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Congressional Oversight 2020 - election edition

House Oversight Committee will investigate Louis DeJoy following claims he pressured employees to make campaign donations

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/louis-dejoy-house-investigation/2020/09/07/d13be1ae-f175-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html

House Democrats are opening an investigation of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and called for his immediate suspension following accusations that he reimbursed employees for campaign contributions they made to his preferred GOP politicians, an arrangement that would be unlawful.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement late Monday that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would begin an inquiry, saying that DeJoy may have lied to the panel under oath.

Maloney also urged the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service to immediately suspend DeJoy, whom “they never should have hired in the first place,” she said.

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Press Releases: House Intelligence Committee Releases Whistleblower Reprisal Complaint Alleging Serious Misconduct By Senior Trump Administration Officials to Politicize, Manipulate and Censor Intelligence to Benefit Trump

Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, announced that, as part of its ongoing investigation into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), the Committee received a whistleblower reprisal complaint alleging serious wrongdoing by officials at the Department and reprisal against former I&A Acting Under Secretary Brian Murphy for making protected disclosures. Mr. Murphy filed the whistleblower reprisal complaint on September 8, 2020 with the DHS Office of Inspector General.

After receiving the complaint, Chairman Schiff sent a letter today requesting that Mr. Murphy appear for a deposition pursuant to a subpoena on Monday, September 21, 2020.

The whistleblower reprisal complaint depicts a sustained and disturbing pattern of misconduct by senior Trump Administration officials within the White House and DHS relating to the activities of DHS’s I&A—an element of the U.S. Intelligence Community which Mr. Murphy led from May until August of this year, before he was reassigned to DHS’s Management Directorate, and where he previously served as Principal Deputy Under Secretary beginning in March 2018. The complaint alleges repeated violations of law and regulations, abuses of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis, and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence the U.S. elections.

After sending the letter with the complaint, Chairman Schiff released the following statement:

“The whistleblower retaliation complaint filed by former Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Brian Murphy outlines grave and disturbing allegations that senior White House and Department of Homeland Security officials improperly sought to politicize, manipulate, and censor intelligence in order to benefit President Trump politically. This puts our nation and its security at grave risk.

“Mr. Murphy’s allegations are serious — from senior officials suppressing intelligence reports on Russia’s election interference and making false statements to Congress about terrorism threats at our southern border, to modifying intelligence assessments to match the President’s rhetoric on Antifa and minimizing the threat posed by white supremacists. We have requested Mr. Murphy’s testimony before the Committee, pursuant to subpoena if necessary, alongside other already scheduled interviews with other DHS officials.

“But this complaint also puts into stark relief how dangerous and harmful it is for American voters that the Trump Administration has decided to end briefings to Congress about foreign interference in our upcoming election. Last month, in a bid to prevent informing the American people and its elected representatives about Russian efforts to help President Trump and hurt Joe Biden, the Trump Administration announced that it would cease briefing Congress in person, and rely on written products alone. But if written products are being altered for political reasons, or worse withheld entirely, how can the American people trust that this Administration will inform voters on how foreign powers are trying to influence them, or where the threats really come from, and protect our national security— particularly when it contradicts the President’s preferred narrative or personal political interests? In short, they can’t, and that’s dangerous.

“We will get to the bottom of this, expose any and all misconduct or corruption to the American people, and put a stop to the politicization of intelligence.”

On August 3, 2020, the Committee launched an investigation into I&A’s expanded intelligence activities, including its actions in Portland and involvement in the Administration’s response to protests nationwide, and requested a series of documents and raw intelligence reports. On August 19, 2020, following a limited production of documents by DHS, the Committee officially requested additional documents, raw intelligence reports and finished products, and requested interviews with senior officials. The Department has produced additional documents to the Committee since these initial steps and begun to schedule interviews with relevant officials, and the Committee expects the Department to continue cooperating with its investigation.

As part of its letter to Mr. Murphy, the Committee released the full complaint here. The text of the letter can be found below:

Mr. Brian Murphy
C/o Mark Zaid, Esq.

Mark S. Zaid, P.C.
1250 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20036

Dear Mr. Zaid:

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (“Committee”) requests the testimony of your client, Mr. Brian Murphy, in response to the whistleblower reprisal complaint filed on his behalf on September 8, 2020 with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”).

The whistleblower reprisal complaint depicts a sustained and disturbing pattern of misconduct by senior Trump Administration officials within the White House and DHS, and regarding the activities of DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (“I&A”)—an element of the U.S. Intelligence Community which Mr. Murphy led from May of this year until August, when he was reassigned to DHS’s Management Directorate, and where he previously served as Principal Deputy Under Secretary beginning in March 2018. The complaint alleges repeated violations of law and regulations, abuses of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis, and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence the U.S. elections.

Such allegations fall squarely within the unique oversight and legislative jurisdiction of the Committee and relate directly to the Committee’s ongoing investigation and oversight of activities undertaken by I&A, including during Mr. Murphy’s tenure. The Committee therefore requests Mr. Murphy’s appearance at 10:00 AM on Monday, September 21, 2020 for a deposition pursuant to subpoena.

The Committee, in particular, seeks Mr. Murphy’s testimony regarding specific events and protected disclosures described in the attached complaint, including:

  • Improper Administration of an Intelligence Program and Abuse of Authority regarding Russian Influence: The complaint states that Mr. Murphy “made several protected disclosures between March 2018 and August 2020 regarding a repeated pattern of abuse of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence and undermine United States interests. The relevant officials at issue were Secretary [Kirstjen] Nielsen and Messrs. [Chad] Wolf, [Kenneth] Cuccinelli, [Miles] Taylor, and Acting Deputy Director for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Kash Patel.”

The complaint asserts that, in mid-May 2020, and while purporting to serve as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Mr. Chad Wolf “instructed Mr. Murphy to cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States, and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran. Mr. Wolf stated that these instructions specifically originated from White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Mr. Murphy informed Mr. Wolf he would not comply with these instructions, as doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger.”

In addition, the complaint states that DHS’s Chief of Staff directed Mr. Murphy on July 7, 2020, to “cease any dissemination of an intelligence notification regarding Russian disinformation efforts until Mr. Murphy had spoken with Mr. Wolf.” Per the complaint, Mr. Wolf told Mr. Murphy the next day, on July 8, 2020, that “the intelligence notification should be ‘held’ because it ‘made the President look bad.’ Mr. Murphy objected, stating that it was

improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons for political embarrassment. In response, Mr. Wolf took steps to exclude Mr. Murphy from relevant future meetings on the subject. The draft product was eventually completed without Mr. Murphy’s involvement and was made public in a leak to the media by unknown individuals. It is Mr. Murphy’s assessment that the analysis in the leaked ‘completed draft’ attempts to place the actions of Russia on par with those of Iran and China in a manner that is misleading and inconsistent with the actual intelligence data.”

According to the complaint, the details of the protected disclosures outlined by Mr. Murphy’s complaint involve classified information pertaining to “improper administration of an intelligence program” and abuse of authority. The complaint states that Mr. Murphy is “more than amenable to making a classified presentation on this information – whether verbally or in writing” – under appropriate circumstances. The Committee will expect Mr. Murphy to testify to this and any other classified matters during the deposition.

  • Improper Administration of an Intelligence Program with respect to the Homeland Threat Assessment: The complaint states that distribution of a Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA) report was “prohibited due to concerns raised by Messrs. Wolf and Cuccinelli regarding how the HTA would reflect upon President Trump. Two sections were specifically labeled as concerns: White Supremacy and Russian influence in the United States.”

The complaint specifically alleges that “Mr. Cuccinelli stated that Mr. Murphy needed to specifically modify the section on White Supremacy in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent ‘left-wing’ groups.”

In early July 2020, according to the complaint, “Mr. Wolf relayed the concerns previously outlined by Mr. Cuccinelli regarding the sections on White Supremacy and Russian influence. Mr. Wolf asked for a copy of the HTA so it could be reviewed by policy officials, and so that information regarding the ongoing unrest in Portland, Oregon, could be added into the HTA. Mr. Wolf asked Mr. Murphy if he would accept his edits. Mr. Murphy responded that he would not concur with any edits that altered the underlying intelligence in the HTA, as any such action would constitute an abuse of authority and improper administration of an intelligence program.” The complaint further alleges that, on September 3, 2020, Mr. Murphy “learned the new draft was provided to Mr. Wolf, who had ordered the HTA to be redesigned with the policy office completing the revisions. It is Mr. Murphy’s assessment that the final version of the HTA will more closely resemble a policy document with references to ANTIFA and ‘anarchist’ groups than an intelligence document as originally formulated by DHS I&A.”

  • Improper Administration of an Intelligence Program regarding ANTIFA: The complaint states that, “[d]uring multiple meetings between the end of May 2020 and July 31, 2020, Mr. Murphy made protected disclosures to Messrs. Wolf and Cuccinelli regarding abuse of authority and improper administration of an intelligence program with respect to intelligence information on ANTIFA and ‘anarchist’ groups operating throughout the United States. On each occasion, Mr. Murphy was instructed by Mr. Wolf and/or Mr. Cuccinelli to modify intelligence assessments to ensure they matched up with the public comments by President Trump on the subject of ANTIFA and ‘anarchist’ groups.”

  • Perjured Testimony and Abuse of Authority: The complaint also details potential violations of federal law, including false statements before Congress, as well as abuses of authority and improper administration of an intelligence program regarding border security and asylum matters. The complaint alleges that then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen provided in congressional testimony on December 20, 2018 and March 6, 2019, inaccurate and highly inflated claims of known or suspected terrorists entering the United States through the southwest border, which the complaint states constituted a “knowing and deliberate submission of false material information.”

The Committee has a longstanding oversight interest in this matter. In early January 2019, as one of the Committee’s first acts during the 116th Congress, the Committee requested any and all intelligence that would corroborate statements by Trump Administration officials about the scale of the purported “terrorist” threat at the southern border, which White House and DHS officials claimed in justifying declaring a national emergency. More than two months later, the Committee received an incomplete response from DHS and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — although the information they did provide, if accurate, contradicted the assertions that such a dire terrorist threat existed.

The complaint also alleges that Mr. Cuccinelli sought to modify in December 2019 I&A intelligence reports regarding conditions in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to “outlin[e] high levels of corruption, violence, and poor economic conditions in the three respective countries,” and that Mr. Cuccinelli “expressed frustration with the intelligence reports, and he accused unknown “deep state intelligence analysts” of compiling the intelligence information to undermine President Donald J. Trump’s (“President Trump”) policy objectives with respect to asylum.”

According to the complaint, “[n]otwithstanding Mr. Murphy’s response that the intelligence reports’ assessments were consistent with past assessments made for several years, Mr. Cuccinelli ordered Messrs. Murphy and [then-Under Secretary for I&A David] Glawe to identify the names of the “deep state” individuals who compiled the intelligence reports and to either fire or reassign them immediately. After the meeting [in December 2019], Mr. Murphy informed Mr. Glawe that Mr. Cuccinelli’s instructions were illegal, as well as constituted an abuse of authority and improper administration of an intelligence program. Mr. Murphy also informed Mr. Glawe he would not comply with the instruction to fire or reassign the alleged “deep state” officials based on nothing more than perceived political differences, and that Mr. Murphy would report the matter to DHS OIG if improper actions were taken to do so.”

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House Homeland Security panel subpoenas acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf

House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on Friday subpoenaed Chad Wolf, citing the DHS acting secretary’s refusal to appear at a hearing next week on global threats.

Driving the news: A DHS official said it would be “inappropriate” for Wolf to appear at the Sept. 17 hearing due to his pending nomination for secretary of homeland security, per a letter to the panel earlier this week. The agency offered acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli to be present instead.

What they’re saying: " Mr. Wolf’s refusal to testify —thereby evading congressional oversight at this critical time — is especially troubling given the serious matters facing the Department and the Nation," Thompson said in a statement.

  • “Nineteen years after the attacks of 9/11, we continue to face grave threats to the homeland. From the coronavirus pandemic to the rise of right-wing extremism to ongoing election interference, there are urgent threats requiring our attention,” he added.
  • “The Committee has not only the authority, but also an obligation to execute its Constitutional oversight responsibilities regarding Mr. Wolf’s decision and the Department’s actions in securing the homeland. As Chairman, I intend to ensure the Committee fulfills that responsibility.”

Worth noting: The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are investigatingDHS based on a former senior officials’ whistleblower complaint who alleges he was instructed to stop giving assessments on threats of Russian interference in the U.S. because it “made the president look bad.”

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Here comes a tweet storm from T as a way to maintain the lie that the Mueller Report had not reason to get initiated, and here’s T laying the groundwork for the Durham Investigation to come out with what we can all guess is some ‘zinger.’ T blasting away…at the ‘witch hunt.’ #Victimization #Retaliation #ElectionHurdles

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Here comes the setting of the scene for a Durham Report which we anticipate shortly to potentially attempt to blow a hole through the Mueller Investigation. Any casting of doubt is what the R’s want to do. Both R’s - Sen Ron Johnson and Sen Grassley are requesting documents.

Senate Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson is asking a Justice Department watchdog to probe recently revealed documents that suggest members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team wiped records from their official phones.

Records released by the Justice Department this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request suggest top Mueller aides erased the information from at least 15 phones, citing forgotten passwords, physical damage and missing hardware.

“These reports are troubling and raise concerns about record retention and transparency,” Johnson wrote in a letter to DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz. “Therefore, I respectfully request that your office open an investigation into this matter to determine what, why, and how information was wiped, whether any wrongdoing occurred, and who these devices belonged to.

Johnson is asking Horowitz to send answers by Sept. 18, as the senator winds down a related investigation of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation — the probe of the 2016 Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians, which morphed into Mueller’s probe in mid-2017. He’s also asking whether Horowitz may be able to retrieve messages from the phones.

Johnson’s request followed a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to the FBI and Justice Department inquiring about the wiped phones and demanding that they produce all records Mueller’s team did turn over, as well as unredacted copies of the FOIA documents.

Horowitz has mounted similar probes into the handling of internal messages by FBI agents involved in the Russia probe and mounted a major effort to retrieve messages deleted from some FBI phones. Horowitz detailed his findings and retrieval methods in a 2018 report.

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Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf subpoenaed for hearing next week after refusing to testify

The House Homeland Security Committee has issued a subpoena to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf for a hearing next week as he faces whistleblower allegations that he urged department officials to alter intelligence.

"From the coronavirus pandemic to the rise of right-wing extremism to ongoing election interference, there are urgent threats requiring our attention," Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said in a statement Friday. "Mr. Wolf’s refusal to testify – thereby evading congressional oversight at this critical time – is especially troubling given the serious matters facing the Department and the Nation."

In a Friday letter to Thompson, Assistant DHS Secretary Beth Spivey told the chairman, “The arguments in your letter are without merit,” adding in part that "the right of a President’s nominee to abstain from testifying on matters unrelated to his or her nomination while such a nomination is pending is an unwritten rule honored by Chairmen from both sides of the aisle for many decades."

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The thing that gets me here is, isn’t it commonplace for official phones to be regularly wiped and reset? I recall this coming up before, and it’s general protocol.

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If you put the wrong passcode into an iPhone more than ten times, it deletes itself. I would look at user error before anything else, especially if the user is required to change passwords regularly.

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Can Horowitz take a page out of the Republican administration & refuse to comply? Kinda what’s Good for the goose…

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Yes…that would be the upstanding thing to do…but with that Dannehy resignation (in protest possibly) you wonder how upstanding Horowitz can be (or will be.)

Dunno…

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A post was merged into an existing topic: More Questionable Behavior from Trump, T Admin, DOJ, and R’s vs Dems, Press, Justice

Cross-posting :pray:

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Here it comes…the Senate Republicans wanting to authorize 41 depositions and subpoenas in two Senate GOP investigations…one for Obama and the other about Hunter Biden.
It relates to the election, and making it clear that T was unfairly spied on…(he wasn’t) and smear Joe Biden.

What a waste of time…and what allegiances they have.

From May 2020

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/05/21/guide-who-senate-republicans-want-subpoena-they-relitigate-russia-probe-into-trump/

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Rep Engel of the Foreign Affairs Committee getting testimony the firing of the State Dept IG. On C-span

https://www.c-span.org/video/?475765-1/house-hearing-state-department-ig-firing

Relates to the sales of weapons

Engel Releases Records Showing State Department’s Attempt to Hide Facts in OIG Arms Sales Report

statement from Rep Engel

The records we received today show just how hard the State Department wanted to hide the truth about last year’s phony emergency declaration. The picture is starting to come into focus: a top priority at Mike Pompeo’s State Department was to go around Congress to sell weapons, and his senior aides worked hard after the fact to obscure their indifference to civilian casualties. Inspector General Steve Linick must have been quite a thorn in Mr. Pompeo’s side before Mr. Pompeo had him fired. Thankfully, the OIG staff carried the work forward with integrity. We look forward to hearing from Mr. Cooper tomorrow,” said Chairman Engel.

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Cnn reporter Jim Sciutto poses this re: T’s taxes.
Yes.

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Press Release: House Chairs Demand Emergency Inspector General Investigation Into AG Barr’s Efforts to Improperly Influence November Presidential Election

Washington, September 18, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), and House Administration Committee Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General to open an emergency investigation into whether Attorney General William Barr, U.S. Attorney John Durham, and other political appointees are in violation of longstanding Department policy and federal law to avoid taking any action–including making public comments on ongoing investigations –that could improperly influence the upcoming presidential election.

“Under longstanding DOJ policy, the Attorney General is expected to refrain from commenting on an ongoing investigation. Attorney General Barr and U.S. Attorney Durham have made several public comments that could violate this Department policy and related guidelines. Attorney General Barr has signaled repeatedly that he is likely to allow DOJ to take prosecutorial actions, make public disclosures, and even issue reports before the presidential election in November. Such actions clearly appear intended to benefit President Trump politically,” the members wrote to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

The members continued, “Few actions would prove more damaging to public confidence in the integrity of the DOJ and our democratic process than the perception that federal prosecutorial power can be used to prejudice a pending investigation or influence an upcoming election. As such, we believe it is imperative that this matter be immediately investigated, that you inform our Committees of your decision to open an investigation, and that you report the results promptly to our Committees.”

Full text of the letter is available here

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Cross-posting :sob:

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Report: Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns

U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Majority Staff Report

Check out the footnotes for the references. It’s a lot of The Hill’s Solomon and the Washington Examiner. :flushed: This is a very low quality report.

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GOP senators’ report calls Hunter Biden’s board position with Ukraine firm ‘problematic,’ but fails to show how it changed U.S. policy

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) co-authored the report, which comes just weeks before the Nov. 3 election, and just days before President Trump and former vice president Biden face off in the first presidential debate.

Much of the Republican report rehashes information that was already a key part of the GOP defense during the impeachment proceedings against Trump last year. The report concludes that “Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board was problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine,” while charging that he and other Biden relatives “cashed in on Joe Biden’s vice presidency.”

But at the same time, the report states that “the extent to which Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board affected U.S. policy toward Ukraine is not clear.”

Top-ranking Democratic senators slammed the GOP report, saying its key findings were false and “rooted in a known Russian disinformation effort.” The accumulated testimony, they argued, showed no wrongdoing by Joe Biden.

“Chairman Johnson repeatedly impugned Vice President Biden in public on the basis of secret evidence he claimed to have obtained,” the Democrats said in their competing report, rebutting Johnson’s conclusion. “Contrary to his public insinuations, the Chairmen’s investigation found no evidence that the former vice president did anything wrong in his efforts to carry out official U.S foreign policy in Ukraine.”

The Democrats added: “All first-hand witnesses testified that Hunter Biden’s position of the board of Burisma had no impact whatsoever on United States foreign policy.”

Not surprising

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Republican Inquiry Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Biden

The report asserted that Hunter Biden traded off his father’s name to close lucrative business deals around the world, and that his work for Burisma Holdings, a corrupt Ukrainian energy company while the former vice president was directing American policy toward Kyiv gave the appearance of a conflict of interest and alarmed some in the State Department. But the 87-page document released on Wednesday by the Senate Homeland Security Committee contained no evidence that the former vice president improperly manipulated American policy toward Ukraine or committed any other misdeed.

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