Weekly Update: Judicial Watch Sues Deep State FBI
JULY 28, 2017
These past few days saw a significant advance in our efforts to plumb the depths of what was going on at the top of the FBI during the late stages of the Obama administration and during the early days of the Trump administration. The advance includes three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Justice seeking records for FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe relating to his political activities, travel vouchers, and employment status. The first two lawsuits specifically seek records of McCabe’s political activities involving his wife’s failed campaign for political office and interactions with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
The first FOIA lawsuit, filed on July 24 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01494)), seeks the following:
- Any and all records of communication between FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and other FBI or Department of Justice (“DOJ”) officials regarding, concerning, or relating to ethical issues concerning the involvement of Andrew McCabe and/or his wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, in political campaigns;
- Any and all records related to ethical guidance concerning political activities provided to Deputy Director McCabe by FBI and/or DOJ officials or elements.
The second Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit, filed on July 26, (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01495)) seeks communication records between then-Deputy Director McCabe and Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Democratic Party of Virginia, including:
- Any and all records of communication between Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and any of the following individuals:
Any official within the office of the Governor of Virginia, including but not limited to Governor Terry McAuliffe;
Any official, representative or employee with the Democratic National Committee; and
Any official, representative or employee with the Democratic Party of Virginia.
In 2015, a political action committee run by McAuliffe, a close friend and political supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, donated nearly $500,000 to Jill McCabe, wife of McCabe, who was then running for the Virginia State Senate. Also, the Virginia Democratic Party, over which McAuliffe had significant influence, donated an additional $207,788 to the Jill McCabe campaign. In July 2015, Andrew McCabe was in charge of the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office, which provided personnel resources to the Clinton email probe. McAuliffe himself was (and still may be) was under FBI investigation as well.
The Hatch Act prohibits FBI employees from engaging “in political activity in concert with a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group.”
The third FOIA lawsuit filed this week came on July 26 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01493) for:
- Any and all Standard Forms 50 and 52 (i.e., SF-50s and SF-52s) for FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe;
- Any and all requests for approvals of travel submitted by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe;
- Any and all travel vouchers and accompanying receipts and related documentation submitted by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe;
- Any and all calendar entries for FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
These are all basic requests about the acting FBI director. The cover-up of the records is a good indication that both the FBI and its parent the Justice Department are out-of-control.
There are numerous questions about the ethics and judgement of the FBI’s top leadership, particularly Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. These new lawsuits will help Americans “watch the watchers” at the powerful FBI.
We ramped up the pressure on the Deep State yesterday with another Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice looking for answers from the FBI, this one for the metadata for the memoranda written by former FBI Director James Comey memorializing his conversations with President Donald Trump, as well as records about Comey’s FBI-issued laptop computer or other electronic devices and records about how Comey managed his records while he was FBI Director (Judicial Watch, Inc., v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 17-cv-01520)). Importantly, the metadata information may include details about when the memos were created or edited and by whom.
We sued here in DC after Justice simply failed to respond to our June 21 FOIA request for:
- Any and all records depicting metadata for any and all memoranda written by former Director James Comey memorializing any meetings and/or telephonic communications with President Donald Trump, including metadata for the “original” electronic versions of the memoranda and any electronic copies of the memoranda that were subsequently created or saved. For purposes of this request, the term “metadata” includes, but is not limited to, dates and times of creation, modification, transmission, and/or retrieval of any electronic copy of any such memorandum currently or formerly in the possession of the FBI and/or drafted, modified, transmitted, and/or received via any FBI-owned computer or other electronic device.
- Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the return, disposition, or handling of any laptop computer or other electronic device previously issued to and/or utilized by former Director James Comey.
- Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the records management and preservation procedures utilized by former Director James Comey. This includes, but is not limited to, any and all records of communication between Mr. Comey and any other individual or entity regarding, concerning, or related to any such procedures or related regulations.
In an earlier, related FOIA lawsuit, JW sued the Justice Department for information about former FBI Director James Comey’s memorandum written after his meeting with President Trump regarding potential interference by the Russians in the 2016 presidential election (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01189).
The infamous Comey memo purportedly memorialized his meeting and conversation with President Trump regarding the FBI’s investigation of potential Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.
The memorandum, reportedly, was written on or about February 13, 2017 and was the subject of a New York Times article dated May 16, 2017. The memo also purportedly recounts a conversation between President Trump and Comey about a pending investigation of former National Security Advisor Gen. Mike Flynn.
As you know probably know from earlier Weekly Updates, Judicial Watch is pursuing numerous additional FOIA lawsuits related to the surveillance, unmasking, and illegal leaking targeting President Trump and his associates during the FBI’s investigation of potential Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. You can review some of them here, here, here, here, here, and here. Last month, Judicial Watch also warned the FBI of its obligations under federal law to uncover records unlawfully removed by Mr. Comey.
We want to figure out when Mr. Comey wrote or edited his memos and how his records were created and managed by the FBI. The fact that Mr. Comey walked out of the FBI with these sensitive documents tells us something isn’t right at the FBI and Justice Department.
Rather than wait for Congress, the media, or a compromised special counsel, we are in court to get answers.
As a hapless Republican-controlled Congress grapples with the Obamacare monstrosity, your JW is hard at work exposing the security risk scandal associated with the Obamacare supersite – healthCare.gov. We released two productions of records from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today – a total of 1123 pages of documents showing security concerns Obama officials had about the Obamacare website prior to its launch.
JW obtained the HHS documents in response to a court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:14-cv-00430)). We began battling for documents back December, 2013, with a FOIA request for:
All records related to the security of the healthcare.gov web portal including, but not limited to, studies, memoranda, correspondence, electronic communications (e-mails), and slide presentations from January 1, 2012 to the present.
The documents show a flippant disregard for senior IT security official Tom Schankweiler’s security concerns in a September 23, 2013, email exchange between then-CMS Chief Information Officer Fryer and CMS official Jacqueline Toomey, one week before the launch of Obamacare. Toomey tells Fryer: “Breathe … don’t allow him to suck you in.” Toomey responds later in the exchange: “I’m afraid of who he’s ‘blind copying’ on his emails.” Fryer says: “When [Consumer Information and Insurance Systems Group] gets theirs, can you make a gagging sound for me?” Toomey responds: “Giggling.”
In a September 28, 2013, review, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Jane Kim notes that “the risk associated with the Illinois Integrated Eligibility System ATC [Authorization to Connect] as “high,” noting that “87 security controls [were] not documented or incomplete.” Risk associated with Minnesota’s application to connect was also deemed “high,” with 110 incomplete or undocumented security controls. Pennsylvania’s risk was also deemed “high,” with 10 high level security findings. Hawaii was also considered a “high” risk, with 23 “high-impact” security findings.
A security spreadsheet in a September 19, 2013 email exchange shows a “high” level defect in the Obamacare website was discovered. That finding prompted top IT security officials to schedule an emergency conference call in which senior IT security official Tom Schankweiler tries to persuade then-CMS Chief Information Officer Teresa Fryer to issue a “short term ATO [Authorization of Operate].”
In the CMS “Pre-Flight Checklist” published on September 20, 2013, is a chart that indicates that the “Hub,” designed to help with verifying applicant information used to determine eligibility for enrollment, was unable to perform its tasks. Regarding verification of citizenship is the comment: “Hub has been too irregular to work thorough this, and still don’t have the right data to test to the 5-year bar.” Regarding verification of SSN is the comment: “Hub,” has reliability issues …” The Pre-flight Checklist also notes nine “high” security risks, 123 “moderate” security risks, 68 “low” and 17 “common” risks in various components of the Obamacare system.
On October 1, Americans started shopping for health insurance on healthcare.gov, and the site crashed.
Our lawsuit has produced disclosure after disclosure about the Obamacare website disaster and the risk Americans were taking by using it:
- In September 2014, Judicial Watch released 94 pages of documentsobtained from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) including Security Controls Assessment Test Plans sent by CMS to Mitre Corporation. CMS advised Mitre that the highest “Risk Rating” should be given to flaws that could cause “political” damage to CMS. Moderate and low “Risk Ratings” were to include those resulting in potential “public embarrassment” to the agency.
- In March 2015, Judicial Watch released documentsfrom the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealing that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) worked with HHS on security for healthcare.gov.
- In January 2016, Judicial Watch released documents showing federal health care officials’ concerns with the Obamacare website in two productions of records: a 143-page productionand an 886-page production. The emails showed that CMS Security Officer Teresa Fryer’s refused to approve the “ATO” (Authorization to Operate).
- And just recently, Judicial Watch released 944 pages of Department of Health and Human Services records showing that the Obamacare website was launched despite serious concerns by its security testing contractor, Mitre Corporation, as well as internal executive-level apprehension about security.
The evidence is overwhelming that the Obamacare website is a high-risk proposition for anyone who uses it. The Trump administration should do an immediate security audit of the Obamacare official website. In the meantime, you should know that your private health data is at risk on the Obamacare website.
Until next week. . .