Tag Archives: donald trump

Court Filing Indicates FBI Has Active Investigation Pertaining to Donald Trump’s Call for Russian Hacking and Espionage

Court Filing Indicates FBI Has Active Investigation Pertaining to Donald Trump’s Call for Russian Hacking and Espionage

President Trump’s May 9, 2017 letter firing now-former FBI Director James Comey in part reads, “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation[.]”

However, a recent court filing by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FBI in an ongoing FOIA lawsuit plainly indicates the FBI has an active investigation pertaining to Donald Trump’s actions related to actual or potential election-related hacking and espionage by Russia.

The lawsuit is filed by Ryan Shapiro, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate/Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University research affiliate, and Jason Leopold, Senior Investigative Journalist at BuzzFeed News.

An excerpt from Donald Trump’s termination letter to James Comey.  You can read Donald Trump’s full letter along with accompanying letters from AG Jeff Sessions, and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein HERE

On August 18, 2016, Shapiro and Leopold submitted a FOIA request to the FBI seeking “disclosure of any and all records, including investigative records, mentioning or referring to Donald J. Trump’s statement on 27 July, 2016 [regarding Secretary Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails], ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,’ and ‘I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’”

When the FBI did not respond in a timely manner to the FOIA request, Shapiro and Leopold sued. During the lawsuit, the FBI initially asserted that it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of documents responsive to this FOIA request.

Excerpt from the Joint Status Report that indicates that there is an active FBI investigation.  Read the full status report HERE

However, the FBI subsequently withdrew this position and agreed to search for the requested documents. Again, the documents requested by Shapiro and Leopold are records, including investigative records, mentioning or referring to a public statement made personally by Donald J. Trump, not his advisors, surrogates, or campaign staff.

Excerpt from the Joint Status Report that indicates that there is an active FBI investigation. Read the full status report HERE

In a court filing in this case on April 6, 2017, a Justice Department attorney representing the FBI informed the Court that there is an “active, ongoing investigation” pertaining to this matter and claimed that disclosing the “records that are responsive to the Russia Request” could reasonably be expected to interfere with “enforcement proceedings.” (As noted elsewhere in the DOJ/FBI’s new filing, the term “Russia Request” refers explicitly to Shapiro and Leopold’s FOIA request quoted above.) The DOJ/FBI’s new court filing acknowledges the existence of records responsive to Shapiro and Leopold’s “Russia Request”, and claimed that all, or virtually all, of these documents cannot be released because of the potential to interfere with active law enforcement proceedings.

On April 7, 2017, the Court set a deadline of July 25, 2017 for the FBI to file a motion explaining the basis for its claim that release of documents responsive to “the Russia Request” would interfere with an ongoing law enforcement operation.

The lawsuit is Case 1:16-cv-01827-KBJ. It is being heard in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Documents

  1. Read the Joint Status Report in 1:16-cv-01827-KBJ HERE 
  2. Read Comey’s termination letter from Trump, Sessions & Rosenstein HERE

About Operation 45

Ryan Shapiro, referred to by Politico as “a FOIA guru at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology”, is an historian of national security, the policing of dissent, and governmental transparency. Shapiro’s pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) at MIT, as well as a Research Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Shapiro is also the co-founder and president of the new transparency organization Operation 45. The Nation has described Operation 45 as “a ray of hope in these dark political times.”

Jason Leopold is an award-winning Senior Investigative Reporter at Buzzfeed News, specializing in counterterrorism and human rights. Leopold has been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which includes successfully suing the FBI to force changes to Bureau FOIA practices.

Shapiro and Leopold are represented by Washington, DC-based FOIA specialist attorney, Jeffrey Light.

You can follow Ryan Shapiro on twitter at @_rshapiro, and Jason Leopold on twitter at @JasonLeopold.

You can support Operation 45’s efforts HERE

Lawyer Representing Investors Told to Stop ‘Fucking with Mr. Trump’

Lawyer Representing Investors Told to Stop ‘Fucking with Mr. Trump’

Newly released documents reveal that the FBI investigated an extortion threat related to a menacing phone call made to bankruptcy attorney Kristopher Hansen on February 18, 2009, wherein a Trump associate using the name “Carmine” threatened Hansen’s wife and children.   Redactions within FBI documents initially indicated that the bureau’s extortion investigation was ongoing as of March 9, 2017. However, in an unusual step the FBI backtracked and claimed that the redaction marking was inadvertent.

According to the Holmdel Township Police the threat specifically stated:

“My name is ‘Carmine’ I don’t know why you are fucking with Mr. Trump but if you keep fucking with Mr. Trump, we know where you live and we’re going to your house for your wife and kids.”

The threat came as Donald Trump’s casino business went into bankruptcy and Trump Entertainment Resorts had defaulted on payments owed to investors in excess of $1.25 billion.  Kristopher Hansen, whose law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan represented the investors, received the threatening call on his blackberry from 212-399-5686, a number the FBI later identifies as a pay phone on 54th Street diagonally across from the Ed Sullivan Theater.  Donald Trump and his entourage were at the Ed Sullivan Theater that day for a taping of the Tonight Show with David Letterman.

 

The first set of FBI documents (1 & 2) were produced in March as a result of a FOIA lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed News Senior Investigative journalist Jason Leopold, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD candidate and Harvard Klein Center for Internet & Society research affiliate, Ryan Shapiro.  Shapiro’s effort is part of #Operation45, a constellation of FOIA lawsuits demanding accountability and transparency from the Trump administration.  

“Donald Trump has long been in bed with gangsters and thugs at home and abroad,” said Shapiro. “He has also long sought to intimidate and silence those who seek to hold him to his obligations and to account.  As a private citizen, this contempt for basic decency is dangerous.  As President of the United States, it could prove catastrophic.”

Additional investigation by Leopold and Buzzfeed News returned the Holmdel Township Police report detailing the content of the threatening call.

Documents

  1. Read the complaint filed against the Department of Justice HERE
  2. Read Trump Entertainment Resort’s Bankruptcy Filing HERE
  3. Read the FBI’s case notes on ‘Carmine’ (part 1) HERE
  4. Read the FBI’s case notes on ‘Carmine’ (part 2) HERE
  5. Read the 2/18/2009 Holmdel Township Police Report HERE
Peter King Skips Town Hall for Closed Door Meeting, Activists Release Transcript

Peter King Skips Town Hall for Closed Door Meeting, Activists Release Transcript

Massapequa Park, NY – Members of new group, New York’s 2nd District Democrats (NY02 Dems) have been requesting meetings with Rep. Pete King. He has refused to schedule constituent meetings or hold a Town Hall. He has also been deleting dissenting comments from his Facebook page, and blocking constituents. On Friday, February 3, the group joined a half dozen local organizations and faith groups in organizing a rally to protest Rep. King’s support of President Trump’s Executive Order, banning refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Liuba Grechen Shirley, the founder and district organizer, of NY02 Dems called to request a meeting before the rally began, and was told that staff would try to meet with her and a few members that afternoon. When they arrived, the office was locked. Grechen Shirley called the district office, and was transferred to the Washington, D.C. office, who told her that the police insisted the NY office lock its doors. Hundreds marched, and Rep. King agreed to meet with Grechen Shirley and three other members on February 21.

Read Full Transcript of their Meeting HERE

After the meeting, King told WCBS 880 he personally met with leaders of “protest groups.” Grechen Shirley called King’s office to explain that she was in fact a “taxpaying constituent,” not a “leader of a protest group.”

During their meeting they discussed topics including: 

Town Hall

Rep. King told Grechen Shirley that his constituents know his positions, because he is regularly on television, and he refused to host a Town Hall adding that, “No one wants to have a confrontation.”

“The purpose of a Town Hall is not for constituents to hear our Representative’s positions, but for him to listen to ours. He works for us. He represents us – all of us, even those who didn’t vote him. When my boss calls me into a meeting, I cannot say no. Pete King is refusing to do his job,” said Liuba Grechen Shirley.

Grechen Shirley has been following up with his office regarding the telephone Town Hall, and has been told that, while not confirmed, the tentative date is this Wednesday, March 8. She suggested that one day’s notice is not sufficient for constituents with busy schedules.

“Rep. King’ office is clearly not taking this seriously. His constituents want to speak with him, and he cannot even give one day’s notice for a telephone Town Hall.  People have jobs, children, schedules to juggle. This is his attempt to limit the number of people able to attend,” said Grechen Shirley.

Russia Investigation

When asked if he would support Rep. Jerry Nadler’s Resolution of Inquiry to investigate President Trump’s ties to Russia, Rep. King responded, “There’s no need for it.” He added that, “The public report and the classified report does not give much evidence.”

Rep. King does not support a special prosecutor, independent commission, or even a select committee investigation.

When interviewed by Bill Ritter on Channel 7, Rep. King said there was no evidence of President Trump’s ties to Russia, except three tenuous connections. Liuba Grechen Shirley asked if he thought it was “fair to say that Trump’s former campaign manager, national security advisor and Secretary of State were tenuous connections,” and Rep. King responded that “If you go to Manhattan right is now there is any number of business people who have connections to Russia.”

Rep. King said that, “An investigation is going to prove nothing right now.”

Grechen Shirley asked, “How do you reconcile your assertion that there is no evidence, with the intelligence community’s conclusion that Putin interfered with our election to get Donald Trump elected?”

Rep. King responded, “Putin could have favored Trump.” “That’s not a reflection on Trump. Assume Putin did that.”

Trump’s Lies

Rep. King referred to President Trumps lies as “quirks” and a “stream of consciousness.” He said, “You want me to define a lie? When something is obviously wrong and you say it, is it really a lie? I don’t know.”

When discussing President Trump’s lie about an attack in Sweden, Rep. King said, “I can see how somebody can do that. I mean Hillary Clinton said she was shot at in Bosnia.” When Grechen Shirley said, “When you’re in that position you can’t do that,” he seemed to excuse it by saying, “You cant, but again I can show you any number of things that Bill Clinton said or I’ve said.”

Undermining the Media

Grechen Shirley asked Rep. King, “Donald Trump recently called the media ‘the enemy of the American people.’  Bannon said the press should ‘keep their mouths shut.’  Do you think those comments are crossing a line?”

Rep. King responded, “No they don’t cross the line.  First of all he’s not doing anything. Nobody went after the press more than Obama did as far as leaks.”

When pressed on this, King said, “That to me is just political.  Listen the stuff that the Press says about Trump I don’t get offended. All of us are big people in this business.  There’s no doubt there’s a bias.” “The First Amendment also guarantees the president freedom of speech. Nothing he’s saying is worse that what the media is saying about him.”

When asked about McCain’s statement, “This is how dictatorships start,” Rep. King said:
“I think John McCain is wrong for saying it overseas.  There is no hint of any dictatorship in this country. Trump is taking no action against the media. He’s not cutting off the media.  I supported John McCain’s presidents in 2000. We are personal friends. But I don’t think an American politician should first of all criticize the president when he’s overseas.”

Donald Trump’s Tax Returns

Regarding President Trump’s tax returns, Rep. King said, “I wouldn’t push. I don’t think that should be legislated. Okay? I think that’s really a political issue in the best sense of the word and it’s up to the American people to decide that.  I don’t believe in forcing people to disclose that.”

Syria

Rep. King said that Obama was “the one that brought Syria back into the Middle East.”“Obama invited Putin in!  Obama’s the one who — Putin was not involved in Syria, Putin had nothing to do with Syria.  Obama invited him in, because he wouldn’t enforce the red line.”

This of course is a false narrative, trying to paint Obama as weak and miscalculating. Assad, and Putin have had a longstanding relationship, and close ties between the two countries stretch back four decades. Syria is Russia’s only key surviving ally in the Middle East. Syria’s coastal city, Tartus, has hosted a Russian naval port since 1971. The port allows the only Russian access to the eastern Mediterranean. Russia has cast vetoes on several UN resolutions against Syria – even before the so-called red line was crossed.

Paris Bataclan Attack

Rep. King said that there were certainly “refugees involved” in the Paris Bataclan attack, even though we know that all but one of the terrorists were identified as European nationals.  The outlier, who died near the Stade de France, could only be identified as Ahmad Al Mohammad —a name used in a falsified Syrian passport.  Authorities belive that he too was likely a EU citizen and was using the fake passport to travel to and from Syria.  Contrary to King’s claims, none of the terrorists were refugees.

European authorities made an error in not identifying the counterfeit passport Ahmad Al Mohammad carried. The extreme 24-month vetting of Syrian refugees under President Obama included biometrics, background checks, ground investigations and interviews. Mohammad’s October 3, 2015 entry to Europe via Greece did not have similar vetting.

Steve Bannon

When asked whether he supported Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council, Rep. King said that, “Congress cannot interfere with the president as far as who is on the president’s staff.”

Anti-Semitism

When asked about President Trump’s use of the term “America First,” considering its connection to Nazi-friendly Americans in the 1930s, Rep. King said that Trump is “the most non anti-Semitic president we’ve ever had. That I can say. Long before it was fashionable.

ICE Raids

Rep. King: “The numbers I’ve seen roughly 90-95% of those who have been deported in these recent series all got criminal records.”  “Most of them have been aimed at criminals or have expanded it somewhat, people who may not have criminal charges against them, but who local police believe to be involved in gang activity.  From all the numbers I’ve seen, it’s been overwhelmingly people with criminal records.”

Muslim Ban

Rep. King said that the Executive Order was not a Muslim Ban. When Grechen Shirley reminded him that the “order specifically says they’re going to prioritize Christian refugees over Muslim refugees,” Rep. King responded “The logic in that would be, that if you know that a person is a Christian, you can assume they’re not an Islamic terrorist.  If a Jew is coming from Nazi Germany, you can assume they were not Nazis.”

Border Wall

Rep. King supports building the wall at any cost. When asked what programs we would have to cut to fund it, he said we will “Find a way to pay for it — same way you have to pay for anything.  To me, you have to pay for national security — national security has to be paid for.”

“If we have a growing economy, we have to cut where you have to.”

Medicaid

When asked why he says that he supports Medicaid expansion, when he voted for the Ryan budget that turns Medicaid into block grants, Rep. King explained, “That would go into the category of a protest vote.”

Mike Flynn vs. Karl Rove

Rep. King called Mike Flynn a “hero and a patriot” and said that whoever leaked the tapes should be prosecuted. Twelve years ago he said that Karl Rove deserved a medal and was trying to protect American lives when he exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame. Grechen Shirley asked, “What makes one a criminal and one a whistle-blower?”

Rep. King said, “Karl had nothing to do with Valerie Plame.” He added, “Karl Rove, I give him credit for standing up, but he did not, he didn’t leak it.”

Sexual Assault

When discussing President Trump boasting about sexual assault, Rep. King said, “Listen Bill Clinton is a friend of mine. It’s one thing to talk about, it’s another thing to do it.” Grechen Shirley responded that, “One thing is sex between two adults and the other is boasting about sexual assault!” Rep. King added, “Well were they consenting? It’s a whole different story between having a young girl in the White House. I don’t want to get into it…”

Rand Paul

Rep. King: “I was attacked by Rand Paul, the other day. He called me a big government Republican. Actually he and I hate each other anyway.”

 

A New Vision for Youth Justice: Imagining a World Without Youth Prisons

On any given day 50,000 youth are incarcerated in America’s juvenile justice system.  Seemingly harmless names like “training schools” and “academies” are used to obfuscate an archipelago of youth prison environments sprawled across the US where minors are subjected to restraints, brutal violence, and the use of solitary confinement. A group called the Youth First Initiative is taking aim at these facilities with a simple demand, #NoKidsInPrison

Youth First is a growing national constellation of organizations from Kansas, Virginia, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and New Jersey that launched in 2015 with a goal of closing youth prisons.  The coalition’s tireless efforts have already lead to commitments to close 5 facilities in 4 states, with many more joining a growing list of facilities under scrutiny from state and federal authorities.  This Friday, the Larned Juvenile Correctional Center in Kansas will close after 45 years of operation. The closure of this medium/high security facility, designed to imprison 170 youth, marks a significant victory for Kansans United for Youth Justice, part of the Youth First Initiative.

After successful campaigning by Kansans United for Youth Justice and The Youth First Initiative, the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility is slated for closure on Friday, March 3, 2017

Today’s political climate underscores the importance of Youth First’s work. While youth incarceration has been on the decline for over a decade (due in part to the efforts of Youth First and myriad other juvenile justice advocates) signals from Trump Administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions raise concerns that the youth prison complex may see renewed vigor.

This short film about Youth First’s efforts was produced by our partners at Balestra Media on behalf of Youth First, with direction from Sparrow’s cofounder Andy Stepanian, Christina DiPasquale of Balestra Media and Jeffrey Wirth of Burning Hearts Media.  A full credit list is included below.

Follow Youth First’s work on Twitter, Facebook, or their website

CREDITS
Produced by Balestra Media for The Youth First Initiative
Andy Stepanian, Creative Direction
Jeffrey Wirth, Director of Photography
Christina DiPasquale, Storyboarding
Carrie Cervantes, Color Correction

ADDITIONAL IMAGES BY
Calamari Productions
Richard Ross Studio
Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections
Mark Standquist
Elizabeth Williams
You Tube
Google Earth
Pond5
Video Hive

Oceti Sakowin Tribal Members Sue Trump Administration to Block Dakota Access Pipeline

Oceti Sakowin Tribal Members Sue Trump Administration to Block Dakota Access Pipeline

Washington, DCCivil liberties group RevolutionTruth along with lead counsel Bruce Afran filed an emergency lawsuit motion this evening in US District Court on behalf of nearly a dozen plaintiffs from several Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) tribes. The plaintiffs in Jumping Eagle v. Trump demand an immediate halt to Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction beneath Lake Oahe, which provides them water for drinking, agriculture and sacred ceremonies, as well as drinking water for nearly 20 million people downriver.

“By forcing the US Army Corps to essentially refute its own conclusions and end its review, President Trump effectively ordered it to grant the Lake Oahe easement,” said Bruce Afran, lead counsel on Jumping Eagle v. Trump. “This is direct interference by the President into the authority and mission of an independent expert agency.”

Site where the final phase of the Dakota Access Pipeline will take place with boring equipment routing the pipeline underground and across Lake Oahe. | Photo: Tom Stromme, AP

Running DAPL beneath Lake Oahe ignores the serious risks noted by pipeline-construction experts and places a disproportionate burden on historically marginalized populations. The plaintiffs claim that DAPL construction underneath Lake Oahe threatens their fundamental religious rights and rights of freedom from racial and environmental discrimination.

A water protector holds a branch of cedar during a prayer ceremony on Backwater Bridge during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline | Photo: Stephanie Keith, Reuters

This suit joins an existing legal action by the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes and claims that President Trump violated Federal Law by denying proper review of environmental and religious rights issues surrounding the controversial pipeline, effectively preventing affected tribal members from submitting expert reports on the environmental and cultural risks associated with the pipeline’s crossing of sacred Sioux Nation lands and beneath Lake Oahe. The lawsuit thus seeks damages from President Trump for illegally blocking the due process rights of tribal members.

Oral arguments for an injunction halting construction and transfer of oil under Lake Oahe are expected to be heard at 11am tomorrow, February 28, 2017, in front of Judge James E. Boasberg in US District Court.

Documents
Read the Motion to Intervene filed in US Court HERE
Read Exhibit A; Proposed Complaint of Intervenors HERE
Read Exhibit B; Declaration of Chani Phillips HERE
Read Exhibit B1; Declaration of Maxine Brings Him Back Janis HERE