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Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Federal Court Battle over January 6 Videos

U.S. Capitol Police Tells Federal Court January 6 Videos Are Not Public Records
UJudicial Watch Seeks Biden Pentagon Emails on ‘Countering Extremism Working Group’
Texas Supreme Court Asked to Review Suit for Docs on Qatari’s Funding of Texas A&M
Deposition Ordered for Mayor Lightfoot’s Office Over Her Racist Interview Policy

 


U.S. Capitol Police Tells Federal Court January 6 Videos Are Not Public Records

What is Nancy Pelosi hiding?

The U.S. Capitol Police are trying to shut down a public records lawsuit for January 6 disturbance video and emails by arguing to a federal court that the requested records are “not public records.”

We filed a lawsuit in February under the common law right of access to public records after the U.S. Capitol Police refused to provide any records in response to a January 21, 2021, request for:

  • Email communications between the U.S. Capitol Police Executive Team and the Capitol Police Board concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021 through January 10, 2021.
  • Email communications of the Capitol Police Board with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021through January 10, 2021.
  • All video footage from within the Capitol between 12 pm and 9 pm on January 6, 2021.

Regarding withholding the videos, the U.S. Capitol Police told the court:

The USCP’s camera security system, including footage recorded by it within the Capitol and sought by [Judicial Watch], is solely for national security and law enforcement purposes.

Access to video footage from the USCP’s camera security system is limited to narrow circumstances and strictly controlled by USCP policy.

The USCP has not made any public disclosures of video footage from January 6 from its camera security system.

There are currently pending criminal investigations and prosecutions of individuals involved in the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

There are currently pending congressional investigations into the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

In its motion, the Capitol Police also argue the case should be closed because, among other assertions, even if the records Judicial Watch asks for are “public records,” the USCP’s interests in confidentiality “outweigh any public interest in those materials.”

It also conveniently claims not to have access to many of the emails we seek.

To cut to the chase, the U.S. Capitol Police are hiding a reported 14,000 hours of January 6 video from the American people in order to help Nancy Pelosi’s abusive targeting of Trump’s supporters and other political opponents. Any other police department in America would be investigated and defunded for such abusive secrecy. The Pelosi Congress is in cover-up mode regarding January 6.

As you know, we are conducting an extensive investigation into the January 6 events in Washington, DC.

Earlier this month, we uncovered documents from Washington, DC’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) related to Air Force veteran and San Diego native Ashli Babbitt. These documents reveal that OCME submitted a request for permission to cremate Babbitt only two days after taking custody of her body and that due to the “high profile nature” of Babbitt’s case, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz requested that a secure electronic file with limited access be created for Babbitt’s records. Additionally, Babbitt’s fingerprints were emailed to a person supposedly working for the DC government, which resulted in Microsoft “undeliverable” messages written in Chinese characters being returned.

In July, we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ for records of communication between the FBI and several financial institutions about the reported transfer of financial transactions made by people in DC, Maryland and Virginia on January 5 and January 6, 2021. The FBI refused to confirm or deny any such records exist. Also in July, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for information relating to the tracking and collecting of Americans’ social media posts through its Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP).

In May, we sued both the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense for records regarding the deployment of armed forces around the Capitol complex in Washington, D.C., in January and February of 2021.

In March, we sued the District of Columbia for the autopsy of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and related records. Pressure from this lawsuit helped lead to the disclosure that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes. Also in March, we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense for records about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s January 8, 2021, telephone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.

Once again, Judicial Watch is doing the heavy lifting that a Congress, a media, and an honest executive branch also ought to be doing!

 


Judicial Watch Seeks Biden Pentagon Emails on ‘Countering Extremism Working Group’

Our military is now in an ideological war with itself. It is undergoing an ideological purge, endorsed by President Biden’s appointed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. We wanted to know more CRT-themed agenda targeting our troops, so we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Defense seeking records of communications from Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Hyten regarding the Pentagon’s Countering Extremism Working Group (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:21-cv-02145)).

We sued here in DC after the Pentagon failed to reply to our May 7, 2021, FOIA request, in which we asked for the following public records:

public records:

All emails exchanged between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and email accounts ending in .gov and/or .mil referencing “Countering Extremism Working Group” and/or “CEWG.”

All emails exchanged between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and email accounts ending in .gov and/or .mil referencing “Countering Extremism Working Group” and/or “CEWG.”

All emails exchanged between Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten and email accounts ending in .gov and/or .mil referencing “Countering Extremism Working Group” and/or “CEWG.”

During his Senate confirmation hearing in January, which followed the January 6 disturbance at the U.S. Capitol building, Austin vowed that he would purge the U.S. military of “racists and extremists.” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”

On February 3, Austin ordered a 60-day military stand down to address the “challenge of extremism in the ranks.”

Austin established the Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG) on April 9.

Austin selected Bishop Garrison, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense on Human Capital and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to head up the CEWG. The effort has been criticized as a racialized vehicle to attack supporters of President Trump and others who espouse conservative views.

In July 2019, Garrison tweeted of then-President Donald Trump:

Silence from our Congressional leaders is complicity. He is only going to get worse from here, & his party and its leadership are watching it happen while doing nothing to stop it. Support for him, a racist, is support for ALL his beliefs.

He’s dragging a lot of bad actors (misogynists, extremists, other racists) out into the light, normalizing their actions. If you support the President, you support that. There is no room for nuance with this. There is no more “but I’m not like that” talk.

This week’s Afghanistan humiliation is further evidence that the Biden Pentagon’s obsession with targeting conservatives in the military undermines our national security. Why is the Pentagon’s leadership hiding records about its ongoing political purge and attack on the First Amendment rights of our troops?

 


Texas Supreme Court Asked to Review Suit for Docs on Qatari’s Funding of Texas A&M

We have long investigated the role of unfriendly foreign governments in American universities, and it hasn’t abated. One might suppose that there is just too much money involved. The latest example is the nation of Qatar.

 We filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court of Texas regarding a lawsuit on behalf of our client Zachor Legal Institute under the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA), seeking records about potential influence by the Qatar government’s funding of certain Texas A&M University programs at its campus in Education City, Al Rayyan, Qatar (Zachor Legal Institute, v. Qatar Foundation For Education, Science And Community Development (No. 21-0542))

Zachor Legal Institute is a U.S.-based advocacy group dedicated to combatting the spread of anti-Semitism. Zachor made two requests under the Texas Public Information Act for information about the funding or donations made to Texas A&M by the government of Qatar and agencies and subdivisions of the government of Qatar. Qatar controversially has aligned itself with Islamic terrorists and extremists, which has placed it at odds with the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies in the Middle East.

Zachor began asking two years ago for information about Qatari funding of Texas A&M research and how Texas A&M, a public university, was able to establish a degree-conferring campus in Qatar without the Texas Legislature’s permission or involvement. In 2003 Texas A&M established a campus in Qatar that now grants Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Petroleum Engineering. Since 2011, advanced degrees have been offered in Chemical Engineering.

Texas A&M at Qatar has awarded more than 1000 degrees since 2007.

In October 2018, Qatar filed suit against the Texas attorney general to prevent the disclosure of its funding information. On April 29, 2019, we filed a petition to intervene on behalf of Zachor.

We contend that a key issue, in this case, is the proper interpretation of the TPIA [Texas Public Information Act], an important statute governing the public’s right to access public information. We are asking the court to interpret whether the act waives the Attorney General’s immunity from being sued – not by a governmental body seeking to withhold information but by a private entity (Qatar Foundation) wishing to have public information kept secret – or “whether the governmental body that holds the information and has the duty to release it” must be the party filing the lawsuit.

The Texas Attorney General ruled that Texas A&M could withhold only the donors’ identifying information but must release the other requested information. The Qatar Foundation filed a suit challenging the Attorney General’s opinion. The Honorable Karin Crump, presiding Judge of the 200th Judicial District Court of Travis County, dismissed the Qatar Foundation’s claims on jurisdictional grounds leaving the Attorney General’s opinion intact. The Qatar Foundation appealed to the Texas Court of Appeals, Third District, at Austin, Texas. The court reversed the district court’s jurisdictional order and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. Zachor is now asking the Texas Supreme Court to grant its petition for review and render judgment that Qatar Foundation’s lawsuit to keep this public information secret is jurisdictionally barred.

As we point out in our petition, the U.S. Congressional Research Service has found serious issues worthy of investigation with Qatar’s involvement in discrimination and terrorism:

The Qatari government has been identified as a vocal purveyor of anti-Semitism and promoter of extremist terrorist groups. The merits of this case ask whether the Qatar Foundation (a private entity) will be allowed to use the (Texas Public Information Act) to preclude public scrutiny of its involvement with and influence on a public university.

Marc Greendorfer, president of Zachor Legal Institute, said, “When Zachor first submitted the public records request, we were concerned that foreign governments were using United States’ university campuses as breeding grounds for hate and indoctrination. With the dramatic and rapid explosion of antisemitism and anti-American unrest that have spread on campuses since we submitted the request, our concerns are only amplified. We urge the Texas Supreme Court to allow Zachor, and the people of the State of Texas, to see what Qatar is trying to hide.”

The Qatari government has been misusing our nation’s courts to hide the details of its controversial funding of Texas A & M University. We hope the Texas Supreme Court puts a stop to this.

 


Deposition Ordered for Mayor Lightfoot’s Office Over Her Racist Interview Policy

There’s been an important development in our legal battle against Chicago’s mayor.

A federal court ordered the deposition of a representative of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office in our lawsuit over her discriminatory interview policy. In doing so, the court rejected arguments by the mayor’s lawyers against discovery and to dismiss the legal challenge.

We filed a motion for limited jurisdictional discovery after Mayor Lightfoot’s office once again changed its explanation about when and how she would only grant interviews to “journalists of color.” Only after we filed our lawsuit and the mayor had to defend her actions in court did the public learn that the racially biased criteria only applied to a purported “press tour.”

On May 27, 2021, we filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation and reporter Thomas Catenacci against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for violating their First Amendment Rights and Catenacci’s right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment (Catenacci et al v. Lightfoot (No. 1:21-cv-02852)). Christine Svenson of Svenson Law Offices in Palatine, Illinois, is assisting us with the lawsuit.

Catenacci, a white male, emailed Mayor Lightfoot’s office requesting a one-on-one interview with the mayor. The office never replied to the request or to multiple follow up emails from Catenacci.

The civil rights lawsuit argues that Lightfoot purposefully discriminated against Catenacci “because of his race by stating that she would only grant interview requests from ‘journalists of color….’”

“America’s civil rights heroes must be turning over in their graves because of the overt racism now openly embraced by so many on the far left in America, including Chicago’s Mayor Lightfoot. We are optimistic the courts will agree that government officials are still not allowed to discriminate in America,” Daily Caller News Foundation President Neil Patel said.

“I look forward to understanding how the mayor’s office implemented such a discriminatory policy. My rights, and the First Amendment rights of countless other reporters in America, must not be trampled upon,” Thomas Catenacci said.

We’re pleased by the federal court ruling requiring a representative of Mayor Lightfoot to explain, under oath, the scope and nature of her racist interview policy.

 

Until next week …

 


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