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Newly released texts show Peter Strzok had a personal relationship with the judge presiding over the Michael Flynn case–and it gets worse…

March 16, 2018

  Shortly after Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russian investigation the judge overseeing the case abruptly recused himself from the case. This always seemed fishy: we were given no reason for the sudden recusal but it was odd that he should step down after the plea because there was obviously some kind of conflict of interest which should have required him to recuse himself before the plea. And now we might know what it is.

  According to this story Peter Strzok was friends with the judge who was presiding over the case, Rudolph Contreras, and this judge was also on the FISA Court. On top of that it looks like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were conspiring to set up a meeting with him. Here is more:

“Rudy is on the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]!” Page excitedly texted Strzok on July 25, 2016. “Did you know that? Just appointed two months ago.”

“I did,” Strzok responded. “I need to get together with him.”

“[He] said he’d gotten on a month or two ago at a graduation party we were both at.”

    Upon sharing this information with each other Peter Strzok’s first reaction was to say he needed to meet with Rudy Contreras and more texts reveal what appears to be an attempt to set up just such a meeting. Here is more:

Strzok: “….She brought up a good point about being circumspect in talking to him in terms of not placing him into a situation where he’d have to recuse himself.”

Page: “I can’t imagine you either one of you could talk about anything in detail meaningful enough to warrant recusal.” Page then goes back to discussing a different issue saying, “Anyway, maybe you meant to, but didn’t.’

Strzok: “Really? Rudy. I’m in charge of espionage for the FBI. Any espionage FISA comes before him, what should he do? Given his friend oversees them?”

Page: “Standards for recusal are quite high. I just don’t think this poses an actual conflict. And he doesn’t know what you do?”

Strzok: “Generally he does know what I do. Not the level or scope or area but he’s super thoughtful and rigorous about ethics and conflicts. (redacted) suggested a social setting with others would probably be better than a one on one meeting. I’m sorry, I’m just going to have to invite you to that cocktail party. Of course you’ll be there. Have to come up with some other work people cover for action.”

  You can clearly see in these texts that Peter Strzok was concerned about this connection being discovered and it appears as if there was a conspiracy between Peter Strzok and some woman we only know as “she” at this point to set up a dinner meeting with others in order to be inconspicuous.

  We do not know if this meeting took place or not but we do know the FBI got a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign by withholding information from the FISA court and we do know the FBI was hiding these texts from the Congressional investigation so there seems to be something here. 

  Despite all of this it is being reported that Jeff Sessions will not fire Andrew McCabe.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium


The FBI recommends firing Andrew McCabe before he retires

March 14, 2018

  Back in January, and amidst scandal, FBI Director Andrew McCabe announced his retirement beginning on March 18th. Here are a few links to stories I wrote at the time about what was going on with Andrew McCabe when he decided to retire:

  Justice Department review expected to criticize Andrew McCabe for authorizing the disclosure of information of an ongoing investigation

Did Andrew McCabe edit his notes on Michael Flynn’s interview and then destroy the evidence?

Former DC attorney claims the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report will show Andrew McCabe had the FBI fabricate evidence

  And of course he held that meeting with Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and others in which an “insurance policy” against Donald Trump was discussed. The “insurance policy” most likely being the Russian dossier.

  Andrew McCabe is currently using his paid time until his retirement goes into effect but now it is being reported here that the  FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility has recommended Andrew McCabe be fired. Here is more:

CNN has learned the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility has recommended McCabe be fired and now the decision is up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The issue stems from findings in an internal Justice Department watchdog report that claims he misled investigators about his decision to authorize FBI officials to speak to the media about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

That report, which has been complete for over a week, according to the source, has not been released publicly. The office is currently examining how investigations were handled at the department and the FBI in advance of the 2016 presidential election, including, notably, the Hillary Clinton email server probe.

“The Department follows a prescribed process by which an employee may be terminated. That process includes recommendations from career employees and no termination decision is final until the conclusion of that process. We have no personnel announcements at this time,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.

  The decision now falls on Jeff Sessions. The question is, will the Attorney General have the courage to fire Andrew McCabe just a few days before he is set to retire or will he protect a fellow swamp creature and allow him to walk away with a nice little golden parachute?

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium


Appeals Court upholds Texas ban on ‘sanctuary cities’

March 13, 2018

  Way back in May Texas passed a bill which was signed into law by Governor Bill Abbott which cracked down on sanctuary cities in the State. Here is more on the Texas law:

As passed, SB 4 allows local law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they detain or arrest and punishes local government department heads and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration “detainers” — requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation — in the form of jail time and penalties that exceed $25,000.

  As you can read in the above-linked article, liberals in the State challenged this law to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and today it is being reported the court has upheld most of the law. Here is more:

A federal appeals court has upheld the bulk of a Texas law targeting “sanctuary cities” that is backed by the Trump administration as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration.

The ruling Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans allows Texas to enforce what critics call the toughest state-level immigration measure in the country.

The law allows police officers to ask people during routine stops whether they’re in the U.S. legally and threatens sheriffs with jail time for not cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Here is what Governor Abbott tweeted about this decision:

Paraphrasing New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, it’s on to California…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Judge throws out Massachusetts challenge to Donald Trump’s Obamacare contraception rule changes

March 13, 2018

  Back on October 6th Donald Trump wrote an Executive Order which allowed organizations with religious or moral objections to contraception to opt out of Obamacare’s rule which mandated all companies must provide healthcare insurance which included contraceptive coverage.

  Massachusetts was one of several states which decided to sue the Trump administration over the rule change and today a U.S. District Judge  in Massachusetts threw out the challenge, stating Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey did not have standing. Here is more:

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston dismissed a lawsuit by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that sought to block rules that provide exemptions from an Obamacare mandate requiring such coverage on moral or religious grounds.

The ruling came after two other judges in California and Pennsylvania in December issued preliminary injunctions blocking the Republican president’s administration from enforcing the rules, which it announced in October.

Gorton said that in contrast to those two states, where there is “no doubt” employers intend to take advantage of the exemptions, “the record is uniquely obscure” as to whether any in Massachusetts would.

He noted that after the new rules were announced, Massachusetts enacted a law in November called the ACCESS Act that required employer-sponsored health plans to cover birth control without imposing co-pays.

As a result, Gorton said that state law provided reasons to believe Massachusetts women were less likely to be affected by the federal rules, undercutting Healey’s claim that the state would be injured by them and that she had standing to sue.

  As you can see above, Maura Healey claimed Massachusetts women would be hurt by the new contraception rules however the judge pointed out that Massachusetts has a state law mandating contraception therefor Maura Healey had no standing to sue. Maura Healey knew Massachusetts had this law in place and yet she sued anyway: to me this looks like an attempt to score political points and if the lawsuit moved forward all the better for her in her mind.

  This seems to be the right decision to me, but then again I think the whole issue of healthcare should have been handled on a State level in the first place.

  There are still at least two preliminary injunctions against Donald Trump’s new rule in place from other states and it is likely, in my opinion, that some of these cases will move forward, meaning this decision will not change anything until these other cases are decided.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to sue big oil for ‘first degree murder’ over global warming

March 12, 2018

You cannot make this stuff up! Here is more:

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next mission: taking oil companies to court “for knowingly killing people all over the world.”

The former California governor and global environmental activist announced the move Sunday at a live recording of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast here at the SXSW festival, revealing that he’s in talks with several private law firms and preparing a public push around the effort.

The former governor of California justifies this by comparing big oil to tobacco:

“This is no different from the smoking issue. The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it. Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that,” Schwarzenegger said. “The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.”

“We’re going to go after them, and we’re going to be in there like an Alabama tick. Because to me it’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said. “Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it.”

  Global warming was not a thing back in 1959, it was not on anybody’s radar and the term was not even made up at that point…but let that go.

  To be fair, there is nothing in the quote above which suggests first degree murder but then there is this:

“I don’t think there’s any difference: If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies.”

This is the mentality we are dealing with today…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

The House Intelligence Committee ends its Russia investigation

March 12, 2018

  According to this story the The House Intelligence Committee is ending its investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and they have found no evidence of collusion. Here is more:

The House Intelligence Committee is shutting down its contentious investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the top Republican leading the probe announced on Monday.

The committee will interview no more witnesses and Republicans are in the process of preparing their final report, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) told reporters. A draft of that roughly 150-page report will be delivered to committee Democrats for review on Tuesday. 

The draft document asserts that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, the most politically charged question examined by the committee.

“We found no evidence of collusion,” Conaway said Monday. “We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings — but only Tom Clancy could take this series of inadvertent contacts, meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of a spy thriller that could go out there.”

Further, he said, “we couldn’t establish the same conclusion that the CIA did that they specifically wanted to help Trump.”

  This story is still far from over and I expect it to drag into the 2018 mid-term election. I read elsewhere that the Democrats on the House Committee are drafting their own document which will claim that not all relevant witnesses were interviewed. And the Senate Intelligence Committee is still investigating as is the Robert Mueller Special Counsel.

  It does look to me as if Robert Mueller has moved beyond the collusion aspect of the investigation, which would be a good sign for the President, and is instead focusing on obstruction of justice and the financial transactions with Russia of some people who are connected to Donald Trump, and four people still remain under indictment.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Jesus wept over Jerusalem

March 11, 2018

Jesus Wept  I begin this post with a prayer that what I have written is theologically sound. If I have erred in any way I will gladly accept criticism, comments, and guidance in my never-ending search for Biblical Truth.

  There are two instances in the Bible where we learn Jesus wept: the first was when He learned the news that His friend  Lazarus died and the second instance was during His Triumphal return to Jerusalem. I do not know how you feel about these passages but to me these are very powerful passages in the Bible which might be mostly overlooked but are very important.

  I find these passages to be interesting and related and, as I wrote, very powerful because both of them represent triumph over death as well as Jesus’ fully human side, and in a way Lazarus was a preview of what was to come. In both cases Jesus knew the ultimate outcome but because He was fully human He also understood grief and He was overcome with emotion. 

  So we must look at the story of Lazarus first. I will narrate the Book of John 11:17-35: At this point Jesus had already learned Lazarus was near death and He agreed to visit him, but He delayed His journey to see His friend. While Jesus delayed Lazarus died and when Martha, grief stricken at the loss of her brother, learned that Jesus was in town she ran to Him and told Jesus that if He had been there Lazarus would not have died. Jesus responds by telling Martha Lazarus will rise again. Martha says she knows he will rise again on the last day but Jesus tells her “I am the resurrection and the life.” We know how this story ends, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and the setup for His own resurrection was put in motion.

  Jesus Knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead so why did He weep? There are two possibilities in my mind: Martha seemed to be questioning Jesus; was He weeping because she still did not understand (Martha was the sister who seemed to question Jesus in Luke 10:38-42 while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to His teachings) or was He weeping because of her pain at the loss of a loved one? Maybe it was both, I think it probably was…

  Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, this is a hard concept to understand, but  as fully human He had to feel emotion while at the same time carrying out the will of the Father as fully divine. Part of me wonders if Jesus wept because He felt responsible, on a human level, for putting them through this pain when if He did not delay He could have, as Martha alluded to, saved them this sorrow. But as we learn in Matthew 8:5-13  Jesus could have saved Lazarus without being there and He did not, but His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8) and He had a lesson to teach, even if it meant temporary earthy pain for a few people. This lesson, I believe, was a preview of what was to come on Calvary.

  We now turn to Jerusalem: Jesus was entering as a king and, as prophesied, on a donkey. The adoring crowd worshiped Him as the Messiah and threw down palm leaves at His feet and at this very time when all seemed well the Bible tells us in Luke 19:41 Jesus wept over Jerusalem.  Why would Jesus, at His greatest moment, His Triumphal return, weep as He entered the city? It should have been a joyous occasion.

  Luke 19:42 tells us why: ““If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (NIV)

  In Luke 19:43-44 Jesus prophesied about the fall of Jerusalem which would come to pass about forty years later, but He laid the blame for this based on Luke 19:42 so we shall focus on this for the sake of this post.

  Luke 19:42 shows us the peace these people were soon to feel was not the same peace we feel today knowing Jesus took on our sin on the cross because they did not understand.  But Jesus did! Jesus knew the people would choose to save Barabbas, a murderer, over the One who could save us all.

  Jesus knew His death would bring the people peace but because they thought He would be an earthy Messiah they did not understand His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36) and they condemned Him to death not understanding the prophesies. (In a way this brings me back to my question about Martha.) 

  Jesus was not weeping over His own death, which He knew was coming and He knew He would conquer death, but rather for the people who would soon condemn Him to death. The people thought they were condemning Jesus but they were condemning themselves and Jesus grieved for them because He understood this even though they did not.  This is one reason why Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

  And this leads me to Jesus’ first words on the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” It makes me wonder if Jesus in addition to asking for forgiveness for those who where crucifying Him with these words was also thinking about the people of Jerusalem and those who would, in a remarkably short period of time, turn against Him by following their earthly leaders who were only interested in protecting their positions and their power.

  “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8 KJV)