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Attorney General Jeff Sessions Lawyers Up – Hires Top GOP Civil Litigator Who Defended Prop 8

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Chuck Cooper Has Argued Cases in Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage, People With HIV/AIDS, and Interracial Dating

Add Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the list of Trump administration officials who have retained private counsel to protect them, likely through the course of the Russia investigation. Sessions has hired Chuck Cooper, a top civil litigator who defended California’s anti-gay ban on same-sex marriage all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Charles Cooper, the well-known Republican lawyer, wasn’t simply in attendance at U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ congressional hearing one week ago to support his friend. Cooper is Sessions’ personal lawyer, he confirmed in an email Tuesday,” The National Law Journal reports. 

Cooper did not state what role he will play, or if he is advising Sessions in the criminal investigation into the administration’s possible collusion with Russia.

But a continuing attorney-client relationship between the attorney general and a private lawyer could signal they expect additional perilous legal questions—including from Robert Mueller III’s special counsel investigation,” the Journal adds. 

The choice of Cooper is not surprising. He was named “one of the 10 best civil litigators in Washington,” according to his bio. Both attorneys hail from Alabama. Both have strongly opposed same-sex marriage and LGBT equality. (As he was defending California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Cooper’s daughter told him she is a lesbian, he revealed later. He said he may evolve down the road.)

“In legal filings, Cooper has defended a university that wanted to ban interracial dating on the basis of religious freedom, sided with employers who wanted to fire employees with HIV, and fought for a proposition against gay marriage in California. For starters,” Heavy reported in February.

Cooper was widely believed to be one of Donald Trump’s top choices to become solicitor general, but withdrew from consideration when George T. Conway, a high-profile attorney and husband of White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, was reportedly under consideration. (Conway later withdrew his name from consideration for another Trump administration post.)

Still curious about Chuck Cooper? In 2013 New Republic published a profile of the Prop 8 attorney. It wasn’t pretty. An excerpt:

Cooper took a controversial stance with regard to discrimination again in 1986, after he had taken over the [DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel], when he argued that the federal government could reject job candidates with AIDS out of fear of contracting the disease. Cooper again claimed to be relying on a strict reading of the law as written – the law prohibited discrimination against people on the basis of a physical handicap, he argued, but it didn’t say anything about a fear of contagion, which as a legal matter, was something else entirely – but the decision ignited a firestorm of controversy, angering health experts who said it propagated the dangerous myth that AIDS could be transmitted through casual contact. Again, as it had with Bob Jones [University], Cooper’s rigidity with respect to the strict meaning of the law trumped his concern for how it might affect people.

“Chuck never knew anyone with AIDS. He couldn’t’ even envision putting himself in the place of knowing someone with AIDS,” explains Doug Kmiec, who led the Office of Legal Counsel after Cooper. Kmiec, who generally saw Cooper as a reasonable person, nonetheless thought his principled stances could be flawed. “I think if there is a human failing in formality, it prevents you from getting close enough to see that the other guys have feelings.”

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Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr and a CC license 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Boldly Ignorant’ Ted Cruz Slammed by Retired NYPD Detective for His Suggestions to Protect Kids

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Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Katie Phang Show,” a retired NYPD detective expressed disgust with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over his attempts to dismiss the idea of new gun laws to protect children in schools and instead is insisting America needs to turn schools into fortresses.

In interviews and appearing at the NRA convention this weekend in Houston, Cruz has vociferously disregarded the easy availability of high-powered weapons and instead focused on a door that was left open at the elementary school where the shooting occurred.

After host Phang shared a clip of the Texas Republican making his case, she asked former law enforcement detective Marq Claxton his thoughts on what Cruz was proposing.

Calling the controversial senator “boldly ignorant,” he proceeded to rip Cruz’s proposal apart.

“Marq, I was a prosecutor for half my career, I never prosecuted somebody for leaving a door open. How absurd is this proposal by Ted Cruz that the solution is to make sure that we don’t have too many doors at our schools?” host Phang asked.

“Ted Cruz’s statements were boldly ignorant and dismissive of the clear obvious danger that is faced by so many people in society because of the prevalence of violence and gun violence in particular,” he replied. “It really shows just how so many political electeds lack the fortitude to move forward and do the right thing: save lives.”

“Instead of sloganeering, Mr. Cruz and his other elected colleagues really should be working on legislation that provides, or minimizes the risk of damage, and could quite possibly and probably save lives,” he continued. “That is some additional gun restrictions, some background checks, there are other things that are out there that will undoubtedly be effective and save lives, and prevent these gun violence deaths.”

Watch the segment below or at this link.

 

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‘Taking Us All for Fools’: Critics Decimate Greg Abbott’s Claims and Defense of His Actions in Wake of School Shooting

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Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott in a press conference that left reporters frustrated defended his actions and insisted his earlier praise for law enforcement’s widely criticized response to the Uvalde school massacre was the result of being “misled.”

“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott declared, blaming others for his “recitation of what people in that room told me.”

Critics aren’t buying his claims.

Abbott, who’s in the middle of a heated re-election campaign, appeared extremely defensive when reporters asked him questions.

“Let’s be clear about one thing. None of the laws I signed this past session had any intersection with this crime at all,” Abbott told reporters when asked if he would call the legislature back for a special session, as The Texas Tribune’s Sewell Chan noted.

“No law that I signed allowed him to get a gun,” Abbott insisted.

“The answers fell pretty flat,” opined MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, who noted the press event lasted just 36 minutes, less time than the police officers “stood outside and did nothing,” which was 47 minutes.

Abbott ended the press conference with many reporters almost begging him to take more questions. As the governor left one frustrated reporter was caught on a hot mic saying “unbelievable.”

Chan, who is the editor in chief of the Tribune, added on Twitter: “Abbott rejects background checks as a simplistic and ineffective fix. Wouldn’t have prevented Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe shootings, he says. Tries to turn focus to broken mental health system.”

Former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi on MSNBC delivered a strong rebuke to Governor Abbott’s remarks.

“No amount of free flights, no amount of free caskets, no amount of mental health counseling is going to bring back any one of those murdered children,” Figliuzzi said, referring to Abbott’s announcement an anonymous donor is putting up  $175,000 for funeral expenses of those who were murdered in the shooting and said the state will pay for mental health treatment.

Abbott also insisted that since Texas became a state it’s been legal for 18-year-olds to buy long guns.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland school shooting, blasted Abbott:

And long guns of today, as Figliuzzi noted, are often semi-automatic “killing machines.”

“The governor seems completely unable to understand that he can easily make a distinction when you’re talking about whether an 18-year-old should buy an assault rifle or not. And all he cares about is a century of history in Texas on long guns. We didn’t have the AR-15 style assault weapons back then.  He can easily make a distinction and say, ‘you can go hunting, here are the rifles you can do, you can buy, you can possess – and here’s an assault-style rifle.'”

“If he thinks that people are stupid and unable to understand that there is a clear distinction between a killing machine and a hunting rifle, that he’s taking us all for fools.”

 

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‘I Apologize for Interrupting Your Press Conference’: Tearful Texas Democrat Urges Greg Abbott to ‘Do Something’ on Guns

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The Texas Democratic State Senator who represents Uvalde stood up during Greg Abbott’s Friday afternoon press conference and almost begged the Republican Governor to “do something” about gun violence after Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School that took 21 lives.

Abbott was trying to place the blame for the school shooting on mental health despite the gunman having no documented issues, and told attendees, “we’re focusing our attention on the wrong thing.”

That was not good enough for Democratic State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who politely introduced himself and said, “I’m not making a political speech.”

“My colleagues are asking for a special session, you’re getting a letter tomorrow,” from the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“We’ve asked for gun control changes – I’m asking you now, bring us back in three weeks.”

Gutierrez grew emotional, sounding as if he was choking up, and added, “I apologize for interrupting your press conference about the needs of this community. I’ve been here for three days with all of these elected officials – this county judge has been working his ass off,” he continued.

“I don’t know how to express the loss of the families that I’ve talked to,” he added.

“You have to do something, man,” Gutierrez said, all but begging the governor to take action, and saying his “own colleagues are calling me and telling me this is enough.”

Watch:

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