Texas Style Statistics

This evening, Mark had a Twitter post that made the point that Trump’s statement that there had been 63,000 murders by “illegal aliens” since 9/11 was, in Mark’s words “a LIE; a completely made-up number.”

In response, I decided to look at the White House Fact Sheet issued today entitled “President Donald J. Trump Stands with the Victims of Illegal Alien Crime.”  Since I have a day job, I couldn’t possibly fact-check all of the numerous bullet points.  So I picked out one:  “In Texas alone, more than 250,000 criminal aliens have been arrested and charged with over 600,000 criminal offenses within the last seven years.”  That’s a big number.  So I Googled the phrase “texas percentage charges convicted” and came up with a release from the Texas Department of Public Safety, “Texas Criminal Alien Arrest Data.”

The release states:

Between June 1, 2011 and May 31, 2018, these 171,000 illegal aliens were charged with more than 265,000 criminal offenses which included arrests for 495 homicide charges; 29,526 assault charges; 5,264 burglary charges; 33,637 drug charges; 350 kidnapping charges; 14,794 theft charges; 21,674 obstructing police charges; 1,537 robbery charges; 3,107 sexual assault charges; and 2,673 weapon charges. DPS criminal history records reflect those criminal charges have thus far resulted in over 110,000 convictions including 219 homicide convictions; 12,244 assault convictions; 2,900 burglary convictions; 16,358 drug convictions; 144 kidnapping convictions; 6,642 theft convictions; 10,508 obstructing police convictions; 929 robbery convictions; 1,528 sexual assault convictions; and 1,167 weapon convictions.

Emphasis added.  Look quick: Not 250,000 aliens, but 171,000 aliens.

Immediately following the statement, there’s a nifty chart which the reader can enlarge.  Because of my technical incompetence, I cannot put the file, which is a pdf, inside of this post.  So let me summarize: There are ten specific offenses listed and a catch-all “All Other Offenses.”  The period covered is June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2018.  For each category, the chart sets forth the number of arrests and the number of convictions obtained.

Examining the chart, I noticed something weird:  Of the eleven categories, only two of the smallest categories had a conviction rate greater than 50% of the number of arrests.  And, of course, the chart only set forth the number of arrests and number of convictions, not the number of individuals charged.  Since it is likely that most individuals were charged with numerous crimes, the chart does not support the implication of the Trump “fact sheet” that serious criminality (the ten crime categories listed in the Trump “Fact Sheet”) is a hallmark of illegal aliens in Texas.  The conviction rate for these ten specific serious crimes is only 46.55%.  Stated differently, Texas arrested 171,000 aliens and managed to get only 52,639 convictions for serious crimes.  (The “All Other Offenses” resulted in an additional 57,633 convictions.)

Now, I have limited professional and personal experience with criminal law.  However, I do know that in criminal courts, the deck is stacked against the defendants, particularly minorities.  That being the case, I found the conviction percentages to be suspiciously low.  However, a quick search turned up this nifty piece by the Cato Institute, “Criminal Conviction Rates in Texas 2016.”   That study found that “The native-born criminal conviction rate was . . . 2.4 times as high as the criminal conviction rate for illegal immigrants in [2016] and 7.2 times as high as that of legal immigrants.”  The Cato study also found that:

The 2016 criminal conviction rates in Texas are similar to that of 2015 with one major exception: The illegal immigrant homicide conviction rate is far lower. There were 31 convictions against illegal immigrants for homicide in Texas in 2016 but 51 in 2015. Illegal and legal immigrants had lower homicide, sexual assault, larceny, and overall criminal conviction rates relative to native-born Americans in 2016.

(Note to self: Favorably citing a Cato Institute study is yet another sin that I’ll have to pray forgiveness for on Yom Kippur.)

I managed to do the basic research to uncover the misleading use of statistics by the Texas Department of Public Safety in about five minutes.  The Trump staff, if it were so inclined, could have done the same and made an honest presentation.  Of course, no one in the Trump White House is so inclined.

The Census

NPR reporter Hansi Lo Wang has broken an important story about the attempt by the Trump Administration to weaponize the 2020 census for political purposes.  Via his Twitter feed and based upon the 1,320 pages of discovery released in the lawsuit led by the New York State Attorney General, he discloses the political pressure brought to bear on the Census Bureau to ask questions concerning citizenship.  (I’ve posted a copy of the complaint here.)

Among the documents released is a memo dated January 19, 2018, to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from John M. Abowd, Chief Scientist and Associate Director for Research and Methodology of the Census Bureau.  The memorandum was prepared in response to a request from the Department of Justice for the 2020 Census to contain block-level citizen voting-age population estimates for race and ethnicity categories.  The memorandum considers three alternatives in response to the request: (A) no change in data collection, (B) adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, and (C) obtaining citizenship status from administrative records for the whole 2020 Census population.

Abowd’s memorandum recommends:

either Alternative A or C. Alternative C best meets DoJ’s stated uses, is comparatively far less costly than Alternative B, does not increase response burden, and does not harm the quality of the census count. Alternative A is not very costly and also does not harm the quality of the census count. Alternative B better addresses DoJ’s stated uses than Alternative A. However, Alternative B is very costly, harms the quality of the census count, and would use substantially less accurate citizenship status data than are available from administrative sources.

The memorandum reports the following shortcomings of Alternative B:

Citizenship status is misreported at a very high rate for noncitizens, citizenship status is missing at a high rate for citizens and noncitizens due to reduced self-response and increased item  nonresponse, nonresponse followup costs increase by at least $27.5M, erroneous enumerations increase, whole-person census imputations increase.

Unfortunately, the smart money is still on Alternative B.

H/T to Vanita Gupta of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

UPDATE:  The NYT has now reported on the story.  However, the Times story does not contain any links to the source documents.  Thus, even though it relates the position of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee, a Congressionally-mandated committee which advises the Census Bureau on all scientific matters, the story does not link to the actual e-mail in question.  I do.

The Committee stated that:

We hold the strong opinion that including citizenship in the 2020 Census would be a serious mistake which would result in a substantial lowering of the response rate. Producing a high quality census with a very high response rate is in the interest of all Americans.

  *     *     *     *     *

Adding a citizenship question to the main Census questionnaire is almost certain to jeopardize the cooperation of at least some community partners and lead to a lower response rate, hurting the reputation of the Census Bureau.

The Committee obviously has a sense of humor.  Thus, following the last sentence above, the Committee adds:

We are certain you would not like to see these outcomes occur.

What Have We Become

I regularly read the blog World War II Today.  It follows the events of that war on each day 75 years ago.   The posting for June 7, 1943, which I read just before midnight on the 7th was entitled “Nazis Consider Sterilising Jewish Women Workforce.”  If you can, put aside for a moment the particular horror of forced sterilization.  It is obvious from the posting that these women were slaves.  As the post states:

There was now more discrimination in how Jewish prisoners were dealt with. The extermination ‘camps’ such as Sobibor, which were designed to kill everyone who entered them, continued to operate until late in 1943. Other facilities, such as Auschwitz, were dividing prisoners into those fit to work and those to be killed immediately.

Suppose that, after the war, these individuals found their way to this country.  Does anyone reasonably believe that they would be deported because they had provided “material support” for the Nazis?  Well, apparently at least two members of the Executive Office for Immigration Review of the Board of Immigration Appeals believe something similar to that.

On June 6, the 74th anniversary of D-Day, in the case of Matter of A-C-M-, they found that:

The respondent afforded material support to the guerillas [sic] in El Salvador in 1990 because the forced labor she provided in the form of cooking, cleaning, and washing their clothes aided them in continuing their mission of armed and violent opposition to the Salvadoran Government.

At the hearing level:

The Immigration Judge stated that, but for the material support bar, she would have granted the respondent’s asylum application on humanitarian grounds. . . . noting the horrific harm she experienced from the guerrillas in El Salvador because, in addition to being kidnapped and required to perform cooking and cleaning for the guerrillas under threat of death, the respondent was forced to witness her husband, a sergeant in the Salvadoran Army, dig his own grave before being killed.

The majority found, however, that humanitarian considerations did not apply in this case due to the “material support” bar.  They vacated and remanded for further proceedings to determine whether the respondent would be allowed to immigrate on the narrower ground that she faced the continuing possibility of torture.

The dissenting judge dissented only because he concluded that:

[T]he menial and incidental tasks that the respondent performed—as a slave—for Salvadoran guerrillas, including cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes, are of “the same class” as the enumerated forms of assistance set forth in the statute.

Let’s go back to the case of the Nazi slave laborers.  We know, for instance, that slave labor was used at Mittelwerk,  German World War II factory built underground to avoid Allied bombing that  produced V-2 ballistic missiles, V-1 flying bombs, and other weapons.  Under even the dissent’s formulation, slave laborers at this factory would be barred from immigration to the U.S. because their tasks there were not “menial and incidental.”  And, of course, post-VE Day, the Holocaust immigrants would not have faced the ongoing possibility of Nazi torture.

(H/T to Jason Nitsios, a paralegal in Towson who called my attention to the immigration ruling.)

This evening I also came across this “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” now seen as a good early copy of Bruegel the Elder’s original.  You will note the plowman who is so intent on his daily work that he doesn’t notice the travails of Icarus.

 

Manafort Bail Revocation Motion

I had intended to post something analytical this evening, but I thought that this was more timely.

I believe that I have commented before on a running complaint that I have about news media.  That is, when there’s a report about a court case, I believe that the article should have a link to source documents.  Right now, the breaking news is the Government’s motion to revoke Paul Manafort’s bail.  As of this moment, neither the NYT or WaPo articles have a link to the motion.   But the RBC, always on the job, does.  (BTW, sometimes the link will not allow a complete download.  If that occurs, look for the tiny red button in the upper right corner.  If you click on that button, the complete document should download.)

We Have All Been Here Before

Article 2 of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon charged him with:

Using the powers of the office of President of the United States . . . in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposed of these agencies.

Among the particulars was this:

This conduct has included one or more of the following:

  1. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated [sic] or conducted in a discriminatory manner.

Today, the Washington Post has reported that:

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.

I am certain that Trump’s apologists will seize on the phrase “and other firms” to argue that Trump was only attempting to push a policy that would reduce the federal government’s deficit.

Right.

The Most Interesting Man In The World

Donald Trump apparently believes (or, at least, once believed) that Jared Kushner was the most interesting man in the world.  Thus, he named Jared to chair this, that, and everything else.  One of the items in Jared’s wide portfolio was to spearhead the Trump Administration’s drive for electronic medical records.  In that effort, he pushed the contract for a program called the Military Heathcare Systems (MHS) GENESIS to a company called Cerner.  How has that worked out so far?  Not all that well.

An Initial Operational Test and Evaluation Report  issued on April 30 for the Office of Secretary of Defense found that “MHS GENESIS is neither operationally effective nor operationally suitable.”  Read the entire report.  It’s damning.

Let the Sun Shine In.

This evening, lawyers for Michael Cohen filed a letter with Judge Kimba Wood claiming that Michael Avenatti erred with respect to some of alleged payments made to Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants L.L.C.  Cohen, through his lawyers, claims that the payments were not made to him. Here’s a challenge:  Have Mr. Cohen disclose all records of all payments reflected in Avenatti’s memo that Cohen acknowledges were actually made to him or Essential Consultants, including, but not limited to, (don’t you love that lawyer-talk), the following:

  1. All e-mails and voice mails between Cohen/Essential Consultants, on one side, and the payors, on the other, leading up to the initiation of the payments through the date(s) that the payments ceased being made;
  2. All records of the payments themselves, including contracts with the payors, checks, invoices, and receipts; and
  3. All internal records of Cohen/Essential Consultants detailing the work performed.

Now, if Mr. Cohen will not provide this information, the payors, many of whom have made serial and conflicting explanations for the payments, should provide all of the documentary information that they have with regard to the payments.

I would note that, under New York law, “Generally, licensed professionals may not set up a general business corporation (GBC) to provide professional services.”  Thus, any engagement with Essential Consultants was not for the purpose of seeking legal advice.  Therefore, any communications with Cohen, in his role as the sole member or manager of Essential Consultants, is not protected by the attorney/client privilege.

It Now Comes to This

Five days ago, I suggested a quick way to get to at least part of the truth in the Trump/Daniels matter by suggesting documents that the White House press corp could demand be released by Trump.  At the time, I assumed that Michael Cohen’s limited liability company, Essential Consultants L.L.C., was a shell entity formed exclusively for the single purpose of hiding the payments going to Daniels.  As of today, thanks to Ms. Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, we now know that Cohen used Essential Consultants for numerous transactions with connections to Russian oligarchs and involving over $4.4 Million.

Avinatti is about as shameless a self-promoter as, well, as Trump himself.  Not surprisingly, he reminds me of the young F. Lee Bailey when Bailey was in his prime. He often promises, in breathless tones, more than he can deliver.  But not tonight.  Again, I provide a link to his press release of this afternoon.  Take a look.  The degree of specificity is  amazing. This evening, the NYT confirmed most of the facts set forth in the release.  Even if 1% of what’s in there is true, Cohen has some major league problems.   And, if Cohen has some major league problems, well, I don’t have to tell you the rest.

One cannot “avoid compliance with the subpoena merely by asserting that the item of evidence which he is required to produce contains incriminating writing, whether his own or that of someone else.”  U.S. v. Hubbell, 530 U.S. 27, 36 (2000).  Moreover, it is questionable whether a single-member LLC, such as Essential Consultants, can even assert the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.  Lila L. Inman, Personal Enough for Protection: The Fifth Amendment and Single-Member LLCs, 58 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1067 (2017).  All of the documents and instruments evidencing the payments described in Avinatti’s release would, without any question, be properly subject to a subpoena in an appropriate proceeding. What then would be an “appropriate proceeding”?

There is no question that a Congressional inquiry is appropriate here. Let’s not put too fine a point on this.  We have a president who, because of his associations (Manafort, Flynn, etc.), could never pass a background check for a security clearance.  Now, we have evidence that suggests that Trump’s personal attorney was deeply involved financially with Russian oligarchs.   The same attorney paid off a porn actress on Trump’s behalf.

This is no longer a question of some technical violation of campaign funding laws.  Rather,  the question has now become: Is the President of the United States compromised because Russians funded the Daniels payoff?  Can Congressional Republicans continue to look away from what may very well be the greatest scandal in U.S. history?

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Most of the questions surrounding the President’s payments to Ms. Clifford could be answered if the President would only provide us with copies of a few documents:

  1. Copies of the cancelled checks used to pay Mr. Cohen.  We would then know the amounts and dates of all payments and the identity(ies) of the payors, e.g., Mr. Trump or one or more of his business entities.
  2. Copies of those portions of Mr. Trump’s income tax returns and/or those of one or more of his business entities reflecting the payments.  We would then be able to determine whether the payments were considered business deductions or were treated as non-deductible personal expenses.  We don’t need to see all of the returns, only those portions that reflect the payments.
  3. Copies of the written retainer agreement(s) or engagement letter(s) between Cohen, on one side, and Mr. Trump or one or more of his business entities on the other.  In this regard, in New York the Rules of Professional Responsibility, § 1212.1, requires, in pertinent part, that: “[A]n attorney who undertakes to represent a client and enters into an arrangement for, charges or collects any fee from a client shall provide to the client a written letter of engagement before commencing the representation, or within a reasonable time thereafter (i) if otherwise impracticable or (ii) if the scope of services to be provided cannot be determined at the time of the commencement of representation.”  If this (or these) agreement(s) were disclosed, we would then be able to determine the identity(ies) of Mr. Cohen’s client(s) and various other relevant information.  (Section 1212.1 requires that the engagement letter “shall address the following matters: 1. Explanation of the scope of the legal services to be provided; and 2. Explanation of attorney’s fees to be charged, expenses and billing practices.”)
  4. Copies of Mr. Cohen’s invoices.  We would then be able to determine whether the payment to Ms. Clifford was specifically disclosed to Mr. Trump and, if so, when that disclosure was made.
  5. Copies of any Forms 1099 reflecting payments to Mr. Cohen, his law firm, or Ms. Clifford.  This would provide confirmation of the amounts of all payments and the identity(ies) of the payors, e.g., Mr. Trump or one or more of his business entities.

I rarely instruct other professionals (in this case, journalists) as to how to practice their professions.  But here it would seem obvious that one gains little insight by journalists continually phrasing and rephrasing questions to spokespersons and surrogates for Trump.  Just demand that Trump show us the evidence.

High Crime and Misdemeanor

The second article of impeachment against Richard Nixon provided, in pertinent part:

Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, . . . , in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposed of these agencies.

* * * * *

5. In disregard of the rule of law, he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch . . . in violation of his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

 

In the last two days, Trump has unleashed a Twitter-storm directed against Amazon.com. Today, Amazon’s stock declined by 5.12%, representing a loss of market cap of over $34.6 Billion.  As reported by Gabriel Sherman of the Atlantic:

[A]ccording to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company. “He’s off the hook on this. It’s war,” one source told me. “He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos,” said another source. “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?”

* * * * *

Even Trump’s allies acknowledge that much of what’s fueling Trump’s rage toward Amazon is that Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, sources said.

There is no longer any question that we have now crossed into impeachment territory.  One needn’t rely solely on Sherman’s reporting.  After all, Trump’s actions are the same as a mobster extortionist who says:  “Nice business you got here.  It’d be a shame if something happened to it.”  Yet, the media is strangely silent on the connections between Trump’s actions in the last two days and impeachment. Could it be that many simply view Trump as the bloviating crazy uncle that no one takes seriously?  Sherman’s reporting calls into serious question this response:

Advisers are also encouraging Trump to cancel Amazon’s multi-billion contract with the Pentagon to provide cloud computing services, sources say. Another line of attack would be to encourage attorneys general in red states to open investigations into Amazon’s business practices. Sources say Trump is open to the ideas.

Now, regardless of any further turn in the Mueller investigation, it is time to remove Trump from his office.