Acting FBI deputy director David Bowdich confirmed that it was a decision made under the direction of the Obama administration that led to more than half a million fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants to have their names removed from a national database.
The interpretation of a fugitive from justice to refer to wanted people who have crossed state lines was determined by former President Obamas Justice Department which directed the FBI to drop more than 500,000 names from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Bowdich testified about the decision during Wednesdays Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the failed response of the FBI and law enforcement in preventing the Parkland, Florida mass shooting last month which claimed the lives of 17 people.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bowdich about the Justice Department memo which forced the removal of the names by the FBI.
That was a decision that was made under the previous administration, Bowdich testified.
It was the Department of Justices Office of Legal Counsel that reviewed the law and believed that it needed to be interpreted so that if someone was a fugitive in a state, there had to be indications that they had crossed state lines, he explained. Otherwise they were not known to be a fugitive under the law in the way it was interpreted.
While a person with an outstanding arrest warrant was considered to be a fugitive by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used the term for someone who had the warrant and had also crossed state lines, according to The Washington Post.
The Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel accepted the definition by the ATF at the end of Obamas term, denying gun purchases only to fugitives who cross state lines.
Once President Trump took office, the Justice Department narrowed that interpretation to mean anyone who fled across state lines to avoid criminal prosecution or to evade giving testimony. Thus more than 500,000 fugitives were removed from the NICS.
An old story but I never heard of it before and I have been blogging for 20 years.