Weekly Update: Major Court Hearing for Clinton Scandal Documents
Judicial Watch Battles Trump DOJ Attorneys for Clinton Scandal Documents
Obama Travel Expenses Now an Astronomical $105,662,975.27
Pondering Election Integrity in New Hampshire
Casting Light on The Deep State
Judicial Watch Battles Trump DOJ Attorneys for Clinton Scandal Documents
We were in court this morning before a three-judge panel which heard oral argument in our appeal (No. 16-5366) regarding our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking the draft indictments of Hillary Clinton over what is popularly known as the Whitewater scandal. The National Archives confirmed that draft indictments of Clinton exist, but refused to release the records.
The appeal stems from a March 9, 2015, FOIA request and an October 20, 2015, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. National Archives and Records Administration (No. 15-cv-01740)) seeking:
All versions of indictments against Hillary Rodham Clinton, including but not limited to, Versions 1, 2, and 3 in box 2250 of the Hickman Ewing Attorney Files, the “HRC/_ Draft Indictment” in box 2256 of the Hickman Ewing Attorney Files, as well as any and all versions written by Deputy Independent Counsel Hickman Ewing, Jr. prior to September of 1996.
The draft indictments relate to allegations that Clinton provided false information and withheld evidence from federal investigators to conceal her involvement with the defunct Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, the collapse of which lead to multiple criminal convictions. Clinton provided legal representation to Madison Guaranty as an attorney at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. Clinton’s Rose Law Firm billing records, long sought by prosecutors, were found in the private quarters of the White House shortly after an important statute of limitations had expired.
The National Archives argues that the documents should be kept secret, citing grand jury secrecy and Clinton’s personal privacy.
Why on Earth is President Trump’s Justice Department defending Hillary Clinton by keeping information about her well-known corruption secret? Who is running the store at the Justice Department? Tax dollars are wasted as the Deep State rolls along in its frantic efforts to protect Hillary Clinton. President Trump should demand to know why his agencies are defending her.
Our attorneys argue that since an “enormous amount of grand jury and other information from the independent counsel’s investigation of Clinton has already been made public, including a January 5, 2001, Final Report of the Independent Counsel and a 206-page “Summary of Evidence Memorandum” detailing the potential charges against Clinton, there is no secrecy or privacy left to protect.”
We believe the records include an evolving set of draft indictments, written between 1996 and 1998. The draft indictments reportedly arose out of the Office of Independent Counsel investigation into Clinton’s involvement in an allegedly fraudulent transaction, Castle Grande, involving the assets of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan. Clinton was alleged to have drafted an option agreement that concealed from federal bank examiners a fraudulent $300,000 cross-loan to the Castle Grande project. Mrs. Clinton’s grand jury testimony – and her alleged concealment of her role in this fraudulent transaction, including the hiding of her Rose Law Firm billing records concerning her legal work for Madison – reportedly became the subject of an obstruction of justice and perjury investigation.
In March 1999, Ewing testified that three years prior he had drafted and circulated but abandoned an indictment of Mrs. Clinton. The New York Post reported:
Ewing said he “had problems” with some of her statements to investigators in April 1995 and drafted an indictment shortly after September 1996. He said he showed it to other prosecutors in Starr’s office but went no further.
Last year, we separately reported that, “Mrs. Clinton ‘may have been involved in a crime in 1986,’ according to never-before-seen portions of an Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) memorandum.”
Paul Orfanedes, who is chief of JW’s litigation team, represented Judicial Watch before the court today. He did an admirable job in the face of some tough questioning by the three jurists. Those of you who support our work would have been proud of the strong legal arguments Paul made to hold both our government and Mrs. Clinton accountable to the law.
The appeals court panel should rule in a few months …
Obama Travel Expenses Now an Astronomical $105,662,975.27
As a check on our presidents’ profligate travel, we routinely check in on their “expense accounts.” That’s what employers do, and we as taxpayers, after all, employ them. The information we seek about the travel is basic but, as you will see below, the fight to get the info is major.
First, we obtained travel records from the Secret Service in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, bringing the known total of travel expenses for former President Barack Obama and his family to $105,662,975.27.
The latest records show President Trump’s travel expenses total slightly over $4 million.
The new Obama travel records obtained from the Secret Service were the result of our FOIA lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (No. 1:17-cv-01007)). Our lawsuit produced documents showing a total of $3,696,266.56 for Obama travel:
- Michelle Obama’s trip to Morocco cost $128,108.47 in hotels; $88,725.60 in car rentals; $1,476.07 in gas/oil and $972.22 in cell phone charges for a total of $244,218.01
- Michelle Obama’s trip to Liberia cost $55,220 in hotels; $44,000 in car rentals; $2,500 in gas/oil and $1,000 in cell phone charges for a total of $107,890
- Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain cost $79,764.49 in hotels; $81,750.99 in car rentals and $4,547 in staff overtime pay for a total of $166,062.48
- Obama’s November 2016appearance at a Clinton campaign rally in Orlando, Florida, cost $150,530.99 in hotels; $103,526.96 in air/rail; $11,588.76 in car rentals and $5,829 in equipment for a total of $271,467.71
- Obama’s trip to Los Angeles in October 2016, which included two fundraisers and an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” cost $127,822 in hotels; $38,715 in air/rail; $24,326 in equipment and $4,992.30 in car rentals for a total of $195,855
- Michelle Obama’s October 2016appearance at a Clinton campaign rally in North Carolina cost $13,206 in hotels; $11,965 in air/rail and $1,331 in car rentals for a total of $26,502
- The Obama family trip to Martha’s Vineyard in August 2016 cost $2,512,380.88 in hotels; $89,586.82 in rental cars; $53,234.69 in air/rail and $29,068.97 in miscellaneous expenditures for a total of $2,684,271.36
- The Secret Service spent $1,862,230.74 on the Obamas’ final Christmas to Honolulu on the taxpayers’ dime: $1,765,583.12 on hotels and $96,647.62 on car rentals.
Added to the previously released costs, the known total of travel expenses for the Obamas is now at least $105,662,975. (We can’t and will never get all the costs, so this number is the tip of the iceberg.)
Separately, providing protection for Hillary Clinton during her failed presidential campaign between April 11 and May 6, 2015, cost the Secret Service $23,323.14 in car rentals; $294.057.65 in air/rail and $32,856.80 in travel vouchers for a total of $350,237.59.
We didn’t stop asking questions about presidential travel when President Trump took office. In fact, we just released docs showing the costs of some of President Trump’s travel total $4,082,427.71:
- President Trump’s “Thank You Tour” between November 9 and December 12, 2016, cost $330,260.86 in hotels; $112,314 in air/rail; $14,340 in equipment and $18,563.44 in car rentals for a total of $475,478.30
- Trump visits to Mar-a-Lago between February 3 and March 27, 2017 cost $1,474,726.03 in hotels (including $19,760 at Mar-a-Lago), $284,581.63 on car rentals; $1,791,768.33 on air/rail and $55,873.42 on supplies and services for a total of $3,606,949.41
We previously released Air Force records showing Trump administration travel costs. The grand total for President Trump’s and Vice President Pence’s travel to date is $7,560,425.01. It cost the Secret Service an additional $95,187.58 to secure Trump Tower from November 9 through December 5, 2016.
Again, everything is a battle with the Big Government federal leviathan. We had to file yet another FOIA lawsuit here in DC for the travel expenditures for the Trump family during April 2017 and the Obama family between January 2009 and April 2017 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (No. 1:17-cv-01341)).
We filed after the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Secret Service failed to respond to FOIA requests filed in April and May 2017 seeking mission taskings, transportation costs, passenger manifests and security costs.
We want Air Force records for:
- Trump’s trip to Mar-a-Lago between April 6 – 9 when he hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping
- Obama’s trips to Chicago between January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
- Trump’s trip to Mar-a-Lago between April 14 – 16 for Easter weekend with his family
We are also seeking Secret Service records for:
- Trump and companions’ trip to Mar-a-Lago between April 6 – 9
- Obama and companions’ trips to Chicago between January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
- Obama and his companions’ trips to Chicago between January 20, 2017, and April 12, 2017
- Trump and companions’ trip to Mar-a-Lago April 14-16
It is troubling to see such massive amounts of money paid out for trips that appear to have minimal value to the public interest.
And it is even more frustrating to have to file multiple FOIA lawsuits and engage in long-running court battles to get basic information about the costs of presidential travel.
Pondering Election Integrity in New Hampshire
Judicial Watch is a national leader in the historic battle for clean elections. That’s why your JW was invited to appear before President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity last week.
Robert Popper is one of the nation’s leading experts on clean elections. Bob was senior election law attorney in the Justice Department before joining JW as director of our Election Integrity Project.
Below are some key quotes from his presentation to the Trump commission:
The American people have come to believe that there are serious problems with our electoral system. One study from last year showed that Americans have little faith in the integrity of their elections and postulated that this partly explains low voter turnout. A Rasmussen poll from 2016 reported that only 41% of those polled believe “American elections are fair to voters.” A Washington Post-ABC News poll from 2016 found that 46% of those polled believed that voter fraud happens either “somewhat” or “very” often.
There are over 2,800 counties in states covered by the NVRA. Of these, 415, or about 15% of all covered counties, did not report sending any confirmation notices during the two-year period from 2014 to 2016. This fact suggests a widespread failure to comply with the NVRA. Moreover, of the counties that did report sending confirmation notices, another 581, or about 20% of the total, reported sending notices during the last two-year period to fewer than 5% of their registered voters. Given that the Census Bureau reports that about 11% of Americans move every year, these low rates also suggest that these counties are not diligently conducting voter list maintenance.
Counties’ overall registration rates also reveal compliance issues. Our study showed that, in 462 U.S. counties, the number of voter registrations exceeded the number of citizens over the age of 18 who resided in those counties. In other words, those counties’ registration rates exceeded 100% of the population eligible to register. Federal courts have repeatedly held that such an imbalance between registrations and age-eligible citizens is grounds for believing that a jurisdiction is not living up to its list maintenance obligations. These 462 counties, moreover, constitute about 17% of all U.S. counties covered by the NVRA where we have enough data to make these calculations.
These facts show widespread noncompliance with the NVRA. The problem, moreover, is worse than it was even a few years ago. When Judicial Watch conducted a similar registration analysis in 2015, we found that 312 counties covered by the NVRA had more registered voters than voting-age citizen population, which was about 11% of all counties where we had the data necessary to make this comparison.
The Department during the last administration appears to have completely abandoned all efforts to enforce the list maintenance provisions of Section 8 of the NVRA. Even worse, the Department engaged in litigation specifically intended to limit the ability of states to remove ineligible registrations from the rolls.
We know that voter fraud, whether impersonation fraud, absentee ballot fraud, registration fraud, double voting, noncitizen voting, or voting by those ineligible under state law, occurs and is, in some form, a feature of every election, and we have suggestive, but not conclusive, evidence about the extent of such fraud. We also know that voter fraud is hard to detect and prove, especially where the law requires a showing of specific intent. We know that many states do not even bother to track voter fraud. We also know that this is probably to be expected, given that voter fraud often is lightly penalized. In preparing my statement, I happened to research some of the voter fraud laws in neighboring Vermont. Its election law provides that the penalty for casting more than one ballot is a maximum fine of $1,000 for a primary or general election, $100 for a local election, and no incarceration in either case. At the same time, Vermont law provides that the penalty for selling maple syrup without a license is a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to a year in prison. [Emphasis added]
If there is no integrity at the ballot box, then everything is up in the air. Americans are right to be concerned. For more on Judicial Watch’s election integrity efforts, be sure to click here.
Casting Light on The Deep State
We gathered a distinguished panel in Washington to discuss the “Deep State,” that collection of unelected officials and bureaucrats who have a permanent place in the halls of government and assume they know better than the president and the American people.
Christopher J. Farrell, our Director of Investigations and Research, moderated the discussion. Joining him were:
- Sebastian Gorka, former Deputy Assistant to the President and author of New York Times bestseller Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War
- Diana West, journalist and author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character
- Todd Shepherd, investigative reporter with The Washington Examiner
- James Peterson, senior attorney at Judicial Watch
Chris made a revealing observation about the demographics of Washington D.C., where the Deep State resides.
“Ninety-four percent of Washington, D.C., voted for Hillary Clinton. When that population gets up in the morning and goes to work and staffs the departments and agencies of the government, they’re generally anti-President Trump.
“That’s the leadership of each of the departments and agencies. That is what a new administration faces. And, traditionally, the left is quite comfortable with the organs of the state and the levers of management. They love policies and programs and departments, and you find, generally speaking, the right doesn’t. And so you find people that come into government with a Republican or a right of center administration, when they’re done, they go home. They go back to their business.”
In his seven months in the Trump Administration, Gorka witnessed the Deep State first hand:
“One hundred twenty-five national security leaks in the first 126 days of the administration, so that’s practically one a day. That is seven times the number of national security leaks under the Bush administration or the Obama administration taken as an average in the first six months – not twice, not three times, seven times the number of leaks. According to Congress, of those initial leaks, at least 60 of them were of serious national security matters.
“When you sit in a meeting of the National Security Council, which is the highest decision making body on policy in the United States government, with every high-ranking representative of the administration, whether it’s State Department, DOD, CIA, NSA, and you listen to a discussion for more than an hour, and not one person in the room or on the outstations on the video teleconference ever mentions the name of the president, what his objectives are or what he said yesterday in Riyadh or Warsaw or in front of the joint session of Congress, we have a very serious problem because they are there not to serve their own understanding of what the nation needs, but to serve the vision of the new CEO. “
Diana West sees the Deep State as a direct challenge to President Trump.
“It’s important to remember that it was Donald Trump himself who provoked the Deep State to expose itself. We can see this in what we’re learning now about the outrageous efforts by the CIA, the FBI, the NSA to insert themselves into the presidential campaign, into the political process in order to destroy his candidacy and presidency.
“I just have to wonder why they are not under serious investigation. Why is their continued survival not dependent on major reform and new transparency? It is Trump who is imperiled. The extent to which the Deep State is succeeding, the extent to which President Trump has joined forces too often to destroy his own agenda makes it unlikely, it seems, that we will actually expose much more of this mechanism, and, much more important, arouse the political and legal will to destroy it and restore constitutional governance because exposure alone is not enough.”
For journalist Shepherd, the issue is the control of information.
“There has sadly been no groundswell of opinion from the voters about the fact that our basic functions of transparency are so broken. I believe the average American, though, understands quite clearly that it’s ironic and it’s shameful that the government can have their phone logs within a matter of days but I, as a reporter, cannot get the bureaucrats’ phone logs for a matter of months.
“That’s how broken our Freedom of Information Act laws are. We’re familiar with the phrase ‘Justice delayed is justice denied,’ but there’s a corollary there and that is information delayed is more power into the hands of a bureaucracy. Investigative reporter Ethan Barton at The Daily Caller had a story in which Mother Jones requested some information about Trump, and what was eventually turned over to them was about 1,000 e-mails. They were able to get this within four months. There is no such corresponding effort for conservative outlets.”
My JW attorney colleague James Peterson confirmed that the Deep State is still blocking Judicial Watch’s access to information.
“We fought the State Department and the Justice Department for Hillary’s e-mails last year, in difficult litigation at each turn. So when Donald Trump was elected, we thought – you know, we weren’t necessarily certain of it but we thought there was at least a decent chance that there might be something new, that the perspective of the Obama administration would change with the Trump administration. Boy, was that naïve. I mean, we thought that there would be a change.
“Literally on day one and ever since it has continued. The fight has continued. If anything, it’s just as difficult, it’s just as intense, the opposition to anything we’re trying to do. The State Department, the Justice Department still fight tooth and nail at each stage to prevent anything coming out, whether it’s Hillary e-mail related or things that could be easily released at the discretion of the government at any moment. It doesn’t require any significant action, but the same people are still there – not just at each of the agencies that are in control but also at the Justice Department in the litigation. It’s the same people that are still in control.”
As you have read this Weekly Update this year you have no doubt seen this for yourselves: the continued lawless cover-ups the federal bureaucracy. You can view the full Deep State panel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAReCOhS10A). I encourage you to share widely this and all of Judicial Watch essential educational material about the corruption crisis here in DC!
Until next week …