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August 5, 2019

Puerto Rico's effort to find a new governor is only getting messier and messier.

After Ricardo Rosselló on Friday stepped down as governor in light of a corruption scandal and the leak of offensive private chats, Pedro Pierluisi, who Rosselló had picked as secretary of state earlier that week, was sworn in; the secretary of state position would place Pierluisi next in the line of succession. But this immediately sparked legal questions and controversy, as by Friday afternoon, Puerto Rico's Senate had not actually confirmed Pierluisi as secretary of state yet. Some said that Pierluisi could be sworn in just with the House's approval, which he received, while others contended he needed approval from the Senate, too.

Now, Puerto Rico's Senate has filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Pierluisi, The Associated Press reports, with Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz saying, "Puerto Rico is living a situation without historical precedent." San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz also said on she would file an appeal challenging Pierluisi, NBC News reports.

The Senate's lawsuit will now be heard by Puerto Rico's Supreme Court, reports CBS' David Begnaud.

In a statement on Monday, Pierluisi said he would respect the result of the Senate's upcoming vote on his secretary of state position after previously saying he would resign were the vote not successful. Were he to do so, the next in line would be Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez, who previously said she has "no interest in occupying the position of governor." Brendan Morrow

July 2, 2019

House Democrats have officially filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department over its refusal to provide them with President Trump's tax returns, The New York Times reports.

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee had previously issued a subpoena for Trump's tax returns, but the Treasury Department, led by Secretary Steven Mnuchin, refused to comply. In a letter to Democrats, Mnuchin in May argued that this "unprecedented" demand "lacks legitimate legislative purpose." Democrats had requested six years of Trump's tax returns under a 1924 law that says the IRS "shall furnish" tax returns when requested by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Now, Democrats on the panel are suing the Trump administration to get their hands on these tax returns in a legal battle that The Washington Post notes may ultimately end up in the Supreme Court. The complaint accuses the defendants, including Mnuchin, of mounting "an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight," arguing Mnuchin and others in the Trump administration "gravely misunderstand the operative law." Brendan Morrow

June 25, 2019

The Justice Department is suing Omarosa Manigault Newman, President Trump's friend turned foe, accusing her of not filing a financial disclosure report after she was fired from the White House.

Manigault Newman met Trump while appearing on the first of several seasons of his show The Apprentice, and she parlayed that relationship into a job as one his top aides. She was fired in December 2017, after less than a year in the White House. Once a government employee leaves their job, they are required to file the disclosure report, and in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., the Justice Department said Manigault Newman was sent reminder emails but ignored them. The department is asking Manigault Newman pay a $50,000 penalty.

Manigault Newman's attorney, John Phillips, told USA Today this appears to be a case of the White House using the Justice Department to retaliate against his client. After she was fired, Manigault Newman became a fierce critic of Trump, writing a book about what she witnessed while working for him (in turn, he went on the attack, calling her "wacky"). Phillips said Manigault Newman wrote emails and made phone calls asking for seven boxes of documents she needed to fill out the report; she was told they would be sent to her on May 10, after the deadline to file, but they never came, Phillips said. Catherine Garcia

June 11, 2019

Ten state attorneys general on Tuesday sued to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, saying the $26 billion deal would result in consumers paying more for their wireless phone plans, with low-income and minority customers hit the hardest.

This is "exactly the sort of consumer-harming, job-killing mega merger our antitrust laws were designed to prevent," New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said. T-Mobile, the third-largest wireless company in the U.S., and Sprint, which follows in the No. 4 spot, announced the proposed merger in April 2018, and said the goal was to get the deal approved by July 2019.

T-Mobile and Sprint say that by coming together, they'll be able to expand the country's 5G network. Last month, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai said the merger would close "the digital divide in rural America" while "advancing United States leadership in 5G." It's believed FCC commissioners will vote on the merger soon, and the Justice Department is expected to make its decision on the merger sometime in the next few weeks, The New York Times reports. Catherine Garcia

June 11, 2019

House Democrats are turning their subpoena threats up another notch.

On Tuesday, the House voted 229-191 on a resolution to take its subpoenas of Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn to federal court. The party line vote will let the House Judiciary Committee challenge Barr and McGahn's noncompliance with the committee's requests for their testimonies and documents, but doesn't formally charge the two with contempt.

As NPR puts it, Tuesday's vote "clears the way for more lawsuits against Cabinet departments, administration officials, bankers, accountants, and more." But it also represents a retreat from previous promises to hold Barr in contempt after he failed to show up for a House hearing last month. It also pales in comparison to some Democrats' calls to impeach Barr altogether.

The move comes just a day after Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced he'd reached a deal with the DOJ to see previously withheld "key evidence" from the Mueller report. Nadler said in a Monday release that he'd give the DOJ time to comply with the deal before moving to "enforce our subpoena in court," but that didn't seem to apply to the subpoenas issued directly to Barr and McGahn that were in question Tuesday. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 3, 2019

The Trump Organization is being sued by the owner of a Panama City hotel, who alleges the company "made fraudulent and false claims to the Panamanian tax authorities" in order to "cover up its unlawful activities."

The Trump International Hotel and Tower opened in Panama City in 2011, and the Trump Organization was set to manage the property through 2031, The New York Times reports. In 2017, a businessman named Orestes Fintiklis bought 202 of the hotel's 369 units, and soon after took the Trump Organization to court, saying the hotel was struggling financially due to the company's mismanagement. In 2018, the Trump Organization was removed as managers, and the property is now a JW Marriott.

In a legal filing made Monday in Manhattan, Fintiklis and his companies allege that the tax evasion scheme was discovered in 2018 when Panamanian tax authorities conducted an audit. The filing also claims the Trump Organization did not pay taxes on fees it collected for managing the hotel's daily operations and underreported employee salaries to the Panamanian social security agency, possibly to reduce social security tax payments, the Times reports. Combined, these actions made "the financial and operational performance of the hotel appear in a false light," the filing said.

Fintiklis and his companies are seeking $35 million in damages, while the Trump Organization argues it is owed at least $3 million since being ousted as the property managers. The Trump Organization did not respond to the Times' request for comment. Catherine Garcia

May 29, 2019

A judge has ordered Boris Johnson, who has been seen as the top contender to replace Theresa May as British Prime Minister, to appear in court and face allegations he lied about Brexit.

Johnson, former U.K. foreign secretary, has been accused of misleading the public by falsely claiming that it cost Britain £350 million per week to maintain membership in the European Union ahead of the 2016 Brexit vote, CNN reports. This claim was made while Johnson was campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union, and it appeared on a campaign bus.

Johnson has been ordered to face a private summons of three counts of alleged misconduct in office; the judge had been asked to summon Johnson as part of a private prosecution case, The New York Times reports. Johnson "repeatedly lied and misled the British public as to the cost of EU membership," the application against him alleges, Reuters reports.

The Westminster Magistrate's Court judge said that the allegations against Johnson have not been proven but decided that "this is a proper case to issue the summons," meaning Johnson has been ordered to court for a preliminary hearing before the case can be sent to trial. Johnson's lawyers have dismissed the application as a stunt, NBC News reports, also saying that "none of the acts" that have been alleged took place "in the course of Mr. Johnson's direct parliamentary or mayoral duties" but instead during "the course of political campaigning." Brendan Morrow

May 24, 2019

Alabama's restrictive new abortion law has just prompted a federal lawsuit from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The two organizations announced the filing of this lawsuit on Friday, with Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, arguing in a statement that the new law is "blatantly unconstitutional."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of abortion providers in the state, with a doctor from the Alabama Women's Center arguing in the filing that the law "directly conflicts with Roe and more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent affirming its central holding," The Washington Post reports.

Alabama's new law, which was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey (R) last week, makes performing nearly all abortion a felony in the state except in cases where the mother's health is at risk or where the fetus has a "lethal anomaly," with no exception for rape or incest. Doctors who perform abortions could be punished with up to 99 years in prison. The law will not actually go into effect until 2020, however.

The law has received significant pushback even among some Republicans, with Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel saying she personally supports exceptions for rape and incest. President Trump also tweeted on Saturday that he too supports exceptions for rape and incest but that the party must stay "united."

Upon signing the Alabama law, Ivey signaled that it would inevitably face legal challenges, saying it provides the Supreme Court an "opportunity" to "revisit" Roe v. Wade. Brendan Morrow

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