Posts tagged with "DOJ"

Hillary Clinton trashes Trump over tweeted voter conspiracy theory

August 21, 2019

Hillary Clinton recently said that she “lives rent-free” in President Donald Trump’s mind. Indeed, the POTUS continues to contest the fact that she won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election—by nearly 2.9 million votes.

What’s more, Trump has asked the DOJ to investigate the former Secretary of State’s emails, her server, her business deals, and her husband.

But this week he returned to his familiar “ballot box” theme, according to a report by Politico—forcing Clinton yet again to rebut his conspiracy agenda.

“Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election!” Trump tweeted on Monday. “This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!”

While Trump did not cite the source of his claim, according to Politico, it came minutes after a segment on Fox Business Network referred to congressional testimony in July from behavioral psychologist Robert Epstein.

In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Epstein claimed that, based on his research, “biased search results generated by Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that gave at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton.”

Epstein appears to have been citing a study based on a collection of tens of thousands of search engine results collected in the run-up to the 2016 election. The study analyzed a relatively small sample size: The results of 95 different voters, just 21 of whom he says were undecided. He based the results on a phenomenon he calls “Search Engine Manipulation Effect.”

Google has denied Epstein’s claims. Company Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in December that Google had investigated Epstein’s findings and found his methodology flawed

According to the Politico report, Epstein also claimed in his congressional testimony that Big Tech, if left unchecked, could shift as many as 15 million votes toward a particular candidate in the 2020 election. Trump appeared to have nudged that number higher in his tweet Monday.

But Hillary clapped back, tweeting, “The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”

Research contact: @politico

Andrew McCabe sues DOJ and FBI, alleging his ouster was retaliatory and demanded by Trump

August 12, 2019

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe filed suit [Civil Action No. 19-2399] in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 8 against Attorney General Bill Barr, the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for ending his career on March 16, 2018—just before he would have qualified for his retirement benefits following 21 years of public service, Politico reported.

“Defendants responded to Plaintiff’s two decades of unblemished and non-partisan public service with a politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018— on the very night of Plaintiff’s long-planned retirement from the FBI,” McCabe said in his complaint.

He added, “Defendants’ actions have harmed Plaintiff’s reputation, professional standing, and dramatically reduced his retirement benefits. Plaintiff asks this Court to find that his demotion was unlawful and his purported termination was either a legal nullity or, in the alternative, unlawful, and to award him any and all relief necessary for him to retire as he had originally planned: as the Deputy Director of the FBI and an agent in good standing, with sufficient time in service to enable him to receive his full earned law enforcement pension, healthcare insurance, and other retirement benefits.”

The ousted FBI official also specifically named President DonaldTrump—acting in an official capacity as President of the United States—as the individual who was “responsible and accountable for Defendants’ actions.”

He alleged that the president, in conspiracy with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, executed the scheme to deprive him of his job and retirement funding.

“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him,” McCabe said in his complaint, adding, “Plaintiff’s termination was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme. Defendants—as well as then-Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Defendant Barr’s predecessor—knowingly acted in furtherance of Trump’s plan and scheme, with knowledge that they were implementing Trump’s unconstitutional motivations for removing Plaintiff from the civil service. “

According to the Politico report, the lawsuit comes just two days after former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok filed a similar lawsuit, alleging that Trump’s vendetta against him led to his unceremonious firing, despite a formal disciplinary process that recommended a less severe punishment.

Strzok is seeking his old job back or compensation for his lost pay and benefits.

Although both men made plain their dislike of Trump, they say it never affected their official actions at the FBI. McCabe argues that Trump’s Twitter threats also coerced his subordinates at the Justice Department to do his bidding.

“Trump demanded [McCabe’s] personal allegiance, he sought retaliation when Plaintiff refused to give it, and [former Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, [FBI Director Christopher] Wray, and others served as Trump’s personal enforcers rather than the nation’s highest law enforcement officials, catering to Trump’s unlawful whims instead of honoring their oaths to uphold the Constitution,” McCabe’s suit charges. “Trump’s use of threats and accusations to cause his subordinates to act is memorialized in his tweets and other public documents, including the Special Counsel Report.”

Research contact: @politico

‘Tanks for the memories,’ President Trump, on July 4

July 4, 2019

For a military school graduate who never served as a combatant, the July 4 Salute to America celebration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., could be the closest President Donald Trump ever gets to the accoutrements of armored warfare.

The event will feature displays of military hardware; flyovers by an array of jets, including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall; and an extended pyrotechnics show.

Even more unusual for the nationwide nonpartisan celebration will be a presidential address at the Lincoln Memorial that Democrats fear will ramble across political lines into Trump’s usual campaign rally palaver.

And the expense for all of this, plus the usual concert and parade—and any repairs necessitated afterwards by damage to local roads from the tanks—will be higher than ever before.

The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Trump’s Independence Day celebration, The Washington Post reported on July 2..

The diverted park fees represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of the event. By comparison, former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvin told the Post, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.

For Trump’s planned speech at the Lincoln Memorial, the White House is distributing VIP tickets to Republican donors and political appointees, the news outlet reported—prompting objections from Democratic lawmakers, who argue that the president has turned the annual celebration into a campaign-like event.

The Republican National Committee and Trump’s reelection campaign confirmed Tuesday that they had received passes they were handing out for the event.

 “We’ve never seen anything like this,” Senator Tom Udall (New Mexico), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, environment and related agencies, said in a phone interview with the Post. “No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars.”

Udall said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt had yet to respond to a request he and two other Senate Democrats made two weeks ago for a full accounting of how the event would be conducted and what it would cost.

The White House referred questions about the celebration to the Interior Department, which declined to comment.

Brendan Fischer, federal reform director for the Campaign Legal Center, said in an interview with the newspaper that while it may not violate federal ethics law to distribute limited tickets to the president’s speech to party contributors, “it certainly looks bad.”

Since federal appropriations law prohibits using public money for political purposes, Fischer noted, the issue will depend on what Trump says in his speech. If he refers to some of the 2020 presidential hopefuls, or polling related to the race, Trump’s reelection campaign may be required to reimburse the U.S. Treasury.

“The content of the event, and the nature of the event, is probably the determining factor,” as opposed to donors getting to see Trump up close, he said.

The  Salute to America marks the culmination of Trump’s two-year quest to mount a military-style extravaganza inspired by his visit to a Bastille Day celebration in Paris in 2017, The Washington Post reported. His previous efforts to stage a Veterans Day military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in 2018 were scuttled after estimated costs ballooned to the tens of millions of dollars.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Elizabeth Warren has a plan: She wants to pass a law clarifying that presidents can be indicted

June 3, 2019

Would Special Counsel Robert Mueller have charged President Donald Trump with a crime if Justice Department policy had not prevented him from doing so? On Friday, May 31, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said the answer was “yes,” according to a report by The New York Times.

But Senator Warren—who is among the more than 20 party hopefuls seeking the nomination for president—predictably enough, has a plan for that.

She has proposed legislation aimed at ensuring that “no President is above the law.” Indeed, in a story posted on Medium, she has made her vision clear: “If Donald Trump were anyone other than the president of the United States right now, he would be in handcuffs and indicted …. Mueller’s statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew. He’s referring President Trump for impeachment, and it’s up to Congress to act.”

Now, Warren has called on Congress to pass a law clarifying that the DOJ can, in fact, indict the president of the United States, while also renewing her call to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Times reports.

“But impeachment isn’t supposed to be the only way that a President can be held accountable for committing a crime,” she said. “Congress should make it clear that Presidents can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice. And when I’m president, I’ll appoint Justice Department officials who will reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability.”

This is not a new stand for Senator Warren, who declared herself in favor of impeachment about a day after the Mueller report was released on April 18. She also was among several candidates who leveled sharp criticism at Attorney General William Barr for his handling of the report’s release, the news outlet noted.

She renewed her criticism of Barr on May 31, saying he had “disgraced himself by acting like Trump’s personal defense attorney” while also pledging to “appoint an Attorney General who will protect the rule of law.”

She reminded Americans, “No matter what he may think, Donald Trump is not a King. No President is. And our democracy only works if everyone can be held accountable.”

Research contact: @SenWarren

Theranos whistleblowers launch advisory group on ethical practices for tech startups

April 4, 2019

March seemed to be “Theranos month” on U.S. television, as network, premium cable, and streaming channels ran stories on the stunning rise and fall of the Silicon Valley company helmed by Elizabeth Holmes—who claimed she had found a way to test for a full range of diseases with a small blood sample and a “magic box.”

Now, Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz—two former employees who blew the whistle on Theranos—have launched a new organization called Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which seeks to help other entrepreneurs from suffering the same fate as Holmes, CNN reports.

Cheung, who lives in Hong Kong, is the former Theranos lab worker who tipped off the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to look into the blood testing startup.

Shultz, who is the grandson of Theranos board member and former Secretary of State George Shultz, was an ex-research engineer instrumental in helping Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou expose the company, according to the news outlet..

Theranos had a reported $9 billion valuation and employed hundreds of workers who bought into its mission to create a cheaper and more efficient alternative to traditional blood testing methods. After Carreyrou’s initial investigation into the company in 2015, its technology and testing methods started to unravel.

In March 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled charges against Theranos and Holmes, over “massive fraud “involving more than $700 million raised from investors. In September, Theranos announced plans to dissolve itself. The company remains the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.

Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which is seeking non-profit status in the United States and Hong Kong, according to CNN, wants to make talking about ethical practices the norm in the startup world. The founders plan to help connect early stage entrepreneurs to ethicists, seasoned entrepreneurs, and other relevant industry experts who can guide them on how to make ethical decisions when building a company. It also plans to make available tools and frameworks for ethical decisions that benefit businesses, employees and consumers.

There were so many instances, even for someone like Elizabeth Holmes, to turn back and say, ‘I’m taking things a little too far here,'” Cheung told CNN Business. “She had many opportunities to — even at the very end, she could have said, ‘OK, I’m sorry. I messed up. I’ll stop processing patient samples and I’m going to get my team together, we’re going to work on this and we’re going to make a good product.’ I don’t think she’s ever said that, until she had to go to court and say those things.'”

The organization is accepting donations on its website to help support the development of resources guides and workshops.

“I do think entrepreneurship can empower people and empower society but we also have to not let things escalate to this degree,” Cheung said.

Research contact: @saraashleyo

House Democrats move to stop Barr from ‘running out the clock’

April 3, 2019

House Democratic leaders are desperately trying to stop Republicans from “running out the clock.”

As it stands now, the GOP is focused on delaying the release of the full Mueller report until the American electorate can be cajoled by the president and his party’s leaders into accepting that Attorney General William Barr’s four-page analysis of the findings is a fait accompli.

On April 2, Politico reported, Democrats called for Barr to appear immediately for a hearing to explain his decision last month to release the top-line summary without unveiling the full report.

Barr’s four-page memo asserted that the special counsel did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow to sway the 2016 presidential election in his 400-page report—but it also said that Mueller did not exonerate the president on obstruction of justice. However, Barr added that he would not charge the president with obstruction of justice. Trump has touted the letter as a complete vindication.

The chairmen of six House committees, including Judiciary’s Jerry Nadler, said in their letter sent Monday to Barr that he should testify “as soon as possible — not in a month, as you have offered, but now” to discuss his rationale.

In their letter and an accompanying nine-page memo to Barr, the Democrats also quibbled with the potential edits and modifications that could limit their ability to see the full Mueller report.

But Barr said before he releases the Mueller report, he would remove four categories of sensitive information: materials gathered during the grand jury process, which are protected by law; classified information dealing with intelligence sources and methods; information tied to ongoing investigations; and anything harmful to “reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”

Democrats pushed back, urging Barr to ask a federal district court judge to give DOJ permission to release materials otherwise protected under grand jury secrecy rules. And they argued that Barr has no authority to hold back information that could harm someone’s “reputational interests,” including materials related to Trump family members who work in the White House.

The Democrats also called on Barr to make a “detailed log of each redaction and the reasons supporting it” in case there are fights later with lawmakers.

Separately, Politico noted, the letter previewed another major moment ahead, calling on Barr “to refrain from interfering with Special Counsel Mueller testifying before the Judiciary Committee — and before any other relevant committees —after the report has been released regarding his investigation and findings.” No date has been scheduled for a Mueller hearing in the House, although Democrats have long signaled plans to call the special counsel in for testimony if they don’t get a complete look at his findings.

Originally, Nadler had set an April 2 deadline for Barr to hand over Mueller’s report and its underlying evidence. His Democratic-led panel plans on Wednesday to vote on authorizing the use of a subpoena to compel its release “in unredacted form.”

Research contact: @politico

President’s counsel averted firing of Mueller last June

January 29, 2018

Although U.S. President Donald Trump stated at a June 9  press conference in the White House Rose Garden that he “would be “100% willing” to testify under oath to Robert Mueller and his team at the Justice Department, that same month, he tried to have the special counsel fired, according to a January 25 report by The New York Times.

Trump is said by the Times story to have gone to White House Counsel Don McGahn with a list of reasons why Mueller’s appointment represented a conflict of interest with the investigation—among them, a dispute over fees at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia; a former relationship with the law firm that now represented the POTUS’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Mueller’s interview for the FBI director position by the White House just the day before he was appointed to helm the DOJ investigation.

With that list in hand, the president demanded that McGahn call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and order that Mueller be ousted, based on the Times report. McGahn balked at the idea—threatening to quit if the president pressed him on it. According to the Times, Trump then backed off.

In drawing a line, McGahn is said to have headed off a Constitutional crisis. He also supported the will of the American people: More than two-thirds of Americans (68%) think Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and attempts by the White House to obstruct justice —and only 14% think he should be fired, a Marist Poll revealed on January 17

When asked about his actions by reporters as he arrived in Davos, Switzerland, for meetings with global political and business leaders attending the World Economic Forum, the President said, “Fake news, folks. A typical New York Times fake story.”

Research contactLee.Miringoff@Marist.edu

Updated version