web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 91)

Wider Definition of Judaism Is Likely to Aid Crackdown on Colleges

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-antisemitism1-facebookJumbo Wider Definition of Judaism Is Likely to Aid Crackdown on Colleges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Marcus, Kenneth L Jews and Judaism Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Orders and Memorandums discrimination Colleges and Universities Civil Rights and Liberties Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-semitism

WASHINGTON — An executive order signed Wednesday that extends civil rights protection to Jews is likely to strengthen the hand of President Trump’s Education Department, where the department’s civil rights chief has been investigating some of the nation’s most elite universities for anti-Jewish bias.

Mr. Trump, at a Hanukkah celebration at the White House, opened the door on a case-by-case basis to essentially defining Judaism as a race or national origin, not just a religion, under the Civil Rights Act. His order also expanded the definition of anti-Semitism to include some anti-Israel sentiments. Both moves had been pushed by Kenneth L. Marcus, the head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, for years.

“This is our message to universities: if you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism, it’s very simple,” Mr. Trump said at the signing ceremony.

Even before the order, Mr. Marcus was already deeming Judaism a “national origin,” like Italian or Polish, to strengthen a campaign against what he sees as rampant anti-Semitism in higher education. At both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, Mr. Marcus has opened “national origin” investigations to determine whether qualified applicants were rejected because of their Judaism.

In the University of Pennsylvania case, the rejected applicant claimed he had the “full support of the vice provost in addition to having multiple-generation legacy status,” yet was passed over for a student of a different gender, race and religion.

In separate cases against New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mr. Marcus has investigated whether administrators have allowed their campuses to become hostile environments for Jewish students by coddling anti-Israel sentiment. Last year, he reopened a long-closed case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration had ignored evidence that the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students.

The administration’s efforts come at a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks. An assailant involved in a deadly shooting on Tuesday at a Jersey City, N.J., kosher supermarket was found to have published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said on Wednesday. But Mr. Marcus’s approach has prompted criticisms that he is infringing on free speech and the rights of other minority groups while extending civil rights law well beyond its intent.

Those charges will grow louder with Mr. Trump’s executive order and its embrace of an expansive definition of anti-Semitism, one already used by the State Department, that labels as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” by, for example, “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

“Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” wrote Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law, in an Op-Ed article for The New York Times. “The inclusion of this language with contemporary examples gives critical guidance to agencies” enforcing civil rights law.

Jewish groups were largely supportive, with some liberal organizations opposing it. Palestinian rights groups were incensed.

Last month, in a resolution agreement responding to an anti-Semitism complaint, the Education Department required the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to revise its anti-discrimination policy to include “anti-Semitic harassment.” It was also required to describe in its policy how such anti-Semitism could manifest itself on campus. The changes have to be approved by Mr. Marcus’s office.

“The Department of Education is effectively strong-arming universities into adopting policies that would chill criticism of the Israeli government’s consistent and well-documented violations of Palestinian rights by falsely conflating it with anti-Semitism,” said Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Also last month, the Office for Civil Rights opened a national-origin discrimination case against New York University that stemmed from an episode last year when pro-Palestinian groups were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel dance party.

“The department is deeply concerned about the rampant rise of anti-Semitism on campuses across this country,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

The new executive order targets schools’ federal funding, mirroring the threat made by Mr. Trump in March when he signed an order protecting the right of conservative speakers to challenge “rigid, far-left ideology” on campuses.

Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president at the American Council on Education, said the dueling orders concurrently limited and protected certain speech and would cause “enormous confusion” on college campuses.

“It’s hard to imagine how you can do both of these things successfully,” Mr. Hartle said. “Most colleges will err on the side of free speech, and the notion that the Department of Education could come after you for that is sobering.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has been generally supportive of Mr. Trump’s education policies, vowed to “defend students and faculty subjected to censorship as a result of the implementation of the executive order.” The group called on lawmakers to come up with “constitutional alternatives to combat unlawful harassment.”

The issue arises as campuses have become hotbeds of racial and cultural strife. In a 2018 report, the Anti-Defamation League found an 89 percent increase in reported episodes of anti-Semitism on college campuses in one year, as well as a steady rise in white-supremacist propaganda.

The North Carolina case stemmed from an event hosted by U.N.C. and Duke University, titled, “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities,” this past spring that featured a Palestinian rapper, Tamer Nafar, who was accused of spouting anti-Semitic lyrics.

A video of the performance prompted a Republican lawmaker to ask the department to investigate.

“I knew it was going to be anti-Israel, I didn’t know it was going to devolve into anti-Semitism,” said Ami Horowitz, a documentary filmmaker who shot the video.

A report from the Middle East studies program that hosted the event called comments the rapper made before his performance “inappropriate,” but protected by free speech laws.

The department opened civil rights investigations against both universities.

Duke’s inquiry is still pending, but U.N.C. resolved its portion last month. In its agreement with the Office for Civil Rights, the university said it would hold a series of community meetings, conduct anti-Semitism training and make clear in its anti-discrimination policy that Jewish students shared a national origin “on the basis of their actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

The Zionist Organization of America, a group that Mr. Marcus has worked with for years, said the agreement sent “a powerful message to universities and colleges throughout the country that the U.S. government will hold them accountable for allowing campus anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and/or the physical or emotional harassment of Jewish students.”

For years, as the head of a Jewish civil rights organization, Mr. Marcus lobbied the department to extend national-origin protections to Jewish students because it does not have jurisdiction over religious discrimination. He unsuccessfully filed several civil rights complaints with the office, and in 2017, he complained that the department was ill equipped to manage anti-Semitism cases. “It has found countless civil rights violations against women and against African-Americans,” he wrote. “But when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus, the agency has been paralyzed.”

Now on the inside, Mr. Marcus has divided the Education Department. Last fall, the department had to walk back Mr. Marcus’s assertion that it was using the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to re-examine a seven-year-old case against Rutgers University.

But behind Mr. Marcus’s agenda is the weight of the White House. The anti-Semitism executive order repeatedly refers to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which extends protections on the basis of race, color or national origin, then states, “Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.”

Last weekend, Mr. Trump touted the N.Y.U. investigation as proof of his administration’s pro-Israel bona fides. In remarks to the Israeli-American Council National Summit that included a series of anti-Semitic tropes, Mr. Trump invited Adela Cojab, who filed the complaint against N.Y.U., to speak.

“My university failed to protect its Jewish community from ongoing harassment, from attacks on social media, to resolutions on student government, to boycotts, flag burnings, and physical assault,” Ms. Cojab said.

The Office for Civil Rights is investigating an event from last year when pro-Palestinian student groups at N.Y.U. were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel event. The university, whose student population is 13 percent Jewish, condemned the actions and disciplined students responsible.

But the university drew the ire of pro-Israel groups when Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group involved in the disruption described by Ms. Cojab as “an anti-Israel hate group,” was recognized with a President’s Service Award.

The university’s president said he would not have bestowed the honor, which was awarded by a volunteer committee to 150 groups and individuals. The university has publicly repudiated B.D.S. proposals, condemned attacks on pro-Israel groups and rejected calls to close its 10-year-old Tel Aviv campus.

A spokesman for N.Y.U., John Beckman, said the university “disputes any suggestion that it is or has been anything less than highly supportive of or deeply concerned about its Jewish community.”

Aisha Jitan, a senior at U.N.C. at Chapel Hill, said her school’s “spineless” agreement with the department was a “slap in the face” for Palestinian students, like herself, and other minorities. Ms. Jitan serves as a president of the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and has taken classes at the Duke-U.N.C. Consortium for Middle East Studies — which the department also investigated this year.

“The exact things that I’m learning to resist — Orientalist and Islamophobic narratives surrounding the Middle East — are the exact narratives that the Department of Education is perpetuating,” Ms. Jitan said.

Mr. Marcus’s “national origin” inquiries have also received sharp pushbacks at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

“We take allegations of discrimination extremely seriously. We have closely reviewed the facts in this matter and found no evidence of discrimination,” said Brad Hayward, a Stanford University spokesman.

Stephen MacCarthy, a spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania, said he would not comment on a specific accusation but said, “We believe our highly selective admissions policies are rigorous and nondiscriminatory.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

From Nixon to Trump, Zoe Lofgren Is Democrats’ Memory on Impeachment

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165383409_36804162-09f2-4c7c-a753-00123f8f59ca-facebookJumbo From Nixon to Trump, Zoe Lofgren Is Democrats’ Memory on Impeachment United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Nixon, Richard Milhous Lofgren, Zoe impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party Clinton, Bill

WASHINGTON — In the summer of 1974, a young law student named Zoe Lofgren, working for a member of the House Judiciary Committee, drafted what she thought was an ill-advised article of impeachment charging President Richard M. Nixon with usurping the power of Congress by concealing the bombing of Cambodia.

The committee rejected it. “It didn’t pass and it shouldn’t have passed,” Ms. Lofgren said.

Now Ms. Lofgren is Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a senior lawmaker on the judiciary panel and the panel’s only member to have participated in all three modern presidential impeachments. And much like 45 years ago, she has emerged as a voice of restraint as her party barrels toward a divisive and partisan impeachment of President Trump.

On Wednesday evening, the Judiciary Committee opened its formal debate on two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of justice — stemming from the president’s campaign to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. To Ms. Lofgren, who has presented herself as the party’s institutional memory on impeachment, the articles were a triumph of facts over emotion.

“I think they are well crafted,” she said in an interview, in her careful, measured way, “and, unfortunately, supported by the evidence.”

Democrats on the liberal left — including the panel’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York — had urged an expansion of the articles to include an obstruction of justice charge against Mr. Trump related to his efforts to thwart the inquiry by Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Ms. Lofgren disagreed. (So did Ms. Pelosi, whose view won out in the end. )

A lawyer who prides herself on sticking to the evidence, Ms. Lofgren, 71, said in an interview that Democrats had not adequately made the case to the country that Mr. Trump had obstructed justice. And she said that “in retrospect, it probably was a mistake” for them to have relied on Mr. Mueller — whose much-anticipated appearance before the Judiciary Committee over the summer did little to change public perception — to make the case for them.

“She did her part in terms of making sure that we move forward with the most solid evidence,” said Representative Val B. Demings, Democrat of Florida, who like Ms. Lofgren spent last weekend holed up with fellow committee members, debating the articles, practicing their parts in the impeachment hearings and eating pizza.

“She didn’t wrestle anybody to the ground, saying, ‘Oh, we should only have these,’” Ms. Demings continued. “She did talk a lot about the words that were used, the evidence that we looked at and the most solid case possible.”

Ms. Lofgren is something of an outlier on a panel that she concedes is “one of the most partisan on Capitol Hill.” Her politics are more moderate than Mr. Nadler’s, and she prides herself on working across party lines, and is viewed as an ally of tech companies in Silicon Valley, which she represents.

But she holds very progressive views on immigration, one of her signature issues, and is passionate about protecting the rights of farmworkers. She spent Wednesday achieving something rare in Washington: passage of a bipartisan bill overhauling the nation’s agriculture labor laws, the first in more than 30 years.

Ms. Lofgren was a member of the Judiciary Committee when it voted along party lines to impeach President Bill Clinton, and she worries about a repeat. Democrats, she said, are now faced with two “bad choices”: pushing ahead with a highly partisan vote, or allowing Mr. Trump’s behavior to go unchecked.

In the interview, she said she had been quietly reaching out to colleagues across the aisle.

“I have not pressed anybody on a vote; I don’t think that’s appropriate,” she said, adding, “People are thinking, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to vote that way.”

But when the Judiciary Committee convened its session Wednesday night, she laced into Republicans, invoking what she called one of her “most vivid memories” of the Watergate era: the moment that Charles E. Wiggins, then a Republican congressman from California and Nixon’s chief defender, concluded that Nixon had lied to him and turned on the president.

“I’ve been waiting for Republican members here to have their Chuck Wiggins moment,” she said.

Like Ms. Pelosi, who counts Ms. Lofgren as a member of her small circle of “kitchen cabinet” advisers, Ms. Lofgren resisted an impeachment inquiry for months — even after Mr. Mueller issued his report outlining at least 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice — and embraced it only after it became clear that Mr. Trump was trying to pressure Ukraine to help him win re-election.

Her straightforward, just-the-facts manner has, perhaps paradoxically, landed her on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, which more frequently features the most strident voices in both parties. Ms. Lofgren usually shuns the Sunday shows — she prefers to fly home to California to see her husband, children and grandchildren — but lately, Ms. Pelosi’s office has been leaning on her to appear, in part because she represents the somber voice of reason the speaker wants Democrats to project.

In the Judiciary Committee, though, Ms. Lofgren is viewed with some suspicion by allies of Mr. Nadler, whom she challenged for the chairmanship after Democrats took the majority this year. In the interview, she said she was “not dissatisfied with the outcome” and that Mr. Nadler had her support.

But she demurred when asked if she thought he was doing a good job.

“I think it’s a very tough job,” she said. “It’s not easy to keep order when some members are disorderly.”

The daughter of a beer truck driver and a school cafeteria cook, Ms. Lofgren was raised in a solidly middle-class family in Palo Alto, Calif., home to Stanford University. While an undergraduate student there in the 1960s, she landed an internship with her local congressman, Don Edwards, a Democrat who served on the Judiciary Committee.

She continued through law school, returning in the summer of 1974, she said, ostensibly to work on a bankruptcy bill. But Watergate and impeachment consumed everything, and when Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan — who would go on to lead the panel (and who died in October) — insisted on writing an article of impeachment relating to Nixon’s handling of the bombing of Cambodia, Ms. Lofgren was drafted.

“People tried to talk him out of it and he would not be dissuaded, so I ended up writing it on a Friday night because the lawyers were busy working on things that were actually going to pass,” she said, adding that Mr. Conyers’s article was destined to fail because senior leaders of Congress had, in fact, been consulted on the bombing.

Once out of law school, Ms. Lofgren taught and practiced immigration law in San Jose, Calif., where she had moved with her husband, the lawyer John Marshall Collins. She first sought public office in the 1970s, winning election to the local community college school board, and later a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

In 1994, Ms. Lofgren was elected to Congress to succeed Mr. Edwards. She was the only Democrat to win a House seat in the West that year, as Newt Gingrich swept Republicans into the majority, turning out Democrats who had controlled the chamber for 40 years.

“We used to kid that she was the freshman Democratic class west of the Rockies,” Mr. Collins said.

Last week, when four constitutional scholars appeared before the judiciary panel, Ms. Lofgren brought with her the 528-page tome, published in August 1974, that provided the official record that would have formed the basis for Nixon’s impeachment had he not resigned to avoid it.

She said she had looked back to the report during the Clinton impeachment for guidance, and to more clearly understand what the founders envisioned when they set “high crimes and misdemeanors” as the criteria for impeachment.

“High crimes and misdemeanors is misbehavior that really undercuts the system of the Constitution and the government,” she said. “And you could commit a crime that doesn’t do that, or you could commit no crime that does that.”

Ms. Lofgren concluded that Mr. Clinton’s offense — committing perjury and obstructing justice by lying about his sexual affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, as described in graphic detail in a report by the special counsel, Ken Starr — did not rise to the level of impeachment, though she conceded he behaved improperly.

“Zoe is catholic — small c — in all areas of the law, and she is a great respecter of the law,” said John P. Flannery II, a former federal prosecutor who was special counsel to Ms. Lofgren. “So she does not embrace the notion that anybody can lie, or lie under oath. But the question we were looking at was, ‘Was what was contained in Starr’s report an impeachable offense?’”

At the time, Ms. Lofgren called Mr. Clinton’s impeachment “a partisan lynching,” warned of “a Republican overthrow of the government” and accused the House Judiciary Committee of “a brand of American fascism.”

That sounds a lot like the messaging Republicans are using today. Still, Ms. Lofgren sticks to her explanation: “Lying about sex is not a high crime and misdemeanor.”

With Mr. Trump almost certainly headed for impeachment next week, the California congresswoman said she had been asking herself a question: “If this fact situation had come out with a Democratic president, what would I be doing now?”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

House Panel Debates Impeachment Articles in Bid to Complete Charges Against Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-impeach-new-facebookJumbo House Panel Debates Impeachment Articles in Bid to Complete Charges Against Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Raskin, Jamie (1962- ) Nadler, Jerrold impeachment Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee opened debate Wednesday evening on two articles of impeachment against President Trump, starting a sharply partisan confrontation over Democrats’ charges that the president abused his power and obstructed Congress.

In a rare and solemn evening session that was only the third time in modern history the panel had met to consider removing a president, Democrats and Republicans clashed over the Constitution, the allegations against Mr. Trump and the political consequences of ousting him less than a year before the next election. The debate unfolded at the start of a two-day meeting that is expected by both sides to culminate on Thursday with approval of the articles, along party lines, which will send them to the full House for a final vote.

Leaning with equal weight on the Constitution and the findings of their two-and-a-half-month inquiry, Democrats made their case that Mr. Trump put the 2020 election and the nation’s security at risk. Not only did he use his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, but he also trampled on his oath of office and the separation of powers by seeking to conceal his actions from Congress.

“The highest of high crimes is abuse of power,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the committee. Describing the facts of the case against Mr. Trump as “overwhelming,” he noted, “President Trump both betrayed our national security and attempted to corrupt our elections.”

He added, “We cannot rely on an election to solve our problems when the president threatens the very integrity of that election.”

Republicans on the panel argued that the case against Mr. Trump was overstated, insufficiently proven and the product of a desperate attempt by Democrats to remove from office a president they do not like. They denounced the impeachment inquiry, saying it was unfair to Mr. Trump and his Republican allies.

“The big lie is that a sham impeachment is O.K., because the threat is so real and so urgent and so great,” said Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel. Mr. Collins accused Democrats of being a “party that has lost all moorings of fairness and good taste.”

“This is as much about political expediency as anything else,” he added.

The rancorous back-and-forth was expected to to stretch into the night as all 41 members on the notoriously partisan panel had the chance to deliver their opening remarks in one of the most consequential deliberations in more than two decades. Mr. Nadler noted at the start that the process was unusual — such statements are often allowed only from the chairman and the senior minority member of the committee — but said the historic nature of the proceeding warranted it.

The gathering unfolded exactly 21 years to the day after the Judiciary Committee voted to approve articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton.

Seated at the wood-carved dais of the Ways and Means Committee room, the grandest meeting chamber in the House of Representatives, lawmakers appeared to feel the weight of the occasion, refraining from some of the more raucous tactics that have suffused the impeachment process so far in favor of passionate statements of principle.

Even as the outcome in the committee appeared clear, Mr. Nadler used his statement on Wednesday to appeal to Republicans to reconsider their position before it was too late.

“You still have a choice,” Mr. Nadler told the Republicans, adding, “President Trump will not be president forever.”

“When his time has passed, when his grip on our politics is gone, when our country returns — as surely it will — to calmer times and stronger leadership, history will look back on our actions here today,” he said. “How would you be remembered?”

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, one of the managers of the impeachment case against Mr. Clinton, had an appeal of his own to Democrats: “Put aside your partisan politics and don’t listen to what Pelosi, Schiff and Nadler are telling you, because the future of our country and the viability of our Constitution as the framers decided it are at stake.”

Along with the committee chairman, he was referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has kept remarkably tight control over the impeachment inquiry, and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who led the investigation.

Mr. Nadler planned to call a recess after the opening statements late Wednesday evening before reconvening the panel on Thursday to begin the protracted process of allowing members to propose edits and amendments to the two articles.

The first article accuses Mr. Trump of “ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests” by carrying out a scheme to corruptly solicit election assistance from Ukraine through investigations to smear his Democratic political rivals. The second article charges that the president obstructed Congress by engaging in “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” of House subpoenas.

By Thursday afternoon, the panel is expected to conclude by approving both articles and recommending them to the House for action. No lawmaker is expected to cross party lines, and House Democratic leaders are eyeing a final vote to impeach the president for high crimes and misdemeanors as early as Tuesday.

Republicans were preparing to use the meeting on Thursday — called a “markup” because it is a chance for lawmakers to edit the impeachment articles — as a way to try to water down the charges with amendments. Progressive Democrats could try to insert tougher language or even add additional charges. But any changes are subject to a vote of the committee, which is skewed heavily in favor of Democrats, and Mr. Nadler expected few, if any, of his own members to try to change what were carefully worded texts.

With the outcome in the Judiciary Committee all but certain, Democratic leaders were also looking ahead to the timing of the final debate and impeachment vote in the House next week. Mr. Nadler met on Wednesday to try to pin down a date with Ms. Pelosi, Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Rules Committee, and others.

Earlier in the day, Ms. Pelosi assembled a group of Democrats from her caucus to discuss how they would discuss impeachment with the public. And individually, lawmakers have begun privately appealing to the speaker to win appointments as impeachment managers, essentially prosecutors of the case against the president, when the charges are put before the Senate for trial.

Democrats are confident they have the votes to pass both articles. Some moderate Democratic lawmakers, uneasy with the prospect of a partisan impeachment, have held private discussions this week about trying to build bipartisan support to censure Mr. Trump instead. But time is running short, Republicans have shown no sign they would be willing to break with the president, and the Democrats concede an 11th-hour change is unrealistic.

In the Senate, where the parties’ leaders ticked through their year-end to-do list on Wednesday, the prospect of hosting an impeachment trial when they return from the year-end break was weighing heavily on their thinking.

Some Senate Republicans appeared to be eager for a streamlined trial without testimony by witnesses, ensuring that the spectacle of deciding on Mr. Trump’s impeachment would be over quickly so that the chamber could move on to other issues in an election year.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, hinted at that preference in comments to reporters on Tuesday when he described the possibility that a trial could be brought to an end after the presentation of the charges by Democrats and a rebuttal by Mr. Trump’s lawyers.

He said at that point, a majority of senators could decide that “they’ve heard enough and they believe they know what would happen and could move to vote on the two articles of impeachment sent over to us by the House.”

On Wednesday, Mr. McConnell chastised the House for what he called “the least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”

“The House Democrats’ denigration of their solemn duty will not cause the Senate to denigrate ours,” he said on the Senate floor. “If the House continues down this destructive road and sends us articles of impeachment, the Senate will take them up in the new year and proceed to a fair trial.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, had a different warning. He urged the president to provide evidence he withheld from House investigators and make available for questioning government officials who could shed further light on the events in question.

“The House has made an extremely strong case,” Mr. Schumer said. “The burden now lies on the president to rebut it if he can.”

Over lunch on Wednesday, Republican senators invited Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who has played a leading role in Mr. Trump’s defense in the House, and his lawyer, Stephen R. Castor, to privately offer their theory of the case for Mr. Trump’s defense.

The articles of impeachment include two counts against Mr. Trump and run for nine pages that lawyers for the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees carefully drafted in recent days. Thursday’s session will begin with a committee clerk reading the articles aloud.

The first article, abuse of power, accused Mr. Trump of withholding $391 million in military aid and a coveted White House meeting for Ukraine’s president as leverage for extracting public announcements of investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, as well as an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to swing the 2016 election against Mr. Trump.

“In all of this, President Trump abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit,” according to a version of the first article. “He has also betrayed the nation by abusing his office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.”

The second article, obstruction of Congress, charges that Mr. Trump sought to cover up his own wrongdoing by systematically blocking administration officials from speaking to House investigators and refusing to comply with any subpoena for relevant records.

“In the history of the republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House to investigate ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’” the obstruction article says.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Withering Criticism of F.B.I. as Watchdog Presents Russia Inquiry Findings

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s inspector general on Wednesday painted a bleak portrait of the F.B.I. as a dysfunctional agency that severely mishandled its surveillance powers in the Russia investigation, but told lawmakers he had no evidence that the mistakes were intentional or undertaken out of political bias rather than “gross incompetence and negligence.”

While Democrats emphasized that the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, had debunked President Trump’s accusations that the F.B.I. conspired to overthrow his presidency, Mr. Horowitz insisted that his report was no exoneration, citing the serious errors, omissions and misleading statements he found in court wiretap filings.

“It doesn’t vindicate anybody at the F.B.I. who touched this, including the leadership,” Mr. Horowitz told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

While Democrats and Republicans clung to their political talking points, lawmakers on both sides also agreed that the surveillance problems Mr. Horowitz uncovered were severe. Several suggested that Congress should amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to tighten permissions for national-security wiretapping.

Since it was released on Monday, Mr. Horowitz’s report has largely been interpreted through a political lens. Because it debunked Mr. Trump’s conspiracy theories and concluded that investigators had a legitimate and lawful basis to open the inquiry, some — like the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey — have portrayed it as vindication.

But Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the committee, argued that the most important finding was instead the portrayal of a systemic and cultural failure of accountability at the F.B.I. that permitted grievous mistakes to make their way into filings seeking court permission to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

Mr. Graham opened the hearing by acknowledging that the government of Russia — not Ukraine — sought to interfere with the 2016 election, and he did not quarrel with Mr. Horowitz’s finding that the F.B.I. had a legitimate basis to open a full counterintelligence investigation into links between Russia and people associated with the Trump campaign.

But he portrayed the wiretapping of Mr. Page as dubious and said it should have stopped after January 2017, when the F.B.I. had reason to lose confidence in evidence it used to obtain the initial court order targeting him. Mr. Horowitz’s findings about the wiretap applications should disturb all Americans, no matter their political leanings or the motivations behind the F.B.I. officials’ actions, he said.

“My goal is to make sure that people, when this is over — whether you like Trump, hate Trump, don’t care about Trump — you look at this as more than a few irregularities,” Mr. Graham said. “If this becomes a few irregularities in America, then God help us all.”

The bureau first obtained court permission to wiretap Mr. Page in October 2016, and obtained three extensions of that order in 2017. Mr. Horowitz’s report found lapses in all four filings.

In some cases, F.B.I. officials working on the investigation, called Crossfire Hurricane, selectively cited evidence, telling the Justice Department information that made Mr. Carter look suspicious and omitting materials that cut the other way. The department passed that misleading portrait onto the court.

For example, the filings omitted that Mr. Page had told the C.I.A. about some of his meetings with Russians through the years, disclosures that made those encounters look less suspicious. Mr. Horowitz found that an F.B.I. lawyer misled a colleague as they prepared a wiretap renewal application, altering an email in a way that prevented the court from learning about Mr. Page’s dealings with the C.I.A.

And in January 2017, the F.B.I. interviewed a source for Christopher Steele, the British former intelligence agent who compiled a dossier of unverified claims about Mr. Trump and Russia that was used to win the warrant. The interview raised serious doubts about Mr. Steele’s material, but the bureau left that out of its renewal applications, telling the court only that it had found the source to be cooperative and credible — creating a misleading impression.

“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were O.K. within the F.B.I.,” said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.

Republicans also argued that the failings should be viewed through the lens of text messages in which F.B.I. officials expressed political opposition to Mr. Trump, challenging Mr. Horowitz’s conclusion that he had found no documentary or testimonial evidence of an anti-Trump plot at the bureau.

“It looks like they were trying to skate along the edges and get away with something,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, who derisively labeled the investigators the “Misfire Hurricane” team.

“I can’t imagine they did it than any other reason than a political motivation,” he added.

Mr. Horowitz emphasized that while he found no evidence that the errors and omissions in the surveillance materials were intentional, he also said he was unsatisfied with the explanations for the mistakes — such as that officials were busy with other investigative tasks. He noted that he could not read people’s minds to learn their motivations.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Withering Criticism of F.B.I. as Watchdog Presents Russia Inquiry Findings Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Steele, Christopher (1964- ) Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Durham, John H Comey, James B

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Some liberal lawmakers who have long sought to impose tighter controls on government surveillance powers welcomed conservative interest in enacting such legislation. Among them was Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who noted that he introduced an unsuccessful bill to tighten FISA rules in 2013.

“I hope that we can make use of your expertise in this area and I hope my Republican colleagues who have been so vocal and vehement about the dangers of potential FISA abuses will join me looking forward and reform of that court,” he told the inspector general.

Mr. Horowitz also clarified why a prosecutor conducting his own review of the Russia investigation had disputed findings in his report.

The F.B.I. opened the investigation as a “full” counterintelligence inquiry, and John H. Durham, the United States attorney investigating the Russia inquiry at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr, believed it should have been a “preliminary” one, Mr. Horowitz said.

Mr. Durham had mentioned the disagreement in a highly unusual statement after Mr. Horowitz’s report was released but had not detailed it. Mr. Horowitz said that he stood by his conclusion and that neither Mr. Durham nor Mr. Barr has presented any information that changed his mind.

Mr. Durham did say that the F.B.I. had sufficient information “to support the preliminary investigation,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Under F.B.I. standards, agents can open a preliminary investigation on “any allegation or information” that indicates possible criminal activity or threats to national security. Opening a full investigation requires “an articulable factual basis” that “reasonably indicates” that a crime or security threat exists.

The F.B.I.’s head of counterintelligence at the time, Bill Priestap, opened the Russia investigation in 2016 after WikiLeaks began publishing stolen Democratic emails believed to have been hacked by Russia, and after the bureau learned that a Trump campaign aide suggested that the Russians wanted to coordinate the release of information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Republican senators also expressed alarm at the hearing that an F.B.I. agent collected information about Mr. Trump and Michael T. Flynn, a top adviser at the time, while briefing them on counterintelligence risks to the Trump campaign in August 2016.

The agent thought the briefing would be a good opportunity to make himself familiar with Mr. Flynn, who was one of the four Trump associates under investigation and might need to be questioned later. In the days afterward, the F.B.I. agent wrote a memo based on his observations of Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn and added it to the Russia investigation file. (Mr. Flynn eventually pleaded guilty to lying months later to the same F.B.I. agent about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time.)

The episode highlighted a key complaint by Trump allies about the Russia inquiry: that investigators improperly intruded on the campaign. Though Mr. Horowitz did not uncover any instances of agents flouting policy in the investigative steps they took, critics have called for the F.B.I. to reconsider its lack of restrictions on opening investigations that involve scrutiny of constitutionally protected activities, such as political campaigns.

Asked whether the move was typical, Mr. Horowitz said there was no policy forbidding it, then mentioned that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had insisted that it would “not happen going forward.

“I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that: This should not have occurred,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Order’s Wider Definition of Judaism Aids Crackdown on Colleges

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-antisemitism1-facebookJumbo Trump Order’s Wider Definition of Judaism Aids Crackdown on Colleges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Marcus, Kenneth L Jews and Judaism Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Orders and Memorandums discrimination Colleges and Universities Civil Rights and Liberties Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-semitism

WASHINGTON — An executive order signed Wednesday that extends civil rights protection to Jews is likely to strengthen the hand of President Trump’s Education Department, where the department’s civil rights chief has been investigating some of the nation’s most elite universities for anti-Jewish bias.

Mr. Trump, at a Hanukkah celebration at the White House, opened the door on a case-by-case basis to essentially defining Judaism as a race or national origin, not just a religion, under the Civil Rights Act. His order also expanded the definition of anti-Semitism to include some anti-Israel sentiments. Both moves had been pushed by Kenneth L. Marcus, the head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, for years.

“This is our message to universities: if you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism, it’s very simple,” Mr. Trump said at the signing ceremony.

Even before the order, Mr. Marcus was already deeming Judaism a “national origin,” like Italian or Polish, to strengthen a campaign against what he sees as rampant anti-Semitism in higher education. At both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, Mr. Marcus has opened “national origin” investigations to determine whether qualified applicants were rejected because of their Judaism.

In the University of Pennsylvania case, the rejected applicant claimed he had the “full support of the vice provost in addition to having multiple-generation legacy status,” yet was passed over for a student of a different gender, race and religion.

In separate cases against New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mr. Marcus has investigated whether administrators have allowed their campuses to become hostile environments for Jewish students by coddling anti-Israel sentiment. Last year, he reopened a long-closed case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration had ignored evidence that the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students.

The administration’s efforts come at a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks. An assailant involved in a deadly shooting on Tuesday at a Jersey City, N.J., kosher supermarket was found to have published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said on Wednesday. But Mr. Marcus’s approach has prompted criticisms that he is infringing on free speech and the rights of other minority groups while extending civil rights law well beyond its intent.

Those charges will grow louder with Mr. Trump’s executive order and its embrace of an expansive definition of anti-Semitism, one already used by the State Department, that labels as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” by, for example, “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

“Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” wrote Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law, in an Op-Ed article for The New York Times. “The inclusion of this language with contemporary examples gives critical guidance to agencies” enforcing civil rights law.

Jewish groups were largely supportive, with some liberal organizations opposing it. Palestinian rights groups were incensed.

Last month, in a resolution agreement responding to an anti-Semitism complaint, the Education Department required the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to revise its anti-discrimination policy to include “anti-Semitic harassment.” It was also required to describe in its policy how such anti-Semitism could manifest itself on campus. The changes have to be approved by Mr. Marcus’s office.

“The Department of Education is effectively strong-arming universities into adopting policies that would chill criticism of the Israeli government’s consistent and well-documented violations of Palestinian rights by falsely conflating it with anti-Semitism,” said Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Also last month, the Office for Civil Rights opened a national-origin discrimination case against New York University that stemmed from an episode last year when pro-Palestinian groups were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel dance party.

“The department is deeply concerned about the rampant rise of anti-Semitism on campuses across this country,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

The new executive order targets schools’ federal funding, mirroring the threat made by Mr. Trump in March when he signed an order protecting the right of conservative speakers to challenge “rigid, far-left ideology” on campuses.

Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president at the American Council on Education, said the dueling orders concurrently limited and protected certain speech and would cause “enormous confusion” on college campuses.

“It’s hard to imagine how you can do both of these things successfully,” Mr. Hartle said. “Most colleges will air on the side of free speech, and the notion that the Department of Education could come after you for that is sobering.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has been generally supportive of Mr. Trump’s education policies, vowed to “defend students and faculty subjected to censorship as a result of the implementation of the executive order.” The group called on lawmakers to come up with “constitutional alternatives to combat unlawful harassment.”

The issue arises as campuses have become hotbeds of racial and cultural strife. In a 2018 report, the Anti-Defamation League found an 89 percent increase in reported episodes of anti-Semitism on college campuses in one year, as well as a steady rise in white-supremacist propaganda.

The North Carolina case stemmed from an event hosted by U.N.C. and Duke University, titled, “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities,” this past spring that featured a Palestinian rapper, Tamer Nafar, who was accused of spouting anti-Semitic lyrics.

A video of the performance prompted a Republican lawmaker to ask the department to investigate.

“I knew it was going to be anti-Israel, I didn’t know it was going to devolve into anti-Semitism,” said Ami Horowitz, a documentary filmmaker who shot the video.

A report from the Middle East studies program that hosted the event called comments the rapper made before his performance “inappropriate,” but protected by free speech laws.

The department opened civil rights investigations against both universities.

Duke’s inquiry is still pending, but U.N.C. resolved its portion last month. In its agreement with the Office for Civil Rights, the university said it would hold a series of community meetings, conduct anti-Semitism training and make clear in its anti-discrimination policy that Jewish students shared a national origin “on the basis of their actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

The Zionist Organization of America, a group that Mr. Marcus has worked with for years, said the agreement sent “a powerful message to universities and colleges throughout the country that the U.S. government will hold them accountable for allowing campus anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and/or the physical or emotional harassment of Jewish students.”

For years, as the head of a Jewish civil rights organization, Mr. Marcus lobbied the department to extend national-origin protections to Jewish students because it does not have jurisdiction over religious discrimination. He unsuccessfully filed several civil rights complaints with the office, and in 2017, he complained that the department was ill equipped to manage anti-Semitism cases. “It has found countless civil rights violations against women and against African-Americans,” he wrote. “But when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus, the agency has been paralyzed.”

Now on the inside, Mr. Marcus has divided the Education Department. Last fall, the department had to walk back Mr. Marcus’s assertion that it was using the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to re-examine a seven-year-old case against Rutgers University.

But behind Mr. Marcus’s agenda is the weight of the White House. The anti-Semitism executive order repeatedly refers to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which extends protections on the basis of race, color or national origin, then states, “Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.”

Last weekend, Mr. Trump touted the N.Y.U. investigation as proof of his administration’s pro-Israel bona fides. In remarks to the Israeli-American Council National Summit that included a series of anti-Semitic tropes, Mr. Trump invited Adela Cojab, who filed the complaint against N.Y.U., to speak.

“My university failed to protect its Jewish community from ongoing harassment, from attacks on social media, to resolutions on student government, to boycotts, flag burnings, and physical assault,” Ms. Cojab said.

The Office for Civil Rights is investigating an event from last year when pro-Palestinian student groups at N.Y.U. were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel event. The university, whose student population is 13 percent Jewish, condemned the actions and disciplined students responsible.

But the university drew the ire of pro-Israel groups when Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group involved in the disruption described by Ms. Cojab as “an anti-Israel hate group,” was recognized with a President’s Service Award.

The university’s president said he would not have bestowed the honor, which was awarded by a volunteer committee to 150 groups and individuals. The university has publicly repudiated B.D.S. proposals, condemned attacks on pro-Israel groups and rejected calls to close its 10-year-old Tel Aviv campus.

A spokesman for N.Y.U., John Beckman, said the university “disputes any suggestion that it is or has been anything less than highly supportive of or deeply concerned about its Jewish community.”

Aisha Jitan, a senior at U.N.C. at Chapel Hill, said her school’s “spineless” agreement with the department was a “slap in the face” for Palestinian students, like herself, and other minorities. Ms. Jitan serves as a president of the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and has taken classes at the Duke-U.N.C. Consortium for Middle East Studies — which the department also investigated this year.

“The exact things that I’m learning to resist — Orientalist and Islamophobic narratives surrounding the Middle East — are the exact narratives that the Department of Education is perpetuating,” Ms. Jitan said.

Mr. Marcus’s “national origin” inquiries have also received sharp pushbacks at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

“We take allegations of discrimination extremely seriously. We have closely reviewed the facts in this matter and found no evidence of discrimination,” said Brad Hayward, a Stanford University spokesman.

Stephen MacCarthy, a spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania, said he would not comment on a specific accusation but said, “We believe our highly selective admissions policies are rigorous and nondiscriminatory.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws

Video

transcript

‘The Activities We Found Here Don’t Vindicate Anybody,’ Horowitz Says

Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that his report was not a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the parts of the Russia investigation that he reviewed.

“James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report?” “You know, I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this. Although we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct, we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for any of the errors or omissions we identified. We found, and as we outlined here, are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, handpicked investigative teams on one of the most sensitive F.B.I. investigations after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the F.B.I., even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign. And even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions would likely be subjected to close scrutiny.”

Westlake Legal Group 11vid-horowitz-clip-videoSixteenByNine3000 Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that his report was not a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the parts of the Russia investigation that he reviewed.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee members of both parties praised the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, during a hearing on Wednesday for unearthing a litany of serious problems with one aspect of the Russia investigation: the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page.

At a hearing to discuss his new long-awaited report, Mr. Horowitz underscored longstanding serious issues with how the F.B.I. wields its surveillance tools, and he portrayed the bureau during the time of the Russia investigation as dysfunctional. Though he said he found no evidence the mistakes were the result of political bias, as President Trump and his allies have long claimed, he cautioned that no one should view his report as a vindication of officials involved in the investigation. “The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” he said.

Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of a dossier of opposition research about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Trump, slammed the F.B.I. for using the dossier in the Page wiretap applications — and for continuing to use it to seek renewals even after they interviewed Mr. Steele’s primary source and he contradicted what the dossier said.

Republicans also repeatedly expressed concerns that the F.B.I. took actions that amounted to spying on the campaign. In particular, officials used at least one informant who wore a concealed recording device and an undercover agent to interact with two Trump campaign aides.

The inspector general said that the F.B.I. needed little approval to use such intrusive techniques, even in such sensitive investigations, and that F.B.I. officials did not notify Justice Department leaders, which he described as concerning. “Nobody knew beforehand,” Mr. Horowitz said. “And that was one of the most concerning things here, was that nobody needed to be told.”

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings concluded that Justice Department and F.B.I. officials did not let their political views affect the opening of the case, called Crossfire Hurricane, or investigative steps.

Republicans immediately attacked this conclusion. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana labeled investigators the “Misfire Hurricane” team. Mr. Graham pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias.

“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were O.K. within the F.B.I.,” added Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.

Mr. Horowitz said that while he found no evidence that the errors and omissions in the surveillance materials were intentional — as opposed to merely stemming from “gross incompetence and negligence” — he was also unsatisfied with the explanations offered for why they happened. He said he could not read people’s minds to learn their motivations.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Mr. Horowitz revealed that a prosecutor conducting his own review of the Russia investigation disputed the inspector general’s findings about the scope of the inquiry when investigators first opened it.

The F.B.I. opened it as a “full” counterintelligence inquiry, and John H. Durham, a United States attorney investigating the Russia inquiry at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr, believed it should have been a “preliminary” one, Mr. Horowitz said.

Under F.B.I. standards, agents can open a preliminary investigation on “any allegation or information” that indicates possible criminal activity or threats to national security. Opening a full investigation requires “an articulable factual basis” that “reasonably indicates” that a crime or security threat exists.

Mr. Horowitz concluded that the F.B.I. had sufficient facts to open a full investigation, and he said neither Mr. Durham nor Mr. Barr presented any information that changed his mind.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11dc-fbibriefing-barr-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Mr. Horowitz concluded that the F.B.I. had sufficient facts to open a full investigation, and he said neither Attorney General William P. Barr nor John H. Durham presented information that changed his mind.Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

Republican senators expressed alarm that an F.B.I. agent collected information about Mr. Trump and Michael T. Flynn, a top adviser at the time, while briefing them on counterintelligence risks to the Trump campaign in August 2016.

The agent thought the briefing would be a good opportunity to make himself familiar with Mr. Flynn, who was one of the four Trump associates under investigation and might need to be interviewed later. In the days afterward, the F.B.I. agent wrote a memo based on his observations of Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn and added it to the Russia investigation file.

The episode highlighted a key complaint by Trump allies about the Russia inquiry: that investigators improperly intruded on the campaign. Though Mr. Horowitz did not uncover any instances of agents flouting policy in the investigative steps they took, critics have called for the F.B.I. to reconsider its lack of restrictions on opening investigations that involve scrutiny of constitutionally protected activities, such as political campaigns.

Asked whether the move was typical, Mr. Horowitz said there was no policy forbidding it, then mentioned that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had insisted that it would “not happen going forward.

“I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that: This should not have occurred,” Mr. Horowitz said.

F.B.I. officials could have avoided many of their troubling mistakes and omissions, Mr. Horowitz concluded in his report, offering nine recommendations for changes in the bureau to prevent similar failures.

The F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation without the approval of the Justice Department and did notify national security lawyers at the department after the investigation was opened. Though that is allowed under existing policies, the inspector general said officials should evaluate whether certain sensitive investigations should require informing the deputy attorney general.

The inspector general also said that top officials at the F.B.I. needed to a better job running investigations from headquarters.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Signs Order That Widens Definition of Judaism, Aids Crackdown on Colleges

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-antisemitism1-facebookJumbo Trump Signs Order That Widens Definition of Judaism, Aids Crackdown on Colleges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Marcus, Kenneth L Jews and Judaism Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Orders and Memorandums discrimination Colleges and Universities Civil Rights and Liberties Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-semitism

WASHINGTON — An executive order signed Wednesday that extends civil rights protection to Jews is likely to strengthen the hand of President Trump’s Education Department, where the department’s civil rights chief has been investigating some of the nation’s most elite universities for anti-Jewish bias.

Mr. Trump, at a Hanukkah celebration at the White House, opened the door on a case-by-case basis to essentially defining Judaism as a race or national origin, not just a religion, under the Civil Rights Act. His order also expanded the definition of anti-Semitism to include some anti-Israel sentiments. Both moves had been pushed by Kenneth L. Marcus, the head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, for years.

“This is our message to universities: if you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism, it’s very simple,” Mr. Trump said at the signing ceremony.

Even before the order, Mr. Marcus was already deeming Judaism a “national origin,” like Italian or Polish, to strengthen a campaign against what he sees as rampant anti-Semitism in higher education. At both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, Mr. Marcus has opened “national origin” investigations to determine whether qualified applicants were rejected because of their Judaism.

In the University of Pennsylvania case, the rejected applicant claimed he had the “full support of the vice provost in addition to having multiple-generation legacy status,” yet was passed over for a student of a different gender, race and religion.

In separate cases against New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mr. Marcus has investigated whether administrators have allowed their campuses to become hostile environments for Jewish students by coddling anti-Israel sentiment. Last year, he reopened a long-closed case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration had ignored evidence that the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students.

The administration’s efforts come at a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks. An assailant involved in a deadly shooting on Tuesday at a Jersey City, N.J., kosher supermarket was found to have published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said on Wednesday. But Mr. Marcus’s approach has prompted criticisms that he is infringing on free speech and the rights of other minority groups while extending civil rights law well beyond its intent.

Those charges will grow louder with Mr. Trump’s executive order and its embrace of an expansive definition of anti-Semitism, one already used by the State Department, that labels as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” by, for example, “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

“Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” wrote Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law, in an op-ed article for The New York Times. “The inclusion of this language with contemporary examples gives critical guidance to agencies” enforcing civil rights law.

Jewish groups were largely supportive, with some liberal organizations opposing it. Palestinian rights groups were incensed.

Last month, in a resolution agreement responding to an anti-Semitism complaint, the Education Department required the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to revise its anti-discrimination policy to include “anti-Semitic harassment.” It was also required to describe in its policy how such anti-Semitism could manifest itself on campus. The changes have to be approved by Mr. Marcus’s office.

“The Department of Education is effectively strong-arming universities into adopting policies that would chill criticism of the Israeli government’s consistent and well-documented violations of Palestinian rights by falsely conflating it with anti-Semitism,” said Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Also last month, the Office for Civil Rights opened a national-origin discrimination case against New York University that stemmed from an episode last year when pro-Palestinian groups were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel dance party.

“The department is deeply concerned about the rampant rise of anti-Semitism on campuses across this country,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

The new executive order targets schools’ federal funding, mirroring the threat made by Mr. Trump in March when he signed an order protecting the right of conservative speakers to challenge “rigid, far-left ideology” on campuses.

Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president at the American Council on Education, said the dueling orders concurrently limit and protect certain speech and would cause “enormous confusion” on college campuses.

“It’s hard to imagine how you can do both of these things successfully,” Mr. Hartle said. “Most colleges will air on the side of free speech, and the notion that the Department of Education could come after you for that is sobering.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has been generally supportive of Trump’s education policies, vowed to “defend students and faculty subjected to censorship as a result of the implementation of the Executive Order.” The group called on lawmakers to come up with “constitutional alternatives to combat unlawful harassment.”

The issue arises as campuses have become hotbeds of racial and cultural strife. In a 2018 report, the Anti-Defamation League found an 89 percent increase in reported episodes of anti-Semitism on college campuses in one year, as well as a steady rise in white-supremacist propaganda.

The North Carolina case stemmed from an event hosted by U.N.C. and Duke University, titled, “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities,” this past spring that featured a Palestinian rapper, Tamer Nafar, who was accused of spouting anti-Semitic lyrics.

A video of the performance prompted a Republican lawmaker to ask the department to investigate.

“I knew it was going to be anti-Israel, I didn’t know it was going to devolve into anti-Semitism,” said Ami Horowitz, a documentary filmmaker who shot the video.

A report from the Middle East Studies program that hosted the event called comments the rapper made before his performance “inappropriate,” but protected by free speech laws.

The department opened civil rights investigations against both universities.

Duke’s inquiry is still pending, but U.N.C. resolved its portion last month. In its agreement with the Office for Civil Rights, the university said it would hold a series of community meetings, conduct anti-Semitism training and make clear in its anti-discrimination policy that Jewish students shared a national origin “on the basis of their actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

The Zionist Organization of America, a group that Mr. Marcus has worked with for years, said the agreement sent “a powerful message to universities and colleges throughout the country that the U.S. government will hold them accountable for allowing campus anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and/or the physical or emotional harassment of Jewish students.”

For years, as the head of a Jewish civil rights organization, Mr. Marcus lobbied the department to extend national-origin protections to Jewish students because it does not have jurisdiction over religious discrimination. He unsuccessfully filed several civil rights complaints with the office, and in 2017, he complained that the department was ill equipped to manage anti-Semitism cases. “It has found countless civil rights violations against women and against African-Americans,” he wrote. “But when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus, the agency has been paralyzed.”

Now on the inside, Mr. Marcus has divided the Education Department. Last fall, the department had to walk back Mr. Marcus’s assertion that it was using the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to re-examine a seven-year-old case against Rutgers University.

But behind Mr. Marcus’s agenda is the weight of the White House. The anti-Semitism executive order repeatedly refers to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which extends protections on the basis of race, color or national origin, then states, “Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.”

Last weekend, Mr. Trump touted the N.Y.U. investigation as proof of his administration’s pro-Israel bona fides. In remarks to the Israeli-American Council National Summit that included a series of anti-Semitic tropes, Mr. Trump invited Adela Cojab, who filed the complaint against N.Y.U., to speak.

“My university failed to protect its Jewish community from ongoing harassment, from attacks on social media, to resolutions on student government, to boycotts, flag burnings, and physical assault,” Ms. Cojab said.

The Office for Civil Rights is investigating an event from last year when pro-Palestinian student groups at N.Y.U. were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel event. The university, whose student population is 13 percent Jewish, condemned the actions and disciplined students responsible.

But the university drew the ire of pro-Israel groups when Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group involved in the disruption described by Ms. Cojab as “an anti-Israel hate group,” was recognized with a President’s Service Award.

The university’s president said he would not have bestowed the honor, which was awarded by a volunteer committee to 150 groups and individuals. The university has publicly repudiated B.D.S. proposals, condemned attacks on pro-Israel groups and rejected calls to close its 10-year-old Tel Aviv campus.

A spokesman for N.Y.U., John Beckman, said the university “disputes any suggestion that it is or has been anything less than highly supportive of or deeply concerned about its Jewish community.”

Aisha Jitan, a senior at U.N.C. at Chapel Hill, said her school’s “spineless” agreement with the department was a “slap in the face” for Palestinian students, like herself, and other minorities. Ms. Jitan serves as a president of the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and has taken classes at the Duke-U.N.C. Consortium for Middle East Studies — which the department also investigated this year.

“The exact things that I’m learning to resist — Orientalist and Islamophobic narratives surrounding the Middle East — are the exact narratives that the Department of Education is perpetuating,” Ms. Jitan said.

Mr. Marcus’s “national origin” inquiries have also received sharp pushbacks at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

“We take allegations of discrimination extremely seriously. We have closely reviewed the facts in this matter and found no evidence of discrimination,” said Brad Hayward, a Stanford University spokesman.

Stephen MacCarthy, a spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania, said he would not comment on a specific accusation but said, “We believe our highly selective admissions policies are rigorous and nondiscriminatory.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

House Panel to Debate Impeachment Articles, Finalizing Charges Against Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo House Panel to Debate Impeachment Articles, Finalizing Charges Against Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Raskin, Jamie (1962- ) Nadler, Jerrold impeachment Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — A key House panel was set to begin the formal debate Wednesday evening over two articles of impeachment against President Trump, taking the Democratic-led House’s first steps toward formally charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee planned to convene at 7 p.m. Eastern to start what will probably be a two-day meeting that is expected to culminate on Thursday with approval of the articles, along party lines, which will send them to the full House. The rare evening session will give each of the 41 members of the committee a chance to argue for or against Mr. Trump’s impeachment. It could go late into the night.

Leaning with equal weight on the Constitution and the findings of their two-and-a-half-month inquiry, Democrats plan to make an impassioned case that Mr. Trump put the 2020 election and the nation’s security at risk by using his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, and then trampled on the Constitution and the separation of powers by seeking to conceal his actions from Congress.

“We will see an articulation of the values driving both impeachment and the opposition to it,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans will argue that the case is overstated, insufficiently proven and the product of a desperate attempt by Democrats to remove a president they do not like. No lawmaker on the notoriously partisan and raucous panel is expected to cross party lines.

“A pointless oratory contest,” Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, a member of the committee, said before the gathering.

The dueling statements are likely to stretch into the night before Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the committee, is expected to call a recess. Then on Thursday morning, Mr. Nadler plans to reconvene the panel to begin the protracted process of proposing edits and amendments to the two articles themselves. By that afternoon, the panel is expected to vote along party lines to approve the articles and recommend them to the full House, which is likely to take swift action.

House Democratic leaders are eyeing a final vote as early as Tuesday to impeach Mr. Trump.

Republicans may use the meeting on Wednesday — called a “markup” because it is a chance for lawmakers to edit the impeachment articles — as a chance to try to water down the charges with amendments. Progressive Democrats could try to insert tougher language or even add additional charges. But any changes are subject to a vote of the committee, which is skewed heavily in favor of Democrats, and Mr. Nadler expects few, if any, of his own members to try to change what were carefully worded texts.

With the outcome in the Judiciary Committee all but certain, Democratic leaders were also looking ahead on Wednesday to the final debate and impeachment vote on the House floor next week. Mr. Nadler met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Rules Committee, and others on Wednesday afternoon to try to pin down a date for the final vote.

Earlier, Ms. Pelosi also assembled a group of Democrats from across her caucus to discuss impeachment messaging. And individually, lawmakers have begun privately appealing to the speaker to win appointments as impeachment managers, essentially prosecutors of the case against the president, when the charges are put before the Senate for trial.

Democrats are confident they have the votes to pass both articles. Some moderate Democratic lawmakers, uneasy with the prospect of a partisan impeachment, have held private discussions this week about trying to build bipartisan support to censure Mr. Trump instead. But time is running short, Republicans have shown no sign they would be willing to break with the president, and the Democrats concede an 11th hour change is unrealistic.

In the Senate, where the parties’ respective leaders ticked through their year-end to-do list on Wednesday, the prospect of hosting an impeachment trial when they return from the year-end break was weighing heavily on their thinking.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, chastised the House for what he called “the least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”

“The House Democrats’ denigration of their solemn duty will not cause the Senate to denigrate ours,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “If the House continues down this destructive road and sends us articles of impeachment, the Senate will take them up in the new year and proceed to a fair trial.”

His Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, had a different warning. He urged the president to provide evidence he withheld from House investigators and make government officials who could shed further light on the events in question available for questioning.

“The House has made an extremely strong case,” Mr. Schumer said. “The burden now lies on the president to rebut it if he can.”

Over lunch, Republican senators invited Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who has played a leading role in Mr. Trump’s defense in the House, and his lawyer, Stephen R. Castor, to privately offer their theory of the case for Mr. Trump’s defense.

The articles of impeachment include two counts against Mr. Trump and run for nine pages that were carefully crafted by lawyers for the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in recent days.

Thursday’s session will begin with a committee clerk reading the articles aloud.

The first article, abuse of power, accused Mr. Trump of “using the powers of his high office” to solicit foreign assistance from Ukraine in the 2020 election. Specifically, it asserts that Mr. Trump withheld $391 million in military aid and a coveted White House meeting for Ukraine’s president as leverage for extracting public announcements of investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, as well as an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to swing the 2016 election against Mr. Trump.

The second article, obstruction of Congress, charges that by systematically blocking administration officials from speaking to House investigators and refusing to comply with any subpoena for relevant records, Mr. Trump demonstrated unprecedented “defiance of an impeachment inquiry” and sought to cover up his own wrongdoing.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

House Panel to Debate Impeachment Articles, Finalizing Charges Against Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo House Panel to Debate Impeachment Articles, Finalizing Charges Against Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Raskin, Jamie (1962- ) Nadler, Jerrold impeachment Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — A key House panel was set to begin the formal debate Wednesday evening over two articles of impeachment against President Trump, taking the Democratic-led House’s first steps toward formally charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee planned to convene at 7 p.m. Eastern to start what will probably be a two-day meeting that is expected to culminate on Thursday with approval of the articles, along party lines, which will send them to the full House. The rare evening session will give each of the 41 members of the committee a chance to argue for or against Mr. Trump’s impeachment. It could go late into the night.

Leaning with equal weight on the Constitution and the findings of their two-and-a-half-month inquiry, Democrats plan to make an impassioned case that Mr. Trump put the 2020 election and the nation’s security at risk by using his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, and then trampled on the Constitution and the separation of powers by seeking to conceal his actions from Congress.

“We will see an articulation of the values driving both impeachment and the opposition to it,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans will argue that the case is overstated, insufficiently proven and the product of a desperate attempt by Democrats to remove a president they do not like. No lawmaker on the notoriously partisan and raucous panel is expected to cross party lines.

“A pointless oratory contest,” Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, a member of the committee, said before the gathering.

The dueling statements are likely to stretch into the night before Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the committee, is expected to call a recess. Then on Thursday morning, Mr. Nadler plans to reconvene the panel to begin the protracted process of proposing edits and amendments to the two articles themselves. By that afternoon, the panel is expected to vote along party lines to approve the articles and recommend them to the full House, which is likely to take swift action.

House Democratic leaders are eyeing a final vote as early as Tuesday to impeach Mr. Trump.

Republicans may use the meeting on Wednesday — called a “markup” because it is a chance for lawmakers to edit the impeachment articles — as a chance to try to water down the charges with amendments. Progressive Democrats could try to insert tougher language or even add additional charges. But any changes are subject to a vote of the committee, which is skewed heavily in favor of Democrats, and Mr. Nadler expects few, if any, of his own members to try to change what were carefully worded texts.

With the outcome in the Judiciary Committee all but certain, Democratic leaders were also looking ahead on Wednesday to the final debate and impeachment vote on the House floor next week. Mr. Nadler met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Rules Committee, and others on Wednesday afternoon to try to pin down a date for the final vote.

Earlier, Ms. Pelosi also assembled a group of Democrats from across her caucus to discuss impeachment messaging. And individually, lawmakers have begun privately appealing to the speaker to win appointments as impeachment managers, essentially prosecutors of the case against the president, when the charges are put before the Senate for trial.

Democrats are confident they have the votes to pass both articles. Some moderate Democratic lawmakers, uneasy with the prospect of a partisan impeachment, have held private discussions this week about trying to build bipartisan support to censure Mr. Trump instead. But time is running short, Republicans have shown no sign they would be willing to break with the president, and the Democrats concede an 11th hour change is unrealistic.

In the Senate, where the parties’ respective leaders ticked through their year-end to-do list on Wednesday, the prospect of hosting an impeachment trial when they return from the year-end break was weighing heavily on their thinking.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, chastised the House for what he called “the least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”

“The House Democrats’ denigration of their solemn duty will not cause the Senate to denigrate ours,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “If the House continues down this destructive road and sends us articles of impeachment, the Senate will take them up in the new year and proceed to a fair trial.”

His Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, had a different warning. He urged the president to provide evidence he withheld from House investigators and make government officials who could shed further light on the events in question available for questioning.

“The House has made an extremely strong case,” Mr. Schumer said. “The burden now lies on the president to rebut it if he can.”

Over lunch, Republican senators invited Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who has played a leading role in Mr. Trump’s defense in the House, and his lawyer, Stephen R. Castor, to privately offer their theory of the case for Mr. Trump’s defense.

The articles of impeachment include two counts against Mr. Trump and run for nine pages that were carefully crafted by lawyers for the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in recent days.

Thursday’s session will begin with a committee clerk reading the articles aloud.

The first article, abuse of power, accused Mr. Trump of “using the powers of his high office” to solicit foreign assistance from Ukraine in the 2020 election. Specifically, it asserts that Mr. Trump withheld $391 million in military aid and a coveted White House meeting for Ukraine’s president as leverage for extracting public announcements of investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, as well as an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to swing the 2016 election against Mr. Trump.

The second article, obstruction of Congress, charges that by systematically blocking administration officials from speaking to House investigators and refusing to comply with any subpoena for relevant records, Mr. Trump demonstrated unprecedented “defiance of an impeachment inquiry” and sought to cover up his own wrongdoing.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws

Video

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165797340_09e8e6d8-e29f-4943-bc5d-fea9d0c5bde6-videoSixteenByNine3000 Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, cautioned that no one should view his report as a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the aspects of the Russia investigation that he examined.

“The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” he said in the middle of an exchange with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Trump.

Mr. Horowitz was responding to Mr. Graham’s mention of an Op-Ed by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey published in The Washington Post after Mr. Horowitz’s report became public.

While Mr. Comey acknowledged that the inspector general found “mistakes” in the administrative process associated with the wiretap applications targeting the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — the focus of the report — Mr. Comey wrote that Mr. Horowitz’s “most important” finding was his debunking of the insinuations by Mr. Trump and his allies that F.B.I. officials, driven by political bias, conspired to sabotage Mr. Trump.

“Those who smeared the F.B.I. are due for an accounting,” Mr. Comey wrote.

Mr. Graham had been marching through a lengthy series of errors, omissions and misleading statements submitted to the court for the surveillance of Mr. Page. The senator portrayed Mr. Comey as writing that Mr. Horowitz’s report “vindicates him,” and asked whether that was a fair assessment, prompting Mr. Horowitz’s remark.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165797343_d1ab58ee-8bbd-4dd1-bdfd-fb0f9efbf1cb-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the bureau was acting like “the old F.B.I.” of its former director, J. Edgar Hoover, which “had a chip on its shoulder and wanted to intimidate people and find out what was going on in your life and the law be damned.”Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Mr. Horowitz clarified why a prosecutor conducting his own review of the Russia investigation had disputed the inspector general’s findings.

John H. Durham, a United States attorney investigating the Russia inquiry at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr, said on Monday that he had “advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.” But Mr. Durham did not explain the disagreement.

Mr. Horowitz said Mr. Durham disputed one aspect of his conclusion that the F.B.I. had a lawful basis to open the Russia inquiry in July 2016. The F.B.I. opened it as a “full” counterintelligence inquiry, and Mr. Durham thought it should have been a “preliminary” one.

Under F.B.I. standards, agents can open a preliminary investigation on “any allegation or information” that indicates possible criminal activity or threats to national security. Opening a full investigation requires “an articulable factual basis” that “reasonably indicates” that a crime or security threat exists.

Mr. Priestap opened the investigation after WikiLeaks began publishing stolen Democratic emails believed to have been hacked by Russia, and after the bureau learned that a Trump campaign aide suggested that the Russians wanted to coordinate the release of information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

While Mr. Horowitz concluded that those facts were sufficient for Mr. Priestap to open a full investigation, Mr. Durham, he said, told him he did not necessarily agree. But Mr. Durham also said during the meeting “that the information from the friendly foreign government was in his view sufficient to support the preliminary investigation,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Neither Mr. Durham nor Mr. Barr presented any information that changed his mind, Mr. Horowitz added.

Either type of investigation permits the F.B.I. to use confidential human sources to approach and secretly record potential witnesses or targets of the inquiry — the main step the bureau took in the month after opening the inquiry, Mr. Horowitz noted.

But wiretapping, the step investigators took in October, can only be undertaken as part of a full investigation.

Mr. Barr has downplayed Mr. Horowitz’s conclusions, while noting that Mr. Durham has greater ability to investigate people who are outside or no longer in the Justice Department. Still, the Horowitz investigation included 170 interviews of more than 100 witnesses, and he said only two people declined to talk him.

Mr. Horowitz told Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, that he did not think the fact he lacked the ability to subpoena testimony from those two witnesses undermined his conclusions.

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings dealt with whether any Justice Department or F.B.I. official let their political views affect the opening of the case, called Crossfire Hurricane, or any investigative steps they took. The inspector general found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” to open the investigation.

Republicans immediately attacked this conclusion. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana labeled investigators the “Misfire Hurricane” team. Mr. Graham and other Republican senators pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias.

“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were O.K. within the F.B.I.,” said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.

Mr. Horowitz said that while he found no evidence that the errors and omissions in the surveillance materials were intentional — as opposed to merely stemming from “gross incompetence and negligence” — he was also not satisfied with the explanations offered for why they happened. He said he could not read people’s minds to learn their motivations.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Both sides praised Mr. Horowitz for unearthing a litany of serious problems with the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. Mr. Horowitz found 17 significant errors or omissions in their application for the court order and three renewals of it, according to his voluminous report.

Mr. Graham slammed the F.B.I. for using a dossier of opposition research about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, for Democrats in the Page wiretap applications — and for continuing to use it to seek renewals even after they interviewed Mr. Steele’s primary source and he contradicted what the dossier said.

Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of the dossier as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Mr. Horowitz found that the initial application relied on four claims from the dossier and that their credibility eroded over time, but that law enforcement officials failed to update the court as they sought renewals of the wiretap. Mr. Graham pressed him on whether a judge would have approved the renewal applications had investigators been clearer about the status of that material. Mr. Horowitz said he made no determination, but he acknowledged in his report that investigators appeared to overstate the strength of their applications.

Mr. Graham also focused on Mr. Horowitz’s finding that a lower-level F.B.I. lawyer had doctored an email from the C.I.A. used in preparing to seek a renewal of a wiretap order targeting Mr. Page in a way that kept the court from learning potentially exculpatory information about him.

“It is definitely not routine,” Mr. Horowitz said of his findings about the F.B.I.’s pursuit of the Page wiretap application and renewals. “I don’t know any reason to think it is routine.”

Republican senators expressed alarm that an F.B.I. agent collected information about Mr. Trump and Michael T. Flynn, a top adviser at the time, while briefing them on counterintelligence risks to the Trump campaign in August 2016.

The agent thought the briefing would be a good opportunity to make himself familiar with Mr. Flynn, who was one of the four Trump associates under investigation and might need to be interviewed later. In the days afterward, the F.B.I. agent wrote a memo based on his observations of Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn and added it to the Russia investigation file.

The episode highlighted a key complaint by Trump allies about the Russia inquiry: that investigators improperly intruded on the campaign. Though Mr. Horowitz did not uncover any instances of agents flouting policy in the investigative steps they took, critics have called for the F.B.I. to reconsider its lack of restrictions on opening investigations that involve scrutiny of constitutionally protected activities, such as political campaigns.

Asked whether the move was typical, Mr. Horowitz said there was no policy forbidding it, then mentioned that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had insisted that it would “not happen going forward.

“I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that: This should not have occurred,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Republicans repeatedly expressed concerns that the F.B.I. took actions that amounted to spying on the campaign. In particular, officials used at least one informant who wore a concealed recording device and an undercover agent to interact with two Trump campaign aides.

The inspector general said the F.B.I. needed little approval to use such intrusive techniques, even in such sensitive investigations, and that F.B.I. officials did not notify Justice Department leaders, which he described as concerning. “Nobody knew beforehand,” Mr. Horowitz said. “And that was one of the most concerning things here, was that nobody needed to be told.”

In March 2017, Mr. Trump accused the F.B.I. and Obama administration officials illegally wiretapping Trump Tower during the campaign. But Mr. Horowitz said he found no indication that the F.B.I. had conducted such electronic surveillance.

F.B.I. officials could have avoided many of their troubling mistakes and omissions, Mr. Horowitz concluded in his report, offering nine recommendations for changes within the bureau to prevent similar failures.

The F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation without the approval of the Justice Department and did notify national security lawyers at the department after the investigation was opened. Though that is allowed under existing policies, the inspector general said officials should evaluate whether certain sensitive investigations should require informing the deputy attorney general.

The inspector general also said that top officials at the F.B.I. need to a better job running investigations out of headquarters.

Republicans have also criticized the F.B.I. for not briefing Mr. Trump about a possible threat to his campaign after the F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation in July 2016. Mr. Horowitz said the F.B.I. should develop a better job figuring out when to do such briefings.

Mr. Horowitz also said that the F.B.I. should review the performance of all the officials involved in assembling the wiretap applications, including those overseeing the investigation into Mr. Page. and ordered 40 corrective steps to address them.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com