When The Department Of Justice Forgets What It Is Supposed To Be Doing

Yesterday Judicial Watch posted an article revealing documents that had received from the Department of Justice through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request.

The article reports:

Judicial Watch today released 14 pages of records from the Department of Justice showing officials’ efforts in responding to media inquiries centering on talks within the DOJ/FBI allegedly invoking the 25th Amendment to “remove” President Donald Trump from office and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offering to wear a “wire” to record his conversations with the president.

The records show that, following a September 21, 2018, report on Rosenstein suggesting he would wear a wire to secretly record Trump and his discussions on using the 25th Amendment, Rosenstein sought to ensure the media would have “difficulty” finding anyone in the DOJ to comment and a concerted effort within the DOJ to frame the reporting as “inaccurate” and “factually incorrect.”

The records show DOJ officials had also discussed characterizing Rosenstein’s reported offer of wearing a wire to record Trump as merely “sarcastic.”

Additionally, the records show DOJ Public Affairs officer Sarah Isgur Flores, after conferring with other top DOJ officials and Rosenstein’s office about her email exchange with New York Times reporter Adam Goldman, waited 12 hours to forward the email exchange to DOJ Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker. Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had referred to Whitaker as the president’s “eyes and ears” in the DOJ.

Judicial Watch obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the Justice Department failed to respond to three separate FOIA requests dated September 21, 2018 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-00388)). The lawsuit seeks all written and audio/visual records of any FBI/DOJ discussions regarding the 25th Amendment and plans to secretly record President Trump in the Oval Office.

The records obtained by Judicial Watch include a September 21, 2018, email from Assistant U.S. Attorney (DOJ/NSD) Harvey Eisenberg to Rosenstein informing the DAG that Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima had called inquiring about a New York Times report on the 25th Amendment/wire discussion, Rosenstein responds: “Thanks! Hopefully we are being successful, and the reporters are having difficulty finding anybody to comment about things. [Remainder of email redacted.]” Apparently in response to the redacted portion of Rosenstein’s reply, Eisenberg responds, “I’m aware. Besides letting you know, [redacted]. My best to you and the family.” Rosenstein replies, “I don’t mean about me. [Redacted.]”

The emails also detail the DOJ’s response to the initial story as it was being prepared by the New York Times. On September 20, 2018, the Times’ Goldman emails DOJ’s Flores that he and fellow reporter Mike Schmidt were working on a story and wanted a DOJ response to certain questions, including that at a May 16, 2017, meeting of senior federal law enforcement officials, Rosenstein offered to wear a “wire” to record his conversations with Trump. “He also said McCabe could wear a wire.”

In a second request for comment, Goldman alleges that in a separate conversation between Rosenstein and McCabe, they discussed using the 25th Amendment “to remove President Trump” and “Rosenstein said that he may be able to get (then-Attorney General Jeff) Sessions and Kelly to go along with the plan.”

In a third request for comment, Goldman said he’d learned that Rosenstein in a May 12, 2017, conversation at the DOJ Command Center “appeared ‘upset’ and ‘emotional’ over the Comey firing.”

In a fourth request for comment, Goldman said that in a May 14, 2017, conversation with McCabe, “Rosenstein asked McCabe to reach out to Comey to seek advice about appointing a special counsel. McCabe believed that was a bad idea.”

In a fifth and final request for which he sought DOJ comment, Goldman wrote, “Rosenstein considered appointing (former Deputy Attorney General) Jim Cole as the special counsel.”

On Sept 20, 2018, Flores forwarded the Goldman email to “Annie” and “Bill” — apparently White House Deputy Counsel Annie Donaldson and White House Communications Director Bill Shine — telling Donaldson, “Boss calling Don re the below – if you think appropriate, share with Don [presumably referring to White House Counsel Don McGahn]”. She tells Shine, “We’ve sent a response from the DAG that’s below and had someone in the room dispute the ‘wire’ part noting the dag was being sarcastic.” She then includes the DAG response, which reads, “The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect. I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the Department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: based on my personal dealings with the President, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

Shine thanks Flores and asks her to “share with Elliott ASAP.” Flores responds that if Shine is directing her to share with Elliott, “I don’t think I know who that is referring to.” Flores sent that response at 10:09 PM on September 20, but Flores waits until 10:00 a.m. the next day to forward the entire exchange to DOJ Chief of Staff Whitaker, saying: “Should have sent this to you last night.”

In a mostly redacted email exchange on the evening of September 20, 2018, shows the efforts of officials in the Public Affairs and DAG’s office to produce a response to the impending news article. DOJ Official Bradley Weinsheimer forwarded to Flores the “DAG response” to the allegations in the article, saying “DAG has cleared this, which is what we just discussed.” He then provides the official DAG response about the allegations over Rosenstein wanting to invoke the 25th Amendment against Trump as being “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” Deputy Attorney General’s office official Ed O’Callaghan responds, “Think good.” The rest of his response is redacted under (b)(5) – deliberative process.

In the final draft of the official DAG response approved by O’Callaghan, the statement is changed from “Based on my dealings with the President, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment” to “Based on my personal dealings with the President, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

The article concludes with an amazing statement:

“It is remarkable that Judicial Watch has done more to investigate the DOJ/FBI’s discussions about overthrowing President Trump than the DOJ or Congress,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These documents essentially confirm the coup discussions about wearing a wire when speaking with President Trump and plans to remove him under the 25th Amendment.”

America just survived an attempted coup, and the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were part of that coup. No one has been held accountable, and that is frightening.

The Truth Continues To Seep Out

Yesterday The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) posted the following on its website:

The ACLJ has just obtained previously unreleased documents related to the Clinton investigation and immunity agreements given to top Clinton aids. These agreements reveal that James Comey’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Loretta Lynch’s Department of Justice (DOJ) granted immunity to Hillary Clinton’s aids and lawyers, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, from prosecution for anything found on their laptops violating multiple felony criminal statutes governing the mishandling of classified information and/or the removal or destruction of records, including Espionage Act provisions. Further, the DOJ and FBI also agreed to evade the statutory requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by purporting to deem the contents of the laptops as not under DOJ or FBI “custody or control.”

These laptops were critical to any meaningful investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails and records. According to the DOJ Inspector General, who identified these as the “culling laptops,” “[a]ll 62,320 emails pulled from the Clinton servers were stored at one time on these laptops.” Having taken control of these laptops, agreeing to severely limit its searches, agreeing to unlawfully shield the laptops from FOIA, then agreeing to dispose of the laptops, it appears the Comey FBI and Lynch DOJ did everything in their power to protect Clinton’s senior aids and lawyers from both criminal liability and public scrutiny.

While these immunity agreements and related news have been publicly discussed to some extent, the ACLJ has now obtained the actual documents so the public may see and judge them accordingly.

The article also states:

According to the DOJ’s immunity agreement with Mills:

As we have advised you, we consider Cheryl Mills to be a witness based on the information gathered to date in this investigation. We understand that Cheryl Mills is willing to voluntarily provide the Mills Laptop to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if the United States agrees not to use any information directly obtained from the Mills Laptop in any prosecution of Cheryl Mills for the mishandling of classified information and/or the removal or destruction of records as described below.

And, according to the immunity agreement:

To that end, it is hereby agreed as follows:

    1. That, subject to the terms of consent set forth in a separate letter to the Department of Justice dated June 10, 2016, Cheryl Mills will voluntarily produce the Mills Laptop to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its review and analysis.
    2. That no information directly obtained from the Mills Laptop will be used against your client in any prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) and/or (f); 18 U.S.C. § 1924; and/or 18 U.S.C. § 2071.
    1. That no other promises, agreements, or understandings exist between the parties except as set forth in this agreement, and no modification of this agreement shall have effect unless executed in writing by the parties.

The agreement was then executed by Cheryl Mills. The immunity agreement with Samuelson reads the same.

Mills and Samuelson Were Granted Immunity From Prosecution Under Multiple Felony Statutes for Anything Found on Their Laptops.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. Unfortunately this is a glaring example of unequal justice under the law.

The Need To Hold Individuals Accountable

I think one of the most frustrating things about watching the news these days is watching people in power say things that have no foundation in fact and do things that an ordinary person would go to jail for. Those days may be coming to an end (one can only hope).

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit reported that Judicial Watch has filed an ethics complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA).

The article reports:

The official complaint filed by Judicial Watch with the Office of Congressional Ethics, requests House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) be investigated in connection with recent revelations that he secretly met with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson in Aspen, Colorado in July of 2018.

The complaint also requests Schiff be investigated after it was revealed his staff traveled to New York and met with Michael Cohen for 10 hours prior to Trump’s former lawyer testifying to the House Intel Panel.

The article includes a portion of the ethics complaint:

Dear Chairman Skaggs,

Judicial Watch is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government and fidelity to the rule of law. We regularly monitor congressional ethics issues as part of our anti-corruption mission.

This letter serves as our official complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) concerning the activities of Rep. Adam Schiff. Rep. Schiff appears to have violated House Code of Official Conduct, Rule 23, clauses 1 and 2, by inappropriately communicating with witnesses. Clauses 1 and 2 provide:

1.A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.

2.A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Rules of the House and to the rules of duly constituted committees thereof.

Rep. Adam Schiff attended the Aspen Security Forum conference in July 2018, which was also attended by Glenn Simpson, the founder of the firm Fusion GPS. Press reports have detailed evidence of a meeting and discussion between Rep. Schiff and Glenn Simpson at the July 2018 Aspen Security Forum. As noted in The Hill newspaper:

At the time of the encounter, Simpson was an important witness in the House Intelligence Committee probe who had given sworn testimony about alleged, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Fusion GPS is the political opposition research firm involved in procuring “unverified” information claiming the Trump presidential campaign had “colluded” with Russia, among other things. That Fusion OPS-supplied information was the basis upon which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtained Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance warrants against Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.

Mr. Simpson’s leadership of Fusion GPS and his centrality to events resulted in his having to testify before congressional committees or their staffs. Specifically, Mr. Simpson testified before the House Intelligence Committee, of which Rep. Schiff was the ranking Democratic member, on October 16, 2018 – approximately three (3) months after the Aspen Security Forum.

We note that following revelations in 2017 that Rep. Devin Nunes had informed President Trump that U.S. intelligence agencies had been engaging in “incidental collection” of his campaign’s communications, Rep. Schiff demanded that Rep. Nunes, then Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, recuse himself from any investigations involving alleged Trump collusion with Russia. Indeed, Rep. Schiff wrote the following on twitter:

This is not a recommendation I make lightly … But in much the same way that the attorney general [Jeff Sessions] was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after failing to inform the Senate of his meetings with Russian officials, I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman.

Then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi concurred with Rep. Schiff’s call for Mr. Nunes to recuse himself.

The July 2018 contacts between Rep. Schiff and Mr. Simpson create, at a minimum, the appearance of impropriety. As a result of Rep. Schiff’s previously undisclosed, private discussions with Mr. Simpson, the public’s confidence in Mr. Schiff’s ability to objectively and impartially carry out his duties as Committee Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have been gravely damaged.

Further, Rep. Schiff’s contacts with Mr. Michael Cohen should also be scrutinized in the same light as the Simpson contacts. Journalists have reported:

President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen told House investigators this week that staff for Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., traveled to New York at least four times to meet with him for over 10 hours immediately before last month’s high-profile public testimony, according to two sources familiar with the matter – as Republicans question whether the meetings amounted to coaching a witness.

The sources said the sessions covered a slew of topics addressed during the public hearing before the oversight committee – including the National Enquirer ‘s “Catch and Kill” policy, American Media CEO David Pecker and the alleged undervaluing of President Trump’s assets.

Judicial Watch is a watchdog group that fights for government transparency. The are equally hard on Democrats and Republicans. They have been major players in exposing much of the deep state in recent years.

Oversight Is Difficult When Needed Information Is Being Withheld

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about the ongoing efforts of Devin Nunes, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the U.S. House of Representatives, to obtain information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The article notes that Kimberley Strassel has entitled her weekly column at The Wall Street Journal “What is the FBI hiding?” It is beginning to look as if they are definitely hiding something.

The article at Power Line notes:

Strassel notes that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has just sent another letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to demand yet again that they comply with an August 2017 subpoena and hand over, among other things, the electronic communication—“EC” in investigative jargon—that officially kicked off the counterintelligence investigation. In his letter, Rep. Nunes states that the FBI has provided only a “heavily redacted” version of the EC. Beyond that, the FBI would prefer not to give it up.

Rep. Nunes is not amused. He writes: “On March 23, 2018, the FBI’s Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs informed the Committee that the FBI would refuse to further unredact the EC based on its supposed sensitivity. The document in question is not highly classified, and law enforcement sources have apparently not been shy about leaking to the press information that the Department and Bureau refuse to share with Congress.”

The article at Power Line includes a copy of the letter sent by Representative Nunes. It is unfair to ask Congress to exercise Congressional oversight without giving them the requested information. Hopefully the FBI will cooperate in the near future.

Sara Carter has also been following this story. More details are available on her website.

Is The Department Of Justice Just?

The following statement was posted at Judicial Watch yesterday:

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement regarding the  Department of Justice’s decision not to bring charges against Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, whose own emails place her at the heart of the politicization of the IRS for the targeting of conservative groups:

I have zero confidence that the Justice Department did an adequate review of the IRS scandal. In fact, we’re still fighting the Justice Department and the IRS for records about this very scandal. Today’s decision comes as no surprise considering that the FBI collaborated with the IRS and is unlikely to investigate or prosecute itself. President Trump should order a complete review of the whole issue. Meanwhile, we await accountability for IRS Commissioner Koskinen, who still serves and should be drummed out of office.

Judicial Watch released 294 pages of FBI “302” documents revealing top Washington IRS officials, including Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, knew the agency was specifically targeting “Tea Party” and other conservative organizations two full years before disclosing it to Congress and the public.  An FBI 302 document contains detailed narratives of FBI agent investigations.  The Obama Justice Department and FBI investigations into the Obama IRS scandal resulted in no criminal charges.

The FBI 302 documents confirm the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) 2013 report that said, “Senior IRS officials knew that agents were targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny as early as 2011.” Lerner did not reveal the targeting until May 2013, in response to a planted question at an American Bar Association conference.  The new documents reveal that then-acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller actually wrote Lerner’s response: “They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate.”

Judicial Watch’s litigation forced the IRS first to say that emails belonging to Lerner were supposedly missing and later declare to the court that the emails were on IRS back-up systems.  Lerner was one of the top officials responsible for the IRS’ targeting of President Obama’s political opponents.  Judicial Watch exposed various IRS record keeping problems:

  • In June 2014the IRS claimed to have “lost” responsive emails belonging to Lerner and other IRS officials.
  • In August 2014, Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS finally admitted Judicial Watch that Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The IRS’ attorneys also disclosed that Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) was looking at several of these backup tapes.
  • In November 2014, the IRS told the court it had failed to search any of the IRS standard computer systems for the “missing” emails of Lerner and other IRS officials.
  • On February 26, 2015, TIGTA officials testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it had received 744 backup tapes containing emails sent and received by Lerner.  This testimony showed that the IRS had falsely represented to both Congress, Judge Sullivan, and Judicial Watch that Lerner’s emails were irretrievably lost. The testimony also revealed that IRS officials responsible for responding to the document requests never asked for the backup tapes and that 424 backup tapes containing Lerner’s emails had been destroyed during the pendency of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit and Congressional investigations.
  • In June 2015, Judicial Watch forced the IRS to admit in a court filing that it was in possession of 6,400 “newly discovered” Lerner emails. Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the IRS to provide answers on the status of the Lerner emails the IRS had previously declared lost. Judicial Watch raised questions about the IRS’ handling of the missing emails issue in a court filing, demanding answers about Lerner’s emails that had been recovered from the backup tapes.
  • In July 2015, U.S District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan threatened to hold John Koskinen, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, and Justice Department attorneys in contempt of court after the IRS failed to produce status reports and recovered Lerner emails, as he had ordered on July 1, 2015.

Obama IRS Commissioner Koskinen was nearly impeached in September 2016 for misleading Congress on Lerner’s emails.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) clearly violated the free speech rights of American citizens because the Obama Administration wanted to silence their views. This is a serious affront to our representative republic and should not go unpunished. Attempting to use the IRS for political purposes was one of the items of impeachment drawn up against President Richard Nixon. Has the Justice Department forgotten what the law is? If so, it is time for a new Justice Department.