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Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Supreme Court VICTORY!

A Victory for The Rule of Law
Judicial Watch Sues State Over Imprisonment of U.S. Citizen in Russia
U.S. Blames COVID for Granting 7.1 Million Visas Without Proper Vetting
Happy Independence Day!

 

A Victory for The Rule of Law

The commonsense Supreme Court presidential immunity ruling is a victory for former President Trump, the U.S. Constitution, and the rule of law. The Biden administration’s political decision to try to put Trump in jail for simply being president was unsurprisingly rejected by the Supreme Court.

Make no mistake, the Supreme Court is imposing a virtually insurmountable burden on Jack Smith in his vicious pursuit of Trump over the election and document disputes. The unprecedented charges against Trump were frivolous to begin with and, after today’s decision, should be shut down completely by the Justice Department.

We are at the forefront of the court battles for transparency regarding the Biden administration’s targeting of Trump.

In May, we received a recording of a phone message left by an FBI special agent for someone at the Secret Service in the context of the raid on President Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

In March 2024, we sued the U.S. Department of Energy for records about the retroactive termination of former Trump’s security clearance and/or access to classified information.

In August 2023, we filed a lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for records of the Archives’ role in Trump’s White House records controversy; whether it offered Trump a secure storage location other than the National Archives; and if the Archives consulted with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence regarding the classification or declassification procedures of any of the alleged classified documents found at Trump’s Florida residence.

In June 2023,we obtained DOJ records that showed top officials of the National Security Division discussing the political implications of Trump allowing CNN to use closed-circuit TV (CCTV) footage of the raid on his Mar-a-Lago home. The documents confirmed that the Justice Department had asked that Mar-a-Lago CCTV be turned off before the raid.

A separate Judicial Watch lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration resulted in the release of records about the unprecedented document dispute between Archives and Trump. Click here or here to review the records.

In August 2022, we successfully sued to unseal the search warrant affidavit used to justify the unprecedented raid on Trump’s home.

In September 2022, we filed lawsuits against the DOJ for its records and the FBI’s records about the Mar-a-Lago raid search warrant application and approval, as well as communications about the warrant between the FBI, Executive Office of the President and the Secret Service.

As the nation faces a crisis over President Biden’s fitness for office, the rule of law – and Judicial Watch’s role in enforcing it – will be key to our survival as a republic.

 

Judicial Watch Sues State Over Imprisonment of U.S. Citizen in Russia

We’re going to court because we are concerned about the life of an American citizen U.S. citizen wrongly imprisoned in Russia.

Judicial Watch just filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. State Department for all records related to the department not issuing a “wrongful” detention designation for Jimmy Wilgus, a U.S. citizen sentenced to 12.5 years in a Russian penal colony on allegedly false charges based on a forced confession and fabricated evidence (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:24-cv-01879).

On November 7, 2016, Wilgus, an American musician living in Russia with his Russian wife, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure in an area in Russia that Wilgus’s family said he has never visited, according to a March 31, 2023, report by CBS’s WUSA9 we cited in the lawsuit.

We sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the State Department failed to respond to a February 27, 2024, FOIA request for:

All records related to the detention of American citizen James Vincent Wilgus in Russia. This request includes, but is not limited to, all records related to the proposed designation of Mr. Wilgus’ detention as “wrongful” as defined by the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act and all related records of communication between any official or employee of the Department of State and any other individual or entity.

The CBS news report titled “The Forgotten American” details:

Jimmy Wilgus, a musician from New Jersey, was in Russia in 2016 working on a movie soundtrack with a Russian film director when he was ambushed and thrown into a van…. His parents, Jim and Bella Wilgus, say their son was helping his stepdaughter get into a taxi just moments before he was grabbed…. The Wilgus family says Jimmy was forced to sign confession papers for a crime he did not commit.… The family says witnesses testified claiming Jimmy committed a crime in an area of Russia he had never even visited…. Jimmy Wilgus was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a reportedly closed-door trial, where his mother claims the [U.S.] embassy was not even allowed to attend.

Wilgus is being held in IK-17, a penal colony in Mordovia, Russia.

According to Radio Free Europe, since Wilgus was imprisoned, there reportedly have been at least nine other Americans detained by Russia and two notable prisoner swaps between the United States and Russia involving Americans detained well after his imprisonment. According to the report, there are discussions about other prisoner swaps. Wilgus is not among those mentioned in the article.

In a March 24, 2023, op-ed for the New York Post, Wilgus’s parents, James and Bella Wilgus, stated:

“We’re proud to say IK-17 has failed to break Jimmy’s spirit and will — but it has destroyed his health. He now suffers from a spinal issue, osteochondrosis, as well as a failing liver and hypertension that wasn’t present prior to his incarceration.”

Jimmy Wilgus, who may very well die in captivity in a Russian prison, deserves support from the State Department. And the State Department’s refusal to turn over records about the agency’s handling of Wilgus’s case is concerning to say the least.

 

U.S. Blames COVID for Granting 7.1 Million Visas Without Proper Vetting

The panicked response to Covid has harmed our nation in numerous ways, especially by undermining our national security and your public safety as it relates to immigration.  Our Corruption Chronicles blog explores the details:

In addition to the unfathomable immigration crisis that has jolted the nation during the Biden administration, millions of foreign nationals have been granted visas to enter the United States without proper vetting that includes in-person interviews and the collection of fingerprints similar to the Visa Express program used by three of the 9/11 hijackers. How could this occur more than two decades after the worst terrorist attack on American soil? Blame it on COVID-19, according to the explanation offered by the federal officials charged with safeguarding the nation.

The Department of State (DoS) issues visas to individuals seeking entry into the U.S. on a temporary basis for study, tourism, medical treatment, business, and temporary work. When the pandemic hit in 2020 the agency waived requirements to conduct consular interviews and collect fingerprints for some nonimmigrant visa applicants and 7.1 million got in without proper screening between 2020 and 2023, a recently published federal audit reveals. The agency said the waiver was issued to address staffing limitations and visa backlogs, according to the probe which was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General. In its report, which includes multiple redactions to supposedly protect sensitive information, the watchdog refers to the enormous amount of visa waivers as an “urgent issue” that must be addressed.

The security lapse was created by the State Department when the task of screening the foreign visa holders was passed along to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the overwhelmed frontline agency charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. during an unprecedented onslaught of illegal immigrants. Unbelievably the Inspector General found that CBP, which must balance facilitating lawful travel and trade with protecting land and seaports amid a deluge of migrants, was not informed which foreign visa holders arriving at the U.S. border were not properly vetted by the State Department. “CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO) port directors at some U.S. ports of entry had not been aware of the interview and fingerprint waiver program,” the report states, adding that it was not until March 2024 that the State Department began providing CBP with information on visa holders who were not screened. It is not clear why visa applicants are still not vetted abroad by consular offices even though the pandemic is no longer an issue.

Even when CBP officials finally began receiving the information from the State Department involving individuals whose requirement for consular interviews had been waived, management chose not to conduct thorough checks because it would “inundate” the process. “CBP OFO officials told us that no formal notification was provided to the Field Offices and frontline officers because CBP did not want to overload the officers with information,” investigators write in the report. “Further, they added that CBP receives hundreds of alerts each day, but officials must prioritize what information is shared with frontline officers.” CBP officials told the DHS IG that, instead of providing officers with access to the information, they plan to work with the National Targeting Center to identify any risks posed by visa holders who had their interview waived by the State Department.

This information is alarming considering CBP is responsible for screening all foreign visitors and returning American citizens upon arrival at a United States port of entry (POE). Just a few days ago, the agency came under fire for failing to use technology, procedures, and coordination to adequately protect the border resulting in the entry of criminals, suspected terrorists, and other nefarious actors into the country. A federal probe found that the agency used varied and sometimes inconsistent inspection procedures for travelers arriving in vehicles at land ports of entry and that it does not have the technology to perform biometric matching on travelers arriving in vehicles at the crossings. Specifically, CBP uses non-standard inspection procedures for vehicle passengers and fails to query all vehicle occupants to identify criminal warrants, national security concerns to border crossing history before admitting them into the U.S. The last thing this agency needs is the added duty of screening foreign visa applicants, which is supposed to be performed by consular offices abroad.

 

Happy Independence Day!

As we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence this weekend we must be mindful that it took great courage for the 56 men to put their signatures to this revolutionary document.

Hostilities had already broken out between the British and colonial militias at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. The English king had declared the colonies to be in open rebellion, and the U.S. Congress had formed an army under the command of George Washington.

The signers knew they were committing an act of high treason against the British Crown that could cost each man his life. Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Rush later wrote of the “pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress,” to sign “what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants.”

So let us honor, remember, and celebrate what the Left so often attacks the brave, beautiful and, dare I say it, holyfounding document that originated our great nation – The Declaration of Independence, which I reprint below:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

In the fighting spirit of this Declaration, and on behalf of all of us here at Judicial Watch, I wish you a Happy Independence Day!

 

Until next week,


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