House Dems Call For Investigation Into Forced Hysterectomy Claims

Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform called for a federal investigation on Tuesday into allegations that detainees at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia were receiving unwarranted hysterectomies.

Reports of inadequate conditions for both detainees and employees were the subject of a whistleblower letter filed with the Office of Joseph V. Cuffari, the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on Monday. In the letter, a nurse at Georgia’s Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) alleged that some detainees had hysterectomies performed on them without explanation. Conditions at the ICDC were often allegedly unsanitary, even in areas reserved for medical examinations or quarantining detainees.

In the Tuesday letter to the DHS Inspector General, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Chairman Jamie Raskin of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties requested “an emergency investigation into shocking allegations of medical atrocities and detainee mistreatment” at the ICDC.

According to the letter, members of the committee visited the ICDC in September 2019, “during which they observed alarmingly urgent health and safety issues.” Although the DHS said the committee’s findings would be factored into future inspection visits to the detention center, no progress updates were made to the committee.

Newsweek subscription offers >

Maloney and Raskin requested that Cuffari schedule a briefing for an update on the DHS’s findings, incorporating any findings regarding the allegation in the whistleblower letter.

Newsweek reached out to the office of the DHS Inspector General for comment.

ICE, detention center
Some Democratic lawmakers called for an investigation into allegations of “medical atrocities” that took place at an immigrant detention center in Georgia.
David McNew/Getty

In the letter detailing the alleged abuses at ICDC released by advocacy group Project South, whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a registered nurse employed by ICDC, said the number of hysterectomies performed on detained immigrant women raised a “red flag.” Wooten described the doctor performing the hysterectomies as “the uterus collector.”

Newsweek subscription offers >

“Everybody he sees, he’s taking all their uteruses out or he’s taken their tubes out,” Wooten said. “What in the world.”

Wooten also alleged that hysterectomies are performed without consent.

“I’ve had several inmates tell me that they’ve been to see the doctor and they’ve had hysterectomies and they don’t know why they went or why they’re going,” Wooten said.

Some requests by detainees for medical attention were allegedly shredded, according to Wooten. Medical and quarantine areas were also allegedly cleaned haphazardly, leaving the floors and tables in examination rooms dirty.

In a Tuesday statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if the allegations about the conditions at the ICDC were true, they constituted a “staggering abuse of human rights.”

“Congress and the American people need to know why and under what conditions so many women, reportedly without their informed consent, were pushed to undergo this extremely invasive and life-altering procedure,” Pelosi added.

Jewish advocacy group Bend the Arc said ICE’s actions were tantamount to “genocide.”

“Forced sterilization is genocide,”

Read more

House Democrats launch investigation into alleged political interference in CDC reports

Washington — House Democrats have launched an investigation into allegations that political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have sought to review and alter weekly scientific reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic members of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis are seeking voluntary testimony from seven officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, including Michael Caputo, the agency’s spokesman, and Paul Alexander, his senior adviser.

Politico reported last week that Caputo, who joined the Trump administration in April, and Alexander, who Caputo hired, have attempted to alter or halt the release of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWRs), which are written by career scientists and prepared by the health agency. According to the CDC, readership of the reports largely consists of medical workers, epidemiologists, scientists and researchers.

“Political appointees’ attempts to interfere with CDC’s scientific reports, or MMWRs, risk undermining the scientific integrity of these reports and of the CDC itself,” the Democrats wrote in a letter Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

While experts have relied on the reports during the coronavirus crisis to determine how the virus spreads and who is at risk, “HHS officials apparently viewed these scientific reports as opportunities for political manipulation,” they said.

The Democrats are also requesting Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, and Charlotte Kent, the editor in chief of the MMWR, among others, appear before the coronavirus panel, and want the department to turn over a trove of documents.

Caputo said in a statement to CBS News that the public affairs office at the Department of Health and Human Services “clears virtually all public-facing documents for all of its divisions, including CDC.”

“Dr. Alexander advises me on pandemic policy and he has been encouraged to share his opinions with other scientists. Like all scientists, his advice is heard and taken or rejected by his peers,” he said. “Our intention is to make sure that evidence, science-based data drives policy through this pandemic — not ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of CDC.”

Former Trump Campaign Official Michael Caputo To Be Interviewed By Senate Intelligence Committee Staffers
Michael Caputo

Mark Wilson / Getty Images


According to Politico, Caputo and his team have sought to retroactively alter CDC reports they claimed incorrectly inflated the risks of the coronavirus and tried to stop the release of others, including one that discussed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug touted by President Trump as a treatment for the coronavirus. The report on hydroxychloroquine was published last week after it was held up for months, Politico reported. The Food and Drug Administration revoked an emergency authorization for using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID patients in June.
 
Politico also said in an article published last week that Alexander claimed in an August 8 email that the CDC was “writing hit pieces on the administration.” Efforts to influence the reports began after a May report from Schuchat detailed the “rapid acceleration of

Read more

House Democrats launch investigation of political interference in CDC science publications

House Democrats are launching an investigation into the Trump administration’s political interference with the publication of scientific reports at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, led by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), cited reporting from Politico that showed administration appointees have repeatedly interfered with the CDC’s reports on the pandemic, which are published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The lawmakers said they are investigating the scope of political interference with the CDC’s scientific reports and other efforts to combat the pandemic, the impact of the interference on the CDC’s mission, whether the interference is continuing and any “steps that Congress may need to take to stop it before more Americans die needlessly.”

“Political appointees’ attempts to interfere with CDC’s scientific reports, or MMWRs, risk undermining the scientific integrity of these reports and of the CDC itself,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield.

“During the pandemic, experts have relied on these reports to determine how the virus spreads and who is at greatest risk. Yet HHS officials apparently viewed these scientific reports as opportunities for political manipulation,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Democrats cited reporting that showed political appointees at HHS, including Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo and senior adviser Paul Alexander, have been focused on suppressing and changing reports to align more closely with President TrumpDonald John TrumpCrowd aims ‘lock him up’ chant at Obama during Trump rally Nevada governor: Trump ‘taking reckless and selfish actions’ in holding rally Michigan lieutenant governor blasts Trump coronavirus response: He ‘is a liar who has killed people’ MORE‘s attempts to downplay the full extent of the pandemic.

The Democrats called for the administration to provide communications sent or received by Redfield regarding the reports, as well as additional documents from Caputo, Alexander, Azar and HHS public relations aide Brad Traverse.

In a rare move, the lawmakers are seeking to conduct transcribed interviews with political and career CDC and HHS officials, including CDC Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, acting CDC chief of staff Nina Witkofsky, acting CDC deputy chief of staff Trey Moeller, acting CDC communications director Kate Galatas and MMWR editor-in-chief Charlotte Kent. 

The Democrats are also seeking to interview Caputo and Alexander, after speaking with the CDC and HHS staff. The lawmakers said they want interviews to begin Sept. 22.

In an interview with The Washington Post over the weekend, Caputo defended attempts to control the timing and content of the reports. 

Caputo blamed “ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of CDC” and claimed without evidence that some of the MMWRs have been used as political tools to discredit President Trump.

Source Article

Read more

Virginia bill to open police investigation records passes House of Delegates

A bill that would open past police investigative files to the public sailed through the Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday.



a car parked in a parking lot: A bill that could open past police investigative files to the public would further allow relatives to learn more about what happened in particular cases, such as the families of those killed in the May 2019 shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.


© Kristen Zeis/The Daily Press/TNS
A bill that could open past police investigative files to the public would further allow relatives to learn more about what happened in particular cases, such as the families of those killed in the May 2019 shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

Sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg and other lawmakers, the legislation to amend the state’s open records law passed on a 59-37 vote.

Loading...

Load Error

Though it was mostly a party line vote carried by Democrats, five Republicans crossed over to support the bill. It could come up for Senate hearings next week.

If it becomes law, the measure could begin to end state law enforcement agencies’ longstanding practice of shielding nearly all their files from the public — whether they are incident reports from last week or files that haven’t been looked at in decades.

Though the Virginia Freedom of Information Act currently allows police, prosecutors and sheriff’s offices statewide to release such files if they want to, the departments typically say no to all such requests.

The bill says that “criminal investigative files” become public in Virginia when a court case is over. In cases that haven’t been prosecuted, the bill says, the files would become public three years after the incident occurred.

The legislation separately increases what police departments and sheriff’s agencies must release about more recent criminal incidents.

Proponents contend the changes will allow outside organizations to examine past cases independently, and allow families to get closure in death cases.

“We can’t do our basic work, we can’t investigate, without these files,” said Michelle Feldman, an official with the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that works to overturn wrongful convictions.

“These files contain the critical information used to follow up on leads,” added Feldman, who’s been working to support the legislation. “After an investigation is completed, it really doesn’t make sense to withhold them.”

She said the bill would also allow the public to better examine police shootings, which she pointed out are typically investigated by the officers’ own agencies.

“If the public can’t get those records about what the investigation found, how are they ever going to have comfort that officers were justified in using force?” Feldman asked.

The bill would further allow relatives to learn more about what happened in particular cases, such as the families of those killed in the May 2019 shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

“They can’t get closure because they are not getting the full truth and the full picture,” Feldman said.

But those against the legislation say the police investigative files contain lots of sensitive information — including evidence from witnesses and information about other crimes — that must be protected.

“We oppose efforts to make criminal investigative files public without law enforcement’s discretion,” Dana G. Schrad, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police,

Read more

House Democrats Open Campaign Finance Investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

House Democrats said Monday they would open an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over accusations that he broke campaign finance laws in pushing his employees to make campaign contributions to Republicans that he would later reimburse.



a person sitting at a table: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies before a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., August 24, 2020.


© Tom Williams/Reuters
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies before a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., August 24, 2020.

House Committee on Oversight and Reform chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) said in a statement that the committee would open an investigation and called on the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service to immediately suspend DeJoy, whom “they never should have hired in the first place,” she said. 

Maloney’s announcement followed a Washington Post report that DeJoy and his aides would allegedly pressure employees at his former business, New Breed Logistics in North Carolina, to make donations and attend fundraisers at DeJoy’s mansion — events which regularly drew $100,000 or more apiece. Former employees say they made payments between 2003 and 2014 and would then allegedly receive large bonuses to offset the cost of their contributions at the instruction of DeJoy, the Post reported.

DeJoy was not aware any employees had felt pressured to make donations, a spokesperson told the Post.

While not a crime to encourage employees to make donations, reimbursing them for their contributions would be a violation of North Carolina and federal elections laws.

Maloney said DeJoy faces “criminal exposure” not only if the allegations are true, “but also for lying to our committee under oath.”

DeJoy gave testimony under oath to the House Oversight committee last month, during which he denied having repaid executives for contributions to President Trump’s campaign.

While Democrats including the Democratic Attorneys General Association and Representative Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) called for an independent investigation, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) called on the North Carolina attorney general to open a criminal investigation.

“These are very serious allegations that must be investigated immediately, independent of Donald Trump’s Justice Department,” Schumer said in a statement Sunday.

President Trump, when asked whether he was open to an investigation into DeJoy during a news conference on Monday said, “Sure, sure, let the investigations go.” He also said DeJoy should lose his job “if something can be proven that he did something wrong.”

The postmaster general’s short tenure has been marked by controversy as Democrats have accused DeJoy, a Trump ally, of implementing changes to slow mail delivery to damage mail-in voting in the November election, as the president has repeatedly expressed distrust of mail voting.

“I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” DeJoy said in his testimony last month. “We will do everything in our power and structure to deliver the ballots on time.”

More on National Review

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more