Government Corruption

Taxpayers paid $220G to settle suit alleging sexual harassment by Democratic rep, report says

The Treasury Department paid $220,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former congressional staffer alleging sexual harassment by Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., it was reported Friday. According to Roll Call, which cited documents related to the case, Winsome Packer alleged that Hastings touched her inappropriately and made unwanted sexual advances. On one occasion, Packer said Hastings asked her what kind of underwear she was wearing. The former Republican Hill staffer alleged that the harassment occurred while she worked for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the Helsinki Commission. The commission, which helps shape U.S. policy in Europe, includes nine members of the House and nine members of the Senate. Hastings, 81, is one of the commission’s ranking members. In a statement, Hastings said had not seen the settlement agreement between Packer and the CSCE until the Roll Call report came out. “At no time was I consulted, nor did I know until after the fact that such a settlement was made,” Hastings said. “I am outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. Packer.” Roll Call reported that Packer sued Hastings and the CSCE in 2011 under a federal statute that allows individuals to seek damages from federal officials for civil rights violations. Hastings’ name was dropped from the lawsuit the following year after he argued that the statute did not apply to members of Congress. The House Ethics Committee conducted a separate investigation into Hastings, which it closed in December 2014. The committee concluded that Hastings “did admit to certain conduct that was less than professional,” but the most serious charges against him “were not supported by evidence.” The claim against Hastings came to light on the same day that Rep. Trent Franks, Ariz., announced he would resign from Congress with immediate effect. Franks’ resignation followed a claim by a former aide that the congressman repeatedly asked her to carry his child, at one point offering her $5 million to do so.

More Democrat corruption..  But, worse, this time we, the taxpayers, are stuck with the bill to cover it up.

Gregg Jarrett: How an FBI official with a political agenda corrupted both Mueller, Comey investigations

How is it possible that Hillary Clinton escaped criminal indictment for mishandling classified documents despite incriminating evidence that she violated the Espionage Act? Why did Donald Trump become the target of a criminal investigation for allegedly conspiring with Russia to influence the presidential election despite no evidence that he ever did so? The answer, it seems, comes down to one person who played a vital role in both cases: Peter Strzok, deputy director of counterintelligence at the FBI. Strzok was exchanging politically charged texts with an FBI lawyer that denigrated Trump and lauded Clinton at the same time he was leading the bureau’s criminal investigation of Clinton. He is also the one who changed the critical wording of then-FBI Director James Comey’s description of Clinton’s handling of classified material that resulted in no charges being brought against her. Then, Strzok reportedly signed the document launching the 2016 investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election and whether the Trump campaign played any role. After leading the FBI’s probe into Trump, he then joined Robert Mueller’s special counsel team as an integral investigator. Thus, it appears that one man with a strident political agenda accomplished his twin goals of clearing Clinton and accusing Trump, evidence be damned. And then he was caught. The Department of Justice inspector general, Michael Horowitz, discovered the electronic texts Strzok exchanged with his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The messages were so politically incendiary and so threatened the integrity of Mueller’s investigation that Strzok was quietly canned over the summer from the special counsel team, where he was a pivotal participant. Did Mueller or anyone else notify Congress that both the Trump investigation –and the Clinton case before it– were corrupted? Of course not. This was covered up. Mueller surely knew that if the truth were revealed, it would further discredit a Trump-Russia probe that had already taken on the stench of dead fish. The House Intelligence Committee could smell it and knew something was amiss. It demanded answers. But the Justice Department and the FBI refused to respond or otherwise produce relevant documents that the committee subpoenaed. They are still stonewalling many of Congress’s valid requests and should now face contempt charges. Importantly, all of the anti-Trump and pro-Clinton messages should be made public. Americans should decide for themselves whether our system of justice has been compromised by unscrupulous influences. Just how rife with political prejudice and corrupt motives is the special counsel’s investigation? Instead of choosing prosecutors who could be neutral, fair and objective, Mueller stacked his staff with Democratic donors. Apparently, he conducted little or no vetting of both prosecutors and investigators. How else does one explain the presence of Strzok and Lisa Page on the investigative team? It appears that Mueller selected people of a particular political persuasion without discerning review or scrutiny. We were supposed to simply trust Mueller’s judgment, notwithstanding his own disqualifying conflict of interest under the special counsel statute that demanded his recusal. The Trump-Russia investigation is now awash in illegitimacy. Mueller and those who work for him have squandered all credibility. It is imperative that the special counsel be dismissed, the current staff fired, and a new counsel appointed to re-evaluate the evidence objectively. Do not expect Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to make these changes. He, too, should be removed in his capacity as Mueller’s supervisor. As both a witness and prosecutor, Rosenstein has his own conspicuous and disabling conflict of interest. Yet he has refused to step aside. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is duty-bound to remove both Mueller and Rosenstein. Given what we know about the composition of the special counsel team, there may well be others who harbor a blatant political bias and have expressed their animus toward Trump in emails or texts. The computer accounts of the entire staff need to be examined by Congress and the DOJ Inspector General. Failing that, news organizations should file a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The examination should begin with Andrew Weissmann, who has close ties to Hui Chen, whom he hired at the Justice Department and with whom he worked at the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York. Documents show the DOJ approved a salary for her position of $711,800 for two years of work, which is more than the attorney general earns.

No kidding!!  To read the rest of this spot-on legal op/ed by former defense attorney, and current Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett, click on the text above.  Excellent!!

French: The Incredible Tale of a Reckless, Partisan FBI Agent and Our Partisan Bureaucracy

If the story hadn’t been verified by virtually every mainstream-media outlet in the country, you’d think it came straight from conspiratorial fever dreams of the alt-right. Yesterday, news broke that Robert Mueller had months ago asked a senior FBI agent to step down from his role investigating the Trump administration. This prince of a man was caught in an extramarital affair with an FBI lawyer. The affair itself was problematic, but so was the fact that the two were found to have exchanged anti-Trump, pro-Hillary Clinton text messages. Here’s where the story gets downright bizarre. This agent, Peter Strzok, also worked with FBI director James Comey on the Clinton email investigation. In fact, he was so deeply involved in the Clinton investigation that he is said to have interviewed Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, and to have been present when the FBI interviewed Clinton. According to CNN, he was part of the team responsible for altering the FBI’s conclusion that Clinton was “grossly negligent” in handling classified emails (a finding that could have triggered criminal liability) to “extremely careless” — a determination that allowed her to escape prosecution entirely. After the Clinton investigation concluded, Strzok signed the documents opening the investigation into Russian election interference and actually helped interview former national-security adviser Michael Flynn. In other words, it looks like a low-integrity, reckless, biased bureaucrat has played an important role in two of the most important and politically charged criminal investigations of the new century. Yes, it’s good that Mueller removed Strzok when he discovered the text messages. No, Strzok is not solely responsible for the conclusions reached in either investigation. But his mere presence hurts public confidence in the FBI, and it does so in a way that further illustrates a persistent and enduring national problem: America’s permanent bureaucracy is unacceptably partisan. Remember President Obama’s second term, when the IRS Tea Party–targeting scandal erupted? The bureaucrat at the fulcrum of the scandal, Lois Lerner, was unabashedly partisan, launching a comprehensive and unconstitutional inquiry into conservative groups even as she was “joking” that “she wanted to work for the pro-Obama group Organizing for America.” It’s hard to overstate the effect of the IRS scandal on conservative confidence in the federal government. Yes, there were some progressive groups that faced scrutiny, but the sheer scale of the attack on conservative groups was unprecedented. The IRS sought confidential donor information, passwords, and information about the political activities even of family members of those involved with some scrutinized groups. I remember. I represented dozens of these organizations. When it came time to launch a criminal investigation of the IRS, the Obama Department of Justice put an Obama donor in charge of the probe. The decision to offer her the job was inexcusable, as was her decision to accept. At a time when half the country was losing confidence in the integrity of its public servants, the Obama administration raised its hand and extended a big middle finger. While there are certainly some biased, partisan conservatives in the federal bureaucracy, the ideological imbalance in the civil service is striking. It’s not quite at university-faculty levels, but it’s getting close. For example, in the 2016 election cycle, Hillary Clinton received an astounding 95 percent of all federal-employee donations. The danger here isn’t just the kind of naked display of partisan bias that we saw in the Obama IRS. It’s also the emergence of groupthink. As we know from other liberal-dominated enclaves, such as academia and the mainstream media, ideological uniformity can lead to a startling degree of ignorance and incompetence. It’s hard to govern (or educate, or report on) an entire country when you aren’t sufficiently exposed to contrary perspectives and experiences.

Agreed…and well said, David.  Attorney, and Army Reserve officer (Major), David French is responsible for that piece.  David was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.

Puerto Rico gives out $100 million in bonuses after pleading for $94 billion in hurricane relief

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello Nevares last month asked federal taxpayers to shell out $94 billion to pay for the territory’s recovery from Hurricane Maria — then turned around and paid out about $100 million in Christmas bonuses to island government employees. The governor’s aides say the bonuses are a longstanding tradition and part of the law, and were planned for in the budget approved last summer. But that budget came well before Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, leaving much of the territory in ruin and leaving the government begging for federal assistance. The island’s financial oversight board, created by Congress as part of a deal to bail the government out of a potential debt default last year, called the payments “imprudent” and said the hurricanes should have forced the governor to rethink his decisions. And the payments could dent Mr. Rossello Nevares’ efforts to get Capitol Hill to pony up for the recovery, where the $94 billion price tag the island has set is already meeting with shock. “Puerto Rico has demonstrated time and time again that its government is incapable of responsibly handling its finances. This is yet another such instance,” Rep. Tom McClintock, who sits on the House committee with oversight over Puerto Rico, told The Washington Times in a statement after the bonuses were revealed. The bonuses, which analysts said are not uncommon in Latin America, date back to the 1970s in Puerto Rico. But they’ve been controversial in recent years as the island has struggled with debt. The payments in 2015, of about $120 million, sparked a fierce debate. This year the payments will total $113 million, the government told Bloomberg News. Some 250,000 people get bonuses, with current workers averaging $600 bonus and retirees getting about $200, Bloomberg reported. For the majority of government employees who make between $20,000 and $40,000 it’s an important boost, said Carlos Mercader, who leads Puerto Rico’s office in Washington, D.C. He said the governor, in making the payments, is following the law. And he said members of Congress who are pondering the territory’s massive relief request should be aware of how much the governor has already done to control the budget, such as a 20 percent reduction in political appointees in the government and a 15 percent cut in the operating budget.

Puerto Rico has a “rico” (rich) history of government corruption and waste.  They were on the verge of bankruptcy LONG before hurricanes hit it.  So, while we ALL care about the welfare of our fellow Americans who live there, the local politicians from the governor on down cannot continue to conduct corrupt business as usual, while at the same time holding their hands out asking for more and more money from the rest of us.  This whole “bonus” nonsense is an affront, and we should just reduce our financial support in accordance (i.e. dollar for dollar) with whatever gratuitous waste of money the governor and his cronies dole out with the excuse of “that’s just how it’s been done here for years.”  They were devastated by hurricanes.  Extreme situations call for extreme responses; NOT typical cronyism as usual.

 

Sen. Claire McCaskill took action to hide travel on private plane from public

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) took action earlier this year to make her family’s private plane untrackable by the public, according to documents obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration. McCaskill garnered much criticism ahead of her last reelection campaign over her use of a private jet at taxpayer expense that she demanded her husband “sell the damn plane.” But they bought a new, more expensive plane shortly after she won that election. Now, as she gears up for her next election fight, they have taken action to limit scrutiny of the plane’s use. The company hired by McCaskill to operate the plane, a 2009 Pilatus PC-12/47E, wrote to the FAA earlier this year in April to ask that tracking information on the plane be blocked from the public, according to email records obtained by the Washington Free Beacon through a Freedom of Information Act request. Prior to 2013, private aircraft owners or operators had to present a “certified security concern” to the FAA if they wanted to block their aircraft data from public display on websites such as FlightAware.com, where McCaskill’s plane could be tracked as recently as this year. However, changes made during the Obama administration removed this requirement and “make the aircraft blocking process as simple as possible.” Representatives for McCaskill did not respond to multiple inquiries into the reason for the request and whether it had to do with her upcoming election. The Washington Free Beacon reported in October that McCaskill had spent nearly $21,000 to use her private plane on the campaign trail in just three months. McCaskill was also spotted using her private plane in August for travel between town halls she held in Missouri, which are events held by her official Senate office. McCaskill also failed to respond to request for comment on those trips.

Big surprise….not!  I’m sure the voters in Missouri would like to know why Sen. McCaskill is abusing their hard-earned tax-dollars this way..   Might even be worthy of a Senate ethics investigation..  Anyway, to read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

Mueller is ‘compromised,’ should resign: GOP congressional resolution states

A Republican congressman from Florida introduced a resolution Friday urging Special Counsel Robert Mueller to resign from the Russia probe, saying the one-time FBI director has his own conflicts of interest. Rep. Matt Gaetz said Mr. Mueller, who was FBI director in 2010, botched an investigation into Russian attempts to bribe and extort their way to a deal to buy a portion of U.S. uranium resources. Mr. Gaetz said the Justice Department sat on information for four years and silenced a whistleblower who tried to alert Congress to questionable activity. “These deeply troubling events took place when Mr. Mueller was the Director of the FBI. As such, his impartiality is hopelessly compromised. He must step down immediately,” Mr. Rep. Gaetz said. The resolution wouldn’t be binding but, were it to gain a vote and pass, would be a stunning statement of no confidence in the man leading the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Earlier this week Mr. Mueller announced indictments against two former Trump campaign officials on lobbying disclosure and tax evasion charges, and secured a guilty plea from a campaign foreign policy advisor for lying to FBI agents over contacts with Russian-backed operatives.

Robert Mueller’s appointment as the special counsel was tainted from the get-go.  He and his protege, James Comey, had not only a professional relationship.  But, they had a personal one as well.  So, right there, we had clear conflict of interest as Mr. Mueller clearly could not be objective or impartial with respect to Mr. Comey.  These latest revelations only add.  Unfortunately, due to “optics” and politics, Trump really cannot remove him, even though he technically has the power to do so.  More members of Congress need to step forward and put pressure on Mr. Mueller to step down, if he doesn’t have the personal integrity to do so on his own.

Gregg Jarrett: Still no evidence of Trump-Russia ‘collusion’ – but Hillary is a different matter

Over the weekend, the mainstream media was absolutely giddy with delight upon learning there would be an indictment by special counsel, Robert Mueller. This was proof positive, they insisted, that Trump “colluded” with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Their exuberance was the equivalent of a two day-long tailgate party. Too bad it was premature. The celebration came to a crashing end when the indictments of Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, were unsealed Monday morning. It turns out the charges are, basically, a tax fraud case. The two men stand accused of hiding their income from their lobbying work for Ukraine in order to avoid paying taxes, then lying about it. That’s it. The 31-page indictment makes no mention of Trump or Russia or “collusion.” The media seemed as dejected as a kid who wakes up on Christmas morning, only to find there are no presents under the tree. Gee whiz. The truth is, it should have come as no surprise to anyone, much less the media, that Manafort was in legal jeopardy for his business dealings. The FBI raided his home over the summer. It was later learned that the FBI wiretapped his conversations as far back as 2014. And it was widely reported that Manafort had been told by Mueller’s team that he would be criminally charged. The media became even more dispirited when they read through the indictment, discovering that nearly all of Manafort’s alleged wrongdoing substantially pre-dates his brief stint as chairman of the Trump campaign. In other words, there is no connection to either Trump or his campaign. Somewhere, I’m sure, ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Van Jones were crying. Again. Just like the tears they shed on camera election night when Hillary lost. But wait. Shortly after the indictments were unsealed, the media’s spirits were suddenly boosted when the special counsel revealed that a former adviser to Trump pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian national during his time on the Trump campaign. Surely this was evidence of illegal “collusion,” right? Wrong. George Papadopoulos pled guilty to a single charge of making a false statement to the FBI. He was not charged with so-called “collusion” because no such crime exists in American statutory law, except in anti-trust matters. It has no application to elections and political campaigns. It is not a crime to talk to a Russian. Not that the media would ever understand that. They have never managed to point to a single statute that makes “colluding” with a foreign government in a political campaign a crime, likely because it does not exist in the criminal codes. But that did not stop them from accusing Donald Trump, Jr., of illegally conspiring with the Russians when he met with a Russian lawyer to obtain information on Hillary Clinton. What law did he break? None. The Federal Election Commission has made it clear that it is perfectly lawful for foreign nationals to be involved in campaigns, as long as they are not paid and do not donate money. Which brings us to Hillary Clinton. It is against the law for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to funnel millions of dollars to a British spy and to Russian sources in order to obtain the infamous and discredited Trump “dossier.” The Federal Election Campaign Act (52 USC 30101) prohibits foreign nationals and governments from giving or receiving money in U.S. campaigns. It also prohibits the filing of false or misleading campaign reports to hide the true purpose of the money (52 USC 30121). This is what Clinton and the DNC appear to have done. Most often the penalty for violating this law is a fine, but in egregious cases, like this one, criminal prosecutions have been sought and convictions obtained. In this sense, it could be said that Hillary Clinton is the one who was conspiring with the Russians by breaking campaign finance laws with impunity. But that’s not all. Damning new evidence appears to show that Clinton used her office as Secretary of State to confer benefits to Russia in exchange for millions of dollars in donations to her foundation and cash to her husband. Secret recordings, intercepted emails, financial records, and eyewitness accounts allegedly show that Russian nuclear officials enriched the Clintons at the very time Hillary presided over a governing body which unanimously approved the sale of one-fifth of America’s uranium supply to Russia. If this proves to be a corrupt “pay-to-play” scheme, it would constitute a myriad of crimes, including bribery (18 USC 201-b), mail fraud (18 USC 1341), and wire fraud (18 USC 1343). It might also qualify for racketeering charges (18 USC 1961-1968), if her foundation is determined to have been used as a criminal enterprise. Despite all the incriminating evidence, Clinton has managed to avoid being pursued by a special counsel. Trump, on the other hand, is being chased by Robert Mueller and his team, notwithstanding a dearth of evidence. The indictments of Manafort and Gates now present a unique opportunity to challenge the authority of the special counsel. Until now, no one had legal “standing” to argue in court that the appointment of Mueller was illegal. The criminal charges change all that. The two defendants will be able to argue before a judge that Mueller’s appointment by Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein violated the special counsel law. As I pointed out in a column last May, the law (28 CFR 600) grants legal authority to appoint a special counsel to investigate crimes. Only crimes. He has limited jurisdiction. Yet, in his order appointing Mueller as special counsel (Order No. 3915-2017), Rosenstein directed him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” It fails to identify any specific crimes, likely because none are applicable. To put it plainly, Mueller is tasked with finding a crime that does not exist in the law. It is a legal impossibility. He is being asked to do something that is manifestly unattainable. If the federal judge agrees, Mueller and his team would be disbanded by judicial order. The Department of Justice would have to seek a new indictment of Manafort and Gates without the special counsel or drop the case entirely. The naming of Robert Mueller was tainted with disqualifying conflicts of interest from the beginning. Fired FBI Director James Comey admitted he leaked presidential memos to the media for the sole purpose of triggering the appointment of a special counsel who just happens to be Comey’s longtime friend, ally and partner. It is no coincidence that Rosenstein appointed Mueller. We now know both men were overseeing the corrupt Uranium One sale which involved Russian bribes, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering. They appear to have kept it secret, even hiding it from Congress which would surely have cancelled the transaction involving a vital national security asset. A cover-up? It has the stench of one. How can Americans have confidence in the outcome of the Trump-Russia matter if the integrity and impartiality of Mueller and Rosenstein has been compromised by their suspected cover-up of the Clinton-Russia case? Both men should resign. And a new special counsel should be appointed – this time to investigate Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.

Agreed!!  And well said, Gregg!!  Gregg Jarrett is a former defense attorney, and current Fox News legal analyst.