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Tag: Justice Department

Jones, Garland Emerge As Biden’s Top Picks for Attorney General

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden appears to have two leading contenders for attorney general: Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, The Associated Press reports, citing three people familiar with the matter.

But sources have emphasized that no final decision has been made, and the top picks could change. Sally Gates ,the former deputy attorney general, was long believed to be a top potential pick. 

Jones, who was defeated in the November election, has emerged as the top choice, according to NBC News.

President Clinton appointed Jones in 1997 to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. He emerged as champion for civil rights, successfully prosecuting two former KKK members for a 1963 bombing that killed four Black girls at a church in Birmingham. 

Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

His relationship with Biden dates back to at least 1998, when he helped Biden on his first presidential campaign in 1998. 

Garland, whom Obama nominated to fill a vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat in 2016, served as special assistant to Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti during the Carter administration from 1979 to 1981. Garland became U.S. attorney general in Washington D.C. in 1989 and then deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in 1993. 

In 1997, the Senate confirmed Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In 2013, he became the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit. 

DOJ Calls for Prison Sentence for Ex-FBI Attorney Clinesmith Who Altered Email in FISA Request

Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is seeking a prison sentence for the former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty in August to altering an email used to seek the continued surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Kevin Clinesmith admitted he doctored the email, which was submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). 

Attorneys with special counsel John Durham are calling on a sentence of between two to six months, saying in a court filing that the case “filed public disgust of the FBI and entire” FISA program, The Washington Post reports.

“An attorney — particularly an attorney in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel — is the last person that FBI agents or this Court should expect to create a false document,” prosecutors Anthony Scarpelli and Neeraj N. Patel wrote. “This Court’s sentence should be designed, in part, to send a powerful message to the community that this type of conduct — falsifying information to hide facts from a court — will not be tolerated.”

Sentencing is set for Dec. 10. Clinestmith faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but the sentencing guidelines call for zero to six months behind bars. 

Clinestmith’s attorneys are requesting probation and community service. 

“By altering a colleague’s email, he cut a corner in a job that required far better of him. He failed to live up to the FBI’s and his own high standards of conduct,” lead Clinesmith defense attorney Justin V. Shur wrote in a sentencing request.

Clinestmith’s guilty plea stems from the investigation into how the Obama administration investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The email suggested that Page was not a source for the CIA, even though he had a relationship with the agency.

Clinesmith admitted he was guilty but said he believed at the time that his statement about Page was true.

Trump Slams Barr for Refusing to Make Baseless Claims about Election Fraud

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

The chummy relationship between President Trump and Attorney General William Barr has soured since the nation’s top law enforcement official contradicted the president’s baseless claims about widespread election fraud. 

At a White House event on Thursday, Trump complained about Barr, saying “He hasn’t done anything” about voter fraud, NBC News reports.

Trump declined to say whether he still has confidence in his attorney general. 

“Ask me that in a number of weeks from now,” Trump said. “They should be looking at all of this fraud. This is not civil. He thought it was civil. This is not civil. This is criminal stuff. This is very bad, criminal stuff.” 

Trump has not ruled out firing Barr, sources told NBC News

Barr told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the DOJ has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

A few hours later, Trump met with Barr, and the lengthy meeting was “contentious,” CNN reports.

Trump and his lawyers have not shown any evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities, but that hasn’t stopped them from claiming the election was stolen from the president. 

Barr Contradicts Trump on Election, Saying No Evidence of Widespread Fraud

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would alter the 2020 presidential election results. 

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told The Associated Press

Barr’s statement counters President Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud, which have led to lawsuits and hearings. 

In a statement, Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani Jenna Ellis, discounted Barr’s comments.

“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been a semblance of a Department of Justice investigation,” they said. “We have gathered ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”

Sen. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer responded, “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”

Last month, Barr directed U.S. attorneys nationwide to investigate any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities or fraud. Since then, Barr said, no evidence has surfaced.  

DOJ Releases Sweeping Flynn Pardon, Asks Judge to Dismiss Criminal Case

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is asking a judge to dismiss the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn after President Trump’s sweeping pardon.  

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

The Justice Department delivered to the court the formal language of the pardon order, which shields Flynn from “any and all possible offenses arising from the facts set forth … or that might arise, or be charged, claimed or asserted” in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has been presiding over the case for the past three years and is considering the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the charges. 

Some legal experts said Trump’s pardon is one of the broadest in American history. 

“Pardons are typically directed at specific convictions or at a minimum at specific charges,” Margy Love, former pardon attorney for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who now leads the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, told Politico. “I can think of only one other pardon as broad as this one, extending as it does to conduct that has not yet been charged, and that is the one that President Ford granted to Richard Nixon.”

“In fact, you might say that this pardon is even broader than the Nixon pardon, which was strictly cabined by his time as president,“ Love said. “In contrast, the pardon granted to Flynn appears to extend to conduct that took place prior to Trump‘s election to the presidency, and to bear no relationship to his service to the president, before or after the election.“

Flynn, 61-year-old retired lieutenant general, is Trump’s first national security advisor and was the target of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he later fired his attorneys and asked to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was entrapped by the FBI and Justice Department.

Ex-Trump Aide Carter Page Files Lawsuit Against FBI, DOJ, Claiming ‘Unlawful Spying’

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

By Steve Neavling

Carter Page, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, filed a federal lawsuit against the FBI and Justice Department, claiming he was the victim of “unlawful spying.”

The lawsuit filed in Washington’s federal court alleges multiple violations of Page’s “Constitutional and other legal rights in connection with unlawful surveillance ad investigation of him by the United State Government,” USA Today reports

Page was subjected to secret surveillance during the FBI’s Russia investigation. 

Among the claims are that the FBI eavesdropped on Page based on a series of “false and misleading” information in the applications through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

In a report last year, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found at least 17 errors in Page’s FISA application, but concluded the FBI was justified in opening the investigation. 

The lawsuit also alleges the FBI relied excessively on former British spy Christopher Steele for information and failed to inform the surveillance court that information had come from Steele. 

The lawsuit also names as defendants former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Trump Baselessly Claims FBI, DOJ May Have Helped Rig Election for Biden

Flie photo

By Steve Neavling

President Trump’s relentless attempts to undermine the election now includes baseless claims that his own FBI and Justice Department may have been involved in a conspiracy to rig the election in favor of Joe Biden. 

“This is total fraud,” Trump said Sunday on Fox News, his first television interview since the election. “And how the FBI and Department of Justice — I don’t know, maybe they’re involved. But how people are allowed to get away with this stuff is unbelievable.”

“With all of the fraud that has taken place, nobody’s come to me and said, ‘Oh, the FBI has nabbed the people that are doing this scheme,’” Trump said.

There’s no evidence to support Trump’s claims of widespread fraud, nor has he provided any proof that his own FBI and Justice Department were involved. 

Biden has won the election, with 306 electoral votes to 232 for Trump. Biden also garnered more than 80 million votes nationwide, compared to Trump’s more than 73 million. 

Trump also said the FBI and DOJ have been “missing in action” and failed to properly investigate election fraud allegations. 

“You would think if you’re in the FBI or Department of Justice, this is the biggest thing you could be looking at. Where are they?” he asked. “I’ve not seen anything.”

Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has responded to Trump’s baseless claims as of Monday morning. 

Trump’s claims drew criticism from some Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois.

“The @FBI did not rig the election,” Kinzinger wrote. “If you find yourself believing they did, please stop, and say it out loud, and you will realize how silly it sounds. “@realDonaldTrump simply flooding the zone with baseless conspiracies again.”

Barr Struck Deal with Mexico to Release Ex-Defense Minister for Senior Cartel Leader

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, former Mexican defense minister.

By Steve Neavling

Mexican authorities agreed to arrest a senior cartel leader in exchange for Attorney General William Barr dismissing drug trafficking charges against former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda.

The deal, first reported by Reuters, sheds more light on an unusual decision that drew criticism from some in Congress and the State Department, as well as former DEA agents.

“Mexico committed to collaborate with the United States in the capture of a primary objective,” a source told Reuters

Daniel Millan, spokesman for Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, responded, “what we agreed was to maintain a united front against crime and cooperation that respects the sovereignty of each country.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman denied both countries had a deal. 

Last week, multiple news outlets reported that Mexican officials were so incensed with the arrest of Cienfuegos that they threaten to remove the DEA from the country.

The unidentified cartel leader is suspected of trafficking large quantities of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that kills tens of thousands of Americans a year.