SEPTEMBER 26, 2014
Judicial Watch Court Victories Lead to Holder Resignation
On Thursday, September 25, Eric Holder announced that he would step down as Attorney General of the United States. If you are a regular reader of the Weekly Update, you know that since the day he was appointed to office, Judicial Watch has battled day in and day out to prevent Holder from continuing to corrupt the Department of Justice (DOJ). And, in fact, in January of this year, we named him to the Judicial Watch list of the “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” for the sixth year in a row. Many quickly credited Judicial Watch’s work with helping to force Holder out. Former DOJ attorney Sidney Powell was blunt in her New York Observer column about Holder’s disastrous tenure:
He has made the Department of Obstructing Justice notorious. Federal judges are stepping in to end his stone walling of Congressional and other investigations on several fronts, and now he’s on the run.
Why now? What is about to blow up?
You can see some of what is to blow up in my Judicial Watch statement issued to the press immediately upon hearing of Holder’s intended resignation:
It is no coincidence that Holder’s resignation comes on the heels of another court ruling [see below] that the Justice Department must finally cough up information about how Holder’s Justice Department lied to Congress and the American people about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, for which Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives. Over the past several months, Judicial Watch also exposed how Holder’s Justice Department was implicated in the IRS scandal and how Justice Department lawyers helped defend the illegal stonewall that kept secret key material related to Benghazi.
The disgraced Holder’s exit is past due accountability for Holder’s Fast and Furious lies, and I hope it brings some solace to the family of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the hundreds of innocent Mexicans likely killed thanks to the Holder Justice Department’s scheme that armed the murderous Mexican drug cartels.
In 2009, Judicial Watch opposed Holder’s confirmation as Attorney General, noting that “Mr. Holder’s record demonstrates a willingness to bend the law in order to protect his political patrons.” The U.S. Senate, including many Republicans, ignored Holder’s record and confirmed a man who went on to be one of the worst Attorneys General of the modern era.
Mr. Holder, his appointees, and his agency have lied repeatedly to Congress and the American people. He has damaged the Justice Department by putting politics, ideology, and race above the rule of law. Disturbingly, Mr. Holder refused to enforce the law in a race-neutral manner. And, when it comes to government transparency, Holder’s Justice Department became one of the worst violators of the Freedom of Information Act, manufacturing new legal excuses for government secrecy that would make Richard Nixon blush.
In Eric Holder, President Obama found his John Mitchell – an attorney general who would lie, obstruct investigations, and ignore or simply not enforce the law in order to advance his president’s unbridled will.
As the press is writing his political epitaph, I hope it is also remembered how Holder lied to Congress and how his agency assaulted Freedom of the Press by collecting the private email correspondence of reporters, seizing their phone records and tracking their movements as part of an investigation of perceived leaks.
“Justice” took a holiday during Eric Holder’s reign at the Department of Justice. The man can’t leave office soon enough.
Thankfully, some key media noted that scandal was behind Holder’s resignation. I appeared for 30 minutes on Michael Savage’s national radio program to discuss this issue and many outlets picked up the JW point tying the pressure from our victories on Fast and Furious and the IRS to Holder’s departure. We are honored especially that Agent Terry’s family saw the link as well. Terry’s sister, Kelly Terry-Willis, commented to Townhall.com’s Katie Pavlich:
“I personally think Eric Holder was really hoping that the documents would never be made public to my family and the American people,” Terry-Willis tells Townhall. “Will we ever get the accountability for my brother, Brian, Jaime Zapata and every other person who lost their lives to the guns from this horrific scandal? I don’t know, but I have a serious gut feeling when we finally see what is in those documents….the dynamics of this investigation are going to change and hopefully the people involved are brought to justice. Eric Holder can run, but there will be no hiding. The truth always reveals itself.”
Once again, Judicial Watch’s persistence, made possible with the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans, has paid off.
To see more information about Judicial Watch’s remarkable record exposing wrongdoing at Eric Holder’s Justice Department, click here.
Judicial Watch Victory: Court Brooks No More Delay for Obama’s Fast and Furious Reckoning
When you’re going head-to-head with a deliberately obstructionist Department of Justice (DOJ), it’s important to set deadlines. I am pleased to report that the U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia has ruled that the DOJ must submit a “Vaughn index” list of documents by October22 in our continuing battle to ferret out the truth about the Obama administration’s Operation Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates turned back a motion from the DOJ asking that it be given an extra month to produce the material. The ruling forces the DOJ to identify each document that has been withheld in response to our June 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and our subsequent FOIA lawsuit filed on September 2012 seeking DOJ records pertaining to the Fast and Furious debacle.
As you may recall, Fast and Furious was a joint DOJ-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gun running operation that the administration perpetrated with the expectation that 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 in turn 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.
Again, as Eric Holder prepares to step down, let’s not forget that he was the man behind the murderous Fast and Furious scandal, and, in fact, he was held in contempt by the House of Representatives over his refusal to turn over documents about why the Obama administration may have lied to Congress and refused for months to disclose the truth about the gun-running operation. It marked the first time in U.S. history that a sitting Attorney General was held in contempt of Congress.
In our FOIA lawsuit, we asked for all of the Fast and Furious documents that the Obama White House refused to release to the House of Representatives. In fact, President Obama, to protect his crony Holder from being criminally prosecuted, asserted executive privilege in an unprecedented effort to keep all of the information secret. But Judicial Watch has persevered. (Congress sued for the documents, but got nowhere until Judicial Watch broke things open with our lawsuit. Details here.)
The Vaughn index the Court has ordered requires the DOJ to do the following: (1) identify each document withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption.
It is quite clear that if the White House had its way, it would withhold this information until it was sure it could not impact the mid-term election in November. Now it will be available for public consumption well in advance of that date.
Team Obama offered up the usual litany of excuses and delay tactics. Administration officials claimed the sheer volume of documents required additional time to comply with the Vaughn index. They also complained that a significant number of additional attorneys would be needed to comply with the deadline. But, as Judge Bates said in his ruling, the DOJ has known about its Vaughn index obligations since July 18, 2014 – which means either that the department had been slow to react to the Court’s prior order, or that it had been ignoring the order altogether. Either way, in the judge’s words, “The government’s argument for even more time is unconvincing.”
So you can see why we think it’s no coincidence that Holder’s resignation came within two days of Judge Bates shut down the Fast and Furious stall tactics. And you can be sure that we will provide you with the full details as to what the Vaughn index documents reveal as soon as they are in our hands.
In the meantime, we are pleased that we may get some accountability for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of others who lost their lives as a result of Obama’s Fast and Furious program.
Obama Fleeces Taxpayers on Campaign Travel
At a time when illegal immigrants are putting pressure on America’s porous southwestern border, and terrorists are gaining ground overseas, how should an American president spend his time? If you’re President Obama, you apparently feel you should drink beer, play pool and book expensive fundraising trips.
That’s what the records we obtained from the U.S. Department of Air Force Headquarters Air Mobility Command – through a July 21, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request – appear to indicate.
Here are some of the numbers: Transportation costs of the president’s July 8-9 fundraising trips to Denver, Colorado cost the taxpayers $695,894.10, while the transportation costs for the president’s July 17-18 fundraising trip to New York City, New York, cost taxpayers $463,929.40. That’s what we know. What we don’t know is the security costs to the taxpayer for these trips because the Secret Service, which can’t seem to be able to guard the front door of the White House, is obsessed with stonewalling our requests for the security costs of Obama’s fundraising travel.
And, of course, the Obama White House keeps secret how it determines if presidential travel is either “official” or “political.” Political parties and campaigns are charged no more than the price of an individual commercial airline ticket, hotel, and food costs if a president uses Air Force One in whole or in part for a “political” trip. What a racket!
These fundraising trips coincided with international and domestic crises that call out for presidential leadership. While Obama was delivering his fundraising speeches in Denver and New York, thousands of illegal aliens were flooding across the Rio Grande Valley, with one law enforcement bulletin declaring that apprehensions were at “historically elevated levels. Meanwhile, in Iraq, the terrorist group ISIS was seizing “vast areas of Iraq” according to the New York Times. In the Ukraine, a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down, and, in the Mideast, Israel had begun its Gaza ground offensive.
With these facts in mind, consider how The Associated Press described the president’s July 8 and 9 fundraisers in Denver. Obama spent his time at “a crowded pizza restaurant, a pool bar and face-to-face with a man wearing a horse head mask.” Images of President Obama drinking beer and playing pool became the subject of national news. Not a very formidable, compelling image for the commander-in-chief. Just a few days later, on July 17 and 18, Obama traveled to New York City for a gala lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.
“The White House says Obama will raise money for the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group that takes unlimited donations. Obama’s appearance will complete his gradual acceptance of the big-money groups he once opposed,” according to a report from the Tribune Broadcasting’s WPIX-TV in Manhattan.
We searched in vain for any news about the president’s strong stance on terrorism in Iraq and turmoil on the border during his fundraising junket. But, apparently he was far more concerned with partying hard and making money – all at the taxpayers’ expense.
In the meantime, Judicial Watch, which seems to be the only entity in DC asking tough questions (and suing) about Obama’s abuse of his public office, is your one-stop source on the costs of Obama’s unnecessary luxury travel.
Judicial Watch Leads Effort to Save Clean Elections
Just over a year ago, voter fraud became a much tougher proposition in North Carolina, where state lawmakers passed HB 589. This well-crafted piece of legislation requires voters to show a photo ID before they cast a ballot. The bill also eliminates same day registration, reduces the number of days of early voting, and calls for provisional ballots to be cast in the precinct where the voter is registered. Americans who care about ballot integrity have every reason to be pleased with HB 589.
But not so with the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ). In fact, in September 2013, it asked a U.S. District Court to enjoin several key provisions of HB 589 under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. It argued that the bill would disfranchise up to 2 million North Carolina minority voters. But, of course, it offered no substance to back up its claims.
Judicial Watch responded in June 2014 by filing an amicus curiae brief with the District Court. And as you might expect, we did provide substance. That included a definitive study debunking DOJ arguments. The study showed that black turnout actually increased in the one major election that was held in North Carolina since the bill became law. And, as we noted in our brief, the numbers were “devastating to the plaintiff’s case because they contradict all of their experts’ bias for asserting harm”:
The results of this analysis … show that black turnout increased in 2014 by every meaningful measure. Black share of the total electorate increased. The percentage of black registered voters voting increased. Using Census Bureau estimates, Dr. Camarota [the Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies] found an increase in turnout among blacks of voting age. Finally, while turnout increased across the board in May 2014, and while white turnout increased by 13.7%, black turnout increased much faster – by an astonishing 29.5%.
I am pleased to report that now out-going Attorney General Eric Holder and his government attorneys suffered a significant setback when the District Court ruled against the DOJ request to enjoin HB 589 this past August. The District Court allowed us to present our arguments in opposition to the DOJ at a key hearing. And those arguments clearly prevailed. Yet, while there is cause for encouragement, the well-funded lobby of voter fraud apologists continues to work through the court system in an effort to eviscerate HB 589.
By the way, our partners in that legal effort were Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) and Christina Kelley Gallegos-Merrill (a North Carolina resident and former political candidate). AEF and Ms. Gallegos-Merrill both have an interest in upholding the rule of law and constitutional values. (Ms. Gallegos-Merrill’s interest is based on experience, as she ran for County Commissioner of Buncombe County in 2012 and lost a very close election. She believes that this loss was due to same-day registration during early voting and to improperly cast ballots.)
So, this is where we are now.
The American Civil Liberties Union has appealed the lower court ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit and we have promptly responded. On Sept. 17, we joined with our partners again to file an amicus curiae brief with the Fourth Circuit asking it to deny the ACLU’s motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of HB 589. You’ll be pleased to know that respected civil rights lawyer Chris Coates, who served as Chief of the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department under President Obama, has been serving as lead counsel for Judicial Watch and its amicus partners.
In our new filing, we argue that if the ACLU were to succeed, it “would have a chilling effect on voter confidence in the integrity of elections, both in North Carolina and nationwide.” We added:
If North Carolina is compelled to reinstate same-day registration, to extend the early voting period by a week, and to permit out-of-precinct provisional ballots, many North Carolina citizens could have their votes diluted by unlawful ballots cast in the names of false or duplicate registrations. Furthermore, Plaintiffs-Appellants’ requested relief will undermine the confidence in the integrity of elections among citizens.
I have to say that the Obama DOJ assault on North Carolina’s attempt to protect the integrity of the ballot box was not altogether unexpected. On the very day that HB 589 passed, Holder delivered a speech to the National Urban League concerning the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby Co. v. Holder declaring that a voting rights lawsuit the DOJ had recently filed against Texas, “is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last.” This statement was widely seen as a reference to a potential lawsuit against North Carolina over its new election integrity law. So, your JW was more than prepared for the Holder assault.
We believe the Fourth Circuit should affirm the lower court ruling on behalf of ballot box integrity and stave off yet another attempt by the Obama administration (or, in this case, its front group – the ACLU) to turn fair and open elections into nothing more than free for alls. But, as Jefferson said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” And that is why we continue to fight.
I urge you to learn more about the threat to election integrity. If the Left and other corrupt politicians of both parties are able to steal elections…well, I don’t need to describe the awful consequences to our nation.