FISA court review order leaves out key FBI players implicated in Horowitz report

closeFISA judge demands more answers on FBI warrantsVideo

FISA judge demands more answers on FBI warrants

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn weighs in on fallout from IG report on FISA abuse.

Earlier this month, the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered the FBI to re-verify all previous warrant applications involving the FBI attorney who falsified evidence against the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. However, Fox News has learned the court did not order the FBI to double-check warrant applications involving other officials who made key omissions and errors in warrant applications as the bureau sought to surveil Page.

The FISC's failure to request a comprehensive evaluation of previous submissions has stunned court-watchers who have questioned whether enough is being done to deter future misconduct by the FBI. In the past, the FISC has gone so far as to prohibit some FBI agents from appearing before the court after finding impropriety.

In response to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's long-awaited report into FBI surveillance abuses released earlier this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray has claimed that the agency "embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action." Congressional Republicans, however, remain unconvinced that the bureau will solve the problem on its own.

“The deceptive actions of a few high-ranking officials within the FBI and the Department of Justice have eroded public trust in our federal institutions,” Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, stated earlier this month as he introduced a bill to reform the FISC in response to the Horowitz report. “They flattened internal guardrails, deceived the FISA court, and irreparably damaged the reputation of an innocent American.”

Horowitz found specific evidence of oversights and errors by several top FBI employees as they sought to obtain a warrant to surveil Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). For example, an unidentified FBI supervisory special agent (SSA) mentioned in the IG report was responsible for ensuring that the bureau's "Woods Procedures" were followed in the Page warrant application.

According to the procedures, factual assertions need to be independently verified, and information contradicting those assertions must be presented to the court. But Horowitz found several instances in which the procedures were not followed.

Former Trump adviser Carter Page. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former Trump adviser Carter Page. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Horowitz's report leaves little doubt that the unnamed SSA is Joe Pientka — a current bureau employee. (The FBI has requested that Fox News not name Pientka, or any agent in a sensitive position.)

The inspector general also noted than an unnamed "Case Agent 1," was "primarily responsible" for some of the "most significant" errors and omissions in the FISA warrant applications and renewals submitted to the FISC to extend the monitoring of Page.

Nevertheless, FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the FBI only to identify "all other matters currently or previously before this Court that involved the participation of the FBI OGC [Office of General Counsel] attorney" mentioned in Horowitz's report.

Additionally, Collyer ordered the FBI to "describe any steps taken or to be taken by the Department of Justice or FBI to verify that the United States’ submissions in those matters completely and fully described the material facts and circumstances" and to advise whether the attorney's conduct "has been referred to the appropriate bar association(s) for investigation or possible disciplinary action.

Those were apparent references to ex-FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who Horowitz found to have doctored an email from the CIA. The FBI reached out to the CIA and other intelligence agencies for information on Page; the CIA responded in an email by telling the FBI that Page had contacts with Russians from 2008 to 2013, but that Page had reported them to the CIA and was serving as a CIA operational contact and informant on Russian business and intelligence interests.


Clinesmith then allegedly doctored the CIA's email about Page to make it seem as though the agency had said only that Page was not an active source. And, the FBI included Page's contacts with Russians in the warrant application as evidence he was a foreign "agent," without disclosing to the secret surveillance court that Page was voluntarily working with the CIA concerning those foreign contacts.

Collyer has separately sought updates from the FBI concerning details in the IG report but has ordered a re-review of any other FISA applications that were previously reviewed.

However, details in the IG report reveal that the pervasiveness of apparent misconduct in the FISA process extended far beyond Clinesmith.

The unnamed "SSA 1" in the IG report was given a supervisory role on the Russia investigation team, overseeing agents and reporting directly to since-fired anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok. The special agent created the electronic sub-file to which the reports by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele would be uploaded. According to Horowitz, these reports were used to support the probable cause in the Page FISA applications.

Then, on Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News published an article describing U.S. government efforts to determine whether Page was in communication with Kremlin officials. The article seemed to closely track information from one of Steele’s reports. As a result, one FBI case agent who reported to SSA 1 believed Steele was the source, according to Horowitz.


SSA 1 apparently thought the same, as his notes from a meeting held on Sept. 30, 2016, said: “Control issues — reports acknowledged in Yahoo News.” When questioned by Horowitz's office, the agent explained he was concerned — but not sure — that Steele was the Yahoo News source.

The drafts of the Page FISA application, however, tell a different story. Horowitz found that until Oct. 14, 2016, drafts state that Steele was responsible for the leak that led to the Yahoo News article. One draft specifically states that Steele “was acting on his/her own volition and has since been admonished by the FBI.”

IG report confirms Steele dossier used to justify spying on Carter PageVideo

These assertions, which could have pointed to political motivations for Steele to make his information public weeks before the 2016 presidential election, were changed to the following: Steele’s “business associate or the law firm that hired the business associate likely provided this information to the press.”

Horowitz found no facts to support this assessment.

On Oct. 11, 2016, Steele met with then-State Department official Jonathan Winer and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec. Steele informed Kavalec that the overseers of a Russian cyber-hacking operation targeting the 2016 U.S. elections were paying the culprits from “the Russian Consulate in Miami.” Kavalec later met with an FBI liaison and explained to them that Russia did not have a consulate in Miami. SSA 1 was informed of Steele’s incorrect claim on Nov. 18, 2016, but the FISA court was never provided this information, according to the IG report.

Additionally, SSA 1 was aware of Page’s denials to an FBI confidential human source (CHS) that he knew Russian officials Igor Sechin and Igor Divyekin – officials that Steele alleged Page had met in Moscow in July 2016. In fact, Horowitz found that SSA 1 “knew as of October 17 that Page denied ever knowing Divyekin."


"This inconsistency was also not noted during the Woods Procedures on the subsequent FISA renewal applications, and none of the three later FISA renewal applications included Page’s denials to the CHS," Horowitz wrote, referring to the FBI's practice of reverifying facts in its FISA application before seeking renewals.


SSA 1 also was responsible for “confirming that the Woods File was complete and for double-checking the factual accuracy review to confirm that the file contained appropriate documentation for each of the factual assertions in the FISA application," according to Horowitz.

But Horowitz found numerous instances “in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application targeting Carter Page were inaccurate, incomplete or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed."

In particular, the FBI misled the FISC by asserting that Steele’s prior reporting "has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings.” Horowitz's review found there was no documentation to support this statement; SSA 1 told Horowitz they “speculated.”

SSA 1 was also aware, according to Horowitz, that Steele had relayed his information to officials at the State Department, and he had documentation showing Steele had told the team he provided the reports to his contacts at the State Department. Despite this, the FISC was informed that Steele told the FBI he “only provided this information to the business associate and the FBI.”


Republican calls for more accountability may not go unanswered for long. Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham announced this month that he did not "agree" with the IG's assessment that the FBI's probes were properly predicted, highlighting Durham's broader criminal mandate and scope of review.

Durham is focusing on foreign actors as well as the CIA, while Horowitz concentrated his attention on the Justice Department and FBI.

"Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened," Durham said in his statement, adding that his "investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department" and "has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S."

Wilson Miller contributed to this report.

Original Article

House Dems raise prospect of new impeachment articles, in court battle over McGahn testimony

closeCan President Trump continue to count on support from evangelicals?Video

Can President Trump continue to count on support from evangelicals?

Christianity Today calls for Trump's removal following impeachment; reaction from Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for President Trump's re-election campaign, and Scott Bolden, former chair of the D.C. Democratic Party.

The lawyer for House Judiciary Committee Democrats revealed in a Monday court filing that there is a possibility lawmakers could pursue even more articles of impeachment against President Trump — despite having already adopted two of them last week following a grueling, historic and bitterly partisan debate.

The prospect of additional articles — while perhaps unlikely — was floated as part of a court battle over Democrats' bid to compel testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

Shortly before a 4 p.m. deadline imposed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the committee counsel filed a brief making their case for why they still want to hear from McGahn, despite having already voted for impeachment.

Democrats originally sought McGahn's testimony in connection with his claims to then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team that Trump wanted him to have Mueller fired. Trump’s critics claimed this request constituted obstruction of justice.


While the Mueller probe never factored into the impeachment articles that were adopted, House Democrats' counsel Douglas Letter argued that McGahn's testimony is still vital — and could even be relevant to "consideration of whether to recommend additional articles of impeachment" against Trump.

“If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly—including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” the brief stated, noting that they still have “ongoing impeachment investigations.”

The filing did not detail what potential additional articles could be considered, beyond the already-adopted articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Regardless, the brief stated that even if McGahn’s testimony does not lead to new articles of impeachment, it could be used in an upcoming Senate trial — which is on hold pending Speaker Nancy Pelosi transmitting the articles to the chamber — in relation to the obstruction of Congress allegations that Trump is currently facing.

The White House has asserted longstanding executive privilege to bar McGahn from supplying documents and testimony to House investigators back when they were probing the Russia issue, saying internal White House deliberations must remain protected. The case was later tied into impeachment as the House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., refocused on that inquiry.

Eric Shawn: The president vs. Congress with Don McGahn in the middleVideo

In an opposing court filing, the Justice Department claimed Monday that the McGahn case should be dismissed precisely because of its connection to the impeachment process.

"[T]he article of impeachment addressing purported obstruction of Congress relies in part on the judicial proceedings in this very case," the DOJ said in a brief submitted earlier Monday morning.

"Indeed, if this Court now were to resolve the merits question in this case, it would appear to be weighing in on a contested issue in any impeachment trial," the DOJ argued, before concluding that the court "should decline the Committee's request that it enter the fray and instead should dismiss this fraught suit between the political branches for lack of jurisdiction."

Alternatively, the DOJ argued that impeachment eliminates the committee's need for expedited consideration. The committee had previously claimed that "speedy judicial action is needed to avoid hampering the House's impeachment investigation," but the DOJ says this "justification no longer applies," so there is no need for anything to take place prior to the already scheduled Jan. 3 oral arguments.


The committee disagreed, citing the upcoming Senate trial and “ongoing impeachment investigations,” as well as the public’s “significant interest ‘in immediately removing a sitting president whose continuation in office poses a threat to the Nation’s welfare.’”

Both sides also faced late-afternoon deadlines in a separate case where the House Judiciary Committee is seeking the secret grand jury material from Mueller’s investigation. Such material is generally secret, according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which specify certain exceptions including judicial proceedings.

In that case, DOJ lawyers told the court Monday that the House committee request for Mueller grand jury materials is no longer relevant, as the impeachment articles did not involve the Russia probe.

“Neither article of impeachment adopted by the House, however, alleges high crimes or misdemeanors stemming from the events described in the Mueller Report. Accordingly, nothing appears to remain of the Committee’s alleged need for the grand-jury materials in the Mueller Report,” their filing said.

Fox News' Bill Mears and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Original Article

FISA court judge demands info about FBI lawyer linked to Carter Page warrant

closeFISA court orders FBI to fix wiretaps amid IG reportVideo

FISA court orders FBI to fix wiretaps amid IG report

Fox News contributor Sara Carter, American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp, and conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza share their reaction.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s presiding judge has sent another directive to the Justice Department, ordering officials to identify previous surveillance requests from an FBI lawyer linked to the 2016 warrant from former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

In an order unsealed Friday, Judge Rosemary Collyer asked the Justice Department to identify steps to ensure the accuracy of those filings and whether the unnamed DOJ lawyer was ever disciplined.

DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz recently identified in a scathing public report numerous mistakes and omissions in the warrant used against Page that launched the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.


Carter Page: There's been no real action to address FISA abuseVideo

The letter unsealed Friday was dated Dec. 5, which was four days before Horowitz’s report was released.

Collyer had earlier this week ordered DOJ to identify by January 10 what steps it was taking to correct problems with the FISA warrant process. The FBI had promised to work with DOJ to comply.

Sources have said the unidentified FBI lawyer in question has since resigned his post, and the Horowitz report said he faces possible criminal prosecution.

In a rare public order earlier this week, Collyer strongly criticized the FBI over its surveillance-application process, giving the bureau until Jan. 10 to come up with solutions, in the wake of findings from Horowitz.

Horowitz said he did not find significant evidence that FBI agents were involved in a political conspiracy to undermine Trump's candidacy in 2016. However, the report did find numerous errors and inaccuracies used by FBI agents to obtain permission to monitor Page's phone calls and emails.

While Collyer's order earlier this week did not specify exactly what reforms the FBI needed to implement to its policies for obtaining permission to wiretap people under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the order did say that the FISA court will weigh in on whether the reforms are deemed sufficient.


The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court deals with some of the most sensitive matters of national security: terror threats and espionage. Its work, for the most part, cannot be examined by the American public, by order of Congress and the president. Its work is mostly secret, and its structure largely one-sided.

It was also revealed Friday that Collyer, who is also a senior judge on the DC federal court, will resign her position as presiding judge on the FISA court at year’s end. Her current term was set to expire in March 2020.

Chief Justice John Roberts will replace Collyer with James Boasberg, a colleague of Collyer on the FISA court and DC federal bench. He was named to the FISA court in 2014 and is one of 11 judges on the rotating FISA court.

Sources say Collyer, 74, is leaving for unspecified personal reasons.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.

Original Article

Woman spurned in alleged Ilhan Omar affair cut off by court in bizarre divorce proceedings

closeRep. Omar introduces $1 trillion housing plan, says affordable housing is basic human rightVideo

Rep. Omar introduces $1 trillion housing plan, says affordable housing is basic human right

Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar's Homes for All Act pledges to build 12 million new public and private housing units.

A local judge granted a divorce Thursday to a D.C. doctor who accused Rep. Ilhan Omar of having an affair with her husband, in a court hearing that ended abruptly after the wife brought up the controversial Minnesota congresswoman.

Superior Court Judge Darlene Soltys had just applauded Beth and Tim Mynett for reaching a divorce settlement amicably when Beth Mynett spoke up.

“[Through] extensive documentation and his own words, Tim acknowledged he has been engaged in an extramarital romantic relationship with Ilhan Omar, which proceeded and precipitated the divorce,” Beth Mynett, a doctor and mother, said.

But Tim Mynett and his lawyer seemed stunned by Beth Mynett’s sudden speech and immediately asked that she stop.


“I’m almost finished,” said Beth Mynett, who filed for divorce in August in bombshell court papers alleging her marriage fell apart because Tim Mynett fell in love with Omar while working for her and had carried on an extramarital affair with the freshman Democrat.

The judge broke up the speech and called the attorneys for both Mynetts to the bench and put on sound to drown out their conversations. Then the court hearing abruptly ended without a formal announcement of adjournment.

Both parties left with their lawyers and declined comment. A court clerk came into the hallways afterward with paperwork looking for the Mynetts but was surprised to find them already long gone.

Both Tim Mynett and Omar have denied any affair.

The divorce case had been rescheduled at least two times prior. The late-morning hearing at the family division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia was delayed as both Mynetts and their lawyers huddled in a private room to work out the terms of the settlement.

Rep. Omar files for divorce amid affair allegationsVideo

Important to Beth Mynett was that Tim withdraw his counterclaim where he denied the affair with Omar, said he had “been unhappy for the better part" of his relationship with his wife, and accused her of launching a “negative campaign” to ruin his career and damage his relationship with their son and his stepdaughter. While the details of the settlement were not immediately available, courtroom discussion Thursday seemed to indicate the settlement agreement included such a withdrawal.

Lawyers for both sides had also worked out an agreement resolving all the issues of custody, finances and attorney fees. Both Mynetts had signed off on the settlement paperwork at the courthouse and seemed pleased with the outcome.


But it wasn't over. As Tim Mynett waited inside the courtroom, Beth Mynett sat outside in the hallway and practiced her planned speech.

Around 12:30 p.m., they appeared before Soltys for a brief hearing to have the settlement finalized.

Soltys asked both parties a series of questions, including whether Beth Mynett thought there was any hope for reconciliation.

“Absolutely, not,” she said.

Mynett also wanted to have her maiden name restored.

“I no longer want to have Mr. Mynett’s name attached to me,” Beth said.

Soltys signed off on all the paperwork.

“So that takes care of everything. The divorce is now final,” Soltys declared roughly 10 minutes into the court hearing.

Rep. Omar dismisses questions about alleged affair, campaign funds as 'stupid'Video

The hearing was moving so swiftly that the judge praised the Mynetts. Soltys said she often sees couples with prolonged court fights and gave the pair kudos for working out the details of their divorce settlement behind the scenes and working to co-parent their child.

“You should be real pleased with yourself,” the judge said.

Then just as the hearing was to wrap up, Beth Mynett spoke up. She wanted to let the court know under threat of “perjury” that it was “appropriate and just” that her ex withdrew his counterclaim against her.

She went on to say she was "devoted" to her marriage and her husband indeed had "happiness" during their 13 years together and seven years of marriage. But her speech was cut short after mentioning Tim Mynett's alleged affair with Omar.

Tim Mynett worked for Omar and his business, E Street Group, got $370,000 of her campaign funds, according to The New York Post, which broke the news of the initial divorce filing.

Conservative watchdogs have filed campaign finance complaints against Omar seeking a probe into whether she used the campaign funds to rendezvous with her alleged lover.

Omar filed for divorce from her husband in October and blamed the media and political foes for killing her marriage.

“Ilhan and Ahmed [Hirsi] have been the object of speculation and innuendo from political opponents and the media,” according to a statement from Omar’s lawyer published by The New York Post.


“This has taken a significant toll on Ilhan, Ahmed and their three children. As with all marriages, this is intensely personal and a difficult time for their family,” the statement said.

“Just like any other family navigating this kind of transition, Ilhan wishes to have their privacy respected for themselves and their children and will not be commenting any further," it added.

Original Article

Horowitz testifies before Senate committee after FISA court rebukes FBI

closeHorowitz: Report 'doesn't vindicate anyone'Video

Horowitz: Report 'doesn't vindicate anyone'

Horowitz faces questions on IG report; Anna Kooiman has the details.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday, in the aftermath of his report examining the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe and problems with the process used to obtain a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Horowitz previously testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Wednesday’s hearing comes a day after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) rebuked the FBI in a rare public order that referenced his report. Horowitz had revealed that there were 17 inaccuracies and omissions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications for Page, which included a doctored email and the failure to include exculpatory information about Page that may have impacted the FISC’s decision to grant the warrants.


“The FBI's handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above," Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote in her four-page order. "The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable."

Horowitz’s report also described how the FBI relied on information gathered by former British spy Christopher Steele as part of opposition research for Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. Steele’s information helped lead officials to approve seeking a FISA warrant for Page, even though the information had not been vetted as required by FBI policy.


The report said that while there were clear problems with the FBI’s FISA process, Horowitz did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that the Russia probe itself was launched due to political bias, although he noted that the threshold to start the probe was low. Additionally, when asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the inspector general made it clear that the question of possible bias “gets murkier” when discussing the FISA process.

Former FBI Director James Comey, who led the bureau at the time, insisted he was unaware of any impropriety at the time, but told “Fox News Sunday” he “was wrong” when he defended the FBI’s FISA process in the past. Still, he defended his former subordinates by claiming that no one committed any intentional misconduct, despite Horowitz calling for accountability and making referrals for further investigation. At the same time, Comey admitted that there was “real sloppiness,” and that as director, he was ultimately responsible.

Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

Original Article

FISA court slams FBI over surveillance applications, in rare public order

closeWhat is the future of the FBI following revealing IG report on FISA applications?Video

What is the future of the FBI following revealing IG report on FISA applications?

Reaction and analysis from Kira Davis, Tomi Lahren, and Rep. Matt Gaetz.

In a rare public order Tuesday, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court strongly criticized the FBI over its surveillance-application process, giving the bureau until Jan. 10 to come up with solutions, in the wake of findings from Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

The order, from the court's presiding judge Rosemary M. Collyer, came just a week after the release of Horowitz's withering report about the wiretapping of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as part of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"The FBI's handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above," Collyer wrote in her four-page order. "The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable."

Horowitz said he did not find significant evidence that FBI agents were involved in a political conspiracy to undermine Trump's candidacy in 2016. However, the report did find numerous errors and inaccuracies used by FBI agents to obtain permission to monitor Page's phone calls and emails.

While Collyer's order did not specify exactly what reforms the FBI needed to implement to its policies for obtaining permission to wiretap people under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the order did say that the FISA court will weigh in on whether the reforms are deemed sufficient.

"The [FISA court] expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing with the court," Collyer wrote. "Without it, the [FISA court] cannot properly ensure that the government conducts electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes only when there is a sufficient factual basis."

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

Original Article

Supreme Court to review congressional, state subpoenas for Trump financial records

closeSupreme Court to take up case on President Trump's financial recordsVideo

Supreme Court to take up case on President Trump's financial records

Supreme Court to hear subpoena fights over financial records; John Roberts has the details.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether President Trump can be shielded from congressional and state subpoenas for his personal banking and accounting records, in what could be a major test of separation powers between the executive branch, Congress, and the states.

At issue is the extent a sitting president can be subject to congressional oversight– under "valid legislative purposes"– of his private business dealings before he took office. The high court will also look at the extent a sitting president can be subject to state and local grand jury investigations and prosecutions.

The justices held a private conference Friday, where they considered a New York state subpoena, and two other related appeals involving separate congressional subpoenas. A lower federal court had separately ruled Trump must comply with the subpoenas, but his personal lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

"We are pleased that the Supreme Court granted review of the President’s three pending cases," Counsel to the President Jay Sekulow said in a statement. "These cases raise significant constitutional issues. We look forward to presenting our written and oral arguments."

One case involves requests for documents sought by the House Oversight and Reform Committee after the president's former attorney, Michael Cohen, testified that Trump underreported or overstated the extent of his financial holdings to the government. Cohen is serving a three-year federal prison sentence for lying to Congress and financial-related offenses.

A second subpoena involves House Financial Services Committee and House Intelligence Committee requests for 10 years of records from various banks that did business with Trump, his adult children, and his businesses. The committee is probing lending practices by major financial institutions, and allegations of Russian money laundering.

Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has empaneled a state grand jury seeking eight years of tax records relating to allegations of hush money payments to two women claiming prior sexual affairs with Trump, allegations he has denied.


Lawyers for the House committees had urged the high court to intervene now, saying the Democrat-led panels are actively pursuing the extent of any foreign interference in U.S. politics, which may be key to legislative safeguards ahead of next year's elections.

The subpoenas are separate from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump, headed for a vote in the full House next week

Oral arguments will likely be scheduled for March, with a ruling on the merits by early July, just four months before the presidential election.

Fox News' John Roberts and the Associated Press contributed to this report. This is a developing story, check back for more updates.

Original Article

Trump secures 50th appellate court appointment, with another Ninth Circuit judge confirmed

closeTrump administration secures another judicial victoryVideo

Trump administration secures another judicial victory

Confirmation of President Trump's latest judicial pick tilts balance of 11th Circuit Court; reaction from Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network.

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday afternoon confirmed Lawrence VanDyke to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, marking President Trump's 50th successful appellate court appointment in just three years in office, and his second to the historically liberal Ninth Circuit in as many days.

By contrast, President Barack Obama nominated a total of 55 circuit judges who were confirmed over eight years — and Obama's nominees were, on average, approximately ten years older. The White House has dramatically transformed the Ninth Circuit, a powerful court with jurisdiction over nine states that has long been a thorn in the president's side.

Of the 30 active seats on the Ninth Circuit, 10 have now been appointed by Trump, and 14 by Republican presidents. Only nine of the court's 19 semi-retired "senior status" judges were appointed by Democrats, with 10 by Republicans. That's a major change from early last year, when only six judges on the Ninth Circuit were chosen by Republicans.

"FIFTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGES!" tweeted Carrie Severino, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network's chief counsel and policy director. "Despite unrelenting Democratic obstruction and smear campaigns," she wrote, Trump and his Senate allies "have answered the call of the American people."

VanDyke's confirmation, by a 51-44 vote, came just 24 hours after Patrick Bumatay, an openly gay Filipino man, was also seated on the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit. Both nominees were fiercely opposed by Democrats, including the senators from their home states — Nevada Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto for VanDyke, and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris for Bumatay.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has long drawn the ire of President Trump, who has called it "disgraceful." It's now being transformed. (AP)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has long drawn the ire of President Trump, who has called it "disgraceful." It's now being transformed. (AP)

But, the White House has long ignored the so-called "blue slip" process of seeking advice from home-state senators in the judicial confirmation process, as it pressed ahead with its goal of transforming the federal appellate bench for generations.

"As the 9th Circuit shifts to become more conservative and better parallels the Supreme Court's ideological baseline, I could only imagine fewer liberal 9th Circuit decisions and fewer overturned 9th Circuit decisions generally," legal scholar and judicial data guru Adam Feldman, who blogs at Empirical SCOTUS, told Fox News.

The confirmations have not been easy for the White House — or its nominees. VanDyke, a deputy assistant attorney general in the environmental and natural resources division, broke down in tears during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in October, as he disputed suggestions that he would not be fair to members of the LGBTQ community.


The ostensibly nonpartisan American Bar Association (ABA), which rated VanDyke unqualified, sent a letter to committee leadership alleging that people they interviewed expressed this concern, and that VanDyke himself "would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community."

“There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful,” the letter added.

The ABA did note that VanDyke, a Harvard Law School graduate and former solicitor general for Montana and Nevada, is "clearly smart." VanDyke is a former Nevada solicitor general who also waged an expensive campaign for a seat on the Montana Supreme Court in 2014.

Trump judicial nominee Lawrence VanDyke brought to tears during Senate hearingVideo

"I did not say that," VanDyke told Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tears welling up in his eyes. "No, I did not say that. I do not believe that. It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God. They should all be treated with dignity and respect, senator."

VanDyke also said that he was not given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations during his ABA interview. He said when he was confronted with the concerns about his views, he began to answer but was told they were running out of time, and described himself as “much more hurt than I’ve ever been to get that” assessment from the ABA.

That interview was conducted by Marcia Davenport, the lead evaluator. Hawley noted that Davenport once contributed to the campaign of a judicial candidate who was running against VanDyke.

"I find that absolutely unbelievable," Hawley said, stating it "probably explains the totally ad hominem nature of this disgraceful letter."


Conservative groups came to VanDyke's defense: "Even for the ABA, this is beyond the pale," the Judicial Crisis Network's Carrie Severino said in a statement, accusing the ABA of "bias against conservative nominees to the judiciary."

Bumatay, the nominee confirmed to the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday, served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. He was confirmed in a 53-40 party-line vote, and received a “Qualified” rating from the ABA.

Senate confirms President Trump's nominee to be a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 53-46 in a party-line voteVideo

He was nominated last year, but the Senate never took up his confirmation, and it eventually expired.

“Patrick Bumatay lacks the knowledge and experience necessary for the 9th Circuit," Feinstein said. "He also acknowledged working on the separation of immigrant families while at the Justice Department and refused to answer questions about other controversial issues."

The conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP), however, praised Bumatay's credentials.

“In Patrick Bumatay, the President has nominated a highly qualified and experienced individual, committed to supporting and defending the Constitution – rather than seeking to legislate from the bench," Casey Mattox, AFP's vice president for legal and judicial strategy, said in a statement. "We applaud Chairman Graham and the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their support of Bumatay and Senator McConnell for his continued commitment to confirming fair and qualified nominees to the federal bench.”


Speaking to top Republican lawmakers and Justice Department officials in the East Room of the White House in November, Trump celebrated the appointment of his 150th federal judge, which he called a "profoundly historic milestone and a truly momentous achievement." As of Dec. 11, Trump has appointed a total of 120 judges to federal district courts, which sit below appellate courts — with dozens more in the pipeline.

Promise made, promise kept: Trump has confirmed more than 150 judgesVideo

The event featured a series of humorous moments as Trump's onetime rivals took the microphone. Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, fondly recalled the time Trump had given out his personal phone number on the campaign trail and compared him to a "dog" — and how the two quickly settled their score shortly after Trump took office.

"The defining moment of your president was the Kavanaugh hearing," Graham said. "This room would be empty if we had failed Brett Kavanaugh. Brett Kavanaugh lived a life we should all be proud of. He worked hard. And the way he was treated was the worst experience I've had in politics. A lot of people would have pulled the plug on him. Mr. President, thank you, for not pulling the plug."

Trump singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for a standing ovation, saying his impact in methodically confirming judges in the Senate was "truly amazing." Trump went on to joke that it was "so easy" to get Supreme Court justices confirmed, in a nod to the contentious Brett Kavanaugh hearings last year.

"Generations from now, Americans will know that Mitch McConnell helped save the constitutional rule of law in America — it's true," Trump said.

Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court offers sympathetic ear to insurers over $12B in ObamaCare claims

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Supreme Court to hear arguments in private insurers’ suit against US government

USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy fellow Christen Young weighs in.

Private health insurers are poised to prevail Tuesday at the Supreme Court over claims the federal government owes them billions of dollars from a now-defunct financial incentive program in the Affordable Care Act.

It is the fifth time the justices have heard legal challenges to the 2010 Affordable Care, but the current issue has little of the partisan rancor of previous disputes, such as individual mandates and contraception coverage.


At issue now is whether Congress appropriately limited funding to private companies after earlier promising them a financial stopgap against losses.

Health providers in six states say they are the victims of a federal "bait-and-switch," by agreeing to participate in an Obamacare program designed to expand coverage plans to uninsured and underinsured customers.

Those companies say they are owed $12 billion in subsidies from the pooled funds, to compensate for losses. But the Trump administration argues Congress properly made the choice to stop funding, and that the companies were never in a contractual relationship with the government.

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested the insurers went into the so-called "risk corridor" program with its eyes wide open.

"You make a case at some length about the reliance of the insurance companies, they were basically seduced into this program, but they have good lawyers," he said. "I would have thought at some point they would have sat down and said: well, why don't we insist upon an appropriations provision before we put ourselves on the hook for $12 billion?"


But Justice Elena Kagan was skeptical.

"Are you saying the insurers would have done the same thing without the promise to pay?" she asked, turning aside the government's argument. Insurance firms "pay in, that's obligatory. We [the government] commit ourselves to paying out. It turns out, if we feel like it. What kind of a statute is that?"

The original funding program was designed as a safeguard to lure private insurers into the health market exchanges, amid initial uncertainty over how many people would participate and how much it would cost. Those companies with customers with more expensive medical needs would be reimbursed, while companies with lower costs would pay into the pool.

But Congress in 2016 let the program expire amid concern over the program's rising deficits, and stopped further government payments.

At issue in the high court's subdued oral arguments was what further financial obligation the government had, and the limits of "must pay" reimbursement in the initial language of the law.

Justice Samuel Alito wondered whether courts should offer "special solicitude for insurance companies" to bring these kinds of cases.

Justice Stephen Breyer countered, "Why does the government not have to pay its contracts, just like anybody else?"

Justice Brett Kavanaugh worried about the broader implications.

"If we were to rule for you, everyone will be on notice going forward, private parties and Congress itself, that "shall pay" doesn't obligate actual payments," he said. "If we rule against you, Congress also will be on notice going forward that it needs to include 'subject to appropriations' kind of language in any mandatory statute. My question is, if we rule against you, are there other existing statutory problems lurking out there in the interim?"

The consolidated cases argued Monday are: Maine Community Health Options v. U.S. (18-1023); Moda Health Plan, Inc. v. U.S. (18-1028); Land of Lincoln Mutual Health v. U.S. (18-1038). A ruling is expected by spring 2020.

There are currently a range of legal challenges to other provisions of the ACA, including executive orders by the Trump administration seeking to eliminate or reduce sections of the law.

And the Supreme Court is likely to be confronted in coming months with another Obamacare case, one with far greater implications.

A federal judge in Texas late last year struck down the law’s individual mandate, and with it the entire ACA. A federal appeals court is now expected to issue a ruling shortly, and the justices could then put it on the docket and rule on the merits next year.


Texas and 19 other states had brought suit, saying when Congress eliminated the tax penalty for Americans who fail to purchase health insurance, the main funding mechanism of the law made the entire law invalid.

The Trump administration is no longer defending the law in court, leaving it to about 21 other states and the Democratic-led House of Representatives to serve as main plaintiffs.

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Supreme Court leaves Kentucky ultrasound law in place

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The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a Kentucky law requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds and show fetal images to patients before abortions.

The justices did not comment in refusing to review an appeals court ruling that upheld the law.


The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law on behalf of Kentucky’s lone remaining abortion clinic. The ACLU argued that “display and describe” ultrasound laws violate physicians’ speech rights under the First Amendment.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the Kentucky law, but its sister court in Richmond, Virginia, struck down a similar measure in North Carolina.

Doctors’ speech also has been an issue in non-abortion cases. The federal appeals court in Atlanta struck down parts of a 2011 Florida law that sought to prohibit doctors from talking about gun safety with their patients. Under the law, doctors faced fines and the possible loss of their medical licenses for discussing guns with patients.

In Kentucky, doctors must describe the ultrasound in detail while the pregnant woman listens to the fetal heartbeat. Women can avert their eyes and cover their ears to avoid hearing the description or the fetal heartbeat. Doctors failing to comply face fines and can be referred to the state’s medical licensing board.


The law was passed in 2017 and was signed by the state’s anti-abortion governor, Republican Matt Bevin. He narrowly lost his reelection bid last month. But Republicans remain in control of the state legislature.

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Supreme Court temporarily blocks Trump administration request to resume federal executions

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The Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from resuming federal executions in an attempt to put to death four convicted murderers. The executions were slated to begin next week.

The justices upheld a lower court ruling imposed last month after inmates claimed executions by lethal injection would violate federal law.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., had imposed a temporary injunction on executions, saying they would conflict with federal law. That ruling was upheld Monday by a three-judge federal appeals court.


In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is preventing the Trump administration from re-starting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The court on Friday denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is preventing the Trump administration from re-starting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The court on Friday denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Attorney General William Barr announced in July that the federal government would resume executions after a 16-year break, using a single drug — pentobarbital — to put inmates to death. A legal battle has drawn out over that time over the drugs used for lethal injections.

Federal executions were all but halted after the government found it difficult to obtain the three-drug cocktail needed for such injections.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the legal battle would continue.

"While we are disappointed with the ruling, we will argue the case on its merits in the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court,” she said in a statement.

In a two-page statement, three justices — Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — wrote they expected the Trump administration to prevail in court.

"The Court has expressed the hope that the Court of Appeals will proceed with 'appropriate dispatch,' and I see no reason why the Court of Appeals should not be able to decide this case, one way or the other, within the next 60 days," Alito said.

Federal government to resume capital punishment for first time since 2003Video


The government had scheduled the execution of Danny Lee, who was convicted of killing a family of three — including an 8-year-old — on Monday. Wesley Ira Purkey had been scheduled to be put to death Dec. 13 for the murder and dismemberment of a 16-year-old girl and the slaying of an 80-year-old woman who suffered from polio.

Executions for Alfred Bourgeois, who beat, tortured and molested his 2-year-old daughter, and Dustin Lee Honken, who killed five people — including two children, were scheduled for January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump asks Supreme Court to void financial records subpoena

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President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to void a subpoena from the House of Representatives that seeks the president’s financial records from his accounting firm.

The justices already have shielded the documents from being turned over while they consider whether to hear Trump’s case and his separate appeal of a court order that requires the same accounting firm, Mazars USA, to give his tax returns to the Manhattan District Attorney. The court could say as early as mid-December whether it will hear and decide the cases by the end of June.


Yet another case involving House subpoenas for Trump’s records from New York banks also is headed for the Supreme Court, and the justices are likely to prevent the handover of any documents for the time being.

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Appeals court rules banks must comply with subpoena for Trump financial records

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A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision allowing congressional committees to subpoena financial records pertaining to President Trump, his children, the Trump Organization and other entities.

The ruling from the Second Circuit Court of appeals calls for the subpoenas issued to Deutsche Bank AG and Capitol One Financial Corporation from the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees to be enforced, which would allow the committees to obtain the records.

The documents may not include the president’s personal tax returns, as Deutsche Bank claimed they do not have them. The Capitol One subpoena does not list individuals by name but allows for seeking records of the entities' principals, directors, officers, or shareholders.


“The mandate shall issue forthwith, but compliance with the three subpoenas and the procedure to be implemented on remand is stayed for seven days to afford Appellants an opportunity to apply to the Supreme Court or a Justice thereof for an extension of the stay,” ruled Judge Jon O. Newman, anticipating that Trump will fight the ruling.

This is the very route that other cases involving Trump’s financial records have taken. Other circuit court decisions centered on subpoenas for records that do include Trump’s tax returns were immediately challenged, with the president applying for stays from the Supreme Court, which were granted as the justices determine whether or not to hear the cases.


Those cases involved subpoenas issued to accounting firm Mazars USA, ordering them to turn over Trump’s tax returns. One stemmed from action from the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee and another from an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney.

The Supreme Court granted temporary stays on the subpoenas in both of those cases but have yet to issue decisions on how they will proceed.

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Appeals court denies DOJ bid to resume federal executions

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A federal appeals court in Washington has upheld a ruling blocking the Trump administration’s plan to resume federal executions after a 16-year hiatus.

The decision was handed down Monday by the D.C. Circuit. The Justice Department had asked the court to block the injunction put in place by a district court judge that stalled the executions of four convicted murderers, Reuters reported.

Attorney General William Barr speaks with members of the press in Montana last month.

Attorney General William Barr speaks with members of the press in Montana last month. (AP)

Attorney General William Barr said in July the federal government would resume capital punishment and scheduled the executions of five death-row inmates for December and January, ending an unofficial decade-long moratorium on federal executions.

Barr said the DOJ owed it to the victims’ families to carry out the law and would be willing to take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.


A judge temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures. The inmates argued that the government was circumventing proper methods in order to wrongly execute inmates quickly.


A federal execution has not taken place since 2003. In the last 16 years, a protracted legal battle has drawn out over the drugs used in lethal injections.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court hears gun control case that inspired court-packing threat from Dems

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New York gun law case hits Supreme Court

David Spunt reports the Supreme Court will hear arguments on an interesting second amendment case regarding a law that no longer exists

The Supreme Court took up its first major gun control case in nearly a decade on Monday, hearing arguments in a dispute between a gun advocacy group and New York over a statute that restricted the transportation of firearms outside city limits — even when licensed, locked and unloaded.

The city's statute was later amended but the court heard arguments over the original measure anyway, in a case that could have ramifications for local gun laws. The fact the high court even considered the case — New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York — prompted a stunning complaint earlier this year from Democratic senators, who filed a brief essentially threatening to pack the court absent changes.


The warning underscored what could be at stake in Monday's case.

The Supreme Court has not issued a significant gun rights decision since 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller. Since then the court applied Heller – which recognized the right to possess a firearm for purposes such as home protection – to states via the 14th Amendment in 2010’s McDonald v. City of Chicago. A 2016 ruling in Caetano v. Massachusetts, which dealt with a state ban on stun guns, did not focus on traditional firearms but acknowledged that the Second Amendment extends to other weapons as well.

It's unclear whether the case before the court on Monday could join the list of landmark Second Amendment cases.

The law in question said city residents could apply for a "premises" license to keep a firearm in their home, but they had to keep the weapons at home. Licensees were permitted to take their guns to one of the seven authorized city shooting ranges if kept in a locked container. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association fought the law, claiming it was unconstitutional to keep people from bringing their weapons to second homes or ranges outside of the city.

While the court agreed to hear the case, New York City amended the regulation following a change in state law, removing prohibitions against transporting locked, unloaded, licensed firearms to homes, shooting ranges, or competitions outside the city. The city and its supporters claimed that the change ultimately makes the case moot.

Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor appeared to agree.

"The Petitioners have gotten the relief that they sought," Ginsburg noted during Monday's arguments. Sotomayor told plaintiff's attorney Paul Clement that this was "a case in which the other side has thrown in the towel and completely [given] you every single thing you demanded in your complaint for relief…"

Clement argued this was not the case, and that the new law is still unclear because while it permits "continuous and uninterrupted" transportation of firearms on their way out of New York City, it does not address what would happen if a gun owner, for instance, takes a coffee or bathroom break along the way.

Sotomayor noted this is an issue with the new law, not the old one at the center of this case. The new law has yet to be reviewed by lower courts. Justice Stephen Breyer also said he believes that people who stop for coffee while transporting guns would not be prosecuted.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, however, pointed out that stopping for coffee while transporting a gun would still have been a problem under the old law, so this issue should be relevant in the current case. The attorney for the city, meanwhile, argued that such breaks "are entirely permissible," as the "continuous and uninterrupted" language is absent from the state's law, which is controlling.

Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, however, argued that the plaintiffs could be awarded damages for economic harm suffered while the old restrictions were in place. Ginsburg noted that this could have been a lifeline for the plaintiffs' case, except they never requested damages.

"They've had every opportunity to say that they want damages, including today," Kagan pointed out, "and for whatever reason, Mr. Clement has, you know, basically said this case is not about damages."


What the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association really wants is for the court to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the old law, which could impact future legislation.

Clement claimed that a ruling was necessary to send a message regarding the unconstitutionality of limiting the transportation of firearms, which could prevent future prohibitions from going forward.

It was to the backdrop of this case that Democratic senators issued their warning earlier this year.

"The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it," said the brief, filed in August by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. "Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be 'restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.'"

That brief drew criticism from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and others.


“When you hear Democrats talking about expanding the Supreme Court……..they are talking about making the Court more liberal,” Graham tweeted at the time.

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, a well-known liberal voice and fierce critic of the Trump administration, also came out against the Democrats on this issue, calling their brief “inappropriately — and stupidly — threatening.”

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Federal appeals court to hear arguments in former WH counsel McGahn’s subpoena case

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Appeals court stays McGahn subpoena as judiciary impeachment hearings set to begin

Rep. Andy Biggs reacts to the impeachment proceedings.

A federal appeals court in Washington D.C. granted the Justice Department’s request to temporarily stay a lower court ruling compelling former White House Counsel Don McGahn to comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena.

The appeals court’s decision means that arguments will be heard at the beginning of January to decide whether the court should grant a longer stay and whether the White House can assert “absolute immunity” to shield top aides from testifying before Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee wants to hear from McGahn over allegations President Trump tried to obstruct the Russia election interference investigation.


The move by the appeals court comes a day federal district court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued a seven-day stay while McGahn’s lawyers sought their appeal. While the House Judiciary Committee opposed any stay on the order for McGahn to appear on Capitol Hill, the committee said it would not oppose an administrative stay.

Ex-White House counsel Don McGahn ordered to appear before CongressVideo

Jackson ruled on Monday that McGahn must appear before Congress pursuant to a subpoena issued earlier this year, saying that if McGahn wanted to assert executive privilege to avoid testifying, he needs to appear before Congress and do it himself.


The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed McGahn on April 22, but the White House quickly blocked his appearance. Monday's ruling had apparent ramifications for Democrats seeking to compel other top White House officials to testify as part of their ongoing impeachment inquiry concerning President Trump’s Ukraine policy.

Sen. Kennedy reacts to McGahn subpoena, clarifies Ukraine election meddling commentsVideo

The panel has been probing possible obstruction of justice by the president in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Fox News' William Mears contributed to this report.

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Devin Nunes doubles down on promise to take CNN and Daily Beast to court: ‘It should be fun’

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Nunes: We are going to take CNN and Daily Beast to court

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes on impeachment inquiry, attacks from the media.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who promised to sue CNN and the Daily Beast, said this week on "Sunday Morning Futures" that the only way to hold the "corrupt" media accountable is to challenge them in federal court.

Nunes first threatened legal action on Friday, after both outlets published stories claiming the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee had met with Ukranian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in Vienna in 2018 to push for an investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden. Both stories cite former Rudy Guliani associate, Lev Parnas, who was indicted in October for conspiring to violate the ban on foreign donations, prompting Nunes to question the validity of the source.

"I've been used to this for the last three years," Nunes told Fox News. "The House Intelligence Committee Republicans, we continue to expose Democrat corruption over and over again. And what always happens is right when we expose them… they go out to kill the messenger."

"So this week — another fake news story. The problem with this week's fake news story is — we actually caught them," he continued. "And we caught them badly and it also involves criminal activity… We are going to take both CNN and the Daily Beast likely into federal court, right after Thanksgiving and we hope they cooperate."

The Daily Beast originally broke the story about Nunes' alleged meeting on Thursday, citing Parnas' lawyer Ed MacMahon as their source. The Beast also cites congressional travel records which it claims shows Nunes traveled to Europe from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2018, along with three of his aides. CNN followed up with an article on Saturday, citing Parnas' other lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, who said Nunes was put in touch with officials who could help him dig up dirt on the Bidens.


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Nunes told Fox News it was inappropriate for a news organization to take the word of someone who is attempting to smear a congressman, while still under federal indictment.

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"It is not OK to work with someone who has been indicted on [a] serious federal crime, to build a media narrative and dirty up a member of Congress," he said. "You’ve seen it, the American people have seen it over the last three years. We out them, and then they come out with a media narrative to try to dirty up the people who are doing the work on behalf of the American people.

"So we hope that CNN and Daily Beast will cooperate with the court," Nunes continued. "They should comply with the subpoenas once we file this and go through different depositions. It should be fun."

Host Maria Bartiromo asked Nunes if he wished to elaborate further on his involvement in the case, but he declined to go any deeper, saying he would not debate the issue through the media.

"I really want to answer all these questions," he said. "But I think you can understand that I can't compete by trying to debate this out with the public media when 90 percent of the media are totally corrupt. And because this is criminal in nature and because it's so bad, it's so slanderous — we've got all the facts on our side and we're going to file in federal court, because I’m not going to sit here and try to compete against the media that I have no chance of winning this. I will win in court."


Nunes kicks off week two of public impeachment hearings with list of questions for whistleblowerVideo


Nunes did, however, say it's "likely" that CNN and the Daily Beast committed criminal activity, and claimed the only way to find out the truth is to have them answer questions under oath.

"It's very likely [they committed a crime], or they're an accessory to it," he said. "So none of this is true… We will get to all the facts when it's filed in court. But somehow they're either witting or unwitting of listening to somebody who's been indicted and not only that, but it's their lawyers. So you're talking about third and fourth hand hearsay to do what? To dirty up the leader of the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee that just destroyed their complete narrative that they've been pushing."

Nunes provided a statement to Breitbart on Friday when news of a lawsuit first broke, calling the charges "demonstrably false" and "reckless."

“These demonstrably false and scandalous stories published by the Daily Beast and CNN are the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth,” Nunes told Breitbart News. “Some political operative offered these fake stories to at least five different media outlets before finding someone irresponsible enough to publish them. I look forward to prosecuting these cases, including the media outlets, as well as the sources of their fake stories, to the fullest extent of the law. I intend to hold the Daily Beast and CNN accountable for their actions. They will find themselves in court soon after Thanksgiving.”

Original Article

Bill Barr says he’d take fight to restart federal executions to Supreme Court if needed

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Attorney General William Barr revealed Thursday he'd be willing to take the administration's fight to restart federal executions to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Barr's comments to The Associated Press came after U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled Thursday to postpone four of five scheduled executions for next month; the fifth already had been halted. The Trump administration appealed the decision.

The government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988, most recently in 2003, when Louis Jones was executed for the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of a young soldier.


If the government were to win the appeal, the executions could begin as soon as Dec. 9. Barr argued that the inmates in question were just five of 62 currently on death row.

“There are people who would say these kinds of delays are not fair to the victims, so we can move forward with our first group,” Barr said.

The inmates selected to face execution had exhausted their appeals, and the cases were forwarded to senior Justice Department officials who reviewed the cases and made recommendations to him, Barr added.

Some of the selected inmates challenged the new procedures in court, arguing that the government was circumventing proper methods in order to execute inmates quickly — and wrongly.

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Chutkan also said in her ruling that the public was not served by “short-circuiting” legitimate judicial processes. “It is greatly served by attempting to ensure that the most serious punishment is imposed lawfully,” she wrote.

The issue of federal capital punishment reared into the spotlight again this past July when Barr unexpectedly announced the government would resume executions later in the year, ending an informal moratorium that had started after a review of issues surrounding lethal injection drugs by the Justice Department under then-President Barack of Obama in 2014.

Barr said that review has been completed, adding that he approved a new procedure for lethal injections that would replace the flawed three-drug combination previously used.

Chutkan said in her opinion that the inmates’ legal challenge to the procedure was likely to succeed because the Federal Death Penalty Act required that federal executions employ procedures used by the states in which they're carried out.

On Thursday, Barr defended the protocols, saying the Bureau of Prisons has been testing and conducting practice drills ahead of the first execution, but did not specify which drugs would not be used.


“I was kept advised and reports were given to me, scientific tests, the drills they are running through,” Barr said.

The death penalty has remained legal in 30 states, but only a handful have conduct executions regularly.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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California Supreme Court rejects law requiring Trump to release tax returns to get on ballot

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The California Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a state law that would have required President Trump to release his tax returns in order to appear on the state’s primary ballot.

Justices in Sacramento said that the law – which required all candidates for president and governor to submit five years’ worth of personal income tax returns in order to be included on primary ballots – was unconstitutional.

“Whatever authority the Legislature may have in defining how presidential primaries are to occur in this state, the challenged sections of the act exceed such authority and are unenforceable,” California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the opinion.


Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, had signed the bill into law in July.

The state Republican Party and Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson challenged the bill, while the state has defended the law by arguing tax returns are a simple way for voters to weigh candidates’ financial status.

The ruling by the state’s highest court – which is a rare win for Trump in the Democratically controlled state – comes more than a month-and-a-half after a federal judge temporarily blocked the state law in response to a different lawsuit.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla appealed the federal judge’s ruling, in a legal dispute that remains ongoing. The state court’s decision, however, means the tax return requirement cannot be enforced, even if it were found to be constitutional under federal law.


Jesse Melgar, the governor’s spokeswoman, previously told the Los Angeles Times that Newsom supported an appeal, adding: “States have a legal and moral duty to restore public confidence in government and ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards.”

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The deadline for submitting tax returns to get on the primary ballot under the bill, though, is next week.

Under California’s so-called jungle primary system, all candidates, regardless of party, vie for the same elected office and the top two vote-getters move on to the general election. Since it was implemented in California in 2010, this system has often ensured a Democrat-vs.-Democrat general election battle in all but California’s most conservative areas.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Court filing alleges that DNA test shows Hunter Biden fathered Arkansas woman’s baby

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DNA tests allegedly confirm "with scientific certainty" that Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden's son Hunter is the biological father of a baby whose mother he denied having sex with, according to court documents filed in an Arkansas Wednesday.

In a motion to partially seal information about the child from the public as part of an ongoing child support suit, an attorney for Lunden Alexis Roberts, an Arkansas woman and the child's mom, asked that the infant, referred to as Baby Doe in court documents, have Secret Service protection.


The attorney, Clinton Lancaster, informed the court in Independence County that because onetime Vice President Joe Biden "is considered by some to be the person most likely to win his party’s nomination and challenge President Trump on the ballot in 2020,” the child and those close to it should be entitled to the same protections afforded to to Biden's other kin.

Hunter Biden and his father, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in 2016. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)

Hunter Biden and his father, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in 2016. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)

"Baby Doe's paternity could put the child and those close to the child at risk of harm for the same reasons the Biden family is protected by the United States Secret Service," the document said.

Roberts' paternity suit was first filed on May 28 when she alleged that she and Hunter Biden “were in a relationship” and that “Baby Doe” was born in August 2018 “as a result of that relationship,” according to reports by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

In July, Biden denied having sexual relations with Roberts, according to an article by The New Yorker. He agreed to submit to a paternity test in October.


Wednesday's court filings said Biden "is not expected to challenge the results of the DNA test or the testing process."

A hearing was previously scheduled for Dec. 2 in Batesville before 16th Judicial Circuit Judge Don McSpadden to resolve the paternity matter but could be canceled if the matter is resolved ahead of time.


Attorneys for Biden did not respond to Fox News' request for comment on the matter.

Separate attacks by President Trump against Joe and Hunter Biden have become fodder for the ongoing impeachment inquiry spearheaded by three Democrat-led House committees.

The investigation probes whether Trump attempted to persuade Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens and their business ties in Ukraine in exchange for a White House meeting and military aid.

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