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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Tom Fitton's Weekly Update

FBI Shuts Down FOIA over Coronavirus

‘Weiner Timeline:’ How the FBI Gave Hillary Cover During the Election
FBI Tells Court Transparency Not Mission-Critical
Hillary’s Emails & Benghazi—Inside Our Landmark Legal Battle
Open Borders Coalition: Free All Illegal Immigrants Over Coronavirus


‘Weiner Timeline:’ How the FBI Gave Hillary Cover During the Election

We just released 180 pages of communications between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page that include Strzok’s “weiner timeline,” which shows a time gap of almost a month between the discovery of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails on the laptop of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner and the obtaining of a search warrant.

On November 3, 2016, Strzok sends an email to Page with a “weiner timeline.” The document shows that on September 28, 2016, the Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC) of the New York Office of the FBI reported “potential MYE-related material,” referring to Midyear Exam, which was the code name of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. The timeline shows that not until October 30, almost a month after the discovery, was a search warrant for the emails obtained:

09/26/2016 NYO [New York Office] obtains SW [search warrant] for Weiner laptop

09/28/2016 ADIC NY notes potential MYE-related material following weekly SAC [Special Agent in Charge] SVTC [Secure Video Teleconference]

09/29/2016 Conference call between NYO and MYE team

· NYO notes processing is crashing system and not complete, but during troubleshooting observes material potentially related to MYE (clintonemail.com and state.gov domains) seen during course of review

· No numbers/volume available

· Discussion about ability to search for material determines such activity would be outside scope of warrant

· Request to NYO to gather basic facts (numbers, domains, etc) based on their review

Approx. 10/19/2016 NYO completes carving

NYO observes SBU [Sensitive but Unclassified] attachment

10/21/2016 6:00 PM DOJ/NSD advises MYE leadership that SDNY informed them of MYE-related media on Weiner media

10/25/2016 DOJ-DD conversation re material

10/26/2016 DOJ-MYE-NYO conference call DD advised of results of call with MYE team conclusion material should be looked at; DD directs briefing to D

10/27/2016 Briefing to D; D concurs with conducting investigation to obtain data

10/30/2016 SW [search warrant] sworn out at SDNY

Copy of media obtained by MYE SAs [Special Agents], entered into evidence, and provided to OTD [Operational Technology Division] for processing

[Emphasis added]

A partial Strzok timeline was included in Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s June 2018 report on the Clinton email investigation. Also, the report

suggested possible bias by Strzok: “[W]e did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”

The new documents are the latest production from a January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DOJ failed to respond to a December 2017 request for all communications between Strzok and Page (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)).

The FBI is only processing the records at a rate of 500 pages per month and has refused to process text messages. At this rate, the production of these communications won’t be completed until late 2021.

The new records we uncovered also include an email chain that concludes on November 5, 2016 — the day before Comey notified Congress that the FBI had not changed its July conclusion – with the subject line “Drafting” in which Strzok indicates that he is working on the “initial review” of “the data” for an upcoming statement.

In an additional version of the November 2016 “Drafting” email thread Strzok concludes that he found “no new potentially classified email on the media [laptop] …”

In a November 6, 2016, email with the subject line “Request for conference call bridge” Strzok tells senior FBI officials: “[Redacted], Jon and I completed our review of all of the potential HRC work emails on the laptop. We found no previously unknown, potentially classified emails on the media [laptop].”

Reportedly, only 3,077 of the more than 300,000 emails found on the Weiner laptop “were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information. Three FBI officials completed that work in a single 12-hour spurt the day before Comey again cleared Clinton of criminal charges.”

The emails recently obtained by Judicial Watch also include an October 30, 2016, email titled “MYE data update,” in which Strzok tells other top FBI officials: “The discussion of the classified email remains accurate.”

In an October 31, 2016, email thread discussing a New York Times article about the FBI conducting a review of Huma Abedin’s emails found on Weiner’s laptop that Strzok circulated to then-Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Jonathan Moffa, then-Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap, and redacted persons, Moffa says: “I think [redacted],” to which Strzok replies, “Yes. Yes we did. Makes you wonder who dialed in …” Moffa responds, “Sure does. First reference I’m ever aware of to our review network too.”

On November 1, 2016, a redacted official in the Director’s Office emails Strzok, Page and other redacted persons with a “Media question,” asking, “Politico asks why all of Huma’s electronic devices she may have used were not subpoenaed early on. Could you please provide any guidance on how I should respond? [Redacted]. Thank you.” Strzok replies, “Hi [redacted].”

On October 31, 2016, Strzok forwarded to Page a Mother Jones article titled “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump,” concerning the allegations by a “former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence” that the Russian government “has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump.”

On October 31, 2016, Strzok forwarded to Priestap, Moffa, Page and unidentified persons an NBC News article titled, “FBI Making Inquiry into Ex-Trump Campaign Manager’s Foreign Ties,” about an FBI investigation of Paul Manafort, with Strzok saying, “Wow, busy news night. Talked with [redacted] earlier, he said [Washington Post reporter] Ellen Nakashima had mentioned below to him.” An unidentified General Counsel office official then responds, “FYI – Slate has an article on the Trump server.”

(The Slate article that alleged that Trump’s campaign set up a covert communication system with Russia during the 2016 election using a computer server in the United States and another owned by a Russian bank has been widely debunked.)

On November 14, 2016, New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo emailed an unidentified FBI official asking, “We got this in the mail today. Any truth to it?” Attached was an “Affidavit for a Criminal Arrest Warrant and Search Warrants,” purporting to have been sworn out by an FBI agent and allegedly “charging DONALD JOHN TRUMP with conspiracy to commit espionage …” The FBI official forwarded it to Strzok and other redacted officials, saying, “For your awareness. The NYT provided the attached document to us today in order to verify its authenticity. It is supposedly an affidavit in support of espionage charges against Donald John Trump. They received it in the mail today. They doubt it is an authentic document noting there are numerous inaccuracies. Wanted to provide it for your awareness.” Strzok forwards it to Page, saying, “Told them it was not authentic. [Redacted].”

We also received 171 pages and 119 pages of Strzok-Page emails showing the FBI actively pushed stories to the media to stoke its claim that the bureau was “highly confident” Russia was “behind recent hacks.” One email shows Strzok telling Page about an appearance on CNN by then-Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin: “On CNN now talking about hacking of state election systems. NICE coordination NSD….”

The new emails also show Strzok, Page and other high-ranking FBI officials discussing the “alleged destruction of laptops;” a lengthy discussion about how to respond to a reporter’s inquiry into an alleged quid pro quo related to Hillary Clinton’s emails in which the State Department would create additional FBI overseas positions; and Strzok defending Director James Comey after a former FBI official said Comey had “thrown all the agents under the bus.”

These new records show how Hillary Clinton was protected from investigation over the Weiner laptop by the FBI for a full month during the presidential campaign. And the documents further confirm that Strzok pushed laundered media Russia smears of Trump within the FBI. No wonder the FBI is slow rolling the release of these documents.

We recently uncovered records showing that Clinton apologized to the FBI over her email abuses, but that apology was not in the FBI 302 report documenting her interview. Records also showed that Strzok had information on an intelligence briefing for then-candidate Trump.

In early February 2020, we made public several emails between Strzok and Page that showed their direct involvement in the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, the bureau’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The records also showed “confirmed classified emails” on Clinton’s unsecure, non-state.gov email server “beyond the number presented” in Comey’s statements.

In January 2020, we revealed Strzok-Page emails that detail special accommodations were given to the lawyers of Clinton and her aides during the investigation of her email controversy. Additionally, in November 2019, Judicial Watch uncovered Strzok-Page emails showing the attorney representing three of Clinton’s aides met with senior FBI officials.

In November 2019, we received DOJ records showing that, after Clinton’s statement denying the transmission of classified information over her unsecure email system, Strzok sent an email to FBI officials citing “three [Clinton email] chains” containing (C) [classified] portion marks in front of paragraphs.”

In June 2019, we uncovered emails showing that FBI top officials were scrambling to write a letter to Congress to supplement Comey’s Senate testimony in an apparent attempt to muddle his message. Also, in that month, we received records showing then-FBI General Counsel James Baker instructing FBI officials to expedite the release of FBI investigative material to Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, in August 2016. Kendall and the FBI’s top lawyer discussed specifically quickly obtaining the FBI’s 302 report of its interview with Clinton.

In February 2019, we uncovered emails documenting an evident cover-up of a chart of potential violations of law by Clinton. A few weeks earlier, we uncovered DOJ records

revealing former FBI General Counsel James Baker discussed the investigation of Clinton-related emails on Weiner’s laptop with Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall. Baker then forwarded the conversation to his FBI colleagues.

In a separate Judicial Watch case, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth recently granted our request to depose Clinton about her emails and Benghazi-related documents. The court also ordered the deposition of Clinton’s former Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills and two other State Department officials.

You can see that Judicial Watch’s efforts to uncover the truth about the Deep State cover-up for Hillary Clinton and the attendant abuse of President Trump have yielded significant success. But this is but a taste as we pry documents out of the government on almost a daily basis. So, stay tuned…


FBI Tells Court Transparency Not Mission-Critical

Our FBI has blessed us with a fitness app and is promoting it on Twitter – to the horror of privacy advocates, because it requires users to enter their GPS coordinates.

At the same time, our FBI has shut down its FOIA operations, because of the coronavirus.

Here’s the latest. We have released a joint status report in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records about top Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie Ohr, in which the DOJ states it has suspended electronic FOIA operations. The Ohrs were involved in the anti-Trump dossier authored by former British spy Christopher Steele.

The Justice Department claims it is currently unable to continue searching for documents because the employees who would conduct the search in the FBI Records / Information Dissemination Section (RIDS) are, “non-mission critical” during the COVID-19 pandemic and were ordered to stay at home beginning March 17, 2020.

Included in the joint status report is a declaration from Michael G. Seidel, the FBI’s Assistant Section Chief of RIDS, Information Management Division, in which he states:

RIDS employees have been designated as not mission-critical and sent home as of March 17, 2020. Only a limited number of managers are being permitted to report to the office, but no FOIA processing is occurring as of March 17, 2020. While RIDS currently anticipates that its staff will return to work on March 30, 2020, this situation remains fluid and will be regularly re-assessed as circumstances change. As of March 17,2020, no further production of records pursuant to FOIA will be made, whether those productions are in relation to requests in litigation or at the administrative stage.

The filing comes in a March 2018 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit we brought after Justice failed to respond a December 2017 request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00490)) for:

· All records of contact or communication, including but not limited to emails, text messages, and instant chats between Bruce Ohr and any of the following individuals/entities: former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele; owner of Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson; and any other employees or representatives of Fusion GPS.

· All travel requests, authorizations and expense reports for Bruce Ohr.

· All calendar entries for Bruce Ohr.

So those responsible for Spygate get a breather while the people’s right to transparency is put on hold. When it came to spying on President Trump and innocent Americans, the FBI spared no expense, but coming up with a plan to fulfill their legal obligation to transparency can apparently be put off indefinitely.

Judicial Watch and the DOJ have agreed to provide another joint status report to the court on April 8, 2020.

We previously uncovered that Ohr was used by the FBI as a conduit for the Clinton-funded dossier by the Clinton-DNC spy ring at Fusion GPS. His wife Nellie, who was employed by Fusion GPS, passed dossier information to the FBI through him and later deleted emails received from him.

In April 2019, we uncovered documents showing that Bruce Ohr knew he had “possible ethics concerns,” in his January 2018 preparation to testify to the Senate and House intelligence committees. He emailed his attorney and forwarded that information to his wife.

Bruce Ohr testified to Congress that he received Clinton-dossier information from his wife Nellie, who provided him with a memory stick that he then circulated to the FBI.

In May 2019, we uncovered that Nellie Ohr told Bruce that she deleted emails received from his DOJ account.

In June 2019, we uncovered that Bruce Ohr received a total of $42,520 in performance bonuses during the Trump/Russia investigation. Ohr’s bonus nearly doubled from $14,520 (received in November 2015) to $28,000 in November 2016.

On August 9, 2019 we obtained Bruce Ohr’s FBI 302 interview reports showing that he was one of the main conduits used by Fusion GPS to spread the false information they created to smear President Trump.

On August 14, 2019, we uncovered even more evidence that Nellie Ohr sent Clinton-funded dossier materials to the DOJ through her husband Bruce.

We don’t need fitness apps from the FBI we need the agency to follow the law.


Hillary’s Emails & Benghazi—Inside Our Landmark Legal Battle

Because our lawsuits exposed Hillary Clinton’s secret personal email server to the world, I’m not surprised that she would do anything to avoid being questioned by our crack attorneys. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, offers his perspective on this significant case.

Life continues to unfold, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. That includes—flying mostly under the media and legal radar—the most consequential freedom of information battle in a generation: Judicial Watch’s long fight for records related to Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Benghazi affair. In a landmark ruling earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth granted Judicial Watch’s request to depose Mrs. Clinton in the case. Mrs. Clinton is directed to appear under oath and answer questions from Judicial Watch attorneys.

It’s a big case. Lamberth called the issues in the lawsuit “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”

That was Lamberth in a 2018 ruling, four years after Judicial Watch first filed a lawsuit in the case. The Lamberth memorandum is a fierce defense of the Freedom of Information Act that should be required reading for every law school FOIA seminar. It details the government’s “outrageous misconduct” in the case and notes President Obama himself defended FOIA as “the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.” The ruling outlined the discovery Judicial Watch would be permitted to take in the case.

The heart of the matter, Lamberth wrote in 2018, is that “faced with one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency, [Obama’s] State and Justice Departments fell far short. Did Hillary Clinton use her private email as Secretary of State to thwart [FOIA]? Was the State Department’s attempt to settle [a Judicial Watch] FOIA case in 2014 an effort to avoid searching—and disclosing the existence of—Clinton’s missing emails? And has State ever adequately searched for records in the case?”

But government foot-dragging and stonewalling continued. Meanwhile, Judicial Watch discovered new emails (read about it here and here) and Mrs. Clinton’s written responses proved insufficient to answer the questions raised by the court and in discovery. Earlier this month—nearly six years after the case commenced—Lamberth’s patience finally ran out. “The court agrees with Judicial Watch,” he wrote, “it is time to hear directly from Mrs. Clinton.” Lamberth’s 2020 order is stinging and concise. The State Department wants the matter closed and the Justice Department supports that position. “But there is still more to learn,” Lamberth notes. “Even though many important questions remain unanswered, the Justice Department inexplicably takes the position that the court should close discovery and rule on dispositive motions. The court is especially troubled by this. To argue that the court now has enough information to determine whether State conducted an adequate search is preposterous, especially when considering State’s deficient representations regarding the existence of additional emails.”

Lamberth noted earlier decisions that high-ranking government officials should not be dragged into court to account for official actions unless there were “extraordinary circumstances.” But the Judicial Watch case clears that bar, he ruled.

“The Court has considered the numerous times in which Secretary Clinton said she could not recall or remember certain details in her prior interrogatory answers,” Lamberth wrote. “In a deposition, it is more likely that plaintiff’s counsel could use documents and other testimony to refresh her recollection. And so, to avoid the unsatisfying and inefficient outcome of multiple rounds of fruitless interrogatories and move this almost six-year-old case to its conclusion, Judicial Watch will be permitted to clarify and further explore Secretary Clinton’s answers in person and immediately after she gives them.”

What did Secretary Clinton know about her private email server, FOIA, and Benghazi communications, and when did she know it? Lamberth spells out some of the key questions.

“For example,” Lamberth writes, “how did she arrive at her belief that her private emails would be preserved by normal State Department processes for email retention? Who told her that—if anyone—and when? Did she realize State was giving a ‘no records’ response to FOIA requests for her emails? If so, did she suspect that she had any obligation to disclose the existence of her private server to those at State handling the FOIA requests? When did she learn that State’s records management employees were unaware of the existence of her private server? And why did she think that using a private server to conduct State Department business was permissible under the law in the first place? Again, who told her that—if anyone—and when?” Mrs. Clinton’s legal team has fired back with an 83-page petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals asking it to throw out Judge Lamberth’s order. The deposition order is “inappropriate, unnecessary, and a clear abuse of discretion,” the Clinton lawyers wrote.

But of course the real abuse here is a six-year stonewall and an assault on the Freedom of Information Act. Corrupt and secretive players throw roadblocks, stonewalls and legal obstacles in the way of transparency, accountability and reform. Bad actors drown the opposition in delays and expensive legal actions. It is instructive that this fight has taken six years. Most individuals and organizations do not have the money and legal firepower to fight the government for months or years, so the government wins. The critical message in the Lamberth rulings is that FOIA, an essential tool in holding the powerful to account, is under siege. Let’s hope the Court of Appeals recognizes that the real fight here is about transparency and accountability, and allows the deposition of Hillary Clinton to proceed.


Open Borders Coalition: Free All Illegal Immigrants Over Coronavirus

The Left’s solution for everything seems to involve making our streets less safe. There is a frenzy in places to release prisoners from jail. Of course New York City is in on it.

When should we not expect calls for releasing illegal aliens? Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.

Although there have been no confirmed cases of Coronavirus disease in federal immigration detention facilities, open borders groups are taking advantage of the health crisis to demand that all illegal aliens be immediately released from custody and into communities throughout the United States. The movement, known as FreeThemAll, was launched this month by a coalition of leftist nonprofits long critical of the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies. “The immigrant community is at grave risk,” according to one of the groups leading the effort, Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). The public is encouraged to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to demand that the agency “release all immigrants in detention, because detention is no place for a family, and no place for a family to be during a pandemic.” In a letter to ICE San Antonio Field Director Daniel Bible, RAICES Executive Officer Jonathan D. Ryan asks for the immediate release of detained illegal immigrant families and individuals due to COVID-19. He also urges ICE to suspend all deportation activity, citing unsubstantiated reports that illegal aliens deported from the U.S. have presented the first cases of COVID-19 in their countries of origin. “ICE should not participate in the spread of this dangerous virus around the world,” Ryan writes. “This is a public health emergency. It is

critical that ICE detention centers and jails be prepared to respond appropriately to the crisis.” He continues to blast the agency by asserting that the U.S. government has a woeful history of addressing pandemics in ICE detention. “We are concerned about the health and safety of our clients who, with their liberty restricted in detention, cannot practice recommended social distancing from other detained persons or from detention center staff,” the RAICES chief writes.

The group is part of a broader movement in the U.S. to release all illegal immigrants housed in federal detention centers throughout the country. Hundreds of immigrant rights advocates, human and civil rights groups and other leftist organizations are also pressuring federal authorities to release illegal aliens in federal custody via the Detention Watch Network, which aims to abolish immigration detention in the United States. “Detention Watch Network imagines a world where every individual lives and moves freely and a society in which racial equity is the norm and immigration is not criminalized,” according to the group’s website. “The abolition of immigration detention is part and parcel of struggles against racism, xenophobia, discriminatory policing, and mass incarceration and our aims coincide with these broader struggles against racialized oppression.” In a letter signed by 763 like-minded groups, Detention Watch Network orders ICE Director Matthew T. Albence to immediately release all people currently detained in immigration detention, cease all local enforcement operations and eliminate ICE check-ins and mandatory court appearances. The coalition also requests that the federal government make phone and video calls free for detainees and that fees be waived for all costs associated with soap, sanitizer and other hygiene products. If the government doesn’t release all detainees, the letter asks for a “commitment that at no point will a facility be locked down or closed off to outsiders or be considered in its entirety as a place of quarantine” so that family members and attorneys maintain access to the incarcerated. “Jails, prisons and detention centers are sites where people are acutely vulnerable to health complications and the impact of outbreaks,” the letter states. “Choosing to deprive people of their freedom contributes to the already lethal conditions of mass confinement.” Signatories include: Abolish ICE Denver, Allies to End Detention, Asians 4 Black Lives Portland, California Sanctuary Campaign, CASA-Maryland and Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción.

ICE currently has 37,311 illegal immigrants in detention facilities, according to the latest agency figures. More than half—19,526—have criminal convictions or pending criminal charges, the records show. As of March 14, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, determined that 5,867 of the illegal aliens in ICE custody have an established persecution or torture claim.

Until next week …