We have another Andrew Johnson-related “this day in legal history” for today – on May 26 in 1868, the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson concluded without conviction.
In 1868, President Johnson faced impeachment, and his fate rested on a single vote in the Senate trial. Johnson had become president after Abraham Lincoln's assassination and had a strained relationship with Republican leaders, particularly the Radical Republicans. The House of Representatives impeached Johnson on charges of violating the Tenure of Office Act by removing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton without approval. The Senate trial required a two-thirds majority to convict Johnson.
Senator Edmund Ross of Kansas, a Republican, cast the deciding vote. It was expected that Ross would vote against Johnson, but to the surprise of many, he voted "Not guilty." The Radical Republicans requested an adjournment, and the trial concluded on May 26 with failed votes on two more articles.
The controversy surrounding Ross's vote centers on why he changed his mind. Some speculate that he may have been influenced by a $150,000 slush fund set up by Johnson's supporters. However, there is evidence that Ross's vote may not have been crucial, as at least four other senators were prepared to oppose conviction if necessary.
Skadden, one of the largest law firms in the US, has announced a new policy requiring lawyers to work in the office four days a week. Previously, attorneys were required to be in the office only on Tuesdays through Thursdays. The firm stated that the modified hybrid work model aims to leverage the benefits of remote work while fostering innovation and professional development through increased in-person collaboration. Other prestigious law firms like Davis Polk & Wardwell, Milbank, and Simpson Thacher have already implemented similar office attendance policies. Some firms, such as Simpson Thacher and Sidley Austin, have even threatened to withhold bonus money from associates who do not comply with the office attendance requirements. The shift in policies reflects a power shift in the legal industry, with employers holding more sway due to economic conditions and cost-cutting measures. Younger lawyers, in particular, prefer flexible work arrangements, and a significant number would consider leaving their current jobs for opportunities with greater remote work options. Hybrid work arrangements have become prevalent across industries, with companies like Starbucks, Amazon, and Walt Disney implementing similar policies. However, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has expressed skepticism about remote work, stating that it doesn't work well for younger staff and management roles.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in a plot to keep former President Donald Trump in power after losing the 2020 election. Another member of the Oath Keepers, Kelly Meggs, the leader of the Florida contingent, received a 12-year prison sentence. These are the first sentences for seditious conspiracy in over a decade. The judge emphasized that Rhodes' actions posed a threat to democracy and the fabric of the country, and he expressed concerns about future election-related violence.
Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy by a Washington, DC, jury in November, and the judge ruled that his actions amounted to domestic terrorism. Prosecutors had requested a 25-year prison sentence for Rhodes, while Meggs showed contrition and received a lesser sentence due to his lesser role in the conspiracy. Rhodes, before his sentencing, claimed to be a political prisoner and repeated false allegations about the 2020 election. The sentencing is seen as having a chilling effect on extremist groups, and Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn stated that he hopes former President Trump will be held accountable next.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has announced plans to restrict the growth of large banks and potentially force them to sell assets if they fail to address ongoing issues. The decision follows concerns raised by acting Comptroller Michael Hsu that certain banks are becoming "too big to manage." The OCC intends to use various measures against banks that receive poor management grades, fail to address problems identified in enforcement actions, or face multiple enforcement actions over three years. These measures could include increasing capital and liquidity levels, limiting expansion plans, or canceling dividend payments. In severe cases, the OCC may consider mandating banks to reduce their asset size, divest subsidiaries or business lines, or exit certain markets. The policy aims to ensure that deficiencies are identified and that banks are given opportunities to rectify them. The new enforcement policy comes at a time when U.S. regulators are sending mixed signals regarding allowing further consolidation in the banking industry. Some regulators, such as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra, argue for dismantling large banks that pose risks to the economy, while others, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, suggest that increased merger activity may be necessary to strengthen the financial system.
House Republicans are preparing to introduce a tax package that reveals divisions within the caucus and provides insights into the policy approach of the new Ways and Means Committee chairman. The economic package, set to be unveiled in early June, is expected to include measures such as research and development tax breaks, full bonus depreciation, and interest expense deductions. Lawmakers are vying to ensure their priorities are included in the package, with potential measures including lifting the state and local tax deduction cap and changes to the Child Tax Credit. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith has shown interest in the Child Tax Credit, and the bill will provide an indication of his stance on various tax issues. The package will need to garner enough votes from the caucus to pass the House. Republican lawmakers have been discussing potential provisions, including individual tax relief and increasing the 1099-K tax reporting threshold. There is also support for a version of the Child Tax Credit to be included, as it expired in 2021. The inclusion of some Child Tax Credit provisions would signal willingness to collaborate with Democrats. Additionally, Republican lawmakers from high-tax states are meeting with Smith to address the cap on state and local tax deductions. The caucus has not decided on its position if the package does not address the SALT cap, but it remains an important issue for them.