Morning Docket: 05.24.17

* President Donald Trump has hired his longtime lawyer, Marc Kasowitz of Kasowitz Benson, to represent him as his independent counsel in the investigation of claims that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. Is anyone really surprised that Trump chose to hire Kasowitz? Moreover, is anyone really surprised that he'd further complicate hiring Joe Lieberman as FBI director by doing so? [FOX Business]

* In somewhat related news, despite having worked as a partner at WilmerHale — a firm that represents former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort as well as Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — Robert Mueller has been approved by ethics experts at the Justice Department to go ahead as special counsel in the Trump/Russia investigation, as he did not participate in those matters. Things are about to start heating up. [NPR]

* President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 fiscal budget includes a $1.1 billion cut in funding for the Department of Justice. The $27.7 billion request for the DOJ represents a 3.8 percent decrease from its current funding level, while the antitrust division's funding will remain the same, at just under $165 million. It makes you wonder which initiatives will be discontinued. [Big Law Business]

* Speaking of the Trump budget, American Bar Association President Linda A. Klein has spoken out against it, criticizing its "egregious cuts to the Constitution’s promise of a fair legal process." Funding for the Legal Services Corporation and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program have been completely eliminated, and if the money is not reinstated, "severe damage [could be done] to the most vulnerable people in our society." [ABA Journal]

* Convicted killer Dylan Roof, who was found guilty of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and religious rights violations, has appealed his conviction and his death sentence to the Fourth Circuit. According to his lawyers, Roof wanted to appeal to drag the case on as long as possible, since he thinks white supremacists will eventually take over the country and pardon him. Wow. [AP]

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