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Law And Order
May 23, 2019

President Trump is angry that John Walker Lindh walked out of an Indiana prison on Thursday, telling reporters he was ticked off when government lawyers told him there was nothing they could do to stop Lindh's release.

Lindh, 38, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 after volunteering to fight with the Taliban. Dubbed the "American Taliban," Lindh converted from Catholicism to Islam at 16, and left his home in California to study Arabic in Yemen. He pleaded guilty in 2002 to supplying services to the Taliban, and during his sentencing, said he never planned on fighting U.S. forces and condemned "terrorism on every level."

Lindh served 17 years of a 20-year sentence, and as part of his release conditions, he cannot communicate with known extremists, have a passport, or use any device that can access the internet without permission from his probation officer. Leaked documents from 2016 show the government believes Lindh still holds "extremist views," and the Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement it does have policies in place for monitoring parolees with links to terrorism.

Trump said what bothers him the most is that Lindh "has not given up his proclamation of terror, and we have to let him out. Am I happy about it? Not even a little bit." Catherine Garcia

April 9, 2019

Last Friday in Calexico, California, President Trump said publicly that the country is "full," and "we can't handle any more" migration. But when the cameras were off, Trump told border agents to simply not let migrants into the country, no matter what the law says, CNN reported Monday, citing two people who witnessed the events. Tell the migrants and asylum seekers "we don't have the capacity," the sources paraphrased Trump saying. "If judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room.'" The border agents got a second opinion, CNN reports:

After the president left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the president said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told. [CNN]

Trump is now embarking on what one senior administration official called a "near-systematic purge" of DHS leadership. On CNN Monday evening, Jake Tapper noted that Trump has said similar things on camera before, and conservative commentator Bill Kristol said Congress needs to find these witnesses and tease out whether Trump was seriously ordering government officials to break the law.

"At the end of the day," a senior administration official told CNN, "the president refuses to understand that the Department of Homeland Security is constrained by the laws." Jonathan Chait argues at New York that it's not that Trump doesn't understand this, he just doesn't care. "One reason Trump has abandoned his pretext of simply following the law is that the immigration crisis is not related to breaking immigration laws," he writes. "The surge at the border is migrants seeking asylum. They are not sneaking in, but presenting themselves at crossing points legally." Peter Weber

April 4, 2019

The FBI is investigating whether the Chinese woman arrested Saturday at President Trump's private club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, was working as a Chinese intelligence operative, people familiar with the matter told the Miami Herald.

The arrest of Yujing Zhang also revived an FBI investigation into possible Chinese spying in South Florida, the newspaper reports. Zhang was carrying a thumb drive with "malicious malware" on it when she was arrested, and has been charged with lying to a federal officer and entering restricted property.

The Miami Herald obtained an audio recording of her first appearance in court on Monday, and through a Mandarin interpreter, Zhang told the judge she owns a $1.3 million house in China, drives a BMW, and works as an investor and consultant for a private-equity firm in Shanghai.

Prosecutor John McMillan said Zhang is an "extreme risk of flight" if released from custody, as she has no ties to the United States. He also said there are "security implications" that should keep Zhang from making any phone calls while in custody. Zhang asked several questions during the hearing, and the judge noted that she was "obviously very intelligent because your questions are excellent for a defendant in this situation." Catherine Garcia

March 3, 2019

Texas State Police on Sunday arrested the husband and stepdaughter of Jacquelyn Smith, a Baltimore woman who was killed in December. At the time of her death, her husband, Keith Smith, said she had been stabbed by a panhandler who asked her for money while they were driving.

Keith Smith, 52, and Valeria Smith, 28, were arrested in Harlingen, near the Mexican border, acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said. They were attempting to flee the country, hours after warrants charging the pair with first-degree murder were issued. "The information and evidence points it wasn't a panhandler," Harrison said. "People take advantage of Baltimore. We want to make sure the truth comes out and justice is done."

Police originally said that Jacquelyn Smith, 54, had been stabbed shortly after midnight on Dec. 1. Days later, her husband and stepdaughter appeared at a press conference, saying after Jacquelyn Smith handed money to a female panhandler in the rain, a man came up to the car, reached in the window, and stabbed her, stealing her necklace and purse.

Jacquelyn Smith's brother, Marcel Trisvan, and other relatives were skeptical of this story, Trisvan told The Baltimore Sun. "All the questioning has been specific to Keith," he said. "That kind of sums it right there. It never made sense. I told [detectives] from the very beginning there are no suspects out there." Catherine Garcia

February 4, 2019

Inmates at a Brooklyn jail were locked up without heat or hot water this weekend, sparking what attorneys call a "humanitarian crisis" in a lawsuit filed Monday.

As temperatures dipped to some of their lowest of the season on Thursday, a partial power outage at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, left inmates without lights or heat. Activists and politicians gathered around the jail to protest and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called for a federal investigation into the matter.

Lighting was restored at the end of the day Sunday, NBC New York reports, but that was far from the end of the ordeal. The federal public defenders' office filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn's U.S. District Court on Monday morning, alleging inmates' constitutional rights were violated as they were denied access to counsel during the outage, per The New York Times. A hearing for the lawsuit was quickly held at 11 a.m., and a judge ordered the jail to take one sick inmate to the hospital, Reuters says.

The detention center houses more than 1,600 inmates, largely accused of low-level offenses, ahead of their trials. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) visited the prison, which is in her district, and described it as a "nightmare ... like living in a closet without lights."

A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed conditions were restored Sunday night and said "the facility can now begin to return to regular operations." Representatives from the DOJ and Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the suit to the Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 21, 2018

The former chairman of Nissan Motor Co. was re-arrested Friday in Japan, with prosecutors accusing him of shifting personal losses to the company, Japanese media reports.

It's alleged that Carlos Ghosn had Nissan briefly take on a private investment loss of approximately $16.6 million during the global financial crisis in October 2008. On Nov. 19, Ghosn and former Nissan executive Greg Kelly were arrested and later indicted on charges they underreported Ghosn's compensation in security filings for several years.

Ghosn has spent the last month in a Tokyo jail. On Thursday, a court denied the request of prosecutors to extend his detention, and before he was re-arrested on Friday, it was believed that he might be let out on bail before the weekend. Catherine Garcia

December 17, 2018

Therese Okoumou, the activist who scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July, was found guilty on Monday of misdemeanor charges of trespassing, interference with an agency's function, and disorderly conduct.

Okoumou said she was protesting the separation of families at the southern border, and wanted to "send a strong statement that children do not belong in cages." U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein said motivation aside, what Okoumou did was against the law, and if he didn't find her guilty it would "violate the oath of my office."

Okoumou was born in Congo and is a naturalized U.S. citizen living on Staten Island. While leaving the courthouse, she said she is standing "on the right side of history. I am not a bit discouraged today." Her sentencing is scheduled for March 5, and she could receive up to 18 months in prison. Catherine Garcia

October 12, 2018

Prosecutors in Los Angeles charged Lancaster resident Craig Shaver with two felony counts Thursday for allegedly threatening to kill Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and illegal possession of a revolver by a felon. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Shaver, 47, was convicted of grand theft in 1991. If convicted of the two new charges, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. Prosecutors did not disclose the contents of the Sept. 30 email Shaver allegedly sent to Feinstein, but Feinstein is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which at the time was in the middle of contentious hearings over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. President Trump has started attacking Feinstein at his rallies. Peter Weber

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