CAFE Brief 06/07: Subpoenas for Hicks and Donaldson and YouTube’s new policy on hate speech

CAFE Brief 06/07: Subpoenas for Hicks and Donaldson and YouTube’s new policy on hate speech


Preet Bharara and Anne Milgram will break down the latest politically charged legal matters making the headlines on Monday’s episode of the CAFE Insiderpodcast. Email your questions to [email protected] and tune in to hear their discussion.

June 7th, 2019

The White House instructs Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson to defy subpoenas; YouTube bans bigoted content; and Congress steps up oversight. Let’s dive in!

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 29: U.S. President Donald Trump poses for the news media with Communications Director Hope Hicks on her last day of work at the White House before he departs March 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is traveling to Ohio to deliver a speech on infrastructure before continuing on to Palm Beach for the Easter holiday weekend. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Subpoena deadlines for Hicks and Donaldson

The White House instructed Hope Hicks, former White House communications director, and Annie Donaldson, former chief of staff to Don McGahn, to rebuff the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoenas seeking documents related to their White House service. In a letter sent on Tuesday to Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Hick’s attorney Robert Tout informed the Committee that although Hicks would not provide documents related to her time at the White House and the administration’s transition, she would hand over documents from her time on the 2016 Trump campaign. In a statement, Nadler thankedHicks for her “show of good faith.” The Committee has set Hicks’ testimony for June 19 and Donaldson’s for June 24, but the White House is expected to prevent them from testifying and sharing the remaining requested documents.

YouTube’s new policy on hate speech

On Wednesday, YouTube announced it would expand its ban on hate speech, including content that supports neo-Nazism, white supremacy, and other bigoted ideologies. The company explained the new policy would apply to “videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.” The ban also includes videos that deny the occurrence of violent events such as the Holocaust and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. As a result, thousands of videos will be deleted from the platform.

The policy change was prompted by the backlash YouTube received on Tuesday after it refused to remove homophobic videos made by Steven Crowder, a right-wing commentator and comedian, who directed series of slurs at Vox journalist Carlos Maza. In a Wednesday blog post, YouTube’s head of communications, Chris Dale, explained company policies on harassment and hate speech and announced that although Crowder’s videos complied with community guidelines, monetization of the videos would nevertheless be suspended due to “the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behavior.”

Picture showing a computer screen displaying the Twitter account of Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones taken on August 15, 2018 in Washngton DC. – Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said his Twitter account had been suspended for a week, the latest online platform to take action against the activist. Twitter suspended the personal account of Jones, who operates the Infowars website that has disputed the veracity of the September 11 attacks, the Sandy Hook school massacre and other events. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)


  • Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to comply with a House Oversight Committee subpoena seeking documents related to the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) scheduled a vote to hold both officials in contempt next week.
  • Chairman Nadler rejected the Justice Department’s offer to negotiate the production of a limited set of documents generated by Mueller’s investigation in exchange for canceling an upcoming contempt vote against Attorney General Barr.
  • A side-by-side comparison of Mueller’s May 29 public statement with comments made by Barr about the Mueller investigation reveals “stark” differences and “near complete contradictions,” according to analysis by Ryan Goodman of Just Security.
  • The House Intelligence Committee intends to hold “a series of hearings” on the counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. House Democrats also plan to vote on whether to allow committees to bypass a full House vote before seeking a court resolution to the White House’s defiance of their subpoenas.
  • A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will attempt to block Trump’s $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which the administration made without congressional review. Senate Republicans are also discussing the possibility of voting to block Trump’s planned new tariffs on Mexico.
  • Seven Democratic senators sent a letter to the Federal Reserve requesting an investigation into Deutsche Bank’s compliance with anti-money-laundering laws after The New York Times reported that the bank ignored suspicious transactions involving companies owned by Trump and Jared Kushner.

Further reading:

  • “Pelosi tells Dems she wants to see Trump ‘in prison’,” Politico, 6/5/2019
  • “Appeals court to revisit grand jury secrecy,” Politico, 6/4/2019
  • “The Articles of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump: A Draft,” The New York Times, 6/5/2019
  • “The Political Costs of Not Impeaching Trump,” GQ, 6/3/2019
  • “Michael Flynn fires lawyers who cut plea deal with Mueller,” CNN, 6/6/2019
  • “Scot Peterson, school resource officer criticized for his response during the Parkland shooting, faces felony charges,” CNN, 6/4/2019
  • “New York Offers Up Trump’s State Tax Returns—But One Lawmaker Stands in the Way,” Bloomberg, 6/5/2019
  • “Senate Intelligence Committee summons mysterious British security consultant,” Politico, 6/5/2019

Stay Informed,

Adrienne Cobb & the CAFE team

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