by Tom Fitton –
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a distinguished public servant, was briefly national security advisor to President Trump until allegations surfaced in the Washington Post that he had been in communication with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Flynn’s lawyers alleged in a November 1, 2019, court filing that James Baker, the Pentagon’s Director of the Office of Net Assessment, “is believed to be the person who illegally leaked” the transcript of Flynn’s December 29, 2016, telephone calls with the ambassador to David Ignatius, a Washington Post reporter.
We went to court to uncover the details, and we now have received 143 pages of records from the Department of Defense that reveal extensive communications between Baker and Ignatius.
The Washington Post published Ignatius’ account of the calls on January 12, 2017, setting in motion a chain of events that led to Flynn’s February 13, 2017, firing as national security advisor, and subsequent prosecution for making false statements to the FBI about the calls. U.S. Attorney John Durham is reportedly investigating the leak of information targeting Flynn.
Citing “the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness and breach of the plea agreement,” Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, moved in January 2020 to withdraw Flynn’s 2017 guilty plea during the Mueller investigation. Flynn claims he felt forced to plead guilty “when his son was threatened with prosecution and he exhausted his financial resources.” Last week, prosecutors provided Flynn’s defense team with documentation of this threat, according to additional papers Flynn’s lawyers filed on April 24, 2020, in support of the motion to withdraw.
We obtained the records in our November 2019 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DOD failed to respond to a September 2019 request (Judicial Watch v. Department of Defense (No. 1:19-cv-03564)). We were seeking:
• All calendar entries of Director James Baker of the Office of Net Assessment.
• All records of communications between ONA Director James Baker and reporter David Ignatius.
The communications we requested occurred May 2015 through September 25, 2019.
The records we have received include an exchange on February 16, 2016, with the subject line “Ignatius,” in which Baker tells Pentagon colleague Zachary Mears, then-deputy chief of staff to Obama Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, that he has “a long history with David” and talks with him regularly.
In an email exchange on October 1, 2018, in a discussion about artificial intelligence, Baker tells Ignatius: “David, please, as always, our discussions are completely off the record. If any of my observations strike you as worthy of mixing or folding into your own thinking, that is as usual fine.” Ignatius replies, “Understood. Thanks for talking with me.”
Here are Ignatius and Baker’s
email exchanges by year:
• In 2015, Ignatius and Baker had a total of seven email conversations to set up meetings or calls, two simply to compliment one another and one exchange where Ignatius invited Baker to speak at the Aspen Strategy Group conference.
• In 2016, Ignatius and Baker had a total of 10 email exchanges to set up meetings or calls and two to compliment each other.
• In 2017, Ignatius and Baker had a total of 10 email exchanges to set up meetings, one exchange where Ignatius forwarded one of his articles, and one exchange where Ignatius asks Baker for his thoughts on the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal), because Baker wasn’t available on the phone.
• In 2018, Ignatius and Baker had a total of nine email exchanges to set up meetings, four where Ignatius forwarded articles and one where Ignatius asks Baker for tips on what to say at a quantum computing conference where he was speaking.
These records confirm that Mr. Baker was an anonymous source for Mr. Ignatius. Mr. Baker should be directly questioned about any and all leaks to his friend at the Washington Post.
In a related case, in October 2018 we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense seeking information about the September 2016 contract between the DOD and Stefan Halper, the Cambridge University professor identified as a secret FBI informant used by the Obama administration to spy on Trump’s presidential campaign. Halper also reportedly had high-level ties to both U.S. and British intelligence.
Government records show that the DOD’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA) paid Halper a total of $1,058,161 for four contracts that lasted from May 30, 2012, to March 29, 2018. More than $400,000 of the payments came between July 2016 and September 2017, after Halper reportedly offered Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos work and a trip to London to entice him into disclosing information about alleged collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Flynn’s attorney told the court that Baker was Halper’s “handler” in the Office of Net Assessment in the Pentagon.
In an interview with Lou Dobbs, I discussed the possibility that Judge Emmet Sullivan would look at all of this and throw the Flynn case out or that Attorney General William Barr would cancel the prosecution. “Flynn was ambushed,” I say in the interview. “He is the victim of a coordinated leak campaign.”
I know that President Trump is taking a good hard look at this. While the FBI is under renewed scrutiny over its disgraceful handling of the Flynn matter, it’s clear we need to look closely at the Defense Department as well.
Judicial Watch Sues California
to Stop Governor Newsom’s Initiative
to Provide $75 Million in Cash Benefits to Illegal Aliens
Leftists at the federal and state levels aren’t letting this health crisis go to waste, using it as a cover to enact their radical agenda. As usual, California is taking the lead.
We just filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, on behalf of two California taxpayers, Robin Crest and Howard Myers, asking the court to stop the state from expending $75 million of taxpayer funds to provide direct cash assistance to unlawfully present aliens (Crest et al. v. Newsom et al. (No. 20STCV16321)).
Our suit alleges that California Governor Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority and violated federal law when, without affirmative state legislative approval, he took executive action to create the “Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants Project” and provide cash benefits to illegal aliens who otherwise are ineligible for state or federal insurance or other benefits due to their unlawful presence in the United States.
On April 15, 2020, Governor Newsom announced his new executive initiative to provide direct assistance in the form of cash benefits to illegal aliens. The initiative, known as the “Disaster Relief Fund” or the “Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants Project,” would spend $75 million to provide direct cash payments to illegal aliens and cost an estimated additional $4.8 million to administer. Governor Newsom’s executive initiative would provide one-time cash benefits of $500 per adult / $1,000 per household to 150,000 unlawfully present aliens in California. These benefits are not provided to U.S. citizens residing in the state.
Under federal immigration law, 8 U.S.C. § 1621(a), unlawfully present aliens generally are ineligible for State or local public benefits. Section 1621(d) requires a state legislature to enact a state law that affirmatively provides for such benefits for illegal aliens:
A State may provide that an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States is eligible for any State or local public benefit … only through the enactment of a State law … which affirmatively provides for such eligibility.
Our suit alleges that the California State Legislature has not enacted any law that affirmatively provides that unlawfully present aliens are eligible for the $75 million of cash public benefits announced by Newsom.
The lawsuit seeks to enjoin California “from providing $75 million of taxpayer funds to unlawfully present aliens in violation of federal law and expending an estimated additional $4.8 million of taxpayer funds as well as additional taxpayer-financed resources on the administration of those payments.”
Governor Newsom has no legal authority on his own to spend state taxpayer money for cash payments to illegal aliens. The coronavirus challenge doesn’t give politicians a pass to violate the law. If California politicians want to give cash payments to illegal aliens, they must be accountable and transparent, and, as federal law requires, pass a law to do so.
Judicial Watch Sues Pennsylvania
to Force Voter Roll Clean Up
Judicial Watch hasn’t let the coronavirus crisis slow down our essential legal efforts to protect and promote clean elections. Our legal team just filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania and three of its counties for failing to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from their rolls as required by the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). According to Judicial Watch’s analysis of voter registration data, these counties removed almost no names under NVRA procedures for identifying and updating the registrations of those who have moved (Judicial Watch v. Pennsylvania, et al (No. 1:02-at-06000)). The lawsuit also points out that the Commonwealth has over 800,000 “inactive” registrations on its voter rolls. One Pennsylvania county almost immediately removed 69,000 inactive names earlier this year in response to a Judicial Watch letter.
In its complaint, Judicial Watch points out that the State’s abnormally low number of removals under NVRA procedures designed to identify voters who have changed residence indicates that it is not removing inactive registrations as the law requires. According to data the State certified to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), in the most recent two-year reporting period:
• Bucks County, with about 457,000 registrations, removed a total of eight names under the relevant NVRA procedures;
• Chester County, with about 357,000 registrations, removed five names under those procedures; and
• Delaware County, with about 403,000 registrations, removed four names under those procedures.
Judicial Watch also argues that an abnormally high percentage of registrations compared to the population over 18 years of age is an indicator “that the jurisdiction is not taking steps required by law to cancel the registrations of ineligible registrants.” It alleges that “[t]he registration rates for Bucks, Chester, and Delaware Counties are high in comparison to other counties in Pennsylvania, and high in comparison to other counties throughout the U.S.” As of April 2020, Pennsylvania’s own data shows it has over 800,000 inactive registrations.
Other Pennsylvania counties have acted to avoid being sued by Judicial Watch. On January 14, 2020, CBS Pittsburgh reported that because of the threat of a lawsuit from Judicial Watch, Allegheny County removed 69,000 inactive voters. David Voye, Elections Manager for the county told CBS, “I would concede that we are behind on culling our rolls,” and that this had “been put on the backburner.”
Dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections – that’s one reason why we’re going to court to force Pennsylvania to follow federal law to clean up its voting rolls. Pennsylvania must take the simple steps necessary to clean from its rolls the names of voters, which number over 800,000, who probably have moved away or died.
Judicial Watch is the national leader in enforcing the NVRA.
Recently, a federal court ordered the State of Maryland to produce complete voter registration records for Montgomery County that include the registered voters’ dates of birth. The judge found that Judicial Watch made “reasonable justifications for requiring birth date information, including using birth dates to find duplicate registrations and searching for voters who remain on the rolls despite ‘improbable’ age.”
Judicial Watch recently filed a lawsuit against North Carolina to force the state to clean its voter rolls that included over one million inactive voters. In December 2019, Judicial Watch provided notice to 19 large counties in five states that it intended to sue unless they took steps to comply with the NVRA by removing ineligible registrations from their rolls. In addition to North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Judicial Watch sent letters to counties in California, Virginia, and Colorado.
In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a voter-roll cleanup program that resulted from a Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio. California settled an NVRA lawsuit with Judicial Watch and last year began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s voter rolls. Kentucky also 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.
Despite successful litigation by Judicial Watch to bring counties and states into compliance with the NVRA, voter registration lists across the country remain significantly out of date. Judicial Watch’s 2019 study found 378 counties nationwide that had more voter registrations than citizens old enough to vote, i.e., counties where registration rates exceed 100%. These 378 counties combined had about 2.5 million registrations over the 100%-registered mark. This is a drop of about one million from Judicial Watch’s previous analysis of voter registration data in 2017.
Two federal lawsuits in one month to clean up nearly 2 million “inactive” names from voter lists is something that only Judicial Watch is able and willing to do – thanks to your support!