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Tom Fitton's Weekly Update

Election Update

Election Update
Court Ordered Hearing on McCabe Emails and Texts
U.S. Loses $19 Billion in Afghanistan to Fraud, Waste, Abuse
Mayor Blames Virus for New York’s Crisis of Crime & Disorder

Election Update

I take no comfort in saying that we saw this coming. Back in June, for example, I told Lou Dobbs:

“It’s been a state by state battle to protect the integrity of our elections. There will be a severe temptation to cheat, and now that’s going to be a lot easier to do because our system is going to be overwhelmed with ballots and applications for ballots.

We’ve proven repeatedly – because we’ve been winning in court to clean up voter lists – that the lists across America are filthy in terms of having more people on the rolls than are eligible to vote. And those people, you can be sure, are going to be to be the groups getting some of these ballots.

Our most recent researchin September revealed that 353 U.S. counties had 1.8 million more registered voters than eligible voting-age citizens. In other words, the registration rates of those counties exceeded 100% of eligible voters!

I have to wonder how much worse it might have been had we not been busy in court. As you know,we are a national leader in seeking cleaner elections.

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a voter roll cleanup program that resulted from our settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio. California settleda lawsuit with us and last year began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s rolls. Kentuckyalso began a cleanup of hundreds of thousands of old registrations last year after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit. In September this year, we sued Illinoisfor refusing to disclose voter roll data in violation of federal law.

We just analyzed data in the key state of Nevada where we found that in Clark County, there were about 154,000 “inactive” voters on the election rolls just before Election Day. Speaking of Election Day, federal law seems clear that the key results were supposed to be decided on … Election Day. Here is one of the relevant statues:

The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President. 3 U.S. Code § 1

Indeed, on Tuesday, the president had the votes to win the presidency. These vote totals are being changed because of unprecedented, extraordinary, illicitly secretive, and inherently suspect counting AFTER Election Day that continue as I write. There will be court battles (which will almost certainly involve your Judicial Watch) but the presidency may ultimately come down to a fight in Congress over the counting of Electoral College electors from the states that are engaged in the slow-motion counting of votes. State legislaturesin Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia (and maybe Arizona) will have decisions to make – endorse and ratify what happened this week to President Trump’s vote totals or appoint a slate of electors to reelect the president. So, in addition to supporting Judicial Watch’s effort to secure the election, you may want to share your views on the election controversy with your elected representatives, both in your state house and in Congress.

Court Ordered Hearing on McCabe Emails and Texts 

We were in federal court this week to fight the FBI’s delay in producing emails and text messages sent and received by former Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan presided.

This hearing came in our FOIAlawsuiton behalf of Jeffrey A. Danik, a retired FBI supervisory special agent, for emails and text messages of McCabe about McCabe’s “conflicts of interest” regarding his wife’s (Dr. Jill McCabe’s) political campaign and Hillary Clinton (Jeffrey A. Danik v. U.S. Department of Justice(No. 1:17-cv-01792)).

We’re asking for:

Text messages and emails of McCabe containing “Dr. Jill McCabe,” “Jill,” “Common Good VA,” “Terry McAuliffe,” “Clinton,” “Virginia Democratic Party,” “Democrat,” “Conflict,” “Senate,” “Virginia Senate,” “Until I return,” “Paris,” “France,” “Campaign,” “Run,” “Political,” “Wife,” “Donation,” “OGC,” Email,” or “New York Times.”

Judge Chutkan ordered the hearingafter receiving a September 21 Joint Status Reportfrom the parties in which we told the court:

[Danik] is tired of waiting. The Court ruled almost four months ago, on May 31, 2020, that [Justice Department] failed to satisfy its burdens under FOIA. We however are no closer to a resolution of this case.

***

[Danik] already substantially narrowed his request. He also does not believe 11 pages of text messages and 2,362 emails is too onerous to review. [Danik] believes he has waited long enough – almost four years since he sent his FOIA requests – for the agency to satisfy its burdens and produce all non-exempt, responsive records to him.

We’re asking that the Justice Department release at least 750 pages of emails each month until completion. The FBI recently turned over several pagesof almost completely redacted McCabe text messages while still denying the texts are subject to FOIA.

In September 2020, we uncoveredin a separate lawsuit that senior members of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office (SCO) repeatedly and “accidentally” wiped over 20 phones assigned to them.

In 2017, we uncoveredJustice Department records concerning ethics issues related to McCabe’s involvement with his wife’s political campaign. The documents include an email showing Mrs. McCabe was recruited for a Virginia state senate race in February 2015by then-Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam’s office. The news that former Secretary of State Clinton used a private email server broke five days later, on March 2, 2015. Five days after that, former Clinton Foundation board memberand Democrat party fundraiser, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, met with the McCabes. She announced her candidacy on March 12. Soon afterward, Clinton/McAuliffe-aligned political groups donated nearly$700,000 (40%of the campaign’s total funds) to McCabe’s wife for her campaign.

McCabe was fired from the FBI in March 2018 for leaking to the media and lacking “candor.”

I was able to listen in on the hearing and it seemed that the court was unhappy with the slow pace of the FBI’s production and demanded more information from the agency about the delays. We will see what the FBI comes up with, but you can see how Judicial Watch’s legal fights for transparency will continue no matter who is president.

U.S. Loses $19 Billion in Afghanistan to Fraud, Waste, Abuse

On the campaign trail President Trump frequently mentioned that we’ve been in Afghanistan for 19 years, and that’s enough. It’s not just the lives of American troops that are at stake. It’s taxpayer money, our Corruption Chronicles blog reports:

A staggering $19 billion spent by the U.S. government to reconstruct Afghanistan has been lost to fraud, waste, and abuse in the last decade and that only includes a portion of the money allocated by Congress for the cause. In 90% of the cases examined in a new federal audit, the money was blown “carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose.” This month the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) published a troubling reportthat analyzes less than half of the U.S. budget for the initiative, $63 billion in projects. As of December 2019, Congress has appropriated $134 billion for Afghanistan reconstruction, which began roughly a year after the U.S. invaded the Islamic nation to destroy Al-Qaeda and eradicate the Taliban.

Afghanistan reconstruction has been a huge and well-chronicled debacle that continues fleecing American taxpayers nearly two decades after its inception. Judicial Watch has reported on the various boondoggles over the years, most of them documented in tremendous detail by the SIGAR. Highlights include the mysterious disappearanceof nearly half a billion dollars in oil destined for the Afghan National Army, a $335 million Afghan power plantthat is seldom used and an $18.5 millionrenovation for a prison that remains unfinished and unused years after the U.S.-funded work began. Over the summer, the U.S. government got slammed in an audit for spending tens of millions of dollars on useless and ineffective drug addiction programs in Afghanistan as part of the reconstruction effort. In a scathing report, the SIGAR blasts the U.S. for not knowing the impact of its investment and failing to conduct site visits to project locations or maintain required files or records.

The latest probe is especially impactful because it takes a comprehensive look at projects over a lengthier period. The 19-page report is littered with a multitude of examples of waste that should outrage every taxpaying American. For instance, books provided for an education program have never been used because they are in poor condition and an empty sports stadium that is unlikely to ever be used because it was not designed correctly to host soccer games and does not have a functioning irrigation system. Investigators also found poor workmanship and a lack of maintenance, including falling ceiling tiles, broken drainage grates, and unlevelled playing surfaces with incomplete water systems protruding from the empty soccer field. A $5.2 million Kang Border Patrol headquarters compound has never been utilized and is not being maintained despite being allocated maintenance funds. The outrageous list of examples goes on and on throughout the lengthy document.

A section on fraud includes cases of crimes involving federal procurement and contract fraud as well as theft, corruption, bribery of government employees and public officials. The SIGAR identifies 30 instances of procurement and contract fraud with a total value of more than $296 million. Examples include a translator with U.S. Special Forces who started a trucking and logistics company that paid $140,000 in bribes and gratuities to U.S. service members to assist him in obtaining work. In another instance a contractor committed millions of dollars in fraud involving food service deals affecting the U.S. Central Command. Investigators also exposed a ring in which individuals were for years fraudulently selling U.S. Embassy Kabul meal cards. This resulted in the U.S. government losing between $50,000 and $80,000 monthly for a total of $3 million. Investigators also found that in the last two years alone, more than $3 billion was lost to fraud or corruption.

“Endemic corruption, widespread insecurity, and a lack of accountability over on-budget assistance continue to make any investments made in Afghanistan vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse and may threaten the peace process as well as the perceived legitimacy and effectiveness of the Afghan government,” the new SIGAR report states. On a positive note, the inspector general’s work has resulted in about $3.2 billion in savings for the U.S. taxpayer. “Based on our audit recommendations, we identified approximately half of this savings, or $1.6 billion, as funds that agencies, such as the DOD or the Department of State (State), could put to better use for other programs or efforts,” according to the watchdog.

Mayor Blames Virus for New York’s Crisis of Crime & Disorder

Watching the leftist politicians play politics with our health and shirk their responsibility for controlling violence has been quite an eye opener. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, looksat one of most controversial leftist politicians the country in our Investigative Bulletin:

The presidential race is rocketing toward the finish line. But it’s not the only game in town. In New York City, Left and Right alike are eyeing the end of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wretched tenure. The stakes are high.

A year ago—long before Covid-19 hit the U.S.—Judicial Watch warned that New York was slipping toward a crisis of crime and disorder. Statistics told part of the story. Shootings, up; gun arrests, up; hate crimes, up. A resurgent left-wing political class was about to unleash new lawsthat would put more felons on the streets. Quality of life was unraveling. “Throughout the city,” we noted, “anecdotal reports of unsettling incidents—harassment, menacing, petty theft, public urination, graffiti, dope smokers, turnstile jumpers—are increasing.”

Mayor de Blasio at the time was trampling through the fields of Iowa in a delusional questfor the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Dismissive of concerns back home and courting the Left, he promised he would keep the city in “the vanguard of progressivism” and “improve the quality of life of everyday New Yorkers.”

What a difference a year makes. Term-limited out of office in 2021, de Blasio today is a ghost of his former self, a fading force in local politics, seemingly broken and bewildered by the city. His pledge to improve the quality of life of New Yorkers is in ruins.

These days, no one disputes New York is in crisis. Covid-19 is only part of the story. The mayor was slow to take the virus seriously, delayed closing restaurants and schools, and engaged in a long-running feud with Governor Andrew Cuomo that may have cost thousands of lives. Read ProPublica’s report on that devastating debacle here.

Cuomo appears to have steadied the state, keeping infection rates low. But the mayor continues to steer an erratic course and crime continues to rise. According to NYPD statistics, murders in New York City are up 40% from last year. Shootings are up 91%.

In August, there were 242 shootings in the city, up from 91 in the same month last year. In September, 152 shootings, compared to 67 last year.

Murders increased 79% in September compared to a year earlier—51 dead in September 2020, 29 in 2019.

Crime on New York’s subways—an economic lifeline of the city—is increasing. New Yorkers averaged more than 5 million trips on weekdays before the pandemic. Those numbers have plunged by more than 60% and train travel has grown more dangerous. “So far this year,” says the New York Times, “the number of reported homicides, rapes, burglaries and robberies in the subway are higher than the same period last year, according to Police Department statistics. Incidents of vandalism have also spiked.”

The mayor blames all this on the pandemic. “We saw the violence start in earnest in May and into June, into July,” de Blasio recently said. “The original cause of this is all the effects of the coronavirus.”

That’s clearly not the case, as statistics from 2019 and early 2020 show. The Left’s failed experiment with criminal justice reform, an effort to empty jails that put repeat offenders back on the streets, is another factor in the city’s decline. As Judicial Watch reportedin March, before the pandemic hit, progressive forces rammed  through the state legislature an insane reform package that eliminated cash bail for a wide range of offenses—from assault, arson and child abuse, to manslaughter, robbery and riot—and removed judicial discretion in holding suspects.

The reform legislation took effect January 1 and crime rates jumped. Numbers for January and February of 2020 show a 35 percent increase in robberies and a 64 percent increase in stolen cars compared to the same period in 2019, the New York Post. Shootings went up 19 percent. Burglaries went up 21 percent.

Public outrage was swift and legislators quickly backtracked. The reform package was overhauledto tighten restrictions on violent crimes and repeat offenders, but the new iteration is seen as piecemeal by both sides. The fight over emptying New York’s jails is not over.

Other blows hit the city before the pandemic as well. In education policy—New York’s school system is the largest in the country, with 1.1 million students and a budget of $34 billion—de Blasio plunged the city into turmoil with the appointment of a radical chancellor, Richard Carranza. A tireless class warrior, Carranza has attempted to ram through a left-wing agenda under the banner of “diversity,” seeking to impose racial quotas, eliminate programs for gifted students, and undermine admission standards to elite high schools.

I recently wrote an article for the New York Post about my experiences with the Carranza mob. Read it here.

And in another deeply worrying sign of trouble, New York’s economic picture is grim. Job losses are dragging the city down. “More than one million residents are out of work,” reportsthe New York Times, “and the unemployment rate is nearly double the national average.”

But the Left presses on with an anti-growth agenda. Last month, progressive forces in the New York City Council killed a waterfront development project, Industry City, that would have created 20,000 jobs. The reason? Opposition to “big business” from environmental and community groups. Establishment Democrats, terrified of rising progressive forces in the party, jumped on board when it became clear Industry City was going down. Read more about it here.

If Industry City sounds depressingly familiar, it’s because the same thing happened a year ago in Queens. Progressive forces led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez killed a development deal with Amazon. The tech giant was set to bring 25,000 jobs to the city. Ocasio-Cortez hailed the death of the deal as a victory against “corporate greed.

The race to succeed de Blasio already is underway and his would-be successors in Democrat-dominated New York are all tacking left, hoping for a repeatof recent progressive victories. As New York goes, they know, so goes much of urban America. The mayoralty of New York City is one of the biggest prizes in American politics. Radical Democrats are determined to seize it.

Until next week,