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By Judicial Watch
Watch is going to court to uncover details of the alleged monitoring of
President Trump’s family, lawyer and journalists, as ordered by the
since-recalled U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
The two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the State Department for documents tied to the alleged monitoring of President Trump’s intimate circle and journalists covering him is an extension of our Judicial Watch investigation, which began in October 2019, into the alleged monitoring, via CrowdTangle and other means. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is alleged to have ordered State Department entities to conduct the monitoring. The list of the alleged targets includes:
Donald Trump Jr.
Michael McFaul (Obama’s ambassador to Russia)
Amb. Yovanovitch reportedly ordered monitoring keyed to the following search terms: “Biden,” “Giuliani,” “Soros” and “Yovanovitch.”
As Judicial Watch previously reported, prior to being recalled as ambassador to Ukraine in the spring, Yovanovitch reportedly created a list of individuals who were to be monitored via social media and other means. Ukraine embassy staff made the request to the Washington D.C. headquarters office of the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. After several days, Yovanovitch’s staff was informed that the request was illegal and the monitoring either ceased or was concealed via the State Department Global Engagement Center, which has looser restrictions on collecting information.
“This is not an obscure rule; everyone in public diplomacy or public affairs knows they can’t make lists and monitor U.S. citizens unless there is a major national security reason,” according to a senior State Department official. If the illicit operation occurred, it seems to indicate a clear political bias against the president and his supporters. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who also has led American embassies in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, was appointed ambassador to Ukraine by Obama in 2016. She was recalled by the State Department in May and remains a State Department employee in Washington D.C.
We filed the two FOIA lawsuits after the State Department failed to respond to October 9 and October 23, 2019 requests for documents about both “the monitoring of any U.S.-based journalist, reporter or media commentator by any employee or office of the Department of State” and the CrowdTangle social media monitoring program.
On October 10, 2019, Congressman Devin Nunes told Sean Hannity on his program that, “What I’ve heard is that there were strange requests, irregular requests to monitor not just one journalist, but multiple journalists…” Hannity followed this statement by adding, multiple sources also told him they “believe there is evidence that government resources were used to monitor communications” of U.S. journalists and that Yovanovitch may have been involved. Yovanovitch was questioned on the issue during the impeachment proceeding in the House and seemed to deny any illegal monitoring took place.
Q: “Could you help us understand how the embassy and the State Department back in Washington collects information on social media?”
A: “I can’t really answer the question, because I don’t know all the inner details of how the press section works to gather information. But they provide us with a press summary, or they used to provide me, I mean. They provide the embassy with a press summary and it goes out to other people at the State Department as well.”
Q: “And is part of that monitoring social media accounts from …”
A: “Yeah. I mean, in today’s age, yeah, social media is really important.”
So, was the Ukraine Embassy illegally monitoring American critics of Ambassador Yovanovitch? It certainly is disturbing that the State Department seems to be stonewalling Judicial Watch’s requests for information on this controversy until after the impeachment of President Trump.
Also, in November 2019, our Judicial Watch lawyers filed a lawsuit against the State Department seeking documents related to a reported “untouchables list” given in late 2016 by Yovanovitch to Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko. Lutsenko told The New York Times that Yovanovitch “pressed him not to prosecute anti-corruption activists.” Lutsenko reportedly said earlier the do-not-prosecute list included a founder of the Ukraine group Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC), which was funded by Soros foundations, the U.S. federal government and two members of the Ukrainian Parliament who vocally supported the Soros group’s agenda.
Federal Court Orders Snap Hearing on Awan Brothers, Congressional Democrat IT Scandal after DOJ Files Document under Seal
Judicial Watch is engaged in an ongoing legal battle with the Justice Department (DOJ) for documents about the Congressional Democrat IT (information technology) scandal involving the Awan brothers. It’s been delay, distraction and stonewall all the way, as Justice comes up with one excuse after another to avoid producing records we are seeking under a November 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI over two FOIA requests for records related to the Awan brothers.
Well, early Monday morning, U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta ordered a snap hearing on the matter midweek after the Justice Department submitted information under seal last Friday following the court’s demand for an explanation of why no records have been produced in the case.
In August 2019, the Justice Department told the court that it would begin producing records by November 5, 2019. After producing no records, on November 13, 2019, the agency told Judicial Watch that it was having “technical difficulties,” and in a subsequent email claimed that “difficulties with the production remain.”
In a joint status report filed on December 5, 2019, our Judicial Watch lawyers reported to the court that the DOJ claimed in a phone call that it was now unable to produce any records to either of the FOIA requests “because the agency was waiting for some unspecified action by Judge [Tanya S.] Chutkan in some other matter so as to avoid having to produce records in this case.” In that same report, the DOJ told the court that Judge Chutkan is “presiding over a related sealed criminal matter” that prohibits the government from releasing the requested FOIA information.
In the December hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta expressed frustration and ordered the Justice Department to explain its failure to produce records by January 10 and to provide Judicial Watch some details about the delay. Instead, the Justice Department made its filing under seal and failed to provide Judicial Watch with any details about its failure to produce records as promised to the court.
At the hearing, the Court disclosed that another court had issued a sealed order that will impact the production of the records. The Court seemed to recognize our frustration at the delay, especially as the sealing order came many months after we first requested (and should have received) documents.
Imran Awan and his family were banned from the House computer network in February 2017 after the House’s top law enforcement officer wrote that Imran was “an ongoing and serious risk to the House of Representatives, possibly threatening the integrity of our information systems,” and that a server containing evidence had gone “missing.” The inspector general said server logs showed “unauthorized access” and procurement records were falsified.
Imran Awan was Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-FL) top information technology aide. Most lawmakers fired Awan in February, but Wasserman Schultz kept him on until he was arrested in July 2017, trying to board a flight for Pakistan.
In July 2018, Imran Awan was given a plea deal, and pled guilty to federal bank fraud but prosecutors found no evidence that Awan “violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems.”
The Awan brothers reportedly “were not given background checks before being given access to highly sensitive government information and no explanations have been given as to why.” Additionally, “If they would have run this background check it would have found out not only multiple criminal convictions, but $1 million bankruptcy, a dozen lawsuits … it would have found a whole host of major red flags and the Democrats didn’t do any of those checks.”
The cover-up of the Awan Brothers Democratic IT scandal shows the FBI’s and Justice Department’s penchant for dishonesty isn’t just limited to FISA abuse. The DOJ’s handling of the Awan Brothers case has long been an issue of concern, and now we are expected believe some secret investigation prevents the public from knowing the full truth about this scandal? We are skeptical but will have to wait longer. The Court ordered the Justice Department to release more details related to the sealed order and report next month on what of the over 50,000 pages of documents can be released in light of the court-ordered secrecy.
Records Show ‘Diversity Workshop’ Instituted by South Bend Police Department
The City of South Bend, Indiana, and its former mayor, now-announced presidential candidate Peter Buttigieg, have been under a cloud for years, and we here at Judicial Watch have been digging to uncover a number of irregularities under Buttigieg’s tenure. For example: the creation of a municipal ID card for illegal aliens and secret police audio tapes of wire tapped phone calls of conversations that reportedly contain racist remarks by certain South Bend police officials, which Mayor Buttigieg has been withholding from the South Bend City Council for seven years.
And, just this week, another South Bend police peculiarity showed up when we received 127 pages of records from the South Bend Police Department (SBPD) showing the Department offered diversity training in 2017 that includes a “cultural competence” rating for personnel, reminiscent of the kind of social credit score-keeping done by the Chinese communist government. The training material also names various classes of prejudice, including “languageism” and “sizeism.” The Mayor of South Bend at that time was Pete Buttigieg.
The South Bend Police Department training material claims all personnel have a measurable Cumulative Perceptual Index (CPI) rating, which measure their “cultural competence.”
“The CPI theory posits that our behaviors and biases today may well be rooted in our individual measurable CPI rating.” The training material elaborates further that the CPI theory holds:
We all have been exposed to bigotry and biases at various stages of our lives. What and with what levels of intensity those exposures took place is an important variable in our past, current and future interpersonal interactions. One thing that the CPI theory holds certain is that none of us were born with prejudices and biases. It also posits that all of us have had some prejudice or bias get dispelled in some way over time and it is that factor that can facilitate measurable adjustments in our CPI ratings.
In SBPD anti-discrimination police training materials, one slide under the title “The Future of Policing” notes that:
Black lives do indeed mater, but no more, and certainly no less than the lives of every community within law enforcement’s jurisdictions. The perceptual proof of that belief is unquestionably not universally present today because such a Vision is not yet universally shared by law enforcement.
SBPD’s diversity workshop creators have deemed the term “deaf and dumb” to be
offensive, “implying that if an individual lacks the sense of hearing, they are
therefore intellectually deficient.” This definition completely ignores the
historical meaning of the word “dumb” in this context, which is “mute” or
“unable to speak.” Another supposedly “inappropriate” and “offensive” term is
“hearing-impaired,” which apparently implies that “their hearing is broken, and
needs to be fixed.” The term “racism/colorism” is, per their definition, “an
attitude, action, or practice” emphatically “backed by institutional power.”
We obtained the records in response a June 27, 2019, Access to Public Records Act (APRA) request for:
- Complaints against the SBPD related to bias of any kind (racial, religious, sexual orientation, etc.) from 2015-present.
- SBPD policy documents relating to discrimination on any basis, and training materials used by SBPD relating to discrimination of any kind.
documents show how South Bend police under Mayor Buttigieg had to contend with
politicized “training” that had nothing to do with public safety.
Mexican Police Chief Unfazed by U.S. Alert; Arrival of Middle Easterners Going North is ‘Normal’
The “open borders” crowd would have you believe that border security isn’t an issue worth worrying about. Never mind the illegal alien crime or the sheer numbers overwhelming our government (and taxpayer) capacities. We at Judicial Watch have had an eye out on the disturbing trend of unvetted immigrants from terrorist nations filtering through our border, and this week’s Corruption Chronicles highlights our latest discovery:
A January 8 U.S. Customs and Border Protection Intelligence Alert warning Mexico of armed Iranians planning to enter the country through its southern border didn’t faze a busy Mexican border city’s police chief, who confirms the region is full of Middle Easterners, Africans and Asians heading north toward the United States. In a Latin American news report published shortly after the U.S. issued the bulletin, Mexicali Police Chief María Elena Andrade Ramírez said, matter-of-factly, that the arrival of people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia as well as the rest of the Americas is “normal” in her California border city of about a million residents. Nevertheless, the chief, who affirmed receiving the U.S. government bulletin, said she planned to cooperate and coordinate with state authorities to “reinforce security.”
The alert was issued last week by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and largely ignored by the American and Mexican mainstream media. Only a few conservative media outlets in the United States reported about the warning after one obtained a DHS document outlining the threat. The document, issued by the Border Patrol’s regional intelligence operation center in Arizona, says that a Guatemalan national may try to smuggle five Middle Easterners—including a suicide bomber—into the United States through Mexico. The smuggler and four other men and a woman transited through Guatemala and Belize before reaching Veracruz, Mexico, according to the bulletin. The Guatemalan, whose name is redacted in the government document, was deported from California a year ago. The Spanish-language article linked above elaborates that American intelligence officials received the threat after picking up recordings distributed via social media. A Mexicali news story cites Mexican authorities downplaying the situation by assuring citizens that the arrival of people from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and the rest of the Americas is “something normal.”
This new norm creates a serious national security crisis along the famously porous Southern Border, though Islamic terrorists have long been present in Mexico. We have investigated and reported on it for years, uncovering several operations involving Mexican drug cartels joining forces with Islamic terrorists to enter the U.S. and carry out attacks.
Back in the spring of 2015, we here at Judicial Watch broke a story about an ISIS training facility just a few miles from the U.S. border near Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. At the time, sources including a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector, confirmed that “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling—and working for the Juárez Cartel— help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. A few months later we exposed a separate scheme in which Mexican cartels smuggled foreigners from countries with terrorist ties into a small Texas rural town near El Paso, Texas.
A few years ago, we obtained State Department documents showing that the government has long known that “Arab extremists” are entering the country through Mexico. Among them was a top Al Qaeda operative wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during his cross-border jaunts. More recently, federal statistics show that unprecedented numbers of migrants from terrorist nations, labeled Special Interest Aliens (SIA) by the government, are entering the United States via Mexico. A congressional probe completed in early 2019 found an astounding 300% increase in Bangladeshi nationals attempting to sneak into the country through Texas alone. Bangladesh is a south Asian Islamic country well known as a recruiting ground for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Before the year ended, Mexico confirmed that large groups of migrants from terrorist nations are in Tapachula awaiting asylum in the United States, and federal authorities in Houston arrested a Mexican-based Bangladeshi smuggler and charged him with bringing in 15 fellow countrymen through the Texas-Mexico border. When the Central American caravan got started in the fall of 2018, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales confirmed that nearly 100 ISIS terrorists had been apprehended in the impoverished Central American nation. Guatemala has long been known as a major smuggling corridor for foreigners from African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries making their way into the United States like the Iranians identified recently by the feds. No wonder Mexican authorities are unfazed.