AG Lynch testifies DoJ ‘discussed’ prosecuting ‘climate deniers’

Do you remember when we had a First Amendment?  It seems to have vanished in the view of the attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch, who testified yesterday to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Jon Street reports at TheBlaze:

During Lynch’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry denying scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco and companies within the fossil fuel industry denying studies allegedly showing the threat of carbon emissions.

He went on to point out that under President Bill Clinton, the Justice Department brought and won a civil case against the tobacco industry, while the Obama administration has “done nothing” so far with regard to the fossil fuel industry.

Whitehouse concluded his comments by posing a question to the country’s top law enforcement officer.

“My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.

“This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,” Lynch answered. “I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time.”

As a matter of fact, Lynch and Whitehouse understate the degree of persecution of dissent underway.  Over a week ago, it was disclosed that the DoJ has made a criminal referral for views on a scientific dispute.  David Hasemyer reported for Inside Climate News last week:

The U.S. Justice Department has forwarded a request from two congressmen seeking a federal probe of ExxonMobil to the FBI's criminal division.

U.S. Representatives Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier sought the probe last year to determine whether the oil giant violated federal laws by "failing to disclose truthful information" about climate change.

In response, the Justice Department deferred to the FBI, saying it is that agency's responsibility to conduct an initial assessment of facts that prompted the congressmen's request.  Such action is considered standard procedure, according to former federal prosecutors who say the response appears ambiguous as to what action may be taken by the FBI.

"As a courtesy, we have forwarded your correspondence to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)," said a letter to the congressmen from Peter J. Kadzik, an assistant U.S. attorney general.

"The FBI is the investigative arm of the Department, upon which we rely to conduct the initial fact finding in federal cases. The FBI will determine whether an investigation is warranted."

The Justice Department's referral letter to the FBI, however, has not been released, so it is not known if it contained any specific instructions.

The referral was made to the assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division.

And the environmental left reacted with joy.  Common Dreams exulted:

RL Miller, cofounder of Climate Hawks Vote, said: “Thanks to Rep. Ted Lieu and his determination, the FBI is finally going to see all the evidence - how Exxon publicly distorted science, funded deniers to further manipulate public opinion, and set back political will decades. Climate Hawks Vote expects that the FBI will conduct a detailed and thorough investigation.”

Center for International Environmental Law President Carroll Muffett states:  “The formal referral by the Department of Justice means that the FBI must now take real steps to evaluate the serious allegations against ExxonMobil. The Bureau will do so amidst a growing body of evidence that Exxon was well aware of the threats of climate change, even as it publicly distorted these threats by funding misinformation campaigns. The timing of this revelation is particularly significant for Exxon, which just brought to market its biggest bond sale on record --$12 billion-- in the midst of an ongoing crash in global oil prices.  Exxon already faces a potential downgrade from ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.  The referral demonstrates for both the public and investors that the legal risks facing Exxon and other fossil fuel producers are real, they are significant, and they are now imminent. The bad news for Exxon is that the disclosures to date are only the tip of what is almost certainly a very large iceberg of documentary evidence.”

“ExxonMobil's climate deceit, built on decades of knowingly false statements to federal and state officials and the public, was no garden-variety consumer fraud,” said Brad Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation. “It cries out for FBI scrutiny because it has put lives and property at risk on a scale equal to the corporation's global reach.”

“This is turning into a nightmare for Exxon. No company wants to hear their name and ‘criminal’ in the same sentence. This FBI investigation must quickly lead back to a full Department of Justice inquiry and, ultimately, legal action. There’s too much public pressure and action by state Attorney Generals for this case to disappear into a bureaucratic black hole. Exxon knew about climate change, they misled the public, and it’s time for them to be held to criminal account,” said Communications Director Jamie Henn.

The stepping up of persecution of dissent indicates desperation on the part of warmists, who have resorted to revising data in order to support their failed hypothesis.  Corporations like Exxon may cave for P.R. reasons, as the warmists hope.  But principled truth-tellers, people like S. Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen, and Anthony Watts, will stand their ground.  Science is based on dispute.  Warmism is a religion, and religions have been known to persecute dissent.  

Lynch should be questioned more closely on this matter.