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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Deep State Cover-Up

Hillary Clinton Apologized to FBI Over Emails, But It Was Not Recorded on FBI Interview Document!
CIA, DOJ Stonewall on Existence of Eric Ciaramella Records
Soros-Tied Group Run by Dem Operatives Promotes Leftist Agenda
Prosecutorial Misconduct, Clinton Connection in Duncan Hunter Case

Hillary Clinton Apologized to FBI Over Emails, But It Was Not Recorded on FBI Interview Document!

We keep digging into the chain of events surrounding the FBI’s non-investigation of Hillary Clinton and her email misconduct. The correspondence between Peter Strzok and his lover Lisa Page is proving to be a treasure trove.

We have now received 191 pages of emails between former FBI official Strzok and former FBI attorney Page that include an August 26, 2016, email in which Strzok says that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her interview with the FBI about her email controversy, apologized for “the work and effort” it caused the bureau and saying she chose to use it “out of convenience” and that “it proved to be anything but.”

Strzok said Clinton’s apology and the “convenience” discussion were “not in” the FBI 302 report which summarized the interview.

The emails also suggest that Strzok had information on an intelligence briefing for then-candidate Trump that may have been a ruse to spy on Trump.

The emails are the latest production from our January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DOJ failed to respond to a December 2017 request for all communications between Strzok and Page (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)).

The FBI is processing the records at a rate of only 500 pages per month and has refused to process text messages. At this rate, the production of these communications won’t be completed until late 2021.

The new records include an August 26, 2016, email from CNN’s Even Perez to Michael Kortan, the FBI’s assistant director for public affairs, saying: “Do you know if Gowdy is right that the FBI didn’t ask Clinton about her intent? And is that weird?”

Kortan forwards the email to Strzok, saying, “The question of the day …”

Strzok replies to Kortan, “I know, I was getting increasingly irritated at Gowdy last night. I don’t know the basis for him saying that. We certainly asked her. She said she did it for convenience, because she wanted one system for email. We also asked those close to her – Abedin and Mills specifically – who said the same thing.

“[Redacted] but we can find the references in the 302 which discuss it.

“Though not in the 302, at the end of the interview she apologized for the work and effort it created for the FBI. She said words to the effect of, I’m sorry this has caused so much work and expenditure of resources by the FBI. I chose to use my own server out of convenience; it proved to be anything but.”

Strzok forwarded the exchange to Page, saying, “Need to nip this in the bud.”

In an August 25, 2016, email thread with the subject line “Found him,” which was initiated by an unidentified Chicago FBI field office agent and sent to agents in New York, Cleveland and Washington field offices as well as someone in the counterintelligence division, the Chicago agent writes: “Address is [redacted]. Photo attached.”

A Washington agent (identity redacted) forwards the email to Strzok and FBI Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Jonathan Moffa, writing: “Getting there. Also Pete, let me know if you will when you call CG SAC [redacted] is in a weird spot and even though I’ve made calls I didn’t call SAC Once call is made I’d like to tell [redacted].”

Strzok then forwards the email thread to Page, writing: “Located our source of predication…”

The records also include an August 18, 2016, email from FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap to Strzok, Moffa and a FBI official (identity redacted), asking if they “happen to know when Clinton will receive the brief? And where will it occur, and which two people has she designated to receive it with her?”

Strzok replies, “She has not designated her people and no date is set. I believe brief will be HVRA [the FBI’s Hudson Valley Resident Agent] or WPRA [FBI’s White Plains Resident Agent].”

Further on in the email exchange, the unidentified FBI official from the Washington field office writes, “There is no additional or new info as of this morning when I checked with the DNI scheduler. There is a policy that briefs will not be provided a week prior to a debate. If the other candidate does not ID people soon, there was talk that they may not be able to do them. That’s all I know at this time.”

Strzok forwards the exchange to Lisa Page and says, “And now we’ve got sources in dni <smiley emoji>.”

Page replies, “Yup, I knew the same. Just hadn’t shared yet.”

Strzok responds, “What?! You holding out? <wink emoji>”

Page replies, “Time, dude. Time.”

Strzok responds, “I know, dudette. Hence, the <wink emoji>. Same realization of shit, haven’t even told you about Trump brief…”

The DOJ’s Inspector General report on “Crossfire Hurricane” describes the FBI’s use of a national security briefing to the Trump campaign in August 2016 to try to further its investigation by planting an agent in the room:

[W]e learned during the course of our review that in August 2016, the supervisor of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, SSA 1, participated on behalf of the FBI in a strategic intelligence briefing given by Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to candidate Trump and his national security advisors, including Michael Flynn, and in a separate strategic intelligence briefing given to candidate Clinton and her national security advisors. The stated purpose of the FBI portion of the briefing was to provide the recipients “a baseline on the presence and threat posed by foreign intelligence services to the National Security of the U.S.” However, we found that SSA 1 was selected to provide the FBI briefings, in part, because Flynn, who was a subject in the ongoing Crossfire Hurricane investigation, would be attending the Trump campaign briefing.

On August 19, 2016, the same day as Paul Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign, Dave Bowdich in FBI Director James Comey’s office initiates an email exchange with the subject line “OGA” [Other Government Agency], in which he tells the top management of the FBI (Randy Coleman, Josh Skule, Michael Steinbach, Amy Hess, Valerie Parlave, James Turgal, James Trainor, Laura Bucheit, Bill Priestap and WL Bean), “We are clear to [redacted]. DJ [likely Associate Executive Assistant Director Dave Johnson] will determine the composition of the team with your collective input. This gets our foot in the door, but we can scale as necessary later.”

Jim Trainor responds, “10-4. Per DJ’s voice mail [redacted]. Stand by for the names.”

Preistap forwards the exchange to Strzok and Moffa, saying, “Pete, Please see the bottom email. We’ve been asked to send 1 person with the FBI team tomorrow. Our 1 person will then be responsible for providing you/me with a recommendation as to what CD’s [Counterintelligence Division’s] resource commitment should be moving forward. Please provide the name of the person who can participate tomorrow, beginning in the AM (details to follow).”

Strzok replies, “OK. Stand by for name”

Strzok then forwards the exchange to Page, who replies “Bowdich sent separately as well.”

Strzok responds, “Oh good <smiley emoji>”.

On August 29, 2016, Strzok forwards a Daily Beast article titled “FBI vs. State Department Over Hillary Clinton’s Secrets” to Page, Moffa and a redacted General Counsel office official, with a note saying, “Good job, State… \u-19179?” – presumably suggesting that the four of them meet to discuss. The article begins, “The FBI and the State Department are at odds over whether Hillary Clinton’s personal lawyers had the proper government-issued security clearances that they needed to keep copies of her emails in a Washington, DC law office last year.”

On August 30, 2016, former FBI Director James Comey emails then-Assistant Director Andrew McCabe, copying Page, James Baker, Priestap and James Trainor with the subject line “WH” and said “Both meetings went well and I was well prepared.… I will need an update briefing on [redacted] next week. As you might imagine, there was great interest in what each of us is doing on that front and in understanding what more we can do and the obstacles we see.” Page forwards the email to Strzok, who replied, “Thanks. Bill asked me as I was leaving if I thought it should be in CD [Counterintelligence Division]. Guessing this prompted it. I said yes then described and endorsed Allies reorganization idea.”

On August 31, 2016, a redacted FBI General Counsel official asks Strzok and Page if they should respond to a Washington Times article that asserts that the FBI found “hundreds, and likely thousands, of violations of the Federal Records Act” by Clinton in her non-government email server use. Strzok’s immediate reply is redacted. Strzok ends up asking for the article to be sent to him.

On September 2, 2016, Chief of Staff James Rybicki sent an email titled “All Member Briefing” to the same top FBI officials as in the August 19 exchange and discusses a “9/8 Director all-member briefing on FBINet. Action is needed by Tuesday (9/6) by CyD [Cyber Division] and CD.” Rybicki follows up on September 2 with an update, saying, “NSC determined that this would be a classified briefing” and that it would “be a briefing for leadership and chairs/rankings of homeland and intelligence committees (12 members).”

In another email exchange on September 2, 2016, FBI agent Stephen Laycock tells Strzok and Moffa that the meeting referenced in the previous exchange on September 2 relates to “the project”. FBI Congressional Affairs Chief Jason Herring is looped in and reveals that the meeting involves alleged “foreign hacking activity.”

Laycock writes, “Hey guys. Sorry to bother at this hour. Are either of you aware of a cyber brief to the D and HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] Tuesday that I believe is related to the project? Just got a call from a buddy who is tdy to cyber as SC and was privy to this presentation where he noticed a few CD centric things that CD may have an interest in taking a look at and scrubbing. This may already have been coordinated but just wanted to make sure.”

On September 7, 2016, a redacted FBI official sent an email to Strzok and Moffa with the subject line “Another quote from Assange on Hannity,” and provides the quote as “We have thousands of examples where she herself [likely Clinton] has a ‘C’ in brackets & signed it off.” Strzok forwards the email to Page, saying “Interesting.”

In a September 8, 2016, email from New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt to Kortan, Schmidt gives the DOJ an early “heads up on something we’re planning on reporting today,” which was about Clinton’s email server technician, Paul Combetta, deleting Hillary’s subpoenaed emails, and saying “The fact that Combetta was given immunity takes much of the air out of the idea that DOJ needs to investigate the deletions.”

So now we know that the FBI report of Clinton’s ‘interview’ is incomplete and that Peter Strzok may have details on the classified briefing of candidate Trump that were used as pretext for a spy operation. No wonder the FBI had been stonewalling the release of these emails.

CIA, DOJ Stonewall on Existence of Eric Ciaramella Records

Once again the federal government is pretending it doesn’t know what everyone else in the world seems to know.

We have received letters from the CIA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) stating they will neither confirm nor deny the existence of emails and other communications related to CIA official Eric Ciaramella, who reportedly worked on Ukraine issues while on detail to both the Obama and Trump White Houses.

We received these letters in response to our two December 2019 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed after the CIA and DOJ failed to respond to November 2019 requests for communications between Ciaramella and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI Attorney Lisa Page, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and/or the Special Counsel’s Office (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-03809)) and all of Ciaramella’s emails from June 1, 2016, to November 12, 2019 (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency (No. 1:19-cv-03807)).

Ciaramella is widely reported as the person who filed the whistleblower complaint that triggered the impeachment proceedings. His name reportedly was “raised privately in impeachment depositions, according to officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings, as well as in at least one open hearing held by a House committee not involved in the impeachment inquiry.”

The CIA letter stated:

In accordance with section 3.6(a) of Executive Order 13526, the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to the requests. The fact of the existence or nonexistence of such records is itself exempt from FO IA under exemption (b)(3) and Section 6 of the CIA Act of I 949, 50 U.S.C. § 3507, and, to the extent your request could relate to CIA intelligence sources and methods information, the fact of the existence or nonexistence of such records is exempt from FOIA under exemption (b)(I) and exemption (b)(3) in conjunction with Section 102A(i)(l) of the National Security Act of 1947, 50 U.S.C § 3024(i)( I).

This completes our response to the above referenced cases.

The Justice Department also refused to confirm or deny the existence of responsive records, citing, among other justifications, the personal privacy of Ciaramella.

Ciaramella’s name appears in a footnote in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 presidential election. It concerns a May 2017 meeting between President Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office:

(5/9/17 White House Document, “Working Visit with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia”) … (5/10/17 Email, Ciaramella to Kelly et al.). [Emphasis added] The meeting had been planned on May 2, 2017, during a telephone call between the President and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the meeting date was confirmed on May 5, 2017, the same day the President dictated ideas for the Comey termination letter to Stephen Miller…. (5/10/17 Email, Ciaramella to Kelly et al.). [Emphasis added]

Information about this meeting was subsequently leaked to The New York Times.

The CIA and Justice Department are covering up information about the alleged whistleblower behind the abusive impeachment of President Trump. CIA operative Ciaramella is documented to be involved in the Russia collusion investigation and was a key CIA operative on Ukraine in the both the Obama and Trump White Houses. The incredible secrecy about his activities shows that the DOJ and CIA are trying to cover-up rather than expose any agency abuses that led to unprecedented attacks on President Trump.

Soros-Tied Group Run by Dem Operatives Promotes Leftist Agenda

Where have all the Obama minions gone? Some, of course, remain embedded in the halls of government, conducting a rear guard action against the Trump administration. But some have found a home with George Soros, as our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.

Another influential group aiming to spread leftist billionaire George Soros’ radical global agenda has popped up in the United States. It’s called the Transatlantic Democracy Working Group (TDWG) and it is an offshoot of the Soros-funded German Marshall Fund, a liberal foreign policy think tank based in Washington D.C.

The TDWG is operated by dozens of former senior government bureaucrats, national security experts and human rights advocates, including former Obama administration officials and staff members of Democratic politicians. The group’s director, Susan Corke, was previously Deputy Director of the Europe Section in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Corke is a registered Democrat and all her federally reported campaign contributions have gone to the Democratic fundraising clearinghouse Act Blue, which has raised billions.

Obama’s law school classmate, Norm Eisen, is the co-chair of the TDWG’s steering committee. Eisen also served as the deputy counsel of Obama’s presidential transition team and ambassador to the Czech Republic. During President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry, Eisen, a longtime Trump critic, served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. In 2003 he co-founded the liberal nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with fellow Democratic operative Melanie Sloan and others. Eisen has contributed approximately $94,000 to Democratic candidates and committees through the years, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch.

The TDWG was founded in April 2018 purportedly to combat what it perceives as “democratic erosion in key NATO and EU countries.” The organization, which is housed at the German Marshall Fund headquarters, advocates for strengthening the NATO alliance, increasing integration among European Union member states, a more active U.S. role in Europe, and effective measures against Russia’s influence in the West. The group has been highly critical of the Trump administration’s foreign policy and has used its podcast to promote Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

A chunk of the TDWG’s attention has focused on three countries—Hungary, Poland, and Turkey—that it accuses of becoming increasingly authoritarian and undemocratic. While legitimate concerns exist involving the Tayyip Erdoğan regime in Turkey, the group’s criticisms of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Poland’s governing Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice) party largely focus on efforts to preserve their national identity, reduce the influence of foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations in their domestic affairs and limit third-world immigration. In November 2019 testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, Corke claimed that, “Hungary is no longer a democracy, and Orbán is the architect of its transformation into an illiberal autocracy.”

Of particular interest to the TDWG have been Hungarian and Polish initiatives to combat the influence of Soros and his generously funded OSF. One of the policy statements posted on the TDWG’s website specifically deals with Orbán’s successful effort to expel Soros’ Central European University from Budapest. The statement, whose signatories include Corke, Eisen, and several former State Department officials, alleges that Hungary’s, “campaign against the CEU is a highly symbolic move against a vital institution founded to promote the transatlantic values of democracy, openness, and equality of opportunity.” In her November 2019 Congressional testimony, Corke claimed that Orbán, “relied on one tired trick in particular, one that served as a dog whistle for the far right; he used the spectral image of George Soros, using anti-Semitic tropes, as the ultimate bogeyman to stir up fear of migrants and other non-Christians.” Orbán counters that it has nothing to do with Soros’ religion or background. It’s about his politically driven activity aimed at undermining national governments that oppose his pro-migration agenda. The Hungarian prime minister assures a migration crisis in the Balkans was organized by the Soros network.

Soros’ OSF donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the German Marshall Fund in 2019, records obtained by Judicial Watch show.

I’m always fascinated watching those who became staggeringly wealthy through capitalism turn their guns on that very system.

Prosecutorial Misconduct, Clinton Connection in Duncan Hunter Case

I previously informed you of the two assistant attorneys general who partied it up at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. In our Investigative Bulletin, Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, has more on this evidence of the close ties between Clinton and the Justice Department.

It looked like a classic Justice Department squeeze play: pile a boatload of corruption charges on then-Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, drag in his family, and plead it down to a single count and a resignation. But Hunter fought back. And now Judicial Watch has uncovered new evidence supporting allegations of misconduct by prosecutors in the case allied with Hillary Clinton.

Hunter and his wife were indicted in August 2018 on dozens of corruption charges related to misuse of campaign funds. Later, in separate court actions, they each pleaded guilty to a single charge. Hunter resigned from Congress in January.

In a June 2017 motion to dismiss, Hunter’s attorneys noted that the two lead Justice Department lawyers on the case, Alana Robinson and Emily Allen, had attended a 2015 political fundraiser for then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the La Jolla mansion of a wealthy supporter. Hunter was a vocal critic of Mrs. Clinton and an early supporter of Donald Trump.

“In light of subsequent events and their initiation of the criminal investigation of Congressman Hunter,” Hunter’s lawyers wrote, the attendance at the fundraiser by the two prosecutors “raises serious concerns regarding a conflict of interest and a loss of impartiality.” Both prosecutors are registered Democrats. “The undeniable facts are that both attended [the fundraiser] for one purpose and one purpose only—they attended to meet the person they believed would be the next President of the United States.”

The Justice Department responded with a mystifying claim. It told a San Diego court that Robinson and Allen were asked to attend the fundraiser “in the event of a protective security related incident where immediate prosecutorial guidance would be necessary.”

An earlier Justice Department letter said that the prosecutors were at the event “in their official capacity assisting law enforcement.”

Now, here at Judicial Watch, we’ve been around a long time. We can’t remember ever hearing of a fundraiser that needed the presence of two U.S. Attorneys in case “immediate prosecutorial guidance would be necessary.” It’s a laughable claim—except that someone’s freedom is at stake.

So let’s call this for what it really is: a lie to cover-up inappropriate conduct.

New documents obtained by Judicial Watch support the conclusion that Robinson and Allen were at the Clinton fundraiser because they were Clinton supporters, not on standby for “prosecutorial guidance” while the monied class gathered on the glittering lawns of La Jolla. The documents raise serious questions about whether prosecutors misled the court. Lying to a judge of course is illegal. Violations of the Hatch Act may come into play here too, as well as violations of Justice Department guidelines.

The documents—emails obtained by Judicial Watch under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department—suggest that Robinson and Allen were thrilled to be at the Clinton event. Although names are blacked out in the heavily redacted emails, it’s clear that the correspondence is between the two prosecutors, who were the subjects of the Judicial Watch lawsuit.

“Thank you so much for the invitation to this morning’s event,” one email reads. “I was blown away by your incredible hospitality and can’t thank you enough for allowing us to crash that fabulous party. It was a really memorable morning.”

Another email says: “you totally downplayed that amazing invitation! I had no idea it would be so spectacular. I didn’t even realize we’d be invited in! I am so grateful for the invitation, thank you.”

Robinson has left the U.S. Attorney’s office and is running for a judgeship in Southern California. Allen is head of the federal public corruption unit in San Diego. Duncan Hunter is scheduled to be sentenced in March. That’s a good time for the judge to address charges of prosecutorial bias and misconduct in the case.

As you can see, the corruption in the DOJ goes way beyond the criminal spying against President Trump or the abusive prosecutions of Roger Stone and General Flynn.  The DOJ needs a top to bottom ethics and personnel overhaul.

Until next week,


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