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Loretta Lynch Slams Chicago Police Department After Releasing Damning DOJ Report

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

After a 13-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice released a 164-page report Friday detailing the abuse of force by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). According to their findings, officers’ brutality often goes unpunished — especially when its perpetrated in communities of color.

“The Department of Justice has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the fourth Amendment to the Constitution,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in a press conference the day the report was released.

“Our investigation found that this pattern or practice is in no small part the result of severely deficient training procedures and accountability systems.”

Thousands of pages of documents, including policies, procedures, training plans, department orders and memos, internal and external reports as well as the city’s entire misconduct complaint database, were used as part of the investigation.

Additionally, the Department of Justice received over 500 phone calls, emails, and letters from individuals looking to lend their experience to the report. They included attorneys, paralegals, outreach specialists and data analysts from the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, as well law enforcement officials from police departments nationwide.

Asst. Attorney General Vaita Gupta, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson also spoke at the press conference.

The pattern of deadly and non-deadly force that Chicago Police engages in “includes, for example, shooting at people who present no immediate threat and tasing people for not following verbal commands,” Gupta explained.

The Department of Justice found that the pattern of unconstitutional force is “largely attributable to systemic deficiencies within the CPD and the city,” she added, which includes inadequate training.

“For example, we observed training on deadly force that used a video made decades ago with guidance inconsistent with both current law and internal policy,” Gupta noted.

The report also details measures that the CPD has taken to resolve community relations and policies. Investing in a de-escalation training course for officers and establishing a Community Policing Advisory panel, in addition to recruitment efforts to increase the departments diversity, represent major improvements.

“The incidences described in this report are sobering to all of us. Police misconduct will not be tolerated anywhere in the city of Chicago and those who break the rules will be held accountable for their actions,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

In October 2014, the shooting of Laquan McDonald and the handling of its evidence sparked calls for the mayor’s resignation and the launch of the DOJ’s CPD investigation.

“Some of the finding in the report are difficult to read, but it highlights the work we have yet to complete to restore the trust between the department and the community,” added Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

Watch:

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

IMAGE: United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks to Reuters in an exclusive interview in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec

FBI Director Won’t Let Democracy Be

WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the FBI director, is above it all. He’s known and shown it for years. In a town of towering egos, he stands taller. Six feet, 8 inches. Barack Obama looked up to him until a couple days ago.

In our public square, Comey has thrown a hard ball, breaking bad against Hillary Clinton. He says a new trove of emails will be investigated — though he has no idea what’s up.

So much for the presidential election that Comey has compromised. Nobody does what he did, days before an election. It defies Justice Department traditional practice and protocol.

The relationship between the attorney general and the FBI has always been difficult. The FBI is under Justice, but housed apart in a Brutalist building of its own a mile away. Really. Since the iron rule of J. Edgar Hoover, it operates as its own fiefdom.

Comey believes in one-man, one-vote democracy — as long as he’s the man, late in the game. It’s a point of pride he served President Bush and President Obama and proved a pain to both.

In a hospital drama when he was a Justice official, Comey beat Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzalez, George W. Bush’s chief of staff and counsel in a race to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s bedside to keep them from making Ashcroft sign papers to renew a surveillance program. The 2004 sequence is reported in “Days of Fire,” by Peter Baker. A bit of a grand stand.

Here’s the rub: Obama appointed Comey FBI director because he seemed like the best man in the Bush administration — a tragic error that could lose his team the political World Series.

All along, Obama was way too quick to reach out to Republicans. You tell me why when they have shunned him from the start. (Comey says he is no longer registered as a Republican, but supported Mitt Romney for president in 2012.)

Without meaning to, Obama failed Clinton with his “extremely careless” appointment of Comey. (Comey’s words for the Democratic presidential nominee.)

Don’t forget, Clinton herself and Comey’s boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch — they’re just women on the outside of the Brutalist building. If Comey improperly changed the course of the fraught election over an unknown bundle of emails, over Lynch’s express wishes — well, he shrugs. It’s all about him.

Now everybody’s mad at him, right, left and center, and maybe he likes it that way, in the eye of a firestorm.

Or, conjure Comey as the lone rock star with the FBI as the back-up band, the Hooverites.

The freakishly tall Comey is a curious character that has confounded fellow Republicans and Democrats alike for years. He’s no naive stranger to this town.

No Clinton drama could be complete without Bill Clinton. In a chance meeting, he briefly spoke to the Attorney General Lynch and her husband at an airport in Arizona.

So what? What happened to the days when people in politics could have a friendly “visit” with each other without conflicts of interest and disclosures and all that jazz? The meeting was pure Bill being Bill, his gregarious self.

It insults Lynch’s integrity to suggest Justice’s conclusions on Hillary Clinton’s private server emails would be swayed a few short days later.

But this meeting got Washington in a tizzy and gave Comey his opening to usurp Lynch. She felt pressured to give the reins of the Clinton case to Comey.

Bill Clinton let his wife, Hillary, down, too, and that’s the saddest part of this story.

Comey’s grandstanding — in a July press conference and in subsequent testimony before Congress — elevated him to a place where he did not belong. The Justice Department is in charge of these things, and it usually makes legal decisions on whether to bring criminal charges. That’s why it’s there, in a graceful, beautiful building where justice is done by blue-chip government lawyers.

The late Robert Kennedy, Eric Holder and Janet Reno, all attorneys general, played tougher with the FBI. You don’t give power away, because you’ll never get it back.

So what about the election? Comey has compromised it once, twice, thrice now with Marc Rich pardon material from the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

President Obama’s choice is clear. For the common good, Director Comey must be stopped.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

IMAGE: FBI Director James Comey is sworn in before testifying before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Clinton Takes On FBI Director, Asks For Full Explanation

By Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla./GOLDEN, Colo. (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton on Saturday challenged FBI Director James Comey to provide a fuller explanation of investigative steps he is taking related to her use of a private email server, as the Democratic presidential candidate accused him of “deeply troubling” behavior 10 days before the U.S. elections.

Speaking to volunteers in Daytona Beach, Florida, Clinton said: “Some of you may have heard about a letter the FBI director sent” on Friday to the U.S. Congress informing it that the agency is again reviewing emails.

Comey had decided in July that the FBI was not going to seek prosecution of Clinton for her handling of classified materials on a private email server while she was secretary of state.

“It is pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election,” Clinton said, adding, “It’s not just strange, it’s unprecedented and it’s deeply troubling because voters deserve to get full and complete facts.” She urged Comey to “put it all out on the table.”

In tandem with Clinton, fellow Democrats on Saturday also worked to pressure Comey to provide details on a controversy that dominated the presidential campaigns on Saturday, less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 elections.

Four U.S. senators – Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving Senate Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, Thomas Carper and Benjamin Cardin – wrote Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking that they provide by Monday more detailed information about investigative steps underway.

At a press conference in Columbus, Ohio, the Congressional Black Caucus, comprised of about 45 members of the House of Representatives, nearly all Democrats, also urged Comey to be more forthcoming.

Sources close to the investigation on Friday said the latest emails were discovered as part of a separate probe into Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Weiner, a former Democratic U.S. congressman from New York, is the target of an FBI investigation into illicit text messages he is alleged to have sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pounded away at the new FBI development, devoting a large part of a campaign speech in Golden, Colorado, to attacking Clinton and arguing that she is not to be trusted with the presidency.

“Her criminal action was willful, deliberate, intentional and purposeful,” Trump said, standing in front of hay bales stacked in a horse barn. “Hillary set up an illegal server for the obvious purpose of shielding her illegal actions from public disclosure and exposure.”

Comey, however, has not provided any details on whether the emails now under review are being seen for the first time by the FBI or the nature of their contents.

Clinton’s campaign team tried to downplay the new review.

“There’s no evidence of wrongdoing, no charge of wrongdoing,” said John Podesta, who heads the Clinton campaign, referring to the FBI’s latest announcement that it was taking “appropriate investigative steps” after learning of emails “that appear to be pertinent” to the earlier Clinton email probe.

In some of his toughest language on Saturday, Podesta portrayed Comey’s letter to Congress as “light on facts, heavy on innuendo.”

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, trying to tamp down speculation of a voter backlash this late in the campaign, said Americans had already “factored” what they knew about the email investigation into how they would cast their ballots.

“We don’t see it changing the landscape” for undecided voters, Mook said.

Clinton aides also said this latest controversy has further energized her supporters.

Clinton did a campaign swing through Florida as she and Trump were thought to be in a tight race in a state famous for its role in close presidential elections.

Many analysts believe this battleground state is essential for Trump to win in order to have any chance of being elected.

In recent weeks, Trump has been running behind Clinton in most public opinion polls.

Singer and actor Jennifer Lopez was scheduled to headline a free concert in Miami on Saturday for Clinton supporters. The Clinton campaign hopes that “J.Lo,” as she is known by fans, will provide celebrity star power and help Clinton connect with young voters who earlier this year flocked to Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders.

Justice Department officials, according to a source who asked not to be identified, were opposed to the FBI director’s letter being sent to Congress and believe his actions conflict with a Justice Department memo outlining instructions that agencies should not to act in ways that could influence elections.

While Lynch did not discuss the matter directly with Comey, the source said aides were in touch with each other.

Comey let it be known he felt he had to send the letter as a follow-up to his congressional testimony earlier this year regarding the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s emails, the source said.

During his speech in Golden, before flying to Arizona to campaign, Trump accused the Obama administration’s Justice Department of trying to protect Clinton from prosecution.

“The attorney general didn’t want anything to happen to Hillary. I wonder why. It’s very sad. Folks, we’re living in a third world country,” Trump said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland in Golden, Colorado, ans Roberta Rampton in Daytona Beach, Florida; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Leslie Adler and Chizu Nomiyama)

Photo:Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo

Comey Ignored Attorney General, Violated Policy In Announcing Email Review

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

FBI director James Comey was told by top Justice Department officials not to make any public statement about renewing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, because it violated DOJ policy on commenting on ongoing investigations, various national news outlets reported Saturday.

“Director Comey understood our position. He heard it from Justice leadership,” the Washington Post‘s source said. “It was conveyed to the FBI, and Comey made an independent decision to alert the Hill. He is operating independently of the Justice Department. And he knows it.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Comey not to break DOJ policy—laid out in federal prosecutor guidelines—of not commenting on open investigations or making any statement potentially influencing election outcomes, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported, also citing DOJ sources.

“Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election,” Mayer wrote. “The F.B.I. director is an employee of the Justice Department, and is covered by its policies.”

Comey, a Republican appointed three years ago by President Obama, sent a letter Friday to Republican House Committee chairmen saying that a computer taken from disgraced former New York City Congressman Anthony Weiner, in an investigation into alleged sexual contact with a minor, contained emails between then-Secretary of State Clinton and Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime top Clinton aide who has since separated from Weiner.

The FBI director would not disclose what was in the Clinton-Abedin emails on the computer, prompting some observers to wonder if they were duplicates of the thousands that have been examined by the FBI to see if Clinton mishandled classified information as Secretary of State. In July, Comey said Clinton had been careless in using a private server, but there was no basis for recommending a prosecution. The finding enraged House Republicans and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Comey sent a letter to the FBI explaining his actions on Friday, saying he felt compelled to add to the public record surrounding the email inquiry. He seems to think he is taking the high moral ground and not throwing the FBI into the middle of one of the most volatile presidential campaigns in memory with less than two weeks to go to Election Day.

“Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed,” Comey wrote. “I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season,” he wrote, adding, “there is significant risk of being misunderstood.”

Clinton responded Friday by abruptly holding a press conference and demanding the FBI disclose what was in the emails. As she was doing that, an immediate chorus of criticism arose from former DOJ officials who are steeped in the department’s public disclosure policies.

The former director of the DOJ’s public affairs office, Matthew Miller, issued a stunning 12-part series of tweets that slammed Comey violating DOJ policy:

“I wrote a piece in July on why Comey’s public comments about Clinton were such an inappropriate abuse of power. He flagrantly violated DOJ rules with his press conference. Then went on to break new ground discussing details of the case to Congress… Followed by quickly releasing FBI 302’s, something they rarely do, and which I doubt they will do for future high-profile cases… Each time, he either violated or seriously stretched DOJ rule & precedent. Press conference was the original sin, & it begat the rest… But today’s disclosure might be worst abuse yet. DOJ goes out of its way to avoid publicly discussing investigations close to election… Not just public discussion either. Often won’t send subpoenas or take other steps that might leak until after an election is over… Why? Because voters have no way to interpret FBI/DOJ activity in a neutral way. Who is the target of an investigation? What conduct?… This might be totally benign & not even involve Clinton. But no way for press or voters to know that. Easy for opponent to make hay over… Which takes us back to the original rule: you don’t comment on ongoing investigations. Then multiply that times ten close to an election… For whatever reason (& there are many theories), Comey continues to ignore that. But only for Clinton… FBI is undoubtedly investigating links between the Russian hack, Manafort, & the Trump campaign. But aren’t commenting on it. Good! … They shouldn’t be commenting on investigations! But that should apply to all. Instead Clinton consistently treated differently/worse.”

The impact of Comey’s intentional interference in the presidential campaign is hard to gauge. Polling analyst Nate Silver, at fivethirtyeight.com, tweeted Comey’s statement—even before anyone knows whether there is anything substantially damaging or not—and was prompting “betting markets” to shave one percentage point off Clinton’s lead in the polls.

It is too soon to know the impact this may have—it could just prompt Democrats to work harder than ever to turn out their base after such an obvious act of political sabotage. But the impact may be felt more on U.S. Senate elections, where Democrats are in much closer races with Republicans, according to polls, and Clinton’s coattails were expected to help Democrats retake the Senate majority.

What will happen next in this developing story is anybody’s guess. There has never been a similar precedent in a modern presidential election when the FBI director, acting unilaterally, disobeys his boss—the U.S. Attorney General—and injects the agency and an unrelated investigation into smearing a presidential candidate on the eve of an election.

IMAGE: Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch at Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo