Judicial Watch: Obama Asserts Fast and Furious Executive Privilege Claim for Holder’s Wife
Judicial Watch announced today that it received from the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) a “Vaughn index” detailing records about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. The index was forced out of the Obama administration thanks to JW’s June 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent September 2012 FOIA lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 1:12-cv-01510)). A federal court had ordered the production over the objections of the Obama Justice Department.
“This is the first time that the Obama administration has provided a detailed listing of all records being withheld from Congress and the American people about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal.”
[Check out John’s Fund's book, authored with Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky: "Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department"]
The document details the Attorney General Holder’s personal involvement in managing the Justice Department’s strategy on media and Congressional investigations into the Fast and Furious scandal.
Notably, the document discloses that emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife Sharon Malone – as well as his mother – are being withheld under an extraordinary claim of executive privilege as well as a dubious claim of deliberative process privilege under the Freedom of Information Act. The “First Lady of the Justice Department” is a physician and not a government employee.
“The 1307-page ‘draft’ Vaughn index was emailed to Judicial Watch at 8:34 p.m. last night, a few hours before a federal court-ordered deadline. In its cover letter, the Department of Justice asserts that all of the responsive records described in the index are ‘subject to the assertion of executive privilege’.”
This is the first time that the Obama administration has provided a detailed listing of all records being withheld from Congress and the American people about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal. The 1307-page “draft” Vaughn index was emailed to Judicial Watch at 8:34 p.m. last night, a few hours before a federal court-ordered deadline. In its cover letter, the Department of Justice asserts that all of the responsive records described in the index are “subject to the assertion of executive privilege.”
“A week before the contempt finding, to protect Holder from criminal prosecution and stave off the contempt vote, President Obama asserted executive privilege over the Fast and Furious records the House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed eight months earlier.”
The Vaughn index explains 15,662 documents. Typically, a Vaughn index must: (1) identify each record withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption. Read the rest of this entry »
IRS’s Harassment of Citizen Groups to Chill Opposition, Protect Incumbent Party, and Influence Presidential Election Outcome Approved by Federal Judge
The IRS notched a major legal victory Thursday after a federal judge dismissed lawsuits brought by more than 40 conservative groups seeking remedies for being singled out in the tea party targeting scandal.
“[T]he Court is satisfied that there is no reasonable expectation that the alleged conduct will recur, as the defendants have not only suspended the conduct, but have also taken remedial measures to ensure that the conduct is not repeated.”
Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia threw out almost all counts brought against the tax-collecting agency in two cases, ruling that both were essentially moot now that the IRS granted the groups their tax-exempt status that had been held up for years
Translation: “They promised not to do it anymore, so it’s okay”
The decisions have major implications for tea party groups suing the IRS over the issue. It appears they have a tough case to make because the IRS, since the controversy broke in 2013, has approved most tea party groups’ applications, which, according to Walton, keeps the court from hearing their cases.
“After the plaintiff initiated this case, its application to the IRS for tax-exempt status was approved by the IRS. The allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct, which delayed the processing of the plaintiff’s tax exempt application and brought about this litigation, is no longer impacting the plaintiff,” Walton said in his decision to throw out True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS.
“The judge, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, also said the groups couldn’t receive monetary relief from individual IRS officials, such as ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, because of the ‘chilling effect’ it would have on tax administration.”
(Chilling political speech of opposition groups is okay, but risking a potential chilling effect on the IRS? No! We can’t have that!)
His reasoning was similar in the second case, where 41 conservative groups banded together to sue the IRS for similar misconduct: “[T]he allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct … is no longer impacting the plaintiffs. … Counts … are therefore moot.”
The judge, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, also said the groups couldn’t receive monetary relief from individual IRS officials, such as ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, because of the chilling effect it would have on tax administration.
The same judge in August rejected True the Vote’s bid for a court-appointed forensics expert to hunt Lerner’s lost emails, another blow to conservatives seeking outside experts to take the lead on the IRS investigation. Two years’ worth of the former head of the tax-exempt division’s emails were erased in a hard drive crash in 2011, the IRS says. Read the rest of this entry »
An Affair to Remember
As Hillary and Bill Clinton prepare for another White House ramble, the country is fated to endure more than a few 1990s flashbacks, often including attempts to whitewash the real history. The latest character to re-emerge is Monica Lewinsky, the former intern who is doffing her beret to reinvent herself as an anti-cyberbullying activist.
“We correct the record not least to point out that the Clintons weren’t above falsely smearing a young woman not much older than their daughter as an oversexed psycho blackmailer.”
In a speech this week at a Forbes magazine conference that went viral on the Web, Ms. Lewinsky describes herself as a “survivor” of online abuse—she became “the creature from the media lagoon.” As the worst abusers, she cited Matt Drudge and the New York Post, which gave Ms. Lewinsky a term of tabloid endearment as “the portly pepperpot.” Another culprit was “a politically motivated independent prosecutor,” or Ken Starr.
The problem is that Ms. Lewinsky was actually the victim of the Clinton lagoon, as White House operatives tried to destroy her reputation when the scandal broke. The real bullies weren’t online but in the West Wing.
On Jan. 21, 1998, Mr. Clinton told his aide Sidney Blumenthal that Ms. Lewinsky “came on to me and made a sexual demand on me,” according to Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition to Mr. Starr. Mr. Clinton added that he “rebuffed her” and then she “threatened him. Read the rest of this entry »
In a dramatic televised address to the American public, President John F. Kennedy announces that the Soviet Union has placed nuclear weapons in Cuba and, in response, the United States will establish a blockade around the island to prevent any other offensive weapons from entering Castro’s state. Kennedy also warned the Soviets that any nuclear attack from Cuba would be construed as an act of war, and that the United States would retaliate in kind.
Kennedy charged the Soviet Union with subterfuge and outright deception in what he referred to as a “clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace.” He dismissed Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko‘s claim that the weapons in Cuba were of a purely defensive nature as “false.” Harking back to efforts to contain German, Italian, and Japanese aggression in the 1930s, Kennedy argued that war-like behavior, “if allowed to grow unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war. Read the rest of this entry »
You Know Who’s Dumb? You Are. Know Who’s Smarter? New York Times
“Few voters know that the 2009 stimulus bill contributed heavily to the nation’s economic recovery, saving and creating 2.5 million jobs.”
White House talking points, in the New York Times? Never!
B.B. King – Crossroads Festival 2010
— CNN (@CNN) October 21, 2014
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.
With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election. Read the rest of this entry »
Hiding Politically Unpopular Policies from Voters, Obama Puts Top Priorities in their Proper Place: The Back of the BusPosted: October 18, 2014
“This whole place is paralyzed. Everything was kicked down the road.”
President Obama is taking time out from his much-trumpeted “year of action” to observe a period more important to his Democratic allies in Congress: the season of campaigning.
One by one, the Obama administration is setting aside key priorities, in the hope that voters won’t do the same to his fellow Democrats.
“We wish they would be as good as their rhetoric. We want them to step up and deliver. If they don’t, who’s going to?”
– Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch
Immigration reform, once deemed a pressing back-to-school item, will wait at least until the winter holidays.
Enrollment in Obamacare will start six weeks later than last year.
The climate will warm at the same rate, with new regulations pending. [Reality check: Globe hasn't warmed in 19 years]
“It looks like the president and the Democrats are playing politics with people’s lives.”
– Frank Sharry, America’s Voice, one of many pro-amnesty, open-borders pressure groups.
The latest addition to the not-to-do list came this week, when the White House put off an announcement on the president’s nominee for attorney general, a pick he has been privately thinking about a long time.
White House aides smile and defend the strategy, saying privately that they’re trying to be sensitive to the concerns of Democrats, especially senators in tough election races.
“He promised me a dollhouse. Democrats are playing politics with everything! I hate Obama!”
– Daughter of celebrity Obama fundraiser
The White House is trying to avoid being held responsible for Democrats losing control of the Senate in the midterm election in three weeks, especially when administration officials still hope to get a few things done during the final two years of Obama’s presidency and will need help from Democrats who remain in office. Read the rest of this entry »
Headline corrected! Where do we begin? A brief scan of media reactions offers some clues. For example, The Hill Just Can’t Figure Out Where Obama Went Wrong. Surely, Obama’s Low Approval Ratings Can’t Be Blamed On Any Scandal, can it? When did Obama check out? Obama never checked in. As an exercise in reality-denial, The Hill gives us a textbook instruction manual for how to write about a controversial topic without saying anything that might reflect too badly on anyone, or offend anyone in power. Though to be fair, it’s not a bad article, on second reading. It has a few pithy quotes.
Though overdue, it’s the kind of question that haunted the G.W. Bush’s unpopular presidency, but for Obama’s predecessor, those loaded questions began moments after he was inaugurated, rather than held back for six years. And the answers were far less forgiving. The writers–blinded by GOP distrust reinforced by institutional bias–were often a lot less rational.
[Order Panetta's "Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace" from Amazon.com]
For Obama, an honest account of “what went wrong?” would (and has, and will, for decades) fill mountains of books, exceeding the storage capacity of Amazon warehouses worldwide. We can look forward to an avalanche of unreadable academic literature, notes from unattended think-tank symposiums, and stacks of unsold finger-pointing White House staff (see above) autobiographies…
We deserve better. It has potential! It could inspire crime thrillers, Shakespearean tragedies, comic books, horror movies, and for future generations, Epic Decline-of-Empire postmortems! Truly, the question posed here is impossible to address adequately in anything less than 30 volumes. My modest headline correction offers a manageable approach. We’re not aiming for a Pulitzer here, just tryin’ to make a deadline.
Fewer than two years ago, President Obama was elected handily to his second term, becoming the first Democrat since FDR to twice win an outright majority of the popular vote.
Now, Democrats in competitive Senate races hope he stays as far away as possible, previous heartlands of support such as Iowa have turned against him and his approval ratings are languishing in the low 40s — sometimes lower.
“He should say ‘Look, all three of us now face the same choice. … Do we want to spend the next two years messaging and preparing for 2016 or would we like to spend a few months legislating?’ ”
Political observers, from former Obama aides to staffers who served in previous administrations, say something is going to have to change if the president is to achieve anything at all in his last two years in office.
“I’m still struggling to figure this out. I think a lot of it boils down to this mindset that, ‘we all have the answers and we’re smarter than everybody else and we can do this.’ ”
– Unamed former administration official
“It is a near metaphysical certainty that in his last two years, he’ll confront the same House he has in the last four years,” said William Galston, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution who served as an adviser to former President Clinton during his White House years.
“So the question is, how are they going to deal with that? If they deal with the same House in the same way, they’ll get the same results.”
Galston advised a different approach. Obama would be “well-advised” to reach out to the Republican congressional leadership immediately after the midterm elections, he said, and should resist the temptation to dig deeper into a partisan trench. Read the rest of this entry »
“I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
On this day in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was shot while making a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Roosevelt, who served as President from 1901 to 1909 was attempting to run for a third term for his Bull Moose Party. He lost the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson. He was shot by John Schrank, a mentally disturbed saloon keeper, who claimed he was told to kill Roosevelt by the ghost of former President William McKinley. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama laid out “a mighty ambitious goal” when he said he would destroy the Islamic State, and thus far his strategy has been ineffective, says the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward on Fox News Sunday.
“This is a mess. Obama’s clearly gone through a wake-up call — he’s got to come up with something to do here.”
“In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism.”
“I apologize for lying to you. I promise I won’t deceive you except in matters of this sort.”
Failure Upon Failure
Stephen F. Hayes writes: A year before his first inauguration, Barack Obama laid out the objective of his presidency: to renew faith and trust in activist government and transform the country. In an hourlong interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal on January 16, 2008, Obama said that his campaign was already “shifting the political paradigm” and promised that his presidency would do the same.
“Journalists not only swallowed this legend, many of them promoted it. Obama didn’t appear ideological to influential political reporters because they shared his views. He wasn’t liberal, he was right.”
His model would be Ronald Reagan, who “put us on a fundamentally different path,” in a way that distinguished him from leaders who were content merely to occupy the office. “I think that Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not. And in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”
If Reagan sought to minimize the role of government in the lives of Americans, Obama set out to do the opposite. “We’ve had a federal government that I think has gotten worn down and ineffective over the course of the Bush administration, partly because philosophically this administration did not believe in government as an agent of change,” he complained.
“I want to make government cool again,” he said.
“When he’s not on the golf course, the president seems to spend most of his time fundraising for vulnerable Democrats, threatening executive action on those things he can’t accomplish by leading, and working to minimize crises of his own making. This is a failed presidency.”
Obama believed in government, and he was confident that his election would signal that the American people were ready to believe again, too.
“Rather than restore faith in government, the Obama presidency has all but destroyed it.”
As we approach the sixth anniversary of his election, the Obama presidency is in tatters. Obama’s policies, foreign and domestic, are widely seen as failed or failing. His approval rating is near its lowest point. Obama’s base of support is loyal and fierce and shrinking. Much of the country sees him as incompetent or untrustworthy, and government, far from being “cool,” is a joke on good days and a threat on bad ones.