‘Our Constitutional Republic Is Under Assault’: Tom Fitton on the Trump Tweets and Mueller Testimony

July 23, 2019 Updated: August 15, 2019

Why was Mueller’s testimony to Congress delayed? Why is it taking so long to declassify documents related to the Spygate scandal? What is the significance of the recent John Hackett testimony in relation to the Clinton emails?

And in the eyes of Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, what key questions should Republicans be asking during Mueller’s upcoming testimony?

This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

Today we sit down with Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, which uses FIOA, or Freedom of Information Act requests, and litigation to expose government corruption.

We discuss the reaction to President Trump’s tweets about “the four congresswomen,” the upcoming Mueller testimony, and what Fitton sees as concurrent attacks on President Trump and his administration in “the biggest corruption scandal of all time.”

We also look at the citizenship question, and Tom’s take on the different Spygate-related investigations, including those of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham, and U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber.

Mr. Jekielek: Tom Fitton, it’s excellent to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Mr. Fitton: Thank you, Jan. Great to be with you again.

Mr. Jekielek: So I was hoping we would be talking about Mueller’s testimony today. That was scheduled for today. What do you make of it being postponed again?

Mr. Fitton: Well, the Democrats are trying to use the Mueller testimony to the greatest possible political benefit, which is to destroy the president. And they ran into a problem because they were trying to limit the questions, limit his testimony, and it just raised objections. Why are they changing the rules to prevent members from asking questions who serve on the committees he was going to be appearing before, and what was going on?

And so rather than deal with it directly–they didn’t have time to do with it directly–they delayed the testimony. Mueller is going to be problematic for the Democrats. And their goal obviously is to raise the issues of collusion and obstruction even though there’s no evidence of either by having Mueller suggest, well, the president’s a bad guy, and I couldn’t exonerate him, which is contrary to the rule of law here in the United States where you’re innocent until proven guilty. Under Mueller’s rubric it’s you’re guilty until I can exonerate you.

Well, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work. That’s why Democrats want him to appear, and Republicans are going to do their best to ask some tough questions of Mueller. And I hope they do.

Why did you hire all these anti-Trumpers? What about your conflicts of interests? Why did you delete emails, your office lead emails, not do anything in terms of trying to recover them? What happened there? All sorts of questions about Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, the Steele dossier. Why did they use that fraudulent Steele dossier to target Trump? When did he know about the fact there was no collusion, and why didn’t they tell the American people immediately.

Mr. Mueller, in many ways, his office abused their authority to target President Trump. And like I said, the abuse led him to say things like, I can’t exonerate the president from accusations of wrongdoing, suggesting the accusations of wrongdoing had a basis, which is the “Alice in Wonderland” approach to law enforcement. And so, he needs to be held accountable for those abuses.

Mr. Jekielek: So speaking of the Steele dossier, right, John Solomon’s been reporting on this spreadsheet that the FBI had, basically looking at the various claims and finding that most of them were not verifiable early on. You’re familiar with this. So what is your thinking around this spreadsheet?

Mr. Fitton: Well, there’s a report out there by John Solomon suggesting the FBI tried to track down the various charges in the Steele dossier and got nowhere quick, which isn’t a surprise because they’ve been telling us the dossier, as James Comey said, was salacious and unverified. They need to tell the FISA courts that. So this document is another piece of the puzzle in terms of the fraud on the FISA court where they used the Steele dossier to generate spy warrants targeting the Trump team. But, again, this is all material that goes back before even Mueller was appointed. So if there’s no Steele dossier, that’s the whole fundamental basis of the Russia collusion, all this noise about Papadopoulos. It’s after the fact … excuses they’re trying to come up with to distract us from the fact that the Steele dossier was the basis for the FISA spying.

So it’s just further confirmation the Steele dossier was built on sand. They knew it. And yet they use it as an excuse to spy on the president of the United States and to justify the appointment of a special counsel to try to put him in jail. Just a scandal that has no match in American history.

Mr. Jekielek: So the president has actually ordered—quite a while ago now—declassification, or authorized, said that we can have declassification on all sorts of documents related to this. It seems to have been going very slowly. There have been rumors that the DNI director Dan Coats might potentially be replaced. There’s a lot of rumors going around. People are wondering what about declassification? What are your thoughts on that?

Mr. Fitton: It has been slow, and we’ve been pressing the Justice Department to declassify—well, we’ve been suing in federal court for years on some of these deep state issues, including the FISA warrant applications, parts of which have only been released. Other parts, which evidently show more corruption are still being withheld. So the Justice Department has been slow.
My guess is there’s a handful of people in the Justice Department appointed by President Trump, and they’re being told by the deep staters, you can’t do X, Y, and Z. So if I were the president, I would intervene directly in the sense that he has direct authority to release material, and if there’s material out there and discrete categories of documents that we know about, for instance, the rest of the FISA warrant application, some of the memos associated with the creation of the special counsel investigation, what Bruce Ohr was up to, the DOJ official. Bruce Ohr was the DOJ official who was conflicted because his wife worked for the Clinton gang at Fusion GPS. That material both Congress wants, Judicial Watch wants, the public interest obviously demands to be released. And they should just authorize the release directly.

Now, there may be other material that’s a bit more complicated in terms of review and analysis. You can let the DOJ just continue the process however slow it is. But the White House should intervene to get these documents released.

Mr. Jekielek: Speaking of Bruce Ohr, actually, you recently reported that he got a big promotion at an unlikely time.

Mr. Fitton: This is the incredible thing. So Christopher Steele was an FBI informant in 2016. We have the documents that show he was paid 11 of the 13 times he met with the FBI in 2016. So he’s working for the Clintons, the DNC, and the FBI at the same time. So it was a joint operation.

Then the FBI had enough of him because he was leaking because he wanted to get Trump, make him lose. So the FBI said, well, we can’t work with them directly anymore, so what are we going to do? Well, we’ll use DOJ’s Bruce Ohr to be our cutout. And Ohr Is conflicted because his wife Nellie worked for and with Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele. So he gets a big bonus that year. I think it was $28,000, whatever the number was.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s incredible.

Mr. Fitton: And then it comes out that he’s working with Steele, despite this conflict of interest. He’s doing it on the sly and the DOJ removes him, kicks him upstairs or downstairs or laterally, but takes him out of one of the top positions at the Justice Department. And in doing so, they give him a raise.

So he gets caught engaging—in the least—behavior that raises serious conflicts of interest concerns, maybe even much more substantial issues. And he gets a raise on top of the big bonus he got during his work for the Spygate operation targeting Trump.

Mr. Jekielek: While he’s getting demoted.

Mr. Fitton: Right. And this is material that Judicial Watch is getting out. Congress didn’t get out, but Judicial Watch did as a result of our litigation investigations.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s amazing. So there are a number of investigations still basically ongoing. We have the DOJ inspector general, Michael Horowitz. He’s been looking into this whole FISA abuse issue. Actually, he was interviewing Christopher Steele in London from what we know. Where do you think this investigation is going? Where are we at with it?

Mr. Fitton: Well, IGs are, he put out, for instance, the inspector general, he’s not a Trump appointee. He’s an Obama appointee. And the last big IG report he did related to Trump and Clinton, there was a lot of big information that came out. We got out the text messages showing the bios of Lisa Page and Peter Strzok highlighting the unusual activity by the FBI and DOJ and in that sham investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email conduct, but he just didn’t want to reach the conclusions that any other person given the evidence before them would’ve reached. So he both pushed and pulled his punch at the same time.

So I think we’ll get a similar report here, will be a lot of information that would be useful for those who want to prosecute someone, get some government reform or other accountability. But the IG is probably going to be not as aggressive as we would like. But it’s important we get this information out, we get these details out. So the IG report will be both a cover-up and an expose at the same time. And we’re going to focus on the exposé part of it. And the reason Judicial Watch does the work we do because of the cover-up part of it. That’s why we continue our 50-plus lawsuits on these issues.

Mr. Jekielek: So what about this other investigation into the alleged—well, not alleged—the spying, the surveillance that John Durham is doing now. Where do you think this investigation is going?

Mr. Fitton: I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t know publicly what’s happening.

Mr. Jekielek: They’ve been very mum.

Mr. Fitton: They’ve been quiet on it. Is there a grand jury operating? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. If there’s a serious criminal investigation, I haven’t seen indications of it. Maybe they’re just doing a review and just using a grand jury to get a witness or two to talk to them. I don’t know. But we’re getting impatient. We want them to move or at least reassure us that they are moving. It doesn’t mean they have to indict someone tomorrow, but we want to be sure that they’re investigating with the goal of potentially prosecuting people. We don’t need another IG report. We need a criminal investigation of this, as I say, the biggest corruption scandal of all time.

Mr. Jekielek: Right. And so, I want to jump to the Clinton email scandal, which of course Judicial Watch was central to exposing and so forth. And, actually, the Clinton email scandal is incredibly important in understanding why Russiagate or Spygate happened at all. And maybe for the benefit of our audience, explain the connection.

Mr. Fitton: Well, in 2015, Judicial Watch’s litigation over Bengazi, believe it or not, helped expose the Clinton email. There’d be no Clinton email information without Judicial Watch pushing the State Department for Clinton emails. They finally had to fess up that we had all these emails we’re not telling anyone about. When did they begin snooping around President Trump? 2015. And remember the Justice Department and the FBI is supposed to be investigating Clinton while working with her lawyers—because we have the documents showing [this]—and using her dossier to target Trump. So the idea that the Justice Department and the FBI were going to do a serious investigation of the campaign or the person they were allied with in targeting Trump, it tells you what was happening.

Hillary Clinton was facing significant criminal and other liability. People around her were. The Obama administration was, as a result. So what were they going to do? Well, let’s distract everyone from that by targeting Trump and protecting Hillary Clinton at the same time. And once President Trump won, they got worried that, well, the new Justice Department may actually go back and then have the justice that the American people want here. So what do we do here? We’ll freeze the Justice Department by having a special counsel or pretending that President Trump’s Russia investigation or Russia issues are serious as opposed to a hoax. And they were effective in freezing the Justice Department from doing anything on Hillary Clinton. And this is why they screamed when Barr made noises about going back and looking at these issues because now that Mueller is over, Barr, in theory, is able to go back and relook at the Clinton email investigation, the Clinton Foundation investigation, which also was suppressed, in addition to the criminal victimization of the president with this illegal spying on him and his people.

Mr. Jekielek: This is so fascinating. I just think it’s a generally overlooked connection. So I appreciate you spelling it out.

Mr. Fitton: Remember, Clinton gave them the dossier, forget about the Clinton emails. Clinton gave them the dossier and worked with them on the dossier. Now the FBI and DOJ [inaudible] we have other documents Jan that came out this past month or so showing that the State Department was working with the Clinton Group to launder the dossier-type information.
Look, we think there’s just one dossier. No, there was more one dossier, some of which was curated by the State Department to target President Trump.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s amazing.

Mr. Fitton: The Obama State Department.

Mr. Jekielek: Right, right, right. And so tell me more about this John Hackett testimony that you recently—

Mr. Fitton: So I know the Justice Department has been opposing us, unfortunately, in getting information about the Clinton email scandal, but a federal court wanted answers, and he authorized us to depose Clinton aides and senior State Department officials about the cover-up. And one of these senior officials now he’s no longer at the State [Department], but he was a senior records official at the State Department. He testified, he said he was asking them about the Clinton emails. They were worried about the answers they were giving to the requesters about there being no Clinton emails when, in fact, they knew there were Clinton emails because there was a big picture of her using a BlackBerry. And he said, well, what email is she using if she’s doing that, and how are we telling requesters there are no emails?

So what was their response? Well, we just won’t tell them one way or another whether there are emails or not. That’s the corruption. And so we received testimony like that. We have other testimony from a former security official at the State Department … I think he’s still there. Warned Hillary Clinton twice on her handling of the BlackBerrys and personal email use, warned them about the security implications. And she acknowledged those warnings and yet continued to use her email system.
When they talk about how she didn’t have the intent, doesn’t that show you the intent? And getting back to Hackett, he also highlighted the fact the State Department was purposely releasing classified information or not marking it as classified from Hillary Clinton’s emails, presumably because they didn’t want to embarrass her more by having even more classified information linked to her account. So what does that mean? It means the classified information is put in unsecure places and potentially could be made public because the State Department was trying to protect her candidacy and itself. They get emails, they see some of it’s classified, some of it they have to mark, even though they were trying to avoid doing that, and others they decide not to mark even though they knew better because they were trying to protect her from having too much criminal liability for mishandling classified information.

Unbelievable. And this to me is more than enough reason for the attorney general to reopen the case. Unfortunately, the lawyers over at the Justice Department who have been litigating with us in this, they posed all of this, us getting information like this. They didn’t want us to get the discovery. They were defending the indefensible. In fact, the Federal Court judge in our case yelled at this Justice Department for continuing to prevaricate on the Clinton email scam.

Mr. Jekielek: It sounds incredible when you put it that way.

Mr. Fitton: And it helps explain why it takes a long time to get documents declassified because the Justice Department is run by left-wing partisan activists who want to see President Trump removed from office. So do you think they’re eager to declassify anything that might help his case that he was victimized by the deep state?

Same [with] the FBI—completely out of touch in terms of accountability. Director Ray, he might as well be James Comey for all I know in terms of his willingness to defend the indefensible at the FBI and his unwillingness to be transparent about what they did. It’s a major challenge.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, it’s a good thing we have folks like Judicial Watch and yourself kind of going after it like a bulldog, right?

Mr. Fitton: We’re happy to do the work. It’s essential that we do the work. But we’ve got to make it clear that we’re having to do this work unnecessarily in the sense that these government agencies are breaking the law in holding documents that we should be able to get access to. When we file a lawsuit, it’s often because the government just ignored our requests. It isn’t that we’re even fighting over a document, [that] we have an honest legal disagreement. It’s just they won’t even answer our request, and it goes on and it hasn’t stopped. And my guess is the president is pretty frustrated when that happens, but as you could see from the Mueller harassment, he’s being told every time he opens his mouth about the government agencies we elected in the run, he ought to be investigated for it. So he’s stuck no matter what he does, it’s a challenge.

Mr. Jekielek: So speaking of the attorney general, he recently said that there is this investigation—that Attorney John Huber has been running around which was related to Hillary Clinton—is winding down. So what are your expectations with respect to this one?

Mr. Fitton: The ever-elusive Mr. Huber? I don’t know. He never talked to us, so we’ll see. I haven’t seen any indication he’s done anything, and I don’t think he was hired to do anything. He was hired to investigate whether to investigate. Remember there was big pressure to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Clinton email issues. And Sessions and company, Rosenstein didn’t want to do that. So their solution was to appoint Mr. Huber to investigate whether to investigate it further. I mean, that’s the kind of the appointing language. I’m not exaggerating. So he wasn’t really a special counsel, it was just a way to take the pressure off, which it did.

Mr. Jekielek: Well he might presumably find out, yes, we should investigate.

Mr. Fitton: The attorney general is expecting him to have done something. So maybe within the three weeks, he finally got his act together and collated what he was able to gather, and they’ll do something substantial. There still is potential criminal liability for what went on with the Clinton email scandal. People lied. The statute of limitations is not run out of the Clinton email scandal, that’s for sure.

Mr. Jekielek: So Tom, you mentioned that the president is frustrated. Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about the massive reaction to some tweets the president made related to these four congresswomen, what some people call the squad. What are your thoughts on this whole situation? Well, the tweets weren’t racist. The president was calling them out over their ideology, not their race. So the smearing him as racist is just par for the course for the left. But what’s more problematic is them using the powers of the House to attack him again.

And, so, just recall where we are. The Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party worked in concert with the FBI to spy on him through this manufactured Russia hoax. You had this cool cabal targeting him, anti-Trump. So they got their Mueller investigation going, which is part of that. So they took control. The House was taken over by the Democratic Party who was behind this anti-Trump illegal activity. And so they doubled up on it. They continued with this reckless impeachment talk. They’re trying to rifle through his tax returns. They’ve issued repetitive, redundant, and abusive and harassing subpoena after subpoena after subpoena, probably well over a hundred at this point. And so, oh, and on top of that, they’re going to censure him or pass a message of disapproval over his statements that aren’t racist, but they’re going to call him a racist. And it’s so bad that they had to break the rules of the House to get it done.

Mr. Jekielek: Right. Explain that to me.

Mr. Fitton: Well, you’re not allowed to attack the president personally. So Nancy Pelosi gets up on the speaker’s chair knowing what the rules are. I mean, this is a rule that everyone knows about on the Hill. If you’re a House member, you can’t get personal on the floor. But she did it purposely. And so she was … had her words taken down as the rules require. So there was more of a power fight on the Hill, and they voted to keep her words in. So they voted to let her break the rules.

But, I mean, it just fits in nicely. The rules of law, whether they be at the House or generally, in terms of guiding government investigations–they don’t matter when you’re going after Trump. You can break every rule in the book. And this is why the attack on Trump is so problematic. It’s not about him personally. It’s about whether or not when there’s a politician that the establishment or the left or whoever doesn’t like, are we going to throw the rule of law out to get to him? And I tell you what, if the rule of law doesn’t protect the president of the United States, you think it’s going to protect us when the government comes after us over speech that they don’t like [that] we make? Any American makes? It’s a dangerous, dangerous situation, and our constitutional republic is under assault through this attack on Trump.

Mr. Jekielek: No, I haven’t heard it framed that way, but it sent a chill down my spine as you said that.

Mr. Fitton: It’s a dangerous situation.

Mr. Jekielek: I’m going to … a little bit more positive here. You guys have been instrumental in cleaning up a lot of what you call dirty voter rules, like almost 2 million in LA county. Big, big deal. And so now you’ve also been very outspoken about the citizenship question.

Mr. Fitton: Well, it’s all part of the piece that the left doesn’t want you to know how many non-Americans or Americans are here in the United States. So they got some allies in the judicial branch of government, anti-Trump judicial activism to take away the president’s ability to effectively get a census question related to citizenship in the 2020 census. But it’s all part of the piece. They want to erase the distinction between citizen and noncitizen. And we have tens of millions of aliens here in the United States, both legal and otherwise. And a percentage of them register to vote, studies have shown, and a percentage of them are going to vote. So you’ve got that illegal voting problem.

And I’ve always thought that discussion about open borders and amnesty isn’t about the Hispanic vote. It’s about the illegal alien vote. And, sure enough, you’re having leftists talk about giving the right to vote to people who are not citizens of the United States. And they don’t think the rule of law should be enforced against illegal aliens, so of course, they’re going to be able to vote too if they have their way. And this is why it’s up to conservatives and those who want to protect our constitutional republic and the rule of law to say no to open borders, to say yes to voter ID, and, more importantly, because voter ID isn’t going to prevent aliens from voting because many aliens have the voter ID necessary to vote if they’re registered. You’ve got to make sure when someone registers to vote, we take more than their word that they’re a citizen, that they provide citizenship verification. So that’s the new thing that needs to be done.

And then on top of that, Judicial Watch is trying to make sure that voting rolls are clean. Federal law requires the states to take reasonable steps to clean up the rolls. And that isn’t happening in too many states.

Our last analysis found there are 3.5 million extra names on the rolls. These are people who are dead or otherwise moved away. And a place like LA County, they have more people on the rolls than were living there. That’s a pretty good indication they’re not taking steps to clean up the rolls. So they settled the lawsuit with us, California and LA. We sued over that, and they’ve agreed to begin the process and they’d already sent out a massive mailing or two to 1.6 million inactive voters, people who haven’t voted for a long time. And if they don’t respond or don’t vote in the next two federal elections, that will take a long time to get them all off, but there will be people immediately removed in theory. Those rolls will be significantly cleaner. And in Kentucky, we had another lawsuit that settled, well, it didn’t settle actually, we got a consent judgment, meaning they gave up. They agreed to do what we needed them to do. Kentucky is a smaller state, but they’re going to be mailing 250,000 names, which is I think 7 percent of their list. So this is something the Justice Department ought to be doing more of. But Judicial Watch is doing the heavy lifting here on this basic oversight of this desperate need we have for cleaner elections.

Mr. Jekielek: The citizenship questioning was challenged in court, right? A judge challenged this.

Mr. Fitton: Yeah. They were lower court rulings that went against President Trump, and they went as quickly as they could to the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court said, yes, you can ask the citizenship question. But the Trump administration didn’t jump through the legal hoops that we’ve manufactured as a pretext to stop him from asking the question. They didn’t write it like that, but that’s my analysis of it.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. Well, we’re going to finish up in a moment. Is there anything else you’d like to say, draw our attention to some of the work Judicial Watch is doing now, or what you’re expecting to happen, presumably, next Wednesday when the special counsel–

Mr. Fitton: The people should recognize the Mueller testimony, this craziness over the president’s tweets, it’s all part and parcel of presidential harassment. But the harassment, the degree it’s targeting President Trump, we should recognize though it’s an attack on the rule of law. And we’re facing it at the border with the border crisis, the unwillingness to enforce the rule of law there and the opposition and hatred for those enforcing the law.

And then, of course, we got the clean election issue. So our system of government that protects our freedoms is under attack from a variety of very dangerous forces. You have open borders, elections that can be stolen, and a president that they’re trying to hamstring in the least, if not remove, through lawless actions. This is today’s United States of America. And I’m glad to say Judicial Watch is doing its part to try to defend the republic. And we just want more support, not only from the American people from doing so, but more politicians need to understand the gravity of the situation.

Mr. Jekielek: What can the man on the street or someone watching right now do? Because they might feel very depressed about–

Mr. Fitton: Well, I mean, they should recognize what the problem is. It’s one thing to say, well, I don’t like what’s going on. But you’ve got to recognize what the problem is so that when people talk about what they want to do, say, well, that doesn’t address the problem because this is what the problem is. And once they recognize the problem, they should let their elected officials know, we expect you to address it in the ways that we’ve talked about here. And, obviously, they can support Judicial Watch.

Mr. Jekielek: Tom Fitton, pleasure.

Mr. Fitton: Thank you very much.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

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