Attorney General

Trump’s Census Change Of Heart Leads To Census Scramble

President Donald Trump’s apparent decision to move forward with a citizenship question on the U.S. Census form has led to a scramble for clarification from those who had led a legal challenge against it.

Trump posted on Twitter on Wednesday morning his administration’s decision to print census forms without the question was “fake” — despite a statement from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announcing the question would not be included.

The administration had announced a day earlier the question would not be included after a Supreme Court decision sided with a lower court’s ruling.

The tweet led to calls for a conference from the plaintiffs in the case to determine the status of the case.

“Another day, another attempt to sow chaos and confusion,” said state Attorney General Letitia James. “The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken, and Trump’s own Commerce Department has spoken. It’s time to move forward to ensure every person in the country is counted.”

Court’s Review Of DACA Cheered By James

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case over President Donald Trump’s administration to end a program meant to provide legal protections to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children was cheered on Friday by Attorney General Letitia James.

“Millions of immigrant parents left their homes, risked their lives, and endured years of hardship simply to come to the United States and provide their children with a better life,” James said in a statement. “When those children came out of the shadows to go to college, serve in the armed forces, or just become tax paying members of society, the federal government made a promise that these DACA recipients would be able to live their lives free from the fear of sudden, arbitrary deportation.”

The program, known as the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, allowed those who qualified to stay in the U.S. and work, avoiding deportation. The program was ended by Trump and challenged in lower courts.

“Over the last two years the Trump Administration has attempted to bully, threaten, and use these young immigrants as bargaining chips, but the Supreme Court will now hear their case,” James said. “These young immigrants should know we will never stop fighting to uphold their rights and protect their freedom.”

Cuomo, AG James Cheers SCOTUS Ruling On Census

A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday that partially rebuffed President Donald Trump’s administration for a citizenship question on the U.S. Census was hailed by Attorney General Letitia James.

New York, immigration advocacy groups and other states had sued the Department of Commerce over the question. The court in a 5-4 decision upheld a lower court’s decision over the question being barred from the Census.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also praised the ruling.

“This decision will help ensure each and every New Yorker will be counted and provided with the critical services they need and deserve, regardless of their immigration status,” Cuomo said. “Shame on the Trump Administration for its attempt to make the U.S. Census a political pawn in their continued anti-immigrant agenda.”

But the court also returned a split verdict over different aspects of the case.

New York officials, as well as immigrant rights groups, were worried the citizenship question would lead to an under counting of people fearful of deportation. That, in turn, could lead to New York losing representation in Congress.

“This one question could have caused a substantial undercount, particularly of noncitizens and Latinos,” James said.

“Thanks to the Court, the census will remain a tool for delivering on our government’s promise of fairness and equity, and states, like New York, will not be shortchanged out of critical resources or political representation. Our democracy withstood this challenge, but make no mistake, many threats continue to lie ahead from the Trump Administration and we will not stop fighting. Now, more than ever, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, and everyday people need us to stand firm in our fight for justice. After all, everyone counts, and therefore, everyone must be counted.”

The New York Immigration Coalition, which was a plaintiff in the case, called the decision “a victory for immigrants, communities of color, and our democracy.”

“We have always known that the Trump administration’s inclusion of the question was designed to deny immigrant rich states access to our fair share of federal funding and political power,” said Executive Director Steven Choi. “But the fight is not over, which is why we’ll continue to fight this administration’s attacks on our immigrant communities in the courts, in the legislature, and in the streets.”

James, Backing Green Light Bill, Says It Contains ‘Ample Protections’

Attorney General Letitia James in a statement on Monday said the bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses “contains ample protections” for those seeking the document.

The statement comes as the Senate is poised to approve the bill and hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised concerns with the legislation’s potential for exposing undocumented immigrants in a “database” to federal immigration enforcement.

His top counsel, Alphonso David, wrote a letter to Solicitor General Barbara Underwood to seek a legal opinion on whether the federal government could gain access to the information.

James is Underwood’s superior in the Department of Law.

“I support the Green Light bill, and the Office of Attorney General has concluded that it is constitutional,” James said. “We will not opine on any actions the federal government may or may not take.
“The legislation is well crafted and contains ample protections for those who apply for driver’s licenses. If this bill is enacted and challenged in court, we will vigorously defend it.”

The statement is a stark one for James, who was enthusiastically backed by Cuomo in the attorney general’s race last year.

AG James Calls For State Police To Wear Body Cameras

A report released Friday by Attorney General Letitia James’s office on the death of a man recommended the use of body-worn cameras by the State Police.

The recommendation was one of the main findings in the report released Friday by James on the 2018 death of Robert Scott, who died after be restrained by state troopers.

The report did not find any criminal culpability in the incident, but determined a more complete picture of the events could have been available had troopers worn body cameras.

“We recognize and acknowledge the costs associated with cameras; not only do the cameras themselves cost money, but there are additional costs associated with data storage policy development, and training officers in cameras use,” the report stated. “However, the OAG believes that the comprehensive benefits far outweigh the costs and it appears that most major law enforcement agencies agree with that assessment.”

Police departments around the state and in the country have in recent years launched body camera pilot programs as the technology has become more affordable. And James’s report also pointed to one study that found cameras can have a cost benefit by reducing complaints and the time spent reviewing complaints against officers.

In a statement, the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association did not rule out supporting the idea, but said any changes should be subject to contract negotiations.

“We are not opposed to the concept,” said the union’s president, Thomas Mungeer. “We believe this issue is subject to collective bargaining and we look forward to discussing it with the leadership of the State Police in the future.”

James Calls For Student Loan Forgiveness For Disabled Vets

Attorney General Letitia James on Friday backed a nationally effort by attorneys general around the country to urge the student loan forgiveness for veterans who have become permanent disabled due to their military service.

Fifty-one attorneys general backed the proposal, urging the Department of Education in a letter to back the loan forgiveness ahead of Memorial Day.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line to protect our country and we have a duty to protect them in return,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “On Memorial Day, as we honor the lives of all those we lost, we can also honor the service of those still with us by providing them with this financial relief. I strongly urge DOE to discharge these student loans and support the brave men and women who supported us.”

The letter urges the U.S. Department of Education to develop ma process for loan forgiveness, applying to veterans who been determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be eligible. At the same time, AGs urged the DOE to halt debt collection efforts for disabled veterans and clear their credit ratings.

Bill Curbing President’s Pardon Power Heads To Cuomo’s Desk

A bill meant to curb the power and reach of the president’s pardon in New York was granted final approval by the Democratic-led state Assembly on Tuesday and now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s for his signature.

The bill would allow New York prosecutors to bring cases against those who have worked in a presidential administration or a member of the president’s family after receiving a pardon.

Lawmakers at a press conference on Tuesday insisted the bill was not aimed at President Donald Trump, who is being investigated by Attorney General Letitia James’s office.

“We try to tread very carefully because we didn’t want to target the president, we wanted to target the abuse,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol at a press conference flanked by James and Sen. Todd Kaminsky.

A former federal prosecutor, Kaminsky said the legislation is in line with what other states have on the books.

“We know the president’s pardon power is sweeping; there’s no debate about that,” he said. “But when we’re confronted with a corrupt or capricious use of that, New York does not have to stand idly by.”

The bill’s passage is a victory for James, who had sought the legislation earlier this year. Her office is reportedly investigating ties between Trump’s businesses and major lenders, such as Deutsche Bank.

“This loophole, which effectively allows the president to pardon state crimes, deserved to be closed,” she said. “It’s really critically important that individuals understand the power of state’s rights.”

The Assembly is expected on Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow congressional Democrats to gain access to the president’s New York tax filings. The bill will include an amendment set to pass in the state Senate that narrows the scope of the tax legislation to elected officials.

Republicans called the focus on Trump at the state Capitol a waste of time that does little to help New Yorkers.

“Bringing politics of Washington into this chamber I think is a complete waste of time,” said Brian Kolb, the Assembly minority leader.

“I think there’s enough grandstanding to go around here as well as in Washington. This is all political grandstanding and it’s using New York state taxpayer money to advance political causes and not do one thing to take people out of poverty.”

With Friends Like These…

Attorney General Letitia James in a live interview with the liberal podcast Pod Save America did not mince words when asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s run for the presidency.

“Listen, we need a mayor who is going to be on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said to cheers in front of a live audience.

James, the former public advocate in New York City who had been an ally of de Blasio’s listed a series of policy issues where she believes the mayor has fallen short.

“So I ask the question: Has the crisis in affordable housing been addressed? No,” she said. “Has income inequality been addressed? No. Equal pay for equal work? No. How about cyclists who are unfortunately dying on our streets as the result of crashes? No. So what is the legacy? What are you running on? Has school segregation been addressed? Listen, he can run, he’s the 23rd candidate, I understand that. But the question is why? Por que? Like what’s up?

With a pause and a head tilt, James added, “But he’s a friend.”

The comments made in the interview were similar to what she told NY1 on Thursday as de Blasio launched his campaign.

“Serving as mayor of the City of New York is the second toughest job in our nation and New Yorkers require a mayor who is laser focused on the issues affecting our city,” she said. “I think it’s an issue that he should think about while he’s in Ohio.”

James last year was the victor in a crowded Democratic primary field for attorney general, backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been at odds with the mayor over the years. De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, endorsed James’s primary rival Zephyr Teachout.

James Pushes Feds To Enforce ACA Provision

Attorney General Letitia James on Monday in a letter co-signed by a dozen attorneys general knocked the federal government for failing to enforce aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

The letter takes issue with the U.S. Department of Labor for not informing consumers about provisions and benefits of the law, known commonly as Obamacare, such as requirements like the Essential Health Benefits Package now apply for those enrolled in small group plans and as well as individuals.

And the attorneys general urged the Department of Labor to clearly tell consumers what is available under the law when it comes to ACA requirements.

“Our federal government should be doing everything in its power to protect and expand access to healthcare, not deny it,” James said. “This new policy is both deceiving and dangerous – it fails to adequately inform policyholders of the true extent of the coverage that they have a legal right to, and that plans should be providing. All Americans deserve access to quality healthcare and we will continue to fight to ensure this basic right.”

The letter also raises the possibility of a legal challenge to the lack of enforcement over the provision.

The attorney general’s office in New York last year filed a lawsuit blocking President Donald Trump’s administration from efforts the office said would gut the law and undo key insurance protections.

James Marks First 100 Days In AG’s Office

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday marked her first 100 days in office, releasing a minute-long video highlighting her efforts to counteract President Donald Trump’s administration, combatting opioid addiction and aiding tenants.

James, the former New York City public advocate, ran in the five-person Democratic primary last year after incumbent Eric Schniederman resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

In addition to the video posted to Twitter, her office released a lengthy list of accomplishment highlighting legal actions that range from the high-profile, like challenging the Trump administration’s funding for a border wall and environmental policies, to money for community land trusts.