Monthly Archives: August 2017

“Manafort Notes From Russian Meet Refer to Political Contributions”

NBC News:

Manafort’s notes, typed on a smart phone and described by one source briefed on the matter as cryptic, were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. They contained a reference to political contributions and “RNC” in close proximity, the sources said.

NBC News initially reported that the notes contained the word “donation,” but a spokesman for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa — the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose staff has reviewed the notes — disputed that the word “donation” appears. The two sources who initially provided the information then said that the word was not “donation.” One said it was “donor,” and another said it was a word that referenced political contributions, but that source declined to be more specific.

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“Kris Kobach’s new job: Columnist for Breitbart”

KC Star:

Each of Kobach’s columns has a footnote that mentions his campaign and includes the address for Kobach’s campaign website. It also touts Kobach’s role as vice chairman of Trump’s election commission.

“The link to the campaign site is more than just part of my bio. It reflects who I am,” Kobach said when asked about whether he expected this to boost his fundraising.

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“Why Is This Dem Fixture Giving Cover To Trump’s Bogus Voter Fraud Panel?”


Gardner, the nation’s longest-serving secretary of state, is by far the most prominent Democrat on the commission. On Sept. 12 he will host its second meeting, in New Hampshire. Those moves have frustrated Democrats and even some Republicans back home.

“I personally wish that he had declined to be involved,” Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party and a frequent Trump critic, told TPM. “It gives this farce a sense of legitimacy.”

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Federal Court Which Struck Down Texas Voter ID Law Allows Its Use in Sept. 9 Local Elections

This order makes sense given the Purcell Principle.

Still pending are requests in the district court and 5th Circuit to allow Texas to continue to enforce its voter id law pending appeal (which could well take a year or more).

I expect the district court to reject that broader request, and I’m not sure what will happen in the Fifth Circuit or, potentially, at the Supreme Court.

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“National security imperative of addressing foreign cyber interference in U.S. elections”

Brookings event:

When: Friday, September 8, 2017, 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.

Where: The Brookings Institution, Saul/Zilkha Room, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC


Free and fair elections are a foundational pillar of American democracy, one it has held other countries accountable for throughout history. In 2016, the U.S. presidential election was engulfed in the controversy of election interference. While many questions remain unanswered, it is clear that much more must be done to protect one of Americans’ fundamental rights—the right to vote. Electronic voting machines that produce no verified record are in use in many states, and most states do not have audits that are robust enough to detect malware which could impact vote counts. Resolving these and other election security issues are of critical importance ahead.

On September 8, the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and the Governance Studies program at Brookings will host an event focused on the national security concerns surrounding election security in the United States. Panelists include Brookings Distinguished Fellow John R. Allen; Brookings Fellow Susan Hennessey; Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan; and Dean Logan of the Los Angeles County government. Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow and director of research in Foreign Policy at Brookings, will moderate the discussion.

Following the discussion, panelists will take questions from the audience.

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“Trump voting panel apologizes after judge calls failure to disclose information ‘incredible’”


Kollar-Kotelly said the panel’s after-the-fact argument was “incredible” when it said it did not believe documents prepared by individual commissioners for the July meeting had to have been posted in advance.

“You didn’t completely live up to the government’s representations,” Kollar-Kotelly told Justice Department lawyers at Wednesday’s hearing. “I want to know what things are not going to be covered” by the government’s pledges, she said.

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“Former Walker Aide, Target in John Doe Probe, Loses Seventh Circuit Appeal”

WisBar News:

 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that Cynthia Archer, a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker, cannot pursue claims against six Milwaukee prosecutors and investigators who targeted her in a John Doe probe.

The three-judge panel in Archer v. Chisholm, No. 16-2417 (Aug. 29, 2017), ruled that the case “presents troubling accusations of a politically motivated investigation” but “Archer has not met her burden in overcoming” a defense of qualified immunity.

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Amicus Brief in Whitford

I just had the pleasure of filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court’s partisan gerrymandering case, Whitford, with all-stars Jonathan Katz, Gary King, Larry Sabato, and Sam Wang. The brief not only reflects the views of some of the best minds in the field; it is also likely to be the only brief that cites Shakespeare, the Bible, and John Rawls.

The brief makes three main points. First, the path for resolving this case is clear because the Court has trod it so many times before. In elections controversies and controversies on which elections ride, the Court has largely hewed to the same approach. It has announced what Justice Kennedy calls a “workable standard” while leaving the precise test to be ironed out by the lower courts.

Second, a workable standard is readily available: partisan symmetry. It relies on the simplest, most intuitive test for detecting discrimination: what would happen if the tables were turned? The roots of this standard are ancient, and it enjoys resounding support among social scientists.

Finally, despite partisan symmetry’s many merits, the brief nonetheless urges the Court to assure itself that the standard will lend itself to manageable tests going forward. The brief then identifies several criteria for making that judgment: Whatever test is used should be reliable and difficult to manipulate. The test should deploy actual election outcomes rather than hypothetical maps created by experts. Courts should be able to adapt the symmetry standard to different contexts and apply it without relying unduly on experts or displacing appropriate democratic judgments. Finally, the test should measure electoral opportunity rather than guarantee proportional victories and map cleanly onto the constitutional wrongs that animate redistricting law.

It was an honor to work with such extraordinary academics. Princeton’s Sam Wang gets special credit for the many hours he spent walking through the social science with me and framing arguments. This was also a chance to revisit the pleasures of writing a brief. If my new day job doesn’t work out….

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“North Carolina redistricting maps OK’d, head to judges next”


North Carolina legislators finished redrawing House and Senate district maps Wednesday, beating a court-ordered deadline later this week. Now Republicans who drew them must see whether federal judges agree they’ve cured problems with racial bias in the previous maps.

Largely along party lines, the House voted 68-47 to approve the Senate map just a few hours after the Senate voted 30-15 for the House boundaries. Each chamber had approved its own lines earlier in the week, following robust debate. Redistricting legislation is not subject to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.

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