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    DOJ Tag

    The political interference by the White House in the investigation of Hillary Clinton just took a big step up. Previously, in a 60 Minutes interview in October 2015, Obama pretty much signaled Justice to lay off Hillary (emphasis added):
    Steve Kroft: Did you know about Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server– President Barack Obama: No. Steve Kroft: –while she was Secretary of State? President Barack Obama: No. Steve Kroft: Do you think it posed a national security problem? President Barack Obama: I don’t think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and– you know, as a general proposition, when we’re in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it’s been ginned-up is in part because of– in part– because of politics. And I think she’d be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But–

    From the moment the Hillary email server scandal broke, there have been conflicting reports and claims about if and how the server was "wiped" clean. At an August 2015 appearance, Hillary famously said she didn't know if it was wiped:
    “Did you try to wipe the hard drive?” “I have no idea… that’s why we turned it over … “You were in charge of it, did you wipe the server?” “What, with a cloth or something? …. No”
    Since then there are reports that the most sensitive, highest-levels of classified information were found in emails, including human source intel. The material is so sensitive that lawmakers are not even permitted to view the intel that was on Hillary's home server.

    The Judiciary is taking a first, timid step toward interceding on Congress's side and against executive over-reach regarding the Operation Fast and Furious. On Tuesday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Justice must hand over to Congress documents pertaining to "Fast and Furious," despite President Obama's assertion of the "deliberative process" privilege.

    Background

    Fast and Furious was an operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ("ATF") meant to identify Mexican gun-runners by intentionally putting firearms into the stream of illegal commerce and tracking their progress to roll-up the participants.  Instead, Fast and Furious inadvertently released thousands of firearms into criminal hands, some of which were connected to the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2010.

    This week the Department of Justice created a new position aimed at coordinating investigations into the growth and threat of domestic terrorism. Current Assistant Attorney General John Carlin announced the move today during a speech focusing on the DOJ's efforts to combat extremism at home. From today's remarks at the George Washington University - Southern Poverty Law Center event [emphasis mine]:
    At NSD [National Security Division], in order to ensure that we are gaining the benefits of the information and input from those eyes on the ground from around the country, and in recognition of a growing number of potential domestic terrorism matters around the United Sates, we have created a new position to assist with our important work in combatting domestic terrorism. Just this week, we appointed a new Domestic Terrorism Counsel to serve as our main point of contact for U.S. Attorneys working on domestic terrorism matters. The new DT Counsel will not only help ensure that DT cases are properly coordinated, but will also play a key role in our headquarters-level efforts to identify trends to help shape our strategy, and to analyze legal gaps or enhancements required to ensure we can combat these threats. The new counsel will also play an important role with the DTEC by providing its members with insights from cases and trends from around the country.

    Chaka Fattah, a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania's second district, has been charged with racketeering conspiracy alongside four other people in a case that smacks of influence peddling. The Department of Justice announced the charges yesterday:
    Congressman Chaka Fattah and Associates Charged with Participating in Racketeering Conspiracy A member of Congress and four of his associates were indicted today for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy involving several schemes that were intended to further the political and financial interests of the defendants and others by, among other tactics, misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal, charitable and campaign funds. Congressman Chaka Fattah Sr., 58, of Philadelphia; lobbyist Herbert Vederman, 69, of Palm Beach, Florida; Fattah’s Congressional District Director Bonnie Bowser, 59, of Philadelphia; and Robert Brand, 69, of Philadelphia; and Karen Nicholas, 57, of Williamstown, New Jersey, were charged today in a 29-count indictment with participating in a racketeering conspiracy and other crimes, including bribery; conspiracy to commit mail, wire and honest services fraud; and multiple counts of mail fraud, falsification of records, bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution and money laundering.
    Naturally, Fattah denies the charges:

    Department of Justice official Vanita Gupta has come under fire for suggesting the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson should be blamed in part on slavery and Jim Crow laws. J. Christian Adams of PJ Media recently wrote:
    DOJ Official: Slavery to Blame for Riots in Ferguson and Baltimore Vanita Gupta, head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, has told a lawyers group in Colorado that slavery and Jim Crow helped fuel the Ferguson and Baltimore riots. The last few days have seen a number of fanciful stories with the Obama administration seemingly questioning the authority of local police. I’ve long maintained that the administration is nakedly seeking to federalize policing standards — but get rid of local police? No way, that sounds like something broadcast from a shortwave station in Austin, Texas. But then up steps Vanita Gupta to lend some credibility to the idea that some want to disband local police and replace police powers with the federal government. Speaking to a group of left-wing lawyers in Colorado, Gupta had this to say:
    The conversation in these rooms, however, is not about whether to have police or not but about what kind of policing communities want and deserve. There is no question that we need police in our communities.
    The conversation? What conversation is Gupta hearing that needs to be corrected? Who brought up the idea we might not need police? Nobody sane, for sure.
    Megyn Kelly recently discussed the subject with conservative author Michelle Malkin, who analyzed the issue in a political context.

    A years long investigation into New Jersey's Democratic Senator Robert Menendez resulted in a federal indictment for corruption charges today. Sen. Menendez denies any wrong doing. According to the New York Times:
    WASHINGTON — Senator Robert Menendez was indicted on federal corruption charges on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press, setting the stage for a bitter court fight and putting his political future in doubt. The charges had long been expected and Mr. Menendez, a 61-year-old Democrat of New Jersey, has promised to fight them. He has offered no indication that he plans to step down or relinquish any power while he goes through that process. The case involves Mr. Menendez’s longtime friendship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida eye surgeon and political benefactor. The two men became friends in the 1990s and have spent holidays together in the Dominican Republic, where Dr. Melgen, 60, has a home in the gated oceanfront resort of Casa de Campo.

    The Senate confirmation hearings for Loretta Lynch have been in the news for over a week and for good reason. As Eric Holder prepares to exit the Department of Justice, many people want to be sure America doesn't end up with another Eric Holder. Lynch has many positive qualities but as Professor Jacobson recently pointed out, not being Eric Holder is not enough. Yesterday, Holder held a press conference in which he insisted that he hasn't politicized the Department of Justice. Josh Feldman of Mediaite reported:
    Holder Fires Back at GOP: ‘There’s Been No Politicization of This Justice Department’ Last week the Senate held confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, but a lot of the questions from Republicans centered around the current occupant of that office, with one even going so far as to ask Lynch if she is Eric Holder. Today, Holder himself held a news conference in which he started out by saying, “For the record, I am Eric Holder.” From there, the attorney general went after Republican critics in possibly one of the last (if not the last) press conferences of his tenure leading the DOJ. He said it’s “a little irresponsible for people on the hill to say that policy differences that we have with them… can be characterized as political.” Holder insisted that “there’s been no politicization of this Justice Department” and said such an accusation is “totally inconsistent with the facts.”
    Here's a video of Holder's statement:
    World News Videos | ABC World News It's good to know Mr. Holder thinks so highly of his stewardship of American Justice.

    I appeared this afternoon during the National Review post-election cruise on a panel with: The panel topic was The State of American Justice. Unfortunately, there is no audio or video I can link to. But take my word for it, it was a good discussion. We started out with a discussion of whether the newly Republican Senate should reinstate the filibuster rule for non-Supreme Court nominees. You will recall that the Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster in November 2013 (went "nuclear") at the urging of Obama allowing Obama to pack the courts with virtually any nominee he wants.  The discussion centered around a prior presentation by former Senator Jon Kyl who (according to reports, I didn't hear it) advocated a return to the longstanding filibuster tradition which serves the Senate and the people well. The clear consensus on the panel, articulated at length by Whelan, was NO UNILATERAL DISARMAMENT. Harry Reid and the Democrats need to be taught a lesson -- and that lesson should not be that they get to change the rules when it suits them, only to regain the benefit when Republicans take over.  This will be a fight early next year, and we need to bring some backbone to Senate Republicans.  The rule change doesn't so much matter now, but in the event a Republican wins the presidency in 2016, why should Republicans not get the free pass Obama gets?

    CNN reports that the Department of Justice continues to express frustration with the refusal of local Ferguson officials to hide from the Grand Jury and the public generally truthful information about the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown.  These same frustrations have been repeatedly echoed by the most hardcore of the Ferguson protestors, at increasing volume as they see the prospects for an indictment of officer Wilson rapidly fading. County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has asked federal officials to coordinate on the timing of the announcement of the local Grand Jury outcome, in the interests of minimizing the potential for more rioting, looting, and arson.  It is widely expected that the local Grand Jury will decline to indict Wilson, because of a profound lack of evidence of criminal conduct. CNN's report shows that DOJ officials have declined to do so, arguing that it would "undermine their argument that the federal investigation is independent."  Of course, an official closure of the DOJ investigation would also not allow the Department to follow the strategy they have in the Zimmerman case of dragging  out their investigation for years.  This strategy pursued in the Zimmerman case allows for such politically expedient announcements, days before a major election, as the sudden convening of a Zimmerman Grand Jury based upon evidence of highly questionable credibility. The CNN article notes that the state and federal investigations are based upon separate and distinct statutes, and thus are not entirely identical.  Left unsaid is the equally obvious point that the state and federal investigations serve different political masters.

    Hot on the heels of the Department of Justice's suddenly-renewed interest in George Zimmerman's civil rights liability in the self-defense killing of Trayvon Martin (see: FBI Convenes Grand Jury For Zimmerman Civil Rights Case) just days before next week's election comes another DOJ action timed perfectly for electoral manipulation. National Review Online is reporting that the FBI (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DOJ) has made the highly unusual decision to disclose their investigation into Mike Rounds (pictured above), a Republican Senate candidate in South Dakota, less than a week before next Tuesday's vote. The alleged misconduct being investigated is somewhat obscure--something involving a work visa program in the state--but it is notable that the alleged misconduct was to have occurred three years ago, and the FBI's announcement comes a year after the state's own attorney general closed its own investigation without bringing any charges. The concern, of course, is that the FBI announcement was timed to influence Rounds' prospects in next week's voting.  When asked for more detail, the FBI replied that the agent in charge of the investigation would be unavailable to provide additional information until late next week, after the election, thus leaving a cloud over Rounds' candidacy through election day.
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