What you need to know about AG Sessions’ new forfeiture policy

 

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(c) 2017, Brenda Grantland, Esq. 7/23/2017

On July 19, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new forfeiture policy regarding federal adoptions, Order No. 3946-2017 and Policy Directive 17-1: “Policy Guidance on the Attorney General’s Order on Federal Adoption and Forfeiture of Property Seized by State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies.”

To make sense of this order and what it does you have to put aside what you read in the newspaper articles interpreting the press release, and read the order and policy directive themselves.  (Download the order and related documents using the download buttons above.)

The one-page order is signed by Sessions. The only concrete change announced in the order is its repeal of two Obama era Attorney General policy orders issued by former Attorney General Eric Holder. This is the point most of the articles have gone ballistic on. As I explain below, that repeal is no big deal.

The details of the policy changes are set out in Policy Directive 17-1, signed by Deborah Connor, Acting Chief of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Justice Department. It is only three pages long, but contains very specific procedures that will make major changes for the better.

On the same day, the DOJ issued a press release containing Sessions’ remarks – three pages of the usual platitudes about the virtues of asset forfeiture. Sessions’ remarks are worth dissecting, which I will do later, but let’s look at the details of the policy change first.

What federal adoption means

For those who don’t know, “federal adoption” has nothing to do with giving orphans a forever home. It is a Justice Department program, created by statute, that rewards state and local police for seizing property from citizens and turning it over to the feds for forfeiture under federal law, by giving the local police a kickback (“equitable sharing”) of up to 80% of the proceeds of the forfeiture case. See 28 U.S.C. Sec. 524(c). These state and local cops could just use their states’ forfeiture laws to forfeit property, but many prefer federal adoption to get around their state’s forfeiture laws which are more protective of property owners.

When a case is federally adopted, the forfeiture is processed in federal court, under federal forfeiture law, using federal standards, even if the forfeiture would be illegal under state law. Forfeiture opponents argue that allowing the feds to subvert local and state police into disregarding the law of their own states and instead seize property for forfeiture under federal law — by offering them up to 80% of the proceeds of the federal forfeiture.

What the policy order and directive do

1. Repeals “Obama era policy order” limiting federal adoption

The most seemingly dramatic feature of Sessions’ order is its repeal of Attorney General Order No. 3488-2015 (1/16/2015 – Holder order limiting federal adoption) and No. 3485-2015 (1/12/2015). I have not been able to find Attorney General Order No. 3485-2015. The only mention of it anywhere on line is this order repealing it.

The policy orders that Sessions repealed were issued by outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder in January 2015. Order No. 3488-2015 set specific limitations on the federal adoption of state and local police seizures. As I explained in a previous blog, Holder’s order did not do much to curb federal adoption. See Attorney General Holder’s Asset Forfeiture Policy Limiting Federal Adoption Will Not Stop the Abuses.

Holder’s policy order contained built-in loopholes that told the police how to get around the new policy. All they had to do was put a federal agent on their task force, or get a federal judge to issue a federal seizure warrant for the property and they were back to business as usual.

Less than two weeks after my blog predicting the Holder order would have little or no effect, Justice Department spokespeople admitted it would not have a substantial effect.  See the HuffPost article Justice Department Budget Projects Some Asset Forfeiture Payments Will Rise Despite Reforms. The Holder order did not even reduce federal adoption payments, as the DOJ admitted in the HuffPost article.

2. Review by a federal agency lawyer before agreeing to a federal adoption

Policy Directive 17-1 requires that the facts of each seizure be reviewed by the adopting agency’s legal counsel before agreeing to accept the federal adoption.

“To ensure that adoptions involve property lawfully seized, legal counsel at the federal agency adopting the seized property must continue to review all seizures for compliance with law, especially seizures made pursuant to an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.” Policy Directive 17-1 p. 1-2.

The directive tells the agencies to revise the forms used to request federal adoption and require the seizing cops to provide enough information to determine if there was probable cause for the seizure. The cops are also required to state on the revised form whether a turnover order was obtained, if required by state law. Policy Directive p. 2. (Only a few states have statutes requiring local police to get a turnover order from a state court judge before they can turn over property they seized to the feds for federal adoption.)

These new procedures, if actually followed, will weed out many illegal roadside forfeiture trap seizures at a very crucial time — before sending notice to claimants requiring them to file a claim within 30 days. All of the cases claimants lost by default were lost during that crucial period.

Although there was eventually a review by an Assistant U.S. Attorney before filing a forfeiture complaint in court — which would usually occur 90 days later — that review only occurs after a claimant files a claim. If the claimant defaulted before that point, there would never be a review for probable cause.

3. Additional screening procedures for seizures of $10,000 or less

The vast majority of the highway forfeiture trap cases are these smaller dollar value seizures.

They target travelers on the interstate highways, particularly those with out of state tags, and minorities. They are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction or on the ruse that they fit a vague drug courier profile. In most of those cases, little or no drugs are found and no one is arrested, yet after a search, they seize all of the cash the travelers are carrying, saying it is suspected drug proceeds.

Under the policy directive, when cash totaling $10,000 or less is seized, the seizure can be adopted only if

  • (1) the seizure was pursuant to a state warrant,
  • (2) it was seized incident to an arrest for a forfeiture triggering offense,
  • (3) it was seized at the same time as contraband was seized “relevant to the forfeiture,” or
  • (4) if the person from whom it was seized admits it was crime proceeds or intended for use to commit a crime.

Policy Directive 17-1 p. 2. If a federal agency wants to adopt a seizure that does not fit into one of those categories they have to get the approval of the U.S. Attorney’s Office first.

This is an excellent reform! Let’s hope they actually follow this policy.

Roadside forfeiture traps rake in a huge number of small dollar value seizures — with values too small for the property owner to hire a lawyer to defend. Many give up instead of filing a claim because hiring a lawyer would cost more than the value of the property. Sessions claimed that “over the last decade, four out of five administrative civil asset forfeitures filed by federal law enforcement agencies were never challenged in court.” That is probably true, but it is not because those people were all guilty, as Sessions suggested. Many defaulted because it was not cost effective to litigate in federal court over these small dollar amounts.

When the feds adopt a state or local police seizure, all money seized (and most other personal property) is sent through the administrative forfeiture process. The adopting agency sends out a notice to the property owner and they have to send in a claim within 30 days or they are in default and automatically lose their property.

When the property is forfeited by default in the administrative process no judge ever reviews the legality of the seizure. The policy directive suggests that a lawyer from the agency would review the case to determine the legality of the seizure before agreeing to adopt it (“the federal agency … must continue to review all seizures for compliance with the law….”) — but if they were already doing this, why would Sessions issue a policy order requiring it?

Also, it appears that the previous forms the local cops filled out to request adoption wouldn’t have had enough information for the federal agency to determine whether the seizure was valid.

For decades these small dollar value highway forfeiture trap cases have been nuisance cases for claimants. Now they are nuisance cases for the government!

Agency lawyers will have to plow through thousands of cases and weed out bogus seizures that they would have otherwise won by default. I can imagine agency lawyers will perform triage and drop cases that wouldn’t be cost effective to prosecute. Many of those people who would previously have lost by default will get their money back.

4. Additional scrutiny of seizures of real property

The Policy Directive warns officials to “proceed with caution” when deciding whether to waive the Department’s net equity thresholds for real estate, and in taking cases where real estate is owned by innocent people.

Their concern many not be altruistic as much as economic. Real estate can’t be put through the administrative forfeiture process where claimants so often default because it is not cost effective to hire a lawyer. The government has to work to forfeit real estate. It’s hard for the government to make profits off forfeiture if the litigation involves real estate with low equity when innocent owners and lienholders will have to be paid off.

5. Expediting the forfeiture process by 45 days

The statutes give the government 90 days after seizure to commence the administrative forfeiture process by sending notice. Sessions’ order shortens that time to 45 days.

This is not a big deal for claimants. In cases that are contested, after the claimant files a claim, the case goes to federal court where it bogs down for several years.

Because the new 45 deadline is just a policy deadline, the claimant cannot enforce it and nothing happens if they miss it. The 90 day deadline is statutory, and missing it has consequences for the government — including dismissal of the case and return of the property. I suspect that the 45 day deadline is to hurry things along so the feds don’t miss the 90 day deadline.

Other forces have begun to curtail the federal adoption program

Actually “equitable sharing” under the federal adoption program has been curtailed in recent years, but not by policy changes at the Department of Justice.

Federal legislation

A few years ago Congress put a rider in the budget appropriation bill prohibiting the DOJ from spending money from its budget on federal adoption. When the police lobby went ballistic about losing their federal sharing revenue, the DOJ found a way to get around it. They increased forfeitures in federal agency originated cases and used that money to fund the state and local cops who were feeding them forfeiture cases.

Congress has since imposed another limit on the federal adoption program which no Attorney General can override. In a budget appropriations rider Congress prohibited the DOJ from spending any money from its budget to thwart the implementation of state medical marijuana laws:

None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, Pub. L. No. 113-235, § 538, 128 Stat. 2130, 2217 (2014). The Ninth Circuit interpreted this statute to preclude the feds from prosecuting medical marijuana providers who were in full compliance with state law legalizing and regulation medical marjuana. United States v. McIntosh, 833 F.3d 1063 (2016). That limit on prosecutions would bar federal forfeiture prosecutions as well.

State legislation restricting federal adoption

Federal adoption will also likely decrease substantially because state legislatures have been passing laws to curtail federal adoption. Unhappy with the feds’ use of federal adoption to lure state and local police into disregarding limitations on state forfeiture laws, several states have passed legislation stopping the state and local cops from receiving equitable sharing revenue for federal adoption cases that conflict with state laws.

According to a National Review article, thirteen states have passed state forfeiture reform legislation curbing federal adoptions.

California’s forfeiture reform statute, SB 443, effective January 1, 2017, bars any police force from accepting revenue from federal adoptions unless they can prove there was a conviction in the related criminal case – that is, if a criminal conviction is required under state law. Under the new law, a criminal conviction is required in a related criminal case in order to forfeit anything except cash and negotiable instruments totaling $40,000 or more. This provision was obviously meant to curb the “highway robbery” type forfeiture trap, where local cops stop travelers on the highway for minor traffic infractions (or nothing at all) and seize their cash on the ruse that it is drug proceeds or intended for use to purchase drugs – even though they found no drugs. They could never get a criminal conviction in such a case because the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. In most of these highway forfeiture trap cases they didn’t even arrest anyone, yet their money was subjected to the civil forfeiture process.

This will likely be a very effective way to curb federal adoption. Would local police go to the trouble of mounting these highway forfeiture traps just to turn the money over to the feds and get nothing in return? This may force them to enforce their own state forfeiture laws instead!

A word or two about the accompanying press release

If you wonder how journalists could so poorly understand what Sessions order and the policy directive do, I believe it is because they only read the DOJ press release. The press release is comprised primarily of Session’ remarks, which are loaded with pro-forfeiture propaganda, such as his repeated claim that civil forfeiture targets “organized crime.” If it were “organized crime” why wouldn’t they be going after them criminally, where they could just use criminal forfeiture?

This passage is a doozy:

“When I was in the Senate, I worked with Senator Schumer to make modifications to the civil asset forfeiture program. We required probable cause for the seizure of property. And we raised the burden on the government, who has the initial burden in all of these cases, to the same preponderance of the evidence standard used in all civil cases. In addition, if the government lost the case, then the government pays attorneys’ fees. I believe those were good reforms that strengthened the program.”

Those modifications to the civil asset forfeiture program he is talking about is the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 – “CAFRA.” I can’t believe he is trying to take credit for CAFRA’s reforms!

I consulted with Representatives John Conyers and Henry Hyde in drafting CAFRA, and my organization Forfeiture Endangers American Rights lobbied for it for 8 years before it passed.

Sessions and Schumer were major opponents of forfeiture reform. They fought CAFRA’s positive reforms every inch of the way!

Once CAFRA passed in the House, Sessions and Schumer introduced a competing bill drafted by the DOJ, which added about 200 new forfeiture triggering offenses and poked huge loopholes in our due process reforms.

Because of Sessions and Schumer — and Orrin Hatch, who wouldn’t let our bill go out of his Senate committee without forcing a compromise — those 200 new offenses got added to CAFRA. Even worse, Sessions and Schumer forced the DOJ’s proposed loopholes into our reform provisions too, watering down the Hyde bill and eroding its due process reforms.

Sessions tries to take credit for the probable cause requirement, saying the modifications to the forfeiture program that he and Schumer made “required probable cause for the seizure of property.” He can’t take credit for that. The Fourth Amendment requires probable cause before property is seized.

It was nice of him — or more likely Deborah Connor, Acting Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section — to require agency lawyers to review local police seizures for probable cause before agreeing to federal adoption. They should have been doing it all along.

Your House Is Under Arrest, 2nd edition Brenda Grantland, Esq.

  • (c) 2017 Brenda Grantland, Esq. published 1/11/2017 96,285 words. 245 pages in the full sized pdf edition. Interactive Table of Contents. Indexed, with footnotes. $14.99
    NOTE: If you purchased a copy of this ebook in pdf format and it did not have pages numbers, please go back to the download page and download a new copy - or email us and we will send you a new one. The new version also has bookmarks marking every chapter. This is the new, expanded Second edition of Brenda Grantland's first book - Your House Is Under Arrest - published in 1993. Back in 1993, federal forfeiture procedure had fewer Due Process protections and more obstacles for forfeiture victims ("claimants") trying to defend their property. After eight years of lobbying, our forfeiture reform bill, CAFRA was enacted in 2000. Some of the abuses came to an end, but new abuses cropped up. Now 16 years after CAFRA reformed the law, things are as just as bad - or even worse than before. Because there are now 200 more federal forfeiture triggering offenses, forfeiture is more widespread. Forfeiture revenue is up dramatically - from $500 million in federal forfeiture revenue in fiscal year 2001 to $5 billion in fiscal year 2014. Today, average law abiding investors have even more to fear from asset forfeiture. This book is written to educate investors and give helpful tips for avoiding forfeiture.
  • Brenda Grantland
  • 2017-01-11
  • 246 pages

Will recusal fix AG Jeff Sessions’ Russian problem?

 

(c) Brenda Grantland, 2017
published 3/5/2017 on brendagrantland.com
reprinting permitted with attribution

A brouhaha has arisen over brand new Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony under oath during his Senate confirmation hearing.

When Senator Al Franken asked him whether there was

any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign?

Sessions replied:

I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.

Sessions later admitted that he spoke to the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, twice during the Trump campaign.

According to Fox News, one of the meetings occurred in Session’s Senate office. The Justice Department — over which Sessions is now boss — said Sessions was conducting that meeting in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

His second meeting with Kislyak occurred after a Heritage Foundation speech, when Sessions met with Kislyak and a group of other ambassadors.

Sessions has sort of suggested he may recuse himself from any investigation of the connection between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Many think that is not enough. Some are calling for Sessions to resign as Attorney General. Others call for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the matter.

Is recusal enough to cure Sessions’ problem?

Recusal from any investigation of alleged contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officals during the campaign might help address Sessions’ conflict of interest in investigating Russian influence on the Trump election — a serious conflict if Sessions was involved in the dialog between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Clearly letting Sessions be the big boss overseeing that investigation would be akin to letting Attorney General Loretta Lynch investigate the alleged interference of the Hillary Clinton campaign (for which Bill was a surrogate) with the FBI investigation of Hillary. During the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton, when Bill sprinted to Lynch’s airplane on the tarmack and had a private conversation with her and was caught by the press, Loretta Lynch recused herself from Hillary’s FBI investigation, delegating her authority as Attorney General to the FBI chief, a delegation some said was not enough to cure the problem.

Taking his cue from Lynch’s reaction, this week Sessions offered to recuse himself from that investigation, sort of, saying “I would recuse myself on anything that I think I should recuse myself on. That’s all I can tell you.”

No doubt Sessions may try to follow Loretta Lynch’s lead in delegating his prosecutorial oversight as Attorney General to the FBI chief. To most of us, that didn’t cure the conflict with Lynch and it won’t with Sessions because the FBI chief is an underling of the Attorney General. Having the Attorney General delegate his/her power to a subordinate doesn’t cure anything. Subordinates are subject to the control of their bosses, whether overt or subliminal. Who would dare defy their boss on such a matter, especially a controversy which impugns his boss’s integrity?

Recusal won’t solve Sessions’ problem for another reason as well — it doesn’t address the question of whether he lied under oath, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi charged. Because Sessions made that statement in his sworn testimony to Congress, if he lied under oath, he may have committed perjury, a felony, carrying a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

Is Sessions’ statement perjury?

Under federal law, perjury occurs when anyone:

“having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true…”

18 U.S. Code § 1621(1). The Ninth Circuit’s jury instruction breaks that criminal offense down into these elements — whether:

  • the person was under oath?
  • the testimony was false?
  • the false testimony was material to the matter under inquiry in the proceeding?
  • the person acted wilfully and with knowledge that the testimony was false?

Clearly the statement was made under oath. It occurred during Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearings for the office of Attorney General.

Was the testimony false?

According to the 1815 Congress of Vienna,

“ambassadors are diplomats of the highest rank, formally representing the head of state, with plenipotentiary powers (i.e. full authority to represent the government).”

Can there even be a shadow of doubt that the Russian ambassador is a Russian official?

Did Sessions know the statement was false?

Having served in the U.S. Senate for 20 years, he had to have known that the man he met with, Sergey Kislyak, was a Russian ambassador and that an ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat in the U.S. representing a foreign government.

The issue boils down to one question:

Was Sessions’ statement material to the matter under inquiry?

So what was the matter under inquiry?

Sessions was applying for a job as Attorney General, the top prosecutor in the country. Senator Franken was asking whether anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign had any contact with Russian officials during the campaign — because there were ongoing allegations from the Hillary Clinton campaign that Russia “hacked the election,” causing the election of Trump instead of her. That accusation is still being hurled by Hillary surrogates as her excuse for losing the election, and the controversy likely won’t die down until there is an official investigation that lays it to rest. And an investigation that the public trusts as being thorough and unbiased.

Senator Franken thought that issue was important enough to ask Sessions the general question, to which Sessions went further and replied that he himself “did not have communications with the Russians.”

Had Sessions not unequivocally denied it, but admitted that he had several meetings with the Russian Ambassador during the Trump campaign, Frankin would no doubt have asked follow-up questions about whether Sessions’ meetings included any mention of the Trump campaign, for which Sessions was currently serving as a surrogate.*

By denying any such communications, Sessions cut off that line of inquiry.

Former White House Ethics Lawyer Richard Painter pointed out that, now that the cat is out of the bag about the meetings, we need to know a lot more — “we don’t know for example what was being discussed with the Russian ambassador.”  According to Fox News,

“Franken said he was troubled that Sessions’ response to his question was ‘at best, misleading.’ He said he planned to press Sessions on his contact with Russia.”

Richard Painter, who served in the George W. Bush White House, also questioned “why a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee was having unilateral discussions with the Russians,” and called for Sessions to resign.

Clearly there is bipartisan concern about this alleged perjury.

Was Sessions’ statement just a white lie, a slip of the tongue, a nothingburger?

Numerous right wing blogs are calling this a “nothingburger.”** Just a few months ago Hillary supporters were calling Hillary’s FBI investigation a nothingburger, perhaps not using the same quaint term.

But is it trivial, much ado about nothing? The DOJ’s explanation that he was acting in his role as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee doesn’t overlook the fact that his actual words unequivocally stated, all in the same sentence, that he had been called a surrogate of the Trump campaign and that he did not communicate with the Russians in the course of the campaign.

When I hear Sessions’ words in his characteristic Southern drawl — “I did not have communications with the Russians” — I can’t help hearing another Southerner drawl “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

There are some important parallels here. Meeting with the Russian ambassador is not a crime. Neither is having sexual relations with a consenting adult, even if you are president and the woman is your intern and you do it in the oval office.

The important question is, did he commit perjury when he lied under oath?

That question cannot be answered without knowing the content of the discussions Sessions had with the Russian Ambassador, because the question still remains whether Sessions’ false statement was material. Further testimony is required.

Recusing himself from heading the investigation into the Trump-Russian connection and his own conduct won’t cut it.

Even a member of his own party, Senator Lindsay Graham (R- S.C.) called for a special prosecutor — sort of — saying:

“If there’s something there that the FBI believes is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor.”

Of course if Sessions’ FBI is charged with deciding whether the Russian-Trump connection or what Sessions did is something “criminal in nature” — that will be the end of the investigation. No FBI chief would dare oppose the Attorney General, as FBI Chief Comey has already shown. At least Comey had the integrity to come forward voluntarily and correct a mistaken statement he had made in his Congressional testimony, an act he caught hell for from Hillary.

This brings us to the bigger questions:

1. Should perjury be a crime?

I think everyone will agree it should be. Otherwise, trials and Senate hearings would have no way of enforcing factual integrity.

2. Should there be two different standards: one for public officials and one for the public?

Let’s face it. Much of the government corruption that the American people are yammering on and on about today is about the double standard. Well connected government officials, powerful political candidates and party officials, and powerful political party donors like the banksters who caused the banking collapse and recession and yet got bailed out with taxpayer money — got different treatment from the rest of us. “Justice for just us” does not sit well with Americans who lost their jobs or life savings due to the banking collapse.

The public outcry about Sessions’ lie to Congress and the conflict of interest that it possibly uncovered should not be squelched, or drowned out by  a new red scare focused on the Russians or claims that the Democrats did the same thing, but should instead be focused on cleaning up the corruption in both parties.

Allegedly lying to Congress right out of the box during his confirmation hearing means Sessions may well lack the legal ethics chops to serve as Attorney General. The Attorney General is the nation’s top prosecutor. This position requires a high degree of legal ethics and ability to apply the law fairly and without bias. Standard 3-2.1 of the ABA Standards for the Prosecution Function say that a public prosecutor “is a lawyer subject to the standards of professional conduct and discipline.” Lying to the court, or Congress impugns ones honesty. It is an act of moral turpitude that can lead to disbarment, even for the country’s top prosecutor.

Incidentally, Bill Clinton’s lie about sex with an intern did not turn out to be a nothingburger. That lie led in 1998 to perjury charges and impeachment by the House of Representatives, ending in Bill Clinton’s acquittal in the Senate after a 21 day trial. Clinton was also held in civil contempt for lying about the Lewinsky affair in testimony in the Paula Jones case and was fined $90,000 by that judge. Clinton’s license to practice law was suspended in Arkansas for five years, and has never been reinstated, and he was also disbarred from appearing in front of the US Supreme Court.

This is not a nothingburger but a really big deal.

One or more independent prosecutors should be appointed to thoroughly investigate and report to the American people on whether there was any illegal meddling or manipulation in the entire 2016 presidential election — primaries and all — by the Russians, the DNC/Hillary campaign, or any other forces.

Making it a bipartisan inquiry could help ensure that the selection of the independent prosecutors is not biased in favor of the political party in control of both houses and the Presidency. It will also put to rest the claim that the Clintons did it first, therefore it is okay.

_______________

* Sessions was well connected to the Trump campaign all along. A July 2016 article in the Washington Post said “in the party of Trump, Sessions is at the center of the action. He was an early backer of the real estate mogul’s candidacy, when most Republican officials were denouncing Trump’s comments about Mexicans and his promise to build a wall on the southern border.”

** In case you are curious, the term “nothingburger” was apparently coined in 1984 by Ann Gorsuch, Ronald Reagan’s appointee as EPA Director. She took the position with the avowed purpose of dismantling the EPA, and succeeded in cutting its budget by 22%, relaxing EPA regulations, reducing the prosecutions of polluters, downsizing its employees, and hiring new staff from the industries that the EPA regulated. Eventually, after prolonged public outrage, she resigned her EPA post under pressure of a Congressional investigation of her alleged mishandling of the $1.6 billion toxic waste Superfund. Ronald Reagan promised Gorsuch another job in his administration. When he appointed her to a three year term as chair of an advisory committee on oceans and atmosphere (where she could have learned from experts on the panel about the effects of pollution on global warming and ocean level rise), she called that position a “nothingburger,” prompting both houses of Congress to pass resolutions asking Regan to withdraw her appointment. She then declined the job.

Neil Gorsuch — Ann Gorsuch’s son — is Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Yikes – Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General!

(c) Brenda Grantland, Esq., Feb. 8, 2017

We are in deep water now.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General today!

Much of the progress that our country has made in recent decades in attempting to restore some due process in forfeiture cases, civil rights, and protection against police misconduct will likely be reversed beginning now.

In my blog from February 4 I explain why I thought Sessions should not be appointed Attorney General. Add to all of my reasons the letter written in 1986 by the late Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, to the Senate urging them to oppose Sessions’ appointment as a federal judge.  Senator Bernie Sanders read her letter into the record today in this Twitter video.

 

For more information about asset forfeiture and how your property may be vulnerable, see my ebook, Your House Is Under Arrest.

Your House Is Under Arrest, 2nd edition Brenda Grantland, Esq.

  • (c) 2017 Brenda Grantland, Esq. published 1/11/2017 96,285 words. 245 pages in the full sized pdf edition. Interactive Table of Contents. Indexed, with footnotes. $14.99
    NOTE: If you purchased a copy of this ebook in pdf format and it did not have pages numbers, please go back to the download page and download a new copy - or email us and we will send you a new one. The new version also has bookmarks marking every chapter. This is the new, expanded Second edition of Brenda Grantland's first book - Your House Is Under Arrest - published in 1993. Back in 1993, federal forfeiture procedure had fewer Due Process protections and more obstacles for forfeiture victims ("claimants") trying to defend their property. After eight years of lobbying, our forfeiture reform bill, CAFRA was enacted in 2000. Some of the abuses came to an end, but new abuses cropped up. Now 16 years after CAFRA reformed the law, things are as just as bad - or even worse than before. Because there are now 200 more federal forfeiture triggering offenses, forfeiture is more widespread. Forfeiture revenue is up dramatically - from $500 million in federal forfeiture revenue in fiscal year 2001 to $5 billion in fiscal year 2014. Today, average law abiding investors have even more to fear from asset forfeiture. This book is written to educate investors and give helpful tips for avoiding forfeiture.
  • Brenda Grantland
  • 2017-01-11
  • 246 pages