NOVEMBER 21, 2014
I write this late Friday after an extraordinarily busy week at Judicial Watch (see below).
Honest Americans are still gasping from President Obama’s speech last night announcing his own amnesty program, based on no legal authority, for at least five million illegal aliens. I warned you last week about Obama’s amnesty assault on our nation. Unfortunately, my summary needs no update from last week, but should reassure you that we are on the case:
Self-government, elections, laws, and other essential aspects of our constitutional system seem of little concern to the corrupt leader of this gangster administration. Judicial Watch will continue to take the lead in exposing and stopping this lawlessness. Your Judicial Watch is considering major litigation to stop Obama’s dictatorial amnesty agenda. We will keep moving forward toward accountability, and won’t wait for Congress and the rest of Washington to catch up.
Obama’s power grab is an attack on the very soul of our representative government. Is Obama king or a man subject to the law? Despicably, the White House’s web propaganda arm leads with Obama’s misleading reference to Holy Scripture to justify this lawlessness. The president, our oppressor, steals our liberty, mocks the law-abiding, violates his oath to God – and dares to lecture us on oppression.
Hypocrisy aside, I am outraged as you are by the president’s new proposals. But Obama’s lawless amnesty has been in place for years. Your Judicial Watch has been going to court repeatedly to get you the details. We’ve documented Obama’s lawlessness on immigration for you here. Please go to our website at www.judicialwatch.org for more on all our work for the rule of law on immigration.
Our expert team is now examining Obama’s plans and will develop our legal and investigative response to help protect the safety of the country and the U.S. Constitution.
Contact your elected representatives in Washington to let them know what you think they should do. It seems to me that Congress has a positive moral obligation to not fund this or any other Obama lawlessness. The House Republican leadership knew this crisis was coming, but adjourned anyway. That tells you that any strong response will have to come through pressure from you.
For Congress to fund Obama’s assault on the Republic because Republican leaders don’t want a shut-down would make Congress complicit in Obama’s lawlessness. Do Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and other Republicans want to be accessories-after-the-fact with Obama? Are there honest Democrats that support the U.S. Constitution?
Sue, defund, impeach, shut-down, prosecute – all are possibilities to be considered in these critical times. (We even had the idea of something as simple as boycotting the State of the Union Address.)
I will close this initial battle report with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I had the privilege of sharing yesterday with a member of Congress who has been steadfast on the issue of illegal immigration:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
The congressman was motivated and moved by this quote. And we could all do worse for a “talking point” to persuade Establishment Washington to stand with Judicial Watch and the vast majority of Americans who oppose and want to stop Obama’s latest power grab.
We have big news to report on the latest in the growing Operation Fast and Furious scandal implicating President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ). On November 18, 2014, Judicial Watch obtained a massive production of documents in response to a June 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and our subsequent FOIA lawsuit. All told, over 10,000 documents, which include about 42,000 pages, were disclosed to Judicial Watch. They are now available at this link.
As you may recall from our previous updates, Fast and Furious was a joint Justice Department-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gun running operation that the administration perpetrated expecting it would bolster gun control proposals in the U.S. The idea was to allow guns to find their way into the arms of Mexican drug cartel members who would use them in criminal operations. Some of the weapons used in Fast and Furious have been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of innocent Mexicans. We have also obtained information through a lawsuit filed against the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that shows Congress has confirmed that an AK 47 rifle used in July 29, 2013, gang-style assault on an apartment building that resulted in the wounding of two people was part of the Fast and Furious program.
Perhaps one of the most chilling exchanges JW uncovered in this latest batch of documents is a highly explosive email from a top DOJ official to a White House official. It reveals the lengths to which the administration went in order to target and silence then-CBS investigative journalist Sheryl Attkisson.
On October 4, 2011, Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, tells White House Deputy Press Sectary Eric Schultz, “I’m also calling Sharryl’s [sic] editor and reaching out to Scheiffer. She’s out of control”
Schultz responded, “Good. Her piece was really bad for the AG.”
Schultz also detailed to Schmaler that he was working with a journalist (Susan Davis, formerly of the National Journal) to target Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA), the House Republican leading the charge on Fast and Furious:
“And I sent NJ’s Susan Davis your way. She’s writing on Issa/FandF and I said you could load her up on the leaks, etc.”
So here we have an email chain that implicates the Obama White House and the Justice Department in an effort to undermine a congressional investigation and to suppress media reports critical of Team Obama.
No wonder Obama waited until after he was safely reelected (and even after this year’s elections) to finally release this material that documents obstruction and abuse at the highest levels.
The documents show that Obama made the extraordinary assertion of executive privilege over emails between Eric Holder and his wife, Sharon Malone. The emails show that Holder sent his spouse internal DOJ emails about Fast and Furious developments. There is nothing that would have been covered by executive privilege in these or other key records that show Barack Obama abused his power to keep them secret during his reelection campaign up until now.
This latest release is a tribute to our team of lawyers and investigators who broke through the Obama stonewall. Judicial Watch’s tenacious lawsuit has led to the first public disclosure of Fast and Furious documents at the heart of the historic contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder. These documents, many of which are heavily blacked out, withheld for over two years by President Obama, are a road map to the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious cover-up and deadly lies.
Our supporters should be proud that their contributions helped our team of lawyers and investigators break through the Obama/Holder stonewall on Fast and Furious. Our disclosures exposed as fraud Obama’s assertions of executive privilege and led to Holder’s surprise resignation. And it was because of our lawsuit that Congress finally obtained information it had sought for years on Fast and Furious.
We are posting these documents for the public to review, and hope that crowd-sourcing our investigation will lead to more accountability for the Fast and Furious outrage. The documents are explosive so let’s get to work together!
Judicial Watch’s team will pour through the ten thousand-plus pages to discover what other revealing Fast and Furious information Holder and Obama have been covering up. Rest assured that there is more to come, and we will keep you fully informed.
Deception, deceit, and prevarication…
These are some of the adjectives that have been attached to the Obamacare legislation in the aftermath of a plethora of revealing comments by Jonathan Gruber. He’s the M.I.T economics professor who the New York Times called “Mr. Mandate” in recognition of the key role he played in crafting the new law, which is formally titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. American Commitment has posted videos of Gruber talking about how the “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” – an advantage which helped foist Obamacare on a resistant American electorate. Gruber also talked about how the “Cadillac tax” was sold as tax on insurance companies when it’s really a tax on the middle class. In another video Gruber admits that Obamacare’s subsidies were limited to state-run exchanges only, which bursts another Obama administration lie and might be of interest to the United States Supreme Court as it considers this very issue.
Gruber points to the real scandal of Obamacare. Every sensible person knew Obamacare’s financial underpinnings were a fraud and that the truth was hidden. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously admitted: “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it – away from the fog of the controversy.”
From its inception, its passage, its implementation, and its enforcement, “lack of transparency” has been essential to keeping Obamacare alive. President Obama’s knowing lies about how Americans could keep their doctors and insurance under Obamacare shows that he is no better than Gruber in his contempt for “stupid” American voters. (Ironically, it was one citizen, offended by Obama’s lies (and who lost his insurance), who uncovered the Gruber videos.) Lying isn’t transparent and Obama trades in lies.
Working for Judicial Watch, I speak from experience that Obamacare is an ongoing cover-up.
My quick count shows we had to sue the Obama administration at least 11 times just to get basic information about Obamacare. Forget about any congressional committee, Judicial Watch is the “chief oversight body” for the Obamacare law. We had to sue to find out how many enrolled on Obamacare’s first day, to find out about the costs and corruption of Obamacare taxpayer-funded propaganda, to find out about the secret Obamacare meetings that Obama shamelessly promised would be on CSPAN…. You get the picture.
When it comes to exposing Obamacare fraud, Judicial Watch has been way out in front, long before the Gruber videos caught deserved public attention.
It was almost a year ago that we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeking enrollment figures for the federal health care law. This past May, Judicial Watch released a 106-page document obtained from HHS, revealing that on its first full day of operation, Obamacare’s Healthcare.gov received only one enrollment. The accuracy of the HHS enrollment figures remains a continuing point of controversy, as the Obama gang can’t help but lie about these basic numbers.
Not trusting the ethically-challenged Obama administration, we have also released state records revealing high numbers of policy cancellations as a direct result of requirements of Obamacare. Statements in the records, which include filings by health insurance companies with state regulators, directly contradict claims by the Obama administration and its allies that Obamacare was not responsible for Americans losing health insurance coverage. These new records were obtained as part of a nationwide Judicial Watch investigation to assess the damage wrought by Obamacare to the insurance marketplace.
In March, we filed two FOIA lawsuits against HHS to obtain information on Obamacare exemptions and security. One lawsuit seeks information about the December 19, 2013, decision by the Obama administration to establish new “hardship exemptions” that could allow most consumers to escape the Obamacare individual mandate without penalty. The second suit seeks records about security and privacy concerns surrounding Obamacare’s Healthcare.gov web portal.
In September, we released 94 pages of documents obtained from HHS revealing that in the days leading up to the rollout of Obamacare, top Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials knew of massive security risks with Healthcare.gov and yet chose to roll out the website without resolving the problems. Detailed information about these security flaws – previously kept secret – was released to Judicial Watch. We also acquired “Sensitive Information – Special Handling” memos sent from CMS to Mitre Corporation, the Healthcare.gov security testing company, in which CMS rated “political … damage” and “public embarrassment to CMS” as key factors far exceeding the public welfare in defining “Risk Rating” priorities.
The other part of this story involves the qualifications for Obamacare “navigators” –the massive sales force the Obama administration deployed to peddle its bogus health care law under the guise of “assisting” registrants. They personified Gruber’s point that if you’re trying to sell this law, it’s best not to let the public know what you’re really up to. The Obama HHS reportedly hired 50,000 navigators to “help” (i.e., recruit) applicants enrolling in Obamacare health care plan at a cost of $67 million to taxpayers. We filed a FOIA lawsuit back in March asking for information on the navigators in an effort to reveal what they were really up to.
And to make matters even worse, the Obama administration wasn’t even honest about the requirements to be an Obamacare navigator and the screenings given to those who are hired. Only under congressional pressure did former HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius reveal the full truth about the navigators’ backgrounds. At a November 6, 2014, Senate Finance Committee hearing, Sebelius admitted to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) that the federal government conducted no background checks on Obamacare navigators, and it was “possible” that they could be convicted criminals. The exchange went as follows:
Cornyn: So I want to ask you about the navigators … Isn’t it true that there is no federal requirement for navigators to undergo a criminal background check, even though they will receive sensitive personal information from the individuals they help to sign-up for the Affordable Care Act?”
Sebelius: That is true ….
Cornyn: “So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual unbeknownst to them?”
Sebelius: “That is possible.”
In January, 2014, National Review reported that as many as 43 convicted criminals were working as Obamacare navigators in California. And in March, Breitbart reported that Obamacare navigators were enrolling clients at Mexican Consulates nationwide, including Mexican nationals.
While it’s encouraging and refreshing to see Gruber’s comments penetrating into the public consciousness, let’s get it on record that your JW was thoroughly documenting Obamacare’s myriad deceptions, deceits, and prevarications a long time before “Mr. Mandate” finally let the cat out of the bag.
President Obama enjoyed several taxpayer-funded junkets over this past Labor Day weekend that appear quite detached from the people’s business. That’s what the travel records we obtained from the U.S. Air Force show. The president ran up over $1.5 million in expenses for his weekend trips. So let’s dig into how he spent his time on the taxpayer dime.
He began his money-raising venture by heading to Westchester, New York, on Friday, August 29. While in New York, Obama attended two fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee, one of them a BBQ at the home of former UBS CEO Robert Wolf. Obama later that day took off for Providence, Rhode Island, for a fundraiser at the private residence of former Nortek CEO Richard Bready and Betty Easton, where tickets cost up to $32, 400.The Bready/Easton event was Obama’s ninth fundraiser for the DNC this year.
Although the president was initially scheduled to fly back to Westchester, New York, that Friday night, and then return to D.C. after attending the wedding of White House chef Sam Kass to MSNBC host Alex Wagner, he made some last minute changes. Obama flew to D.C. for the night on Friday and then flew back to New York on Saturday. Apparently, it was necessary for Obama to “sleep in his own bed, do a little work…, spend time with his family and then travel to New York,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained.
The difference in cost for Obama’s last minute change amounted to $295,227.80 more in taxpayer expenses. And that is nearly six times what the average American makes in a year – an amount which, critics would argue not so coincidentally, has actually fallen 8% since Obama became president.
Here’s an additional breakdown of the travel expenses:
- Flights for Obama’s 2014 Labor Day weekend fundraising trips to Westchester, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island, cost taxpayers $527,192.50
- Transportation for Obama’s round-trip flight from D.C. to Westchester, New York, to attend a wedding cost taxpayers $358,490.90
- The flight for Obama’s trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to give a highly charged political speech at “Laborfest 2014” cost taxpayers $653,718.70
The documents detailing these expenses came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on September 2, 2014 – a very simple request that took nearly three months for the Obama administration to answer.
All told, Obama ran up $1,539,402.10 in expenses.
The abuse of travel privileges within the federal government certainly did not begin with Obama, though he has certainly taken it to record highs. In 2007, the General Accountability Office put out a 50-page report highlighting abusive travel spending by over a dozen federal agencies. The report focused on travels that took place between July 2005 and June 2006. The results were disconcerting, as the report found at least $146 million worth in travel was unauthorized or unjustified. The State Department was among the worst offenders racking up almost $180,000 in unauthorized premium class travel in just six months.
Federal rules say government employees must fly coach unless the flight takes longer than 14 hours or the employee received agency approval based upon a legitimate and documented medical condition. Other exceptions include security concerns or lack of availability of coach seats. Needless to say, these rules have not been tightly observed or enforced in recent years.
Members of Congress have been fully complicit in this abuse. Each year, many of them travel abroad to visit military bases, meet with foreign officials and attend a variety of conferences on what are most commonly known as “political junkets.” In 2008, federal lawmakers spent $13 million on these excursions, according to a newspaper analysis. (Judicial Watch has long monitored this wasteful congressional travel and helped ground Air Pelosi. Our reporting on then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) travel abuses caused her successor, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to disavow the use of government planes to get him back and forth to Ohio.)
So from bureaucrats to congressmen to the President of the United States your tax dollars are happily misused. Certainly, Obama’s Labor Day back-and-forth shows President Obama seems to confuse Air Force One with Uber. President Obama abuses not only taxpayers with this unnecessary travel – he strains an already overstretched military and a Secret Service that is in crisis and can’t even guard the front door of the White House. The new Congress could do worse than to reform presidential travel so that taxpayers aren’t gouged by candidates and campaigns benefitting from the political use of Air Force One.
Until next week …