by Tom Fitton –
– Editors Note: “You can straighten a worm, but the crook is in him and only waiting” – Mark Twain
This week we revealed to the public more about the IRS’ historic abuse of power. We released 294 pages of FBI documents showing that top IRS officials in Washington, including Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, knew that the agency was specifically targeting “Tea Party” and other conservative organizations two full years before disclosing it to Congress and the public.
Lerner was director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit and Paz was the IRS Acting Director of Rulings and Agreements.
These so-called “302” documents – detailed narratives of FBI investigative interviews – fully confirm a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) in 2013 that said, “Senior IRS officials knew that agents were targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny as early as 2011.” Unsurprisingly, the Obama Justice Department and FBI “investigation” into the Obama IRS scandal resulted in no criminal charges.
Lerner did not reveal the targeting until May 2013 in response to a planted question at an American Bar Association conference. The new documents show that then-acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller actually wrote Lerner’s response that falsely blamed the scandal on IRS low-level employees in Cincinnati: “They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate.”
The FBI documents also reveal that IRS officials stated that the agency was targeting conservative groups in the summer of 2011 because of their ideology and political affiliation. According to one senior tax law specialist, “The case seemed to be pulled because of the applicant’s political affiliation and screening is not supposed to occur that way … [Redacted] said he thought the cases were being pulled based upon political affiliations.” And IRS senior official Nancy Marks, appointed by Miller to conduct an internal investigation stated, “Cincinnati was categorizing cases based on name and ideology, not just activity.”
We obtained these documents through a federal court order in our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v Department of Justice (No. 1:14-cv-01239)).
According to the FBI documents, Paz and others were informed in the late spring and summer of 2011 that Cincinnati agents were using “BOLO” (Be On the Look Out) briefing guides that instructed them to be “looking at cases using the Tea Party term.” The IRS failed to reveal such targeting until the ABA conference in May 2013:
• The FBI reports that in its interview with an unidentified IRS Senior Tax Law Specialist:
She read how the case was screened and it was not because of the organization’s activity. The case seemed to be pulled because of the applicant’s political affiliation and screening is not supposed to occur that way. She wanted to alert the managers about the way the cases were being pulled … [Redacted] said he thought the cases were being pulled based upon political affiliations. [Redacted] then went to tell [Redacted] said he would follow up on the issue and would let HOLLY PAZ know this was possibly occurring. This occurred in the mid to late March or April 2011 timeframe.
The cases were labeled as Tea Party cases. The screening sheets said the two cases were pulled because of the names and political affiliations.
• The FBI reports that in its interview with an unidentified IRS Technical Advisorwho reported directly to Lerner:
[Redacted] attended a meeting in the summer of 2011. She was not invited, but she was talking to LERNER about something else in the office when LERNER mentioned that it would be interesting for her to attend … Only people from Washington, D.C. were in the room, to include HOLLY PAZ … At the meeting, it was disclosed that one of the ways Cincinnati was looking for cases was using the “Tea Party” term. They were calling the body of cases involving political activity “Tea Party” cases. The concern was that the IRS had put a label on the cases that would be problematic.
• The FBI reports that in its interview with an unidentified IRS Acting Manager of Exempt Organizations Technical(EOT):
In his meeting concerning the briefing in mid-June 
[Redacted] met with EOT and EOG [Exempt Organizations Group] staffs and PAZ…. They showed PAZ the briefing paper and the use of the Tea Party term. PAZ was the highest-ranking person at the meeting. Somebody said they may not want to use Tea Party as a labeling term. [Redacted] had recognized they may not want to use the term Tea Party when they were doing the briefing paper, but his plan was to raise the issue with PAZ at the briefing. He does not recall PAZ’s reaction.
According to a ten-page section of the documents containing FBI interviews with IRS Senior Technical Advisor Nancy Marks, in the spring of 2012, Miller asked Marks to “look into how these 501 (c)(4) cases were being handled and find out what the problems were.” After investigations in Washington and Cincinnati, Marks reported the following to Miller in May 2012, according to the FBI:
It was not until much later that MARKS saw information that
[Redacted] was only looking for Tea Party cases…. The BOLO showed that at various points the criteria called for “Tea Party” name, and then later the ideology…. She told him [Miller, on May 3, 2012] that Cincinnati was categorizing cases based on name and ideology, not just activity. When MARKS told MILLER this, he threw his pencil across the room and said, “Oh shit.”
The FBI documents also reveal that the FBI investigated why Holly Paz sat in on numerous Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) interviews with lower level IRS employees and if her presence improperly influenced the employees’ responses to investigators’ questions. The documents repeatedly state, “Other than the auditors, the only person present during the [Redacted] interview was HOLLY PAZ.”
The documents contain two separate lengthy FBI interviews with Lois Lerner, the first in June 2013 and the second in October 2013. Both interviews came after Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination before the House Oversight Committee in May 2013. By answering questions under oath in her FBI interviews, Lerner seemed to undermine her earlier Fifth Amendment-based refusal to testify to Congress, since witnesses generallycannot invoke the right in one instance and not another. The House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for her refusal to testify.
And the FBI 302 documents also contain an interview in which Miller reveals that former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman very likely misled Congress in his March 22, 2012, testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee when he said, “There is absolutely no targeting.” According to the FBI report on the Miller interview, “In February or March, MILLER talked to SHULMAN about the development letters.” The “development letters” were letters sent by the IRS primarily to targeted conservative groups seeking what the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) later termed “inappropriate” information about websites and donors.
These documents show that the Obama FBI and Justice Department had plenty of evidence suggesting illegal targeting, perjury, and obstruction of justice. Both the FBI and Justice Department collaborated with the Lois Lerner and the IRS to try to prosecute and jail Barack Obama’s political opponents. These documents show the resulting compromised investigation looked the other way when it came to Obama’s IRS criminality.
Stay tuned, as we will receive more IRS scandal documents next week.
Hillary Clinton Keeps Changing Her Story
Last week I recounted to you our arguments to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan explaining why we should be permitted to depose former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about her non-state.gov email system. Hillary Clinton, in a news interview, gave us and the court more reasons for her testimony.
As I wrote in a column today for Fox News:
Lawyers for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, seeking to avoid her deposition testimony, repeatedly informed U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that her use of the clintonemail.com system was nothing more than a continuation of her standard “practice.”
Judicial Watch attorneys only seek to question Mrs. Clinton for no more than three hours as part of a discovery process that already saw the testimony of several witnesses, including her top State aides, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin.
But her legal team claimed in a court hearing before Judge Sullivan last week that questioning Secretary Clinton about her motivation for the use of the system would not yield any additional information other than that it was simply for her own “convenience.”
But it seems that Mrs. Clinton’s email claims change every time she’s asked about the issue.
This week we went back to Judge Sullivan after Clinton seemed to change her story about the email system housed at her home in Chappaqua, NY. We cited a recent interview with Scott Pelley, of CBS News “60 Minutes”:
PELLEY: All right. Do you think you blew it on the e-mails?
CLINTON: Oh, I’ve said I did. Absolutely. I made a mistake. I should have had two accounts; one for personal and one for office. And I didn’t, and I take responsibility for that.
PELLEY: Why did you do that, have the private e-mail servers?
CLINTON: You know, Scott, other people did have — other secretaries of state, other high-ranking members of administrations, plural. And it was recommended that it would be convenient, and I thought it would be. It’s turned out to be anything but.
Our legal team explained to Judge Sullivan:
Based on her testimony to the Benghazi Select Committee, the statement on her campaign website, and her purported answers to the FBI’s questions, it is nowhere even suggested that Secretary Clinton’s decision to use the clintonemail.com system for official government business was based on someone else’s recommendation.
Because of the evolving explanation, Secretary Clinton’s deposition is necessary to effectively and efficiently understand how the decision was made and the motivation behind it.
Just a few hours ago, Hillary Clinton’s attorneys filed her response. Incredibly, Hillary Clinton doesn’t dispute the revelation that someone else recommended that the non-State.gov email would be convenient to Mrs. Clinton, but only that we shouldn’t be able to satisfy our “curiosity” about the new information! But as I also wrote today at Fox News:
If a State Department official, such as the executive secretary or the legal advisor, recommended that Secretary Clinton use a non-state.gov system for State Department business, such evidence could demonstrate the State Department’s role in the decision.
Similarly, if someone who understood the secretary’s FOIA obligations recommended Secretary Clinton’s use of the system, such evidence could suggest that the motivation was more than just convenience.
Hillary Clinton’s slippery and changing stories on her email scandal show the value of taking a few hours to ask direct and follow up questions about her email practices.
Obama’s Trip to Climate Conference Cost Taxpayers
It takes a lot of taxpayer cash and jet exhaust to fly a president to a “climate change” meeting in Paris.
We have obtained records from the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of the Air Force detailing the costs of Obama’s trip to attend the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference. Secret Service charges for Obama and his staff to attend the Conference cost taxpayers $1,324,171.60. Flight expenses cost $2,840,896.80, bringing the total expenditure for the conference to at least $4,165,068.40.
To date, Obama’s known travel expenses total $83,795,502.33.
Barack Obama’s appointees didn’t volunteer this information. We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for these documents on January 6, 2016. Our request wasn’t answered, so we had to sue this past May (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:16-cv-00863)). Only then did we get the documents.
Here are the Secret Service expenses for Obama’s ideological Paris junket:
• $82,991.60 for air and rail travel.
• $706,065 for Parisian hotels.
• $531,598 for rental vehicles.
• $10,820 in overtime pay.
• Cell phone rentals were $2,562.
• Cell phone usage cost of $679.
• A copier rental for $652.
• $624 in “miscellaneous” expenses.
The Secret Service detail stayed in a number of Parisian hotels. The most money was spent at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand, a historic hotel built in 1862 that is called a “luxury” hotel that “defines historic grandeur,” according to its website.
Accommodations were also booked at the Hilton Astor, Marriott Ambassador, Marriott Rive Gauche, and Mercure Tour Eiffel.
According to Air Force documents, at least two planes were used for the trip to Paris, Air Force One and a C-32A (which is generally used by either the secretary of state or the first lady):
• Air Force One travelled a total of 14.4 hours @ $180,118 per hour for a total of $2,593,699.20.
• The C-32A travelled 15.6 hours @ $15,846 per hour for a total of $247,197.60.
Other expenses for additional cabinet members’ travel and catering, Secret Service meals, meeting rooms, etc. are not included in these totals.
The controversial Paris Climate Conference, also known as COP21, lasted from November 30, 2015, to December 12, 2015. Travel to the conferencereportedly burned 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide, seemingly defeating the purpose of the meeting of world leaders.
Critics also contend President Obama’s executive action implementing the Paris Climate Agreement circumvents the constitutional requirement that treaties become law only after ratification by the U.S. Senate.
This junket is another example of wasteful and unnecessary presidential travel that abuses the taxpayers, the military, and the U.S. Secret Service. It’s pure folly and we should demand that the next president (and Congress) put an end to it
Heroic Judicial Watch Client Sues against Federal Agents Violation of Constitutional Rights
We have gone to court on behalf of Wesley Dutton, a heroic former law enforcement officer who has provided the government with substantial information on narcotics, corruption and terrorism along the Mexican border.
Since 2009, Plaintiff Wesley Dutton, a graduate of the New Mexico State Police Academy and former State of New Mexico livestock investigator, provided information to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies about illegal activity in Texas and New Mexico, including information about illegal narcotics trafficking, fugitives, public corruption, and terrorism.
Our lawsuit, William Wesley Dutton v. Michael Cordero, Eric Benn and Jane Doe No.1 (Case 2:16-cv-00517-CG-GJF), was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. It seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, damages, attorney fees and costs, and other relief.
Defendant Cordero is a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Defendant Benn is a Special Agent of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General. Defendant Jane Doe No. 1 is believed to be a Special Agent of the FBI.
The reason for our lawsuit: In February 2014 Special Agents Cordero, Benn, and Jane Doe No. 1 detained Dutton in the back seat of a locked government vehicle and interrogated him for approximately eight hours. The agents never advised Dutton that they had a warrant for his arrest, that he was under arrest, or that he was suspected of committing any crime.
Dutton objected to the detention and repeatedly asked if he was under arrest. His objections and inquiries were ignored. Dutton also invoked his right to counsel. In response to one such request, Special Agent Cordero cursed at Dutton and exclaimed, “You’re not talking to anyone.” Special Agent Benn echoed Cordero’s response to Dutton. Cordero and Benn’s denial of Dutton’s rights, as well as their interrogation of Dutton were laden with profanity and abusive language. The agents also compelled Dutton to make telephone calls to sources and monitored and recorded the calls.
Defendant Jane Doe No. 1 is believed to be an FBI special agent unlawfully posing as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and falsely offering “immunity” to Dutton for his cooperation.
At the end of the interrogation, Jane Doe No. 1 said to Special Agent Cordero, “You can’t arrest him. We’ve got to let him go.” Special Agent Benn agreed, saying, “You can’t arrest him. I’m satisfied.” Cordero cursed. Ultimately, Dutton was allowed to leave the vehicle, but both Cordero and Benn told Dutton to “keep his mouth shut.” Before the agents drove off, Cordero cursed at Dutton yet again, saying he hoped he never saw Dutton again.
On at least two prior interactions, FBI agents came to Dutton’s home and violated his constitutional rights. In July 2010, FBI agents searched Dutton’s home without a warrant and seized documents, computers, and electronic equipment. In August 2012, Cordero and other, unidentified FBI agents searched Dutton’s home again, also without a warrant, and seized Dutton’s personal property, papers, notebooks, charts, computers, and cell phone. Dutton’s items have never been returned to him.
We grant the federal government significant power, and its agents seem all too willing to abuse it, whether in the halls of the IRS in Washington or a locked vehicle on a dusty stretch near the Mexican border.
Wes Dutton is a hero. He’s a former law enforcement officer, and he has a long history of helping law enforcement and intelligence agencies lock up criminals and defend the country from terrorists. It’s shameful that federal agents would abuse their authority and treat him in such a manner. We’re proud to assist Wes in exposing corruption and abuse and remedying this gross violation of his constitutional rights.
Tom Fitton – President