Weekly Update: What Should Trump Do?
DECEMBER 02, 2016
JW Asks Court to Find Government Misconduct in Clinton Email Scandal
Trump Administration Should Investigate Clinton Scandals
New Documents Show Clinton Conflicts of Interest
Tune In! — The First 100 Days: The Anti-Corruption Agenda
The Clinton email scandal is more than about the conduct of Hillary Clinton. It is about the lawlessness of the Obama administration, especially the State Department.
That’s why our Judicial Watch attorneys recently asked a federal court, on the grounds that the documents relate to government misconduct, to reject the State Department’s secrecy claims over certain Clinton email-related documents.
We argue that the agency should release 30 emails currently being withheld under various “deliberative process,” “attorney client,” and “attorney work product” privileges.
Our lawsuit was originally filed in May 2015. It seeks “all emails sent or received by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her official capacity as secretary of State, as well as all emails by other State Department employees to Secretary Clinton regarding her non-‘state.gov’ email address” (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00687)).
We make the sensible argument that Clinton’s email practices at the State Department constitute misconduct:
The U.S. federal government has produced two State Department Inspector General reports and a report following an FBI investigation, which collectively support the conclusion that, at a minimum, the unofficial server arrangement was misconduct even if it was not a prosecutable violation of criminal law or one that will necessarily result in civil liability. Secretary Clinton herself has called the unofficial server arrangement a ‘mistake’…
The State Department’s descriptions of the documents show that it may have misled the public about the Clinton email scandal:
The Vaughn [withholding index] description of these records appears to show, at least in part, a public relations campaign orchestrated by [the Obama State Department] to create a false equivalence between Secretary Clinton’s unofficial server and the records management practices of former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Madeline Albright. No one believes that Madeline Albright used an unofficial server located at her residence for government communications. Nor did Colin Powell hold 30,000 government records in his possession for two years after he left the State Department. Accordingly, it would appear that one purpose of the withheld discussions in this case was to manage the public messaging about government misconduct so as to mislead the public about its severity.
We asked the court to reject the State Department’s efforts to shield documents under the “deliberative process privilege,” among other asserted privileges, in order to protect the confidentiality of internal deliberations:
In this Circuit, the government misconduct exception to the deliberative process privilege applies in two circumstances. First, the “deliberative process privilege disappears altogether when there is any reason to believe government misconduct occurred.” And second, “where there is reason to believe the documents sought may shed light on government misconduct, the privilege is routinely denied on the grounds that shielding internal government deliberations in this context does not serve the public’s interest in honest, effective government.” … Both exceptions apply to the 30 documents in question here, for the reasons already elaborated.
The State Department has been producing Clinton emails recovered by the FBI under a September 23, 2016, court order issued by U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg. The State Department confirmed in September that the FBI turned over to it at least 15,000 new Clinton emails as a result of Judicial Watch’s litigation seeking all of Clinton’s work-related emails.
Hillary Clinton has repeatedly stated that she believes that the 55,000 pages of documents she returned to the State Department in December 2014 included all of her work-related emails. In response to a court order in other Judicial Watch litigation, she declared under penalty of perjury that she had “directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or are potentially federal records be provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.” The emails found by the FBI are also at odds with her official campaign statement suggesting all “work or potentially work-related emails” were provided to the State Department. The full history of this case can be found here.
The Obama State Department is abusing the Freedom of Information law in order to keep the American people in the dark about its cover-up of the Clinton email scandal. The courts should hold the Obama agency accountable for this lawlessness.
President Obama’s legacy is one of eight years of incredible scandal and abuse of power. I pray the new administration will conduct itself within the laws and begin the restoration of the rule of law in Washington.
The temptation for the new president will be to move on and leave the Clinton gang alone, and that would be a mistake. Here’s what I wrote on the topic earlier this week in USA Today.
President-elect Donald Trump seems to be harboring misgivings about the investigation and possible prosecution of Hillary Clinton for her email, national security and Clinton Foundation pay-for-play scandals. The president-elect has said that he “does not want to hurt the Clintons,” and that is very gracious. But Clinton’s transgressions were not committed against him personally; they were committed against the nation at large. And it is to the American people that she must be held accountable.
Clinton did not commit these acts of malfeasance as a private citizen. And kindly concerns about her personal well being should not be allowed to halt, or even hamstring, a thorough investigation of her flagrant wrongdoing. More than a century ago, President Grover Cleveland declared, “A public office is a public trust.” And there is now every reason to believe that Clinton used the former to violate the latter.
For more than two years, Secretary Clinton avoided any serious criminal investigation of her various misdeeds. President Obama, and officials in his administration, defended and excused her misconduct. Few Americans trust the current FBI or Justice Department leadership to investigate or prosecute Clinton. In fact, reports detail that the Justice Department is suppressing the FBI’s attempts to seriously investigate the Clinton Foundation.
That is why Trump must commit his administration to a serious, independent investigation of the very serious Clinton national security, email and pay-to-play scandals. If Trump’s appointees continue the Obama administration’s politicized spiking of a criminal investigation of Clinton, it would be a betrayal of his promise to the American people to “drain the swamp” of out-of-control corruption in Washington, D.C.
President-elect Trump should focus on healing the broken justice system, affirm the rule of law and allow his attorney general, either directly or through a special prosecutor, to investigate the Clinton scandals.
No one is above the law, and no citizen should get a “get out jail free” card just because she is a powerful politician.
As you well know – and thanks to your support – we at Judicial Watch won’t rely on the politicians to do the hard work of ferreting out corruption in government. Though we’d welcome an agressive new approach by the Trump administration, we will vigorously pursue accountability through our independent investigations and lawsuits.
Further confirming the need to “clean house” on the Clinton corruption scandals, we just uncovered 508 pages of new documents thanks to our historic Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking information about possible conflicts of interest involving the Hillary Clinton State Department and Bill Clinton’s various activities.
More than 440 pages of the documents were redacted either in full, or with only minor notations remaining. The documents were released as a result of a federal court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the State Department on May 28, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00772)).
The documents included an undated, unsigned memo entitled “Private Sector Opportunities for WJC” [William Jefferson Clinton]. The memo provided capabilities analysis of three companies with major investment interests in Haiti: Tetra Pak, Seaboard, and Cemex.
The documents also include a lengthy March 2009 email from Clinton Foundation Director of Foreign Policy Amitabh Desai to former Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro and subsequently forwarded to top Clinton aide Jake Sullivan containing the names of nearly 200 then-current and former heads of state to be invited to the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. The list includes dignitaries from Saudi Arabia, which gave $14.5 million to the Clinton Foundation; Kuwait, which gave between $5 and $10 million; Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar – all of which donated between $1 and $5 million over the years. In February 2015, the Washington Post reported, “A third of foundation donors who have given more than $1 million are foreign governments or other entities … and foreign donors make up more than half of those who have given more than $5 million.”
In July 2014, Judicial Watch released more than 200 conflict-of-interest reviews by State Department ethics advisers of proposed Bill Clinton speaking and consulting engagements during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The documents show that Mr. Clinton’s office proposed 215 speeches around the globe. And 215 times, the State Department stated that it had “no objection.” The Washington Examiner published a report by Judicial Watch Chief Investigative Reporter Micah Morrison and Examiner Senior Watchdog Reporter Luke Rosiak which notes that Mr. Clinton “earned $48 million while his wife presided over U.S. foreign policy, raising questions about whether the Clintons fulfilled ethics agreements related to the Clinton Foundation during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.”
It is a scandal that the Obama administration stalled the release of these smoking gun documents for over five years. These documents show that Hillary and Bill Clinton’s machine sought to shake down almost every country in the world, from Saudi Arabia to desperately poor Haiti.
Again, all the more reason for President-elect Trump to launch a serious criminal investigation of the Clinton cash machine.
I am pleased to announce that we will convene a special educational panel on Tuesday, December 6, from 11 a.m. until 12 noon to discuss “The First 100 Days – The Anti-Corruption Agenda.” The panel will be streamed live on the Judicial Watch website and on our Facebook page, which you can find here.
We’ll get into specifics on what a new Trump administration and Congress should do to roll back corruption and ushering in a new era of transparency. We’ll cover the Freedom of Information Act reform, election fraud, pay-to-play politics, IRS targeting, immigration and border enforcement, executive order overreach, and more.
Our panelists are about as good as one can get here in DC. They include Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is a hard-charging member of both the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Edwin Meese III, former U.S. attorney general and Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus at The Heritage Foundation; Mark Krikorian, executive for the Center for Immigration Studies; Andrew C. McCarthy, senior fellow for the National Review Institute and former chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York; and Ramona Cotca, senior attorney at Judicial Watch.
Again, I hope you can join us live at 11 am (Eastern) on Tuesday, December 6. The panel will be available live on our web page and our Facebook page. In the meantime, you can whet your appetite with some great video clips from my colleagues and me on the challenges ahead for the rule of law as we begin a new presidency.