Special counsel Robert Mueller has signaled to defense lawyers for Roger Stone, the longtime adviser to Donald Trump, that prosecutors might brandish Stone’s bank records and personal communications going back several years as evidence in the case against him.
Legal analysts said the move could be significant because the sizable amount of potential evidence listed by Mueller – and its nature, in the case of the bank records – seemed to go well beyond the current known charges against Stone.
A court filing by Mueller on Thursday said prosecutors had seized “voluminous and complex” material including “multiple hard drives containing several terabytes of information”, material seized from search warrants executed on “Apple iCloud accounts and email accounts”, “bank and financial records, and the contents of numerous physical devices (eg, cellular phones, computers, and hard drives)”.
Stone was indicted last week on charges of obstructing an investigation, witness tampering and five counts of making false statements. Two of his residences – one in Florida and one in Manhattan – were raided during his arrest.
“It’s interesting that Mueller produced bank and financial records to Roger Stone, given that they don’t appear related to the charges he faces,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti tweeted. “Perhaps Mueller’s team has a practice of producing broad discovery to defendants, but it is not required by the rules.
“If that is not Mueller’s usual practice, perhaps they want Stone to have this information now because there could be additional charges down the line, or because they think his knowledge that they possess this information could encourage him to flip.”
Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance called the filing “good news for the investigation”.
“This implies that the FBI was able to access communications Stone and others could have assumed were protected from law-enforcement,” Vance tweeted. “This is good news for the investigation, there is no telling what might be in there Stone thought law-enforcement would never be able to see it.”
The indictment of Stone last week suggested that prosecutors might have gained access to encrypted messages sent or received by Stone.
One section of the indictment describes a text message exchange between Stone and an unidentified Trump “supporter” asking about a Stone contact in London alleged to be in communication with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“The supporter involved with the Trump Campaign asked STONE via text message if he had ‘hear[d] anymore from London’,” the indictment reads in part. “STONE replied, ‘Yes – want to talk on a secure line – got Whatsapp?’ STONE subsequently told the supporter that more material would be released and that it would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.”
Stone is suspected of attempting to establish or carrying out back-channel communications between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks – although he has not been charged with any crime along those lines.
He has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
US Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Clinic Protest Zone Limits In Chicago, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday left in place policies in Chicago and Pennsylvania’s capital Harrisburg that place limits on anti-abortion activists gathered outside abortion clinics.
The justices declined to hear two appeals by anti-abortion groups and individual activists of lower court rulings upholding the cities’ ordinances.
The Chicago policy bars activists from coming within eight feet (2.4 meters) of someone within 50 feet (15 meters) of any healthcare facility without their consent if they intend to protest, offer counseling or hand out leaflets. The Harrisburg measure bars people from congregating or demonstrating within 20 feet (6 meters) of a healthcare facility’s entrance or exit.
Both cases pitted the free speech rights of anti-abortion protesters against public safety concerns raised by women’s healthcare providers regarding demonstrations outside clinics. There is a history of violent acts committed against abortion providers.
At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the ordinances violate free speech rights protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld the Chicago ordinance, which was introduced in 2009. The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Harrisburg in 2019. That measure was enacted in response to disruptions by protesters outside two abortion clinics in the city.
The cases did not directly implicate abortion rights. In a major ruling on Monday, the struck down a Louisiana law placing restrictions on doctors that perform abortions.
Also on Thursday, the court directed a lower court to reconsider the legality of two Indiana abortion restrictions – one that would require women to undergo an ultrasound procedure at least 18 hours before terminating a pregnancy and another that would expand parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion. The lower court had struck down both measures.
Abortion remains a divisive issue in the United States. The Supreme Court in its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalized abortion nationwide, finding that women have a constitutional right to the procedure. In recent years, numerous Republican-governed states have sought to impose a series of restrictions on abortion.
Federal Judge Reverses Trump Asylum Policy Due To Government Failing To Abide By Administrative Procedure Act
(Law & Crime) — A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening overturned the Trump Administration’s second and most restrictive asylum policy, all because the government failed to abide by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the judge reasoned.
In a 52-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly of Washington, D.C. held that in enacting the rule, which required immigrants to seek asylum in any country they passed through before they could claim asylum in the U.S., the Trump administration “unlawfully dispensed” with mandatory procedural requirements allowing the public to weigh in on proposed rule changes.
Kelly, who was appointed to the court in 2017, rejected the Trump administration’s assertion that the asylum rule fell within exceptions to the APA permitting the government to disregard the notice-and-comment requirement if there’s “good cause” such commentary is unnecessary or if the rule involves a military or foreign affairs function.
“[The court] also holds that Defendants unlawfully promulgated the rule without complying with the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements, because neither the ‘good cause’ nor the ‘foreign affairs function’ exceptions are satisfied on the record here,” Kelly wrote. “Despite their potentially broad sweep, the D.C. Circuit has instructed that these exceptions must be ‘narrowly construed’ and ‘reluctantly countenanced.’ The Circuit has also emphasized that the broader a rule’s reach, ‘the greater the necessity for public comment.’ With these baseline principles in mind, the Court considers whether either the good cause or foreign affairs function exception applies here. Neither does.”
According to Kelly, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally allows any person physically in the U.S. seeking refuge to apply for asylum — with some exceptions for immigrants who have committed certain crimes or who had previously been “firmly resettled” prior to arriving in the U.S.
“The Court reiterates that there are many circumstances in which courts appropriately defer to the national security judgments of the Executive. But determining the scope of an APA exception is not one of them,” Kelly wrote. “As noted above, if engaging in notice-and-comment rulemaking before implementing the rule would have harmed ongoing international negotiations, Defendants could have argued that these effects gave them good cause to forgo these procedures. And they could have provided an adequate factual record to support those predictive judgments to which the Court could defer. But they did not do so.”
Claudia Cubas, the Litigation Director at CAIR Coalition, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, praised the decision as removing an “unjust barrier to protection” for those in need.
“By striking down this rule, Judge Kelly reaffirmed two fundamental principles. The protection of asylum seekers fleeing for safety is intertwined with our national values and that the United States is a country where the rule of law cannot be tossed aside for political whims,” Cubas said.
Read the full opinion below:
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