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  • A day after a Commerce Department report was submitted to President Donald Trump on the possibility of a national security declaration involving tariffs on imported automobiles, lawmakers in Congress joined automobile manufacturers and free trade groups in urging the White House not to embrace new tariffs amid renewed fears of growing trade tensions involving the U.S. “President Trump is right to seek a level playing field for American businesses and workers, but the best way to do that is with a scalpel, not an axe,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), who led almost 150 lawmakers last summer in warning against new tariffs on imported autos and auto parts. “Broad-based auto tariffs would lead to retaliatory measures by our trading partners,” Walorski added, warning against action by the President on what’s known as a Section 232 national security investigation related to auto imports. “Beyond just the absurdity of labeling the car in your driveway a national security threat, taxing autos through tariffs would have clear economic consequences,” said the group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, as a variety of trade groups weighed in against new duties. “Auto #tariffs are a tax on American workers and consumers. A tariff will raise the price of cars and motor vehicle parts, strain family budgets and reduce car sales & vehicle repairs.” Our statement on the conclusion of the Section 232 auto investigation: https://t.co/03rNww4369 — DrivingAmericanJobs (@DrivingUSAJobs) February 18, 2019 During his time in office, President Trump has made clear he’s more than ready to levy new tariffs on imported goods from China, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. “Well, you know, you’re talking to the wrong person, because I happen to like tariffs, okay?” the President said to reporters when asked Friday about possible new tariffs on China, as he defended tariffs placed on imported steel. With the submission of this latest Section 232 report on autos, President Trump now has 90 days to determine whether to levy new tariffs, which experts believe would hurt European automakers the most – Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and others. “New tariffs/taxes would be devastating for our auto jobs and American consumers,” said Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), whose state sports auto production plants for Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. “Not only are tariffs a tax but experts agree: cars are not a national security threat,” Jones added in a tweet about the new Commerce 232 report. The European Union on Monday vowed ‘swift’ retaliation if the President slaps tariffs on imported autos and auto parts – what some fear would create a quickly escalating trade war. The administration of President @realDonaldTrump has resumed threats to put additional tariffs on European automakers, thus exacerbating the trade wars. #Tradewar #TradeWars #SP500 #DJIA #NASDAQ #Indices #Stocks #tariffs #autotariffs #Nafta #USMCA #NationalSecurity pic.twitter.com/AMCfl9oVi5 — AvaTrade (@AvaTrade) February 18, 2019 The President has already used his ‘national emergency’ authority under Section 232 to levy 25 percent tariffs on imported steel, and 10 percent on imported aluminum. “You know, you can do without certain industries. Our country cannot do without steel,” Mr. Trump said Friday, as he made clear he would press for additional tariffs on China, using those duties as leverage for trade talks. “I love tariffs, but I also love them to negotiate,” the President added. “I urge the president and his administration not to take any action that would threaten our nation’s economic momentum,” Rep. Walorski warned on Monday. Many lawmakers and auto groups wonder if the same thing my happen in their part of the economy soon as well.
  • California authorities said an Uber driver was asked to deliver a box of sneakers that also contained fentanyl, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.  >> Read more trending news  On Feb. 9, the Uber driver received a notification that a female passenger wanted to be driven from San Francisco to Tiburon, the newspaper reported. When the driver arrived at the San Francisco location, he was instead greeted by a man who asked him to the deliver the shoebox to the woman, who was already in Tiburon, KRON reported. The driver hesitated before agreeing to deliver the shoebox, the television station reported. The driver told authorities he became concerned about the box’s contents after the ride request was canceled, the Chronicle reported. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, the driver spotted some deputies and asked for help, Marin County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Brenton Schneider told KPIX. Deputies examined the box and found sneakers with fentanyl in the right shoe, the Chronicle reported. No arrests have been made. Authorities are looking for the man and woman who requested the ride and the delivery, the newspaper reported.
  • A Louisiana man was arrested Friday for calling police on other officers who pulled over his car, authorities say. According to the Thibodaux Police Department, a traffic stop occurred in Thibodaux, Louisiana, around 1 a.m. WGNO reported that officers saw the vehicle’s driver commit a moving violation.  >> Read more trending news  Bryce Quanstrom, 22, was seen running shirtless toward the stop, saying he was the owner of the vehicle. Authorities said he was not in the vehicle and it was not clear where he came from. Officers told Quanstrom to stay back, and he began threatening to call 911 on the officers and shouting expletives at them. Police advised him not to do so, warning him of the consequences if he did, according to the department.  Quanstrom called 911 anyway, telling the dispatcher he needed officers to come to his location.  Authorities said Quanstrom continued shouting profanities when he was arrested. WDSU reported he was arrested for unlawful use of the 911 system. “Chief (Bryan) Zeringue would like to remind all citizens that the use of the 9-1-1 system and using it correctly is very important,” the department said. “Also, please refrain from approaching officers while they are conducting business in the scope of their duties and/or actively investigating a traffic stop. Be sure to obey officer’s commands. Chief Zeringue takes the safety of our officers and citizens very seriously and any violator will suffer ramifications.” Officials said posted bond after being taken to Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex.
  • A marriage proposal in a room filled with swine may not seem ideal, but a Texas man was perfectly willing to hog the attention away from the pigs Sunday morning. >> Read more trending news  Will Hussey made his “pig-posal” to Kate Jimerson at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, KSAT reported. Hussey’s marriage proposal came four years after they met at the show’s swine barn, the television station reported. Jimerson thought her family was at the Stock Show to watch her younger sister compete in the barrow show, but Hussey surprised her. 'He got down on one knee and said, 'This is where I met you four years ago. I knew then I wanted to marry you.'” Jimerson told KSAT. “So then he asked me and I started crying.” 'The Stock Show already holds a special place for both of us, so why not make it something we can tell our kids about someday,' Hussey told the television station. The couple has not set a wedding date, but they already have next year’s Stock Show on their calendar, KSAT reported.
  • When he made the announcement he was declaring a national emergency, President Donald Trump said he expected to be sued over the move. So far, a handful of activists and even state attorneys general have said they are looking at taking the president to court or have filed a lawsuit already.  Take a look at the lawsuits that are currently pending or will soon be filed. Public Citizen Public Citizen is an advocacy group that filed a suit Friday after the president’s Rose Garden announcement. The group is filing on behalf of three Texas landowners and an environmental group to block the emergency decree. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post reported. >>Read: Can Congress repeal the national emergency declaration? Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington hasn’t filed suit directly on Trump but instead is suing the Justice Department, claiming documents were not provided, including legal opinions and communications, related to Trump’s decision, USA Today reported. The group is using a Freedom of Information Act request submitted concerning the proposed border barrier. Center for Biological Diversity Center for Biological Diversity is an environmental group. It claims the president did not identify a legal authority to declare the emergency. The group said the wall will block wildlife from its natural habitat “and could result in the extirpation of jaguars, ocelots and other endangered species within the United States,” according to the Post. >>Read: Trump signs funding bill to avoid government shutdown, declares emergency to build border wall American Civil Liberties Union The ACLU has not yet filed but is preparing a suit that says that Trump can’t redirect the money paid by taxpayers unless it is for construction that directly supports the military, the Post reported. ACLU officials said the suit will be filed early this week, saying, “There is no emergency. Members of Congress from both parties, security experts, and Americans who live at the border have all said so. What the president is doing is yet another illegal and dangerous power grab in the service of his anti-immigrant agenda.” The group called the declaration an “abuse of power” and says it “violates the constitutional checks and balances that protect us.” >>Read the latest from our Washington Insider Jamie Dupree The ACLU is using the president’s own words against him from when he said, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” >> Read more trending news  California attorney general Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, will be joined by New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut in trying to stop the emergency declaration from proceeding. >>Read: National emergency likely to be blocked by courts, DOJ tells White House: reports “We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm. And once we are all clear, all the different states are clear, what pots of money that taxpayers sent to D.C. he’s going to raid, which Congress dedicated to different types of services -- whether it’s emergency response services or whether it’s fires or mudslides in California or maybe tornadoes and floods in other parts of the country or whether it’s our military men and women and their families who live on military installations that might -- that might have money taken away from them, or whether it’s money taken away from drug interdiction efforts in places like California, a number of states, and certainly Americans, will be harmed. And we’re all going to be prepared,” Becerra said on ABC News’ “This Week.”  >>Read: Trump's border wall: What is a national emergency? A spokesperson for the attorney general of Colorado, Phil Weiser, said his state will also be joining the suit, KDVR reported. The spokesperson said Weiser decided that the state will be hurt if money is transferred from military installations to the wall, according to KDVR.
  • From a court watcher’s perspective it’s apparent to most that the upcoming trial of Ryan Duke, charged with the 2005 murder of South Georgia high school teacher Tara Grinstead is sure to be nothing short of a spectacle of epic proportions. We got a preview of things to come during - of all things - a bond hearing where Duke asked, for the first time in two years, to be released on bond. It wasn’t the denial of bond, nor the fact that Duke asked for bond that is particularly noteworthy. It’s what the bond hearing devolved into that raised eyebrows. Despite losing the motion, the defense unexpectedly was able to depose the lead GBI investigator on a wide range of topics in a dress rehearsal for what promises to be a most controversial trial.  To start, let’s have a look at what a bond hearing is supposed to be.  It’s uncommon for bond to be set in murder cases but it’s not unheard of. Courts are supposed to consider the following factors in making bond decisions and the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that he:  Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;  Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;  Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and  Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.  Probable cause is not an issue and of course neither is guilt or innocence. A bond hearing is not a trial.  The Duke bond hearing started out as most bond hearings do. The defense called Duke’s brother to testify regarding each of the factors set out above. But then it started a downward spiral into the surreal when the prosecutor called the lead GBI case agent as a witness - presumably as a rebuttal to the defense. A state’s witness, such as an investigator, can occasionally testify - to a point - about “what happened” because that’s relevant - to a point - for the court to determine whether the person poses a danger to the community. But in this case, the testimony was literally all over the place and went into minute detail about many things that have never been heard before. The “bond hearing” was effectively transformed into a deposition - a legal luxury not normally available to a criminal defendant in Georgia.  So just what did we learn from this “bond” hearing? We learned that DNA from the bodily fluid of a police officer was mixed with the victim’s blood on some bedding and that “touch DNA” from Grinstead and Duke (along with DNA from at least two other people) was on a latex glove found outside her residence. “Touch DNA” has its own share of problems in terms of reliability and we can safely expect the defense to explore those problems at trial. Some of that other unidentified DNA from the glove could have come from Bo Dukes - the person accused of helping cover up the murder - and who the defense claims is the actual killer.  We learned there were many investigative steps that could have been taken to verify statements made by both Duke and Dukes. The defense will argue that these follow up steps point to a biased investigation. This could have a huge impact in a trial where the defense will claim that the defendants confession was a false confession.  We learned the GBI, in a breach of protocol and constitutional law, interviewed / talked with Duke twice after he had a lawyer. These interviews were undocumented in the GBI case file. They were not recorded. The DA apparently was unaware at the time that this tactic was being employed by the GBI until the defense raised it with them. The agent didn’t even sign in at the jail. We can only speculate as to why not.  On top of all this, an abundance of otherwise inadmissible evidence consisting of hearsay and innuendo managed to come out publicly at a bond hearing. Most of this wouldn’t have seen the light of day at a trial. As the prosecution correctly pointed out “hearsay” may be admissible at a bond hearing, but it still has to be reliable evidence - not a regurgitation of all the salacious rumors from 2005. And it must be relevant to the issue of bond. It may turn out that the DA made a great tactical mistake by calling their lead case agent to testify and turn this bond hearing into an evidentiary free-for-all with no apparent boundaries. At a minimum it was surely heartbreaking for friends and family of the victim to have to re-live all the pain of the last 13 years by having old wounds reopened in such painful detail.  I’ve previously written about why the venue for this trial really needs to be changed. Now more than ever the jury pool is really tainted - as if it weren’t already. Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.