Monday, June 26, 2017

FBI

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Secretary Carson
'Calm down, this isn't brain surgery guys..."

The current secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, while speaking to Pete Hegseth on Fox News Radio’s “Klimeade and Friends,” on Friday, said that he believes that the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to investigate the alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, and the recent obstruction of justice allegations, should be given a fair chance and some time, before being overturned.

It is to be noted that Carson’s stance on the issue is a noteworthy break from President Trump and his administration’s stance, which has time and again called the whole investigation a “witch hunt.”

During the interview, Carson stated that special prosecutor Robert Mueller has to be given “a chance” to conduct a fair investigation.

“I would give him the chance to see if he could do that because if there’s nothing there, he’s not going to find anything anyway,” Carson said.

“That has been the case now for nearly a year,” Carson continued. “There’s nothing to find; that’s why they keep going down these empty rabbit holes. That will continue to be the case because there’s nothing there.

Carson’s stance on the issue: giving Mueller “a chance,” indicates a surprising break from the position being held by Trump and his administration. Early Friday morning saw Trump take to Twitter to proclaim, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”

A few minutes before that tweet, Trump spoke about the witch hunt, saying “Despite the phony Witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great. Regulations way down, jobs and enthusiasm way up!”

Sean Hannity, on his show Friday evening, on the Fox News Channel, after stating that he believes the “deck is stacked” or so it appears to him, against President Trump in the FBI investigation, asked Newt Gingrich, a friend and supporter of Trump, whether Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, and Special Prosecutor Mueller, should step down from the investigation because of their connections to the dismissed FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump earlier last month.

“First of all, under the Justice Department’s own rules, Mueller has a legal obligation to recuse himself from anything involving Comey,” Gingrich said. “Which also makes you wonder why they’d pick a guy who is Comey’s close friend to investigate a situation in which inevitably involves Comey. This whole thing stinks.”

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Comey Deleted
When will Trump start calling this guy "Shady James Comey"

Judicial Watch today announced it sent Acting FBI Director Andrew G. McCabe a warning letter concerning the FBI’s legal responsibility under the Federal Records Act (FRA) to recover records, including memos Comey subsequently leaked to the media, unlawfully removed from the Bureau by former Director James Comey. The June 14 letter from Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton states:

As you are well aware, former FBI Director James Comey gave sworn testimony last week before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Among other things, Mr. Comey confirmed that, while in office, he created various memoranda regarding his meetings with President Trump. Mr. Comey also confirmed that, after his departure from the FBI, he provided at least some of these memoranda to a third party, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman, for the purpose of leaking them to the press. Various media outlets now have reported that Professor Richman has provided these memoranda to the FBI. It is unclear whether he still retains copies of the memoranda.

I am writing to you on behalf of Judicial Watch, Inc., a not-for-profit educational organization that seeks to promote transparency, accountability, and integrity in government and fidelity to the rule of law. In furtherance of its public interest mission, Judicial Watch regularly requests access to the records of the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act and disseminates its findings to the public. In fact, on May 16, 2017, Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request seeking these specific memoranda removed from the FBI by Mr. Comey. Judicial Watch also has pending FOIA lawsuits in which the memoranda may be at issue.

These memoranda were created by Mr. Comey while serving as FBI director, were written on his FBI laptop, and concerned official government business. As such, they indisputably are records subject to the Federal Records Act. 44 U.S.C. §§ 2101-18, 2901-09, 3101-07, and 3301-14. The fact that Mr. Comey removed these memoranda from the FBI upon his departure, apparently for the purpose of subsequently leaking them to the press, confirms the FBI’s failure to retain and properly manage its records in accordance with the Federal Records Act. Even if Mr. Comey no longer has possession of these particular memoranda, as he now claims, some or all of these memoranda may still be in possession of a third party, such as Professor Richman, and must be recovered. Mr. Comey’s removal of these memoranda also suggests that other records may have been removed by Mr. Comey and may remain in his possession or in the possession of others. If so, these records must be recovered by the FBI as well.

As you may be aware, the Federal Records Act imposes a direct responsibility on you to take steps to recover any records unlawfully removed from the FBI. Specifically, upon learning of “any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, corruption, deletion, erasure, or other destruction of records in the custody of the agency,” you must notify the Archivist of the United States. 44 U.S.C. § 3106. Upon learning that records have been unlawfully removed from the FBI, you then are required to initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of records. Id.

In the event you fail to take these steps, you should be aware that Judicial Watch is authorized under the law to file a lawsuit in federal district court seeking that you be compelled to comply with the law. Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Kerry, 844 F.3d 952, 955 (D.C. Cir. 2016); Armstrong v. Bush, 924 F.2d 282,296 (D.C. Cir. 1991). Please advise us no later than June 26, 2017 if you intend to take the action required under the law. If we do not hear from you by that date, we will assume that you do not intend to take any action. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

“Mr. Comey took government records and the FBI and Justice Department are obligated to get them back,” added Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “The former FBI director isn’t above the law and current leadership of the FBI should stop protecting him and take action.”

Judicial Watch is pursuing a lawsuit challenging the State Department’s failure to take any action to recover emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other employees unlawfully removed from the agency seeks to force State Department compliance with the Federal Records Act (FRA).  Judicial Watch argues the State Department and FBI never bothered to do a full search for Hillary Clinton’s government emails. This is one of several of Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuits seeking government records and information about the non-government email system used by Clinton.

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NSA Leaker
Try 'hacking' through the bars of your prison cell, leaker!

The Department of Justice recently announced in a statement, the charges against a government contractor who allegedly leaked classified documents to the media. The statement also reveals how they eventually caught her.

“A criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of Georgia today charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 793(e),” it read.

“On or about May 9, Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it,” the statement explained. “Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.”

The media has since noted that the government only seems to have caught her after the said news outlet asked for a comment about their story, but in an apparent mistake provided the government with the original documents.

“The U.S. Government Agency examined the document shared by the News Outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space,” the complaint read.

Hence, because of the crease in the paper, officials knew they had to look for people who had printed the document and taken it out of the “secured space” physically. After discovering six individuals who had printed the document, they found that one had sent emails to the news outlet.

Winner was suspected to have leaked the highly classified document to The Intercept, which then ran a story based on the report, talking about how US intelligence authorities had monitored hundreds of hacking attempts before the 2016 presidential election.

“The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.”

Since taking over the White House, the Trump administration has been a victim of constant leaks that have become a major problem for the president and his agenda.

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Mueller Investigation
Are the Investigation's days numbered?

Newsmax CEO and a close friend of President Donald Trump, Chris Ruddy has said that the president is thinking about dismissing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed just last month to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

While speaking to Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour, Ruddy said that he thinks the president is weighing that option.

“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel,” he said. “I think he’s weighing that option. I think it’s very clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.

“I personally think it would be a very significant mistake,” Ruddy continued, “even though I don’t think there’s a justification … for a special counsel in this case.”

“I mean Robert Mueller, there’s some real conflicts,” he explained. “He comes from a law firm that represents members of the Trump family. He interviewed the day before a few days before he was appointed special counsel with the president who was looking at him potentially to become the next FBI director. That hasn’t been published but it’s true.”

“But I think it would be strange that he would have a confidential conversation and then a few days later become prosecutor of the person he would be investigating,” he added. “I think that Mueller should not have taken the position if he was under consideration and had a private meeting with the president and was privy maybe to some of his thoughts about that investigation or other matters before the bureau.”

CNBC journalist Kayla Tausche saw Ruddy leave the White House before making the news on Monday morning.

However, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee says, “Chris speaks for himself.”

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (Cali.) posted on Twitter regarding the claim, “If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller. Don’t waste our time.”

Journalists and experts have also noted that Trump’s close aide Newt Gingrich has also publicly denounced Mueller after lauding him when he was initially chosen as the special counsel.

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Radical Islamist

Now that Robert Mueller has been appointed special counsel to investigate if Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election it’s worth reiterating his misguided handiwork and collaboration with radical Islamist organizations as FBI director. Judicial Watch exclusively obtained droves of records back in 2013 documenting how, under Mueller’s leadership, the FBI purged all anti-terrorism training material deemed “offensive” to Muslims after secret meetings between Islamic organizations and the FBI chief. Judicial Watch had to sue to get the records and published an in-depth report on the scandal in 2013 and a lengthier, updated follow-up in 2015.

As FBI director, Mueller bent over backwards to please radical Islamist groups and caved into their demands. The agency eliminated the valuable anti-terrorism training material and curricula after Mueller met with various Islamist organizations, including those with documented ties too terrorism. Among them were two organizations— Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)—named by the U.S. government as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing case.

CAIR is a terrorist front group with extensive links to foreign and domestic Islamists. It was founded in 1994 by three Middle Eastern extremists (Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad and Rafeeq Jaber) who ran the American propaganda wing of Hamas, known then as the Islamic Association for Palestine.

The records obtained as part of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit show that Mueller, who served 12 years as FBI chief, met with the Islamist organizations on February 8, 2012 to hear their demands. Shortly later the director assured the Muslim groups that he had ordered the removal of presentations and curricula on Islam from FBI offices nationwide.

The purge was part of a broader Islamist operation designed to influence the opinions and actions of persons, institutions, governments and the public at-large. The records obtained by Judicial Watch also show similar incidents of Islamic influence operations at the Departments of Justice and State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Obama White House.

Here are some of the reasons provided by Mueller’s FBI for getting rid of “offensive” training documents: “Article is highly inflammatory and inaccurately argues the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization.” It’s crucial to note that Mueller himself had previously described the Muslim Brotherhood as a group that supports terrorism in the U.S. and overseas when his agency provided this ludicrous explanation. Here’s more training material that offended the terrorist groups, according to the FBI files provided to Judicial Watch: An article claiming Al Qaeda is “clearly linked” to the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing; The Qur’an is not the teachings of the Prophet, but the revealed word of God; Sweeping generality of ‘Those who fit the terrorist profile best (for the present at least) are young male immigrants of Middle Eastern appearance;’ conflating Islamic Militancy with terrorism. The list goes on and on.

Mueller’s actions have had a widespread effect because many local law enforcement agencies followed the FBI’s lead in allowing Islamic groups like CAIR to dictate what anti-terrorism material could be used to train officers. Among them are police departments in three Illinois cities— Lombard, Elmhurst and Highland Park—as well as the New York Police Department (NYPD).

In the case of the Lombard Police Department, CAIR asserted that the instructor of a training course called “Islamic Awareness as a Counter-Terrorist Strategy” was anti-Muslim though there was no evidence to support it. Like the FBI, Lombard officials got rid of the “offensive” course. The NYPD purged a highly-acclaimed report that’s proven to be a critical tool in terrorism investigations after three New York Muslims, two mosques and an Islamic nonprofit filed a lawsuit.

Considering Mueller’s role in much of this, it makes him a bizarre choice to lead the heated Russia investigation. The goal, apparently, is to determine of Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and if President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials. In the Justice Department announcement, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein describes Mueller as person who qualifies to lead the probe because he exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command. “Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result,” according to Rosenstein.

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No comment.

The White House has been rather quiet, ever since news surfaced that FBI Director James Comey has a paper trail of his conversations with President Trump. The President has also limited his activity on Twitter and went a full day without using his Twitter account to comment on any of the news memos that accuse him to trying to put an end to Comey’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Sean Spicer has reported to the media that President Trump is very eager to “get to the bottom” of the controversy surrounding his communications with Comey which has taken a toll on everyone present in the White House. “The president is confident in the events he’s maintained and that he wants the truth and these investigations to get to the bottom of this situation,” Spicer told.

Although, President Trump has not directly commented on his talks with Comey, “Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” he said during a commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. “No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

During a brief seven-minute session with the media, Spicer was dodging questions and refusing to answer any direct questions about whether the president wishes to see Comey testify before the Congress, or whether he intends upon waiving the executive privilege to allow both men to freely narrate their version of the events.

A comparison was made to the Watergate scandal that took down President Richard Nixon. However, he continued to refrain from making any comments.

One former campaign manager commented on the White House’s efforts to give the media some breathing space instead of giving them something that could later result in legal trouble. “You don’t want to put someone out there if there is a risk they’ll extend the news cycle,” the source said. “You expose yourself to a lot of unknowns and give the media more to cover when, in the end, they’re going to knife you anyway.”

The White House found themselves in a much similar situation after Trump’s surprising firing of Comey last week and then reports surfacing that Trump had leaked highly classified information in his meeting with Russian diplomats.

Each time the White House carefully crafts its explanations, Trump does more damage to them hours later in either television interviews or his posts on Twitter.

“Clearly they feel besieged and they have a right to, the enemy is in the building,” said Barry Bennett, a former transition adviser.

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hypocrisy

On Wednesday’s airing of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” Charles Krauthammer suggested that President Trump shouldn’t really be surprised by the Democratic decries over his firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

“It’s surprising that he should be surprised,” Krauthammer said. “These people are hypocrites from the day of their birth. It’s in their DNA. That’s how they function. It was to be expected.”

He continued, “Yes, you say you want Comey to be fired one day, and then as soon as he gets fired, you attack the man who does it, but that’s normal.”

Talking about the “hypocrisy of the Democrats,” simply said that “Democrat’s don’t like this guy,” referring to Trump.

“The Democrats are looking for an excuse to say that there’s a great collusion conspiracy, and this is all being done in defense of that conspiracy — which I think remains implausible,” he said, “because if that was the intent of the Trump administration, it’s a colossal mistake. It had the opposite effect.”

In a move that shocked the Republicans, Democrats, and the entire county, President Trump dismissed Comey from his position on Tuesday night.

A statement from the White House read:

“Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

“The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement.”

In addition to the President’s statement, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) released a statement that seemed to support the president’s decision.

“I know this was a difficult decision for all concerned. I appreciate Director Comey’s service to our nation in a variety of roles.”

“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests.”

 

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comey

On Wednesday, James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, sent a letter to friends and agents after President Trump fired him the previous day.

“I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all,” he wrote, according to CNN. “I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed.”

He continued: “I hope you won’t either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.”

Comey further told his colleagues that they should continue with their “mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.”

He went on to describe the FBI as a “rock” for Americans.

“It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing. What makes leaving the FBI hard is the nature and quality of its people, who together make it that rock for America,” he said.

On Tuesday, the White House announced that on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, President Trump had fired Comey.

Defending his decision to fire Comey, President Trump, earlier on Wednesday, argued that the former FBI Director “was not doing a good job.”

According to various reports surfacing on Wednesday, Comey had asked for more money and personnel for his agency’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Reportedly, Comey made the request for extra resources and personnel during last week’s meeting with Rosenstein, who eventually wrote to the Justice Department, justifying his ouster.

Sarah Isgur Flores, FBI’s top spokeswoman, clarified that any reports regarding Comey’s request for more resources and funds are “totally false.”

President Trump’s decision to dismiss Comey stunned Washington and the country as a whole, with many raising the issue of the timing of the dismissal.

In March, Comey announced that the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections included possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign team.

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Mohammed Ali Mosque

As a Nation of Islam heavyweight, boxing legend Muhammad Ali referred to Caucasians as “white devils” and “crackers” and told mosque worshipers that “black women have the best sons and daughters in the world,” according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records obtained by Judicial Watch. Known as Cassius Clay before converting to Islam, Ali also said “programs of integration are useless,” that blacks want separation not integration and that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a “swindle.” The three-time heavyweight champion also told Muslims during a mosque delivery that “the so-called Negro is the original man and is superior to the white devil” and that he’d rather be with his own people than “blue-eyed devil white people.”

The FBI files present a picture of the late heavyweight champion that is clearly at odds with much of the image portrayed at the time of his death last year. His deep involvement with the Nation of Islam and its racially divisive rhetoric and behavior is part of a record that deserves to be revealed and contradicts Ali’s image as a civil rights icon. The hundreds of pages of documents are related to the FBI’s investigation of Ali for evading the draft and the government’s monitoring of the Nation of Islam, which is described by the agency as an “all-Negro, quasi-religious organization which espouses a line of violent hatred of the white race, Government, law and law enforcement.” The federal surveillance files show that Ali told a Washington D.C. mosque crowd that he preferred “dying outright” or going to jail than going into the Army and at a Cleveland mosque the boxer said the American flag “represented death and destruction” but the “Muslim flag” represents “life and prosperity, justice for all black men.”

The records reveal the great threat the FBI perceived the Nation of Islam to be in the 1960s and that Ali was closely monitored by the agency as a “security matter” due to his associations with Nation of Islam leaders Elijah Mohammad and Malcom X. The Nation of Islam followed Mohammad’s interpretation of the “Koran,” the FBI records say, which taught that white people are “white devils” to be destroyed in a coming “War of Armageddon.”

In April 1964, Ali’s plans to travel to Muslim countries alarmed the FBI and the agency searched his passport files and recorded that while in Accra, Ghana, Ali said he planned to bring four wives back to the US. Ali’s ex-wife, Sonji Roi, informed the FBI that the Nation of Islam received 80% of the boxer’s earnings while he only got 20%. The records also state that Ali was arrested for assault and battery in July 1960 at his parents’ home in Louisville, Kentucky and that his mother witnessed the crime.

Judicial Watch had to sue the government to get the records, which are decades old but come to light as Ali’s family ironically uses his name and legacy to launch a national campaign to end racial and religious profiling. Just weeks ago, Ali’s second wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, and son, Muhammad Ali Jr, announced that they’re launching an anti-discrimination initiative called “Step into the Ring.” The inspiration came from getting detained and questioned at a south Florida airport where mother and son claim they were racially and religiously profiled.

The Alis were returning from a Jamaican Black History month event in February and assert that federal immigration officers harassed them. As part of their “Step into the Ring” campaign they traveled to Capitol Hill in March to make a plea to end racial and religious profiling. During congressional testimony Camacho-Ali said this: “Somebody needs to turn this ‘humanity’ switch on because we’re not going to go back to Robert E. Lee,” referring to the Civil War Confederate Army commander. “We must step into the ring and fight this thing and keep fighting it until it’s done because it will be done,” she continued.

When Muhammad Ali died in Phoenix, Arizona last June hordes of media outlets published obituaries rehashing his spectacular boxing career and accomplishments as a civil rights idol. One mainstream news outlet called Ali a “civil rights champion” and “an emblem of strength, eloquence, conscience and courage.” Another wrote that, along with a fearsome reputation as a fighter, Ali spoke out against racism, war and religious intolerance. Then President Barack Obama issued a statement saying that Ali fought for everyone. “He stood with King and Mandela,” Obama said, adding that the boxer “stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t.

His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today,” the former president said in a White House statement that was published worldwide. Ali’s FBI files certainly paint a vastly different portrait of the boxer.

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Corruption Case

Defense attorneys say that the FBI’s use of a staff member to then-Rep Aaron Schock (R-Ill), as an informant could make the prosecution’s case against him much more complicated than previously thought.

In new court filings, lawyers argue that the staffer working at Aaron Schock’s office secretly provided investigators with a trove of credit card receipts, emails, and several other documents that violated the former congressman’s constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizures. The former congressman was indicted with 24 counts last year, and his trial is set to begin this summer.

Lawyers called the use of the informant, in the latest court filings, troubling, and said that it puts a question mark on provisions that mandate a separation between various government branches.

“It threatens the core architecture of our system of government. It’s not something that people should gloss over here,” said Steve Ross, the co-leader of the congressional investigations practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Details about how investigation officials gathered information against Schock were made public for the first time after the court filing from Schock’s attorneys last week. In the filing, they asked for more information about how authorities engaged the informant who recorded private conversations and took documents from the lawmaker’s office in Peoria, Illinois.

The informant is reported to have taken several documents from the office, including travel receipts, office purchases invoices, and credit card statements of Schock’s personal American Express account. He also gave content from another staffer’s email account, to the FBI.

“Let’s address the overall feel of it, this kind of thing is very unusual — it’s very unusual to use someone on congressional staff to act in an undercover capacity at all, much less to have them pilfering documents,” Solomon L. Wisenberg, the co-chair of the white collar practice at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough.

The audio recordings from the informant, acquired by the defense attorneys through the court discovery process, reportedly contain conversations between Schock’s staff and the attorney representing them, in addition to attempts made to “deliberately elicit attorney-client privileged information.”

The informant, who worked in Schock’s district office, but is not named in the court documents, had been subpoenaed in the government investigation. According to the court filing, he was the first person to be interviewed by the investigators.

However, prosecutors have said that they don’t intend on using some information obtained from the information, in the trial.

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