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Archive for May 9th, 2017

YOU’RE FIRED! President Trump Axes FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Donald Trump gave FBI Director James Comey the ax on Tuesday.

While it was clear that the two never had a love affair, the firing still came as a surprise.

“The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters in the briefing room.

Trump, acting at the recommendation of senior Justice Department officials, said Comey had treated Hillary Clinton unfairly and in doing so damaged the credibility of the FBI and the Justice Department, the Washington Post reports. 

Interestingly, that reasoning seems to go contrary to Trump’s sentiments. He publicly expressed concern that the FBI had let Clinton off easy.

The firing comes as Comey was leading a probe to determine whether Trump’s people coordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Spicer said Comey had was notified and the firing was effective immediately.

But the LA Times reported that Comey learned of the firing from a TV news report while speaking to agents in Los Angeles.

It was known in FBI circles that Comey was no big fan of Trump. And Trump seemed to convey an ambivalence about Comey, and had publicly said that he felt the director let Hillary Clinton off the hook too easy.

It may have come to this at some point anyways.

Trump expected blind loyalty, and as a director of the FBI, such loyalty isn’t possible, that is unless a director is willing to compromise integrity.

The next director will face similar challenges.

Trumps letter to Comey stated:

Dear Director Comey:

I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau. It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores the public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.

I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. Donald J. Trump

Preview all documents released by the White House relating to Comey’s firing below:

Thomas O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, issued a statement:

A change in FBI leadership of this magnitude must be handled carefully and with an eye towards ensuring that the Bureau can continue to fulfill its responsibility to protect the American public from criminal and national security threats.

We greatly appreciate Director Comey’s service, leadership, and support for Special Agents during his tenure. He understood the centrality of the Agent to the Bureau’s mission, recognizing that Agents put their lives on the line every day. His focus was to ensure that the Bureau’s investigations complied with the law and the Constitution, and that Agents performed their mission with integrity and professionalism.

As vital stakeholders, FBI Agents should be given a voice in the process of selecting the next Director.”

 

Suspect in Chandra Levy’s Murder is Deported to El Salvador

Ingmar Guandique

Ingmar Guandique

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It ended in the way it started, with an unsolved murder.

Federal authorities have deported Ingmar Guandique, the 35-year-old Salvadoran man who was initially convicted in the murder of  federal intern Chandra Levy, 24, who vanished in 2001. The remains of her body were found a year later in Rock Creek Park in northwest D.C.

In 2010,  Guandique was convicted in the murder. Then last year, he was supposed to get retried, but prosecutors ended up dropping the case after new information surfaced about the credibility of a key witness, Armando Morales, his cellmate, who had testified that Guandique confessed to killing Levy of Modesto, Calif.  The witness told someone that he lied about the confession during the trial.

Chandra Levy

Chandra Levy

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Monday said an immigration judge ordered Guandique deported on March 3, and officials flew him to El Salvador on Friday, the Washington Post reports.

California Congressman Gary Condit, who had an affair with Levy, was a suspect for a while before Guandique was charged.

He told Dr. Phil last year that he never had an affair with Levy.

“I did not have a romantic involvement with her,” he said on the show.

Interesting, if it were true.

While I was a reporter for the Washington Post, I had five law enforcement sources confirm that Condit told investigators that Levy had spent the night at his apartment in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C.

In 2010, an FBI biologist testified in Guandique’s trial that Condit’s semen was found in Levy’s underwear.

Condit failed to get re-elected after the Levy case surfaced.

FBI Director Comey Compares Twitter to ‘Every Dive Bar in America’

FBI Director James Comey.

FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey compared Twitter to a “dive bar” where everyone is yelling their opinions.

During a speech to the Anti-Defamation League on Monday, Comey said he doesn’t tweet but he does scan Twitter to see what people are saying about the FBI, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports

“It feels like I’m all of a sudden immediately in every dive bar in America, where I can hear everybody screaming at the television set,” Comey said. “But it is free speech; you don’t have to like it; you don’t have to agree with it, but we will protect it.”

FBI: Seattle Cop Smuggled Massive Amounts of Marijuana to Baltimore

Photo of marijuana by Steve Neavling.

Photo of marijuana by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI busted a Seattle police officer who authorities say helped smuggling hundreds of pounds of marijuana to Baltimore.

Alex Chapackdee, a 17-year veteran of the force, was arrested and was among four men charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana, the Associated Press reports. The 44-year-old office is the brother-in-;aw of the group’s alleged ringleader.

“While (it is) always disturbing to investigate one of our own, I am proud of the detectives and commanders who worked diligently on this case,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in a written statement. “Officer Chapackdee’s conduct is disgraceful and disappointing. While he will have his due process in the courts, I hope these charges demonstrate to our community that SPD will not tolerate corrupt behavior in our ranks.”

According to the FBI, Chapackdee drove marijuana from Seattle to Baltimore in his recreational vehicle several times last fall. The FBI said he deposited nearly $20,000 in cash into his bank account.

Chapackdee, who is on unpaid leave, also is accused of accepting $10,000 a month from his brother-in-law to alert him to any law enforcement investigations and to keep an eye on marijuana grow operations,

Chapackdee’s attorney, David Gehrke, declined to comment on the allegations but said the charges have been difficult for him and his family, which includes a wife and four children.

“This is a huge fall from grace, an embarrassment,” Gehrke said.

The investigation was prompted by a confidential source.

Top ICE Official to Leave for Job at Private Prison That Got Lucrative Government Contracts

ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale is stepping down for a job with a private prison.

ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale is stepping down for a job with a private prison.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The second-in-command at Immigration and Customs Enforcement is leaving his job of overseeing detention and deportations to take a position with a private prison.

Daniel Ragsdale temporarily served as the head of ICE until President Trump replaced him in January. He then became the deputy director.

Ragsdale will be working for GEO Group, a Boca-Raton-based private prison company, the Daily Beast reports. His position is unclear.

“While you may be losing me as a colleague, please know that I will continue to be a strong advocate for you and your mission,” Ragsdale wrote in an email to his ICE colleagues on April 28.

Ragsdale plans to step down on May 27.

“Dan is a person of great honor and a strong ethical code,” said a source close to Ragsdale. “I have no doubt he will bring great deal of integrity to the process to make sure organizations like GEO are complying with the rules and regulations regarding folks who are in detention because of their immigration status.”

Neither Ragdale nor the GEO Group responded to requests for interviews.

ICE is no stranger to GEO, which has lucrative contracts with the federal agency. The timing coincides with President Trump pledging to increase the use of private prisons, which the company said will be good for business. 

Secret Service Forced to Hold Back Kelly Conway After Heated Exchange with Heckler

Kellyanne Conway

Kellyanne Conway

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Secret Service agents were forced to hold back Kellyanne Conway, a key aide to President Trump, when someone began heckling her.

Conway had flown into Washington Reagan Airport at 6 p.m. Monday, when she was confronted with a heckler, The Daily Caller reports

Conway, who has a habit of embellishing or exaggerating claims against Trump’s foes, was talking out of an airport terminal when the white male began mouthing off.

“Keep trashing America,” the man yelled at Conway, who responded angrily.

Conway fired back: “I like the way you talk shit while I’m walking away.”

Sensing that the argument could escalate, two Secret Service agents “put their arms up and blocked her.”

Other Stories of Interest

USA Today Urges FBI to Investigate Millions of Fake Facebook Accounts

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The USA Today has been swamped with so many fake users on Facebook that the newspaper is asking the FBI to investigate.

The newspaper, owned by Gannett Co., estimated that half of its Facebook follower are automated. Even after the social media giant removed more than a third of USA Today’s 15.2 million followers, millions more are fake as an average of 1,000 fake users “like” the page, the newspaper revealed

What remains unclear is why spam operators are targeting the USA Today.

“The continued presence of phony accounts hasn’t checked the social network’s user growth, but they can cause confusion and havoc for individual users and companies,” the USA Today wrote. “Fake profiles that masquerade as real people have also caused tragedy, such as the torture and killing of a university student in Pakistan after someone set up a fake Facebook account in his name that allegedly contained blasphemous content.”

“We don’t know why the scope of impact on USA Today’s Facebook Page appears greater than any other publisher,” said Shabnam Shaik, technical program manager on Facebook’s protect and care team.

In flings with the Securities and Exchange commission, Facebook estimated about 1% of its active users are “misclassified” accounts, which includes both fake accounts and those that violated its terms of service, such as pet accounts.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Wife Under FBI Investigation over Loan Documents

Burlington College

Burlington College

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane Sanders, on accusations that she falsified loan documents while serving as president of the now-shuttered Burlington College.

During Sanders’ tenure from 2004 to 2011, the college was $10 million in the red when school officials decided to purchase a new campus in 2010.

To buy the property, Sanders is accused of falsifying information on the loan documents.

For reasons she never disclosed, Sanders stepped down as president in 2011.

Federal authorities said Sanders claimed the college had $2.6 million in donations for the new campus, when she ultimately only had a fourth of that.

The lack of money to pay back the loan contributed to the university’s bankruptcy in May 2016.