The New Tammany Hall: New York in an Age of Corruption

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De Blasio, Clinton cronies are carving up the city. Right, developer Bruce Ratner

 

In New York City, the controversy plagued Atlantic Yards development appears to be heading for trouble again. That could create problems for Mayor Bill de Blasio and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Allies of both Democrats have profited mightily from the project.

For over a decade, Atlantic Yards has been at the center of heated disputes over power, profit and privilege in New York. Does the site serve the needs of the taxpayers who financed its development?  Or is it primarily a giant boondoggle generating torrents of cash for well-connected insiders?

The 22-acre, $5 billion Brooklyn site of planned residential, commercial and park space is home to the Barclays Center sports arena and sixteen high-rise buildings in various stages of development. According to recent news reports from Moscow, Barclays Center owner  Mikhail Prokhorov is under Kremlin pressure to sell all his Russian assets. Prokhorov’s U.S. holdings could be next. Prokhorov’s fall would reverberate from Moscow to New York, where U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is making development deals a centerpiece of a sweeping anti-corruption crusade.

New Yorkers have been here before.

“I seen my opportunities and I took ’em,” the plain-speaking Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt said in 1905. The corrupt Tammany political machine dominated New York City politics for a century, its chicanery extending into every corner of civic life. Bribes, kickbacks, fraud, extortion and graft were the order of the day. Today, New York is witnessing the birth of a new Tammany Hall. Plunkitt’s heirs are seeing their opportunities and taking them on a colossal scale.

The center of the new Tammany is Mayor de Blasio’s City Hall. But de Blasio is no Boss Tweed, old Tammany’s criminal genius. De Blasio has emerged as more pawn than prince of the city: insecure, in over his head, buffeted by moneyed players he cannot seem to resist and presiding over accelerating pay-to-play scandals that have cast a pall of political death over his administration.

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The Whitewater Draft Indictments: National Archives v. Judicial Watch

imagesNew details continue to emerge from Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act fight with the National Archives over the release of draft indictments of Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater case. According to the Archives, release of the indictments—drafted by an independent counsel examining the Clintons’ relationship to a corrupt Arkansas S&L and an alleged cover-up—would violate grand jury secrecy and Mrs. Clinton’s personal privacy. FOIA request denied.

Judicial Watch declined to take “no” for an answer, and so off to court we went. The case is now in the hands of a federal judge.

In the course of litigation, new facts have come to light. Under FOIA, the Archives must produce a “Vaughn Index”—a tantalizing and at times maddening document. A Vaughn Index is the government saying: we are not giving you the documents, but here is an “index” of what we are not giving you, and why we are not giving it to you. Your tax dollars at work.

In the National Archives Vaughn Index for the case, we learn that the government is sitting on at least twelve versions of the the draft indictment of Mrs. Clinton, including one “listing overt acts.” From the public record, we know that the Whitewater case centered around whether Mrs. Clinton, while First Lady, lied to federal investigators about her role in the corrupt Arkansas S&L, concealed documents (including material under federal subpoena), and took other steps to cover-up her involvment. Prosecutors ultimately decided not to indict Mrs. Clinton, concluding that they could not win the complicated, largely circumstantial case against such a high-profile figure.

The draft indictments range from three to forty pages—the former likely excerpts or “scraps” from longer documents, the Vaughn Index indicates. Some of the drafts doubtless are copies but many clearly are not. A total of 451 pages of draft indictments are being withheld by the Archives.

In its final brief in the case, Judicial Watch took a wrecking ball to the Archives’ grand jury secrecy and personal privacy claims. Judicial Watch noted “the truly enormous quantities of grand jury material already made public” in the independent counsel’s final report. Judicial Watch provided the court with a detailed list of grand jury and non-grand jury material that had already been made public. If there ever was a valid claim to grand jury secrecy in this closely scrutinized case, it is long gone.

The Judicial Watch brief noted that the Archives “fails to identify a single, specific privacy interest Mrs. Clinton still has in the draft indictments” following publication of the independent counsel’s report and “hundreds of pages of grand jury materials, non-grand jury materials, and independent counsel legal theories and analysis that are already in the public domain.”

A typical FOIA privacy claim centers on unwarranted invasions of personal privacy. But in Mrs. Clinton’s case, the brief noted, the Archives “makes no claims that disclosure of the draft indictments will reveal any particular personal, medical or financial information about Mrs. Clinton, much less anything intimate or potentially embarrassing.”

Mrs. Clinton of course is one of the most famous women in the world, a former First Lady, senator and secretary of state, and the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president of the United States. The findings of an investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton told the truth to federal investigators and withheld evidence under subpoena while she was First Lady is clearly matter of public interest as voters weigh her suitability for the highest office in the land.

First published at Judicial Watch’s Investigative Bulletin, May 10, 2016

Benghazi: What Did Bill Clinton Know & When Did He Know It?

New documents obtained by Judicial Watch raise questions about the role of Clinton Inc. in the Benghazi debacle, particularly the involvement of Bill Clinton and longtime Clinton hatchet man Sidney Blumenthal.

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Mrs. Clinton, seeking to ease concerns about her ties to the Clintons’ powerful political machine, famously pledged as secretary of state-designate not to “participate personally and substantially” in matters relating to the Clinton Foundation or the Clinton Global Initiative. We now know that promise was swiftly broken. Blumenthal—a man so hated by the Obama White House that it banned the State Department from hiring him—was secretly put on Mrs. Clinton’s payroll in an arms-length arrangement funded by the Clinton Foundation and Clinton ally David Brock. Judicial Watch and the New York Post documented the deep ties between the Clinton State Department and Blumenthal here.

Blumenthal was active in Libyan affairs. He privately urged Mrs. Clinton to take a more aggressive military role in country and to claim more credit for Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall. He also promoted a Libya deal sought by U.S. defense contractor Osprey Global Solutions. Among Blumenthal’s many memos to Secretary of State Clinton are several that claim to possess an inside track to the thinking of the new Libyan president, Mohammed Magariaf.

According to the new Judicial Watch documents, while the Benghazi facilities were under attack on September 11, Clinton phoned Magariaf at 6:49 p.m. Washington time, asking the president “to provide additional security to the compound immediately as there is a gun battle going on, which I understand Ansar as-Sharia is claiming responsibility for.”

Three hours later, Clinton issued a statement blaming the attack on an Internet video: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

An hour later, at 11:11 pm, Clinton emailed her daughter: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group.”

Shortly after midnight, Clinton received a “Confidential” email from Blumenthal titled “Magariaf and the Attacks on Libya.” Citing intelligence gleaned from unnamed “senior advisers, including members of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood,” Blumenthal said Magariaf had been told the Benghazi and Tripoli attacks were inspired by a “a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed.”

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The Clinton Shell Game

“For the duration of my appointment as Secretary if I am confirmed, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party….”

Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton in a letter to State Department Designated Agency Ethics Official James H. Thessin, January 5, 2009.

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At Judicial Watch, we were reminded of this pledge last week when Mrs. Clinton melted down in an exchange with a Sanders supporter who confronted her about Big Oil donations to her campaign. “I do not have,” Mrs. Clinton snapped. “I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me! I’m sick of it!”

The now ubiquitous legion of fact-checkers quickly weighed in, with PolitiFact noting that the Clinton campaign had received a mere $307,000 from oil and gas interests, or “0.2 percent of the more that $159 million her campaign committee has raised.” Bad Bernie. Points to Hillary.

A week earlier, PolitiFact dragged us into a similar flap when it attacked tax reform activist Grover Norquist for allegedly misstating information from documents we revealed showing collusion between Secretary of State Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The documents included an email chain between senior State Department aides discussing how Mrs. Clinton would thank attendees at the gathering—CGI is the glittering centerpiece of the Clinton Inc. money machine, a colossal vacuum sucking up cash and celebrity on an unprecedented scale.

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Why Whitewater Matters

 

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Aficionados of complex financial crime will want a look at a new, never-before-seen document obtained by Judicial Watch. Last month, Judicial Watch released 246 pages of previously undisclosed Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) internal memos on criminal charges against Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater investigation.

On February 9, this reporter provided more details on the case, based on a newly obtained confidential document. The document included a description of the case against Mrs. Clinton “in the legal terms of an indictment.”

The new document, disclosed today by Judicial Watch, goes further. A thirty-two page OIC memo titled “HRC Order of Proof,” it spells out in great detail the evidence that would have been presented at Mrs. Clinton’s trial.

The April 1998 memo includes the names of 121 witnesses, discussions of evidence, and aspects of grand jury testimony to be used at trial, forming a virtual road map to the sweeping criminal case against the Whitewater conspirators. It’s a rare inside look at a major federal case on the brink of indictment.

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Remembering & Honoring Phil Cardillo

An update from Micah: It was such a pleasure to receive this honor from the Retired Detectives Association of the NYPD in the Bronx on January 13. It meant so much to me and my family. Along with the police brotherhood, and particularly the current and former members of the 2-8 Precinct, we remember and honor Phil Cardillo.

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JUDICIAL WATCH PRESS RELEASE

New York City Retired Detectives Association to Honor Judicial Watch Chief Investigative Reporter Micah Morrison for Investigation of Murder of Police Officer

JANUARY 11, 2016

Morrison’s explosive April New York Post article exposed lurid details about only unsolved police killing in modern NYPD history
   

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on January 13, 2016, the Retired Detectives Association of the New York City Police Department will honor Judicial Watch and Chief Investigative Reporter Micah Morrison for their investigation of one of the most notorious cold cases in New York City’s history: the April 1972 shooting death of New York Police Department Patrolman Phillip Cardillo inside Louis Farrakhan’s Mosque #7 in Harlem.

The murder of Cardillo, quickly tabbed the “Harlem Mosque Incident,” is the only unsolved police killing in modern NYPD history. According to the Retired Detectives Association, Morrison’s probing investigation and revealing April 2015 New York Post article – “Did the FBI Accidentally Kill an NYPD Officer” – “gives new meaning to the words ‘Never Forget.’”

Morrison’s Judicial Watch investigation uncovered significant new documents and leads in the case, including new evidence of the FBI’s role in the 1972 events. According to Morrison’s New York Post news article:

Confidential FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act raise questions about the extent of the FBI’s involvement in the Cardillo affair.

One COINTELPRO [FBI’s secret counterintelligence program during the Nixon administration] tactic was the use of anonymous or “pretext” phone calls — FBI agents posing as someone else — to disrupt targeted groups.

A February 1968 COINTELPRO memo from the FBI’s New York field office to headquarters seeks permission to make “anonymous and other pretext phone calls . . . to neutralize and frustrate the activities of these black nationalists.”

The anonymous phone calls could sow dissent (“there’s an informant in your ranks”) or even get the police to conduct raids and break up meetings.

Six targets are noted in the memo. Four of the names have been blacked out by FBI censors.

“Could that fake 10-13 call sending cops to the mosque have been an FBI ‘pretext call’ gone terribly wrong?” asks Jurgensen [NYPD detective in charge of Cardillo investigation]. “Or could the FBI have had a high-level informant inside the mosque who was somehow involved and has been protected all these years? I don’t know. Only the FBI knows. But look at the Whitey Bulger case in Boston — there’s a situation where an individual was both a killer and an FBI informant.”

In a New York Post op-ed immediately following Morrison’s reporting, former prosecutors and detectives associated with the Cardillo case called upon FBI Director James Comey to “right a grievous wrong and make one last effort to find justice for a slain police officer: open the FBI ‘Special File Room and conduct a comprehensive search of all FBI files related” to the Cardillo killing.

Despite such calls, those responsible for Cardillo’s murder continue to evade capture more than four decades later. And the notorious Harlem Mosque Incident has become one of the most controversial cases in NYPD history. It has been described as a tale of betrayal and cover-up, race and politics, played out across what, at the time, was a disintegrating city. [For a full, captivating exposé of the crime and its aftermath, read Judicial Watch’s Investigative Bulletin Killing Cardillo: What Did the FBI Know and When Did They Know It?.”]

“Officer Cardillo’s murder, over 40 years ago, is relevant today, and Judicial Watch is proud that Micah Morrison’s investigative reporting is being recognized by the Retired Detectives Association of the New York City Police Department,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We are proud of Micah’s tireless investigation, and Judicial Watch joins with New York’s law enforcement community in calling on the FBI to make a thorough search of all its files for informant, wiretap and electronic-surveillance records related to the Cardillo killing.”

The awards banquet at which Judicial Watch and Morrison will be honored will be held at 6:30 on Wednesday, January 13, at Frankie and Johnnies Pine Restaurant in the Bronx. For additional information, call 718-792-595

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Hillary’s Email Troubles & Whitewater

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Hillary Clinton may or may not be indicted in the State Department emails scandal, but one thing is certain: she’s been to this dance before, facing possible criminal charges. Mrs. Clinton “may have been involved in a crime in 1986,” according to never-before-seen portions of an Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) memorandum in the Whitewater affair obtained by Judicial Watch.

The newly obtained document is an unredacted copy of a highly detailed April 10, 1998 OIC memo prepared for a key meeting to discuss the indictment of Mrs. Clinton. It is titled “Hillary Rodham Clinton: Summary of Evidence and Suggested Reading.”

In January, Judicial Watch published a redacted version of the memo obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration under the Freedom of Information Act.

Today, the new, unredacted version of the memo—reported exclusively by Breitbart—fills in important blanks in the criminal case against Mrs. Clinton.

The entire text of the memo can now be pieced together from the redacted version released by the National Archives and the new, unredacted version, reported here for the first time.

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Judicial Watch Releases Independent Counsel Memo Laying Out Criminal Case Against Hillary Clinton in Whitewater Land Scandal

‘The Castle Grande transactions were crimes’

Hillary Clinton ‘destroyed’ her personal records

A case of ‘possible obstruction’ of justice

Sources say redacted portions of memoranda contain a draft indictment of Mrs. Clinton

Never-before-published prosecution memos from April 1998 say Clinton’s ‘sworn statements to the RTC, the FDIC, the Senate and the House of Representatives and to OIC … reflected and embodied materially inaccurate stories’

A 4/10/98 OIC memo uses terms ‘crime(s),’ ‘criminal,’ ‘fraudulent,’ ‘misrepresented,’ ‘inaccurate,’ ‘deceive,’ ‘mislead,’ ‘misstatement,’ and ‘concealed’ 27 times in 20 pages to describe actions by Clinton and Whitewater associates

(Washington, DC) January 28, 2016 – Judicial Watch today released 246 pages of previously undisclosed Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) internal memos revealing extensive details about the investigation of Hillary Rodham Clinton for possible criminal charges involving her activities in the Whitewater/Castle Grande fraudulent land transaction scandal.  The memos are “statements of the case” against Hillary Clinton and Webster Lee “Webb” Hubbell, Hillary Clinton’s former law partner and former Associate Attorney General in the Clinton Justice Department.  Ultimately, the memos show that prosecutors declined to prosecute Clinton because of the difficulty of persuading a jury to convict a public figure as widely known as Clinton. (Links to the full set of documents are below.)

Although some details of the documents have been previously reported, Judicial Watch is today publicly releasing the independent counsel prosecution memos for the first time.  The prosecution memos—portions of which were heavily redacted—were obtained by Judicial Watch from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

An April 10, 1998, memo summarizes “the crimes under consideration”

What, then are the crimes under consideration? Between January 1994 and February 1996 both Hillary Clinton and [Webster] Hubbell made numerous sworn statements to the RTC, the FDIC, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and to the OIC. Each of these reflected and embodied materially inaccurate stories relating to: how RLF [Clinton and Hubbell’s Rose Law Firm] came to be retained by MGSL [the Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan]; Hillary Clinton’s role in the IDC/Castle Grande venture; Hillary Clinton’s role in representing MGSL; Hillary Clinton’s role in representing MGSL before state agencies’; Hubbell’s representations to the RTC [Resolution Trust Corporation] and FDIC regarding Hillary Clinton’s role in the IDC/Castle Grande venture; and the removal of records from the RLF. The question, generally, is not whether the statements are inaccurate, but whether they are willfully so.

 

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Here’s the Suppressed NYPD Terror Report

The ACLU and its allies have succeeded in getting a federal court to order the New York Police Department to remove from its website the prescient and far-reaching 2007 report, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat.”

But you can read it here, courtesy of Judicial Watch.

Apparently First Amendment rights do not extend to the NYPD.

Read an overview of the case here.

Read Judicial Watch’s view of the matter here.

First published at Judicial Watch’s Investigative Bulletin, January 20, 2016

Clinton Finances: White House or Big House?

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The Clinton Foundation and its global spawn are back in the news with Monday’s “refiling” of IRS tax returns from 2010 through 2013. The numbers are staggering. $20 million, most of it from foreign governments, directed to the foundation while Mrs. Clinton served as secretary of state. About $338 million in 2014, as reported in a separate filing, as Mrs. Clinton ramped up her run for the presidency. The foundation itself, noted The Non-Profit Times, “reported total revenue of $177 million for 2014 but consolidated financial statements, which would combine the assorted Clinton initiatives,” brings the total close to $338 million. Apparently that does not include the $25 million the Clintons made giving speeches in 2014 and the beginning of 2015. Nor, apparently, does it include the $48 million Bill Clinton earned from speeches while his wife was secretary of state, as first disclosed in a joint Judicial Watch/Washington Examiner investigation.

Or does it? A storm of numbers is gathering. Financial professionals and investigative journalists will be digging into the Clinton tax returns in the weeks ahead. The updated returns can be found here.

With the release, Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala issued an oddly worded letter assuring supporters that the organization was not actually required to amend the returns, that there is “no change in our bottom line numbers” and that “we do not owe any taxes.”

Elsewhere in Investigative Bulletin, we have explored the incredible political machine that is Clinton Inc., a kind of 21st Century version of Tammany Hall. Like George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany fame, the Clintons saw their opportunities and they took them. Until now, they’ve gotten away with it. Will a close examination of their vast financial syndicate change that?

The history of Tammany Hall is instructive. Much of its “corruption” was the common political practice of the day—until it went too far, too long, and reformers brought it down.

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