Weekly Update: Obama IRS Scandal Update
MARCH 10, 2017
We have no intention to allow the extra-legal activities of President Obama’s administration to fade into the sunset now that he is out of office. Particularly egregious was his using the might of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to target groups that disagreed with his political views.
And heel dragging at the IRS continues.
This week Judicial Watch reported that the agency informed the U.S. District Court that it located “an additional 6,924 documents of potentially responsive records” relating to our 2015 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit regarding the Obama IRS targeting scandal.
The lawsuit at issue sought records about the IRS selection of individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications requesting non-profit tax status filed by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).
These newly identified records are presumably not the records contained in the so-called “Congressional Database,” which the IRS created in 2013 to house records responsive to congressional inquiries into the IRS scandal.
The IRS informed JW today that it is producing an additional 694 pages of documents and expects to produce an additional batch by March 24, 2017. However, at this time, the Service still has not provided an estimate regarding when it will complete its review of the potentially responsive documents.
The corruption at the IRS is astounding. Our attorneys knew that there were more records to be searched, but the Obama IRS ignored this issue for years.
Remember that in July 2015 we released Obama IRS documents confirming that the agency used donor lists of tax-exempt organizations to target those donors for audits. The documents also show that IRS officials specifically highlighted how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may come under “high scrutiny” from the IRS.
In September 2014 another JW FOIA lawsuit forced the release of documents detailing that the IRS sought, obtained and maintained the names of donors to Tea Party and other conservative groups. IRS officials acknowledged in these documents that “such information was not needed.” The documents also show that the donor names were being used for a “secret research project.”
The Obama IRS scandal continues and President Trump needs to clean house at the IRS as quickly as possible.
Using the IRS to harass political opponents is one thing. Getting the omnipresent apparatus of our spy agencies to target an incoming president is a threat several orders of magnitude greater.
In that regard, we have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury regarding records related to the investigation of retired United States Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency et al. (No.1:17-cv-00397)).
The National Security Agency refused to confirm or deny the existence of intelligence records about communications between Gen. Flynn and Amb. Kislyak.
We filed the lawsuit after the agencies failed to respond to our January 25, 2017, FOIA request seeking:
Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the investigation of retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak between October 1, 2016 and the present.
This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all related warrants, affidavits, declarations, or similar records regarding the aforementioned investigation.
For purposes of clarification, please find enclosed a CNN report regarding the investigation, which cites information that was provided to CNN by members of the Intelligence Community.
In our complaint we ask the court to order the agencies to search for all records responsive to our FOIA requests and demonstrate that the agency employed reasonable search methods; order the agencies to produce by a specific date all non-exempt records and a Vaughn index of all withheld records; and instruct the agencies to cease withholding all non-exempt records.
On January 23, 2017, CNN, among other media outlets, reported that the government was investigating Flynn, former national security adviser to President Trump:
The calls were captured by routine US eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats, according to the intelligence and law enforcement officials. But the officials said some of the content of the conversation raised enough potential concerns that investigators are still looking into the discussions, amid a broader concern about Russian intelligence-gathering activities in the United States.
The officials all stressed that so far there has been no determination of any wrongdoing.
FBI and intelligence officials briefed members of the Obama White House team before President Barack Obama left office about the Flynn calls to the Russian ambassador, sources said.
We then filed yet another related lawsuit this week, this one against the CIA only. Our lawsuit is a simple one, seeking an unclassified report assessing Russia’s interference in foreign elections (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency (No. 1:17-cv-00414)).
The CIA failed to respond to our December 14, 2016, FOIA request. (The agency’s response was due by January 24, 2017, at the latest.)
Here’s the background. On December 13, 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that since 2015 Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, “has been pushing for the unclassified version of a report assessing Moscow’s interference in foreign elections, particularly across Europe.” The Wall Street Journal further reports:
The White House already released a classified version of the assessment but Mr. Turner has been pushing for the unclassified version, which would be releasable to the public, he said. Mr. Turner sent the White House a letter … demanding for the unclassified version of the report.
“The fact that the administration is picking and choosing the information it releases and who they release it to ought to give everybody concern that the administration is manipulating this,” he said.
The report is critical for a better understanding of what Moscow is up to in elections overseas, he said. Mr. Turner said the Obama administration is cherry picking what it releases.
This report about Russia’s influence operations in Europe must not be helpful to the Obama anti-Trump Russia narrative – otherwise we wouldn’t have to sue in federal court to get it.
The illegal secrecy of the Obama administration’s anti-Trump Russia investigations must end.
And let me be clear: President Trump is on to something. The Obama-connected wiretapping and illegal leaks of classified material concerning President Trump and General Flynn are a scandal.
We aim to get to the truth about these crimes, and we hope the Trump administration stands with us in the fight for transparency.
As I mentioned on television this week (see our appearances on Fox and Friends and The O’Reilly Factor), President Trump can get these documents out quickly. The permanent bureaucracies, or “deep state,” will obstruct but he can overcome this obstruction and finally enforce the transparency laws in the Executive Branch. If he does, it could lead to your JW uncovering another terrible abuse and potential crimes by the Obama administration.
Last October we reported to you that we had obtained 128 pages of documents from the mayor of Rutland, Vermont, showing a concerted effort by the mayor and a number of private organizations to conceal from the public their plans to resettle 100 Syrian refugees into the small southern Vermont town.
The mayor and resettlement organizations shrouded the plan in such secrecy that not even the town’s aldermen were informed of what was taking place behind closed doors.
Turns out, this may have been the icing on the refugee scandal cake for Rutland citizens.
According to Seven Days VT:
Rutland Mayor Chris Louras, who endured months of withering criticism for his plan to bring Syrian refugees to the city, lost his reelection bid on Tuesday.
In unofficial voting results, David Allaire, a city alderman and leading critic of the resettlement, trounced Louras, a 10-year mayoral incumbent, by a 776-vote margin, according to results cited by the Rutland Herald and WCAX-TV.
Corruption matters and the controversy in Bernie Sanders’ backyard is a small but significant indicator that President Trump’s efforts to place national security above open borders for refugees will be welcome by many Americans.