By James Robbins • USA Today
The American people are being forced to confront a fundamental political question that was first asked centuries ago by the Roman satirist Juvenal: Who shall guard the guardians? What to do when the tools meant to protect the people are used to harm them? The memo released Friday by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is the first step in answering that question.
The memo’s central indictment is that top Obama administration officials knowingly and willfully used unverified information paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, some of which came from Russian intelligence, in a secret court document to justify a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. This corrupt process was later the basis for a campaign to sabotage the incoming Trump administration and to fuel a witch hunt against the president.
According to the memo, high-ranking FBI officials repeatedly sought, received and renewed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to engage in surveillance of members of the Trump campaign during the election. These officials, including then-Director James Comey and recently removed Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, justified the warrant requests before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in part with information generated by Christopher Steele, who was working on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the firm Fusion GPS. Steele’s main contact at the Justice Department was Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, whose wife was also employed by Fusion GPS as a Russia expert working on anti-Trump opposition research.
By John Daniel Davidson • The Federalist
The memo is out, and it’s bad. It shows, unequivocally, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation used political opposition research paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to get a secret court warrant to spy on a Trump campaign member.
It also shows that the FBI omitted vital information in its warrant request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. Namely, the FBI kept asking for warrant renewals (FISA wiretapping permission expires after 90 days) without telling the court the FBI itself had dismissed Christopher Steele, who generated the opposition research, for lying to the FBI and leaking his relationship with the agency to the press. Both are not only unethical but likely illegal.
It also shows that Steele was utterly biased, that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” We know that because Steele admitted it to Bruce Ohr, then a senior DOJ official, whose wife was working for Fusion GPS, the firm the DNC and the Clinton campaign hired to produce the Steele dossier.
The memo reveals a lot of outrageous stuff. Everyone should read it (it’s only four pages, go read it). But the most important and shocking thing the memo shows is how utterly politicized the Justice Continue reading
By Judge Andrew Napolitano • Fox News
I have argued for a few weeks now that House Intelligence Committee members have committed misconduct in office by concealing evidence of spying abuses by the National Security Agency and the FBI. They did this by sitting on a four-page memo that summarizes the abuse of raw intelligence data while Congress was debating a massive expansion of FISA.
FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which was written to enable the federal government to spy on foreign agents here and abroad. Using absurd and paranoid logic, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which only hears the government’s lawyers, has morphed “foreign intelligence surveillance” into undifferentiated bulk surveillance of all Americans.
Undifferentiated bulk surveillance is the governmental acquisition of fiber-optic data stored and transmitted by nearly everyone in America. This includes all telephone conversations, text messages and emails, as well as all medical, legal and financial records.
Ignorant of the hot potato on which the House Intelligence Committee had been sitting, Congress recently passed and President Donald Trump signed a vast expansion of spying authorities — Continue reading
By Julian Adorney • The Federalist
Income mobility in the United States has stagnated, a fact that hurts the poor most of all. If President Trump wishes to keep his promises to help low-income Americans escape poverty, he should instruct his administration to jettison, rather than expand, non-criminal asset forfeiture.
Non-criminal asset forfeiture lets government agents seize Americans’ assets (cash, but also cars and even houses) on the mere suspicion that they were involved in a crime. Asset forfeiture is intended to deprive criminals of their ill-gotten gains, but frequently enables police to take the property of Americans who remain innocent in the eyes of the law.
According to a Department of Justice report, they’ve seized $29 billion from 2007-2016 on the federal level. Twenty-three percent of this has been administrative asset forfeiture, meaning that the seizure was less than $500,000 and the victims were never convicted of—or often even charged with—a crime. Continue reading
Dear Vice President-Elect Pence:
It has come to our attention that a number of Departments and independent agencies are working furiously behind closed doors to bring significant, legally tenuous litigation against American business interests before January 20, 2017. Doing so will saddle the Trump Administration with having to litigate cases based on job crushing liberal legal theories. Such “midnight litigation,” particularly litigation that does not concern imminent threats to health or safety, must receive the strictest of scrutiny from the transition, and we urge the new Administration in the strongest possible terms not to treat such litigation with deference.
We have long been concerned about “midnight regulation” – regulations promulgated in the waning days of a lame duck administration. Because of this concern, Congress enacted the Congressional Review Act, which provides Congress procedural tools to disapprove expeditiously these last ditch midnight regulations. Congress, however, has no authority over litigation brought by the Executive Branch, and it will be incumbent upon the Trump Administration to decide whether to continue to pursue such cases.
President-elect Trump promised to “make American great again” and successfully argued that a rigged system has stymied growth, competitiveness and opportunity. This is due in no small measure to the Obama Administration’s war on business, which was again made apparent only days ago with the President’s executive action to ban offshore oil drilling in areas of the Artic and Atlantic Oceans. The mountains of regulations promulgated by the current Administration are a key reason economic growth has been dismally low. Litigation is another form of executive action that can have similar devastating impacts on American jobs and competitiveness and should be reviewed in the same manner that the Transition is reviewing regulations.
Should the Obama Administration bring non-routine, last minute, legally unorthodox midnight litigation, your Administration should not hesitate to withdraw immediately from that litigation. In such circumstances, the new Administration should not be constrained by notions of deference and should not support suspect legal theories that could have devastating economic effects for decades to come.
We appreciate the difficult work ahead of you and wish you the best as you continue to prepare to undo the damage of the last eight years.
Frontiers of Freedom
Americans for Tax Reform
The Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell
Constitutional Congress, Inc.
Richard A. Viguerie
The Weyrich Lunch
National Tax Limitation Committee
Tea Party Patriots
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
C. Preston Noell III
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
The Last Best Hope on Earth Institute
Maryland Taxpayers Association
Chief Government Affairs Officer
Americans for Prosperity
Willes K. Lee
National Federation of Republican Assemblies
Freedom & Prosperity Caucus
Defending America Foundation
Strengthening America for All
William A. Estrada, Esq.,
Director of Federal Relations
Home School Legal Defense Association
Mat Staver, Esq.
Founder & Chairman
Property Rights Alliance
Americans for Liberty & Security
Michael J. Bowen
Coalition for a Strong America
Clyde Wayne Crews
Vice President for Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Campaign for Liberty
Important reform to reduce asset forfeiture abuse
by Scott Shackford • Reason.com
The big deal with this particular reform is that, in most cases, Florida police will actually have to arrest and charge a person with a crime before attempting to seize and keep their money and property under the state’s asset forfeiture laws. One of the major ways asset forfeiture gets abused is that it is frequently a “civil”, not criminal, process where police and prosecutors are able to take property without even charging somebody with a crime, let alone convicting them. This is how police are, for example, able to snatch cash from cars they’ve pulled over and claim they suspect the money was going to be used for drug trafficking without actually finding any drugs. Continue reading
Agents seized all video footage from his apartment, along with his personal information, David Daleiden said in a Facebook post. Daleiden, the founder of a group called the Center for Medical Progress, said agents left behind documents that he contends implicate Planned Parenthood in illegal behavior related to the handling of fetal tissue.
Center for Medical Progress spokesman Peter Robbio confirmed the social media posting is authentic, but he declined further comment. He said Daleiden lives in Orange County. Continue reading
By Jay Sekulow • FoxNews.com
Americans spoke out. And the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) listened.
A new regulation proposed by the IRS would have some nonprofit charities report the Social Security numbers of donors giving at least $250 in one year. The regulation would permit, but not require, charitable organizations to file a new, separate information return (in addition to the Form 990) to substantiate covered contributions. The new informational return would require the charity to collect an individual donor’s name, address, and Social Security number, and provide a copy to the donor.
I first sounded the alarm about this problematic issue last month. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we strongly opposed this regulation, filing comments with the IRS explaining why such a move would be damaging by undermining consumer and taxpayer protections, and likely result in reduced charitable giving.
Many others opposed the proposed regulation, too. Nearly 38,000 people filed comments online – the vast majority opposing the move. Continue reading
by Alexander Hendrie • Americans for Tax Reform
Although there was a court preservation order on all documents related to the IRS hiring of the outside firm, the hard drive was erased anyway. The order was borne of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by Microsoft.
Even though the white shoe law firm has zero experience handling sensitive tax data, taxpayers have been footing bills of over $1,000 per hour for its services. Continue reading
by Jonathan S. Tobin • Commentary Magazine
This morning, President Obama got what he’s been working toward all year. With Senator Barbara Mikulski’s announcement that she will vote to support the Iran nuclear deal, the administration got its 34th vote in the Senate, thus assuring that the president will have enough support to sustain a veto of a resolution of disapproval of the pact. Mikulski was just the latest of a number of Senate Democrats to throw in with the president on Iran. The only suspense now is whether Obama will get to 41 and thus have enough for a filibuster and prevent a vote on the deal from even taking place. Leaving aside the terrible damage the deal does to U.S. security and the stability of the Middle East, the most far-reaching effect of the deal is that from now on Democrats own Iran. From this moment forward, every act of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, every instance of Iranian aggression and adventurism as well as the Islamist regime’s inevitable march to a nuclear weapon can be laid at the feet of a Democratic Party. With a few exceptions, the Democrats fell meekly behind a president determined to prioritize détente with Iran over the alliance with Israel and the need to defend U.S. interests. By smashing the bipartisan consensus that had existed on Iran up until this year, the Democrats have, in effect, become the hostages of the ayatollahs. This is a decision that will haunt them in the years to come.
In analyzing the struggle that was ultimately won by Obama, it must first be acknowledged that the outcome was determined primarily by a mismatch in terms of the relative power of the two sides. Continue reading
The President on Wednesday secured a 34th supporter in the Senate, enough for him to veto disapproval without fear of an override, and he began pushing for additional votes that would enable supporters to let the pact stand without a roll call.
Although the fight is lost, the Senate owes the people an up-or-down vote on one of the most consequential foreign policy agreements in decades.
Obama says he has boxed the Iranians so tightly that they have no chance of expanding a greatly reduced nuclear program in the short run, and that he or a future President could “snap back” economic sanctions should the Iranians go rogue. Thus, he argues, America will be better positioned to curb Iran for the 15-year life of the pact. Continue reading
Reason.com, the website I edit, was recently commanded by the feds to provide information on a few commenters and not discuss it. Here’s why we’re speaking out.
by Nick Gillespie • The Daily Beast
Well, yes, there is: getting a gag order that prohibits you from speaking publicly about that subpoena and even the gag order itself. Talk about feeling isolated and cast adrift in the home of the free. You can’t even respond honestly when someone asks, “Are you under a court order not to speak?”
Far more important: talk about realizing that open expression and press freedom are far more tenuous than even the most cynical of us can imagine! Even when you have done nothing wrong and aren’t the target of an investigation, you can be commanded, at serious financial cost and disruption of your business, to dance to a tune called by the long arm of the law. Continue reading
by Gerri Willis • Fox Business News
The Internal Revenue Service may have found 6,400 emails from Lois Lerner, who oversaw the tax agency’s Exempt Organizations Unit, but the government agency has no plans to share.
Attorneys from the Department of Justice representing the IRS say the emails won’t be shared because the service is making sure that none of them are duplicates. Lerner is at the center of a scandal in which the tax agency denied special tax status to conservative groups. Her emails have been sought by members of Congress and conservative groups alike.
One of those groups, Judicial Watch, has been seeking emails as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed two years ago. Originally, the IRS said the email trail was permanently lost because the computer drive that contained it crashed. However, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration or TIGTA, was able to retrieve 6,400 emails which it has subsequently sent to the agency. It is these emails that the IRS wants to check for duplicates. Continue reading
by Robert E. Moffit • National Interest
For starters, everyone now knows that federal officials are challenged when it comes to setting up a website. But they’ve demonstrated the ability to dole out a huge amount of taxpayers’ money for millions of people signing up for Medicaid, a welfare program. And they’ve proved they can send hundreds of millions of federal taxpayers’ dollars to their bureaucratic counterparts in states, like Maryland and Oregon, that can’t manage their own exchanges. But there are many other lessons to be gleaned from Year One of Obamacare. Here are three of the most important ones.
1. Health costs jumped—big time. Huge increases in deductibles in policies sold through the exchanges were a big story in Florida, Illinois and elsewhere. While the average annual deductible for employer-based coverage was a little over $1,000, the exchange deductibles nationwide normally topped $2,000. Continue reading
This week, for instance, a government watchdog group, Judicial Watch, said administration officials admitted that all the “missing” e-mails belonging to Lois Lerner (the woman at the heart of the scandal) had been backed up after all — as part of a practice to back up all the government’s e-mails.
No government official had said anything like that before.
As House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., describes it, these reports are another part of “what’s emerging to be just an amazing sequence of cover-up, delay, denial. ” Continue reading