November 12, 2021
DC Police Release Audio, Video, Photos in Ashli Babbitt Killing
Piece by piece we’re putting together a clearer picture of the unnecessary shooting death of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building. Our suspicion about the tragic affair is heightened by the government’s recalcitrance in releasing the information it has.
This week we received multiple audio, visual and photo records from the DC Metropolitan Police Department about death at the hands of a Capitol Police officer. The records include a cell phone video of the shooting and an audio of a brief police interview of the shooter, Lt. Michael Byrd.
We obtained the material through a May 2021 FOIA lawsuit filed after DC officials failed to respond to two April, 2021 FOIA requests to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for records related to Babbitt’s death (Judicial Watch v. The District of Columbia (No. 2021 CA 001710 B)).
Babbitt was shot and killed as she climbed through a broken interior window in the United States Capitol. She was unarmed, and a 14-year Air Force veteran. The identity of the shooter was kept secret by Congress as well as federal and local authorities for eight months until U.S. Capitol Police officer Michael Byrd went public to try to defend his killing of Babbitt.
The new records include a new cell phone video, edited by the DC police, that depicts police reacting to the shooting.
Also included among the records is an audio recording of an interview of Lt. Michael Byrd by the DC Metropolitan Police on January 6, 2021. The voices in Byrd’s and other witness interview audio recordings are all digitally altered to try to hide identities.
The documents also include photos of the area where Babbitt was killed and DC police photographs of Lt. Byrd, his hands, and his gun. The photos also include pictures of a folding knife reportedly found in Babbitt’s pocket.
Other audio interviews of witnesses provide first-hand accounts of the shooting.
Last month, also as a result of this lawsuit, we released records from the DC Police about the shooting death of Babbitt, showing that multiple officers claimed they didn’t see a weapon in Babbitt’s hand before Byrd shot her, and Byrd was visibly distraught afterward. One officer attested that he didn’t hear any verbal commands before Byrd shot Babbitt. The new records include audio recordings of these witness interviews. The records also include internal communications about Byrd’s case and a crime scene examination report.
These recordings and photos provide dramatic, first-hand evidence that the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt was unjustified. It is disturbing that neither the Pelosi Congress not the Biden/Garland DOJ took no action over this needless death.
We also filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ for records related to Babbitt’s death. We have several lawsuits about the January 6 issue, and just last week we released records detailing how federal law enforcement knew a large crowd would be present at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Durham Exposes Clinton Connections Behind ‘Steele Dossier’ Smear
The Russia collusion myth cooked up by the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 and enthusiastically picked up and maliciously used by the DOJ, FBI and State Department was perhaps the largest political scandal ever in our history. We have never stopped our efforts to expose it, and now Special Counsel John Durham is lending a hand in getting to the truth. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, has the new details in our Investigative Bulletin.
Special Counsel John Durham continues his steady march to the truth about the Russia mess—the sensational allegations of Trump “collusion” with Russia that disrupted and nearly derailed the Trump presidency. Last month, we reported on the Durham indictment of Clinton campaign adviser Michael Sussman for lying to the FBI about attempts to link Trump to a Kremlin-connected bank. Last week, Durham struck again, exposing the Clinton connections behind the notorious Steele Dossier—the compendium of anonymous smears, supposedly from Russian sources, that electrified the media and the liberal-left mob.
The new indictment is an important step, but critical questions remain about the involvement of senior Obama administration officials and government agencies—mainly the Justice Department and the FBI—in the years-long attack on Trump.
On Thursday, Durham indicted Russian affairs analyst Igor Danchenko on five counts of lying to the FBI about sources he used in compiling information for the Steele Dossier. Danchenko was a key source for Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent hired by Clinton allies to dig up dirt on Trump. Danchenko, the indictment notes, collected “the information that ultimately formed the core of the allegations” in the Steele Dossier.
One key source for Danchenko “was a long-time participant in Democratic Party politics” and “later an executive at a U.S. public relations firm,” identified in the charging document as “PR Executive 1.” The Associated Press later confirmed that “PR Executive 1” is Chuck Dolan, a former director of the Democratic Governors Association and an adviser to Hillary Clinton in both of her presidential campaigns.
Danchenko and Dolan were in business together, but the Russia analyst repeatedly lied to the FBI when asked about Dolan, claiming at one point that Dolan would not “be in any way involved” with the Steele Dossier allegations. The lies were important, the indictment says, because Dolan’s “role as a contributor of information to [the Steele Dossier reports] was highly relevant and material to the FBI’s evaluation of those reports” not least because Dolan “maintained historical and ongoing involvement in Democratic politics.”
The indictment suggests that Dolan may have been the figure behind the notorious Steele Dossier claim that Trump consorted with prostitutes at the Moscow Hotel and urinated on a bed in the Presidential Suite where the Obamas once stayed. Dolan, the indictment says, stayed at the Moscow Hotel in June 2016, receiving a tour of the hotel, including the Presidential Suite, from the general manager and others. The indictment notes that “references to the Moscow Hotel, the Presidential Suite, and a Moscow Hotel manager” would appear in the Steele Dossier. Danchenko would later claim that he stayed at the Moscow Hotel in June 2016 and cite in the Steele Dossier “a senior (western) manager of the staff at the hotel” as one of the sources for the Trump allegation. But Danchenko did not in fact stay at the Moscow Hotel in June 2016, the indictment notes.
In another important development, the indictment reveals that the Russia analyst repeatedly lied about an anonymous call from someone he believed to be the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. The person, the Steele Dossier reported, spoke of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russian figures. This is a serious charge. The indictment notes that the claim of a “conspiracy of cooperation” in the Steele Report “would ultimately underpin” four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants targeting a Trump campaign adviser. Durham does not name the figure, but news reports identify him as Trump adviser Carter Page.
The allegations about the call from the Chamber of Commerce president, the indictment notes, “were highly material to the FBI” because they “formed the basis of a [Steele Dossier] report that, in turn, underpinned the aforementioned four FISA applications targeting a U.S. citizen…the allegations…played a key role in the FBI’s investigative decisions and in sworn representations that the FBI made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court throughout the relevant time period.”
Close followers of the Russia scandal will recognize that Durham is teeing up a question of enormous consequence: why was the FBI relying on Christopher Steele for critical investigative and legal decisions? Any competent investigator would immediately have recognized Steele as damaged goods.
By October 2016—the month of the first FISA warrant application—warnings were circulating inside government circles about Steele’s reliability and bias. Months earlier, in summer 2016, according to reporting by John Solomon, a senior Justice Department official warned other officials at Justice and the FBI that Steele’s “work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” Judicial Watch obtained FBI documents under the Freedom of Information Act revealing that in July 2016, then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr admitted in an FBI interview that information on “Trump’s ties to Russia were going to the Clinton campaign, Jon Winer at the U.S. State Department and the FBI.”
The documents revealed that Ohr was involved in efforts at the Justice Department, FBI, and State Department to dig up dirt on Trump. “The FISA courts weren’t informed of this corrupted process when they were asked to approve and reapprove extraordinary spy warrants targeting President Trump,” noted Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. Ohr was removed from his post in December 2017.
Steele himself was no stranger to the FBI. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted that Steele was a confidential source for the FBI on matters unrelated to American politics from 2013 to 2016 and was paid about $95,000 for his services. In 2010, Steele reportedly began providing information to the FBI about corruption and doping at the World Cup soccer tournament. In 2015, according to a timeline compiled by a Senate Homeland Security Committee investigation, an FBI report raised questions about Steele’s contacts with Russian oligarchs, calling it “unusual” and recommending a review.
The lies of the Steele Report and Democratic Party disinformation operatives had broad consequences, deceiving the courts and sending the media and Congress and even a special counsel, Robert Mueller, into damaging and often reckless attempts to make something, anything, stick against a president they loathed. How far up the ladder did it go? What roles did senior Obama Administration officials play in the effort? What role did the Justice Department and the FBI play? It’s no exaggeration to say that the last, best bet for getting at the whole truth about the Russia mess now rests with one man: John Durham.
Read the Danchenko indictment here.
U.S. to Spend $200 Million More for Illegal Immigrant Minor Shelters
It seems the Biden Administration is operating the border under an “if you build it, they will come” strategy. Millions of your tax dollars are going to accommodate the tidal wave of people entering this country, as our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.
Months after disbursing more than $65 million for extra shelters to accommodate the never-ending influx of illegal immigrant minors, the Biden administration is quietly allocating hundreds of millions more for additional facilities. The money is flowing through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a well-funded branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) charged with providing care to illegal aliens under the age of 18, classified by the government as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC). HHS funds and oversees around 170 state-licensed care facilities to house the young migrants when they arrive from foreign countries south of the border and it simply is not enough.
As of the end of October there are approximately 10,680 UAC in ORR care, according to the latest government figures. It marks a sharp increase from 4,020 in February. American taxpayers provide the young migrants with an array of services including classroom education, mental and medical health care, legal counsel, and a variety of recreational activities. Uncle Sam also spends millions to furnish many of the illegal aliens with services after they are released from U.S. custody, especially those considered to be “at risk” or display “special needs.” Most UAC in U.S. custody are not children but rather young adults or adolescents. In fact, 72% are 15 to 17 years old and 68% are boys. The majority are from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
Around six months ago the Biden administration gave $65,366,800 to seven groups throughout the country that will supply more housing for UAC. “ORR has been identifying additional permanent capacity to provide shelter for recent increases in apprehensions of Unaccompanied Children (UC) at the Southwest Border,” according to the grant announcement published in the Federal Register. “The addition of permanent capacity is a prudent step to ensure that ORR is able to meet its responsibility, by law, to provide shelter and appropriate services for UC referred to its care by the Department of Homeland Security.” The biggest chunk of money—$27,767,725—went to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), a faith-based nonprofit that works to embrace and empower all migrants and refugees. The second largest allocation—$14,135,642—filled the coffers of a business (Baptiste Group) that was stripped of its license in Tennessee after three employees were charged with sexual battery at one of its government-funded facilities in Chattanooga. The rest was divided between Bethany Christian Service ($7,018,576), Child Crisis ($5,780,118), Catholic Guardian Services ($5,183,433) and Center for Family Services ($1,665,980). An additional $3.8 million flowed to a LIRS branch called Safe Release Expansion that gives illegal immigrant minors services after they are released.
Less than a week ago, the administration posted another grant announcement that discloses the government will spend an additional $200 million to create more housing for the deluge of UAC that appears to have no end in sight. The document reveals that the “estimated total program funding” is an astounding $840 million. HHS writes that the new allotment is for “residential (shelter and/or transitional foster care) services” for UAC. “ORR is publishing this Standing Notice of Funding Opportunity (SNOFO) to seek shelter care providers, including group homes and transitional foster care,” according to the agency. Eligibility is unrestricted to receive a grant and even nonprofits that do not have official 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for-profit organizations as well as small businesses are encouraged to apply for a piece of the pie. Public housing authorities, private institutions of higher education and “others” are also eligible, the latest announcement says.
As if it weren’t bad enough that American taxpayers are getting stuck with the exorbitant tab of caring for the young illegal aliens, many have joined criminal enterprises after getting settled into the country. Back in 2014 Judicial Watch reported that the nation’s most violent street gangs—including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)—actively recruit new members at U.S. shelters housing UAC. The Texas Department of Public Safety subsequently revealed the MS-13 is a top tier gang thanks to the influx of illegal alien gang members that have crossed into the state. A few years ago, Judicial Watch obtained HHS documents that show UAC processed during the Obama administration included violent criminals. Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the files include 1,000 “Significant Incident Reports” showing that UAC were admitted murderers, rapists, prostitutes, drug smugglers, and human traffickers.
Until next week …