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Congressional Oversight 2020 - election edition




Assistant United States Attorney Aaron S. J. Zelinsky House Judiciary Committee
June 24, 2020

Read: Testimony of John W. Elias

U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary
June 24, 2020


Ahead of the Congressional hearing before Congress, Ex-Prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky publicizes his position that he felt that the sentencing for Roger Stone was to be altered because of pressure from DOJ and ultimately the WH.

Senior law enforcement officials intervened to seek a more lenient prison sentence for President Trump’s friend and ally Roger J. Stone Jr. for political reasons, a former prosecutor on the case is expected to testify before Congress on Wednesday, citing his immediate supervisors’s account of the matter.

What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president,” said the prosecutor, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, in a written opening statement submitted on Tuesday to the House Judiciary Committee ahead of Wednesday’s hearing. A copy was obtained by The New York Times.

Mr. Zelinksy will say that a supervisor working on the case told him there were “political reasons” to shorten prosecutors’ initial sentencing guidelines and that the supervisor agreed that doing so “was unethical and wrong.” Mr. Zelinksy said he and his fellow prosecutors raised concerns in writing and in conversation, but his “objections were not heeded.”

Mr. Zelinsky did not say in his written statement whom he was referring to. Attorney General William P. Barr directed the intervention days after he maneuvered the Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie K. Liu, out of her role and installed in her place as acting U.S. attorney a close aide from his own office, Timothy Shea.

Mr. Zelinsky plans to say that he was told that Mr. Shea “was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break” and complied because he was “afraid of the president.” Mr. Zelinsky is expected to testify that he and other line prosecutors were told the case was “not the hill worth dying on” and that they could lose their jobs if they did not fall in line.

A Justice Department spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

Mr. Zelinsky and three fellow prosecutors ultimately withdrew from the case in protest, after department officials overrode their recommendation that Mr. Stone receive seven to nine years in prison, in line with standard guidelines. The officials submitted a new, more lenient recommendation to the judge meting out Mr. Stone’s punishment.

Mr. Zelinsky, a prosecutor in Baltimore, had been detailed to Washington to continue work on the Stone case that was begun while he worked for Mr. Mueller. While Mr. Zelinksy worked on the case while he was assigned to the Washington office, he never met with Mr. Shea or discussed the case with him, according to two people familiar with internal conversations about the Stone case.

Mr. Stone was convicted of seven felonies committee in an effort to impede a congressional inquiry that threatened Mr. Trump. He was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison and is due to report at the end of this month, although he has said he is seeking a delay because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

(David Bythewood) #23

Warren and Booker Press Meatpackers on Exports to China

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker questioned how companies could warn of pandemic shortages while exporting record amounts of pork to China.


Watch: House Judiciary Hearing on Justice Department Oversight

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Justice Department Oversight.


Rep Nadler Chair of House Judiciary - is going straight for AG Barr.:boom:



  1. Joyce Alene -Ex Prosecutor MSNBC


Republicans are trying to prevent AUSA Aaron Zelinsky from testifying as a whistleblower on DOJ, belligerently claiming he shouldn’t be permitted to appear remotely. During a pandemic. That’s how committed they are to withholding the truth from us.

  1. Kyle Griffin - NBC


Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer: “William Barr poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law and to public trust in it. That is because he does not believe in its core principle — that no person is above the law.”

  1. Nadler Chair of Judiciary on Barr

@MarshallCohen - CNN

Nadler on Barr: “He is the President’s fixer.”

  1. Emptywheel - Marcy Wheeler discussing testimony from Rep Chabot R


Chabot falsely says that Steele dossier led to Mueller investigation. This will get repeated, so I will count it.
Chabot: 13 Democrats. Doesn’t sound unbiased.
Z: Disagree premise of question.

Chabot: Where was outrage when Obama-Biden investigated journalists or retaliated against whistleblowers.

[Apparently Chabot hasn’t heard about Biden, Vindman, or several IGs.]

Chabot: As a group have given $3000 to Republicans, $62K to Democrats.

Chabot: Mukasey, is DOJ under Barr politicized.

Mukasey: I do not.


Ok…Game on. Barr to testify - July 28th

AP Reporter



(David Bythewood) #30

Louie Gohmert has been ejected from the hearing for being a jerk.


I gotta say, Ayer really should have kept to his allotted time, I know he’s got a lot of important information to say but that kind of thing just fuels the bad behavior of those fuckin toddlers-in-suits.

Was Gohmert actually removed? I couldn’t tell if he got kicked out, b/c next thing I knew he was spewing some random f*ing nonsense during his question time.

(David Bythewood) #32

It was reported he was, and I saw one of the videos where they actually called for the Sergeant of Arms to evict him, but I haven’t seen if he was.


Watch: Highlights from today’s hearing on the Justice Department in the House Judiciary Committee in 20 minutes or less

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Aaron Zelinsky, who served as a prosecutor in the Roger Stone case :boom::boom:


DOJ Official John Elias Opening Statement


Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer Opening Statement :boom:

(10:47mins) a must watch

:popcorn:[In Bad Faith], Rep. Gohmert “Gavels” Down Witness



He really takes the cake…:birthday:

Mr. ‘Create-a-ruckus’ and then in his own time, did not question prosecutors, just impugned Mr. Ayers’ reputation ‘You really have a chip on your shoulder mister?, from my reading in this book’ And then let us know he was celebrating his 42nd wedding anniversary.

What a guy…:roll_eyes:


Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi writes to John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence and Gina Haspel, Director Central Intelligence Agency with regards to the reports that Russia has been offering bounties on US and ally troops.

June 29, 2020

As you know, since the origin of the intelligence community, one of its primary purposes has always been force protection. A key priority of our intelligence community in Afghanistan is protecting our forces. And to that end, the community has apparently come upon very disturbing intelligence.
On Friday, press reports alleged that, according to American intelligence officials, Russian military intelligence secretly offered Taliban-connected militants bounties for killing American and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Press reports also state that the White House National Security Council and other key Administration officials were aware of this intelligence in late March and that the President was briefed. However, although an interagency meeting was reportedly held to discuss potential responses including formal diplomatic complaints and sanctions, no action has been taken for three months. The President now denies being briefed, but the Administration has not denied the existence of the intelligence.

The questions that arise are: was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed.

Congress and the country need answers now. I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately. Congress needs to know what the intelligence community knows about this significant threat to American troops and our allies and what options are available to hold Russia accountable.

The Administration’s disturbing silence and inaction endanger the lives of our troops and our coalition partners. The President’s refusal to stand up to the Russians also jeopardizes lives in the region, as the Afghan government and the United States are engaged in critical peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent priority for America’s national security. Sincerely,


Here’s a proposed resolution brought by members of the House Judiciary Committee to speed up the subpoena process. It would put limits on how much time can elapse until it gets resolved, and they are imposing a fine.

The resolution

Lieu’s resolution — which is backed by Reps. Val Demings, Jamie Raskin, Joe Neguse, David Cicilline and Madeleine Dean, all of the Judiciary Committee — would change House rules to create a stiffer mechanism of accountability for flouting oversight.

Under it, any House committee that wanted to bring proceedings against an official for defying subpoenas could refer a resolution of contempt to the full House. If approved, the House can authorize its counsel to go to court to sue and ask it to freeze the offender’s assets.

This process would give the official 20 days to comply with the subpoena, after which the House counsel would ask the court to levy a fine of up to $25,000, to be increased as high as $100,000 over time.

The process would also provide for the House to negotiate with the administration over their reasons for noncompliance (the administration can also contest the fine in court), and to reach an accommodation if possible.

In effect, this attempts to modernize Congress’s power to employ civil enforcement of subpoenas, which it does have (see this Congressional Research Service report), and tries to create a rigorous process for it.

“This is a power Congress has repeatedly used in the past, and the courts have upheld,” Lieu told me.

Right now, courts can ultimately force compliance with subpoenas, but it takes forever. Note that we’re still waiting on congressional efforts to hear from former White House counsel Don McGahn. Fines are designed to force much faster compliance.

The administration has made defying congressional subpoenas a fixture," Raskin told me. "The constitutional order cannot sustain this kind of lawlessness.”


Republicans only debrief on the Afghanistan issue. Why not Pelosi.


The White House briefed several House Republicans on intelligence that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants who targeted U.S. troops for assassination, according to Trump administration officials and congressional sources.

Seven House Republicans attended the briefing, including Reps. Mac Thornberry and Michael McCaul, ranking members on the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs panels, respectively. A mix of other Republicans from those committees — Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — also attended. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who doesn’t sit on either panel but leads the House Freedom Caucus, was also present.

Noticeably absent from the briefing, which are traditionally bipartisan affairs, were any Democrats, despite controlling both House panels. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Sunday to try to schedule a briefing for Democrats but its unclear why that has yet to happen or if it will.

The White House’s decision comes despite demands from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for briefings for all members of Congress, pointing to those news reports and conflicting statements by President Donald Trump on the matter.

“It’s hard to say the Trump Administration isn’t politicizing the military when only members of their party get invited to the briefing,” tweeted Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

It’s unclear if any lawmakers had previously been briefed on intelligence related to the Russian bounties. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) declined to comment on the recent reports but said, “the targeting of our troops by foreign adversaries via proxies is a well established threat.”

The New York Times reported over the weekend on the intelligence assessment, which indicated that senior White House and intelligence officials knew about the bounty allegations since at least March but took no action. The Times reported that Trump was briefed on the matter and that it was included in his Presidential Daily Brief, but Trump denied ever learning of the intelligence and late Sunday said his leaders in the intelligence community told him it wasn’t credible.

"The questions that arise are: was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed. Congress and the country need answers now," Pelosi wrote in her letter to Director of National Intelligence …



“I want to understand how it’s conceivably possible that the president didn’t know. How does that possibly happen?” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said. “Number two, what is their plan to make sure that our enemies know that if you target American servicemen and women, the consequences are going to be draconian? And right now, I want to hear their plan for Taliban and GRU agents in body bags.” GRU refers to Russia’s military intelligence agency.

Senators have already proposed harsh repercussions, including imposing new sanctions and designating Moscow as a state sponsor of terrorism — a step the Trump administration has thus far refused to take.

But some lawmakers are urging restraint, after White House officials briefed House Republicans earlier Monday and explained that there was an ongoing review of the bounty claims even before they were revealed in media reports. Senators said they would be reviewing documents related to the matter in a secure facility this week.

Uhh huh :thinking:


Rep Steve Cohen (D-TN) is requesting that the House Judiciary look into impeaching Barr. Where it goes from here, who knows?


Gang of 8: Pelosi, McCarthy, Schumer, McConnell, Schiff, Rubio, Nunes and Warner.