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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 Findings about the Dodgy Dossier

State Dept Officials Were Skeptical about Christopher Steele Reports
The Left’s Plan for Election Violence
After Chinese Steal Billions in Research, We Finally Ban Them
Judicial Watch is Suing to Colorado to Clean Up Its Voter Rolls
Stopping California’s Diversity Quotas for Corporate Boards
Judicial Watch Contested Virginia Officials’ Secret Meeting on BLM Riot

State Dept Officials Were Skeptical about Christopher Steele Reports

 We have now received 48 pages of emails among top Obama State Department officials and a U.S. Ambassador expressing skepticism about Steele reports by Steele’s London-based private intelligence firm Orbis Business Intelligence.

Steele was the author of the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump dossier. One assistant secretary of state says some of Steele’s reports sound “extreme” and others “do not ring true,” while the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine calls some Steele reports “flaky.”

We obtained the heavily-redacted emails in our FOIA lawsuit filed on April 25, 2018, on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation against State after it failed to respond to three separate FOIA requests (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:18-cv- 00968)). The lawsuit seeks:

  • All records of communications between State Department officials, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, on the one hand, and British National Christopher Steele and/or employees or contractors of Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence, on the other hand.
  • All records and/or memoranda provided by Christopher Steele and/or his firm Orbis Business Intelligence or by others acting on Steele’s/Orbis’s behalf to State Department officials.
  • Any and all records in the custody of the State Department related to the provision of documents to British national Christopher Steele and/or his firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, or the receipt of documents from Steele or his firm. Time period is January 20, 2009 through the present.
  • All records created in 2016 by Jonathan M. Winer relating to research compiled by Christopher Steele.

In a mostly redacted, July 1, 2014, email exchange between then-Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Winer concerning “Two Pieces from Orbis on Russia-Ukraine,” Winer tells Nuland at one point, “Chris is a good friend and I do trust him. I find them fascinating snapshots too. [Redacted] I told him we don’t leak, that would be other parts of the USG and not to worry.”

In a July 22, 2014, email, Winer tells Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Paul Jones and Nuland, “I’ve told Chris Steele at Orbis I think the material is great, and I will continue to retransmit as he sends them to me.”

In a September 4, 2014, email, Jones tells Winer and Nuland of Steele’s reports, “Credible, useful – tx as always!”

In a December 29, 2014, email to Ambassador Pyatt, under the subject line “O [Orbis] Report: Coal Scandal and Ukrainian Politics,” Nuland says, “This is one of those industry intel reports. Rings a bit extreme to me. You guys?

Winer sends an almost completely redacted email on February 12, 2015 to his assistant Miller instructing her to forward “high side to three usual persons” (Nuland, Jones and himself) an “O” [Orbis] report “concerning company said to be secretly owned by Putin, Putin’s Mistress and Friends.”

In a declassified but heavily redacted, March 23, 2015, email from Nuland to Jones, Winer and his special assistant Nina Miller, under the subject line: “RE: O Report, March 13 – Growing Political Instability In Kiev and Yulia’s Return to Power?” Nuland remarks, “Some of this rings true, some not. [Redacted]”

In an otherwise redacted November 9, 2015, email to Nuland, under the subject line “Three Recent O [Orbis] Reports on Ukraine Security and Politics,” United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt says, “So I would put this in the same category as their other flaky reports.”

In a February 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post Winer admitted to working with Steele on the dossier. Winer told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he “destroyed all the correspondence” he had with Steele, apparently at Steele’s request.

“The sad truth is due to the over-redactions by a government intent on hiding the truth from its own people, it’s not really easy to make out what’s fully going on from this newest batch of documents. It is becoming clearer that there were unprecedented levels of collusion between Obama administration officials and outside partisans in an effort to harm Trump, even though some government officials recognized that Christopher Steele’s intel was questionable at best,” said Daily Caller News Foundation President Neil Patel. “Our lawsuit with Judicial Watch will keep going until we get all the truth out to the American people.”

Christopher Steele had a willing partner with the Obama State Department – despite top officials having little confidence in his work. These documents demonstrate that the Obama administration had multiple warning signs that Steele was unreliable—yet they used his garbage Dossier to target and spy on President Trump.

Here’s some background.

In September 2019, we released 146 pages of documents revealing that Steele had an extensive and close working relationship dating back to May of 2014 with high-ranking Obama State Department officials including Winer and Nuland. Judicial Watch also uncovered documents showing that less than a month before the presidential inauguration Winer had a 10-minute phone call with Alexey Vladimirovich Skosyrev, the “political chief” at the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC.

In July 2019, we released 84 pages of documents revealing an email exchange between Nuland and Winer, discussing a “face-to-face” meeting on a “Russian matter” in New York in September 2016.

In June 2019 we released 41 pages of documents from the State Department revealing that Winer played a key role in facilitating Steele’s access to other top government officials and prominent international business executives. Winer was even approached by a movie producer about making a movie about the Russiagate targeting of President Trump.

Well, it does read like a spy novel.

The Left’s Plan for Election Violence

Don’t think the Leftist violence in our streets is random. With the weakest presidential candidate in history, the Democrats are relying on a backup plan. We’ve looked into this extensively, as Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, describes in his Investigative Bulletin.

With Donald Trump out of the hospital, the presidential race takes a final turn into the home stretch. Judicial Watch has been highlighting one largely overlooked aspect of the race: the Left’s plan to violently challenge election results. The plan was detailed in a document from a magically appearing new group, the Transition Integrity Project. They released an ostensibly bi-partisan report, “Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election.”

I wrote about the TIP report in August. In September, our investigative team followed up with a detailed deep dive, “The Militant Left’s Plan to Disrupt the 2020 Presidential Election.” It is disturbing reading.

The main takeaway from the Judicial Watch special report? This is not simply the thinking of a group of nutty left-wing academics and activists, but a document straight from the center of the Democratic Party.

The figure at the heart of the Transition Integrity Project is John Podesta, the senior strategist for the Democratic Party. Podesta was a top aide to presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, founder of the influential liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress, and chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. For the electoral “war games” mapped out in the TIP report, Podesta played Joe Biden.

TIP “is a collection of professional Democratic operatives and Republican ‘Never Trumpers,’” the Judicial Watch report notes. “Organizers and leaders include Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks, Nils Gilman of the ‘independent’ Berggruen Institute in California,” and Podesta. Anti-Trump Republicans in the group include Michael Steele, David Frum, and Bill Kristol.

Judicial Watch’s disturbing conclusion? The publication of the TIP report “is an information warfare strategy employed for revolutionary political purposes.” It’s a sophisticated action plan that includes cultivating an anti-Trump electoral consensus in the media; planning for “a street fight, not a legal battle;” leveling a vast array of criminal accusations against the president and his team; co-opting an already sympathetic federal bureaucracy into the anti-Trump effort; and pressuring the military, law enforcement, and state-level civil servants.

The TIP call to violence is subtle at times but the smell of gunpowder is unmistakable. The Judicial Watch report cites numerous outrageous scenarios advanced by TIP: the president will commit elections crimes; he will rob the federal till; encourage chaos and violence; use the military to advance his electoral aims; initiate a crisis for his own benefit; refuse to leave the White House. Trump is “ruthless,” but Biden is “constrained.”

The media is already getting the message. To halt Trump corruption, one New York Times columnist wrote, people “may have to put their bodies on the line in a way that few living Americans have experienced.”

Read the full Judicial Watch special report here.


After Chinese Steal Billions in Research, We Finally Ban Them

China has for years sought to steal U.S. research, and the cost has been staggering. The Trump Administration has now taken action against this wholesale espionage, as our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.

The U.S. government has finally issued an official policy on the inadmissibility of foreigners affiliated with Communist or totalitarian parties. The critical new rule appears to be the Trump administration’s response to an epidemic of Communists, mainly from China, that have stolen billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded scientific research while working in the United States with Uncle Sam’s permission. This month U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security agency that administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, published details of the Communist ban in an updated USCIS Policy Manual. Many Americans may wonder why it took so long.

“Membership in or affiliation with the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party is inconsistent and incompatible with the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, which includes pledging to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States,” according to a USCIS statement announcing the new measure. The agency continues to explain that, “in general, unless otherwise exempt,” immigrants with domestic or foreign Communist or totalitarian affiliations are inadmissible to the U.S. Indeed, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 authorizes the exclusion of immigrants on the basis of membership in or affiliation with the Communist or any other totalitarian party. The problem is that the government has failed to enforce the policy for decades. A rule in the books will help officers adjudicate the “inadmissibility ground consistent with federal law,” according to USCIS, which adds that it will also provide “guidance” in the “context of adjustment of status applications.”

The new chapter of the USCIS manual says the admissibility ground applies to past or present membership or affiliations with Communist parties. Officers are directed to determine whether the organization is Communist or totalitarian. Next, they are to determine whether the alien’s connection to the organization rises to the level of membership in or affiliation with such organization. After that, federal officers must decide if the membership or affiliation was “meaningful.” Regulations define the Communist party as: The Communist Party of the United States; the Communist Political Association and the Communist Party of any foreign state or political or geographical subdivision as well as other branches, affiliates and subdivisions. Totalitarian parties are defined as organizations that advocate the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship or totalitarianism. This refers to systems of government characterized by a single political party and organized on a dictatorial basis. When considering whether an alien is a threat to the security of the United States, USCIS says it considers factors such as espionage, terrorism, subversion, and risks to intellectual property.

The latter appears to be the force behind this new policy. The U.S. government has long permitted Communists working in the U.S. to steal billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded research. Many of them work at public universities throughout the country or at government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) or national laboratories affiliated with the Department of Energy (DOE). For decades many of the institutions have been deeply impacted by Chinese infiltrators stealing highly valuable intellectual property. A U.S. Senate investigation determined that, not only has American-funded research long been stolen by China, the work is helping the Communist nation meet its goal of becoming a world leader in science and technology. China uses hundreds of government-funded talent recruitment plans to incentivize individuals engaged in research and development in the U.S, transmit information in exchange for salaries, research funding, lab space and other perks. The Communists then use the American research for their own economic and military gain.

Thankfully, the Trump administration appears to be addressing the problem. Earlier this year, the NIH fired dozens of scientists over their secret financial ties to Communist China. It is not clear how long they went undetected or how much taxpayer-funded research they stole, but at the time some 54 scientists got booted for failing to disclose a troubling financial arrangement with a foreign government. In the overwhelming majority of cases—93%—the cash came from China, according to an ongoing NIH investigation that started two years ago. Also, in most of the probes the targets were Asian men in their 50s. The bulk of the ousted researchers received generous grants from the NIH, which has an eye-popping $41.7 billion annual budget. Every year the NIH invests tens of billions of dollars in medical research by giving around 50,000 grants to more than 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 universities, medical schools and other institutions throughout the country. Only 10% of the agency’s budget supports projects conducted by scientists in its own lab in Bethesda Maryland.

Chinese infiltrators have been stealing valuable research from the U.S. government for decades. In fact, more than 20 years ago Judicial Watch helped expose a Chinese Communist scientist (Wen Ho Lee), who stole nuclear secrets from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, among the world’s largest science institutions and the nation’s key nuclear weapons research facility. The Bill Clinton Justice Department refused to prosecute Lee because then Attorney General Janet Reno claimed the accusations against him were racist. Judicial Watch represented the whistleblower, Notra Trulock, responsible for launching an investigation into Lee’s actions. Trulock was the DOE’s intelligence operations chief and Clinton administration officials defamed him by accusing him of being a racist to cover up Lee’s repeated and embarrassing security violations.


Judicial Watch is Suing to Colorado to Clean Up Its Voter Rolls

Too many jurisdictions are lax and sloppy with their voter rolls – and in violation of federal law. This week we’ve filed suit in Colorado.

We sued on behalf of Judicial Watch and three residents of Colorado against Jena Griswold, Colorado Secretary of State, and the State of Colorado for failing to clean the state’s voter rolls as required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) (Judicial Watch et al. v. Jena Griswold, Colorado Secretary of State and State of Colorado (No. 1:20-cv-02992)).

In the suit we argue:

  • A 2019 study showed that 40 of Colorado’s 64 counties had voter registration rates exceeding 100% of the eligible citizen voting-age population. The share of Colorado counties with registration rates exceeding 100% was the highest in the nation.
  • A study from last month confirmed that as many as 39 Colorado counties had registration rates exceeding 100% at any one time during the relevant reporting period.
  • Data Colorado itself provided to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) showed that Colorado was lagging in the processing and removal of certain classes of ineligible registrations belonging to those who had moved out of state.
  • In eight Colorado counties, more than one in six registrations belonged to an inactive voter.

We note that registration rates over 100%, poor processing of out-of-date registrations, and high levels of inactive registrations “indicate an ongoing, systemic problem with Colorado’s voter list maintenance efforts.” Colorado’s “failure to comply with their … voter list maintenance obligations” injures lawfully registered voters by “undermining their confidence in the integrity of the electoral process, discouraging their participation in the democratic process, and instilling in them the fear that their legitimate votes will be nullified or diluted.”

We have asked the court to declare that Colorado and its Secretary of State are violating the NVRA and to order them to “develop and implement a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the registrations of ineligible registrants from the voter rolls in Colorado …”

It is a direct threat to free and fair elections that with record numbers of mail-in ballots this cycle, over half of Colorado counties have more people registered to vote than are eligible to register. With its inaction, Colorado has failed its citizens and opened itself up to potentially be the victim of massive voter fraud.

Earlier this year, we sued Pennsylvania and North Carolina for failing to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from their rolls as required by federal law. The lawsuits allege that the two states have nearly 2 million extra names on voter registration rolls.

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a voter-roll cleanup program that resulted from a Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio. California settled a NVRA lawsuit with Judicial Watch and last year began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s voter rolls. Kentucky also began a cleanup of hundreds of thousands of old registrations last year after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit.

In September 2020, we sue Illinois for refusing to disclose voter roll data in violation of Federal law.

Our 2019 study found 378 counties nationwide that had more voter registrations than citizens old enough to vote, i.e., counties where registration rates exceed 100%. These 378 counties combined had about 2.5 million registrations over the 100%-registered mark.


Stopping California’s Diversity Quotas for Corporate Boards

We have filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles on behalf of three California taxpayers to prevent California from enforcing Assembly Bill 979 (AB 979), which Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law on September 30, 2020.

The bill requires that boards of directors of California-based, publicly held domestic or foreign corporations to satisfy racial, ethnicity, sexual preference and transgender status quotas by the end of the 2021 calendar year. A Senate Floor Analysis says the bill draws distinctions based on race and ethnicity, and therefore, it is “suspect,” and that “the existence of general societal discrimination will not ordinarily satisfy courts.” We sued a few hours after Governor Newsom signed the new quota law.

AB 979 requires publicly held corporations to have a minimum of one director from an “underrepresented community” on its board by the end of the 2021 calendar year and up to three “underrepresented-community” board members by the end of the 2022 calendar year, depending on the size of the board. The bill defines “director from an underrepresented community” to mean “an individual who self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.”

We filed the lawsuit (Robin Crest, et al. v. Alex Padilla, in his official capacity as Secretary of State of the State of California (No.20ST-CV-37513)) the same day Governor Newsom signed the bill in order to prevent the Secretary of State’s office from expending taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources to implement the law and/or ensure compliance with AB 979’s racial, ethnic, sexual preference and transgender-based quotas. According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee AB 979 “will result in ongoing costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to gather demographic information and compile a report on this data on its internet website.”

In our complaint we argue:

  • Any expenditure of taxpayer funds or taxpayer-financed resources on AB 979 is illegal under the California Constitution.  The legislation’s requirement that certain corporations appoint a specific number of directors based upon race, ethnicity, sexual preference, and transgender status is immediately suspect and presumptively invalid and triggers strict scrutiny review by the court.
  • Because it classifies directors by virtue of their race, ethnicity, sexual preference, or transgender status, AB 979 can only be justified by a compelling governmental interest, and its use of race and ethnicity must be narrowly tailored to serve that compelling interest.
  • As California cannot make these difficult showings, AB 979 is unconstitutional and any expenditure of taxpayer funds or taxpayer-financed resources in furtherance of, ensuring compliance with, or otherwise effectuating the racial, ethnicity, sexual preference, and transgender quotas required by AB 979 is illegal.

The Floor Analysis produced by the California Senate during deliberation on the bill identified “potential constitutional issues posed by” AB 979. It described AB 979 as “requiring certain corporations to appoint a certain number of directors who self-identify as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian or Alaskan Native” and noted that, under the California Constitution, “a statute that draws a distinction based upon race or ethnicity in this fashion – whether remedial or punitive in intent – is suspect and only passes constitutional muster if it can meet the strict scrutiny test: that the statute is narrowly drawn to meet a compelling government interest.”  The analysis also stated, “the existence of general societal discrimination will not ordinarily satisfy the courts.”

Judicial Watch asks the court to halt the quota law:

A judgment declaring any and all expenditures of taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources in furtherance of, ensuring compliance with, or otherwise effectuating the racial, ethnicity, sexual preference, and transgender quotas required by AB 979 to be illegal; and

An injunction permanently prohibiting Defendant from expending or causing the expenditure of taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources in furtherance of, ensuring compliance with, or otherwise effectuating the racial, ethnicity, sexual preference, and transgender quotas required by AB 979.

In a related case, we are prosecuting a taxpayer lawsuit that challenges California’s gender quotas (Crest et al. v. Padilla, (No.19ST-CV-27561)). In June, in a major development, the court held that our clients have standing to sue under state law and our attorneys are now in discovery, which could involve deposition testimony of various California officials.

California’s government has a penchant for quotas that are brazenly unconstitutional. Gender quotas and now new quotas for numerous other groups for corporate boards are slaps in the face to the core American value of equal protection under the law. While California skirts bankruptcy and burns up due to fiscal abandon, its leftist political leadership would waste tax dollars to implement illegal and divisive quotas.


Judicial Watch Contested Virginia Officials’ Secret Meeting on BLM Riot

We were in the Prince William Circuit Court in Manassas, VA, this week regarding the state’s open meetings law, which was violated by a meeting held by the Democrat members of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors in May. The meeting discussed the police response to BLM riots.

In July 2020, we asked the court to mandate the Prince William County Board of supervisors to comply with Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act/ open meeting law (Gloss et al. v Wheeler et al. (No. 20-7521)). The lawsuit is being brought together with three Prince William County residents and their Virginia counsel, McSweeny, Cynkar and Kachouroff, PLLC.

The Prince William Circuit Court is considering whether the Democrat members of the board violated law by holding a meeting in secret, without notice to any Republican supervisor or advance notice to the public as required by law.

On Saturday night May 30, various protests and rioting occurred in Prince William County, resulting in numerous injuries to police officers and extensive property damage. Police officers reportedly used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. The next day, a meeting of the police department’s Citizen Advisory Board was held. All five Democrat supervisors attended the meeting, but the board’s three Republican members were not notified of the meeting and did not attend. The individual who chairs the Citizen’s Advisory Board is the husband of one of the Democrat supervisors.

As explained in the lawsuit, the Democrat supervisors violated Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act/open meeting law by holding a meeting in secret, without notice to any Republican supervisor nor advance notice to the public as required by law. Virginia law prohibits any gathering of two or more members of the same public body if public business is transacted or discussed. While no votes were cast during the meeting, the Democrat members posed questions and provided directives to the police leadership to curtail the use of crowd control measures in future disturbances. As set forth in the lawsuit, this constituted a discussion of public business in violation of Virginia Code section 2.2.-3707(A).

Always at the center of the American story, Virginia has become part of the testing ground for the key principles of our Republic. And Judicial Watch is taking action.

Until next week …