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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Adam Schiff Tattles On Trump Administration: Gets the ODNI Involved In Climate Change Dispute

As Part of Inquiry Into White House Efforts to Suppress Climate Change Testimony, House Intelligence Committee Democrats Demand Answers from DNI

Washington, June 12, 2019

Washington, DC – Today, all Democratic Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to request documents and interviews regarding the prepared written testimony of Dr. Rod Schoonover, a senior analyst in the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), before the Committee last week, as well as the testimony from the other Intelligence Community (IC) analysts. This comes on the heels of a letter from Chairman Adam Schiff to INR earlier this week demanding similar documents and testimony.

Schoonover testified as part of an open hearing on the national security implications of climate change, alongside analysts from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). While the other two participants provided statements for the record (SFR) prior to the hearing, INR did not. It has since been publicly reported that the White House attempted to skew and demand politically-motivated changes of Dr. Schoonover’s prepared testimony, and ultimately blocked that written testimony from being provided to the Committee.

In the letter, the Members write:

 “The Committee sincerely appreciated all three witnesses’ testimonies about the manifold and interlocking assessed dangers that future climate change impacts pose to U.S. national security interests. However, the circumstances surrounding the absence of Dr. Schoonover’s written statement for the record (SFR) – including troubling public reports published since the open hearing – have left the Committee alarmed that officials within the Executive Office of the President apparently sought to suppress for political reasons Dr. Schoonover’s and State INR’s objective analysis about this urgent national security issue.

 “Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have reported disturbing revelations about White House attempts to demand politically-motivated changes to Dr. Schoonover’s prepared scientific and intelligence analysis. An apparent draft version of Dr. Schoonover’s testimony posted online by the New York Times is rife with politically-driven comments and deletions from Executive Office of the President personnel, including National Security Council staff, that appear designed to censor and manipulate an intelligence assessment to suit the Trump Administration’s policy of climate change denialism.

 “If these reports are correct, they bear a disconcerting similarity to the George W. Bush Administration’s effort to sideline State INR and skew intelligence for political ends in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq War. We share profound concern that current White House officials in this instance abused the interagency process in an effort to manipulate, remove, and ultimately suppress the independent, objective analysis State INR planned to present before the Committee on a matter of national urgency… “In light of these reports and consistent with the Committee oversight jurisdiction of the Intelligence Community and its activities, the Committee has no choice but to undertake an inquiry into these allegations of undue White House interference in intelligence analysis and testimony before the Committee.”

 In the letter, the HPSCI Majority Members requested testimony from an appropriate senior representative from ODNI, production of documents related to the testimony, and all communications related to between elements of the IC and the Executive Office of the President regarding the hearing, the written and oral INR testimony, whether the witness would appear, as well any other relevant communications. The full letter (as sent):



We write regarding the written testimony of Dr. Rod Schoonover, a senior analyst in the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (State INR). Dr. Schoonover appeared on behalf of State INR in an open hearing before our Committee last Wednesday, June 5 to testify about the national security implications of climate change. Two other Intelligence Community (IC) analysts, representing your office and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), testified alongside Dr. Schoonover.

 The Committee sincerely appreciated all three witnesses’ testimonies about the manifold and interlocking assessed dangers that future climate change impacts pose to U.S. national security interests. However, the circumstances surrounding the absence of Dr. Schoonover’s written statement for the record (SFR) – including troubling public reports published since the open hearing – have left the Committee alarmed that officials within the Executive Office of the President apparently sought to suppress for political reasons Dr. Schoonover’s and State INR’s objective analysis about this urgent national security issue.

 Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have reported disturbing revelations about White House attempts to demand politically-motivated changes to Dr. Schoonover’s prepared scientific and intelligence analysis. An apparent draft version of Dr. Schoonover’s testimony posted online by the New York Times is rife with politically-driven comments and deletions from Executive Office of the President personnel, including National Security Council staff, that appear designed to censor and manipulate an intelligence assessment to suit the Trump Administration’s policy of climate change denialism.

 If these reports are correct, they bear a disconcerting similarity to the George W. Bush Administration’s effort to sideline State INR and skew intelligence for political ends in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq War. We share profound concern that current White House officials in this instance abused the interagency process in an effort to manipulate, remove, and ultimately suppress the independent, objective analysis State INR planned to present before the Committee on a matter of national urgency.

 According to both outlets, State INR resisted the changes demanded by White House officials, which prevented Dr. Schoonover’s written SFR from being delivered to the Committee. If accurate, we commend State INR for its support to its analysts and the integrity of their work in the face of political pressure. They reflect the ethos and consummate professionalism of the broader IC and its workforce, who have dedicated themselves to the highest analytic standards and tradecraft. Anything less than complete commitment to the IC’s fundamental mission to present unbiased and rigorous intelligence assessments leaves policymakers and Congress blind to the world as it is.

 In light of these reports and consistent with the Committee oversight jurisdiction of the Intelligence Community and its activities, the Committee has no choice but to undertake an inquiry into these allegations of undue White House interference in intelligence analysis and testimony before the Committee.

 In your capacity as head of the U.S. Intelligence Community, with ultimate responsibility for ensuring that all analytic products adhere to strict standards of integrity and remain free of political slant or agenda, the Committee’s request your assistance in securing the following:

 Testimony from an appropriate senior representative from ODNI to address, among other issues,

(1) ODNI’s policies and processes to protect the integrity and prevent the politicization of IC intelligence analysis and

(2) ODNI communications with personnel within the Executive Office of the President (including officials on the National Security Council staff, OMB, and the White House Office of Legislative Affairs), as well as the State Department (including State INR), ONI, and any other IC element, regarding the Committee’s June 5 hearing and with respect to reviewing, editing, commenting on, and/or approving written and oral testimony from ODNI, State INR, and ONI;

 Production to the Committee of ODNI’s written testimony, as prepared for submission to the Committee prior to review from personnel within the Executive Office of the President, including officials from the offices cited above, as well as any and all edited versions of ODNI’s written testimony provided by the Executive Office of the President back to ODNI;

Production to the Committee of any and all communications, regardless of form and classification, of ODNI personnel with personnel from the Executive Office of the President, including officials from the offices cited above—prior and subsequent to the Committee’s June 5 hearing—to include any and all documents and other materials attached to or embedded within electronic correspondence, regarding:
(1) the June 5 hearing; and
(2) written and/or oral testimony before the Committee, including deliberations about the appearance of IC representatives, including Dr. Schoonover, before the Committee.

The Committee appreciates and expects ODNI and the Intelligence Community’s full and complete cooperation with the Committee’s duly authorized oversight. The production of the information, material, and testimony requested by the Committee is required under law, and, given the subject matter and U.S. government officials involved, cannot be withheld from the Committee for any legitimate reason. 

Absent compliance, the Committee is prepared to consider compulsory process.

 The Committee would appreciate fulfillment of this request no later than the close of business on June 21, 2019. Should you or your staff have any questions about the request, please contact Committee staff at (202) 225-7690.

Full Opening Statement Of Andrew McCarthy, Former Federal Prosecutor, Before House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee

Hearing on Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume I House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
June 12, 2019

Statement of Andrew C. McCarthy

Chairman Schiff, Ranking Member Nunes, members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to this morning’s hearing.

I served as a federal prosecutor for nearly 20 years, almost all at the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, from which I retired in 2003 as the chief assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the Southern District’s satellite office in White Plains. I’ve also done a short stint working on an independent counsel probe; and for several months in 2004, I was a consultant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense while the Pentagon was grappling with various legal issues after the onset of post-9/11 military operations. During my years as a prosecutor, I was honored to receive the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in 1988 and the Attorney General’s Exceptional Service Award in 1996 for my work on international organized crime and international terrorism cases.

Since leaving government service, I have been a writer and commentator. I am appearing this morning in my personal capacity as a former government official who cares deeply about our national security and the rule of law.

For most of my first several years as a prosecutor, my work focused on international organized crime. After the World Trade Center was bombed on February 26, 1993, I spent much of the last decade of my tenure working on national security investigations. I am proud to have led the successful prosecution of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven other jihadists for conspiring to wage a war of urban terrorism against the United States, which included the Trade

Center attack, a plot to bomb New York City landmarks, and other plots to carry out political assassinations and terrorist strikes against civilian populations. In that effort, I was privileged to work alongside a superb team of federal prosecutors, support staff, and investigators assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

It was in connection with that investigation that I became intimately familiar with the FBI’s counterintelligence mission, and the powerful tools that the Constitution and federal law make available for the execution of that mission. While it escapes the attention of many Americans, who know the bureau as the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, the FBI is also our domestic security service.

That is a purposeful arrangement on our government’s part, and I believe a prudent one. Most of our intelligence services focus on the activities of foreigners outside the United States that could threaten American interests. Their work is essential, but it is frequently dangerous and often occurs outside the writ of our laws and courts. We want our domestic security to be safeguarded by an agency that is both highly professional and at all times beholden to our Constitution and laws. The FBI fits that bill.
In some nations, the law enforcement and domestic security functions are handled by separate agencies. Our government’s theory, to the contrary, has been that housing them under the same bureaucratic roof allows these missions to be carried out more efficiently in that they support one another more easily. This is a sound theory, and I have seen how effective it can be when the FBI’s counterintelligence mission is leveraged not only by the bureau’s criminal division and federal prosecutors, but also by the force multiplier that is the combination of state law enforcement agencies and the public at large. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the spate 1990s atrocities that preceded them, cooperation and information-sharing between the federal government and state agencies, and the cooperation among federal agencies themselves (particularly intelligence agencies), have become far superior to what they were when I started working on these matters a generation ago.

There is an implicit understanding in our law: The awesome powers vested in our security agencies must not be used pretextually to carry out law enforcement functions. This was the major controversy we dealt with in the 1990s. The infamous “Wall” imposed by internal Justice Department guidelines, which had the effect of impeding cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement investigators, was unwise policy driven by good intentions. The idea was to ensure that agents, who lacked an adequate factual predicate to use criminal law investigative techniques, would not do an end-around the Constitution by conjuring a national security angle that would justify resort to foreign counterintelligence authorities – such as warrants issued under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Law enforcement involves serious intrusions on our most fundamental freedoms – liberty, privacy, in some instances even life. Consequently, our law builds in due process presumptions and protections to safeguard Americans. Search, arrest, and eavesdropping warrants, for example, may only issue based on probable cause that a crime has been (or is being) committed.
FISA bypasses important Fourth Amendment safeguards. Our law permits this for two reasons. First, the objective of a counterintelligence investigation is not to build criminal prosecutions but to collect information. Second, the “target” of a counterintelligence investigation is a foreign power that threatens U.S. interests. Consequently, the typical counterintelligence scenario is not an effort to gather evidence against an American in order to arrest, indict, convict and imprison that American.

Nevertheless, FISA does endeavor to give an American suspected of being a foreign agent some protections. A warrant may not issue unless the FBI and Justice Department demonstrate probable cause to believe the American is knowingly engaged in clandestine activity. The relevant FISA statute (50 U.S. Code, Section 1804(b)(2)) does not quite require probable cause of a crime; but it calls for something very close – a showing that the suspected activities may involve a violation of criminal statutes. To underscore that the required showing calls for a demonstration of grave and willful conduct, the statute speaks of taking direction from foreign powers to commit criminal offenses, engaging in such activities as sabotage or terrorism, or intentionally using false identities specifically on behalf of a foreign power – which, of course, makes more serious clandestine activity possible.
There has been some expert commentary and testimony over the last few years about the threats posed by Russian espionage, addressing the fact that Russian intelligence services attempt to coopt or dupe Americans into providing assistance. This is, indeed, a serious threat. It is noteworthy, though, that it would not be an adequate basis for a surveillance warrant against the unwitting American. Our law requires a showing of purposeful action on the foreign power’s behalf against our country.
It is also worth noting that our law calls for electronic surveillance to be something like a last resort because it is such an intrusive investigative technique – the monitoring of all a person’s communications, by telephone, email, text, and the like. Whether we are talking about criminal or counterintelligence investigations, the law requires the FBI and the Justice Department to satisfy the court that alternative investigative techniques have been tried and have failed, or would surely fail if tried. For example, a warrant would not be justifiable if investigators had the ability to conduct productive interviews with the subject, or if the investigators had other ways of drawing information from the subject, such as the infiltration of an informant.

I mention these aspects of surveillance to highlight that, even in normal circumstance where no extraordinary public interests are at stake, our law permits counterintelligence monitoring of Americans only reluctantly, and only on a strong showing that they truly are involved in nefarious activities on behalf of a foreign power.

Obviously, 2016 was not a normal circumstance in that regard. It involved the extraordinary public interest of a campaign for the presidency. We have an important norm in the United States against the use of the government’s investigative authorities, very much including its foreign counterintelligence powers, to monitor the political opposition of the incumbent government. This norm is salutary fallout from the political spying misadventures of the 1960s and 1970s.

There are some commentators who recoil at the terms “spying” and “political spying.” There are others who suggest that, because of the negative implications investigations could have for our capacity for self-governance, a political campaign should be immune from surveillance. I have never fallen into either of these camps.

Spying is simply the covert collection of information. If the government is doing the spying, the issue is not what term we use to describe it but, rather, whether the government had a lawful basis and an appropriate factual predicate for it.

Our nation has a relatively recent history of political spying episodes from which there is much to learn. When I was prosecuting terrorism cases, that history was instructive: It is an unavoidable fact that unlawful forcible action against our country is inextricably bound up with lawful political dissent; nevertheless, the Constitution creates a safe harbor for political dissent, even noxious political dissent, and therefore we must avoid criminalizing policy disputes even if doing so makes it harder to protect the nation from foreign threats.

My own view of Russia’s government, for what it’s worth, is that it is a menace – an anti- American regime that engages in territorial aggression, crushes dissent internally (and, occasionally, outside its borders), and abets bad actors globally – including Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of anti-American terrorism. If the 1980s wanted to call to ask for their foreign policy back, I would be glad to dial the number for them. I’ve never thought Vladimir Putin thought the Cold War was over, and I said as much in dissenting from the Bush administration’s depiction of Russia as a potential strategic partner, and the Obama administration’s foolish “Russia Reset” policies. Naturally, I also disagreed with the Trump campaign’s blandishments toward the Kremlin and what I regard as the quixotic quest for better relations with Putin’s regime. That was a big reason why I supported a different candidate in the Republican primaries, and why I have been pleased that the Trump administration has taken tougher action against Russia than the rhetoric presaged.

All that said, these are policy disputes. Personally, I do not favor bending over backwards to have better relations with Moscow. That does not mean people who do favor it are unpatriotic or are engaged in espionage – they could just be wrong, or I could be wrong. Our First Amendment guarantees should enable us to engage in robust political debates without criminalizing our disagreements.

On the other hand, when the framers were writing and debating the Constitution, few specters caused them more anxiety than the possibility that the immense powers of the presidency they were creating could fall under the sway of foreign powers. Consequently, if there actually were strong evidence that a president or presidential candidate was a clandestine agent of a foreign power, the incumbent government would have not only the authority but the duty to take investigative and enforcement action. If the evidence were compelling, it would not matter whether the candidate in question was from the opposition party – the administration’s duty would be to protect the United States.
But the evidence would have to be compelling.

That is the way it is with norms. We should not discount the possibility that our norm against the training government surveillance powers on political campaigns could ever be overcome; but the proof required to overcome the presumption against such surveillance must be very convincing.
Based on what is publicly known, including through the now-concluded Mueller investigation, there was never compelling evidence for the proposition that the Trump campaign was engaged in an espionage conspiracy with the Kremlin.

The only publicly known allegations that the Trump campaign was complicit in Russia’s hacking and influence operations, and in the dissemination of stolen emails, are contained in the Steele dossier. To date, there is no known corroboration for those claims. Obviously, had they been verified, the Mueller investigation would have had a very different conclusion.

While looking forward to engaging with the Committee, I would conclude with the following points:

1. Volume I of the Mueller Report draws three principal conclusions: (a) the Putin regime perceived advantage in a Trump victory and conducted its operations accordingly; (b) there is evidence the Trump campaign hoped to benefit from the publication of negative information about the opponent; and (c) there is no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian regime. Of these, the first is plainly the weakest. The evidence in the report indicates that Russia. The first two of these are more in the nature of political assertions than prosecutorial findings. If there is insufficient evidence that a conspiratorial enterprise existed, a prosecutor has no business speculating on motives in a politically provocative manner. Moreover, I do not believe the assertion is borne out by the evidence. The reports shows that agents of Putin’s regime expressed support for Trump’s candidacy. That is entirely consistent with a motivation to incite divisions and dissent in the body politic of free Western nations, which is Russia’s modus operandi. Russia goal is to destabilize Western governments, which advantages the Kremlin by making it more difficult for those governments to pursue their interests in the world. Putin tends to back the candidates he believes will lose, on the theory that an alienated losing faction will make it harder for the winning faction to govern. Putin is all about Russia’s interests, which is in destabilization; it is a mistake to portray to allow him to divide us by portraying him as on one side or the other; he is against all of us.

2. There is no reason to doubt that the Trump campaign hoped to benefit from the publication of negative information about Secretary Clinton. That is what campaigns do. It is not an admirable aspect of our electoral politics that campaigns seek negative information – euphemistically called “opposition research” – wherever the can find it. Candidate Trump’ opposition hoped to benefit from the theft of tax information. The Clinton campaign took help from elements of the Ukrainian government; and, through its agents, it hired a British former spy to tap Kremlin-connected operatives for damaging information about Trump. The First Amendment makes it difficult to regulate this sort of thing; our guiding principle is that good information will win out over bogus information. We can debate how well that works, but we shouldn’t pretend that the Trump campaign is the first or only one ever to play this game.

3. As for the conclusion that there was no Trump-Russia conspiracy to commit espionage or violate any other federal criminal law, I believe this had to have been obvious since no later than the end of 2017. In September 2017, the Carter Page FISA warrant lapsed, and it would have been time for the Mueller investigation to seek its reauthorization – which would, in turn, have called for reaffirming Steele’s information. That did not happen. (THIS IS WHERE ADAM SCHIFF STOPPED MR. McCARTHY) In 2018, Special Counsel Mueller began filing indictments against Russian actors which did not allege any participation by Americans; in fact, they indicated that Russia preferred to act in stealth and with deniability, which makes perfect sense. I believe the Special Counsel should have been directed by the Deputy Attorney General to issue an interim report advising the country that the neither the president nor his campaign was under criminal investigation for conspiring with the Kremlin. That would not have prejudiced the investigation’s continuing work on Russia’s interference in the campaign, or on whether the investigation had been obstructed.

4. Criminal investigations have a way of keeping investigators honest in a way that counterintelligence investigations do not. In a criminal probe, while it is true that prosecutors and agents petition the court for warrants in sealed proceedings, everyone acts on the assumption that there will be an eventual prosecution in which their work will be carefully scrutinized by counsel for the accused and reviewing courts. If liberties are taken with facts, if information that should be disclosed is withheld, if rules or guidelines are flouted, that will become publicly known and could have serious ramifications for the case. In counterintelligence, by contrast, everything is done in secret and the only due process an American suspected of being a foreign agent ever gets is if the Justice Department and the FBI scrupulously honor their obligations of disclosure and compliance, and if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court holds them to those obligations.

5. Congress has been wrestling with national security powers for nearly a half-century because we understand that, on the one hand, they are essential for the protection of the nation, but on the other hand, they can easily be abused. It is essential that when serious questions arise about how they have been used, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Congress conduct serious, searching inquiries to get to the bottom of what happened, and to take remedial action. What I have feared from the beginning of the controversies over investigations touching on the 2016 election is that the public would become convinced that our government is not serious about policing itself. If that happens, there will be even more public demand than there has been in recent years for the restriction or even the repeal of foreign intelligence surveillance authorities. I believe, based on first-hand experience, that these authorities are critical to protecting the United States from the threats posed by foreign powers – both anti-American regimes and such sub-sovereign entities as foreign terrorist organizations.

6. Good faith investigations require that we gather facts but do not rush to judgment. I spent many months advising people that it was highly unlikely – I occasionally said it was inconceivable – that the FBI and the Justice Department would rely in the FISC on sensational, suspect allegations such as those contained in the Steele report. I said the bureau would surely have taken the handful of facts needed to show probable cause and do what the bureau does better than any other investigative agency: investigate them until they were so solidly corroborated that it would be unnecessary even to refer to Christopher Steele in the warrant application. I turn out to have been spectacularly wrong on that score. But I’m not sorry about the sentiment behind the error. There is reason to suspect that investigative judgments were made in some instances and by some actors for improper political motivations; there may also be innocent explanations, or explanations that involve a zeal to protect the country from a perceived threat that was well-intentioned but excessive under the circumstances. We do not know the answers to these questions but they should be answered. And to ask them is not to attack our institutions but to preserve them by showing the public that we know how to police ourselves.

7. I do not believe evidence of connections and associations with Russian operatives is irrelevant for counterintelligence purposes. It is, however, important to distinguish between two things:

Incriminating evidence and indications of disturbing ties. The purpose of a criminal investigation or a counterintelligence probe that rises to the level of monitoring Americans on suspicion that they are foreign agents would be to investigate evidence of serious criminal activity, in particular, espionage. That is especially the case if we are talking about overcoming the norm against the intrusion of surveillance powers into political campaigns.

8. If, on the contrary, we are talking about disturbing connections with a hostile regime, those connections may be worth exploring. But then, we should look at everybody’s connections to Russian officials, Russian oligarchs, and Russian commerce – not just the Trump campaign’s connections. And we should do so mindful of the fact that it has been bipartisan doctrine in Washington since the fall of the Soviet Union that Russia is not an enemy regime but a potential strategic partner with which the U.S. can and should do business. We should not pretend as if that were not the case just because we are in an overheated partisan environment. As someone who has long been skeptical of our government’s approach to Russia, I am quite confident that the perils we’ve been obsessing over for the past two years did not start with the Trump campaign.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

HR 1327: A Bill To Extend Authorization for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 Passes Markup in Judiciary Committee

June 12, 2019:  Bill heard in full committee for markup;  Sent to House for final passage

116th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 1327

To extend authorization for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 through fiscal year 2090, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 25, 2019
Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York (for herself, Mr. Nadler, Mr. King of New York, Mr. Rose of New York, Mr. Morelle, Ms. Scanlon, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Miss Rice of New York, Mr. Brendan F. Boyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. Engel, Mr. Espaillat, Mr. Higgins of New York, Mr. Serrano, Ms. Clarke of New York, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Ms. DeLauro, Mr. Payne, Mr. Zeldin, Mrs. Dingell, Ms. DelBene, Ms. Judy Chu of California, Mr. Ruppersberger, Ms. Kelly of Illinois, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Garamendi, Miss González-Colón of Puerto Rico, Mr. Katko, Mr. Aguilar, Mr. Himes, Mr. McGovern, Ms. Norton, Ms. Eshoo, Mr. Meeks, Mr. Cisneros, Mrs. Watson Coleman, Mr. Collins of New York, Mrs. Luria, Ms. Blunt Rochester, Mr. Pascrell, Mrs. Demings, Ms. Jackson Lee, Mr. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Mr. Suozzi, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Sires, Ms. Meng, Ms. Velázquez, Mr. Tonko, Mr. Delgado, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Mrs. Lowey, Mr. Pallone, Ms. Stefanik, Mr. Brindisi, Mr. Courtney, Mr. Michael F. Doyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. Jeffries, Mr. Cook, Ms. Sherrill, Ms. Roybal-Allard, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mr. Lowenthal, Ms. Wild, Mr. Norcross, Mr. Gottheimer, Mr. Kim, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Clay, Mrs. Hayes, Mr. Takano, Mr. Larson of Connecticut, Mr. Carbajal, Mr. Young, Mr. Malinowski, Mr. Van Drew, Mr. Reed, Ms. Matsui, Mr. Austin Scott of Georgia, Mrs. Napolitano, Mr. Khanna, Mr. Lynch, Mrs. Kirkpatrick, Mr. Costa, Ms. Dean, Mr. Neguse, Mr. Brown of Maryland, Mr. Hastings, Mr. Beyer, Ms. Spanberger, Ms. Shalala, Mr. Cole, Mr. Hurd of Texas, and Mr. McHenry) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

A BILL
To extend authorization for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 through fiscal year 2090, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act”.
SEC. 2. SEPTEMBER 11TH VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND OF 2001.
(a) Authorization And Funding.—Section 410 of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended—
(1) in subsection (c), by striking “$4,600,000,000” and all that follows through “expended” and inserting “such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2019 and each fiscal year thereafter through fiscal year 2090, to remain available through such fiscal year”; and
(2) in subsection (e), by striking “Upon completion of all payments under this title” and inserting “On October 1, 2090”.
(b) Extending Filing Deadline.—Section 405(a)(3)(B) of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended by striking “the date that is 5 years after the date of enactment of the James Zadroga 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Reauthorization Act” and inserting “October 1, 2089”.
(c) Compensation Reduced By Special Master Due To Lack Of Funding.—Section 406(d)(2) of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended—
(1) in subparagraph (C)(ii), by striking “each year thereafter” and inserting “not less than once every 5 years thereafter”; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
“(D) COMPENSATION REDUCED BY SPECIAL MASTER DUE TO INSUFFICIENT FUNDING.—
“(i) IN GENERAL.—With respect to any claim in Group B as described in section 405(a)(3)(C)(iii) for which, prior to the date of enactment of this subparagraph, the Special Master had advised the claimant that the amount of compensation for such claim has been reduced on the basis of insufficient funding, the Special Master shall, in the first fiscal year following such date of enactment that sufficient funding becomes available under this title, pay to the claimant an amount that is, as determined by the Special Master, equal to the difference between—
“(I) the amount the claimant would have been paid under this title if sufficient funding was available to the Special Master at the time the Special Master determined the amount due the claimant under this title; and
“(II) the amount the claimant was paid under this title.
“(ii) DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this subparagraph:
“(I) INSUFFICIENT FUNDING.—The term ‘insufficient funding’ means funding—
“(aa) that is available to the Special Master under section 410(c), as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this subparagraph, for purposes of compensating claims in Group B as described in section 405(a)(3)(C)(iii); and
“(bb) that the Special Master determines is insufficient for purposes of compensating all such claims and complying with subparagraph (A).
“(II) SUFFICIENT FUNDING.—The term ‘sufficient funding’ means funding—
“(aa) made available to the Special Master for purposes of compensating claims in Group B as described in section 405(a)(3)(C)(iii) through an Act of Congress that is enacted after the date on which the amount of the claim described in clause (i) has been reduced; and
“(bb) that the Special Master determines is sufficient for purposes of compensating all claims in such Group B.”.
(d) Limitations On Noneconomic Loss.—Section 405(b)(7)(A) of the of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended—
(1) by redesignating clauses (i) and (ii) as subclauses (I) and (II) respectively, and adjusting the margins accordingly;
(2) by striking “With respect to” and inserting the following:
“(i) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in clause (ii), with respect to”; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
“(ii) EXCEPTION.—The Special Master may exceed the applicable limitation under clause (i) for a claim in Group B as described in subsection (a)(3)(C)(iii) if the Special Master determines that the pain and suffering of the claimant is so excessive as to render the amount of the applicable limitation under clause (i) insufficiently compensatory.”.
(e) Adjustment Of Gross Income Limitation.—Section 405(b)(7)(B)(ii) of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (40 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended—
(1) by striking “In considering” and inserting the following:
“(I) IN GENERAL.—Subject to subclause (II), in considering” ; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:

“(II) ADJUSTMENT.—The Special Master shall adjust the amount of the limitation under subclause (I) not more frequently than once every 5 years to reflect the percentage by which the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers published by the Department of Labor for the month of October immediately preceding the date of adjustment exceeds the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers published by the Department of Labor for the month of October that immediately precedes the date that is 5 years before the date of adjustment.”.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Remarks Show Flaws In Obama Administration: Russian Efforts to Interfere In 2016 Election Were Ignored

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein Delivers Remarks at the Armenian Bar Association’s Public Servants Dinner
New YorkNY
 ~
Thursday, April 25, 2019
“Peri yerego.” Good evening.
Rick, I am grateful for your friendship and for your 20 years of exceptional service to the Department of Justice — including seven years as the United States Attorney for Northern New York.
I am pleased to see several U.S. Attorneys here tonight: Geoff Berman from Southern New York, Richard Donoghue from Eastern New York, Grant Jaquith from Northern New York, and Craig Carpenito from New Jersey; as well as eight former U.S. Attorneys, and many other current and former government employees.
I am thankful to Armenian Bar Association Chair Gerard Kassabian, and Vice Chairs Kathryn Ossian and Lucy Varpetian.
My wife served on your board of governors from 1993 to 2002. I got to know many of the members, particularly the group that traveled with us to Armenia in 1994 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the University of Yerevan.
When I met Lisa in 1988, some of her relatives viewed me as “odar,” an outsider to the culture. But recently a friend introduced me as “Armenian by Choice.” After tonight, I have an even stronger claim to be an honorary Armenian.
“Shot Shenorhagal em.” Thank you very much.
Our wedding featured an Armenian opera singer who is in the audience tonight, Maro Partamian. One of my favorite songs was “Lerner Hyreni,” or “Mountains of Armenia.” We hired the “Dark Eyes” band to play at the reception, which was great except that I chose a country song called “I Swear” by John Michael Montgomery for the first dance. It did not sound quite right with an Armenian accent.
One of Lisa’s relatives was raised in Syria, where government service was not highly valued. Before he approved of the marriage, he wanted to know when I planned to get a real job, in the private sector.
Unfortunately, many native-born Americans also are skeptical about government service. My Uncle Harold was a self-employed carpet installer. One beautiful spring afternoon in 1994, I called him from an office in the Department of Justice headquarters building. It was a Saturday. And when I told him that I was working through the weekend, he said, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
And I said, “You don’t understand. There is no place that I would rather be.”
I first walked into that building as a federal prosecutor on December 3, 1990, at age 25. I remember how honored I felt to represent the people of the United States. I will still feel the same way when I walk out for the last time next month.
I joined the Department of Justice because I believe in the mission. I stayed because I believe in the people who carry out the mission.
Our agents, analysts, and attorneys demonstrate great intellect and integrity. They possess superb academic credentials and exceptional character. They pass rigorous screening interviews and face thorough background checks every few years. They are ethical, honorable, and admirable people.
No organization with 115,000 employees is error-free. But we have serious, professional, nonpartisan internal watchdogs. We investigate credible misconduct allegations. We correct mistakes and punish wrongdoers.
I have served under five Presidents and nine Senate-confirmed Attorneys General — ten, if you count Bill Barr twice. I served mostly outside the D.C. beltway, but I worked at Department of Justice headquarters three times — four years in the early 1990s as a career prosecutor, four years in the early 2000s as a supervisor, and two years in my current job.
Our headquarters is a beautiful Depression-era building. I frequently speak about the inspiration that I draw from three aspects of the building – the art it contains; the people it employs; and the principles it represents.
There are reminders of heroes, mentors, and friends on every floor. They taught me that our Department stands for the principle that every American deserves the protection of the rule of law.
We use the term “rule of law” to describe our obligation to follow neutral principles. As President Trump pointed out, “we govern ourselves in accordance with the rule of law rather [than] … the whims of an elite few or the dictates of collective will.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy explained it this way: in a rule of law system, when you apply to a government clerk for a permit and you satisfy the objective criteria, you are not asking for a favor. You are entitled to the permit, and it is the clerk’s duty to give it to you.
The idea that the government works for the people is relatively novel. In some countries, that concept of a government bound by law to serve the people does not exist.
When I visited Armenia in 1994, the nation was emerging from seven decades of Soviet domination. Gyumri and other northern cities were not yet rebuilt after the 1988 earthquake. The six-year war with Azerbaijan was halted by a recent ceasefire, but the blockade over Nagorno-Karabakh crippled the economy.
We flew on Air Armenia, which used a shabby old Russian jet. Our plane needed to stop for fuel in Bulgaria, and we heard that the pilots paid with cash.
Armenia faced many challenges in 1994. Many skilled and educated people had left the country. When we hired a taxi to visit Lake Sevan, the driver turned off the engine at every downhill stretch to conserve gasoline.
We stayed at a nice hotel near Republic Square, but some mornings there was no water to flush the toilets, and some evenings there was no electricity to cook the food.
 I gave a lecture at the University of Yerevan about public corruption.  When I finished, a student raised his hand.  He asked, “If you can’t pay bribes in America, then how do you get electricity?”
I repeat that question in many speeches. It usually elicits laughter. But the point is profound.
The question illustrates how that young man understood Soviet society. Corruption undermines law. It stifles innovation, creates inefficiency, and inculcates distrust.
The question explains why I devoted my career to law enforcement: because the rule of law is the foundation of human liberty. The rule of law secures our freedom. It will secure our children’s freedom. And we can only achieve it if people who enforce the law set aside partisanship, because the rule of law requires a fair and independent process; a process where all citizens are equal in the eyes of the government.
I do not care how police officers, prosecutors, and judges vote, just as I do not care how soldiers and sailors vote. That is none of my business. I only care whether they understand that when they are on duty, their job is about law and not politics.
There is not Republican justice and Democrat justice. There is only justice and injustice.
In the courtyard of the Department of Justice headquarters, there is an inscription that reads, in Latin: “Privilegium Obligatio.” It means that when you accept a privilege, you incur an obligation. Working for Justice is a privilege.
Our commensurate obligations are established by our oath to well and faithfully execute the duties of the office. To honor that oath, you need to know your office’s unique duties. At our Department, our job is to seek the truth, apply the law, follow the Department’s policies, and respect its principles.
The rule of law is our most important principle. Patriots must always defend the rule of law. Even when it is not in their personal interest, it is always in the national interest. If you find yourself asking, “What will this decision mean for me?” then you probably are not complying with your oath of office.
At my confirmation hearing in March 2017, a Republican Senator asked me to make a commitment. He said: “You’re going to be in charge of this [Russia] investigation. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you’ll do it right, that you’ll take it to its conclusion and you’ll report [your results] to the American people.”
I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion. I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges.
Some critical decisions about the Russia investigation were made before I got there. The previous Administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America. The FBI disclosed classified evidence about the investigation to ranking legislators and their staffers. Someone selectively leaked details to the news media. The FBI Director announced at a congressional hearing that there was a counterintelligence investigation that might result in criminal charges. Then the former FBI Director alleged that the President pressured him to close the investigation, and the President denied that the conversation occurred.
So that happened.
There is a story about firefighters who found a man on a burning bed. When they asked how the fire started, he replied, “I don’t know. It was on fire when I lay down on it.”  I know the feeling.
But the bottom line is, there was overwhelming evidence that Russian operatives hacked American computers and defrauded American citizens, and that is only the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive Russian strategy to influence elections, promote social discord, and undermine America, just like they do in many other countries.
In 1941, as Hitler sought to enslave Europe and Japan’s emperor prepared to attack America, Attorney General Robert Jackson admonished federal prosecutors about their role in protecting national security. He said: “Defense is not only a matter of battleships and tanks, of guns and [soldiers]….  It is raw materials, machines and [people who] work in factories.  It is public morale.  It is a law abiding population and a nation free from internal disorder . . . the ramparts we watch are not only those on the outer borders which are largely the concern of the military services.  There are also the inner ramparts of our society — the Constitution, its guarantees, our freedoms and the supremacy of law.  These are yours to guard and their protection is your defense program.”  
As acting Attorney General, it was my responsibility to make sure that the Department of Justice would do what the American people pay us to do: conduct an independent investigation; complete it expeditiously; hold perpetrators accountable if warranted; and work with partner agencies to counter foreign agents and deter crimes.
Today, our nation is safer, elections are more secure, and citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence schemes.
But not everybody was happy with my decision, in case you did not notice.
It is important to keep a sense of humor in Washington.  You just need to accept that politicians need to evaluate everything in terms of the immediate political impact.
Then there are the mercenary critics, who get paid to express passionate opinions about any topic, often with little or no information. They do not just express disagreement. They launch ad hominem attacks unrestricted by truth or morality. They make threats, spread fake stories, and even attack your relatives. I saw one of the professional provocateurs at a holiday party. He said, “I’m sorry that I’m making your life miserable.” And I said, “You do your job, and I’ll do mine.”
His job is to entertain and motivate partisans, so he can keep making money. My job is to enforce the law in a non-partisan way; that is the whole point of the oath of office.
In our Department, we disregard the mercenary critics and focus on the things that matter. As Goethe said, “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” A republic that endures is not governed by the news cycle. Some of the nonsense that passes for breaking news today would not be worth the paper was printed on, if anybody bothered to print it. It quickly fades away. The principles are what abide.
America’s founders understood that the rule of law is not partisan. In 1770, five American colonists died after British soldiers fired on a crowd in the Boston Massacre. The soldiers were charged with murder. Many people believed that they deserved the death penalty.
John Adams agreed to represent the soldiers. His political beliefs were firmly against them. But Adams felt obligated to protect their rights under the law.
Defending British soldiers was a very unpopular cause, to put it mildly. Adams faced a serious risk, in his words, of “infamy,” or even “death.” In a diary entry about the trial, he wrote as follows: “In the evening I expressed to Mrs. Adams all my apprehensions: That excellent Lady, who has always encouraged me, burst into … Tears…. [S]he was very sensible of all the danger to her and to our children as well as to me, but she thought I had done as I ought, [and] she was … willing to share in all that was to come and place her trust in Providence.”
The rhetoric mirrors an earlier letter that Adams wrote to explain his preference for integrity over acclaim. Adams wrote that in theaters “the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss.”
Adams endured harsh criticism in the court of public opinion. But in the court of law, he secured the acquittal of the British captain and six soldiers.
At the trial, Adams delivered a timeless tribute to the rule of law. He said that “[f]acts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Adams’ words remind us that people who seek the truth need to avoid confirmation bias. Truth is about solid evidence, not strong opinions. A 19th century Philadelphia doctor remarked that “sincerity of belief is not the test of truth.” Many people passionately believe things that are not true.
I spent most of my career prosecuting cases in federal courthouses. My past trials in courts of law contrast with my recent tribulations in the halls of Congress, the channels of cable television, and the pages of the internet.
The difference is in the standard of proof. In my business, we need to prove facts with credible evidence, prove them beyond any reasonable doubt, and prove them to the unanimous satisfaction of a neutral judge and an unbiased jury of 12 random citizens.
Pursuing truth requires keeping an open mind, avoiding confirmation bias, and always yielding to credible evidence. Truth may not match our preconceptions. Truth may not satisfy our hopes.  But truth is the foundation of the rule of law.
If lawyers cannot prove our case in court, then what we believe is irrelevant.
But in politics, belief is the whole ball game. In politics – as in journalism – the rules of evidence do not apply. That is not a critique. It is just an observation.
Last year, a congressman explained why he decided not to run for reelection. He said, “I like … job[s] where facts matter. I like jobs where fairness matters. I like jobs where, frankly, … the process matters.”
He was describing an American courtroom. “I like the art of persuasion,” he said. “I like finding 12 people who have not already made up their minds and ... may [let] the facts prevail. That’s not where we are in politics.”
That congressman spoke the truth. It may never be where we are in politics. But it must always be where we are in law.
Attorney General Jackson spoke about the fiduciary duty of government lawyers, the obligation to serve as a trustee for the public interest. He contrasted the special duties of government lawyers with what he called “the volatile values of politics.” That was in 1940.
Jackson understood that “lawyers must at times risk ourselves and our records to defend our legal processes from discredit, and to maintain a dispassionate, disinterested, and impartial enforcement of the law.”
“We must have the courage to face any temporary criticism,” Jackson urged, because “the moral authority of our legal process” depends on the commitment of government lawyers to act impartially.
Jackson also spoke about the role of lawyers in preserving liberty. He used a parable about three stonecutters asked to describe what they are doing.  The first stonecutter focuses on how the job benefits him. He says, “I am earning a living.” The second narrowly describes his personal task: “I am cutting stone.” The third man has a very different perspective. His face lights up as he explains what the work means to others: “I am helping to build a cathedral.”
“[W]hether we are aware of it or not,” Jackson explained, lawyers “do more than earn [a] living[]; we do more than [litigate] [individual] cases. We are building the legal structure that will protect … human liberty” for centuries to come.
As my time in public service comes to an end, I encourage each of you to remember the cathedral. You are always building a legacy. You set an example for your colleagues, and you lay a foundation for your successors.
Time flies when you get to work with good and honorable people. In the words of an Eagles song: “I’d do it all again; If I could somehow; But I must be leaving soon; It’s your world now… Use well your time; Be part of something good; Leave something good behind; … It’s your world now.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this evening means a great deal to Lisa and me.
“Shot Shenorhagal-em yev Pari Keesher.” Thank you, and good night.

As published on the Department of Justice website 4/25/2019