by WorldTribune Staff, December 20, 2018
Rep. Nancy Pelosi was dancing the night away on Dec. 19 after Democrats appeared to triumph in averting a government shutdown with a continuing resolution on a spending bill that did not include wall funding.
When she likely becomes Speaker of the House on Jan. 3, 2019, the chances of funding President Donald Trump’s wall would be slim or none – mostly none.
Earlier, on Dec. 18, Michael Flynn, a lieutenant general with more than 20 years of service in the U.S. military, was called a traitor by the judge at his sentencing hearing.
The same jurist, Judge Emmet Sullivan, also this week overturned a sweeping policy change ordered in June by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that has broad implications for thousands of Central American asylum seekers.
As Pelosi was celebrating the win at the going away party of Rep. Joe Crowley (the New York congressman who lost in the primary to socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), the Senate was approving legislation to temporarily fund the government which did not include Trump’s demand for $5 million for a border wall.
After meeting Trump on Dec. 20, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the president will not sign the Senate-passed spending bill, increasing the chances of a partial government shutdown.
Christmas in the swamp: Not for the weak of heart.
Meanwhile, investigative journalist Sara Carter, reporting from the scene of Flynn’s sentencing hearing, said nearly all in the courtroom on Dec. 18 appeared “shocked” by Judge Sullivan’s tirade against Flynn.
“Everyone was wondering what was going on – what happened to Sullivan, whose record against prosecutorial misconduct is well documented,” Carter wrote. “He dismissed the ethics conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens in 2009 after he discovered government prosecutors withheld exculpatory information and possible ethical misconduct.”
Carter noted that “The confusion so many Americans have about the Russia collusion investigation is not due to anyone’s lack of intelligence, it’s done purposefully. It’s the muddy water that every once in awhile releases a shiny glimmer of truth, only to have it sink back again into the swamp with more trash and debris to cover it all up. That was evident when Sullivan, who appeared to be as confused as the American public, went after Flynn.”
Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, accused the three-star general of “treason” and, Carter noted, “excoriated him for crimes he’s never been formally accused of” by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
“Arguably, that undermines everything that this flag over here stands for,” said Sullivan to Flynn and looking at the flag in the courtroom. “Arguably, you sold your country out.”
Carter wrote: “Why didn’t Flynn withdraw his plea, I wondered? Could it be that he’s overwhelmed with debt, his family is exhausted of the whole situation or did Mueller’s office threaten to go after his son for something we have yet to discover. Maybe, all of the above.”
Government prosecutors later corrected Sullivan, Carter noted, “but the damage was done. Flynn’s more relaxed demeanor at the beginning of the trial was now gone. He seemed stoic, upset and his body language reflected that fact. Sullivan then announced a 25 minute break to let Flynn discuss the matter with his attorneys. Flynn accepted the postponement of his sentencing.”
Sullivan “then walked back all the inaccurate statements that Flynn was a traitor, along with the faulty statement that Flynn served as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey, while he was at the White House,” Carter wrote.
Sullivan also ruled this week to overturn a major Trump administration policy that sought to block victims of gang and domestic violence from claiming political asylum in the U.S.
In addition to declaring the policy change illegal, Sullivan ordered the government to return to the United States people who have been deported as a result of the policy.
Steven J. Stafford, a Justice Department spokesman, said in a statement that the administration was “reviewing our options with regard to this ruling, and we will continue to restore the rule of law in our immigration system.”
Under U.S. law, a person who has a “credible fear” of being persecuted because of his or her race, nationality, religion, political opinion or membership in a particular “social group” can petition for asylum in the U.S.
Sessions wrote in June that gang and domestic violence related cases should usually not lead to asylum because the violence was caused by private individuals, not directly by governments.
“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by nongovernmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” he wrote. The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes – such as domestic violence or gang violence – or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.”
Sullivan ruled that the standard Sessions created was “inconsistent with the intent of Congress” set out in federal immigration law.
“And because it is the will of Congress – not the whims of the Executive – that determines the standard for expedited removal, the Court finds that those policies are unlawful,” Sullivan wrote. “The Court orders the government to return to the United States the plaintiffs who were unlawfully deported and to provide them with new credible fear determinations consistent with the immigration laws.”
Roughly 80 percent of asylum applicants pass their initial credible fear interview, but only 10 percent to 20 percent ultimately are granted asylum, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.