Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Mueller Report: What Next?

At the close of business on Friday, news broke that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III had filed the results of a nearly two-year-long investigation, "Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election," to Attorney General William P. Barr. Today, Barr submitted a letter to the House Judiciary Committee which briefly summarized the report’s conclusions.

As reported in various news outlets, the report summary is divided into two parts: Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and obstruction of justice. The investigation described two elements of Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, but "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." The obstruction portion reviewed various actions by the President that had raised potential obstruction concerns. Notably, Barr's letter states, "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." However, the Justice Department indicated that no additional indictments are expected from Mueller, whose investigation has already resulted in numerous indictments and prosecutions (see an overview at The New York Times).

The full report of the Mueller investigation remains confidential, although Barr acknowledges the high level of public interest in the contents and pledges "to release as much of the Special Counsel's report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies." Members of Congress have indicated that they will push for the release of the full report, taking the battle to court if necessary.

For continued coverage of the legal issues raised by the Mueller report, consult the following outlets:
  • The New York Times – register with your or address for a yearlong "academic pass."
  • – Law School community members may register for an individual account here, or access the full text of articles on the Law School computers and wifi network.
  • – join the Duke Law Library "group subscription" by registering from a networked computer with your or address.
  • The Washington Post: available with your NetID through ProQuest Central.

To learn more about your access to other news outlets, try a search of Online Full-Text Journals or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Gold Standards

Over the weekend, more than 8,000 people attended the 30th annual Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico. This 26.2-mile trek through desert terrain serves as a remembrance of the approximately 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war who were forced to march through 65 miles of jungle terrain by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Thousands of the captive soldiers did not survive the journey, succumbing to harsh conditions, starvation, disease, and torture by their captors.

The memorial march's schedule of events also included a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony, at which eligible Filipino veterans of World War II (or their next-of-kin) received a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded at the original ceremony in 2017. The Congressional Gold Medal is one of several decorations that the United States Congress has awarded over the years (others include silver and bronze medals, as well as ceremonial swords), but is generally considered the highest honor that Congress can bestow.

Congress has used medals to express formal gratitude since the earliest days of America. The tradition dates back to the Continental Congress, when then-General George Washington received the first Congressional Gold Medal for "'wise and spirited conduct' in bringing about the British evacuation of Boston" on March 25, 1776. Over the years, the Congressional Gold Medal was expanded beyond military achievements to distinguished civilian contributions as well.

More information about Congressional Gold Medal history and procedures can be found in the recently-updated Congressional Research Service report Congressional Gold Medals: Background, Legislative Process and Issues for Congress. The Appendix to this CRS report includes a summary of medals awarded since 1776. The report notes that Congressional Gold Medal awards have increased in the modern era, prompting interest in imposing potential limits on the number that may be awarded and specific criteria for eligibility.

In the current Congress, there are more than twenty proposed bills concerning Congressional Gold Medals, including bills that would award medals to Aretha Franklin; Mahatma Gandhi; various groups of WWII soldiers; Fred Korematsu, who famously challenged Japanese-American internment camps all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court; and the African-American female NASA "human computers" whose story was depicted in the acclaimed film Hidden Figures. Only time will tell which of these individuals or groups will be honored with a Congressional Gold Medal. After a Congressional Gold Medal bill becomes law, the process begins to design and strike the unique medal, as well as schedule an award ceremony. The CRS report details the process and includes some sample designs from past awards.

For help with locating bills or statutes concerning Congressional Gold Medals, or with researching other formal decorations under federal law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Introducing PitchBook

The Duke University community now has access to PitchBook, a financial technology database with extensive company and deal information. PitchBook users can search thousands of private equity and venture capital deals by hundreds of criteria, establish benchmarks, find real time data on deals, identify and analyze comparables, and search investor details.

All current Duke University students, faculty, and staff are now eligible for Academic User accounts that permit restricted amounts of data exporting and printing: 10 daily / 25 monthly rows of company, deal, fund, or people data. Faculty members at Law and Fuqua may inquire about options for a premium upgrade that allows for increased downloads. Instructions for the account creation process as well as PitchBook content guides can be found at the Ford Library's PitchBook at Duke portal page (NetID login required).

Additional campus resources for locating company information and venture capital data can be found at the Ford Library's Databases by Subject page. For help with accessing these resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.