News Roundup

Betsy Devos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos/U.S. Department of Education.

Department of Justice reportedly opens criminal inquiry into origins of Russia probe

The U.S. Department of Justice’s review of the origins of the Russia probe has shifted from an administrative review to a criminal inquiry, according to two anonymous sources who spoke with the New York Times. According to the article, President Donald Trump will likely see the criminal probe as vindication of his criticism of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The U.S. attorney leading the review, John Durham, will now have the power to issue subpoenas and convene a grand jury. His investigators have reportedly asked about any anti-Trump bias by people working on the Russia probe and whether the CIA may have tricked the FBI into opening the investigation. (The New York Times)

Judge holds Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt

A judge in San Francisco has held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court for violating an order to stop collecting loans from former students of the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim ordered the Department of Education to pay $100,000 for the violation, which will be used to compensate students. Kim said evidence shows “only minimal efforts to comply” with the order. Some students had tax refunds seized and wages garnished. A video statement by an Education Department official said about 16,000 students and parents were mistakenly billed, and 99% of affected students have received refunds. (The New York Times, the Washington Post)

DOJ gives award to Kavanaugh nomination team at private ceremony

The U.S. Department of Justice opted for a private ceremony Thursday when it gave its prestigious Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service to a team of government lawyers who supported Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The other awards were handed out at a public event. A spokesperson said the lawyers didn’t get the awards at the public ceremony because of time restrictions for the event. Typically, the award is given to lawyers who worked on significant prosecutions rather than on judicial nomination processes. (The National Law Journal, the New York Times)

Consumer class actions nearly tripled in past decade, report says

The number of consumer protection class actions in the past decade increased from 1,223 to 3,382 lawsuits, according to a report by Lex Machina. Driving the increase are cases over data breaches. (The National Law Journal)