Judicial Watch

The NYPD’s Despicable Lie

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Saturday marked the 46th anniversary of the shooting of NYPD Patrolman Phillip Cardillo inside Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem. A conspiracy of cover-up and silence immediately surrounded the case. Decades of controversy followed. No one served a day in jail for the murder. In March, Judicial Watch sued the New York City Police Department for records in the case.

The New York Daily News asked Saturday: “Could the secret to unraveling the Cardillo murder be in the withheld records of the NYPD? The Judicial Watch lawsuit may be the last chance to get to the bottom of New York’s most infamous cold-case killing.” The op-ed was written by legendary NYPD detective Randy Jurgensen, who literally wrote the book on the case, “Circle of Six.”

46 years after the Cardillo shooting, Jurgensen notes, “the NYPD won’t release investigative files, a promised report and an audio tape, preposterously claiming an investigation is still ‘active and ongoing.’” A ruling in the case is expected soon. Legal action also is moving forward in a parallel case against the FBI in Washington. Read more about Judicial Watch’s legal moves here. Read more about the Judicial Watch investigation into the Cardillo killing here.

The Cardillo murder has been pursued across the decades because of an abiding sense of injustice: that law-enforcement and politicians conspired to make the case go away; that evidence vanished; that the shooter was arrested and acquitted due to the earlier cover-up. The injustice continues with the NYPD’s despicable lie that there is today, 46 years later, an “active and ongoing” investigation.

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Clinton, Comey, Uranium One: Who Is John W. Huber?

Widespread head-scratching has followed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent disclosure that U.S. Attorney John W. Huber is leading an investigation into 2016 election controversies. In a March 29 letter to Republican committee chairmen, Mr. Sessions said that Mr. Huber, the U. S. Attorney for Utah, had been appointed to “evaluate certain issues” raised by the GOP. He did not say which issues, but there are plenty.

In a July 27, 2017 letter, GOP leaders had called on Mr. Sessions to “appoint a second special counsel to investigate a plethora of matters connected to the 2016 election and its aftermath.” These included actions by Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Loretta Lynch and others, email controversies, mishandling of classified information, Fusion GPS and the Steele Dossier, FISA warrants, wire taps, leaks, grand juries, the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal.

Mr. Sessions instead appointed Mr. Huber, “an experienced federal prosecutor,” and left the door open to a special counsel. Mr. Sessions noted that Mr. Huber “will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”

Translation: Mr. Huber is investigating the investigations, not the underlying allegations.

Mr. Huber was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney in Utah in 2002. He was named U.S. Attorney in 2015 by Barack Obama. Mr. Huber has an important backer in Utah’s senior senator, Orrin Hatch. After President Trump requested the resignations of all sitting U.S. Attorneys, Mr. Sessions kept Mr. Huber alive with an interim appointment under the Federal Vacancies Act, until the president could be persuaded to re-nominate him. He was confirmed a second time for the post in August.

It’s a truism of law enforcement that if you want to pursue high-level political corruption, get yourself a junkyard dog—a strong prosecutor, good in a fight. Hickman Ewing Jr.—the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee and later the Whitewater Deputy Independent Counsel—comes to mind. Mr. Ewing had a long track record of pursuing political corruption before Kenneth Starr tapped him for the Whitewater probe. The Office of U.S. Attorney in Utah, by contrast, has been toothless. Mr. Huber has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, but for the last three years it has been his shop and his responsibility. Before that, it was his training ground.

In November, for example, a federal judge dismissed the last charges against Terry Diehl, a powerful Utah developer and former Utah Transit Authority board member. The government was widely seen as bungling the case. The Salt Lake Tribune noted that Diehl, “a well-known developer with friends in high places — including [Utah] House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper — once stood charged with 14 felony counts that stemmed from allegations that he lied about or hid assets as part of a 2012 bankruptcy. Prosecutors had whittled the case down three times since early October, dropping counts of concealment and tax evasion.” Prosecutors acknowledged “missteps” to the newspaper, including getting wrong the amount of taxes Diehl allegedly did not pay.

Mr. Huber’s office also lost a 2017 case against real-estate mogul Rick Koerber, charged with running a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme. The case—the government’s second try—ended in a mistrial. A judge threw out an earlier case. The government will try again in September.

But the Rosetta Stone for understanding Utah’s corruption problems may be the sprawling saga of John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff, two former Utah attorneys general charged with a multitude of corruption charges. The case gripped the state for years. Mr. Huber’s office recused itself in 2013 from the investigations, transferring the case to Colorado. Later, the Justice Department declined to charge either man and Utah state prosecutors took over. Swallow was acquitted on all counts last year and the charges against Shurtleff were dropped in 2016 by Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who bitterly complainedabout FBI and Justice Department conduct in the case.

That’s how the game is played in Utah, locals say. Power brokers have the state wired. Mr. Huber seems like a decent man, but his tenure at the top of Utah law enforcement has been short and undistinguished. Why appoint him to such a sensitive position in Washington?

One explanation is that Mr. Sessions knows precisely who Mr. Huber is and what he wants from him. Mr. Sessions went to bat for Mr. Huber in his re-appointment as U.S. Attorney and named him vice-chair of the prestigious Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Mr. Huber, a political survivor, knows precisely who Mr. Sessions is and what the attorney general wants from him.

Another more intriguing explanation is that Mr. Sessions needs someone who knows Utah. One part of Mr. Huber’s mandate, as outlined in the GOP letter, is the “purchase of Uranium One by the company Rosatom, whether the approval of the sale was connected to any donations to the Clinton Foundation, and what role Secretary Clinton played in the approval of the sale.”

Uranium One’s assets included significant holdings in Utah and nearby states. Prosecutors—and the media, so transfixed by the Mueller probe that they decline to look elsewhere—should follow the Uranium One money in Utah and the rest of the West. And if Mr. Huber does recommend additional investigations or a second special counsel, Mr. Sessions should get himself a junkyard dog.

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Arkansas & the Clinton Connection

 

Rumors have been floating up from Little Rock for months now of a new investigation into the Clinton Foundation. John Solomon advanced the story recently in a January report for The Hill. FBI agents in the Arkansas capital, he wrote, “have taken the lead” in a new Justice Department inquiry “into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in any pay-to-play politics or other illegal activities while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.” Solomon reports that the probe “may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the foundation complied with applicable tax laws.” Main Justice also is “re-examining whether there are any unresolved issues from the closed case into Clinton’s transmission of classified information through her personal email server,” Solomon notes.

Solomon is not alone. The Wall Street Journal is tracking the story. And earlier this month, investigative journalist Peter Schweizer cryptically told SiriusXM radio that federal authorities should “convene a grand jury” in Little Rock “and let the American people look at the evidence” about the Clinton Foundation.

Judicial Watch continues to turn up new evidence of Clinton pay-to-play and mishandling of classified information. In recent months, through FOIA litigation, Judicial Watch has forced the release of more than 2,600 emails and documents from Mrs. Clinton and her associates, with more to come. The emails include evidence of Clinton Foundation donors such XL Keystone lobbyist Gordon Griffin, futures brokerage firm CME Group chairman Terrence Duffy, and an associate of Shangri La Entertainment mogul Steve Bing seeking special favors from the State Department. Read more about Judicial Watch’s pay-to-play disclosures here.

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The Russian Dossier: Enter, Sid

The strange case of the Russian dossier got even stranger this week with a new report from the Guardian raising a name from the seamy side of Clinton past. A “second Trump-Russia dossier” has been turned over to the FBI, the Guardian reported. The second dossier was compiled by Cody Shearer, who the Guardian identifies as a “a controversial political activist and former journalist who was close to the Clinton White House in the 1990s.”

That’s putting it mildly. Shearer in fact has long been linked to the sleaziest aspects of the Clinton operation, mainly through his close relationship with Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal. Longtime observers of the Clinton ecosystem know that when Cody appears, Sid Blumenthal is not far behind. A ceaseless schemer, Blumenthal was so offensive to the Obama White House that he was banned from an official role at Mrs. Clinton’s State Department. But that barely slowed him down. As documented by Judicial Watch and others, Blumenthal was a constant presence by Mrs. Clinton’s side during her State Department years.

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Judicial Watch Sues NYPD, FBI for Cardillo Documents

This just in:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 202-646-5188

January 4, 2018

Judicial Watch Sues DOJ, City of NY and NYPD for Information on Unsolved Murder of a New York Policeman at Nation of Islam Mosque

New York lawsuit refutes NYPD claim that investigation into 45-year-old murder ‘remains active and ongoing’

 FOIA lawsuit raises questions of possible FBI involvement, having provoked incident with fake ‘10-13’ officer in distress phone call

 (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed suit against the Justice Department, as well as the City of New York and the New York Police Department (NYPD), to compel these state and federal agencies to release information regarding the April 14, 1972 murder of police officer Phillip Cardillo at a mosque in Harlem. Cardillo was killed while responding to a fake “10-13” officer in distress phone call.

Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice after it failed to adequately search for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s May 15 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-024687)). Judicial Watch seeks:

  • All records concerning the Nation of Islam Mosque #7 in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, or the building located at 102 West 116th Street. This request includes, but is not limited to, all informant, wiretap, electronic surveillance, and physical surveillance records relevant to the Nation of Islam Mosque #7, located at 102 West 116th Street, in New York City.
  • The time frame for the request was identified as January 1, 1970 to January 1, 1973.

Judicial Watch argues that the DOJ “has violated FOIA by failing and/or refusing to employ search methods reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of records responsive to accordingly, failing and/or refusing to produce any and all non-exempt records responsive to the [FOIA] request.”

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Menendez & Netanyahu

The federal corruption trial of Senator Robert Menendez and his very good amigo, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, is underway in New Jersey. It doesn’t appear to be going well for the prosecution.

On Tuesday, the government put Dr. Melgen’s girlfriends on the stand, and they weren’t happy about it. Senator Menendez is accused, inter alia, of exerting improper influence to obtain visas for the foreign-born women in exchange for gifts—bribes, prosecutors say—from Dr. Melgen. Svitlana Buchyk, a “model and actress,” had the courtroom “laughing at some of her answers,” Politico reported. When asked by a defense attorney how long she had spent with prosecutors preparing her testimony, she said she didn’t know, “it just seems very long when I’m around them.”

Asked if she understood why she was in court, Ms. Buchyk “let out a long, exasperated ‘no,’” Politico reported. “No, I don’t know why I’m here,” she said, indicating lead prosecutor Peter Koski. “He’s just forcing me to be here.”

In the courtroom, Judge William Walls did not allow Dr. Melgen’s girlfriends to be referred to as “girlfriends,” only “friendship” was acknowledged, fooling no one. In a bizarre filing before the trial opened, the government worked hard to portray the senator and the wealthy doctor as two dirty old men living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Dr. Melgen wanted to bring his young “foreign girlfriends to the United States to visit him,” the document notes. The women were “from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Ukraine.” Senator Menendez helped with the visas. Dr. Melgen arranged for Mr. Menendez and his girlfriend (oh by the way both men are married) “to stay in Punta Cana, an exclusive oceanside resort town” in the Dominican Republic.

On other occasions, the two men and their, er, friends, enjoyed vacations “at Melgen’s villa at Casa de Campo, a cloistered resort on the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic with renowned golf courses, a spa, polo fields, a marina, restaurants and other amenities.” The trial brief describes an “enclave, venerated for its seclusion” and “frequently visited by luminaries in sports, entertainment and business, including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Richard Branson and Bill Gates.” Elsewhere in the brief, the government notes that with assistance for Dr. Melgen, Mr. Menendez stayed at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Paris, “one of Europe’s most elite, routinely hosting celebrities from the world over, including the likes of George Clooney and Maria Sharapova.”

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The Final Confession of Peter W. Smith

I first ran into Peter W. Smith—that crafty master of the dark side of oppo research—in the early 1990s. The Chicago financier was spreading around a lot of money in Arkansas to support investigations into allegations that Arkansas state troopers were pimping for Gov. Bill Clinton. I didn’t take any of Mr. Smith’s money but state troopers, lawyers and a young reporter named David Brock did. “Troopergate” came to nothing, except that Brock wrote a story in the American Spectator that smeared a woman named “Paula,” which led to the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit, which led to the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton. So from a GOP oppo perspective, the mission was a roaring success. Thanks in large part to Peter W. Smith.

In the years that followed, plenty of folks on the Right took Mr. Smith’s money—he was a generous and inquisitive man, well known and well connected. On May 14, he committed suicide in a Rochester, Minnesota, hotel room near the Mayo Clinic. He was 81. He left a note stating “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER,” according to the Chicago Tribune, citing a “bad turn” in his health in recent months and an expiring $5 million life insurance policy.

Before he died, however, Mr. Smith carefully prepared what amounts to a deathbed confession—a final piece of oppo research lofted into the Russian connection case from beyond the grave. The delivery vehicle for the final confession of Peter W. Smith was Shane Harris of the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Harris spoke with Mr. Smith ten days before his death.

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Extreme Transparency & Discretionary Disclosure

These are tough times for transparency. But let’s be honest: does anyone care? The concept has an “eat your vegetables” feel to it. Deep down we know it’s good for us, but, meh.

If you think transparency and sunshine laws don’t matter, consider these recent items:

  • despite enormous public interest, the federal government has declined to release a redacted report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election
  • President Trump refuses to make his tax returns public and will not release White House visitor logs
  • the majority leader of the United States Senate attempted to ram through a colossal change in American health care with a bill written in near-total secrecy
  • the House of Representatives repealed an SEC rule requiring that extractive industries disclose payments to foreign governments, killing an effective “follow the money” transparency measure that deterred payoffs and bribes
  • anonymously owned shell companies are steering billions in dirty money to U.S. luxury real-estate markets
  • fighting government stonewalls, Judicial Watch has been forced to sue in federal court for former FBI Director James Comey’s memo of his meeting with President Trump, and to file five additional lawsuits related to alleged monitoring of the president and his associates in the Russia connection case

There’s plenty of blame to go around for transparency failures. But as Judicial Watch’s Director of Investigations Chris Farrell has pointed out, when it comes to sunshine actions, the Trump White House has a solution at hand that’s both elegantly simple and breathtakingly radical. The Freedom of Information Act allows for the executive branch to make “discretionary disclosures.”

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The Ukraine Connection

In January, Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, met with a most unusual peace envoy: a former mobster and government informant named Felix Sater. They were joined by a third man, Andrii Artemenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament with alleged ties to organized crime figures. Mr. Artemenko and Mr. Sater wanted the new president to consider a “peace deal” that would cede Crimea to Russia in exchange for the withdrawal of Russian forces from eastern Ukraine. Mr. Cohen was interested. Mr. Sater gave Mr. Cohen the proposal in a sealed envelope and Mr. Cohen dropped it off at the office of then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn while visiting the White House to meet with President Trump. The government of Ukraine learned about the deal the way the rest of the world did, by reading about it in the New York Times. It furiously denounced the move as a “gross violation” of Ukrainian law by forces “covertly representing Russian interests.”

No U.S. laws were broken in the backchannel approach to the White House and Mr. Artemenko, who has modeled his political persona on Mr. Trump, denies any connection to organized crime. But the episode underscores some of the dangers for the Trump White House lurking in the Russia connection case. Following the money may take Special Counsel Robert Mueller to some very shady places.

Throughout his life, Mr. Trump has not shied away from contacts with organized crime figures. He crossed paths with them in the construction business, in the casino business, in deals with Mr. Sater and his colleagues, and through his longtime personal attorney Roy Cohn, whose client list included many of New York’s leading mobsters. Maybe Mr. Trump never did business with the mob. Maybe he just got a kick out of gangsters. We don’t know. But the problem now for President Trump is a special counsel who may want to know, and who is empowered to find out.

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Trump v. Mueller

“The President went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him.”

–Former FBI Director James Comey to the Senate Intelligence Committee

 

“The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation…including: any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).”

–Justice Department letter appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel

 

The president has claimed a measure of relief—okay, “total and complete vindication”—after James Comey confirmed in Senate testimony that Mr. Trump himself is not under investigation in the Russia connection case. According to Mr. Comey’s notes of his meetings with the president, Mr. Trump insists he hasn’t done anything wrong but if any of his “satellite associates” did do something wrong, it would be good to find that out. The important thing, President Trump repeats, is that he himself is not a target of the probe.

The conventional wisdom out of Washington is that the president is a political neophyte stumbling from one crisis to another. But when it comes to legal battles, Mr. Trump is an experienced combatant. Trump biographers have noted that the future president was mentored by attorney Roy Cohn, an avatar of legal evil whose life’s work included hounding homosexuals and suspected communists, representing mobsters and financial titans, and protecting Trump family interests. Cohn beat back repeated federal attempts to jail him and died from an AIDS-related illness in 1986, but he lives on in the president’s brain. If you’re gaming Trump v. Mueller, think Roy Cohn, not the hapless New York corporate lawyers currently being shoved out front as cannon fodder.

The Roy Cohn method is to fight until the last dog dies and that’s precisely what the president wants. For Mr. Trump knows that a war with the special counsel is at hand. Taking a page from the Clintons’ Whitewater playbook, Trump surrogates have started blasting Mr. Mueller as Democrat-linked and unfit for office. Mr. Trump has served notice that anyone can be thrown under the bus—it would be “good to find out” if any of his associates did anything wrong, he tells the then-FBI chief—and Trump friends note that even Mr. Mueller is not safe from being fired. None of this is an accident.

As for Mr. Mueller, like Mr. Trump, it’s not in his character to back away from a fight. Mr. Mueller enlisted in the Marine Corps and commanded a rifle platoon in the Vietnam War, receiving the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. A Republican, he served in high Justice Department criminal prosecution posts and took over the FBI one week before 9-11. He’s a serious, straight-arrow prosecutor facing the biggest case of his lifetime. He’ll go where the evidence takes him and is assembling a formidable team to get him there.

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