Department of Justice

FILE PHOTO: A flag flies from the Department of Justice in Washington
FILE PHOTO: A flag flies from the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

June 17, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department said on Monday it had settled antitrust charges with CBS Corp, Cox Enterprises Inc, E.W. Scripps Co, Fox Corp and Tegna Inc, which were accused of sharing competitively sensitive information.

“All five companies are alleged to have engaged in unlawful information sharing among their owned broadcast television stations,” the department said in a statement.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source: OANN

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(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 33 pages of records from the Department of Justice showing that former senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr in his January 2018 preparation to testify to the Senate and House intelligence committees wrote to a lawyer about “possible ethics concerns.” Bruce Ohr forwarded the email to his wife Nellie Ohr, who had been hired by Fusion GPS, the Hillary Clinton campaign-Democratic National Committee vendor who compiled the anti-Trump Dossier.

Judicial Watch obtained the records through its August 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Justice Department after it failed to respond to a May 29, 2018, FOIA request  (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice(No. 1:18-cv-01854)). Judicial Watch seeks:

All records from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

All records from the office of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher 

Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

All records from the office of the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Organized Crime Task Force Director Bruce Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

On January 3, 2018, Bruce Ohr emails Justice Department ethics lawyer Cynthia Shaw, advising her that the Senate and House intelligence committees had requested to interview him about investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. He notes that a number of press reports had come out about his “alleged” connections to Christopher Steele. He asks her a question that is largely redacted but seeks information about “possible ethics concerns.” He forwards this email to his wife Nellie:

Cynthia –

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this morning. As requested, here is a short description of my question:

As you may have heard, the Senate intelligence committee and House intelligence committee requested to interview me in connection with their investigations of possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Shortly after receiving the Senate request, a series of stories broke in the press about my alleged connections to Chris Steele, the author of the so-called Trump dossier. [Redacted]

My question has to do with [redacted]. Are there any guidelines for [redacted] in order to satisfy any possible ethics concerns?

Shaw’s response is largely redacted:

Hi Bruce,

Can you obtain [redacted]

Thanks,

Cindy

The new documents also reveal a close relationship between Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr and DOJ Russia experts Lisa Holtyn, Joseph Wheatley and Ivana Nizich.

On May 11, 2016, Nellie Ohr received an email invitation to attend a Hudson Institute “Kleptocracy Archive Launch.” Notably, Fusion GPS principal Glenn Simpson, listed as “a Senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center” who “now works frequently on Russian corporate crime and criminal organizations,” was to be a panelist. Nellie forwarded the invitation on to top Bruce Ohr aide Lisa Holtyn and husband/wife DOJ lawyers Joseph Wheatley and Ivana Nizich. Holtyn, Wheatley, and Nizich all worked for the DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which investigated Russian cartels and other Russian syndicated crime matters.

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Source: The Washington Pundit

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An 80-year-old man from California was charged for stealing more than $250,000 with fake donation sites for political candidates, prosecutors said.

In a years-long scheme, John Pierre Dupont pretended to raise money for Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, and other Democratic politicians, according to the Department of Justice. Dupont did not donate the money to campaigns, but used it to pay for rent, car insurance, and a Mercedes Benz, prosecutors say. Dupont has been convicted before for bank fraud and money laundering, and spent years in prison. If convicted, he could receive as many as 22 more years behind bars.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JOHN PIERRE DUPONT, a/k/a “John Gary Rinaldo,” was arrested this morning and charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his role in a years-long, nationwide scheme to defraud thousands of donors who believed they were donating to political action committees and political campaigns.  The defendant is expected to be presented this afternoon in the District Court of Arizona.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, John Pierre Dupont operated multiple fake political action committees and falsely claimed to be raising money to support more than a dozen campaigns.  Thousands of donors believed their hard-earned money was being used to support the causes described in solicitations, but in reality, the scam PACs had no operations beyond the fundraising itself, and no funds were used to support candidates.  My Office will continue to ensure that fraudulent fundraising does not pay – indeed, will result in criminal prosecution – by rooting out scam PACs wherever we find them.”

According to the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From at least in or about 2015 up to and including the present, JOHN PIERRE DUPONT defrauded thousands of donors who believed they were donating to three political action committees established by DUPONT (the “Scam PACs”), or to campaigns the Scam PACs falsely claimed to support.

DUPONT’s scheme resulted in more than $250,000 being donated through websites he controlled and operated, all of which was retained by DUPONT, both to enrich himself personally and to perpetuate the alleged crime.

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Source: The Washington Pundit

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The Department of Justice announced a massive bust of 1700 suspected online child sex offenders from all over the country Tuesday. The arrests were made as part of a large and lengthy operation led by the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces.

“The task forces identified 308 offenders who either produced child pornography or committed child sexual abuse, and 357 children who suffered recent, ongoing or historical sexual abuse or were exploited in the production of child pornography,” DOJ released. “The 61 ICAC task forces, located in all 50 states and comprised of more than 4,500 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, led the coordinated operation known as ‘Broken Heart’ during the months of April and May 2019. During the course of the operation, the task forces investigated more than 18,500 complaints of technology-facilitated crimes targeting children and delivered more than 2,150 presentations on internet safety to over 201,000 youth and adults.”

The operation specifically targeted individuals who “produce, distribute, receive and possess child pornography, engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes; engage in the sex trafficking of children; and travel across state lines or to foreign countries and sexually abuse children.”

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Source: The Washington Pundit

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Judicial Watch has uncovered documents revealing that Bruce Ohr received $42,520 in performance bonuses during the Trump/Russia investigation.

In fact, his bonus nearly doubled from $14,520 (received in November 2015) to $28,000 in November 2016 after Ohr served as a back channel for Christopher Steele after Steele had been fired by the FBI.

Ohr was funneling Steele’s disinformation to the DOJ and FBI during the summer and the later half of 2016, after the FBI had officially cut ties with Steele for revealing to the media that he was serving the FBI as a confidential informant.

Judicial Watch:

We have uncovered emails from Ohr showing that he remained in regular contact with former British spy and Fusion GPS contractor Christopher Steele after Steele was terminated by the FBI in November 2016 for revealing to the media his position as an FBI confidential informant.

The records show that Ohr served as a go-between for Steele by passing along information to “his colleagues” on matters relating to Steele’s activities.

Ohr also set up meetings with Steele, regularly talked to him on the telephone and provided him assistance in dealing with situations Steele was confronting with the media.

[…]

Today, we released Justice Department documents showing that Bruce Ohr received $42,520 in performance bonuses during the Trump/Russia investigation. In fact, his bonus nearly doubled from $14,520 (received in November 2015) to $28,000 in November 2016.
[…]

The documents show that on November 13, 2016, Ohr was given a performance award of $28,000. This was during the time of his deep involvement in the highly controversial Justice Department surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign. The bonus was nearly double the $14,250 performance award he was given on November 29, 2015.

Bruce Ohr was married to Nellie Ohr of Fusion GPS and was removed because of his conflict of interest and role as conduit for Fusion GPS material. The documents show that Ohr was removed from his position as Associate Deputy Attorney General on December 6, 2017. On January 7, 2018, Ohr was reassigned from his position of director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and shifted to Counselor for International Affairs in the Department of Justice Criminal Division. Ohr received a $2,600 pay increase.

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Image Credit: Ohio Star

Source: The Washington Pundit

Trump Tweeted “I kept hearing that there would be “massive” rallies against me in the UK, but it was quite the opposite.” What Do You Think?

Trump calls ‘Resistance’ protests in Britain a ‘flop,’ believes he’s dominate polls if meda were fair
President Trump, in a series of tweets early Wednesday, called out the “corrupt media” for reporting on the paltry protester turnout during his trip to the U.K.and said if there was actually “fair” news See More accounts about his success in office, he would be dominating in polls. “I kept hearing that there would be “massive” rallies against me in the UK, but it was quite the opposite. The big crowds, which the Corrupt Media hates to show, were those that gathered in support of the USA and me,” he posted. Thousands of Londoners lined the streets Tuesday to protest his visit with the queen, including those carrying a giant baby blimp Trump.

Earlier, Trump sat down with Piers Morgan for ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” and clarified controversial comments last week about Meghan Markle in the Sun British tabloid. Trump again said he wasn’t calling Markle nasty, but rather was just surprised to hear her critical comments about him.

Trump to Schumer: Mexico tariff threat is ‘no bluff’
With Republicans threatening to block his move to impose tariffs on Mexican imports over the migration crisis at the southern border, President Trump blasted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. , for suggesting he would ultimately back down from his plan. “Can you imagine Cryin’ Chuck Schumer saying out loud, for all to hear, that I am bluffing with respect to putting Tariffs on Mexico. What a Creep. He would rather have our Country fail with drugs & Immigration than give Republicans a win. But he gave Mexico bad advice, no bluff!” Trump tweeted. Trump has vowed to impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexican imports next week unless the country does more to stem illegal migration. Lawmakers and business allies have worried publicly that the tariffs would derail the long-promised United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Trump had promised to replace. All sides, including officials from Mexico meeting with Trump negotiators in Washington this week, have remained hopeful that high-level talks would ease the president away from his threat.

Dems and Barr ready negotiate after ‘overbroad’ subpoena requests
Hours after the Department of Justice (DOJ) slammed House Democrats for planning a contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr — and charged that Democrats had privately admitted their subpoena requests were “overbroad” –House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced late Tuesday that he is open to negotiating with the DOJ “without conditions.” The turn of events reopened the possibility that Barr’s contempt vote may be postponed or canceled, if both sides return to the negotiating table. Nadler, however, pointedly refused to cancel the planned contempt vote prior to beginning any new negotiations, as the DOJ had demanded.

‘Coward of Broward’ paying for alleged shooter’s sins?
Lawyers for a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High resource officer have vowed to fight the charges he faces for failure to enter the school during the 2018 mass shooting. Joseph DiRuzzo III, lawyer for Scot Peterson, said in a statement: “We will vigorously defend against these spurious charges that lack basis in fact and law. Specifically, Mr. Peterson cannot reasonably be prosecuted because he was not a ‘caregiver’, which is defined as ‘a parent, adult household member, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare.’” Peterson has been charged with seven counts ofneglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence and one of perjury after a 15-month investigation, according to a news release from Florida authorities. The charges carry a combined potential prison sentence of nearly 100 years for the officer blasted by many critics as the “Coward of Broward.”

Rumors of Jussie Smollett’s return to ‘Empire’ squashed 
Following a Variety magazine report that claimed Jussie Smollett might be returning to “Empire” for its sixth and final season, the show’s co-creator and executive producer — Lee Daniels — immediately shut down any speculation. “This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire. -LD,” Daniels tweeted, instantly dispelling any rumors. Smollett’s “character, Jamal Lyon,was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 of “Empire.” In May, Fox announced that its hit drama would end after Season 6 and that there were still no plans to bring back Smollett’s character.

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Amazon could face heightened antitrust scrutiny under a new agreement between U.S. regulators that puts it under closer watch by the Federal Trade Commission, three people familiar with the matter said.

The move is the result of the FTC and the Department of Justice, the U.S. government’s leading antitrust enforcement agencies, quietly divvying up competition oversight of two of the country’s top tech companies, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the government’s work is confidential. The Justice Department is set to have more jurisdiction over Google, The Washington Post reported on Friday, paving the way for a potential investigation of the search-and-advertising giant.

The FTC’s plans for Amazon and the Justice Department’s interest in Google are not immediately clear. But the kind of arrangement brokered between the Justice Department and the FTC typically presages more serious antitrust scrutiny, the likes of which many Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have sought out of fear that tech companies have become too big and powerful.

The Justice Department this week declined to comment, citing a policy against confirming or denying investigations. The FTC also declined to comment. Amazon did not immediately have comment. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)

“If there is an active discussion of where the boundaries are, that would indicate there’s a reason for that discussion, whether it’s a new interest, study or investigation,” said Maureen Ohlhausen, a partner at the law firm Baker Botts who previously served as chair of the FTC.

The early moves from the government’s twin antitrust agencies mark the latest attempts by U.S. regulators to better supervise tech giants. Earlier this year, the FTC established a special task force it said would monitor tech and competition, including “investigating any potential anticompetitive conduct in those markets, and taking enforcement actions when warranted.”

For years, the European Union has taken the lead in probing whether Silicon Valley too easily stamps out rivals to the detriment of web users. E.U. officials are actively investigating Amazon and have repeatedly fined Google for violating its antitrust laws.

Antitrust also has become an early flash point among Democrats vying for the White House ahead of the 2020 election. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recently threatened major investigations of Amazon, Apple and Facebook. This week, she offered early support in response to news that the Justice Department could bring such an investigation against Google.

Politicians have long raised concerns that Amazon’s dominance in online retail – as well as its growing reach across a variety of business fields – has given it too much power. It holds sway over third-party sellers on its site, who pay for advertising to compete against first-party and private-label sales by Amazon. Its low prices also have helped it draw customer spending at the expense of brick-and-mortar competitors.

The e-commerce giant sells roughly half of all online goods in the United States, but it makes up a much smaller portion of total retail sales. It has expanded into other areas, too, such as cloud computing with Amazon Web Services and grocery sales with the acquisition of Whole Foods, a deal the FTC allowed to proceed in 2017.

Google’s chief critics contend the company has acted illegally to protect its huge footprint in search and advertising as well as its newer ambitions, ranging from smart thermostats to self-driving cars. The FTC previously investigated Google but closed the matter in 2013 without breaking it up or forcing it to make major changes to its business practices.

“This should be a wake-up call to both Google and Amazon to behave themselves because it at least shows that the Justice Department and FTC are thinking about them,” said Gene Kimmelman, the president of Public Knowledge, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group.

Google Should Be Afraid. Very Afraid.

(Bloomberg Opinion) — This is the moment the U.S. technology superpowers surely knew was coming: The U.S. government is preparing to crawl all over Google to figure out whether it is an abusive monopolist. Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and the other tech giants should be quaking in their fleece vests.

Bloomberg News and other news organizations reported late Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to open an investigation into Google’s compliance with antitrust laws. If it goes forward, an investigation will no doubt be broad, lengthy, messy, and impossible for Google and its investors to predict.

That should terrify Google and every other big technology company — because there’s no guarantee that the antitrust Klieg light will turn on one company alone.

This isn’t Google’s first antitrust rodeo. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2013 closed without further action its own antitrust investigation into whether Google wielded its dominant web search engine like a cudgel to disadvantage rivals, drive up prices for advertisers and ultimately harm consumers. (Google did agree to some voluntary changes.)

And in recent years, the European Union antitrust watchdog imposed billions of dollars in fines after finding antitrust violations, including over how Google conducted business with its Android smartphone software and its internet shopping service. In the U.S. and elsewhere, politicians from all party stripes have sought to attack Google or other tech giants for various perceived sins, including being too big for the good of industry and consumers. Being Google has meant dealing with perennial regulatory and political nightmares.

This latest chapter of “As Google Turns” may have started in January on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think big is necessarily bad, but I think a lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers,” Bill Barr, now the U.S. attorney general, said to U.S. senators during a confirmation hearing. The DOJ’s chief antitrust enforcer, who represented Google during a merger more than a decade ago, has expressed similar views. 

Antitrust investigations are difficult to predict, of course. Once the U.S. government pores over every internal email and business development contract, there’s no telling what it will turn up. If the DOJ moves ahead, it will also be an open invitation for every company or individual with a gripe against Google to pile on, and an investigation will embolden critics of Facebook, Amazon and other tech giants as well.

It’s worth remembering that Google narrowly escaped a possible antitrust lawsuit the last time the U.S. looked closely. Portions of communications between FTC commissioners and staff later showed that staffers wanted to bring an antitrust lawsuit on a few matters including on what they said was Google’s strong-arm tactics to scrape information from websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor without their permission to improve Google’s search engine. Ultimately the FTC commissioners unanimously voted not to pursue a lawsuit and possibly a breakup of what was then a smaller Google.

That was a different regulatory agency during the administration of President Barack Obama, which was considered relatively cozy with Google. The current White House has been openly critical of Google, largely over bogus claims that it and some other tech companies unfairly suppress conservative voices online.

Washington is much different than it was in 2013, and sentiment in the capitol and beyond has soured as U.S. technology superstars have grown even larger and more dominant. An investigation of Google is likely to be politically popular on both the left and the right. The politics and the optics aren’t in Google’s favor. Now we’ll see – again – whether the law is against the company as well.

To contact the author of this story: Shira Ovide at sovide@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Gray at philipgray@bloomberg.net

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

bloomberg.com/opinion” data-reactid=”45″>For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion

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Special counsel Robert Mueller will break his silence Wednesday about his 22-month investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian interference in the election.

The former FBI director will speak at 11 a.m. ET at the Department of Justice. The event will be streamed live, according to a press release. Mueller will not take questions.

Mueller’s remarks come less than a week after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said that Mueller wanted to testify privately to Congress about the probe. Some Democrats pushed for Mueller to testify publicly. President Donald Trump has said that Mueller should not testify. 

The White House was advised Tuesday that Mueller “may make a statement,” a senior administration official said.

Mueller and his team of prosecutors have been tight-lipped about their inquiry, releasing new information rarely and generally in the form of unsealed indictments. The DOJ released a partially redacted version of Mueller’s 448-page report last month. 

Read More:
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/29/special-counsel-robert-mueller-to-make-statement-wednesday-on-the-russia-probe.html

Source: The Washington Pundit

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is set to make a statement on the Russia investigation from the Department of Justice on Wednesday. This will be his first public comment since the release of the results from his probe.

The special counsel’s announcement states that he will not take questions during this remarks — slated for 11 a.m. — but the New York Times is reporting his comments will be lengthy and substantial.

Political observers have been clamoring for Mueller to speak publicly since he released his report on the investigation into Russian election interference and contacts with President Donald Trump‘s campaign. It is possible that Mueller will use his announcement to say he will testify before Congress.

Attorney General William Barr has faced criticism for his handling of the Mueller report, with Democrats accusing Barr of taking Mueller out of context and distorting his findings to exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. Much of this has to do with how Mueller’s team reportedly objected to how Barr characterized the breadth of his findings, concerns the AG dismissed.

This story is developing and we will update accordingly.

[Photo via Andrew Burton/Getty Images]

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