PowerLine -> John Hinderaker – Federal Judge Rips DOJ and State, Orders Discovery on Clinton Emails + A potential theory of impeachment

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PowerLine -> John Hinderaker – Federal Judge Rips DOJ and State, Orders Discovery on Clinton Emails + A potential theory of impeachment

Daily Digest


  • Federal Judge Rips DOJ and State, Orders Discovery on Clinton Emails
  • A potential theory of impeachment
  • How Gun Ownership Saves Lives
  • Back in the Saddle
  • Trouble in dystopia
Federal Judge Rips DOJ and State, Orders Discovery on Clinton Emails

Posted: 09 Dec 2018 04:16 PM PST

(John Hinderaker) Royce Lamberth is an outspoken and sometimes controversial federal judge. Appointed by President Reagan, he has shown no partiality in going after litigants he considers to be malefactors. This time, it is the State Department and the Department of Justice.

Judge Lamberth is presiding over the lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch against the State Department, asking for emails relating to the Benghazi talking points that were promulgated after that attack. On Thursday, he issued an order blasting the federal agencies and authorizing discovery by Judicial Watch, as described below. In his order, Lamberth sets forth a long effort to deceive Judicial Watch and the court that was orchestrated by State and DOJ. It may be that we have not yet heard the last of the Clinton email scandal.

Here are excerpts from Judge Lamberth’s Order, with citations mostly omitted:

In July 2014, six months after Clinton resigned as Secretary of State, Judicial Watch filed this FOIA suit seeking emails from Clinton and her aides concerning the talking points former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used to defend the Obama Administration’s response to the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. … And although it would take more than six months for the public to learn Clinton exclusively used a private email account as Secretary…, department officials already knew Clinton’s emails were missing from its records. …

State played this card close to its chest. In November 2014, State told Judicial Watch it performed a legally adequate search and concluded settlement was appropriate, despite knowing Clinton’s emails were missing and unstarched. … In December 2014–the same day Clinton quietly turned over 55,000 pages of her missing emails–State gave Judicial Watch a draft Vaughn index making no mention of the unsearched records.
***
After another month of radio silence–by then, at least three months after State realized it never searched Clinton’s emails, and two months after Clinton gave the Department 30,490 of the 62,320 emails from her private server (she deleted the rest)–State filed another status report admitting “additional searches for documents potentially responsive to the FOIA must be conducted”…. A month later, Judicial Watch read the New York Times and realized what State was talking about… That story, along with reporting that Clinton’s former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and former Deputy Chiefs of Staffs Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan also used personal email to conduct government business…exposed State’s deceit in this case.

At best, State’s attempt to pass off its deficient search as legally adequate during settlement negotiations was negligence born out of incompetence. At worst, career employees in the State and Justice Departments colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA, and hoodwink this Court.

The current Justice Department made things worse.

Emphasis added. That last comment shouldn’t be surprising. If you thought the Republicans are now running the Department of Justice–merely because Donald Trump was elected president!–you don’t understand how the federal bureaucracy, the unelected, non-constitutional fourth branch of government, operates.

The order contains much more. For example:

[I]n an even rarer subset of cases, the government’s response to a FOIA request smacks of outrageous misconduct. … This is one of those cases.

One subject of discovery, going forward, will be whether Hillary Clinton set up her illegal server in order to evade FOIA. To me, this is not a difficult question. Of course, she did. Likewise, why do you think President Obama used an alias when he corresponded with Hillary on her off-the-books email account? While not prejudging the issue, Judge Lamberth exhibits an appropriate level of skepticism. He notes that a number of news accounts have raised the question of FOIA evasion, and continues:

Or take Abedin’s response when State’s Executive Secretary suggested Clinton use a government blackberry so her email “would be subject to FOIA requests”: “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

I noted that email, which was cited in a different FOIA case by a different federal judge, here.

Even more telling is the State Department Inspector General’s conclusion that although dozens of department officials emailed Clinton’s personal account, the employees responsible for FOIA compliance didn’t know the account existed.

Finally:

Did State know Clinton deemed the Benghazi attack terrorism hours after it happened, contradicting the Obama administration’s subsequent claim of a protest-gone-awry? See Email from H, [email protected], to Diane Reynolds (Sept 11, 2012, 11:12 PM), … see also Nick Gass, Chelsea Clinton’s Secret Identity, Politico…(establishing Diane Reynolds as an email pseudonym for Chelsea Clinton).

What is it with Democrats and secret email identities? Some psychologist should look into the phenomenon.

Did State know Clinton sent or received top-secret information through her private email? See Statement by FBI Director James Comey…(noting the FBI recovered eight email chains from Clinton’s server containing top-secret information). Did the Department merely fear what might be found? Or was State’s bungling just the unfortunate result of bureaucratic red tape and a failure to communicate? To preserve the Department’s integrity, and to reassure the American people their government remains committed to transparency and the rule of law, this suspicion cannot be allowed to fester.

One might note that it has been festering for a very long time. The relevant events are now six years in the past. The Obama administration was astonishingly successful at stonewalling investigations, and its stonewalling continues under a Department of Justice nominally led by a Republican but staffed overwhelmingly by Democratic Party loyalists.

Judge Lamberth’s order explains at some length why the discovery he orders is not duplicative of other pending or resolved cases. Well and good, but a basic lesson here is the inadequacy of litigation as a check on abuse of government power. Apart from anything else, it is simply too slow. Congressional investigations potentially can be faster, but committees use their subpoena powers sparingly, for reasons I don’t understand, and congressional investigations are usually not competently conducted, apart from being hampered by rampant partisanship. It would help if we had either a nonpartisan or a two-party press, but we don’t.

Still, despite everything, the truth about Hillary Clinton’s scandalous tenure as Secretary of State may emerge in time for historians to evaluate it.

  

A potential theory of impeachment

Posted: 09 Dec 2018 02:56 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff) If the New York Times is right, Mueller’s theory of wrongdoing by President Trump boils down to “defraud[ing] voters.” This theory is worthy of ridicule.

If Democrats want to impeach Trump, and I think they do, they will need theories that are more concrete. David French envisages one: a claim that Trump participated in an effort to provide false testimony to investigators. This allegation, he notes, was part of the basis for the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

French sees such an allegation presaged by Mueller’s finding that when Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen lied to Congress about the status of his client’s effort to build a Trump Tower in Russia, he did so after “circulating” his false report.

Mueller is saying that Cohen’s prepared false testimony was reviewed by others before he lied to Congress. He also says that Cohen is cooperating in the effort to investigate this matter.

Who does Cohen say reviewed his false statement to Congress before it was submitted? If he says Trump reviewed it, then he is alleging that Trump committed an offense that, as noted above, appears in both the Nixon and Clinton articles of impeachment. In Nixon’s case it was described this way:

approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings.

In Clinton’s, the prosecutor alleged that the president “corruptly encouraged” witnesses to make false statements in a federal civil action and that he “made false and misleading statements to potential witnesses in a Federal grand jury proceeding in order to corruptly influence the testimony of those witnesses.”

I want to emphasize that we’re a few steps away from such an article of impeachment in Trump’s case. First, we don’t know whether Cohen is saying that Trump reviewed his false statements. He may be saying it was others involved with the campaign. Second, we don’t know whether, assuming Cohen is saying that Trump reviewed his false statement, Cohen is telling the truth.

Impeaching President Trump based solely on the say-so of a sleazy lawyer like Michael Cohen may not be beneath House Democrats. However, doing so would be outrageous — and probably viewed as such by most fair-minded Americans.

It’s possible, however, that Cohen has documents that show President Trump’s involvement. It’s also possible that, even if Cohen and Trump didn’t communicate about the former’s testimony to Congress, Cohen communicated with people close to Trump. If such people knew Cohen’s testimony was false, then they may be in legal jeopardy, and Mueller may be able to squeeze them into saying they communicated with Trump about what Cohen was going to say.

All of this is speculation, and one can argue that French, a Never-Trumper, is getting ahead of himself. However, I think his conclusion is worth considering:

We do not know if Trump is guilty of the same kind of misconduct that ended the Nixon presidency or that resulted in Clinton’s impeachment, but the special counsel’s filing provides a roadmap for continued investigation. It also strongly hints at potential presidential jeopardy for misconduct that has clear echoes in recent presidential scandals.

  

How Gun Ownership Saves Lives

Posted: 09 Dec 2018 01:16 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)In the United States, burglars generally try to break into homes that are unoccupied. We tend to take this fact for granted, but it isn’t true everywhere. There are advantages to breaking into residences when the owners are home: you can force them to tell you where valuables and drugs are kept, rather than having to search. And if a woman is present you may choose to assault her. This is why, in countries where gun ownership is rare, invasions of occupied homes are much more common.

Last week the Telegraph reported: “Half of the burglaries on occupied homes as thieves grow bolder.”

Half of burglaries in Britain now take place while householders are inside their homes, as thieves become emboldened by police inaction.

Figures show 58 percent of burglaries happen at occupied properties, as campaigners said criminals no longer feared being caught in the act.
***
Analysis of the most recent Office for National Statistics crime figures shows the proportion of burglaries targeting properties when someone is at home has soared in recent years. The Crime Survey for England and Wales found such incidents made up 44 percent of raids in 2004-2005, but have since shot up to 58 percent in 2016-2017.

How do the numbers compare in the United States? It is surprisingly hard to find up to date data; this 2010 report by the Department of Justice doesn’t seem to have been superseded. The DOJ report found that the household was occupied in 28 percent of residential burglaries. In 26 percent of burglaries where someone was present, one or more individuals were physically harmed by the burglar or burglars.

So burglars are around twice as likely to invade occupied residences in the U.K. than in the United States. Why is that? Certainly not because the American police are any more likely to interrupt a burglary in process. The obvious answer is that hardly any homeowners in the U.K. possess firearms, while gun ownership is common in the U.S. Bluntly put, a burglar who invades an occupied residence in the United States takes a not-immaterial risk that he may be shot by his intended victim. As, for example, hereherehere and here.

The conclusion: if gun-grabbers get their way and the Second Amendment is effectively nullified, many more Americans will be terrorized by home invasions; more will be injured or killed, and more women will be raped.

  

Back in the Saddle

Posted: 09 Dec 2018 06:30 AM PST

(John Hinderaker)We returned last night from 11 days of vacation in England so normal posting will resume as soon as I have had a chance to catch up on the news. In particular, I need to figure out how the Democrats plan to impeach President Trump on the ground that he used his own money as consideration for a nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Danials (and, I take it, one other woman). That could take a while.

Meanwhile, just two observations about our time abroad. First, we were in England during a time of political crisis. Prime Minister May suffered a severe repudiation by the House of Commons as her government was held in contempt, and it appears likely that the Brexit plan she has negotiated with the EU will go down to defeat next week, with consequences that at this point are unknown. These are serious matters–infinitely more serious than Trump’s relationship with Stormy Daniels–and the newspapers were hysterical. And yet, in the conversations, we had with Brits–or overheard, for that matter–politics was almost entirely absent. I suspect that a foreign visitor to the U.S. would likewise find that the American people are not convulsed by the doings of Bob Mueller and the Democrats.

Second, the English seem to celebrate Christmas, at least publicly, as enthusiastically as we Americans do, if not more so. London is decked out for the season, and the big hotels and many other businesses are beautifully decorated. This is a random street:

A more major shopping street:

The Ritz Hotel:

A giant snow globe at the Savoy:

I keep hearing that Christianity is dying in Europe. Maybe so, but Christmas is thriving, at least in the U.K.

  

Trouble in dystopia

Posted: 09 Dec 2018 05:05 AM PST

(Scott Johnson) Heading downtown Minneapolis several times a week, we watched a so-called homeless encampment grow on a small strip of land along Hiawatha Avenue just before it funnels traffic downtown onto Seventh Street. A tribute to the broken-windows theory of policing, the encampment grew up virtually overnight. Bordering a subsidized Native American housing complex, residents of the encampment reflect the Indian tilt of their neighbors. At one point we saw teepees join the tents.

As the encampment turned into a shithole, municipal authorities jumped to it. They moved four port-o-potties onto a fringe of the strip. That didn’t do anything to clean up the detritus of addiction that littered the grounds. It was something like an attractive nuisance.

The encampment is illegal. Nevertheless, as Chris Serres noted in the Star Tribune last week: “From the beginning, Minneapolis city and Indian leaders made a strategic decision to embrace the encampment as part of a wider effort to combat homelessness, and to avoid punitive measures that would only drive people further into the shadows.”

The encampment is not only illegal, but it is also an open-air drug den. Between September and November, four residents of the encampment died of overdoses. The Star Tribune quoted the father of one of the deceased: “It’s a drug house without walls and everyone knows it.” Yet the encampment continued to grow, spilling over the small strip of land on which it originated.

The Star Tribune has provided sympathetic coverage supporting the encampment since it first started reporting on it. The paper portrayed the encampment as providing a collegial environment that residents were unable to find in homeless shelters. The residents looked out for each other. Despite appearances, it was a supposedly beautiful thing.

Late last week, however, the Star Tribune found trouble in dystopia. Serres reported “Aid workers, others at Minneapolis homeless camp say they are fearful.” They are fearful of Natives Against Heroin, a nonprofit organization that seems to be ruling the roost in a most uncollegial manner.

  

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