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Paul Manafort To Ask Judge to Toss Evidence Seized in FBI Search

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is battling it out in federal court.

On Wednesday, he plans to ask a federal judge to suppress evidence seized by FBI agents working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, saying they violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures, Reuters reports.

Manafort’s lawyers are expected to claim in court that FBI agents unlawfully conducted an initial warrantless search of a storage locker housing documents from his consulting company by improperly getting a low-level staffer to unlock it and let a special agent look around, Reuters writes.


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James Clapper Says Spy Was Helping Look Into Russian Influence During Campaign

James Clapper

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, appearing Tuesday on “The View,”  said a spy during the 2016 campaign was there for Russian meddling purposes and President Donald Trump should be happy such a person existed, Real Clear Politics reports.

“With the informant business, well, the point here is the Russians,” Clapper said of the controversy over a spy infiltrating the Trump presidential campaign. “Not spying on the campaign but what are the Russians doing? And in a sense, unfortunately, what they were trying to do is protect our political system and protect the campaign.”

“But the FBI started to look into Trump’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016. Trump tweeted that this spring — this spying, rather, this spying that he claims is spying, other people say it’s a whistleblower or informant. He says it’s spying, it’s bigger than Watergate. So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?” Co-host Joy Behar asked.

“No, they were not,” Clapper answered. “They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do.”

“Well, why doesn’t like that? He should be happy,” Behar said.

“He should be,” Clapper responded.


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FBI Admits It Overstated Number of Encrypted Cellphones Investigators Can’t Access

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Oops.

The FBI has long used the figure of 7,700 when talking about the number of encrypted cellphones that investigators are unable to access in 2017.

Now, USA Today reports that the number was inflated because of a flawed internal accounting system that relied on multiple databases.

The FBI issued a statement Tuesday saying it had recently became “aware of flaws with the methodology” used to gather statistics from three separate databases to measure the problem.

“The FBI’s initial assessment is that programming errors resulted in significant over-counting of mobile devices reported through (the FBI’s Operational Technology Division) databases,” according to the statement.

“The FBI is currently conducting an in-depth review of how this over-counting previously occurred, and how the methodology can be corrected to capture future data accurately.”

 


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Matthew Miller: Rod Rosenstein’s Decision Shows ‘The System is Failing’

Matthew Miller was director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office from 2009 to 2011.

By Matthew Miller
For the Washington Post

Rod Rosenstein

President Trump on Sunday launched his most direct attack on the Justice Department’s independence since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, taking to Twitter to “hereby demand” that it open a counter-investigation of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s demand crossed every institutional norm that has long safeguarded the Justice Department’s independence. The president was calling for an investigation into both political opponents from the former administration and career law enforcement agents, without evidence of wrongdoing, for the obvious purpose of undermining a criminal probe into his own conduct and that of his associates. Trump was clearly testing the limits of the system that constrains presidential interference with the Justice Department. And the response so far — including Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s decision to refer the matter to the department’s inspector general — shows that the system is failing.

There is no legitimate justification for asking the inspector general to investigate a hyped-up claim that the FBI inappropriately infiltrated the Trump campaign. Just as in February there was no legitimate justification for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in response to claims by House Republicans, asking the inspector general to investigate alleged — and debunked — abuses by the department in securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against former Trump aide Carter Page.

To read the full column click here.


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Indicted FBI Agent Has Exhausted Personal Savings For Forensic Experts in Oregon Case

Robert “LeVoy” Tinicum

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Indicted FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita has exhausted his personal savings to pay for his own forensic experts and has sought some federal funds to cover additional expenses, his attorney said in court, The Oregonian newspaper reports.

On Monday, Astarita sat in a U.S. District Court hearing in Portland listening to government experts testify how they identified him as the one who fired twice at the truck of Oregon occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and then tried to cover it up.

Attorneys for Astarita, who is charged with repeatedly lying to state and federal investigators about firing two shots at  Tinicum’s truck in 2016, claim the government has no concrete evidence and instead is relying on questionable “so-called experts.”

One of his defense attorneys, Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Robert Cary, argued that the FBI’s fuzzy aerial video proves nothing and that the government is using a faulty synchronization of videos created by someone who lacks expertise, The Oregonian reports.

The hearing is expected to last multiple days.

 


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Late Night Host Seth Meyers Weighs in on Trump’s Spy Allegations, Don Jr.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some of the late night comics have not been kind to President Donald Trump. That certainly includes Seth Meyers, who weighs in on the president’s claims about an FBI spy in the 2016 campaign, his Twitter rants and Donald Trump Jr.’s activity.


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Stefan A. Halper, the FBI Source at the Center of a Controversy

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s no longer a secret: Stefan A. Halper is the FBI source who assisted the Russia investigation, the Washington Post reports.  He’s at the center of a standoff between congressional Republicans and the Justice Department.

The Post describes him as a well-connected veteran of past GOP administrations who convened senior intelligence officials for seminars at the University of Cambridge in England. The Post goes on to write:

In the summer and fall of 2016, Halper, then an emeritus professor at Cambridge, contacted three Trump campaign advisers for brief talks and meetings that largely centered on foreign policy, The Washington Post reported last week.

At some point that year, he began working as a secret informant for the FBI as it investigated Russia’s interference in the campaign, according to multiple people familiar with his activities.


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Border Patrol Agent in Montana Admits He Asked For ID Because Women Were Speaking Spanish

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two U.S. citizens were stopped and questioned by a Border Patrol agent last week at a northern Montana gas station in the town of Havre because they were speaking Spanish, KRTV reports.

Ana Suda, a native of Texas who lives in Havre,  stopped with a friend at a Town Pump store to buy milk and eggs. They were speaking Spanish when a Border Patrol agent asked them for their documents, the station reports.

Suda said she paid for her items, gave the agent her identification and started recording video of the incident in the parking lot.

When Suda asked why he wanted to see their identification, the agent said, “Ma’am, the reason I asked you for your ID is because I came in here and saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here.”


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