FEBRUARY 23, 2018
The coup attempt against President Trump is rapidly collapsing, but the deep state is still in cover-up mode. In an article for The Hill I discussed the FBI’s continuing protection of former Director James Comey and Judicial Watch’s efforts to penetrate the truth.
As the James Comey saga continues to unfold, the James Comey legend continues to unravel.
The more we learn about his involvement in the deep state’s illicit targeting of President Trump, the more reason the American people have to question both his motives and his management as director of the FBI, the now-disgraced agency he headed before Trump fired him. Comey has left a trail of suspicious activities in his wake.
Comey now looms large over a burgeoning constitutional crisis that could soon overshadow Watergate at its worst. To deepen the crisis even further, it now appears some of Comey’s former FBI and Justice Department colleagues continue to protect him from accountability.
Three suspicious activities stand out, all intertwined: the so-called Comey Memos, Comey’s controversial testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Comey’s book deal.
After Comey was fired by President Trump on May 9, 2017, he arranged to give The New York Times a Feb. 14, 2017, memorandum he had written about a one-on-one conversation with Trump regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The New York Times published a report about the memo on May 16, 2017. Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed the following day.
On June 8, 2017, Comey testified under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where he stated he authored as many as nine such memos. Regarding the Flynn memo, Comey admitted: “I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter [for The New York Times]. I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
Comey also testified about Trump’s firing of him, and he detailed multiple conversations with Trump, during which Comey confirmed he told Trump three times that he was not a target of investigation. Judicial Watch is pursuing numerous FOIA lawsuits relating to Comey’s memoranda and FBI exit records as well as a lawsuit for Justice Department communications about Comey’s Senate testimony. The American people deserve to know what, if any, complicity his former colleagues had in drafting that testimony and/or in engineering the appointment of Mueller.
The day before Comey’s testimony, Fox News reported: “A source close to James Comey tells Fox News the former FBI director’s Senate testimony has been ‘closely coordinated’ with Robert Mueller.” Comey may have violated the law in leaking his official FBI memos to the media, and it would be a scandal if Comey coordinated his Senate testimony with Mueller’s special counsel office.
That we have had to sue in federal court to discover the truth speaks volumes. The FBI has built a protective stonewall around Comey by refusing to release the Comey memos and refusing to disclose records of communications between the FBI and Comey prior to and regarding Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Since his forced departure from the FBI, Comey signed a book deal in August, set for publication in April, for which he reportedly received an advance in excess of $2 million. Given the fact that the FBI appears to be letting Comey get away with stealing and leaking official government documents and colluding with the special counsel to get Trump, even a trusting person must be suspicious about his book deal.
The FBI has fanned those suspicions by, you guessed it, adding a new layer to the protective stonewall around Comey. Again, Judicial Watch has been forced to sue a recalcitrant FBI for records, including but not limited to forms Comey was required to complete relating to prepublication review of the book by the FBI. Did Comey’s cronies give the fired FBI director a pass on this long-standing requirement? Is that why they are stonewalling the Judicial Watch FOIA request?
Based upon Comey’s performance to date, this book likely will be an elaborate exercise in self-apotheosis. That’s why the American public deserves to know if Comey’s former colleagues – many of whom we now know aided in his exoneration of Hillary Clinton and have participated in the contrived investigation of Donald Trump — scrutinized his literary claims or simply green-lighted his every word.
There is no doubt that the deep state is in deep cover-up mode. The FBI, Justice Department and the special counsel all are stonewalling our requests for Comey documents. The more they stonewall, the deeper the suspicions grow about Comey’s complicity in the entire attempt to use the bogus Trump dossier to prevent the election of Donald Trump, and then use it to undermine his presidency once he was elected to office. In my experience in Washington, when people refuse to come clean, it is usually because they are hiding dirty laundry.
We came to this agreement with the FBI shortly after we a filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to obtain the Comey records (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00262)).
We discovered the cache of Comey records as a result of disclosures by the Justice Department in separate Judicial Watch litigation (here and here) to obtain the controversial “Comey memos” that allegedly memorialize conversations that Comey had with President Trump.
Obviously, there is significant public interest in Comey’s conduct and the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email and Russia collusion investigations and targeting of President (and candidate) Trump.
The FBI has a terrible record of playing shell games with records – whether it be texts or memos by its disgraced former director. Our lawsuit, we hope, will force the FBI to expedite the review and the release of the 16,750 pages of Comey documents. It’s time to open the files.
As we persist in pulling back the curtains, the sunlight is breaking through.
Each year the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) brings together thousands of attendees and the leading conservative organizations and speakers influencing conservative thought in the nation. Regularly seen on C-SPAN and other national news networks, CPAC has been the premiere event for any major elected official or public personality seeking to discuss issues of the day with conservatives. From presidents of the United States to college student leaders, CPAC has become the place to find our nation’s current and future leaders.
That’s why we are delighted to be, on your behalf, a major sponsor of the event, which is now underway at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. It will conclude tomorrow, February 24. On that day, I will address the gathering at 2:30 p.m. ET. You can watch live here: www.judicialwatch.org/live. We will also livestream from CPAC on Facebook Live. Visit our Facebook page to watch.
Last week I told you here about corruption at the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That was just the beginning. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the new story.
One of the high-ranking Veteran Administration (VA) officials who misled the agency’s secretary about the prosecution of an elderly Army vet made false claims and altered an official record in a separate case. Her name is Vivieca Wright and she was the chief of staff to VA Secretary David J. Shulkin.
Last week Judicial Watch obtained records showing that Wright and others in Shulkin’s inner circle lied to him about a federal case in which an Army veteran was criminally prosecuted for displaying the American Flag at a southern California VA facility. Judicial Watch helped represent the 75-year-old vet, Robert Rosebrock, who faced up to six months in jail for the ghastly offense of affixing Old Glory at a site honoring those who served their country. He was also charged with taking unauthorized photographs of both the Flag and VA police.
Wright helped spread falsehoods to her boss about the Rosebrock prosecution after he ordered her to check the accuracy of a national news report about the federal case. Shulkin was opposed to pressing charges against Rosebrock and wanted to issue a press release announcing it. More than a month before Rosebrock’s trial, the VA Secretary’s staff downplayed the seriousness of the charges by erroneously stating in official agency emails that the vet made the choice to go to court rather than pay a fine and that he faced no jail time. In fact, Wright forwarded an email to her boss from the director of the West L.A. VA, Ann Brown, falsely stating: “Forgot to add—he is facing a $25 fine with NO jail time.”
Days after Judicial Watch published this, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report stating that Shulkin’s chief of staff lied and altered official agency emails in another case. The VA watchdog was tipped off by a whistleblower outraged over waste involving an overseas trip that misspent taxpayer dollars and misused department resources.
During the European jaunt, a high-level VA employee was delegated to “personal travel concierge,” OIG investigators found, and the agency paid thousands of dollars for Shulkin’s wife, a dermatologist named Merle Bari with a private practice in Pennsylvania, to join him on the trip to Copenhagen and London last July. The ten-day trek included 11 people and cost the VA north of $122,000, according to the OIG probe, which found “serious derelictions concerning the trip…” The VA delegation visited Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey and strolled through the gardens of Buckingham Palace. Details are included in more than a dozen trip books printed at a cost of $100 each, the report reveals.
The VA secretary and his entourage were officially attending the Ministerial Summit on Veterans’ Affairs in London, a questionable powwow for senior officials from the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to “discuss topical issues related to veterans.” After accepting the invitation, Shulkin ordered his staff to book a side trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. Prior to the summer trip, Wright contacted the VA ethics office to find out if her boss’s wife would qualify as an official U.S. government traveler so taxpayers could pick up her expenses. Unless she was on official business or Shulkin was receiving an award, the wife didn’t qualify and would have to pay her own way, Wright was told.
The former chief of staff did what any corrupt government employee would do—lied and falsified a document. She made up a bogus award that Shulkin would supposedly receive from the U.S. ambassador to Denmark and told the ethics office that the wife’s travel had been “approved by the White House.” Shulkin never received any awards or recognitions, the OIG report confirms. The “VA’s chief of staff made false representations to a VA ethics official and altered an official record, resulting in VA improperly paying for Dr. Bari’s air travel,” the report states.
Of interesting note is that less than two weeks before the European trip, Shulkin issued a stern memo to all VA staff announcing restrictions on nonessential travel. The memo, titled Essential Employee Travel, said agency managers had to approve all employee travel by determining whether it is essential in order to decrease “employee travel and generate savings” within the VA. Evidently, the new measures don’t apply to him or his wife. Investigators say they found no evidence that Shulkin was aware of his chief of staff’s “false representations or alteration of official records.” Because Wright’s actions may have violated criminal statutes, the OIG referred the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal prosecution, but the agency decided to let it slide. This is typical of the dysfunctional manner in which government operates.
We taxpayers pay the dollar price, but our veterans suffer far worse. It’s despicable.
Until next week…