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Archive for August 2nd, 2017

Mueller Taps 16th Lawyer to Join Special Counsel Probe of Russia

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Justice Department official who specialized in white-collar crime is the 16th lawyer to join special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential campaign. 

Greg Andres, who most recently was a white-collar criminal defense lawyer for the New York law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, started working with Mueller’s team Tuesday, Reuters reports

From 2010-12, the 50-year-old attorney served as deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division. He focused on fraud and foreign bribery.

Mueller’s decision to continue expanding his team likely means the investigation is going to be extensive, said Robert Ray, who succeeded Kenneth Starr as independent counsel for the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration.

“It’s an indication that the investigation is going to extend well into 2018,” said Ray. “Whether it extends beyond 2018 is an open question.”

Only 5 Senators Voted Against the Nominee for FBI Director Since 1973

Christopher Wray at confirmation hearing.

Christopher Wray at confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Since the Senate began voting on nominees for FBI director in 1973, only one senator cast a no vote – until Tuesday.

That’s when five Democrats objected to the confirmation of Christopher Wray to replace fired FBI Dire tor James Comey.

The final vote was 92-5. Voting no were Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden.

The only other nominee for FBI director to receive a no vote was Comey in 2013, when Sen. Rand Paul objected, according to CNN

The bureau’s first director, J. Edgar Hoover, was not subjected to a Senate vote, and he held the position for nearly 48 years.

Neighbor Hacked into College Students’ Wireless Account to Download Child Pornography

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Six years ago, FBI agents knocked on the door of three honor students at the University of California in Davis because the roommates’ AT&T wireless router was used to access child pornography.

“When it became pounding, I stumbled out to open the front door – to the complete and utter shock of having FBI agents on my front porch shoving a warrant in my face and suddenly appearing armed in my home,” Caitlin Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to the FBI two weeks ago, the Sacramento Bee reports. “Even thinking about it now, years later, my stomach starts to tighten.”

Turns out, the roommates’ 22-year-old neighbor was downloading child pornography by using “his great computer savvy” to hack into their password-protected wireless account, according to federal court records.

Today, the neighbor Alexander Nathan Norris is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Sacramento, where prosecutors are calling for a 17.5-year sentence on charges of possession and distribution of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

“This case is not a run-of-the mill child pornography case because the defendant hacked into and used his neighbors’ password-protected wireless internet to download and distribute child pornography, thereby roping innocent bystanders into his criminal activity,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Morris and Shelley Weger wrote in their sentencing memorandum to the judge.

“His actions caused the FBI to search his neighbors’ personal computers, cell phones, bedrooms and living space.”

Homeland Security to Waive Environmental Laws to Erect Border Wall

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.


By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A stretch of border wall will be replaced without an assessment to the environment, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.
The Washington Post reports that Homeland Security plans to waive requirements under the National Environmental Protection Act, which mandates extensive reviews of environmental impacts.
Calling it an overreach, the Center for Biological Diversity in San Diego plans to challenge the decision.
The Post wrote:

It will mark the sixth time that the department has exercised that authority since 2005 and the first time since 2008.

A law passed in 2005 gave Homeland Security broad authority to waive “all legal requirements” to build border barriers following years of ultimately unsuccessful court challenges to border wall construction in San Diego on grounds that it violated environmental laws.

Congress passed the law to blunt similar efforts elsewhere and it led to hundreds of miles (kilometers) of new U.S.-Mexico border fencing in the final years of President George W. Bush’s administration to its current total of about 650 miles (1,040 kilometers).

Last week, the House of Representatives approved the administration’s request for $1.6 billion to start building Trump’s border wall, which would include replacing 14 miles (22 kilometers) in San Diego covered by the latest waiver and building 60 miles (96 kilometers) of new barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. It was unclear if or when Homeland Security would issue waivers for Texas, which is currently the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.