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Archive for June 28th, 2017

Hard For Robert S. Mueller to Avoid the Limelight

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By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Robert S. Mueller III, the stoic former director of the FBI, never seemed like the kind of guy who enjoyed basking in the glow of the limelight. His successor, James Comey, seemed far more comfortable testifying on the Hill, holding press conferences.

But these days, as Mueller takes on the job of special counsel, bumping up against a president who’s not shy about speaking up and trash talking, it’s hard to avoid the limelight.

The latest comes in the form of a Time magazine cover with Mueller’s G-Man looking photo and the words: “The Lie Detector. Someone’s not telling the truth.”

Time magazine’s David Von Drehle writes:

Trump has traded the anguished Hamlet Comey for the adamantine Marine Robert Mueller, the Justice Department ramrod who remade the FBI after 9/11. As special counsel appointed in the wake of the Comey firing, Mueller has one job, no deadline and bottomless resources, and he is assembling an all-star team of veteran prosecutors whose expert backgrounds go beyond counterintelligence to include money laundering, corporate fraud and the limits of Executive Branch power.

Sensing the trouble he had dug himself into, Trump tweeted, “You are witnessing the single greatest Witch hunt in American political history.” Perhaps all Presidents feel the same way if they find themselves under the withering gaze of a high-profile investigator. Whether called a “special prosecutor” in the Richard Nixon era or “independent counsel” in the Bill Clinton years or “special counsel” today, the specific powers change, but the overall effect is quite the same. Trump’s predecessors could tell him that such investigations are sometimes survivable, but they are not controllable. Trump is at the front end of political cancer treatment: live or die, it will be a draining, miserable experience.

The thing is, Trump can tweet about Mueller and the investigation all he wants. Mueller won’t tweet back and isn’t likely to engage in any public dialogue contesting anything the president says.

Mueller, 72, the former Marine, is on a mission.

And only one thing, short of illness or death, will stop him: Getting fired.

FBI Informant Committed Fraud While Working Undercover on Terrorism Sting

Photo via FBI

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI placed an awful lot of trust in a Florida man who had just been released from prison for committing fraud.

Soon after Mohammed Agbareia got out of prison and moved to Palm Beach County, the FBI hired him to work as an undercover informant on a high-profile terrorism sting, the Sun Sentinel reports. 

Despite his past legal troubles, the FBI considered him a “national security asset” and extolled his “usefulness as a provider of intelligence of the FBI.”

Yet, Agbareia continued to commit fraud almost immediately after leaving prison, even as he was providing undercover information to the FBI, according to prosecutors.

The new charges allege Agbareia resumed operating a similar fraud scheme that landed him in prison in 2007 and didn’t stop until his arrest on June 21.

The FBI declined to comment.

Trump’s Nominee for FBI Director to Face Tough Questions about His Past

Christopher A. Wray

Christopher A. Wray

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s safe to say President Trump’s nominee for FBI director, Christoper Wray, will face tough rounds of questions during his confirmation hearing before the Senate.

After all, some senators and legal experts have accused the president of obstructing justice by firing former director James Comey in retaliation for investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Special counsel Robert Mueller and his high-powered team of lawyers is investigating those very allegations.

Wray, whom Trump called “a man of impeccable credentials,” is likely to be hammered about why he removed from his law firm’s website in January the fact that he represented an undisclosed American energy executive who was under criminal investigation by the Russian government. 

Wray’s law firm, King & Spalding, represents the Russian energy firm Rosneft, which has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the International Business Times reports

Wray also is likely to be grilled about his representation of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a longtime Trump supporter, in the Bridgegate scandal. Christie has declined to say whether he recommended Wray to Trump.

And several civil liberties advocates are expressing concerns about Wray.

“Christopher Wray’s firm’s legal work for the Trump family, his history of partisan activity, as well as his history of defending Trump’s transition director during a criminal scandal makes us question his ability to lead the FBI with the independence, even-handed judgment, and commitment to the rule of law that the agency deserves,” American Civil Liberties Union National Political Director Faiz Shakir said in a statement.

Emergency Camp for Migrants Shuts Down After Border Patrol Raids

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Saying they can no longer guarantee a temporary shelter for migrants in Arizona, a humanitarian group closed a medical aid camp for people who cross the border.

The decision comes after Border Patrol agents raided the camp and made arrests, NPR reports

“Our clinic space being compromised will directly lead to more suffering and more death in this desert,” said aid worker Geena Jackson.

The camp is about 15 miles of the Mexico border and includes water stations, medics and makeshift shelters. A handmade sign now warns migrants that the camp is closed.

Under previous presidents, migrant camps were rarely raided. But President Trump’s administration has done away with past practices in an aggressive crackdown on illegal immigration.

Manafort Second Trump Campaign Official to Retroactively Register As Foreign Agent

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and is under investigation for his Russian connections, has retroactively registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent.

In the DOJ filing Tuesday, Manafort said he was a foreign agent when he conducted consulting work for a Ukrainian political party that previously pro-Russian, CBS News reports

Manafort acknowledged he advised a Ukrainian party on how to interact with U.S. government officials, and his firm, DMP, received more than $17 million from the Party of Regions for his consulting work from 2012 to 2014.

Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who is under investigation for his ties to Russia, also retroactively registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. 

Manafort resigned from Trump’s campaign in August when the Associated Press reported on his firm’s lobbying actions.

Manafort had denied colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

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