05/28/20

Sanction China by Stopping World Bank Loans to CCP

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Decoupling the United States from China is a convoluted and complicated process. Some lawmakers make it sound easy and say we should just terminate manufacturing agreements by U.S. companies and bring it stateside. Ah, but hold on… it is important to know some other details that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are not telling you.

Consider the items below:

1.  A Commerce Department official warned Congress recently that China is raising billions of dollars in U.S. capital markets and the activity could undermine American security.

Nazak Nikakhtar, assistant secretary for international trade at the Commerce Department, testified last month that Chinese companies raised $48 billion from American capital markets from 2013 through the end of last year.

Ms. Nikakhtar told the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission that 172 Chinese companies in September were listed on the three largest U.S. exchanges — Nasdaq, the New York Stock Exchange, and the NYSE American — with a total market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. More here.

Confucius Institutes and U.S. Exchange Programs: Public ...

2. Charles Lieber, the chair of Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and two Chinese nationals who were researchers at Boston University and a Boston hospital were charged by the U.S. Justice Department with lying about their purported links to the Chinese government. But hold on, it is much worse. China has a real impact on all levels of the U.S. education system. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a 96-page report describing the Confucius Institute and how those agreements work with domestic universities. Further, major universities failed to report the other monies they receive from China among other countries. It is shocking how foreign money has infiltrated the U.S. education system and to learn which country does what and how much, click here.

China moon landing: Spacecraft makes first landing on moon ...

3. China launched its Long March 5B rocket into space. This is an effort by China to build a modular space station. It did, however, fall out of orbit falling for the most part into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa near the Ivory Coast. Additionally, as China continues to launch at least 12 more space operations it already has landed on the dark side of the moon. China and Russia are in fact collaborating on lunar operations including shared bases. Russia’s operations coordinating with China are centered and funded by Roscosmos for Space Activities and the Skolkovo Foundation. This is the foundation where Hillary Clinton created U.S. technology (Silicon Valley) and Skolkovo via the Clinton Foundation via a major donor known as Viktor Vekselberg. This is the other scandal of technology transfer(s) to rogue nations.

4. We are already somewhat versed in Chinese complicity in the pandemic and the World Health Organization but let’s go to the World Bank, shall we? As of early 2019, China was sitting on cash reserves of some $3 trillion. It is the world’s second-largest economy, behind the U.S. It directly lends more money to other nations each year than the $2 billion or so it borrows from the World Bank annually. The World Bank, based in Washington, D.C., was established after World War II to help European countries rebuild. Its mission has evolved over the years and is now to finance development in low- and middle-income countries with the goal of eliminating extreme poverty.

From NPR, “Flush With Cash, China Continues to Borrow Billions From The World Bank“:

“From a pure economic vantage point, there is no good reason for the World Bank to continue making loans to China,” says Eswar Prasad, a professor of economics at Cornell University.

“The Chinese don’t need the money,” Prasad says. “There is a glaring optics problem.” He adds that the argument could be made that the money lent to China could be put to better use elsewhere.

And it’s not as if the World Bank has an infinite amount of money to parcel out. Its lending budget, drawn from reserves, donations and the interest it earns on capital, is limited. So a dollar lent to China is a dollar that is not available for a project somewhere else in the world. The Trump administration, which regularly beats up on China, accusing it of manipulating global trade rules for its own benefit, has blasted the World Bank for lending too much to China.

Prasad says the World Bank’s lending to China is becoming “untenable” and will have to stop fairly soon.

Bert Hofman, the World Bank’s country director for China, says the amount of money China is borrowing each year from the global bank is just a small fraction of what the country is investing each year in domestic programs. And he believes that motivation for China’s borrowing goes beyond money.

“The reason they still borrow is because they feel that the expertise of the World Bank is valuable to them,” Hofman says.

World Bank loans come with advisers and auditors who help implement (and monitor) bank-funded projects.

China gets access to international experts. The World Bank remains engaged with China and is able to see how new projects play out in this booming middle-income country. Hofman sees it as a win-win.

Prasad agrees that there are still some good reasons for the World Bank to remain engaged with China. Many of the bank’s loans to China are for projects addressing climate change and mitigating pollution from the country’s booming factories.

“The risk the World Bank faces is that if it only lends to very poor countries, it might end up not having much of a role to play in the large, fast-growing emerging-market economies,” Prasad says. “So the World Bank, in a bid to remain relevant and push its agenda on issues such as climate change and social development, has continued to lend to China.” More here.

*** The World Bank said its board adopted a new plan to aid China with $1 billion to $1.5 billion in low-interest loans annually through June 2025, despite the objections of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and several U.S. lawmakers.

World Bank approves $300mn for agriculture reforms in ...

Mnuchin told a House Financial Services Committee hearing that the Treasury’s representative on the board had objected to the plan on Wednesday, adding he wants the World Bank to “graduate” China from its concessional loan programs for low- and middle-income countries.

The five-year lending strategy plan was published on Thursday afternoon after the World Bank’s board “expressed broad support” for the multilateral development lender’s engagement in China’s structural and environmental reforms.

The World Bank said its lending would decline over the “country partnership framework” plan, in line with reforms agreed under a $13 billion capital increase agreed in 2018.

The World Bank loaned China $1.3 billion in the fiscal 2019 year ended June 30, down from about $2.4 billion during fiscal 2017. The new plan calls for lending to “gradually decline” from the previous five-year average of $1.8 billion.

“Lending levels may fluctuate up and down from year to year due to normal pipeline management based on project readiness,” the World Bank said in its plan.

*** So we have a collection of reparation options due to the pandemic when it comes to China, we have them building a space battlefield, we have corruption within China and now we have the U.S. at major odds with the Chinese Communist Party who is in violation of the One Country, Two Systems Act of 1997 with regard to Hong Kong. Secretary of State Pompeo declared to Congress that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous with The CCP in control which is correct but this will spark continued hostilities between the two nations even as naval conflicts continue in the South China Sea.

None of this will be easy but the reader should know more details to assess what may be ahead in global relations.

05/28/20

Meet Doug Letter, Pelosi’s Go-To Lawyer

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

In litigation against President Trump, look no further than Douglas Letter hired almost two years ago by Speaker Pelosi. Whether it is the House seeking access to Donald Trump’s private tax records, coordinating impeachment operations, filing amicus briefs, border wall litigation, benefits to illegal aliens and getting legal citizenship or most of all gaining the redacted Mueller investigation documents, Letter has been involved in an estimated 31 case actions at the behest and approval of Nancy Pelosi.

Doug Letter was hired in December of 2018 and came with a resume that included serving as the Director of the Civil Division Appellate Staff at the Department of Justice where he spent 40 years. He is a senior litigator at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center. After graduating from Berkeley Law School, he joined the DoJ and argued more than 200 cases before the Supreme Court. Additionally, he was the White House Associate Counsel to President Clinton, the Deputy Associate Attorney under Janet Reno and Senior Counsel to Eric Holder.

Meanwhile, the House Republicans have hired Charles (Chuck) Cooper. At least 20 House Republicans are suing Nancy Pelosi on the matter of proxy voting. It should be noted that the proxy vote on the issue of re-upping the FISA legislation was pulled late in the day allegedly because President Trump said he would veto the bill. Gotta wonder if it was really due to the lawsuit.

Chuck Cooper, the Other Lawyer in Gay-Marriage Case - WSJ

Charles Cooper and Doug Letter for sure know each other from their time at the Department of Justice. Cooper represented big names such as Jeff Sessions during the recusal on Russian interference. Then there was John Ashcroft and John Bolton where it was slated that he was possibly scheduled to testify during the impeachment inquiry.

Cooper began working too in the Civil Rights Division at the DoJ in 1981 and was appointed Assistant Attorney General at the Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan administration. Cooper’s law firm, Cooper and Carvin, in private practice, had legal alumni such as Senator(s) Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz along with Victor Wolski a federal judge and Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Cooper has argued 7 cases before the Supreme Court and previously clerked for Justice William Renquist.

The House Republicans lawsuit is found here.

House Democrats installed the new rules on proxy voting on a largely party line vote of 217 to 189. Republicans argued that the move bucks the chamber’s institutional history and sets a dangerous precedent.

On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee is slated to hold the chamber’s first remote hearing under the new rules. Each panel must hold a practice hearing, followed by two virtual sessions. Once those steps are completed, a panel can hold a markup by video conference as well.

The House Ways and Means Committee is also slated to hold its first remote hearing later Wednesday.

At this time, the panels will use Cisco Webex to hold the virtual hearings.

For much of the past two months, the chamber’s regular business largely came to a halt and has since only held a handful of votes related to coronavirus legislation. The chamber’s meeting of what is now 431 members and additional support staff have proved particularly problematic amid the coronavirus pandemic.

05/21/20

The Kill Shot Against Gen. Flynn was Not Russia, it was Iran

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

RussiaGate was concocted. RussiaGate was globally choreographed. But it was never about Russia, the real covert truth and story is Iran.

Lee Smith has confirmed what I knew in my gut to be true. Smith authored titled The Plot Against the President. I read it and Smith was gracious enough to come on my radio show to discuss the book, which you must read. Congressman Devin Nunes knew in his gut the RussiaGate story did not compute either.

A huge high-five to Nunes and Smith and on with the story. It is a long one. Once you sit back and read it all, the clue, tips and indicators begin to fall into place. But we must go back several years for context, patterns, and the cunningness of politicians and power-players.

1. Remember the first set of WikiLeaks cables where it was determined that Hillary had her staff collect as much oppo-research as possible on her adversaries and foreign dignitaries such that she had to go on an apology tour after the cables were published?

2. Remember the scandal that surrounded Sharyl Attkisson and the computer intrusion(s) she experienced during the Obama administration that she is still fighting legally? She too wrote a book titled Stonewalled telling that story.

3. Remember the journalists that collaborated with Edward Snowden, one being Barton Gellman? By the way I have zero use for what Snowden did but there is an interesting part of the story that Gellman tells in The Atlantic magazine. He too was a victim of major computer intrusions perhaps more significant than that of Sharyl Attkisson.

4. Remember when President Obama had to apologize to German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande for surveilling their phones?

5. Remember when Eric Holder had to admit he issued subpoenas for journalists’ phone and email records?

6. Remember when the Obama administration ‘scooped-up’ the communications between members of Congress and Israeli leaders during the Iran nuclear deal talks?

7. Remember when CIA Director, John Brennan, spied on Senator Dianne Feinstein staffers working on the torture reports, lied about it and then had to admit it?

8. Remember Operation Cassandra that was shut down completely by the Obama White House? The Former DEA Special Agent on this operation and I have become friends in the last couple of years. This was a global investigation into Hezbollah, narcotics, and used cars. (This too included Bruce Ohr.)

Okay, so the rest of the story. It is a big one but it holds all the truths. Again, a HUGE hat tip to Lee Smith and Devin Nunes.

*** It started in 2009, took off in a big way in 2012, and Oman was the backchannel.

Continue reading

05/19/20

Pigs Do Fly, This is From the Boston Herald Editorial Board

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

I kept asking, wondering, and hoping that someone that manifested Schiff’s lies or the operation(s) of the FBI and the DoJ during this nightmare to come forward would admit it all was a concocted charade. I never expected it to come from the Boston Herald Editorial Board Staff. Yes, pigs DO fly. And a hat tip for manning up.

Sure would be fun to talk to a member or two of the Board and ask them what was the defining moment for them and what do they know that is not out just yet in the public domain… further… will the Boston Herald write yet another op-ed with each new release of transcripts or documents?

It would be fun for President Trump to invite the Editorial Board to the White House for a beer summit… right? RIGHT?

Boston Herald declares bankruptcy, agrees to be sold

BH: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has been feeding the American people misinformation for years. He used his position — replete with access to information and people in the know — to distribute wild accounts of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

The effect was to frighten and alarm millions of Americans, sowing division between neighbors, toxifying our discourse, and raising anxieties.

The Trump administration spent time and resources fighting off the fallacy that cursed them since day one and deprived the American people of a president who could devote his time and energy to the policies they had elected him to enact.

Just a year ago, Adam Schiff was on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, Fox News — anyone who would have him — talking about Trump/Russia collusion “in plain sight.”

Even after the Mueller report clearly indicated that there was no provable collusion or coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, Schiff continued to propagate the lie.

Chris Wallace of Fox News pressed Schiff on the claims, playing the congressman a highlight reel of his assertions of collusion.

Schiff shot back, “What more clear intent to collude could you have than the Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what was described as an effort to help Mr. Trump in the campaign and Don Jr. saying if it’s what you say, I would love it?”

“Intent to collude.”

That after years sounding the alarm about “damning evidence” of collusion with Putin that was “more than circumstantial.” This scandal was “beyond Watergate,” Schiff, privy to all of the sensitive intelligence, told us.

We found out this week that Schiff always knew there was no evidence of collusion. By day he would interview former Obama administration officials including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, national security adviser Susan Rice and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who would tell him there was nothing, and by night he’d jump on a newscast assuring Americans that he’d seen evidence of something.

But there was nothing.

The canard Schiff continued to promulgate was supercharged, though, by the media, who went wall to wall with their coverage. Relics from Watergate were dragged out onto “Breaking News” sets and we were told how serious the matter was.

Hysterical anti-Trump media personalities took to social media to scold anyone who doubted the Russian conspiracy, lecturing us about putting “country over party.”

The coordination between Schiff and the media was pernicious.

As Lee Smith wrote in the New York Post, “The tragic fact is that once-prestigious press organizations, including CNN as well as MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post, weren’t fooled by the collusion hoax. They were an essential part of it.”

Adam Schiff is a vile actor. Democrats must follow their own mantra and put their country over party and eject the snake in their midst.

There are bipartisan endeavors — like infrastructure legislation, economic recovery, and the battle against the pandemic — that have undoubtedly been hindered by the malevolence of the congressman from California who abused his power by weaponizing his position in order to bring down a duly-elected president.

We will continue to bear the poisoned fruit from his actions for years and it will happen again in a different form unless there is a reckoning, once and for all.

05/19/20

Congress Attempting to Issue New Code of Conduct Rules for Judges

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

This has been building for quite a while and was noticeable if anyone watched any Senate confirmation hearings for judge candidate nominees. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-RI) is one of the loudest drivers of this change.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is launching an investigation into a draft advisory opinion by the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Codes of Conduct which, if approved, would prohibit federal judges from being members of the right-leaning Federalist Society or left-wing American Constitution Society (ACS).

Jordan’s concern with the draft advisory opinion is that membership in these groups had previously been allowed, and while under the draft opinion this would no longer be allowed, membership in other groups including the American Bar Association (ABA) would continue to be permitted. The committee said their concern with the Federalist Society and ACS is that membership could lead to people questioning a judge’s impartiality when it comes to issues on which those groups have taken positions.

Federalist Society Introductory Meeting | Announce ...

Humm, the judges can participate in events held by those organizations, they just can’t be active members? It was not too long ago that Senator Dianne Feinstein also had a huge issue with Judge Amy Barrett’s fidelity to Catholic theology. Other senators joining with Senator Feinstein were Senator Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Hirono (D-HI).

It is interesting that Trump Judge nominee and confirmed, Judge Ralph Erickson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, also chairs the committee behind the draft opinion. That opinion to change the code of conduct is found here. (Important Read)

Simply put, Judge Erickson has enlisted a panel to challenge the Federalist Society.

The proposed rules change is the latest salvo in a campaign to cast the Federalist Society as too political, and thereby politically risky, for judiciary participation. The Wall Street Journal editorial board labeled the proposal “judicial political mischief masked in high sounding rhetoric,” a step that is spurring a backlash among “judges and others” who should denounce it as “undermining legal education in America and perhaps violating the First Amendment right of association.”

Conservative activists put it more bluntly, calling the rules change a transparent attempt to neuter the Federalist Society. The motivation is obvious, these activists say, after the Senate has confirmed a record number of Trump-appointed judges, many of whom are Federalist Society members or have participated in the group’s events.

“This rules change was probably instigated and driven by people who are upset with the transformation that is taking place in the federal judiciary, and since they are on the left, they are accustomed to addressing problems by trying to censor the other side,” a longtime Federalist Society member told RealClearPolitics. “And that’s exactly what this is — an act of censorship.”

Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said the new rule would create a different standard for judges than they have been held to in the past and severely limit their civic participation.

“Obviously there are situations that do require recusal – if someone is involved in a political campaign or directly advocating for a political position,” she said. “But simply being in a group that believes in certain principles — they are misconstruing the Federalist Society by calling it a group that takes political positions.” Read more here.

05/18/20

Pensacola NAS Shooter Tied to AQAP

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, May 18, 2020

Attorney General William P. Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray Announce Significant Developments in the Investigation of the Naval Air Station Pensacola Shooting

Saudi gunman and at least 3 victims reported dead at NAS ...

Today, Attorney General William P. Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced significant developments in the FBI’s investigation of the December 6, 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that killed three U.S. sailors and severely wounded eight other Americans.  On January 13, 2020, Attorney General Barr announced that the shooting was an act of terrorism and publicly asked Apple to help the FBI access the locked contents of two iPhones belonging to the deceased terrorist Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.  The company declined to do so.

Attorney General Barr announced that the FBI recently succeeded in unlocking the phones of Alshamrani, who had attempted to destroy them while launching his attack.  The phones contained important, previously-unknown information that definitively established Alshamrani’s significant ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), not only before the attack but before he even arrived in the United States.  The FBI now has a clearer understanding of Alshamrani’s associations and activities in the years, months, and days leading up to the attack.

“Thanks to the great work of the FBI – and no thanks to Apple – we were able to unlock Alshamrani’s phones,” said Attorney General Barr.  “The trove of information found on these phones has proven to be invaluable to this ongoing investigation and critical to the security of the American people.  However, if not for our FBI’s ingenuity, some luck, and hours upon hours of time and resources, this information would have remained undiscovered.  The bottom line: our national security cannot remain in the hands of big corporations who put dollars over lawful access and public safety.  The time has come for a legislative solution.”

“I could not be prouder of the relentless dedication of the men and women at the FBI who worked for months under difficult conditions to access these devices,” said Director Wray.  “Their skill and persistence, and the sustained investigative efforts by FBI Jacksonville, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, and our many other federal, state, and local partners, have been nothing short of extraordinary in this case.  As we continue to seek answers around the December 6th terrorist attack that killed three American service members and wounded others, I want their families, and all Americans, to know that protecting the United States from those who seek to do us harm remains the FBI’s foremost priority.  Our work against the threat of terrorism never rests.”

Investigators sought and received court authorization to search the contents of Alshamrani’s iPhones within one day of the December 6, 2019, terrorist attack.  Unable to unlock the phones because of their security features, and having exhausted all readily available options, the FBI approached Apple for its assistance in early January 2020.  The company declined to assist.  FBI technical experts succeeded in accessing the phones’ contents over four months after the attack, revealing highly-significant evidence, including:

  • Alshamrani and his AQAP associates communicated using end-to-end encrypted apps, with warrant-proof encryption, deliberately in order to evade law enforcement.
  • Alshamrani’s preparations for terror began years ago.  He had been radicalized by 2015, and having connected and associated with AQAP operatives, joined the Royal Saudi Air Force in order to carry out a “special operation.”
  • In the months before the December 6, 2019 attack, while in the United States, Alshamrani had specific conversations with overseas AQAP associates about plans and tactics.  In fact, he was communicating with AQAP right up until the attack, and conferred with his associates until the night before he undertook the murders.

The evidence derived from Alshamrani’s unlocked phones has already proven useful in protecting the American people.  In particular, a counterterrorism operation targeting AQAP operative Abdullah al-Maliki, one of Alshamrani’s overseas associates, was recently conducted in Yemen.

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3

Response by DoD Secretary Esper:

Today, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced additional findings about the shooting on Dec. 6, 2019 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. This was a tragic day for our military and our deepest condolences are still with the friends and families of Ensign Joshua Watson, Airman Mohammed Haitham, Airman Cameron Walters, and with the eight others wounded in this terrorist attack.

The new information provided by Director Wray and Attorney General Barr underscores the threats to our nation posed by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and highlights the necessity of the security measures we take every day to protect the American people, our interests and our friends – as well as those that defend our nation.

”The Department of Defense is incredibly grateful for the diligent work by the FBI team investigating this horrific attack that took the lives of three American patriots,” said Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark. Esper. ”Based on the FBI findings, and in addition to already executed protective measures, the Department will take further prudent and effective measures to safeguard our people.”

In response to this terrorist attack, the Department of Defense took immediate action, ordering a stop to all International Military Student operational training at U.S. installations and directing a review of all vetting and security procedures. In January Secretary Esper went to Pensacola and met with Navy leadership, and with flight training students and first responders to hear first-hand the accounts of those on the scene. Within two weeks of the tragedy, the Secretary approved an extensive list of findings and recommendations and directed immediate implementation across all the military Services. These include additional measures for background checks and new physical security procedures, specifically:

  • New restrictions on IMS possession and use of firearms and ammunition.
  • New control measures for limiting IMS access to military installations and U.S. government facilities.
  • New standards for training and education on detecting and reporting insider threats.
  • Establishment of new vetting procedures that include capabilities for continuous monitoring of IMS while enrolled in U.S.-based training programs.
  • Acknowledgement of willingness to abide by these standards, committing to full compliance with all U.S. laws on-and off-duty.

We continue to work with the FBI as they uncover more information pertaining to the terrorist, his links with al-Qa’ida, and the methods he used to conceal this from us. At the same time, we continue to review our procedures to identify any additional vetting and security measures we can adopt.

Despite this tragic event, our military partnerships and the international military student program remain strong and are a vital component of our National Defense. Security cooperation directly contributes to U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives by helping allies and partners improve their defense capabilities and enhance their ability to participate in missions alongside U.S. forces. We will continue to work closely with them to counter the threats of international terrorism and protect our freedom.

05/16/20

Mexico Comes Demanding Documents On Fast And Furious… Why Now?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

MEXICO CITY, May 11 (Reuters) – Mexico’s foreign minister on Monday posted a video online detailing a diplomatic note to the U.S. embassy requesting answers about a gun-running sting under the Obama presidency, keeping a spotlight on the controversial issue.

Live: Trump threatens tariffs on Mexico over immigration ...

In the video, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard cited former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as saying Mexican authorities knew about the 2009-2011 scheme known as ‘Fast and Furious.’

Representatives for Holder did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Nor did the U.S. embassy in Mexico City.

It was the first time Ebrard or President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had made direct reference by name to a key U.S. figure connected to the program since the issue resurfaced in Mexico a week ago.

In a bid to curb cross-border gun smuggling, the U.S. scheme allowed people to illegally buy arms in the United States and take them to Mexico so that the weapons could be tracked and lead law enforcement officials to crime bosses. Some of those guns were subsequently blamed for the fatal shootings of both Mexican and U.S. citizens.

The current Mexican government has zeroed in on the program to highlight possible corruption under previous Mexican administrations amid a debate over how much they knew about the U.S. operation.

Holder, who served as U.S. Attorney General under Barack Obama between 2009 and 2015, had previously issued a statement via the U.S. embassy in Mexico contending that “Mexican authorities” knew about the program, Ebrard said.

“The (Mexican) government requests that it be provided with all the information available regarding the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation,” Ebrard said in the video posted on Twitter.

Lopez Obrador first brought up the gun-running program last Monday when answering questions about Genaro Garcia Luna, a former Mexican security minister who was arrested in the United States in December on drug trafficking offenses.

Garcia Luna served under former President Felipe Calderon from 2006-12, spearheading a crackdown on drug cartels. Lopez Obrador has used his arrest to argue that corruption was rampant in past Mexican governments.

Some critics of Lopez Obrador contend that he has done U.S. President Donald Trump a favor by raising questions about Garcia Luna as the U.S president prepares to fight a November election against Joe Biden, who was vice president from 2009 to 2017 under Obama.

Lopez Obrador’s supporters say he has focused on the issue to illustrate hypocrisy among his domestic adversaries.

Calderon, a longstanding political rival of Lopez Obrador, said last week there was no agreement between Mexico and the United States to permit illicit entry of arms.

‘Fast and Furious’ followed earlier sting operations that began under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. (Reporting by Drazen Jorgic and Sharay Angulo; Editing by Dave Graham and Jane Wardell)

***

Judge rules DOJ must share documents from Fast and Furious ...

Americans paying attention to the unresolved Obama era scandals would like to know all the truth too. So as a refresher here is the latest status of the investigation.

May 2016:

JS: Last week, Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an important opinion in Oversight Committee v. Lynch, the subpoena enforcement litigation related to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. Media outlets generally reported it as a win for Congress and loss for the Executive. In an acute sense, that is true — Judge Jackson ordered the Justice Department to produce sensitive materials that reflect deliberations about how to respond to congressional requests and media inquiries. However, the opinion is a much more complicated ruling that reinforces some longstanding executive branch legal arguments that Congress has perennially disputed. In the longer term, this opinion may actually be a win for the executive branch, despite being ordered to hand over documents the President designated as privileged.

Background

The case arose from DOJ’s refusal to turn over to Congress a number of disputed documents pursuant to President Obama’s formal assertion of executive privilege. The underlying congressional investigation sought information related to failed gun trafficking investigations led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that came to be collectively referred to as Operation Fast and Furious. Starting during the fall of 2009, ATF agents in Arizona began setting up a series of sting operations targeting gunrunners who were moving large quantities of firearms across the Mexico border. But, inadequate surveillance, technology failures, and poor judgment led ATF to allow many of the guns it was using in the stings to “walk.” A number of those lost weapons ended up in the hands of drug cartels and showed up at various crime scenes on both sides of the US-Mexico border, including at the scene of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. Just last week, within days of Judge Jackson’s opinion, news outlets reported that one of the guns at issue in Operation Fast and Furious was found at El Chapo’s hideout.

However, the document dispute has very little to do with the allegations about ATF’s problematic investigative tactics. With the exception of a few documents related to wiretaps, grand jury materials, and confidential information in open investigative files, Congress received almost all of the underlying documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.

Instead, the most significant dispute in the case relates to Congress’s allegation that DOJ officials lied to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in February 2011. Congress then aggressively sought all documents related to the Department’s communications and deliberations about how to respond to the congressional investigation and media inquiries, for before and long after the alleged misrepresentation to Grassley. The administration eventually accommodated the Committee by providing access to all the documents that had led to providing Grassley inaccurate information. Those documents demonstrated good faith but a lack of diligence by responsible officials in both Phoenix and Washington, DC. However, Congress forged ahead with a sprawling meta-investigation that raised significant institutional concerns within the Executive about the collapse of “separation” in the separation of powers. (At that time, I was Associate Counsel to the President and was involved in White House negotiations with the Oversight Committee over various congressional requests related to Operation Fast and Furious.) The document stalemate served as the primary basis for a House vote of contempt of Congress against then-Attorney General Eric Holder in June 2012. That same month, the House authorized this civil enforcement lawsuit.

Short-Term Loss for the Executive

At the top line, last week Judge Jackson ordered DOJ to produce all the documents it had designated as protected by the deliberative process privilege. In the absence of an appellate reversal, the Oversight Committee will obtain its prize: some 5,342 unique documents reflecting executive branch deliberations about how to respond to a hostile congressional committee and how to respond to media requests. To be sure, the Committee will seek to make hay of those deliberations and any impolitic remarks they contain.

DOJ had argued the production of documents revealing deliberations about how to respond to Congress would chill fulsome responses to Congress. The court quotes DOJ’s longstanding position that disclosure “would inhibit the candor of such Executive Branch deliberations in the future and significantly impair the Executive Branch’s ability to respond independently and effectively to congressional oversight.” I have previously argued that branch independence is critical in response to oversight requests.

Judge Jackson’s order relies on her holding that Congress’s oversight need outweighs DOJ’s confidentiality interest on the facts in this record. Specifically, she suggests the need for deliberations to be confidential was substantially weakened by prior subject matter disclosures by the public report of DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). She finds “whatever incremental harm that could flow from providing the Committee with the records that have already been publicly disclosed is outweighed by the unchallenged need for the material.”

Ironically, DOJ has long relied on the OIG report to bolster its argument that Congress could obtain the information elsewhere, which is one of the factors to be considered in the leading DC Circuit opinion on privilege, In re Sealed Case (Espy).

The court’s analysis seems to suggest that an executive branch entity must challenge the legitimacy of Congress’s investigative interests at the categorical subject-matter level rather than at the incremental request level. By characterizing Congress’s interest as an “unchallenged need,” Judge Jackson uses DOJ’s ready concession that Congress had legitimate oversight interests in problematic gun trafficking investigations against it. DOJ didn’t challenge Congress’s investigation as illegitimate, but it certainly argued that Congress has almost no legitimate interest in peering into DOJ’s process of drafting letters to Congress. At the individual request level, DOJ vigorously challenges Congress’s need. The opinion reflects a court that appears to have prudential concerns about assigning relative values to inherently political determinations about the needs and interests of coordinate branches.

However, oversight disputes do not play out at the categorical level. They play out in the give-and-take of phone calls, letter requests, subpoenas, media availabilities, depositions, and transcribed interviews. Further, unlike judicial proceedings, there are no referees, protective orders, evidentiary rules, or motions to quash during that investigative process. By the time an interbranch dispute reaches the courts, all of those fights have happened and positions have hardened. A categorical approach is a meat axe where a scalpel is needed.

That is why I took some issue with the court’s prior ruling that that the matter is justiciable. To me, justiciability requires judicious review of the reasonableness of requests, the chilling effect of a particular disclosure, and the incremental nature of harms. So, as I wrote in October 2013:

If a court is going to resolve an important dispute between Congress and the President, wouldn’t congressional need, withholding grounds, and accommodation alternatives be the essential inquiry? … The notion that the underlying facts about controversial ATF investigative tactics have come to light and remedied should bear on analysis of Congress’s need to intrude on Executive Branch deliberations.

Likely of little solace to the executive branch, Judge Jackson cabined her rationale to “the specific and unique circumstances of this case.” In addition, the court specifically noted that its “ruling is not predicated on a finding that the withholding was intended to cloak wrongdoing on the part of government officials or that the withholding itself was improper.”

Longer-Term Win for the Executive

Of more comfort to DOJ, Judge Jackson has now ruled in favor of the Executive Branch, and against Congress, on the two most contested issues that are likely to have enduring precedential effect.

First, as I have discussed previously, the court’s August 2014 ruling held the Executive Branch may assert a deliberative process privilege in response to a congressional subpoena. Congress had argued that the deliberative process privilege was grounded in common law alone and therefore inapplicable to a separation-of-powers dispute. In Judge Jackson’s prior opinion, “the Court reject[ed] the Committee’s suggestion that the only privilege the executive can invoke in response to a subpoena is the Presidential communications privilege.”

Second, in last week’s opinion, Judge Jackson specifically held that the deliberative process privilege also applies to deliberations about how to respond to media inquiries or congressional requests. Congress had argued that the privilege is confined exclusively to policy deliberations. Rejecting that argument, the opinion notes “the Court holds that documents withheld by defendant that reveal the Department’s internal deliberations about how to respond to press and Congressional inquiries into Operation Fast and Furious are protected by the deliberative process privilege.”

As a practical matter that protection dissolved in the face of the court’s prior disclosure and incremental harm analysis. But the holding is a significant doctrinal win for the Executive branch. Many DOJ attorneys will have an impulse to appeal this ruling in order to shield the ordered disclosures, but perhaps the executive branch’s two substantial legal victories will caution against it.

05/15/20

Pandemic Playbook Faults

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Several weeks ago, Politico published an article describing how President Trump failed to adhere to the 2016 Pandemic Playbook complete with the document itself. That is found here.

Here's the Pandemic Playbook That Trump Ignored

After it was brought to my attention, I read it thoroughly and began to break it down to determine the failures and faults. NBC News has picked up the same blame mission posted today.

The summary is noted below:

Pandemic Playbook Faults

It begins with Congress when in the funding process of 2015 to 2016 or even to 2017, appropriations were never allocated to specific pandemic outbreaks other than the normal funding architecture for what is known as ICBRNR. This includes the omission of the Strategic National Stockpile inventory that was not adequate for a national outbreak, yet is annexed by individual state stockpiles including medical facility inventories. FAULT 1

The World Health Organization is the lead global organization of which the United States is the largest financial contributor to provide recommendations from assessments that include epidemiology, humanitarian/development/ public health impact, transmission/outbreak/potential for public concern. WHO was willingly prevented from doing this by the Chinese Communist Party.

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, asked about an international business meeting held at a Singapore hotel on Jan 20-22, said it did not appear to have spread the virus widely.

“No, I think it is way too early and much more of an exaggeration to consider the Singapore conference event a ‘super-spreading event’,” Ryan said. ( Reuters: February 10, 2020) FAULT 2

The WHO is to advise on travel, perform surveillance, infection control, tender medical cure(s) to the host country. After this advise and action by WHO, U.S. Health and Human Services then based on WHO assessments and recommendations, launches the National Emergency Action Center. WHO finally under pressure from the international community, admitted an error in its assessment of the Wuhan Laboratory on January 28, 2020. FAULT 3 (2 days later, President Trump restricted/halted flights from China into the United States).

Meanwhile, the United States through the U.S. State Department had several operations launched to address the potential global outbreak and that included running private flights to various locations around the globe to retrieve American citizens and bring them home. Further, earnest offers were being provided to Wuhan and Beijing by the USG to send in virologist and medical personnel to examine research protocols, gather lab samples, perform specimen sharing, collaborate on pharmaceuticals and treatments as well as to review global stockpiles, medical treatment infrastructure (read hospitals) and to offer proposed budget items to the U.S. Congress. Not only did were these offers extended to China, but to any other nation that was lacking in resources including Italy and Iran. FAULT 4 for China

Meanwhile as the Senate impeachment hearings began on January 16, 2020, the Trump administration launched the White House Coronavirus Task Force on January 29, 2020. The first known case of COVID -19 was reported in Washington State on January 20, 2020 as a 35 year old man had just returned from Wuhan on January 15. It was not until March 11, 2020 that WHO declared COVID -19 a pandemic. FAULT 5

As for all the other U.S. Federal agencies, they take the lead from HHS which takes the lead from WHO. The number of Federal agencies is substantial and not only do they include the normal well known agencies, they also include the Veterans Administration, USAID, Office of Global Affairs, embassies, FBI, CIA, GOARN otherwise the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. There of course is the CDC with clinical trial research papers, various trial invitations, there is the Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard for cross border travel and sea travel, the FAA and the branches of the U.S. military. Orchestrate all that for the benefit of the state Governors who hold the most significant power and responsibility when outbreaks occur. It is the Federal government that only provides guidance and assistance as a multi-state event occurs.

This summary comes from reading the Politico article on how President Trump failed the Pandemic Playbook. That is hardly the case if one actually reads the whole playbook. After the 2016 playbook was authored and published in 2015 for 2016, did Congress standup a hearing to determine funding specific to a pandemic? The playbook recommended early budget and financial analysis and supplemental funding from Congress. Did that happen? NO Fault 6.

There is more but based on the items in the playbook, it was done by committee as a result of the Ebola outbreak in 2014. The playbook per the text is merely a checklist for domestic and international guidance.

05/14/20

Unmasking List is not Complete

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Primer: Crossfire Razor = LTG Flynn investigation, launched July 2016, cleared in January 2017… calls with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak included the call in question which was December 29, 2016. There were clearly requests prior to Samantha Power, it is unclear yet by whom and what those results were. We are told there will be more releases.

Crossfire Typhoon = George Papadopoulos

Crossfire Hurricane = Full FBI investigation operation

* The list below is hardly a full list of unmasking requests during the late part of the Obama presidency. This report was released by Senator Grassley. For example, Susan Rice is not listed. The below documents are for a specific time-frame. Note the requests prior to the main phone call that has raised the ire of the Democrats. For additional reference, LTG Flynn had the official job as National Security Advisor to President Trump from January 23, 2017, to February 13, 2017.

Other designations listed below are as follows:

DOE in Briefer is the Department of Energy (nuclear weapons division)

COS can be both Chief of Staff or Chief of Station (CIA)

CMO is the Collection Management Officer

DCOS is Deputy Chief of Station

CMO is Chief of Missions Officer (Reports Officer)

CIA/CTMC Counter-Terrorism Military Coordinator

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* Samantha Power: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, married to Cass Sunstein who was the Information and Regulatory Czar for President Obama.

* James Clapper: Former Director of National Intelligence, previously served as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the same one that LTG Flynn was Director of at the time he was fired by the Obama administration.

* Kelly Degnan, previous Deputy Chief of Mission to Italy, San Marino and was nominated by President Trump to be Ambassador to Georgia and she speaks 5 languages.

* John R. Phillips, Former Ambassador to Italy and San Marino, and presently a lawyer at the whistleblower law firm of Phillips and Cohen. His wife is Linda Douglas and is head of communications for Bloomberg in WDC.

* John Brennan, Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, previously was the Assistant to Obama for Homeland Security. (He was at the CIA when he set up the system that spied on Senate staffers working for Senator Feinstein doing work on the torture report.)

* Patrick Conlon, Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Treasury Department, formerly 19 years at CIA.

* Jacob Lew, Secretary of Treasury until 2017.

* Arthur Danny McGlynn, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

* Mike Neufeld, Deputy Assistant Secretary U.S. Treasury.

* Sarah Raskin, Lawyer, formerly on the Board of the Federal Reserve and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, married to Jamie Raskin of the 8th District of Maryland, U.S. House of Representatives.

* Nathan Sheets, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.

* Adam Szubin, Under Secretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at U.S. Treasury.

* Robert Bell, Civilian Representative of the Secretary of Defense in Europe and Advisor to U.S Ambassador to NATO.

* VDAM John Christenson, U.S. Military Representative to NATO Military Committee in Brussels.

* James Comey, Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

* LTC Paul Geehreng, Defense Policy Advisor to US Mission NATO, policy advisor on Russia.

* Douglas Lute, US Permanent Representative to NATO married to Jane Holl, currently serving as UN Special Envoy to Cyprus, former Deputy Secretary of Department of Homeland Security.

* James Hursh, Acting Secretary of Defense in Europe and Acting Defense Advisor to US Mission NATO.

* Scott Parrish, U.S. State Department, Political Officer, NATO.

* Elizabeth Sherwood Randall, US Deputy Secretary of Energy, previously White House Coordinator for Defense Policy, brother is President of ABC Disney Group and ABC News.

* Tamir Waser, NATO Operations Officer, London.

* John F. Tefft, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, career Foreign Service Officer.

* Ambassador John R. Bass, Turkey, former Ambassador to Georgia. Former Chief of Staff and Policy Advisor to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott.

* Denis McDonough, Former White House Chief of Staff for President Obama, former Senior Fellow at Center for America Progress.

* Michael Dempsey, Former Acting Director of National Intelligence for January to March of 2017, formerly with the CIA as a WINPAC Expert.

* Stephanie O’Sullivan, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, a former senior leader at the CIA.

* Joseph Biden, Former Vice President for President Obama and attended the January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting in question that included President Obama,  Susan Rice, Sally Yates, and James Comey.

***

WHAT IS UNMASKING?

During routine, legal surveillance of foreign targets, names of Americans occasionally come up in conversations. Foreigners could be talking about a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident by name, or a foreigner could be speaking directly to an American. When an American’s name is swept up in the surveillance of foreigners, it is called “incidental collection.” In these cases, the name of the American is masked before the intelligence is distributed to administration officials to avoid invading that person’s privacy.

Unless there is a clear intelligence value to knowing the American’s name, it is not revealed in the reports. The intelligence report would refer to the person only as “U.S. Person 1” or U.S. Person 2.” If U.S. officials with proper clearance to review the report want to know the identity, they can ask the agency that collected the information — perhaps the FBI, CIA, or National Security Agency — to “unmask” the name.

WHEN WOULD AN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY UNMASK A NAME?

The request is not automatically granted. The person asking has to have a good reason. Typically, the reason is that not knowing the name makes it impossible to fully understand the intelligence provided.

The name is released only if the official requesting it has a need to know and the “identity is necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or assess its importance,” according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s latest report, which includes statistics on unmasking. “Additional approval by a designated NSA official is also required.”

Former NSA Director Mike Rogers has said that only 20 of his employees could approve an unmasking. The names are shared only with the specific official who asked. They are not released publicly. Leaking a name, or any classified information is illegal.

HOW OFTEN ARE NAMES UNMASKED?

The number of unmasking requests began being released to the public in response to recommendations in 2014 from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

There were 9,217 unmasking requests in the 12-month period between September 2015 and August 2016, the first period in which numbers are publicly available. The period was during the latter years of the Obama administration.

The number rose during the Trump administration. The 9,529 requests in 2017 grew to 16,721 in 2018 and 10,012 last year. More here.

05/13/20

Judge Sullivan Has Now Put AG Barr on Trial by Inviting Amicus Briefs

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

There is no longer a prosecutor on the LTG Flynn case after the Department of Justice filed the motion to terminate the case against him. It was expected that Judge Emmet Sullivan would approve the DoJ motion yet the Judge went sideways and has now asked for Amicus Curiae briefs. Exactly who receives the invitation to file those briefs is to be scrutinized.

Judge Sullivan's accusations mar Flynn's sentencing hearing ...

This decision by Judge Sullivan is so legally contentious that an 11-page motion to leave the amicus brief was immediately placed into the pipeline.

Judge Sullivan’s invitation was extended to a group known as former Watergate prosecutors. These lawyers were aiding the House Impeachment Team asserting that Donald Trump

● Trump conditioned protection of the military security of the United States and of an ally (Ukraine) on actions for his personal political benefit.

● Trump subordinated the integrity of our national electoral process to his own personal political interest by soliciting and encouraging foreign government interference in our electoral process, including by Russia and China. He also appears to have demanded that Ukraine investigate a potential 2020 political opponent and pursue the conspiracy theory that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 presidential election, despite the unanimous conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that it was Russia that had interfered.

● According to the evidence laid out in the Mueller report, Trump engaged in multiple acts of obstruction of justice in violation of federal criminal statutes and of his oath of office to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Because Mueller viewed Justice Department policy as precluding him from filing criminal charges against the president, the special counsel appropriately stated that these abuses are for Congress to address.

Additionally, there is yet another group that signed a letter condemning AG Barr’s motion regarding the Flynn case. This particular group was mobilized by an organization called Protect Democracy. The group was founded and is led by Ian Bassin who served as an Associate White House Counsel from 2009-2011, meaning the Obama White House. Bassin also says that the MAGA hats broke the Hatch Act law. So, this is not about a legal challenge but it is for sure political. Protect Democracy is still soliciting signatures through May 25. The Co-Founder and legal advisor is Justin Florence who most recently served as counsel in Ropes & Gray’s business & securities litigation practice group, where his practice focused on appellate and Supreme Court matters. He has represented clients in the Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals, as well as at the trial level. He has previously served in the Office of the White House Counsel as Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President. Justin also worked for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse as Senior Counsel on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The letter in part reads:

It is now up to the district court to consider the government’s motion to dismiss the Flynn indictment. We urge Judge Sullivan to closely examine the Department’s stated rationale for dismissing the charges — including holding an evidentiary hearing with witnesses — and to deny the motion and proceed with sentencing if appropriate. While it is rare for a court to deny the Department’s request to dismiss an indictment, if ever there were a case where the public interest counseled the court to take a long, hard look at the government’s explanation and the evidence, it is this one. Attorney General Barr’s repeated actions to use the Department as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests have undermined any claim to the deference that courts usually apply to the Department’s decisions about whether or not to prosecute a case.

Finally, in our previous statement, we called on Attorney General Barr to resign, although we recognized then that there was little chance that he would do so. We continue to believe that it would be best for the integrity of the Justice Department and for our democracy for Attorney General Barr to step aside. In the meantime, we call on Congress to hold the Attorney General accountable. In the midst of the greatest public health crisis our nation has faced in over a century, we would all prefer it if Congress could focus on the health and prosperity of Americans, not threats to the health of our democracy. Yet Attorney General Barr has left Congress with no choice. Attorney General Barr was previously set to give testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, but the hearing was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge the Committee to reschedule Attorney General Barr’s testimony as soon as safely possible and demand that he answer for his abuses of power. We also call upon Congress to formally censure Attorney General Barr for his repeated assaults on the rule of law in doing the President’s personal bidding rather than acting in the public interest. Our democracy depends on a Department of Justice that acts as an independent arbiter of equal justice, not as an arm of the president’s political apparatus.

You can read the letter and see the signatures by clicking this link.