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FBI failed to provide details on contact with Clinton campaign lawyer: Judicial Watch

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FBI failed to provide details on contact with Clinton campaign lawyer: Judicial Watch

The FBI failed to respond to an October 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking more information about communications in late 2016 between a top Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer and the bureau’s then-general counsel, according to the transparency group Judicial Watch.

Additionally, the group said, the FBI has ignored September 2018 FOIA requests concerning bureau communications with, and payments to, British ex-spy Christopher Steele — who authored the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

In response, Judicial Watch announced Tuesday it has filed lawsuits seeking the full release of all relevant documents. The flurry of litigation comes just days before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report is set to be publicly released, with some redactions.

The report is expected to shed more light on the Mueller probe’s conclusions that the Trump campaign did not improperly collude with Russia, despite months of speculation. And, Judicial Watch said in a press release, the ongoing litigation could provide more information on the origins of the Russia investigation — origins that many in the GOP have decried as blatantly political.

“How and why did the FBI pay Christopher Steele, who was already being funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC through Fusion GPS?”  Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton asked in announcing the lawsuits. “That we had to sue for this basic information shows the FBI may have something more to hide.”

Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr told Congress that “at some point during 2017, Chris Steele did speak with somebody from the FBI, but I don’t know who.”

FBI records unearthed by Judicial Watch showed the bureau — which paid Steele at least 11 times in 2016 — claimed to have dropped Steele as a source in November 2016, after he leaked his connection to the FBI to the media.

Former British spy Christopher Steele sat for a four-hour videotaped deposition last month.

Former British spy Christopher Steele sat for a four-hour videotaped deposition last month.

The separate suit to obtain the Clinton-related communications, Fitton said, aims to “fully expose the scandalous collusion between the Obama FBI and the Clinton-DNC political operation to target Hillary Clinton’s political opponent, Donald J. Trump.”

Fox News reported exclusively in October, citing sources closed to a congressional investigation, that a high-powered lawyer working with the DNC and the Clinton campaign contacted the FBI’s general counsel in late 2016 and provided documents for the Russia probe as federal investigators prepared a surveillance warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

That Fox News report was cited in a related Judicial Watch lawsuit filed in December, which sought more information about the contacts between the lawyer and the FBI.

FORMER FBI GENERAL COUNSEL THOUGHT CLINTON SHOULD BE PROSECUTED UNTIL ‘PRETTY LATE’ IN EMAIL PROBE

The FBI official who was contacted, James Baker, revealed the exchange to congressional investigators during a closed-door deposition late last year. He said Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann initiated contact with him and provided documents as well as computer storage devices on Russian hacking.

The sources said Baker described the contact as unusual and the “only time it happened.”

Perkins Coie was a key player in the funding of the controversial anti-Trump dossier, which Republicans have long suspected helped fuel the FBI’s investigation. The DNC and Clinton campaign had hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016, through Perkins Coie, to dig into Trump’s background.

Former FBI General Counsel James Baker testified last year that he thought Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted until 'pretty late' in the email probe. (Official government portrait)

Former FBI General Counsel James Baker testified last year that he thought Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted until ‘pretty late’ in the email probe. (Official government portrait)

Fusion, in turn, paid Steele’s company Orbis Business Intelligence, a reported $168,000 in 2016 to compile the dossier, memos from which were shared with the FBI in the summer of 2016.

In the warrant application, the FBI flatly told the FISA court that Page was conspiring with the Russian government. He has not been charged with wrongdoing of any kind, and later sued the DNC for defamation.

Sussmann’s contact with Baker suggested another connection between the early stages of the FBI’s Russia probe and those working with the DNC and Clinton campaign.

Sussmann’s bio on the Perkins Coie website describes him as a former senior Justice Department official with extensive national security and cybersecurity experience: “[Sussmann] is engaged on some of the most sophisticated, high-stakes matters today, such as his representation of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in their responses to Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential election.”

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Asked about Baker’s statements, however, a Perkins Coie spokesperson said at the time that Sussmann’s contact was not connected to the firm’s representation of the DNC or Clinton campaign.

The spokesperson said in a statement: “Prior to joining Perkins Coie, Michael Sussmann served as a cybercrime prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice during both Republican and Democratic administrations. As a result, Sussmann is regularly retained by clients with complex cybersecurity matters.

“When Sussmann met with Mr. Baker on behalf of a client, it was not connected to the firm’s representation of the Hillary Clinton Campaign, the DNC or any Political Law Group client.”

Trump, for his part, has vowed to declassify and release classified FISA documents related to surveillance of his campaign.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

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Hundreds of decks of playing cards arrive for Washington state lawmaker who criticized nurses

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Washington state lawmaker riles nurses by saying that some spend 'considerable' time playing cards

The Washington state senator who suggested that some nurses “play cards” during a “considerable” portion of their shifts received more than 600 packages of playing cards Tuesday as backlash over her remarks continued to grow.

The United Parcel Service location in Tumwater, Wash., said that it received 667 packages of playing cards addressed to state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, after an open letter criticizing her remarks circulated on Facebook last week and included Walsh’s P.O. box address, Seattle’s KOMO-TV reported.

“You said that not all nurses deserve breaks as they just sit around playing cards while on shift anyway,” the letter read. “I know nurses who can go all night without food or a bathroom break. I know nurses with nerve damage and back pain from doing whatever it takes to take care of patients. I know nurses who cry in their cars. Do you think that’s where they play cards, Senator Walsh?”

WASHINGTON STATE LAWMAKER RILES NURSES BY SAYING SOME SPEND ‘CONSIDERABLE’ TIME PLAYING CARDS

Washington state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, angered nurses by commenting in a speech that some nurses may spend a lot of time playing cards in rural hospitals. (Associated Press)

Washington state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, angered nurses by commenting in a speech that some nurses may spend a lot of time playing cards in rural hospitals. (Associated Press)

The letter went on to predict that after the next election cycle Walsh may find herself with “plenty of time to play cards and plenty of cards to play with.”

Walsh first drew criticism from nursing professionals while debating a bill last week that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses and would also provide mandatory overtime protections for them.

She pushed for an amendment that would exclude hospitals with fewer than 25 beds from the provision, arguing that such small facilities struggle to provide 24-hour care as it is.

“I would submit to you that those (small hospital) nurses probably do get breaks,” Walsh said. “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”

Despite the bill being passed with Walsh’s amendment, her ill-received comments sparked a flurry of social media posts mocking her.

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Walsh addressed the issue Monday, apologizing to those who were offended and saying she would spend a day shadowing a nurse throughout his or her 12-hour shift.

“I want to offer my heartfelt apologies to those I offended with my comments on the Senate floor last Tuesday. I was tired, and in the heat of argument on the Senate floor, I said some things about nurses that were taken out of context – but still they crossed the line.”

In 2012, some comments by Walsh on a different subject also went viral, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported. That year Walsh bucked most other members of the state GOP by speaking out in support of same-sex marriage. The state’s House subsequently backed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Bernie Sanders wrong about prisoners and voting, ex-con released under Trump reform law says

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Bernie Sanders wrong about prisoners and voting, ex-con released under Trump reform law says

The first man released from prison under President Trump’s criminal justice reform law reacted to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., saying that prisoners should be permitted to vote by noting the “logistical” problems of allowing prisoners serving a sentence to vote and backing prisoners who served their time to have their rights restored.

“I do know while you’re incarcerated you do lose some of your liberties. But my thing is, once a person has been completely released and they paid their debt to society and they are back in society actually functioning, paying taxes, then they should have their rights restored to vote,” Matthew Charles, who was released from prison under the First Step Act, said on Fox News’  “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

KAMALA HARRIS BACKTRACKS, NOW SAYS CRIMINALS LIKE BOSTON BOMBER ‘SHOULD BE DEPRIVED’ OF RIGHT TO VOTE

“But during the period they’re incarcerated, it’s going to be like a complex issue because of the logistics. You got people incarcerated in states that they actually are not from.”

Sanders opened himself to scrutiny this week after saying that not only should incarcerated prisoners be permitted to vote but that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should also be permitted to vote.

“If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they will be punished. But I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people,” Sanders said Monday on a CNN Town Hall.

Trump’s re-election campaign called out Sanders Wednesday, describing his idea “deeply offensive.”

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“The extremity and radicalism of the 2020 Democrats knows no bounds,” Trump campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News.

“Giving imprisoned terrorists, sex offenders, and murderers the right to vote is an outrageous proposal that is deeply offensive to innocent victims across this country, some of whom lost their lives and are forever disenfranchised by the very killers that 2020 Democrats seek to empower,” she said.

Fox News’ Sally Persons and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

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George Conway praises Hillary Clinton for her op-ed on Mueller probe: ‘I’m with her’

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George Conway calls Trump a cancer that needs to be removed in blistering op-ed

The husband of top White House official Kellyanne Conway expressed solidarity with Hillary Clinton after the former secretary of state wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post urging Congress to pursue the findings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, telling his followers on Twitter, “I’m with her.”

In the piece published Wednesday afternoon, Clinton called for holding President Trump “accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law” but insisted that choosing between “immediate impeachment or nothing” was a “false choice.” She also referred to the Mueller report as “road map” for Congress.

“It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not,” Clinton wrote. “Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.”

George Conway, who has made a name for himself as an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, praised the 2016 presidential candidate on Twitter and highlighted a portion from her op-ed, where she acknowledged that some may say she’s “not the right messenger.”

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“Perhaps so. Probably so. But if she’s with the Constitution, I’m with her,” Conway tweeted.

Conway regularly slams the president and repeatedly has questioned his mental fitness. The president fired back on Twitter last month.

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