"Absent evidence of innocence or injustice, the wholesale pardon of U.S. service members accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don't take the law of armed conflict seriously," retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a tweet Tuesday. He added: "Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us." "If President Trump issues indiscriminate pardons of individuals accused -- or convicted by their fellow service members -- of war crimes, he relinquishes the United States' moral high ground and undermines the good order and discipline critical to winning on the battlefield," said retired Gen. Charles Krulak, a former commandant of the Marine Corps.
According to a report in the Daily Caller last week, the Trump administration is considering invoking the Insurrection Act to give federal troops the power to detain and remove undocumented immigrants in the United States, acting essentially as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The White House, when asked about the option last week, refused to rule it out. The Insurrection Act is an exception to the general rule, enshrined in the Posse Comitatus Act, that presidents may not use the military as a domestic police force. Posse comitatus, in the words of one former Defense Department official, reflects "one of the clearest political traditions in Anglo-American history: that using military power to enforce the civilian law is harmful to both civilian and military interests."
Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, has refused to release the president's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee on multiple occasions on the grounds that "the committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose." But the 10-page IRS memo (pdf) -- reportedly prepared last fall "by a lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel" -- makes clear that the "secretary's obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee... to state a reason for the request." "The memo writer's interpretation is that the IRS has no wiggle room on this," Daniel Hemel, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, told the Post. "Mnuchin is saying the House Ways and Means Committee has not asserted a legitimate legislative purpose. The memo says they don't have to assert a legitimate legislative purpose -- or any purpose at all." read more
The Justice Department is trying to stave off an "enforcement action" against Attorney General William Barr this week, making a rare offer to have the House Intelligence Committee review materials from special counsel Robert Mueller's report if House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff agrees to back down.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told investigators that people linked to the Trump administration and Congress reached out to him in an effort to interfere in the Russia probe, according to newly-unredacted court papers filed Thursday. The communications could have "affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation," special counsel Robert Mueller wrote in the court filings. Flynn even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication, the court papers say. "In some instances, the (special counsel's office) was unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant," Mueller wrote.