Nel's New Day

April 11, 2019

Barr, Others Face Congressional Hearings

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has done one smart thing for himself: with the help of corrupt GOP, he put Bill Barr into the DOJ leadership. Much has been written about Barr’s protection of DDT for the past two days in hearings about his “Barr Report,” a bastardized interpretation of Mueller’s investigation. But before that, Barr put DDT above the Constitution. Thanks to Barr, DDT’s financial benefits from foreign payments to his hotels, resorts, condos, and trademarks have been exempted from the emolument clause: foreign countries can pander to DDT as much as they want by paying inflated prices at his facilities. The justification is that DDT doesn’t get the money because of his “official capacity” because it’s related only to his private business.

Barr also supports DDT by lying for him. “I support the president’s policy, which is we’re not going to separate families,” Barr said two days before DDT fired his DHS secretary for refusing to separate families. About the Affordable Care Act, Barr said that DDT supports protections for people with pre-existing conditions while Barr goes to court to eliminate the ACA. Today, Barr continued his lying during testimony before House Appropriations Committee and its chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), ignoring how transparent his falsehoods are. He claimed that DDT had no warning about Russia targeting DDT’s first presidential campaign despite media coverage to the contrary. From NBC reporting on December 18, 2017:

“In the weeks after he became the Republican nominee on July 19, 2016, Donald Trump was warned that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign, according to multiple government officials familiar with the matter. The warning came in the form of a high-level counterintelligence briefing by senior FBI officials, the officials said.”

Like a squid shooting ink, Barr tried to cover up for DDT and Republicans though his obfuscations and lies. He told committee members that he was “concerned” that the government during President Obama’s administration had “spied” on DDT’s campaign although he admitted he had no evidence. Going beyond protecting DDT with redactions, Barr plans an investigation into Russia’s “spying” against DDT’s first presidential campaign.

About his claim, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote under the heading of “Trump Toady”:

“This is the language of a PR spinner, not the attorney general of the United States. As my colleague Aaron Blake points out, ‘spying’ is a loaded phrase and a political accusation.”

Congressional members were disturbed by Barr’s bizarre allegations:

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted that Barr’s words contradicted previous Department of Justice communications and asked for an immediate briefing to clarify the issue.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said he had been told nothing about any spying on DDT’s campaign and that “almost seems to be endorsing one of these theories that has been debunked time and time again.” Warner added that Barr’s comments are “disrespectful” to Department of Justice employees.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, argued “the top law enforcement officer of the country should not casually suggest that those under his purview engaged in ‘spying’ on a political campaign” and that Barr’s “partisan talking point … strikes another destructive blow to our democratic institutions.”

Barr couldn’t even answer questions on issues other than the Mueller investigation.

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) asked in the hearing about people losing health care coverage if Barr succeeds in helping to overturn the ACA because there is no replacement. Barr said, “If this is such a hokey position to have, what are you worried about?” Adding that healthcare is a policy issue, Barr added, “I’m a lawyer. I’m not in charge of health care.”

Barr didn’t know that the DOJ, his own department, found a 17-percent rise in hate crimes in 2017.

At least the redacted pages won’t be all black. Barr plans to color-code his redactions and add “explanatory notes” for each redaction. He plans to redact information in four categories: classified information, current investigations, and peripheral people not charged with a crime. Barr denies that DDT would fit into this category, but he also lies. “Executive privilege” might also be redacted. Barr won’t ask a federal court to allow Congress to see grand jury material. If Nadler wants to see it, he can ask the court, Barr said.

Some salient comments from Barr’s hearing yesterday:

Asked specifically whether the investigation was a witch hunt, Barr said, “it depends on where you sit.”

Asked if the White House has seen or been briefed on Mueller’s report, Barr said, “I’m not going to say anything more about it.” [Sounds like, “Yes, but I don’t want to admit it.” Richard Nixon’s AG John Mitchell went to prison for 19 months for conducting obstruction on Nixon’s behalf by briefing him on investigations.] Earlier he had said that he had not consulted

Barr plans to release his [heavily] redacted report “within a week” but won’t talk about it until then. Congress is on recess for the next two weeks.

Barr’s misrepresentation in his four-page summary of the Mueller report that clears DDT of obstruction of justice has disturbed members of the investigative team who found “alarming and significance” evidence of this obstruction. They also found that evidence of collusion was “compelling.” Barr said that Mueller did not review the Barr Report before he submitted it to Congress.

The “Spygate” that Barr intends to “investigate”started with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) when he maintained that the surveillance of Carter Page, which started over a year before DDT announced his first campaign, was politically motivated. Nunes had a lot to say but never read the intelligence surrounding the FISA issued for Page by four GOP-appointed judges. Investigation of the infamous Steele dossier, created through an investigation to find damaging information about DDT and other GOP candidates by conservative Paul Singer, also revealed that it did not trigger the FBI investigation into Russian influence over the U.S. election. Singer pulled his funding for the project after Sen. Marco Rubio pulled out of his presidential campaign.

Jubilant about Barr’s testimony, DDT repeatedly shouts, “They spied. They spied!” He also asserted, “I have not read the Mueller report. I won. No collusion, no obstruction. I won. Everybody knows I won.” A majority of people, 56 percent, think that DDT and his campaign have not been exonerated. The investigation is still in play. DDT commonly claims that “everybody knows ….” Here are 30 examples.

Barr wasn’t the only person testifying to Congress this week. Jeffrey Rosen faced fire at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for a position to replace Rod Rosenstein as deputy AG by refusing to firmly commit to making special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia probe public.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had a contentious appearance before the House Financial Services Committee when he tried to give weak excuses for the IRS breaking the law by failing to give Congress six years of DDT’s tax returns. Mnuchin said that DDT already won the 2016 election and had disclosed some information about personal finances. He also said that Kevin Brady hadn’t requested specific returns; President Obama voluntarily disclosed his tax returns every year. A GOP chair obtained tax returns in 2014 from conservative and liberal nonprofit groups claiming tax-exempt status.

When Mnuchin maintained that he had to leave for an “important meeting,” the back and forth erupted into Mnuchin petulantly telling Chair Maxine Waters with appropriate hand gestures, “Please dismiss everybody. I believe you’re supposed to take the gravel [sic] and bang it.” The exchange is well worth watching.

About releasing his tax returns, DDT’s excuse is “the people don’t care.” A majority of people, 51 percent, want Democrats to require DDT to release his returns. Even more, 64 percent, want DDT to voluntarily release his tax returns. IRS officials said that being under audit, DDT’s excuse, does not prevent people from releasing returns. DDT’s assertion, that there’s “no law whatsoever” for turning over his tax returns, also doesn’t hold water. A 1924 statute gives some congressional leaders access to anyone’s tax returns.  in this area, he’s overlooking one inconvenient statute. The only reason to hide DDT’s tax returns is if they contain incriminating information.

February 2, 2018

Memo Day Arrives

Filed under: Russia — trp2011 @ 10:40 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Memo is out! For weeks, Fox’s Sean Hannity has been calling on Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to release a document that would destroy the Robert Mueller investigation into the Russia’s collusion to win the presidential election for DDT. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who got his spin for the memo from the White House, pushed the release of misleading, inaccurate information to protect DDT with the vote of his GOP members of the Intelligence Committee, who also unanimously denied the Democrats to release any information. After the memo was approved, Nunes changed the memo because he gave it to DDT, and the White House could then make more changes, also not approved by the committee, before permitting its release.

Both DDT’s FBI director, Christopher Wray, and National Intelligence director, Dan Coats, warned DDT that the memo’s information was inaccurate and compromised classified information. DDT didn’t even read the document before he agreed to its release.

The memo accuses the FBI and DOJ of abusing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when he it obtained a warrant to surveil an adviser for DDT’s campaign because the reason was misleading. The FBI and DOJ first applied for a warrant on October 21, 2016 to surveil Carter Page. A renewal was required every 90 days. Three signers of a warrant—James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Sally Yates—have been fired; two, Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein, remain in the government. Rod Rosenstein may be fired because he might not be willing to fire Robert Mueller.

Nunes claimed that Christopher Steele, paid to prepare a dossier on DDT, told a senior DOJ official that he wanted to be sure that DDT didn’t get elected with no evidence of any bias against Page, the subject of the warrant. The memo also claims that no warrant would have been obtained without the Steele dossier, but there is no evidence about this except private testimony that others claim has been “mischaracterized.” The FBI had considered Page might be a target of Russian intelligence long before he became involved with DDT after Page met a Russian spy in 2013.

The document’s conclusion concentrates on the text messages between two FBI employees that, according to the memo, illustrated “a clear bias against Trump and in favor of [Hillary] Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated.” Yet other Peter Strzok text messages are equally critical of Clinton, and he co-drafted the letter about publicizing the text messages related to Clinton 11 days before the election, an action that may have elected DDT. With no evidence, Nunes’ memo blames the employees for leaking information to the media.

The released document had only one surprise, that George Papadopoulos was responsible for initiating the FBI investigation after he bragged to an Australian diplomat over drinks in London that the Russians have dirt on Hillary Clinton before the hack on the DNC emails became public. Concerned about the Russian involvement, the diplomat warned the FBI. Papadopoulos is testifying to Robert Mueller.

In the past, Nunes demonstrated strong support for greater surveillance, voting for the expansion of the National Security Agency’s warrantless program and helping block others who wanted to restrict the agency from spying on U.S. citizens. He also rejected a suggestion to release the FBI/DOJ request for the warrant, redacted for classified information and privacy, to show what information was used in the court affidavit.

From his ranch in Arizona, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) issued a statement about Nunes’ release of the memo:

“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro and beyond. The latest attacks against the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests ― no party’s, no President’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the lens of politics and manufacturing political sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

Nunes apparently jobbed out the writing of his memo. His aides wrote the document, and he didn’t even see the warrant. Only one Democrat and one Republican, plus staff, are permitted to see these warrants. Nunes assigned the task to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Therefore, Nunes cannot know whether his own document is accurate. The day after Nunes announced the release of the memo, Gowdy abruptly announced that he would not be running for re-election. Swept in with the 2010 Tea Party epidemic, Gowdy became famous with his incessant grilling of Hillary Clinton over four deaths at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi (Libya) in 2012.  One of the almost dozen “interviews” lasted about eleven hours and revealed no new information. By 2016, Gowdy admitted that Clinton was not responsible. Gowdy’s other persecution of Clinton was her private email server although he himself used private email instead of a government server. He said he wants to return to the justice system, and the 4th Circuit Court has a vacancy. may have his eye on an appointment for the 4th Circuit Court. Over 40 House GOP members of the 115th Congress are already not running in this year’s election.

Nunes has used his power to cover for DDT by refusing to investigate Russian interference. He is controlling the Republicans in the House: even House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) won’t disagree with his unethical actions and claims “malfeasance” in the FBI. Nunes also announced his release of the memo when DDT said that he would not follow a law by Congress requiring new sanctions on Russia when DDT’s CIA director, Mike Pompeo, has “every expectation that they will continue” trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

The GOP promised that Nunes’ memo would be “worse than Watergate.” Watchers of Sean Hannity and Fox will have an entirely different perspective of the memo than the rest of the world. And DDT will be delighted because he gets all his advice from Fox. He told friends that the release of the memo would allow him to argue FBI prejudice against him. Most people, however, as saying, “That’s it?” The memo.

Russia This Week:

DDT backed off on his guarantee because lawyers are afraid that he’ll lie to them. Seventy-one percent of people in the U.S. agree that he should agree to an interview with Mueller, and 82 percent of them want it under oath—93 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans.

Mark Corallo, DDT’s legal team spokesman who resigned last summer from concern that he might be exposed to obstruction, agreed to meet with Robert Mueller. His testimony involves Hope Hicks, communications director, who loves DDT “like a father,” who said in front of DDT with no lawyer present that the emails written by Donald Trump Jr. leading up to the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer “will never get out.” Corallo notified the legal team about the conversation and took notes as well as sharing his concerns with Steve Bannon. DDT had insisted that the statement maintain that Jr.’s meeting was about Russian adoptions. Jr. insisted on the addition of the word “primarily” about the meeting subject.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asked DDT for help before his testimony at the House Judiciary Committee to keep Rep. Devin Nunes from getting “sensitive documents.” In this December visit, DDT asked about the direction of the investigation and whether Rosenstein was “on my team,” similar to questions he posed to James Comey before he fired him and then Andrew McCabe who is also gone. DDT also proposed questions to the committee for Rod Rosenstein, including whether Rosenstein picked Mueller as investigator because Mueller wasn’t chosen for FBI director.

No Sanctions against Russia:

  • July 2017: Congress imposed new sanctions on Russia for election meddling with a deadline. Senate passed the bill by 98-2. DDT signed the bill with a note of protest and an angry tweet. He then missed all the deadlines.
  • October 2017: DDT disbanded the sanctions office.
  • January 29, 2018: Deadline for sanctions. Otherwise, DDT will flout Congress and violate the law. DDT announced he won’t be following the law.  At the same time, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats met with two top Russian spy chiefs. Reuters found out by reading Russian media.

Andrew McCabe was “removed” from the FBI.

This week DDT gave his State of the Union speech, Nunes released his memo, Nunes’ opponent for the House raised $100,000 in one day, and the Dow Jones dropped over 1,000 points.

January 13, 2018

DDT: Good, Bad & Weird

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:50 PM
Tags: ,

After excoriating his predecessor for how little he worked, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has a rapidly shrinking schedule from about 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, with hours of “Executive Time,”—watching television—before he retires to the residence for more television and tweeting. Months ago, he admitted that the presidency is “more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” Now he’s working much less than earlier and holding fewer meetings because he “didn’t like the longer official schedule.” Last week DDT had no public events on his schedule. His total work schedule seems to average 1.75 hours of work each day. Yet he (with the GOP) still manages to put his mark on the nation. Here are a few from last week:

The Good:

For the first time, a court has ruled that states cannot draw legislative districts to benefit one party. North Carolina is required to redraw its 13 unconstitutionally-partisan congressional districts within three weeks. Other gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland are pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the 2016 general election, Republicans in North Carolina had a less than two percent majority of the votes for U.S. House of Representatives but gained ten of the thirteen positions. The U.S. Supreme Court will also hear two Texas cases about the GOP oppressing minority voting.

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, regarding the Ohio law that purges voters from the roles if they have not voted in two federal elections and not responded to responded to a notice from state officials. Federal law “says you can’t use failure to vote as the reason for purging somebody from the rolls,” but Ohio claims that the justification is that they don’t respond to the notice. The 2016 election showed that people may not respond but still want to vote, as in the case of 7,500 voters after the 6th Circuit Court blocked the law. DDT’s Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a former member of the religious conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, vaguely responded to his support of disenfranchisement when Justice Sonia Sotomayor said:

“There’s a 24-year history of solicitor generals of both political parties under . . . presidents of both political parties who have taken a position contrary to yours. [It] seems quite unusual that your office would change its position so dramatically.”

Ohio is the only state that initiates a voter purge immediately after a person fails to vote in one election.

Anti-choice activist Teresa Manning who doesn’t believe in the efficacy of popular contraception has resigned her position as director of the HHS family planning program that includes providing Title X family-funding for four million poor people in the U.S. Security officials escorted from the building. [Bad News: Abstinence education advocate Valerie Huber is still acting deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Population Affairs.]

Federal Judge James Boasberg, skeptical about why the DOJ won’t release former FBI director James Comey’s memos about DDT, ordered DOJ to give him the memos so that he can decide whether they should be released.

DDT’s again waived sanctions against Iran after claiming that he will stop the U.S. deal with Iran.

Claiming that President Obama sold the U.S. embassy in the UK and moved its location, DDT is canceling his trip to London. The change was initiated during the second George W. Bush term, and the U.S. didn’t own the embassy. Massive protests had already been promised for his visit. [Bad News: Media such as the AP didn’t correct DDT’s lies.]

After building Breitbart.com into an ultra-conservative website since Andrew Breitbart’s death in 2012, Steve Bannon lost his positions as executive chairman and host of a daily show on SiriusXM Radio. Since his breakup with DDT and financial supporters Robert and Rebekah Mercer, Bannon has also hired Bill Burck of Quinn Emanuel to prepare for his interview with the House Intelligence committee next week and will “fully cooperate” with Robert Mueller’s investigation.

A White House court filing admitted DDT’s voting “integrity” commission found no voter fraud in 2016  and will destroy the group’s confidential voter data. Former leader Kris Kobach was caught in a lie when DHS said that he would not be advising an investigation of the commission findings. [Bad News: Until DDT, the Department of Homeland Security was responsible for catching terrorists; now it has been assigned to search for non-existent voter fraud.]

Four GOP House members—Carlos Curbelo (FL), Mia Love (UT), Erik Paulsen (MN), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL)—denounced DDT for his shithole comments. [Bad News: The other 233 GOP members of the House supported DDT or stayed complicitly silent.]

The Bad:

Last June, DDT said that he would be willing to answer questions about any Russian collusion under oath. Last week he avoided the topic. DDT’s lawyers are considering a tactic of DDT’s signing an affidavit that he has committed no wrongdoing and knows nothing about any collusion instead of meeting with prosecutors. Much more will be heard about the interaction between Robert Mueller and DDT’s lawyers in the coming weeks.

Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska is using Mueller’s indictment as part of his evidence in suing Paul Manafort and Rick Gates for misappropriation of $18.9 million. Manafort supposedly offered the oligarch private briefings on the DDT campaign in July 2016. In late 2017, a $26 million loan to Manafort brought the amount of loans from Deripaska to approximately $60 million in the past decade.

Rep. Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is blocking witnesses from testifying about Russia and DDT, even those who know about the July 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer. Nunes has also blocked requests for documents.

DDT’s plan “Buy American,” putting guns into the hands of drug cartels and terrorists, uses U.S. attachés and diplomats as arms dealers and expands weapons sales to countries with poor human rights records. Embassy staffers will be responsible for promoting weapons sales and helping finalize pending arms deals. Authors of “Buy American” are connected to the arms manufacturing industry. The State Department is also eliminating registration of manufacturers, small gunsmiths, and exporters to sell firearms overseas by transferring the licensing of gun exports to the Commerce Department.

Promising to reduce the trade deficit, DDT now oversees the largest trade deficit in almost six years. In November, exporters rose .2 percent less imports, resulting in a $50.5 billion trade deficit that signifies declining economic growth.

Under DDT, the IRS decided—for the third time—to use private collection companies to recover almost $500 billion in unpaid taxes. Like the past two times, the attempt was a failure: taxpayers spent $20 million to recover $6.7 million through abusive and underhanded collection methods. Almost half the taxpayers on the contracts suffer from economic hardships, and contractors got commissions for work that they didn’t do. The IRS doesn’t plan to change its new system.

The same Russian-based organization, Pawn Storm, that hacked the DNC in 2016 started targeting the U.S. Senate when Russian Olympic players were banned for life in 2017.

Today a false warning of missile attacks on Hawaii drove the population into a panic. It appears that North Korea is four years ahead of U.S. guesstimates on its missile developments. A senior official said that the past year has been a “humbling lesson.”

DDT has given five-year waivers to five megabanks with affiliates convicted and fined for manipulating global interest rates. He owes at least $130 million to one of them, the Deutsche Bank, which has also been fined for $10 billion Russian money laundering. BuzzFeed has released information about DDT’s possibly money-laundering profit from selling condos.

The Weird:

Asked about accusations of his instability, DDT compared himself with Ronald Reagan—the president who suffered from mental instability while he was in the White House. If you think that DDT is a “stable genius,” read the unedited transcript of his interview with the Wall Street Journal. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) is proposing a bill requiring all presidential candidates to publicly disclose the results of a medical examination before the election. It is called the Standardizing Testing and Accountability Before Large Elections Giving Electors Necessary Information for Unobstructed Selection Act—the Stable Genius Act.

The federal government says that the tool used for withholding tax under the new tax law “may” not be accurate. Wage earners are responsible for using a new tool available in February to see if the employers are right about the amount of withholding. Hmm.

DDT said he would “absolutely” be willing to talk on the phone to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and that he hopes a positive development results from talks between North Korea and South Korea. He also announced that the U.S. has sold F-52 fighter jets to Norway. The fictional F-52 was created in the 2014 video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, a first-person shooter about young people shouting racial slurs. And he said he may change his mind about dropping out of the Paris agreement. But nobody knows what that means.

The White House released a message purportedly from the doctor who performed DDT’s physical exam yesterday:

“The president’s physical exam today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center went exceptionally well. The president is in excellent health and I look forward to briefing some of the details on Tuesday. Dr. Ronnie Jackson”

Two problems: doctors’ signatures don’t use “Dr.” but instead put initials such as M.D. after the name, and “Ronnie” is misspelled. The doctor’s name is “Ronny Jackson.”

More about the DDT saga tomorrow.

August 17, 2017

DOJ Warrant: ‘There Should Be an Uproar over This’

Filed under: protests — trp2011 @ 10:43 PM
Tags: , , , ,

A recent guideline to surviving an authoritarian government comes from 80 years experience in surviving Polish resistance. The first directive is “assume all communications and activities are monitored.” As the author points out, surveillance roots out dissent, builds mistrust among people, and controls the actions of the general population. It forces everyone to monitor their speech and actions as if they are being constantly watched. This scrutiny escalated after 9/11 with the PATRIOT Act, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is raising it to a level in the United States that people had not thought possible.

For many decades, almost all people in the nation considered voting to be a right easily achieved if they are eligible according to age and a few other requirements. With a restrictive 2005 Indiana law upheld by the Supreme Court, people began to understand that voting might be a privilege mostly for white, financially comfortable people. Over half the states, including almost the entire South, have limiting ID laws; many of them also have other laws restricting over 5 million eligible voters at the polls. DDT is now cutting down voting since his new voting commission has requested detailed voter registration information from all the states. In Colorado alone, at least 5,000 people, some of them who had actively assisted in the voting process, have deregistered because of DDT’s demand for their records. They express fear at what he will do with the information.

[Note that DDT’s response to people’s request for privacy is to ask, “What do they have to hide?” What a question from a man elected president who refuses to release his tax returns and hides everything else he can about his administration.]

With his strong support of white supremacists, DDT and his DOJ are upping the ante on dissenters against his administration, going far beyond widespread ridicule about respected journalists and media outlets. Initially, AG threatened to subpoena journalists and force them to give up their sources before grand juries in lieu of prison. Now information has been released that the DOJ is trying to collect complete information about 1.3 million visitors to an anti-DDT website, #DisruptJ20.org, on DreamHost, regarding protests on DDT’s inauguration day.

John Borchert, deputy chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section of the Justice Department, signed the search warrant on July 12 seeking “evidence about individuals who participated, planned, organized or incited the January 20 riot.” DOJ is demanding “all information that might identify the subscribers…including names, addresses, telephone numbers and other identifiers, email addresses, business information…and source of payment for services including any credit card or bank account information.” DreamHost said that the DOJ wants “the time and date of the visit, the IP address for the visitor, the website pages viewed by the visitor (through their IP address), and even a detailed description of the software running on the visitor’s computer.

Regarding the DOJ warrant, ACLU stated:

“One of the core principles enshrined in the Fourth Amendment is a prohibition on general searches — meaning, the government cannot simply go fishing for a wide range of information in the hope that some kind of useful evidence will turn up.”

DreamHost refused, stating that the users’ information “could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.” The host already disclosed information relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation after 214 people were charged with vandalizing a car and breaking windows. DOJ now wants information about everyone who visited the site, however, not just the people who have broken laws. The warrant doesn’t say why or what will happen to the information on the 1.3 million visitors.

TechFreedom president Berin Szóka supports DreamHost’s refusal on the basis of the Fourth Amendment:

“The Founders outlawed general warrants precisely to prevent governments from harassing their political opponents en masse. If the DOJ can unmask over a million Internet users simply for visiting a website, without any further alleged connection to criminal activity, then no American is safe to use the Internet to access dissident speech. The fear of being unmasked — and subjected to harassment, or far worse — will chill the speech of millions more.”

Phishing for records of all visitors is comparable to getting search warrants for everyone in a city of 1.3 million if a criminal is suspected of residing there.

DDT is also accelerating his repression of dissent by increasing the severity of charges against the 214 protesters in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day 2017 to a felony level that includes inciting rioting, conspiracy to riot, and destruction of property. For many of them, prosecutors have no more proof than their presence at the protest and their black clothing, but they will go to trial—next March. If they fight the charges in court and lose, they could be in prison for 70 to 80 years, just for breaking windows or perhaps nothing. When Wilbur Ross came back from Saudi Arabia, he marveled that they faced no protesters. The sentences of prison and death there for protesting could be replicated in the United States. At least 18 states consider 30-plus bills to curb protests by increasingly severe penalties for demonstrators.

U.S. customs and Border Protection tried to get Twitter records in March for an account that supposedly shared material from federal employees who disagree with DDT’s policies. After Twitter sued, DOJ dropped the request. A woman was tried in May because she involuntarily laughed during AG Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing. She was responding to Sen. Richard C. Shelby’s (R-AL) statement about Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” The DOJ argument was that her laugh constituted “disorderly and disruptive conduct” meant to “impede, disrupt, and disturb the orderly conduct” of Congress. Last month, a judge threw out the conviction for Desiree A. Fairooz, 61, but ordered a new trial on September 1.

Robert Mercer, the billionaire who owns Breitbart and bought the presidency for DDT, also has Cambridge Analytica, the source that has profiles of 5,000 pieces of data on about 220 million voters in the U.S. and uses the information to target them through their emotions. Basically, it’s a propaganda machine. As a communications director Andy Wigmore said, “The computer never stops learning and it never stops monitoring.” Gaining detailed information about the 1.3 million is a great addition to Analytica. These records can be used to prosecute—and persecute—anyone who opposes DDT in a highly technological redo of the Joseph McCarthy witch hunts for “political dissidents.”

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, said:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has said that forced disclosure chills speech. Visiting a website is First Amendment activity and this is quite troubling.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) told Sessions:

“When the government attempts to seize personal information, including email and physical addresses, for more than a million Americans who visited a website, it shows that the president is willing to use his Justice Department and the machinery of government to go after his political opponents.”

Even some Fox commentators don’t support DOJ’s actions. Judge Andrew Napolitano said talked about its “very serious constitutional problems.” He added that DOJ may have gone to a superior court for the warrant request, rather than a federal judge because “none of them would sign it.” Napolitano said, “There should be an uproar over this.”

DreamHost’s scheduled hearing tomorrow, August 18, in DC Superior Court has been postponed. Judge Robert E. Morin, who overturned Fairooz’s conviction, may be assigned the case some time in the future.

As Heather Heyer, the counter-protester killed by a neo-Nazi, said, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” We need to be outraged by the DOJ collecting information from protest websites.

There has been no mention of subpoenas for white supremacist websites setting up their violent actions in Charlottesville (VA) last weekend. Of course, The Daily Stormer has lost its domain name and access through U.S. hosts. Even Russia and China won’t give a home to its website. The group can go onto the dark Web, but not being indexed in popular search engines may cut down on recruiting–for a while.

 

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