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THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Clinton Email Probe Going Nowhere Because ‘Legal Experts Agree’ Clinton Did Nothing Illegal

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Del Quentin Wilber writes: Federal prosecutors investigating the possible mishandling of classified materials on Hillary Clinton’s private email server have begun the process of setting up formal interviews with some of her longtime and closest aides, according to two people familiar with the probe, an indication that the inquiry is moving into its final phases.

“Legally it doesn’t matter if the emails were marked as classified or not, since government officials are obligated to recognize sensitive material and guard against its release. But legal experts noted that such labels would be helpful to prosecutors seeking to prove she knew the information was classified, a key element of the law.”

Those interviews and the final review of the case, however, could still take many weeks, all but guaranteeing that the investigation will continue to dog Clinton’s presidential campaign through most, if not all, of the remaining presidential primaries.

No dates have been set for questioning the advisors, but a federal prosecutor in recent weeks has called their lawyers to alert them that he would soon be doing so, the sources said. Prosecutors also are expected to seek an interview with Clinton herself, though the timing remains unclear.

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The interviews by FBI agents and prosecutors will play a significant role in helping them better understand whether Clinton or her aides knowingly or negligently discussed classified government secrets over a non-secure email system when she served as secretary of State.

“This is clearly disruptive to the campaign. It will take her off message and coverage about important aides being questioned is not coverage you’d like to have. However, this issue is largely dismissed by Democratic primary voters and baked into the cake for the general electorate.”

— Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster.

The meetings also are an indication that much of the investigators’ background work – recovering deleted emails, understanding how the server operated and determining whether it was breached – is nearing completion.

“The interviews are critical to understand the volume of information they have accumulated,” said James McJunkin, former head of the FBI’s Washington field office.  “They are likely nearing the end of the investigation and the agents need to interview these people to put the information in context. They will then spend time aligning these statements with other information, emails, classified documents, etc., to determine whether there is a prosecutable case.”

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“The facts of the case do not fit the law. Reasonable folks may think that federal law ought to prohibit what Hillary did, but it’s just not clear to me that it currently does.”

— Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University

Many legal experts believe that Clinton faces little risk of being prosecuted for using the private email system to conduct official business when she served as secretary of State, though that decision has raised questions among some about her judgment. They noted that using a private email system was not banned at the time, and others in government had used personal email to transact official business.

The bigger question is whether she or her aides distributed classified material in email systems that fell outside of the department’s secure classified system. But even if prosecutors determine that she did, chances she will be found criminally liable are low. U.S. law makes it a crime for someone to knowingly or willfully retain classified information, handle it in a grossly negligent manner or to pass it to someone not entitled to see it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Attorney General Loretta Lynch Threatens U.S. Citizens, Vows Aggressive Action Against Those Who Use ‘Anti-Muslim’ Speech

James Barrett reports: The day after a horrific shooting spree by a “radicalized” Muslim man and his partner in San Bernardino, California, Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged to a group of Muslim activists that she would take aggressive action against anyone who used “anti-Muslim rhetoric” that “edges toward violence.”

“It is painfully clear that, like her predecessor Eric Holder, Lynch is far more concerned with promoting the social justice agenda than protecting the Constitutional rights of American citizens. What exactly is speech that “edges toward violence”? What exactly are “actions predicated on violent talk”? In the end, it is whatever she decides it to mean.”

Speaking to the audience at the Muslim Advocate’s 10th anniversary dinner Thursday, Lynch said her “greatest fear” is the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric” in America and vowed to prosecute any guilty of what she deemed violence-inspiring speech. She said:

The fear that you have just mentioned is in fact my greatest fear as a prosecutor, as someone who is sworn to the protection of all of the American people, which is that the rhetoric will be accompanied by acts of violence. My message to not just the Muslim community but to the entire American community is: we cannot give in to the fear that these backlashes are really based on.

Assuring the pro-Muslim group that “we stand with you,” Lynch said she would use her Justice Department to protect Muslims from “violence” and discrimination.

Claiming that violence against Muslims is on the rise and citing France’s clamp down on potentially radicalized mosques, Lynch suggested the Constitution does not protect “actions predicated on violent talk” and pledged to prosecute those responsible for such actions….(read more)

At The Corner, David French writes:

Lynch addressed the Muslim Advocate’s 10th anniversary dinner and declared that she is concerned about an “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric . . . that fear is my greatest fear.” Her greatest fear is — not terrorism — but a nonexistent Islamophobic backlash? ISIS has demonstrated that it can bring down passenger jets, strike the heart of a great Western capitol with urban assault teams, and inspire horrible carnage in California. We also know that ISIS has pledged to keep attacking the U.S. and possesses chemical weapons. Yet it’s politically incorrect speech that strikes fear into the heart of our attorney general.

What about blurring the distinction between speech and violence? Lynch is so serious about stopping Islamophobia that she’s sending a clear message to those who engage in “anti-Muslim rhetoric” — the Department of Justice is watching you:

“When we talk about the First amendment we [must] make it clear that actions predicated on violent talk are not American. They are not who we are, they are not what we do, and they will be prosecuted.”

And yet, there is no legally meaningful category of “action[s] predicated on violent talk.” Lynch spoke against rhetoric that “edges towards violence,” but the law obviously prohibits violent actions — she’s speaking in terms alien to the First Amendment. True threats are unlawful, and true “incitement” isn’t protected by the Constitution, but these are extraordinarily narrow legal categories. Is it not enough to declare that the Department of Justice will enforce the law and uphold the Constitution?

The First Amendment protects an enormous range of speech — even speech that’s anathema to the Obama administration. Americans are perfectly within their rights to not just condemn jihad but also to make sweeping and angry statements about Islam. If the administration disagrees with this speech, it’s free to make its own statements, but when it starts making up legal categories of problematic speech, it is getting disturbingly close to discarding the Bill of Rights.  Read the rest of this entry »


The Imaginary ‘Gun Show Loophole’: Why Hillary Clinton’s Proposal Is A Joke

Here’s how Slate described Hillary Clinton’s proposal:

What makes Clinton’s plan particularly noteworthy, though, is her suggestion that she’d be able to go it alone on at least one of the proposals if elected president: the gun show loophole.

Photo by: Brennan Linsley

And just how would she do that? According to her campaign, even if Congress were unwilling to act, Clinton would be able to use her executive authority to tweak the existing rules to reclassify anyone who sells a “significant number of guns” as someone “in the business of selling firearms”—a distinction that would make those high-volume private vendors who sell guns at gun shows
and over the Internet subject to the same rules as larger, licensed brick-and-mortar retailers. Clinton doesn’t appear to have settled on an answer to the question of just how many guns constitutes a “significant” number, but even if her chosen definition didn’t close the loophole completely, it would at least shrink it.

[Read the full text here, at TheFederalist.com]

Such an effort could face legal challenges in the courts and, at the very least, a guaranteed NRA-led political freakout in Washington. And, even if the effort survived both, it wouldn’t come close to ending gun violence in the United States. But for gun safety advocates and like-minded voters who are desperate for action on a problem that can feel politically impossible, Clinton’s outside-the-box plan will be a welcome start.

[Also see – Don’t Play the Shooters’ Game by Kevin D. Williamson]

Slate’s Josh Voorhees characterized Clinton’s plan as “clever,” which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that neither Voorhees nor Hillary Clinton is even remotely familiar with existing federal gun laws.

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For starters, the federal government already has the statutory authority to define who does and does not qualify as an individual “in the business of selling firearms.” It derives that authority from 18 U.S. Code § 921. Here’s how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) specifically defines whether an individual is engaged in the business of selling firearms and should therefore be subject to federal firearms licensee (FFL) requirements:

Dealer in firearms — a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business
with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or
for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms (18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(21)(C));

[Order John R. Lott’s essential book “More Guns, Less Crime” at Amazon]

Here’s the federal statute from which the ATF derives its existing authority to define who is and isn’t engaged in the business of selling guns:

(21) The term “engaged in the business” means—
(A) as applied to a manufacturer of firearms, a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to manufacturing firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of the
firearms manufactured;
(B) as applied to a manufacturer of ammunition, a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to manufacturing ammunition as
a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of the ammunition manufactured;
(C) as applied to a dealer in firearms, as defined in section 921(a)(11)(A), a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms;
(D) as applied to a dealer in firearms, as defined in section 921(a)(11)(B), a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to engaging in such activity as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional repairs of firearms, or who occasionally fits special barrels, stocks, or trigger mechanisms to firearms;
(E) as applied to an importer of firearms, a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to importing firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of the firearms imported;
and
(F) as applied to an importer of ammunition, a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to importing ammunition as a
regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of the ammunition imported.

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Contra Hillary Clinton’s campaign, “high-volume private vendors” cannot legally exist under current law. Under the ATF’s existing definition, it is impossible to sell high volumes of firearms without triggering the definition of a dealer in firearms. The “repetitive purchase and resale of firearms” makes you a dealer, not a private individual. Anything other than “occasional sales” makes you a dealer, not a private individual. Unlicensed dealing is against the law. Refusing to conduct background checks as a dealer (licensed or not) is against the law.
Read the rest of this entry »


THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Hillary Doesn’t Take Questions After Speech Promising Open Relationship with Press

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Forgive me for my cynicism, but that makes me think she just might not mean it

page_2014_200_timpfAt The CornerKatherine Timpf writes:

In a speech in front of a crowd full of journalists at Syracuse University on Monday, Hillary Clinton declared that she had a new hairstyle and would have a new, open relationship with the press along with it — and then didn’t take questions afterwards.PANTSUIT-REPORT

“Why not a new relationship with the press? …No more secrecy. No more zone of privacy. After all, what good did that do for me?”

“With a room full of political reporters, I thought to myself, ‘What could possibly go wrong?’” Clinton joked, apparently considering the press busting her for illegal e-mail practices that may have put national security at risk to be something to joke about…(read more)

National Review


Foxes in Hen Houses: Obama’s Inspectors General Cover-Up Fraud and Corruption

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Under the Obama administration there are accusations of retaliation by inspectors general against whistleblowers who help to expose corruption and abuse.

The Obama’s administration’s 72 inspectors general, who are appointed to investigate wrongdoing in their respective departments such as the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Veteran’s Administration and other federal agencies, appear to require an inspector general to investigate them.

“Imagine police officers punishing or threatening their confidential informants, or snitches, when they bring them information and you can see how ludicrous it has become within the federal government…”

— Former police detective and corporate security director Michael Snopes

They allegedly do more ignoring or covering up misconduct, malfeasance and even out-and-out criminal activity, than they do weeding out corruption and crime, according to a report released on Friday by non-governmental, public-interest group that probes and exposes government and political corruption.

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Courtesy of Police Times

Inspectors General Needed to Investigate Obama Administration’s Corrupt Inspectors General

“The [supposedly] ‘independent’ watchdogs that are supposed to root out waste, fraud and corruption inside U.S. government agencies often help cover it up,” noted officials from Judicial Watch. The group of investigators and attorneys — who use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the civil court system to probe and “prosecute” federal, state and local government agencies and individuals — points to a four-part newspaper exposé that accuses these high-paid inspectors general of sometimes becoming “the lapdogs of the agencies they’re charged with overseeing.” 

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Under the Obama administration there are accusations of retaliation by inspectors general against whistleblowers who help to expose corruption and abuse.

The newspaper’s investigative reporter, Mark Flatten, penetrated the veil of deceit — so common in President Barack Obama’s so-called transparent administration — to reveal the present reality of inspectors general tasked with keeping an eye on the government. The 72 inspectors general, with superiors appointed by the president, is a decades-old practice that became law with both Democrats and Republicans supporting the legislation in both houses of Congress.

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Each government department is required to have an independent section that functions the way a police department’s internal affairs bureau functions: with total access to all information, documents and materials and a total absence of any conflict of interest or any apprehension of retaliation by superiors including the President of the United States. Any findings by an inspector general with the appropriate House of Representatives’ committee or Senate committee charged with oversight. Read the rest of this entry »


‘People Are Going To Be In For A Shock’: Penalty For Uninsured Not Signing Up For Obamacare To More Than Triple

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Americans will see their bank accounts shrink if they don’t sign up for Obamacare in its second enrollment season.

“The penalty is meant to incentivize people to get coverage. “This year, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock.”

—  Laura Adams, senior analyst of InsuranceQuotes.com

Uninsured Americans who decide not to enroll will face a penalty of $325 per person, more than tripling the $95 penalty those who did not enroll had to pay the first time around.

Children under the age of 18 will be fined $162.50. The maximum amount an uninsured family will be penalized is $975 under the flat-rate method. Read the rest of this entry »


Who’s Up For Some Fresh Hot Executive Privilege?

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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 productioneric-holder-tall 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.”

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[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.”

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“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 »


Sharyl Attkisson: Multiple Controversies Plagued Eric Holder Prior to Resignation

Attorney General Eric Holder To Resign

Sharyl Attkisson writes: The unexpected resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder follows a series of court rulings against his Department of Justice over its failure to produce documents related to the government’s “Fast and Furious” firearms operation.

Holder also has come under increasing congressional criticism for a tepid investigation of evidence that IRS officials deliberately targeted tea party and other conservative groups for greater scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.

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Calling the government’s arguments for “even more time … unconvincing,” a federal judge this week refused to grant Holder’s Justice Department the additional time it requested to turn over a list of Operation Fast and Furious documents withheld under executive privilege exerted by President Obama.

The list is referred to as a “Vaughn index” and requires the Justice Department to justify document-by-document the reasons it hasn’t released the materials. This exercise alone often prompts the release of documents.

The Justice Department sought to delay the Vaughn index until one day before the Nov. 4 midterm elections. But the court ordered the index produced by Oct. 22 instead. The order comes in a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch. Read the rest of this entry »


Unprecedented, Unwarranted, Ugly and Divisive Eric Holder Goes Cuckoo Bananas on Congress’ Unprecedented, Unwarranted, Ugly Divisiveness

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From Mike Levin, ABC’s The Note

…with a finger raised, Holder told the crowd in New York that his tenure as attorney general has been “defined by significant strides … even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity.”

The day before, after Gohmert ran out of time to ask questions, Holder leaned into the microphone in front of him and wished Gohmert “good luck with your asparagus.” It was a not-so-subtle dig at Gohmert’s bizarre remark last year when he warned Holder not to “cast aspersions on my asparagus.”

“You don’t want to go there, buddy. You don’t want to go there, OK?”

— Divisive, controversial U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

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Holder has had a tense relationship with several Republican lawmakers since the Republican-led House held him in contempt of Congress two years ago for failing to turn over certain documents tied to the Fast and Furious scandal involving botched firearms sting operations despite a congressional subpoena seeking those documents.

“I don’t need lectures from you about contempt.”

—  Louie Gohmert

In asking Holder on Tuesday about the Justice Department’s refusal to turn over documents in an unrelated terrorism case, Gohmert again raised the issue of contempt, saying, “I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight.”

“The American people have not been told the truth about what happened in Fast and Furious. We’ve been going through all of these hearings, having to hold people in contempt because they’ve made it impossible to get to the documents… ”

House Speaker John Boehner

A visibly upset Holder, leaning back in his chair, shot back, “You don’t want to go there, buddy. You don’t want to go there, OK?”

“You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me,” Holder added, pointing a finger toward the congressman. “I think it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that was not a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.”

Read the rest of this entry »


DE-BONED: Judge won’t allow Holder appeal now in contempt case

pic_giant_100313_SM_Grotesque-DOJ_Misconduct JOSH GERSTEIN reports:  A federal judge has refused Attorney General Eric Holder‘s request that he be allowed to proceed now with an appeal in a case where the House of Representatives is seeking to enforce subpoenas for documents related to the controversial Operation Fast and Furious gun investigation.

In a ruling Monday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said her September 30 ruling rejecting Holder’s request to dismiss the lawsuit was not such a close call that it deserved immediate review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“While the Court agrees with defendant’s characterization of the matter as significant, that is not the test,” Jackson wrote in her new four-page decision (posted here). ”

Read the rest of this entry »


CHILL: Obama Administration blocking whistleblower book on ATF scandal

obama-angry1 ALICIA A. CALDWELL reports: The Obama administration is blocking a federal law enforcement agent from publishing a book about the failed “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling sting operation because of concerns that the book would negatively affect morale, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday.

The ACLU charged that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is worried that the book proposed by an ATF agent would hurt relationships with other U.S. law enforcement agencies.

In a six-page letter to ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon, the ACLU said the bureau’s decision to block the book proposed by Special Agent John Dodson was a violation of his First Amendment rights. The ACLU described Dodson as a whistle-blower.

According to the letter, the ATF denied Dodson’s request to try to publish a book about his version of the Fast and Furious scandal because the bureau predicted it would have “a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix (Field Division) and would have a detrimental” impact on ATF relationships with the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The ATF didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: ATF misplaced 420 million cigarettes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Braun reports: Government agents acting without authorization conducted dozens of undercover investigations of illegal tobacco sales, misused some of $162 million in profits from the stings and lost track of at least 420 million cigarettes, the Justice Department‘s inspector general said Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »