Voter fraud commission may have violated law

TheHill.com

President Trump’s voter fraud commission may have violated the law by ignoring federal requirements governing requests for information from states, several experts on the regulatory process told The Hill.

Experts say the failure to submit the request to states through the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) violates a 1980 law known as the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). They also say the failure could be significant, since states could argue it means they are under no obligation to respond.

“If the commission gets heavy-handed with them, it seems to me that the states are within their right to say, ‘No, we don’t have to respond because you didn’t go through [OIRA],’” said Susan Dudley, a former OIRA administrator who is now director of the GW Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University.

After an initial version of this story was published online, the White House in an email argued that the election commission is exempt from the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires federal agencies to take specific steps before making requests for public information. The reason is simple, according to a spokesman: The commission is not an agency.

“The Paperwork Reduction Act only applies to information collections by agencies,” Marc Lotter, spokesman for Vice President Pence, said in an email. “The Commission is an entity that ‘serve[s] solely to advise and assist the President,’ and is not, therefore, an agency subject to PRA.”

Experts interviewed by The Hill said they believed that the commission did fall under the Paperwork Reduction Act, a 1980 law that requires federal agencies to seek public input, including through a comment period, before making a request for information. A 1995 amendment extended OIRA’s authority to include not only requests for information for the government, but also requests for information to the public.

There are some exemptions from the Paperwork Act’s requirements, but Richard Belzer, a former OIRA economist, said in an email to The Hill that he didn’t recall Trump’s executive order including any provision that would exempt the commission from following the requirements.

Belzer said it would not be unprecedented for OIRA to wave through an approval or issue an exemption at the request of the White House, but he argued this would be “legally dubious” in this case.

Full article: Voter fraud commission may have violated law | TheHill

In Groundbreaking Decision, DC Court Orders IRS to Return Money to Victims

CaptureIn the class action suit of Steele v. United States, the Court ruled that the IRS would be required to return an estimated $270 million in “user fees” charged to Americans in what a U.S. District Court determined was an unlawful expansion of the agency’s authority.

In 2010, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued a tangle of new regulations, including a requirement that tax preparers register for a specific ID number (PTIN) to be entered on all returns. For anyone who had previously been preparing tax returns for others without a state-sanctioned “professional” preparer’s status, this new regulation required them to pass a competency exam before receiving the required PTIN.

After paying the required fees to take the exam and the costs associated with the mandated annual IRS “education courses,” preparers would then have to purchase the mandated PTIN from the IRS. The initial charge was $64.25, and renewal costs were $63. In 2015, the fee was lowered to $50.

Full article: In Groundbreaking Decision, DC Court Orders IRS to Return Money to Victims – Foundation for Economic Education – Working for a free and prosperous world

Comments Off on In Groundbreaking Decision, DC Court Orders IRS to Return Money to Victims Posted in Alphabet Soup, Law, Taxes Tagged

The FBI’s Briefing On GOP Baseball Shooting Couldn’t Be More Bizarre

Well, the takeaway of the briefing was characterized well by the Associated Press headline about it: “FBI: Gunman who shot congressman had no target in mind.” The Associated Press reported the FBI:

  • believes the gunman “had no concrete plan to inflict violence” against Republicans,
  • “had not yet clarified who, if anyone, he planned to target, or why,”
  • believes he may have just “happened upon” the baseball game the morning of June 14, and that the attack appeared “spontaneous,”
  • are unclear on the “context” of Hodgkinson’s note with six names of members of Congress,
  • does not believe that photographs of the baseball field or other sites “represented surveillance of intended targets,” and
  • “painted a picture of a down-on-his-luck man with few future prospects.”

In fact, USA Today went with “FBI offers portrait of troubled Alexandria shooter with ‘anger management problem’” for their headline, since that’s what the FBI emphasized in the briefing.

Full article: The FBI’s Briefing On GOP Baseball Shooting Couldn’t Be More Bizarre

If you have a moment, read the above full article. This was really, really bizarre. And completely unacceptable.

Robert Mueller should step aside: Friends shouldn’t be investigating friends

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered about how Rod Rosenstein came to appoint Mueller in those few days after the Comey leak, and whether Comey and Mueller, directly or indirectly, had any communications regarding Trump prior to Mueller’s appointment.

Regardless, we now have the prospect of the Special Counsel investigating and necessarily assigning credibility (or lack thereof) to witnesses, including Comey.

There is a problem here that goes beyond their long professional interactions.  In 2013, The Washingtonian described the close professional history, Forged Under Fire—Bob Mueller and Jim Comey’s Unusual Friendship.

The Boston Globe reported on May 20, 2017, that the men considered themselves friends, Comey, Mueller have been allies, and now spotlight is on them:

The two men have had similar careers. Both have been top federal prosecutors. Both have been FBI directors. Several people who know both men say they respect each other.

“Clearly it’s a relationship based on professional colleagues, initially. But I think they would consider themselves friends,” said John Pistole, who worked for Mueller as deputy director of the FBI and also knows Comey. “Mueller is a mentor of sorts to Comey.”

Whether they were just close professional friends, or consider themselves personally friendly, the fact is that they are not at arms length. This relationship, at least as reported, appears to be much more than the routine interactions you might expect two law enforcement officers to have had in the regular course of business.

Something doesn’t seem right here. Comey manipulated the system into getting his friend appointed Special Counsel, and now that friend will be investigating matters in which Comey is a key witness. More than that, Comey’s own actions in leaking government property raise legal issues as to whether Comey himself violated the law.

Even assuming Mueller is able to separate his past with Comey from his present investigation, that relationship damages the whole purpose of having a Special Counsel who is completely independent in fact and appearance.

In a truly independent investigation, friends shouldn’t be investigating friends. Mueller should step aside to remove the taint on the Special Counsel investigation created by friend and witness James Comey.

Full article: Robert Mueller should step aside: Friends shouldn’t be investigating friends

KA-CHING! Comey Set To Net $10 Million With Book Deal

“If the publishing world has anything to say about it,  the nation’s ex-top cop, 56,  will be a multimillionaire ten times over from the book deal major publishers are offering to pay up front for his memoir — a whopping $10 million,” the Daily Mail writes.

It’s a sum right up there with the kind of advances paid to the Clintons – although maybe not a high as the Obamas – and the kind of royalty money generated by Comey’s nemesis Donald Trump’s many books.

‘Jim Comey’s story has everything, from White House intrigue to possible corruption and law breaking. His explosive story makes ‘West Wing’ and ‘House of Cards’ on a par with Mister Rogers,’ an acquisition editor for a major New York publishing house told DailyMail.com

‘When his proposal hits my desk, I’ve already been authorized to offer $10 million.’

Not only that, but the publisher of another key player in the book world revealed that major Hollywood producers are already lining up to make the torn-from-the-headlines blockbuster movie about Comey’s life and his attempt to unseat the president.

A prominent movie-TV agent told DailyMail.com: ‘I know one top drawer producer who’s already talking to stars to cast the Comey role. He has to be tall, good-looking and a Jimmy Stewart-John Wayne-hero type. I was mesmerized when I spent the whole day watching Comey testify.

‘Comey could expect a movie deal tied into the book worth many millions of dollars more, tens of millions.’

The Washington Post called Comey’s testimony a ‘performance of a lifetime – Classic G-man and aggrieved victim.’ And a New York Times headline billed Comey as, ‘Hero, Villain and Shakespearean Character…’

Comey’s seven-page testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee was released late Wednesday, just hours before his appearance. ‘When that document hit my desk I thought, ‘I want his book,’ said another top editor whose been involved in some of the biggest New York Times nonfiction bestsellers.

Full article: KA-CHING! Comey Set To Net $10 Million With Book Deal | Daily Wire

Because ‘Murica.

So Comey Testified Today…

Well, I don’t think it was the Earth shattering take down of Trump that the extreme left and the mainstream media were hoping for. There were things in there that were good for Trump, and things in there that damaged Trump, and there is reason to believe none of this is going to end anytime in the near future. Because why in the world would we want to stop wasting money and maybe try to get things done in this country? Long and short, I wouldn’t rest easy, but I wouldn’t freak out, either. There is still no evidence of any criminal activity, although an investigation into obstruction may be coming.

The bottom line is that we didn’t learn a whole lot today that was news. Really, if you go back over the testimony, a lot of it was already either known or suspected. So there wasn’t any Earth shattering revelations, either.

If you want to watch the Comey testimony, here you go:

Comey Opening Statement Now Available

Is that “scandal face” he’s giving us?! (Photo by Alex Wong/Staff via Getty Images)

Comey began by describing his first meeting with then-President-Elect Trump on January 6 at Trump Tower, at which he personally briefed Trump about an intelligence community assessment concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election. Comey says he alone briefed Trump on the details, out of respect for Trump’s privacy; this would have included the dossier material talking about Trump’s supposed Russian “pee-tape.” Comey explained that he was worried that the briefing might lead Trump to believe he was under investigation by the FBI on a counterintelligence level. He also explained that Trump was correct that he was not under personal investigation:

In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.

This confirms Trump’s account, at least in part.

According to Comey, he spoke with Trump one-on-one nine separate times in four months, “three in person and six on the phone.” Comey mentioned the January 27 dinner at which Trump supposedly asked for Comey’s assurance once again that he was not under investigation, and received it, and at which Trump suggested that Comey asked to retain his job. Comey claimed that Trump asked him for a loyalty oath during the dinner. Here is Comey’s fuller account:

It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks. The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away. My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch. I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my tenyear term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President. A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because “problems” come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work. Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things 4 about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.

Full article and more of the opening statement: Democrat Narrative DESTROYED: Comey Opening Statement Says Trump Isn’t Under Personal Investigation, Didn’t Pressure Comey To Kill Russian Campaign Collusion Investigation | Daily Wire