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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.

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

Because no one
is above the law!


Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

New Biden Corruption Lawsuit

Judicial Watch Sues Secret Service Over Hunter Biden’s Gun
Records Reveal Paul Pelosi Invoking Nancy Pelosi’s Name During Arrest
COVID-19 Vaccine Studies Used by HHS were Conducted in China
The Cheerful, Courageous Ken Starr
Immigration Courts Dismiss “Historical Record” Cases, Will Triple Last Year’s


Judicial Watch Sues Secret Service Over Hunter Biden’s Gun

When Hunter Biden gets into trouble, he drags others down with him. And that includes government agents whose role to protect the presidential family is perverted.

We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for Secret Service records related to the investigation of Hunter Biden’s gun, reportedly disposed of in a dumpster in Delaware (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:22-cv-02841)).

Judicial Watch sued after the United States Secret Service, a component of DHS, failed to respond adequately to our March 25, 2021, FOIA request for records or communications about the reported purchase, possession, and disposal of a firearm owned by Hunter Biden found in a Delaware dumpster circa October 2018.

We, like many Americans, want to know whether and how the Secret Service intervened for Hunter Biden in an incident involving a gun owned by him.

In October 2020, The Blaze reported that in October 2018, Hunter Biden’s handgun was taken by Hallie Biden, the widow of then-presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Beau. In 2021, POLITICO reported:

Hallie took Hunter’s gun and threw it in a trash can behind a grocery store, only to return later to find it gone.

Delaware police began investigating, concerned that the trash can was across from a high school and that the missing gun could be used in a crime, according to law enforcement officials and a copy of the police report obtained by POLITICO.

But a curious thing happened at the time: Secret Service agents approached the owner of the store where Hunter bought the gun and asked to take the paperwork involving the sale, according to two people, one of whom has firsthand knowledge of the episode and the other was briefed by a Secret Service agent after the fact.

The Secret Service and the Biden administration apparently are in cover-up mode for Hunter Biden. Whether its Hunter Biden’s laptop, his business practices and travel, or these documents related to the careless disposal of a gun in a dumpster near a high school, this administration continues to put up unlawful roadblocks to any effort to investigate the activities of the Biden family, particularly Hunter.

We’re pursuing other lines of inquiry involving Hunter Biden.

Through FOIA requests, we have uncovered significant information about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine connections. He served on the board of directors for Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings despite having no previous experience in the energy industry.

In December 2020, we received records from the State Department tying Hunter Biden’s Burisma Holdings’ lobbying operation to an influence-peddling operation involving the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election. We also uncovered State Department records showing that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch had specifically warned in 2017 about corruption allegations against Burisma Holdings.

In October 2020, we obtained State Department records that included a briefing checklist of a February 22, 2019, meeting in Kyiv between then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Sally Painter, co-founder and chief operating officer of Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic lobbying firm, which was hired by Burisma Holdings to combat corruption allegations. The briefing checklist notes that Painter also planned to meet with Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) Officer Martin Claessens “regarding the Burisma Group energy company.” (Painter was implicated in the Clinton-era fundraising scandal we exposed that involved the alleged sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions to Democratic National Committee donors.)

In September 2020, we received State Department records that include a January 17, 2017, email from George Kent, the Obama administration’s deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy, which was copied to then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, highlighting Russia-linked media “trolling” Joe Biden over “his son’s business.” An email was sent four days prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump to a redacted recipient and copied to Yovanovitch with the subject line “medvedchuk-linked vesti trolls Biden.” Kent writes: “Burisma – gift that keeps on giving. (With medvedchuk affiliated Vesti pushing the troll like storyline on visit day)”

In June 2020, U.S. Secret Service records showed that, for the first five and a half years of the Obama administration, Hunter Biden traveled extensively while receiving a Secret Service protective detail. During the time period of the records provided, Hunter Biden took 411 separate domestic and international flights, including to 29 different foreign countries. He visited China five times.

We are also suing the DHS for Secret Service records on Hunter Biden’s travel and security costs, and suing the State Department for messages sent through the SMART (State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolkit) system that mention Hunter Biden.


Records Reveal Paul Pelosi Invoking Nancy Pelosi’s Name During Arrest

We now know more about the arrest of Paul Pelosi, husband to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for suspected drunk driving.

We received records from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Public Records Unit that include 44 photos and five hours of audio/video footage depicting the Pelosi’s misconduct during the arrest. The material shows Mr. Pelosi invoked his wife’s name and shared his police charity membership with the officers.

We obtained the records as a result of a June 14, 2022, Public Records Act request for information regarding Pelosi’s May 28, 2022, arrest in Napa, CA, for suspected alcohol intoxication while driving.

Video footage from Pelosi’s arrest depicts his interaction with the CHP officers. He first makes reference to himself as a “high profile person,” to which an officer responds, “Right. I understand who you are. And I’m not out here to do anything to draw any negative attention to you. If you’ve being honest with me, there’s really nothing you should be worried about.”

Pelosi next invokes his wife’s name, telling the officers that his “wife, Nancy, is back on the East Coast.”

In response to Pelosi’s invocation, an officer says, “I’ll discuss with my supervisor – what he’s willing to do – just because we know you’re a high-profile person and I’ll consult with him what he wants to do at that point.”

Next, Pelosi insists that he should be able to call an Uber to pick him up, but the officers explain that releasing a DUI suspect to an Uber driver is against county policy. But Pelosi insists that he will “give [the Uber driver] a tip or whatever the hell he needs.”

Pelosi continues to insist that an Uber driver pick him up, but an officer responds, “Sir, we’ve done everything we can to work with you. Now we’re just dragging it out.” Pelosi replies, “May I speak with your captain please?” to which the officer says, “No, he already hung up. We’re going around in circles here.”

When asked for his driver’s license, Pelosi hands the police officer his donor card from the “11-99 Foundation,” a California Highway Patrol benevolent charity, along with his California driver’s license. Photos of Pelosi’s Porsche from the crash scene also show that his license plate bears the 11-99 Foundation’s logo.

The officer who arrested Paul Pelosi writes the following in his post-arrest supplemental report:

Throughout my conversation with [Pelosi], I observed the following objective signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication: both of his eyes were red/watery, his speech was slurred, he had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person, and he failed to provide logical answers to multiple questions I asked.

A May 29, 2022, email titled “Newsworthy Arrest” from Captain John Blencowe to Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley explains that the CHP officers “attempted to cite and release [Pelosi], but he didn’t want anyone else to be aware of his arrest.”

Kudos to the officers who refused to be intimidated by this “high profile person.”


COVID-19 Vaccine Studies Used by HHS were Conducted in China

We have to wonder why the Biden administration didn’t want us to know that key COVID vaccine studies were conducted in China. We now know they were.

We received 115 pages of records from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealing previously redacted locations of COVID-19 vaccine testing facilities in Shanghai, China. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had claimed the names and locations of the testing facilities were protected by the confidential commercial information exemption of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

We obtained the records through a September 2021 FOIA lawsuit filed after the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease failed to respond to our June 7, 2021, FOIA request for all biodistribution studies and data for the COVID-19 vaccines (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-02418)).

The newly unredacted documents reveal the following Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine studies’ locations:

  • A document with the filename, “ s_r_IND 19736 0 105 2.6.5 pharmkintabulated-summary” identifies all in vitro metabolic stability studies of ALC-0315 and ALC-0159 (synthetic lipids in the vaccines) were conducted at Medicilon Preclinical Research LLC, a testing facility located in Shanghai, China. Studies within this record indicate work was done in August 2020.
  • A document with the filename, “s_r_IND 19736-0-253 Section 2.6.5 pharmkintabulated-summary” identifies that all in vitro metabolic stability studies of ALC-0315 and ALC-0159 were conducted at Medicilon Preclinical Research LLC, a testing facility located in Shanghai, China. Studies within this record indicate work was done in August 2020.

Additionally, Study 18350 was conducted at a Charles River testing facility in Tranent, UK

  • A document with the filename, “s_pharmkin-tabulated-summary.pdf” notes that all in vitro metabolic stability studies of ALC-0315 and ALC-0159 were conducted at Medicilon Preclinical Research LLC, a testing facility located in “Shanghai, China.” Studies within this record indicate work was done in August 2020.

The document adds that Study 18350 was conducted at a Charles River testing facility in Tranent, UK.

  • A document titled “FINAL REPORT” with the filename, “s_r_185350.pdf” and the logo, “Charles River” lists the TESTING FACILITY as “Charles River Laboratories Edinburgh Ltd. Elphinstone Research Centre Tranent, East Lothian EH33 2NE, UK” Studies within this record indicate the work was conducted in July 2020.

The Biden administration’s stonewalling and shell games about the COVID vaccines further undermine public confidence in these controversial drugs. Americans are now going to want to know why did the Biden operation try to hide COVID vaccine ties to China!

This is just part of our investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic.

In July 2022, National Institutes of Health (NIH) records revealed an FBI “inquiry” into the NIH’s controversial bat coronavirus grant tied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The records also show National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) officials were concerned about “gain-of-function” research in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2016. The Fauci agency was also concerned about EcoHealth Alliance’s lack of compliance with reporting rules and use of gain-of-function research in the NIH-funded research involving bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.

Previous disclosures from this lawsuit include:

  • HHS records revealed that from 2014 to 2019, $826,277 was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research by the NIAID.
  • NIAID records showed that it gave nine China-related grants to EcoHealth Alliance to research coronavirus emergence in bats and was the NIH’s top issuer of grants to the Wuhan lab itself. The records also included an email from the vice director of the Wuhan Lab asking an NIH official for help finding disinfectants for decontamination of airtight suits and indoor surfaces.
  • HHS records included an “urgent for Dr. Fauci ” email chain, citing ties between the Wuhan lab and the taxpayer-funded EcoHealth Alliance. The government emails also reported that the foundation of U.S. billionaire Bill Gates worked closely with the Chinese government to pave the way for Chinese-produced medications to be sold outside China and help “raise China’s voice of governance by placing representatives from China on important international counsels as high level commitment from China.”
  • HHS records included a grant application for research involving the coronavirus that appears to describe “gain-of-function” research involving RNA extractions from bats, experiments on viruses, attempts to develop a chimeric virus and efforts to genetically manipulate the full-length bat SARSr-CoV WIV1 strain molecular clone.
  • HHS records showed the State Department and NIAID knew immediately in January 2020 that China was withholding COVID data, which was hindering risk assessment and response by public health officials.

Through FOIA, we have uncovered a substantial amount of information about other important COVID-19 issues:

  • May 2022: University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) records show the former director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), James W. Le Duc warned Chinese researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology of potential investigations into the COVID issue by Congress.
  • May 2022: HHS records regarding biodistribution studies and related data for the COVID-19 vaccines show a key component of the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), were found outside the injection site, mainly the liver, adrenal glands, spleen and ovaries of test animals, eight to 48 hours after injection.
  • April 2022: Records from the Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP) reveal safety lapses and violations at U.S. biosafety laboratories that conduct research on dangerous agents and toxins.
  • March 2022: HHS records include emails between National Institutes of Health (NIH) then-Director Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), about hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19.
  • March 2021: HHS records show that NIH officials tailored confidentiality forms to China’s terms and that the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an unreleased, “strictly confidential” COVID-19 epidemiological analysis in January 2020.
  • October 2020: Fauci emails include his approval of a press release supportive of China’s response to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
  • An October 2021 lawsuit uncovered that over a 10-year period, Fauci and others at NIH received more link to than $350 million in secretive “royalty” payments from drug companies and other third parties

The Cheerful, Courageous Ken Starr

For years we watched the Bill and Hillary Clinton skirt the law and propriety time and again, and they are still at it. Among those who tried to rein them in, one person stands tall – Kenneth Starr, the brilliant jurist who served as independent counsel looking into their misdeeds. Our chief investigative reporter, Micah Morrison, knew him personally and in this special Judicial Watch Investigative Bulletin looks back at the man and his cheerful courage.

Funeral services for former Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr will be held Saturday in Waco, Texas. Starr died September 13 in Houston. He was 76, a son of Texas. Coverage of his passing was entirely predictable: the media, the Left, and the academy vilified him in death precisely as they had vilified him in life.

A representative story, from POLITICO, sets the tone. It’s headlined “Ken Starr: the Man who Created the Lewinsky Scandal.” The subhead: “His colorless exterior masked an inner zeal that left an indelible mark on U.S. politics.” Writes David Greenberg, a professor of history at Rutgers University: Starr was “a motive force” behind the Lewinsky Affair, “the man who turned what should have been a dispassionate legal inquiry into a frenzied political inquisition.”

You get the idea. And the truth is, the smear, engineered by the Clinton White House, was wildly successful. The popular image, the cultural shorthand, the “Ken Starr” trope—to anyone who lived through the 1990s, the first picture that comes to mind, even today, is Starr the zealot, the humorless prig, the Javert bent on destroying Jean Valjean.

But to anyone who knew Ken Starr—and I knew him pretty well—the popular image is pure character assassination. Politics is a rough business and in Washington, as another casualty of the Clinton era, Vincent Foster, once said, “ruining people is considered sport.” Ken Starr knew that. He was no babe in the Washington woods. And yet, at least in the early years of the Whitewater probe, Starr often seemed taken aback by the level of vitriol coming from the White House and its allies, and he was always on the lookout for the better angels in the nature of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this time they would cooperate, maybe this time they would tell the truth, produce the documents, stop the stonewall. But it was not to be. Mrs. Clinton, with her continual evasions and obfuscations, her repeated failures of memory, her missing billing records, was a particular disappointment.

Monica Lewinsky came late to the Whitewater investigation, when the independent counsel had scored some important wins and suffered some big losses. After more than four years of high-pressure prosecutions, Starr was looking to wrap it up. But once the facts began to emerge in the Lewinsky case, he did not—he could not—turn away.

Start with—to summon a phrase from a later era—start with a #MeToo fact: the president of the United States had coerced—is there any other word for it? —a 24-year-old intern, Ms. Lewinsky, into nine sexual encounters, including oral sex.

Add the legal fact: in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones, President Clinton had lied under oath, denying that he had sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky.

Add the evidentiary fact: a former White House employee brought Starr prosecutors tape recordings of Lewinsky discussing her affair with the president, including illegal attempts to cover it up.

Starr stayed silent about the Whitewater probe for decades. But in 2018, he published a memoir, “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation.” In it, he wrote, “I deeply regret that I took on the Lewinsky phase of the investigation. But at the same time, as I still see it 20 years later, there was no practical alternative to my doing so.”

President Clinton was impeached in the House of Representatives in 1998 for lying under oath and obstructing justice, only the second impeachment of a president in U.S. history. He was acquitted at trial in the Senate. A federal judge later found him in contempt of court for giving “intentionally false testimony.” And in a deal to avoid prosecution after leaving the presidency, Clinton agreed to surrender his law license for five years and pay a $25,000 fine for giving false testimony in the Jones case.

Back in Arkansas, the Whitewater investigation—a sprawling federal probe centered around the Clintons’ relationship with the owners of a corrupt savings and loan—Starr succeeded in a sweeping corruption cleanup. He obtained fourteen convictions, including from Mr. Clinton’s successor as governor, Jim Guy Tucker, S&L owners James and Susan McDougal, and Mrs. Clinton’s former law firm partner, Webster Hubbell, who had come to Washington with the Clintons to serve as associate attorney general.

But the Clintons themselves proved elusive. The Starr team, after much deliberation, concluded they did not have enough evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Clinton was guilty of financial crimes and obstruction of justice in the Whitewater affair. (In 2016, Judicial Watch released 246 pages of previously undisclosed Office of Independent Counsel internal memos revealing the possible criminal charges against Hillary Clinton and Webster Hubbell.) The independent counsel drew up a draft indictment of Mrs. Clinton—a document that remains under seal in the National Archives, despite years of Judicial Watch legal actions to bring it to light. The Clinton Whitewater case was never brought to trial.

To prosecutors, there were six key insiders who could provide significant information about allegations of corruption against the Clintons regarding the Whitewater land deal (a McDougal-Clinton partnership connected to the McDougals’ corrupt Madison Guaranty S&L); billing records under subpoena that had mysteriously vanished from Mrs. Clinton’s law firm; and other apparent illegal loans and payoffs.

The six key insiders were Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, James and Susan McDougal, Webster Hubbell, and Vincent Foster.

All fell silent.

The Clintons refused to talk. Hubbell, facing jail time, promised cooperation in exchange for a reduced sentence, but as funds from allies of the Clintons flowed to the beleaguered Arkansas insider, his cooperation with federal authorities dried up. Susan McDougal defiantly refused to testify before a grand jury and served a lengthy jail sentence for contempt; later, President Clinton pardoned her. James McDougal, convicted for corruption in a Starr prosecution, agreed to cooperate with the independent counsel, but died in prison before he could make good on his promise. Vincent Foster, another Hillary Clinton law firm partner and deputy White House counsel, died by his own hand shortly after coming to Washington with the Clintons.

The Starr team played a key role in answering questions about the Foster death, as well as the Travel Office affair, and “Filegate.”

Foster’s body was discovered in a small federal park near Washington with a gunshot wound to the head in July, 1993. His death touched off a storm of controversy in Washington. News soon emerged that files had been removed from Foster’s White House office by Clinton loyalists. Questions swirled. Had Foster really committed suicide, or was he murdered?

Initial inquiries by the Park Police and Robert Fiske—a federal prosecutor who led the Whitewater probe before Starr’s appointment—were deemed unsatisfactory by the media and Congress. Starr took over the death probe, brought in the FBI and outside forensic experts, and eventually issued a painstakingly detailed report addressing all the issues surrounding the Foster suicide, largely putting the matter to rest.

In the Travel Office affair, Starr investigated allegations that federal crimes were committed related to the firings, apparently at Mrs. Clinton’s behest, of the seven-member White House team that handled bookings for presidential-related travel. Mrs. Clinton wanted the Travel Office team replaced with Clinton cronies. The head of the Travel Office, Billy Dale, was accused of misdeeds and indicted by a federal grand jury. He was swiftly acquitted at trial. Starr’s conclusion? The behavior by the White House in the Travel Office affair was “mean-spirited” but “did not amount to a federal crime,” he wrote in his memoir. But it “certainly revealed Hillary’s character and her contempt for regular order.”

“Filegate” centered around the Clintons’ inappropriate requisition of FBI files, supposedly for background checks of potential incoming personnel. “Forbidden files from the FBI’s vaults had landed” in a White House personnel office, Starr wrote. Somebody should have smelled a rat and raised questions. No one did. Extensive forensic analysis showed that neither of the Clintons had handled the FBI files. Filegate, Starr wrote, revealed that the White House was “cavalier in its approach to staffing a hypersensitive position within the Executive Office complex.” But, he noted, “exercising poor judgment…is not a crime.”

Starr had come a long way. His father was a hardscrabble Church of Christ minister and part-time barber, his mother a homemaker. He grew up in the remote north Texas town of Vernon, but was not destined to stay. Brilliant, outgoing, he made his way to law school at Duke, and to a clerkship with Chief Justice Warren Burger. He rose fast, moving from private practice in Los Angeles to serve as aide to William French Smith, who had been named attorney general at the Reagan Justice Department. In 1983, at age 37, Starr was appointed to the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He made no secret of his ambition: a seat on the Supreme Court—not out of reach for an ambitious young conservative who had landed on the DC circuit court. In 1989, he accepted President George Bush’s offer to become solicitor general. In 1993, with the Bush loss to Bill Clinton, he returned to private practice.

Then the Special Division of the Court of Appeals came calling, asking if he would accept appointment as independent counsel in the Whitewater matter. After a few days of consideration, he accepted the offer.

“Ever the optimist,” Starr wrote, “I anticipated taking six months to wrap things up. From the outside, the Whitewater case looked like nothing more than a failed land deal in Arkansas.”

Of course, it turned out to be much more than that. The months turned into years, the attacks grew, the controversies multiplied. Whitewater, Foster, Travel Office, Filegate, Lewinsky. Increasingly beleaguered, in conversations and statements Starr continually returned to notions of duty and the rule of law. These were no longer abstract notions, but life principles—his Whitewater destiny. It came at considerable cost. He stepped down as independent counsel in 1999. Gone was any chance for a seat on the Supreme Court. Gone was any chance to return to the DC circuit court, a job he loved.

Life took a different path, not always easy. In 2016, he stepped down as president and chancellor of Baylor University in Texas when a sexual assault scandal swept the school. “The captain goes down with the ship,” he said at the time, though he was not personally implicated in any wrongdoing. His resignation, he said, was “a matter of conscience.”

“He was a very courageous man,” recalled Hickman Ewing Jr., the famed Memphis federal prosecutor who served as Starr’s deputy independent counsel. Ewing, like Starr, is a man of strong Christian faith. During the Whitewater probe, “Starr often had his faith ridiculed,” Ewing said, “it was not pleasant,” but it did not change his essential nature. “He liked to call himself ‘a joyful optimist,’ and I think that’s correct,” Ewing said. “He was a man, in the words of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, steeped in ‘the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ That was the real Ken Starr.”

Immigration Courts Dismiss ‘Historical Record’ Cases, Will Triple Last Year’s

Our southern border has essentially collapsed, and all too often the federal government is no longer even trying to pretend to “adjudicate” cases according to law, as our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.

The record-breaking number—more than 2 million and counting—of illegal immigrants that have entered the U.S. through Mexico this year has inevitably received considerable media attention lately, but there is another alarming figure that deserves coverage. Federal immigration courts have closed a “historical record” 375,000 cases in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2022, which ends in September, thanks to Biden administration policies largely dictated by leftist open border groups. The nation’s immigration court system is on pace to triple last year’s case closures, according to a report published this month by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which documents the unparalleled accelerated rate in which immigration cases are being dismissed.

In fact, under Biden the number of illegal immigrants granted asylum, removal waivers and other types of deportation relief has increased significantly, according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) figures obtained by TRAC, a nonpartisan data research center dedicated to studying the inner workings of the federal government. The administration’s lax policies have already resulted in a 50% increase in dismissed immigration cases this year over the previous high in 2019 under President Donald Trump, TRAC found. The New York university research center predicts that at this rate an additional hundreds of thousands of cases will be closed by the end of the fiscal year. “The pace of closures has also been accelerating month-by-month since October of 2021,” TRAC researchers write. “During the past four months, monthly closures blew past 40,000 and topped 50,000 during May and June. If average closures during these past four months of 48,721 continue, this would represent an annualized rate approaching 600,000.”

The biggest growth in immigration case closures occurred in three key areas, according to TRAC: the much higher numbers of cases that are terminated, the higher number of cases in which the government never filed a Notice to Appear (NTA) for the illegal immigrant and the Biden administration’s implementation of prosecutorial discretion to shut down cases that are not a priority for deportation. An NTA alleges that DHS has reason to deport an individual and asks an immigration judge to issue a removal order, but there has been a big jump in cases immediately dismissed because DHS failed to file the required paperwork, the government figures show. “The number of cases closed by termination where the underlying charges against the immigrant are not upheld grew 86 percent between FY 2017 and FY 2022,” TRAC writes. “Many of these cases were quite old, indeed some stretching back to the earliest still pending cases going back to 1996. These appear to represent cases where the circumstances have changed so that the basis for a removal are no longer present if they even once existed. Terminating these cases helped to clear out the Court’s backlog.”

Earlier this year TRAC reported a dramatic increase” (one out of every six) in new cases DHS initiates in immigration court being dismissed because Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are not filing NTAs with the court. Researchers call it a worrying component in the increase in court dispositions but point out that much more is going on that is contributing to the rapid rise in immigration case completions. For instance, TRAC reveals that dismissals jumped in June 2021 following an Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) directive allowing cases to be dismissed based on prosecutorial discretion. The order says Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys will determine which cases are enforcement priorities and which are not by exercising discretion based on individual circumstances.

While a record number of immigration cases get dismissed in federal court, the nation keeps getting crushed with a staggering flow of migrants, more than 2 million with the fiscal year not even over yet. In May, Border Patrol agents shattered a monthly record with nearly 240,000 encounters along the Mexican border. Nevertheless, Vice President Kamala Harris, the Biden administration’s border czar, recently insisted in a national news broadcast that the border is secure.

Until next week …


Trump Trial: The Prosecution Rests, Lawfare at Court, Where’s the Crime?

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The Trump prosecution rested its case Monday with a central question unanswered: where’s the crime? Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been dancing around the question for...

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