In January, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got into a heated exchange with Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin during her testimony on Benghazi before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Johnson asked Clinton to ascertain whether the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was a response to an anti-Islam YouTube video. A visibly-furious Clinton took exception to Johnson’s inquiry and shot back, “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Written by Doug Powers
Who are the “HRC Super Volunteers”? We know there’s at least one of them — or maybe two, or ten, or a million — and that some are possibly looking for a place to crash during the campaign. In any case, some ground rules have been issued to the media:
Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for a very long time, which means much has been written about her — including quite a few adjectives. But some of these adjectives are now off-limits.
That’s according to the Clinton “Super Volunteers,” who have promised to track the media’s use of words they believe to be sexist code words. The New York Times’s Amy Chozick tweeted a missive she received from the group (which we would note is almost definitely not connected to official Team Clinton) on Wednesday.
So these words are now off the table: “polarizing,” “calculating,” “disingenuous,” “insincere,” “ambitious,” “inevitable,” “entitled,” “over-confident,” “secretive,” “will do anything to win,” “represents the past,” and “out of touch.”
They sound serious, you guys:
We are HRC Super Volunteers, We are Legion, We do not allow sexism, We do not forgive words like "polarizing" or "calculating" Expect us.
— HRC Super Volunteers (@HRCSuperVols) March 25, 2015
— HRC Super Volunteers (@HRCSuperVols) March 26, 2015
Has Hillary’s email server become self-aware?
**Written by Doug PowersFollow VeronicaCoffin
Alejandro Mayorkas, the former director of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, favored projects championed by Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and Hillary Clinton’s brother Tony Rodham, according to an explosive new report from the Department of Homeland Security inspector’s general (IG).
The IG concluded its investigation into whether Mayorkas, now the deputy secretary at DHS, “exerted improper influence” in the adjudication of the Employee-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5), which allows aliens to invest $500,000 in U.S. companies in order to gain residency for themselves and their families.
And indeed, the IG determined that Mayorkas did improperly exert his influence, and on behalf of companies with ties to Reid, McAuliffe, and Rodham.
“Mayorkas communicated with stakeholders on substantive issues, outside of the normal adjudicatory process, and intervened with the career USCIS staff in ways that benefited the stakeholders,” the report reads, noting that in each of those cases the outcome would have been different if not for Mayorkas’ intervention.
The report also noted that more than 15 USCIS employees at all levels conveyed “the same factual scenario: certain applicants and stakeholders received preferential access to DHS leadership and preferential treatment in either the handling of their application or petition or regarding the merits of the application or petition.”
The IG, which began its investigations in Sept. 2012, also found that the number and variety of witnesses was “highly unusual” and characterized Mayorkas’ level of intervention as “unprecedented.”
In one case, Mayorkas intervened on behalf of GreenTech Automotive, an electric car company controlled by Gulf Coast Funds Management. McAuliffe was chairman of Gulf Coast’s board while Tony Rodham was CEO.
In an unrelated case, Rodham’s position with Gulf Coast earned him a spot on the board of a gold mining company with interests in Haiti. Rodham met the owner of that company, VCS Mining, at an event for the Clinton Global Initiative, his sister’s charity.
The IG report shows that Mayorkas became involved in the Gulf Coast’s application in July 2010. He opposed USCIS employees’ decision to deny the company’s EB-5 visa applications, though staffers felt that the GreenTech project fell outside of the scope of the program and that it was “really not so good of a project.”
But McAuliffe pushed for EB-5 and continuously called and met with Mayorkas on the matter. According to the IG report, after Gulf Coast’s application was initially denied, Mayorkas took a deep and special interest in the project, telling staff that he would personally oversee it. During one meeting, he shocked staffers by saying that he would take materials related to the application home so that he could work on the case.
Many USCIS staff believed that Mayorkas’ interest in the project indicated that Gulf Coast was “wired in” to the agency.
In early 2013, Mayorkas backed off of his hands-on involvement with the application. But it was understood within the agency that he still hoped to see its application approved. On Jan. 29, 2013, Rodham sent Mayorkas sent an email regarded processing delays. Mayorkas forwarded the email to staff with a “high importance” designation, according to the inspector general.
Gulf Coast’s fourth amendment for application was approved in Feb. 2014.
Mayorkas has previously denied exerting undue influence on behalf of Gulf Coast. Back in July 2013, after he was tapped by President Obama to take over as DHS deputy secretary, he responded to news that the IG was investigating his relationship with McAuliffe and Gulf Coast saying that it was “unequivocally false” that he had played favorites.
USCIS employees also complained of Mayorkas’ involvement with Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. After the two spoke in Jan. 2013, Mayorkas intervened to expedite processing of EB-5 petitions for Chinese investors in Las Vegas’ SLS Hotel and Casino.
USCIS staff believed there was no grounds to grant those petitions.
The report states that in Dec. 2012, a Reid staffer emailed USCIS’ Office of Legislative Affairs asking for expedited processing of the EB-5 application. The staffer said that the terms of SLS’s bank financing required that 10 percent of its investor visas must be approved by mid-Jan. 2013.
The report notes that expedited processing is rare. One USCIS staffer said he told Mayorkas that the agency had not expedited processing for any application during that entire year.
SLS filed its application on Dec. 10, 2012. USCIS denied it on Dec. 17 and said it would review the application in the order it was received.
But on Jan. 8, 2013, Mayorkas told Reid during a telephone call that he would take a “fresh look” at the application.
Mayorkas also took the unorthodox step of providing Reid’s office with weekly updates on the processing of the EB-5 request. One staffer said that doing so was “stressful.” The intervention was not successful, but Reid later thanked Mayorkas for his help, the IG report notes.
Mayorkas also intervened to help Sony with a series of movie projects. Mayorkas was “in contact with politically prominent stakeholders associated with the venture,” the IG found. Mayorkas went so far as to create a review board, “staffed with individuals he handpicked” to review Time Warner movie projects. The board, which did not previously exist, reversed a pending proposal.
In a letter responding to the IG report, Mayorkas defended his interventions, saying that he sought to improve the EB-5 program, which he claimed was not expansive enough.
“While I disagree with the Inspector General’s report, I will certainly learn from it and from this process,” he said in a statement after the IG report was released.
“As the leader of U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services, I had the responsibility to ensure that cases, including the three that are the focus of the report, were decided as the law required and that agency errors were corrected. I fulfilled that responsibility and I also took steps to ensure that my involvement was understood by those around me.”