Maryland census judge temporarily blocks U.S. lawyers’ exit

WASHINGTON — The Maryland federal court judge presiding over a challenge to the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to next year’s census denied the Justice Department’s request to replace its slate of attorneys with new lawyers drawn from elsewhere in the department — at least for now.

U.S. District Judge George Hazel’s ruling comes a day after a New York federal judge hearing a related case barred the government attorneys’ exits because they hadn’t satisfied local court rules requiring them to provide an acceptable reason for stepping down.

Hazel told the U.S. lawyers on Wednesday that he wanted assurances of an orderly transition between the incoming and outgoing teams and that those leaving would remain available to help their replacements. If the Justice Department satisfies those criteria, Hazel said, he would allow the withdrawal.

— Bloomberg News

U.S. reveals second thoughts about Michael Flynn’s no-prison deal

NEW YORK — Michael Flynn’s hopes of avoiding a prison term could be in jeopardy after U.S. prosecutors said that his new legal strategy had prompted them to reassess their 2-year-old cooperation agreement.

Flynn, the former Trump national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, had been expected to testify against his former business partner, Bijan Kian. A trial for Kian is scheduled to begin next week in Alexandria, Va., on federal charges that he acted as an unregistered agent for Turkey.

Prosecutors said in court papers unsealed this week that Flynn had been dropped as a witness. Flynn has backed away from his earlier statements to authorities since changing lawyers last month and retaining an attorney harshly critical of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference. Those changes were widely viewed as a possible attempt to secure a presidential pardon.

Prosecutors said this week that Flynn’s role in the Kian case had changed from cooperator to co-conspirator. In the latest filings, they said Flynn may be called instead as a witness for the defense. They asked the judge to delay Flynn’s sentencing until the Kian case is completed.

Flynn was the first major figure to strike a deal with the special counsel’s office. He was allowed to plead guilty to a single count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, a crime with a possible prison sentence as long as five years, in return for his cooperation with Mueller investigation.

At his sentencing hearing last December, Mueller’s office said Flynn’s decision to cooperate early and offer a wide range of help had been so valuable that he could be spared time behind bars.

But U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington saw the case differently. He balked at the suggestion that Flynn had earned leniency, saying that he could have been charged with additional crimes related to his work as an unregistered agent of the Turkish government while working as a top security adviser to Trump during the presidential campaign and transition.

“Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan said at the time. “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense.”

Sullivan delayed the sentencing until Flynn’s cooperation with prosecutors was complete. Because of the friction between Flynn and prosecutors, the judge this week ordered his lawyers and the Justice Department to file memos describing the impact of Flynn’s changing status in the Kian case.

— Bloomberg News

Following Fourth of July celebration, DC’s emergency fund depleted

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July celebration has contributed to the depletion of Washington, D.C.’s fund that covers the impact of the federal government’s presence on the District’s public safety needs, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser.

In Bowser’s July 9 letter to Trump, obtained by The Washington Post, she writes that the accrued amount for this year’s Independence Day festivities totals approximately $1.7 million and that she expects the Emergency Planning and Security Fund will be empty before the end of the fiscal year, leaving overages of $6 million. Bowser says that this is attributed to declining reserves, increased demand for heightened security and a $7.3 million expenditure to cover Trump’s 2017 inauguration that, in a departure from tradition, has not been reimbursed by the executive.

“It is critical that the EPSF is fully reimbursed for these funds to ensure the District can uphold proper security and support during the remainder of the fiscal year without incurring a deficit for federal activities,” Bowser said in the letter. “As we continue to gather estimates for the next Inauguration, we ask for your help with ensuring the residents of the District of Columbia are not asked to cover millions of dollars of federal expenses and are able to maintain our high standards of protection for federal events.”

Trump’s “Salute to America” was the source of controversy as critics took issue with the possible politicization of the holiday and his use of military equipment during his speech at the Lincoln Memorial, an event that required extra security due to his presence.

— CQ-Roll Call

Two dead, two injured after jump from high bridge following car crash

SAN DIEGO — Two men died and two others sustained life-threatening injuries after jumping off a 75-foot bridge following a single-vehicle crash on state Route 56 late Tuesday, authorities said.

Another two occupants of the car ran off after the crash, which was reported to authorities about 11 p.m., a California Highway Patrol sergeant said.

CHP Sgt. Brent Lowry said it appears the people in the car were unfamiliar with area and that four of them jumped the wall “not realizing they were on a bridge, and fell into the canyon below.”

The six people had been inside a 2012 blue Nissan Altima that spun out and crashed into a railing on a bridge on eastbound SR-56 near Carmel Valley Road, Lowry told reporters, including San Diego News Video.

He said the car ended up in the traffic lanes, with vehicles coming at it.

Lowry said six people may have gotten “out of the car to get out of the lanes so they didn’t get hit by another car.”

Crews reached the men and found that two had died. The other two were taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, a dispatcher said.

— San Diego Union-Tribune