Because No One Is Above The Law!
The Judicial Watch 2002 “State of the Union” Report
Bush Administration Ethics Enforcement
“A Failure of Leadership”
Larry Klayman Thomas Fitton
Chairman & General Counsel President
February 1, 2002
“The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue,
and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure,
than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the
forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”
June 21, 1776.
* * *
“I think it’s time to get all of this business behind us. I think
it’s time to allow the president (Clinton) to finish his term, and
let him move on and enjoy life and become an active participant in
the American system. And I think we’ve had enough focus on
the past. It’s time to move forward.”
“Bush: No Pardon Needed for Clinton”
January 09, 2001
The contrast is striking. In 1776, a founding father and president-to-be is extolling the relationship between virtue, our Constitution, and lasting liberty. In 2001, a President-elect George W. Bush is signaling, in no uncertain terms, his lack of concern about government ethics.
The next year would be a major disappointment to conservatives, libertarians, and others who hoped that, with a new administration, a new respect for justice would sweep across Washington.
There were hopeful signs. Bill Clinton moved to New York (though Hillary Clinton stayed). John Ashcroft was appointed Attorney General. One of President Bush’s first acts as President was to issue a memorandum to his Executive Branch employees which stated, in part:
“Everyone who enters into public service for the United States
has a duty to the American people to maintain the highest standards
of integrity in Government.”
White House Memorandum
“Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies”
January 20, 2001.
Yet, as described below, President Bush and his administration moved almost immediately to head off virtually every official investigation of Clinton-era crimes, appointed a few Clinton-connected officials of his own, and laid down a stone wall of secrecy concerning government operations.
At a minimum, the President and his advisers have had a “tin ear” for ethics and ethical appearances. His vice president feted donors at the Vice President’s mansion. Access to his cabinet officials was sold by fellow Republicans in Congress. And the whistleblowers, whose heroism during the Clinton years may be the only bright spot in the otherwise sordid story of that era, were treated like pariahs.
The President’s Justice Department shut down Chinagate investigations and have not changed any of the legal obstructionists’ tactics perfected by former Attorney General Janet Reno’s Justice Department. And Judicial Watch was told by a reliable source that the Administration decided early on that it would fight Judicial Watch’s legal efforts to finish prosecuting Clinton corruption.
The President and Vice President have also refused to turn over records and documents concerning their dealings with Enron, a thoroughly corrupt company that made large contributions to the two major political parties. And now with the Enron scandal, President Bush is reaping the whirlwind. Americans overwhelmingly support his leadership in the war, but almost 70 percent think his administration is hiding something in this latest mega-scandal. Only yesterday the General Accounting Office, following Judicial Watch’s lead, threatened to file suit to open up for public scrutiny Vice President Cheney’s secret deliberations of his energy task force. Hillary Clinton tried, unsuccessfully, to keep her “Hillary Medical Care Task Force” secret.
Of course there would be political risks for President Bush to take a strong stance on ethics. The Democratic Party may try to go after his family, friends, and appointees with FBI files and by resurrecting old charges of corruption. Or he may “turn off” that portion of the electorate who equate serious concerns about corruption with Washington insider bickering. President Bush himself would be subjected to vilification, maybe on charges to which he is susceptible (i.e., Enron) and on charges that have no basis in fact. These are the risks of leadership.
We rejoice at the end of Clinton regime. Yet we are worried that Clintonism is still the ethic of this city.
In the wake of September 11, it is more important than ever to have politicians in office who worry about where the next terrorist may lurk, not from where they can get the next bribe. Unfortunately, the President’s leadership has been lacking in the area of fighting corruption.
The President says often he is concerned about civility. Respect for the law breeds civility. By enforcing the law, by letting the sun shine in on areas that may be discomforting and politically painful, and by being forthright and doing something about the damage wrought by the criminality of the Clinton years, President Bush could both contribute to “civility” and American civilization.
When the new Bush Administration came to office on January 20, 2001, Judicial Watch thought that it might have found a partner in the war against corruption and its cancerous effects on sustaining liberty. Instead, one year later, the “state of the union,” in terms of ethical enforcement, remains poor and Judicial Watch is virtually alone in the fight to restore the rule of law to our nation.
Some say that all criticism of the Bush Administration must be withheld, because the nation is at war. But the battle against terrorism – according to the President himself – is slated to go on for decades. True patriots cannot remain silent for ten years and more, and much less one day. We cannot and should not become “yes men” in the face of ethical, moral and legal concerns that threaten, like terrorism, to destroy our great country.
II. CLINTON WHITE HOUSE VANDALISM.
As President Bush came into office, and President Clinton and Hillary Clinton left The White House, press reports emerged that departing Clinton staffers had vandalized White House offices, including overturning and ruining desks and stealing and damaging computers, and the virtual destruction of The White House phone system (installed at great expense by the Clinton White House in 1993). On January 24, 2001, The Drudge Report detailed how incoming Bush officials had found The White House offices in disarray:
$ Phone lines were cut, rendering them inoperable.
$ Voice mail messages were changed to obscene, scatological greetings.
One Bush staffer had his grandmother call from the Midwest. She was
horrified by what she heard on the other end of the line.
$ Many phone lines were misdirected to other government offices.
$ Desks were found turned completely upside down and trash deliberately left everywhere.
$ Computer printers were filled with blank paper and interspersed
with pornographic pictures and obscene slogans.
$ “W” keys weren't just pried off more than 40 keyboards, but some were
glued on with SuperGlue; some were turned upside down and glued on.
$ Filing cabinets were glued shut.
$ Vice Presidential office space in the Old Executive Office Building
were found in complete shambles. Mrs. Gore had to phone Mrs. Cheney
$ Lewd MagicMarker graffiti were found on one office hallway.
Other reports focused on how Air Force One was stripped of “souvenirs,” with seemingly stolen Clinton Presidential memorabilia showing up for Internet auctions on E-bay.
After a few anonymous, opportunistic remarks by Bush officials about the behavior of the departing Clinton gang, the Bush White House went into cover-up mode. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denied “cataloging” the White House damage and downplayed the reported damage. On February 1, 2001, The Washington Times quoted Fleischer as saying:
“The cataloging that I mentioned, frankly, that's one person in
our administrative offices who is really just keeping track in his
head about things that may have taken place. . . . As far as we're
concerned, it's over.”
The Washington Times further reported that the Bush White House was discouraging members of Congress from investigating the vandalism, which some estimated cost the U.S. taxpayer upwards of $200,000.00.
But the crimes that the Bush White House were covering up were not just crimes of vandalism. They were crimes of obstruction of justice – as Judicial Watch learned from a contact in The White House that the damage was extensive. Computer hard drives were “wiped” of all information, and computer laptops had been stolen. (Judicial Watch had uncovered in the year 2000 the fact the millions of e-mail concerning virtually all the Clinton-Gore scandals had been hidden from courts, Congress, and independent counsels.) Judicial Watch sought to bring this contact, who wished to remain anonymous because of job concerns, into court before Judge Royce C. Lamberth in sealed proceedings. In this way, Judge Lamberth could decide if the issue was worthy of legal pursuit. (Judge Lamberth is overseeing the Filegate civil lawsuit that Judicial Watch had brought on behalf of former Reagan and Bush (41) staffers against Hillary Clinton and others.) The Bush Justice Department opposed our efforts then, and now, for any court investigation of the Filegate-related evidence destruction, theft, and obstruction.
And later in 2001, when the General Accounting Office (GAO) investigated the Clintonite vandalism at the behest of Congressman Bob Barr, the Bush White House, in a dereliction of duty to the taxpayers, said it had not documented the vandalism on paper, so there were no records to turn over to the GAO. The Bush White House simply wanted the issue to go away. On May 18, 2001, the Associated Press summed up the Bush White House’s view on destruction of government property and theft:
“The White House has made clear that it was looking forward, not backward,” the [Bush White House] aide said, on the condition of anonymity. “We never kept a list of all the incidents, and therefore
did not have anything to turn over. That doesn't mean the incidents
didn't happen. We just were pleased to let the matter fade so that
people could return to the focus on policy.” (Emphasis added).
By the Bush White House refusing to document in writing the vandalism, the GAO’s investigation was derailed. Clinton apologists took the GAO’s failed investigation as an “exoneration” and demanded in a press conference run by Democratic Congressman Bob Weiner a Bush apology for the “false” charges of vandalism. Ari Fleischer then discovered a list of damages “in his head,” telling The Washington Post orally in June 2001 that yes, indeed, there had been vandalism, admitting, among other acts of Clintonite vandalism, that the Bush folks had found phone lines cut and every White House phone had to be reprogrammed. (Judicial Watch had learned this particular fact months earlier from its sources. The reprogramming of phones in this modern age is no small task and likely cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.)
Congressman Barr, in light of the Fleischer’s belated listing of the destruction of taxpayer property, asked the GAO to open a new investigation. According to a report in WorldNetDaily on January 14, 2002, the GAO report has been delayed because of September 11 and is not expected for release until March 2002.
In the meantime, Judge Lamberth is still considering Judicial Watch’s request to depose Bush White House officials about the destruction of computer evidence. The Bush Justice Department continues to oppose this request for limited discovery into Clinton misdeeds.
Those who have followed the Clinton scandals generally agree that Bill Clinton’s taking of monies from Chinese sources and agents such as John Huang, the Lippo Group, and Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie, in exchange for government action and special consideration, such as the transfer of American high technology, was his most egregious crime as President. Yet when it comes to pure abuse of power for political and financial gain, the Pardongate scandal is second to none.
The late Barbara Olson’s best selling book, The Final Days, is required reading on this scandal concerning abuse of power and bribery. On, January 20, 2001, his last day of office, Clinton issued 140 pardons and commuted 36 sentences. As Ms. Olson reported in inimitable style:
“The list of beneficiaries of Clinton’s last-minute clemency orgy
was as eclectic as one could imagine: small- and big-time crooks,
con men, bank robbers, terrorists, relatives, ex-girlfriends, a cross
section of the Clinton cabinet, a former director of the CIA,
perjurers (appropriately enough), tax evaders, fugitive money
lenders, Clinton campaign contributors, former members of Congress,
and friends of Jesse Jackson.”
Revelations about the lax pardon process and the fact that many of the pardonees allegedly paid off Bill and Hillary Clinton through campaign contributions, gifts of furniture, cash to Clinton relatives, and other bribes shocked the entire nation. The New York Times, editorializing on the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, called Clinton’s pardon a “gross misuse of a solemn presidential responsibility.”
In addition to the extensively reported bribery implicated in the Rich pardon, other revelations emerged that Roger Clinton (who received a pardon himself) and Hugh and Tony Rodham (Hillary Clinton’s brothers) received cash payments from mobsters, convicted drug dealers, and the like to help with pardons. Roger’s paid pardon “lobbying” on behalf of Tommy Gambino’s drug-dealing uncle was unsuccessful, while Hugh Rodham’s client, drug trafficker Carlos Vignali, was pardoned after his family paid Hillary’s brother at least $200,000.00 (another felon Glenn Braswell gave Rodham another $200,000.00). Roger Clinton was reported to be selling pardons for cash to a variety of individuals and Hillary Clinton’s other brother, Tony, successfully lobbied for the pardons of his business partners Edgar Allen Gregory Jr. and his wife, Vonna Jo, who had been convicted of bank fraud. The Gregorys had donated to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign as well.
Hillary Clinton was further implicated for her role in the clemencies granted to four individuals from a close-knit Hasidic Jewish community in Rockland County, a northern suburb of New York City. They had been convicted of tens of millions of dollars of government fraud. Reportedly, leaders of their community lobbied for the clemencies during a meeting with Hillary Clinton in The White House during her Senate campaign. On Election Day, 2000, the community voted nearly unanimously for Hillary Clinton for Senate, unlike other nearby Hasidic communities. Quid pro quo? Everyone but Hillary seems to thinks so.
Or Hillary and President Bush.
“Mr. Clinton does not have many friends . . . , unless you count
President Bush, who said yesterday it was ‘time to move on’.”
The New York Times Editorial Page
“Mr. Clinton’s Next Move”
Despite the overwhelming evidence of illegality and public outrage over Pardongate, President Bush and his administration actively opposed investigating the issue. On February 13, 2001, as congressional and other Justice Department inquiries were heating up, President Bush made it clear that he opposed any investigation of the Clintons. A reporter asked the President on Air Force One about the scandal:
Q: “Sir, I just wanted to follow up on the previous question. You had mentioned -- you've often said, about your predecessor, that you want
to look forward, and not the past. Do you think it's a good idea for
Congress to be investigating pardons, or for the Justice Department to
do that? Or should they just let it go?”
THE PRESIDENT: “I think it's time to move on. And –“
* * *
THE PRESIDENT: “...You know, the Congress is going to do what
they're going to do. My attitude is, you know, all this business about the
transition -- it's time to move on, it is. It's time to stay looking forward
and that's what I'm going to do.”
White House Transcript
“Remarks by the President to the Pool Aboard
Air Force One”
February 13, 2001.
These remarks stifled whatever tepid interest the Justice Department had in investigating the Pardongate scandal. In the wake of President Bush’s remarks, the Justice Department allowed Clinton appointee Mary Jo White to open an investigation. Ms. White was the Clintons’ U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who was chiefly known for having killed an investigation of the Teamsters scandal – which implicated top labor movement and Democratic Party officials in an illegal scheme to steal union funds for the political campaign of then-Teamsters president Ron Carey. White supposedly was angry at the Rich pardon (her Southern District office was trying to prosecute Rich), but others saw an investigation doomed by the President’s interference:
“The decision by Mary Jo White, a Democratic appointee, to investigate
the Rich pardon came just a day after President Bush criticized
congressional reviews of the matter, saying it was ‘time to move on’.
Bush's remark dampened interest within the Justice Department for a
criminal investigation, said one source familiar with the matter, which
in turn prompted White to act.”
The Los Angeles Times
“U.S. Atty. Launches Inquiry of Rich Case”
Robert L. Jackson and Richard A. Serrano
The New York Times reported that same day that even John Ashcroft, following the President’s lead, had “a lack of interest” in the Pardongate scandal.
In the face of continued Congressional interest in the Pardongate scandal, the Bush White House put pressure on Congress to shut down their investigations. On March 4, Newsweek magazine reported:
“White House administration officials are quietly pressuring GOP
Congressional investigators to end the probe of former President
Bill Clinton's pardons as quickly as possible, Newsweek reports in
the current issue. ‘Everybody's not real happy with us over there,’
says one Republican staffer. ‘I've been getting calls from The White
House saying, ‘Hey, what are you guys doing?’”
It seems the Bush White House was worried that some of its own staff would be dragged in, namely Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who had helped Rich try to obtain a pardon. Newsweek reported during the first week of March 2001:
“In private, Bush White House officials worry about a political
backlash from Democrats if the pardon investigation drags on
much longer. For more than 10 years, Rich’s chief American
lawyer and advocate was Lewis (Scooter) Libby, now Vice
President Cheney’s chief of staff. Last week Democrats on the
Burton committee fired a political warning shot, insisting that
Libby, who worked for Rich until last year, be called as a witness.
Libby acknowledged that his law firm had collected $2 million
in fees from Rich, and that he had continued to consult with Rich’s
current lawyers as recently as last November. Even more damaging,
Libby admitted that two days after the pardon, he called Rich in
Switzerland to congratulate him. The revelation delighted Democrats,
who have been dying to inflict a little political pain themselves.
Now some Republicans are having second thoughts. “A lot of our
members are starting to ask, ‘Do we really want to push this?’” says
one GOP staffer.”
Sure enough, after some informative hearings by Congressman Dan Burton in the House, the Congressional investigations ended with a whimper, shut down by the soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott.
Yet Judicial Watch, working with Congressman Bob Barr, had uncovered a way to put the pardon issue back in President Bush’s court.
Judicial Watch called on President Bush to exercise his authority and declare void the list of 44 pardons issued by former President Bill Clinton during his final hours in The White House. Clinton’s letter attempting to grant pardons stated only that the pardonees were being pardoned to the extent set forth in their applications. There were no applications for many of the pardonees, since the pardons were largely obtained through fraud, bribery, extortion and other illegal acts. Well-established case law, going back to the 19th century, mandates that pardons be specific as to the offenses being pardoned in order to have any legal force or effect. This makes sense, as any pardonee could otherwise use a general, unspecific pardon to be protected from prosecution for any crime committed -- whether known or unknown. And, the law is also well-established, that until a pardon is delivered, a President may cancel it – even if it was first issued by his predecessor.
Presidential pardons are - and can only be - effective to the crimes specified in the President's pardon. See, e.g., Ex Parte Weimer, 29 F.Cas.597, 598 (C.C.E.D. Wisc. 1878) (No. 17,362); Stetler's Case, 22 F.Cas.1314, 1315-16 (C.C.E.D. Pa. 1852) (13,380). Further, the law is clear that a pardon does not take effect until the warrant is issued, delivered and accepted. U.S. v. Wilson, 32 U.S. 150 (1833); In re DePuy, 7 F.Cas. 506 (D.C.S.D.N.Y. 1869) (3,814). Quite simply, a warrant cannot be issued and delivered without knowing what was the express basis of the pardon.
President Bush and his Justice Department had been roped into the Pardongate scandal by President Clinton’s last minute maneuvering. President Bush‘s Justice Department would have to implement Clinton’s illicit pardons. In his mad rush to issue pardons on his final day of office, Clinton issued the following statement:
“AFTER CONSIDERING THE REQUESTS for executive clemency
of the following named persons, I hereby grant full and unconditional
pardons to the following named persons for those offenses against the
United States described in each such request:”
The problem is that at least 44 of the 138 individuals Clinton listed had no pending requests before him. Attorney General Ashcroft had promised Congressman Barr during a February 2000 phone call that he would examine this issue. Congressman Barr followed his call up with a letter to the Attorney General on February 20, 2001, laying out the law research provided by Judicial Watch. The incoming Bush Justice Department was saddled with the unconstitutional task of divining the intent of President Clinton’s pardons for individuals who had no pardon requests pending. In other words, the Bush Justice Department would now have to guess about the scope of pardons issued by President Clinton.
President Bush could have undone all of President Clinton’s pardons by simply not delivering them, especially the 44 pardons for crimes which were never specified. He chose not to.
Mary Jo White’s investigation into the Pardongate scandal in New York proceeded in 2001 with no indication that either Bill or Hillary Clinton had been called before the grand jury. Over a year after the scandal broke, not one indictment has been issued by the Bush Justice Department, and none are expected in the future.
IV. STOLEN FURNITURE.
When, on January 4, 2000, Hillary Clinton sent a moving van to The White House to begin the move to Chappaqua (and launch her Senate campaign), Judicial Watch asked in a press release, “Is Mrs. Clinton Emptying White House in Move to New York?” Knowing the Clintons’ penchant for stealing, Judicial Watch wrote to David Kendall, the Clintons’ private attorney:
“Given Mr. and Mrs. Clinton’s significant debt, estimated to be
at least five million dollars [Mrs. Clinton had not received her $8 million
book deal yet], we respectfully request on the behalf of the public
interest complete disclosure of information how they intend to finance
decorating, furnishing, and renovating the mansion. We are concerned
that public and/or private and/or other benefits and preference will
be used and/or bestowed by and on them in violation of the anti-gratuity,
election, and other laws of the United States.”
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Kendall never responded, but Judicial Watch noted in its January 4th release that the amount of objects being moved and the secrecy surrounding the move was quite striking. Indeed, the Associated Press reported on January 5, 2000 that White House property was removed.
Judicial Watch’s suspicions were right, but it was not until a year later, after the Clintons left The White House, that the scope of the theft of property become apparent. The Clintons simply stole White House furniture, beginning with the move a year previously:
“President Bill Clinton and his wife started shipping furniture from
The White House to the Clintons' newly purchased home in New York
more than a year ago, despite questions at the time by the chief usher
about whether they were entitled to remove the items.
The day before the items were shipped out, White House chief usher
Gary J. Walters said he asked whether the Clintons should be taking
the furnishings because he believed they were government property
donated as part of a [$396,000.00] White House redecoration project
in 1993, during Clinton's first year in office.”
The Washington Post
“Clintons Shipped Furniture Year Ago” George Lardner, Jr.
February 10, 2001
Gary Walters was right. The Post reported that the taxpayer-owned items included “an iron and glass coffee table, a painted TV armoire, a custom wood gaming table, and a wicker center table with wood top.” In total, the Clintons were forced to return over $28,000.00 in furniture to the U.S. taxpayer. The Clintons had stolen the furniture and, after being caught red-handed, returned some of it back to The White House. As Barbara Olson noted in her book The Final Days, “Unfortunately, no one knows for sure how much the Clintons got away with.”
(This is in addition to the scandal of the Clintons’ receiving $190,000.00 in gifts from “friends.” The gifts included many valued well over the $1,000.00 federal contribution limit, and were given during Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign. Denise Rich (Marc’s ex-wife), for instance, gave $7,000.00 worth of furniture.)
What was President Bush’s response to the evidence that his predecessor stole White House furniture?
Q: “Mr. President, on another note, sir? It appears the Clintons
may have taken some gifts that were actually given to The White
House. Do you feel that they should return any of these gifts?”
THE PRESIDENT: “It's important for all the facts to be laid out
on the table and I'm confident that the President -- the former
President and First Lady will make the right decision.”
White House Transcript
“Remarks by the President and Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans at Swearing-In Ceremony”
February 5, 2001.
A little later in the month, the President was more emphatic in his “see no evil” approach:
“My attitude is, you know, all this business about the transition –
it's time to move on, it is. It's time to stay looking forward and
that's what I'm going to do.”
White House Transcript
“Remarks by the President to the Pool Aboard Air Force One”
February 13, 2001.
Unsurprisingly, given President Bush’s stated lack of interest in protecting the “People’s House” from his looting predecessors, no government investigation has been launched into the Clintons’ theft of government property.
Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno refused at least six different times to appoint an independent counsel to investigate illicit campaign fundraising by Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Overnight stays at the Lincoln Bedroom, selling seats on Commerce Department trade missions, waivers for technology transfers to China, U.S. government policy on oil in the Caspian Sea, policy on Iraq, Sudan, China, and Taiwan – all were sold for campaign contributions in the Clinton-Gore White House.
Most troublesome was the overwhelming evidence that Bill Clinton, the President of the United States, knowingly took campaign monies from Communist Chinese agents in exchange for political appointment, policy changes, and special consideration. At least six individuals and entities who supported the Clinton cash machine were identified as agents of Chinese intelligence by U.S. intelligence agencies and Congress.
Judicial Watch, as Fox News commented, “got the ball rolling” on Chinagate when it uncovered and deposed John Huang in October 1996 in its civil lawsuit concerning the sale of Clinton Commerce Department trade missions seats in exchange for campaign contributions.
The list of Chinese spy Clinton supporters include John Huang and his former bosses James and Mochtar Riady, of the Indonesian/Chinese government conglomerate Lippo Group. The Lippo Group, believed by U.S. intelligence to be a front operation for Chinese intelligence, pumped millions of dollars into the Clinton campaigns for the presidency. A former employee of the Lippo Group, John Huang, was then placed in a sensitive position at the Clinton Commerce Department, where Judicial Watch discovered he had access to classified briefings. In his now famous deposition to Judicial Watch in October 1996, Huang boasted of the “help,” i.e. money, that his former Lippo employers gave to Clinton in 1992. Indeed in 1992, the Lippo-linked Worthen Bank gave Clinton’s campaign a sweetheart $2 million loan that many credit with keeping his then-foundering candidacy alive. As a result of an Oval Office meeting which included James Riady and John Huang, Clinton later placed Huang in the DNC where he raised over $3 million dollars, mostly from Chinese-based sources. During this meeting, which took place in September 1995, President Clinton reportedly discussed fundraising and China policy with his Chinese-agent benefactors.
Other Clinton-China figures fled the country, took the Fifth, or pled out to insignificant charges which guaranteed non-cooperation.
To the outrage of honest observers, Janet Reno simply refused to investigate President Clinton’s role in Chinagate. One would have thought that George W. Bush would have seized on the political opportunity and, as a “true believer” in justice, criticized Reno for failing to do her duty. Instead, as Jim Burns reported on August 23, 2000 for CNSNews.com, Bush issued this statement:
“While it’s clear that Al Gore engaged in a number of questionable
fundraising activities and gave the FBI statements that continue to
raise the issue of credibility, the American people are sick and tired
of all these scandals and investigations. The best way to put all these
scandals and investigations behind us is to elect someone new. I’m
running to uphold the honor and dignity of the White House.”
Later in Presidential Candidate Bush’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in historic Philadelphia, he dismissed justice for the Clintons and Al Gore as a campaign issue, and showed his disdain for cleaning up government corruption. Ironically, as reported in the February 7, 2001 edition of the Washington Post, Al Gore would later blame Bill Clinton for his defeat; the American people rejected him based on the sad saga of Clinton-Gore corruption.
An editorial by renowned conservative columnist William Safire in the August 7, 2000 New York Times, shortly after the Republican Convention, observed:
“The Yale graduate and child of privilege assumed, Jimmy Carter
style, a hardscrabble pose to assert that his “background may lack
the polish of Washington.” And then, following a focus group
distaste for controversy, he dissociated himself from all investigations
into Clinton-Gore scandals, including illegal fundraising: ‘I have no
stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years.’ Republicans on
the unpopular ramparts of the rule of law were coolly informed he
preferred ‘civility and respect.’”
Congressional testimony by FBI officials showed that Reno refused to investigate Clinton’s fundraising because her “job hung in the balance.” Many thought things might change with a new administration and a new attorney general. They were wrong.
The Bush Justice Department’s first major opportunity for “Chinagate justice” came in March 2001 when it had an opportunity to undo a sweetheart plea agreement for James Riady and the Lippo Group negotiated by Reno’s Justice Department in the Clinton Administration’s final days. Columnist William Safire put this in context on the eve of the sentencing hearing:
“Consider the unprecedented scope of what even the most ardent
Clinton partisan must admit is a criminal conspiracy. In a limousine
with Clinton shortly after the 1992 nomination, Riady — well known
by Clinton to be a foreign national — stated his intent to raise a million
dollars for the campaign. (The president legalistically says he has no
"specific recollection" of this, but John Huang, then Riady's agent, does.)
He delivered most of it through illegal fronts.
Riady then gave Huang a million- dollar "bonus" and ensconced him
in a sensitive post at the Commerce Department. Records show Huang
had the run of The White House and kept in close touch with Riady
interests in Asia. He used his "bonus" to fill campaign coffers of Clinton
and his allies throughout the first term.
To what end? "To obtain various benefits," the criminal information
signed by Riady asserts, including "Most Favored Nation status for China,
open trade policies with Indonesia, normalization of relations with
Vietnam." Clinton delivered on all three, to the huge financial benefit
of Riady interests in Asia.
Facing an uphill fight for re-election, Clinton needed money for a
Dick Morris ad campaign and upped the ante. On Sept. 13, 1995, the
president conferred with Riady and Huang in the Oval Office and
subsequently his confidential aide, Bruce Lindsey, arranged to switch
Huang from Commerce over to the Democratic National Committee,
where he could milk the Asian community for funds.”
The New York Times
Essay: Riady Cops a Plea
January 15, 2001
President Clinton was unable to finalize his “gift” to Clinton’s contributors for their “job well done,” during his term, as the sentencing was put off from Clinton’s term (January 16, 2001) until Bush’s term in March 2001. Riady was to receive only 400 hours of community service (to be served in Indonesia!) and his Lippo conglomerate would have to pay a measly $8 million dollars fine, a pittance for a multibillion dollar multinational. As Safire also explained, “Because no threat of jail hangs over the Clinton money man who evaded subpoenas for almost five years, he is not induced to tell the whole truth about his hugely successful purchase of White House influence.”
Judicial Watch was prepared to oppose the plea agreement in court against the Clintonites in January. Judicial Watch did not imagine that opposition to justice would come from John Ashcroft’s Justice Department at Riady’s March sentencing hearing. Judicial Watch, on behalf of the public interest, argued during Riady’s March 2001 sentencing that the plea agreement was much too lenient (Johnny Chung, who was a truthful cooperating Chinagate witness, received 3,000 hours of community service) and that Mr. Riady, who was a “ringleader” in the Chinagate scandal, would not “cooperate” with ongoing investigations. Further, Judicial Watch argued that Mr. Riady and the Lippo Group should be prosecuted for the breaches of U.S. national security. Mr. Riady had more access to the Clinton White House than Clinton’s own CIA director, and almost certainly used his employee John Huang to obtain access to U.S. national security briefings at the Commerce Department.
During the six and one-half hour sentencing hearing, Bush Justice Department lawyer Dan O’Brien stated that Riady would not be prosecuted for anything further, including breaches of U.S. national security. When asked whether the plea for Riady and his LippoBank (which has since merged into a new bank) was more lenient than other Chinagate plea agreements, Mr. O’Brien hid the fact that Johnny Chung, now a Judicial Watch client, had received almost 10 times the number of community service hours. Further, Mr. Riady will only have to perform his community service in Indonesia, not on a California chain gang like Mr. Chung. It was left to Judicial Watch to inform the Court of these facts.
Democrat federal judge and Carter appointee Consuelo Marshall (who is also a former law partner of Johnnie Cochran) agreed to the Bush Justice Department’s request to enter a plea agreement negotiated during the closing hours of the Clinton Administration by the Reno Justice Department.
In addition, the Bush Justice Department continues to obstruct Judicial Watch’s investigations into Chinagate. John Huang and Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie, who also received a “wrist slap” from the Reno Justice Department for his illegal Chinese communist-derived contributions, are witnesses in Judicial Watch’s case against the Clinton Commerce Department over sale of trade missions for campaign contributions. Because they have not received immunity from the Bush Justice Department for testimony in the case, they continue to assert (fraudulently) the Fifth Amendment in response to questions about Chinagate and related matters. The federal magistrate judge, The Honorable John Facciola, overseeing the Huang and Trie depositions has repeatedly requested that the Bush Justice Department give Trie and Huang immunity to testify in federal court (as was done when they testified before Congress.) The Bush Justice Department, presumably afraid of what persistent Judicial Watch questioning will uncover, has steadfastly refused the Court’s requests.
To this day, a year after the Clinton-Gore team left office and the Justice Department was manned by Bush appointees, not one official from the Clinton-Gore White House or campaigns has been indicted concerning campaign finance law violations. Americans could blame Janet Reno and her puppet masters in the Clinton-Gore White House for this outrage a year ago. Whose fault is it now? President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft do not have Janet “Stonewall” Reno to kick around anymore. Their failure of leadership in this area is inexcusable.
The most recent outrage was the settlement between Loral Corporation and the Bush State Department concerning Loral’s aiding of China’s missile program during the Clinton Administration. Loral agreed to pay a $14 million civil fine, while neither admitting nor denying any improprieties. Judicial Watch is pursuing a shareholder lawsuit in federal court against Loral Chairman Bernard Schwartz, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore over alleged bribes (using shareholder money) Schwartz allegedly paid so that the Clinton Administration would provide export licenses, access to Commerce Department-sponsored trade missions, and look the other way as Loral improperly aided China’s nuclear program. The settlement reportedly could allow Loral to export again satellites to Communist China. Critics, including congressional committees, contend that previous help given by Loral to China’s missile program has allowed China to better target its nuclear-tipped missiles at the United States.
Schwartz was one of Clinton’s largest political donors and Clinton personally approved export waivers concerning China for Loral over the objections of his own administration officials.
Unfortunately, this is more of the same from the Bush Administration – ignore evidence of bribery, fail to prosecute clear-cut violations of law, and allow the scandals from the Clinton-era to be swept under the rug.
President Bush further indicated his lack of concern for government ethics through appointments he made and Clinton appointees he allowed to remain.
Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.
Mr. Evans is a long-time friend of President Bush and had served as his finance chairman during the 2000 presidential campaign. President Bush installed him as head of the Commerce Department. Mr. Evans follows a long line of fundraisers who have been installed by Republican and Democrat administrations, including but not limited to Malcolm Baldridge, Robert Mosbacher of the Reagan-Bush years, and, of course, Ron Brown, Mickey Kantor, and Bill Daley of the Clinton-Gore Administration. Ron Brown, a former Chairman of the DNC, took the misuse of the Commerce Department to new heights in not only doling out corporate welfare as usual, but also selling taxpayer-financed seats on Commerce Department trade missions to political donors and high technology to the Chinese in exchange for campaign contributions and personal gratuities.
When Evans was appointed, Judicial Watch said that it was “not a good omen” and that installing another fundraiser at the Commerce Department could lead to trouble. Sure enough, in recent weeks, the Bush White House belatedly admitted that Bush mega-donor Kenneth Lay, then chairman of Enron, called Evans up and asked him to intervene for Enron with Moody’s, a private ratings service that was likely to further downgrade Enron debt ratings (making it more expensive for Enron to raise money from investors). Evans says he did not do as Lay requested because it would have been an “egregious abuse of (Evans’) office” to have done so.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.
If the appointment of Don Evans caused concern, President Bush’s decision to retain Clinton Cabinet official Norman Mineta in his new cabinet as Transportation Secretary was outrageous. Indeed, when Mineta was first nominated for Clinton’s Commerce Secretary, Judicial Watch strongly criticized Mineta’s participation in the Clinton Commerce Department trade mission scandal. Judicial Watch found that seats on these trade missions were sold in exchange for campaign contributions. Mineta participated in the 1994 Clinton Commerce Department trade mission to Indonesia, which involved John Huang and many others implicated in the Chinagate scandal, such as Charlie Trie, James Riady, and Mark Grobmyer.
Mineta was also reported to have been a Clinton emissary to the family of Wen Ho Lee during an “active” federal espionage investigation as part of an effort to generate votes for Democrats from the Asian-American community.
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
In a deposition of November 6, 2000, one day before the Presidential election, John Huang revealed that Elaine Chao not only had asked the Chinese agent for political contributions for former Senator Alfonse D’Amato, but that her husband, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), had also received contributions from John Huang and his company, Lippo Group, which comprises mega-banking and other interests. Huang also admitted that money which he donated to McConnell, D’Amato and others was illegally laundered from overseas bank accounts. When asked if he had donated more than $2,000.00 to McConnell during the 1990's, John Huang took the Fifth Amendment and was held in contempt by the Magistrate Judge. (He could face significant jail time for this and 139 other contempt citations.)
Only after columnist Bob Novak reported on McConnell’s ties to Huang did McConnell “return” Huang’s laundered $2,000.00 contribution.
Other reports showed that Elaine Chao and her family have “ties” to Communist Chinese President Jiang Zemin and that Ms. Chao had criticized the well-respected Cox Committee for uncovering breaches of national security by Wen Ho Lee and Communist China. Specifically, it was reported that Ms. Chao called the Cox Committee report “racist” and complained to Hong Kong newspaper in 2000 that:
“Unfortunately, the Republican Party also has criticizers of China
who are Christians and religious believers. They also talk about human
rights and think China is an enemy, but compared to the Democrat side,
they are apt to be well organized.”
“The Real Elaine Chao”
July 16, 2001.
Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman had a meeting with Ms. Chao several years ago, in late 1996 after he deposed John Huang and asked her, in the presence of a colleague, whether she knew John Huang. Ms. Chao gave no indication that she did and sidestepped the question. Huang testified, under oath, that he met Chao at least four times. (Chao now cannot, conveniently, remember ever meeting Huang.)
Ironically, President Bush’s first nominee for Labor Secretary, Linda Chavez, was forced to withdraw her nomination based upon her lack of candor about an incident of providing shelter to an immigrant. Yet, the seriousness of Ms. Chao’s apparent lack of candor concerning John Huang, as well as her involvement with him, raised questions far more serious than those raised against Ms. Chavez.
IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti.
During the Clinton years, the IRS became another cog in the Administration’s intimidation machine. Many perceived adversaries of the Clinton Administration were audited, including Paula Jones, Billy Dale, Gennifer Flowers, and a number of conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation. The Western Journalism Center, which had published ads raising questions about the death of Clinton aide Vincent Foster, was audited after the Clinton White House forwarded a complaint to the IRS.
Charles O. Rossotti eventually replaced Hillary Clinton friend Margaret Milner Richardson as IRS Commissioner in 1997. Things did not change at the IRS. For example, under Rossotti’s watch, Judicial Watch client Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who was raped by Bill Clinton, was audited, as were scores of other perceived adversaries. And then Rossotti was also caught red-handed in illegal conflicts of interest. Rossotti, as IRS commissioner, has overseen the awarding of IRS contracts to AMS, a company which he founded and in which he still has a major financial interest. This year alone, AMS reportedly will make at least $17 million from its IRS contracts. Additionally, his wife served as outside counsel for AMS.
In December 2000, during the last days of the Clinton Administration, Rossotti was granted a “waiver” for his conflict of interest, obviously for a “job well done” in allowing the audits of Clintons’ perceived adversaries.
All these scandals did not seem to bother the Bush Administration. Rossotti remains as IRS commissioner. In December 2001, Rossotti was forced to sell his interest in AMS. This came only after Judicial Watch criminal and civil actions concerning his conflict of interest. The sale of stock was also shortly after Judicial Watch sent 26,103 petitions to President Bush demanding that he fire Rossotti. Outrageously, Rossotti still serves, with impunity, as President Bush’s IRS Commissioner. His term does not end until November 2002 – not soon enough!
FBI Director Louis Freeh.
One would think that President Bush’s first order of business would be to fire FBI Director Louis Freeh, the man responsible in part for sending over the FBI files of thousands of his father’s staffers to Hillary Clinton and her agents in The White House, including the former bar bouncer Craig Livingstone, and his partner Anthony Marceca.
In addition to presiding over the FBI files scandal, Director Freeh’s FBI has been enmeshed in numerous other fiascos, including but not limited to Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Atlanta Olympic bombing, and other scandals where coverups and/or obstruction of justice occurred in the destruction or alteration of evidence.
It was Louis Freeh’s FBI who took no action as Chinese agent after Chinese agent, including known Chinese government officials, traipsed through the Clinton Oval Office and White House for fundraising.
Freeh has also failed to approve polygraph testing – which experts agree could have revealed the now notorious Russian spy Robert Hanssen. In addition, Freeh tried to silence whistleblowers like Notra Trulock, who revealed the huge breach of national security at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In this regard, his FBI agents illegally raided Mr. Trulock’s home and violated his constitutional rights in an attempt to intimidate him to be silent about FBI incompetence in the Wen Ho Lee and related Chinese nuclear espionage investigations. (Freeh, over the objections of the Bush Justice Department, is being sued personally for this illegal raid in federal court by Judicial Watch on Trulock’s behalf.)
All this information on Freeh was before President Bush and his advisors when he made the decision to keep Freeh as FBI Director. Freeh resigned mid-last year, reportedly so that he could make more money. He clearly deserved to be fired and prosecuted for his role in the many FBI scandals.
VII. LITTLE CHANGE AT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.
Judicial Watch applauded President Bush’s appointment of John Ashcroft to the position Attorney General. Given the corruption of the previous Justice Department, the Attorney General had much to do restore trust in once revered Department. Judicial Watch looked forward to working with the new Attorney General and unsuccessfully sought meetings with him to offer its help in cleaning up government corruption.
Unfortunately, over the past year, Judicial Watch has not seen any change in the legal stance of the Justice Department with regard to any of its ongoing cases concerning Clinton corruption. In some ways, the Ashcroft Justice Department has been as bad as, or even worse, than Reno’s.
Politics & Fundraising As Usual.
Judicial Watch could not get a meeting with the Attorney General, but Republican donors could. The December 17, 2001 edition of The Washington Post reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft and senior members of the Justice Department consulted with legal counsel for a terrorist front organization – The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. President Bush has stated publically that the Holy Land Foundation launders money for the Hamas terrorist organization and has directly financed the murder of American citizens.
The Post reported that George Salem, Esq. of the law firm Akin, Gump Strauss, Hauer & Feld, along with three of his colleagues who also represent the Holy Land Foundation, conferred with Justice Department attorneys seeking a favorable amicus brief in a matter before a federal appeals court related to the death of an American youth at the hands of Hamas.
On September 20, 2001, Judicial Watch identified the Holy Land Foundation and 19 other organizations as terrorist front operations in a letter styled as “Complaint Concerning Certain Tax Exempt And Other Organizations Reportedly Used As Money Laundering Front Operations For Terrorist Activities in the United States and Abroad.” Copies of our complaint were hand delivered to Attorney General Ashcroft, his Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti, and President George W. Bush.
According to the Washington Post, almost one month after Judicial Watch filed its complaint identifying the criminal activities of the Holy Land Foundation, Attorney General Ashcroft invited the terrorist front group’s counsel, Mr. Salem, to an October 16, 2001, Justice Department discussion about Arab American issues.
How is it that the legal counsel for a terrorist front organization enjoys such ready access to the Attorney General and his staff? A likely answer is Mr. Salem’s reportedly crucial role in raising three million dollars as the chairman of Arab Americans for Bush Cheney 2000.
The Privacy Act.
The Privacy Act was passed in response to the abuses of the Nixon era and was designed to keep the government from illegally maintaining, disseminating, or using government files on American citizens. When it became known that the FBI files of hundreds of former Reagan and Bush (41) staffers were sent to the Clinton White House, Judicial Watch filed a landmark lawsuit on behalf of the victimized Bush/Reagan staffers alleging that Hillary Clinton, the Clinton White House, the FBI and others connected to the Filegate scandal violated the Privacy Act.
The Clinton White House and its Justice Department took the position that the Privacy Act does not apply to The White House. Judge Royce Lamberth, a federal judge, disagreed and ruled that The White House is covered by the Privacy Act, which allowed the Filegate civil litigation to proceed. (Senator Hillary Clinton will have to be deposed under oath in this lawsuit in the near future.)
Again, one might think a Bush Justice Department and its clients in the Bush White House might take a different view of a scandal that violated the privacy of so many of its appointees (many members of President Bush’s administration had their FBI files misued by the Clinton White House). In fact, the position of the Bush Justice Department is no different from the Clinton Justice Department.
Other Clinton victims who sued the Clinton White House for the illegal misuse of their files have been opposed in court by the Bush Justice Department, who continues to maintain that the Privacy Act does not apply to The White House. Does the Bush White House want to be able the use FBI and IRS files as the Clintons did? Among those fighting the Bush Administration for justice concerning the Clinton White House’s violations of the Privacy Act are Juanita Broaddrick, the woman whom Bill Clinton raped, and Clinton Travelgate victim Billy Ray Dale.
Freedom of Information Act.
Another important law to combat government abuse and corruption is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is designed to provide the public with documents about decisions of the federal government. Judicial Watch’s most famous FOIA lawsuit is its ongoing one against the Clinton Commerce Department over the illegal sale of trade mission seats for campaign contributions. This lawsuit uncovered John Huang, and exposed a massive effort by the Clinton Administration to cover up incriminating documents through shredding, perjury, and Justice and Commerce Department lawyer misconduct. Judicial Watch was forced to file dozens of FOIA lawsuits against the Clinton Administration over its refusal to obey the FOIA law.
Incredibly, the position of the Bush Justice Department on FOIA is even more obstructionist technically than the Clinton Administration’s. On October 12, 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft released new government-wide guidelines on FOIA which made it easier for the government to withhold documents. The Attorney General urged federal agencies to consider any and all exemptions possible before releasing documents. And he made it clear that the Bush Justice Department would fight groups such as Judicial Watch “to the death” in court:
“When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold
records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of
Justice will defend your decisions unless they lack a sound legal basis
or present an unwarranted risk of adverse impact on the ability of other
agencies to protect other important records.”
U.S. Department of Justice Internet Site
“New Attorney General FOIA Memorandum Issued”
Posted on October 15, 2001.
Sure enough, Judicial Watch and its clients seeking documents from the IRS, the Commerce Department, the State Department, and other agencies have had to face-off in court against this administration thanks to its new anti-disclosure interpretation of FOIA.
Executive privilege allows advice on official matters to a president to remain confidential. President Clinton unsuccessfully tried to this invoke this and other privileges during his presidency to cover up his misdeeds.
President Bush, in an effort to protect Department of Justice documents concerning the Clinton Chinagate scandals from Congressman Dan Burton’s investigators, is also improperly invoking executive privilege. Congressman Burton is seeking the famous “LaBella Memo,” which requested then Attorney General Reno to appoint an independent counsel for Chinagate. President Bush also is using the privilege to protect documents concerning an FBI/mob scandal going back over 30 years from public disclosure. Of course, executive privilege only applies to confidential advice concerning the president, not the internal deliberations of Justice Department lawyers or advice given Attorney General Reno. President Bush and his lawyers must know this. Simply put, his improper invocation of executive privilege is an abuse of power which serves to cover up Clinton and Justice Department corruption.
Just recently, in a swipe at Congressman Burton that could have been issued by Clinton political hack Lanny Davis, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer attacked Congress, criticizing its “fishing expeditions and endless investigations [concerning Clinton crimes].”
Bush Justice Department Seeks to Protect Janet Reno.
The Bush Justice Department prevented a long scheduled deposition of former Attorney General Reno in whistleblower Notra Trulock’s defamation case against accused Chinese spy and admitted felon Wen Ho Lee. And just recently, the Bush Justice Department is even trying to kill the case. claiming that a trial would likely result in the release of classified information. Trulock, the former chief of the Energy Department’s intelligence operations, is suing Lee and others for falsely accusing Trulock of racial bias while conducting an inquiry into the loss of America’s nuclear secrets from Energy Department labs. Former Attorney General Reno, who was subpoenaed, was expected to testify that Wen Ho Lee’s charges of racial bias had no basis in fact and that there was a legitimate, non-racial basis to investigate Lee. The Bush Justice Department waited until the day before her scheduled deposition before telling Judicial Watch she would not testify (they had known for six months that she would have to testify). Ironically, Reno was expected to be a “friendly witness,” confirming previous testimony that the investigations of Lee were not racially motivated. Given the charges of racism by Lee, the case does not implicate classified information, and Bush Justice Department attempts to shut it down are only meant to cover-up government incompetence in allowing Wen Ho Lee to break national security under its nose.
Judicial Watch directly sued Janet Reno on behalf of those peaceful protestors who were beaten, gassed, clubbed, threatened with guns, and cursed at by law enforcement agents carrying out Reno’s orders to snatch Elian Gonzalez. The Reno Justice Department then forced the young boy to return to communist Cuba. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has ruled against the Clinton and Bush Administrations’ claims that Reno should be immune from personal liability for harm caused by the raid:
“The law was clearly established that governmental restriction of
expressive conduct violated the First Amendment if the restriction was
motivated by the speaker’s message. Likewise, a reasonable officer in
Reno’s position would know that the law forbade her from directing
the execution of a warrant in a manner that called for unjustified force
against bystanders . . . ”
The Bush Administration has appealed this court ruling, thereby delaying Reno from having to personally defend this lawsuit.
Related to this scandal is the case of Ricardo Ramirez, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Special Agent, who exposed anti-Cuban and Hispanic bias in the Miami INS office.
Mr. Ramirez complained of anti-hispanic/anti-Cuban bias in the INS, which included jokes about shooting Elian, and several derogatory comments from INS Miami officials against the Cuban-American community. One poster in the INS Miami office called Cubans “lazy, loud-mouthed criminals.” Because the INS did not trust hispanic agents to conduct the Elian raid, Mr. Ramirez and other hispanic agents were kept in the dark about the details of the raid until the last minute and then thrust into the raid with little preparation. After the raid, Mr. Ramirez learned the INS, based on orders from on high (i.e., Janet Reno and former Clinton INS Commissioner Doris Meissner), erased incriminating e-mail, and destroyed other documents about the raid – despite Judicial Watch and other court cases concerning the raid. For coming forward with this information last year, Ramirez has been subjected to retaliation from the INS, including death threats from some of his fellow caucasian agents.
Mr. Ramirez implored John Ashcroft to help him with his case (which concerned actions by the Clinton Administration) when Ashcroft visited Miami last year. Ashcroft and his Justice Department have done nothing to help Mr. Ramirez or fix the prejudice and corruption in the Miami INS. The Justice Department could not even bother to transfer Mr. Ramirez out of the Miami office to alleviate his suffering, despite his many requests. The Attorney General is now being sued in his official capacity for his inaction in combating the racial bias and retaliation in his agency.
The Presidential Records Act.
In November 2001, President Bush issued an executive order allowing his White House or former presidents to veto the release of presidential papers.
President Bush’s reinterpretation of the Presidential Records Act allows the incumbent president, a former president, or in some cases, the family of a deceased president to withhold documents from their regular release to the public. President Bush’s new executive order provides that if a former president says that certain records are “privileged,” they will remain secret, even if the sitting president disagrees. The order also covers the records of former vice presidents.
White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzalez cited concerns for “national security” as being a factor in deciding to issue the new executive order, adding that the order did not create any new privileges, but “simply implemented an orderly process to deal with this information.”
Many analysts believe the order was designed to shield records dealing with the Reagan Administration, when President George W. Bush’s father was Vice President. In this regard, recently, 68,000 pages of Reagan records, the first former president whose records are subject to the 1978 law, were subject to release.
This order will also have the convenient practical effect of helping Bill Clinton and Al Gore prevent documents concerning their administration from being released to the public.
VIII. ENERGY TASK FORCE.
In order to complete a much needed review of U.S. energy policy, President Bush authorized the creation of an energy task force, run by Vice President Cheney, to review policy, meet with interested parties, and formulate policy and legislative recommendations. Judicial Watch wrote the Vice President requesting he provide documents and conform his Task Force to the requirements of Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). FACA requires that government task forces which have private individuals as members file a charter, allow for input from interested persons, comply with the FOIA and the Government in the Sunshine Act, publish notice of its meetings in the Federal Register, and must have a board that is fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented.
Vice President Cheney, through his counsel, told Judicial Watch that it would not comply with the law. So Judicial Watch sued on July 16, 2001. The White House has refused to make information available not only to Judicial Watch, but also the General Accounting Office (GAO).
Judicial Watch is concerned that energy policy was and is being made in secret by individuals and interests with a financial and political stake in particular policies. If the Vice President wanted to involve the oil industry or environmentalists in his Energy Task Force’s deliberations, that was his right, but the law requires that the American people be kept informed about these deliberations.
This is the Hillary Health Care Task Force, Part II – which was also in violation of FACA. Being conservative, Judicial Watch generally believes in a less regulatory environmental policy. Yet this doesn’t mean that such policies be developed in a way which violates the law.
And now that it is known that Enron, a thoroughly corrupt company, was involved in at least six Energy Task Force meetings, it is all the more important that documents concerning these meetings become public. Judicial Watch will be in court at a February 12, 2002 hearing, demanding these documents.
Because of the Bush White House’s refusal to obey the law on the Energy Task Force and “let the sun shine in,” liberal environmentalists now have a club with which to beat upon much needed energy initiatives, such as the opening of oil drilling in Alaska’s wilderness.
IX. ILLEGAL FUNDRAISING.
Vice President Cheney hosted 400 Republican donors for a Republican National Committee party at the Vice President’s mansion on May 20, 2001. Most of these party-goers had pledged or given $100,000.00 or more to the Republican Party. This party was a violation of law, which prohibits the use of government resources for political fundraising, for which Bill Clinton and Al Gore were roundly (and rightly) criticized and investigated. Taking another page from the Clinton spin play book, President’s Bush’s spokesman called the party a “thank you.”
Judicial Watch has repeatedly requested the names of the donors who attended the event. The Vice President refuses to release them, adding further to the aura of impropriety. As a result, Judicial Watch was forced to file suit.
Bush Cabinet members also used their offices to raise money illegally. Judicial Watch, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, uncovered documents showing that Health and Human Service Secretary Tommy Thompson met with Republican donors, many connected to industries impacted by his decisions, in his government office.
Both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee sold access to Bush Cabinet officials, Bush foreign policy officials, foreign ambassadors, and other federal employees. Judicial Watch is pursuing a variety of Federal Election Commission and other legal actions concerning this illegal fundraising.
X. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.
On March 5, 2001, Judicial Watch called on former President George Herbert Walker Bush to resign immediately from the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm, while his son President George W. Bush is in office. The New York Times reported that the elder Bush is an “ambassador” for the $12 billion private investment firm and last year traveled to the Middle East on its behalf. The former president also helped the firm in South Korea.
The New York Times reported that as compensation, the elder Bush is allowed to buy a stake in the Carlyle Group’s investments, which include ownership in at least 164 companies throughout the world (thereby giving the current president an indirect benefit). James Baker, the former Secretary of State who served as President George W. Bush’s point man in Florida’s election dispute, is a partner in the firm. The firm also gave George W. Bush help in the early 1990’s when it placed him on one of its subsidiary’s board of directors.
In its March 5, 2001 press release, Judicial Watch issued the following statement:
“This is simply inappropriate. Former President Bush should
immediately resign from the Carlyle Group because it is an obvious
conflict of interest. Any foreign government or foreign investor
trying to curry favor with the current Bush Administration is sure
to throw business to the Carlyle Group.”
The headline in the release stated the “Conflict of Interest Could Cause Problems For America’s Foreign Policy in Middle East and Asia.”
After September11, 2001, Judicial Watch was proved right. On September 27, 2001, The Wall Street Journal reported that the father of President Bush worked with the bin Laden family business in Saudi Arabia through the Carlyle Group. The senior Bush had met with the bin Laden family at least twice. (Other top Republicans are also associated with the Carlyle group, such as former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci.) The terrorist leader Osama bin Laden had supposedly been “disowned” by his family, which runs a multibillion dollar business in Saudi Arabia and has been a major investor in the senior Bush’s firm. Other reports (including an ABC News interview of Osama’s own sister-in-law) have questioned, though, whether members of his Saudi family have truly cut off Osama bin Laden. Indeed, the Journal also reported that the FBI has subpoenaed the bin Laden family business’s bank records.
In the wake of Judicial Watch’s and others’ criticism of its ties to the bin Laden family business, the Carlyle Group reportedly no longer does business with the bin Laden conglomerate. Yet it has also been reported that the Group has had significant business contacts with the Saudi Arabian government, which many have criticized for its lack of diligence in reining in bin Laden, as well as for its tepid support for America’s war against terrorism.
And documents uncovered late last year through Judicial Watch’s FOIA request to the Department of Defense show that the Carlyle Group has high-level access to the U.S. government. The documents include a February 15, 2001 letter on Carlyle Group letterhead to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from former Defense Secretaries Frank Carlucci and William Perry, both now with Carlyle Group. The documents also include Secretary Rumsfeld’s April 3, 2001 response to Messrs. Carlucci and Perry. The letters seemingly discuss the restructuring of the Defense Department. The Carlyle Group is also listed in the Pentagon documents as a Defense Department contractor.
President Bush, through his father’s relationship with the company, has a direct interest in the Carlyle Group, a contractor with billions of dollars of business before the Defense Department and foreign governments. The fact the President has not asked his father, however kindly, to resign from the Carlyle Group, speaks volumes about President Bush’s lack of concern for ethical appearances and conflicts of interest.
Judicial Watch has two active FOIA lawsuits designed to obtain documents concerning the Carlyle Group from the State Department and Defense Department.
Unlike many, Judicial Watch has not ignored the fact that Enron is a prominent player in the Clinton-era fundraising scandal in which Commerce Department trade mission seats were sold in exchange for political contributions. Enron’s Kenneth Lay, a major Clinton donor, went on one of these scandalous trade missions with the late Ron Brown to India in January, 1995 and received hundreds of millions of dollars of aid from the Clinton Administration for its energy projects in India and elsewhere.
Yet the Bush Administration’s unlawful refusal to turn over Enron-related documents under FOIA and its steadfast refusal to disclose documents concerning contacts with the company (including the substance of contacts with the Energy Task Force) raise the inference that it is hiding something. The Bush Administration denies that Enron, which is now under criminal investigation for fraud leading to the biggest bankruptcy in American history, received any favors because of its campaign contributions. Unlikely, but this may be true – but either scenario can only be verified after a thorough investigation and the release of all documents concerning Enron contacts.
Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer downplayed the need to investigate the Enron scandal, claiming that the American people have become tired of “political witch-hunts.” Cynically, Fleischer’s comments suggest that investigations and prosecutions of the Clinton scandals were unwarranted.
Fleischer attempted to avoid answering important questions about Enron and instead offered a snide comment that the investigations of the Clinton scandals were unwarranted and intellectually dishonest. They were intended to shield the Bush Administration from scrutiny.
And this “appearance problem” was not helped when President Bush implied that Kenneth Lay, Enron’s disgraced chief, had not supported his run for governor, when in fact Lay had supported him.
Most serious is the charge reported in The New York Times that White House adviser Karl Rove had Enron hire former Christian Coalition executive director and now lobbyist Ralph Reed in 1997 in order to quietly cement Reed’s ties to Bush’s nascent run for the presidency. If the story is accurate, Enron’s payments to Reed would constitute illegal campaign contributions to then-Governor Bush. Judicial Watch has filed a Federal Election Commission complaint demanding an investigation.
The appointment of a special counsel is necessary to investigate the Enron collapse and any contacts Enron may have had with members of the Bush and Clinton Administrations. The Bush Justice Department is hopelessly conflicted in investigating White House and Cabinet-level contacts (i.e., Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil) with Enron representatives. A special counsel can begin to assure the American people that a thorough investigation is conducted.
In the meantime, Judicial Watch will, in a nonpartisan fashion, investigate and seek justice concerning the scandal through several FOIA lawsuits and soon-to-be filed complaints on behalf of Enron investors.
XII. TREATMENT OF WHISTLEBLOWERS.
The heroes of the Clinton Administration were the whistleblowers who exposed Clinton corruption at great risk to their livelihoods and lives. Thus far, the Bush Administration’s attitude toward these whistleblowers has been largely to treat them with contempt.
This heroic woman, in the face of death threats from agents of Bill Clinton, exposed Clinton’s abuse of power, perjury, obstruction of justice, intimidation of witnesses, and misuse of taxpayer resources, not to mention blowing the lid off Filegate with testimony directly implicating Hillary Clinton.
Her reward from the Bush White House? Unlike virtually every Clinton U.S. Attorney, who remained on the job, Linda Tripp was asked to leave government at the beginning of the Bush Administration. The Bush Administration is fighting her in court over her Privacy Act lawsuit against Clinton Pentagon officials for releasing her confidential government files. And, unlike ambassadors appointed by President Bush in reward for their campaign contributions, the Bush Administration has refused to hire her for jobs for which she is qualified.
Last reports were that Linda Tripp was jobless and her house was about to be repossessed.
Linda Shenwick is a former State Department official who singlehandedly uncovered numerous instances of waste, fraud, and abuse of authority at the United Nations and State Department. Shenwick, a Judicial Watch client, was retaliated against by the Clinton State Department for exposing to the Congress and the media the U.N.’s waste of American tax dollars and was fired the day after the presidential elections.
Bush State Department lawyers (holdovers from the Clinton years) continue to fight aggressively her whistleblower legal action, forcing her to submit to an extraordinary five days of deposition testimony. Though there are positive signals from the Bush White House (thanks to Judicial Watch and other grassroots conservative and Congressional pressure) that she will be rehired, Ms. Shenwick still remains out in the cold, facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills thanks to the Bush State Department’s continued defense of Clinton-era corruption. Judicial Watch is not “holding its breath” that the Bush White House will allow Ms. Shenwick to be rehired in a position commensurate with her skills
The valiant whistleblower who blew the lid off of massive nuclear compromise at the Los Alamos National Laboratories (“LANL”) is being obstructed and opposed in court by the Bush Justice Department in his suit against Wen Ho Lee. Lee defamed Trulock by calling him a racist, in an obvious attempt to deflect attention away from his own crimes in breaching national security regulations.
Specifically, the Bush Justice Department has sought to block Trulock’s depositions of various Clinton scandal figures and unnecessarily and frivolously raised national security objections throughout the case – to protect from public disclosure the facts concerning the incompetence of the Justice Department and the FBI in allowing Lee to remain at LANL for many years after it was apparent he breached national security.
XIII. A NEW CLINTON SCANDAL AND A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR JUSTICE.
In 2000, Hollywood entrepreneur Peter Paul gave Hillary Clinton $2 million in direct, in-kind contributions as part of $17 million package to induce Bill Clinton to work with Mr. Paul’s companies after he left the Oval Office. Mr. Paul’s $2 million in contributions paid for the August 2000 “Hollywood Tribute to Bill Clinton,” which raised an additional $1.5 million for Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaign. Yet after The Washington Post reported about Mr. Paul’s prior felony convictions and his relationship with the Clintons, Mrs. Clinton then lied when she denied accepting significant contributions from Mr. Paul.
Furthermore, Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic Party lied to the Federal Election Commission because they failed to report the $2 million in direct, in kind contributions as required by law. Mr. Paul later requested a pardon for his contributions and discussed the prospect of a pardon with then DNC Chairman Ed Rendell. Rendell asked for an additional $200,000.00 and promised he was working on the issue for Mr. Paul.
In another violation of campaign finance law, the Clinton campaign knowingly allowed a foreign national to attend the “Hollywood Tribute” in exchange for a $27,000.00 contribution. This foreign national later attended the India State Dinner.
Mr. and Mrs. Clinton made repeated calls to Mr. Paul to thank him for his financing of the “Hollywood Tribute.” Mr. Paul also had extensive discussions with Chelsea Clinton, Al Gore, and many aides to the Clintons and others regarding his funding of the “Hollywood Tribute” and his plans to work with Mr. Clinton after he left office.
Mr. Paul’s story was confirmed by ABC News and is backed up by evidence which includes copies of checks, financial records, “thank you” notes from the Clintons themselves, and candid video and photos. Yet rather than indict Bill and Hillary Clinton, Peter Paul was indicted on alleged stock fraud by a U.S. attorney from Hillary Clinton’s new home state, New York. The U.S. Attorney is an interim appointee of President Bush. Mr. Paul is now in custody in Brazil pursuant to an extradition request from the U.S. government.
Top investigators from the Ashcroft Justice Department met with Mr. Paul four times in a Brazilian jail last year. At these meetings, Mr. Paul proffered information concerning the above-described crimes by Bill and Hillary Clinton. As a result of these meetings, Judicial Watch has been told that the Criminal Division of the Justice Department is now investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, at the same time, the Justice Department has made it extremely difficult for Mr. Paul to return to the United States so that he can continue his cooperation. Judicial Watch hopes to reach a cooperation agreement with the Bush Justice Department on behalf of Mr. Paul. If the Bush Justice Department is truly interested in prosecuting the Clintons, this cooperation agreement can be accomplished easily.
Not relying on the Bush Justice Department for justice, Judicial Watch is pursuing Mr. Paul’s allegations with the Federal Election Commission and in civil court in a lawsuit against the Clintons.
XIV. SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
The tragic events of September 11 might have been prevented if government agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency and others, had done their jobs. They did not, and the deaths of over 3,000 innocent Americans resulted.
One would think that President Bush would have – after the initial shock of the tragedy cleared – acted to uncover any negligence, incompetence and unethical conduct within the federal government and held those who failed the American people accountable.
In a January 27, 2002 New York Times Magazine interview, Ambassador and former Presidential Candidate Alan Keyes echoed Judicial Watch’s concern when he stated, “. . .on Sept. 11 we witnessed the most egregious failure of America's national security system in our history: ‘Why has no one been held accountable for that failure in your [President George W. Bush’s] administration?’”
Instead of getting to the bottom of the unprecedented government breakdown, The Washington Post has reported that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have sought to convince Congress, which wants to hold hearings to presumably expose any negligence and to serve as a catalyst to discipline the responsible government officials, from conducting the inquiries in public. The Bush Administration does not wish to be embarrassed about any failures (however less culpable than the Clinton Administration) in not properly protecting the American people from Osama bin-Laden, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups prior to September 11, 2001.
On the evening of January 29, 2002, President Bush delivered his first State of the Union address before both houses of Congress. It was broadcast nationally and overseas.
Not surprisingly, nowhere in his State of the Union address does President Bush make any commitment to wage a war against government corruption.
While terrorists are in our midst, and the nation recovers from September 11th with the possibility of future massive attacks, another cancer continues to grow which equally threatens our continued liberty.
George W. Bush may not be John Adams. But he would be well-advised to try to emulate the second President of the United States, before our nation loses its ethical and moral underpinnings and resembles more the foreign interests who want to destroy us, than the “shining city on the hill” that another great president, Ronald Reagan, wanted to preserve.
Judicial Watch wishes President Bush well in his war against terrorism. Now is the time to also wage a war against government corruption, in partnership with Judicial Watch! The two are inseparable!
 The “writing was on the wall” during the presidential campaign. Then-Governor Bush refused to debate ethics against Al Gore at a Judicial Watch sponsored debate (even Al “Iced Tea” Gore had accepted the invitation).
 President Bush recently re-named the Main Justice Building on Constitution Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC after the former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. It is not in dispute that Robert Kennedy violated the law when, as Attorney General, he conspired with J. Edgar Hoover to misuse FBI files to smear Republicans in Congress who sought to investigate an illicit affair by his brother, President John F. Kennedy, with an East German spy, Ellen Romesch. Bobby Kennedy’s conduct was identical to the on-going Clinton Filegate scandal.
 Indeed, it is a separate scandal that White, and most other Clinton-appointed U.S. Attorneys, were allowed to remain on during the Bush Administration. White quit last month after refusing to prosecute Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli for bribery and other crimes relating to his relationship with a donor, David Chang, who says he gave Torricelli cash, suits, watches, and other gifts in return for government favors from him. As reported by The New York Times, Torricelli has repeatedly lied about his dealings with the donor. Chang was also allegedly threatened by Torricelli agents because of his cooperation with prosecutors. White’s decision had the “seal of approval” from John Ashcroft’s Justice Department.
Lately, the Attorney General seems more inclined to cover-up the “private parts” of the statue “Spirit of Justice” in the department’s Great Hall that in “cleaning up” government corruption. (See: Lloyd Grove, “Coverup at the Justice Department,” The Washington Post, Tuesday, January 29, 2002; Page C03.)
 At the hearing, Judicial Watch learned that, contrary to public statements, the DNC has never refunded or disgorged the illegal foreign contributions which it received from Riady. The issue arose under the plea agreement because in the unlikely event Mr. Riady receives the refunds back from the DNC, he must turn them over to the United States.
The revelation that the DNC has not voluntarily disgorged, or been forced to disgorge, the illegal foreign campaign contributions, underscores the sham and bogus nature of the Clinton and Bush Justice Department’s campaign finance investigations and prosecutions.
 It was in this Filegate lawsuit, that President Clinton was ruled to have committed a crime when he released the Privacy Act-protected files of Kathleen Willey in an effort to destroy her. It was the first and only time a sitting president has ever been found to have personally committed a crime.
 This replaced Janet Reno’s FOIA policy which, on paper, was very reasonable – federal agencies were told to err on the side of disclosure. Of course, in practice, the Clinton Administration was loath to turn over any document under FOIA that might prove embarrassing or evidence a crime. It also frequently resorted to destroying and suppressing documents.
Vice President Cheney initially defended the withholding of information as an effort to try to protect the confidentiality of presidential deliberations, i.e. executive privilege. Of course, contacts between government officials and private individuals are not confidential and are not covered by executive privilege.
According to reports, members of the "Presidential Roundtable," whose minimum qualifying contribution was reportedly $5000.00, received briefings by Cheney at the Pentagon.
 After Judicial Watch criticism and negative press attention, Republican Speaker Denny Hastert and Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald, among other Republican lawmakers, have rightly repudiated these fundraising tactics. House Majority Whip Tom Delay refused to budge, saying his fundraising calls offering meetings on tax policy with Bush White House officials were legal. Obviously, they are not. Other Bush Cabinet officials pulled out of the illegal fundraisers. Unsurprisingly, Commerce Secretary Don Evans participated in the Senatorial Committees illegal fundraising event. The New York Times, “3 Bush Cabinet Members Drop Meetings With G.O.P. Donors,” Philip Shenon, May 23, 2001.
 Further, Ari Fleisher incorrectly told the media that The White House was not called by Bush cabinet secretaries over the Enron collapse. Fleischer’s credibility is therefore now close to zero, and he should consider resigning.