Attorney General Jeff Sessions says a senatorial investigation into the baby body parts trade of Planned Parenthood could be the basis for an FBI investigation and eventual charges against the abortion-industry giant.
Sessions was responding Tuesday to a question from Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., who referenced a report that the FBI asked to view the original documents used by the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate Planned Parenthood and others, and refer them for investigation and prosecution.
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The investigation into the apparent illegal sale of aborted baby body parts was initiated by undercover videos released in 2015 by the Center for Medical Progress. The videos show Planned Parenthood executives haggling to get top dollar. One insisted on higher pay because, "I want a Lamborghini."
The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which conducted a similar investigation, both referred Planned Parenthood clinics and several middleman organ procurement companies to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation and prosecution.
After referencing the baby body parts videos, Franks asked Sessions if a Senate investigation and subsequent referrals provided a sufficient basis to bring criminal charges again any "guilty party."
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"Well, it depends on the substance of those congressional findings, but they certainly provide a basis for starting an investigation and verifying the findings of the Congress, and could provide a basis for charges," Sessions said.
Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue noted her organization's president, Troy Newman, was a founding board member of the Center for Medical Progress and served while the undercover videos were being produced.
When Sessions was confirmed as attorney general, Newman said he "pledged to stand ready to assist" Sessions "with access to our research and documentation in prosecuting abortion abusers including Planned Parenthood."
"That offer still stands," he said.
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"After listening for two years to Planned Parenthood lie about their involvement and stonewall two congressional investigations, I am now hopeful that an FBI investigation will result in charges against Planned Parenthood criminals and their accomplices who broke the law," Newman continued.
"Planned Parenthood tried to smear the video evidence as faked with a so-called forensic report that has been proven as phony as a three-dollar bill. Now we know the only thing that is fake is Planned Parenthood’s denials of wrongdoing."
Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation also sued Newman and other CMP officials in 2015 to block the release of further videos. They successfully obtained a gag order that was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which prevented Newman and others from releasing any of the videos to law enforcement even if they obtained evidence of crimes.
That ruling is being challenged.
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WND reported Tuesday that the FBI was seeking the unedited, original video footage that a congressional committee reviewed before recommending that the bureau investigate for possible prosecutions.
The Hill reported the request from the FBI to the Senate is "signaling agents may be investigating whether Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers illegally sold fetal tissue and body parts."
The report quoted the organization's sources saying the request to the FBI was from the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was the chairman of that committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who referred the abortionists to the FBI last year.
At the time, the committee found evidence to show "abortion providers had transferred tissue and body parts from aborted fetuses to firms for use in research by charging dollar amounts above their actual costs," the report said.
Federal law allows abortion providers to recover their costs when they transfer fetal tissue to middlemen for resale to researchers, but they are not allowed to profit.
Both the DOJ and the FBI declined comment, the Hill said, regarding the issue raised by the 2015 release of multiple undercover videos created by David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress.
WND reported last month the FBI confirmed it was reviewing the recommendations from Congress regarding an investigation.
And in May leaders of several advocacy groups representing millions of Americans wrote to Sessions and then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe seeking an investigation, based on evidence from an independent undercover probe, into "paid fetal tissue transfers involving Planned Parenthood."
"The facts uncovered raise a reasonable suspicion that these organizations, and/or individuals employed by them, may have engaged in a conspiracy to violate the fetal tissue law," the letter said.
Last month, the FBI's assistant director of the Office of Congressional Affairs, Gregory Brower, replied to Grassley, informing him the FBI received the committee's criminal referrals of Planned Parenthood and was reviewing its recommendations, according to the nonprofit legal group Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel is representing one of the undercover videographers, Sandra Merritt, who along with Daleiden has faced numerous charges from abortion activists who are in positions of authority, such as California's attorney general, Xavier Becerra.
Some of the cases have been summarily dropped when reviewed; others are pending.
The leaders who requested the FBI investigation include Jeanne Mancini of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund, Tom McClusky of the March for Life Action, Daniel Schneider of the American Conservative Union, Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life; Gary Bauer of American Values, Jim Backlin of Christian Coalition of America, Penny Young Nance of Concerned Women for America, Michael Bowen of SoliDeo Partners, Eunie Smith of Eagle Forum; Rebekah Gantner of Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, David Christensen of Family Research Council, Jonathan Alexandre of Liberty Counsel Action, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Paul Caprio of One Nation Under God Foundation and Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony List.
Liberty Counsel noted the Senate Judiciary Committee and the U.S. House Select Panel on Infant Lives both opened investigations into the abortion industry after the Center for Medical Progress first exposed the baby-body-parts trade in 2015. Late last year, both committees concluded their investigations by recommending that the FBI investigate and potentially file criminal charges against Planned Parenthood.
Liberty Counsel said Merritt's "courageous undercover work exposed Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices of harvesting organs from babies and selling them to StemExpress and other organ procurement organizations for extreme profit."
The Judiciary Committee's Majority Staff Report found, Liberty Counsel reported, Planned Parenthood's partners in the biomedical procurement industry paid the abortion chain's affiliates for the body parts of aborted babies "and then sold the fetal tissue to their respective customers at substantially higher prices than their documented costs."
Hearings during the 114th Congress culminated in the House of Representatives creating the Select Panel on Infant Lives.
The panel made 15 criminal and regulatory referrals of tissue procurement companies and abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood affiliates.
The Senate Judiciary Committee made another seven criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.
The Obama administration, however, ignored the possibility of criminal actions.
When the House panel voted on a contempt citation for StemExpress, one of the companies allegedly in body-parts trade deals with Planned Parenthood, Democrats on the committee walked out.
"Let me have the record reflect the Democrats are refusing to participate in this illegitimate and unsanctioned effort to seek criminal contempt (charges)," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.
"We refuse to sanction or endorse this exercise by continuing to participate," she said then.
The stunt, however, had no impact on the outcome. The committee, after Chairwoman Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said, "The lady's actions are noted," continued with its vote, approving a report recommending StemExpress, an organ procurement company, and CEO Cate Dyer, be held in contempt of Congress.
The executives have failed to comply with "lawfully issued subpoenas," the committee determined.
See Schakowsky's statement:
The issue has rippled across the country, with some states defunding Planned Parenthood, and a looming move in Congress to withdraw the $500 million annually taxpayers pay to the abortionists.
One of the original undercover videos showed an official admitting Planned Parenthood sells fully intact aborted babies.
In the first undercover video released by CMP, Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood commented on crushing babies.
"We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact," she said.
See the first video:
In the second video, Planned Parenthood's Mary Gatter discussed how her compensation for organs could rise when she said, "I want a Lamborghini."
See her comments:
The fifth video released shows Melissa Farrell of Planned Parenthood's Houston clinic discussing "intact fetal cadavers."
The seventh video has the testimony of a Planned Parenthood worker who tapped an aborted infant's heart and saw it start beating.
WND also reported when a Planned Parenthood-linked judge in California, William Orrick III, censored the latest undercover video that was released.
Even news outlets not party to the case were barred from posting the video.
WND, however, transcribed for its readers the comments of the abortion-industry figures.
Lisa Harris, medical director for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, says in the video: "Our stories don't really have a place in a lot of pro-choice discourse and rhetoric, right? The heads that get stuck that we can't get out. The hemorrhages that we manage."
Susan Robinson of Planned Parenthood of Mar Monte in San Jose, California: "The fetus is a tough little object and taking it apart, I mean taking it apart, on day one is very difficult.'
Talcott Camp, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Health Freedom Project: "I'm like oh my god! I get it! When the skull is broken, that's really sharp. I get it, I understand why people are talking about getting that skull out, that calvarium."
Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America: "You know, sometimes she'll tell me she wants brain, and we'll, you know, leave the calvarium in 'til last, and then try to basically take it, or actually, you know, catch everything, and even keep it separate from the rest of the tissue so it doesn't get lost."
Uta Landy, founder of the Consortium of Abortion providers for Planned Parenthood: "An eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross."
Her comment was followed by raucous laughter from the abortionists at the meeting of the National Abortion Federation, where the undercover video was taken.
The video was the work of the Center for Medical Progress, which since 2015 has released more than a dozen videos of abortionists. Most of the videos have been released to the public, but the National Abortion Federation went to court demanding that videos of its members speaking be removed from the Web.
There were other notable comments in the videos.
Ann Schutt-Aine of Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast: "If I'm doing a procedure, and I'm seeing that I'm in fear that it's about to come to the umbilicus, I might ask for a second set of forceps to hold the body at the cervix, and pull off a leg, or two, so it's not PBA (partial-birth abortion)."
Harris again: "Given that we actually see the fetus the same, and given that we might actually both agree that there's violence in here, ask me why I come to work every day. Let's just give them all the violence, it's a person, it's killing, let's just give them all that."
Susan Robinson of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte: "You go in there, and you go, 'am I getting the uterus, or the fetus? Oh good fetus. What have I got. Nothing. Let's try again.'"
Leslie Drummond of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte: "I get a lot of 'oohs' and aahs' from Stemex(press) you know, they're wanting livers. Last week I was in Sacramento and she said, 'I need four intact limbs' and I said 'you want what?'"
Paul Blumenthal, Planned Parenthood of Maryland: "I know Planned Parenthood sells a lot of stuff (fetal organs) to people."
Deb Vanderhei of the Consortium of Abortion Providers: "But the truth is that some might want to do it for, to increase their revenues. And we can't stop them."