MAY 12, 2017
President Trump Begins to Clean House at the FBI
Judicial Watch Seeks Russian Records Given To Dem Senator by Obama Administration
JW Seeks Sally Yates’ Emails While She Served as Acting Attorney General
JW Watching Presidential and VIP Travel
In a surprise but needed move, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Judicial Watch reacted immediately with a statement of support for President Trump’s move:
“This is an important move to restore public confidence in the fair administration of justice at the federal level. Mr. Comey did not seem to understand some of the laws he was asked to enforce and unfortunately politicized his sensitive position as the FBI director. President Trump took the right step in cleaning house at the FBI.”
Last week I was interviewed by host Alex Marlow on Breitbart News Daily, and we discussed FBI Director James Comey in some depth. Here are some of my remarks.
“Comey has repeatedly and improperly protected Hillary Clinton and her top people from the consequences of their criminal behavior by coloring the law, misstating the law, and focusing on everything but the elephant in the living room: Why didn’t he prosecute her? Why was immunity granted to all of these individuals? Why is it he said that he needed to prove intent, when in fact all they really needed was gross negligence, which was proven beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt, and he probably had the intent there anyway?”
In the wake of Comey’s firing, JW has been out front, supporting the move in the face of outrage, however manufactured, from the Left and Establishment-types. You can see some media appearances discussing the issue here, here, here, and here. And please review my colleague Chris Farrell’s analysis of Comey (in fact, the whole panel is worth a relook.)
I appreciate that President Trump, in the face of predictable outrage, did the brave thing in firing Comey. As I told Fox News viewers this week, Comey’s removal may spur renewed or reinvigorated investigations of Hillary Clinton’s various alleged crimes.
The FBI has long needed new leadership. Don’t be distracted by the corrupt political class’ response to President Trump’s move. As I tweeted in reaction:
@realDonaldTrump held Comey accountable for lawlessness while the DC Establishment looked the other way. Good. Good. Good.
The Left and its partisans are blowing lots of smoke about Russia, Comey, and our election. They are hoping citizens will think “fire.” Our position is to let the politicians foam at the mouth – we’ll uncover the facts.
And so, as part of our continuing effort in that regard, we have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State for all records provided by them to Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) related to alleged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. We filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:17-cv-00852)).
We went to court after the State Department failed to respond to our March 2, 2017, FOIA request seeking:
- All records provided by any official, employee, or representative of the Department of State to Senator Ben Cardin, any member of his staff, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and/or any Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff member regarding, concerning, or related to efforts by the Russian Government to affect, manipulate, or influence any election in the United States or any foreign country from November 8, 2016 to present.
The Obama administration reportedly spread information about alleged Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election:
There was also an effort to pass reports and other sensitive materials to Congress. In one instance, the State Department sent a cache of documents marked “secret” to Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland days before the Jan. 20 inauguration. The documents, detailing Russian efforts to intervene in elections worldwide, were sent in response to a request from Mr. Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and were shared with Republicans on the panel.
The question before us is: Did the Obama State Department improperly share classified information with a Democrat Senator as part of an anti-Trump scheme? Needless to say, the Senate won’t be investigating Senator Cardin’s role in any potential violations of law, but we are going to federal court to investigate his role.
Obama appointee (and temporary Acting Attorney General for President Trump) Sally Yates is the new liberal hero. I tend to see her as key player in the “deep state” attack and abuse of the rule of law.
This is one reason Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for Yates’ emails from her government account. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00832)).
The Justice Department failed to respond to a February 1, 2017, FOIA request seeking access to her emails between January 21, 2017, and January 31, 2017.
Yates was appointed by President Obama as U.S. Attorney in northern Georgia and was later confirmed as Deputy Attorney General. In January 2017, this Obama holdover became acting Attorney General for President Trump.
Ms. Yates was involved in the controversy concerning Gen. Michael Flynn, allegedly warning the Trump White House in early January about General Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak. (We are separately suing for records concerning the surveillance and subsequent leaks regarding General Flynn.)
On January 30, Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s January 27 executive order seeking a travel ban from seven Middle Eastern countries. That same day, President Trump fired her for refusing to defend the action.
That was absolutely the right thing to do. Between her involvement in the Russian surveillance scandal and her lawless effort to thwart President Trump’s immigration executive order, Sally Yates’ short tenure as the acting Attorney General was remarkably troubling. Her email traffic might provide a window into how the anti-Trump “deep state” abused the Justice Department.
As you know, we reported often on the cost to taxpayers of President Obama’s trips on Air Force One, which frequently seemed to have more to do with a golf course than government business. And we have also reported on President Trump’s travel. Not surprisingly, the agencies that arrange these trips are not enthusiastic about sharing the details.
So we have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Defense Department and the Secret Service (Department of Homeland Security) for records related to presidential, vice presidential, and additional VIP travel between December 2016 and March 2017. We filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:17-cv-00836))
We acted after the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps failed to respond to our FOIA requests in February and March 2017 seeking mission taskings, transportation costs, and passenger manifests for:
- Then-U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch, Denver to DC – January 2017;
- First Lady Melania Trump to Palm Beach, FL – February 3-6, 2017;
- First Lady Melania Trump to Palm Beach, FL – February 10-13, 2017;
- President Trump to Palm Beach, FL – February 17-21, 2017;
- First Lady Melania Trump to Palm Beach, FL – February 17-21, 2017;
- Vice President Mike Pence to Houston, TX – February 2017;
- First Lady Melania Trump to Palm Beach, FL – March 3-6, 2017;
- President Trump to Palm Beach, FL – March 17-20, 2017; and
- all of President Trump’s February 2017 trips on Marine One.
We are suing the U.S. Secret Service after it failed to respond to FOIA requests seeking records of costs for providing security and other services for:
- President Barack Obama to Honolulu, HI – December 2016/January 2017;
- President Trump to Palm Beach, FL – February 3-6, 2017;
- First Lady Melania Trump, Palm Beach to FL – February 3-6, 2017;
- President Trump to Palm Beach, FL – February 10-13, 2017;
- First Lady Melania Trump, Palm Beach to FL – February 10-13, 2017;
- President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to Palm Beach, FL – February 17-21, 2017;
- Vice President Pence, Houston to TX – February 2017;
- President Trump and Melania to Palm Beach, FL – March 3-6, 2017;
- President Trump and Melania to Palm Beach, FL – March 17-20, 2017;
- First Lady Melania Trump to, Palm Beach, FL – March 24-27, 2017; and
- Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr. to Aspen, CO – March 2017.
On May 4 we reported that we had obtained records from the Department of the Air Force in response to FOIA requests that show President Trump’s flights to Mar-a-Lago for two weekends (in February and March) cost $1,281,420.00. Beginning in 2009, we tracked President Obama’s travel, resulting in a tabulation of at least $96,938,882.51 in taxpayer dollars for Obama family travel during his eight years in office.
The public controversy over President Trump’s travel will only increase if the Pentagon and Secret Service won’t disclose basic costs and other details as FOIA law requires. Extreme transparency should be the Trump administration’s ethic, especially after eight years of lawless Obama secrecy.