Who is Marc Kasowitz?

Numerous sources, including Reuters and the Washington Post, are reporting that President Trump has retained trusted longtime counsel Marc Kasowitz to help with the Russia probe despite Kasowitz having no substantial criminal law experience. So who is he?

According to his profile on the Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP website, Kasowitz has been “[d]escribed by CNBC as the ‘toughest lawyer on Wall Street’ and by Bloomberg Financial News as an ‘uberlitigator.'” From the profile:

Marc regularly serves as national trial counsel in complex litigation in the areas of bank finance, fraudulent conveyance, RICO, corporate governance, antitrust, securities, mass tort, product liability, environmental, breach of contract, and other commercial cases.  Marc also has an extensive and successful track record in dealing with investigations and lawsuits by state attorneys general, including path-breaking settlements of tobacco litigation.  Marc has also conducted numerous internal investigations on behalf of boards of directors, management and special committees regarding alleged corporate misfeasance, conflicts of interest, challenges to board authority, insider trading, accounting fraud, market timing, obstruction of justice, market manipulation, and other issues relating to director and officer fiduciary responsibilities and liabilities.

In Marc E. Kasowitz: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, we learn

  1. He Has Represented Donald Trump For Over 15 Years
  2. He Wrote a Letter Demanding The New York Times Retract Its Story About Donald Trump’s Alleged Groping Incidents
  3. Another One of His Clients Is the Largest Bank in Russia
  4. His Former Partner Is Now the U.S. Ambassador to Israel
  5. He Has Compared the O’Reilly Scandal to McCarthyism

Regarding the O’Reilly scandal, the article notes that Kasowitz represented Bill O’Reilly during the Fox News host’s legal trouble surrounding alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. See also, ATL’s What’s Going On At Kasowitz Benson? — Joe

Charlotte School of Law students receive federal loan money in the nick of time

Karen Sloan is reporting that the Department of Education has released federal loan money for beleaguered Charlotte School of Law students. Back in December, the Department of Education had revoked the school’s eligibility for the federal student loan program. That left students scrambling for ways to pay for the spring semester without loan money. All that changed apparently after the school hired lobbyists including one who worked with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearings. For more, see Karen Sloan, With New Lobbyists, Charlotte Law Disperses Federal Student Loans as School Year Ends, Law.com, May 22, 2017. — Joe

New edition of law librarian’s bible now available


The 2017 edition of Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual is now available. Enhancements include:

  • More than 80 new treatises, reference titles, and other product reviews (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliographies of legal treatises in 66 subject areas, including 77 titles on Legal Research and Writing, with new, used, electronic, and West Monthly Assured Print Pricing on more than 2,600 titles in all (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliography of legal reference titles (Chapter 22)
  • Updated bibliographies of state legal resources and research guides (Chapter 28)
  • Completely updated bibliographic data for all covered titles
  • Completely updated cost and supplementation figures through 2017, with supplementation figures through 2016 (and 2017 for Matthew Bender).
  • Completely updated cost spreadsheet for supplemented titles (Appendix H)
  • Completely updated charts and tables reflecting 2016 annual reports and pricing data
  • Completely updated sample Westlaw and Lexis costs (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated sample CALR costs for all vendors (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of caselaw coverage for all CALR vendors
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of published state statutory codes
  • Recent industry developments and acquisitions, including profit margins (Chapter 2)
  • Updated information on Fastcase and Law360
  • Cumulative supplementation cost data going back 24 years — all at your fingertips — to guide your acquisitions and de-acquisitions decisions
  • Special alerts of egregious price and supplementation cost increases in recent years

Highly recommended. — Joe

A very short introduction to citation performance indicators

The purpose of Citation Performance Indicators — A Very Short Introduction by Phil Davis, Scholarly Kitchen (May 15, 2017) “is to provide a brief summary of the main citation indicators used today. It is not intended to be comprehensive, nor is it intended to opine on which indicator is best. It is geared for casual users of performance metrics and not bibliometricians.”

H/T to Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

Trump administration’s first budget released

Following up on President Trump’s budget blueprint, the Trump administration released an ideological wish list, its first budget on May 23rd. See A New Foundation for American Greatness – President’s Budget FY 2018 and Major Savings and Reform. It now heads to the House where opposition from Trump’s own party is expected. Politico reports that House Speaker Paul Ryan is standing by his alternative tax reform plan which includes a controversal “border adjustment tax” that would put a 20 percent tax on imports coming into the U.S. See The battle over the border tax. Talking points to sell the Ryan tax reform plan were released recently.

Referencing Trump’s budget blueprint, CNN identified many of Trump’s proposed budget cuts as did the New York Times here. See also, The Key Spending Cuts and Increases in Trump’s Budget, NYT, May 22, 2017. — Joe

End Note: Browse all the FY2018 budget documents here.

Search and politics

Search and Politics: The Uses and Impacts of Search in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United States reports the results of an online poll of Internet users about how they use search, social media, and other important media to get information about political candidates, issues, and politics generally. From the abstract:

Global debate over the impact of algorithms and search on shaping political opinions has increased following dramatic election results in Europe and the US. Powerful images of the Internet enabling access to a global treasure trove of information have shifted to worries over whether those who use search engines and social media are being fed inaccurate, false, or politically targeted information that distorts public opinion. There are serious questions over whether biases embedded in the algorithms that drive search engines and social media have major political consequences, such as creating filter bubbles or echo chambers. For example, do search engines and social media provide people with information that aligns with their beliefs and opinions or do they challenge them to consider countervailing perspectives? Most generally, the predominant concern is do these media have a major impact on public opinion and political viewpoints, and if so, for the better or worse.

— Joe

Legal issues surrounding fake news: An analysis

“Fake news” has garnered substantial attention recently but the authors of Fake News: A Legal Perspective, Journal of Internet Law (Apr. 2017) note that no legal discussion of issues surrounding the publication of fake news have appeared in the legal literature. “This [brief] article evaluates examples of fake news publications to present a workable definition of “fake news” for purposes of our legal analysis. We then explore many of the legal and regulatory hurdles facing online fake news publishers. This article concludes by discussing some of the legal protections available to fake news publications and publishers of other online content.” — Joe

Are you ready for the Third Wave of AI for Law?

An Artificial Lawyer post, The Third Wave of Legal AI by Kripa Rajshekhar, the founder of legal AI company Metonymy Labs, has three goals (1) Introduce the Third Wave of AI, (2) Outline, in broad strokes, what this means for AI and Law, (3) Illustrate the path forward with a specific application of the approach: Metonymy Labs’ work to augment diligence with AI. Interesting. — Joe

Suggested articles of impeachment for President Trump

The time has come for Congress to act and for leaders on both sides of the aisle to put country before party and politics. Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ought to, in cooperation with Democratic leaders, begin the sequence of events that would likely lead to impeachment and removal proceedings for Trump. Given that this is unlikely, Democrats should make clear of their intentions to do what is necessary under our Constitution should they win back control of the House of Representatives in 2018. This process should be as full, fair, and transparent as our Constitution requires. Anything less would demean and harm the country even more than Trump has already done. — Phillip Carter, A first draft of an impeachment bill for the president, Salon, May 16, 2017

Echoing similar sentiments, Keith E. Whittington warns “If the impeachment power is perceived to be little more than a partisan tool for undermining elected officials and overturning election results, then the value of elections for resolving our political disagreements is significantly reduced. We do not want to be in a situation in which neither side trusts the other to continue adhering to the most basic democratic norms of abiding by election results.” Keith E. Whittington, An Impeachment Should Not Be a Partisan Affair, Lawfare, May 16, 2017.

Short of the Democrats winning a majority of seats in the House in the 2018 congressional elections, it is hard to imagine the Republican controlled House of Representatives bringing articles of impeachment against President Trump because impeachment has been a partisan political action for quite a while now. See Richard K. Neumann, Jr., The Revival of Impeachment as a Partisan Political Weapon, 34 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 161 (2007). But if viewed as a thought experiment, Phillip Carter has offered a “first draft” of an impeachment bill. The drafted articles of impeachment he identifies are listed below:

Article 1: Compromising the integrity of the presidency through continuing violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

Article 2: Violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the duties of his office by disregarding U.S. interests and pursuing the interests of a hostile foreign power, to wit, Russia.

Article 3: Impairment and obstruction of inquiries by the Justice Department and Congress into the extent of the Trump administration’s conflicts of interests and Russia ties.

Article 4: Undermining of the American judicial system through felonious intimidation of potential witnesses.

Article 5: Undermining of his office and the Constitution through repeated assaults on the integrity of the federal judiciary and its officers.

Article 6: Demeaning the integrity of government and its public servants, particularly the military and intelligence agencies, in contravention of his constitutional duties to serve as chief executive and commander in chief of the armed forces.

Looks comprehensive to me. See Phillip Carter, A first draft of an impeachment bill for the president, Salon, May 16, 2017 for his explanations for each draft article of impeachment . See also, The Republican’s Guide to Presidential Behavior, New York Times editorial, May 13, 2017 (“What do Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders think a president may say or do and still deserve their enthusiastic support? We offer this handy reference list in hopes of protecting them from charges of hypocrisy in the future. They can consult it should they ever feel tempted to insist on different standards for another president.”)  — Joe

FCC starts regulatory process to roll back net neutrality rule

The FCC voted 2-1 along party lines to advance FCC chairman Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom proposal, which would repeal current net neutrality protections Thursday. Politico reports “The FCC’s action Thursday doesn’t repeal the rules yet but instead launches a lengthy proceeding that will pit ISPs and conservative groups, which back Pai’s efforts, against left-leaning digital activists and leading tech companies that say the net neutrality rules are crucial to creating a level playing field online. Already, the debate has begun to echo the bitter fight over the issue two years ago, and the number of public comments filed in the proceeding has skyrocketed to 1.6 million at last count.”

From the FCC press release:

The Federal Communications Commission today took the first step toward restoring Internet freedom and promoting infrastructure investment, innovation, and choice by proposing to end utility-style regulation of broadband Internet access service.

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC proposes to return to the bipartisan framework that preserved a flourishing free and open Internet for almost 20 years.  First, the Notice proposes to reverse the FCC’s 2015 decision to impose heavy-handed Title II utility-style government regulation on Internet service providers (ISPs) and return to the longstanding, successful light-touch framework under Title I of the Communications Act.

Second, the Notice proposes to return to the Commission’s original classification of mobile broadband Internet access service as a private mobile service.  Given the historical innovation and success of the wireless marketplace prior to the Title II Order, this proposal is expected to substantially benefit consumers and the marketplace.

Third, the Notice proposes to eliminate the catch-all Internet conduct standard created by the Title II Order.  Because the Internet conduct standard is extremely vague and expansive, ISPs must guess at what they are permitted to do.  Eliminating the Internet conduct standard is therefore expected to promote innovation and network investment by eliminating regulatory uncertainty.

“The FCC is proposing a rule that would reclassify broadband as an ‘information service’ rather than a ‘telecommunications service.’ FCC Chairman Ajit Pai claims that this move would protect users, but all it would really do is protect Comcast and other big ISPs by destroying the legal foundation for net neutrality rules. Once that happened, it would only be a matter of time before your ISP had more power than ever to shape the Internet” wrote Corynne McSherry in yesterday’s EFF commentary, Dear FCC: We See Through Your Plan to Roll Back Real Net Neutrality.

For background see Net neutrality: If the Internet is not a utility, what is it? on LLB. — Joe

LawARXIV, a free, open access, open source archives for legal research, is now live

Launched on May 8, 2017 LawArXiv is an open access repository for legal scholarship. The repository was developed by LIPA, MALLCO, NELLCO and Cornell Law Library. “Our partnership in the LawArxiv project is a reflection of Cornell Law School’s deep and enduring commitment to open access principles, and the availability of legal information to all,” said Femi Cadmus, Edward Cornell Law Librarian, in this press release. — Joe

Cornell’s LII on its 25th anniversary: Bob Ambrogi interviews Tom Bruce

Congratulations to LII! Bob Ambrogi spoke with cofounder Tom Bruce about LII’s origins and where LII stands today here. — Joe

Meet Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller was named special counsel by the DOJ to probe Trump-Russia ties yesterday. See Text of DOJ Order No. 3915-2017 (May 17, 2017). That event lead to the publication of several profile pieces in the press. If interested, see Tal Kopan, Who is Robert Mueller? CNN, May 17, 2017; Maura Dolan, Meet Robert Mueller, the former San Francisco lawyer chosen to lead the Trump-Russia investigation, Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2017; and Tierney Sneed, Who Is Robert Mueller? Ex-FBI Director Takes Over Russia-Trump Probe, Talking Points Memo, May 17, 2017. — Joe

Text of DOJ Order No. 3915-2017: Appointment of special counsel to investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters

From the source document:

ORDER NO. 3915-2017

APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COUNSEL
TO INVESTIGATE RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE WITH THE
2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND RELATED MATTERS

By virtue of the authority vested in me as Acting Attorney General, including 28 U.S.C.§§ 509, 510, and 515, in order to discharge my responsibility to provide supervision and management of the Department of Justice, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian governments efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, I hereby order as follows:

(a) Robert S. Mueller III is appointed to serve as Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice.

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

(c) If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.

(d) Sections 600.4 through 600.10 of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations are applicable to the Special Counsel.

May 17, 2017 ….. Rob. J. Rosenstein, Acting Attorney General

EdgeRack: Understanding the algorithmic basis of Facebook’s news feed

Reid Goldsborough describe the algorithmic basis for Facebook’s news feed, writing “The ever-changing algorithm behind Facebook’s news feed, called EdgeRank, is … crucial in today’s social media-infused world. It determines what you see when you check Facebook,” … adding … “Facebook is largely mum about EdgeRank, keeping many things private for competitive reasons. But based on what is publicly known as well as EdgeRank’s behavior, Facebook uses EdgeRank to help create your news feed mostly through Affinity Score, Edge Weight, and Time Decay.” Goldsborough proceeds by describing Affinity Score, Edge Weight, and Time Decay in layman’s terms. He also comments on the echo chamber effect of Facebook’s news feed in his Information Today article. Informative. — Joe

Fitness to serve: Presidential disability under the 25th Amendment

Presidential disability is viewed by some as a long-shot alternative to impeachment for removal of a sitting president. Sections 3 and 4 of the 25th Amendment govern cases of presidential disability. Under section 3, if the President declares (in a written declaration to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate) that he is disabled for any reason, the Vice President assumes his powers and duties as Acting President. Section 4 provides for cases in which the President may not be able to transmit a disability declaration. In these circumstances, the Vice President and the cabinet or “such other body as Congress may by law provide” can, by majority vote, declare the President to be disabled. It also empowers the President to declare his disability ended, again by written declaration, and resume his powers and duties. If, however, the Vice President and a majority of either the cabinet or other Section 4 body, rule otherwise, then Congress decides the issue. A vote of two-thirds of both houses within 21 days is required to determine the President to be disabled and continue the disability; otherwise, he resumes his powers and duties. Neither section 3 nor section 4 has been invoked since the amendment was ratified.

According to the CRS report, Presidential Disability: An Overview (July 12, 1999, RS20260) “Constitutional historians note that the [disability] clause does not define disability or differentiate between it and inability, although contemporary dictionaries characterized the former as a complete lack of power, and the latter as lack of ability to do a certain thing. Further, while specifying who acts as President in the event of presidential disability (the Vice President), the clause provides no guidance on how it would be invoked, by whom, or for what length of time, or on how a disability could be terminated or rescinded.”

In Burden of Decision: Judging Presidential Disability Under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, 30 Journal of Law and Politics 97 (2014), Daniel J. T. Schuker offers an approach to understanding, classifying, and assessing cases of presidential disability by distinguishing between (1) persistent or temporary physiological incapacity; (2) persistent or temporary logistical incapacity; (3) persistent or temporary physiological impairment; and (4) persistent or temporary logistical impairment. “During crises of presidential disability, administrations have felt obliged to devise ad hoc solutions. The framework developed here poses three basic questions to formulate a legal diagnosis of a President’s condition: How severe is the disability? When is the disability expected to end? Where is the disability located? The new framework indicates, based on a given diagnosis, who — either the President or the Vice President with other designated officials — would be best positioned to determine whether to invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. This systematic approach, grounded in historical experience, should mitigate the uncertainties of what has so often proved a politically charged and disorderly process.” — Joe

Reality checks on impeachment talks

Within the last 24 hours, both Time and NPR outlined conditions under which President Trump might be impeached after the recent disclosure of the existence of Comey’s CYA memo of his private meeting with President Trump about the Flynn investigation. In How Difficult Would It Be to Impeach President Trump? Time’s Katie Reilly identified the following conditions as necessary:

  1. Impeachment talk would need to be taken seriously
  2. Critics would need to settle on one argument
  3. There would need to be more evidence
  4. The House would need to decide there are grounds for impeachment
  5. The Senate would need to find the President guilty
  6. There would need to be public support for impeachment

In Trump Impeachment Talk Grows From Conspiracy Theory To Mainstream, NPR’s Domenico Montanaro writes that “a lot has to happen — and a lot of facts gathered — before anyone gets down the road to impeachment.” Steps to the possible road to impeachment include:

  1. The memo has to be produced
  2. Comey has to testify on the record and in public about the memo and the meeting
  3. There have to have many willing Republicans to go along
  4. Is this obstruction of justice?

Wait and see. — Joe

CRS reports on special counsels, independent counsels and special prosecutors

On May 11, 2017, the Congressional Research Service released Special Counsels, Independent Counsels, and Special Prosecutors: Investigations of the Executive Branch by the Executive Branch. From the introduction:

Under constitutional principles and authorities, Congress has no direct role in federal law enforcement and is limited in its ability to initiate appointments of any prosecutor for any particular matter in which there may be allegations or concerns about wrongdoing by public officials. Instead, criminal investigations and prosecutions have generally been viewed as a core executive function and are a responsibility of the Executive Branch. However, because of the potential conflicts of interest that may arise when the Executive Branch investigates itself, as a historical matter there have often been calls for an independently led inquiry to determine whether executive officials have violated criminal law. In the past, Congress has authorized independent counsels, who were requested by the Attorney General and appointed by a judicial panel, but that authority lapsed in 1999. Currently, the Attorney General has regulatory authority to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations that may present a conflict of interest for the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Focusing on the role of Congress, see also, Independent Counsels, Special Prosecutors, Special Counsels, and the Role of Congress (June 20, 2013, R43112). This report provides information on the procedure for the appointment of an “independent counsel,” a “special prosecutor,” or a “special counsel” to investigate and prosecute potential or possible violations of federal criminal law by officials in the executive branch of the federal government and in federal agencies. Specifically examined is the role or authority of Congress in requiring an independent or special counsel investigation of executive branch officials.

— Joe

Next-gen current awareness aggregation tools: Save the date for tomorrow’s webinar

Join Steve Lastres, Director of Knowledge Management Services at Debevoise & Plimpton, and Vable Thursday at 11:30 am (Eastern) for the webinar Just Give Me What I Need: Looking at Next-Gen Current Awareness Aggregation Tools. Topics to be covered include why content aggregation is no longer enough and Who the market players are in the legal sector. Free registration required. Recommended. — Joe

CRS report on protecting classified information

One snip from The Protection of Classified Information: The Legal Framework (Jan. 10, 2013, RS21900):

The Supreme Court has never directly addressed the extent to which Congress may constrain the executive branch’s power in this area. Citing the President’s constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief, the Supreme Court has repeatedly stated in dicta that “[the President’s] authority to classify and control access to information bearing on national security … flows primarily from this Constitutional investment of power in the President and exists quite apart from any explicit congressional grant.” This language has been interpreted by some to indicate that the President has virtually plenary authority to control classified information. On the other hand, the Supreme Court has suggested that “Congress could certainly [provide] that the Executive Branch adopt new [classification procedures] or [establish] its own procedures—subject only to whatever limitations the Executive Privilege may be held to impose on such congressional ordering.”

— Joe