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Attorneys for Imaad Shah Zuberi in a motion for release pending appeal said that while the idea that Zuberi engaged in obstruction of justice was tied to the notion that he had deleted emails which might have been relevant to a government probe, the prosecution had been “aware from the defense” that a government agency deleted communications from devices that Zuberi owned or utilized.

The filing also states that the agency instructed Zuberi to delete other emails, while cognizant of the fact that he was facing a criminal investigation.

“Here, the government’s position on obstruction of justice, and consequent lack of acceptance of responsibility, rested heavily on the argument that Zuberi deleted emails that were potentially relevant to the government’s investigation, and that he did so specifically intending to obstruct that investigation,” the filing states. “But in September 2020, the prosecution became aware from the defense that during meetings with the defendant, an agency of the United States deleted electronic communications potentially relevant to the government’s investigation from devices owned or used by Zuberi. That same agency directed Zuberi to delete other emails, knowing that Zuberi was under criminal investigation. These actions and directions from the U.S. government led to deletion of emails that were potentially relevant to the investigation and helpful to the defendant.”

“Both the government’s inducement of Zuberi’s plea with an illusory promise and its persistence in arguing Zuberi obstructed justice by deleting emails even after conceding he did so at the government’s direction support withdrawal of Zuberi’s plea,” the filing states.

The Justice Department in February announced that Zuberi had been sentenced to serve 12 years in federal prison. But Zuberi is seeking to appeal his conviction on a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

“In November 2019, Zuberi pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by making false statements on a FARA filing, tax evasion, and making illegal campaign contributions. In June 2020, Zuberi pleaded guilty in a separate case to one count of obstruction of justice,” the DOJ noted.

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Court & Law

Judge pauses release of part of memo cited by Barr in decision not to charge Trump with obstruction

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Ajudge has ruled that the Justice Department does not need to disclose the second portion of a memo cited by then-Attorney General William Barr in choosing not to charge then-President Donald Trump with obstruction.

The Washington Times reported that judge Amy Berman Jackson granted the department’s request to pause the order mandating the disclosure of the full memo, which contends there was not enough evidence to prosecute Trump with obstruction. 

The first portion of the memo was previously released to the public. The judge noted that the DOJ required time to appeal the order since “without a stay, the battle would be lost before it begins.”

“While there may be some additional public benefit in revealing the contents of Section II, the Court will not deny the Department the opportunity to challenge its ruling in order to advance that interest at this time,” the ruling says, according to the outlet.

The memo was crafted by the Office of Legal Counsel following the release of the Mueller report regarding if Trump had obstructed justice in the Russia probe, according to the outlet, which noted that Barr reportedly asked OLC to create a legal opinion on the issue.

The judge pushed back against the notion that the memo represented justification for Barr’s choice to clear Trump.

“DOJ suggested that it was the Barr Memo that prompted the Attorney General to speak, when it appears that the decision to speak prompted the Barr Memo,” she wrote.

“The Court found — given the unique circumstances surrounding the drafting of the Barr Memo, including the timing and joint nature of its creation, and the unique issues presented by DOJ‘s pleadings, including the inconsistencies between the declarations and the memo itself — that DOJ failed to meet its burden to establish that the record was protected under the established law governing the privileges it asserted,” the judge wrote.

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Judge dismisses suit challenging Houston Methodist requirement for workers to get COVID vaccination

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Afederal judge dismissed the lawsuit waged by more than 100 Houston Methodist hospital system workers seeking to challenge the organization’s requirement that workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for continued employment.

“Bridges says that she is being forced to be injected with a vaccine or be fired. This is not coercion,” U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes wrote. “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer. Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else.

“If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for his remuneration. That is all part of the bargain,” Hughes wrote.

Houston Methodist allowed workers until June 7 to get vaccinated or face being ousted from employment. The hospital has said that almost 100% of its staff has followed the requirement, but those who did not have been suspended for 14 days. If they do not get vaccinated prior to the conclusion of the suspension, the hospital will “immediately initiate the employee termination process.”

Attorney Jared Woodfill told The Hill that the plaintiffs plan to appeal.

“This is just one battle in a larger war to protect the rights of employees to be free from being forced to participate in a vaccine trial as a condition for employment,” Woodfill said. “Ultimately, I believe Methodist Hospital will be held accountable for their conduct.”

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Supreme Court declines case challenging California’s winner-take-all presidential election process

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The Supreme Court has declined to hear a lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of California’s winner-take-all method for choosing presidential electors.

“Petitioners are two California Republicans and two non-profit organizations who have alleged their votes for President and Vice President are diluted by California’s use of the so-called winner-take-all system,” the petition said. “That system, by law, results in the appointment of members of only one political party to the Nation’s largest electoral college delegation.”

Among the petitioners are actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

The Golden State has consistently gone blue in every presidential election spanning from 1992 through 2020. Prior to that, the state had gone red during every election from 1968 through 1988.

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