by Tom Fitton –
We’ve been in court for years over Hillary Clinton’s emails — as you know, we are persistent for justice.
The great news is that U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth has granted our request to depose the former secretary of state about her emails and Benghazi attack documents. The court also ordered the deposition of Clinton’s former Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, and two other State Department officials.
Additionally, the court granted our request to subpoena Google for relevant documents and records associated with Clinton’s emails during her tenure at the State Department.
The ruling comes in our lawsuit seeking records concerning “talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)).
Remember, it was Judicial Watch that discovered in 2014 that the “talking points” that provided the basis for Susan Rice’s false statements were created by the Obama White House. This FOIA lawsuit led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015.
In December 2018, Judge Lamberth first ordered discovery into whether Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server was intended to stymie FOIA; whether the State Department’s intent to settle this case in late 2014 and early 2015 amounted to bad faith;
and whether the State Department has adequately searched for records responsive to our request. The court also authorized discovery into whether the Benghazi controversy motivated the cover-up of Clinton’s email. The court ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.” The State and Justice Departments continued to defend Clinton’s and the agency’s email conduct.
Judge Lamberth has now overruled Clinton’s and the State and Justice Department’s objections to limited additional discovery by first noting:
Discovery up until this point has brought to light a noteworthy amount of relevant information, but Judicial Watch requests an additional round of discovery, and understandably so. With each passing round of discovery, the Court is left with more questions than answers.
Additionally, Judge Lamberth said that he is troubled by the fact that both the State Department and Department of Justice want to close discovery in this case:
[T]here is still more to learn. Even though many important questions remain unanswered, the Justice Department inexplicably still takes the position that the Court should close discovery and rule on dispositive motions. The Court is especially troubled by this. To argue that the Court now has enough information to determine whether State conducted an adequate search is preposterous, especially when considering State’s deficient representations regarding the existence of additional Clinton emails. Instead, the Court will authorize a new round of discovery
With respect to Clinton, the court found that her prior testimony, mostly through written sworn answers, was not sufficient:
The Court has considered the numerous times in which Secretary Clinton said she could not recall or remember certain details in her prior interrogatory answers. In a deposition, it is more likely that plaintiff’s counsel could use documents and other testimony to attempt to refresh her recollection. And so, to avoid the unsatisfying and inefficient outcome of multiple rounds of fruitless interrogatories and move this almost six-year-old case closer to its conclusion, Judicial Watch will be permitted to clarify and further explore Secretary Clinton’s answers in person and immediately after she gives them.
The Court agrees with Judicial Watch – it is time to hear directly from Secretary Clinton.
We uncovered the Clinton email scandal and we’re pleased that the court authorized us to depose Mrs. Clinton directly on her email conduct and how it impacted the people’s ‘right to know’ under FOIA. The deposition must take place by May 16, so stay tuned.
Government’s Record-Keeping Failures
Risks Lives, Costs Billions
The Clinton email fiasco is but one instance of federal records mismanagement – that costs billions and could risk lives. Here’s a key whistleblower report from our Corruption Chronicles blog.
The U.S. government’s failure to properly keep records not only compromises accountability and transparency, it has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars and in some cases their lives. A whistleblower and former federal contractor with firsthand knowledge of the matter told Judicial Watch that the epidemic of poor records management across all federal agencies constitutes the biggest government accountability and transparency scandal of our lifetime. His name is Don Lueders, a computer software engineer who spent 20 years at several top software companies developing costly applications to help the government properly manage records.
However, billions of dollars in records management applications that could help solve the problem have never been used and the crisis continues. Government agencies purchase the programs, Lueders says, but never actually utilizes them. “The government buys software because it gives the impression that they’re doing records management,” Lueders told Judicial Watch during a recent interview. “But they don’t use it.” He refers to the government’s longtime record-keeping system as “information chaos” that requires a congressional investigation.
Many of the government’s record management failures have been exposed by Judicial Watch in cases that involve key federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), State Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), among others. In fact, a recent news article on Uncle Sam’s widespread records management deficiencies mentions two cases that Judicial Watch litigated. One involves a scandal in which the Obama IRS selectively audited conservative groups that opposed the administration’s policies. The other involves Hillary Clinton’s now famous illegal use of a private email server while she was Obama’s Secretary of State.
For years Judicial Watch’s work has helped uncover the underlying problems associated with the government’s dreadful record-keeping system, which is incredibly handy in coverups. Many of the cases required a dragged-out litigious process to obtain records that should be readily available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A recent example involves the unsecure server Clinton used to transmit classified information as the president’s chief foreign affairs adviser. Judicial Watch has been embroiled in a years-long legal battle with the government for the records and just a few weeks ago, more than a dozen new Clinton emails not previously produced as per a federal court order magically appeared. A DOJ attorney could not explain to a federal judge how the FBI suddenly found the new stash of Clinton emails, which were originally to be provided by the State Department.
Some record-keeping failures have more serious consequences as the story mentioned earlier points out. For instance, the man who shot and killed more than two dozen people at a Texas church a few years ago used guns he would not have been able to buy if the Air Force had managed its records efficiently. “On six occasions, military officials failed to send Devin Kelley’s records to the FBI while the Air Force investigated, court-martialed, and imprisoned him for abusing his wife and stepson,” the article states. “Had the FBI received the records, the killer would have been barred from buying the weapons used in the massacre.” Similar records management failures have also received widespread media attention. Remember that in 2015 an astounding 21.5 million records were stolen from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal government’s chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager.
This is not a partisan issue, but rather a pervasive government wide emergency that Lueders says has been going on for almost a quarter century regardless of who occupies the White House. “We’re wasting billions and people are dying,” he said, stressing that democracy can’t exist without accountability and transparency.
Chicago Leaders Defend Freeing
Illegal Alien to Sexually Assault Toddler
Judicial Watch has done much to expose and combat the physical dangers Americans experience at the hands of aliens in this country illegally and protected by lawless sanctuary city policies. Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports:
Police and elected officials in Chicago have the audacity to vigorously defend their dangerous sanctuary policy after a previously deported illegal immigrant felon that they released from jail sexually assaulted a 3-year-old girl. The Mexican man, 34-year-old Christopher Puente, has a lengthy criminal history that includes two felony convictions, yet Chicago Police freed him into the community after his latest arrest for theft. It didn’t matter to those in charge of serving and protecting Windy City residents that the violent illegal alien had served time for forced-entry burglary and forgery or that he was recently charged with battery against a woman.
To honor Chicago’s outrageous sanctuary measure, authorities ignored an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer and instead released the aggravated felon. A few weeks ago, Puente sexually assaulted a toddler at a Cook County fast-food restaurant. He lured the girl into a bathroom stall of the River North eatery and sexually assaulted her, according to a local newspaper report that attributes the information to Cook County prosecutors. The girl’s father was in an adjacent stall helping her brother use the toilet. When he heard his daughter cry and saw her legs dangling, the father tried to open the locked stall where Puente held her and eventually pulled her out under the door. The illegal immigrant remained locked in the stall, according to prosecutors, but eventually escaped. The next day he was arrested for trespassing nearby and was singled out as the girl’s attacker. Puente confessed and provided authorities with disturbing details of the crime. A judge has ordered him held without bail for predatory sexual criminal assault.
Outraged federal authorities have reissued an immigration detainer with Cook County Jail. Had the first detainer been honored by Chicago authorities Puente would have been deported after his last arrest in mid-2019. “How many more victims must there be before lawmakers realize that sanctuary policies do not protect the innocent?” asked Robert Guadian, field office director of ICE’s Chicago Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). “Puente should have been in ICE custody last year and removed to his home country. Instead, irresponsible lawmaking allowed him to walk free and prey on our most vulnerable.” The agency is perpetually frustrated because detainers are continually rejected by Chicago-area law enforcement agencies. In Fiscal Year 2019, Cook County declined more than 1,000 detainers, according to figures provided by ICE.
Officials have no intention of changing their sanctuary policy. In fact, they made it a point to publicly defend it after Puente’s latest horrific crime. In the aftermath of the toddler’s sexual assault, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police issued media statements reiterating that they will not cooperate with the feds. Lightfoot trashed ICE, saying “they’re critical because we have said very clearly we are a welcoming city, a sanctuary city. Chicago Police Department will not cooperate with ICE on any immigration-related business. And that’s affected their ability to conduct immigration raids across the city. But that’s exactly our intention. We have to make sure our police department is seen as a legitimate force in all our communities.” In its statement, which was published in various local media outlets, the city’s law enforcement agency wrote this: “The Chicago Police Department remains committed to protecting all Chicago residents regardless of their immigration status. Our pledge to restrict ICE access to our information systems and our refusal to cooperate with ICE immigration enforcement measures has not changed.”
Chicago has long protected even the most violent of illegal immigrants. A few years ago, the city even launched a $1.3 million legal defense fund to help illegal aliens facing deportation. When the public fund was created, a Chicago alderman admitted he probably has illegal aliens working in his city office.
The lawmaker, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, said this in a local news report: “Donald Trump, we are sending you a message, you will not tear apart our families, we will stay together. We will defend and protect our communities.” The money to defend illegal immigrants for violating the nation’s federal statutes comes from Chicago property tax rebate funds. At the time, an African-American alderman who represents Chicago’s South Side went along with the measure to help the city’s illegal immigrants, but made it clear that the struggling communities she represents should have priority. “I’d like to see the administration put the same amount of effort into creating a legal representation fund for all of those young black boys and black girls that are racially profiled in this city or are shot by the police unnecessarily or to support programs like CeaseFire to quell some of the violence in our community,” said Alderman Pat Dowell. “When the mayor talks about wanting to keep the immigrant communities safe, secure and supported, those are the same needs that other communities have…”
Progressive Policy Drives Rising Crime in New York
In one of his rulings, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis observed that local jurisdictions can be “laboratories of democracy” by engaging in social experiments to discover what works best.
We’re seeing this at play in a perverse way in certain parts of the country, particularly New York City, which has become a petri dish for every Leftist nostrum. Our chief investigative reporter, Micah Morrison, has the details in his Investigative Bulletin.
Judicial Watch has been documenting rising social disorder in New York City at the hands of Mayor Bill de Blasio and radical activists in Albany and Washington. Last year, Democrats rammed through the state legislature a reform package that eliminated cash bail for a wide range of offenses—from assault, arson and child abuse to manslaughter, robbery and riot—and removed judicial discretion in holding suspects. Advocates for the measure correctly note that bail often discriminates against the poor—if you can’t afford bail, you sit in jail. But bail also offered a way to hold repeat offenders, including violent ones, behind bars until trial.
The reform legislation took effect January 1 and crime rates jumped. Numbers just in for the first two months of 2020 show a 35 percent increase in robberies and a 64 percent increase in stolen cars compared to the same period in 2019, the New York Post reports. Shootings, up 19 percent. Burglaries, up 21 percent.
Subway robberies are up sharply, with an increase of more than 100 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. NYPD insiders say subway robberies are largely driven by repeat juvenile offenders targeting other kids. A subway security official tells Judicial Watch that crime underground is widespread. In the city’s school system—the biggest in the country—parents speak with anguish about assaults on their children. And anti-Semitic hate crimes are significantly up in the city with America’s largest Jewish population.
All this has contributed to a growing sense of unease in New York. The politics of bail reform pit New York’s rising progressive forces against a cadre of Democrats who recognize a looming disaster when they see it. At a contentious town hall meeting last month in Forest Hills, Queens, de Blasio rejected complaints about links between rising crime and bail reform as “right-wing propaganda,” but he supports fixes to the law being pushed in Albany. Progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is on the other side of the Democrat debate, calling on Albany to “slow down” on any legislative changes. By “slow down,” of course she means do nothing. If Ocasio-Cortez and her allies had their way, prisons would be entirely abolished. The outcome of the bail reform fight will say a lot about progressive power in Albany.
Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost seven to one in New York City, so don’t hold your breath waiting for conservative reform. But there are straws in the wind that suggest change might be stirring. One is the surprisingly vigorous campaign of veteran prosecutor Jim Quinn for Queens borough president. Quinn beat his five rivals for the post in the latest fundraising reports and has been making waves with his criticism of liberal excesses such as the bail reform law and the closing of the Rikers Island jail complex. On Twitter, Quinn called out Ocasio-Cortez and her allies for their “dangerous, radical agenda” and for “ignoring double-digit crime spikes & the victims impacted.”
Them’s fightin’ words in New York. The election is March 24 in a field crowded with liberal contenders surfing the progressive wave. But Quinn’s conservative message may resonate with a different sort of voter—like the one who told Bill de Blasio at the Forest Hills town hall meeting, “Mr. Mayor, I do not feel safe.