Group Investigating Police Conduct On Inauguration Day Has History Of Siding With Police

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By Sarah Lazare for The Intercept – A CONSULTANT PAID by the Washington, D.C., City Council to investigate the Metropolitan Police Department’s crackdown on Inauguration Day protesters is coming under scrutiny for what activists and experts say is a bias in favor of police. The Police Foundation, the purportedly independent group conducting the investigation for the city, is poring over charges of police abuses from January 20. The city’s police department faced scrutiny for violence and arrests that targeted anyone in close proximity to an anti-fascist demonstration, part of a thousands-strong “Disrupt J20” protest against Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Demonstrators were allegedly confronted with arbitrary mass arrests and sexual assault, according a lawsuit filed against D.C. and the police. The lawsuit said those in and around the protest came under attack from chemical agents, such as pepper spray, as well as rubber bullets and stinger grenades. Following the mass arrests, hundreds of people were charged with conspiracy, property destruction, and assault, and now many face decades in prison. Defense attorneys say the mass prosecution is unprecedented in Washington, D.C. The police’s actions on January 20 quickly provoked concern.

‘Paradise Papers’ Show How Wealthy Stash Riches, Dodge Taxes

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By Emily Wells for Truth Dig – A trove of recently leaked files pertaining to offshore finance, dubbed “the Paradise Papers,” offers insight into how the wealthiest corporations and individuals protect their riches. The documents also show financial ties to Russia of a member of President Trump’s Cabinet. The 13.4 million files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and subsequently shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which has been investigating offshore finance for several years. According to a New York Times report, Appleby, an offshore firm at the center of the documents, said it has “thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations and we are satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients.” The ICIJ said Sunday in a post announcing the release of the papers that they “reveal offshore interests and activities of more than 120 politicians and world leaders.” The papers include data on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, major donors to the Trump campaign and a business associate of the president’s son-in law, Jared Kushner. The papers also reveal financial activity and investments by Queen Elizabeth II, Bono, Apple, Nike and Facebook.

FCC’s DDoS Claims Will Be Investigated By Government

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By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica – The FCC’s public comment website suffered an outage on May 8, just as the commission was receiving an influx of pro-net neutrality comments spurred by comedian John Oliver’s HBO segment on the topic. The FCC attributed the downtime solely to “multiple” DDoS attacks and said the attacks were “deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host.” However, the FCC has repeatedly thwarted efforts to obtain more details on the attacks and the commission’s response to them. Net neutrality activist group Fight for the Future released a petition asking if the FCC “invent[ed] a fake DDoS attack to cover up the fact that they lost comments from net neutrality supporters.” Schatz and Pallone asked the GAO to find out what evidence the FCC used to determine that a cyberattack took place and what documentation the FCC developed during its investigation. The Democratic lawmakers also want the GAO to examine whether the FCC is prepared to prevent future attacks. The GAO decision to investigate was reported by Politico last week. When contacted by Ars, a GAO spokesperson did not say exactly what topics the investigation will cover. The investigation also won’t start for another few months, so the answer probably won’t come until after the FCC makes a final decision on rescinding net neutrality rules.

Exxon Loses Bid To Keep Auditor Files Secret In Climate Fraud Investigation

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon's CEO from 2006 to 2016. A subpoena of records held by Exxon's auditor targets 2010 to the present. Credit: Brian Harkin/Getty Images

By David Hasemyer for Inside Climate News – Brushing aside objections by ExxonMobil, New York’s highest court has opened the door for state officials to demand that the oil giant’s outside auditor immediately turn over records as part of a fraud investigation into the company’s positions on climate change. In a one-sentence rebuff, the court refused to hear arguments by Exxon that the advice of the firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), was protected by an auditor-client privilege. The documents in question could provide a candid, and potentially damaging, glimpse into Exxon’s private calculations of the business risks posed by climate change and whether its auditors had any concerns about how it disclosed those risks to investors. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been investigating the company for more than two years, said the ruling affirms his position that Exxon and PwC have an obligation to produce the documents subpoenaed last year. “As we’ve said from the start, Exxon had no legal basis to interfere with PwC’s production” of those documents, Schneiderman said in a prepared statement. A lower court had ruled against Exxon, which then appealed. “Our fraud investigation continues to move full speed ahead, despite Exxon’s continued strategy of delay,” Schneiderman said.

EFF Urges Stronger Oversight Of DOJ’s Digital Search Of J20 Protestor Website

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By Stephanie Lacambra for EFF – District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert Morin ruled today that DreamHost must comply with federal prosecutors’ narrowed warrant seeking communications and records about an Inauguration Day protest website: disruptj20.org; but they will have to present the court with a “minimization plan” that includes the names of all government investigators who will have access to the data and a list of all the methods that they will be using to search the evidence. This is an important step in ensuring judicial oversight of the government’s digital search. While we are glad to see that the judge is taking steps to oversee the government’s “narrowed” search, EFF has long warned against the problems with the two-step approach of overseizure of digital information followed by a search of the information for evidence responsive to the warrant. Because of the vast troves of data that the government has access to in these cases, it risks executing a general search, the very danger that the Fourth Amendment is meant to guard against. As the en banc 9th Circuit warned in 2010:“The process of segregating electronic data that is seizable from that which is not must not become a vehicle for the government to gain access to data which it has no probable cause to collect.”

D.C. Judge Approves Government Warrant For Data From Anti-Trump Website

Trump protested from Day 1 MIKE COPPOLA for GETTY IMAGES

By Robert Iafolla for Reuters – WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A District of Columbia Superior Court judge on Thursday approved a government warrant seeking data from an anti-Trump website related to Inauguration Day protests, but he added protections to safeguard “innocent users.” Chief Judge Robert Morin said DreamHost, a Los Angeles-based web-hosting company, must turn over data about visitors to the website disruptj20.org, which is a home to political activists who organized protests at the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president in January. Morin, who will oversee review of the data, said the government must explain what protocols it will use to make sure prosecutors do not seize the data of “innocent users.” The U.S. Justice Department said it sought the records connected to the site because of concerns that it helped facilitate the planning of protests on Inauguration Day, when more than 200 people were arrested for rioting and vandalizing businesses in downtown Washington. DreamHost resisted the request, saying the scope of the warrant was too broad and trampled on the rights of 1.3 million visitors to the site, many of whom were simply expressing their political views.

DOJ Drops Request For IP Addresses From Trump Resistance Site

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By Morgan Chalfant for The Hill – The government said in a brief released Tuesday that it has “no interest” in the 1.3 million IP addresses related to the website disruptj20.org. It says it is solely focused on information that could constitute evidence related to criminal rioting on Inauguration Day. “The Warrant — like the criminal investigation — is singularly focused on criminal activity,” the reply brief states. “It will not be used for any other purpose.” Privacy and civil liberties advocates were up in arms last week when the web hosting company DreamHost publicized a July 12 search warrant for information related to disruptj20.org, which was used to organize protests on Inauguration Day. DreamHost said complying with the request would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses and other information about visitors to the site. Lawyers for DreamHost opposed the warrant, arguing it raised First and Fourth Amendment concerns. “In essence, the Search Warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website,” the company’s lawyers said in a legal argument opposing the request.

It’s Time to Ask Again: Can A Sitting President Be Indicted?

Donald Trump at a 2016 presidential campaign rally in Bethpage, N.Y. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

By Bill Blum for Truth Dig – The Trump presidency has been a boon for at least three groups of people: late-night comics who see him as a boundless source of hilarity; conspiracy theorists panicked over the “deep state’s” machinations to subvert his electoral victory; and constitutional lawyers, scholars and commentators who feel compelled to survey the legal wreckage caused by the president’s policies and behavior. Count me among the last. In my circles, the issue du jour is whether a sitting president can be indicted. President Trump is on the hot seat for possible criminal prosecution for obstruction of justice arising from his firing on May 9 of FBI Director James Comey and his more recent threats to discharge Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller. Who else but Trump—the real estate mogul and former TV game show host turned most powerful person in the world—could have resurrected the indictment question last raised during the presidency of Bill Clinton? Trump may have failed to deliver on his campaign pledge to “Make America Great Again,” but he certainly has prompted the country to debate again.

Mueller Impanels Trump Grand Jury And Issues Subpoenas

Robert Mueller (cnn.com)

By Elizabeth Preza and David Ferguson for Raw Story – Special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal reports the grand jury convened in recent weeks and will likely continue for several months, according to two sources familiar with the probe. The move signals Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign has intensified. “This is yet a further sign that there is a long-term, large-scale series of prosecutions being contemplated and being pursued by the special counsel,” Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, explained to the Wall Street Journal. “If there was already a grand jury in Alexandria looking at Flynn, there would be no need to reinvent the wheel for the same guy. This suggests that the investigation is bigger and wider than Flynn, perhaps substantially so.” Mueller was appointed in May by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from all matters involving Russia. Trump has repeatedly derided Sessions over his recusal, suggesting he would not have appointed him as attorney general had he known ahead of time.

EPA’s Methane Estimates For Oil And Gas Sector Under Investigation

The oil and gas sector is the leading source of human-caused emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that is about 84 times more potent over a 20-year period than carbon dioxide. Credit: David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

By Phil Mckenna for Inside Climate News – The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General will investigate how the agency estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas sector after an environmental group alleged that its emission estimates and regulations are based, in part, on faulty studies. The evaluation, announced Wednesday, will focus on a pair of studies conducted jointly by the University of Texas–Austin and the Environmental Defense Fund in 2013-2014 that found methane emissions to be lower than EPA estimates. The studies, which were done in cooperation with a number of oil and gas companies, were subsequently challenged for allegedly using faulty equipment and underestimating emissions. “This evaluation’s objectives are examining the results of and concerns/problems with the 2013 and 2014 emission studies conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund and the University of Texas-Austin,” EPA OIG spokesperson Jennifer Kaplan said in an email. The oil and gas sector is the leading source of human-derived methane emissions in the U.S., emitting more than either the agricultural sector or landfills, according to EPA estimates. Regulation of the powerful greenhouse gas has been in dispute since the Trump administration arrived and began rolling back President Barack Obama’s efforts to rein in emissions.

Russia-Gate’s Mythical ‘Heroes’

The Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin: Did the Russians hack U.S. election databases? (Yahoo News photo illustration, photos: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters, Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters, AP, AP)

By Coleen Rowley for Information Clearing House – The mainstream U.S. media sells the mythical integrity of fired FBI Director Comey and special Russia-gate prosecutor Mueller, but the truth is they have long histories as pliable political operatives, writes ex-FBI official Coleen Rowley. June 06, 2017 “Information Clearing House” -Mainstream commentators display amnesia when they describe former FBI Directors Robert Mueller and James Comey as stellar and credible law enforcement figures. Perhaps if they included J. Edgar Hoover, such fulsome praise could be put into proper perspective. Although these Hoover successors, now occupying center stage in the investigation of President Trump, have been hailed for their impeccable character by much of Official Washington, the truth is, as top law enforcement officials of the George W. Bush Administration (Mueller as FBI Director and James Comey as Deputy Attorney General), both presided over post-9/11 cover-ups and secret abuses of the Constitution, enabled Bush-Cheney fabrications used to launch wrongful wars, and exhibited plain vanilla incompetence.

Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation Widens Over Missing ‘Wayne Tracker’ Emails

Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson used a secret email alias when discussing issues, including climate change risk. Several weeks of those emails now are missing, and an attorney general investigating the oil giant wants to know what they said. Credit: David McNew

By David Hasemyer for Inside Climate News – The probe of ExxonMobil by the New York Attorney General’s Office is widening. Investigators have taken depositions of company executives and issued additional subpoenas to determine whether the company may have destroyed evidence connected to an alias email used by former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson. The disclosure was made Friday in arguments filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a Manhattan federal court. He is seeking dismissal of a request by Exxon for an injunction that would halt his investigation into the oil giant involving whether it misled shareholders and the public about the risks of climate change. Attorneys for Schneiderman did not elaborate in the 25-page document on the scope of the expanded investigation other than to suggest that it involved the recent disclosure that Tillerson, now U.S. secretary of state, used an email alias when discussing issues including climate change and the risk that it posed to the company. New York and Massachusetts investigators denounced the company’s attempt in federal court to derail their parallel inquiries as a vexatious legal tactic that has no chance of succeeding.

Scott Pruitt’s EPA Investigating Him For Climate Denial

A pile of future carbon dioxide emissions, also known as coal. ZHOU JIANPING - IMAGINECHINA

By Andrew Freedman for Mashable – EPA head Scott Pruitt may have broken integrity rules by denying global warming. A pile of future carbon dioxide emissions, also known as coal. Well, this is a new one. Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is under investigation by his own agency for misstating the basic scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. Turns out that providing misguiding scientific information to the public isn’t a cool thing to do, after all — even in the Trump administration. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is fast becoming one of the most controversial of President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. He is leading the push to unravel the Obama administration’s landmark climate change policies while overseeing a historic downsizing of the agency he runs.

Judge Orders Exxon To Turn Over Tillerson’s ‘Wayne Tracker’ Climate Emails

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By David Hasemyer for Inside Climate News – Exxon officials have been ordered by a New York judge to explain how the company overlooked a shadow email account used by its former chief executive Rex Tillerson while the company was under subpoena by the New York attorney general’s office. Judge Barry Ostrager ordered Exxon to provide sworn affidavits describing the company’s process for identifying and turning over documents. He also demanded an explanation of what documents may have been lost and how that happened. Ostrager also gave the company until March 31 to surrender documents associated with Tillerson, now serving as secretary of state, and five other members of Exxon’s management committee.

Mass. Adds To Call For ‘Wayne Tracker’ Emails In Exxon Climate Probe

Rex Tillerson, visiting China this weekend as secretary of state, refused to discuss his Exxon email alias. Credit: Getty Images

By David Hasemyer for Inside Climate News – While Exxon called the New York attorney general’s claim that Rex Tillerson used an alias email to hide crucial climate discussions “preposterous,” the Massachusetts attorney general’s office wants to make sure those emails are preserved so investigators can determine whether they contain evidence that Exxon’s leadership misled the public and investors. Maura Healey’s office sent Exxon a letter directing the company to save the emails, which it says would fall under its civil investigative demand—similar to a subpoena—it issued last year seeking Exxon records. “Exxon’s reported failure to identify the aliases in the New York case raises serious concerns…