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Appeals court weighs Trump arguments to withhold records

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Appeals court weighs Trump arguments to withhold records

By NOMAAN MERCHANT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of judges on Tuesday questioned whether they had the authority to grant Donald Trump’s demands and overrule President Joe Biden’s decision to grant Congress documents related to the Jan. 6 insurrection led by Trump’s supporters.

But the judges also noted that there may be times when a former president would be justified in trying to stop the incumbent from releasing records.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments from lawyers for former President Trump and the House committee seeking the records as part of its investigation into the Capitol riot. Trump’s attorneys want the court to reverse a federal judge’s ruling allowing the National Archives and Records Administration to turn over the records after Biden waived executive privilege.

Hundreds of Trump supporters marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6 from a rally near the White House where the president had challenged them to go and “fight like hell” to stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s election victory. Some broke into the Capitol, fighting past police, and dozens now face federal charges.

Two Trump allies, former adviser Steve Bannon and former chief of staff Mark Meadows, have resisted efforts by the House panel to obtain documents and question them about possible meetings with Trump before the riot. The Justice Department has indicted Bannon on a contempt of Congress charge. Meadows, seeking to avoid the same, is now cooperating, the committee’s chairman said Tuesday.

The National Archives has said that the documents in question in the current Trump case include presidential diaries, visitor logs, speech drafts, handwritten notes “concerning the events of January 6” from the files of former chief of staff Meadows, and “a draft Executive Order on the topic of election integrity.”

Compared to Chutkan, the three judges on the appeals court have spent relatively little time weighing the importance of the documents themselves. They instead focused most of the hearing Tuesday on what role federal courts should have when an incumbent president and former president are at odds over records from the former’s administration.

The judges sharply questioned both sides and challenged them with hypothetical scenarios.

To Trump’s lawyers, Judge Patricia Millett suggested a situation where a current president negotiating with a foreign leader needed to know what promises a former president had made to that leader. The incumbent might seek to release a transcript of a phone call or other records from the previous administration “to protect our interests,” the judge said.

“To be clear, your position is a former president could come in and file a lawsuit?” Millett said. Trump lawyer Justin Clark responded, “That is our position.”

To a lawyer for the House committee, Millett raised a scenario where a newly elected president might seek retribution against a disliked predecessor. The new president and a Congress led by the same party might declare that there was a national security interest in releasing all of the former president’s records, even at the risk of endangering people’s lives, she said.

“Needless to say, the former president comes to court, (says), ‘Hang on,’” Millett said. “What happens?”

She did not say she was referring to any president and rejected committee lawyer Douglas Letter’s response referencing a president who “fomented an insurrection.”

“We’re not going to make it that easy,” she said.

Letter argued the determination of a current president should outweigh predecessors in almost all circumstances and noted that both Biden and Congress were in agreement that the Jan. 6 records should be turned over.

“It would be astonishing for this court to override the current president and Congress,” Letter said.

Democratic presidents nominated all three judges who heard arguments Tuesday. Millett and Robert Wilkins were nominated by former Barack Obama, and Ketanji Brown Jackson is a Biden appointee.

Given the stakes of the case, either side is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Despite Trump’s false claims about a stolen election — the primary motivation for the violent mob that broke into the Capitol and interrupted the certification of Biden’s victory — the results were confirmed by state officials and upheld by courts. Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, has said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the results

In explaining why Biden has not shielded Trump’s records, White House counsel Dana Remus has written that they could “shed light on events within the White House on and about January 6 and bear on the Select Committee’s need to understand the facts underlying the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal Government since the Civil War.”

Trump has called the document requests a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition” that was “untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose,” in his lawsuit to block the National Archives from turning over the documents.

In their appeal to the circuit court, Trump’s lawyers said they agreed with Chutkan that presidents were not kings. “True, but in that same vein, Congress is not Parliament — a legislative body with supreme and unchecked constitutional power over the operations of government,” they wrote.

Trump has argued that records of his deliberations on Jan. 6 must be withheld to protect executive privilege for future presidents and that the Democrat-led House is primarily driven by politics. The House committee’s lawyers rejected those arguments and called Trump’s attempts to assert executive privilege “unprecedented and deeply flawed.”

“It is difficult to imagine a more critical subject for Congressional investigation, and Mr. Trump’s arguments cannot overcome Congress’s pressing need,” the committee’s lawyers said.

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Five potential candidates to replace Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as Ravens defensive coordinator

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Five potential candidates to replace Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as Ravens defensive coordinator

With the surprise announcement Friday that he had parted ways with defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, Ravens coach John Harbaugh created a major hole in his staff. Harbaugh has always hired from within when choosing his next coordinator, but he could also look to familiar faces outside the organization.

Here’s an early look at potential candidates:

Mike Macdonald

Harbaugh spoke of Macdonald, 34, as a future defensive coordinator when he served as a Ravens assistant from 2014 to 2020. Macdonald then proved he could excel in the role at the college level, working for Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, at Michigan. With Macdonald at the helm, the Wolverines held opponents to 17.4 points per game, eighth best in the country, and featured potential first-round draft picks Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Michigan had allowed 34.5 points per game the year before Macdonald arrived from Baltimore. He served as linebackers coach for the Ravens, earning praise for his work with individual players and on building communications across the defense. Macdonald’s future could hinge in part on Jim Harbaugh’s plans, with rumors swirling that the younger Harbaugh might be eyeing a return to the NFL.

Anthony Weaver

If Harbaugh looks to promote from within, Weaver, 41, would come with recent experience as an NFL coordinator. He led the Houston Texans’ defense in 2020 before joining the Ravens as run game coordinator and defensive line coach for last season. The Ravens led the league in run defense with Weaver supervising them in that area. The Texans struggled in his lone season as coordinator, ranking 30th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense. But Weaver built an excellent reputation coaching Houston’s defensive line from 2016 through 2020. Superstar defensive end J.J. Watt described him as an “incredible coach” and “great man.” Weaver played seven years in the NFL as a defensive lineman, the first four of those for the Ravens, who drafted him in the second round of the 2002 draft out of Notre Dame.

Chris Hewitt

Though Hewitt, 47, does not have experience as a defensive coordinator, he has coached the Ravens’ secondary since 2015 and has coordinated the team’s pass defense the last two seasons. The Ravens ranked last in pass defense in 2021, which could work against Hewitt despite his unit’s excellent track record in previous seasons. The secondary was decimated by injuries to starting cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters and starting safety DeShon Elliott but struggled to prevent explosive plays throughout the season. Hewitt has a long-standing relationship with Harbaugh, who coached him at the University of Cincinnati. He played three seasons as a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints and coached at Notre Dame and Rutgers before joining the Ravens staff in 2012. Harbaugh has praised Hewitt’s “no-nonsense” style, transferred over from his playing days.

Joe Cullen

Cullen, 54, served as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 after spending the previous five seasons as defensive line coach for the Ravens. His status in Jacksonville is up in the air after the Jaguars fired coach Urban Meyer in December of his first season. The Jaguars ranked 20th in total defense and 28th in scoring defense under Cullen’s guidance, but they sprinkled in a few excellent performances, holding the Buffalo Bills to six points in a Week 9 upset and the Indianapolis Colts to 11 points in a season-closing victory. Despite a tough season in Jacksonville, leading defensive players said they hoped their plain-spoken coordinator would stick around. “I support him 100%,” linebacker Myles Jack told Jacksonville.com. “Our defense has made strides.” Cullen also earned the respect of his players in Baltimore. He had served as defensive line coach for four other NFL teams before he joined the Ravens in 2016, and his experience nurturing interior linemen could be appealing for a team that needs to rebuild its front.

Jim Leonhard

The former Ravens safety might be a wild-card candidate compared to some others, but he has built an excellent track record in five seasons as defensive coordinator for his alma mater, Wisconsin. The Badgers held opponents to 16.2 points per game, fourth best in the country, in 2021 and ranked in the top 10 the previous two seasons. Leonhard started 13 games for the Ravens in Harbaugh’s first season as coach and was known as a smart, versatile player over 10 NFL seasons. He has no pro coaching experience but was a defensive coordinator candidate for the Green Bay Packers last winter.

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Giants owners’ short-term expectations for GM Joe Schoen remain unclear

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Giants owners’ short-term expectations for GM Joe Schoen remain unclear

John Mara and Steve Tisch didn’t mention when they expect new GM Joe Schoen to start winning.

The Giants’ co-owners released neatly-packaged press release statements on Friday conveying their excitement over Schoen’s “progressive and comprehensive vision.”

But they didn’t say what their expectation is for the timeline of this turnaround.

Will they give Schoen – pronounced “Shane” – a long runway to steadily rebuild this franchise? Will they expect him to start competing for division titles and playoff berths in two to three years? Or do they want a postseason-worthy product in 2022?

They have hired Schoen, 42, because they believe he can be their long-term leader, no doubt.

Schoen and Giants ownership also have clear head coaching candidates in mind. Among them are Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and ex-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.

A source close to Flores said they “can’t confirm nor deny” a report that Mara personally called Flores a couple nights ago to tell him he is a serious candidate for the job. The Giants already requested an interview with Quinn and have Daboll and Frazier lined up this weekend.

What is Mara’s and Tisch’s timeline, though, for an outsider’s changes to bear fruit in their organization? We already know what that timeline is for head coaches around here: two years, even if that isn’t the timeline discussed when the hiring is made.

It’s been Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge, all two years and out. Three coaches in a row. Tom Coughlin nearly was out on the street three years into his tenure after 2006, too.

Odd that the Giants have a reputation for stability when their recent track record has been to shift the goalposts on their stated goals.

General managers are different. The Giants are hiring Schoen looking for long-term stability in that seat. Schoen is only the Giants’ fifth full-time GM since 1979.

In that time, it’s been Hall of Famer George Young (two Super Bowls), Ernie Accorsi (Eli Manning, groundwork for a Super Bowl), Jerry Reese (two Super Bowls) and Dave Gettleman (19-46). Now it’s Schoen.

And if Gettleman was worthy of four years, Schoen deserves a decade.

Still, Schoen is an outsider, the first since Young to take over here. Bill Parcells once hired him with the Dolphins, but that’s as close as his Giants ties get.

And while it’s fun to say he could become the next Young – and drag the Giants out of these modern-day Dark Ages in East Rutherford – what will happen if the outsider’s efforts don’t start bearing fruit relatively quickly?

The only person on Friday who referenced an expectation for winning in the Giants’ press release was Schoen himself.

“Our goal is to build a roster that will be competitive, have depth, and most importantly, win football games,” Schoen said in a statement.

That sounded like Schoen expects to win a respectable amount of games in 2022.

That may be because he sees this roster has more talent than it had two years ago, even if Mara was dramatizing this situation last week as the low point of his time with the team.

At the same time, the Giants have played and lost one playoff game in the last decade. They’ve won no more than six games the last five years. And Schoen is coming here with his eyes open.

Buffalo GM Brandon Beane said Friday that Schoen’s new Giants salary cap challenges mirror the ones Beane and Schoen inherited with the Bills in 2017.

“The one thing I would say I’m aware of just in my brief conversations with him after his first interview with the Giants was the salary cap situation,” Beane said in a conference call with Buffalo and New York media. “Our salary cap was not in a very healthy situation when we got here, and it looks like that’s the case for the Giants.”

Beane projected optimism for Schoen to successfully navigate those challenges with the Giants, as well. It’s just another meaningful roadblock in Schoen’s quest to revive the franchise.

Meanwhile, some league sources caution that Schoen was the clear Giants GM favorite all along because he was the least threatening to the organization’s status quo.

He comes from a traditional scouting background. And while Tisch said Schoen will “oversee our football operations,” Mara said Schoen’s “collaborative approach to building a roster and coaching staff align with what we were looking for.”

That seems to describe a GM who is willing to solicit and heed insight from all the others with titles in the building, rather than dictating to them how this lost franchise must change.

Optimistically, Tisch’s statement on Friday included a promise: “We will do whatever it takes to support Joe’s vision and strategic plan for success.”

If that is true – and if ownership’s expectations are realistic and unwavering – this has a chance.

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Barnes-Jewish Hospital seeing increase in pregnant women with COVID

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Barnes-Jewish Hospital seeing increase in pregnant women with COVID

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Thousands of Missourians were overpaid unemployment benefits during the pandemic and now they are stuck paying some of them back. 

In the first three months of the pandemic around 600,000 Missourians filed for unemployment. The Department of Labor said it’s communicating to those who were overpaid, but the people on the other side say they spend hours on hold or never get through. 

“The way this has been handled since March of 2020 has been a disaster,” Sen. Doug Beck, D-St. Louis, said. 

Since the start of the pandemic, 46,000 Missourians have been overpaid unemployment benefits, which totals about $150,000. Over the summer, Gov. Mike Parson’s administration allowed the state’s department of labor to waive the federal portion. 

“We sent out mailings to folks who had overpayments on the federal portion,” legislative liaison for the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Benjamin Terrell told the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday. “We sent letters to all of them and communicated with them and sent a form that they could fill out. If they filled it out and returned it to us, and they were eligible, then the collections on the federal portion were waived.”

He told the committee members; the state portion couldn’t be waived because there is no state statute which is where the legislation sponsored by Beck and Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, comes in. 

“It’s been frustrating for everybody and now what we are seeing is garnishments are happening still, we’re seeing that you don’t get the same person to deal with your case,” Beck said, “They go from person to person, and they get different answers.”

Hough said both his and Beck’s office fields dozens of calls about the overpayments, which is why their legislation would waive the requirement for Missourians to pay the state portion and to streamline the waiver process. 

Tom Chessman, a retired bus driver in the St. Louis area, told senators he paid back the state the overpayment, and then filled out the form. 

“About a month or so ago, they sent me a check covering all the money,” Chessman said, 

Chessman said back in October 2021, he received a letter from the department telling him what he owed back since he was overpaid. In December, he was given the money back. But he was lucky. 

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