A General Services Administration inspector general released a scathing letter Thursday accusing White House operatives of slow-walking open records requests and wrongly punishing conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. Meanwhile, the watchdog group revealed on Thursday that the FBI had no plans to question Clinton’s aides in its “half-baked” email investigation until it was clear that Judicial Watch was going to, and then the FBI used JW’s own redacted FOIA documents to question them.
The GSA botched several high-profile open records requests, delaying them for months while political appointees got involved, Inspector General Carol F. Ochoa said. The findings were released while the administration was facing charges of slow-walking open records requests for Hillary Clinton’s emails, as well as other requests.
In the case of Judicial Watch, the order to strip it of media status came from political operatives with long ties to Democratic causes — and even from the White House.
The inspector general said the decision came at the behest of Gregory Mecher, a former Democratic campaign fundraiser who at the time was liaison to the White House. He is married to Jen Psaki, a longtime spokeswoman with the Obama administration and its election campaigns.
Ms. Ochoa said stripping Judicial Watch of media status violated several agency policies and things got worse when the GSA denied an appeal by the group.
The same person who ruled on the initial request also ruled on the appeal, “contrary to GSA procedures,” the inspector general said.
Judicial Watch ended up suing over the request, the agency finally agreed to waive all fees and even ended up paying Judicial Watch $750 as part of the settlement.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, questioned the agency’s decision to fight a losing case that ended up costing it money.
“It’s outrageous but not surprising. Welcome to our world. This is what we put up with all the time from the agencies,” he said.
Obama, as you no doubt know, promised his would be the most transparent administration in history, after the Bush administration was widely criticized for not being transparent with open records requests.
Yet last year, the Obama administration spent $31.3 million to fight FOIA cases — more than twice the $15.4 million the Bush administration spent in 2008.
After eight excruciating years, Obama leaves behind a legacy of appalling corruption at the highest levels and never-ending stonewalls of government oversight pertaining to such scandals as Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, Benghazi, and the Clinton email saga.
Judicial Watch is continuing its fight to get more of Hillary Clinton’s emails from the State Department and has other cases pending against the CIA, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and the IRS, according to the Times.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton revealed on Thursday that the FBI didn’t bother to question aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about her use of a private email server while secretary of State until it knew JW was going to do so. Fitton said that the FBI then used redacted documents the watchdog group had obtained through a FOIA request.
Judicial Watch first uncovered the existence of Clinton’s private email server after receiving documents under FOIA during its investigation of the Benghazi scandal. “It was our litigation that forced the FBI to do the half-baked investigation it did,” Fitton pointed out during a panel discussion on the Clinton email scandal. “As we find out more details about the FBI investigation, we found out that a lot of these investigations that the FBI was undertaking did not take place but for Judicial Watch’s pressure from the litigation. The witnesses weren’t questioned until it became clear Judicial Watch was either going to get discovery or was getting discovery and would be questioning some of these same witnesses,” Fitton said.
“It was so bad that we just learned in the latest FBI document dump that the FBI was using documents that were produced to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act with redactions. So they couldn’t even get the full document. They were using those documents to question the witnesses. “And of course there’s a lot of outrage about the FBI immunity agreements, the Department of Justice immunity agreements granted the Clinton aides at issue in this case,” he added. Fitton noted that due to his group’s ongoing litigation, nearly 3,000 of Clinton’s 14,900 deleted emails will be made public before the November presidential election.
As a result of the latest revelations, Fitton predicted that there will be a “more significant criminal investigation” of Clinton’s email scandal under the next administration. “So no matter what happens on Election Day, this Clinton email scandal is going to continue. There’s going to be continued pressure for a criminal investigation of what we know went on no matter who is elected president.