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Tom Fitton's Weekly Update

New Ohr Docs Document Anti-Trump Coup

Judicial Watch Investigating Epstein Death
Documents Detail Effort to Smear Trump with “Dossier” through Bruce Ohr
Nellie Ohr Provided Russian Information to DOJ Top Official Lisa Holtyn
Court Orders Obstructionist Maryland to Turn Over Voter List Data
Judicial Watch Sues California over Its Gender Quota for Corporate Boards


Judicial Watch Investigating Epstein Death

We have repeatedly challenged the Department of Justice and the FBI over their fraudulent handling of “investigations” into Hillary Clinton’s illegal activities when she was secretary of state.

Now the very same Justice Department is sitting on another scandal in its role as manager of federal prisons. The conspiracy theories about how Jeffrey Epstein died are well founded, and Justice has a lot to answer for. We’ve already sent out Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, as I note in this interview. At this point the Justice Department can’t be trusted to fully investigate itself. (The latest report is that the medical examiner concluded he committed suicide.)

In his Investigative Bulletin, our chief investigative reporter, Micah Morrison, provides some of the questions we’ll be asking:

The death of financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in a high-security federal jail cell in Manhattan has lit up social media with conspiracy theories. Was it murder? Suicide? The wealthy Epstein for decades cultivated the rich and powerful: heads of state, barons of commerce, royalty. He skated on earlier Florida sex charges, a controversy that eventually brought down Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. According to conspiracy theories cresting on the Internet, Epstein’s recent federal indictment on sex trafficking charges threatened too many prominent people—so somebody, somehow, bumped him off.

There’s no evidence that Epstein was murdered in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Officials at the lockup say he was alone Saturday morning and hanged himself. But it’s fair to say that at present there’s not much evidence, aside from a few official statements, that Epstein committed suicide. Huge challenges and high stakes loom in the Epstein case and the window on some key opportunities is closing fast.

Here are the questions that will decide the fate of the case:

Is the unit where Epstein died a crime scene? Preservation of evidence is critical. Fingerprints, hair samples, body fluids, location of body, method of death. Many investigations have been ruined at the outset from a failure to preserve the scene. Sound an alarm bell if the Epstein death location was not processed as a crime scene.

Are records preserved? A source at the Bureau of Prisons tells us there would be a “huge paper trail” on Epstein—documents, logs, interviews with prison psychologists and others related to an alleged July 23 suicide attempt, recordings of phone calls, text messages. Some of us with long memories remember the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster. The Foster case dragged on for years and gave birth to numerous conspiracy theories in part because the crime scene was mishandled and documents disappeared from his White House office.

Can the money be followed? Epstein’s finances were carefully concealed, but he was known for spreading money around to ease his problems. Prosecutors alleged he tried to buy off witnesses. And serving time at a Palm Beach county jail in 2008 and 2009 on a Florida prostitution charge—negotiated to keep him out of federal prison—Epstein managed to steer $128,000 to officials running the jail. Investigators should search for similar arrangements in New York.

Are Bureau of Prison insiders corrupt? Most Bureau of Prisons employees are honest, but the organization has been repeatedly buffeted by corruption cases. Investigators will take a close look at everyone connected to Epstein at the facility.

Are the Epstein lawyers complicit? How far can a lawyer go for a client? Did any of Epstein’s lawyers facilitate illegal acts? Getting information from Epstein’s lawyers is central to the case. Epstein met repeatedly with his legal team while in jail. The New York Times reports that two lawyers closely involved in Epstein’s finances have hired lawyers of their own—criminal defense specialists. The Times elsewhere reports that Epstein’s lawyers brought in their own pathologist—famed forensic examiner Michael Baden—to observe the Epstein autopsy. According to the Wall Street Journal, Epstein was taken off suicide watch, after the July 23 incident, “at the request of his attorneys.” Expect a big legal battle if investigators move on Epstein’s lawyers.

Is the Department of Justice incompetent? The Epstein case is a major challenge for Attorney General William Barr. He says both the FBI and the Justice Department inspector general will open investigations into the Epstein death, but that may not be enough. Years of controversy and mismanagement related to the Clinton emails, the Clinton foundation and other matters morphed into turmoil over the 2016 election, FBI leadership, the Russia case and President Trump. The Justice Department is now an institution in crisis.

Judicial Watch has launched its own investigation into the Epstein case. We’ve been hearing from sources connected to the incident and we’ve brought a series of Freedom of Information actions to make sure key documents don’t get buried. But that’s no substitute for a properly functioning Justice Department.


Documents Detail Effort to Smear Trump with “Dossier” through Bruce Ohr

If you can get the Department of Justice to attack the person who beat you in a presidential race, you are fairly clever. Or maybe not – as nefarious characters in the DOJ were more than willing to help Hillary Clinton.

Here’s the latest.

We justreleased 330 pages of Justice Department documents showing Bruce Ohr, who was demoted from his position as U.S. Associate Deputy Attorney General in December 2017, discussing information obtained through his wife Nellie Ohr. This information included anti-Trump dossier materials, including a spreadsheet that tries to link President Trump to dozens of Russians.

Remember: Nellie Ohr worked for Hillary Clinton through Fusion GPS.

On December 5, 2016, Bruce Ohr emailed himself an Excel spreadsheet, seemingly from his wife Nellie Ohr, titled “WhosWho19Sept2016.” The spreadsheet purports to show relationship descriptions and “linkages” between Donald Trump, his family and criminal figures, many of whom were Russians. This list of individuals allegedly “linked to Trump” include: a Russian involved in a “gangland killing;” an Uzbek mafia don; a former KGB officer suspected in the murder of Paul Tatum; a Russian who reportedly “buys up banks and pumps them dry”; a Russian money launderer for Sergei Magnitsky; a Turk accused of shipping oil for ISIS; a couple who lent their name to the Trump Institute, promoting its “get-rich-quick schemes”; a man who poured him a drink; and others.

On December 5, 2016, Bruce Ohr emailed himself a document titled “Manafort Chronology,” another Nellie Ohr-Fusion GPS document, which details Paul Manafort’s travel and interactions with Russians and other officials. 

FBI interview reports from December 5 and December 12, and December 20, 2017, show that Bruce Ohr “voluntarily” gave these anti-Trump and Manafort materials, created for the Clinton campaign by Fusion GPS, to the FBI. (The FBI interview notes were just declassified and released to us last week.)

On January 25, 2017, Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, forwarded text messages to him that she’d sent to her “colleagues,” where she refers to the Steele dossier as the “yellow rain dossier” and the “yellow showers dossier.”

In the same set of forwarded texts, Nellie speculates that Department K of the Russian intelligence service FSB “would be a pretty good candidate for listening in on Hillary.”

On February 14, 2017, former-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Kathleen Kavalec, forwardedOhr a Huffington Post article touting the Steele Dossier’s claim that an alleged deal between Russian oil company Rosneft and Trump supporter Steve Schwarzman constituted a “high crime of treason worthy of impeachment.” Ohr forwarded the article to the FBI’s Washington Field Office the same day.

Four months prior to this exchange, Kavalec had found Christopher Steele not credible because of factual inaccuracies that he had relayed to her in October 2016, as uncovered by Judicial Watch.

On May 23, 2016, DOJ prosecutor Lisa Holtyn emails Bruce Ohr to see if he could connect her as well as prosecutors Joe Wheatley and Ivana Nizich with his wife, Nellie Ohr, as she could be a “great resource” for them. He replies, “I’m sure Nellie would be delighted to speak with them. I’m pretty sure there is no conflict of interest since they aren’t paying her or anything like that.” Congressman Mark Meadows suggested this email shows that Nellie Ohr “knowingly provided false testimony” to Congress she had no role in DOJ investigations.

These documents show a crazed DOJ-FBI effort to use the Clinton spy ring at Fusion GPS, namely Nellie Ohr, to smear President Trump – even before he was sworn in as president. Clinton campaign operative Nellie Ohr may as well as have had a desk at the Justice Department.

We obtained the records through our August 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Justice Department after it failed to respond to a May 29, 2018, FOIA request  (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-01854)). Judicial Watch seeks:

  • All records from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.
  • All records from the office of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.
  • All records from the office of the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Organized Crime Task Force Director Bruce Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

Here is some recent history on our discoveries about the Ohrs.

In April, we received documents showing that Bruce Ohr in his January 2018 preparation to testify to the Senate and House intelligence committees wrote to a lawyer about “possible ethics concerns.” Bruce Ohr forwarded the email to Nellie Ohr, who had been hired by Fusion GPS, the Hillary Clinton campaign-Democratic National Committee vendor who compiled the anti-Trump dossier.

We also uncovered emails from Bruce Ohr showing that former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr remained in regular contact with former British spy and Fusion GPS contractor Christopher Steele after Steele was terminated by the FBI in November 2016 for revealing to the media his position as an FBI confidential informant.

In June, we uncovered that 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.

We had previously uncovered an email revealing that Nellie Ohr informed Bruce that she was deleting emails sent from his DOJ email account.

As you can see, we’re still uncovering the sordid details of this attempted coup d’état.


Nellie Ohr Provided Russian Information to DOJ Top Official Lisa Holtyn

 As discussed above, Bruce and Nellie Ohr trafficked in salacious gossip of the worst kind in their fit to topple a U.S. president.

We have yet another batch of details in the form of 72 pages of documents from the U.S. Department of Justice containing Russia-related emails sent from Nellie Ohr to high-ranking DOJ official Lisa Holtyn at the time Ohr worked with anti-Trump dossier firm Fusion GPS. Holtyn at the time was a top aide to former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, Nellie’s husband.

In an email to Holtyn dated November 22, 2016, revealing her anti-Trump sentiments, Nellie poses a question in the subject line: “Who stands behind the Russian ‘friends of Trump;’” which she answers enthusiastically in the first line of the email: “Pornographer-turned-pro-Kremlin-media-impresario Konstantin Rykov!!!”

The documents show that Nellie Ohr was providing the Justice Department significant amounts of information on Russia via email from January 2016 – November 2016. She testified to Congress she worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS “October of 2015, give or take a couple weeks, and into the end of September 2016.” Much of the material Ohr sent to the DOJ is untranslated Russia-language reports.

Fusion GPS is the firm paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to create the anti-Trump dossier.

The documents show Nellie Ohr’s providing Justice Department officials much the same kind of open-source research and investigative services she was paid to provide Fusion GPS.

Nellie Ohr told Congress that she worked at Fusion GPS on “a project looking into the relationship of Donald Trump with [Russian] organized crime,” for which she would “write occasional reports based on the open source research that I described about Donald Trump’s relationships with various people in Russia” She also testified she gathered information during the 2016 campaign about Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Carter Page, President Trump, his wife Melania Trump and his children for Fusion GPS.

We obtained the records through our August 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuitagainst the Justice Department after it failed to respond to a May 29, 2018, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-01854)). We are seeking:

  • All records from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.
  • All records from the office of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.
  • All records from the office of the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Organized Crime Task Force Director Bruce Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

Nellie Ohr funneled anti-Trump smears to her husband’s underlings in the DOJ, who were running an illicit spy operation against President Trump. Nellie Ohr is obviously a key figure in the Clinton-DNC-Fusion GPS spy ring.


Court Orders Obstructionist Maryland to Turn Over Voter List Data

We are the national leader in enforcing the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act, and we continue to rack up wins.

I’m pleased to inform you that a federal court has ordered the State of Maryland to produce voter list data for Montgomery County, the state’s biggest county. The court ruling comes in our lawsuit filed July 18, 2017, against Montgomery County and the Maryland State Boards of Elections under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

We sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division (Judicial Watch vs. Linda H. Lamone, et al. (No. 1:17-cv-02006)).

The decision follows our NVRA-related successes in California and Kentucky that could lead to removal of up to 1.85 million inactive voters from voter registration lists. The NVRA requires states to take reasonable steps to clean up its voting rolls and to make documents about its voter list maintenance practices available to anyone who asks.

We had sought the Maryland voter list data after discovering that there were more registered voters in Montgomery County than citizens over the age of 18 who could register. U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander rejected Maryland’s objections to providing the voter list information under Section 8(i) of the National Voter Registration Act:

If Judicial Watch had submitted requests for voter registration data, corresponding to the thousands of Montgomery County voters, the State would have been required to produce each record, pursuant to Section 8(i). Instead, Judicial Watch merely submitted a single request for a voter list containing and compiling the same information about the thousands of voters in Montgomery County. Although both scenarios seek the same information, defendants believe that the NVRA would require compliance with only one of them. Rejecting Judicial Watch’s request based on semantics would be tantamount to requiring Judicial Watch to make thousands of separate requests. Neither the NVRA, the Court, nor common sense can abide such a purposeless obstruction.

****

Organizations such as Judicial Watch have the resources and expertise that few individuals can marshal. By excluding these organizations from access to voter registration lists, the State law undermines Section 8(i)’s efficacy. Accordingly, [Maryland election law] is an obstacle to the accomplishment of the NVRA’s purposes. It follows that the State law is preempted in so far as it allows only Maryland registered voters to access voter registration lists.

The dispute over the voter registration list arose from an April 11, 2017, notice letter sent to Maryland election officials, in which we explained Montgomery County had an impossibly high registration rate. The letter threatened a lawsuit if the problems with Montgomery County’s voter rolls were not fixed. The letter also requested access to Montgomery County voter registration lists in order to evaluate the efficacy of any “programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of Maryland’s official eligible voter lists during the past 2 years.”

Democrat Maryland officials, in response, attacked and smeared us by suggesting we are an agent of Russia.

Now that the court has cleared the way for us to obtain the Montgomery voter data, our efforts to force the State of Maryland to comply with the NVRA and clean up its voter rolls may proceed.

After our successful efforts to bring Kentucky, California, Ohio and Indiana into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act, it’s time for Maryland politicians to stop the politics, see the light, get right with the law and clean up the State’s voter rolls. If they don’t, we’ll see them in court again.


Judicial Watch Sues California over Its Gender Quota for Corporate Boards

California is always on the leading edge of left-wing policy – often implemented unlawfully. The latest is its effort to ignore its own concerns about the constitution and throw a blanket of political correctness over private businesses.

We just filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of three California taxpayers to prevent the State from implementing Senate Bill 826. This 2018 law requires publicly-held corporations headquartered in California to have at least one director “who self-identifies her gender as a woman” on their boards by December 31, 2019 (Robin Crest et al. v. Alex Padilla (No.19ST-CV-27561)). Up to three such persons are required by December 31, 2021, depending on the size of the board. The lawsuit alleges that the mandate is an unconstitutional gender-based quota.

There are currently 761 publicly-traded corporations headquartered in California, the vast majority of which are subject to the legislation’s provisions. In a July 1, 2019, report, the secretary of state identified 537 corporations that fall short of the mandate.

Before the bill passed, a California Assembly floor analysis identified a “significant risk of legal challenges” to SB 826. It characterized the legislation as creating a “quota-like system” and noted, “[T]his bill, if enacted into law, would likely be challenged on equal protection grounds … The use of a quota-like system, as proposed by this bill, to remedy past discrimination and differences in opportunity may be difficult to defend.”

In signing SB 826 in September 2018, then-Governor Brown wrote that, “serious legal concerns have been raised” to the legislation. “I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation.” He signed the bill anyway, noting “Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C. – and beyond – make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.”

In our complaint, we argue:

SB 826 is illegal under the California Constitution. The legislation’s quota system for female representation on corporate boards employs express gender classifications. As a result, SB 826 is immediately suspect and presumptively invalid and triggers strict scrutiny review.

California has followed a trend set in many European countries and the EU mandating gender quotas for corporate boards of directors. As a Boston Globe opinion piece notes, however, the outcome of Europe’s experiment was not what advocates of gender quotas predicted:

Progressives often support diversity mandates as a path to equality and a way to level the proverbial playing field. But all too often such policies are a disingenuous form of virtue signaling that benefits only the most privileged and does little to help average people.

***

Requiring companies to make gender the primary qualification for board membership will inevitably lead to less qualified private sector boards…exactly what happened when Norway adopted a nationwide corporate gender quota. According to a 2012 paper by USC professor Kenneth R. Ahern and University of Michigan professor Amy K. Dittmar, Norway’s gender quota “led to younger and less experienced boards … and deterioration in operating performance, consistent with less capable boards.”

***

[Norway’s] gender quotas have not had significant effect on corporate culture or led to the promotion of more women throughout the ranks. In fact, the only thing Norway’s gender quotas have done is benefit the individual women actually selected to serve on the corporate boards.

Writing in The New Republic, Alice Lee notes that increasing the number of opportunities for board membership without increasing the pool of qualified women to serve on such boards has led to a “golden skirt” phenomenon, where the same elite women scoop up multiple seats on a variety of boards.

California’s gender quota law is brazenly unconstitutional. Even Gov. Brown, in signing the law, worried that it is unconstitutional. Our California taxpayer clients are stepping up to make sure that California’s Constitution, which prohibits sex discrimination, is upheld.

 

Until next week …