Will Donald Trump and Steve Bannon reunite for 2020?Alexander Nazaryan National CorrespondentYahoo News•President Trump congratulates Steve Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff at the White House on Jan. 22, 2017. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images) Adapted from The Best People: Trump’s Cabinet and the Siege on Washingtonby Alexander Nazaryan. Copyright © 2019. Available from Hachette Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.WASHINGTON — He has been training populists in Italy and fomenting revolution in Belgium. He has been down in Texas, building a wall. But these have all been halting projects, placeholders. The real question is whether Steve Bannon will be back by Donald Trump’s side in 2020, after a two-year exile from Trumpworld.That could happen, at least according to Trump himself. “I’ll tell you one thing,” Trump said when I asked him about Bannon in February, during an Oval Office interview. “I watched Bannon a few times, four or five times over the last six months. Nobody says anything better about me right now than Bannon. I don’t know.”Bannon, of course, was the mastermind who took over a faltering Trump campaign in August 2016, guiding it to improbable victory. He then served as Trump’s chief political strategist in the White House, only to be forced out by Trump’s second chief of staff, John Kelly, in a move that a plainly exhausted Bannon seemed to almost welcome after months of battling the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and, well, pretty much everyone else.
Bannon’s banishment, though, did not truly begin until January 2018, when journalist Michael Wolff published his book Fire and Fury about the Trump administration. A main source for Wolff, Bannon was on the record deriding Trump’s two favorite children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka. The president didn’t exactly turn the other cheek, branding his former consigliere “Sloppy Steve” on Twitter. Just a few days later, he was summarily removed from the chairmanship of Breitbart News, the right-wing news organization that had made a bracing case for Trump in 2016.Since then, Bannon has waged a faltering war on the Republican establishment and has continued to foment a populist movement in Europe, where he has spent much of his time in the last year, returning only occasionally to the handsome Capitol Hill townhouse known casually as “the Breitbart Embassy.”The estrangement could be nearing an end, however, now that the 2020 presidential election is nearing and Trump may need Bannon to rile the conservative grassroots once more, as he did in 2016. At the very least, Trump’s anger at the man once branded “The Great Manipulator” on the cover of Time magazine — a cover image impossible to avoid at Breitbart Embassy — appears to have entirely dissipated.“I think Steve wants it,” says Sam Nunberg, a former close Trump adviser who later worked with Bannon.When we spoke, Trump dismissed the comments Bannon made to Wolff, describing Fire and Fury as a “phony book.” We did not speak about Siege, Wolff’s second book on Trump, because it had not yet been published. Bannon was Wolff’s main source source in the book. He too reports that “rumors” of a rapprochement have circulated in Washington.A person close to the White House who was previously a member of the administration said that he had “noticed” Trump recently “softening” toward Bannon. “I want to say yes, but then he does stuff that hurts his own cause.” This person, who asked for anonymity in order to not imperil professional relationships, says that Trump was upset that Bannon cooperated with Wolff on Siege, but not nearly as upset as he had been with Fire and Fury. (The White House declined to comment on the record for this story.)“He will never be back in an official capacity,” the White House insider adds, “but if he’s smart, he could get back into good graces.”Nothing Trump told me suggests those rumors are untrue. Our conversation moved on, but then the president later returned, unprompted, to the subject of his former chief strategist. “There is nobody that has been more respectful of the job I’m doing than Steve Bannon,” Trump told me.Bannon appears to have made a calculated effort to return to Trump’s good graces. When I spoke to Bannon in New York in late 2018, he was as effusive about Trump as I had ever heard him.“He has a great love of his country,” Bannon said. “I’ve seen this guy up-close. He’s got a great love of his country. He did this out of duty. I know that makes people’s heads blow up, but he did it out of duty.”Bannon also made sure to praise first lady Melania Trump (“a lovely wife”) and the “loving” Trump family, a departure from the criticisms he had made to Wolff more than a year before.More recently, Bannon has been busy promoting Trump’s trade policies when he is not meeting with right-wing leaders in Europe. His influential publicist, Alexandra Preate, recently sent me a video of a Bannon appearance on CNBC. In the clip, Bannon praises Trump’s trade policies.“Every president beforehand, Clinton, Bush and Obama, have all blinked,” Bannon said of the trade war with China. Trump didn’t blink.”But even as a reunion between Trump and Bannon could be imminent, it is unclear whether Bannon could ever have a formal role on the Trump campaign. Trump often relies more on informal, outside advisers — Fox News host Sean Hannity, Newsmax publisher Chris Ruddy — than he does on formal ones, using late night phone calls to test out lines of attack and evaluate staffers. But it’s unclear if Bannon would even play the role of informal adviser.“He’ll keep him at arm’s length,” says Nunberg. “The president is really his own strategist now,” he adds, and would hesitate to share credit.The reelection campaign is being run by Brad Parscale, the 2016 campaign’s digital director. He has never managed a campaign before, let alone a presidential one. He was named Trump’s campaign manager in February 2018, an unusually early time for a president in his first term.A former senior West Wing staffer who remains close to some in Trump’s inner circle explained to Yahoo News that Parscale was effectively installed by Kushner, the president’s influential and media-averse son-in-law. Even as Parscale divides his time between Florida and Northern Virginia, where the campaign is based, his title is a constant reminder that Kushner’s man, and no one else, is in charge.The former West Wing staffer — who requested anonymity in order to speak frankly without compromising personal and professional relationships — said that Kushner has little interest in sharing power with Bannon, or with running the kind of freewheeling campaign Bannon would almost certainly have in mind.Bannon, in turn, made his conditions known to Wolff: “If you get your f***ing relatives and Parscale out of there, I will run the f***ing campaign,” he said.That seems highly unlikely. It is difficult to imagine Bannon working in the anonymous Arlington high-rise where the Trump reelection campaign has taken root. Filled with cheerful young staffers who have come from the Republican National Committee, the White House or branches of the federal government, it is nothing like what Bannon called the “crack den” in the Trump Tower where he set up shop in 2016. (The campaign declined to comment on the record.)Then again, the unlikely and the probable are close partners in the age of Trump. And though Trump campaign insiders claim they are not worried, they also know that the president is utterly unpredictable. If he wants Bannon back, Bannon will be back.Certainly, Bannon is saying all the right things. Trump “saved the country,” he told me during our lengthy conversation in December. “Regardless of how this works out now, he saved the country.”
US piles pressure on Iran with troop deployment, new photosSylvie Lanteaume with Amir Havasi in Tehran•An image released by the US Department of Defense on July 17, 2019 shows damage from an alleged limpet mine attack on a tanker in the Gulf of Oman An image released by the US Department of Defense on July 17, 2019 shows damage from an alleged limpet mine attack on a tanker in the Gulf of Oman (AFP Photo/-)Washington (AFP) – The United States ratcheted up pressure on Iran Monday, announcing the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East and producing new photographs it said showed Tehran was behind an attack on a tanker ship.The twin moves came as Iran set a 10-day countdown for world powers to fulfil their commitments under a nuclear deal abandoned by the United States, saying it will otherwise surpass its uranium stockpile limit mandated by the accord.Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated ever since the US quit the deal, with Washington bolstering its military presence in the region and blacklisting Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.On Monday, Washington further upped the ante.”I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan said in a statement.”The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said.The United States has blamed Iran for last week’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a charge Tehran denies as „baseless.”The Pentagon released new images on Monday that it said showed Iran was behind the attack on one of the ships.The US argument centers on an unexploded limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous tanker ship it says was removed by Iranians on a patrol boat.”Iran is responsible for the attack based on video evidence and the resources and proficiency needed to quickly remove the unexploded limpet mine,” the Pentagon said in a statement accompanying the imagery.The US released a grainy black and white video last week it said showed the Iranians removing the mine, but has not provided an explanation for why they allegedly did so while the US military was in the area.The images released Monday show the site where the unexploded mine was allegedly attached, the Iranians on a patrol boat who are said to have removed it, and damage from another device that did explode.- Countdown has begun -In Iran, the country’s atomic energy organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi announced Monday that the country would soon pass the amount of enriched uranium allowed under the nuclear deal.”The countdown to pass the 300 kilograms reserve of enriched uranium has started and in 10 days’ time… we will pass this limit,” Kamalvandi said.The move „will be reversed once other parties live up to their commitments,” he added.US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus responded that the world „should not yield to nuclear extortion.””It’s unfortunate that they’ve made this announcement today but I said earlier it doesn’t surprise anybody,” she said.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Iran to continue to abide by the 2015 deal and for all parties to refrain from steps that may escalate tensions in the Middle East.President Hassan Rouhani announced on May 8 that Iran would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water agreed under the deal, a move he said was in retaliation for the unilateral US withdrawal.According to Rouhani, the ultimatum was intended to „save the (deal), not destroy it.”Iran has threatened to go even further in scaling down nuclear commitments by July 8 unless remaining partners to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — help it circumvent US sanctions and especially enable it to sell its oil.- Be ‘patient and responsible’ -„The current situation is sensitive” and there is still time for the deal’s partners to save this agreement, Rouhani told the French ambassador to Tehran, Philippe Thiebaud, on Monday.Speaking in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said he regretted Tehran’s latest announcements, urging it „to behave in a way that is patient and responsible.”German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas rejected the ultimatum and insisted Tehran stick to its commitments under the deal.And a spokesman for the British government echoed the call, saying the E3 — the European signatories to the deal — has „consistently made clear that there can be no reduction in compliance.”Under the agreement, Iran pledged to reduce its nuclear capacities for several years and allow international inspectors inside the country to monitor its activities in return for relief from international sanctions.The deal set a limit on the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges, and restricted its right to enrich uranium to no higher than 3.67 percent, well below weapons-grade levels of around 90 percent.It also called on Iran to export enriched uranium and heavy water to ensure the country’s reserves would stay within the production ceiling set by the agreement, yet recent US restrictions have made such exports virtually impossible.Uranium enriched to much higher levels than Iran’s current stocks can be used as the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, while heavy water is a source of plutonium, which can be used as an alternative way to produce a warhead.
Trump to raise Hong Kong protests with Xi at G20: Pompeo•US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Donald Trump will discuss the Hong Kong protests when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming G20 summit (AFP Photo/Eric BARADAT) Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump will discuss the mass protests in Hong Kong with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the upcoming G20 summit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday”I think we’ll get the opportunity to see President Xi in just a couple weeks now at the G20 summit. I’m sure this will be among the issues that they discuss,” Pompeo said in an interview with „Fox News Sunday.””We see what’s happening, what’s unfolding in Hong Kong. We are watching the people of Hong Kong speak about the things they value,” Pompeo added.Trump said last week he hoped the protesters — who have taken to the streets to denounce a controversial extradition law — would „work it out” with China, while stopping short of condemning the legislation which has now been suspended.Pompeo insisted „the president has always been a vigorous defender of human rights” and said Trump’s imposition of widespread tariffs on Chinese goods as part of a trade dispute showed his willingness to confront Beijing.”For an awfully long time under Republican, Democrat presidents, we allowed China to take advantage of us on trade and in other ways. President Trump has pushed back very strongly against them.”This year’s G20 summit will be held in the Japanese city of Osaka from June 28-29.
China’s Xi to visit North Korea this week ahead of G20Eva Xiao with Sebastien Berger in Pyongyang•North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has visited Beijing four times in the past year to meet China’s president Xi Jinping North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has visited Beijing four times in the past year to meet China’s president Xi Jinping (AFP Photo/Nicolas ASFOURI)Xi Jinping will make the first trip to North Korea by a Chinese president in 14 years this week, state media said Monday, as Beijing tightens relations with Pyongyang amid tensions with the United States.Xi will visit Pyongyang on Thursday and Friday at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said Chinese official news agency Xinhua.The timing is likely to raise eyebrows at the White House as it comes one week before the G20 summit in Japan, where US President Donald Trump expects to meet with Xi to discuss their protracted trade war.Analysts say Xi could now use North Korea as leverage in talks with Trump.China and North Korea have worked to improve relations in the past year after they deteriorated as Beijing backed a series of UN sanctions against its Cold War-era ally over its nuclear activities.The North’s leader Kim Jong Un has travelled to China — his country’s sole major ally — four times in the past year to meet Xi.But Xi had yet to reciprocate until now. It will be the first trip there by a Chinese president since Hu Jintao went in 2005.The meetings between the two leaders over the past year have „opened a new chapter for China-DPRK relations,” said Xinhua, citing Song Tao, a Chinese official who briefed the press on Monday.In the upcoming visit, „the two sides will further exchange views on the Korean Peninsula situation in the hope of achieving progress in promoting the political settlement of the issue”, the report added.- ‘Critical stakeholder’ -With Beijing and Washington at loggerheads over trade, China is keen to remind Trump of its influence in Pyongyang, with whom his nuclear negotiations — a point of pride for the US president, who faces an election next year — are also at a deadlock.”The signal would be that China remains a critical stakeholder,” said Jingdong Yuan, a professor specialising in Asia-Pacific security and Chinese foreign policy at the University of Sydney.”You cannot ignore China and China can play a very important role,” he told AFP. Xi could thus use the trip as a „bargaining chip” in the US-China trade war, he added.According to an informed source in Pyongyang, Beijing was keen to arrange a visit to North Korea ahead of any encounter between Xi and Trump at the G20 summit — with logistics finalised only last month.In recent days, hundreds of soldiers and workers have been sprucing up the Friendship Tower in Pyongyang, pruning bushes and replanting flowerbeds on the approaches to the monument, which commemorates the millions of Chinese troops Mao Zedong sent to save the forces of Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, from defeat during the Korean War.A detachment of soldiers in white jackets was also seen outside the Liberation War Museum — which includes a section on the Chinese contribution — potentially indicating that it may be on Xi’s itinerary.The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said it had learned about Xi’s travel plans last week.”We hope that this visit will contribute to the early resumption of negotiations for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula which will lead to the settlement of lasting peace on the Korean peninsula,” the Blue House said.-‘Four to zero’-Xi previously visited North Korea as vice president in 2008.In contrast, Kim Jong Un has gone to China multiple times over the past year — an unbalanced exchange that has not gone unnoticed in Pyongyang.According to diplomatic sources in the North Korean capital, after Kim’s many trips to meet Xi, there were increasingly strong feelings in Pyongyang that the Chinese leader should reciprocate for reasons of saving face.”From a North Korean perspective, it’s time for Chairman Xi to visit,” said John Delury, an expert on US-China relations and Korean Peninsula affairs at Yonsei University in Seoul.”They do keep score and it’s like four to zero,” he recently told AFP. „So far, Xi has approached China-North Korea relations very much as a function of US-China relations and kind of calculated in terms of that.”The visit also comes as negotiations between Trump and Kim have soured after a second summit in February broke up without a deal, failing to agree on what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.Since then, Kim has accused Washington of acting in „bad faith” and given it until the end of the year to change its approach.Still, the nuclear situation is „under control for now”, said Delury.”That creates a space, a window where Xi could make a visit without expecting like a missile test the day he leaves or something like that,” he said.A small 1.3-magnitude earthquake rattled China’s border with North Korea on Monday. It turned out to be the result of explosions at a rock-crushing facility — not a new nuclear test.
Shanahan’s confirmation hearing for defense secretary delayed amid FBI investigationHunter Walker White House Correspondent•Patrick Shanahan’s confirmation hearing for defense secretary delayed amid FBI investigationWASHINGTON — As the United States faces the longest period in its history without a confirmed secretary of defense, and tensions build over American allegations that Iran is responsible for recent attacks on civilian ships in the Persian Gulf, the man slated to head the Pentagon is facing a protracted FBI investigation that has delayed his Senate hearing until at least next month.Despite informally announcing more than a month ago acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan as his pick to get the Pentagon job on a permanent basis, President Trump has yet to formally nominate Shanahan, forcing the Senate Armed Services Committee to postpone a confirmation hearing it had tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 18.Senators were told that the postponement was because the committee had yet to receive documents from the FBI’s background check, according to a staffer for a committee member.With Shanahan’s confirmation on hold, press reports have questioned his relationship with the president, and the Pentagon has been fielding press queries about his personal life, including a messy divorce that involved an accusation of domestic violence from his ex-wife, who was arrested as part of the dispute. Shanahan did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story. The Pentagon referred questions to a spokesperson for Shanahan who emphasized the personal nature of the allegations.Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) “Before his divorce, Pat Shanahan’s ex-wife was arrested and charged for domestic violence. Shanahan asked for the charges to be dropped for the sake of his family and asks that this remain a private matter,” the spokesperson for Shanahan said.President Trump first announced Shanahan as his pick to lead the Defense Department on May 9. The move appeared set to fill a void left after former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis abruptly resigned late last year. Shanahan, who was the deputy secretary, has been leading the Pentagon in an acting capacity since Mattis’s departure.However, since Shanahan was announced as Trump’s next pick for the Cabinet post, his nomination has not been officially submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which would be responsible for conducting his confirmation hearings. Multiple sources confirmed to Yahoo News that Shanahan’s nomination has been expected for weeks and a hearing was tentatively scheduled for June 18. That date was canceled, and a hearing for his nomination is now set for July 11.“It had been tentatively scheduled for Tuesday for a few weeks,” the staffer for the committee member said. “They just pushed it back to July 11.”Leacy Burke, a spokeswoman for Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., noted hearings for Shanahan have never been formally scheduled because the Senate has not officially received his nomination.“There were internal dates discussed,” Burke said. “We could never get something tentatively scheduled because we never got the nomination.”Burke referred further questions about the delay to the White House.A White House official referred questions about the status of Shanahan’s background check to the FBI, which declined to comment.Patrick Shanahan speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on June 14. (Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images)
The road to confirmation as defense secretary was initially thought to be a smooth one for Shanahan, a former Boeing executive. He had a relatively difficult time being confirmed as deputy because Democrats on the Armed Services Committee and its former chairman, the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
Trump announced Shanahan as his pick to lead the Defense Department only after an ethics probe conducted by the Pentagon’s inspector general cleared him of allegations he gave Boeing favorable treatment by disparaging the way the company’s rival, Lockheed Martin, handled the F-35 fighter jet program. Following Trump’s announcement, Inhofe, who took over the committee following McCain’s death last year, indicated he would support Shanahan’s nomination.
But the White House has still not sent Shanahan’s nomination to the committee. The delay has raised questions among Pentagon watchers, and a lobbyist who works on military issues told Yahoo News that Shanahan’s status has attracted notice.
“It’s everywhere, it is like … why the hell isn’t Shanahan being confirmed? It’s everything,” the lobbyist said. “The military-industrial complex can’t get slowed down and this is slowing it down.”
The lack of a permanent secretary of defense is particularly troubling to some observers as tensions mount between the U.S. and Iran. Last month Wesley Hallman, senior vice president at the National Defense Industrial Association, told Yahoo News that Shanahan’s uncertain status likely prevented him from forcefully joining with others in the Pentagon who opposed the White House’s decision to label Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization because he was “still interviewing for the job.”
Shanahan’s stalled confirmation has also prompted rumors that Trump may be having second thoughts about tapping him to lead the Defense Department. On June 11, NBC News reported Trump “asked several confidants” about “alternative candidates” for the position earlier this month.
Asked last week whether Trump is second-guessing the decision to make Shanahan Pentagon chief, the White House pointed to comments the president made on June 11 where he suggested the nomination was set but Shanahan “has to go through the process,” an apparent reference to the FBI check.
But the formal submission of the nomination to the Senate is required for Shanahan to be confirmed as secretary of defense.
One of the issues that could be holding up the FBI investigation is his complicated divorce. Shanahan’s separation was extremely contentious and included his then wife Kimberly’s allegation that Shanahan hit her during a violent confrontation in 2010. She noted the police were called and she was arrested for assaulting Shanahan when they arrived. Shanahan was not charged with any crime related to the incident. Kimberly also accused Shanahan of having been involved in “barroom brawls” in his past. She did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
While Shanahan was not arrested or charged in connection with the fight, the now ex-wife’s various allegations could have complicated his confirmation process. High-level FBI background checks typically would require detailed review of any accusations of violent behavior or heavy drinking.
Another Senate staffer said they were aware of speculation about Shanahan’s personal life delaying the FBI check — saying “reporters have been chasing” stories involving Shanahan’s personal life — but there has been no confirmation that the divorce or related allegations are the reason.
“It was announced six weeks ago and we still don’t have paper yet, so yeah, people are wondering but I’ve not heard any solid reason,” the staffer said. “I mean, there’s speculation and rumor out there that I’m not going to peddle, but at the end of the day it’s up to the president to put his signature on the nomination and send it here, and God knows why that hasn’t happened.”
Even if the allegations don’t sink Shanahan’s background check, they could complicate his standing with Trump. It’s not clear whether the president is aware of the accusations made by Shanahan’s ex-wife, but two other men who faced domestic violence allegations lost high-level positions in the Trump administration. Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned after being accused of abuse by both of his former wives, and Andy Puzder, who Trump nominated as secretary of labor in 2016, withdrew himself from consideration after multiple controversies, including allegations of domestic violence from his divorce.
Additional reporting contributed by Casey Coombs and Sean D. Naylor.
Updated, 7:50 p.m.: This story was updated with a statement from Shanahan’s spokesperson.
Four people were injured and another three were arrested in a shooting near the Toronto Raptors NBA championship victory parade, which was attended by thousands, police confirmed.
Shots rang out Monday afternoon at Bay St. and Albert St. on the eastern side of Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, after which people were seen fleeing the event. Toronto Police identified four victims with serious but non-life-threatening injuries related to the shooting. Two firearms were also recovered at the scene.
A motive wasn’t immediately clear ― and a Toronto Fire Services spokesperson told HuffPost that the shooting was unrelated to the festivities ― but it sent crowds of people scattering. Witnesses said they saw people getting trampled.
“We tried our best to escape,” witness Andrew Brown-Kerr told The Toronto Star. “We saw a lady get trampled, a pregnant woman fall. We saw some kids getting trampled and parents trying to protect them.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance at the event and later tweeted about the chaos that ensued.
“I hope all those injured in today’s shooting have a speedy recovery, and I’d like to thank the Toronto Police for acting so quickly,” he said. “We won’t let this act of violence take away from the spirit of today’s parade.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory also released a statement, saying he hopes those responsible for the shooting “will be held to account to the full extent that the law permits.”
“It is disappointing and I’m sure a source of anger for more than just me that anyone would carry a gun and discharge at what was otherwise a joyous celebration,” Tory said.
Though the ceremony was briefly delayed, it resumed shortly after the shots rang out before 4 p.m., the Star reported. Thousands packed the square to celebrate the Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship win, and the area was reportedly at capacity.
Sanjana Karanth contributed reporting.
This story has been updated throughout.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that a state and the federal government can press separate prosecutions over the same conduct, ruling in a case that might have extended the impact of President Donald Trump’s pardon power.
The justices, voting 7-2, left intact the “separate sovereigns” doctrine, a decades-old rule that limits the scope of the constitutional ban on double jeopardy. Elimination of the separate-sovereigns rule would have meant that a presidential pardon might block some state charges as well.
The case was being watched for any possible impact on Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. Manafort has been sentenced to a total of 7 1/2 years in prison in two federal cases, and he is now facing New York state charges for residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records.
Trump hasn’t ruled out a pardon of Manafort, though he said March 13 it’s “not something on my mind.”
The case before the court involved Terance Gamble, who said his constitutional rights were violated when he was charged under both Alabama and federal law for possessing a gun as a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty to the state charges, then sought to have his federal indictment dismissed.
‘Not An Exception’
The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment says that no one shall “be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” The separate-sovereigns doctrine is often considered an exception to the double-jeopardy clause.
Writing for the court Monday, Justice Samuel Alito said the separate-sovereigns rule “is not an exception at all” but instead “follows from the text that defines that right in the first place.”
“An ‘offence’ is defined by a law, and each law is defined by a sovereign,” Alito wrote. “So where there are two sovereigns, there are two laws, and two ‘offences.’”
An unusual pairing of justices, liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg and conservative Neil Gorsuch, dissented. Justice Clarence Thomas, who in 2016 called for reexamination of the doctrine, said in a concurring opinion that his views had shifted.
“I agree that the historical record does not bear out my initial skepticism of the dual-sovereignty doctrine,” Thomas wrote.
In recent decades, federal prosecutors have invoked the separate-sovereigns doctrine to press civil rights charges against people who have already faced state criminal charges. In 1993, a federal jury found two Los Angeles police officers guilty in the beating of Rodney King even though they had already been acquitted of state charges.
The case is Gamble v. United States, 17-646.
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