Judicial Watch Update: The IRS-Benghazi Congress


The IRS-Benghazi Congress

In many ways, the results from this week’s elections confirm what you already know as a supporter of Judicial Watch.  Voters are sick and tired of the Obama administration’s lawlessness.  The new Congress has new mandate to clean up Washington and put the Obama administration (and, frankly, itself) back under the rule of law.

And all the talk of policies and campaign ads is for naught if elections can be stolen. Assuming the leftists in the Obama administration cared about what voters think, they would see their war on voter ID has little support. Contrary to what Obama, Eric Holder and other leftist critics of voter identification requirements have said, a broad cross-section of Americans do not view the new state laws as unduly burdensome and discriminatory.

In fact, a substantial majority of Americans ardently support new state laws that require voters to show some form of identification. That’s what the results of an election night survey of voters organized through The Polling Company Inc. shows. The poll, which was drawn from the responses of 806 actual 2014 voters, was released today by Judicial Watch and Breitbart.com

Going inside the results, we found that 76 percent of respondents agreed that “laws that require voters to present a photo ID before casting a ballot” to be “mostly fair.” Just 21 percent said it was “mostly unfair.” A total of 69 percent of Americans consider it “not a burden at all.” The results for minorities were particularly revealing. We found 45 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics consider voter ID “not a burden at all.”  The race card played by the Obama administration against voter ID is so ludicrous that even minorities reject it.

(By the way, on election integrity, we had a major new pilot program in New Hampshire this week to monitor the polls there.  We had a few concerns about we saw, and I hope to report to you next week.  In the meantime, you can see some details about it over at Breitbart.com, which quoted our Election Integrity Project team leader Bob Popper at length about his preliminary analysis.)

Immigration is controversial in Washington because politicians of both parties want amnesty and don’t want to enforce the law.  Immigration isn’t terribly controversial for voters – as this (and our previous polling) finds strong support for a rule of law approach to the illegal immigration crisis.

Most voters expressed support for the enforcement of immigration and opposed financial inducements that benefit illegal aliens. A majority of voters (58 percent) said they believe “We should enforce current laws that require illegal immigrants to return to their home countries.” And half of all Americans (50 percent) believe the United States should change current immigration law to slow the rate of legal immigration. When asked whether illegal aliens should receive “discounted ‘in-state’ tuition rates, subsidized by taxpayers, for state-run colleges and universities,” 76 percent of voters disagree, 65 percent strongly. Among minorities, 58 percent of Blacks and 59 percent of Hispanics disagree (8 percent of Blacks and 31 percent of Hispanics strongly disagree).

With an eye toward the final two years of the Obama Administration, voters were asked:  “Do you agree or disagree that President Obama should through executive action allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States, 63 percent disagree (53 percent “strongly,” 10 percent “somewhat”). Only 30 percent agree. Among minorities, 52 percent of Blacks and 60 percent of Hispanics agree that Obama should allow illegal immigrants to remain through executive action.  Again, amnesty proponents arrogantly believe Hispanics are a mass of automatons that uniformly want amnesty and unsecured borders.  Who speaks for those millions of Hispanics who want the rule of law enforced?  Not Obama.  Not the Chamber of Commerce.  And not Republican amnesty supporters.

Poll results pointed to more areas of intense voter concern that are our specialty.

Corruption in the federal government continues to be a serious concern among voters, with 92 percent saying they consider it a serious problem and 65 percent saying they consider it “very serious.” The poll also showed that an overwhelming majority of voters do not believe that President Obama kept his 2008 promise to have the “most transparent government in history.” This one is not a close call at all, as 80 percent of respondents said the federal government has become “less transparent” or “stayed about the same” over the past six years. Within this group, 46 percent said “less transparent” and 34 percent said “stayed about the same.” Only 16 percent said the government has become “more transparent” during the Obama administration.

The corrupt Obamacare takeover of our health care is also not popular. Obamacare did not fare well with Election Day voters, with 89% saying the health care law should be changed. 60% said that Obamacare should be repealed altogether, 18% said that “major fixes” needed to be made, and 29% called for “minor fixes.”  Adding the politicized IRS to mix does not help – 66% disagreed that the IRS should be empowered to “collect information from taxpayers about their health insurance” under Obamacare.

Benghazi and the IRS dominated the news this year thanks to Judicial Watch’s work in exposing smoking gun documents in both scandals – work that left Congress and much of the other media looking feeble.  JW’s work can change history.  Our intent is to get the truth and we spared neither party from criticism.  But voters were outraged at our findings and the scandals were a major factor in the election.

Almost half, 49% said the results of the 2012 Presidential election would have been different if the public knew the facts then that it knows now about the Obama administration’s initial, misleading story about what happened in Benghazi and the targeting of conservative groups through the IRS.

In no small way, this new Congress is the Benghazi-IRS Congress.  The expanded House majority, which has a historic number of Republican members, and the massive wave that led to the Republican takeover of the Senate were the result of voter concerns about Obama’s IRS abuse and the Benghazi deaths and cover-up.  48% of voters said the IRS scandal influenced their vote, and of those concerned Americans, 71% voted for Republicans to take over the Senate.  The numbers are similar for Benghazi; 39% said the scandal influenced their vote and 64% who were concerned about the terrorist attack this president lied about to get reelected say they voted for Republicans in the Senate.

In sum, the Judicial Watch-Breitbart poll reflected an electorate strongly supportive of protecting both the integrity of the ballot box and our national sovereignty. By more than two-thirds they overwhelmingly disagree with the directions in which the Obama administration is taking our country. The fact that the percentage of Americans citing corruption in the federal government has risen by a full 7% in the past two years reflects a growing realization that President Obama’s wholesale disregard for constitutional restraints is taking a serious toll on our nation.

The new Congress has a strong mandate to pursue Obama’s abuse of power in the IRS scandal, hold him accountable for the Benghazi lies, protect our borders, close the door on amnesty, end Obamacare, confront government secrecy, and ensure the integrity of our elections.  Judicial Watch has been happy to do the job of Congress, the establishment media, and the Justice Department for six years. Again, this election shows that Americans want Congress to follow our lead and get Washington back under the rule of law.

(The Polling Company Inc. interviewed 806 actual 2014 voters nationwide. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.5%.  Results with crosstabs are available here.)

IRS Stonewalls, Judicial Watch Seeks Justice in Federal Court

At least they’re not pretending.

Agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have openly acknowledged in a legal brief to District Court for the District of Columbia that it has not searched for any of the missing emails connected with Lois Lerner, the former head of the tax exempt unit. The IRS brief was filed in opposition to our request that a federal judge allow discovery into how “lost and/or destroyed” IRS records connected with the targeting of conservative groups may be destroyed. We have filed a lawsuit that is now before U.S. District Judge Emmett G. Sullivan to force IRS testimony and document production about the loss of records.

The IRS has worked to block us at every turn. In our September 17 motion for limited discovery we point out that despite two court orders the agency has declined to provide information that details how the missing emails can be retrieved. What’s remarkable here is that IRS attorneys openly admitted that additional congressional requests could result in the location of certain documents even as they asked the court to deny our request. After reviewing IRS court filings, it has become apparent to us that the IRS did not undertake any serious effort to obtain emails from alternative sources following discovery that the emails were missing.

The IRS has been very open and transparent in one important respect; it’s unwillingness to cooperate with information requests. Department of Justice lawyers, who represent the IRS (and all other federal agencies) in our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, admitted the IRS refused to search the agency’s disaster recovery tapes because, in their words, there was “no reason to believe that the tapes are a potential source of recovering” the missing emails. They also admitted they had “no reason to believe such a system even exists.”

The perfidy is inescapable. The IRS, through its Justice Department attorneys, told Judicial Watch that Lois Lerner’s emails, and for that matter all government records, are backed up by the federal government as a precaution against any government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration’s attorneys claim that this back-up is too onerous and too burdensome to search. There’s more. The IRS, in its court filing, also says that 760 other email “servers” have been discovered, but not searched. The IRS will not reveal the names of agency officials who may have information about the growing scandal. Remarkably, the IRS has not searched any of its regular computer systems for missing records and only admits to searching an unspecific “database” that is knows does not contain any of the missing information.

We should not be put in a position where we have to rely on incomplete transcripts, and out-of-court conversations to determine what systems the IRS is searching. As is the case with all FOIA litigation, we would say an “asymmetrical distribution of knowledge” exists between the IRS, on the one hand, and with Judicial Watch and the court on the other. This is why the discovery process is so vital to our efforts. With help and assistance from a highly politicized Department of Justice, the IRS has engaged in a series of evasive distractions. The IRS thinks it can game the courts, Congress and the American people. Our lawsuit is critical. It offers the best opportunity to break through this obstruction of justice. Lerner resigned from the IRS in September 2013 and pleaded the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination when called to testify before Congress about the scandal.

Meanwhile, the IRS has told members of the press that it is cooperating with investigations and requests for information. This is just not plausible. Yesterday, Judge Sullivan rejected our motion for discovery (at least for now).  The court wants us to try to resolve these issues further with the IRS and said we failed to adequately consult the IRS before asking for any discovery.

It is worth noting that the IRS objects to any discovery and has told the court that we should wait years before even being able to ask to the court to see if we can figure out to end the Obama IRS cover-up.  That said, we are doing as the court ordered.  All we want is the truth and the documents due to us and the American people under federal law.  The IRS scandal isn’t going away – nor is Judicial Watch, no matter how much this president’s appointees obstruct our investigation.

Judicial Watch Does It Again on Fast and Furious

We did it again.  In an Election Eve document dump, the Obama Justice Department released over 64,000 records to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee about the Operation Fast and Furious cover-up.  The House had been seeking the documents as part of a two-year effort that went nuclear with a first-in-history contempt citation by the House for Eric Holder, who had been withholding the documents about why his agencies lied to Congress about the Fast and Furious scandal.

Well, the House (and the American people) finally got the documents.  And it was only thanks to Judicial Watch!

As I’ve reported to you previously, a week before the June 28, 2012, Holder contempt vote, President Obama asserted executive privilege over Fast and Furious records the House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed eight months earlier. This was a not-too-subtle effort to protect Holder from criminal prosecution and preempt the contempt vote. We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking these Fast and Furious records just two days after Obama made his assertion of executive privilege. After the DOJ predictably denied our FOIA request, we filed a FOIA lawsuit on September 12, 2012.

The worm turned on the Obama cover-up back on July 18, 2014, when U.S. District Judge John D. Bates at the District of Columbia lifted a 16-month delay of our open records lawsuit and ordered production of the Vaughn index by October 1. In his decision, Bates pointed out that no court has ever “expressly recognized” the kind of executive privilege claims that Obama has invoked over Fast and Furious. Importantly, Judge Bates also suggested in his ruling that disclosure of these documents could help to resolve a legal dispute between the Obama administration and the House Oversight Committee that is now before Judge Amy Berman Jackson at the District Court for the District of Columbia:

True, nothing in the subpoena enforcement context of House Committee would require DOJ to produce a particularized description of the withheld documents…But this is a FOIA case, and since 1973, when Vaughn was decided, courts in this circuit have required agencies to justify their FOIA withholdings on a particularized basis. And doing so here will not prematurely expose or resolve the executive privilege issues ahead of Judge Jackson and the political branches; it will merely permit the parties and this court to cull from the dispute any documents as to which a valid, non-executive privilege reason for withholding exists, thereby narrowing or perhaps even resolving the case.

To the extent DOJ argues that the mere production of the Vaughn index-not involving the release of any documents in dispute-would alter the historical balance of powers between the branches, any unbalancing would result from FOIA itself, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, and which this court cannot ignore forever.

Judge Bates was right, as a few weeks later (on August 21), Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the House Committee litigation, ordered the Justice Department to produce the same records to the House.  Holder, who was at the center of the Fast and Furious obstruction, resigned after his stonewalling finally failed.

Judicial Watch then received the index of the documents on October 22.  The index exposed the Obama administration’s specious and unjustified claims of executive privilege, which led to the inevitable result – the release of over 64,000 pages of records to Congress earlier this week.  The sad fact is the House Committee was getting nowhere in obtaining this information until Judicial Watch’s separate court action forced the Justice Department’s hand.   As the Daily Mail pointed out:

The massive tranche of emails released Tuesday, while the news media’s attention was fixed on election maps and poling-place results, were brought about by a series of events primed by a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch, the center-right watchdog group famous for wringing incriminating paperwork out of secretive bureaucracies.

In an effort to advance the cause of gun control, department officials allowed guns to find their way into the arms of Mexican drug cartel members. These weapons have been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of innocent Mexicans. By any reasonable metric, the Obama Justice Department has contributed to violence along the already insecure border regions. The information Team Obama has fought to conceal is of vital interest to law abiding citizens on both sides of the border.

Judicial Watch performed a public service in forcing these documents for Congress.  Congress, unfortunately, has yet to release the new material.  Judicial Watch will.  The Justice Department has caved to us and will provide the requested documents on November 18.  We will follow up and pursue the leads, try to obtain more information, and continue to get accountability for Obama’s deadly gun running operation.

 Until next week,


Tom Fitton
President

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