By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
On March 22, Rep. Devin Nunes made his ham-fisted disclosure that the Obama administration had conducted incidental surveillance collection and unmasking of Trump administration officials. It was a revelation that ignited widespread criticism from nearly every corner of Washington.
“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored,” the House intelligence chairman said at the time. “It looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the president-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.” Nunes went on to claim that the information was spread across a number of agencies and had “little or no apparent intelligence value.”
Perhaps Nunes’ reasons were partisan. Perhaps his framing was exaggerated. We’ll see. But if CNN’s reporting is correct, everything Nunes claimed that day was basically true. Which is a lot more than we can say for others. Continue reading
By Fred Lucas • The Daily Signal
The Internal Revenue Service rehired 213 employees who ducked taxes, falsified documents, were convicted of theft, or made unauthorized use of taxpayer data, an inspector general’s report says.
The Office of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which also first discovered the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups in 2013, examined the agency’s hiring from January 2015 through March 2016.
For these 15 months, the IRS official in charge was Commissioner John Koskinen, an appointee of President Barack Obama. Continue reading
By Elizabeth Harrington • Washington Free Beacon
The Environmental Protection Agency has been riddled with employee misconduct, including workers who drink, smoke marijuana, and watch porn on the job.
Inspector general reports over the past few years detailing employee misbehavior could serve as ammunition for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who is seeking to eliminate 25 percent of the 15,000 employees at the agency.
Only 6.5 percent of EPA employees are “essential,” according to the government’s own calculations when it faced a shutdown in 2013. At the time, just 1,069 employees were deemed necessary to continue working during the 16 days the government closed. Continue reading
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
The Internal Revenue Service has located 6,924 documents potentially related to the targeting of Tea Party conservatives, two years after the group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for them.
The watchdog group intended to find records regarding how the IRS selected individuals and organizations for audits that were requesting nonprofit tax status.
The agency will not say when it will make the documents available to the public. Continue reading
by Lamar Smith • Wall Street Journal
Transparency for thee, but not for me—that seems to be the motto of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Last year they led a group of their colleagues—dubbed the “Green 20”—in a sweeping initiative to target dissenting views on climate change. Exxon Mobil, for instance, was asked to turn over decades of documents.
The Green 20 investigations have been criticized as blatantly political. Last year a federal judge overseeing Ms. Healey’s suit against Exxon expressed concern that she may be conducting it in “bad faith.”
For nearly a year, the congressional committee I lead has been trying to understand the effects of these investigations on scientific research. Unfortunately, the attorneys general have obstructed our inquiry at every turn. Last July, after two months of unanswered requests for information, the committee issued subpoenas to Mr. Schneiderman and Ms. Healey. Continue reading
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Agencies across the federal government reported at least 37 leaks of classified information in 2016, more than double the number of criminal leaks reported in 2015, according to new information from the Department of Justice that highlights the government’s inability to crack down on this illegal behavior.
The unauthorized disclosure of highly classified information has received renewed attention in recent weeks following what the Washington Free Beacon first described as a targeted campaign against Trump administration officials by Obama administration loyalists still operating inside the government. Sources in and out of the White House said this campaign began in late 2016, before Obama left office.
The ouster of former national security adviser Michael Flynn—who saw transcripts of his private phone conversations intercepted by the U.S. intelligence community leaked to newspapers—is believed to have been a central part of this campaign. Continue reading
By Bre Payton • The Federalist
In his final few days in office, President Obama and his pals have been frantically spinning his tenure in the White House as a “scandal-free” eight years.
Just watch this exchange between CNN’s Jake Tapper and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough on Sunday in which McDonough claims the Obama administration has been free of scandal.
— CNN (@CNN) January 15, 2017
by Elizabeth Harrington • Washington Free Beacon
Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter M. Shaub donated to President Obama before his appointment and defended Hillary Clinton’s decision to not disclose paid speeches to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state.
Shaub, the head of the little-known ethics office, has been on the attack against President-elect Donald J. Trump for months.
Shaub has called Trump’s plan to sign over control of his business to his sons “meaningless,” and engaged in tweet storms from the official ethics Twitter account encouraging Trump to divest. 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
By Josh Gerstein and Nolan D McCaskill • Politico
President Barack Obama used a pseudonym in email communications with Hillary Clinton and others, according to FBI records made public Friday.
The disclosure came as the FBI released its second batch of documents from its investigation into Clinton’s private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
The 189 pages the bureau released includes interviews with some of Clinton’s closest aides, such as Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills; senior State Department officials; and even Marcel Lazar, better known as the Romanian hacker “Guccifer.”
In an April 5, 2016 interview with the FBI, Abedin was shown an email exchange between Clinton and Obama, but the longtime Clinton aide did not recognize the name of the sender. Continue reading
by Alexander Hendrie • Americans for Tax Reform
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to defend himself against impeachment charges following his role in the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.
Koskinen was appointed to lead the IRS after promising to bring transparency and openness to the embattled agency. He has failed.
The IRS failed to search five of six possible sources of electronic media for Lois Lerner’s emails, according to documentation released by the House Oversight Committee in July 2015.
Over the course of investigations into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal, Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly assured Congress that he would provide all of Lois Lerner’s emails. But based on testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), this did not occur. The agency’s ineptness — or corruption — resulted in 24,000 Lerner emails being lost when they were “accidently” destroyed. Continue reading
by Morgan Chalfant • Washington Free Beacon
President Obama is disputing a recommendation to change the governance structure of the Department of Veterans Affairs network of hospitals, saying it would undermine the authority of bureaucrats overseeing the agency-run facilities.
The proposal was one of several included in the final report of the Commission on Care, an independent panel established by Congress to examine the VA’s hospital network after veterans were found to have died waiting for care as agency employees kept secret lists to conceal long appointment waits in 2014.
Obama sent a letter to Congress on Thursday reacting to the commission’s final report of recommendations, which the Washington Free Beacon first reported in July. While he agreed with the majority of the commission’s 18 recommendations, Obama expressed “concerns” about establishing a board of directors responsible for the overall governance of the VA health care system. Continue reading
By Peter Roff • Washington Examiner
The office of attorney general is a role that is unrivaled in government. Its occupant possesses the power to prosecute private citizens, corporations and even governments on the public’s behalf.
It is the reason that most fair-minded attorneys general maintain a semblance of nonpartisanship, generally picking cases that serve the broadest public interest instead of giving in to the quick and easy returns that come with pursuing flashy lawsuits, pandering to powerful voting blocs or chasing big paydays.
All this has changed thanks to the pioneering efforts of a Washington, D.C.-based law firm, Cohen Milstein, and firms like it, which have been aggressively courting a pool of potential new clients among the nation’s attorneys general. Critics of the practice call this a troubling trend often encouraging the pursuit of potentially lucrative but legally dicey cases they might not otherwise touch. Continue reading
by Jack Heretik • Washington Free Beacon
The State Department announced Tuesday that it has found 30 new emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server that discuss the terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
With a steady stream of new Clinton emails being publicized in recent weeks, a federal judge has ordered the review and release of Clinton’s emails to be accelerated, the Washington Examiner reported.
A judge asked the agency to speed up its review of the documents in preparation for release to Judicial Watch, the conservative-leaning group that filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Continue reading
by Jed Babbin • The American Spectator
We have become wearily accustomed to the constant flow of lies in the presidential campaign. Some are important but most are not. They have become a tiresome reminder of why so many people have decided to ignore the whole mess.
Lies in a political campaign should matter but those lies that are the basis for national security decisions — lies that are a matter of policy — can create existential dangers. The lies that President Obama has been peddling surrounding his deal with Iran on nuclear weapons are just such a case.
The website PolitiFact has gotten into the habit of naming the Lie of the Year. In 2012, when it gave the shameful title to Obama’s statement on Obamacare that “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” the label was almost enough to rouse the Republican Party to action. Continue reading