Judicial Watch Sues U.S. Department of Transportation for Records of Communication with DC Government over Black Lives Matter Painting

September 21, 2020 | Judicial Watch Trump Administration Reportedly Has Told DC Government to Reopen Street and Remove Painting (Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation for records of communication between the Federal Highway Administration and the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation about the painting of “Black Lives Matter” on and the reopening of 16th Street NW near the White House in Washington, DC (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Transportation (No. 20-cv-02667)). This lawsuit was filed after the Federal Highway Administration failed to respond to an August 19, 2020, FOIA request asking for: Emails between the Federal Highway Administration and the District Department of Transportation about the painting of “Black Lives Matter” on 16th Street, N.W. between H and K Streets, N.W.  Emails between the Federal Highway Administration and the District Department of Transportation about the closure of 16th Street, N.W. between H and K Streets, N.W.  Records identifying policies or procedures for closing streets deemed part of the District Evacuation Route. On September 15, 2020, it was reported that the Federal Highway Administration informed Washington, DC, officials that it wanted them, “to remove the Black Lives Matter plaza sign so that part of 16th street in downtown Washington could be re-opened to traffic.” Further, there is “nothing in writing right now because no one wants to come down on the side against … the Black Lives Matter movement,” and there have been closed door meetings between the Mayor’s office, the Federal Highway Administration, and local businesses affected by the road closure. On June 5, 2020, after days of protests and riots in Washington, DC, led by the Black Lives Matter movement, a team of artists, residents, District employees, and demonstrators painted “Black Lives Matter” and the District’s crest, which resembles three stars above an “equals” sign, on 16th Street NW. The following day, demonstrators painted “Defund the Police,” a key demand of the Black Lives Matter movement, alongside the “Black Lives Matter” message. “DC Mayor Bowser shut down a major street near the White House to make a political statement for the BLM/Defund the Police agenda,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Our lawsuit highlights how and why federal dollars should not be used to subsidize this abuse.” On July 1, Judicial Watch filed a civil rights lawsuit against Mayor Bowser and other officials for First Amendment violations over their refusal to allow Judicial Watch to paint the message “Because No One Is Above the Law!” on a DC street. In August, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against Bowser, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation and the District of Columbia Department of Public Works for records about the painting of “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” on a DC street in front of the White House ###

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Judicial Watch Sues State of Illinois for Refusing to Disclose Voter Roll Data in Violation of Federal Law

September 21, 2020 | Judicial Watch Judicial Watch Analysis Finds Dirty Voting Rolls in State (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a lawsuit against the state of Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Elections, and its director for failing to allow public access to its voter roll data in violation of the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). State officials refused to allow the non-profit Illinois Conservative Union and three lawfully registered Illinois voters to obtain a copy of the state’s voter registration list, despite their lawful request for those records under federal law. Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit on their behalf in the United States District Court in the Northern District of Illinois (Illinois Conservative Union et al v. Illinois et al. (No. 1:20-cv-05542)). Federal law provides that states “shall make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters.”  On July 24, 2019, the Illinois Conservative Union sent a public records request under this provision to the Illinois State Board of Elections, requesting information about the maintenance of voter rolls, including the most recent voter registration list for Illinois. The request noted that the records “would be used solely for purposes intended by federal law, namely, to ensure the accuracy and currency of the official list of eligible voters,” the complaint said. The State Board of Elections denied the request, claiming that only political committees or governmental bodies may receive copies of records. The State Board did allow a few Illinois Conservative Union members to travel to Springfield, Illinois during working hours and afforded them the opportunity to review Illinois’ millions of voter records one at a time on a computer terminal, with no ability to sort or organize records. By this lawsuit the Illinois Conservative Union seeks meaningful access to the records it requested. As several federal courts have recognized, the public records provisions of the National Voter Registration Act were intended to enhance the ability of private groups to monitor whether states are removing ineligible voters from their voter rolls. In April, a federal court in Marylandnoted that organizations “such as Judicial Watch” have “the resources and expertise that few individuals can marshal. By excluding these organizations from access to voter registration lists,” the purpose of the federal law is undermined. That court ordered Maryland to produce complete voter registration records requested by Judicial Watch. In Illinois, Judicial Watch’s research found that 14 out of 102 counties (14% of all counties) have more registered voters than citizens over 18, while Illinois as a whole has 660,000 inactive registrants. “This lawsuit aims to open up Illinois voting records so private groups can tell whether they are dirty,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Illinois voters and citizens have a right to review election rolls under federal law and Illinois’ refusal to make them available suggests the state knows the rolls are a mess and won’t stand the light of the day.” Judicial Watch is a national leader for cleaner elections. Earlier this year, Judicial Watch sued Pennsylvania and North Carolina for failing to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from their rolls as required by federal law. The lawsuits allege that the two states have nearly 2 million extra names on voter registration rolls. In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a voter-roll cleanup program that resulted from a Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio. California settled a National Voter Registration Act lawsuit with Judicial Watch and last year began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s voter rolls. Kentucky also began a cleanup of hundreds of thousands of old registrations last year after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit. Judicial Watch’s 2019 study found 378 counties nationwide that had more voter registrations than citizens old enough to vote, i.e., counties where registration rates exceed 100%. These 378 counties combined had about 2.5 million registrations over the 100%-registered mark. Judicial Watch Attorney Robert Popper is the director of Judicial Watch’s election integrity initiative. Judicial Watch is being assisted by attorney David J. Shestokas of Orland Park, Illinois. ###

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Judicial Watch Statement on the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 18, 2020 | Judicial Watch (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement on the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Judicial Watch sends it condolences to the family of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She had a wonderful judicial temperament that will always be remembered. President Trump now has a historic opportunity to nominate yet another constitutional conservative who will honor the Constitution and the rule of law across the full spectrum of constitutional issues. And the U.S. Senate should move quickly to work with President Trump to consider and approve a new justice who will faithfully apply the U.S. Constitution. There is no reason we cannot have a new justice by Election Day. ###

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Judicial Watch: Obama State Department Official Notes Russians’ Trolling of Joe Biden on Hunter Biden Corruption Allegations

September 17, 2020 | Judicial Watch Calls Burisma ‘the Gift that Keeps on Giving’  (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it received three pages of records from the State Department that include a January 17, 2017, email from George Kent, the Obama administration’s deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy, which was copied to then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, highlighting Russia-linked media “trolling” Joe Biden over “his son’s business.” The records were obtained by Judicial Watch in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed in January 2020 seeking records of communications from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv mentioning Burisma (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:20-cv-00229)). (The records had been separately released to Citizens United.) An email was sent four days prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump to a redacted recipient and CCd to Yovanovitch with the subject line “medvedchuk-linked vesti trolls Biden.” Kent writes: “Burisma – gift that keeps on giving. (With medvedchuk affiliated Vesti pushing the troll like storyline on visit day)” Hunter Biden, son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, served on the board of directorsfor Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings despite having no previous experience in the energy industry. Kent includes a “Review of Ukrainian Printed Press,” that includes the Ukrainian newspaper Vesti, which described Biden’s visit to Ukraine, saying: “Will J. Biden arrive to secure his son’s business? According to experts, J. Biden, as the unofficial curator of ‘the Ukrainian question’, will give P. Poroshenko recommendations about working with the new US administration. Another aspect is the protection of his own business interests.” On January 17, 2017, Biden was on his sixth visit in seven years to Ukraine. When Biden visited Ukraine in 2015, he threatened to withhold $1 billion if the country’s top prosecutor was not dismissed. Hunter Biden was under investigation by the later-fired prosecutor general. Kent and Yovanovitch were both star witnesses for Democrats in the Trump impeachment hearings. Kent testified he warned the Obama administration about Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma: “My concern was that there was the possibility of a perception of a conflict of interest.” Kent answered the questions of Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL): CASTOR: OK, but you know Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma’s board of directors. At some point you testified in your deposition that you expressed some concern to the Vice President’s Office. Is that correct? KENT: That is correct. CASTOR: And what did they do about that concern that you expressed? KENT: I have no idea. I reported my concern to the Office of the Vice President. In April 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian gas company. He served on the board until early 2019. Burisma, which was under investigation by the Ukrainian government, stated at the time of his hiring that Biden would be “in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations.” “This email shows the Obama State Department had a longstanding concern about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s Burisma involvement – and how the Russians were using Biden’s conflicts of interest to undermine U.S. policy,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. ###

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Judicial Watch and Legal Insurrection Investigate University Retaliation against Professor Who Questioned ‘Systemic Racism’

September 16, 2020 | Judicial Watch Professor Charles Negy targeted after raising questions about leftist positions on race (Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that it has joined with Legal Insurrection Foundation to file a Florida public records request for communications at the University of Central Florida (UCF) related to Professor Charles Negy, who was attacked by campus leftists and the university administration after he raised questions about systemic racism. In August, Legal Insurrection wrote that “After Negy questioned claims of ‘systemic racism’ and asserted ‘black privilege is real,’ [referring to affirmative action, etc.] there has been a university-wide pile-on, with Negy alleging UCF is soliciting complaints against him and conducting an abusive investigation in an effort to justify firing him.” The UCF student senate passed a resolution asking for Negy’s termination, and there were protests on campus and at Negy’s home. UCF President Alexander Cartwright participated in a campus protest an also took to social media, tweeting, “we do not tolerate hate speech and must be unequivocally anti-racist in our words, actions and online behavior. Whenever we find discrimination in our community, we will take decisive action to stamp it out.” Michael Johnson, the interim provost, told The New York Times that Negy’s views are “vile.” Negy reportedly “has worked at UCF since 1998 and earned tenure in 2001, a status that can make it harder to fire him.” The public records request asks for records mentioning Negy, Cartwright, and other university officials, as well as communications with governmental and professional academic organizations regarding Negy. “The scourge of cancel culture won’t be cured in a matter of days, weeks, or even months. But sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we are committed to shining a light on the Negy case and other cases as well,” said William Jacobson, president, Legal Insurrection Foundation. “Freedom of speech is under attack at the very institutions that should be encouraging it,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Intellectual discourse on college campuses has now been replaced by angry mobs trying to silence and end the careers of professors who present nuanced views.” ###

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Judicial Watch and Daily Caller News Foundation Ask Court for Access to Joe Biden’s Senate Records at the University of Delaware

September 09, 2020 | Judicial Watch (Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed its opening brief in its lawsuit for access to former Vice President Joe Biden’s Senate records at the University of Delaware. The new court filing comes in Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation’s lawsuit filed after a Delaware Attorney General’s opinion denied them access to former Vice President Joe Biden’s Senate records, which are housed at the University of Delaware’s library (Daily Caller News Foundation v. University of Delaware (No. N20A-07-001)). The Delaware Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware on July 2, 2020. The lawsuit is challenging a state attorney general opinion that the Biden records are not “public records” because, the opinion concludes without evidence, no public funds are used to support the Biden records project at the University of Delaware. Judicial Watch responded in court that it is impossible for the Biden Senate documents, which are housed in the University of Delaware’s Library to not be supported by public funds. Judicial Watch notes that the University admitted that “[t]he State of Delaware provides the University with approximately $120 million each year through an appropriation in the state budget,” but never shows how public funds are not used to support the papers. Judicial Watch further points out that “archival storage space and professional staff members’ time are things of value that it can be inferred are paid for with public funds,” and notes that the requests even listed the, “University personnel who maintain the Senatorial Papers whose salaries, it can be inferred, are paid with State funds.”  Judicial Watch requests that the Court order the University to search for and produce the requested records. “Anyone running for public office, especially our highest office, should expect public scrutiny of their record, especially of their public record,” said Daily Caller News Foundation President Neil Patel. “It’s amazing that Joe Biden’s public papers are still sealed and nobody else in the press seems to care. We care and we are going to fight to get these records opened up as they should be.” “Delaware is hiding, in violation of law, Joe Biden’s Senate records,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is time for the University of Delaware to stop protecting Joe Biden and follow Delaware law, which requires them to provide public access to these public records.” Judicial Watch filed its FOIA lawsuit after the University denied its April 30, 2020, FOIA request for: All records regarding the proposed release of the records pertaining to former Vice President Joe Biden’s tenure as a Senator that have been housed at the University of Delaware Library since 2012. This request includes all related records of communication between the University of Delaware and any other records created pertaining to any meeting of the Board of Trustees during which the proposed release of the records was discussed. All records of communication between any representative of the University of Delaware and former Vice President Biden or any other individual acting on his behalf between January 1, 2018 and the present. On April 30, the Daily Caller News Foundation submitted its FOIA request to the University for: All agreements concerning the storage of more than 1,850 boxes of archival records and 415 gigabytes of electronic records from Joe Biden’s senate career from 1973 through 2009. Communications between the staff of the University of Delaware Library and Joe Biden or his senatorial, vice-presidential or political campaign staff, or for anyone representing any of those entities between 2010 [April 30,2020] about Joe Biden’s senate records. Any logs or sign-in sheets recording any individuals who have visited the special-collections department where records from Joe Biden’s senate career are stored between 2010 to the date of this request. All records from Joe Biden’s Senate career that have been submitted to the University of Delaware Library. Tara Reade, who accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993 when she worked as a staff assistant to the then-senator, has said that she believes a workplace discrimination and harassment complaint she filed against Biden at the time may be in the records housed at the University of Delaware. Biden also admitted to communicating with Vladimir Putin and other foreign leaders when he was a United State Senator. Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation are being represented by Delaware lawyers Ted Kittila and Bill Green of Halloran Farkas + Kittila LLP. ###

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Judicial Watch: DOJ Documents Show Mueller Withdrawing from Consideration for FBI Director Position, Raising Questions about His House Testimony

September 08, 2020 | Judicial Watch (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it received 47 pages of documents from the Department of Justice which includes a May 17, 2017, email documenting that Robert Mueller informed the Attorney General’s office he was withdrawing from consideration for director of the FBI. This recently released email raises new questions about Mueller’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on July 24, 2019, where he said a May 16, 2017 interview with President Donald Trump was “not about me applying for the job” as FBI director. The emails were produced to Judicial Watch in response to its February 2, 2019, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice after for all records of communications of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein between May 8 and May 17, 2017 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-00481)). In the May 17, 2017, email former Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein writes to then-Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt with the subject line: “Mueller” and states: “Withdrew from consideration for FBI director.” Hunt responds: “[redacted] called this morning and also withdrew his name from consideration.” On the same day, Rosenstein appointed Mueller special counsel for the Russia investigation. On July 24, 2019, Mueller, testified about whether he was interviewed for the FBI Director position in an exchange with Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL): STEUBE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Mueller, over here. Mr. Mueller did you indeed interview for the FBI director job one day before you were appointed as Special Counsel? MUELLER: My understanding I was not applying for that job, I was asked to give my input on what it would take to do the job, which triggered the interview you’re talking about. STEUBE: So you don’t recall on May 16th, 2017 that you interviewed with the president regarding the FBI director job? MUELLER: I interviewed with the president and it was about… STEUBE: Regarding the FBI director job? MUELLER: …it was about the job and not about me applying for the job. STEUBE: So your statement here today is that you didn’t interview to apply for the FBI director job? MUELLER: That’s correct. STEUBE: So it – did you tell the vice president that the FBI director position would be the one job that you would come back to – for? MUELLER: I don’t recall that one. STEUBE: You don’t recall that? MUELLER: No. President Trump said that Mueller did indeed “apply and interview” for the FBI director job and that claims otherwise presented a conflict of interest that should have kept him out of the Russia investigation. The president tweeted on July 24, 2019, the day of Mueller’s House testimony: “It has been reported that Robert Mueller is saying that he did not apply and interview for the job of FBI Director (and get turned down) the day before he was wrongfully appointed Special Counsel. Hope he doesn’t say that under oath in that we have numerous witnesses to the interview, including the Vice President of the United States!” The latest production of documents from the DOJ also includes a letter dated May 19, 2017, from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to President Trump in which the senator recommends Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for the director’s position at the bureau. Feinstein writes that McCabe “has demonstrated leadership and excellence while engaged in some of the most high-profile and complex cases.” Feinstein goes on to conclude: “During my time on both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have been impressed by Mr. McCabe and believe him to be a man of honor. He is exactly the kind of person we need leading the FBI right now, and I hope you give him strong consideration.” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report in 2018 detailing multiple instances in which McCabe “lacked candor” with FBI Director James Comey, FBI investigators, and inspector general investigators about his authorization to leak sensitive information to the Wall Street Journal that revealed the existence of an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation. On March 16, 2018, McCabe was fired by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. After stonewalling on Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests for years, the FBI in late July agreed to release McCabe’s text messages, though have yet to release any of them. “The corrupted Justice Department and FBI inexcusably hid these and other smoking gun records about Mueller and Rosenstein for nearly three years,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is well past time for a serious independent investigation of Mueller and his abusive special counsel operation.” In February 2020, Judicial Watch uncovered Rosenstein’s communications with former Obama officials, such as Eric Holder, as well as information sharing with the media in the days immediately surrounding the inception of the Mueller investigation. In October 2019, Judicial Watch, through this same lawsuit, uncovered Rosenstein’s communications from this lawsuit that included a one-line email Mueller stating: “The boss and his staff do not know about our discussions,” as well as “off the record” emails with major media outlets around the date of Mueller’s appointment. In September 2019, through a separate lawsuit, Judicial Watch uncovered records from the Department of Justice showing officials’ efforts in responding to media inquiries about DOJ/FBI talks allegedly invoking the 25th Amendment to “remove” President Donald Trump from office and Rosenstein offering to wear a “wire” to record his conversations with the president. Later that month, Judicial Watch uncovered a two-page memo, dated May 16, 2017, by then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe detailing how Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire into the Oval Office “to collect additional evidence on the president’s true intentions.” McCabe wrote that Rosenstein said he thought it was possible because “he was not searched when he entered the White House.” ###

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