President Trump Echoes Judicial Watch Concerns about Dirty Voter Rolls
Turns out that one of the Democrats’ star witnesses in their sham impeachment of President Trump – former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch – seemed to have been shading the truth. Are you at all surprised?
We just received 210 pages of records from the State Department showing that Yovanovitch had specifically warned in 2017 about corruption allegations against Burisma Holdings. However, during her November 2019 testimony in the impeachment proceedings, Yovanovitch told lawmakers that she knew little about Burisma.
We obtained the records in response to our FOIA lawsuit filed in January 2020 seeking records of communications from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv mentioning Burisma (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:20-cv-00229)).
On October 4, 2017, Michael Polt, a former ambassador to Estonia and Serbia and who until October 2020 was Senior Director at the McCain Institute, emailed Yovanovitch regarding the McCain Institute’s plan to conduct leadership development training for Ukrainian prosecutors that would be funded by Burisma. The idea was suggested to Polt by Sally Painter, Burisma’s lobbyist at Blue Star Strategies, and a Burisma executive. In the email, Polt notes that he was introduced to Painter by U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Volker was also a Trump impeachment witness.
Polt emails Yovanovitch on October 4, 2017:
Dear Masha: Greetings from the home front and all the best for your complex assignment in Kiev! I wonder if I could pick your brain on a leadership development we have been asked to run for Ukrainian public prosecutors here at the McCain Institute. Kurt cannot get involved with this, due to his other role as Special Envoy. Sally Painter of Blue Star Strategies, whom Kurt introduced to me and then stepped aside, together with Vadym Poharskyi of the Burisma Group have asked us whether we could provide a two-week Leadership Development and Professional Capacity Building program for Ukrainian public prosecutors proposed to us by the Ukrainian Chief Prosecutor. Burisma would fun this. We are prepared to do this, as we have done for similar groups from the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] and from Pakistan. I would greatly appreciate your view if you know Burisma and/or Vadym or others.
Yovanovitch, in her response, warned Polt about Burisma, writing:
Mike: Sorry not to have responded more quickly. I will get back to you with a fuller response, but I would urge caution in dealing with the Burisma Group. It is widely believed that the owner was the beneficiary of the corrupt justice system here and I think –to the extent that anyone is aware that Burisma is funding the training –there would be raised eyebrows in Kyiv over the irony of Burisma training prosecutors and to what end.
I’d also note that the PGO [Prosecutor General’s Office] is one of the entities here that remains resolutely unreformed. After a year and a half of trying, we pulled out and reprogrammed our resources into other areas in the justice sector that were ready for change. Wish I had better news and will get back to you with more details.
In a November 7, 2017, email to Yovanovitch, Polt indicates that he is taking her “sage advice” and “not moving forward” with Burisma’s funding of the training.
During her November 15, 2019, testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment proceedings, Yovanovitch said she didn’t have much knowledge about Burisma, and noted that she only learned of its connection to the Biden family through “press reports” she read while preparing for her Senate confirmation hearing.
The new production of records from the State Department also includes several emails regarding the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv’s response to John Solomon’s reporting for The Hill. The emails are almost entirely redacted, as are the names of the officials involved. In one email regarding this effort, an unidentified official cites a report by the George Soros-funded Anti-Corruption Action Center defending itself against the reporting as a “useful reference point.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv closely monitored media and social media reaction to many conservatives and journalists in potential violation of federal law.
Marie Yovanovitch knew much more about Burisma than what she revealed in her testimony at the sham impeachment hearings. We will continue our efforts to unearth the shady details in the Burisma-Biden scandal that is not going to go away.
We have been busy uncovering other details of this scandal.
In October we received records from the State Department that included a briefing checklist of a February 22, 2019, meeting in Kyiv between Yovanovitch and Painter. The briefing checklist noted that Painter also planned to meet with Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) Officer Martin Claessens “regarding the Burisma Group energy company.”
At the time of the meeting, Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, was serving on the board of directors for Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy firm, despite having no previous experience in the energy industry. Biden served on the board of Burisma until his term expired in April 2019.
In September 2020 we made public records that show George Kent, the Obama administration’s deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy, which was copied to Yovanovitch, highlighting Russia-linked media “trolling” Joe Biden over “his son’s business.”
In a related case we uncovered records showing the U.S. embassy in Ukraine monitoring, in potential violation of law, Donald Trump, Jr., Rudy Giuliani and major journalists on Twitter on their commentary on Ukraine, “Biden-Burisma 2020,” and George Soros. The search terms flagged to be monitored by State Department officials on social media included Yovanovitch, Ukraine Ambassador, Ukrainian Ambassador, Ukraine Soros, Clinton campaign, and Biden-Burisma.
With Hunter Biden’s admission this week that the FBI is investigating him, the Burisma scandal is a fetid mess. And no matter what corrupted FBI and compromised DOJ do, you can trust Judicial Watch to keep on battling in court for the truth about Biden family corruption.
Ex-Con Hired by D.C. as ‘Violence Interrupter’ Charged with Murder
Your capital city, Washington D.C., is revealing the danger of the Left’s soft on crime agenda. It’s a city clamoring to defund the police while hiring – and even celebrating – a man arrested for murder. You will be appalled as you read our Corruption Chronicles report:
In a curious twist, a “reformed” criminal hired by the District of Columbia’s chief legal officer to help curb violence has been arrested and charged with murder. The case involves a taxpayer-funded public safety program known as Cure the Streets launched by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine to reduce gun violence by treating it as a disease that can be interrupted and stopped from spreading.
Cure the Streets typically hires men and women with criminal histories as violence interrupters because they know first-hand about the challenges that residents of crime-infested communities live with. Racine, who was reelected to a second term in 2018, says the transformed criminals hired by his program perform community-driven public safety work that can avoid using police.
Here is how they carry out the task, according to Racine’s office: By interrupting potentially violent conflicts because they have relationships and influence within targeted neighborhoods. Violence interrupters “engage with the community to learn about brewing conflicts and resolve them peaceably before they erupt in violence,” the program’s website states. Violence interrupters also identify and treat individuals at high risk for involvement with violence by meeting with them and implementing individualized risk reduction plans. “They also help connect participants with needed services, such as housing, counseling and employment assistance, and develop action plans for a positive future.” Finally, the D.C. Attorney General claims violence interrupters mobilize communities to change norms by engaging residents, local businesses, community leaders and faith leaders to work with high-risk individuals to reduce violence. “CTS works with these partners to organize forums and public events where residents can gather and interact safely without fear of conflict and violence,” the D.C. government website claims. It is not clear what impact Cure the Streets is having on violent crime in the District, but the Metropolitan Police Department reports that homicides are up 20% from last year.
The program operates in notoriously high-crime sections throughout D.C., which are broken down by wards. They include Eckington/Truxton and Trinidad in Ward 5, Marshall Heights/Benning Heights in Ward 7 and Bellevue, Washington Highlands, and Congress Heights in Ward 8. The Cure the Streets employee recently charged with murder was a supervisor who led a team of six violence interrupters and outreach workers. His name is Cotey Wynn, an ex-con with an extensive rap sheet who served a decade in prison before D.C.’s chief legal officer hired him. Wynn’s record includes felony murder, first degree murder, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, and distribution of a controlled substance, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. On December 4, the agency’s Capital Area Fugitive Task Force arrested the 39-year-old Wynn and charged him with second degree murder while armed. At the time of his arrest Wynn was under the supervision of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, a federal agency that believes preventative detention should only be a last resort for defendants, who should live in the least restrictive conditions while awaiting court.
Police say Wynn fatally shot a 53-year-old man named Eric Linnair Wright in 2017 near the Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast Washington. The violence interrupter was identified by multiple witnesses after viewing security camera footage from nearby homes, according to police. Authorities also tracked Wynn’s cell phone to the location of the crime. In a statement issued to local media, Racine’s spokesperson said this: “The Office of the Attorney General is aware of Mr. Wynn’s arrest for a homicide he is alleged to have committed in 2017, prior to his employment with Cure the Streets. This case will now proceed through our criminal justice system where Mr. Wynn is presumed innocent. We are confident that justice will be served once this process is complete. Our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Wright, the victim in this case, and to the affected members of the community. The important work of the Cure the Streets team will continue.”
It was not that long ago that the same office, charged with enforcing D.C. laws and protecting the interest of its citizens, bragged about what a great guy Wynn is. In a profile posted on the Attorney General’s website over the summer, Wynn was portrayed as somewhat of a saint. “When observing Cotey at work, you see a respected professional, a loving father, a devoted friend, and a pillar of the community,” according to the piece which includes a photo of the accused murderer delivering resources to D.C. residents during COIVD-19. The story also reveals that Wynn could not find a job after a decade in prison since “the damage to his reputation made it hard for him to find employment” so D.C. government hired him as a violence interrupter for Cure the Streets.
Stay safe out there.
Judicial Watch Confronts the Election Crisis
Our chief investigative reporter, Micah Morrison, provides a good summary of our work over the years for election integrity in his latest Investigative Bulletin:
President Trump has been pounding the bully pulpit about the integrity of the electoral system as he battles for a second term. We know how he feels. Judicial Watch litigation teams have been working for years to clean up dirty voting rolls. Here’s the president in a December 2 speech:
“It’s a widely known fact that the voting rolls are packed with people who are not lawfully eligible to vote, including those who are deceased, have moved out of their state, and even non-citizens of our country. Beyond this, the records are riddled with errors, wrong addresses, duplicate entries, and many other issues.”
That’s not a surprise to Judicial Watch supporters. We’ve extensively reported on our legal fights to clean up dirty voter rolls, many of them in battleground states. Under the National Voter Registration Act, states are required to remove “inactive voters” from registration rolls if they do not respond to an address confirmation notice and then fail to vote in the next two general federal elections. Many “inactive voters” in fact have died or moved to a new location.
In October, we published a groundbreaking study analyzing data that showed there are at least 1.8 million of these “ghost voters” spread across more than 350 counties in 29 states. The data revealed eight states where the number of registered voters actually exceeds 100% of eligible voting-age citizens in the state! That dubious distinction goes to Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Dirty voting rolls are a breeding ground for fraud. The Judicial Watch study “highlights the recklessness of mailing blindly ballots and ballot applications to voter registration lists,” says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections.”
Earlier this year, we sued Pennsylvania for failing to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from their rolls, as required by the NVRA. The state set out a ludicrously low level of inactive names eligible for removal under the NVRA, as we reported in October. The state initially claimed that in one county of 457,000 registrants, it had found only eight inactive names eligible for removal. In another county of 357,000 registrants, only five names had been removed. In a third county of 403,000 registrants, only four names were removed.
Pennsylvania has since revised its numbers, admitting it had reported incorrect information to a federal agency on the removal of ineligible voters. But even the new figures are too low. Pennsylvania now admits that in eighteen other counties—which together contain twenty-five percent of the entire state’s registered voters—it removed a grand total of fifteen inactive, ineligible voters in a two-year period.
We also went to court in Colorado, where studies have shown that a majority of the state’s counties have registration rates that exceed 100% of the voting-age population. Our lawsuit charges “an ongoing, systemic problem with Colorado’s voter list maintenance obligations.”
We filed a lawsuit in North Carolina for the same reason—large numbers of ineligible voters on the state voter rolls. By our estimate, North Carolina has nearly one million inactive voters on its rolls.
We’ve warned five states—Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Carolina, California, and Virginia—to clean up their dirty voter rolls. In California, we uncovered 1.6 million inactive voters on electoral rolls and sued, forcing Los Angeles County to clean up its act.
We’ve successfully taken on Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana as well. In Ohio, a Supreme Court decision upheld a voter-roll cleanup stemming from a Judicial Watch lawsuit. In Kentucky, we sued for a voter-roll cleanup and won. Indiana agreed to clean up its rolls after Judicial Watch launched an investigation.
Judicial Watch is happy to see President Trump take on election integrity issues. When it comes to voting rolls, he’s right. We’ll keep fighting to clean them up, no matter who occupies the Oval Office.
Until next week …
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