From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Judicial Watch Calls on Roland Burris to Resign
What a difference a month can make.
On January 7, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the United States Senate for denying Roland Burris his position as the junior senator from Illinois. Now, we’re calling for Burris to resign. And we’re not alone. Even the liberal Washington Post is urging Burris to step down.
What happened in the last five weeks to provoke such a change of heart? Burris apparently lied about his contacts with disgraced and impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was arrested in December 2008 for trying to “sell” President Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Roland Burris came under fresh scrutiny on Tuesday after disclosing he tried to raise money for the disgraced former Illinois governor who named him to the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.
Michael Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, said he had turned over testimony and records to a county prosecutor in Springfield, the state capital, for review following a series of new disclosures from Burris.
In the latest of those admissions, Burris said he looked into mounting a fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich — later charged with trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat — at the same time he was expressing interest to the then-governor’s aides about his desire to be appointed.
By The Washington Post’s count, Burris has changed his story five times regarding his contacts with Blagojevich prior to the Illinois governor appointing him to the U.S. Senate. Three of those changing explanations came under oath.
Of course when the question was first raised, Burris said there was no contact with Blagojevich prior to the appointment. Now we learn Burris attempted to raise money for Blagojevich at the same time the former Illinois governor essentially put the Senate seat on the open market.
Burris says he has done nothing wrong and that he “intends to fight.” Remember, we heard very similar words from Blagojevich – just before he was impeached. The Senate Ethics Committee is now investigating. Burris didn’t have many friends in the Senate. They were looking for a reason from the beginning to keep him out of the Senate. Now they’ve got one.
Senator Burris will probably resign if pushed. The Democratic leadership needs to push him by making it clear they will support an effort to expel him. If Senator Reid and the rest opposed Burris’s seating with no evidence of misconduct, how can they support him now with all the evidence of perjury and public lies?
This is Obama’s “seat” and so Obama can’t stay out of it. His continuing silence will be seen as condoning Burris’s behavior. With Obama’s alleged concern for ethics and accountability, Obama neutrality on Burris is untenable.
Clinton Lawyer Cheryl Mills to Serve as Hillary’s Chief of Staff
It’s getting rough out there for Hillary Clinton operatives seeking employment at the Clinton State Department. Apparently, there aren’t enough jobs to go around. However, at least one corrupt Clinton crony has evidently secured a top spot – former Clinton White House lawyer Cheryl Mills.
Hillary Clinton’s famously sharp-elbowed staffers are jockeying to land jobs with her at the State Department, but there’s not enough room at Foggy Bottom for everyone who wants to work for her again…
…Sources familiar with the vetting process say Clinton is playing a role in the decisions and wants to keep some familiar faces around.
Cheryl Mills, who served as Clinton’s general counsel and played a major role in post-campaign operations, is likely to be named Clinton’s chief of staff, sources tell Politico. Clinton campaign aides credit Mills with helping to “bring order” to the Clinton campaign last year.
Here’s what Politico doesn’t tell you. In addition to “bringing order” to Hillary’s campaign, Cheryl Mills also negotiated on behalf of Bill Clinton in discussions with the Obama administration related to the former president’s enormous conflicts of interest. The Obama team was reportedly concerned about Bill (and Hillary) Clinton’s business dealings when considering Hillary Clinton for the position of Secretary of State. Obviously, Mills did her job as Hillary received the appointment.
Presumably, as Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills ought to be raising red flags when Bill Clinton’s business and foundation interests intersect with official State Department business. This brings up a key question: How can Cheryl Mills be trusted to keep tabs on Bill Clinton at the State Department when she served as his chief negotiator just a few months ago?
Mills’ “double agent” status ought to make her ineligible to serve in this capacity. But there’s more.
You may recall that Cheryl Mills was a key player in a scandal uncovered by Judicial Watch in 2000, often referred to as “Emailgate.” During the course of its “Filegate” litigation against the Clinton White House, which pilfered the private FBI files of former Reagan and Bush staffers, Judicial Watch uncovered more than 1.8 million email communications the Clinton White House withheld from Judicial Watch, federal investigators and members of Congress.
In this case, as is typical for Washington, there was a cover-up to match the crime. When White House computer contractor (and JW client) Betty Lambuth discovered the email communications, high-level White House officials instructed her to keep her mouth shut about the hidden e-mail or face dismissal and jail time. They issued the same threat to other White House contractors aware of the hidden email. (This makes the Bush administration email scandal, however troubling, seem like tiddlywinks by comparison.)
Judicial Watch’s discovery resulted in a six-month federal court hearing into the email scandal, during which Clinton officials were deposed, including Cheryl Mills. Mills was, in fact, aware of the missing White House emails but “assumed” someone else was handling the matter.
In an April 28, 2008, ruling in the email scandal, Judge Royce C. Lamberth called Cheryl Mills’ participation in the matter “loathsome.” He further stated Mills was responsible for “the most critical error made in this entire fiasco… Mills’ actions were totally inadequate to address the problem.” (Unfortunately, Judge Lamberth ruled there was no evidence of a conspiracy or obstruction of justice.)
Loathsome and totally inadequate. Say hello to the new Chief of Staff for the Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen.
Mills was also one of three Clinton White House lawyers who recommended Bill Clinton release the private letters of Kathleen Willey, in violation of the Privacy Act. Thanks to Judicial Watch’s legal efforts in this case, Bill Clinton was the first sitting president to be found to have committed a crime by a federal court when he authorized the release of letters written to him by Ms. Willey, whom the former president sexually assaulted in the Oval Office. (Mills was one of the lawyers who defended Bill Clinton’s perjury and obstruction of justice in the failed Senate trial to remove the impeached president. That may impress some, but most Americans are tired of corrupt politicians getting away with high crimes and misdemeanors.)
Clearly, Mills is not fit to serve in any official capacity in the government, but most especially as Chief of Staff at our Department of State.
Government Settles Judicial Watch Abramoff Lawsuit
The federal government elected to settle a Judicial Watch lawsuit regarding corrupt former lobbyist Jack Abramoff rather than face further litigation. The U.S. Secret Service will pay Judicial Watch $32,000 to settle a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that saw the agency attempt to stonewall the release of records related to Abramoff’s visits to the Bush White House.
It’s been a little while since I’ve covered this lawsuit, so let’s review. As you may recall, Jack Abramoff was connected to a web of influence-peddling scandals that eventually led to his arrest and imprisonment.
Obviously, given the breadth of scandals involving Abramoff, many people wondered what, if any, contacts he had with the White House. When questioned about his relationship with Abramoff, President Bush distanced himself, saying, “I don’t know him.” The White House subsequently admitted that Abramoff had attended White House staff meetings, but refused to provide any further details.
That’s when we got involved.
Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request with the U.S. Secret Service to obtain information related to Abramoff’s visits to The White House. When the agency failed to respond, we filed a lawsuit. Judicial Watch earned a court victory when Judge John Garrett Penn ordered the Secret Service to release to Judicial Watch “all White House visitor logs from January 1, 2001 to present that reflect the entries and exit(s) of lobbyist Jack Abramoff from the White House” without redactions by May 10, 2006.
The agency responded by releasing to Judicial Watch some shoddy records, which were not official and contained incomplete information. (According to press reports, Bush administration officials admitted at the time that more complete logs existed in response to the Court’s order, but the White House directed the Secret Service to withhold them.)
So Judicial Watch went back to court and filed a “motion to compel” against the U.S. Secret Service to force compliance with the court order. At one point, the Secret Service had argued that some of the records, called “Sensitive Security Records,” were so secret that it could “neither confirm nor deny” their existence. The court rejected this argument. Ultimately, we received the records we sought. Overall, Judicial Watch documented nine Bush White House appointments for Jack Abramoff. (Click here to see the records for yourself.)
This lawsuit is a classic example of what Judicial Watch too often encounters when attempting to force the release of government records. Fortunately, our able legal team has virtually unmatched experience dealing with government stonewalling and we ultimately obtained the records we wanted (or at least the records the Secret Service says it had).
Until next week…
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