Democrats don’t want you to find out—and that ought to be a scandal of its own.
Kimberley A. Strassel reports: It has been 10 days since Democrats received the glorious news that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley would require Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to explain their meeting with Russian operators at Trump Tower last year. The left was salivating at the prospect of watching two Trump insiders being grilled about Russian “collusion” under the klieg lights.
Yet Democrats now have meekly and noiselessly retreated, agreeing to let both men speak to the committee in private. Why would they so suddenly be willing to let go of this moment of political opportunity?
Fusion GPS. That’s the oppo-research outfit behind the infamous and discredited “Trump dossier,” ginned up by a former British spook. Read the rest of this entry »
The FBI spied on a Trump associate. Do they have evidence that Trump colluded with Russians, or was this a rampant abuse of power?
Mollie Hemingway writes: The Washington Post used anonymous sources to report last week that the FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to spy on U.S. citizen Carter Page, an unpaid and informal adviser to the Donald Trump campaign, as part of an investigation into links between Russia and the Trump campaign. CNN used anonymous sources to report this week that the infamous “golden showers” dossier was used as part of the justification to win approval to monitor the Trump associate.
These latest leaks of classified information appear to be in response to Sen. Charles Grassley’s inquiry to FBI Director James Comey on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs. Grassley noted a February 28 Washington Post report, which used anonymous sources to report the FBI had made plans to pay dossier author Christopher Steele to continue investigating Trump before the election.
Paying an opposition researcher to investigate the Republican nominee for president in the run-up to the election “raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends,” Grassley wrote.
Grassley demanded that the FBI turn over all records relating to the agreement, interviews of Steele, information on any government officials outside the FBI discussing the agreement with Steele, information on how the FBI obtained the dossier, any official reports that used Steele-collected information, any indication the FBI used the information before verifying it, and various other information, including:
9. Has the FBI relied on or otherwise referenced the memos or any information in the memos in seeking a FISA warrant, other search warrant, or any other judicial process? Did the FBI rely on or otherwise reference the memos in relation to any National Security Letters? If so, please include copies of all relevant applications and other documents.
These latest leaks answer that question. And the leaks about what intelligence agencies were doing during the presidential campaign begin to answer questions about whether the U.S. government has hard evidence that the Trump campaign had foreknowledge of Russian meddling and coordinated with Russians about that meddling, or whether there was rampant abuse of power in stripping an innocent U.S. citizen of his right not to be surveilled by his own government. Read the rest of this entry »
Congress continues investigations into Hillary Clinton
Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne report: At least four congressional investigations into Hillary Clinton’s personal email use and mishandling of classified information are expected to go forward even after the former secretary of state’s election loss last week, Republican lawmakers tell Fox News.
The probes, which cover allegations that Clinton lied to Congress about her email practices in October 2015 and that government records were destroyed, are ongoing and not dependent on the election’s outcome, two senior Republican senators said.
“I think it’s one of the messages of this election that the public is disgusted when they see double standards, when they think people in high places, high government officials can get away with what ordinary citizens can’t,” he said. “So, I just think it’s extremely important to follow this thing through and get all the information. Make it public.” Read the rest of this entry »
‘Under the guardianship of the United States and the First Amendment the internet has become truly an oasis of freedom, but that could soon change.’
During an often-contentious hearing Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took on the Obama administration for what has become his latest signature issue: internet oversight.
“It is not a democratic body.”
— Senator Ted Cruz
The Obama administration is due to relinquish U.S. control Oct. 1 over a private-sector, nonprofit organization that administers internet domain names and designations. Cruz warned that the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers will not on its own honor U.S. protections of free speech, and he is leading an effort to delay or stop the transfer.
“A number of significant questions related to the transition remain unanswered, including whether the transition will yield an unconstitutional transfer of United States government property, how the transfer will affect human rights and free speech issues, if U.S.-controlled top-level domains such as .gov and .mil could be compromised or if ICANN will be subject to increased antitrust scrutiny.”
“It is not a democratic body,” Cruz said of the organization, which includes such internet stakeholders as Google and Facebook and is based in Los Angeles. And he warned that authoritarian countries such as China, Russia and Iran could exert control over the organization and censor internet use in their countries.
We are a nonpolitical technical entity. Göran Marby, CEO and president, Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers
The Obama administration maintains that the transfer involves technical matters that do not affect the substance of websites or the flow of information. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., the ranking member on the subcommittee, said the transition was really a “clerical process.” “The United States does not own the internet,” he said.
John R. Schindler writes: Back in October I told you that Hillary Clinton’s email troubles were anything but over, and that the scandal over her misuse of communications while she was Secretary of State was sure to get worse. Sure enough, EmailGate continues to be a thorn in the side of Hillary’s presidential campaign and may have just entered a new, potentially explosive phase with grave ramifications, both political and legal.
The latest court-ordered dump of her email, just placed online by the State Department, brings more troubles for Team Hillary. This release of over 3,000 pages includes 66 “Unclassified” messages that the State Department subsequently determined actually were classified; however, all but one of those 66 were deemed Confidential, the lowest classification level, while one was found to be Secret, bringing the total of Secret messages discovered so far to seven. In all, 1,340 Hillary emails at State have been reassessed as classified.
There are gems here. It’s hard to miss the irony of Hillary expressing surprise about a State Department staffer using personal email for work, which the Secretary of State noted in her own personal email. More consequential was Hillary’s ordering a staffer to send classified talking points for a coming meeting via a non-secure fax machine, stripped of their classification markings.
This appears to be a clear violation of Federal law and the sort of thing that is a career-ender, or worse, for normals. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committeetermed that July 2011 incident “disturbing,” and so it is to anyone acquainted with U.S. Government laws and regulations regarding the handling of classified material.
But the biggest problem may be in a just-released email that has gotten little attention here, but plenty on the other side of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
Greg Gordon reports: Hillary Clinton hired a Connecticut company to back up her emails, and due to a technical glitch some may still reside on one of the firm’s “cloud” storage sites, a Republican Senate committee chairman revealed.
The disclosures, in a letter Monday from Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, heighten the possibility that some of Clinton’s more than 31,000 personal emails may still be recovered. She said last March that she deleted them all upon turning over her official emails to the State Department in December 2014.
Congressional committees have voiced skepticism as to whether the 30,940 emails that the Democratic presidential candidate handed over represented all of her official emails. The FBI is separately investigating whether Clinton’s arrangement put classified information at risk.
His letter to the chief executive of Datto Inc. of Norwalk, Conn., offers the first public confirmation that Clinton or her aides arranged for a backup of her email server after leaving office.
The letter also recounts a series of events that led an employee of Colorado-based Platte River Networks to air suspicions in an email as to whether “this whole thing really is covering up some shaddy shit,” according to an excerpt of an email cited by Johnson, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
On May 31, 2013, four months after Clinton left office, the Clinton Executive Service Corp., which oversaw her email server contracts, hired Platte River to maintain her account. Its New Jersey-based server replaced the server in the basement of her New York home that handled her emails as secretary of state.
At the same time, Platte River retained Datto to set up a virtual backup server that could provide immediate recovery if the primary server failed, Johnson said in his letter. Datto says it offers two kinds of backup storage: a private cloud virtual server that takes data from a server and converts it into “virtual machines that can be booted instantly,” and an off-site “secure cloud.”
Stephen Dinan reports: The FBI refused to cooperate Monday with a court-ordered inquiry into former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s email server, telling the State Department that they won’t even confirm they are investigating the matter themselves, much less willing to tell the rest of the government what’s going on.
“We still do not know whether the FBI — or any other government agency for that matter — has possession of the email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department.”
— Judicial Watch
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan had ordered the State Department to talk with the FBI and see what sort of information could be recovered from Mrs. Clinton’s email server, which her lawyer has said she turned over to the Justice Department over the summer.
The FBI’s refusal, however, leaves things muddled.
“At this time, consistent with long-standing Department of Justice and FBI policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation, nor are we in a position to provide additional information at this time,” FBI General CounselJames A. Baker wrote in a letter dated Monday — a week after the deadline the Justice Department had set for the FBI to reply.
Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that is pursuing at least 16 open records cases seeking emails from Mrs. Clinton and her top aides, said at this point it’s not even clear what Mrs. Clinton provided, since all that’s been made public at this point are the former secretary of state’s public comments and some assertions, made through her lawyer, to the State Department.
“We also do not know whether the server purportedly in the possession of the FBI — an assumption based on unsworn statements by third parties — is the actual email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department or whether it is a copy of such an email server. Nor do we know whether any copies of the email server or copies of the records from the email server exist.”
Judicial Watch is prodding the courts to try to delve more deeply into Mrs. Clinton’s emails, and the group said a number of questions persevere about both Mrs. Clinton and top aides such as Huma Abedin, who did public business on an account tied to the server Mrs. Clinton maintained.
“These emails Judicial Watch forced out through a federal lawsuit show that Huma Abedin used her separate clintonemail.com account to conduct the most sensitive government business, endangering not only her safety but the safety of Hillary Clinton and countless others.”
— Judicial Watch
“We still do not know whether the FBI — or any other government agency for that matter — has possession of the email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department,” Judicial Watch said.
“We also do not know whether the server purportedly in the possession of the FBI — an assumption based on unsworn statements by third parties — is the actual email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department or whether it is a copy of such an email server. Nor do we know whether any copies of the email server or copies of the records from the email server exist,” the group said in its own court filing Monday afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »
Classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material more sensitive than previously known.
WASHINGTON – Anita Kumar, Marisa Taylor, and Greg Gordon report: As pressure builds on Hillary Clinton to explain her official use of personal email while serving as secretary of state, she faced new complications Tuesday. It was disclosed her top aides are being drawn into a burgeoning federal inquiry and that two emails on her private account have been classified as “Top Secret.”
The inspector general for the Intelligence Community notified senior members of Congress that two of four classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material deemed to be in one of the highest security classifications – more sensitive than previously known.
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate.”
— Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general
The notice came as the State Department inspector general’s office acknowledged that it is reviewing the use of “personal communications hardware and software” by Clinton’s former top aides after requests from Congress.
“Both the State Department and Intelligence Community inspectors general should be looking into the staff use of the Clinton private server for official State Department business. This means giving both inspectors general access and custody of all emails that haven’t already been deleted.”
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate,” said Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general.
“From what is publicly known, it appears that the investigation thus far has focused so much on the former secretary of state, that it’s gotten lost that high-level staff apparently also used this server too.”
— Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee
Despite the acknowledgment, the State Department inspector general’s office has left numerous unanswered questions, including exactly who and what is being investigated. The office initially declined to comment and referred questions to the Intelligence Community inspector general’s office, which said it is not currently involved in any inquiry into aides and is being denied full access to aides’ emails by the State Department. Clinton, herself, is not a target.
The expanding inquiry threatens to further erode Clinton’s standing as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Since her reliance on private email was revealed in March, polls in crucial swing states show that increasing numbers of voters say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, in part, because of her use of private emails.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley called into question a $33,000 payment Abedin received from the State Department for leave she hadn’t used.
Sarah Westwood reports: An investigation may have found evidence a top State Department aide to Hillary Clinton took advantage of government employment rules with potential conflicts of interest and overpayments.
“As an example of the potential conflicts of interest at play, Grassley cited an email exchange in which Band pressed Abedin to encourage her State Department boss, Hillary Clinton, to facilitate a White House appointment for one of his clients.”
Teneo Strategies was founded by a longtime aide to Bill Clinton, Douglas Band, and boasted the former president as a paid board member when it first launched in 2011.
Abedin allegedly sent or received more than 7,000 emails on her government account that involved Band, the letter said.
As an example of the potential conflicts of interest at play, Grassley cited an email exchange in which Band pressed Abedin to encourage her State Department boss, Hillary Clinton, to facilitate a White House appointment for one of his clients.
Judith Rodin, the Teneo client in question, was then president of the Rockefeller Foundation, “which donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, a fact which Mr. Band allegedly noted in his email to Ms. Abedin,” the letter said.
“[E]mail evidence allegedly suggests that Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills shared a desire to find a way to ensure the Department paid for Ms. Abedin’s travel to and from New York,” the letter continued. Read the rest of this entry »
Revelations this week lead one to wonder not so much whether Hillary Clinton can win the Democratic nomination for president, but whether she can stay out of jail. Last week, we learned about apparent Clinton, Inc. tax fraud, bribery and money laundering to help Putin corner America’s uranium market, and abuse of office to reward funders of the Clinton Cash Machine – not to mention Judicial Watch’s bombshell of untoward Saudi influence and corruption in Hillary Clinton’s State Department. This week, we received more news about apparent money laundering out of India; lies by Clinton, Inc. about more Putin-connected contributions out of Canada; and more cover-up from another Hillary operation that focused on health care.
JW’s chief investigative reporter brought us up to date with more reporting about yet another Clinton front:
Then there is Teneo Holdings, a global consulting firm with deep Clinton connections. Teneo serves as a kind of private-enterprise satellite to Clinton Inc. Doug Band, Mr. Clinton’s right-hand man for many years, is a Teneo founder. Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s right-hand woman for many years, was a senior advisor to Teneo at the same time she held a top position as part of Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle at the State Department. Bill Clinton was both a paid adviser to Teneo and a client. Secretary of State Clinton’s former Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, is a Teneo co-founder and CEO.
I am not naïve about the difficulty of prosecuting Hillary Clinton over this scandal. The Wall Street Journal had a major story yesterday about how American banks and other corporations are complaining about the Obama Justice Department’s strict interpretation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribes of foreign officials. A Justice Department that would, correctly or incorrectly, ride herd on American companies engaged in alleged bribery of foreign officials has yet to move against Hillary Clinton over series of apparent crimes, including bribes she and her whole family were in on from foreign governments!
Kudos to our friend Peter Schweizer of the Government Accountability Institute whose new book has done so much to hold the Clinton machine accountable (“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich”) Schweizer, I’m told, made smart use of our documents in his soon-to-be released book, which describes how money was funneled through the Clinton Foundation by foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state. Read the rest of this entry »
Tens of Thousands of Federal Workers on Extended Paid Leave
For The Washington Post, Lisa Rein reports: Tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for at least a month — and often for longer stretches that can reach a year or more — while they wait to be punished for misbehavior or cleared and allowed to return to work, government records show.
“It’s not authorized by any law. Bureaucrats are abusing it.”
— Sen. Charles E. Grassley
During a three-year period that ended last fall, more than 57,000 employees were sent home for a month or longer. The tab for these workers exceeded $775 million in salary alone.
“OPM has turned a blind eye to this, and it’s shameful. There’s no sense of urgency.”
— Debra Roth, general counsel for the Senior Executives Association
The extensive use of administrative leave continues despite government personnel rules that limit paid leave for employees facing discipline to “rare circumstances” in which the employee is considered a threat. The long-standing rules were written in an effort to curb waste and deal quickly with workers accused of misconduct.
While the employees stayed home, they not only collected paychecks but also built their pensions, vacation and sick days and moved up the federal pay scale.
And the comptroller general, the top federal official responsible for auditing government finances and practices, has repeatedly ruled that federal workers should not be sidelined for long periods for any reason.
“Six months went by, and we didn’t hear anything. You’re so anxious. You don’t know if you’ve got a job. You’re getting paid, but it’s no vacation.”
— Scott Balovich, who was put on administrative leave from his IT systems job at the NOAA in Alaska
But a report by the Government Accountability Office, first made public by The Washington Post on its Web site Monday, found that 53,000 civilian employees were kept home for one to three months during the three fiscal years that ended in September 2013. About 4,000 were idled for three months to a year and several hundred for one to three years. This is the first time the government has calculated the scope and cost of administrative leave.
Auditors found that supervisors used wide discretion in putting employees on leave, including for alleged violations of government rules and laws, whistleblowing, doubts about trustworthiness, and disputes with colleagues or bosses. Some employees remain on paid leave while they challenge demotions and other punishments.
“The Office of Personnel Management rule book lists dozens of reasons for allowing paid leave, such as donating an organ, house-hunting before a job transfer and attending the funeral of a relative in the military. Snow days also are permitted.”
While the employees stayed home, they not only collected paychecks but also built their pensions, vacation and sick days and moved up the federal pay scale. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Daily Caller, Neil Munro writes: GOP leaders say President Barack Obama will only make immigration problems worse if he goes ahead with his Monday threat to unilaterally alter the nation’s immigration laws.
“I’m beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress,” Obama said in a Rose Garden speech Monday afternoon.
“Additional executive action from this president isn’t going to stem the tide of illegal crossings, it’s only going to make them worse.”
— House speaker John Boehner
Deputies will identify “actions my administration can take on our own, within my existing legal authorities, to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can,” he said.
“I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay,” he said.
“If the Obama administration rewards illegality and fails to enforce the laws or secure the border, we’re going to be back at this same place in 20 years.”
— Senator Chuck Grassley
House Speaker John Boehner was quick to condemn the move. ”The president’s own executive orders have led directly to the humanitarian crisis along the Southern border,” Boehner said in a statement, “giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they will be allowed to stay.” Read the rest of this entry »
“The problems with [optional practical training program] are extensive and serious. The report not only calls into question the department’s oversight of the program, but also whether such lack of oversight is a serious national security risk”
“The problems with OPT are extensive and serious. The report not only calls into question the department’s oversight of the program, but also whether such lack of oversight is a serious national security risk,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who released the report, said in a letter to Homeland Security SecretaryJeh Johnson.
Issa spoke to Fox News’ Shannon Bream Sunday about a report by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which claimed that ATF agents operating firearm stings in 6 separate cities “took advantage of the mentally ill, set up stings near churches and schools and made decisions which some claim actually increased crime in their neighborhoods.” Issa and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to ATF Director Todd Jones this week to demand answers on the tactics and how often they’ve been used.
The NSA has released some details of 12 incidents in which analysts used their access to America’s high-tech surveillance infrastructure to spy on girlfriends, boyfriends, and random people they met in social settings. It’s a fascinating look at what happens when the impulse that drives average netizens to look up long-ago ex-lovers on Facebook is mated with the power to fire up a wiretap with a few keystrokes. Read the rest of this entry »
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is determined to force his fellow senators to do something many don’t want to do: Vote on whether the law, specifically Obamacare, applies to members of Congress and their staff.Â (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
Byron York writes:“I’m going to get a vote,” says Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana. “I can’t tell you how, or when, but I’m going to get a vote.”
Vitter is determined to force his fellow senators to do something many don’t want to do: Vote on whether the law, specifically Obamacare, applies to members of Congress and their staff.
Back in 2009, when Democrats were writing the massive new national health care scheme, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley offered an amendment. Obamacare created exchanges through which millions of Americans would purchase “affordable” health coverage. Grassley’s amendment simply required lawmakers, staff, and some in the executive branch to get their insurance through the exchanges, too.
To every Republican’s amazement, Democrats accepted the amendment. It’s never been fully clear why; the best theory is they intended to take the provision out in conference committee, but couldn’t do so because they lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. In any event, Obamacare — the law of the land, as supporters like to say — now requires Congress to buy its health care coverage through the exchanges.
That has caused Democratic panic as the formal arrival of Obamacare nears. Right now, all lawmakers and staff are entitled to enjoy generously-subsidized coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. Why give up that subsidy and go on the exchanges like any average American? Read the rest of this entry »