationalism. The move came after he questioned why “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization” was offensive in an interview with The New York Times.

“How did that language become offensive?” he asked. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at the time that King’s language is “reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society.”

King later backtracked in a statement at the time, saying, “I reject white nationalism. I reject white supremacy. It’s not part of any of my ideology. I reject anyone who carries that ideology.”`

Associated Press contributed.



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