by Tom Fitton –
Judicial Watch –
In an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News about a year ago, President Obama said that President Richard Nixon was actually more liberal in his policies than Obama is. But, while comparing their policies, Obama conveniently left out one chilling similarity: Both presidents used the virtually unbridled power and authority of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to target their political opponents. In fact, in many respects Obama’s IRS abuses actually have been much worse than Nixon’s.
As we have previously reported, it was in May 2013 that the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released an audit report confirming that the IRS used “inappropriate” criteria to identify, hamstring, and handcuff conservative organizations that stand in opposition to the administration’s policies. In short, it violated the First Amendment rights of countless Americans just as Obama sought reelection. If you want to know how an election is stolen in plain sight, this is how.
To further confirm the criminality of Obama’s IRS abuse, in 2014, Lois Lerner, the former Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit that was “suppression central” for the tax agency, was held in contempt of Congress after refusing to testify at a congressional hearing about the agency’s witch hunts.
President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is supposedly conducting an investigation into the IRS’ wrongdoing. And the operative word there is “supposedly.” The fact is, we have very good reason to believe that the DOJ may not get to the truth – or even try all that hard. Why not? Well, we are not alone in noting that DOJ Attorney Barbara Bosserman, whom Eric Holder appointed back in January 2014 to lead the investigation, is not exactly what anyone would call a nonpartisan, neutral civil servant. Far from it.
Federal Election Commission records show Bosserman contributed $6,750 to Obama’s campaigns and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) from 2004 to 2012, including 12 separate contributions to Obama for America between 2008 and 2012. Small wonder then that House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darryl Issa (R-CA) described the Bosserman appointment as “a startling conflict of interest [that has] compromised the Administration’s investigation of the IRS.” That’s what Issa wrote in a letter to Attorney General Holder protesting the appointment of Obama loyalist Bosserman to head up the Obama IRS investigation.
This is the kind of conflict of interest that screams out for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request – which JW filed in February 2014 asking for information about contacts, calendars, cases, documents, time tracking, and billing that would detail the number of hours DOJ Attorney Barbara Bosserman expended on the investigation of the IRS targeting conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status in the 2010 and 2012 elections cycles.
This is a simple request for information. The American people deserve to know how much time the government employee being paid with tax dollars is putting into the effort to investigate the IRS’ outrageous assault upon the First Amendment. Yet, it took the DOJ five full months to reject our FOIA request, claiming outlandishly that telling the public how much work she was doing on a major national scandal somehow violated Ms. Bosserman’s privacy. Well, the Justice Department is not above the law and we filed a FOIA lawsuit in an effort to shake loose the records that would show us how many hours this Obama donor had devoted to its IRS investigation.
So far, the DOJ has claimed no less than four separate privileges in federal court to keep Bosserman’s hours secret. In November 2014, the DOJ filed a Motion for Summary Judgment that was laced with obfuscation. DOJ lawyers argue that there is no public interest served in releasing the information. While the DOJ confirms that there is an investigation of sorts, the Motion omits any acknowledgement that improper IRS targeting was directed against Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations opposed to Obama’s agenda. As you might expect, your JW is not giving any ground. Our lawyers are asking the court to reject the DOJ’s arguments to continue its stonewalling, to review the documents in question, and to rule summarily in our favor:
[Judicial Watch] does not seek information describing the type of work Ms. Bosserman conducted. Nor does it seek information about how she spent her time. Nor does it seek Ms. Bosserman’s notes about locations visited, persons consulted, staff briefings, and other case developments. Again, [Judicial Watch] solely seeks information about the number of hours Ms. Bosserman expended on the aforementioned criminal investigation. Nevertheless, Defendant claims everything but the kitchen sink in its effort to withhold the time records in their entirety.
Prior Judicial Watch lawsuits forced the release of IRS and Justice
Department documents that implicate the Justice Department, its Public Integrity Section, and Obama supporters in Congress. These Judicial Watch disclosures also led to the discovery by Congress that the FBI had obtained, illegally, over a million pages of IRS files.
This ought to be a major issue on the nomination fight over Loretta Lynch, Obama’s proposed successor to the disgraced Eric Holder. Under Justice Department regulations:
The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and-(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and (b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.”
I urge you to read and widely share today’s piece entitled “ABCs of IRS mess: Justice Department is tainted, too” in the New York Post by our lead investigative reporter Micah Morrison. Micah lays out in painstaking detail, including some never-before-revealed facts, about what is obvious to any honest American: that the Obama Justice Department can’t be trusted to investigate the Obama Justice Department. For instance, Bosserman isn’t the only “conflicted” lawyer at the Justice Department:
Then there’s Andrew Strelka. Working in Justice’s Tax Division, he represented the IRS in two civil cases related to the targeting of tax-exempt groups, including a Freedom of Information battle with Judicial Watch. And before Justice, he worked for the IRS in Lois Lerner’s Exempt Organizations division.
“I cherished my time in the EO family,” Strelka e-mailed Lerner, “and I owe a big thanks to you for hiring me.”
Strelka’s ties to Lerner were so strong that both Treasury and Justice interviewed him in their IRS probes. But when he was defending the IRS in targeting matters, he failed to disclose to the judge or opposing counsel his ties to the IRS and Lerner.
If the Senate is to confirm Ms. Lynch (and that is a big “if” – see below), it should require the appointment of a special counsel that can begin, finally, to investigate seriously the worst abuse of the IRS by a president in memory. This is the least the Senate should do because, as I noted with Nixon, a president has resigned for less.
Feel free to call your senators and alert them to this information. You can reach them at 202-224-3121. Tell them to give us a call. We are happy to educate any United State Senator, Republican or Democrat, about what our Obama IRS scandal investigation has revealed.
Exchanging Terrorists for an Army Deserter?
We still don’t know the full story behind Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s decision to leave his army post in Afghanistan and how he was captured by the Taliban. But apparently, he will “likely” be charged with desertion, according to the news reports. The untoward delay of justice by the Obama Pentagon is unseemly at best, and – as the decision was conveniently delayed well past the November elections – one must wonder if politics trump military discipline and order among the Pentagon leadership who should know better.
These latest developments add further impetus to some of JW’s most recent legal moves. We have now filed four lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the State Department seeking information concerning Bergdahl and the decisions made at the highest levels of government to release five bloodthirsty terrorists previously held at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for an alleged deserter.
Here is what we know: Bergdahl left his post and was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan from June 2009 until May 2014. The circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance and subsequent capture have become the subject of intense controversy. He was released on May 31, 2014, as part of a prisoner exchange by the Obama administration for five Taliban terrorist leaders who were held at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
So, exactly how and why did then- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel decide it was a good idea to release the five Gitmo terrorists previously held under lock and key in exchange for Bergdahl? As I’ve reported to you before, that’s the question we are seeking an answer to in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit we filed against the DOD in November 2014. Federal law requires that the Secretary of Defense can transfer or release a Guantanamo detainee to a foreign country only “if the Secretary determines, following a review…that the individual is no longer a threat to the national security of the United States.” But there’s good cause for skepticism in this case. Reuters has reported that the Taliban commanders that Team Obama has released are quite dangerous. All five prisoners were classed as “high-risk” and “likely to pose a threat” by the Pentagon and held senior positions in the Taliban regime before it was toppled by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001.
Sure enough, just yesterday CNN reported that one the terrorist Taliban leaders got back into terrorism. As CNN charitably describes it, one of the terrorists released by Obama:
[H]as attempted to return to militant activity from his current location in Qatar by making contact with suspected Taliban associates in Afghanistan, multiple officials tell CNN.
The development has led to an ongoing debate inside the administration about whether there is a new threat from this man, and potentially the other four.
Earlier this month, we filed another FOIA lawsuit against the State Department asking for access to the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Qatar relating to the terrorist release. Did money exchange hands? If so, how much? And what guarantees did the terrorist-sponsoring state of Qatar give the Obama administration as to the care and feeding of the terrorist masterminds? The American people deserve honest and forthright answers. And JW intends to get them.
We have been way ahead of the curve here for some time. As for our supposed ally Qatar, The Daily Beast exclusively reported this week about yet another possible terrorist swap involving Qatar and Al Saleh Al-Marri.
Al-Marri was released by the Obama administration last week and allowed to leave the country, despite his being a “sleeper” al-Qaeda terrorist who had been sent to the United States by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind. As National Review’s Andrew McCarthy notes, Al-Marri was supposed “to await instructions on carrying out a second wave of attacks after the 9/11 atrocities – against water reservoirs, the New York Stock Exchange, U.S. military academies, and other targets.”
As far back as 2010, we reported that the Director of National Intelligence had revealed that 150 former Gitmo detainees were confirmed or suspected of “reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer.” Now there is public concern that terrorists and unfriendly states will take hostages to force the release of more terrorists. Our overarching purpose in these new FOIA lawsuits is to show that the Obama administration is once again in cover-up mode. This time around, it involves a scandal that involves not only national security, but also potential criminal conduct by the top leadership of the Obama administration.
But somehow this administration seems to think that it should remain above the law. JW disagrees. We know that you do, too. And we fully intend to drive that point home in the courts.
Will Senate Endorse Obama’s Lawlessness?
As we’ve described above, President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney General raises all sorts of issues about the Department of Justice’s corruption at the direction of Barack Obama and Eric Holder. During the U.S. Senate hearings this week on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to the position of U.S. Attorney General, two of our notable friends provided some compelling testimony about what the U.S. Senate should focus on as it considers her nomination.
Sharyl Attkisson and Catherine Engelbrecht told U.S. Senators about how they were targeted, in large measure through this president’s Justice Department, by the Obama administration in retaliation for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative journalist and author of the New York Times best seller Stonewalled. On November 19, 2014, JW joined with her to file a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking “any and all records” relating to FBI background checks and other records on the award-winning correspondent. We proved the Obama gang, specifically the Justice Department and the White House, targeted her in retaliation for her investigations into the growing Operation Fast and Furious scandal. In an October 4, 2011, email to White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz, Attorney General Eric Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, described Attkisson as “out of control.” Schmaler added ominously, “I’m also calling Sharryl’s [sic] editor and reaching out to Scheiffer” (an apparent reference to CBS’ Chief Washington Correspondent and Face the Nation moderator Bob Scheiffer). Schultz responded, “Good. Her piece was really bad for the AG.”
This was just the tip of the iceberg. Here is some of what she had to say in her testimony:
“When I reported on factual contradictions in the administration’s accounts regarding Fast and Furious, pushback included a frenzied campaign with White House officials trying to chill the reporting by calling and emailing my superiors and colleagues, and using surrogate bloggers to advance false claims. One White House official got so mad, he angrily cussed me out.
“The Justice Department used its authority over building security to handpick reporters allowed to attend a Fast and Furious briefing, refusing to clear me into the public Justice Department building.
“Advocates had to file a lawsuit to obtain public information about Fast and Furious improperly withheld under executive privilege. Documents recently released show emails in which taxpayer paid White House and Justice Department press officials complained that I was ‘out of control,’ ” and vowed to call my bosses to try to stop my reporting.
“Let me emphasize that my reporting was factually indisputable.
Government officials weren’t angry because I was doing my job poorly. They were panicked because I was doing my job well.”
Our other friend, Catherine Engelbrecht is a business owner whose full-time call to grassroots activism first started in 2008, when she could no longer watch silently as government made decisions that stood in stark contrast to America’s principles of personal liberty and economic freedom.
In 2009 she started True the Vote, a citizen-led effort to restore honor and integrity to our electoral system. True the Vote educates voters, researches the veracity of voter rolls, trains and mobilizes citizens to work at the polls, and advocates for election code reform legislation. True the Vote was co-plaintiff and client to Judicial Watch in historic and successful lawsuits that led to the clean-up of voting rolls in Ohio and Indiana.
These lawsuits were historic because Judicial Watch and True the Vote did the work most expect from the Obama Justice Department. But that corrupted agency, in collaboration with its radical leftist allies, has ignored provisions of law requiring that lists be clean. And administration officials have been outright hostile to any attempt to protect election integrity.
On that point, Robert D. Popper, Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project director, who served as deputy chief of the voting section at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said that during his tenure, the George W. Bush administration in its final three years filed five lawsuits over improper maintenance of voter rolls. By comparison, Popper said, “There’s been not a single lawsuit” from the Obama administration.
You know what Obama has done in terms of nullifying and violating federal immigration law. So I trust you don’t need any more convincing how the Obama administration has been damaging the rule of law on election integrity.
Catherine believes when government isn’t held accountable, it inevitably abuses the rights of American citizens. So, when she learned that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting her, True the Vote, and others, Catherine stood her ground and took action.
Here’s some of what she had to say to Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee:
“The Department of Justice has made their presence well known in both my personal and professional life. Over the years it has become clear to me that they don’t just want True the Vote shut down, they want me broken.
“In 2010, I filed two non-profit applications with the IRS, one for True the Vote, and the other for a community group I had also started, called King Street Patriots.
“Since those filings in 2010, my private businesses, my nonprofit organizations, and I personally, have been subjected to more than fifteen instances of audit, inquiry, or investigation by federal agencies, including; the IRS, OSHA, ATF, and the FBI.
“All of these inquisitions began only after filing applications for tax exemption. There is no other remarkable event, no other rationale, to explain away how for decades I went unnoticed by the federal government, but now find myself on the receiving end of interagency coordination into and against all facets of my life, both public and private.”
The British Parliamentarian Edmund Burke famously said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men remain silent and do nothing.” These brave women chose to stand up and speak out.
As for Ms. Lynch, she is either oblivious to all the lawlessness at DOJ or condones it. She hates voter ID, pretends not to know much about IRS abuse, and seems content with President Obama’s constitution-shattering nullification of our nation’s immigration laws. In fact, she suggested in her testimony this week that illegal aliens have a “right to work” in the United States. (Most unlawfully present aliens, of course, can’t lawfully work under federal law.)
So, while Establishment Washington seems to think that President Obama should get whatever nominee he wants confirmed to his cabinet, others have concern for the rule of law. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) ably laid out the case against Ms. Lynch:
“President Obama’s executive amnesty represents one of the most breathtaking exertions of executive power in the history of this country. After Congress rejected the President’s favored immigration legislation, the White House met with the interest groups who had crafted that bill and implemented the major provisions of the legislation that Congress had rejected through executive fiat.
“The legal opinion attempting to justify this circumvention of Congress was issued by the Attorney General’s Office of Legal Counsel. At the outset of this nomination process, I said that no Senator should vote to confirm anyone for this position-the top law enforcement job in America-who supported the President’s unlawful actions. Congress must defend its constitutional role, which is clearly threatened.
“Unfortunately, when asked today whether she found the President’s actions to be ‘legal and constitutional,’ Ms. Lynch said that she did. I therefore am unable to support her nomination.”
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is happy to confirm Ms. Lynch. He said,
“I met with her. I had a question about something called Operation Streamline specifically in the Yuma sector of the border,” Sen. Jeff Flake told
BuzzFeed News Wednesday. “The answer was so-so on it but … my philosophy has always been the president should always get his people unless there is something disqualifying about them and there’s nothing disqualifying about her.”
I would submit that it is “disqualifying” to think that President Obama can run roughshod over the Constitution. Senator Flake may want to ask the family of Brian Terry, the Border Patrol Agent killed in connection with Eric Holder’s Fast and Furious gun-running crimes, if this president “should always get his people.”
The editors at National Review warned that a vote for Lynch would be a vote for lawlessness:
Successful resistance to Ms. Lynch’s nomination would be a clear rebuke to the president. While it would likely leave Eric Holder or an acting attorney general in office, since the president is unlikely to nominate any candidate who would not support his executive amnesty, Republicans would at least firmly demonstrate that they are unwilling to participate in the neutering of their own constitutional powers.
But if the Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch – in what would be the chamber’s most important vote related to the president’s executive amnesty since its proclamation – what else ought conservatives to think than that it portends many white flags to come?
No one has done more than Judicial Watch to combat lawlessness in the Obama administration. Our lawyers have faced Obama’s Justice Department lawyers in nearly 200 federal lawsuits. I count at least 14 lawsuits that are active right now against the Justice Department over its unlawful refusal to comply with the Freedom of Information Act. Loretta Lynch, to be clear, has this job opportunity because our work helped force Eric Holder’s retirement.
If anyone has seen anything in this confirmation process that shows that Ms. Lynch would clean house, enforce the law, and protect the rights of all Americans, please let me know.
In the meantime, I don’t see how any U.S. Senator, Democrat or Republican, could vote for Ms. Lynch, who would, at best, stand idly by despite Obama’s continued violations of federal law and his oath of office.
Whatever your views, you should let your senators know them. You can reach them through this phone number, 202-224-3121.
Tom Fitton – President