Republicans under the Trump administration decried the judiciary’s use of nationwide injunctions against Trump policies – from the Muslim ban to the “public charge” rule to HUD Fair Housing Act changes.
- AG Jeff Sessions directed DOJ attorneys “to present strong and consistent arguments in court against the issuance of nationwide injunctions and to reaffirm the existing constitutional and practical limitations on the authority of judges.”
- Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch wrote an opinion (PDF) criticizing nationwide injunctions issued by district courts: “The real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief that transcends the cases before them. Whether framed as injunctions of ‘nationwide,’ ‘universal,’ or ‘cosmic’ scope, these orders share the same basic flaw — they direct how the defendant must act toward persons who are not parties to the case.”
- Congressional Republicans sought to create legislation to limit or outright prevent federal judges from issuing nationwide injunctions on executive office actions. “I believe we have a handful of judges who are operating effectively as part of the resistance movement, trying to put themselves in the way of Trump policies they happen to disagree with,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in Feb. 2020. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced the “Nationwide Injunction Abuse Prevention Act” to “prevent lawful policy changes from being blocked based on the activist agendas of individual, unaccountable district court judges.”
- Trump himself denounced the legal tool during a speech before the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago on Oct. 28, 2019. “These nationwide injunctions undermine our entire immigration system and other systems. It’s not the job of judges to impose their own political views. Their job is to apply the letter of the law as per our great Constitution. That is why I have already had appointed and approved 158 brand-new federal judges and court of appeals judges who are committed to upholding the laws and the Constitution as written.”
However, now that a Democrat is creating executive policy, it should be no surprise the Republicans suddenly love nationwide injunctions. Since Biden took office GOP state attorneys have sought and received numerous nationwide injunctions against his policies, starting on Jan. 26 when Texas District Judge Drew Tipton – a Trump appointee – blocked Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations at AG Ken Paxton’s request.
The following are the most recent nationwide injunctions:
Louisiana District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, issued a nationwide injunction blocking the Interior Department from enforcing its pause on new oil and gas leases on public lands. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry sued the administration in March in conjunction with 12 other states, all led by Republican AGs. Doughty agreed with their argument that the moratorium could damage the economy, writing that “local government funding, jobs for plaintiff state workers, and funds for the restoration of Louisiana’s coastline are at stake” (PDF).
- Further reading: “Senators press Interior Secretary Haaland on oil lease pause,” AP
Wisconsin District Judge William Griesbach, appointed by George W. Bush, stopped the implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s minority farmer debt relief program. 12 white farmers from nine states filed suit under the premise that it is unconstitutional to limit relief based on race. The administration, on the hand, argues the program seeks to remedy long-existing racial disparities and is not perpetuating racial discrimination.
In his decision approving the order [PDF], Griesbach said the plaintiffs in the case “will suffer irreparable harm” if the program were to move forward, saying the USDA has not proven that they have “a compelling interest in remedying the effects of past and present discrimination” and that the loan forgiveness program is “narrowly tailored” to fit the allowed standard for race-based programs.
Trump’s attempts to overturn election
The House Oversight Committee released new documents on Tuesday that shed light on Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Supreme Court lawsuit
On December 14, 2020, electors in each state certified the Electoral College votes. It was also the day that Trump announced that Attorney General Bill Barr would be resigning and replaced by Deputy AG Jeffrey Rosen. The newly obtained emails reveal that less than an hour earlier, Trump sent an email to Rosen with talking points claiming “intentional fraud and corruption of the voting machines” in Michigan (p 4). The emailed document concludes, “Michigan cannot certify for Biden”.
Trump then urged the Justice Department to file a lawsuit with the Supreme Court to nullify the election, using official channels and a private attorney to pressure DOJ officials. On December 29, Trump sent Rosen, Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, and Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall a draft lawsuit (p 33) asking the Court to “declare that the Electoral College votes cast” in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania “cannot be counted”. It just so happens Trump lost those six states.
The same day (Dec. 29), private attorney Kurt Olsen contacted Rosen’s chief of staff on behalf of Trump to urge him to file the lawsuit (p 90). Olsen represented Texas in its failed Supreme Court challenge to election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
“Thank you for calling me on behalf of AG Rosen. Attached is a draft complaint to be brought by the United States modeled after the Texas action. As I said on our call, the President of the United States has seen this complaint, and he directed me last night to brief AG Rosen in person today and discuss bringing this action. I have been instructed to report back to the President this afternoon after this meeting.”
- Dec. 29 Trump tweet: When are we going to be allowed to do signature verification in Fulton County, Georgia? The process is going VERY slowly. @BrianKempGA Pennsylvania just found 205,000 votes more than they had voters. Therefore, we WIN Pennsylvania!!!
An email chain at the beginning of January (Jan. 1-3) (p 199-206) confirms previous reporting that Trump plotted to replace Rosen with a lower-level DOJ lawyer who supported his false claims of election fraud.
The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians… Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.
Then-U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung J. Pak was roped into some of those emails and phone calls, as Trump and his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted him to investigate unfounded allegations of voter fraud in Fulton County. Two days after the aforementioned attempt to oust Rosen, Donoghue emailed Pak saying “Please call ASAP” (Jan. 3) (p 207). Pak resigned the following day.
Trump had previously bashed Pak on a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (to pressure him to overturn the election), calling him a “Never Trumper U.S. Attorney”.
- Trump tweet Jan. 3: I spoke to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia. He was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the “ballots under table” scam, ballot destruction, out of state “voters”, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!
Going back to the end of December 2020, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows forged his own efforts to pressure the DOJ to investigate unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud.
Meadows emailed Rosen on December 30 asking him to look into “allegations of wrongdoing” in Fulton County, Georgia, sent to him by attorney Cleta Mitchell (p 219). The attached document alleges “tens of thousands of illegal votes” were included in the Georgia presidential election, rendering the results “null and void”.
- Trump tweet Dec. 30: @BrianKempGA, his puppet Lt. Governor @GeoffDuncanGA, and Secretary of State, are disasters for Georgia. Won’t let professionals get anywhere near Fulton County for signature verifications, or anything else. They are virtually controlled by @staceyabrams & the Democrats. Fools!.
You may remember Cleta Mitchell from Trump’s January phone call with Raffensberger pressuring him to “find” enough votes to change the results of the election. Mitchell was forced to resign from law firm Foley & Lardner after her participation in the call was revealed. Since then, she was hired by the libertarian FreedomWorks to lead a $10 million effort in seven states to pass voting restrictions, using baseless arguments of rampant voter fraud as “evidence”.
FreedomWorks’ president, Adam Brandon, has hailed Mitchell as “an outspoken advocate and voice of reason for improved election laws, especially during the chaotic 2020 election cycle”, and dubbed her “our guide”, chairing its election initiative, which will also include training and deploying activists in the states to monitor election procedures.
The same day that Meadows sent Rosen Mitchell’s document (Dec. 30), he also sent Rosen perhaps the craziest conspiracy yet – a claim that Italian satellites were used to engineer Biden’s victory. The letter forwarded to Rosen (p 224), purportedly from an aerospace executive named Carlo Goria, said an Italian defense contractor conspired with “senior US intelligence officials (CIA)” to change the “electoral data” from “President Trump who was clearly the winner to Joe Biden on November 4th, 2020.”
Then, on January 1, Meadows sent Rosen a 13-minute YouTube video by retired CIA officer Bradley Johnson explaining the conspiracy theory, called “Italygate” (p 225). The platform has since taken down the video but not before USA Today created a transcription:
“The U.S. elections were changed, the results were changed in those five or six key states, then all of those voting machines were hooked up to the internet. The internet then was used to download that information to these famous servers in Germany.”
“So from there, those were uploaded and sent to Rome, and this is where this took place. Once they created all the new data and manipulated all the data that was there, they sent these new numbers back up through this military satellite (…) and back down to all the machines here in the United States in those five or six states.”
Rosen forwarded Meadows’ email with the video link to Donoghue, who replied “Pure insanity.” Rosen told Donoghue that he “was asked to have FBI meet with Brad Johnson” who he learned was “working with Rudy Giuliani” (p 231).
“Yes. After this message, I was asked to have the FBI meet with Brad Johnson, and I responded that Brad Johnson could call or walk into the FBI’s Washington Field Office with any evidence he purports to have. On a follow up call, I learned that Johnson is working with Rudy Giuliani, who regarded my comments as ‘an insult.’ Asked if I would reconsider, I flatly refused said I would not be giving any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his ‘witnesses,’ and re-affirmed yet again that I will not talk to Giuliani about any of this.”
Meadows didn’t stop at outlandish fantasies about satellites: the same day (Jan. 1) he also emailed Rosen about unfounded voter and election fraud in Georgia and New Mexico.
”There have been allegations of signature match anomalies in Fulton county, Ga. Can you get Jeff Clark to engage on this issue immediately to determine if there is any truth to this allegation.”
- Reminder: Two days later, on Jan. 3, Trump would try to replace Rosen with Clark.
Rosen sent Meadows’ above email to Donoghue, saying “Can you believe this? I am not going to respond” (p 227). Donoghue replied, “At least it’s better than the last one, but that doesn’t say much,” referring to the Italygate emails from Meadows.
Finally, (Jan 1) Meadows asked Rosen to forward a list of ballot security complaints in New Mexico to his team “to review the allegations” (p 229). The majority of the claims relate to Dominion voting machines.
The document Meadows sent Rosen about Italygate was printed under the letterhead of USAerospace Partners, located in Virginia. State filings reviewed by the Washington Post revealed that former Republican candidate Michele Roosevelt Edwards owns the company. As it turns out, Edwards was formerly Michele Ballarin, a wealthy realtor who once conducted an interview in a mansion she claimed as her own; it was actually for sale.
Edwards is working with a Republican operative from Georgia, Maria Strollo Zack, to spread the Italygate conspiracy. Zack claims to have met with Trump at a 2020 Christmas Eve event at Mar-a-Lago, where she told him about the theory.
In Zack’s telling, Trump wished her a Merry Christmas, and she used that opening to pass him a written note about Italy and the promise of a whistleblower who knew of the scheme to flip votes. “We know the guy who did it and how he did it,” she said she told Trump, according to an interview on a talk show broadcast by the Reno, Nev.-based outlet America Matters Media.
On Christmas Eve [Dec. 24], Zack’s husband posted a photograph of Trump to Facebook that he indicated was taken at Mar-a-Lago, but The Post was unable to confirm Zack’s version of events there. Zack claimed in a second media interview that Rudolph W. Giuliani, then Trump’s personal attorney, called her the following morning to set up a meeting to discuss her claims…
On Jan. 6, Zack’s nonprofit released a statement claiming that it had conducted an election-fraud investigation with the Institute for Good Governance — Edwards’s [second] Virginia-based group — and that their efforts had “yielded the long awaited proof that a flawless plot to take down America was executed with extraordinary resources and global involvement.”