The number of classified emails contained on Hillary Clinton’s private server, which she assured Americans never contained sensitive information sent or received, now totals nearly 1,000 according to Ed Henry on Tuesday.
“One of the most significant headlines, of course, is that out of this new batch of emails released by the State Department – the largest one yet, nearly 8,000 pages, there are 328 more emails that have now been deemed classified. That brings the total to 999,” Henry said. “Obviously, with more document dumps to come very likely that you’ll have more than 1,000 emails with classified emails in there even though Clinton, you’ll remember, said that there was no classified information on her private server.”
Henry reported on Monday the latest batch of emails only continues the “drip-drip” reminder for Clinton that the private email scandal has not gone away.
“The bigger picture, the broader point here is Hillary Clinton back in March said no classified information on this server and as we continue to see the drip-drip there are indications, of course, that there are dozens of those emails already come out that did have classified information,” Henry said.
Clinton assured the American people that there was no classified information sent or received on her private email server when she first addressed the issue with a press conference from the UN in March. She guaranteed that no sensitive information would be found on her server, and forcefully pushed back against accusations that her email set-up was a national security risk.
Since the finding of classified information on her server, the campaign has taken a new position: Clinton did not send or receive anything marked classified at the time. The revelation of more classified material highlights how much sensitive information passed through the network previously unknown by the State Department.
The ordeal has plagued Clinton’s candidacy and left her with her worst favorability rating ever because a majority of Americans do not believe she is honest or trustworthy.
Following the release of the largest batch of Clinton emails to date, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus released a statement saying,”With the number of emails containing classified information now numbering nearly one thousand, this latest court-ordered release underscores the degree to which Hillary Clinton jeopardized our national security and has tried to mislead the American people.”
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on all seven criminal counts Monday in a corruption scheme that traded taxpayer cash and political favors for nearly $4 million in payoffs.
A Manhattan federal jury deliberated less than three days before finding the veteran lawmaker guilty of seven charges of honest-services fraud, extortion and money laundering.
Silver, 71, faces a maximum 130 years in prison for the long-running scam.
The conviction of Silver – for decades one of the three most powerful politicians in the state – was a huge victory for anti-corruption crusading Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.
”Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York,” Bharara said in a statement.
Jurors had appeared to be in disarray several times during deliberations, with one demanding to be taken off the panel because she said other members were hassling her over her views, and another claiming a newly discovered conflict of interest earlier Monday..
The second juror, Bronx cabbie Kenneth Graham, 69, told the judge that he only recently learned that he leases his taxi medallion from a man who “associates with Mr. Silver.” The judge refused to excuse him.
“He was guilty, and that’s all,” Graham said of Silver outside court, when asked about the verdict.
“All of [the evidence] was compelling. We come to a conclusion, and he was guilty.”
But Graham indicated that the jury struggled to come up with its verdict.
“It was hard… on the last day and the day before… There was a lot of hold-outs,” he said.
“I feel relief. Maybe I don’t feel good,” he added.
The decision cemented a stunning fall from grace that began when the Manhattan Democrat was busted in January following more than three decades as one of state’s most powerful pols.
His arrest forced Silver to resign his leadership post, but he held onto his longtime Assembly seat.
Under state law, Silver’s conviction automatically boots him from office and bars him from ever again holding any state position.
Monday’s verdict came midway through the corruption trial of Silver’s onetime counterpart in the state Senate, former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who’s charged in an unrelated influence-peddling scheme along with his son, Adam.
During Silver’s 3½-week trial, prosecutors presented an array of evidence that included testimony from co-conspirators who turned rat to avoid getting charged in the case.
Columbia University cancer doctor Robert Taub – who got $500,000 in taxpayer-funded research grants from Silver – testified that he steered dozens of asbestos victims to Silver for legal representation by the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm.
Silver, who was “of counsel” at Weitz & Luxenberg at the time, pocketed more than $3 million for delivering the clients.
Veteran Albany lobbyist Brian Meara also testified that he set up a meeting between Silver and an exec at the Glenwood Management development company, which hired another law firm with ties to Silver to handle its lucrative property tax litigation.
Silver – who changed his position on legislation extending real estate tax abatements and blocking stricter rent regulations – got more than $700,000 from the firm of Goldberg & Iryami, with Meara testifying that he was both “surprised and concerned” when Silver revealed the fee-splitting arrangement.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Andrew Goldstein told jurors that Silver was motivated by greed: “This was bribery. This was extortion. This was corruption – the real deal. Don’t let it stand.”
Goldstein also blasted as “preposterous” Silver’s claim that his actions were merely “politics as usual in Albany.”
Defense lawyer Steven Molo insisted that Silver had never engaged in the sort of “quid pro quo” that’s legally required to sustain a conviction for honest-services fraud.
Molo also accused prosecutors of viewing Silver through a “dirty window,” adding that they had “failed to demonstrate that any harm has occurred.”
Gee, I wonder why she left that out?
Via Free Beacon:
The Clinton Foundation failed to report $20 million in donations from governments to the Internal Revenue Service, newly refiled tax returns show.
Reuters reported that the foundation disclosed the $20 million it received from governments, most of them foreign, between 2010 and 2013 when it and a spin-off organization refiled tax returns from six years to fix errors.
The Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation did not previously separate out its donations from governments on old tax returns as is mandated by the IRS.
The foundation refiled tax returns from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 and a charity spun off from the foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, refiled its own returns from 2012 and 2013 after both were found to have made errors reporting funds from foreign governments. The revelations about inaccuracies came just as Hillary Clinton, a Democratic candidate for president, endured scrutiny for the millions of dollars that her family foundation has received from foreign governments.
Federal officials have a secret list of 11 Obamacare health insurance co-ops they fear are on the verge of failure, but they refuse to disclose them to the public or to Congress, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has learned.
Just in the last three weeks, five of the original 24 Obamacare co-ops announced plans to close, bringing the total of failures to nine barely two years after their launch with $2 billion in start-up capital from the taxpayers under the Affordable Care Act.
All 24 received 15-year loans in varying amounts to offer health insurance to poor and low income customers and provide publicly funded competition to private, for-profit insurers. Among the co-ops to announce closings were those in Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Vermont, New York and Colorado.
Nearly half a million failing co-op customers will have to find new coverage in 2016. More than $900 million of the original $2 billion in loans has been lost.
The 11 unidentified co-ops appear to be still operating but are now on “enhanced oversight” by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which manages the Obamacare program. The 11 received letters from CMS demanding that they take urgent actions to avoid closing.
Aaron Albright, chief CMS spokesman, said 11 co-ops “are either on a corrective action plan or enhanced oversight. We have not released the letters or names.” He gave no grounds for withholding the information from either the public or Congress.
CMS officials have stonewalled multiple congressional inquiries into the co-op financial problems. The latest congressional inquiry came in a September 30 letter to CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt demanding transparency over the troubled program.
“We have long been concerned about the financial solvency of CO-OPs,” three House Ways and Means committee members wrote to Slavitt. “Which plans have received these warnings or have been placed on corrective plans,” the congressmen asked. To date, they have received no reply.
Insurance commissioners in Vermont were the first to refuse to license the federally approved co-op there in 2013 because they feared those financial plans were unrealistic. But then the dominoes began to fall this year, resulting in at least eight co-op failures. And if CMS officials are to be believed, more failures may be on the way.
Sen. Chuck Grassley , a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee who has been an outspoken critic of the troubled co-op program, said transparency should be a top priority for the faltering program.
“Since the public’s business generally ought to be public, CMS should have a good reason for not disclosing which co-ops are troubled,” he said.
Rep. Adrian Smith , is a member of the House Ways & Means health subcommittee who has been pressing to know which co-ops are in trouble.
“It’s time for CMS to stop shielding these failures from the public and start identifying faltering co-ops. Taxpayers deserve more accountability and consumers deserve to know whether the insurance they are forced to buy will still exist at the end of next year,” he said.
In creating the co-ops under Obamacare, Congressional Democrats exempted the co-ops from public disclosure rules that apply to publicly traded insurance companies and other publicly traded corporations on such exchanges as the New York Stock Exchange. Those rules require immediate disclosure of materially important financial details.
Any materially “significant event” by publicly traded corporations have to be disclosed in “real time,” according to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
The Securities and Exchange Commission identifies 18 “mandatory disclosure items,” for private corporations including “any material impairment of a company’s asset.”
The double standard rankles critics of the co-op experiment undertaken by the Obama administration. “The nonprofit co-ops advertise themselves as having a ‘market approach,’” said Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute. “But if it’s a market approach, they are responsible to their shareholders and to the taxpayers to reveal the status of their business.”
Grassley agreed, saying “disclosure requirements on publicly traded companies would be a good guidepost for CMS on co-ops.”
Pipes said taxpayers are stockholders in the non-profit health insurance co-ops. “We are paying for it. We have a right to know. They don’t like to release things unless they’re forced to, particularly if it shows them in a bad light or their program to be in a bad light.”
Taxpayer groups also expressed anger over the government secrecy.
“There is no excuse why taxpayers should not know the names of the people and groups who misspent and wasted tax dollars on publicly financed health insurance co-ops,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
“When anybody receives tax dollars, they have a responsibility to spend those dollars wisely and be held accountable for the expenditures. Transparency is the first step. CMS has a responsibility to all Americans to publish this information,” Williams said.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said “as Obamacare continues to fail, those failures point right back to CMS. They don’t want people to see that failure and think if they hide it somehow we won’t hear about it.”
Three in four Americans (75%) last year perceived corruption as widespread in the country’s government. This figure is up from two in three in 2007 (67%) and 2009 (66%).
While the numbers have fluctuated slightly since 2007, the trend has been largely stable since 2010. However, the percentage of U.S. adults who see corruption as pervasive has never been less than a majority in the past decade, which has had no shortage of controversies from the U.S. Justice Department’s firings of U.S. attorneys to the IRS scandal.
These figures are higher than some might expect, and while the lack of improvement is somewhat disconcerting, the positive takeaway is that Americans still feel fairly free to criticize their government. This is not the case in some parts of the world. Questions about corruption are so sensitive in some countries that even if Gallup is allowed to ask them, the results may reflect residents’ reluctance to disparage their government. This is particularly true in countries where media freedom is restricted.
This is why it is most appropriate to look at perceptions of corruption through such lenses as the Freedom House’s Press Freedom rankings. Ratings vary among countries with a “free press,” including the U.S., and range from a high of 90% in Lithuania to a low of 14% in Sweden. The U.S. does not make the top 10 list, but notably, it is not far from it.
These data are available in Gallup Analytics.
Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 U.S. adults each year, aged 15 and older, conducted between 2007 and 2014. For results based on the total sample of national adults in the U.S., the margin of sampling error has typically been ±4.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of national adults across the 134 countries surveyed in 2014, the margin of sampling error ranged from ±2.1 percentage points to ±5.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup’s Country Data Set details.
A federal judge on Friday ordered the Internal Revenue Service to reveal White House requests for taxpayers’ private information, advancing a probe into whether administration officials targeted political opponents by revealing such information.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the IRS’s argument that a law designed to protect the confidentiality of such information protected the public disclosure of such communications with the White House.
The law, 26 U.S. Code § 6103, was passed after the Watergate scandal to protect citizens from retribution by federal officials. Jackson scoffed at the administration’s claims that the statute could be used to shield investigations into whether private tax information had been used in such a manner.
“The Court is unwilling to stretch the statute so far, and it cannot conclude that section 6103 may be used to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit,” Jackson wrote in her order.
The decision was a victory for Cause of Action, the legal watchdog group that sued the IRS in 2013 seeking records of its communications with the White House and potential disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.
The group called the decision “a significant victory for transparency advocates” in a Friday statement
“As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing,” said Dan Epstein, the group’s executive director. “No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point.”
The lawsuit came after Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, the IRS’s official watchdog agency, revealed that it was investigating whether Austan Goolsbee, the White House’s former chief economist, illegally accessed or revealed confidential tax information related to Koch Industries.
The corporation’s owners, Charles and David Koch, are prominent funders of conservative and libertarian groups that often oppose the White House’s policy priorities.
Goolsbee “used Koch Industries as an example when discussing an issue noted in the [President’s Economic Recovery Board] report that half of business income goes to companies that do not pay corporate income tax because they are pass-through entities and that many of them are quite large,” the White House said in 2010.
His apparent knowledge of Koch’s tax history, detailed during a conference call with reporters, “implies direct knowledge of Koch’s legal and tax status, which would appear to be a violation” of federal law, said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the time.
Every day the mountain of evidence that is being hidden and the amount of effort needed to perpetuate the ever-widening cover-up continues to increase. There is certainly no shortage of regulatory violations and other, at best questionable, conduct being engaged in at the State under Hillary Clinton and during the days since she left.
A new violation of procedures intended to protect our nation’s secrets is revealed by a reporter during a briefing held by paid State Department paid liar and former Rear Admiral now disgracing his service, John Kirby.
The reporter raises the issue of the State Department’s failure to submit “legally required information regarding Secretary Clinton’s email server to the DHS during her term as Secretary.” He asks Kirby if he’s familiar with it at all, with him naturally stating that he is not, whether that is true or not it buys time. Obstructionists such as those employed by the State Department always want as much time as they can get.
The reporter says it was a 2010 DHS program called the “Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Program,” under which DHS was to receive every thirty days a list of systems and vulnerabilities from all government agencies. He says, “Evidently there is some reporting that they didn’t get that from State regarding that server.”
He asks Kirby if he’s “familiar at all with that,” to which Kirby predictably replies that he is not. Asked if he would “take it,” Kirby agrees but says, “I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to you on it. Some of these issues are under review and under investigations, so there may be a real limit here as to what we can do in terms of detail on that.”
What Kirby is telling him is that unless some of his colleagues start pressing for it or unless it is picked up somehow by the mainstream media, he won’t be answering the quite legitimate question. He says that ongoing investigations or reviews might be a problem, but certainly admitting that such a program exists would in no way interfere with either nor would divulging whether that policy had been followed and if not where the failure had occurred.
What Kirby is doing is covering up. It’s now what he gets paid to do, to assist those engaging in criminal conduct in shielding their anti-American activities from the American people.
This is a potentially huge smoking gun, in that during, perhaps throughout, the four year tenure of Clinton as Secretary of State, the practice was either to not report based upon a recognized security breach or to report the deviation and violations with complicity in both agencies to its existence and continuance.
Just who those individuals involved were and the basis for their decisions would be some very telling and relevant information. The process left a decision-making trail that would indicate both intent and culpability of multiple parties involved.
It’s not surprising that Kirby claimed to not know anything about it while also assuming that it was under review or investigation. He didn’t have time to get his story straight but he’d better. This is probably a question he’ll be asked again, and something else he’s going to have to cover up for in order to “serve his country.”
The revelation that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private emails contained sensitive information derived from spy satellites and signal intelligence undercuts her defense that she had no reason to believe she was dealing with classified information, security experts say.
“If she is so ignorant that she doesn’t recognize that this type of information in the email as being classified, it just calls into question her overall competence,” Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst trained in the rules of handling government secrets, told The Washington Times.
As details emerge about the extent of Mrs. Clinton’s use of personal email to exclusively conduct business as secretary of state, her defense has shifted.
At first, she stated flatly that her private emails did not hold or transmit classified information. She later amended that defense to claim that none of the information she sent by private email was classified at the time she sent it.
Now, her defenders have evolved her story further, suggesting that she didn’t know information she was handling was classified because it wasn’t marked as such.
Pete Hoekstra, former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote an op-ed published Wednesday in The New York Post calling the latest explanation from the Clinton camp a “sham.”
“The statement ignores how the process works. The reason government officials with security clearances are required to keep their correspondence on the appropriate government server is so the material can be vetted and classified prior to hitting ‘send’ to an uncleared recipient,” Mr. Hoekstra and former federal prosecutor Victoria Toensing wrote in the joint op-ed.
In an interview with The Times, Mr. Hoekstra said that repeating in an email classified information from a report or a secure briefing still violates regulations.
He recalled the extraordinary steps the intelligence community took when it gave him top-secret information. He received the data either in a secure room in a House office, at an off-site FBI facility or on his secure phone.
Asked whether it was possible that Mrs. Clinton dealt with top-secret material but did not know it, Mr. Hoekstra answered: “Sure, it’s always possible that you will have received information from the intelligence community that they consider top secret and you may not be aware of that. Unlikely, but possible.”
Last month, the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence community flatly contradicted Mrs. Clinton’s claim that her emails did not contain national secrets. They wrote in a public joint statement that the information among thousands of emails on her private server was definitely classified at the time.
“These emails were not retroactively classified by the State Department,” the inspectors general wrote. “Rather, these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to IC classification officials, that information remains classified today. This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.”
This week, I. Charles McCullough III, the intelligence community’s inspector general, revealed that not only did a small sampling of Mrs. Clinton’s 30,000 emails turned over to State contain classified information, but two held data that were top-secret – the highest classification.
Mr. McCullough went further. The top-secret information was labeled “SI,” which is intelligence community parlance for “special intelligence.” Special intelligence is intercepted communications from foreign targets.
In addition, the intercept came from code word “talent keyhole,” (TK), which stands for the nation’s military satellites and their production of classified imagery and intercepted communications.
An intelligence spokeswoman said the TK compartmental function “protects information and activities related to space-based collection of imagery, signals, measurement and signature intelligence, certain products, processing and exploitation techniques, and the design, acquisition, and operation of reconnaissance satellites.”
“TOP SECRET/SI/TK” means her server held some of the nation’s most sensitive information. The information could have come from the National Security Agency and most certainly the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, experts said.
Mr. Johnson, the former CIA analyst, said revelations about the highly sensitive nature of information in certain emails call into question the entirety of Mrs. Clinton’s story about the private email server she operated out of her home in Chappaqua, New York.
“She’s admitting she lacks the knowledge and intelligence to recognize classified information. That’s her defense? That she’s stupid?” he said. “I think she knew it was classified and used it. They were passing information back and forth.”
The SI and TK designations mean that if Mrs. Clinton’s server was hacked, “there is the possibility of compromising multiple intelligence sources,” Mr. Johnson said.
Because Mrs. Clinton conducted all State Department business on one server at her home, it is assumed that her aides also passed classified information on unsecure systems. This is because a commercial system such as Mrs. Clinton’s cannot communicate with a secure government network set up to handle and protect secrets. Mrs. Clinton did not use a State.gov account, as is expected of all State Department employees.
Intelligence experts said Mrs. Clinton’s server, which she turned over under pressure to the Justice Department this week after having vowed never to part with it, was susceptible to hacks from adversaries such as China and Russia.
Mrs. Clinton handed over 30,000 printed emails in December after the special House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, pressed the State Department for her emails and discovered they were all on her own server.
Watchdog groups, including Judicial Watch, have filed lawsuits to obtain the emails under the Freedom of Information Act. Prodded by a federal judge, State Department foreign service officers and, more recently, outside intelligence officials, have been sifting through the material to delete government secrets.
The inspectors general estimate that hundreds of emails will be shown to contain classified information before the tedious process is complete.
Well damn it looks like the fix is in. The good people at the Federalist found out that the judge who has blocked footage from being released in the fourth Planned Parenthood is not only an Obama appointee, but he raised a whole lotta money for his campaign:
A federal judge late Friday granted a temporary restraining orderagainst the release of recordings made at an annual meeting of abortion providers. The injunction is against the Center for Medical Progress, the group that has unveiled Planned Parenthood’s participation in the sale of organs harvested from aborted children.
Judge William H. Orrick, III, granted the injunction just hours after the order was requested by the National Abortion Federation.
Orrick was nominated to his position by hardline abortion supporter President Barack Obama. He was also a major donor to and bundler for President Obama’s presidential campaign. He raised at least $200,000 for Obama and donated $30,800 to committees supporting him, according to Public Citizen.
Even though the National Abortion Federation filed its claim only hours before, Orrick quickly decided in their favor that the abortionists they represent would, ironically, be “likely to suffer irreparable injury, absent an ex parte temporary restraining order, in the form of harassment, intimidation, violence, invasion of privacy, and injury to reputation, and the requested relief is in the public interest.”
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has confirmed to Congress that illegal immigrants granted amnesty under President Obama’s new programs could claim back refunds even when they never filed returns to pay their taxes in the first place.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, who had pressed Mr. Koskinen over the issue, released written responses Wednesday in which the commissioner admitted he’d botched the question earlier and, in fact, illegal immigrants granted the amnesty will now be able to claim refunds on tax returns they never even filed, thanks to the Earned Income Tax Credit.
“To clarify my earlier comments on EITC, not only can an individual amend a prior year return to claim EITC, but an individual who did not file a prior year return may file a return and claim EITC (subject to refund limitations under section 6511 of the Internal Revenue Code),” Mr. Koskinen said.
He insisted, however, that he doubts many illegal immigrants will take advantage of the loophole because they would have to be able to prove their earnings for those years they never filed returns.
“Filers would have to reconstruct earnings and other records for years when they were not able to work on the books,” he said.
Taxpayers must have Social Security numbers in order to claim the EITC, and illegal immigrants aren’t supposed to have numbers. But Mr. Obama’s new deportation amnesty grants illegal immigrants work permits, which are then used to obtain Social Security numbers.
IRS lawyers have ruled that once illegal immigrants get numbers, they can go back and refile for up to three previous years’ taxes and claim refunds even for time they were working illegally.
The lawyers said since the EITC is a refundable credit, that’s allowed even when the illegal immigrants worked off the books and never paid taxes in the first place.
“Section 32 of the Internal Revenue Code requires an SSN on the return, but a taxpayer claiming the EITC is not required to have an SSN before the close of the year for which the EITC is claimed,” Mr. Koskinen said. “At your request, the IRS has reviewed the relevant statutes and legislative history, and we believe that the 2000 Chief Counsel Advice (CCA) on this issue is correct.”
Mr. Koskinen had initially said illegal immigrants could claim refunds, but only for years they’d filed returns and presumably had paid some taxes.
Most of Mr. Obama’s amnesty is on hold after federal courts ruled he likely broke the law by acting on his own without Congress‘ approval and without putting his policy out for public review and comment.
But a 2012 policy that applies to so-called Dreamers, or young adult illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, is in effect.
Homeland Security has approved 664,607 initial applications for Dreamers, and approved another 243,872 renewals over the last year, extending the initial two-year amnesty for another two years.
DAY 1 (PART 1) – PRIVATE SECTOR PETITIONERS: SHARYL ATTKISSON, JASON LEOPOLD, DAVID MCGRAW, LEAH GOODMAN, AND TERRY ANDERSON
DAY 1 (PART 2) – PRIVATE SECTOR PETITIONERS: TOM FITTON, CLETA MITCHELL, NATE JONES, LISETTE GARCIA, GABRIEL ROTTMAN, AND ANNE WEISMANN
DAY 2 – PUBLIC SECTOR OBSTRUCTIONISTS: JOYCE BARR, MARY HOWARD, MELANIE PUSTAY, KAREN NEUMAN, AND BRODI FONTENOT
A Treasury Department watchdog has recovered thousands of emails from Lois Lerner and turned them over to Congress, reviving the investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.
Lerner was in charge of the IRS division that targeted Tea Party and other groups with conservative-sounding names when they applied for tax-exempt status from roughly 2010 to 2012.
She has since retired, and officials have said that many of her emails are permanently lost because her computer hard drive crashed.
“This underscores that our investigation into IRS abuse is far from over,” a House Ways and Means Committee spokesman said Wednesday. “The committee will thoroughly review these new emails as part of our ongoing efforts to find out exactly what happened and provide accountability.”
The Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration announced overnight that it had recovered roughly 6,400 Lerner emails that Congress has yet to see and that it will examine them as part of Congress’ bipartisan investigation that also includes the Senate Finance Committee.
Roughly 650 of the recovered emails are from 2010 and 2011, while most of them are from 2012.
During those three years, Lerner led the IRS division that targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
The inspector general has found about 35,000 emails in all as it sought to recover emails from backup tapes.
“We welcome the Inspector General’s recovery of these Lois Lerner emails,” the IRS said in response to the IG announcement. “This is an encouraging development that will help resolve remaining questions and dispel uncertainty surrounding the emails.
The agency also pointed out in its response that it has already produced 24,000 emails from 2010 to 2012 and that it has given Congress more than 1.3 million pages of documents related to the investigation, including more than 147,000 emails.”
In addition, the IRS also said it will continue to cooperate with the Inspector General and the congressional committees.
The agency said last year that Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011 and her emails were lost.
Lerner was placed on leave in May 2013 and retired four months later.
“I have not done anything wrong,” Lerner said to Congress in 2013. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations. And I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”
The IRS scandal broke in May 2013 when Lerner said at an American Bar Association gathering and during a follow-up conference call with reporters that there was a “very quick uptick” in nonprofit applications and that the vetting process was limited to the agency’s Cincinnati office.
The extent to which the Obama administration knew about the targeting, beyond Lerner’s unit in Washington, remains unclear in part because, she says, her computer crashed and emails were lost.
Lerner attorney William Taylor recently said he and his client were “gratified but not surprised” by a decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office not to pursue contempt of court charges against her earlier this month after she refused to testify about her role at the IRS in the targeting of conservative groups. Regarding efforts in Congress to punish her for not testifying, he said: “It is unfortunate that the majority party in the House put politics before a citizen’s constitutional rights.”
Twenty-two of the 37 corporations nominated for a prestigious State Department award – and six of the eight ultimate winners – while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State were also donors to the Clinton family foundation.
The published donor records of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation don’t give exact dates or amounts of its contributors, but it is possible to create a general timeline for when many of the corporations donated and when they were either nominated or selected for the award.
Silicon Valley giant Cisco was the biggest foundation contributor nominated in 2009, giving the Clinton charity between $1 million and $5 million. The company then won the award in 2010 when eight of the 12 finalists and two of the three winners had donated to the foundation.
The other Clinton contributor to win that year, candy-maker Mars, Inc., had given between $25,000 and $50,000. Coca-Cola was the most generous foundation donor to be honored as a finalist in 2010, giving a $5-10 million donation.
TOM’s Shoes, a 2009 winner for its work in Argentina, donated between $100,000 and $250,000. The other 2009 winner, Trilogy International Partners, gave between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Overall, seven of the 10 finalists in 2009 were foundation donors.
Seven of the 12 finalists for the award in 2011 gave to the charity. One of the winners, Procter & Gamble, had contributed $1-5 million. The other 2011 winner, Sahlman Seafoods, does not appear to have been a donor.
Tiger Machinery, a 2011 finalist, is the Russian dealer of Caterpillar, Inc. tractors and other heavy equipment. Caterpillar gave between $1,000 and $5,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Intel, another Silicon Valley giant, was nominated for an award each year of Clinton’s time in office, winning the award in 2012. The technology company donated between $250,000 and $500,000.
Five of the eight finalists and one of the two winners were foundation donors in 2012. A finalist that year, Esso Angola, is an international subsidiary of Exxon-Mobil, a prolific contributor to the Clinton Foundation. Exxon-Mobil gave between $1 million and $5 million.
Wow, taking money from Big Oil. The insane left is going to love that.
If you tried to contact the IRS with a question about your taxes this year, chances are you didn’t get a response. The IRS estimated that it would only answer 17 million of the 49 million calls received this filing season. Taxpayers lucky enough to have the IRS answer their calls waited an average of 34.4 minutes for assistance – nearly double the wait time last year (18.7 minutes).
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has blamed the IRS’s “abysmal” customer service on congressional budget cuts – funding is down $1.2 billion from its 2010 peak – but a new congressional report points the finger back at the IRS. While congressional funding for the IRS remained flat from 2014 to 2015, the IRS diverted $134 million away from customer service to other activities.
In addition to the $11 billion appropriated by Congress, the IRS takes in more than $400 million in user fees and may allocate that money as it sees fit. In 2014, the IRS allocated $183 million in user fees to its customer service budget, but allocated just $49 million in 2015 – a 76 percent cut.
Commissioner Koskinen will appear before the House Ways and Means Committee this morning, one week after the federal tax filing deadline, and he can expect to be asked why the IRS cut its own customer service budget and continues to spend money on other questionable activities.
The report notes that Koskinen reinstated bonuses weeks after his appointment, has allowed IRS employees to spend roughly 500,000 work hours on union activities, and failed to collect delinquent taxes owed by federal employees. The tax agency has also been strained by Obamacare. According to the report, the IRS has spent “over $1.2 billion on the President’s health care law to date, with a planned expenditure this year of an additional $500 million.”
The IRS’s total annual $11 billion budget is dwarfed by the amount of improper tax payments it makes each year. According to the report, the IRS paid out $17.7 billion in improper Earned Income Tax Credit payments (which are supposed to help poor and low-income individuals) and an additional $6 to $7 billion in improper child tax credit payments.
Hillary Rodham Clinton used her clout as secretary of state to do favors for foreign donors who gave millions to her family foundation – and who paid millions more to her husband, Bill, in speaking fees, a new book charges.
Records show that of the $105 million the former president raked in from speeches over 12 years, about half came during his wife’s four-year tenure at the State Department.
The claims in “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” come just a week after she launched her presidential campaign.
They raise questions about shady foreign money flowing into the Clinton Foundation – and what actions Hillary took in her official capacity in exchange for the cash.
“During Hillary’s years of public service, the Clintons have conducted or facilitated hundreds of large transactions,” writes author Peter Schweizer, according to The New York Times, which first reported the story.
“Some of these transactions have put millions in their own pockets.”
Schweizer – a former speech-writing consultant for President George W. Bush – said he found a clear “pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable US policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds.”
One example of an alleged quid pro quo cited by the Times and other sources involved the State Department’s backing of a free-trade agreement with Colombia that benefited a company founded by a big donor to the Clinton Foundation.
Hillary opposed the trade deal when running for president in 2008 because of the South American country’s poor record on workers’ rights.
But then the company, Canadian-based Pacific Rubiales, and its founder, Clinton Foundation board member Frank Giustra, donated “millions” to the foundation, The International Business Times reported.
In 2010, the State Department under Hillary lauded Colombia’s human rights record, allowing Giustra’s company to reap huge profits.
The book also examines lucrative development contracts awarded to foundation donors following the devastating Haitian earthquake in 2010. And it reports that Hillary’s brother, Tony Rodham, sat on the board of a small North Carolina mining company that in 2012 got one of only two coveted “gold exploitation permits” from the government of Haiti – the first issued in more than 50 years, according to the website Breitbart.
Bill Clinton himself was paid $1 million by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline as the State Department was considering the project, Schweizer charges.
Records show that Bill’s earnings from appearance fees – both foreign and domestic – spiked at $17 million in 2012, Hillary’s last year at State.
During Hillary’s four-year stint as secretary of state, the ex-president earned about $48 million of a $105 million speaking haul amassed between 2001 and 2013.
More than half of the $48 million was paid by companies in China, Japan, Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Cayman Islands, among others.
The author writes that “of the 13 Clinton speeches that fetched $500,000 or more, only two occurred during the years his wife was not secretary of state.”
Bill Clinton is believed to be the richest living ex-president and one of the 10 wealthiest ever.
Most estimates put the power couple’s combined net worth at $100 million to $200 million.
Some of the fees were paid at the Clintons’ request to their foundation – netting domestic donors a fat tax break. But most went directly to Bill, and the fees make up the family’s main source of income, The Washington Post reported.
Following Hillary’s decision to run for president, the foundation itself announced last week it would accept donations only from Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany and Norway.
The 186-page book will go on sale May 5, but Hillary wasted no time dismissing it.
“We’re back into the political season and, therefore, we will be subjected to all kinds of distraction and attacks and I’m ready for that. I know that that comes, unfortunately, with the territory,” she said Monday in Keene, NH.
“It is, I think, worth noting that the Republicans seem to only be talking about me. I don’t know what they’d talk about if I wasn’t in the race, but I am in the race and hopefully we’ll get on to the issues,” she added.
Allison Moore, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, responded by bringing up Hillary’s use of a private email account for official business and her deletion of thousands of emails.
The Justice Department indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) on corruption charges Wednesday, bringing the first criminal charges against a sitting U.S. senator since the botched prosecution of Alaska’s Ted Stevens seven years ago.
Mr. Menendez, 61 years old, has said he plans to fight any charges, which are the culmination of a two-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the relationship between the senator and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.
A federal grand jury in Newark handed down a five count indictment, charging Mr. Menendez with crimes including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud.
Dr. Melgen is already under investigation for possibly overbilling Medicare. The FBI has also probed whether Mr. Menendez used his position to try to help Dr. Melgen with his legal troubles and whether the senator sought to improperly aid Dr. Melgen’s business interests in a Dominican Republic port security company. Dr. Melgen’s lawyer has previously said the doctor acted appropriately at all times.
The probe began with an anonymous accusation about Mr. Menendez’s personal conduct while traveling with Dr. Melgen in the Dominican Republic in 2013. Investigators could never substantiate those claims, but the probe evolved into a far-reaching examination of the relationship between Dr. Melgen and the senator – a long friendship that included gifts, hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations, and travel together, according to people familiar with the case.
Shortly after the FBI investigation began, Mr. Menendez repaid Dr. Melgen $58,500 for two private flights to the Dominican Republic that the senator hadn’t listed on financial disclosure forms, Menendez aides have said. Aides called the initial failure to list the flights an oversight.
As news of potentially pending charges spread in recent weeks, Mr. Menendez has acknowledged receiving gifts from the doctor but said they were the result of a close friendship, not corruption, and pledged he wouldn’t back down. Mr. Menendez has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees over the last year, according to public filings.
A prolonged legal battle between the senator and the Justice Department could have broader political and foreign-policy repercussions at a time when Senate Democrats need every vote they can get to confirm Obama administration nominees and muster support for the White House’s foreign-policy moves.
The case is already testing the limits of the Justice Department’s ability to investigate members of Congress. Much lawmaker activity is protected by a constitutional provision that makes them immune from prosecution and civil suits when they are involved in “legislative activity.”
Lawyers in the case have already been sparring on the issue. Prosecutors sought to compel two Menendez staffers who claimed such privilege to testify before a grand jury about actions allegedly taken on behalf of Dr. Melgen, according to a sealed appellate court document that was briefly posted on a public website last month.
Prosecutors’ last attempt to charge a sitting senator – Mr. Stevens – went badly awry, casting a dark cloud over the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which is also pursuing charges against Mr. Menendez. The Justice Department won a 2008 conviction against Mr. Stevens on charges he made false statements on government paperwork, allowing him to conceal tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts, including free home renovations. Just a week after that verdict, Mr. Stevens narrowly lost his re-election bid.
The next year prosecutors reversed course and asked for a judge to vacate the conviction, based on an internal review which found key information had been withheld from the defense. Mr. Stevens died a year later in a plane crash.
Since then, the Public Integrity Section has been overhauled and brought a number of high-profile cases. It oversaw the successful prosecution of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife on corruption charges. Last year, Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion and said he would resign. Still, the constitutional protections for Congress weren’t at play in those cases.
The charges come at the same time as Mr. Menendez, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is playing a key role in some major foreign-policy issues. He has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s overtures to Iran and Cuba and has urged it to get more aggressive in combating Russia’s moves in Ukraine.
Senate Democrats have no hard-and-fast rules requiring a lawmaker to step down from committee assignments or leadership positions when facing legal troubles.
If he declines to step down, Democrats would have to decide whether to force his ouster, Senate aides said. Democratic aides said such a decision would be unlikely to occur until members return to Washington from recess in two weeks, though any public statements from rank-and-file lawmakers could be a harbinger of how the caucus might vote.
Charges against Mr. Menendez would also put Senate Democrats and the White House in an awkward position on the nomination of Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder. Ms. Lynch is facing a tight vote to win confirmation and, should Mr. Menendez choose not to vote to confirm the woman who could oversee his prosecution, the White House would have to find another Republican to back Ms. Lynch or she risks being denied confirmation.
You’d never know it from the mainstream media puff pieces of Harry Reid’s sudden retirement, but it was a long string of corruption scandals – including a recent one involving his attorney son – that drove the veteran Nevada senator to abruptly leave public office.
For nearly a decade Judicial Watch has investigated and exposed Reid’s involvement in a multitude of transgressions and JW even warned the Senate Ethics Committee, but not surprisingly, no action was ever taken. On multiple occasions the Senate minority leader appeared on JW’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list for his role in a number of political scandals that got more serious as his seniority and clout in Congress increased.
As far back as 2006 Reid was in hot water for violating Senate rules by concealing a seven-figure payoff on a suspicious land deal orchestrated by a longtime friend known for political bribery and mob ties. The influential senator secretly collected a $1.1 million profit on land he hadn’t personally owned for years. To hide the deal, Reid transferred ownership, legal liability and tax consequences to a company owned by a former casino lawyer who has been investigated by federal authorities. Months earlier Red got busted for accepting gifts from a state agency trying to influence him. In that scheme the lawmaker quietly took very expensive ringside boxing tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission while that state agency was trying to influence him on the sport’s federal regulation.
In 2012 Reid made JW’s corrupt politician list because he was embroiled in an influence-peddling scandal involving a Chinese “green energy” client of a Nevada law firm run by his son Rory. The senator was one of the Nevada projects most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on its behalf, according to a mainstream news report. Reid’s son was an attorney at the prominent Las Vegas firm that represented the Chinese Company, ENN Energy Group, and helped it locate a 9,000-acre desert site for well below its appraised value from Clark County.
In 2013 Reid was again named to JW’s most corrupt politician list for taking more than $130,000 in illegal campaign funds from a shady donor, Harvey Whittemore, who eventually went to jail. Whittemore hired four of the senator’s sons at a law firm in which he served as senior partner and worked with Reid on huge land deals that required federal legislation. Additionally, Reid sponsored at least $47 million in earmarks that directly benefitted organizations with close ties to one of his sons, Key Reid. The legislator also colluded with President Obama to nix a proposed nuclear waste dump in Yucca Mountain Nevada after U.S. taxpayers spent $15 billion on the project.
More recently Reid abused his authority to pressure the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expedite a $115 million foreign investor visa deal critical to his son’s casino client. Reid got the DHS to override agency procedures to rush through hundreds of visa applications from foreign nationals who helped fund a Las Vegas hotel and casino that hired Rory Reid to provide legal representation for the project, according to a recent news report. The article goes into tremendous detail about the illicit scheme that evidently served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. A few days later Reid said he wouldn’t run for a sixth term in the Senate. His hometown newspaper called it a “surprise announcement.” On his government website, Reid posted a goodbye video saying he did his best though hasn’t been perfect.
Hillary Clinton’s top aides used their personal email accounts to correspond with her about the attack in Benghazi while she was Secretary of State, the New York Times reported Monday.
That detail comes after Clinton, earlier this month, held a news conference to address questions about her use of her personal email account to conduct official business while she was in office. During that event, she said “vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.”
Critics said the likely presidential contender’s use of her personal email account may prevent official records from becoming public. Clinton’s email was run from its own server out of her New York state home, and she has said that she deleted thousands of emails she deemed personal.
About 300 emails have been turned over to the Congressional committee investigating the Benghazi attack, the New York Times reported. Some of those emails, according to people who saw them and described them to the Times, showed Clinton and her staff reacting as the Obama administration’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi changed from a “spontaneous” attack – as then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice called it – to a planned act of terrorism.
Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s foreign policy adviser, kept her updated on the developments, the Times reported:
Two weeks after that first email assessing Ms. Rice’s appearance, Mr. Sullivan sent Mrs. Clinton a very different email. This time, he appeared to reassure the secretary of state that she had avoided the problems Ms. Rice was confronting. He told Mrs. Clinton that he had reviewed her public remarks since the attack and that she had avoided the language that had landed Ms. Rice in trouble.
“You never said ‘spontaneous’ or characterized their motivations,” Mr. Sullivan wrote.
Hilarious, so she’s not responsible for what her effective understudy, Susan Rice did in her place, in their view. That she didn’t answer questions on the Sunday shows because she was “too tired”.
Actually, Mr. Sullivan, Hillary did characterize the motivation.
About 10:00 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues a statement confirming that one State official was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Her statement, which MSNBC posted at 10:32 p.m., made reference to the anti-Muslim video.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.
Subsequently, over the next few days, she continued to refer to the video.
When meeting the bodies of the dead with the family, she lied to the families, saying that the government was going to “arrest the man behind the video” which, of course, they went on to do.
Stephen F. Hayes reported on Fox News that Hillary Clinton’s top two aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, used personal emails while working for the secretary of state at the State Department:
“Two of Hillary Clinton’s top aides used personal email while they were employed at the State Department, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff. The State Department has evidence of this.
“And the question I think become: were they emailing with Hillary Clinton from their personal email addresses to her personal email address about State Department business, about Benghazi, including sensitive classified information?Those are questions that I think that Trey Gowdy and the House Benghazi committee is going to want to look at very carefully.”
Hayes went on to explain, “This is the key point. Yesterday, she said look, when I was doing State Department business I was emailing to people who on the receiving end of her emails had .gov email addresses and therefore the emails, the documents would have been retained. What this suggests is that others were using non-.gov emails, their personal emails, and if they communicated with her in that manner those emails with her will be lost unless they’re compelled to provide them.”