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Jonathan Turley

Newly Released FBI Records Raise Questions of Intentional Destruction of Evidence By Clinton Contractor

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One of the most troubling aspects of the recently released documents from the FBI is a timeline established for when Clinton staffers used BleachBit to try to eradicate emails and prevent them from ever being recovered. It appears that staff may have deleted the email archive after the staff received a subpoena to preserve all such evidence. The staffer working for Platte River Networks (PRN) in Denver, Colorado reportedly had what was described as an “Oh Sh*t” moment when they realized that the archive could be used to uncover what the Clinton staff deleted.

PRN was a contractor working directly with the Clinton staff in the handling of the email material and has been the subject of long controversy over its lack of security to handle the classified information that was found on the emails.

The date line is troubling. In February, 2013, Clinton resigned as Secretary of State after making the decision to use the personal server for all of her email communications. Throughout 2014, Clinton staff order PRN to make a series of transfers and to wipe clean computers with emails.
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Recovered Emails Show Clinton Foundation Officials Intervening For Donors and Aides With State Department

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The Clinton Foundation has been the subject of long-standing allegations of questionable donations and reporting. It is also viewed by many critics as a massive shadow campaign structure that employed aides and funded Clinton trips. However, the most serious allegation was a type of pay-to-play scheme where foreign and domestic donors gave money in the hopes of currying favor or gaining access to the State Department. 

Now, Judicial Watch has released dozens of emails that were deleted improperly by the Clinton staff, but contain non-personal communications. Among the recovered emails are communications showing interventions for donors at the State Department, including one on behalf of a convicted money launderer. The relative lack of coverage on both the proof of the improper deletion of such emails and the pay-for-play concerns is astonishing — and magnify concerns that mainstream media has been giving such controversies minimal coverage.

Clinton turned over 30,000 emails and repeatedly insisted that some 30,000 deleted emails were entirely and clearly personal in nature. That has been proven to be untrue. More importantly, the emails contain clear interventions for donors. Clinton just recently denied any such connection between the Foundation and State Department business. 

However, in one email exchange, Doug Band, an executive at the Clinton Foundation, intervened for Gilbert Chagoury — a convicted money launderer — with the  US ambassador to Lebanon. Band emphasizes that Chagoury is a “key guy there [Lebanon] and to us” and asks Clinton aide Huma Abedin call Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman on behalf of Chagoury. Chagoury was a major donor to both the Foundation and is a close friend of former President Bill Clinton. He also pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative. He was convicted in 2000 in Switzerland for money laundering, but cut a deal to avoid jail time.
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Lena Dunham Encourages People To Tear Apart The Movie Posters Of Other Artists

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Fresh from declaring her support of Oberlin students in claiming the serving of sushi is cultural appropriation, actress Lena Dunham (creator of HBO’s “Girls”), is supporting producer Tami Sagher’s effort to get people to deface the posters for the Jason Bourne movie. The objection is to the inclusion of a gun. So Dunham and Sagher are calling for the work of other artists to be defaced because they disagree with the content. They are doing so without a hint of recognized hypocrisy. Despite the attack on free speech, the response has been muted from HBO and Hollywood figures to an actress and a producer calling for the vandalization of the work of other artists.

There has been a long complaint that advocates on the left appear to discard free speech values when they disagree with the content of speech, as we have seen on college campuses in recent years. That growing concern is evident in the call of producer Tami Sagher who posted a photo of the gun image ripped out of the Jason Bourne New York subway ad with the caption, “Hey New Yorkers, what if we do some peeling & get rid of the guns in the Jason Bourne subway ads. So tired of guns.”

Ok, you are tired of guns, but what you are really saying is that you reserve the right to prevent others from seeing images if you are “tired” of seeing them. To make matters worse, you want others to tear apart the images of other film artists because you are tired of them. Nevertheless, Dunham loved the idea of vandalizing images that she does not want to see. She reposted Sagher’s juvenile message and added “Good idea @tulipbone! Let’s go!”
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No “Glitch”: State Department Admits That Press Briefing Was Intentionally Edited To Remove Passage . . . But Insisted It Cannot Find Official Responsible

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You may recall the controversy of a press conference at the State Department was later edited to remove an embarrassing question and answer regarding the Iran negotiations. When the exchange with Fox New Reporter James Rosen was found missing, Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the press office insisted that “Genuinely, we think it was a glitch.” Now, the State Department is admitting that it was not a glitch but an intentional editing of the transcript to remove the exchange. However, State Department spokesman John Kirby insists that they cannot determine who ordered the deletion.

The exchange occurred in 2013 when Rosen got then-spokeswoman Jen Psaki to admit to misleading the press on the Iran nuclear deal. (Psaki is now White House Communications Director). Rosen reminded Psaki that he had asked in February whether there were bilateral talks with Iran on the issue. Then-spokesperson Victoria Nuland denied that such talks were underway by saying “on a government-to-government level, no.” In fact, there were such talks underway. In December, Rosen asked Psaki “Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?” Psaki responded: “James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.” That seemed to confirm the obvious that the Administration had lied to the media and the public.
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Clinton Offers New Explanation For Email Scandal

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I was on NPR yesterday on the Diane Rehm Show to discuss the Clinton email scandal. Appearing on the show was Brian Fallon, spokesperson for Hillary Clinton, who offered a new and rather implausible spin on the worsening scandal. Fallon said that Clinton was relying on her knowledge that Colin Powell used a personal email account as the reason that she thought her server was approved.

Here is what Fallon said in response to questions from Rehm:
I think that, as she has sought to explain in the multitude of interviews she’s done in the last few days since the report has come out, there was — and this is backed up in the IG report — one of her predecessors, Secretary Powell, had used personal email exclusively.And so she felt that in setting up her arrangement, that since his was approved, that hers was similar enough that it would be approved, too.
As I noted at the time, this is a new explanation. After the report said uncategorically that Clinton never asked for approval and would never have received approval for her unsecure personal server, she has switched from claiming that her server was “allowed” to she “believed it was allowed.”
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State Department Refutes Key Statements By Clinton On Email Scandal; Finds That She Violated Clear Rules

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While the New York Times has reported that the “State Department’s inspector general sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server” and “undermined some of Mrs. Clinton’s previous statements”, the report did far more than criticize and undermine. It directly contradicted Clinton’s assertions on a number of key points. It further indicated not only clear violations of the State Department rules, but rules that were made clear to Clinton and her staff.  (The Washington Post took a more critical view of Clinton’s statements in light of the report).  Moreover, while this report deals with State regulations and rules (as well as the Federal Records Act), it does have bearing on the ongoing criminal investigation to the degree that it shows knowledge or reckless disregard of the security protocols and rules. It does show precisely that.

The report clearly establishes a number of damaging facts. First, the State Department made clear that a personal server was not allowed and would present serious security risks for the country. Second, Clinton never asked or received permission for such a server. Third, the State Department would
never have approved such a server. Fourth, Clinton’s objections to using the secure State Department system was not convenience (as she previously stated) but access to her personal emails. Fifth, her actions failed to comply with the Federal Records Act. Sixth, Clinton suspected that she was being hacked but continued to use her personal server exclusively. Finally, the report indicates that Clinton did not fully cooperate with the subsequent inquiries and investigation.
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Texas Teachers and Police Launch Absurd Investigation After Eighth Grader Attempted To Pay for Lunch With $2 Bill

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We have been discussing the over-reaction officials in past cases where police have been called to address pranks or controversies once handled internally in schools. A news story out of Houston only servers to capture this absurdity. It began when Danesiah Neal, an eighth grader at Fort Bend Independent School District’s Christa McAuliffe Middle School, attempted to pay for lunch with a $2 bill given to her by her grandmother, Sharon Kay Joseph. The lunch personnel had never seen a $2 bill and what happened after that is truly absurd with school officials joining police in almost comical overreactions.
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‘This Is A Game’: The Clintons Continue To Mock Email Investigation

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I have previously written about the peculiar position of being counsel for Hillary Clinton when your client, her advisers, and allies mock the massive federal investigation that continues into her reckless use of an unsecured personal server for her official communications as Secretary of State. As counsel you usually strive to show investigators that your client understands the gravity of such violations and accepts responsibility for serious mistakes of judgment or action on her part. The Clintons however have been yielding to a political rather than a legal narrative in mocking the investigation — something that truly must mystify those FBI agents working the case. In the latest such example, former president Bill Clinton used a speech in Kokomo, Indiana to dismiss the FBI investigation is nothing more than “a game.”
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Clinton Declares That She Will Never Be Indicted And Insists That Her 'Predecessors Did The Same Thing' On Emails

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I watched last night’s debate with great interest. I thought both Sanders and Clinton had some very strong moments. However, I tend to watch these debates for the legal issues and I was most struck by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s discussion of the email scandal. First, she declared that she will never be indicted — a statement that may irritate federal investigations looking into possible crimes. She certainly has defenses and the odds may indeed favor her. However, defense attorneys usually discourage such statements from potential targets which can enrage prosecutors as presumptuous or suggesting some level of immunity. Second, she insisted that her “predecessors did the same thing” that she did on emails — a statement that is demonstrably untrue but again was left unchallenged by the journalists.

The Indictment Question

We previously discussed the controversy of the White House stating that the investigation was not moving toward any criminal charges — a statement would indicate either a sweeping assumption or an improper degree of consultation between the White House and the Justice Department on an ongoing investigation. As discussed below, having a personal server is not a crime. Mishandling classified material (or related classification violations) or evading federal laws can be. It would be premature to dismiss or predict an indictment. While the odds may be in her favor, it would be obviously absurd to say that no indictment is possible. It depends on the evidence, which remains largely unknown.

There is of course no way for Clinton to know about what will happen with the indictment. Given that she is running on the theme of “no one too big to jail,” the dismissing of the notion of an indictment is a tad incongruous. She certainly has support for saying that recent cases have resulted in relatively light punishment.
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Federal Magistrate Orders Apple To Help FBI Hack Its Own Phones . . . Apple Refuses

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Apple has decided to fight an unprecedented and highly controversial order by US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym that the company has to assist the government in breaking into one of its encrypted phones. Apple says that it does not have the technology and does not want to be part of such an effort to create a privacy stripping tool for the FBI. Pym seems to believe that she can order companies to become unwilling participants in surveillance research and development. I fail to see her legal basis for such an extraordinary order against a private company.

CEO Tim Cook said the order by US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand”. He said that the company cooperated with the FBI “But now the US government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”

Pym has gone far beyond what I consider the scope of her authority. Indeed, her actions appear almost legislative in nature. Congress has not ordered such back door access to be supplied by companies and such a move would raise difficult privacy questions. It would also conflict with some other countries that have balked at the effort of the Obama Administration to strip phones of privacy encryption protections.
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