Media seeking video of Trump testimony

Jun 11, 2016 87

Major news outlets requested a judge release videos of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump taking questions on his defunct Trump University.

The outlets asked U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel on Friday to release portions of Trump’s deposition related to a lawsuit from former students of the university, Politico reported early Saturday.

A motion from the media organizations’ attorneys said that Trump hasn’t proved how exactly he will be harmed by the videos releasing into the public.

The motion said that Trump has pointed to his business acumen as an important qualifier in his run for president. “Given the undeniable and substantial public interest in these proceedings, the need for transparency could not be greater,” the motion said.


Trump considers GOP convention sports night

Jun 11, 2016 91

Donald Trump thinks he may have an idea to goose interest in the GOP convention next month: add some sports to the politics.

Trump said during a rally Friday in Richmond, Va., that it would be fun to include an evening of sports heroes during the week-long convention in Cleveland.

“We may call it ‘The Winners’ evening,” Trump said, according to a report from CNN.

He added the night could include people such as Brian France, who owns NASCAR and is a Trump supporter. NASCAR is very popular in Richmond, which hosts a major race every year.


Jury finds Alabama House Speaker guilty on 12 ethics charges

Jun 11, 2016 109

Mike , center, and Susan Hubbard walk to the Lee County Justice Center for closing arguments in the Alabama House Speaker’s Trial on Friday, June 10, 2016, in Opelika, Ala. (Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP, Pool)

A jury on Friday found Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard guilty on 12 counts of public corruption — agreeing with prosecutors’ assertions that the Republican used the power and prestige of his political offices to benefit his companies and clients.

The panel acquitted Hubbard on the remaining of the 23 charges he was facing. He talked briefly with his attorneys before a deputy escorted him out of the courtroom.

The verdict came after weeks of mostly reluctant testimony from Hubbard’s inner circle and a roster of the state’s business and political elite, including Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and former Gov. Bob Riley. Hubbard, 54, has described Riley as a father figure and political mentor, and named his younger son after him.

Prosecutors accused Hubbard of using his political offices, as speaker and as former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, to try to obtain $2.3 million in work and investments. The charges included that he directed GOP campaign work to his printing company; solicited investments and help to find employment from lobbyists and company executives; and used the power of his office to benefit his clients through legislative action or lobbying the governor’s office. Hubbard argued the transactions were legal and within the bounds of the state ethics law and its exemptions for normal business dealings and friendships. His defense noted that the transactions involved people who were long-time friends.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers gave jurors dueling portraits of Hubbard, a man who helped guide Republican’s rise to prominence in Alabama.

Defense lawyer Bill Baxley told jurors that Hubbard took care not to run afoul of state ethics law and asked advice from the then-director of the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Prosecutor Matt Hart depicted Hubbard as a conniving politician who seized at opportunities to make money through his political party work and elected office.

The trial accused Hubbard of violating a state ethics law he once championed after leading Republicans’ rise to legislative power.

Hubbard was the general of Republicans’ 2010 offensive to win control of the Alabama Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. After the victory, Hubbard was elected speaker and the new GOP-controlled legislature approved revisions to the state’s ethics law in a special session called by Riley.

Hubbard took the witness stand in his own defense at the trial.

Hubbard faces up to 20 years in prison for each ethics count. Sentencing is set for July 28.

Obama approves larger role for US forces in Afghanistan

Jun 10, 2016 151


After months of debate, the White House has approved plans to expand the military’s authority to conduct airstrikes against the Taliban when necessary, as the violence in Afghanistan escalates, senior U.S. and defense officials said Thursday.

Several officials said the decision was made in recent days to expand the authority of U.S. commanders to strike the Taliban and better support and assist the Afghan forces when needed in critical operations, using the U.S. troops already in the country. There is a broad desire across the Obama administration to give the military greater ability to help the Afghans fight and win the war.

The 9,800 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan, however, would still not be involved in direct combat.

The officials were not authorized to talk publicly about the discussions so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The decision comes as the Afghans struggle with a resurgent Taliban, particularly in the south. But it is fraught with political sensitivities because President Barack Obama had made clear his commitment to get U.S. forces out of Afghanistan. That effort, however, has been stalled by the slow pace of the development of the Afghan military and the resilience of the Taliban.

The decision will give U.S. forces greater flexibility in how they partner with Afghan forces, but the new authorities must be used in selective operations that are deemed to have a strategic and important effect on the fight.

The Taliban are refocusing their attention mostly on the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan, according to U.S. and Afghan military officials, although the insurgents also have struck elsewhere, such as in Kunduz province in the north, where they overran and held the provincial capital for a few days last fall.

The results have been daunting: The U.N. says 3,545 Afghan civilians were killed and 7,457 wounded in 2015, most of them by the Taliban.

The U.S. has continued to conduct counterterrorism strikes against Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Afghanistan. But strikes against the Taliban were largely halted at the end of 2014, when the U.S.-led coalition’s combat role ended. Limited strikes have been allowed in cases of self-defense or when Afghan forces were in danger of being overrun.

Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has discussed with Defense Secretary Ash Carter his recommendations for moves the U.S. can make to further assist the Afghans. And there have been repeated conversations with the White House in recent weeks.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, asked Thursday whether the administration was looking at expanding the U.S. military’s authorities to strike the Taliban more broadly, said: “In every step of our review of Afghanistan, the question of what’s the best way to use our forces is something we’re constantly looking at. It’s also in the same sense that we’re looking at the number of troops. We are always looking at the authorities question and the best use of our troops.”

Nicholson’s predecessor, Gen. John Campbell, made it known before he left Kabul in March that he believed Carter should consider expanding U.S. military authorities to take on the Taliban.

As an example, U.S. troops are able to partner with Afghan special operations forces, but this new decision would allow commanders to have U.S. troops work more closely with conventional Afghan units in critical battles, including providing close air support or helping to call in strikes. Officials stressed that this will not allow routine U.S. airstrikes against the Taliban, just provide authority to take those actions when commanders believe they are vital to the fight.

Also under discussion is whether the U.S. should reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan to 5,500 as planned by the end of this year, or if a higher number is needed. Campbell favored keeping the troop level at the current total of 9,800 into next year.

U.S. officials have insisted they are encouraged by the Afghan forces’ resilience, despite their high rate of battlefield casualties. And they point to the Taliban’s loss of its leader, Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansour, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in late May in Pakistan.

The U.S. and NATO formally ended their combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but have continued to provide support and assistance as the Afghan forces struggle to grow and gain greater capabilities, including in their air operations.

Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland said last week that Nicholson was sending his assessment of the ongoing security threat there and the needs of the Afghan military to U.S. Central Command and to the Pentagon, and was expected to brief senior military leaders soon afterward.

Krauthammer: Enthusiasm for Trump ‘on hiatus’

Jun 10, 2016 125


Charles Krauthammer told viewers Friday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the enthusiasm for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is “at least on hiatus” since his recent comments on the federal judge presiding over the civil fraud lawsuit against Trump University.

“That flocking and uniting and lighting up for the ‘[Trump] train’ I think is at least on hiatus and it makes some of those who got on the ‘train’ thinking twice,” Krauthammer, a syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor, said. “That, I think, is the lurking danger because unless he can unite the rest of the party and can get at least a kind of neutrality out of other leading Republicans, it’s going to be hard.”

Recent Fox News polls show Trump slipping in popularity since last month, after he said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage.”

“The real third rail of American politics is race and racism and if you’re accused of it by people in your own party, then it becomes something you can’t really shake off,” Krauthammer said.

“He’s skirted around it for a long time… what it’s done is it’s opened him up to attacks from the inside in a way that hadn’t existed before and that I think could have a corrosive effect.”

Despite Clinton claims, 2012 email had classified marking

Jun 10, 2016 194


EXCLUSIVE: Hillary Clinton, from the moment her exclusive use of personal email for government business was exposed, has claimed nothing she sent or received was marked classified at the time.  

But a 2012 email released by the State Department appears to challenge that claim because it carries a classified code known as a “portion marking” – and that marking was on the email when it was sent directly to Clinton’s account.

The “C” – which means it was marked classified at the confidential level – is in the left-hand-margin and relates to an April 2012 phone call with Malawi’s first female president, Joyce Banda, who took power after the death of President Mutharika in 2012.   

“(C)  Purpose of Call: to offer condolences on the passing of President Mukharika and congratulate President Banda on her recent swearing in.”

Everything after that was fully redacted before it was publicly released by the State Department — a sign that the information was classified at the time and dealt with sensitive government deliberations.

A US government source said there are other Clinton emails with classified markings, or marked classified, beyond the April 2012 document.

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A January 2014 federal government training manual, called “Marking Classified National Security Information,” provides a step-by-step guide for reviewing classified information, and allocating classified codes or “portion markings.”

“This system requires that standard markings be applied to classified information…Markings shall be uniformly and conspicuously applied to leave no doubt about the classified status of the information, the level of protection required, and the duration of classification.”

It adds, “A portion is ordinarily defined as a paragraph, but also includes subjects, titles, graphics, tables, charts, bullet statements, sub-paragraphs, classified signature blocks, bullets and other portions within slide presentations, and the like.”

“Portion markings consist of the letters “(U)” for Unclassified, “(C)” for Confidential, “(S)” for Secret, and “(TS)” for Top Secret.”

Congressman Mike Pompeo, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, has read the 22 Top Secret emails too damaging to national security to release, and routinely reviews classified documents.

While he could not speak directly to the April 2012 email, he said, “I’ve seen information like that often. Often certain parts of a particular message will be unclassified and other parts will be classified and they are almost always marked paragraph by paragraph.”

Pompeo added, “If, in fact, it is truly marked confidential that would.. and she read it, that made it to her, that would conflict with what she had previously said.”

On Wednesday, Clinton told Bret Baier on Special Report,  “the fact is, nothing that I sent or received was marked classified, and nothing has been demonstrated to contradict that. “

Meantime, Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal, who spoke to Fox News as part of a book tour to promote his new biolgraphy, “A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1849,”said that the Romanian hacker known as Guccifer — who claimed to breach Clinton’s personal server – may have worked for foreign intelligence.

“Marcel Lazar is a Romanian. He worked from a Russian server. He may well be part of a Russian information operation,”  Blumenthal explained.

While he said there’s no way Lazar compromised Clinton’s emails, the hacker told Fox News in a telephone interview before reaching a plea deal with the Justice Department that it was “easy for me, for everybody” to access the Clinton server.

Given more than 2,100 classified emails were on the server, Fox asked Blumenthal if he had a security clearance to handle such material. “I was her friend, and I had no security clearance, nor did I seek it, nor did anyone ever send me anything that was classified. So I had no access to, nor did I send or receive any classified material.”

Blumenthal said he expects FBI Director James Comey to publicly confirm that Clinton and her aides did not deliberately compromise the nation’s secrets.

“This is the question that is at the center of the Department of Justice FBI investigation: Whether anybody had intent, criminal intent to put classified information outside of the system. I believe that was not the case, and I think then, that we will see a statement coming from the FBI stating that, saying that… I assume that the FBI has an interest in – James Comey, the FBI Director has an interest in acting promptly to resolve this remaining question. But I feel confident about the resolution, ” Blumenthal said.

Asked about the April 2012 email, and how the campaign could reconcile the classified marking with Clinton’s public statements, spokesman Brian Fallon did not directly address the issue.  “This email was just a request for Secretary Clinton to make a phone call to express condolences over the passing of the President of Malawi. The fact that this email was classified after the fact suggests again that agencies in the government tend to err on the side of classifying even routine matters of diplomacy.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Pamela K. Browne is Senior Executive Producer at the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been recognized with several awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the news magazine “Fox Files” and later, “War Stories.”

Senate presses ahead on defense bill despite divisions

Jun 10, 2016 146

The Senate is heading toward passage of a defense policy bill that would authorize $602 billion in military spending, prohibit the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and require young women to register for a potential draft.

In a rare Friday session, the Senate voted 68-23 to proceed with the National Defense Authorization Act.

A vote on the legislation had been scheduled for earlier this week as lawmakers sought to resolve differences over potential amendments to the bill. Among them are measures that would allow Afghan civilians who assisted the American-led coalition to resettle in the United States, alter the military justice system to curb sexual assaults, and prohibit the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, objecting to the Guantanamo provision and others — including one that would limit the size of the president’s National Security Council staff.

Even as progress in the Senate loomed, a prominent conservative group on Friday called for the legislation to be rejected over the female draft registration requirement and a lack of funding to modernize the military after 15 years of non-stop demands.

“Regardless of whatever merits the bill may have, it deserves to be defeated because lawmakers should not force young women into military services through the Selective Service,” Heritage vice president Dan Holler said in an emailed statement.

A dispute that erupted late Thursday underscored divisions among Republicans, many of whom have called for the bill to be passed urgently.

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing to extend and expand a program that gives visas to Afghans who defied the Taliban and worked for the coalition as interpreters, firefighters and construction laborers. Without the option to leave, they and their families risk being harmed or killed by militants, the top American commander in Afghanistan has warned.

Despite broad backing, an amendment to keep the so-called special immigrant visa program from expiring bogged down after Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, objected to a vote being held.

Lee, who said he supports the Afghan visa program, demanded that senators also agree to a vote on his amendment that prevents the government from detaining indefinitely U.S. citizens apprehended on American soil for being suspected of supporting a terrorist group.

But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., objected to a vote on Lee’s amendment, leading to a stalemate. Graham said Lee’s amendment could lead to terrorists being treated as criminals instead of enemy combatants.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican John McCain of Arizona, on Friday lamented the objections, saying that’s not the way the Senate is supposed to operate.

“I have reached a level of frustration that I would even consider changing the rules of the Senate (so) that one individual out of 100 can’t bring everything to a screeching halt,” McCain said.

Due to the Senate’s procedural rules, McCain said he was forced to object to an amendment by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that would make a major change in how the military handles allegations of sexual misconduct.

Her measure would strip senior military officers of their authority to decide whether sex crimes and other serious offenses go to trial. That responsibility would be given instead to independent military trial counsels. Proponents of Gillibrand’s amendment say a seismic change is needed to end sexual assaults in the ranks.

But the Pentagon has objected. U.S. military officials said curbing a commander’s power to punish or pardon service members will send a message there is a lack of faith in the officer corps. They’ve also argued that removing the prosecution decision from the chain of command will mean fewer victims of sexual assault get justice.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, is seeking a vote on his amendment that would bar the Defense Department from spending money on the design, construction or modification of facilities in the United States to house Guantanamo detainees. Moran’s measure is spurred by the possibility of detainees being moved to the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Justice Dept opposes release of Clinton aide’s immunity deal

Jun 10, 2016 126

The Justice Department doesn’t want the public to see its immunity deal with a former government employee who installed the private email server in Hillary Clinton’s basement. It says its release could jeopardize an ongoing FBI probe.

Ex-State Department staffer Bryan Pagliano had been set to answer questions under oath this week. The deposition was scheduled in a lawsuit filed by the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch over access to emails sent and received by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee when she was secretary of state.

Lawyers for Pagliano told a federal judge he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, citing his immunity deal. In court filings, the government said releasing the deal could prematurely reveal the scope of its investigation into whether classified material was mishandled.

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Trump, Clinton clash in dueling DC speeches

Jun 10, 2016 93


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, now at the starting line of a general election race, traded shots across the capital Friday in dueling addresses before two very different D.C. audiences — each warning the other would take the country backward. 

Trump headlined the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” summit while Clinton addressed a Planned Parenthood national conference. 

Trump, looking to solidify his standing with evangelical Christians, offered assurances Friday that he would “restore respect for people of faith” — and stressed the “sanctity and dignity of life.” 

If there was any doubt he wanted to throw Clinton’s Planned Parenthood speech into sharp relief, he took on his presumptive rival later in his remarks. Trump warned Clinton would “appoint radical judges,” eliminate the Second Amendment, “restrict religious freedom with government mandates,” and “push for federal funding of abortion on demand up until the moment of birth.” 


He also cast her support for bringing in Syrian refugees as a potential clash of faiths. “Hillary will bring hundreds of thousands of refugees, many of whom have hostile beliefs about people of different faiths and values,” he said. 

Clinton, meanwhile, in her first speech as the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, said a Trump presidency would take the country back to a time “when abortion was illegal … and life for too many women and girls was limited.”

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Clinton thanked the nonprofit women’s health group and abortion provider for their support in the Democratic primary race. In January, Planned Parenthood backed Clinton, offering its first-ever primary endorsement in the group’s 100-year history.

Clinton made it clear that women’s issues would be a staple of her campaign, promising abortion rights supporters that she would “always have your back” if elected president.

Clinton repeated claims that Trump wants to “take America back to a time when women had less opportunity” and freedom.

“Well, Donald, those days are over. We are not going to let Donald Trump — or anybody else — turn back the clock,” she told the cheering crowd.

Before arriving at the event, Clinton held a private meeting at her D.C. home with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has been rumored to be a consideration for running mate.

Echoing some of the attacks Warren has made in recent days, Clinton attempted to elevate the importance of this election.

“We are in the middle of a concerted, persistent assault on women’s health across the country,” warned Clinton, who said the 2016 election was “profoundly different” than previous elections.

In what is a campaign trail staple of hers, Clinton highlighted Trump’s insults toward women and asserted that it would be “hard to imagine depending on him to defend the fundamental rights of women.”

Trump, meanwhile, continued calling Clinton, “crooked Hillary” and referred to her ongoing email scandal. He took her to task on her domestic and foreign policy stances.

Trump was interrupted by protesters at the annual gathering of evangelical Christians. The protesters shouted “Stop hate! Stop Trump!” and “refugees are welcome here.”

Trump called the chants “a little freedom of speech” but added it was also “a little rude, but what can you do?”

‘Appalling’: Rep seeks HHS probe as emails shed light on abortion clinic harvesting

Jun 10, 2016 105


A fresh trove of documents released by a House panel probing abortion clinics and companies trading in body parts shows the extent of their fetal tissue harvesting operation — and what the committee’s chairwoman alleges are violations of the law.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., head of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, is now making a fresh request for a federal probe. 

“I believe the investigation will move forward because this is so appalling,” she told 

One of the more striking exchanges was contained in a set of January 2015 emails.

When a customer inquired with company StemExpress about the availability of aborted tissue, an employee promptly emailed back seemingly while an abortion was under way: “There is one case currently in the room, I will let you know how the limbs and calvarium [skull] look to see if you are able to take them in about fifteen minutes.”

Less than an hour later, the employee reported, “the calvarium is mostly intact,” while “the limbs … are totally intact.”

The House committee for months have been probing whether abortion clinics and companies buying and selling body parts in exchanges like this were profiting – which, if so, would be a felony under a law signed by President Bill Clinton. StemExpress, which worked with Planned Parenthood, is a California-based company that procures body parts and fetal tissue and sells to researchers.

“What we have seen is how this has moved to a business and contractual agreements,” Blackburn said. 

Blackburn claims it appears some technicians even reviewed medical files without initial permission from patients. She has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to probe whether StemExpress and three California abortion clinics might have shared so much information that federal privacy law and research regulations were violated.

The three clinics under review that contracted with StemExpress are Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, which says it has more than 30 centers throughout California and Nevada; Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific; and Family Planning Specialist Medical Group.

The select panel was appointed after undercover videos seemingly showed Planned Parenthood staff trying to sell aborted baby body parts. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who addressed the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in Washington Friday, has adamantly defended the group against allegations of wrongdoing. Democrats have criticized the investigation and recently said the panel is putting people in danger.

“They are doing so by continuing their nearly year-long witch-hunt targeting women’s access to safe and comprehensive health care,” Maryland Democratic Reps. Steny Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen wrote in a Baltimore Sun op-ed. “Their investigation has so far failed to identify any wrongdoing … Yet what has come to be known as the Republican Panel to Attack Women’s Health continues to operate without an end-date.”

A StemExpress spokesman didn’t address specific questions from but referred to an earlier statement:

“Stem Express is confident there has been no violation of law and appropriate consents were made for every fetal tissue donation. We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any other agency related to Representative Blackburn’s continued unfounded accusations. StemExpress will continue to support life-saving research.”

Potential violations of the privacy law or research regulations could be part of a larger pattern the select panel is probing regarding the violation of Title 42, of U.S. Code Section 289g-2. That’s the 1993 law that makes it a felony to sell human tissue for profit. Three former Justice Department attorneys told the panel in an April 20 hearing the documents made a case that Title 42 might have been violated, and agreed the panel should review bank records.

StemExpress and the clinics have not complied with a panel subpoena for banking records.

However, the documents released show StemExpress paid $55-$75 per body part, beginning in 2010. Blackburn, in a recent letter, told HHS officials, “StemExpress paid the abortion clinic per tissue fee and then marked up the tissue four to six hundred percent for sale to the researcher.”

Blackburn also asserted the documents provide evidence StemExpress and the clinics “committed systematic violations” of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Better known as HIPAA, the law establishes a patient’s right to determine when his or her private medical information will be released. HHS can impose civil penalties on medical entities for violations.

Blackburn wrote letters urging Jocelyn Samuels, director of the HHS Office of Centralized Case Management Operations, to investigate potential HIPAA violations; and urging Jerry Menikoff, director of the HHS Office for Human Research Protection, to determine if StemExpress used invalid consent forms to mislead scientific researchers. This would violate rules from the Institutional Review Board, a committee that reviews and approves research involving human subjects.

HHS spokeswoman Marissa Padilla told, “We have received the letters and are in the process of reviewing them.” contacted each of the three California abortion clinics by phone. Planned Parenthood Mar Monte deferred comment to the national Planned Parenthood press office, which has not yet returned phone calls. The other two California clinics did not respond. 

The documents also assert StemExpress frequently received a fax from clinics with information about abortions scheduled the next day, while clinics granted StemExpress employees access to the medical files of individual patients believed to be “good candidates” for fetal tissue donations. A researcher could place an order with StemExpress through an online portal that allowed the customer to request a gestational range for the tissue.

While the Obama administration has defended Planned Parenthood, Blackburn is optimistic there will be additional investigation into the matter, even if it requires watchdog agencies such as the Government Accountability Office or the HHS inspector general.

“I fully expect the HHS inspector general and the GAO to move forward with this,” Blackburn told “This is a tremendous concern that women are subjected to these violations of HIPAA rights and are not aware of it.”