JULY 15, 2016
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan announced that he will hear arguments on Monday, July 18, 2016, in our request to take testimony from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Yesterday, we submitted reply briefs (available here and here) to the court in response to the State Department’s and Secretary Clinton’s oppositions to our request for permission to depose former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Director of Office of Correspondence and Records of the Executive Secretariat (“S/ES-CRM”) Clarence Finney; and the former Director of Information Resource Management of the Executive Secretariat (“S/ES-IRM”) John Bentel.
These proceedings arise in our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking records about the controversial employment status of Huma Abedin, former deputy chief of staff to Clinton. The lawsuit was reopened because of revelations about the clintonemail.com system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)).
In our replies we argued, among other things, that:
Secretary Clinton’s deposition is necessary to complete the record. Although certain information has become available through investigations by the Benghazi Select Committee, the FBI, and the State Department Inspector General, as well as through Plaintiff’s narrowly tailored discovery to date, significant gaps in the evidence remain. Only Secretary Clinton can fill these gaps, and she does not argue otherwise.
To [Judicial Watch’s] knowledge, Secretary Clinton has never testified under oath why she created and used the clintonemail.com system to conduct official government business. Her only public statements on the issue are unsworn.
Very soon after making the filings, the court ordered Clinton and the State Department to file responses to our reply briefs no later than noon, today (you can view the filings here and here). Judge Sullivan also ordered the State Department to be prepared to discuss at Monday’s hearing how much time the agency will need to search the new Clinton emails the FBI is turning over thanks to Judicial Watch’s litigation (see below).
Be sure to check the news and our website on Monday to see how that court hearing turns out.
If you’ve been getting your information solely from Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch you might have assumed that Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is behind us.
Our briefs and the upcoming hearing show otherwise. We are pursuing her sworn testimony to get to the heart of her incessant and flagrant mishandling of government documents. As I wrote this week for Fox News:
It is no surprise that neither Hillary Clinton nor the Obama State Department agrees with our request to depose Mrs. Clinton concerning her exclusive use of her non-state.gov email account to house and send tens of thousands of official emails throughout her entire tenure as secretary of state.
What is notable is that the State Department finally admits that Clinton’s practice of supposedly emailing other State officials using her non-state.gov account was not an “appropriate method of preserving federal records or making them available for searches under FOIA.”
Second, it is both significant and disturbing that Hillary Clinton now asserts a private “claim of right” over her non-state.gov email account, including any of the 55,000 pages of federal records she returned to the State Department. She further claims that these and other emails, including emails that may have contained classified information, have “never been the property of or in the possession or control of the State Department.”
Also important is the difference between the State Department’s and Mrs. Clinton’s most fundamental claims as to why neither agency staff nor Mrs. Clinton should testify.
The State Department claims that no one at the agency really knew anything about Mrs. Clinton’s non-state.gov email system, so there is nothing left to say.
Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, claims that everyone at the agency knew all about her non-state.gov system, so, once again, there is nothing left to say.
Our lawsuit is forcing more government transparency. Following a prior court order, the State Department asked the FBI for any Clinton emails it recovered. This week the FBI wrote back that it would turn over the emails that Mrs. Clinton had either deleted or held back from the American people.
Slowly, but surely, the Clinton email cover up is unraveling.
Do you any longer assume that federal agencies are honest and competent? What about the powerful agency that digs into every corner of your life – the IRS? This JW Corruption Chronicles blog post will disabuse you of any notion that this agency deserves respect:
While it’s absorbed persecuting law-abiding conservative groups the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can’t seem to stop crooks from scamming it to the tune of several billion dollars in one year alone via bogus tax refunds. It’s the latest of many transgressions at the agency that’s doubled as an Obama administration tool to crack down on political adversaries.
A special IRS security feature called Taxpayer Protection Program (TPP) couldn’t prevent criminals from scamming the agency out of an eye-popping $3.1 billion in one year, according to a federal audit. TPP was implemented to curb an epidemic of identity theft that allows criminals to fraudulently get tax refunds. Supposedly, identity theft fraud is reduced through a verification process but the federal probe, conducted by the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found serious loopholes. “TPP uses single-factor authentication procedures that incorporate one of the following authentication elements: ‘something you know,’ ‘something you have,’ or ‘something you are,’” the GAO report states. “TPP’s single-factor authentication procedures are at risk of exploitation because some fraudsters obtain the PII (personally identifiable information) necessary to pass the questions asked during authentication.”
As a result thousands of bogus filers get refunds from the IRS annually, possibly more, the GAO probe found. In fact, investigators determined that the IRS may have doled out an undetermined amount of money to an unknown number of fraudsters so the true figure will never be known. This has been going on for years and the IRS has spent a chunk of change trying to combat it to no avail. In fiscal year 2015 the agency dedicated more than 4,000 full-time employees and spent about $470 million to combat refund fraud and identity theft, the GAO reports. The Obama administration requested an additional $90 million and 491 full-time employees for fiscal year 2017 to reduce improper payments as if throwing more money at the problem will solve it. The reality is that this is part of a much broader security issue at the tax agency. Earlier this year the IRS Inspector General confirmed that hackers gained unauthorized access to 724,000 taxpayer accounts, illustrating that its system is incredibly vulnerable.
The latest GAO audit exposes just one of a multitude of problems at the feared tax agency. Judicial Watch has reported extensively on IRS scandals over the years and has been a leader in uncovering the sordid details of the agency’s witch hunt of conservative groups. Judicial Watch has obtained damaging government records that show the IRS illegally colluded with another federal agency to crack down on conservative nonprofit groups during the 2012 election cycle. The IRS director at the center of the scheme, Lois Lerner, not only broke agency rules—as well as the law—to target conservative organizations, she also lied to Congress in an effort to cover up the wrongdoing.
Judicial Watch has also been a leader in reporting other IRS wrongdoing that’s been largely ignored by the mainstream media. This includes allowing prison inmates to fraudulently receive tens of millions of dollars in tax refunds and illegal immigrants billions by letting them improperly claim tax credits they don’t qualify for. Last summer an embarrassing federal audit exposed the IRS for awarding dozens of tax-delinquent companies with millions of dollars in government contracts. During a two-year period the IRS awarded 57 contracts worth nearly $19 million to 17 corporations that owed federal taxes during that period. This actually violated a 2012 federal law called the Consolidated Appropriations Act prohibiting government agencies from using appropriated funds to enter into a contract with a company that has certain federal tax debt or felony convictions.
As if this weren’t bad enough, IRS employees have been charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in government benefits, including food stamps, welfare and housing vouchers. IRS employees have also been singled out in various government probes as the federal workers with the highest number of tax delinquents that received bonus pay. A few years ago a federal audit revealed that at the IRS alone, staff members with violations received close to $3 million in awards on top of their regular government salary. Some got the extra cash despite being cited for using drugs, making violent threats, fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits and misusing government credit cards.
But don’t you try to break the law in this way. The full wrath of the IRS will descend upon you.
While we’re on the subject of a government run amok, take a look at the latest information we’ve received about the costs of President Obama’s personal travel.
We obtained records from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security revealing the Obama family’s August 2015 vacation on Martha’s Vineyard cost taxpayers $465,420.49 in Secret Service expenses alone. This included $457,310.33 in hotels, $271.56 in car rentals, and $7,838.60 in air/rail travel.
The government doesn’t share this willingly. The records were obtained through our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on November 24, 2015. Judicial Watch sued the Department of Homeland Security, of which the Secret Service is a part, because it failed to respond to 19 FOIA requests from Judicial Watch since July 21, 2014, (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:15-cv-01983)).
The new records reveal that Secret Service expenses for presidential travel included:
- Trip to Seattle and Los Angeles, July 2014:$237,731.05 on hotels, $19,888.70 on rental cars and $1,451.40 on air/rail travel – for a total of $259,071.15. This trip was solely for fund-raising, specifically to boost the treasuries of two “super pacs” for congressional candidates in the mid-term election. Judicial Watch previously reported that Air Force transportation expenses for this trip cost taxpayers $2,425,085.50 – bringing the grand total to $2,684,156.60.
- Trip to Westchester, NY, and Providence, RI, August 29-September 1, 2014: $63,177 on hotels and $1,801.45 on rental cars – for a total of $64,978.45.This trip was for fundraising and attending the wedding of an MSNBC host. Judicial Watch previously reported that Air Force transportation for this trip cost $1,539,402.10 – bringing the grand total to $1,604,380.50.
- Trip to Martha’s Vineyard, August 2015: $457,310.33 on hotels, $271.56 in car rentals, and $7,838.60 on air/rail travel – bringing the grand total to $465,420.49. This was the sixth year for the Obama familysummer getaway to Martha’s Vineyard.
- Trip to Palm Springs, February 2015:$149,101.36 on hotels and $9,199.38 on car rentals – for a total of $158,300.74. This trip was reportedly to meet with leaders from 10 Southeast Asian nations to discuss North Korea, China and trade. But, the president also played golf, held several Democratic fundraisers, and filmed an episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Judicial Watch previously reported that Air Force travel expenses for the President totaled $1,031,685 – bringing the grand total to $1,189,985.70.
- Trip to New York City,July 17-20, 2015: $266,186.04 on hotels and $1,112.31 on car rentals – for a total of $267,298.35. This outing was a weekend getaway for the president, his daughters and some of their friends. The president also attended a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Manhattan. Judicial Watch previously reported that Air Force travel expenses for the President on this trip totaled $309,505.50 – for a grand total of $576,803.85.
- Trip to Los Angeles, October 2014: $140,640.94 on hotels and $3,118 on car rentals – for a total of $143,758.94. On this trip, the president designated a portion of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. He also attended a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. Judicial Watch previously reportedthat the President’s Air Force travel expenses totaled $1,176,120.90 – for a grand total of $1,319,879.80.
- Trip to Los Angeles, June 18-21, 2015:$311,922.11 on hotels and $21,269.71 on rental cars. This trip was for a speaking engagement with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and for Democratic National Committee fundraisers in private residences in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills – for a grant total of $333,191.82.
The First Family’s Martha’s Vineyard vacation, their sixth in the past seven years, was spent at the lavish Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, a seven-bedroom, nine-bath, 8,100-square-foot estate, sitting on 10 acres of farmland. The estate features 17 rooms, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool, and a tennis-basketball court. It rents for $50,000 a week. Judicial Watch previously reported that the First Family’s travel aboard Air Force One for this trip cost taxpayers $619,011.
The current grand total of known Obama travel-related expenses now stands at $79,630,433.93
Taxpayers should be incensed that the Secret Service’s resources are wasted to provide security for endless golf excursions, political fundraisers, and luxury vacations. President Obama’s travel is a scandal. You can count on Judicial Watch to continue to expose this abuse of the office and of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars.