Sanctuary cities lose $53 million in federal funds

The Justice Department’s move to withdraw criminal justice funds to sanctuary cities shielding criminal illegals, including rapists and murderers, from deportation, could cost them as much as $53 million.

A new analysis of the proposal pushed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions finds that the sanctuary states of California, Oregon and Illinois, with the biggest sanctuary cities of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago would get hit hardest.

The Center for Immigration Studies has listed areas in jeopardy of losing their Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, which it called “the largest source of federal criminal justice funds for state and local authorities.”

Some cities have sued to stop the administration.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been eager for the funding crackdown because some 300 sanctuary jurisdictions block their agents from entering jails to arrest criminal illegals. Instead, they have to wait until the illegal immigrants are arrested and ICE officials say that makes it a far more dangerous situation than in a jail. …

Click here to read the full article from the Washington Examiner

How will U.S. attorneys in California respond to Sessions’ pot policy change?

Buds are removed from a container at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. Over 20 Oregon cities and counties are moving to temporarily ban medical marijuana dispensaries ahead of a May deadline, reflecting a divide between liberal Portland and more conservative rural areas wary about allowing medical weed. Portland, Oregon's largest city, already has a number of medical marijuana clinics and has not moved to ban them. Picture taken April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola (UNITED STATES - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY POLITICS HEALTH) - RTR3KMHE

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Jan. 4 announcement that he had revoked the Obama administration’s policy of allowing states to make marijuana use and sales legal without fearing a federal crackdown and would leave it up to his 94 local U.S. attorneys’ offices to decide their policies created deep anxiety in the California marijuana industry – coming as it did the same week the Golden State became the sixth state to begin permitting recreational pot use.

While none of the four U.S. attorneys’ offices in California have taken high-profile enforcement steps to date, at least two may be inclined to take on legal marijuana in some way – especially given that Sessions has already complained that pot being grown in the state is being trafficked in other states where it remains illegal.

In the California Eastern District based in Sacramento, President Donald Trump nominated McGregor “Greg” Scott to serve as U.S. attorney, returning to a job he held under President George W. Bush. He was sworn in Dec. 29. His large district is mostly inland California, from the Oregon border to the Inland Empire, including Humboldt County, ground zero for the Golden State’s pot culture.

Cannabis advocates worry about Sacramento U.S. attorney

While the Sacramento Bee editorial page hailed Scott’s selection, the Bee’s newsroom reported earlier this month that marijuana advocates are on edge because of Scott’s history of aggressively targeting medical marijuana in his first stint on the job. Scott’s office received national attention in 2008 when it secured 20-year and 21-year sentences for two Modesto men whom Scott said were running a criminal empire – not a clinic.

The Cal NORML marijuana advocacy group blasted Scott for urging local prosecutors to refer medical marijuana cases to his office, calling it “particularly notorious for harsh sentences against medical marijuana defendants.”

“He used to be a hardcore, anti-cannabis drug warrior,” Sebastopol criminal defense attorney Omar Figueroa told the Bee. “I hope he has evolved.”

Scott offered no overview of his intentions beyond issuing a statement saying he would review marijuana cases “in accordance with our district’s federal law enforcement priorities and resources.”

Cartel prosecutor takes reins in San Diego with tough statement

The other California U.S. attorney who might be inclined to take a hard line on pot is Adam Braverman in the San Diego-based Southern district. Braverman was sworn in Nov. 16 after years as a hard-charging prosecutor in the San Diego office targeting drug cartels which operate on both sides of the U.S-Mexico border. His statement echoed Sessions’ remarks that individual states should have no expectations that federal drug laws would go unenforced just because their voters or legislators had approved legal use of pot.

“The Department of Justice is committed to reducing violent crime and enforcing the laws as enacted by Congress. The cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana has long been and remains a violation of federal law,” Braverman’s statement said. “We will continue to utilize long-established prosecutorial priorities to carry out our mission to combat violent crime, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, and stem the rising tide of the drug crisis.”

Earlier this month, former prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer Nicola Hanna was named interim U.S. attorney for the Central District, based in Los Angeles. Hanna, who is expected to get the job on a permanent basis, has kept quiet on Sessions’ announcement. His office refers questions to Justice Department headquarters in Washington.

Any crackdown on cannabis might be difficult just from a resources perspective for Hanna. His office serves an area with 18 million residents in Los Angeles and Orange counties and five adjacent counties – by far the most heavily populated of any office. It is often responsible for complex cases involving not just drugs and white-collar crime but also national security.

Views of acting U.S. attorney in San Francisco unclear

In the Northern District based in San Francisco, U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch resigned within days after Sessions’ policy change, though he said the decision was unrelated.

Alex G. Tse is serving as the acting U.S. attorney after being Stretch’s second-in-command. Tse has kept a low profile to date on Sessions’ policy reversal.

However, his office was known for its aggressive targeting of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, which the Feedly marijuana news website says is “perhaps the state’s best-known dispensary.”

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, threw out prosecutors’ case against Harborside in 2016, saying they had ignored Congress’ direction that medical-marijuana dispensaries operating within state laws should be left alone.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Jeff Sessions just made it harder for California’s legal marijuana businesses to deposit their cash

California’s burgeoning cannabis industry, already heavily reliant on cash and detached from banks, could face even more barriers to the mainstream after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama era guidelines, known as the Cole memo, which eased federal regulation of marijuana.

Sessions’ decision has left California’s state government and the legal pot industry scrambling for ways to handle all the cash that will come flowing in.

Moving to a more regulated market should, in theory, encourage financial institutions to bank cannabis businesses, but Sessions’ actions on Jan. 4 — just days after recreational adult marijuana use became legal in California — put a freeze on bank activities, leaving businesses and the financial institutions that look to support them in an even murkier state of affairs.

“The withdrawal of the Cole memo really couldn’t have come at a worse time, because now is the time that the types of banks and credit unions that are willing to take on more risk would have been entering the market,” said Robert McVay, partner at Harris Bricken, a Seattle-based law firm with a practice group dedicated to cannabis law. …

Click here to read the full article from CNBC

Trump Administration Takes Step That Could Threaten California Marijuana Legalization

The viability of the multibillion-dollar marijuana legalization movement was thrown into new doubt on Thursday when the Trump administration freed prosecutors to more aggressively enforce federal laws against the drug in states that have decriminalized its production and sale, most recently California.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, long a vocal opponent of the legalization of marijuana, rescinded an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors in most cases from bringing charges wherever the drug is legal under state laws.

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law,” he said in a statement. In his memo to United States attorneys, he called the earlier policy “unnecessary” and pointed to federal laws that “reflect Congress’s determination that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.”

Democrats and some Republicans condemned the move. Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado, threatened to retaliate by holding up Justice Department appointments that required Senate approval. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic lieutenant governor of California, vowed to encourage cooperation among states that have legalized marijuana. …

Click here to read the full story from the New York Times

CA Gov Candidate Travis Allen Asks Jeff Sessions to Sue State Over New Sanctuary Law

California State Assemblyman Travis Allen invited President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sue Sacramento over the new “sanctuary state” law.

Tucker Carlson said that under the new law, all police statewide are banned from inquiring about immigration status, and that the legislation also has guidelines for schools as well.

“Illegal aliens are now a protected class,” Carlson said, comparing Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D-Calif.) actions to that of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace (D) whose forced segregation of schools required President Kennedy to send in the national guard.

Allen (R-Huntington Beach) agreed that the federal government must do something to stop Brown’s allegedly lawless action. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

California looks to Trump administration for help on marijuana banking

Buds are removed from a container at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. Over 20 Oregon cities and counties are moving to temporarily ban medical marijuana dispensaries ahead of a May deadline, reflecting a divide between liberal Portland and more conservative rural areas wary about allowing medical weed. Portland, Oregon's largest city, already has a number of medical marijuana clinics and has not moved to ban them. Picture taken April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola (UNITED STATES - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY POLITICS HEALTH) - RTR3KMHE

With the legal sale of recreational marijuana a week away, local governments across California have adopted policies on where and when permitted legal sellers can operate, following the ground rules set up by Proposition 64 – the November 2016 state ballot measure legalizing pot for recreational use beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

But despite more than 13 months of lead time, state officials still haven’t figured out how to deal with a crucial problem: the fact that federally regulated banks can’t accept deposits or have any financial relationship with marijuana vendors or growers, given that pot sales and consumption remain illegal under federal law.

Cash-only medical marijuana dispensaries authorized by a 1996 ballot measure have long been plagued by armed robberies. With recreational pot sales expected to be a multibillion-dollar industry, pot-related crime could skyrocket.

Two separate proposals have emerged after what state officials say are months of discussions.

One under consideration by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration seems a long shot given that it relies on the cooperation of the Trump administration – specifically Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has opposed individual states’ efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the state had met with 65 banks and credit unions, as well as with federal regulators, about having one bank in California established as a clearinghouse for all marijuana-related accounts of various banks throughout the state. The “central correspondent” bank would process all transactions involving pot dollars.

Seeking assist from federal government after suing it 24 times

Brown administration officials appeared hopeful that this concept would go over well with federal regulators because, at least in theory, it would make it easier to keep close track of marijuana industry finances, and to spot suspicious payments or transfers of funds.

The problem for California is that this proposal is built on the presumption that the federal government wants to help the state – which has already sued the Trump administration 24 times. While federal regulators have met with state officials on the pot-banking issue, the final decision on whether to cooperate is up to Sessions. At a Nov. 29 press conference, he said his office was taking a hard look at rolling back Obama administration rules that let states allow recreational marijuana after basic public safety and health standards were met.

“It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it, and it represents a federal violation, which is in the law and is subject to being enforced,” Sessions said, according to the McClatchy News Service. “We are working our way through to a rational policy, but I don’t want to suggest in any way that this department believes that marijuana is harmless and people should not avoid it.”

Chiang: Consider setting up a state bank for pot transactions

The second proposal – touted by state Treasurer John Chiang at a Nov. 7 news conference – is to have the state study the feasibility of opening its own bank to deal with marijuana financial transactions. That was based on the recommendations of Chiang’s cannabis bank working group.

The group’s 32-page report also suggested California work with other states in setting up a network of such institutions. But the report noted the many obstacles to establishing such a bank, including the likelihood that it ultimately would still be subject to federal regulation and thus to Sessions’ objections.

Chiang told reporters at his November news conference that “a definitive, bulletproof solution will remain elusive” without changes in federal banking laws.

But the 2018 gubernatorial candidate said that “is not an excuse for inaction.”

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Jeff Sessions targets more sanctuary cities

The Department of Justice sent letters to 29 so-called sanctuary cities on Wednesday, demanding officials show they are cooperating with immigration enforcement laws by Dec. 8. The targets include Washington, D.C., several cities or counties in California, major state capitals like Denver, and entire states.

President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement a conspicuous target from the beginning in their crackdown on illegal immigration, and this is only the latest example. Sessions sent nine letters in April making similar demands.

“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law,” Sessions said Monday in a press release. “I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents.”

Click here to read the full story from the Sacramento Bee

Jeff Sessions urges California governor not to sign ‘sanctuary’ bill into law

As reported by the Washington Times:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday singled out California Governor Jerry Brown and urged him not to sign into law a bill that would further restrict local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The legislation was approved by lawmakers over the weekend after the governor helped draft a series of amendments. Mr. Sessions called it a public safety risk and encouraged California and other jurisdictions that have sanctuary laws or policies shielding illegal immigrants to change their ways.

“Such policies undermine the moral authority of law and undermine the safety of the jurisdictions that adopt them,” Mr. Sessions said as he spoke before a group of federal law enforcement officials in Oregon.

The California Values Act, passed Saturday by state lawmakers, is expected to be signed by the governor. The law prohibits local police and sheriffs from asking a person about his or her immigration status or from participating in immigration enforcement efforts. Under the law, local law enforcement agencies, including those that oversee jails, will be able to share information with federal immigration agents and transfer people into their custody if they have previously been convicted of one of some 800 crimes, mostly felonies and misdemeanors that can be charged as felonies. Cooperation will be banned if the person has only minor offense convictions on his or her record. …

Click here to read the full article

Senate Democrats Already Playing Politics With an Eye Towards 2020

For many Democrats in Congress, the media and in Hollywood, the collective freak-out over Donald Trump’s election continues apace. Their clear-eyed, sober post-election analysis of why Hillary Clinton lost has included accusing the FBI of colluding with the Kremlin, wondering why white, working-class voters in the Mid-West are racists (after backing President Obama in successive elections), and pointing to the Electoral College as an archaic relic of our antebellum past, standing athwart the “demographics is destiny” mantra they are fond of espousing.

Despite the lamentations, President-elect Trump has decided to forge ahead and do his job. He has nominated the majority of individuals that are to lead executive departments in his administration, an array made up mainly of standard, conventional Republicans. Faced with the responsibility to question these nominees on topics relevant to the positions they intend to fill, several Democrats have instead decided to posture and play politics while jostling for position in anticipation of the 2020 presidential race. As their party is left without its iconic leader and in ruins after the 2016 election, the Senate confirmation hearings serve as an excellent opportunity to make all the appropriate gestures in order to become the new talisman of progressives.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey took the unprecedented step of testifying against Senator Jeff Sessions, nominated to be the next Attorney General of the United States. Normally, a witness testifies before a committee to bring to light facts that have bearing on the nominee’s ability and fitness to fulfill his obligations. Furthermore, it is unheard of for a senator to provide testimony against a fellow senator in a confirmation hearing. Booker decided that the nomination of Sessions to lead the Justice Department posed such a grave threat to our democracy that he was moved to testify against him. The only problem was that Booker’s overwrought performance brought no factual testimony against Sessions, merely the opportunity for Booker to emote on camera. Booker has certainly changed his tune since last year, where he declared that he was “blessed and honored” to work with Sessions on legislation that awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to civil-rights activists. What has changed since that moment of bipartisan and senatorial comity? One could imagine that this change of heart was spurred by glowing profiles of his new Senate colleague from California, and his insistence that he deserved a few as well.

Kamala HarrisKamala Harris, the newly elected Senator from California, already has many, many admirers. A profile in the New Republic ran down the accolades: projected as “the next Barack Obama” in the Washington Post, the “Great Blue Hope” in the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Hill, Mother Jones and The New York Times all have cited her as a 2020 presidential candidate. It makes sense that she should use the confirmation hearings of Trump nominees to signal to the party’s base that she will take on the mantle of a progressive leader of a party whose official leadership positions are occupied by people all over the age of 70.

Senator Harris sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which yesterday heard the testimony of Kansas representative Mike Pompeo, nominated by President-elect Trump to the position of CIA director. The incoming CIA director will have a myriad of pressing national security concerns that will be need to addressed immediately. Harris, though, had other priorities on her mind, mainly virtue-signaling to progressives that she will fight climate change anywhere, even Langley, Virginia.

Harris first quoted a statement from current CIA Director John Brennan, where he argued that climate change has contributed to political instability around the world. She asked Pompeo if he had any reason to doubt this assessment of CIA analysts. After Pompeo demurred, she followed up by asking Pompeo for his own personal beliefs on climate change. Pompeo responded by saying, “As the director of CIA, I would prefer today to not get into the details of climate debate and science.”

Having covered one topic so germane to the national security of the United States, Harris pivoted to another, specifically gay marriage. She brought up Pompeo’s voting record and stated position of belief in traditional marriage and his disagreement with the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that legalized gay marriage in the U.S. “Can you commit to me that your personal views on this issue will remain your personal views and will not impact internal policies that you put in place at the CIA?” Harris asked. Pompeo gave Harris his assurance that his views on marriage would not impact his management of employees at the CIA.

Politicians sometimes make the mistake of only seeking short-term victories. Case in point: one minute you’re informing GOP leaders that “you’ve won,” and you pass far-reaching legislation on party-line votes and enacting new regulations without congressional input or approval. Then, you wake up on January 20, 2017 to see that your party has lost over 60 seats in the House, 13 in the Senate, 12 governorships, and 900+ state legislative seats over the course of your presidency. Oh, and your successor is Donald Trump.

Smarter politicians take the long view, and Harris and Booker are calculating that they will be better equipped to campaign under Obama’s “legacy” in 2020 than Hillary Clinton was in 2016. They will continue to present themselves as fresh, progressive alternatives, a role that Clinton, with her corporate speech fees and quasi-criminal syndicate masquerading as a charitable foundation, could never fulfill. Whether it is asking questions about social issues and climate change before a committee hearing dedicated to national security matters, or masquerading before the cameras in order to again castigate a Republican as an irredeemable racist, both Harris and Booker intend to send a message to their party’s left flank: “I am paying attention to your concerns, and by the way, can you send a check?”

In Defense Of Jeff Sessions As Our Next Attorney General

jeff-sessionsHaving lost the presidential election to Donald J. Trump, and now with minorities in both the House and the Senate, Democrats have scrambled to throw roadblocks in the way of the incoming administration in an effort to slow down the inevitable policy changes that will soon affect every area of national policy, including the administration of justice. To that end, Sen. Jeff Sessions has been attacked ever since Trump nominated him to be the next attorney general of the United States. The familiar leitmotif is that Sessions is a racist, stemming from decades-old, questionable allegations of potentially racist statements. A further implication is the tired canard that many men of his age and background — white, Southern Republican lawmakers — are inclined to be racist, guilty until proven otherwise.

But what is Sessions’ true flaw? He is a conservative Republican who believes in traditional conservative policies and does not pay homage to political correctness to score political points.

Here is Sessions’ actual record on civil rights issues:

Sessions sought to amend the Violence Against Women Act so that it would actually help vulnerable women, instead of blindly supporting the act because of its name. With Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sessions led senate efforts to pass the Finding Fugitive Sex Offender Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011.

Sessions has worked tirelessly to pass bipartisan legislation to protect and support the victims of crime, enact policies for safer prisons, and promote fair sentencing practices, issue areas important to minority communities. He worked across the aisle with Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2003 to pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act, providing protection to perhaps the most voiceless members of our society.

Sessions voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, deeming it a vital protection for voting rights, though he recognized the act’s shortcomings and intrusiveness in some respects.

He understands the value of law enforcement, who are on the front lines of protecting Americans’ rights and safety, and has sought to work with law enforcement officers instead of criticizing and demeaning them, as has become so fashionable these days.

Sessions has supported strong voter ID measures and other procedures to protect the integrity of elections, rightly recognizing that when elections are stolen, it is often the underprivileged who are the greatest victims, because they have little recourse.

Sessions prosecuted civil rights activists under charges of fraudulently changing the votes of African-American voters in 1985, earning him the derision of liberals for being racist despite the fact that he was seeking to vindicate minority voting rights, based on complaints by African-American officials and voters that others in their community had committed fraud.

Sessions first began his efforts to achieve sentencing parity for drug offenders in 2001. Nine years later, he finally managed to realize this goal by working with Sen. Dick Durbin to pass the Crack Cocaine Fair Sentencing Act in 2010. This legislation substantially benefits minority drug offenders who previously were subjected to wide sentencing disparities vis-à-vis powder cocaine users.

Sessions opposed George Wallace in the 1960s in Alabama, prosecuted actual racists, and led Senate efforts to honor the civil rights movement and leaders. Former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and Labor Secretary Tom Perez has repeatedly praised Sessions in speeches.

Sessions’ career as both a prosecutor and Senator has been devoted to upholding the rule of law. He has done so because he is the kind of man and leader who will fight for what is right and what is best despite the criticism he faces, from whatever quarter.

Those who have worked with Sessions and know his character have strongly endorsed Sessions. His diverse supporters include the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, President Bill Clinton’s FBI Director Louis Freeh, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Victims of Crime and Leniency of Alabama, former Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights Gerald Reynolds, several former U.S. attorneys general, 25 state attorneys general, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Albert Turner Jr., son of the African-American activists prosecuted for voter fraud, rejects the idea that Sessions is a racist: “He is not a racist. … He was a prosecutor at the Federal level with a job to do. He was presented with evidence by a local District Attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case. That’s what a prosecutor does. … I believe that he is someone with whom I, and others in the civil rights community can work if given the opportunity.” Former African-American Democratic Congressman Artur Davis described the voter ID laws that Sessions supports as “the right thing” to help prevent “the wholesale manufacture of ballots [, which is] the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community.”

African-American Alabama Democratic Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross said of his long relationship with Sessions, “We’ve spoken about everything from civil rights to race relations and we agree that as Christian men our hearts and minds are focused on doing right by all people. We both acknowledge that there are no perfect men, but we continue to work daily to do the right thing for all people.” The African-American founders of Victims and Friends United, a diverse organization devoted to protecting the rights of victims of crime, stated in their endorsement letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “We have searched his background and could find no evidence that he is biased toward people of color.”

Prior to his years of service in the Senate, Sessions served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama, meaning he was the chief federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Alabama, and later as attorney general of Alabama. Few attorneys general have been so well qualified for the job of the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, as is Sessions.

Liberals lauded the attorneys general during the Obama administration, while conveniently ignoring how the Department of Justice was being turned into a political tool to advance progressive social policies instead of enforcing the law as it is supposed to do. Unequal enforcement of the law threatens all citizens. It is not the place of the attorney general to make new law, but rather to enforce the existing federal laws enacted by the legislature, or enshrined in our Constitution.

Jeff Sessions is precisely the sort of leader that the Department of Justice needs to protect the rights of all citizens — including women and minorities — through the equal application of the law and the even-handed promotion of justice. Liberal opponents do themselves no credit by attempting to assassinate the character of a good public servant in the pursuit of a quixotic goal. President-elect Trump is entitled to appoint cabinet members of his choosing, so long as they are fit for the job, as Sessions indisputably is — and as his Senate colleagues well know. Sessions should be swiftly confirmed so that the new administration can proceed with the task of filling out the rest of the top Department of Justice appointments, and then get on with the business of enforcing federal law throughout the land.

harmeet-close-up-shotHarmeet Kaur Dhillon is a trial lawyer in San Francisco at the Dhillon Law Group, and currently serves as the RNC committeewoman from California. From 2013 to 2016, she was the vice chair of the California Republican Party.