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A new GOP-led Senate bill would strip the Chinese government of its sovereign immunity and allow U.S. citizens to sue China in federal court for damages over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Civil Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Act, introduced on Monday, would allow states and U.S. citizens to bring federal lawsuits over the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged role in covering up and exacerbating the global coronavirus pandemic. The GOP bill is sponsored by Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona and co-sponsored by Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Mike Rounds of South Dakota. The bill incorporates similar stand-alone legislation that had been pushed by McSally, Blackburn, Hawley, and Cotton aimed at holding China accountable.

It was reported in April that the U.S. intelligence community believes the Chinese Communist Party downplayed the severity of the initial coronavirus outbreak and that China continues to mislead about the infection rate and death toll inside its borders. Beijing has denied orchestrating a cover-up of its coronavirus response. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have also accused China of carrying out cyberattacks against U.S. institutions to steal coronavirus vaccine research.

“Americans who have been victimized by the lies and deceit of the Chinese Communist Party — to include those who lost loved ones, suffered business losses, or were personally harmed due to COVID-19 — deserve the opportunity to hold China accountable and to demand just compensation,” McSally said in a statement. “Our bill will empower Americans to do just that by providing them with the legal tools necessary to sue the Chinese government in federal court for creating and worsening the COVID-19 pandemic. As the death toll and financial losses of COVID-19 mount, China should be forced to pay the costs of these damages to the American people.”

There is strong evidence that China covered up the coronavirus’s spread, muzzled whistleblowers, intimidated doctors, misled the World Health Organization, and blocked outside health experts. China knew by late 2019 that human-to-human transmission was occurring, but on Jan. 14, the WHO tweeted: “Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.”

The Trump administration said it would cut off WHO’s U.S. funding, effective next summer.

The China bill is similar to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, a 2016 bill that was enacted over a veto by former President Barack Obama. The law empowered the families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to continue their civil lawsuits against Saudi Arabia in federal court and increased the ability of U.S. citizens to sue foreign nations over their support for terrorism.

Some former federal officials have argued against stripping China of its sovereign immunity over the coronavirus pandemic, saying it could be counterproductive and have unintended consequences.

The new legislation, if passed, would allow federal courts to listen to and rule on claims alleging that China’s government bears responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic, strip China of its sovereign immunity due to actions (and inaction) that made the pandemic worse, and empower federal courts to impose freezes and seizures of Chinese assets.

The text of the bill states, in part, that it aims “to strip foreign sovereign immunity of certain foreign states to secure justice for victims of novel coronavirus in the United States.”

The “cause of action” outlined in the bill would encompass “any citizen or resident of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of any reckless action or omission (including a conscious disregard of the need to report information promptly or deliberately hiding relevant information) of a foreign state, or of any official, employee, or agent of that foreign state … that caused or substantially contributed to the COVID–19 global pandemic in the United States.” Those affected “may sue therefore in any appropriate district court of the United States and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney’s fees.”

The bill would allow state attorneys general to bring such lawsuits against China through the federal court system.

If passed, the legislation would represent a further ramping up of U.S. efforts aimed at imposing costs upon the Chinese government for its actions on the world stage.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced sanctions, including the denial of travel visas, aimed at Chinese Communist Party officials who the U.S. believes have been involved in carrying out human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China. The U.S. also took actions against China following its takeover of Hong Kong through the imposition of a “national security” law.

The Justice Department’s China Initiative aims to combat both Chinese espionage and its Thousand Talents Program, suspected of being geared toward stealing research, and the U.S. has arrested and charged a number of scientists, including Harvard’s chemistry department chairman, Charles Lieber. The agency charged Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in a global racketeering scheme earlier this year.

In June, the Federal Communications Commission designated Huawei and ZTE as “national security threats,” while the Pentagon named Huawei as one of 20 Chinese companies operating in the U.S. with direct ties to the Chinese government’s People’s Liberation Army.

National security adviser Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Attorney General William Barr have all given speeches in recent weeks warning of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Civil Justice for Victims o… by Victor I Nava on Scribd

Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Source: Washington Examiner: GOP bill would allow people to sue China over coronavirus ‘deceit’

GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Sunday that fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe would be indicted for misleading investigators and fired FBI Director James Comey would be held accountable

“We came the closest ever to this country having a coup, and now we need accountability,” McCarthy told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures. “I respect this attorney general so greatly, that the way he has handled this, he believes in accountability, but more importantly, he believes in the rule of law.”

The California congressman and Republican House minority leader’s comments about the latest developments in the Trump-Russia saga came after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz completed a draft report on abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“We will see an indictment,” McCarthy said. “And remember what we are talking about here. Here’s the No. 2 at the FBI who is going after individuals trying to prosecute them believing they have lied when he is lying himself. When law enforcement doesn’t uphold the law and tries to put their thumb on the scale, that to me is where we really have to stand for accountability.”

The Justice Department rejected McCabe’s appeal last week to avoid criminal charges for repeatedly lacking candor with investigators. McCabe’s lawyers met with Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu in an attempt to stave off charges, but Liu and the line prosecutors reviewing the case recommended that charges be brought. McCabe’s legal team appealed that decision to Rosen, who rejected that appeal on Thursday. But on Friday, McCabe’s lawyers cited some media speculation that the grand jury may have declined to return an indictment against McCabe and demanded answers from the DOJ.

Horowitz’s February 2018 report on McCabe concluded he improperly authorized his subordinates to confirm the existence of an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation to the Wall Street Journal as part of an effort by McCabe to push back against claims that he was unfairly favorable toward Clinton. Comey says he didn’t give McCabe permission to leak that information to the media. Up to that point, Comey had refused to acknowledge the existence of the Clinton-related investigation publicly, and Horowitz recounted how McCabe lacked candor multiple times when he denied authorizing the disclosure when speaking with Comey, with FBI investigators, and with the inspector general’s office.

Horowitz concluded that “the evidence is substantial” that McCabe misled investigators “knowingly and intentionally,” and he wrote that McCabe violated FBI Offense Code 2.6, which relates to lack of candor while under oath. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe the month after Horowitz’s investigation concluded, stating that McCabe “made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”

McCabe’s lawyers have called Horowitz’s report “deeply flawed,” and McCabe, who was hired by CNN last month, sued the DOJ, accusing Trump of forcing his subordinates to participate in an “unconstitutional plan and scheme” to have him fired.

McCabe, Comey, and others helped lead the FBI’s investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election. McCabe and Comey both signed off on FISA surveillance warrant requests for Trump associate Carter Page, which they justified in part through their reliance on an unverified dossier authored by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, authored at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The FISA Court, which issued the warrants, was never informed about Steele’s Democratic benefactors.

“In the end, I do not believe Jim Comey will get off,” McCarthy said, adding the president was right to fire him.

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, after which Comey leaked information from memos of his conversations with Trump to the media in a successful effort to spark the appointment of a special counsel. A report from Horowitz in August harshly criticized Comey’s actions in sharing sensitive law enforcement information and leaking some classified information to his lawyer, but the DOJ declined to bring charges. Horowitz looked closely at the FBI leadership’s actions with the FISA Court during his latest investigation.

Besides the Horowitz report on FISA abuse now expected to be released in the coming weeks, Barr is also conducting his own investigation of the investigators with U.S. Attorney John Durham.

Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Source: Washington Examiner: ‘The closest we’ve come to a coup’: GOP House leader promises indictment for former FBI official McCabe

Former Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., says there are unreleased transcripts of recorded conversations between FBI informants and former Trump campaign associate George Papadopoulos that “has the potential to be a game changer.”

In a Fox News interview with Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, the former House Oversight Committee chairman said when the FBI listens in on phone calls or sends in an informant wearing a wire then “there’s a transcript of that” and that “one in particular has the potential to actually persuade people.”

In laying out a series of questions about the origins of the counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s campaign and the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the operation, Gowdy listed a series of questions he thinks need to be answered, including: “Where are the transcripts, if any exist, between the informants and the telephone calls to George Papadopoulos?”

During special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI about his conversations with London-based professor Joseph Mifsud, who allegedly told Papadopoulos that the Russians had damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2016 election. Stefan Halper, a Cambridge professor who was working with the FBI as an informant, and Azra Turk, a woman posing as Halper’s assistant and using an alias, met with Papadopoulos in 2016 during the presidential campaign.

Republican lawmakers who have seen the relevant documents believe exculpatory evidence related to Papadopoulos was not included in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“If the bureau is going to send an informant in it’s going to be wired and if the bureau is monitoring telephone calls there’s a transcript of that,” Gowdy said. “And some of us have been fortunate enough to know whether or not those transcripts exist. But they haven’t been made public.”

Gowdy said one still-secret transcript could be a bombshell. “I think one in particular is going, it has the potential to actually persuade people. Very little on this Russia probe, I’m afraid, is going to persuade people who hate Trump or love Trump. But there is some information in these transcripts that I think has the potential to be a game changer, if it’s ever made public,” he said.

Gowdy agreed with Bartiromo’s suggestion that the FBI had concealed relevant details about Papadopoulos from the FISA court, echoing the concerns that Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, has been expressing for months. “Yeah, John Ratcliffe is rightfully exercised over the obligations the government has to tell the whole truth to a court when you are speaking permission to spy or do surveillance on an American,” Gowdy said. “And part of that includes the responsibility of providing exculpatory information or information that tends to show the person did not do something wrong.”

“If you have exculpatory information and you don’t share it with the court, that ain’t good.” Gowdy added. “I’ve seen it, Johnny has seen it, I’d love for your viewers to see it.”

The Justice Department’s presentations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court have been roundly criticized by Republicans, especially the FBI’s reliance on the dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who was being paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC through Fusion GPS via the Perkins Coie law firm. Republicans say the FBI did not verify the dossier before using it and that the bureau hid key facts from the court, while Democrats have defended the FBI’s actions.

In October 2018, Ratcliffe said he had seen all of these documents and calling for Trump to declassify them. “I can tell you, as a former federal prosecutor, my opinion is that declassifying them wouldn’t expose any national security information, wouldn’t expose any sources and methods,” Ratcliffe said. “It would expose certain folks at the Obama Justice Department and FBI and their actions and their actions taken to conceal material facts from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”

“The underlying pretext to the entire Trump-Russia investigation, is this idea that George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign associate, had a conversation with an Australian diplomat about getting Hillary Clinton’s e-mails from the Russians,” Ratcliffe continued. “Hypothetically, if the Department of Justice and the FBI has another piece of evidence that directly refutes, that directly contradicts that, what you would expect is for the Department of Justice to present both sides of the coin to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to evaluate the weight and sufficiency of that evidence.”

But that’s not what happened, Raticliffe said. “Instead, what happened here was, Department of Justice and FBI officials in the Obama administration in October of 2016 only presented to the court the evidence that made the government’s case to get a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate.”

“Declassification would corroborate what I just related to you,” Ratcliffe claimed.

Trump partially declassified the hundreds of pages of FISA documents related to Page in July 2018. Now that the Mueller investigation has concluded, and as Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s FISA abuse probe is reaching its end, Trump may begin to declassify more information.

In April, Sean Hannity asked Trump whether he would fully declassify the FISA applications, relevant Gang of Eight material, summaries (302s) of interviews with witnesses, and more. Trump said he would. “I’m glad I waited because I thought that maybe they would obstruct if I did it early and I think I was right. So I’m glad I waited,” Trump said. “Now the attorney general can take a very strong look at whatever it is. But it will be declassified and more than what you just mentioned.”

Trump has been promising action like this for nearly a year now. On Sept. 17, 2018, the White House said that “the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.” And Trump also ordered the public release of “all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.”

But he backed away a few days later. “I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release,” Trump tweeted. “Therefore, the Inspector General has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me — and everyone!”

Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Source: Washington Examiner: Trey Gowdy: FBI withheld ‘game changer’ transcript material from FISA Court

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