Do Felonies Even Matter Anymore?

There is a lot of information slowly dribbling out of the Inspector General’s (IG) Report on the Clinton email investigation. One of the disturbing things is the seeming disregard by the Mid-Year-Exam (MYE) team (the team that was investigating Hillary Clinton’s private server) for basic protocols. The information regarding the use of personal email accounts is found on page 424 of the IG Report.

The Conservative Treehouse is reporting today:

One of the interesting aspects of the IG report is the documented use of personal email by participants within the FBI “small group” Mid-Year-Exam (MYE) team. [pg 424]

One of those documented examples involves FBI Agent Peter Strzok downloading the content of the sealed Anthony Weiner Indictment, October 29, 2016, to his personal email address. Unauthorized extraction of a ‘sealed SDNY indictment‘, and transmission to a non-secure system, is a felony.

No  wonder no one wanted to indict Hillary Clinton–they were all doing the same thing!

The article includes further information from the IG Report:

[…]  During our review, we identified several instances where Strzok used his personal email account for government business.  […]  Most troubling, on October 29, 2016, Strzok forwarded from his FBI account to his personal email account an email about the proposed search warrant the Midyear team was seeking on the Weiner laptop.

This email included a draft of the search warrant affidavit, which contained information from the Weiner investigation that appears to have been under seal at the time in the Southern District of New York and information obtained pursuant to a grand jury subpoena issued in the Eastern District of Virginia in the Midyear investigation.

The footnotes here are interesting:

fn #217 reads: ” The OIG previously notified the respective U.S. Attorney’s Offices about Strzok’s actions.”

fn #218 reads: “We requested access to Strzok’s personal email account. Strzok agreed to produce copies of work-related emails in his personal account but declined to produce copies of his personal emails. Strzok subsequently told the OIG that he had reviewed the emails residing in his personal mailboxes and found no work-related communications. We determined that we lacked legal authority to obtain the contents of Strzok’s personal email account from his email provider, which requires an Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) search warrant to produce email contents. Strzok’s email provider’s policy applies to opened emails and emails stored for more than 180 days, which ECPA otherwise permits the government to obtain using a subpoena and prior notice to the subscriber. See 18 U.S.C. § 2703(a), (b)(1)(B)(i); COMPUTER CRIME AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY SECTION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, SEARCHING AND SEIZING COMPUTERS AND OBTAINING ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE IN CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS at 129-30 (2009). In addition, although we learned that a non-FBI family member had access to Strzok’s personal email account in 2017, Strzok told the OIG that no one else had access to his personal email account during the period in question (i.e., late October 2016).”

The article concludes:

Knowing the nature of all FBI investigative benefits-of-doubt previously afforded throughout 2015 and 2016; do you think the FBI DC team didn’t immediately notify Team Clinton directly or through some facilitating channel?

Perhaps the answer to that question outlines why Peter Strzok suddenly found a need to download the sealed SDNY Weiner indictment and transfer it to his personal email?

Curioser and curiouser…

As more and more people begin to analyze the IG Report, we will likely find more very odd actions taken by the FBI in recent years.

Things That Make Elections Interesting

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday that the Virginia Supreme Court struck down Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons.

The article reports:

The Supreme Court of Virginia on Friday struck down Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons, dealing a severe blow to what the governor has touted as one of his proudest achievements in office.

In a 4-3 ruling, the court declared McAuliffe’s order unconstitutional, saying it amounts to a unilateral rewrite and suspension of the state’s policy of lifetime disenfranchisement for felons.

The court ordered the Virginia Department of Elections to “cancel the registration of all felons who have been invalidly registered” under McAuliffe’s April 22 executive order and subsequent orders.

As of this week, 11,662 felons had registered to vote under McAuliffe’s orders. The court gave a cancellation deadline of Aug. 25.

This is not an article about whether or not convicted felons can vote, it is an article about whether or not a governor has the right to bypass the legislature and make that decision unilaterally.

The article states:

McAuliffe, a Democrat, took the sweeping action in April, saying he was doing away with an unusually restrictive voting policy that has a disproportionate impact on African-Americans. In a legal challenge, Republican leaders argued McAuliffe overstepped his power by issuing a blanket restoration order for violent and nonviolent felons with no case-by-case review.

The court majority found that McAuliffe did indeed overstep his authority.

“Never before have any of the prior 71 Virginia governors issued a clemency order of any kind — including pardons, reprieves, commutations, and restoration orders — to a class of unnamed felons without regard for the nature of the crimes or any other individual circumstances relevant to the request,” Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons wrote in the majority opinion.

“To be sure, no governor of this commonwealth, until now, has even suggested that such a power exists. And the only governors who have seriously considered the question concluded that no such power exists.”

In response, McAuliffe said he will “expeditiously” sign roughly 13,000 individual rights restoration orders for people who have already registered to vote. He said he’ll continue until rights are restored for all 200,000 people affected by the original order.

“Once again, the Virginia Supreme Court has placed Virginia as an outlier in the struggle for civil and human rights,” McAuliffe said in a written statement. “It is a disgrace that the Republican leadership of Virginia would file a lawsuit to deny more than 200,000 of their own citizens the right to vote. And I cannot accept that this overtly political action could succeed in suppressing the voices of many thousands of men and women who had rejoiced with their families earlier this year when their rights were restored.”

Make no mistake, the Governor is not simply filled with compassion for those convicted felons. For whatever reason, statistically convicted felons vote Democrat. Governor McAuliffe, a longtime friend and associate of the Clintons, wants to make sure he delivers Virginia in November. There is little doubt that Virginia will vote for Hillary (particularly with Tim Kaine as her running mate). Many northern Virginia voters depend on the Washington establishment for their jobs and won’t want to upset the status quo.

The article concludes:

The legal rebuke comes at an awkward time for McAuliffe, who is scheduled to speak at next week’s Democratic National Convention celebrating Clinton and her newly selected running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

Clinton praised McAuliffe after the order in April. When he was Virginia’s governor, Kaine declined to issue a blanket rights restoration order like the one pursued by McAuliffe, despite pressure from activists.

The Supreme Court ruling referenced Kaine’s position, saying Kaine “correctly understood” he did not have blanket restoration power.

Preparing To Steal An Election

Terry McAuliffe has long been associated with the Clinton family and their political aspirations. Now, as governor of Virginia, he is attempting to make sure that Hillary Clinton carries that state in November.

National Review posted an article today about Governor McAuliffe’s efforts.

The article reports:

In what is likely an unconstitutional state action seemingly calculated to ensure that the purple state of Virginia goes blue in the November election, Governor Terry McAuliffe (D.) signed an order on Friday restoring the voting rights of 206,000 ex-felons in Virginia, including those convicted of murder, armed robbery, rape, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. The order also restores their right to sit on a jury, become a notary, and even serve in elected office.

McAuliffe believes that ex-felons can be trusted to make decisions in the ballot booth and the jury box but apparently not to own a gun. He draws the line at restoring their Second Amendment rights; that would be a bridge too far.

So what is the problem with this? First of all, the Governor does not make the laws–the legislature does.

The article further explains:

Having a waiting period, examining each ex-felon’s application for restoration of rights carefully and individually, and differentiating between violent and nonviolent crimes is exactly the system that Virginia had — at least until Friday’s order. In a three-page summary released by the governor’s office, McAuliffe asserts that any claim that he doesn’t have the authority to grant a blanket restoration of rights is “far-outside the weight of constitutional authority across the nation and would read into the text of the Virginia Constitution words that simply are not there.” This is just legal gibberish — the weight of constitutional authority “across the nation” has no bearing on interpreting the Virginia constitution. McAuliffe is reading into that constitution authority he does not have.
The article goes on to explain that this action does not conform to the Virginia Constitution. It overturns a provision that has been in the Virginia Constitution since the Civil War-era. It will be interesting if the Virginia Legislature overturns his action.

Seems As If Everyone In The Executive Department Has A Pen And A Phone

CNS News reported today that Attorney General Eric Holder is about to take aim at laws that do not allow convicted felons to vote. Wonderful. Three days ago Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Justice Department will recognize same-sex marriages in all legal matters, even in states that forbid it. What he is saying is that the Justice Department will overrule the votes of the people in the states that do not allow same-sex marriage.

The article reports:

Holder said state laws that bar felons from voting are “not only unnecessary and unjust, they are also counterproductive” because they perpetuate the “stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals,” increasing the likelihood that they will commit future crimes.

Such “outdated” laws have a “disparate impact on minority communities,” he said, suggesting that this is, at heart, a civil rights issue.

Of the 5.8 million Americans who cannot vote because of current or previous felony convictions, 2.2 million are black, Holder noted.

These people are not allowed to vote because they are convicted felons. They are not guilty of misdemeanors–they are convicted felons. They are not being denied the right to vote because of anything but their conviction. They could be pink with purple stripes, and if they had not committed a felony, they would be allowed to vote. This is about committing a crime–this is not about race. Hopefully the Attorney General will not try to make it about race, although the last sentence quoted might be an indication that he plans to.

I would not be opposed to allowing a convicted felon vote after he had been out of prison for twenty years or so and if he had stayed out of trouble during that time. However, I am opposed to simply allowing all convicted felons to vote after they have been released from prison. I would also see this decision made by Congress rather than just done by the Justice Department with the stroke of a pen.

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