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Archive for June 28th, 2011

Rep. Issa and the Latest on ATF’s Fast and Furious Operation

Sen. Confirms Dep. Atty. Gen. James Cole and 2 Others

James Cole/law firm

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Senate on Tuesday delivered the long awaited confirmation of Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole.

By a vote of 55-42, the Senate confirmed Cole, 59, who had been nominated by the White House more than a year ago. But he bumped up against Republican opposition, so President Obama ended up giving him a recess appointment in December.

The Senate on Tuesday also confirmed Lisa Monaco, as Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Virginia Seitz, as Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel.

“I am pleased the Senate moved to confirm Jim, Lisa and Virginia, following their appointments by President Obama,” Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a statement. “I’m confident they will provide invaluable leadership to the department, and will play a critical role in protecting the American people, ensuring the fairness and integrity of our financial markets and restoring the traditional missions of the department.”

Cole  first joined the department in 1979 as part of Attorney General’s Honors Program and served there for 13 years – first as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division, and later as the Deputy Chief of the Division’s Public Integrity Section.

He entered private practice in 1992, and became a partner with Bryan Cave LLP in 1995, specializing in white collar defense.

In 2005, he was  appointed as an independent monitor at the insurance company AIG to review five years of transactions following a settlement with regulators involving allegations the company was setting up sham transactions to hide losses.

In 2006, he was charged with developing financial reporting and regulatory compliance programs at AIG.

Column: Could Blago Verdict Put U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald Back in Running for FBI Director?

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s not that Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has to worry about his career.

But on Monday, he got some redemption when a federal jury convicted the ever-too chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 17 of 20 public corruption charges.

It was the second trial. The first had a rather embarrassing outcome. The jury convicted Blago on only 1 of 24 counts, and that was for lying  to the FBI, a charge that was not really central to the meat of the case.

What made matters worse, before the first trial, Fitzgerald held a press conference after arresting Blago in December 2008 and displayed a lot of swagger. Some thought he was a little over the top.

Could this redemption help Fitzgerald’s chances of becoming the next FBI director when the job comes up in a couple years?

Possibly.

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

He fits the bill. The White House tends to prefer someone with a law degree like the current director Robert S. Mueller III, who is expected to get a two-year extension on his 10-year term.

Before the White House decided to propose a two year extension for Mueller, it began looking for his replacement.

Initially, Fitzgerald’s was one of the names most often heard inside the Beltway.

But his swagger at the press conference and the dismal verdict seemed to sour some people.  His name seemed to fade.

With the latest results in the Blago case, who knows?

Maybe he’ll be back in the race for the FBI director job.

Whatever the case, at least he was able to finally back up the swagger he showed back at the press conference.

Mobster “Whitey” Bulger Traveled to Boston, Las Vegas and Mexico While on the Lam

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

More is coming out about the adventures of mobster James “Whitey’’ Bulger, who was captured last week after 16 years on the lam.

The Boston Globe reports that during those 16 years he returned to Boston in disguise and “armed to the teeth’’ several times “to take care of some unfinished business.’’  The paper cited government documents filed Monday.

The paper reported that Bulger, who is charged with 19 murders,  refused to say who he came to see or when, but  former associates said he returned at least twice during the first year on the lam.

Bulger also told FBI agents he also visited  Las Vegas and Mexico, and  stashed money with people he had trusted, according to the Globe.

Prosecutors are arguing that Bulger’s lifestyle indicates that he can afford to pay for his defense, the Globe reported. When authorities busted him they found more than $800,000 stashed in his apartment.

Kans. Man Gets 20 Years for Attempting to Kill FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A word to the unwise: Don’t shoot at FBI agents.

Nicholas Henry, 28, Kansas City, Kan., was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for attempting to kill an FBI agent and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

In his plea, Henry admitted that on Nov. 1, 2009, he fired at an FBI Task Force Officer in a parking lot at 151st and Ridgeview Road in Olathe, Kan. where he was in a stolen pickup truck, authorities said.

When the task force tried to arrest him, he produced a .40 caliber handgun and fired two shots at one of the agents who was about 10 feet away. He missed.

Other agents returned fire and hit Henry 14 times. He survived.

ATF’s Director Ken Melson Agrees to Talk to Senate Investigators About Fast and Furious

Ken Melson/atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The plot thickens.

Acting ATF Director Ken Melson has agreed to talk to Senate investigators about Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF program that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers so federal agents could trace them to the Mexican cartels , according to The Daily Beast and Newsweek.

The website reported that the development was a “potentially important breakthrough” for Congress, which has been trying to figure out who in the Obama administration gave the okay for the disastrous program. He is expected to provide testimony next months.

Newsweek and the The Daily Beast testimony reported that the deal to get Melson to testify was part of a deal brokered  between Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the committee’s top Republican, Iowa’s Charles Grassley.

The website reported that the deal involved giving fellow Republicans full access to ATF documents, Melson, and other key witnesses. In return,  Grassley agreed to release three Obama administration nominees — Jim Cole for deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco for assistant attorney general for national security and Virginia Seitz as head of legal counsel, Newsweek and The Daily Beast reported.

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