Republicans and Democrats Find Common Ground: Sessions Resigns

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has resigned as attorney general effective immediately after being asked to do so by President Trump, ABC News has reported.

“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote in an undated letter to the president.

“Since the day I was honored to be sworn in as Attorney General of the United States, I came to work at the Department of Jusitce every day determined to do my duty and serve my country,” Sessions wrote. “I have done so to the best of my ability, working to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice.”

Trump tweeted that Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will serve as acting attorney general.

On Twitter, Trump thanked Sessions for his service and announced that Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will serve as acting attorney general and that a permanent replacement will take place at a later date.

Previously, Trump would not say whether Sessions — who he has repeatedly criticized throughout his tenure — would be safe in his job after the midterm elections.

“I just would love to have him do a great job,” Trump told Bloomberg News on Aug. 30.

“I’d love to have him look at the other side,” Trump added, underscoring his demand for Sessions to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton and the origins of the Russia investigation.

Earlier in August, in an interview with Fox News, Trump lashed out at Sessions, saying he failed to take control of the Department of Justice.

In his most forceful public rebuke to date, Sessions hit back shortly after, saying he “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump confidante, predicted Sessions would be out of his job in the near future, but insisted Trump should wait until after November’s midterm elections.

“The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Graham said at the time. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”

Tensions developed between Trump and Sessions in March 2017, when Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein took over.

Rosenstein soon appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Russia probe, angering the president.

Trump repeatedly called on Sessions to end the probe on Twitter and TV interviews.

“…This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!” Trump tweeted on August 1st.

Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse then-candidate Trump.

Sessions parlayed that support to become attorney general, a role he held at the state level in Alabama.

The president’s priorities and Sessions’ mirrored each other. Both tough on immigration, the opioid crisis, and crime, both men have a pro-law enforcement perspective.

Aside from the president lashing out at him, Sessions’ tenure as attorney general has largely been focused on carrying out the policies of the administration and most notably, the zero-tolerance immigration policy which lead to the separation of families on the U.S.-Mexico border.

When Attorney General Sessions announced the policy in May, he warned those coming to the country illegally that the administration would prosecute them.

“I have put in place a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he said at an event in San Diego.

The policy was criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Sessions also sent more judges and prosecutors to the southern border to help with processing illegal border crossers.

The attorney general also focused on pro-law enforcement priorities and often echoed the president in touting law enforcement’s objectives.

“Let me say this loud and clear: as long as I am the Attorney General of the United States, the Department of Justice will have the back of all honest and honorable law enforcement officers,” Sessions said at the 25th Annual Top Cops Awards in May.

Sessions was also a regular steward for rigorous opioid prosecution. Just recently, in Cleveland, Sessions announced four opioid cases, each targeting the selling and distribution of opioids, something that he stressed was important to the president.

It has been commented upon by many that Sessions’ actions as attorney general in regards to treatment of federal sentence reform legislation and his draconian approach to treatment of immigrants already within America’s borders may have cost the Republican party control of the House in yesterday’s elections.

Advertisements

Election Results: Democrats Gain Control of House But Republicans Cling to Senate

After two years of Republicans being in complete control, Congress is once again split in the Capitol.

After two years of Republicans being in complete control, Congress is once again split in the Capitol.

Democrats will take back control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, but Republicans held their Senate majority as voters rendered a mixed verdict in the first nationwide election of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency.

Poll results are still coming in but the Democrats picked up more than the 27 seats they would need to take control of the House of Representatives.

It was a historic night for women in the House of Representatives, as more than 100 won their races. The previous record was 84.

It was also a historic night for first-time female candidates, with several political newbies flipping GOP-held congressional seats, according to ABC News’ analysis.

Perhaps the biggest new political star among them is New York’s 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a liberal firebrand from the Bronx. Also among them are the first two Native American women elected to the House – Democrats Sharice Davids of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico – and the first two Muslim-American women, Rhasida Tlaib of Michigan and Minnesota’s Ilhan Oman.

Despite major victories in the House, other results allowed room for the GOP to also call the night a success. The results highlighted an extraordinary realignment of U.S. voters by race, sex, and education. Republicans maintained their strength in conservative, rural states, while Democrats made inroads across America’s suburbs.

New Techniques Yields Tiny Results To Produce Great Resolution In Astronomy

This “super-resolution” view of asteroid Bennu was created using eight images obtained by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, from a distance of about 205 miles (330 km).

The spacecraft was moving as it captured the images with the PolyCam camera, and Bennu rotated 1.2 degrees during the nearly one minute that elapsed between the first and the last snapshot.

The team used a super-resolution algorithm to combine the eight images and produce a higher resolution view of the asteroid. Bennu occupies about 100 pixels and is oriented with its north pole at the top of the image.

OSIRIS-REx executes third asteroid approach maneuver
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has executed its third Asteroid Approach Maneuver (AAM-3). The trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) thrusters fired in a series of two braking maneuvers designed to slow the spacecraft’s speed relative to Bennu from approximately 11.7 mph (5.2 m/sec) to .24 mph (.11 m/sec).

Due to constraints that science instruments not be pointed too closely to the Sun, this maneuver was designed as two separate burns of approximately 5.8 mph (2.6 m/sec) each, to accomplish a net change in velocity of around 11.5 mph (5.13 m/sec). The mission team will continue to examine telemetry and tracking data over the next week to verify the new trajectory.

The maneuver targeted the spacecraft to fly through a corridor designed for the collection of high-resolution images that will be used to build a shape model of Bennu.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is in the midst of a six-week series of final approach maneuvers. AAM-1 and AAM-2, which executed on Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 respectively, slowed the spacecraft by a total of approximately 1,088 mph (486 m/sec).

The last of the burns, AAM-4, is scheduled for Nov. 12 and will adjust the spacecraft’s trajectory to arrive at a position 12 miles (20 km) from Bennu on Dec. 3.

U. S. Nuclear Weapons Facility Locked Down Briefly

Employees at the United States’ primary nuclear weapons facility were briefly told to “shelter in place” Tuesday, when a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot triggered an emergency response.

The incident at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas occurred just before noon (1800 GMT), when a routine inspection identified “a potential concern with a vehicle,” the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said in a statement.

“As a precaution, all employees were sheltered in place.”

Police were called and authorities closed roads around the facility for about an hour while officials investigated.

“After searching the vehicle, it was determined there were no prohibited items or explosives, and the emergency event was resolved without incident,” the NNSA said.

The plant is operated by government contractors and is the nation’s primary one of six facilities for the assembly and dismantlement of nuclear weapons.

A recording on the plant’s phone system said it was operating normally after what was initially described as a “security event.”

Misconduct Complaints Against Kavanaugh Referred to Federal Appeals Court

On Wednesday, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Brett M. Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado.

The 15 complaints, related to statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings, were initially filed with the federal appeals court in Washington, where Kavanaugh served for the last 12 years before his confirmation Saturday to the Supreme Court.

The allegations center on whether Kavanaugh was dishonest and lacked judicial temperament during his Senate testimony, according to people familiar with the matter.

Last month, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asked Roberts to refer the complaints to another appeals court for review after determining that they should not be handled by judges who served with Kavanaugh on the D.C. appellate court.

In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Roberts said he selected the court in Colorado to “accept the transfer and to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaints and any pending or new complaints relating to the same subject matter.”

The Denver-based appeals court is led by Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, the former solicitor general of Colorado who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush. The 10th Circuit handled another recent judicial misconduct case from Washington involving the former chief judge of the District Court.

It is unclear what will come of the review by the 10th Circuit. The judiciary’s rules on misconduct do not apply to Supreme Court justices, and the 10th Circuit could decide to dismiss the complaints as moot now that Kavanaugh has joined the high court.

“There is nothing that a judicial council could do at this point,” said Arthur D. Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and expert on the operation of federal courts.

He said it was unprecedented for a new justice to face such a situation. Hellman predicted that the 10th Circuit will likely close the case “because it is no longer within their jurisdiction,” now that Kavanaugh has been elevated to the Supreme Court.

The letter from Roberts does not mention Kavanaugh by name. On Saturday, Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the D.C. Circuit, who originally requested the transfer, said in a statement that the court had received complaints about Kavanaugh since the start of his confirmation hearings.

“The complaints do not pertain to any conduct in which Judge Kavanaugh engaged as a judge. The complaints seek investigations only of the public statements he has made as a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Henderson, a Bush nominee.

Complaints made against judges are usually handled by the chief judge. Henderson took over from Chief Judge Merrick Garland, who recused himself from the matter.

When complaints were filed in late September and early October, Henderson dismissed some but concluded that others were substantive enough to refer to another judicial panel for investigation.

Roberts received the first transfer request on Sept. 20, followed by four additional requests on Sept. 26, Sept. 28, Oct. 3 and Oct. 5, according to his letter. He did not immediately move to refer the filings to another appeals court.

People familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity say the allegations had already been widely discussed in the Senate and in the public realm. Roberts did not see an urgent need for them to be resolved by the judicial branch while he continued to review the incoming complaints, they said.

The complaints landed with Roberts because of his role as chief justice of the United States, not because Kavanaugh is now a member of the Supreme Court.

Such complaints are usually confidential unless the judicial council investigating issues a public report about its findings.

The existence of misconduct complaints and the procedure can be disclosed, according to the rules, “when necessary or appropriate to maintain public confidence in the judiciary’s ability to redress misconduct or disability.”

The public nature of such a case last year involving former 9th Circuit judge Alex Kozinski, who was accused of sexual misconduct, was unusual. The chief judge of the 9th Circuit asked Roberts to transfer the case for review after The Washington Post reported allegations against Kozinski.

Roberts referred the case to the appeals court in New York City. The judicial council of that court publicly announced it was closing its investigation because Kozinski had retired, saying that because he “can no longer perform any judicial duties, he does not fall within the scope of persons who can be investigated.”

Judge Kozinski was well known in judicial circles as a fair and well reasoned jurist and his loss as a significant blow to the conservative judicial community.