by Tom Fitton –
Here is a sliver of good news in our efforts to find out the truth about the extent of corruption infecting the senior ranks of the FBI, specifically in our lawsuit to get documents about “anti-Trump” senior FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. Our legal team was just informed by the Justice Department that, “the FBI plans to send letters to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page asking them to preserve agency records on their personal accounts and personal devices and requesting confirmation that they are doing so.” We made the preservation request to the FBI as part of our Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit for records of the two current and former FBI officials. (Page recently retired, but Mr. Strzok is still at the FBI.)
We’re glad the FBI reversed course. On May 2, the FBI wrote a letter to Senator Grassley saying it had not requested information from the personal email accounts of Strzok and Page:
[T]he FBI has not requested from Ms. Page or Mr. Strzok any information from their personal email accounts, nor as the FBI conducted searches of non-FBI-issued communications devices or non-FBI e ii accounts associated with Mr. Strzok or Ms. Page. The status report also details the FBI’s promise to try to preserve the Strzok-Page records from their personal devices.
I’m glad we successfully pushed back on this issue!
What about the documents the FBI does have? A few days ago (May 21), U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the FBI to begin processing 13,000 pages of previously undisclosed emails exchanged exclusively between FBI officials Strzok and Page between February 1, 2015, and December 2017. The first 500 pages of records are to be processed by June 29, 2018. The court order requires that:
(1) the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) shall process the 500 pages of potentially responsive records and produce any responsive, non-exempt records to the plaintiff on or before June 29, 2018;
(2) after June 29, 2018, the FBI, on a monthly basis, shall process 500 pages of potentially responsive records and produce any responsive, non-exempt records to the plaintiff; and
(3) on September 1, 2018, and thereafter on a quarterly basis (once every three months), on the first day of the month (or, if the first falls on a weekend or holiday, the next business day), the parties shall file a joint status report advising the Court of the FBI’s progress in processing the request.
Just prior to the judge’s order we filed a joint status report in federal court regarding the production of Strzok-Page documents. The report discloses how, between April 5 and May 4, 2018, the FBI processed only 35 pages of potentially responsive records identified as travel requests, authorizations, vouchers and expense reports for Strzok and Page, and less than half that material (16 pages) was released to JW.
The developments came in response to our January 2018 FOIA lawsuit against the Justice Department (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)) after it failed to respond to our December 4, 2017, FOIA request seeking:
• All records of communications, including but not limited to, emails, text messages and instant chats, between FBI official Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page;
• All travel requests, travel authorizations, travel vouchers and expense reports of Peter Strzok;
• All travel requests, travel authorizations, travel vouchers and expense reports of Lisa Page.
Strzok and Page were deeply involved in the Clinton email scandal and served on the Mueller investigation team. Strzok was reportedly removed from Mueller’s team in August and reassigned to a human resources position after it was discovered that he and FBI lawyer Page, who worked for FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and with whom Strzok was carrying on an extramarital affair, exchanged stridently pro-Clinton and anti-Trump text messages.
Strzok also reportedly oversaw the FBI’s interviews of former National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn. He changed former FBI Director James Comey’s language about Hillary Clinton’s actions regarding her illicit email server from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” and played a lead role in the FBI’s interview of Clinton. Strzok is suspected of being responsible for using the unverified dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant in order to spy on President Trump’s campaign.
The FBI has been slippery when it comes to records about the Clinton and Russia scandal fiascos, so we’re pleased the Bureau is taking steps to make sure government records don’t go missing.
On the other hand, the FBI’s purposeful slow-walking of the Strzok-Page materials shows contempt for both transparency law and the public’s interest in figuring out how and why the FBI was politicized to target President Trump while protecting Hillary Clinton. Director Wray and Attorney General Sessions should step up and speed up the release of these documents.
Federal Agency Known for Fraud,
Waste Finances Own Attacks
When Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally transform” the United States, he wasn’t kidding. He wanted everything, including your neighborhoods to yield to the state, and the effects of his wishes are still reverberating in communities across the country a year and a half into President Trump’s term. Our Corruption Chronicles blog zeroes in on one festering sore.
Here’s an amusing—and unbelievable—story about the most overtly communist agency in the U.S. government financing its own attacks with taxpayer money. A nonprofit that receives millions of dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is suing the agency in federal court for suspending a controversial Obama program with far-reaching racial and ethnic housing quotas. Known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), the policy aims to transform nearly all of the nation’s neighborhoods with unprecedented low-income housing quotas and preferred ethnic and racial formulas.
AFFH also requires federal and local governments to spend tens of millions of dollars annually gathering statistics on racial and ethnic concentrations in America’s neighborhoods. In January, HUD Secretary Ben Carson delayed the implementation of AFFH, which he describes as a government-engineered attempt to legislate racial equality. This month, Carson finally suspended the contentious program altogether, revealing in a statement that the tool used to comply with AFFH is confusing, difficult to use and frequently produced unacceptable assessments. In its 18-page Federal Register notice HUD states that it has spent over $3.5 million on technical assistance for the initial round of AFFH submissions from local governments across the nation. “HUD is withdrawing the Tool to produce a more effective and less burdensome Assessment Tool,” the notice reads.
“These improvements to the Tool will make it more effective in assisting program participants with the creation of meaningful assessments with impactful fair housing goals to help them plan to fulfill their legal obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.”
A lawsuit was quickly filed against HUD and Carson by a group of leftist organizations and the lead plaintiff is the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), a nonprofit dedicated to ending housing discrimination and fostering diverse, inclusive communities through advocacy. Based in Washington, D.C., NFHA receives a chunk of change from HUD as well as leftwing billionaire George Soros. Records obtained by Judicial Watch show that the NFHA got more than $16 million in funding from HUD since 2009, including a $300,000 grant that was just awarded in March 2018 for fair housing enforcement. In 2016 NFHA received $475,000 from Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society specifically for “project support for AFFH work,” documents obtained by Judicial Watch show. In the HUD complaint NFHA claims that killing Obama’s program was “arbitrary and capricious” and “constitutes unlawful agency action.” It also accuses Carson of being hostile towards AFFH long before he was named HUD secretary.
“In an article published in 2015, Secretary Carson criticized the AFFH Rule at length, equating it to ‘mandatory busing’ of schoolchildren,’” the 60-page complaint states. “He condemned both the AFFH Rule and a Supreme Court decision recognizing that the Fair Housing Act bars disparate impact discrimination, stating that ‘based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous.’ In his confirmation hearing, Secretary Carson reiterated his hostility to the AFFH Rule.” The lawsuit was filed a few weeks ago in United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The national law firm representing the plaintiffs specializes in litigating civil rights cases in the areas of housing, lending, employment, public accommodations, education and police accountability. In a press release on its website, the firm demands “immediate reinstatement” of what it calls an “unlawful suspension” of AFFH.
Plagued by a multitude of scandals over the years, HUD was long overdue to deliver good news to American taxpayers and killing AFFH is a good start. Even after the Trump administration took over, HUD has continued funding many of Obama’s wasteful, socialist programs. Among them is a multi-million-dollar experiment that aims to transform slums into desirable middle-class neighborhoods. A few months ago the initiative, known as Choice Neighborhoods, got a $5 million infusion from the Trump administration. Before that Trump’s HUD gave dozens of leftist groups that purport to fight housing discrimination $37 million. The biggest chunk—$999,962—went to NFHA, which had just attacked the president for terminating an Obama program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—DACA) that protects hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants living in the U.S.
For eight years Washington was a playground for leftists. And they refuse to leave.
Honoring the Fallen on Memorial Day
Memorial Day helps our nation focus on the ultimate sacrifice of untold numbers of fellow Americans – Americans who gave their lives in defense of our nation and its ideals.
As we honor those heroes next week, I’d like to draw your attention to Veterans Day speech given in 1985 by then-President Ronald Reagan. Much of his speech applies to the Memorial Day, especially this portion, which remains timely today:
And the living have a responsibility to remember the conditions that led to the wars in which our heroes died. Perhaps we can start by remembering this: that all of those who died for us and our country were, in one way or another, victims of a peace process that failed; victims of a decision to forget certain things; to forget, for instance, that the surest way to keep a peace going is to stay strong. Weakness, after all, is a temptation — it tempts the pugnacious to assert themselves — but strength is a declaration that cannot be misunderstood. Strength is a condition that declares actions have consequences. Strength is a prudent warning to the belligerent that aggression need not go unanswered.
Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we’re little more than the crust of a continent. Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God’s first intellectual gift to man: common sense. Common sense gives us a realistic knowledge of human beings and how they think, how they live in the world, what motivates them. Common sense tells us that man has magic in him, but also clay. Common sense can tell the difference between right and wrong. Common sense forgives error, but it always recognizes it to be error first.
We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth; when we refuse to name an act for what it is; when we refuse to see the obvious and seek safety in Almighty. Peace is only maintained and won by those who have clear eyes and brave minds.
I’d like to think many Americans have “clear eyes and brave minds” and these patriots desire the same qualities in our political and judicial leaders. It certainly reflects Judicial Watch’s modest approach to our efforts.
Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day!
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton