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Archive for June 22nd, 2017

Ex-Homeland Security Director Says Politics Prevented Disclosure of Russian Meddling

Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson testifies before the House Intelligence Committee.

Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson testifies before the House Intelligence Committee.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In what has become typical fashion, President Trump blamed the Obama administration for failing to “stop”  Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?” Trump tweeted at 9:22 a.m. Thursday.

Truth is, the FBI and other intelligence agencies were trying to stop Russia and had found evidence in August that Kremlin-backed hackers targeted electoral systems in 21 states, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said the Obama administration didn’t immediately reveal Russia’s interference to avoid an appearance of partisanship.

“We were very concerned that we would not be perceived as taking sides in the election, injecting ourselves into a very heated campaign,” Johnson told the committee.

When asked what took the Obama administration so long to disclose the allegations of Russian interference, Johnson cited the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said the Obama administration didn’t immediately reveal Russia’s interference to avoid an appearance of partisanship. The public disclosure finally came Oct. 7, when Johnson and James R. Clapper the then-director of national intelligence, said in a joint statement that Russia was involved in cyber “threats and disclosures … intended to interfere with the U.S. Election process.” They also said a Russian company attempted to break in to state voter registration databases, The L.A. Times reported. 

Johnson said the Oct. 7 statement “did not get the attention it deserved” because it was morphed in media coverage later that day by the leak of Trump making crude comments about women on a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape.

Assaults on Border Patrol Agents Rise Even As Immigration Declines

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents have come under increasing attack this year, even though illegal immigration is down.

Reported assaults on agents rose to more than 550 from January to June 1 of this year, from 300 during the same period last year, Carla Provost, the acting chief of the Border Patrol, told Congress on Wednesday, the Washington Times reports. 

Provost declined to speculate on why assaults are surging, but the timing coincides with fierce immigration debates in the U.S.

The attacks underscore the dangers facing Border Patrol agents, she said.

Trump’s Shadowy Ties to Russian-Connected Firm Accused of Money Laundering

Felix Sater, via Twitter

Felix Sater, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special investigation into alleged ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia may now include serious criminal allegations about a dormant real-estate development firm accused of running a criminal operation while it was partnering with the future president and the Kremlin.

The Russian-connected Bayrock Group, which operated two floors below Trump’s office in the Trump Tower in New York, is accused in a lawsuit of serving as a front for money laundering while the company was partnering with Trump on a number of real estate projects. 

One of the influential partners was Felix Sater, a Russia-born career criminal with ties to the Kremlin and American organized crime groups, Bloomberg reports. 

The president has repeatedly claimed he barely knows Sater, but former Bayrock employees said Sater met frequently with Trump at his organization’s headquarters in New York and escorted Trump’s children around Moscow.

Sater also teamed up with Trump’s personal attorney to in a failed attempt to lobby National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on a Ukrainian peace proposal.

While testifying about Russian interference before the House Intelligence Committee in March, FBI Director James Comey declined to answer a question about Trump’s relationship with Sater, who was born in the Soviet Union in 1966 before emigrating with his parents to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, a heavily Russian enclave.

Sater had worked as a mob informant for the FBI before he fled to Russia to escape criminal charges.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Paints Troubling Portrait of Man Who Opened Fire at Republicans on Baseball Field

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game.

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Before firing 60 rounds from a rifle and handgun at an unwitting group of Republican lawmakers and staffers who were practice baseball in Alexandria, Va., James T. Hodgkinson had been living in his van in the parking lot of the YMCA on the outskirts of Washington D.C.

Struggling with his marriage, anger management problems and a beef against Republicans, the unemployed home inspector from Illinois approached the baseball players and asked, “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?”

Soon after the encounter, the 66-year-old retrieved a 7.62-caliber SKS rifle and 9mm handgun from his van before returning and calmly and deliberately opening fire at the lawmakers and their staff.

U.S. Capitol Police special agents and officers from Alexandria returned fire, killing the gunman.

Five people were wounded, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who is in fair condition at the hospital after multiple emergency surgeries.

On Wednesday, the FBI revealed details of a troubled Hodgkinson who had long-simmering hatred for Republicans.

“While the shooter was known to have a history of diagnosed mental illness, he is known, or it was known, to have an anger management problem,” Timothy R. Slater, FBI special agent in charge, said at a press conference Wednesday. “He was struggling in all kinds of different ways.” 

The FBI still doesn’t know why Hodgkinson was in the area, and agents believe he acted alone and that the shooting was spontaneous. 

Trump’s Deputy Assistant Gorka Fired by FBI for Seething Islamophobia

Sebastian Gorka, right, via Facebook.

Sebastian Gorka, right, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just months before Sebastian Gorka joined the White House as a special adviser to President Trump, he was fired by the FBI for his seething Islamophobic rhetoric, the Daily Beast reveals.

The inflammatory pundit was working for the FBI to lecture agents on counterterrorism issues while serving as a paid consultant for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

While instructing the Joint Terrorism Operations Course on the fundamentals of counterterrorism in August 2016, the FBI was disturbed that he was using anti-Muslim rhetoric and suggesting that all Muslims adhered to Sharia law and were prone to radicalization.

A month later, the FBI fired Gorka, who now serves as deputy assistant to the president after working as national security editor for Breitbart under Steve Bannon, the controversial White House strategist.

In a February 2012 speech to the Westminster Institute think tank, Gorka compared Osama bin Laden to “the Martin Luther of Islam.”

As the FBI distanced itself from Gorka, whom the bureau paid $103,000 for training materials between 2012-16, Trump made him a leading supporter of the presidential campaign and continued to embrace him after the real estate mogul was elected.

McCabe: FBI Providing Mueller with ‘a Great Number of Folks’ from Bureau

Acting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

Acting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The acting head of the FBI told Congressional members that the bureau is providing special counsel Robert Mueller with a substantial number of personnel to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who replaced James Comey when President Trump fired him under suspicious circumstances on May 9, told the House Appropriations Subcommittee that Mueller will have plenty of resources to conduct the investigation, which includes possible ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign, Politico reports

“We have a great number of folks that have already been detailed to that team and I have assured Director Mueller that we will do everything necessary to deliver the resources and meet the needs that he has to do that work,” McCabe said.

Last week, Mueller’s office announced that it had added 13 lawyers to the team investigating Russian influence.

McCabe also said he never felt comfortable talking to Trump