Monthly Archives: February 2018

Trump budget plan to eliminate LIHEAP through zero funding


Department of Health and Human Services

The Budget proposes to eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in order
to reduce the size and scope of the Federal Government, and better target resources within the Department
of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
Funding Summary
(In millions of dollars)
2017 Enacted 2019 Request 2019 Change from 2017
Budget Authority……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3,390 0 -3,390
LIHEAP is a Federal program that has been known to have sizeable fraud and abuse, leading to program
integrity concerns. Specifically, a 2010 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study concluded that the
program lacked proper oversight, which resulted in a significant number of improper payments. In particular,
the report highlighted a number of incidents in which program funds were distributed to deceased or
incarcerated individuals. In addition, the report determined that LIHEAP application processors did little
to prevent awards from being provided to individuals with fake addresses and fake energy bills. Since the
report, States have taken steps to work toward improving the verification of identify and income.

Read on.

And other programs eliminated in the budget: Agricultural Department’s rural water and wastewater grants, the Education Department’s student support and academic enrichment grants, the Labor Department’s Indian and Native American Program, and development assistance provided through the State Department and the Agency for International Development.

Trump Transition Records, A Source Of Friction With Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Were Almost Destroyed

By Jason Leopold

Last December, President Donald Trump accused special counsel Robert Mueller of illegally obtaining thousands of presidential transition emails and other materials from a federal agency. Now, newly released documents show that Mueller almost never got them — the agency would have ordinarily destroyed transition records, a top lawyer there wrote, but “the news cycles” prompted officials to ask if they should preserve them. Eventually, they were copied onto a thumb drive.

Trump and Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Trey Gowdy, lashed out at the General Services Administration, which provides administrative support, such as office space, computers, and cell phones, to presidential transition teams, including Trump’s. Gowdy and Johnson demanded that the GSA explain how Mueller’s team obtained the records, which they said were “privileged.”

The issue led to further friction between the Trump administration and Mueller, whose team is probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the possibility that Trump officials colluded with the Kremlin. Following the revelations about the emails obtained through the GSA, Trump supporters called on the president to fire Mueller.

BuzzFeed News has now obtained documents, some heavily redacted, that shed light on how and why the GSA turned over the records to the FBI and Mueller. The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Seth Greenfeld, a lawyer for the GSA, explained in a June 8, 2017, email to his boss that during a conversation with a special counsel staffer and the FBI, he told them that the GSA would normally “destroy the records and wipe the machines, but given the news cycles, GSA decided it was prudent to inquire about preservation during the machine wiping process.”

Greenfeld said the GSA reached out to its internal watchdog who contacted the FBI and Department of Justice “and got the ball rolling” to preserve the Trump transition documents, which were copied onto a thumb drive. But Greenfeld noted that in order for the GSA to turn over the records to law enforcement, he believed the agency would need a subpoena, because the GSA did not own the records.

A subpoena, Greenfeld said, “will remove evidence admissibility issues if there is a prosecution of someone in the future, but I ultimately defer to law enforcement on the issue of a need for a subpoena.”

The FBI determined that a letter, as opposed to a subpoena, would suffice. On June 22, 2017, an FBI agent sent a formal letter to GSA Deputy General Counsel Lennard Loewentritt, and a separate letter was sent to the Defense Information Systems Agency in Fort Meade, which serviced the GSA’s computer equipment, requesting preservation and production of the transition team’s records. The FBI agent’s name was redacted from the letter.

Loewentritt was singled out by the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers for illegally turning the transition team’s records over to Mueller.

The FBI letter requested that the GSA preserve a wide range of materials that may be responsive to its ongoing probe into collusion.

The term “Documents and Responsive Materials” includes, but is not limited to, all issued electronic devices, to include computers, cellular telephones, wireless devices, and CMS devices, as well as, both in draft and final form, all emails, voicemails, documents, photos, text messages, instant messages, electronic, handwritten; and/or hardcopy records, databases, telephone records, correspondence, transcripts, audio recordings, analyses, briefings, assessments, banner entries, user agreements, audit records, metadata, storage devices, notes, memoranda, diary and calendar entries, visitor logs, meeting attendance records, meeting room reservations, meeting agendas, badge records, records of entry and exit to any building, room, or secure facility, safe access records, video surveillance of public and non-public areas, and access logs, including of classified information.

The GSA emails turned over to BuzzFeed News indicate that transition team officials were aware the agency might be forced to turn over the transition records.

Read on.

The SF86 form that did Rob Porter in


Applicants for a security clearance are required to to fill out an extensive form, the SF86. The form asks the applicant to disclose if there are any current restraining orders against them, and if they have been “a party to any public record civil court action not listed elsewhere on this form” in the past decade.The form states that “withholding, misrepresenting, or falsifying information may affect your eligibility for access to classified information, eligibility for a sensitive position, or your ability to obtain or retain Federal or contract employment.”

Pg 2 from SF86 form:

Penalties for Inaccurate of False Statements

The U.S. Criminal Code (title 18, section 1001) provides that knowingly
falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony which may result in fines
and/or up to five (5) years imprisonment. In addition, Federal agencies
generally fire, do not grant a security clearance, or disqualify individuals who
have materially and deliberately falsified these forms, and this remains a part
of the permanent record for future placements. Your prospects of placement
or security clearance are better if you answer all questions truthfully and
completely. You will have adequate opportunity to explain any information you
provide on this form and to make your comments part of the record.

Read the emergency protective order against Rob Porter

Rob Porter, senior White House official, announced Wednesday he is resigning after allegations by his two ex-wives of physical and emotional abuse. One of Porter’s ex-wives, Jennifer Willoughby, received a temporary emergency protective order in June 2010 after saying he refused to leave her residence, in violation of their separation agreement.
 Source: Washington Post
Rob Porter had never been given security clearance by the FBI because he had to  disclosed that on the form.

Trump reportedly mulling CFPB’s Mulvaney as replacement for Kelly as chief of staff

Mick Mulvaney wears a couple of different hats in the Trump administration, currently serving as both the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

But the former congressman could soon wear an entirely different hat, White House chief of staff.

According to the New York Times and CNN, President Donald Trump is asking advisers what they think of Mulvaney as a replacement for current Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Read on.

$2K goes missing from couple’s bank account, but it wasn’t a thief. Guess who?

Karen and Lindsay Leveen of Sausalito had been victims of bank fraud once before. So when they found almost $2,000 missing from their checking account, they thought it happened again. The real shock? Finding out who actually took their money.

“We were horrified,” Karen Leveen said. “We said, ‘this is like stealing.”’

They realized their money was gone when they tried to use their debit card at a retail store.

“They said this card won’t cover your purchase and we said, ‘why?’ We thought they were joking.” Karen Leveen recalls. “There should be plenty of money in there.”

“We had just made deposits into that account,” Lindsay Leveen added. “Karen’s social security went into that account, my pension.”

“We thought somebody had drained our bank account,” Karen said. “We became alarmed and went to the nearest (bank) branch.”

A manager at Bank of America confirmed someone had just withdrawn $1,956 from their account. But what really stunned them was when the bank manager went to his computer and found out who took it.

“He said, our bank took it,” Lindsay said.

It was true. Bank of America had just taken nearly $2,000 out of their account.

Read on.

Federal Reserve Replaces Board Members at Wells Fargo

It’s about time…

The Federal Reserve on Friday ordered Wells Fargo & Co. to replace four of its board members and face restrictions on its asset growth.

The Fed’s order limits growth in the firm’s total consolidated assets beyond levels reported at the end of 2017, unless it receives prior approval from the regulator.

The bank will also replace three current board members by April and a fourth by the end of 2018, the Fed said in a press release.

“We cannot tolerate pervasive and persistent misconduct at any bank and the consumers harmed by Wells Fargo expect that robust and comprehensive reforms will be put in place to make certain that the abuses do not occur again,” Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in a statement about what will likely be her last major act in charge of the Fed’s governing board. “The enforcement action we are taking today will ensure that Wells Fargo will not expand until it is able to do so safely and with the protections needed to manage all of its risks and protect its customers.”

Read on.