DECEMBER 30, 2016
In 2016, Judicial Watch established itself it as the most significant public policy entity in the nation. Our work in the courts exposing the truth about the Clinton emails and the corruption of the Clinton pay-to-play scandals changed history.
So it is fitting that in this, the year’s final Weekly Update, I have a report for you on a new major court decision that could dramatically influence what comes next on the Clinton email scandal.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made a ruling this week in a JW case that would require Secretary of State John Kerry to seek the help of the attorney general in recovering additional Hillary Clinton emails. This means that Clinton email issue will be squarely before the Trump administration, as I highlight in our statement to the press:
Today’s appeals court ruling rejects the Obama State Department’s excuses justifying its failure to ask the attorney general, as the law requires, to pursue the recovery of the Clinton emails. This ruling means that the Trump Justice Department will have to decide if it wants to finally enforce the rule of law and try to retrieve all the emails Clinton and her aides unlawfully took with them when they left the State Department.
The appellate ruling reverses a decision in which the District Court declared “moot” a Judicial Watch’s lawsuit challenging the failure of Secretary of State John Kerry to comply with the Federal Records Act (FRA) in seeking to recover the emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high level State Department officials who used non-“state.gov” email accounts to conduct official business (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. John F. Kerry (No. 16-5015)).
According to the FRA, if an agency head becomes aware of “any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal . . . or destruction of [agency] records,” he or she “shall notify the Archivist . . . and with the assistance of the Archivist shall initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of [those] records.” Kerry refused to do this, and we sued. The lower court decided Kerry had done enough. The appeals court panel disagreed:
Appellants sought the only relief provided by the Federal Records Act—an enforcement action through the Attorney General. But nothing the Department did (either before or after those complaints were filed) gave appellants what they wanted. Instead of proceeding through the Attorney General, the Department asked the former Secretary to return her emails voluntarily and similarly requested that the FBI share any records it obtained. Even though those efforts bore some fruit, the Department has not explained why shaking the tree harder—e.g., by following the statutory mandate to seek action by the Attorney General—might not bear more still. It is therefore abundantly clear that, in terms of assuring government recovery of emails, appellants have not “been given everything [they] asked for.” Absent a showing that the requested enforcement action could not shake loose a few more emails, the case is not moot.
In May 2015, we filed the lawsuit after the State Department failed to take action following a letter to Kerry “notifying him of the unlawful removal of the Clinton emails and requesting that he initiate enforcement action pursuant to the FRA,” including working through the attorney general to recover the emails.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit subsequently was consolidated with a later lawsuit filed by our friends at the Cause of Action Institute. For more on this court development, you can see our discussion over at the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal. And then we also have our Facebook Live Weekly Update discussions here and on Youtube.
This Obama administration has demonstrated itself to be an agent of lawlessness and an enemy of an open and transparent republic. To start, let’s hope that President-elect Trump’s appointees at the State Department and Justice Department finally start enforcing the rule of law on the Clinton email scandal.
For a couple that has spent eight years apologizing for their country, the Obamas have nevertheless managed to enjoy its taxpayer-provided bounty.
This week, thanks to the work of our intrepid investigators and hard-charging lawyers, we released to the public several reports from the Secret Service and the Air Force that bring the known total of Obama travel expense over the past eight years to a staggering $96,938,882.51.
The new reports contain details of the costs of Obama’s Earth Day trip to the Florida Everglades, a political fundraising trip to San Diego, Michelle’s annual Aspen ski trip, her trip to Morocco, the family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, as well as Hillary’s ride with Obama on Air Force One to North Carolina.
We received this information after filing two separate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, asking the court to enjoin the Secret Service from withholding responsive documents from Judicial Watch (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:15-cv-01983)) and (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:16-cv-00863)). The Secret Service is a component of the Department of Homeland Security.
- Secret Service records reveal that Barack Obama’s April 22, 2015, Earth Day trip to give a global warming speech in the Florida Everglades cost taxpayers $145,752.36, which brings the total cost of the trip to at least $1,012,367.76.
- The Secret Service records for Obama’s October 2015 fundraising travel to San Diego reveal expenses totaling $180,187.09. Including the U.S. Air Force expenses, the total cost of Obama’s San Diego trip was at least $2,181,655.99.
- Michelle Obama’s February 2016 ski trip to Aspen with her daughters cost taxpayers a total of $222,875.58. The Secret Service expenses were $165,806.78. Judicial Watch previously obtained records from the Air Force revealing that Michelle Obama’s weekend trip to Aspen, Colorado, last year cost American taxpayers $57,068.80 in travel expenses alone for the 7.4-hour round-trip flight.
- Judicial Watch obtained records from the U.S. Air Force and the Secret Service revealing that Barack Obama’s trip to Cuba and Argentina in March 2016 cost taxpayers $7,146,015.18 in Secret Service and Air Force travel expenses.
- Air Force records regarding Michelle Obama’s trip to Morocco, Spain and Liberia with her daughters in June 2016 revealed $450,026.40 in flight expenses alone. A C-32A was flown for 28.4 hours.
- Judicial Watch recently obtained Air Force records which reveal that the Obama’s August 2016 vacation to Martha’s Vineyard cost taxpayers $450,295 in flight expenses alone.
- Judicial Watch also recently obtained records from the Air Force showing that in July 2016 taxpayers paid $360,236 for Hillary Clinton to accompany Obama on Air Force One for a campaign trip to North Carolina.
Also, in October 2016 Michele Obama joined Hillary Clinton in North Carolina for a rally reportedly to “encourage early voting in North Carolina.” Documents regarding this trip have been requested but have not yet been received. The First Lady typically flies in a C-32 A so the 1.8 hour flight could safely be estimated to have cost taxpayers $28,522.80.
The Obamas’ notorious abuse of presidential travel perks wasted military resources and stressed the Secret Service. JW estimates that the final costs of Obama’s unnecessary vacation and political travel will well exceed $100 million. You can see how President-elect Trump can immediately save taxpayers money by reforming presidential travel.
This Christmas week is a slow one for what already is a dangerously somnolescent government here in Washington. But your Judicial Watch is always on the alert. Yesterday, our Corruption Chronicles blog detailed the latest discomforting news about the terrorism crisis caused by nation’s open borders:
Latin America is a hotbed of Islamic terrorism where groups like ISIS and Hezbollah operate freely and raise large sums of money to finance terrorist activities in other countries, mainly the United States, according to a new report released by Spain’s Defense Ministry.
“Latin America represents an important region for Islamic radicalism because conditions enable the free, almost undetectable, movement of their members throughout the region,” the defense document states.
Governments in the region consider Islamic terrorism to be a foreign problem, the report says, and intelligence agencies are ill equipped to handle the threat they represent. “The ignorance involving the threat of jihadist terrorism in Latin America has been such that some governments have refused to cooperate with U.S. authorities and other intelligence services,” the disturbing assessment reveals. The report was released this month by the division of Spain’s Defense agency known as Instituto Español de Estudios Estratégicos (IEEE), Spanish Institute of Strategic Studies. The document, authored by a counterterrorism expert, is titled “El radicalismo islámico en América Latina. De Hezbolá al Daesh (Estado Islámico),” Islamic Radicalism in Latin America, from Hezbollah to ISIS.
The Lebanese group Hezbollah is identified as having the largest fundraising operations in the region, though others, such as ISIS, are also prominent. The terrorist organizations have teamed up with established drug trafficking conglomerates to raise and launder large quantities of cash. The report identifies a group called El clan Barakat in Paraguay and Joumaa in Colombia as two examples of drug trafficking enterprises that have long worked with Islamic jihadists to launder money. Spain’s military experts refer to the relationships as a “marriage of convenience” between Latin American organized crime and Muslim terrorists with different objectives and interests.
“Each takes advantage of the benefits that the relationship provides,” the report states.
ISIS is expanding quickly in Latin America, the report warns, revealing that around 100 individuals from the region’s large Muslim community have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups recently. Argentina and Brazil have the largest Muslim populations in Latin America with more than 1 million each, the report says. Venezuela, Mexico, Peru and Chile also have large and rapidly growing Muslim populations. Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean islands on the northern edge of Latin America, are identified as “especially worrisome” because local authorities reported that 70 of their citizens traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. Additionally, nine of the islands’ citizens were detained in Turkey attempting to cross the border into Syria.
The report cites a 2012 article in a military publication from Trinidad that compares the growth of radical Islam in the country to a group of violent Muslims that tried to overthrow the government in 1990.
The strong connection between Islamic terrorists and Latin America has been developing for years and Judicial Watch has reported it extensively, especially when it comes to Mexico. With a dangerously porous southern border, the collaboration between Muslim terrorists and Mexican drug cartels has created a critical threat to the United States. Last year Judicial Watch reported that ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Judicial Watch also broke a story about Mexican drug cartels smuggling foreigners from countries with terrorist links into a small Texas rural town near El Paso. The foreigners are classified as Special Interest Aliens (SIA) by the U.S. government and they are being transported to stash areas in Acala, a rural crossroads located around 54 miles from El Paso on a state road—Highway 20.
Earlier this year Judicial Watch uncovered State Department records confirming that “Arab extremists” are entering the U.S. through Mexico with the assistance of smuggling network “cells.” Among them is a top Al Qaeda operative wanted by the FBI. The government documents also reveal that some Mexican smuggling networks actually specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States. The top Al Qaeda leader in Mexico was identified in the State Department records, via a September 2004 cable from the American consulate in Ciudad Juárez, as Adnan G. El Shurkrjumah. In December, 2014 Shukrijumah was killed by the Pakistan Army in an intelligence-borne operation in South Waziristan.
But before he died Shukrijumah helped plan several U.S. attacks, including plots to bomb Oprah Winfrey’s studio and detonate nuclear devices in multiple American cities. For years Shukrijumah appeared on the FBI’s most wanted list and, despite being sought by the agency, he crossed back and forth into the U.S. from Mexico to meet fellow militant Islamists in Texas. Back in 2014 Judicial Watch reported that, as one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, Shukrijumah piloted an aircraft into the Cielo Dorado airfield in Anthony, New Mexico.
You can see how the typical Washington debate about border security is ludicrous. Talk of “dreamers” and illegal aliens doing jobs Americans supposedly won’t is designed to distract us from enforcing the rule of law at our border and stopping those who want nothing more than to destroy our civilization.
As blizzards settle in on our Great Plains, one forecaster sees a deep freeze in the Lower 48 reaching as far as Florida, in the first week of the New Year.
I think of a particularly beautiful Christmas carol: “In The Bleak Midwinter.” Here is the first verse:
In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
This carol is actually about the coming of the Christ Child on a midwinter night, the ultimate expression of hope in a dark and wintry world.
I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than with this type of hope – not the phony “hope” we hear so much about from politicians.
So, on behalf of all of my colleagues here at Judicial Watch, I wish you and your families a most wonderful, prosperous – and truly hopeful – New Year.