|“Amid the coronavirus pandemic and Communist China’s New Cold War with the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO) has served as a puppet for the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) writes in Fox News.|
“American taxpayers are the largest contributor to the WHO budget. There needs to be accountability for their failures and their willingness to help China hide the coronavirus from the world.”
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New information from a Justice Department inspector general report on the FBI’s spying into the 2016 Trump campaign should concern every American. “Let [this] sink in. The FBI knew that at least some of its evidence against the Trump campaign, and maybe more, was likely part of a Russian disinformation campaign,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) writes in The Wall Street Journal.
President Trump released an Easter Sunday greeting video from the White House yesterday. “This Easter will be much different than others because in many cases, we’ll be separated physically only from our churches . . . We’re getting rid of the plague,” he said. “We’re winning the battle.” Read more from Charlie Spiering in Breitbart.
“As we medical professionals brace for the influx of patients and make the necessary preparations, I am reassured by the seriousness with which President Donald Trump is taking the situation and by the specific assistance his administration has provided doctors and other professionals on the front line of this pandemic,” Robin Armstrong writes in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW · Washington, DC 20500 · USA · 202-456-1111
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MARCH 6th, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a sixteen-count indictment against a former Acting Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and a former subordinate for their alleged theft of proprietary software and confidential databases from the United States government as part of a scheme to defraud the United States government.
U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea for the District of Columbia, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb for the United States Postal Service made the announcement.
The indictment charges Charles K. Edwards, 59, of Sandy Spring, Maryland, and Murali Yamazula Venkata, 54, of Aldie, Virginia, with conspiracy to commit theft of government property and to defraud the United States, theft of government property, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The indictment also charges Venkata with the destruction of records. The indictment, which was returned on Thursday, March 5, 2020, was unsealed this morning after Edwards and Venkata were taken into custody under the charges. Both defendants will be presented for an initial appearance at 1:45 p.m. today before United States Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather.
According to the allegations in the indictment, from October 2014 to April 2017, Edwards, Venkata, and others executed a scheme to defraud the United States government by stealing confidential and proprietary software from the Office of the Inspector General of DHS (DHS-OIG), along with sensitive government databases containing personal identifying information (“PII”), so that Edwards’s company, Delta Business Solutions, could later sell an enhanced version of DHS-OIG’s software to the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA-OIG”) at a profit. Although Edwards had left DHS-OIG in December 2013, he continued to leverage his relationship with Venkata and other DHS-OIG employees to steal the software and the sensitive government databases.
The indictment further alleges that, in addition to stealing DHS-OIG’s software and the sensitive government databases, Venkata and others also assisted Edwards by reconfiguring his laptop so that he could properly upload the stolen software and databases, provided troubleshooting support whenever Edwards required it, and helped him build a testing server at his residence with the stolen software and databases, which contained PII. As further part of the alleged scheme, Edwards retained software developers in India for the purpose of developing his commercial alternative of DHS-OIG’s software. In so doing, Edwards not only shared DHS-OIG’s proprietary software with foreign nationals but also the PII of U.S. federal employees and individuals implicated (either as victims, subjects, or witnesses) in official investigations conducted by DHS-OIG as well as the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS-OIG”).
The indictment is the result of an ongoing investigation by DHS-OIG and USPS-OIG and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David B. Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Victor R. Salgado of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.
The defendants face maximum terms of imprisonment of 5 years on the conspiracy to commit theft of government property charge; 10 years on the theft of government property charge; and 20 years on the wire fraud charges. The defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years of imprisonment on the aggravated identity theft charges. Venkata faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on the destruction of records charge. Both defendants face fines on each count of conviction of up to $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss arising from the scheme alleged in the indictment.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Component(s): USAO – District of Columbia
Press Release Number: 20-044
Updated March 6, 2020
Earlier this afternoon a spokesman for the United States Department of Justice announced that the DOJ has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court naming California Governor, Jerry Brown and California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra.
The lawsuit which challenges the legal validity of California’s so-called sanctuary laws argues that they are Unconstitutional and that they deliberately seek to obstruct justice by hindering Federal law enforcement agencies from enforcing Federal immigration laws in the state of California.
In a statement which he had prepared to deliver to a convention of law enforcement agents and officers, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated, “The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you,”
The Justice Department brought the suit against California late Tuesday, marking a notable escalation in the ongoing battle between President Trump’s administration and state and local governments over their providing sanctuaries for illegal immigrants from a crackdown on immigration enforcement at the Federal level. Specifically, the lawsuit challenges three California laws which the Trump administration claims hinder’S the enforcement of federal immigration laws and endangers the lives of federal law enforcement agents.
Governor Jerry Brown, when signing the bills into law last October, stated that they would strike “a balance that will protect public safety while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day.”
Those sanctuary laws provide some of the most generous protections in the U.S. for illegal immigrants who are facing deportation. The Justice Department, however; argues that they venture improperly into the enforcement of U.S. immigration law which are strictly a matter for federal authorities.
Lawyers for the Department of Justice, consider the laws to be a thinly disguised attempt to regulate federal immigration. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, the capital of California challenges three specific laws: (cite as excerpts from original bills. Read the full text in links)
— SB 54, SEC. 3. Chapter 17.25 (commencing with Section 7284) is added to Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code, to read:
CHAPTER 17.25. Cooperation with Immigration Authorities
This chapter shall be known and may be cited, as the California Values Act.
The Legislature finds and declares the following:(a) Immigrants are valuable and essential members of the California community. Almost one in three Californians is foreign-born and one in two children in California has at least one immigrant parent.(b) A relationship of trust between California’s immigrant community and state and local agencies is central to the public safety of the people of California.(c) This trust is threatened when state and local agencies are entangled with federal immigration enforcement, with the result that immigrant community members fear approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes, seeking basic health services, or attending school, to the detriment of public safety and the well-being of all Californians.(d) Entangling state and local agencies with federal immigration enforcement programs diverts already limited resources and blurs the lines of accountability between local, state, and federal governments.(e) State and local participation in federal immigration enforcement programs also raises constitutional concerns, including the prospect that California residents could be detained in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, targeted on the basis of race or ethnicity in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, or denied access to education based on immigration status. See Sanchez Ochoa v. Campbell, et al. (E.D. Wash. 2017) 2017 WL 3476777; Trujillo Santoya v. United States, et al. (W.D. Tex. 2017) 2017 WL 2896021; Moreno v. Napolitano (N.D. Ill. 2016) 213 F. Supp. 3d 999; Morales v. Chadbourne (1st Cir. 2015) 793 F.3d 208; Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County (D. Or. 2014) 2014 WL 1414305; Galarza v. Szalczyk (3d Cir. 2014) 745 F.3d 634.(f) This chapter seeks to ensure effective policing, to protect the safety, well-being, and constitutional rights of the people of California, and to direct the state’s limited resources to matters of greatest concern to state and local governments.(g) It is the intent of the Legislature that this chapter shall not be construed as providing, expanding, or ratifying any legal authority for any state or local law enforcement agency to participate in immigration enforcement.
As a result, the Justice Department says, immigration agents face greater danger in re-arresting the former prisoners once they’re back on the streets.
— AB 450, SECTION 1. Section 7285.1 is added to the Government Code, to read:
7285.1. (a) Except as otherwise required by federal law, an employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not provide voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter any nonpublic areas of a place of labor. This section does not apply if the immigration enforcement agent provides a judicial warrant.
7285.2. (a) (1) Except as otherwise required by federal law, and except as provided in paragraph (2), an employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not provide voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to access, review, or obtain the employer’s employee records without a subpoena or judicial warrant.
Section 90.2 is added to the Labor Code, to read:
90.2. (a) (1) Except as otherwise required by federal law, an employer shall provide a notice to each current employee, by posting in the language the employer normally uses to communicate employment-related information to the employee, of any inspections of I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms or other employment records conducted by an immigration agency within 72 hours of receiving notice of the inspection. Written notice shall also be given within 72 hours to the employee’s authorized representative if any. The posted notice shall contain the following information:
(A) The name of the immigration agency conducting the inspections of I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms or other employment records.(B) The date that the employer received notice of the inspection.(C) The nature of the inspection to the extent known.(D) A copy of the Notice of Inspection of I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms for the inspection to be conducted.
The Justice Department said a committee of the state legislature described the law as an effort to frustrate “an expected increase in federal immigration enforcement actions.”
— And AB 103, CHAPTER 17.8. Housing Contracts
7310. (a) A city, county, city and county, or local law enforcement agency that does not, as of June 15, 2017, have a contract with the federal government or any federal agency to detain adult noncitizens for purposes of civil immigration custody, is prohibited from entering into a contract with the federal government or any federal agency, to house or detain in a locked detention facility noncitizens for purposes of civil immigration custody.(b) A city, county, city and county, or local law enforcement agency that, as of June 15, 2017, has an existing contract with the federal government or any federal agency to detain adult noncitizens for purposes of civil immigration custody, shall not renew or modify that contract in such a way as to expand the maximum number of contract beds that may be utilized to house or detain in a locked detention facility noncitizens for purposes of civil immigration custody.
(a) A city, county, city and county, or local law enforcement agency that does not, as of June 15, 2017, have a contract with the federal government or any federal agency to house or detain any accompanied or unaccompanied minor in the custody of or detained by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement or the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement is prohibited from entering into a contract with the federal government or any federal agency to house minors in a locked detention facility.(b) A city, county, city and county, or local law enforcement agency that, as of June 15, 2017, has an existing contract with the federal government or any federal agency to house or detain any accompanied or unaccompanied minor in the custody of or detained by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement or the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement shall not renew or modify that contract in such a way as to expand the maximum number of contract beds that may be utilized to house minors in a locked detention facility.(c) This section does not apply to temporary housing of any accompanied or unaccompanied minor in less restrictive settings when the State Department of Social Services certifies a necessity for a contract based on changing conditions of the population in need and if the housing contract meets the following requirements:(1) It is temporary in nature and nonrenewable on a long-term or permanent basis.(2) It meets all applicable federal and state standards for that housing.
Interestingly enough AB 103 (22) Reads: Existing law prohibits, with some exceptions, the possession of an assault weapon that does not have a fixed magazine including those weapons with a detachable magazine that can be removed readily from the firearm with the use of a tool. Existing law exempts from that prohibition such a weapon that was lawfully possessed by the owner starting at any time from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2016, and is registered by that owner with the Department of Justice before January 1, 2018, but not before the effective date of specified regulations to be adopted by the department. This bill would extend the deadline to register a weapon in order to be exempted from the prohibition from January 1, 2018, to July 1, 2018.
Which seems to fly in the face of the stated intent of the California Legislature as set forth in SB 54. SEC. 3. Chapter 17.25 (commencing with Section 7284) is added to Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code, The California Values Act.