CAFE Brief: April 23 – 28

Hi everyone! In case you missed it last week: I am now writing a bi-weekly newsletter for CAFE (Preet Bharara’s company) called CAFE Brief, where I recap news and analysis of politically charged legal matters. This will become a daily newsletter eventually. For more explanation, see here.

SUBSCRIBE to get the newsletter in your inbox twice a week.

READ yesterday’s edition of CAFE Brief, covering April 26-28.

READ Friday’s edition of CAFE Brief, covering April 23-25.

Some stuff that didn’t make the 25+ top stories list in CAFE Brief:


This week, we expect to hear from AG Barr on Wednesday in testimony before the Senate (at 10 am eastern, I think). Carl Kline is apparently also going to testify Wednesday at 10 am eastern before the House Oversight Committee. Note, this was a day and time set up by the White House and Jim Jordan. I find it interesting they scheduled it at the same time as Barr’s Senate testimony. Barr is expected to testify before the House on Thursday at 10 am eastern, but he has threatened not to show up (see yesterday’s CAFE Brief).


Paul Rosenzweig, a senior counsel to Ken Starr during Clinton’s impeachment, said Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice are “blunter by a thousandfold” than anything Clinton did and more than justifies the House Judiciary Committee opening impeachment proceedings.

  • Rosenzweig: “I mean, if I were called to testify today at the first of those hearings, I would say that Trump’s obstruction of justice and frankly, more importantly, Trump’s dereliction of duty in failing to address the issue of Russian interference in our electoral processes, are by themselves grounds for his impeachment.”
  • The full interview on Yahoo’s Skullduggery podcast can be found here.

Barr’s waiver

AG Barr was given a waiver to participate in the investigation into 1MDB, a Malaysian company accused of money laundering. Barr used to be a lawyer at the firm which is now representing Goldman Sachs in the 1MDB investigation. However, the more concerning consequence of Barr’s waiver, given by the White House, is that he can access the New York investigation into an illegal donation made by a Malaysian businessman to the Trump Victory committee, a PAC dedicated to re-electing Trump in 2020. The businessman,  Jho Low, was accused of helping steal $4.5 billion from 1MDB, $100k of which was donated to the Trump PAC.

  • Politico: Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office in Northern Illinois, told POLITICO he thought Barr should recuse himself from the 1MDB investigation. “Given Barr’s highly questionable handling of the Mueller report rollout, there are appearance issues raised whenever he supervises an investigation involving Trump,” Mariotti said. “He should recuse himself for the good of the Department.”

Militia threats

Last week, the leader of a right-wing militia that was illegally detaining migrants, sometimes at gunpoint, at the border was arrested by the FBI. Larry Hopkins was part of a group called the United Constitutional Patriots, which operates on the New Mexico-Mexico border. He was charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, stemming from a search of Hopkin’s home in 2017. The FBI agents who conducted the search were told the United Constitutional Patriots “were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama because of these individuals’ support of Antifa.” It is unclear why agents waited so long to finally arrest Hopkins.

Manning appeal

After refusing to testify to the Wikileaks grand jury, an appeals court ruled last week Chelsea Manning must remain in jail while the contempt decision against her is litigated. The AP reports her lawyers “argued that her testimony is unnecessary in part because Assange has already been charged” and because she “told authorities everything she knew during her court-martial investigation.” If the contempt ruling is not overturned, Manning will remain in jail until she agrees to testify or the grand jury’s term is concluded.