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Jonathan Turley

'It Sure Looked Unethical': Brazile Discloses Deal That Gave Hillary Clinton Control Over DNC Before Primary

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The DNC and Clinton emails released by Wikileaks ultimately exposed a pattern of false statements by Democratic leaders particularly Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schultz insisted that they were completely neutral in the primary despite every indication to the contrary. It was later revealed that Donna Brazile, who replaced Schultz, had first leaked questions for the debate with Sanders to Clinton and then lied about the incriminating emails later to the media (she suggested that they were fake). 

Now Brazile is making a comeback and has been put back into a position of power at the DNC and ironically on the Rules Committee. She is also shopping a book. In the book, Brazile confirms that Hillary Clinton essentially bought the DNC by assuming responsibility for its crippling debt in exchange for control over the organization before the primary. In other words, as shown by the earlier emails and now by Brazile’s own account, the primary was indeed rigged against Bernie Sanders and anyone running against Clinton.

Brazile says that she discovered an August 2015 agreement between the national committee and Clinton’s campaign that gave Clinton “control (of) the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised.” She in return agreed to take care of the massive debt leftover from President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. Even Brazile (who was fired from CNN for unethical conduct) said that the deal was legal “but it sure looked unethical.” She further states that the deal gave one campaign (Clinton) “control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead.” She now agrees that the Clinton deal “compromised the party’s integrity.”

What is obvious from this latest disclosure is the utter mismanagement of the DNC during the Obama Administration as well as misleading statements from a host of Democratic figures . That failure played into the hands of the Clintons who proceeded to take over control over the DNC to guarantee that no one but Hillary would be nominated. It was not just a dubious arrangement from an ethical standpoint but ultimately rigged the primary for what many view as the worst possible candidate for that election. From the earliest polling, it was widely understood that the election would an anti-establishment election.
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Britain Moves To Criminalize Reading Extremist Material On The Internet

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For years, civil libertarians have warned that Great Britain has been in a free fall from the criminalization of speech to the expansion of the surveillance state. Now the government is pursuing a law that would make the repeated viewing of extremist Internet sites a crime punishable to up to 15 years in prison.  It appears that the government is not satiated by their ever-expanding criminalization of speech.They now want to criminalize even viewing sites on the Internet.  As always, officials are basically telling the public to “trust us, we’re the government.” UK home secretary Amber Rudd is pushing the criminalization of reading as part of her anti-radicalization campaign . . . which turns out to be an anti-civil liberties campaign.


We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Even the Home Secretary has been accused of hate speech for criticizing immigrant workers.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously called for greater government control of the Internet. Now, the government not only would make reading material on the Internet a crime, but would not necessarily tell you what sites will be deemed the ultimate click bait.  Rudd told a Conservative Party conference that she wants to crackdown on people “who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions.” So sites deemed “far-right propaganda” (but not far-left propaganda) could lead to your arrest — leaving the government with a sweeping and ambiguous mandate.
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Trump Calls On Police To Be Rougher In Handling Suspects In Speech Denounced By Police Organizations

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Controversial statements by President Donald Trump in the past have often been treated by his supporters as hyperbole or not to be taken strictly or even seriously. However, a speech last Friday had some particularly chilling elements for anyone who believes in the rule of the law. Trump was speaking to law enforcement officers and urged them not to be “too nice” to suspected criminals and gang members.

He further seemed to encourage intentional acts of harm and abuse in the handling of prisoners. The comments were irresponsible and should be be corrected by the White House. We 
recently discussed Trump’s praise for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has bragged about extrajudicial killings and encouraged police abuse.  This is obviously not that extreme but it is still highly disturbing in a speech where the President has pledged that “We have your backs 100 percent” while encouraging them to be rough in handling of suspects. His comments have led to police organizations publicly rejecting the comments and assuring the public that they will not engage in such conduct.

In his speech in Brentwood, New York, Trump departed from his prepared comments to encourage police to be tougher in handling suspects:
'When you see these towns, and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough,' he said, referring to the arrest of alleged gang members. 'I said, please don’t be too nice.'

'When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over,' [mimicking an officer protecting the head of a suspect] Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody? Don’t hit their head? 'I said, you can take the hand away, OK?'
He went on to praise his  acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan  as “a tough guy”  and his agents as “Rough guys. They’re rough.”
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Supreme Court Rules Overwhelmingly To Strike Down 'Disparagement Clause' Used To Bar Offensive Trademarks

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The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major victory for free speech on Monday in striking down a provision of the Lanham Act that barred registration for “disparaging” trademarks.  The decision came in Matal v. Tam, a case that we have been following. I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name. As predicted, the ruling answered  the question raised in the prior column in controversies like the denying of trademark protection to the Washington Redskins.  The decision is good news for Washington’s NFL team, which lost its trademark because its name is disparaging to Native Americans.

Tam is the “front man” for the Asian-American rock band The Slants and, in 2010, filed an application seeking to register the mark THE SLANTS.  Tam’s group called itself the Slants because it wanted to “reclaim” and “take ownership” of stereotypes about Asians.

The Lanham Act provision, known as the “disparagement clause,” bans the registration of a trademark that may disparage “persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”  I have been highly critical of the provision for years in both columns and testimony before Congress.  Now it is gone but I remain perplexed how Congress failed to act on the matter to protect free speech for so many years.  One obvious reason is that many legislators lined up praising the denial of trademarks as entirely proper.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi celebrated the denial of the trademark, which clearly contravened free speech protections.  Sen. Harry Reid not only praised the action but predicted that the Redskins name would be gone within three years. That was in 2014.  Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell said, “We’re so excited to know that finally people are recognizing that this issue can no longer be a business case for the NFL to use this patent.”
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Berkeley Cancels Coulter Speech . . . Coulter Vows To Defy University

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We have been discussing the erosion of free speech on our campuses across the country through speech codes and increasingly violent protests. Conservative speakers are now routined denied the opportunity to speak on campuses by university officials who cite security concerns or by mob action preventing events from occurring.  The latest example  is Ann Coulter whose speech was cancelled at the last minute by the university even though she agreed to additional conditions set by officials.  Coulter however pledges to show up to speak regardless of the decision.  That could produce a confrontation with the university in its continued failure to protect free speech on its campus.

We have been discussing the rising intolerance and violence on college campuses, particularly against conservative speakers. (Here and here and here and here). Berkeley has been the focus of much concern over mob rule on our campuses as violent protesters have succeeded in silencing speakers.  Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech.  At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.

Coulter has a legitimate grievance with Berkeley and, even if they disagree with her conservative views, both professors and students should be defending her right to speak and the right of others to hear her.  A college Republican group invited Coulter to speak but university officials declared that her appearance on campus was too dangerous in light of past protests.  That is yielding to the heckler’s veto.  The university is rewarding the mob by barring any speakers with whom they may disagree.
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Protesters Succeed In Preventing Conservative Speakers From Appearing At The University of California At Davis

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We have been discussing the largely successful efforts by students and faculty to prevent certain conservative speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos from being able to speak on campuses. The latest such example is University of California at Davis where protesters succeeded in preventing fellow students and faculty from hearing Yiannopoulos. There is one promising element to the story however. Unlike school administrators who have either supported or yielded to the “heckler’s veto,” Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter denounced the effort to not only silence an opposing voice but to deny the right of others to hear that voice on campus. While the school professes “let there be light” on its seal, the school is now cloaked in a forced silence after the ignoble victory of protesters in curtailing the exercise of free speech.

Protesters blocked efforts to have Yiannopoulos and controversial pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli speak on campus. Screaming “shut it down,” the protesters threatened the safety of organizers and attendees, according to the sponsors who finally cancelled the event.

I have been a critic of the erosion of free speech values on our college and university campusesAs discussed recently, Yiannopoulous has been the target of some of the most aggressive efforts to silence certain speakers and prevent other students from hearing opposing views.
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Washington Post Issues Correction To 'Fake News' Story

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The Washington Post has been under fire for its publication of an article entitling “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.” The article by Craig Timberg relied on a controversial website called PropOrNot, which published what is little more than a black list of website that the authors deemed purveyors of fake news including some of the largest sites on the Internet like Drudge Report. However, the previously unknown group was itself criticized for listing “allies” that proved false. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton ramped up the call for action against “fake news” which she described as an epidemic. Now the Washington Post has published a rather cryptic correction to the fake news story. The controversy is the subject of my latest column in USA Today.

The organization listed a variety of news sites as illegitimate. It included some of the most popular political sites from the left and right Truthout, Zero Hedge, Antiwar.com, and the Ron Paul Institute. It even includes one of the most read sites on the Internet, the Drudge Report. Notably, it also included WikiLeaks, which has been credited with exposing political corruption and unlawful surveillance programs.

The Washington Post is the largest newspaper to buy the clearly biased list as the work of objective “experts” — ignoring that the site relies on anonymity of those contributors. When the Post ran the story, some were eager to push the story as a reason why they lost the election. The former White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted, “Why isn’t this the biggest story in the world right now?” The reason is that it was facially absurd.
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Comey Sends Letter To Congress Citing New Evidence (and An Investigation) In The Clinton Email Scandal

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There is a major news development with the release of a letter from FBI Director James B. Comey that the Bureau has decided that new evidence requires further investigation into the Clinton emails. It was a surprising change just days before the election. After all, as recently as September 27, 2016, Comey rejected the idea that the bureau would reopen its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Comey wrote in a letter to top members of Congress that the bureau has “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

I have been critical recently of the handling of the FBI investigation, particularly in the granting of immunity to key potential targets. I recently wrote a column on FBI investigation into the Clinton email scandal and revised my view as to the handling of the investigation in light of the five immunity deals handed out by the Justice Department.  I had previously noted that FBI Director James Comey was within accepted lines of prosecutorial discretion in declining criminal charges, even though I believed that such charges could have been brought. However, the news of the immunity deals (and particularly the deal given top ranking Clinton aide Cheryl Mills) was baffling and those deals seriously undermined the ability to bring criminal charges in my view.

Wikileaks disclosures have only embarrassed the Bureau further in showing Clinton aides debating how to explain the deletions and how to delay turning over material. Comey now has told legislators that “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”
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CNN: It Is Illegal For Voters To Possess Wikileaks Material

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There was an interesting segment on CNN last week where CNN anchor Chris Cuomo reminds viewers for it is illegal for them to “possess” Wikileaks material and that, as a result, they will have to rely on the media to tell them what is in these documents. The legal assertion is dubious, but the political implications are even more concerning. Polls show that many voters view the media as biased and this is a particularly strong view among supporters of Donald Trump who view CNN and other networks openly supporting Clinton or attacking Trump.

More importantly, the mainstream media has reported relatively little from the Wikileaks material and has not delved deeply into their implications, including embarrassing emails showing reporters coordinating with the Clinton campaign and supposedly “neutral” media figures like Donna Brazile, formerly with CNN, allegedly slipping advance question material to Hillary Clinton. The credibility of the media is at an all-time low and most voters hardly feel comfortable with this material being reported second-hand or interpreted by the mainstream media. So is it really illegal for voters to have this material?

Cuomo was about to discuss embarrassing emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s inbox but he stopped to remind viewers “remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents,” Cuomo says. “It’s different for the media, so everything you’re learning about this, you’re learning from us.”
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Newly Released FBI Records Raise Questions of Intentional Destruction of Evidence By Clinton Contractor

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One of the most troubling aspects of the recently released documents from the FBI is a timeline established for when Clinton staffers used BleachBit to try to eradicate emails and prevent them from ever being recovered. It appears that staff may have deleted the email archive after the staff received a subpoena to preserve all such evidence. The staffer working for Platte River Networks (PRN) in Denver, Colorado reportedly had what was described as an “Oh Sh*t” moment when they realized that the archive could be used to uncover what the Clinton staff deleted.

PRN was a contractor working directly with the Clinton staff in the handling of the email material and has been the subject of long controversy over its lack of security to handle the classified information that was found on the emails.

The date line is troubling. In February, 2013, Clinton resigned as Secretary of State after making the decision to use the personal server for all of her email communications. Throughout 2014, Clinton staff order PRN to make a series of transfers and to wipe clean computers with emails.
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